WWE is barely a week away from delivering WrestleMania 33, live from Orlando, Florida, and at this point, most fans are pretty aware of what to expect. Not only have most of the matches either been booked or at least set up, but fans also by and large already know the results — meaning there will be almost no surprises on April 2nd. Worse than a lack of surprises, it also looks like fans have almost nothing to look forward to, unless something major happens that forces WWE to depart from the course and actually do something interesting at the so-called Greatest Spectacle in Sports Entertainment.
History has shown that Vince McMahon only resorts to the proverbial Hail Mary when he absolutely has to, and the continued financial success of the WWE Network means he doesn’t have to do anything to change WrestleMania despite this lack of interest. That said, there are certain unforeseeable events that could force his hand, causing drastic measures to be taken in short order. However, the closer we get to the Grandest Stage of Them All, the less likely it is that anything will happen to require such a change.
At the same time, however, it also tracks that the closer to WrestleMania we get, the more disastrous a last-minute serious problem could be. As with any major live show, there’s no shortage of things that could go wrong on the day of. But the real issue is what could happen before the Showcase of Immortals even begins that could derail everything. Sure, it’s all pure speculation, but when the show looks as bad as this year’s, fans have to do whatever it takes to try and make things interesting. Keep reading, and speculate about 15 potential scandals that could rock WWE’s WrestleMania 33 plans.
15. Heavy Storms Predicted In Orlando
In recent years, WWE has decided to hold WrestleMania in gigantic football stadiums, which has mostly paid off with record ticket sales and attendance records. One of the few cons associated with the trend has been that lots of these giant stadiums are at least partially outdoors, leaving WWE susceptible to fickle and sometimes even dangerous weather conditions. Coincidentally, the first outdoor show of the modern era was WrestleMania XXIV, held in the same arena the upcoming 33rd version of the event will take place. That night, there was a light rainfall during the pre-show, and WrestleMania 29 had similarly minor precipitation, but there has yet to be a serious weather event that genuinely affected the show. Even if it did, WWE has methods in place that would protect the ring and the wrestlers, allowing the show to basically go on as planned. Unfortunately, there’s no such measure for the fans, who would be stuck sitting in the rain for hours if heavy rainfall, or worse, happened to occur at the wrong time. Though it’s far too early to know for sure, early reports say rain is definitely possible, and in Florida, that could mean nothing or everything.
14. WWE Network Technical Difficulties
Since the introduction of the WWE Network in February of 2014, each subsequent month has seen WWE gradually move away from their traditional Pay-Per-View model in favor of Network specials. The biggest shows are still available on PPV as well as on the Internet, but those with access to the Network get the much better, cheaper deal out of the mix, so long as their ISP can support a strong enough connection to actually play it. For the most part, the practice has gone rather swimmingly, with more and more fans switching to the Network each month. However, that could all go out the window if some technical problem prevented fans from watching WrestleMania. Everybody is used to a little buffering in this day and age, but at the same time, they kind of hate it. It’s not like WWE is going to run out of bandwidth or have the Network mysteriously shut down. But all it takes is one little computer error to mess the show up for everyone watching online. Granted that something like this has never happened to WWE or any other major streaming service, we would put this one rather low on the list of likely mishaps.
13. Backstage Fighting Never Stops
In spite of how corporate and professional WWE has been presenting itself these days, the fact remains it’s a company based on musclebound men and women pretending to beat the hell out of each other. While it’s all pretend when cameras are rolling, it’s reasonable these tensions could easily transfer backstage — and they often do — causing legitimate in-fighting between WWE superstars on a regular basis. Okay, so the problem isn’t exactly out of control. That said, in the last few months, there were two incidents involving Chris Jericho alone, first seeing him fight Brock Lesnar and then Sin Cara. All three superstars are still working for WWE, and two of them have extremely high-profile matches at the Showcase of Immortals, leaving the company at risk of another incident derailing either of their programs. It should go without saying that those three aren’t the only wrestlers who have a tendency towards violence and irrational thinking, as virtually no one is exempt from a potential backstage brawl. It isn’t terribly likely, mind you, as most grapplers probably value their jobs more than minor beefs. Nonetheless, the ramifications of someone feeling the opposite could be huge.
