As we travel down the Road to WrestleMania, things in the WWE are starting to take shape. We know that Shinsuke Nakamura will face the WWE Champion (presumably AJ Styles) in New Orleans this April. We know Asuka will have a title match, but we don’t know who she’ll face. Eventually, things will become clearer as we edge toward WM34, but right now, there are really more questions than answers.
After watching both of the main roster shows since the Royal Rumble a couple of weeks ago, I still wonder exactly how things are going to come together. Here are some of the things I’ve been wondering about.
The Professor’s Burning Questions
What is WWE’s policy regarding domestic violence or sexual assault? – Recently, WWE cut ties with then-Cruiserweight Champion Enzo Amore after a woman accused him of sexual assault. WWE first suspended Amore indefinitely, then released him outright the next day. Some time before Amore’s downfall, Rich Swann was arrested on charges of battery and false imprisonment. WWE released a statement saying that Swann would be suspended until the legal process played out. Recently, the charges against Swann were dropped due to lack of evidence. WWE hasn’t made any announcement yet, but one assumes that Swann may be back on TV at some point in the future. If WWE was willing to wait on Swann, why wouldn’t they wait on Amore? Whatever the reasoning is, the fact that Swann wasn’t fired and Amore was makes WWE seem inconsistent at best, irresponsible at worst.
What is the deal with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn? – Owens and Zayn’s pairing has been a highlight of SmackDown over the past couple of months. Zayn in particular has benefitted from his association with KO. The Underdog from the Underground has seen his star rise dramatically since the two came together. Last week, WWE ominously planted the seeds of a breakup as the two were set to battle each other for a chance to face AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at Fastlane. The two had a great match on this week’s SmackDown, only to have Styles interfere. Now, the match is set to be a Triple Threat. This seems to bode poorly for the pairing of Owens and Zayn. Now, instead of working together to best The Phenomenal One, they have to fight each other as well. There’s little doubt that Styles will hold the belt headed into ‘Mania. It appears that WWE will use the Fastlane main event as a way to break up Owens and Zayn, probably with an eye on pitting them against each other at WrestleMania. This is a fine plan short-term, but shouldn’t be the end of the story. Either Styles or Shinsuke Nakamura will hold the title after WM, and both will need challengers. Keeping Owens and Zayn together keeps an entertaining act on TV and provides legitimate challengers for the WWE Championship, regardless of who holds the belt. WWE would be wise to put the brakes to this breakup.
Is there a prize for the Mixed Match Challenge? – WWE is heavily promoting this Facebook Watch show, and giving us some vignettes featuring the teams involved. (There are some very interesting pairings on the show.) What they haven’t explained is why any of the superstars involved would choose to compete. There isn’t a belt on the line, and there’s no real reason that any of these competitors would willingly risk injury coming up to WrestleMania. If WWE is going to present these special attractions, there should be a reason for them.
Will WWE turn AJ Styles or Shinsuke Nakamura before WrestleMania? – There’s no doubt that a huge portion of the WWE universe is salivating while thinking about this dream matchup. Typically, WWE doesn’t do face vs. face or heel vs. heel matches at WrestleMania. Hopefully, the powers that be are smart enough here to avoid trying to turn either of these men. Styles is so over with the crowd right now that they probably couldn’t turn him heel if they tried. Nakamura is also wildly popular with the fan base. Additionally, Shinsuke doesn’t speak much English, so it would be even harder to turn him heel without the benefit of promos.
Since anyone with two eyes knows that Roman Reigns is going to win the Elimination Chamber, why should we watch? – WWE is dead set on having Reigns face Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania. They’re not even really trying to hide it. Having Reigns drop the Intercontinental Championship to The Miz was the first sign. Reigns then won a match to get himself into the Elimination Chamber bout. All that remains is for him to win and move on to New Orleans. With such a predictable outcome, WWE needs to develop some other storylines to keep fans on board. Extra credit question: Since Braun Strowman is going to lose again at Elimination Chamber, what can WWE do to keep him relevant in the eyes of fans?
Does anyone really think that the SmackDown Top 10 List is legit? – So, apparently, the SmackDown locker room is taking a poll every week to determine who the top ten superstars on the roster are. Does this make any sense at all? For example, AJ Styles was No. 1 on the list (rightfully so), but wasn’t in a match, and is booked into a program that involves Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, neither of whom made the list. First of all, are we to believe that the entire locker room is so petty that they’d leave Zayn and Owens off of the list just because they don’t like them? If so, then isn’t the list bogus to begin with? Maybe they’ll use the list as something to jump start storylines. For example, Randy Orton was ninth on the list this week, and came out at the end of Bobby Roode’s U.S. Championship match with Rusev (also not on the list…are you kidding me?). He passed out RKOs to everyone then posed and left. Perhaps someone should have asked him why he did it. Then he could say it was because he was pissed off at being No. 9. (Although, that wouldn’t explain why he attacked Rusev.)
– Hopefully, some of these questions will be answered before we get to WrestleMania in April. We’ll see you next week.