RAW Deal: The biggest winners and losers of WrestleMania
WrestleMania 33 in the Sunshine State has come and gone, and to be honest, it was better than expected. Seven hours of WWE wrestling certainly gives a lot of credence to the whole “Ultimate Thrill Ride” tagline, but I just wish that they stopped doing this trend of having lackluster buildups and letting the event itself surprise everyone at how decent it could be.
My opinion of WrestleMania 33 though is straightforward: in the era of the “millennial” WrestleMania—that is to say, a lot of things going on—WWE may have finally figured how to really do it properly. Considering everyone on the roster plus part-timers, they finally made use (most) of their casual attractions right, and gave almost everyone who deserved the win a good victory. Some fans may not have liked some of the important events that happened, but aside from a few bad eggs the narrative coming out of WrestleMania went in the right direction.
And because not everyone gets to win at WrestleMania, let’s take a closer look at who comes out with momentum and who has to work extra harder.
WINNER: Brock Lesnar, new WWE Universal Champion
The best possible man to hold the title right now and give the young championship a shred of legitimacy, Brock Lesnar vs Goldberg went the right way at WrestleMania despite some fears that they would make Goldberg retain. It’s now a matter of who Lesnar drops the title to, when he’s going to drop it, and how he’s going to drop it, but it apparently isn’t going to be Roman Reigns just yet.
Simply because by the time he walked out to the Citrus Bowl on Sunday night, a good part of the crowd had defected to Lesnar’s side. His dream final run is over, Goldberg pretty much completely exposed for the two-trick dog he was. (Don’t believe me? Listen to the reaction Lesnar got after he won.) It was a good arc with the right payoff, but I wish Lesnar was in Goldberg’s role and someone younger was in Lesnar’s role.
WINNER: AJ Styles
Arguably the hottest talent in the Superstar Shakeup and now unofficially the best wrestler in the company, AJ Styles cannot have a bad match. Not even against a non-wrestler like Shane McMahon. It’s a damn shame that they’re moving him away from the wonderland that is SmackDown Live, but if it means he’s going to get some more legitimacy in what is generally the show where the bigger boys play, I’m all for it. Let’s just hope they don’t ruin him.
LOSER: Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton
The WWE did Wyatt so dirty here. There was no reason for Orton to beat him for the championship, and nobody really wanted it to happen. Now SmackDown has two duds in the WWE Championship scene, and it’s highly disappointing because they were the brand expected to do better.
If I were Bray Wyatt, I’d walk away from the company when it’s time to renegotiate my contract. Yes, he got a championship run out of it, but the number of times they dropped the ball on him far outweighs the number of times they gave him something good. Make them realize his real worth and go somewhere else (that isn’t TNA).
WINNER: The Undertaker
If all indications are true, the Deadman finally gets to rest. He gets the ultimate win in his career.
This would’ve been Roman Reigns in this space, but I need to wait and see whether they’ll actually pull the trigger on the much-rumored heel turn. The seeds were already planted in this week’s RAW’s already popular opening segment, and they just have to follow through.
On the question of whether Reigns was the right guy to pass the torch to, if Undertaker had a say in it (and he most likely did, given his status in the company) then it’s no longer for us to question. The guy sees something in the Big Dog that few of us do (or would acknowledge). It’s now up to the WWE to maximize his strengths and minimize his weaknesses.
LOSER: Braun Strowman
The guy who most favored to win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal ended up being eliminated like an afterthought. Yeah, the Rob Gronkowski intereference for the Mojo Rawley win was a Necessary WrestleMania Thing, but to sacrifice Strowman for a guy nobody truly likes? It’s shortsighted at best, and Strowman heads into a push as somewhat damaged goods. The good thing is that there’s still time to salvage him.
WINNER: Naomi, new SmackDown Women’s Champion
Well-deserved, and a good hometown moment for Naomi.
LOSER: Sasha Banks
The Fatal Four-Way elimination match for the RAW Women’s Championship was definitely solid, but Sasha Banks getting eliminated second is highly conspicuous. All eyes were on her and what she could possibly do if she and Bayley or she and Charlotte were left together in the ring, but they bypassed those two possible moments. Or even the extended triple threat interaction.
WINNER: The Hardys
Mark this win with an asterisk because they’re still trying to win back the legal rights to use the Broken Hardys characters. The Hardys received the welcome they deserve and the tag team championships they deserve; now it’s up to them and the WWE to find a way to make things interesting without the characters they were signed for.
LOSER: The entire SmackDown tag team division
For not getting a match and only getting shoehorned into the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. At least that gets them a chip on their shoulder to work even harder. But how much harder should they work?
OTHER WINNERS: Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, Neville, The Miz
OTHER LOSERS: The New Day, Becky Lynch, Samoa Joe
Do you listen to podcasts? Would you want to listen to a local podcast about pro wrestling? If the answers to those questions – especially that last one – are yes, then you should check out the cleverly-named Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast, featuring Mellow 94.7 DJ and PWR General Manager Stan Sy, wrestling writer and Wrestling God Romeo Moran, and all-around multimedia person and former voice of PWR Raf Camus! This week, Wrestling Goddess on FOX Nicole Le Saux joins Stan and Ro to talk about WrestleMania! Listen to it here!