At On Deck IC, we work in sports and entertainment. Naturally, we dig into the sports entertainment world. Whether you love, hate, or don’t really care about the WWE, there’s no denying that its an unbelievable undertaking from a creative, production, and business perspective. Yesterday’s 7 hour spectacle was met with passionate reactions on both sides. With some incredible moments, including Ronda Rousey’s debut, the return of retired-by-injury Daniel Bryan, and so many more, we were blown away with the majority of the event. Here are a few things that could have made it even stronger.
- Battle Royale Overkill – The Battle Royales on the Wrestlemania XXXIV pre-show bring some fun spots to the forefront and widen the scope of participation, but they ask a lot from an audience with very little payoffs. The Andre The Giant Battle Royale has already lost its luster in just a few short years. It has done little if anything for the careers of its winners, and while its great to see NXT guys in the mix, they haven’t really yielded memorable spots. Plus, the trophy looks like an Andre The Giant candy bar. Having Naomi win the women’s battle royale was a surprising outcome, but the lack of stakes diminishes the outcome. We would much rather have seen a Bayley vs. Sasha Banks matched, which would have been well earned. Overall, the battle royales coming on the heel of Royal Rumble have been underwhelming.
- Women’s Evolution – so close! – Charlotte vs. Asuka was an incredible match the showed unbelievable athleticism and creative sequences that we haven’t seen before. Both wrestlers really met half way, adjusting their styles to each other’s physicality, and living up to the very high expectations that were set. After snapping the streak of Asuka, why have John Cena interrupt a historic movement? There are plenty of other ways to execute his storyline, and in an evening where so much happened for women not only in the matches, but in kick ass women on motorcycles and live guitarists playing themes, this felt a bit tainted.
- Thank You Taker – The Undertaker is the biggest legend in Wrestlemania history. But, after a lengthy but vague retirement match last year, his return was underwhelming. Why you wouldn’t promote a match with The Undertaker and John Cena is beyond me, but even though they were wise enough to keep this match short, it still left much to be desired. While I’m glad to see Taker go out with a win, a better use of The Undertaker moving forward would be to have him in a non-wrestling capacity, passing the torch to an NXT call up or main roster superstar in need of a push. Not only do you have all of the heat of The Undertaker on you, but you’re in a feud with John Cena immediately. Plus, you still get an Undertaker entrance. Let’s leave the in ring action to the sub-50 crowd.
- AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura headlining – In WWE’s defense, it is VERY difficult to schedule the sequencing of 14 matches, 7 hours of wrestling and all of the production that goes with it in perfect order. They ALMOST nailed it. AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura should absolutely have closed the show. It was promoted as a dream match, full of great sequences, and a twist at the end of it. We also knew that Lesnar vs. Reigns was going to be a bit shorter, brutal, and extremely physical. That pacing would have been great to break up a string of matches that had a much more fluid pace.
- Who the hell in Nicholas? – Okay, it was bad enough and insulting enough to have the entire tag team division lose out to one person, “monster among men” as he may be. But to have the strongest athlete on the roster in Cesaro and someone as veteran and talented as Sheamus lose to Braun Strowman and a scared shitless 9 year old is much worse. There were so many opportunities that they could have utilized, like Samoa Joe, Big Cass, or an NXT call up. Then Cesaro and Sheamus would also have gotten the match that they deserve, and the audience gets the surprise of a comeback or newcomer late in the show.
- End with a Bang – WWE painted themselves into a corner by booking Lesnar vs. Reigns as the main event. The majority of fans are either frustrated that they are stuck even longer with a part-time, one note champion in Lesnar, or that the title falls to an less exciting character in Reigns. We wish that they had thought outside of the box while booking this, either with an open-ended result, an interruption from an NXT prospect or returning superstar. My preferred ending would be to have Paul Heyman turn on Brock Lesnar and become an advocate for Roman Reigns. Lesnar can leave with unfinished business, leaving the door open for a return, and Reigns would finally gain popularity with the fans by having the help of Paul. Freaking. Heyman., who could put over a a piece of looseleaf.
And there you have it! A few revisions that would have made an already incredible Wrestlemania even stronger.