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WWE Injuries, Poor Storytelling Has Hurt Road to WrestleMania

WrestleMania 32 is less than two weeks away. Due to a mix of poor storytelling and a rash of unfortunate WW injuries, the Road to WrestleMania hasn’t been this uncertain and lackluster in years.

Injuries will unfortunately always be a part of professional wrestling. When you have larger than life athletes running into each other and flying around the ring, people will get hurt every now and then. The WWE, however, has been bit particularly hard by the injury bug as of late. Currently, top-flight superstars such as John Cena, Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, Sting, Cesaro, Nikki Bella, Paige, and Neville are on the shelf and most will likely miss WrestleMania.

Bray Wyatt has been rumored to miss the show as well, but nothing has been made official about that. Aside from his usual cryptic vignettes, it is not known what he will be doing at The Show of Shows. There is only one more RAW before WrestleMania, so unless something happens next week, his role on the card will remain a mystery.

Also remaining a mystery is why The Undertaker would agree to be Vince McMahon’s “bitch” (according to Vince himself) and fight the Chairman’s son. Shane McMahon’s return a few weeks ago sent shockwaves throughout the WWE Universe, but with each passing week, the reactions have gotten quieter and quieter. The fans are seemingly confused as to why The Undertaker – a good guy – would be willing to do the evil boss’s bidding.

WWE Creative has had weeks to explain how this makes any sense whatsoever, but they have failed to do so. Vince is nowhere near the talker he used to be, and Shane has been visibly nervous since returning. Even The Undertaker hasn’t helped matters much, and the anticipation for the match has waned with each passing week.

The WWE World Heavyweight Championship match between Triple H and Roman Reigns has devolved into backstage brawls, which could actually be the best way to keep fans from turning on Reigns more than they already have. After keeping Reigns out for a few weeks to recover from his nasal surgery, his return was met with apathy, which is obviously not what the WWE wants. With Reigns being continually jammed down fans’ throats as the next “guy” and with the assumption that he will win the title again, he is entering the match as the de facto heel. There was a chance to add some intrigue to the match in the form of Dean Ambrose, but the WWE stayed the course with Triple H-Reigns after a very entertaining title match between Ambrose and Triple H at WWE Roadblock a few weeks ago.

Even Ambrose-Lesnar has lost some spark due to Lesnar’s part-time schedule. He will be appearing on this week’s Smackdown, so there’s hope that something will pick up in that rivalry. Paul Heyman, Lesnar’s proxy, had the lone bit of interaction and story advancement (if you want to call it that) during Ambrose’s disastrous main event match with Braun Strowman on RAW. The addition of Mick Foley and Terry Funk giving the rub to Ambrose has been a nice touch, but hopefully next Monday will give the match an added shot in the arm.

The New Day’s upcoming matchup with The League of Nations has perhaps gotten the most attention from week to week, but the recent “official” face turn from The New Day hasn’t gotten the reaction Vince was hoping for, and The League of Nations gets just about the worst reaction of all – apathy. A New Day victory is all but guaranteed, but where the trio will go from there is unknown.

Staying in the tag team division, The Usos and Dudley Boyz has been very difficult to watch, as the fans just haven’t been into the duo from Dudleyville since their return, and The Usos have long been stagnant. The recent matches involving Goldust and R-Truth were borderline unwatchable and the crowd has reacted accordingly.

The Diva’s Triple Threat match between Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks has had one of the better buildups of late, and the match should be entertaining. The same cannot be said for the presumed multi-Diva tag match involving Brie Bella, Alicia Fox, Lana, and everyone else Creative doesn’t know what to do with, and the match itself should be a total train wreck.

The storyline with the best buildup so far has been AJ Styles and Chris Jericho’s intense rivalry. The storyline is simple (most storylines are best when kept this way) and the match is sure to be phenomenal (pun intended).

The Intercontinental Championship match originally featuring Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, and The Miz was decent enough when kept at four Superstars (although I could do without The Miz and even Ziggler being involved). Unfortunately, Creative inexplicably decided to add Sin Cara, Stardust, and Zack Ryder into the mix to repeat the 7-man ladder match that occurred at last year’s WrestleMania. It’s assumed that Neville was originally supposed to be in this match and was replaced by Ryder following Neville’s injury.

Why the need to add three additional men to a match with no storyline reason for being involved other than Owens randomly picking them for a #1-condender’s match? In what world is Zack Ryder qualified to be fighting for the Intercontinental Championship when he is essentially an NXT talent these days? Ryder, Sin Cara, and Stardust would be much better off in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal while keeping the ladder match a Fatal Four-way. I would have much preferred Owens-Zayn to be one-on-one, but I get that Zayn is still new to a majority of the WWE audience, so the “veteran presence” (at least in the casual WWE fans’ eyes) of Ziggler and Miz is probably needed.

Besides The Big Show and Social Outcasts, has anyone else declared themselves for that Battle Royal yet? I know it’s an excuse to get as many Superstars on the card as possible, but at least give it a little more hype than just trotting out the (face again) Big Show to hype up a deceased Andre the Giant who obviously doesn’t need it.

Last (and possibly least) is the US Championship match between Kalisto and Ryback. After Ryback’s oddly-timed heel turn and wooden promos directed at Kalisto, this match has no hype whatsoever. It will probably deliver from an in-ring standpoint, but what reason do fans have to get behind this match?

Will WrestleMania 32 be an entertaining card? I’m sure it will be; it’s still WrestleMania. But a rash of untimely injuries and a lack of coherent storytelling have kept the hype surrounding this card to a minimum.

WWE: The US Championship: A Legacy of Greatness Season 1

WWE: Straight Outta Dudleyville: The Legacy of the Dudley Boyz Part 1

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Nick Irving

Nick Irving joined CamelClutchBlog in 2016. He works in Bristol, CT at the Worldwide Leader in Sports, ESPN. His previous non-wrestling work can be seen at nickirvingpr.wordress.com. If you like following the carnival that is American politics, sports, and pro wrestling, follow him on Twitter: @irvingnick // IG: @nicklennon // Yelp: irvingnick.yelp.com

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