Each passing year, WWE puts on a be-all-end-all sports entertainment extravaganza they call WrestleMania, capping off their past 12 months of programming in a gigantic, bombastic affair. And then, the next night, they start all over again in building towards the next one. WrestleMania hasn’t always been some sort of reset button, though. In the past, the event truly was the peak of what Vince McMahon and the company could offer. Unfortunately, nowadays, the planning is so short-term and subject to tinkering that the company virtually forces itself to start from scratch after an event like the Grandest Stage of Them All.
With the 33rd Showcase of Immortals less than one week away, many WWE fans aren’t too happy about how the show looks. There are multiple bad main events with obvious endings, none of which the average audience member doesn’t want to see. If nothing else, there’s a silver lining in that the sheer number of part-timers and slapdash nonsense storylines going into this year’s event means it will all be over relatively quickly (although not until after the actual show itself takes a good seven or eight hours to unfold).
Since the part-timers only make up a small portion of the full roster, that still leaves plenty of space for the regular WWE superstars to take the spotlight and grow as performers. Of course, mere opportunity does not promise any results, and there are countless directions WWE could go once April 2nd comes and goes. Keep reading to learn about 15 things WWE fans should expect after WrestleMania 33.
15. WrestleMania Won’t Really Change Anything
It might feel like this one was already covered in the intro, yet it bears repeating right off the bat. Due to the number of part-time WWE superstars performing at WrestleMania, in main-event matches no less, it’s almost impossible for the show to actually matter for longer than 24 hours. As this list continues, it will outline the many specifics on which wrestlers won’t be around anymore after WrestleMania 33 — the point fans need to understand being that WrestleMania is no longer about furthering current WWE programming; it’s basically a standalone event. Way back, WrestleMania truly was a blow-off show that ended major feuds and started new ones, but at this point, things like that can happen almost anywhere. Raw, SmackDown, or any other monthly PPV is just as good a place as WrestleMania for a classic match to take place. And thus, the company has turned the biggest show of the year into a special attraction filled with celebrities and guest stars instead of an integral part of their storytelling. The next night on Raw will be where all the fun really begins, so on that note…
14. One Heck Of An Interesting Raw
Since as early as 1995 and the 11th annual Showcase of Immortals, the Raw to take place the night after WrestleMania is, in many respects, equally important to the WWE Universe as the Grandest Stage of Them All itself. Always taking place near WrestleMania but at a smaller venue, the real appeal of the post-Mania Raw is found entirely within the rabid crowd of loyal fans who always speak their mind during it. In the past, this has included some highly creative chants, surprising reactions strong enough to actually affect future bookings, and good old-fashioned huge pops in celebration of the performers who genuinely deserve it. It’s too soon to tell exactly what fans will be in for that night, but especially because WrestleMania 33 looks to be a huge disaster from a creative standpoint, the crowd should be on point in letting WWE know just how badly they’ve failed as a company. Unlikely though it may seem, fans could also totally love the show, which would make for some memorable reactions as unexpected greatness unfolds.
13. Part-Timers Taking A Walk
One of the harshest criticisms facing this year’s Showcase of Immortals ironically has to do with how many of those Immortals are going to be on the card. This would be fine if there happened to be dozens of active icons still wrestling today, but the sad fact is there aren’t. And thus, WWE is relying on legends of yesteryears to make short-term comebacks to try and save the show. The Undertaker, Shane McMahon, and Triple H will all be wrestling their first and probably only televised match of the year at Mania, and Goldberg and Brock Lesnar aren’t far behind them. As this list goes on, we’ll outline how more wrestlers are more likely to join them in part-time status than fill the void, leaving WWE regular shows virtually empty in terms of top stars. This is going to result in either massively sagging ratings, as has been the trend, or ideally, WWE taking chances on new wrestlers trying desperately to stand out in an uncertain era. Both situations mean the main-event scene will almost immediately become difficult to predict, and there’s no way to guess who the next challengers to the WWE Championship could be.
12. Vince Getting Madder And Exponentially Troll-Like
Though it isn’t entirely fair to judge the quality of a wrestling event before it actually happens, a majority of WWE critics already agree WrestleMania 33 has very little chance of being a success. The crowd has, by and large, rejected the feuds leading into it, and few of the top-billed wrestlers seem to hold anyone’s interest, Vince McMahon being the sole exception. Of course, this is WWE we’re talking about, so Vince McMahon’s opinion happens to be the only one that matters, and his recent reaction to fans disagreeing with him has been to stay with the course and rub it in their faces. Roman Reigns is the best example of this as every single crowd treats him like the biggest heel in the world, while Vince continues to demand that his commentators lie about it and act like everyone loves him. When that didn’t work, he started edited fan reactions in recaps, and troll-like contrarian behavior like this will continue to get worse as time goes on. Blame it on Vince getting older or simply the fact he’s mad people disagree with him. The important part is there’s no one to stop him from jerking around the audience for his own amusement.
