In two weeks, Wrestlemania 33, the biggest show on the WWE calendar, will take place in Orlando, Florida. Ahead of the showcase event, there's much debate about if the card assembled is the best possible option or if it will cause fumbled opportunities. Just to keep things simple, we will discuss the top matches on the card that remain a debate among fans, as a full review of the show is better suited for after the event.
Many fans criticized the short match at Fast lane that saw Bill Goldberg defeat Kevin Owens in less than a minute to win the Universal championship. Anyone that complains about this particular match or title switch obviously doesn't see the bigger picture. When Goldberg returned for presumably a one-off appearance to promote the 2K17 video game, nobody expected he would get THAT type of crowd reaction. The former WCW champion's original run in the WWE was lackluster for a variety of reasons, and the fans were happy to see him back in the spotlight as it provided the opportunity for a much better conclusion to his career than the WM 20 bout that is remembered for all the wrong reasons. Clearly, there was still money to be made with Bill Goldberg, and the decisions that led to a lack of legitimate star power from the current roster that make him one of the better options for a prominent spot on the WM card is different discussion for a different time. The bottom line is, Goldberg is over with the audience and WWE brass would be foolish not to use that to draw money. Is it a nostalgia run? Absolutely, and if it means box office then there's nothing wrong with that. Again, at that level, it's about what sells, both tickets and network subscriptions, not necessarily a five star match.
Speaking of matches, despite the criticism, management booked this angle very wisely, keeping the payoff until the biggest possible spotlight. It's well known that Goldberg had a simple, basic formula to his matches in his prime. That was ultimately one of the reasons that his latter run in WCW was less than stellar, because the fans already saw his act countless times during the previous two years. Add that WCW at the time wasn't exactly an atmosphere that provided the opportunity for him to evolve and it's easy to see why he remained a one dimensional performer. So, there's essentially one type of Goldberg match and it will be presented at the biggest event of the year, maximizing its ability to draw money, which is extremely smart business move.
There's no question that the writing team used every smoke and mirrors trick in the book to get to this point, which is another smart move. If Survivor Series was booked to go 10-15 minutes and the bout was terrible then any other potential money from the Goldberg return is down the drain. If Goldberg was exposed as less than quality in the ring, the aura around him and the build up to his appearance exponentially diminishes. Instead of a one-off, this angle will go almost six months and draw more money than anyone thought possible so at the very least, the build up was well done. Is it possible that Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg at WM doesn't live up to the hype? Sure, but considering the situation, I think that it will be a solid, physical match with its share of dramatic moments that entertain the crowd. Remember, WM 33 is a stadium event and the anticipation of Goldberg/Lesnar for the title will sell tickets. Some have complained about the 50-year-old winning the title, but he's still in tremendous shape for his age and looks like a destroyer so on the surface it seems logical. Some might ask, why add the title to the Brock/Goldberg match? Again, it involves maximizing the angle and adding the belt to the equation makes the bout as big as possible. Lesnar was the most pushed athlete on the roster the past few years and the history with Goldberg was the basis of the feud. Considering how push Brock was, and how over Goldberg is with the audience, it makes sense to surround the match with the biggest stakes possible to get the most return on the investment.
For those that claim that Kevin Owens was "buried" when Goldberg defeated him, it's an extremely misguided view. It's not as though Goldberg systematically destroyed KO and pinned him while the former champion had no offense. Chris Jericho, who is scheduled for a contest with Owens at WM, showed up to "distract" him and thus, Goldberg was able to get the surprise win. Owens maintains his momentum because he can claim it was a fluke and the "real" reason he lost the title was because of Jericho's entrance. In reality, the finish at Fast lane had a dual purpose, it gets the title on Goldberg for WM 33, and it sets up the Jericho/Owens match.
The Owens\Jericho angle was one of the most entertaining acts on WWE TV in recent memory, and it was beneficial for both competitors. KO, a talented but unproven main eventer before he won the title, became a much bigger star through his association with Jericho, and that is a prime example of an established star that helped elevate the younger talent. Jericho also had the chance to completely rejuvenated himself for his latest WWE run, and its truly remarkable that the 26-year pro continues to adapt to the current product whenever he returns to remain relevant. Furthermore, it speaks volumes to Jericho's talent that after more than 25 years in the industry, he remains one of the best in-ring performers in the sport. More than anything, this most recent run proves that Chris Jericho is an all-time great in the business.
As far as the feud itself, the dynamic of the heel Owens was the best possible route, because as versatile as Jericho is, it makes the most sense to cast KO as the villain. At this point in his career, YJ2 will get the respect pop for everything he accomplished, and because of that, KO will get more heat, despite getting cheered in the past. Make no mistake, KO is a unique athlete and he has the star quality so ultimately, this path will make him a bigger star than he was just six months ago.
The bottom line is, Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar for the title and the way that the former WCW champion was protected since his return is a smart business move for Wrestlemania. If part-timers as main eventers is generally the right move for the future of promotion is a different matter. The point is, WWE invested a lot into Brock and this scenario puts the company in position to make the most return on their investment. The jaded fans within the wrestling bubble don't seem to realize that for a publicly traded company, WM is also a business event to show off numbers and thus boosting the stock price. It might or might not be a good thing for the product, but the goals of a publicly traded corporation are much more complex than just a sports entertainment company.
Until next week