Well, here we go.
I guess I should be happy. After all, the rumors going back to last summer and into the fall were that Shane McMahon would be facing Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania, and that would have been just awful.
Now it’s apparent that Styles will face Shane at WrestleMania in a few weeks, and that’s better than Brock, at least. I still have some very big issues with Shane McMahon getting another prime spot on the biggest show of the year, but in this case, I at least understand it and I’m more OK with this match than I would have been with the match against Brock.
At the very least, this means that Styles will be in a prime spot on the show. There really isn’t much else for him to do, when you look at the SmackDown roster. Dean Ambrose and Baron Corbin are in a feud, the title picture is locked up with Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt. There’s just not another wrestler on the SmackDown roster that really gets me excited to face Styles at WrestleMania. At least not a wrestler who is big enough that they would treat the match with any importance.
The big caveat to that is whether or not WWE would consider putting Styles in the ring with Shinsuke Nakamura. He’s been ready for more than a year to be called up, and WWE hasn’t pulled the trigger. If they were to move ahead with that match, I’d be all for it, but I’m OK with them holding off as well.
There’s going to be so much happening at WrestleMania, Styles vs. Nakamura could get lost in the shuffle. There’s almost too much spectacle for that match to take place on that show. If Styles and Nakamura were both huge stars and main-eventing, then I’d 100 percent be on board. But, that’s not the case. Not in WWE’s world, at least.
I’d much rather them hold off and bring Nakamura up to the main roster after WrestleMania, and if they put him on SmackDown, he should immediately feud with Styles and main event the two or three pay-per-views following WrestleMania as they head into the summer. That way, they’re featured correctly.
1 — John Cena & Nikki Bella beat James Ellsworth & Carmella
There’s too much mixing between WWE and Total Divas for my liking. They seem to be trying to walk this reality-show line with this storyline, and it comes across as all too fake for me. We know “reality” TV is anything but real, so I guess it shouldn’t matter much, but this feels really cheesy for a hot heel like Miz and the top star on the brand, Cena, to be involved in.
2 — Alex Bliss & Mickie James beat Becky Lynch & Natalya
Difficult match to get into. The pace was really slow and it felt like they were stalling too much at times. Mauro Ranallo was really good here, covering for a dropkick by Natalya that didn’t fully connect, and Ranallo was quick on his feet to cover it up, saying that Bliss partially blocked the kick.
After the match, James kicked Bliss and posed with her belt. This feels like it has the potential to get really convoluted heading into WrestleMania.
3 — Randy Orton beat AJ Styles to become No. 1 contender for the WWE Title at WrestleMania
This was a really good match, and definitely the highlight of the show that featured only three matches.
Orton and Styles have a natural chemistry, it seemed, and considering they had been avoiding each other for a bit, this felt like a fresh new match for Styles, and this whole storyline has really given Orton a jolt to his character that had felt stalled and stagnant for a few years.
WWE built this match up really well, and the match lived up to that build. It wasn’t overly aggressive, but the pace was good and it was a solid main event.
What I liked most about this match is that they kept the finish clean. Orton went over without any interference or hogwash. That helped cement Orton as the true No. 1 contender for the WWE Title at WrestleMania, and it gives him a very good clean win over a top star heading into that show to cement him as the top contender.
They still have some build to do, in the ring, between Orton and Bray Wyatt before the show. Last week’s movie-style angle, with Orton burning down Wyatt’s house, came across a little confusing. Orton felt like the heel and Wyatt felt like the babyface.
Moving forward into next week and the few shows they have left before WrestleMania, WWE needs to have something for Wyatt to do in order to get his heat back. It also needs to be something dastardly enough that he positions him as the heel. Last week, Wyatt came across very sympathetic and it was very easy to empathize with him as he sat crying in the ring, while Orton burned down his … well, I guess it was a shack or a barn? Regardless, it was something that Wyatt character clearly has an emotional connection to, and Orton was destroying it. I know Wyatt is the heel, but it would be hard for the viewer not to empathize with Wyatt in that scenario.