Raw and Smackdown both had good viewership this week, Raw picking up 3,643 million viewers meanwhile Smackdown drew 2,817 million viewers.
With the Royal Rumble now in the rear mirror, Wrestlemania is now fast approaching. There is of course a lot of news and rumours coming out this week as everyone’s excitement picks up for the Orlando event. Some of these news and rumours I will leave out of this article – as they would be considered spoilers. However, there are many which are public knowledge that we can discuss.
As the card for Wrestlemania 33 begins to take shape, some have talked about their disappointment in many of the proposed matches. I myself, while believing that there were some other possible matches I’d have preferred, think the card is shaping up well. There are so many potential matches that could have happened and even though the show is already probably too long as it is, there still really isn’t enough time to fit all of the stars the WWE has at its disposal on the card and being utilised to the best of their ability. As of none no match for AJ Styles has been confirmed or really began to shape up – although there has been one heavily rumoured. While yes it must be frustrating for the guy who has been World Champion for months to have to slide down the card on the biggest event of the year. However, it’s in his best interests for him to have the most high profile match possible and a singles match where he will not have to share the spotlight with multiple other competitors.
One of the matches I was actually most excited for at Wrestlemania was Seth Rollins Vs Triple H. However, that match is now in danger, which brings me to this week’s Raw. This knee injury sustained by Rollins, which is believed to be a torn MCL, occurred when Samoa Joe debuted on Raw this week attacking Rollins. Had it not been for that segment which closed the show, Raw would have been fairly forgettable this week. However, a big debut is always going to leave a positive view for most fans on any show – almost everything else becomes irrelevant on that show. Joe’s debut is a huge boost for me, I feel like he’d done what he could on NXT and he was needed on Raw. Joe can instantly become a main event level wrestler on a roster that really doesn’t have much depth in that area. Additionally to this, one thing that excites me is the wrestlers he will get to work with. We know how well Joe can work with Finn Balor, I’m now excited to see him work with the likes of Rollins, Reigns, Owens, Jericho, Cesaro, Rusev and Sheamus. Some of these possible matches I didn’t even think of back when Joe was in NXT, but now he is on Raw I’m thinking of the possibilities and I’m very much ready to see them.
Meanwhile on Smackdown, one of the most interesting things for me is the ongoing story between the Wyatt Family, specifically the work of Luke Harper. I’m hoping the WWE has plans for Luke Harper to be a large part of storylines on Smackdown in the future. Harper is very entertaining in the ring and as I’ve seen pointed out by other fans this week, one thing about him that is really sticking out is his facial expressions. The storyline has been one of my favourites in WWE for a long time and it allows Harper to be presented as part of the main event scene on Smackdown. Of course there is the issues that a lot of guys who have been around as long as Harper can face – have they been playing a support attack for so long that the majority of fans won’t buy into them as a main event player? This is why it’s exciting to see Samoa Joe thrust straight into a storyline with big names on Raw, he is presented as a big deal and someone who belongs with the likes of Seth Rollins and Triple H. It can be tough to re-educate fans who have been conditioned to believe one thing – although it’s certainly not impossible.
Roman Reigns coming out at number 30 was certainly not what I wanted; as I’m sure it isn’t what others wanted. Similarly an Undertaker match for Reigns at Wrestlemania isn’t exactly what I was hoping for. Nonetheless, this could all still work out for Roman. Looking at Reigns eliminating Undertaker at the Royal Rumble made me feel either one of two things is happening. Either Reigns is being set up for the villainous turn that so many have been hoping for, or he isn’t but Roman himself is really desperate for such an event and is trying his best to foreshadow it in a hope it may convince the powers at be to run with it. Either way, I’m really hoping that Reigns ends up the bad guy in all of this, his character is incredibly frustrating to watch sometimes in the way that Roman is so good, but he will just never win over the fans, as a group the fans that boo him will be too stubborn to accept him as a good guy unless WWE allows him to make this turn. It seems like the time to do it and there is no way Roman gets anything but booed out of the building against Undertaker at Wrestlemania so they may as well make the story more interesting by finally acknowledging how so many of the fans feel about Reigns and allowing him to run with it.
Hopefully both Raw and Smackdown can continue their good fortunes in the ratings next week, although generally the Raw after the Royal Rumble is one of the best on the year, so I expect a bit of a drop, and probably a similar fate for Smackdown next week.