12. The Crowd Rejecting The Show En Masse
There’s no escaping the elephant in the room when it comes to this year’s WrestleMania, which is that there’s almost no way the show won’t be pretty terrible from a creative standpoint. WWE has been clearly building towards a number of things fans simply don’t want to see, like Randy Orton winning the WWE Championship, Brock Lesnar doing the same with the Universal belt, more glory for Roman Reigns, and a potential proposal by John Cena to Nikki Bella. Whether these could all be “WrestleMania moments” or not (and regardless of the fact that Michael Cole and his team will call them such), it feels like the sole person interested in seeing any of these things is Vince McMahon. Well, and Nikki Bella. At least re: the thing that involves her. The WWE Universe has witnessed fans rejecting most of these wrestlers for quite a while now, specifically Reigns, Cena, and Orton. In fact, it looked like the fever pitch was going to be reached at last year’s WrestleMania main event. Just wait and see, though, because something significantly worse could happen this year, and the audience could simply walk out on the show… if they have the courage.
11. Concussion Lawsuits Going Forward
Vince McMahon is no stranger to a courtroom. In fact, he’s almost gotten paranoid about the media and the government being out to get him. He’s hired a great lawyer in Jerry McDevitt, and a good number of lawsuits against WWE and the McMahon family have thus been decided in their favor. That hasn’t stopped people from giving up on suing the McMahon empire, though. No less than 50 former superstars have teamed up with attorney Konstantine Kyros to sue WWE over concussion-related injuries. As with most things related to the American justice system, the trial has been rather slow-moving, and quite frankly, it appears that Kyros and his clients don’t have much of a case. Concussions certainly happen in the wrestling industry, but plenty of the ex-wrestlers currently taking the McMahons to court over the issue barely even worked for them. On the other hand, this isn’t the only lawsuit WWE is currently involved in, and in now way should our read on the matter be considered anything close to legally relevant. The fact is, there’s no saying how any lawsuit against Vince will end until it ends, and if they should end unfavorably for the McMahons just days before Mania, this is likely to change the entire event.
10. What’s Up With Mauro Ranallo?
Former MMA announcer Mauro Ranallo has fast become one of the most popular announcers in the WWE Universe, if only for providing an alternative to the often grating commentary of Michael Cole. In recent weeks, though, fans watching SmackDown Live have, no doubt, noticed that his deep, booming voice has been absent over the past few weeks. It was initially explained on television as an issue with the weather and then that he was “out sick.” Well, if Ranallo’s old friend MMA star Bas Rutten is to be believed, it seems that the “out sick” excuse might be slightly true, albeit in the sense that Ranallo has been suffering from the effects of bipolar disorder, a mental illness he was diagnosed with in his teens. The condition often manifests itself through severe bouts of depression, and speculation is that Ranallo might be going through such a period, or at the very least, needed to step away from the public spotlight because it was starting to get to him. Thankfully, early reports are saying that Ranallo is recovering and in good health, and the man himself has Tweeted he’s taking this brief sabbatical on doctor’s orders. Obviously, everyone hopes Ranallo gets through whatever problems he’s having in time to call the show, but his absence could easily distract people from enjoying Mania if he can’t be there.
9. Contract Disputes and Walkouts
In an era when WWE is far and away the biggest sports entertainment company in the world, wrestlers working for the company might find themselves walking on eggshells to ensure they stay employed for as long as possible. On the other hand, recent examples like Drew Galloway, Johnny Mundo, Cody Rhodes, and Ryback prove that there are plenty of options out there for uniquely talented superstars who feel WWE isn’t quite for them. Nine times out of ten, the wrestlers who proudly boast this fact get a great deal of publicity for it, and nothing would send a bigger message than walking out in the days before what is potentially their biggest payday. In a similar vein, there are other wrestlers on the roster who are probably fine with where they work, but would understandably enjoy receiving a little bit more money. They might decide to use their spot on the impending Showcase of Immortals card to leverage a better deal — and Vince might decide they aren’t worth it. It’s been a long time since a major walkout took place on the day of a show, yet the threat is always there, especially now that new wrestling companies seem to be cropping up every few months.
