The Delco Elbow Drop

Friday, January 9, 2015

WWE in 2015 – The Road to Wrestlemania

It’s 2015, WWE fans, and with the Royal Rumble on the horizon, the company is gearing up to head into the annual “Road to Wrestlemania.” Now is the time for the biggest, most impactful storylines of the year to be set up, with the Rumble itself usually used as a catalyst for these stories. In this article, I want to take a look at the most recent storylines in WWE and how I see them playing out heading into Wrestlemania.

The Main Event – The Authority and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Last week on Raw, rather than see Seth Rollins Curbstomp Edge onto the Money in the Bank briefcase, John Cena agreed to bring back The Authority – Stephanie McMahon and Triple H.
It was a strange series of events, for a number of reasons. 1 – Couldn’t Cena have saved Edge without agreeing to bring back The Authority? I mean, he was able to slide in and spear Rollins before he stomped Edge after agreeing – couldn’t he have done it beforehand? 2 – What was the point of having The Authority gone for just a couple of weeks? They lost power at Survivor Series on Nov. 23 and brought back Dec. 29 – what was the point? What, Trips and Steph wanted the holidays off?
Not to mention that bringing them back so quickly totally negates Sting’s appearance. Not only does his confrontation with Triple H at Survivor Series no longer have any meaning, but why wasn’t he there on Dec. 29 to stop them from coming back? If it mattered so much to him to stop them the first time, why didn’t he come back to help Cena or Edge?
But I’m getting off topic – I’ll get to Sting in the next point. Right now, I want to stay focused on The Authority and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
This week on Raw, Triple H announced that Seth Rollins would be part of the championship match at Royal Rumble with John Cena and Brock Lesnar – which doesn’t make sense, seeing as how he’s the MITB holder. If he can have a title shot whenever, why does he need to actually be in a title match? Makes no sense.
Obviously, Rollins is only in this match so that Cena doesn’t have to lose cleanly and allow Lesnar to continue carrying the belt into Wrestlemania. Unless Rollins cashes in after the match is over, but I really don’t see that happening.
(If you ask me, Brock should have dropped the belt a while ago. He’s an attraction on his own and doesn’t need to be champ. It’s not like he’s doing much to elevate it in the eyes of casual or non-fans. Brock should be the new monster to beat at Wrestlemania, like Undertaker was.)
This means that Brock will carry the title into Wrestlemania and face the winner of the Royal Rumble which I will get to after we take a quick detour back to…

“The Vigilante” Sting
No one (especially now) is quite sure what WWE’s overall plan is with Sting. Having his appearance at Survivor Series negated now but The Authority being reinstated after only being gone for a matter of weeks, where does Sting fit on the card?
The consensus online is that Sting should face Undertaker at Wrestlemania 31. The two men were the biggest stars of WWF and WCW in the early 90s and are active in the same company for the first time ever. Sting vs Undertaker would be a huge attraction, sure to be fascinating to new fans as well as older fans from the pre-Attitude Era. The only question would be how to set this match up but with several months until ‘Mania, that wouldn’t be hard.
Unfortunately, it seems to me that WWE will continue using Sting as a foil for The Authority (despite having no role in thwarting their return). My bet is on Sting facing Triple H at Wrestlemania. Sting has already attacked Triple H once and the only time he’s appeared on WWE programming so far was to get Trips (and his wife) fired, essentially. This match writes itself and if Sting/Triple H doesn’t happen at ‘Mania, I’ll be surprised.

The Royal Rumble winner
During the last Raw of 2014, Daniel Bryan made a surprise appearance, saying on Twitter that he had an announcement about his career. While many were worried he would be announcing his retirement, he instead announced that he would be taking part in the 2015 Royal Rumble.
Bryan was the man many people wanted to win the 2014 Royal Rumble (despite not being entered into the match). With the announcement of his return, he became the odds-on favorite to win…for some.
But before Bryan’s announcement, many had pegged Roman Reigns as the clear favorite to win. With his recent return, the WWE’s desire to make him look strong and his record-setting run in the 2014 Rumble, it seemed almost obvious that Reigns would secure a title match at Wrestlemania.
As much as it pains me to say – Roman Reigns will most likely win the Royal Rumble. It’d be amazing to see Daniel Bryan win it, especially since (in kayfabe) he’s practically the only person strong enough in WWE to stop Brock Lesnar. However, with Bryan only recently returning, I can’t see WWE putting him back into the title picture immediately. Plus, whoever eliminates Bryan would gain massive heel heat and create a hot feud heading into Wrestlemania. A conservative guess would be Bray Wyatt but my longshot guess would be a returning heel Sheamus.

