The road to WrestleMania was officially kick-started this past Sunday at the Royal Rumble, which started to set in motion the events and matches that will play out on the WWE’s grandest stage this coming April in Orlando. Most of the WrestleMania card has been set in place backstage, and plans for those matches will begin to unfold on RAW and SmackDown Live each and every Monday and Tuesday.
Each brand has a pit stop on that road to WrestleMania, with SmackDown facing the quickest turnaround from the Royal Rumble as they present the Elimination Chamber on February 12. RAW has the luxury of additional build-time with Fastlane coming our way on March 5. Regardless, both pay-per-views will set the stage for WrestleMania 33, though as noted, the majority of the card is locked in.
One of the matches that’s been set in stone for WrestleMania ever since one of the participants agreed to extend his brief run with the company is the epic encounter between Goldberg and Brock Lesnar. The feud has been ongoing since this past October and will culminate inside Orlando’s Camping World Stadium and WrestleMania 33. In fact, despite Fastlane approaching first, Lesnar and his advocate, Paul Heyman, already laid down the WrestleMania challenge this past Monday night.
As we’ve noted previously, Goldberg’s return to the WWE was originally only supposed to result in a one-off match with Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series last November. Goldberg would then drive off into the sunset, only to return for an eventual Hall of Fame induction. Vince McMahon initially felt that a match between Lesnar and Shane McMahon was a much bigger attraction for the WrestleMania stage.
He was quickly proven wrong due to the response from Goldberg’s appearances, and the two sides agreed to extend their arrangement. There has even been talk that Goldberg may stay all the way through the 2018 WrestleMania. In any event, Vince and his creative staff were then allowed to book the stunning Survivor Series finish the way they did and continued in that vein during the Royal Rumble match, all as a way to set up, what is perceived to be, a final showdown between the two icons.
During the latest episode of Wrestling Observer Radio, it was noted that Vince has been extremely hands-on with the Goldberg-Brock Lesnar feud and is giving it special treatment leading up to WrestleMania. Once they decided that Goldberg was staying, Vince has put extra thought into the program and has been responsible for all of the creative.
It’s unclear whether Vince is removing himself from any of the other proposed feuds for WrestleMania, but he is devoting a lot of his energy to Brock and Bill. It’s worth recalling the fact that McMahon was extremely disappointed in the way Lesnar was used for WrestleMania 32 and despite injuries playing a major role in the lack of creative success last year, Vince felt that The Beast was wasted.
He promised to himself and his staff that that would not happen again this year. Initially, he wanted Brock to face The Rock in what would have been an enormous match, but The Rock’s schedule wouldn’t allow for a program, nor a match. Then the Chairman turned to his son who had just provided the highlight of WrestleMania 32 by leaping off the top of the Hell in a Cell structure onto an announce table during his match with the Undertaker.
When Vince realized that fans preferred Lesnar to face Goldberg over Shane at WrestleMania as soon as it became a viable choice, he made the switch. The build will not only include the final chapter in the rivalry, but the two are expected to headline WrestleMania with the WWE Universal Championship on the line. It certainly didn’t hurt their cause when Paul Heyman delivered a fiery and effective promo Monday night to start things off with a bang.
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