What has always been the Plan?
Heading into WrestleMania Season, WWE always has their match card figured out well in advance. Many of the smart mark wrestling fans have been frustrated all year knowing that the Universal Championship was going to come down to a match between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar.
In addition, there are always certain matches that you can count on seeing. There will be an Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. They will always include at least one and possibly two women’s championship matches. Most often there is a match featuring the Undertaker. The tag team division is up and down from year to year but you can count on at least one tag title match. And of course there are the World and Universal Championship matches.
Included in the creative planning are the United States and Intercontinental championships. The United States Championship has become a launching pad for rising stars in the recent past. The Intercontinental Championship has historically been the championship that is given to the best worker from a technical standpoint.
Where are we for this year?
This year, many of the story lines that will be featured in the WrestleMania card are in motion. Plans for these matches have been leaked online for weeks or even months. This close to the event, it is not all that often that we have such uncertainty surrounding one of the featured championships.
For weeks, the speculation has been that the current WWE Intercontinental Champion, the Miz, would be defending his championship against the “Monster Among Men” Braun Strowman. On paper, that was going to be the biggest WrestleMania squash since Sheamus defeated Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 28. This would be Braun Strowman’s first taste of championship gold. The fans are just waiting for him to put a belt around his waist.
One month from the big event, we have some serious concerns about the Intercontinental Championship match and how WWE will book this match. Coming off the news that documentary filmmaker Jon Bravo is preparing to release a film chronicling the use of steroids by various superstars including Roman Reigns, WWE seems to be in a quandary. In his film, he claims that currently incarcerated steroid dealer Richard Rodriguez, formerly of Wellness Fitness Nutrition LLC, has provided him with evidence of steroid purchases and tracking information for various personalities. This is a story that is not going to go away without having an impact on the WrestleMania card.
What was the plan?
The original plans for Braun Strowman to walk out as Universal Champion are in jeopardy as it has been reported that behind the scenes the creative team has pulled Braun Strowman from the Intercontinental Championship Match in order to keep him as a backup plan in the event that the documentary breaks featuring damaging information with regards to Roman Reigns. This is probably the best case scenario for WWE’s booking and creative team as Strowman is over huge with the WWE Universe. He is the one talent who fans would probably cheer for if the match card changed after purchasing tickets as the die hard fans want the title on Strowman to begin with. But what happens to the Intercontinental Championship?
As it stands now, there are multiple scenarios that appear to be being discussed. One of those scenarios includes the Miz defending his championship against either Finn Balor or Seth Rollins. Another sees the three of them competing in a triple threat. Yet another possibility is a fatal four way including Elias and there is even a chance that Braun Strowman gets added to the match making it a Fatal Five Way.
With all of the uncertainty of the Roman Reigns situation and the multiple possibilities for the Intercontinental Championship, WWE needs to think through their creative processes and put together a solid match that doesn’t provide the same feel as the six pack challenge at Fastlane and that doesn’t resemble the Elimination Chamber too much.
How it should be!
The “Showcase of the Immortals” deserves to have a top flight Intercontinental Championship Match. Unfortunately, WWE’s creative team has not always responded well when dealing with adversity. Hopefully they find a way to make the match a compelling one. If I were the one booking this, I would bring back a past WrestleMania attraction and have it be an Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match with six participants. The Miz would defend against Elias, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Apollo, and either a returning Samoa Joe or Neville.
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