As warned last week, I’m gonna get knee-deep in some WWE opinionatin’. Strap in, slapnuts, we’re about to break it down.
Wrestlemania (35, but who’s counting) was a sordid affair that outstayed its welcome by a little over 2 hours. The never-ending pay-per-view delivered one match for the ages (Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston), a few we’ll certainly remember (Brock Lesner being taken to dick-punch-city losing to Seth Friggin’ Rollins and Becky Lynch kicking ass and chewing bubblegum), and the rest a mostly-forgettable mash of who-cares. Following Mania came the always-odd RAW and Smackdown post-shows; each delivering their fair share of follow-up angles, new debuts, and ultimately (a week later), a pair of “superstar shake-up” episodes to reset the rosters and kickstart the next year of programming. Rather than figure a way to create a single cohesive thesis to tie my waning thoughts about all the back-and-forths… I figure it behooves me to listicle out each errant bon mot and wax poetic before moving on. Allez cuisine!
1. Dean, we hardly knew ya.
So, with a few favors done for Drew McIntyre on RAW, followed by the reciprocal favors being returned at taped house show a week after Mania… Dean Ambrose is done with the WWE. I freely admit while Seth Rollins has a stronger in-ring acumen, Ambrose has long been my favorite of The Shield. His guttural Ohioan growl and crazy eyes made him feel like a wildcard from the get-go. When Seth Rollins betrayed his brothers to grab the heel-brass-ring? It was clear Ambrose would be relegated to third-man-status. As WWE Champion, he had hints of brilliance — I still fondly recall his dressing down of Dolph Ziggler being a millimeter away from breaking kayfabe in the best way. But ultimately even with an amazing physical transformation and update to his predictable arsenal (the Wacky Line! Ugh…), the creative team still couldn’t leave well enough alone. The heel Ambrose was always meant to be was stuck trying to rip into cancer as an angle, and you could tell his heart was no longer in it. While I’d love to see him tear up AEW… something says perhaps he needs some time to shake the WWE from his soul before getting back in the ring.
2. I still don’t care about Black Lesnar.
I mean Bobbly Lashley, sorry. Lio Rush dialed back his hype-man so much now that Lashley has returned to the nebulous black create-a-character base model he’s always been. Seriously: send him to NXT to find a character. Any character.
3. Speaking of characters… Bray G-D Wyatt.
Uncle Bray’s Funhouse of Horrors will either level up ole’ Husky Harris into a main eventer within a year, or prove that the creative team needs to be drowned. The amazingly lo-fi and brilliant videotaped piece drips from stem to stern with recent rehire Bruce Pritchard’s eye. Bray’s new look combined with this teetering-on-the-edge-of-sanity character update is all kinds of interesting. Paired with the meta-mazing Mercy the Buzzard all I particularly hope for is an updated finisher and maybe a new signature spot or two to complete the transformation. Oh, and please, dear lord… do not let him wrestle in chinos and a sweater. Hey! That reminds me…
4. Kurt Angle doing the favors for Baron Corbin was an absolute waste.
Big-baldy-baddy Baron still looks like the townie who never left and manages the local Fridays with an iron thumb. Remember how Roman marched to the ring, and let a seven minute sea of boos bathe him in glorious hate before one-lining “It’s my yard now.” before strutting to the back with a mob ready to murder him? That is the kind of heat Corbin wished he could have. Instead he has what I’d call “Midcard 2011 Miz-Heat”… the kind of ire from the WWE Universe that declares “we’re not booing you because we hate you and want to see you get some come-uppance. We’re booing you because we literally wish any other superstar would come out now and do literally anything instead of you being in the ring.” My hopes that the superstar shakeup would shake Corbin permanently onto ring crew was dashed.
5. The Viking Raiders?
It’s a better name than “The Viking Experience”. But we’re about three minutes away from them being re-renamed to “Hefty Equipment” and shouting “Tuckaye!”. I want very much to like them. But WWE screwed this pooch hard from the jump.
6. Kevin Owens is back on the rise. Sami Zayn stole Daniel Bryan’s playbook.
Look, KO was never going to stay babyface. We knew this. And we also didn’t need a half-year-long re-telling of the festival of friendship for the turn. So, yes. Let Kofi nab a big win against Big O, and let Owens re-establish his heel chops. Dare I even mutter… give him a solid win against Roman Reigns to do so. Elsewhere, Sami Zayn’s “I’ve had it with you people” schtick is one part DB’s yelling “FICKLE!” at the top of his lungs, mashed with Dean Ambrose’s “Everyone smells and I need shots.” rederick. It’s all well and good, but what all does it mean in context of the roster? Zayn is talking himself into a corner. And let’s be clear: the last angle he was in was “Alexa punking Bayley” bad. Someone find him an opponent to beat cleanly. Stat. EC3 will do.
7. And what about ole’ Becky Two-Belts?
I’ll end my screed this week discussing the women of the WWE. First off? I was proud as a fan to see the ladies earn their main-event at Mania. That being said? The three-way for two-belts was a sloppy effort in an overlong show. Kofi and Bryan stole the oxygen out of the arena, and the ladies did their damndest to steal it back… but didn’t quite do it. Becky is the Man. She deserves it. She earned it. She’ll be a great Stone Cold for the double-x-division… with the spin that she’s far from the mechanic in the ring Austin was. Her wins are far more hard-fought, which should make one appreciate the in-ring story to get there. On the mic, no one — man or woman— match Becky in the insult category. She’s got a sharp tongue I love hearing off the leash. But I sincerely fear we’re going to over-expose our beloved lass. With programs against Lacey “Death By Snu Snu” Evans and Charlotte “Because Woo” Flair seems like a banana split after a steak dinner. I don’t want our eyes to be bigger than our stomachs… lest WWE ruin their first true main-roster woman mega-power.