If you look at the current match card lineup for the upcoming WrestleMania 37 two-night event on Sat., April 10 and Sun., April 11, 2021, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, nearly every match on the card looks like it should deliver. It will be the first time these wrestlers are working in front of real live fans in over a year and there’s no reason to think a single match on the card won’t be good to great.
Which is nice because every story leading into those matches has been terrible.
Bobby Lashley vs. Drew McIntyre (WWE championship): Lashley colluded with The Miz to beat up McIntyre so he would be vulnerable to Miz cashing in his Money in the Bank contract to take the title from him. Lashley’s reward was a title shot and, of course, he won. He’s the big bad badass, after all. Naturally, the story, once it shifted to Lashley vs. McIntyre, became … Bobby desperately trying to find anyone to take McIntyre out for him? Lashley’s character is a ruthless killer which makes him an interesting foil for McIntyre, who is quite literally known as “The Scottish Psychopath.” A clash of two behemoths out for blood turned into the big baddie calling him help and, because we can’t have nice things, Baron freaking Corbin ended up getting involved.
Roman Reigns vs. Edge vs. Daniel Bryan (Universal championship): They had an easy road here that they muddied up when they had Edge do the thing where he couldn’t decide who he wanted to wrestle for weeks and weeks until he finally did decide. The focus started on his quest to win back the title he never lost, and he was babyface the whole way, winning the Royal Rumble from the one spot and setting himself up to achieve the ultimate comeback. Reigns is the top heel in the company right now. Easy peasy, right? Nope! Edge was inexplicably turned heel and Bryan was shoehorned into the story and now it’s a triple threat where any outcome isn’t going to feel as good as it should.
Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair (SmackDown women’s championship): Like with Edge, Belair spent far too long bouncing around playing up indecision about which title to go after. Once she chose Banks, WWE immediately went into the very tired “opponents team up to challenge for the tag titles, can they get along” trope that ended like it always does. No, they can’t get along. So instead of weeks of a personal issue, we just got the two bickering and arguing over their failures as a tag team. It’s a shame too because once they went at each other, it gave it some real intensity. The problem, of course, is they weren’t given enough time to really build on that.
Asuka vs. Rhea Ripley (Raw women’s championship): This wasn’t set up until the last minute, likely due to Charlotte Flair being unavailable for a variety of reasons, so we can’t be too terribly hard on them here. Then again, once they put this together, they immediately recycled the Banks-Belair story, setting them up in a tag match against the champions, Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler.
Big E vs. Apollo Crews (Intercontinental championship): This started pretty good, with Crews gradually leaning further into his dark side, including taking E out of action by dropping some steps on his throat. Then he showed up one day speaking with a Nigerian accent and carrying a spear and it just felt uncomfortable, considering this is WWE. Then they screwed up a finish and the announcement of the match was hidden before a six man tag got underway and it’s just sort of there now.
Riddle vs. Sheamus (United States championship): Sheamus is the bully who threw his scooter, Riddle is the stoner just trying to have a good time riding said scooter. Sheamus won a non-title match against him, so he gets a title match. This just came about, so there’s not much to it.
The New Day vs. AJ Styles & Omos (Raw tag team championship): There’s no story here. Styles just challenged Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston to a title match after they won the titles back from The Hurt Business and said challenge was accepted. They had a game night on Raw this week. Shrug.
Randy Orton vs. The Fiend: I suppose this one depends on your perspective. Me, and I don’t know if it’s just because I’m getting older or what, but I have zero interest in the kind of supernatural nonsense we get with this fantastical mess of a feud. They quite literally ended a PPV with Orton burning The Fiend to death. They followed that up with Alexa Bliss seemingly gaining his powers, somehow magically making Orton puke up black gunk and see himself possessed in a TV screen that’s supposedly running live video. Ultimately, The Fiend was resurrected but he’s all charred now. Now, Bliss is promising that it’s Orton who will die. Awful.
Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon: What started as Strowman losing his mind over what he perceived to be unfair treatment turned into the boss’s son just repeatedly calling him a dumbass over and over again. McMahon brought a report card from Strowman’s fifth grade to Raw to use to make fun of him. Terrible.
Bad Bunny vs. The Miz: Miz tried to take advantage of the recording artist at Royal Rumble and when that failed, he destroyed some of his equipment. Bad Bunny took issue with this and they’ve been going back-and-forth ever since, mostly with Miz and John Morrison taunting him. Meh.
Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro: When Rollins returned from paternity leave, he was still his old delusional self, this time talking about getting everyone to embrace his vision. Cesaro was against it, was attacked, and that started the feud. The match was made after Rollins was victimized by the Cesaro Swing and really, really didn’t like it. This is such a simple story it’s almost sad that it’s probably the best we’ve got, and it’s likely a PPV opener.
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens: Another candidate for the best story goes to two old friends who are fighting once again. This time it’s because Zayn is out of his mind with the idea that everyone in WWE is perpetuating a grand conspiracy against him and when Owens tried to reason with him he, too, was attacked and lumped in with all the rest. Zayn, in an effort to get more eyes on the documentary he’s making about this, has recruited YouTube star Logan Paul, who is rumored to be involved in the match in some way.
That’s the full card as it stands now. Again, the matches will likely be good to great but the stories leading into them have been almost unbelievably bad. Part of the issue is WWE booked two separate PPV shows between Royal Rumble and WrestleMania, including one just three weeks out from the big event.
That’s just too much demand for matches, which leads to booking that makes no sense. Combine that with doing everything on the fly and having no real stars anymore and this is the end result.