Wayne Utterback writes about the WWE and sports entertainment at large for We Are Regal Radio, here he joins our editor Kyle Means for a detailed discussion on the Show of Shows, Wrestlemania, and its immediate aftermath as played out on Monday Night Raw the night after.
This discussion was played out on Facebook messenger and is partially edited for content and grammar.
Wayne Utterback: I think Roman needs to actually embrace his one vs. all attitude and include the fans in that mindset. I think the only way he catapults off of this successfully is to be completely incapable of being liked.
Kyle: I’m with you, he needs to embrace the hate and also speak as few lines as possible in any segment he’s in. He really needs a mouthpiece, but who?
Wayne: I’m with you on less talk. They’ve tried to make him funny like The Rock with little success. It’s tough because he wouldn’t employ Heyman. It would be interesting to see him side with Shane and be his “Golden Boy.”
Kyle: I like the Shane idea. And it appears we’ll indeed get more of the Prodigal Son based on what’s happened so far tonight…even though Reigns would be positioned next to a fan-fave, he would be “Authority-adjace” to rob a phrase from Peter Rosenberg.
Anyway, lets get your take on the Show of Shows overall. How many bowls of “Booty-Os” out of 5 would you give the show?
Wayne: This is a tough call. I’d honestly put it at two of those booty-full bowls. There were some matches that had a lot of promise but just didn’t deliver. The undercard was good, but the main events didn’t live up to the hype.
Kyle: What do you all classify as the main events? Of course HHH/Reigns, Taker/Shane and maybe Dean/Brock? In all, I would say that Taker/Shane delivered yet it didn’t have much spectacle to it to match the hype of it being a match to decide the “fate of the company.” Of course, it really didn’t.
As for Dean/Brock, given the way they played it out you’d have to imagine they never saw it as a main event-caliber match even though they gave it a lot of air time, which I guess they were forced to do.
Wayne: I feel like Dean/Brock or the Women’s Title matches could be classified as interchangeable as a main event. The women’s title match had real stakes and it had historical importance. However, that match had a terrible ending where Ric Flair just had to be the deciding factor.
As for Dean and Brock, it was a “main event” because Brock was in it, and the way the match played out was completely indicative of that. Dean felt like an afterthought.
Kyle: Yeah, it sucks that a match with two of the most over guys in the ‘E had to be so disappointing, but you know what, there really wasn’t much of a story there…it’s good that you bring up the Women’s title match. The fact that it was christened a “women’s” title match and given that gorgeous belt was one of the highlights of the evening and it raised the stakes of the match in a way that just about no other match got.
Wayne: Wrestlemania is where almost every match needs stakes. This was the perfect combination of women breaking new ground in WWE and showing a large crowd just what can happen when all athletes are given respect. They put on a good match and even with a marred ending, it still felt like WWE was going all in on making a real change to how they do business. Good riddance to the butterfly belt. It did more damage than good.
It is incredibly hard for me not to immediately switch to the (Intercontinental Title) ladder match after seeing Miz take it on Raw from Ryder. I wasn’t amped to see Ryder take home the title, but I hoped that it would have meant a push for the guy. Giving it to Miz, a guy who has historically done little to elevate that belt in his previous four reigns, gives me little hope.
Kyle: Yeah, a one-day run with the belt doesn’t do anyone any good, especially the bro from Long Island. You might as well have gave it to Miz at AT&T Stadium. It’s funny, cause the ‘E isn’t necessarily invested in true “feel-good” moments any more. It gives us one (and really only one not involving retirees and HOFers) on Sunday and it undercuts that on Monday. Maybe Ryder will stay on Miz’s ass, but who cares about the IC title playing hopscotch again?
Wayne: For WWE, the struggle is all in the followup. They are terrible at the followup. They need to make this a decent program, give them some real hatred or a point to battle over.
As much as I am not a John Cena fan, he did wonders for the U.S. Title. Those weekly defenses really gave it a spotlight and I was always excited to see who might take it from him.
Kyle: Man, this women’s title segment is kind of brutal. I’m sorry, Smarkamania can be fun but I think the crowds are feeling themselves too much. How can you enjoy any story if you don’t even allow the story to unfold before you hijack the show?
Wayne: It’s too much. I was just talking to my wife about this. I hate it when the crowd intentionally chants for people that aren’t a part of the story. I think about CM Punk and how he’s doing his own thing now and people STILL can’t keep his name out of their mouths.