Bray Wyatt and Dean Ambrose – What’s next?
After suffering a string of losses to John Cena (including 3-on-1 matches), Bray Wyatt needed a little repackaging. WWE broke up the Family and sent Luke Harper and Erick Rowan into singles territory while keeping Bray in the upper mid-card. His first target after returning? “The Lunatic Fringe” Dean Ambrose.
Returning in October, Bray attacked Ambrose at the end of his Hell in a Cell match against Seth Rollins and their feud has been going strong until this past Monday, where Bray defeated Ambrose in an Ambulance Match, which the announcers made it seem like would be their final meeting.
With some momentum finally on his side, it would seem like a logical choice to have Bray go after a singles title, right? Except the only face with a singles title – Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler – lost that title the same night Bray won the Ambulance Match. (Dolph was then “fired,” a point which I’ll get to next.)
This leaves Bray in a bit of limbo as there isn’t a top-tier face (or singles title) for him to go after. My guess is that he’ll stay visible on cards but not do much until the Royal Rumble, which will be used as the catalyst for his next big feud.
Dean Ambrose on the other hand, despite losing the feud to Bray, is still quite popular with the fans and doesn’t seem to have lost much momentum. A great idea for Ambrose’s next course of action would be to reignite his hatred for Seth Rollins. Those two always put on great matches and their feud didn’t have a definitive end.
How, you ask? Simple. Just as Rollins is about to win the title at Royal Rumble (or cash in his briefcase – no reason he can’t lose the match then cash in right after), Ambrose shows up and ruins everything, allowing their feud to return and flow into Wrestlemania. This way, both guys are still near the top of the card and could easily transition into a role as a World title contender.

Ziggler, Ryback, Rowan - You’re fired!
I often rag on WWE booking decisions for not making much sense – which I will continue doing right now. “Firing” Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan, much like bringing back The Authority so soon after Survivor Series, negates Sting’s return and completely diminishes not only the outcome of Survivor Series, but also Ziggler’s impressive performance as the last man standing on his team.
If you recall, the stipulations of that match were if Team Cena lost, everyone on his team would be fired. Except Cena, of course (oh and Big Show since he turned heel during the match for what feels like the hundredth time). So Team Cena won, Sting showed up to stop Triple H from interfering and The Authority got the boot.
But here we are, a little over a month later and The Authority is back and everyone on Team Cena (minus Cena and Show) are fired. So basically, the “must see” Survivor Series main event to decide the future of WWE didn’t really mean anything.
With that said, it’s hard to say what the future holds for the recently fired trio. Obviously, the firing was kayfabe and if I had to guess, I’d say they’ll be back by or before the Royal Rumble.
The only question is how. And I have one word to answer.
Vince McMahon isn’t on TV often anymore but it was Vince who created the stipulation that if The Authority lost at Survivor Series, they would be out of power. So while it hasn’t been said straight up, clearly Vince either wants The Authority gone or doesn’t have faith in the way they’re running the show. If we can infer that, we could also infer that Vince may have issue with these firings, considering the circumstances of Survivor Series.
The other reason I believe Vince will bring them back is because he’s the only person (kayfabe or otherwise) with more power in WWE than Stephanie or Triple H. And since there was no escape clause added to the firing of Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan (like there was when The Authority lost), having Vince bring them back seems like the only logical course of action.
And if Vince were to bring them back, one of the best options in my opinion would to have them come back in a role similar to The Shield. Don’t make them dress up in black combat fatigues but have them harass The Authority’s goons in the name of justice and stand up for the others in the locker room being pushed around by Stephanie, Triple H and Seth Rollins.
But, since that would be too interesting, they’ll probably just show up in the Rumble with no explanation and start working regularly, like they never left at all.

Rusev crushed?
The WWE United States champion Rusev still has yet to lose by pinfall or submission (regardless of that fact that he’s lost by DQ numerous times). He was seemingly starting a feud with Ryback but now that The Big Guy is fired, that’s looking less likely.
Rusev announced that he will be in the Royal Rumble this week on Main Event (or maybe Lana said it) and while there shouldn’t be a problem with him doing double duty, defending the title and being in the Rumble, like I said before, it’s not looking likely that he’ll defend the belt at the Rumble.
So where does that leave the former Bulgarian Brute? Well, he’s got to lose sometime and unfortunately, that first loss will likely come at Wrestlemania. To whom, though? I think we all know who. (Need a hint? LOLCENAWINS)
But even after he losses to Cena at Wrestlemania (hopefully the US title isn’t on the line) he’s still been having great showings in 2014 and should definitely be booked as a bigger threat to the rest of the locker room in 2015.

