In the 1980s it was difficult to imagine that the World Wrestling Federation could exist without the Immortal Hulk Hogan. We later saw that this was not the case and that professional wrestling would be just fine without him. The same thing happened with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the late ‘90s when they revolutionized the sport during the Attitude era and made us all believe that once Austin and The Rock were gone, so too would be everything that made WWE special.
In more recent years WWE fans have feared the impending retirement of the Undertaker, who has competed at nearly every WrestleMania event since his debut in 1990. The phenomenon known as “the streak” took over the wrestling world spanning three separate decades until it ended at WrestleMania XXX, and although the Undertaker continues to compete at the annual event his role has been greatly reduced over the years and fans are slowly starting to realize the heart of WWE will not stop beating upon his permanent exit.
The real spirit of WWE lies in WrestleMania itself. The event has defined the organization for over thirty years and long ago became such a staple that fans look at every single happening throughout any given year within the frame of what it might mean for the next WrestleMania. As professional wrestling’s Super Bowl equivalent, WrestleMania is the source of constant fantasy booking and the upcoming thirty-third installment stands to make a lot of history with all the changes brewing in WWE. Here are seven things we want to see go down at WrestleMania 33 – and eight others we don’t.
15. DON’T WANT: Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
In 2014 at WrestleMania XXX WWE made the decision to honor the inaugural inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame, Andre the Giant, with a special battle royal held in his name. The “Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal” was a match jam packed with WWE Superstars where the winner was the last man standing after everyone else had been eliminated by being thrown over the top rope. It was essentially a Royal Rumble match, but instead of a WrestleMania World Championship match the winner was awarded with a trophy.
Right off the bat fans knew this was a cheap way to include as many stars as possible on the show. The award of a trophy meant absolutely nothing to anyone and it meant even less when the winner of the first Andre battle royal, Cesaro, got almost no fanfare or additional momentum from the win. Every year since then the company has continued to have these matches worthy of nothing but a bathroom break and every year the winners get absolutely nothing from it. It’s time for WWE to stop wasting our WrestleMania time with these horrid matches.
14. WANT: Universal Championship Brought to Prominence
From the moment of its establishment at SummerSlam in 2016, the WWE Universal Championship has faced an uphill battle. When it was announced weeks earlier as Raw’s equivalent to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship when that title was drafted to SmackDown Live, fans instantly rebelled against the new World Championship based on its name alone. When the belt was then revealed at SummerSlam the live audience ate it alive, verbally hating on its excessive use of red coloring. On top of all that, the very first Universal Champion, Finn Balor, was injured in the match that won him the title and was forced to vacate it the following night.
Since then the Universal Championship has seen a difficult go of being recognized as a World Championship for Monday Night Raw as it has often been steered clear of the main event for other segments. Though fans now seem ready to accept the title, it has not yet been seen on a playing field anywhere near level to that of the WWE World Championship on SmackDown Live. The Universal Championship needs a position of real prominence at WrestleMania 33 in order to gain some momentum.
13. DON’T WANT: Charlotte Flair vs Sasha Banks
Though the so-called Women’s Revolution has been happening for a few years now and a lot of different people have been given credit for it, 2016 will most certainly go down in history as the year WWE finally listened to its fans and took necessary strides toward gender equality in its programming. At WrestleMania 32 the term “Diva” was finally retired along with the hideous butterfly championship belt that represented it. In that belt’s place was a brand new WWE Women’s Championship belt that was modeled after the men’s World Championship and the amazing triple threat match between Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks to crown the first champion became the highlight of the evening.
Since then SmackDown Live has received its own Women’s Championship while the one established at WrestleMania became the Raw Women’s Championship and that title was competed for by Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks all throughout 2016 in a history making rivalry that broke a ton of glass ceilings. However, the lengthy feud has gone to every corner of the WWE Universe and fans are ready for something different at this year’s WrestleMania to keep the women’s wrestling ball rolling.
12. WANT: Cruiserweight Presence
The newly minted Cruiserweight division has had a bit of a rough go of things in 2016. The Cruiserweight Classic tournament on the WWE Network earlier in the year was a huge success and featured some of the most solid wrestling matches of the year for WWE, so when it was announced that the winner of that tournament would become the first holder of a newly established Cruiserweight Championship and that the division would be made a permanent thing on Monday Night Raw, fans were understandably ecstatic.
Unfortunately, it seems that ever since the Cruiserweights actually came to Raw they have fallen victim to some extremely questionable booking decisions. That is to say that they’ve barely gotten any time to develop their characters and their matches, and as a result have done nothing but bore the casual fans in the audience. Some of this could also be a result of WWE’s famous tendency to not allow these Cruiserweights to perform many of the aerial stunts that made the division so popular years ago before it was retired. Needless to say, the Cruiserweights need a strong showing at WrestleMania 33 and hopefully, their new weekly WWE Network show, 205 Live, will help them build to that.