11. McMahon-A-Mania Never Stops
Regardless of what Vince McMahon does behind the scenes in regards mistreating the crowd, there’s another highly criticized issue involving his family that will annoyingly keep pressing on past WrestleMania as well. Way back during the Attitude Era, the CEO of WWE decided his family would be an integral part of his programming, and thus far, Shane McMahon has been the only one to have second thoughts on this decision. Also, Shane has now apparently had third thoughts, and is thus back in the fold to stay. It’s bad enough Shane has a high-profile match against arguably the best wrestler in the company, but it’s even worse that his appearances on SmackDown Live will continue — win, lose, or draw. Stephanie, on the other hand, may not have a Mania match, but she’ll definitely be on the show, and will stick around on Raw well after that. Vince may or may not be there in person, but he’ll definitely keep pulling the strings to keep his kids on TV for as long as he lives. Granted, WrestleMania doesn’t really have much to do with this, as this is one aspect of WWE that will probably never change.
10. The Big Show Winding Down
If the long repeated trope that “One has to see the Big Show in person to appreciate his size” is true, fans may not have much longer to truly understand his appeal. In other words, Big Show has already started floating rumors that he’ll be retiring from WWE and, most likely, professional wrestling altogether when his contract ends in February 2018. While there’s still quite some time left for Show to change his mind, anyone announcing retirement this far in advance has probably put tons of thought into the idea already. Show has also gotten into the best shape of his life for one last run and has heavily lobbied for a high-profile match against Shaq. He’s even blatantly said he was hoping his last WrestleMania could feel special and memorable. Although the Shaq deal fell through, or perhaps even in spite of that, Big Show will most likely continue trying to come up with new ways to give the fans a special moment before he says his final farewell. WWE might even give him one last huge push as a thank you for his many years of service, and, in the very least, they’ll probably make sure he gets an appropriately giant send-off when his last day comes.
9. Triple H Building An NXT Army
In addition to his role as the WWE Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events, and Creative and being a part-time wrestler with 14 World Championships to his name, Triple H is also the founder and primary creative force behind NXT. Because of this, he often takes credit for all of the success achieved by any wrestler to go through the system and more or less pretends their accomplishments are his own. Whether or not this is entirely fair, Triple H at least partially deserves credit for any push a wrestler in WWE receives, so he might not be entirely wrong about this feeling. To ensure the audience feels the same way, it’s heavily rumored that Triple H will form an onscreen faction featuring a number of high-profile former NXT stars, including at least Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens. Chances are, the exceptional, career-defining work these two did prior to signing with WWE will be entirely ignored, as Triple H will increasingly take the credit for whatever his “protégés” manage to achieve. The silver lining, of course, is that they’ll also get a high profile out of the deal, and will hopefully be able to prove Triple H has nothing to do with this success.
8. The Broken Hardy Boyz Trying To DELETE WWE
Certain sections of the WWE audience have been begging for the Hardy Boyz to make their returns to the company from the day they left, and exponentially more fans have jumped on the bandwagon since Matt created his Broken persona in Total Nonstop Action/Impact Wrestling. It wasn’t long after Matt was Broken that his enigmatic Brother Nero got in on the fun, and soon enough, almost every tag team in TNA was taking trips to the Hardy family compound to participate in Total Nonstop Deletion extravaganzas. While there are also plenty of haters who think the whole thing is too bizarre to work, the point is that everyone in the wrestling world was talking about it, apparently including some higher-ups within WWE. Nothing is certain at this point, but rumors point to the Hardyz making their WWE returns at long last either at WrestleMania or very soon after it. And it only makes sense they’d bring their zany, deleted madness along with them. How far the ordeal will go remains to be seen, though Hardy fans should be happy regardless, content at seeing their old favorites come home.
7. Orton-Wyatt Will Continue (To Make No Sense)
The more attention one was paying to WWE on the road to the 2017 Royal Rumble, the less sense it made that Randy Orton was the winner. Sure, he was a huge star in the past, but at that point, he had mostly been wrestling in the tag team division as Bray Wyatt’s lackey. In any event, once Wyatt won the WWE Championship the next month, it became particularly obvious where the company was going with the story: Orton would turn on Wyatt and challenge his former leader at WrestleMania. En route to doing so, he would also burn down Wyatt’s cabin in the woods, or something. If it sounds like this is where the whole thing starts to fall apart, that makes sense. But, in fact, it was a mess from the very beginning when the highly successful former WWE Champion Randy Orton kowtowed to the Wyatt Family for pretty much no reason. Orton’s only explanation was “if you can’t beat them, join them,” followed by barely changing his character at all, up to and including his supposed face turn by burning down the house of the people who saved his career by making him relevant again. Unfortunately, it feels like WrestleMania won’t be the end, and fans will have to sit through this nonsensical garbage for months to come.
