What do The Undertaker and Roman Reigns have in store for fans heading into WrestleMania 33?Credit: WWE.com
March 12, 2017
Between Raw and SmackDown Live, there are bound to be a handful of exciting storylines to track with WWE WrestleMania 33 quickly approaching. Several matches have already been confirmed for the card, with many more set to follow in the coming weeks.
However, there are an elite few feuds in WWE that are especially compelling and should play a major factor in fans’ excitement level for the event. Better yet, they should continue to heat up with plenty of time remaining between now and the Show of Shows on April 2.
Let’s look at all the angles worth keeping an eye on as the Road to WrestleMania rolls on.
The Undertaker Targets Roman Reigns
Despite pledging his allegiance to SmackDown Live late last year, The Undertaker has since been more of a regular on Raw in recent months. He initially set out to win the 2017 Royal Rumble match but was unsuccessful in his efforts because Roman Reigns eliminated him.
Undertaker then spent some time away from WWE programming before resurfacing on the most recent edition of Raw. Although it looked like he returned to begin a feud with Braun Strowman, he instead shifted his focus to Reigns and laid him out with a thunderous chokeslam.
This led to speculation from fans in regard to what this might mean for Undertaker’s immediate future as an active competitor. He has only been beaten once before at WrestleMania—by Brock Lesnar in 2014—though Reigns has an equal chance of repeating the feat against an arguably weaker Deadman.
Moreover, if there were ever an appropriate time to turn Reigns into a ruthless heel, it would be in a match with WWE’s most beloved babyface. Granted, WWE has had countless opportunities to pull the trigger in the past and failed to do so, so it is far from a guarantee the company will finally go through with it.
Either way, Reigns should show more signs of adding an aggressive edge to his stagnant persona during this rivalry with Undertaker, and it will be interesting to see how he responds to criticism from fans heading into WrestleMania.
Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens Finally Go Head-to-Head
There was a long stretch in the final months of 2016 when Raw was almost unbearable to watch, yet Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens were always entertaining. For as much enjoyment as they provided fans as a unit, it was only inevitable they would go their separate ways.
Owens finally betrayed Jericho on the Feb. 13 edition of Raw, and three weeks later, Jericho exacted his revenge by costing him the Universal Championship at Fastlane. On the next night’s Raw, Owens challenged Jericho to a United States Championship match at WrestleMania 33.
This is a matchup that fans have long waited for, and although it isn’t over the Universal Championship, these two are likely determined to steal the show regardless.
We had a small taste of what they’re capable of as opponents when they engaged in a heated verbal exchange followed by a brawl on the latest episode of Raw. This is a feud driven by personal animosity as well as vengeance, a simply story made enthralling by Owens and Jericho playing their roles remarkably well.
Jericho has done an exceptional job of reinventing himself since returning to the company in 2016, and it is time for Owens to do the same. While he has been much more hostile in his attacks on Jericho as of late, fans still have yet to see what he is fully capable of as an antagonist.
AJ Styles Demands Respect From Shane McMahon
Following the fantastic year AJ Styles had in 2016, fans held out hope he would be competing for or defending the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 33. Although he earned his title shot on two separate occasions in recent weeks, he fell short when it mattered most against Randy Orton on Tuesday night.
Based off what happened after the show went off the air, it seems Styles is on a collision course with commissioner Shane McMahon heading into WrestleMania. Styles deserves to be part of a bigger bout on the grandest stage of them all, but his contest with McMahon could exceed expectations.
Since his arrival in WWE in early 2016, The Phenomenal One has produced great matches with virtually everyone he has faced, and Shane should be no exception. His sights are set on getting the back the title he claims he never should have lost, but in order to do that, he believes he must make an impact at Shane’s expense.
Regardless of how the match plays out, each of their encounters thus far has been captivating, and the two have a strong chemistry together on the mic. Shane can definitely deliver when motivated, and this program with Styles should bring the best out of him.
It’s pretty apparent the former WWE champion has been fed up with the management on the blue brand for months, and with nothing left to lose, it is entirely possible we will see a much more dangerous AJ Styles with the pay-per-view looming large.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham “GSM” Matthews, is a Digital Journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and “like” his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.