Alternate Reality by Vin Tastic

WrestleMania traditionally ends the creative “season” in the WWE and kicks off a new phase of storyline direction and focus for the next broadcast year. Typically the RAW following the big show sees the dawning of a new day begin. For example, the Austin era kicked into high gear the night after Stone Cold beat HBK for the title at WrestleMania XIV, as did the birth of a new D-Generation X.

Now that all three WWE brands have broadcast two new shows following WrestleMania, the direction of the company should be coming into focus. So what does the landscape of WWE look like today?

TODAY’S ISSUE: The “Backlash” from WrestleMania, if you will.

RAW: John Cena is still the WWE Champion. Superman has defeated every challenger they’ve thrown at him, and doesn’t figure to slow down in any recognizable amount any time soon. The same guys are in the title hunt as before the big event, and nothing new seems to be around the bend as far as the spinner belt is concerned.

The Hardys are now the tag team champs, which is not exactly an evolutionary step in the right direction, but at least it’s different. I guess Umaga is still the Intercontinental champ, but he never pays any attention to that championship, and that’s a crime considering men like Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Steve Austin, the Rock, Chris Jericho, and many other luminaries used to proudly defend that once-important title. Melina is the women’s champion, now feuding with Mickie James, so that’s the same as it was.

No new stars have debuted, no major shakeups have occurred. No new stables have formed, no new rivalries of any importance have begun, and nothing is significantly different from before WrestleMania.

SmackDown!: Undertaker as world champ is a change, but not a radical one. The Phenom has been at the top of the card for many years, so a mini-push back to the title isn’t earth shattering. I’m surprising myself as I type this, but I’m sort of glad to see his career rounded out by both the Rumble victory and the big gold belt. The streak must also never be broken, unless some amazing storyline leads to a young lion taking the company by storm via a victory over ‘Taker at WrestleMania. Batista looks to remain in the title picture for a while, so even with the strap changing hands, the landscape really hasn’t been altered.

The Cruiserweight Championship, although a world title, is as irrelevant and underutilized as ever on Friday nights. Chavo Guerrero is enjoying his sixth reign, but you wouldn’t know it by watching SmackDown!.

London and Kendrick are still the tag champs, and I whole-heartedly agree with that decision, but it’s one more example of same-old same-old. Benoit’s mired in the US division, and what’s worse, the fact that he’s carrying a belt that’s beneath him at this stage of his career, or the obvious forecast that he’s about to drop it to MVP? You decide. Kennedy appears to be making strides as Mr. Money in the Bank, and I hope they continue the tradition of the man with the golden briefcase winning a title via that contract. All things considered, the pre-Mania status quo seems to be soundly in place on Friday nights.

ECW: Bobby Lashley is firmly entrenched as the unbeatable Hogan of Sci Fi, and that doesn’t look to change for a long time. He’s in a never-ending feud with Umaga, and regardless of how many McMahons you add to the mix, it’s still a rehash. CM Punk is unfortunately a mid-card attraction as opposed to being a threat to the upper echelon of the company, so nothing new there. Unless of course, you consider his nWo-ish Oringinals/New Breed membership issue a major development for Punk. Speaking of the Originals and the New Breed, their feud rages on and while this isn’t a change, it’s definitely a good thing to let this arc survive for a while longer. Still, no news is well, no news.

With the split all but dead and future pay-per-view shows to feature talent from all three brands, it’s unlikely we’ll see a draft lottery this year. One wonders then, what exactly WWE is waiting for to unleash their brilliant new storylines, hot young prospects, and other exciting developments. Oh wait, I’ll bet they don’t have any of those things cooking oh well. I guess it truly is business as usual.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As some readers know, I’m a noncommissioned officer in the United States Air Force with 15 years of active duty service. I’m going out into the field for a huge wargames exercise, so I’ll be unable to post a new column for the next two weeks. Alternate Reality proudly returns on 7 May 07. Thanks for reading. – Vinny

We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.

p.s. – Things that make you go hmmm: Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach a person to use the Internet and they won’t bother you for weeks.

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