WrestleMania 30: Storylines in Desperate Need of Improvement
WrestleMania 30 is naturally being touted as the biggest event of the year that you just can't miss, yet WWE doesn't seem to be putting that much effort into everything.
There has always been an issue in WWE of focusing too much on one thing and letting everything else be a second thought, but consistency of a problem isn't an excuse.
Obviously, more time and effort should be devoted toward building up the anchors and selling points that will be the true drawing factors for people to want to watch, yet WWE is dropping the ball all over the place this year.
The storylines that we have going into this event are not at the level that they should be, particularly this late in the game when the pay-per-view is coming up next week.
Outside of the Yes Movement program, everything else is struggling to be worthwhile and some feuds are not strong enough to stand without improvements.
What are some of those feuds in danger of becoming trivial? Let's take a look.
The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar
So far, there has been very little effort put into the feud between Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker.
To kick this feud off, Lesnar and Paul Heyman complained about how they were interested in a WWE World Heavyweight Championship title shot, but weren't granted it.
Then, as if they were settling for a consolation prize, they simply challenged The Undertaker and he accepted it.
That's all that happened and it seemed like WWE would have been content with just letting it stop there and only putting out video packages and graphics to remind us to check out the match come pay-per-view time.
Since then, virtually nothing has happened to add any meat to this.
Heyman has expressed that Lesnar will win. The Undertaker disagrees. Shouldn't that all be default subtext within a storyline, rather than the whole storyline itself?
Compare this to last year's event, where CM Punk was disrespecting the memory of Paul Bearer to mess with The Undertaker's mind.
Nothing like that is going on this year. Lesnar isn't even being made to look like a true threat to The Undertaker's WrestleMania undefeated streak.
WWE commentators have even flat out said that he basically stands no chance. What a great way to sell this match!
The one video package explaining how The Deadman's age is catching up to him could have played a big role in this, but has yet to be touched on since then.
There is no actual story to be told without that or something else in its place. Instead, it just becomes a match where someone needs to win and someone needs to lose, which is nothing different from anything else on the card.
If the company just wants to call it like it is, stating "there is always an Undertaker match and this year, it looks like Lesnar is wrestling in that spot," then that is okay.
But in order for that to be enough, there needs to be a feeling that it means something, and telling us that it means something isn't enough.
Writing 101 teaches you that you need to show rather than tell.
Lesnar needs to look stronger and The Undertaker needs to look weaker for us to think The Streak could end, or else this will essentially become a filler match.
The Shield vs. Kane
Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose are three of the most important people on the current WWE roster today.
While none of them are the big faces of the company or the moneymakers for merchandise, they are being groomed for those spots and have been holding everything together for over a year.
These guys have been the backbone of nearly all of the programming, helping to legitimize the tag team division, The Authority and various other wrestlers along the way.
WrestleMania 30 seemed like it would guarantee a prime spot for them as a reward for all of their efforts, yet this is the best we are getting.
Sure, some tension has been hinted at for a while, but this does feel a bit rushed and underwhelming so far, doesn't it?
For the biggest pay-per-view of the year, isn't it a bit cheap to just have heels like the New Age Outlaws attack the fresh babyfaces and call it a feud that we should care about?
It wasn't a necessity to break the stable up and have them face each other in a three-way match for the United States Championship, but isn't it saddening that this is the best WWE could come up with?
Last year, The Shield was put in a random six-man tag match after months of wrestling in random six-man tag matches.
This year, what are Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose doing? Wrestling in a generic six-man tag match.
There is nothing that separates this from the bouts they had against any combination of Ryback, John Cena, Sheamus, Randy Orton and Big Show.
WWE needs to give us a reason to think that this is good enough for their top team rather than appearing like a waste of an opportunity like it is shaping up to be.
Sheamus vs. Christian
The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal is lucky that it doesn't require any story whatsoever in order for it to be a success.
However, there are feuds that WWE is throwing into it that have no real steam behind them and are rather pointless.
Sheamus and Christian are in the midst of a program together that really has no substance behind it at all.
In fact, the best way to describe their feud is that they just keep having matches together and that's about it.
Somehow, that has escalated to the point where they hate each other and it's a very bitter rivalry, though outside of some cheap attacks here and there, we haven't been seeing anything to make us believe that.
There's no passion or purpose behind these two and that is why they needed to be tossed in the pile with everyone else, rather than having a separate match on the card.
Even watching a match between Jack Swagger and Cesaro has more merit to it right now than watching these two former world champions go at it.
WWE has to do something to make this feud interesting or just give up and let it die out within the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
After WrestleMania, both of these men can move on to something else, but if their so-called storyline is supposed to continue after or play any role at WrestleMania itself, major upgrades need to happen.
Batista vs. Randy Orton
It is clear that this feud has been completely swallowed up by Daniel Bryan and Triple H, which is a shame for both of these men.
However, you could say WWE shot itself in the foot when this feud was planned to begin with.
Fans didn't want this and now, WWE's powers that be have acknowledged their stubbornness and effectively pushed it aside in the hopes that nobody will notice what a failure of an idea it was.
Sweeping it under the rug has allowed the Yes Movement feud against The Authority to take center stage where it belongs, but by proxy, has killed anything between The Viper and The Animal.
Batista has been stripped down to merely repeating one phrase about how he came back to WWE to win the title and he doesn't care about anything else.
Orton might as well be stripped of the title itself, as he hasn't even really been talking at all.
If Orton and Batista were to get injured tomorrow, almost nothing would change about this match in terms of importance.
The Bryan vs. Triple H match would simply be for the vacated championship and we would still be at the same end-point.
The WWE World Heavyweight champion and the Royal Rumble winner are background players despite being the only two people confirmed for the match—after they should have been the only two people in the match to begin with.
Without Triple H and Daniel Bryan, there is absolutely nothing between Orton and Batista for a storyline that could justify it being a worthwhile match for WrestleMania, let alone the main event for the top prize in the company.
Not every match on every pay-per-view needs to be an intricate web of plot, but for the biggest event of the year, nothing should be desultory—least of all what is supposed to be the big selling point.
What matches are you not feeling yet? Are there any feuds that you think need to step up their game and could use improvements?
Leave your comments below and tell us what you think!
Anthony Mango is the owner-operator of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment as well as the host of its podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.