The Road to Wrestlemania Slows for Construction

[Updated] On the Road to Wrestlemania this week, the WWE stopped for gas, a Coke, and to hit the head. The matches that weren’t already made were strongly hinted at, and any late fireworks were saved for next week and the go-home shows before Wrestlemania comes to New Orleans April 8. Because of that, this week on Raw and Smackdown Live felt a bit like killing time. 

The Effort to Get Roman Reigns Over Shows

The WWE’s efforts to get Roman Reigns over are why Reigns isn’t over. Rather than let audiences love him organically as was the case with A.J. Styles, the WWE broke up The Shield in 2014 and almost immediately moved Reigns into the main event picture rather than let him build a rep as a solo performer and work his way up the card. The sense that he was being foisted on the “WWE Universe”—as the company refers to its fans—prompted fans to reject him, but rather than stop pushing, the WWE only pushed harder.

Nia Jax Cries on the Road to Wrestlemania

When Alexa Bliss moved from Smackdown Live to Raw last year, she connived Nia Jax into being her pal/bodyguard as a way to avoid facing her in the squared circle. At the time, it looked like a program that could go to Wrestlemania with Jax as Bliss’ bodyguard/buddy until she realized she was being played. Then, they’d face each other with the crowd dying to see Bliss fight her own fights and get the payback she deserved.

Is Ronda Rousey Ready for Wrestlemania?

Sunday night at the WWE's “Elimination Chamber,” former MMA star Ronda Rousey signed her WWE contract, and like all such staged contract signing sequences, it was a little pokey as we waited for the inevitable. There was no question that she was going to sign the contract since she really signed one long before she appeared on WWE television. The question in those scenes is usually how they’re going to end, or more specifically, who is going to get physically punished.

The WWE's Top "Smackdown" Story is Great and a Mess

As Smackdown Live approaches “Fastlane,” its best story is also its dumbest. The ongoing drama between Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan is incomprehensible as they manipulate the careers of A.J. Styles, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. At the same time, Styles, Owens, and Zayn are three of the best performers on Smackdown Live—reliably creative on the mic and in the ring.

Jason Jordan's Angle Got Real in the WWE

Maybe the WWE always intended for Jason Jordan to become a heel. Maybe when Kurt Angle announced that then-member of American Alpha was his illegitimate son, WWE writers knew that crowds wouldn’t buy it or him. They certainly reacted to him with suspicious indifference, then wariness. Theoretically, he was a babyface, but once he became Seth Rollins’ tag team partner, Jordan got real heel heat, particularly as his serial bumbling cost them the tag team belt.

The WWE's MMC Makes FB Must-See TV

The WWE Mixed Match Challenge sounds like a gimmicky way for the WWE to get in on a gimmicky platform, Facebook’s new Facebook Live. Instead, it has been a pleasant surprise and a reminder of what the WWE does well. The series is a tournament of male-female tag team matches, each wrestling for a charity, and while such tag matches are often frustrating because they present non-committal wrestling, here they succeed because they’re all about personas.

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