The main subject of my wrestling thoughts these last few weeks has been Bray Wyatt. I essentially turned the Payback Spotlight into one long extended rant about how little his move to Raw was going to do for him. But it feels like years that there has been a feeling that WWE are holding Bray back – he has been in championship pictures for a miniscule part of his run, and he always seems to lose the big feuds.
It looked like WWE might have changed their ways with Bray earlier this year, as he put away SmackDown’s top two stars in AJ Styles and John Cena with one Sister Abigail each inside the Elimination Chamber to become the WWE Champion for the first time. He then defended the title two days later against the same two men in a triple threat match. But WWE’s Eater of Worlds, and their current darkest, creepiest superstar, quickly and too easily succumbed to Randy Orton at Wrestlemania.
Wrestlemania – and the weeks since – have not gone particularly well for Bray
I’ve been quiet since Wrestlemania and the superstar shake-up, and that’s because I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions. If I had written a column in the immediate aftermath of the draft last summer, the tone of it would have been far angrier than if I had waited a week. My main reasoning for that is I want to give WWE the chance to let things play out, as maybe something that as a fan I find frustrating one week is actually building to something bigger. But tonight is Payback, and since the build has been muddled and just generally not that good, I’m going to address something from the shake-up that ties into a match tonight. I’m just going to go ahead and say it.
I have no idea why Bray Wyatt was moved to Raw.
Should WWE’s “Face of Fear” stayed the face of SmackDown?
As we head into Wrestlemania, all eyes are on the ultimate thrill ride, and rightfully so. It’s not WWE’s pinnacle for no reason. But, as ever with WWE storylines, a big part of the excitement around Mania is the possibility for what will come next. So I’ve put my fantasy booking hat on (I mean come on, I don’t really ever take it off) and come up with eight rivalries I want to see on SmackDown coming out of Wrestlemania season. In case you’re wondering, I’m only doing SmackDown because I’m too uncertain about who will be in what spots and roles on Raw, and I’m doing eight feuds because there are eight segments in a typical SmackDown broadcast. And the roster isn’t really big enough for more. Got that? Let’s go!
WWE Championship – Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt ©
As the premier prize in the industry, the WWE Championship match at Wrestlemania should always be the most highly anticipated spectacle at the showcase of the immortals. But we’ve seen during the brand extension that that’s not always the case. When there are two world titles, one has to take priority over the other at the biggest show of the year, and just as it did in the early stages of the original dual world title era, this year it’s the WWE Title match that’s taking the back seat.
Part of that is because the build up to Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt this year has been… weird. In theory, this is a seven months storyline that has had its twists and turns, elevated both men with some character development and is peaking at the right time for maximum impact. Practically though, the last month or so especially has been confusing and very hit or miss.
We’ve had to surrender to the supernatural in the last couple of weeks
Six months ago, I wrote a column on the aftermath of the draft. I wrote about how the gauntlet was being laid down to SmackDown’s women’s division – and we have seen a star rise in Alexa Bliss. I wrote about how Dolph Ziggler wasn’t even on a list of names I’d noted weren’t on last year’s Battleground. And he was one of the stand outs in WWE for the latter part of 2016 alongside The Miz. Who would’ve seen that coming? I wrote about how the draft was all about the same thing that Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan had been pushing the blue brand to be all about – opportunity.
Now I want to talk about another superstar who has an opportunity. Now I want to talk about a wrestler who could have a career defining couple of months ahead of him. Now I want to talk about a superstar who six months ago was on the shelf through injury, and wasn’t even mentioned at any point in my previous article. Now I want to talk about Luke Harper.
The Road to Wrestlemania begins… tonight. It’s the Royal Rumble, where 30 men battle to throw each other over an obstacle. There is a rumoured Wrestlemania card out there online right now, but excitingly nobody seems to be sure where the titles will be. So the question on everyone’s lips tonight is, who will stand victorious having won the Royal Rumble match? That’s what I’m focusing on here by picking the Rumble match itself for my PPV Spotlight. And if you ask me…
I have absolutely no earthly idea.
This is the most open Royal Rumble… possibly ever. You actually need two hands to count the potential winners in 2017, instead of there just being two options. Let’s go through the apparent contenders. Continue reading
We head into WWE TLC tonight with a solid card of six matches that almost all have months of build-up. Long term booking is something I’ve written about before as being one of the big positives to come out of the 2016 version of the brand extension, and tonight should be one of the first real examples of how that is really advantageous to the show quality.
However, PPV-day means it’s time for my PPV Spotlight, and this time round I’ve picked the one match that hasn’t had months of direct build: the SmackDown Tag Team Championship match between The New Wyatt Family and Rhyno & Heath Slater.
Ahh Survivor Series. Raw vs Smackdown, as it has essentially been branded. I have to admit, when I first heard about the concept I wasn’t too keen, as I thought it was coming too soon. I didn’t think we had enough reason to care about seeing everyone in the same ring just a matter of months after they were split up.
But dammit they’ve done it, and I’m excited.
This PPV Spotlight is going to focus on the men’s 5-on-5 elimination match. Theoretically the ten top guys in the entire company, going head to head in the battle for brand supremacy. Now obviously, it never quite works out that way because of booking or injuries (or TV-hosting), but we still have an intriguing match-up with some mouth-watering potential clashes.
It’s finally here. The biggest show of the year, the night that tends to have the best crowd, the biggest happenings and often career defining moments. It’s time, for Wrestlemania 31.
I am crazily excited about this one, because as you will see in just a bit, a lot of the matches are quite difficult to call. That level of doubt makes for a more exciting match I find, and it will be easier to get sucked into the drama of it all. But the focus of Wrestlemania isn’t how excited we are, it’s about the show itself, so let’s get right into the predictions! Continue reading
So it’s been a while. Sorry bout that. But hopefully you can look forward to a real plethora of articles coming at you in the month of November! I have so much planned, fingers crossed I can actually get through it. My return to typing here is for something that I will make an annual feature – it is time to predict the card for Wrestlemania 31. Last year I did this column and got nowhere near the actual card, but this time round I’ve given myself about two extra months to analyse the rumours, and current storylines, and make a better call for what we will see on the night of March 29th. Just like last year, this will be a mix of likely matches, possible matches, and things that will never happen but I really want to see. So, let’s get right into it, starting things off with our WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match!