The post-WrestleMania period is critical to the WWE each year, as the changes made during this time affect how the rest of the year will progress.
Sometimes, as is arguably the case this year, these adjustments can lead to some poor individual shows. It also opens up the possibility of certain feuds being thrown together or overhyped, as the John Cena-Ryback rivalry can be accused of.
This year’s changes are still underway but there are signs that a bright summer could be in the cards in the WWE.
Here are five changes that have occurred which should be exciting for fans.
Going into WrestleMania, it appeared that several members of the WWE Universe were suppressing their quirks to form alliances.
Randy Orton blocked out the voices to play peacemaker between Sheamus and Big Show. Kane and Daniel Bryan stopped arguing and got along perfectly to defend the tag team championship. Even Triple H lost his cerebral side in favor of an all-out brawl with Brock Lesnar.
Now these characters are coming out of their shells once more and producing some real intensity in their performances.
After being betrayed at WrestleMania by Big Show, Randy Orton has reengaged with his voices. His promos have become darker and his position as a face has been reestablished, as fans respond to a character willing to do anything to get the win. Notably, Orton even reached into his arsenal to utilize the “Punt” finisher that he made famous during his time as a heel.
Many people feel inferior to friends or colleagues due to their belief that those around them are physically or mentally more competent than themselves.
These themes have allowed Bryan to address his size disadvantages and to adjust his character’s mentality to overcome them. This should allow Bryan to be taken seriously as a championship contender in the near future. It has also allowed Kane to take on the veteran status of someone who truly appreciates other people’s talent. This a natural progression for a character that has 15 years at the top of WWE television.
It would even appear that Triple H is finally letting go of his position at the top of WWE’s pecking order. This character development should allow Triple H to become a better non-wrestling entity and will make an interesting story as the audience witnesses the decline of a legend.
These changes have been seen right across the roster. This is going to open up new feuds and more interesting reasons why Superstars wish to fight.
Fans are always looking for the next big feud, and these shifts in characters’ personas will provide that. They may even allow previously seen feuds to feel fresh once again, as the reasons why they are engaging are so very different.
Most importantly, this change should make good television.
One of the biggest indicators that the WWE is changing for the better is the writers allowing faces to dislike each other.
Sheamus, Randy Orton, Kane and Daniel Bryan have all had clashes over the past few weeks, while on the other side, heels Fandango and Wade Barrett have also been competing.
These groups of men have rarely fought, but when forced to team, their alliances have fallen apart. Fandango leaving Barrett stranded against The Miz and Chris Jericho is a great example of this. This was echoed by AJ Lee walking out on The Bella Twins.
The previous few years have been very different from this when it comes to faces, and for the most part heels, teaming. Once-great rivals Randy Orton and John Cena happily co-existed for numerous tag matches, as did Cena and Sheamus. In many ways, this felt as if the WWE was trying to ignore both the past and stars’ personalities.
Now, motives have become far more important. Fandango is far more interested in seeing his rivals damage each other than getting the win. Perhaps this strategy will work for him when the Intercontinental championship is actually on the line.
Allowing hostility between all wrestlers is a great move by the WWE, as it makes everything feel more important.
Last Monday on Raw, The Usos defeated the Prime Time Players in a tag team match.
This contest was relatively short and, practically speaking, only defined who are the fourth and fifth team in line to challenge for The Shield’s tag team titles. Yet, this rather insignificant encounter has had a massive effect on how big the WWE Universe actually feels.
Too often in recent times the WWE has concentrated solely on its champions and their prospective No. 1 contenders. Other wrestlers are shunted to the background until suddenly going on a winning streak and becoming the No. 1 contender in their own right.
The Usos’ win makes it abundantly clear to fans that there are teams working each and every week to get their chance at becoming champions. Other matches between the likes of Team Rhodes Scholars, Tons Of Funk, and Primo and Epico have added even more depth to the tag team division.
Of course, this endeavor will only result in a title opportunity—let alone a victory—if they are scripted to do so. This fact does not take away from the effectiveness of creating a division that truly has depth.
With every division appearing to follow this model, the overall effect is going to be a WWE Universe that feels far bigger and more complex. Wins and losses should feel more significant as rivals for position can be more easily identified, and cause and effect should become more important.
This is very promising for WWE fans.
In previous years, it has been all too common for two wrestlers to get stuck in a loop that causes them to feud even when fans have lost interest.
This has been caused by the WWE’s previous decision to concentrate on one-on-one disagreements exclusively. One Superstar, and possibly a valet, verses another one. When the feud has run its course, they have to hope that another pair has also come to a fitting conclusion so new opponents can be found.
The answer to this problem is more complex feuds, as there would be far more opportunities to swap partners, and it would appear the WWE is introducing this idea in a big way.
The first sign was the triple-threat encounter between Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger and the aforementioned Del Rio. Not only were there three men competing for a single title but there were four other personalities—AJ Lee and Big E Langston with Ziggler, Zeb Colter with Swagger, and Ricardo Rodriguez with Del Rio—involved to add further depth.
Perhaps the triple-threat match between the managers was a step to far, but the competing characters made for really interesting television. Sadly, Ziggler’s concussion brought this feud to an early conclusion, but similar ideas are cropping up elsewhere.
The Intercontinental championship rivalry between Wade Barrett, Fandango and The Miz has been fraught with back stabbing and one-upmanship. The battle around who gets to face The Shield is nearly as intense as the fight with The Shield itself.
If this complexity continues, then it promises to be a summer of really interesting storylines in the WWE.
Adding to the number of legitimate contenders was always going to be a high priority for the WWE in 2013.
There was an over-reliance on part-time talent and a shocking thinning of the roster after just a handful of injuries made it clear to the company and fans alike that additions needed to be made. It is clear that the WWE has taken this in hand, and it all looks very promising.
Obviously The Shield has been the success story of 2013. Dean Ambrose appears to be the most impressive at this time, but Roman Reigns has improved each and every week and Seth Rollins has still to be granted a notable finisher. His running knee is never going to take him on a championship run.
Curtis Axel has both the wrestling ability to be a star and the support of Paul Heyman, so he could go far.
So could the soon-to-be-debuting Wyatt Family. It's difficult to know if NXT success will translate to WWE television, but after the success of The Shield, there is certainly room for optimism.
These seven or eight new names alone would be an enormous boost to the roster, and then there is the promise of Kassius Ohno also breaking through.
2013 could be a really good year for the WWE.