We're a couple weeks away from the biggest show of the year, Wrestlemania. Traditionally, the WWE has gone all out in trying to build up interest for what they call "The Showcase of the Immortals." This year, we have the WWE once again in a brand split, trying to create two separate shows with two separate identites that never intermingle. Former WWE announcer and WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross stated back in July when the brand split first occurred that we as fans would best be able to judge the success of the brand split by Wrestlemania time. So, with Wrestlemania 33 happening on April 2nd and being shown live on the WWE Network, how did Monday Night Raw add up this week?
The show opened with Mick Foley being fired as Raw General Manager. In real life, Foley has hip surgery coming up soon to help aleviate some of the pain he still suffers from his life as an in ring performer. According to the story on Raw, he got on the wrong side of Stephanie McMahon one too many times and she fired him.
I have conflicted emotions about Stephanie. On the mic, she ranks up there in getting the crowd to hate her alongside the work of her father Vince McMahon, as well as Paul Heyman. She is gold on the microphone. The problem with Stephanie as a character is that she never gets what should be coming to her. A villain in wrestling needs to be vanquished. Heck, a villain in ANY story needs to pay for their sins. Now back during the Attitude Era in the WWE, we would probably have seen some of the male performers get physical in the ring with Stephanie. We saw The Rock perform the People's Elbow on her multiple times. Stephanie was head butted in the ring by a member of The Radicalz faction in 2000. It simply was not uncommon for a woman to suffer violence at the hand of a man in wrestling during that era.
These days however, that would never fly. While wrestling is a fictitious show, the fact that the company aims their content at a younger audience means we're not going to see some of the examples I mentioned earlier happen again. I have no problem with that. Yet that doesn't mean you can't find other ways for Stephanie to suffer defeat.
When Daniel Bryan was still an active performer, Stephanie would tear him apart on the mic week in and week out. His only retort was giving a goofy smile and not saying much to her. It made him look weak to not respond. I'm not saying he needed to resort to violence yet the audience was aware of his relationship with Brie Bella at this point. Why they couldn't have a female superstar mix it up with Stephanie is beyond me.
Frankly, Stephanie needs to be taken off television. If they can't find a way to have her suffer defeat as a character, either make her a good guy or take her off the show. When you have a story where the villain always wins and gets what they want, you have a bad story that is just not enjoyable.
The show closed with another confrontation between Roman Reigns and The Undertaker. Once again, Roman Reigns pretty much acted like a bad guy when he took out The Undertaker to close the show. The crowd was having no part in cheering Roman Reigns. If the plan is to give Roman a full heel turn at Wrestlemania, then they're doing everything perfect. They keep doing what they're doing now, have Roman cheat to win in his match against The Undertaker, and they end up with the hottest heel in the company. Yet we all know that's not going to be the case.
I can see the ending of the match now. Roman Reigns will pin The Undertaker clean in the middle of the ring. After the match, The Undertaker will shake Roman Reigns hand, symbolizing a torch being passed. And when that happens, the fans will boo Roman Reigns out of the building.
I've said it before and I will say it again. Roman Reigns is a talented superstar. I do see big things in his future. He's simply not there yet in my opinion. He's close, but he's not the guy you build a company around. What's so wrong with letting him mature more so he can earn the audience's favor? I think of The Miz, someone who fans have hated for years. Thanks to the brand split, The Miz has had a new fire in his performances that have really turned people's opinions of him as a performer around. His promo about the importance of the Intercontinental Championship on Talking Smack last year was one of the best promos in wrestling for years. If The Miz can get to a point where the fans respect him, Roman Reigns can get there as well. He's not being helped by having his supposed good guy character shoved down our throats.
The state of the WWE is not perfect. Yet there have been much worse times in wrestling history to be a fan of the product. What with the WWE Network, the rise of smaller promotions like Ring of Honor and Lucha Underground, the WWE finally recognizing the benefits of using already established talent like Samoa Joe and Austin Aries, and we're looking at what could be a great decade of wrestling for us fans. I'm a little iffy on the Wrestlemania card this year but I definitely will be watching.
So what do you think about the Wrestlemania card? Has the WWE built up the show enough to get you interested in subscribing to the WWE Network? How did you like this week's episode of Monday Night Raw? Sound off in the comments section below.