Weak WrestleMania Builds for Top Stars, 2 Fire Promos and More WWE Raw Fallout

Kevin Berge@TheBerge_Featured ColumnistApril 6, 2021

Weak WrestleMania Builds for Top Stars, 2 Fire Promos and More WWE Raw Fallout

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Welcome to WrestleMania week. WWE Raw kicked off a full week of wrestling in the final days before The Show of Shows. The April 5 edition of the red brand had plenty of opportunities to shine, but it failed to truly build to the future.

    The lack of urgency affected every moment and match, particularly the contests that will define Raw's contribution to The Showcase of The Immortals.

    Drew McIntyre fought King Corbin in a surprisingly good bout, but it further showcased that little has been done to get Bobby Lashley vs. the Scot off the ground. This supposed Night 1 main event at 'Mania barely has the storyline to main-event Fastlane.

    Once again, WWE fell into familiar tropes with the women. Eight females will be thrown into a tag team turmoil match for Night 1 of WrestleMania, while Rhea Ripley played the jealous heel against Asuka just like Sasha Banks is against Bianca Belair on SmackDown.

    AJ Styles has gone from a dominant force to a barely recognized element of The Show of Shows. His hyped match alongside Omos against The New Day has taken much of his momentum on The Road to WrestleMania.

    Mustafa Ali put on the best match of the night with Riddle after finally being allowed to compete without the constraint of Retribution. However, he again fell short and will miss this weekend's marquee pay-per-view entirely. He has earned better than playing warm-up for Riddle vs. Sheamus.

    Monday night had potential, but it all fell woefully flat. WrestleMania should be the biggest show of the year, but Raw made it feel like every other major WWE show.

Bobby Lashley vs. Drew McIntyre Feels Like a Symptom of a Poorly Conceived Card

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    Bobby Lashley put the final nail in the coffin of The Hurt Business by taking out Cedric Alexander with the Hurt Lock. And in the main event, Drew McIntyre put a stop to The All Mighty's new ally by taking out King Corbin with a Claymore.

    While both Lashley vs. Alexander and McIntyre vs. Corbin were good matches, the build to WrestleMania was such a non-event. This Lashley/Corbin alliance fizzled out in the first week, and there's just not enough heat between the champion and challenger ahead of their clash on Saturday.

    Lashley and McIntyre fought each other at Backlash in June last year, and that match felt like it had more to it than this one. They have barely touched or spoken in the same ring through much of the build. This clash of titans is just another contest that WWE haphazardly threw together.

    The Road to WrestleMania was far more about McIntyre vs. Sheamus. However, much like a majority of the 'Mania card, WWE clearly hasn't done much to build forward. The company just built a last-minute card with the hope it was big enough to draw people in.

    These two will deliver when the lights are on bright. However, it would feel so much more impactful if WWE had stuck to the stories told on The Road to WrestleMania. The talent deserve more faith from the company brass.

AJ Styles' Momentum Has Been Shattered by Build to New Day Match

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    Once again, The New Day got a leg up on AJ Styles and Omos. After Kofi Kingston threw a microphone at the big man, the two distracted The Phenomenal One trying to fight Xavier Woods. This allowed Woods to roll up Styles for a three-count.

    Before this feud, The Phenomenal One was nearly undefeated since bringing Omos into the fold. While the point has been to set up the idea that they cannot work together, there was no need for Styles to take this many quick losses.

    It is lazy writing that actively takes away from the momentum Styles had built up over the past months. WWE has too few wrestlers who come off as that unstoppable. Instead of keeping that sense of power, the company has stripped away the mystique.

    While this will likely lead to Styles and Omos winning the Raw Tag Team Championships, it was at a price that most could not pay. Luckily, The Phenomenal One is good enough to recover from this decision-making by WWE.

    The ultimate goal is to show what Omos can do when it matters most. He will debut at WrestleMania alongside one of the best wrestlers in the world. All can be forgiven through the work of great wrestlers.

WWE Needed To Do Better by Its Women's Division for WrestleMania

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    WWE announced two more contests for WrestleMania: Four teams will compete in a tag team turmoil match on Saturday, with theΒ winners going on to face Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax the following night.

    Meanwhile, Rhea Ripley attacked teammate and 'Mania opponent Asuka and cost them a match against the WWE women's tag team champions.

    Throwing together this assortment of names gets more wrestlers on the card, but it hardly feels like this spotlight was earned. The flat build for the tag team champions in recent weeks has left little excitement over who might dethrone Jax and Baszler.

    Moreover, WWE has taken the same blueprint from Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair by turning the supposedly amicable babyfaces against each other. Ripley is as much a heel as The Boss, which means there's still a chance for them to both be faces after WrestleMania.

    However, WWE has insisted on these pairings following the same story threads: It's not possible for women to get along and have a competitive edge. The Boss vs. The EST of WWE had a chance to main-event a night of WrestleMania but is unlikely to do so because of this flat storytelling that was repeated on Raw.

    The matches should largely be good from the women. Most of the multi-woman matches at The Show of Shows have overachieved, and the singles matches have been even better. It's just that the hype has been tempered by poor booking.

Mustafa Ali Deserved a Spot at WrestleMania for Carrying Retribution Angle

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    In the clear best match of the night, Mustafa Ali pushed Riddle to one of his best performances to date. The two fought hard throughout, and The Original Bro barely pulled out the win after hitting the Bro Derek on the former leader of Retribution.

    Anyone who has watched Ali long enough knows how good he is. He has many great matches to his name and can keep up with most anyone in WWE on the mic. However, that talent has not meant much when it comes to competing at WrestleMania.

    Top talent will miss this year's Show of Shows. Even without WWE bringing in The Undertaker, Triple H, Brock Lesnar, John Cena and more, there are only so many spots on any PPV card. It just feels wrong that Ali's work will still leave him off the card at the end.

    Retribution was a bad idea from the outset that WWE never let thrive. Ali pushed so hard to make it work, mostly selling the stable on Twitter or YouTube. He has never complained. He honestly blamed himself on Twitter for missing the card.

    Nothing fans have seen from Ali indicates he did anything wrong. Stealing the show just days before The Show of Shows only emphasizes that.

    Riddle vs. Sheamus has potential, and The Celtic Warrior deserves a spot on the card. But that doesn't mean that match needed to happen over Ali getting a chance.

Braun Strowman and Bad Bunny Add Needed Drama to WrestleMania Matches

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    Little could save this show, but a pair of performers brought their all by the end of the night.

    Braun Strowman ran down Shane McMahon while promising to put him a body bag by the close of their match on Night 1 of The Show of Shows, and Bad Bunny explained why he had come to WWE and what it meant to him to take down The Miz and John Morrison.

    In both cases, these promos elevated lackluster feuds, adding dramatic weight to unnecessary comedy that preceded it. These are the moments that should illuminate The Road to WrestleMania.

    The Monster Among Men is unlikely to get revenge at the weekend. A steel cage match is built to give McMahon a fluke win. However, there is something to be said for Strowman getting this moment to shine in his own way. He finally gets a serious singles match at WrestleMania, and that matters to him.

    Bad Bunny has an even bigger hurdle to overcome as he steps into the ring for the first time. The way he has emotionally committed to Saturday's match is impressive. Whether he is ready or not, he has certainly given his all to this angle.

    While these are the matches least likely to make an impact on The Grandest Stage of Them All, their efforts in selling these angles deserve serious recognition.