Kyle: And chanting for Bayley and Asuka…you just sound lame. They’re great and they deserve to be on Raw tonight, but they are where they are for a reason. It’s almost enough to wish there was an age cap at these shows, I’d rather Raw work in front of 15 year olds and under. Let the developmentally arrested stay in Full Sail and chant as long as they like.
Wayne: Bayley and Asuka will have their spotlight in due time. I feel like the audience has too short an attention span and it really frustrates me at times. Not every segment needs a bunch of dudes yelling down the person in the ring. It’s like every house show I go to where some guy inevitably calls every wrestler by their real names, as if he’s doing something wild and shocking.
Fans being in business for themselves usually looks terrible (ex. the “We Are Awesome!” chants). That’s the worst.
Kyle: All that said tho…we have to touch on the latest NXT Takeover before we part. Bayley and Asuka, American Alpha gets their titles, Samoa Joe and Finn Balor tear it down once again…and of course, the match of the year front runner, the smark’s wet dream of Zayn and Nakamura living up to ALL the hype. Did NXT steal the weekend for you?
Wayne: This show absolutely did. What NXT is doing for WWE is insanely out of this world. I would have never imagined four or five years ago that all the talent we’ve had on our television sets. These matches told great stories, had good psychology and didn’t have to rely on gimmicks to give matches hype.
Nakamura’s entrance alone was one of my favorite moments. To have been a New Japan fan and see him move over to WWE, it was surreal. His style is unlike anything we’ve seen and he’s a great addition to an already stacked roster. American Alpha are going places, those guys have the pedigree and the drive to ascend to the main roster quickly.
Asuka is a destroyer and I need more of her presence on WWE programming. Finn and Joe had one hell of a match, and the hardway cut Joe suffered just gave that match an added intensity we hadn’t gotten from him before. Top to bottom, it delivered on all of its promises.
Kyle: No doubt. The show was another example of just how vital NXT is to the landscape of professional wrestling right now. Its amazing how much it seems like a competing brand while at the same time benefiting from the resources and the platform that unfortunately only WWE can provide. We’re all lucky for it. It really seemed for me like we were seeing the beginning of a new era as Nakamura and Zayn went head up.
Wayne: Absolutely, Zayn is ready for bigger pastures, and Nakamura must now familiarize himself with the audience. With the Global Cruiserweight Tournament coming up, the landscape will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen in WWE. For the largest wrestling organization to open its doors to some of the top tier talents, the possibilities are endless.
Kyle: So, as Raw (a pretty uneventful one I must say) winds down, anything else stand out to you in particular about Wrestlemania weekend?
Wayne: Fatigue. With NXT added to the fold, it feels like a bombardment of wrestling, especially with Wrestlemania clocking in at nearly seven hours, it’s almost too much content to digest. Add in the Hall of Fame and you’ve got nearly 12 hours of programming to watch if you want to get all of it.
Kyle: Yeah, I may have to wait until….Yes! Yes! Enzo and Cass are on Raw!
Wayne: Some much needed charisma being added to the tag division. Enzo looks like a wildman.
Kyle: I’m doing the Enzo dance right now
Wayne: You can’t teach that, it’s been certified as fact.
Kyle: Was gonna say that I was gonna wait until NXT posts on Hulu before I watch some more wrestling but Enzo’s meerkat swag is giving me life.
Wayne: Enzo is killing it. I’ve missed a talker who can burn it down.
Kyle: Can’t wait until the first time they cross paths with New Day. There won’t be enough air in the arena to take in all the trash talk.
Wayne: (Enzo’s) got such a commanding presence. Them vs. New Day, I’ll pay to watch that.
Kyle: And there’s only one word to describe anyone who doesn’t agree — S-A-W-F-T, SAWFT!!!!
Wayne: That felt like some old-school Rock type of insult comedy. That was refreshing. More of those guys getting the stick and some freedom to blow it out of the water.
Kyle: It’s one thing we know about the coming year that we can feel good about — more new talent on the horizon and with guys like Seth Rollins and Cesaro due to come back from injury, the WWE could be as packed with talent as its been in a long while. I like that positive note to leave on, how about you, luchador?
Wayne: With guys getting healthy and getting back into the fold, the entire landscape of the main roster will shift. Hopefully, WWE does a great job really pumping up the crowd for their returns. I feel like the younger guys have a good shot at making a mark if given the platform to showcase all they can do. I’m excited for the possibilities!
Wayne: AJ vs. Roman, that was unexpected. Will it be a good match-up or is this Vince’s way of having his shining star whoop a TNA mainstay? I guess we’ll find out sometime soon!
Follow Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under Regal Radio; Follow Wayne on Twitter @DubyaLucha and Kyle @Wrk_Wrt