6. Chris Jericho Hitting The Road
Bad news for anyone who feels the Festival of Friendship and subsequent Chris Jericho – Kevin Owens feud is just about the best thing WWE has going for it this year: Jericho’s band Fozzy is set to tour the US starting in May for at least the next two months. It goes without saying this means Jericho will be gone from WWE while he’s working with his band, and it might not just be for those couple months as the group also has plans to release a new album sometime this year. What this adds up to is Jericho taking a lengthy sabbatical from WWE at a time he’s doing some of his best work ever — and all fans can do is put his dreams of being a rock star on The List. On the bright side, Jericho has been highly positive about his latest run in WWE during shoot interviews and has strongly given the impression he won’t be gone forever. Considering his penchant for making bombastic comebacks, this could actually wrap around as a good thing, so long as he doesn’t put it off for too long.
5. Shinsuke Nakamura (Hopefully)
On the heels of WrestleMania, there are always a high number of new superstars ready to make their WWE debuts and/or returns. This list has already covered the possibility of Triple H forming an NXT Army, and it only makes sense that such an idea could come along with a handful of high profile call-ups from the WWE developmental brand. While there hasn’t been any particular indication of whom that may entail, fingers crossed, this could finally mean it’s time for “The King of Strong Style” Shinsuke Nakamura to make his way to either Raw or SmackDown Live. Nakamura has been considered one of the most talented and charismatic superstars in the WWE Universe from the second it was announced he signed with the company. That he’s been wasted in NXT for a full year is a completely baffling decision. Now that there’s literally nothing left for him to accomplish in NXT, Nakamura either needs to make the jump to the main roster or have all his potential lost through lack of relevance.
4. Nikki Bella Joining Brie In Retirement
More so than any two long-term WWE superstars, the Bella Twins have a remarkably similar career trajectory, the second word in their team name explaining the bond. Brie Bella retired last year after a bombastic WrestleMania send-off match, and all signs are pointing towards her sister Nikki doing the same after the upcoming mixed tag team match with real life beau John Cena as her partner. The one thing missing from Nikki’s privileged, idyllic supermodel lifestyle has been Cena’s hand in marriage, which she has been openly begging for on her reality shows, pretty much since the day they started dating. Considering the rumor that Cena will propose at the end of their match against The Miz and Maryse, it would make perfect sense for Nikki to start living the family life with Brie after she gets a big moment of her own. There’s also the fact Nikki has been battling neck injuries for some time now, and it may not be healthy for her continue life as a wrestler. On top of it all, one has to assume that when Nikki gets John to marry her, she’ll move on to wanting other things from him as well, like perhaps a child, another thing that could send her away from the ring.
3. Less John Cena
In what might be the biggest blow to WWE in the immediate wake of WrestleMania, the recognized “Face of WWE,” John Cena, will be joining his girlfriend/potential fiancé Nikki Bella, Chris Jericho, Brock Lesnar, and the many part-timers in taking an indefinite hiatus from the company. Worst of all, unlike all of these other departures, Cena’s has essentially been completely confirmed. Completely unrelated to whether he proposes to Nikki Bella and they live happily ever after or not, he’s set to play a major role in the upcoming film Daddy’s Home 2, reprising the character he portrayed in the first one. That was just a cameo, and now Cena is a top-billed star, which was the exact same career trajectory of The Rock when he became a gigantic Hollywood star. Cena has also been on Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show recently. His recent appearances in films like Trainwreck also indicate he may be looking to branch out from wrestling sooner rather than later. Who knows exactly how far it will go, but he’ll definitely need some time off for Daddy’s Home 2, and his showbiz star can only rise from there.
2. More Roman Reigns
So, several top stars are leaving, all the part-timers have no reason to stick around, and all fans have to look forward to is mostly a confusing mess with wrestlers past their primes getting weird with their high profiles. Does Vince McMahon use this opportunity to experiment with new stars, or perhaps, to ask the most loyal members of the audience what they want to see and give it a shot? Nope. He puts all his faith in Roman Reigns because that’s been working out oh-so-well thus far. Odds are spectacularly high that Reigns will defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania and use the victory to cement his status as The Guy, like it or not. There are equally high odds the majority of fans will continue to reject him as such, causing ratings to decline even further and making the Road to WrestleMania 34 even more pathetic than the one fans went through this year. The only things that could stop this are injuries or Vince getting distracted with someone else. And solely to stop anyone from hoping a guy gets hurt, let’s all cross our fingers for that second one.
1. No Universal Champion
There are enough problems with the presumed WrestleMania main event between Brock Lesnar and Goldberg for a textbook on the subject to be written, but for the purposes of this list, we’re going to focus on one of them in particular. While most flaws associated with the match are related to that one night in Orlando, there’s at least one issue that will last for several months or as much as a year. Regardless of who wins, neither Brock nor Goldberg’s contracts will allow them to defend the Universal Championship on a regular basis. Goldberg especially has proven he can’t put on a normal match anymore, so conventional wisdom says Brock’s going to win the belt. But Brock’s been averaging less than 10 matches per year of late, thereby making the distinction irrelevant. Especially with rumors saying Vince McMahon wants Brock to lose to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 34, this means fans are in for an extremely long wait before the alleged most important new championship in the company is defended on television. There’s little chance the Universal Championship will ever be considered equal to the WWE Championship should this actually happen — though knowing Vince, that might be the point.