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Over the last several weeks, I have highlighted some of the major feuds heading into WrestleMania, such as Brock Lesnar and Goldber, Seth Rollins and Triple H and The Undertaker and Roman Reigns. With WrestleMania just a few days away, I thought I'd take a look at some of the other feuds and storylines heading into the show:
*A lot of people feel that AJ Styles vs Shane McMahon is a storyline that is a waste of Styles and that he deserves better. I agree in a sense, but at the same time the silver lining is that having Styles in a match with Shane is a sign of how much WWE values Styles. We might not think much of it, but WWE management sees Shane as a huge star (hence why he fought The Undertaker last year) and to Vince McMahon, wrestling Shane is like a main event spot. WWE has booked Styles over the past year infinitely better than I thought they would; I wish he was wrestling someone else at WrestleMania but it isn't that bad of a deal.
What is interesting about the match is that it appears it is going to be a normal, one-on-one match. Since Shane's specialty over the years has been to take some crazy bump and get really hurt, everyone just assumed this was going to be a street fight of some sort. If it is just to be a basic match, Styles will have to perform a literal miracle in the ring to coax a good match out of Shane. I think they still might attempt a crazy high spot; but they will have to be more creative with how they do it.
*The build-up to Randy Orton challenging Bray Wyatt for the WWE Championship has been...interesting. Despite being for the world championship, it seems like an afterthought on this card from a promotion standpoint. I think one of the things is that with Wyatt's character the storytelling can be sci-fi and you lose some people that way just because talking about souls and magical power is something wrestling fans might not feel like suspending their disbelief for. Orton is the babyface in this matchup, but he has pretty much acted like a heel the entire time; which in a way is good for him because he was never good at playing a straight babyface anyway.
Orton could win the match; but this should really be a big win for Wyatt. He needs to continue to establish himself as not just another contender, but a dominant force and knocking off Orton at WrestleMania is a big step in the right direction. With Cena set to leave for more time away from wrestling, SmackDown needs more stars that can work at the top level, and you don't build a guy to that level by having him lose at WrestleMania to a guy that doesn't need the victory to solidify himself.
*Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens have worked by far the best program on RAW leading up to WrestleMania. Like any great babyface turn, the fans were really dying to have a reason to cheer for Jericho because he has been so good at playing his character and getting his catchphrases over with the live audience. Now that he is a babyface he is a powerful force in WWE, someone that nearly every fan gets behind when they are working a match or cutting a promo.
That has allowed Owens to finally have a babyface he can generate heat against. Unlike his matches with Reigns and Rollins, Owens is indisputably the bad guy to fans watching and that has allowed him to get a lot of good, old-fashioned style heat in his program with Jericho. Owens can hold his own on the mic against a master like Jericho and he does a great job delivering beatdowns to his opponents. Their build has been a perfect mesh of talents and storytelling and they probably will end up having the best match at WrestleMania to boot. Jericho is set to go on tour with Fozzy this summer, but that doesn't matter in this case as he would be doing the job no matter what.
*The best feud on the SmackDown side has been John Cena and Nikki Bella vs The Miz and Maryse. The Miz has poured in a ton of good work since being drafted to SmackDown; his speaking ability has been key in the success of Talking Smack and the feuds he has been in have been pretty good because of that. His charisma and his personality easily get under people's skin and he is almost impossible to actually like, even if you admit that he is incredibly talented.
Cena for his part, has been just as good if not better. Although he has taken more time away from the ring, Cena has been apart of some really good feuds this year and has cut some of his best promos. This was the case on Tuesday night when he eviscerated The Miz and Maryse in one of the most memorable promos of the last few years; really pushing the boundaries of what was okay to say in WWE and multiplying interest in their match. The match is likely going to end with Cena and Nikki winning with Cena proposing at the end, but in reality the match means very little; this feud is all about the build.
*The RAW Women's Championship match will feature seemingly the only four women in the division in Bayley, Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Nia Jax. The match is an elimination match, so I think the first thing to happen will be all three women will team up on Jax to eliminate her, thus keeping her strong but also not putting her in a position that is too difficult for her. The best finish I can think of is Banks getting eliminated by Bayley and then costing her the match. The problem is the division is so thin that there is little room for creativity in feuds, if Bayley and Banks are feuding who does Charlotte, the champion, work with? They need another babyface on the roster and there is no reason it shouldn't be Asuka.
*Another match that involves the depth of the roster is Baron Corbin vs Dean Ambrose. I think this match has kind of a win-win aspect to it; Corbin wins and gets the Intercontinental Championship and Ambrose moves on to more of a main event role. With Cena leaving, SmackDown really only has Orton as a top babyface so they need Ambrose to step up. Ambrose has the versatility to drop into a main event position and at least hold his own as a babyface against the top heels. I have no idea if Corbin's ceiling is as high as WWE management thinks it is, but it is time to find out by giving him some gold.
*Two guys that have been all over RAW but don't have any big plans for WrestleMania are Braun Strowman and Samoa Joe. This is part of the problem with part-time guys taking up most of the main spots on the card; the guys that are used a ton on RAW because the part-time stars are not always there end up being thrown into the battle royal with the likes of R Truth and Mojo Rawley. Triple H always talks about how they won't bring guys up from NXT unless they have a definite plan for them; but they bring up Samoa Joe and have him be an unstoppable force on RAW and yet he can't even get on the main WrestleMania card?
*I don't have high expectations for WrestleMania, too many of the major matches have the potential to be subpar to expect the show to be anything but mediocre. I think a troublesome sign is that on RAW Monday the crowd was getting a little fed-up with Lesnar and Goldberg. WrestleMania is going to be a VERY long show and without enough entertaining matches to occupy the crowd, I think it could end up getting kind of ugly. If Lesnar vs Goldberg is a short and very basic match (and I can't see it going longer than 5-10 minutes) the fans might end up being really upset for sitting through a boring a show for over five hours and be rewarded by a quick main event. If the matches on the card end up overperforming I don't think having a short main event will matter that much, but if the fans are expecting the main event to be the real highlight of the show because the other matches were mostly duds, things could get very interesting.