8. No-Showing The Biggest Show
It would be bad enough for WWE to lose a major superstar in the days before WrestleMania begins, but that doesn’t begin to cover the severity of what could happen if a wrestler simply decided not to show up in Orlando. Granted, this is more of a WCW-style problem than anything WWE has ever had to deal with, and Vince McMahon’s legal team could have a field day on someone making such a terrible decision. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen, though, especially as morale dwindles and the best wrestlers in the promotion are basically punished for their dedication by being shunted into low-card roles while part-timers get all the real glory. An even bigger message could be sent should the fans decide not to show up. But considering the prices they already paid for their tickets, we pretty much rule that idea out entirely. The wrestlers could decide not to bother, though, or they might similarly run into legitimate weather or travel problems preventing them from getting there. Though WWE would probably figure out there was a problem early enough to fix it, changes would still need to be made to ensure the crowd leaves happy even if they lose a big marquee star.
7. The Undertaker Refusing To Lose
Although the Streak may be over, WWE has continued treating a WrestleMania match against The Undertaker as equally important as any championship match ever could be. This year, the honor is going to Vince McMahon’s golden boy Roman Reigns, despite virtually no one other than the WWE CEO seeing anything at all special with The Guy. For decades now, The Undertaker has been one of McMahon’s most loyal performers, and thus would probably do whatever his boss asked him to at the Grandest Stage of Them All or any other event. That said, Undertaker is also in the rare position where he could actually say no to McMahon, and there would be nothing WWE could do about it. Granted, there aren’t many reasons he would do this. Undertaker already agreed to lose against Brock Lesnar three years ago, and there’s nothing to indicate he feels any differently about Reigns than the company line is instructing him to. Should the Dead Man change his mind and refuse a loss, though, it could seriously change not only WrestleMania 33, but also everything that would happen to Roman Reigns after the curtain falls.
6. John Cena Getting Cold Feet
More so than any individual match, one of the most highly anticipated aspects of WrestleMania 33 has been the potential of John Cena proposing to his real-life girlfriend Nikki Bella after their mixed tag-team match against The Miz and Maryse. Fans of Total Divas and Total Bellas have been hearing about how badly Bella wants to get married, and how little interest Cena has had in the idea for years now. Yet, conventional wisdom tells us that the saga will finally end in Orlando when Cena pops the question. Unlike every other match and moment that will occur at WrestleMania (and unlike 99% of events to take place during wrestling shows), such an event could be entirely real and, if so, would genuinely change two lives forever. However, given how averse Cena has been to marriage on his reality shows, not to mention how horribly his last divorce went, and how loveless and wooden their relationship looks on screen, there’s always the possibility Cena will change his mind and not want to marry Nikki. Truth be told, Cena not proposing really wouldn’t change anything much. It would, however, reaffirm that WWE totally wasted their top star on a meaningless midcard match.
5. A Major Wrestler Breaking The Wellness Policy
While the WWE Talent and Wellness Policy has gone to great lengths at forever curbing the dangerous drug habits associated with sports entertainment, the problem is far from over. There’s no quick fix to drug addictions, and if anything, the pressure of performing in front of millions of fans on a constant basis will always make it worse. Whether fair or not, the part-timers don’t really have to worry about this problem, but no full-time WWE superstar is exempt from the punishment a serious drug offense could cost them. Calling Goldberg-Lesnar, Reigns-Undertaker, and Orton-Wyatt the three main events — each one featuring a superstar who has gotten in trouble for drugs before, either in WWE or MMA — it’s not out of the question substance abuse issues could come up again. Furthermore, it wouldn’t be completely shocking if wrestlers who had never broken the policy before did so sometime before Mania, and such a first offense could be just as damaging as a second or third. Ideally, anyone working for WWE is smart enough to know this is the worst time of the year to make a mistake like this; however, that hasn’t always stopped wrestlers from doing so.