The forgotten ones – the tag team titles and Divas title
Even before Miz and Mizdow dropped the titles to the Usos randomly on Raw a week or two ago (I don’t even remember when), I had a feeling like The Ascension would be moved immediately into the tag title picture once they made it to the main roster. With The Ascension debuting recently and the belts on the waists of a face team, it seems like just a matter of time before Konnor and Viktor are hot-shotted to the titles.
I liked The Ascension more in NXT, before the weird face paint and the oddly shaped shoulder pads. In NXT, they were just vaguely supernatural badass wrecking machines. But now they’re on the main roster, they LITERALLY just clones of Legion of Doom, Demolition, the Powers of Pain or the main similarly face-painted, jacked up tag teams from the 80s.
It wasn’t enough for them to look exactly like those teams, the WWE has gone so far as to make The Ascension reference those other teams specifically and say they’re superior. And if that wasn’t bad enough, JBL, the heel commentator, wasn’t even backing The Ascension up during their promo on Monday! How are guys new to the main roster, that the majority of fans haven’t seen before, supposed to get over when the people who are supposed to be actively working to sell the product on-air are telling us that brand new wrestlers aren’t as good?
Regardless, The Ascension still seem like the odds-on favorite to win the tag titles and if not at the Rumble, then soon.
But what of the former champions, Miz and Mizdow? Despite not liking Miz much in the ring, he’s a pretty good heel and it shows with how well Mizdow has gotten over in his role as The Miz’s stunt double. But now that they’ve lost the belts, the final days of their team seem nigh.
The break up and subsequent feud between Miz and Mizdow has been on the horizon almost since the duo got together. Once Mizdow started getting over with the crowd, it seemed like only a matter of time before they break up. Whether it’s because Mizdow is tired of the treatment he receives or Miz realizes that Mizdow is more popular, the end seems inevitable – especially now.
The Rumble seems like as good a time as any to begin the end, with one eliminating the other. (Or maybe Miz gets eliminated and wants Mizdow to eliminate himself but he won’t).
As for what’s next for the Usos or Ascension? They most likely feud over the belts…until WWE wises up and puts them on Tyson Kidd and Cesaro! (Yeah, I know that last part will never happen)

And I feel really bad that there isn’t more to write about the Divas title and it’s future but, like always, the Divas division seems even lower on the WWE’s “List of things we care about” than the tag titles.
Ever since Brie got Stockholm Syndrome and started liking her sister Nikki (you know, the one who threw her under the bus for every bad thing that happened in their childhood, made Brie her personal assistant, turned on her at Summerslam and said she wished Brie had died in the womb), Nikki won the Divas title and has actually turned into a decent worker in the ring. Granted, she’s not as good as Natalya or Paige, but she’s getting there.
But despite that, there’s been little to no lasting or tangible storyline for any Diva beyond Michael Cole recapping what happened recently on Total Divas and inferring that must be why whoever is fighting whoever in a match (because heel/face alignments don’t seem to exist in the Divas division). Alicia Fox is crazy when they need her to be, Naomi is sometimes a wrestler, sometimes a valet for the Usos, Paige is a heel or face whenever necessary and always hangs out around whoever has eyes on the title – there’s little to nothing propelling the division forward outside of someone every once in a while wanting to be Divas champ for whatever reason.
Right now, it looks like Natalya will face Nikki at the Rumble for the title and Paige has attached herself to Natty, to hopefully turn on her after Natty wins the belt.
But AJ Lee is still MIA and there’s no telling when or if she’ll be back. But even when she was around, her feud with Paige really went nowhere, unfortunately. It’ll be interesting to see if she makes an appearance at the next Divas title match, perhaps igniting a feud with the Bellas leaving Paige and Natty feud over the title.

The leftovers
The Viper
  Where has Randy Orton been? Just when it seemed like he was turning into an interesting face (something he’s struggled to do in the past), he went away to film a movie and has been MIA for months. I thought he might come back at Survivor Series to help take out The Authority (since they always seemed to favor Rollins over him) and I was sure he’d come back to stop Rollins from stomping out Edge last Monday…but neither happened.
  Right now I’d say he’ll probably come back at Royal Rumble but without any momentum or direction going into that show, it’s hard to say how the fans will react to him or which Randy Orton we’d see. And even then, there isn’t a guarantee he’ll come back at the Rumble.

The Masters of the Universe
  I absolutely love the pairing of Tyson Kidd and Cesaro. If they’re hell-bent on having Cesaro stay a heel, having he and Tyson Kidd (another heel in need of more screen time) team up is a great choice. They haven’t done much lately but on Monday, they did attack Big E so it seems a feud with the New Day is in the works. But the chemistry between Cesaro and Kidd is undeniable, their work in the ring is second to none and having Natalya as their manager, who is beloved by the fans yet constantly ignored by Kidd and Cesaro, is beyond perfect.

New Day
  It seems like there was never a plan for these guys beyond finally picking a name for their team and putting them on TV. Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods are all really talented but stuck in “Creative has nothing for you” no-mans-land. I like their double team finishers and the fact that they’re a trio but any of them can be a tag team or go solo when needed and hopefully a feud with Kidd and Cesaro gets them all more screen time.

The Dust Brothers
  Poor Goldust and Stardust – they get no respect. Both guys are really entertaining in the ring and it’s a testament to how good Cody Rhodes is overall that he’s made the Stardust character work. But WWE either doesn’t have any idea what to do with them or any desire to push tag teams more prominently because The Dust Bros have done nothing of note lately.
  They had a great run as tag champs as Goldust and Cody Rhodes and a forgettable run as Gold and Stardust before inexplicably turning heel and getting lost in the shuffle.

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An avid gamer and long-time pro wrestling fan, stay tuned to Grizzly Gaming and the Delco Elbow Drop for game reviews and pro wrestling news.

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