Around the Loop: ‘WrestleMania’ and Everything After

WrestleMania 35 was a gigantic hunk of fan service designed to make the majority of fans happy. It was as if Creative booked the entire show from the basis of a series of Twitter polls. “Who do u like more better: this person or that person? kthxbai.” While there may have been few surprises at this year’s Showcase of the Grandest Immortals Big Stage Hall of Sports Entertainment Weekend, the ones we did get were interesting. The return of the Doctor of Thuganomics? That happened. I’m just glad Cena didn’t spray paint “POOPY” on Elias’s guitar.

But WrestleMania 35 (or XXXV, if you prefer the gravitas of Roman numerals) is over now. The week of regular programming after Mania is often aimless. It’s like those few days between Christmas and New Year’s at the office. Nobody is doing anything really important and, frankly, no one expects progress. We get a lot of interesting moments, but none of them have much weight.

Look at this past episode of RAW. Who wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of a winner-take-all match between Kofi Kingston and Seth Rollins? It was hard to know who to root for because seeing two titles on either one of those performers would have been amazing. It didn’t matter, though, because it turned into another standard match with The Bar. Hope you like Brogue Kicks, because you got a kilt full of them.

The Undertaker showed up to give Elias a Tombstone Piledriver. It’s always good to see Taker, but why was he there? It was like the district manager driving up from Sandusky to give your shift supervisor a pie in the face during a droll, corporately mandated holiday party.

Sami Zayn came back and immediately turned heel, which was a surprise to no one. Lacey Evans finally did something besides strut down the ramp by attacking Becky Lynch with her striking finish, the Women’s Right. Two Belt Becky didn’t even fall down. The Man rained blows upon the Sassy Southern Belle until the poor woman fell off the stage. If they were trying to make Lacey look strong, it didn’t work.

Lars Sullivan finally decided to come to work. He picked people up and threw them down, but he wasn’t as impressive as the weird puppet head in the box. Was it Turkie from the ThanksKilling movies? Or was it a buzzard? Regardless, it looked like someone re-animated the corpse of the Gobbledy-Gooker and packed it in some dry ice.  This seems like a harbinger of the repacked Bray Wyatt to come. Honestly, I’m curious to see what comes of that.

Things weren’t much better on SmackDown Live, which felt like a slight reworking of the previous night’s show. Lacey hit Becky again, but she fell down this time. Everybody loved on Kofi some more. We got to see his cute youngsters again. Sure, there was a title change, but it became another reason for Lars to stop lurking and stomp to the ring to do big guy things. You know, just like the night before.

The strange thing about this past week was how superstars kept showing up on programs they aren’t normally booked for. It was like they accidentally walked into the wrong building. Again, it’s that off week. Everyone just came back from a three-day weekend and couldn’t quite get back into the work groove.

Little of this will matter after next week’s Superstar Shake-Up, in which wrestlers will find out which program they’ll be on for the upcoming year. This is more important for the floaters who were recently called up from NXT than the big players, many of whom probably won’t get moved at all. The tag-team situation on both main brands, however, is a mess. The Shake-Up seems like the time to rectify the imbalances, but will that actually happen? We’ll examine the ramifications of the Superstar Shake-Up next week when we get back into our rental cars and take one more trip around the loop.

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