11. DON’T WANT: Another Bray Wyatt Loss
For years WWE fans have hoped that the company would allow the amazingly gifted Bray Wyatt to grow into a strong, modern-day version of the Undertaker. As the newer resident creepy presence in WWE, Wyatt certainly has the in-ring ability and verbal skills to dominate for years to come. Unfortunately, Bray Wyatt has continuously lost match after match over the years and it has grown incredibly difficult for WWE to present him as a true threat to anyone on the roster. His WrestleMania record has seen him lose his matches at WrestleMania XXX and 31, while barely even being featured at WrestleMania 32.
The brand extension, though, has done a lot to help undo the damage that has been done to Bray. His recent program with Randy Orton has revitalized the interested of the WWE Universe in him and he is finally being shown as capable of carrying out the punishments he promises, which was always his major shortcoming. With this new momentum WrestleMania 33 is the perfect opportunity to start properly building Bray Wyatt as a future major player in the WWE.
10. WANT: Samoa Joe
For over a decade Samoa Joe dazzled independent wrestling fans and it had become something of an accepted reality of life that WWE would never accept him into their rankings for a run in the biggest wrestling organization in the world. In 2015 that all finally changed when Joe debuted in NXT and has been in the NXT Championship picture ever since. Joe has feuded with the likes of Finn Balor and Shinsuke Nakamura, each one of the biggest NXT stars in history, and has become synonymous with the developmental brand.
Samoa Joe has seemingly done all he can do now with NXT, with two NXT Championship reigns behind him and few stars left to give him a believable challenge. Fans know it’s time Joe is brought up to Raw or SmackDown Live in order to do what he does best and we’re all hoping it happens soon so that he can have a chance to steal the show at WreslteMania 33 in a high profile match.
9. DON’T WANT: Undertaker’s Retirement
For nearly thirty years we have all watched as the Undertaker came to define WrestleMania’s role in the pro wrestling industry with his outstanding performances. His undefeated streak will never be beaten, and although it was indeed broken at WrestleMania XXX by Brock Lesnar the “Phenom” has continued to compete annually at the event. However, as each year passes the anticipation builds further that the Undertaker may be on the verge of retirement.
We aren’t naïve as wrestling fans; we’ve seen enough huge stars come and go that we know once the final nail has been driven into the career of the Undertaker, WWE will go on and continue to thrive. However, the Undertaker has become so closely aligned with the idea of WrestleMania that we will never be emotionally prepared for it. The Undertaker’s retirement is definitely not something we will ever want to see at WrestleMania, even though it is inevitable.
8. WANT: AJ Styles as the World Champion
Perhaps the biggest WWE debut of 2016 came early at the year’s Royal Rumble event with the arrival of indie megastar AJ Styles. Like the debut of Samoa Joe, fans had come to believe and perhaps even accept that AJ Styles would never sign a contract to work for Vince McMahon because McMahon didn’t seem at all eager to make the deal happen. But happen it did, and less than a year later AJ Styles was dominating the SmackDown Live brand as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
Styles is rumored to be one of Vince McMahon’s favorite acts on either of his shows and is interested in bringing him to Monday Night Raw for a potential reunion with the Bullet Club in 2017. While it seems likely Styles will headline WrestleMania 33 in some capacity, it’s certainly not locked down and with John Cena still hanging around no one’s spot at the biggest show of the year is ever safe. AJ Styles has already become one of the most entertaining WWE Champions in years and fans definitely want to see him in the title picture at WrestleMania.
7. DON’T WANT: Brock Lesnar vs Goldberg
Brock Lesnar has been a big money fighter in WWE for years now. Though frequently the subject of some controversy as it relates to his part-time schedule, he remains one of the biggest draws for the company. Bill Goldberg stands to follow a similar path after making his triumphant return to the ring in 2016, which was billed as quite a big deal and the match between Goldberg and Lesnar took the main event spot at Survivor Series.
Goldberg totally squashed Brock Lesnar in that match in a shocking twist, but WWE seems to believe the fans are way more into this program than they are. Though a Goldberg versus Lesnar rematch may be in the works few people actually care enough for it to happen at WrestleMania 33. It seems clear that WWE would want to ensure another potential showdown between these two wouldn’t draw the same negative reaction it did over a decade ago when it happened at WrestleMania XX, but WrestleMania fans are always rabid and it seems this particular rematch might stand to be utterly destroyed with boos on the grandest stage of them all.
6. WANT: A Fitting Opponent for the Undertaker
As we have already discussed, no wrestling fan is ready to see the retirement of the Undertaker and no fan likely ever will be. However, we do have pretty high standards for the one opportunity we have each year to see this legend compete at a top level. WWE may see the Dead Man’s WrestleMania appearances as an opportunity to give a rub to a younger star to help boost his wrestling career, but ultimately what fans unquestionably want is the biggest match imaginable each and every year.