4. Top-Level Injuries
This is arguably the item on this list with the highest potential of actually happening. In fact, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if it actually took place. Wrestlers are putting in extra to be in their best shape in time for their most important performance of the year — sometimes putting in too much and resulting in serious injuries. A mishap in the gym on the morning of the show would probably be the most damaging to WrestleMania that we can realistically picture happening. And the higher up the card the injury takes place, the more upset fans are bound to be. And we’re talking about a crowd that already has a pretty huge tendency to be hostile. Hopefully, there won’t be any such incident, although the storyline between injury-prone athletes like Seth Rollins and Triple H is causing fans to keep their fingers crossed. Of course, it might even be worse if a massive injury took place during the show itself, causing things to slow down considerably while the hurt party was being attended to. But such an incident, while tragic, would always result in more media buzz for WWE, which, of course, is hardly a bad thing for the company.
3. Vince McMahon Having One Of His Trademark Changes Of Heart
Despite WWE hiring around 20 writers with an incredibly fast turnaround, insiders claim the buck stops the same place it always has: on the desk of Vince McMahon. Way back in the 1980s when Vince took control of the company from his ailing father, he instituted a total dictatorship where all the final decisions have been left up to him, and this policy has largely remained intact even as he has hired younger and more creative underlings. Naturally, this dictatorship has been in effect in the build to WrestleMania 33, and the trend will largely continue for as long as Mr. McMahon is capable of keeping it that way. And because very very few people are privy to Vince’s decision-making processes, the world will never really know exactly how or why he decides the way he does. All we know is that last-minute changes of heart are totally possible, and Vince could well come to his senses days before WrestleMania and decide to do something crazy all on his own.
2. Linda McMahon Having An Interesting Day At Work
It holds almost no bearing on WWE programming, and yet every fan of the company is probably aware of it in some small way: Vince McMahon’s wife Linda is the Administrator of the Small Business Administration as appointed by WWE Hall of Famer/amateur politician Donald Trump. And while we avoid trying to get too political, it’s relevant to point out that the Trump administration has been pretty controversial, to say the least — the approval ratings of the man in charge revealing that only barely a third of the country supports him or his staff. Thus far, WWE has made no mention of Linda’s political career, and chances are that this policy will continue, that whatever happens in Washington will never affect what happens in the wrestling ring. That being said, Vince and Linda are closer to Trump than his average supporters, the couple having donated some $5 million to the Donald J. Trump Foundation and having other business deals with the Donald. It feels weird as hell to say it, but what all this means is that what happens in the White House could actually affect WrestleMania plans and WWE, or at least how the company is perceived, highly unlikely as that may seem.
1. Something Happening To The McMahon Family
Mere days before this article was written, Vince McMahon was a victim in what was described as a “big car accident” not far from WWE Headquarters. As it turns out, what exactly constitutes a “big accident” is subjective, as both the WWE CEO and the woman who hit him walked away from the scene without any injury. Nevertheless, plenty of fans stood with baited breath as they read that headline. Were Vince or any member of the McMahon family to actually figure in a major accident, the chaos and disarray that could cause wouldn’t just damage WrestleMania; it could kill the show outright. Less catastrophic and yet still incredibly important would be if a McMahon family member found themselves in some sort of unexpected legal problem, or if they rocked the world with a surprise drug problem. Of course, all of these speculative occurrences are equally unlikely to happen. But the fact that everyone would be so unprepared for such an event would merely serve to make it all the more catastrophic should it happen. That being said, as terrible as WrestleMania 33 looks, most fans would prefer a bad show over the industry leaders collapsing any day of the week.