WWE Hot Take: Stay Home Part-Timers, WrestleMania 37 Is for Building New Talent

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2021


WWE's upcoming WrestleMania 37 seems like it can go one of two directions. 

And one is quite a bit more appealing than the other. 

The promotion could lean into part-time Superstars like Brock Lesnar, or maybe some shockers like The Rock or Ronda Rousey. That's rather typical for a Mania, as the bigger names draw more eyeballs to the company's biggest annual event, albeit at the cost of their full-time Superstars. 

Or, WWE could use this year's Mania as a way to build those full-timers, flesh out the main-event scene and eventually prosper at WrestleMania 38 when the part-timers get back in the fray. 

This is a topic of discussion, naturally, because it's fully WrestleMania season with the Royal Rumble in the rearview mirror. But it's even more pronounced now with Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t Cageside Seat's Randall Ortman) recently suggesting Rousey could be back in time for this year's Mania. 

As fun as Rousey getting back in the ring would be, and as amazing as she was at it with limited training, she's better reserved for a bigger event. As Meltzer went on to point out, bigger locales like Dallas and Los Angeles are in the cards for future Mania events. 

Let's be real: The lack of a live crowd is a real problem. Rousey coming back would be fun. The Rock showing up to challenge Roman Reigns has main event written all over it. Lesnar coming back to cause some chaos qualifies, too. 

But the window has already slammed shut. The Rumble was the place to show off those types of shockers. The most fans got was Edge, whose run from No. 1 to outright winner was memorable, but just not on the same level as a Lesnar-type. 

And before fans get up in arms about Edge's status, he's not a part-timer in the same sense as a Goldberg. His absence after some superb showings against Randy Orton earlier this year was because of a triceps injury, and there is no indication he won't be a weekly staple of WWE programming (he even just showed up on NXT). 

This year serving as a "rebuilding" year would be pretty fitting given the real-world circumstances that mean minimal fans in the arenas, if any at all. Bianca Belair won the women's Rumble, which would seem to signify a refresh of the main-event scene for the division. Let that build for a year with some fresh feuds and see where it goes. 

It's the same thing on the men's side. Reigns as a top heel feels like it's just getting going. There's no need to rush into anything prominent like a Lesnar feud with the Heyman tie-in, only for it to feel awkward without fans in the stands. Let him work through a ton of feuds while building up guys like Big E before looping the part-timers back in for big programs. 

And last year was proof of this concept. While a part-timer like Undertaker was relegated to a pre-taped cinematic match (and a fine one at that) and Goldberg had a flop against Braun Strowman, the event mostly served as a launching pad for the last year of Drew McIntyre's very, very good run as top guy. 

There's little reason WWE can't do the same again this year in anticipation of bigger returns and feuds at WrestleMania 38 at a much bigger venue with fans there live. 

Imagine, for a moment, if Reigns just runs wild as the SmackDown top dog for another year, having refreshing feuds with some of his old adversaries (and plenty of new) now that he's a dominant heel. That leads to a Rock return in time for the Mania 38 build with fans in attendance. 

Or on the women's side, Rousey eventually comes back in front of a live crowd to challenge a top talent like Belair, who has spent the better part of a year establishing herself as a titleholder. Besides the surprise, Rousey can claim she paved the way for stars like Belair, leading to a classic build and likely classic match. 

It would be impossible to fault WWE for going this route. It would be possible to fault WWE for shoe-horning in part-timers for muted responses during a show with minimal attendance anyway. 

So if the WrestleMania 37 build and show is limited to Becky Lynch's shocking return, for example, that's quite good enough given the circumstances. And like WWE has for a year now, turning adversity into a long-term boon for the company and its Superstars is a shrewd move fans will appreciate in the short-term, and likely in hindsight, too.