The time has come and gone that the WWE Universe wants to see the Undertaker tie it up with the most exciting and athletic stars of today; the appeal for years now has been wondering if WrestleMania will bring us any of the Undertaker dream matches we want so desperately to see. Fans want to see him take on Sting, The Rock, Triple H, or even John Cena at WrestleMania these days, so hopefully the Phenom will have a worthy opponent awaiting him at WrestleMania 33.
5. DON’T WANT: John Cena in the Main Event
To talk about why John Cena has been so solidly rejected by WWE fans over the past decade would be beating a dead horse. It’s been talked about until the subject is no longer interesting, much like Cena’s career as a whole at times. While no one cares about what John Cena’s hustle, loyalty and respect shtick will get him into next, the man can still have a classic match with just about anyone despite the constant accusations that he just can’t wrestle. Just ask internet darling Kevin Owens about how John Cena wrestles.
While fans are probably willing to accept John Cena as the Undertaker’s next, and possibly final, WrestleMania opponent, they are no longer willing to deal with him in the main event of the biggest pro wrestling show of the year. Fans are finished with having Cena dominate in a time of younger, more popular stars and while WWE has significantly cut back on his screen time, it’s never safe to bet against Cena stealing the main event scene from a younger Superstar.
4. WANT: A Bullet Club Reunion
The rumor mill has had a lot of fans on fire lately with rumblings of Vince McMahon being so high on AJ Styles that he is looking to potentially move him to Monday Night Raw for a reunion of The Club, formerly known as the Bullet Club on the independent circuit. Styles was briefly teamed with his fellow Bullet Club stars Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson early in 2016, but was split from them in the draft at the onset of the new brand extension.
Add to these rumors the fact that an injured Finn Balor, who is also a former Bullet Club member, has stated in interviews that he is shooting for right around WrestleMania 33 as his return date and the recipe for fantasy booking is right in front of us. Though Styles isn’t likely to be drafted to Raw until after WrestleMania – if at all – the fact that both Raw and SmackDown Live rosters will be present for WrestleMania has the potential to gift fans with a reunion for the ages.
3. DON’T WANT: Big Show vs Shaq
Paul Wight, known originally as The Giant in World Championship Wrestling and then most popularly as the Big Show in WWE from the Attitude era to now, was once an unstoppable and intimidating force in professional wrestling. That time is long in the past as many years of overexposure and losses to make nearly every other star on the roster look better have brought Big Show to a point where no one takes him seriously anymore. For several years the WWE Universe has peppered him with chants of “please retire,” and as it turns out that’s exactly what he’s likely to finally do in 2017.
Big Show has said in interviews that he plans to retire soon, but his last WrestleMania match is rumored to be a snooze-fest against celebrity Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal. WrestleMania has always been known for its seemingly mandatory celebrity presence and it almost always makes fans roll their eyes, so it is needless to say another WrestleMania match featuring a celebrity and a WWE Superstar they’ve been trying to convince to retire for years is not something most want to see.
2. WANT: Strong Women’s Wrestling Presence
The women’s wrestling movement is moving along at the speed of light. Though we entered 2016 still in the midst of the Divas era and those Divas still suffered greatly from poor storyline construction, character development and match time, the year ended on the high note of female Superstars breaking a plethora of glass ceilings. The Divas Championship has been retired and WWE now has a Women’s Championship for Raw and SmackDown Live each. Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks alone have been involved in the main event several times with the first ever women’s Hell in a Cell match behind them.
However, the triple threat match between Charlotte, Sasha and Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 32 stole the show and will be almost impossible to top because the expectations are now tremendous. It will be an uphill battle for the women of WWE, but a strong showing and an opportunity to make that strong showing happen in the first place will be in high demand come WrestleMania 33.
1. DON’T WANT: Roman Reigns as the World Champion
Roman Reigns is our new John Cena and that is a connection that is just too easy to make. It baffles the mind to think of why WWE would want to mimic the drama they got with pushing John Cena to the moon by following almost the exact same pattern with Roman Reigns, but that is what they seem to be doing. Ever since splitting from The Shield, Reigns has been poised for great success as WWE’s favorite of the former trio, but fans have rejected him at every turn, vastly favoring Reigns’ fellow Shield brethren Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose.
Despite consistently vicious crowd reactions, Roman Reigns continues to be made into the star of Monday Night Raw even when he’s not holding a World Championship. Unfortunately for the fans, it seems likely that WWE is setting Reigns up to either enter or leave WrestleMania 33 as the WWE Universal Champion, and that is the absolute last thing the WWE Universe wants.