It all kicked off last night at WWE SmackDown Live in Pittsburgh, and as predicted in the Inquisitr yesterday, AJ Styles was at the center of the action. As we all know, there are less than three weeks until the WWE’s biggest showcase event. WrestleMania 33 returns to Orlando, Florida’s Camping World Stadium on Sunday, April 2, and the WWE network is in full-on hype mode. Recent episodes of SmackDown and Monday Night Raw have been used to build the backstory to WrestleMania 33, and last night’s SmackDown was no different.
The odd thing about this week’s WWE shows is the fact that all the interesting action has taken place outside the ring. On Monday Night Raw, we saw an escalation of the feud between Seth Rollins and his former mentor, Triple H. The end result of that interaction was a reported injury to the knee that Rollins was reported to have injured weeks ago. Whilst it may not have been announced officially, that feud sets up a WrestleMania 33 bout between Rollins and Triple H.
Regular SmackDown fans will know that AJ Styles has been treated pretty badly by Shane McMahon in recent editions of SmackDown. Styles doesn’t feel he gets the respect he deserves from McMahon and the WWE network. Since losing his world championship to John Cena at the 2017 Royal Rumble, Styles has been seeking a way to reclaim his belt.
WrestleMania 33 Card Leaked: How Accurate Was The Leak?
As reported by Metro, the supposed WrestleMania card was leaked immediately after the 2017 Royal Rumble, and WWE denied that the leak was real. If the leak was “fake news” the scammer must have guessed very well. All but one of the predicted bouts have now been confirmed, and both SmackDown and Monday Night Raw have spent the last six weeks trying to establish a credible storyline for each match. Those storylines have left AJ Styles less than happy.
Despite Styles holding together the SmackDown brand, almost singlehandedly, for most of 2016, Shane McMahon has blocked every opportunity that has come Styles’ way. Styles lost to Bray Wyatt in the Elimination Chamber so that Wyatt could set up a WrestleMania headliner with his former BFF and Royal Rumble winner, Randy Orton. Then followed the farce of the No. 1 contender series, where McMahon moved the goalposts every time it looked like Styles would win a championship shot at WrestleMania 33.
Of course, the whole thing was orchestrated to set up a “grudge match” between Styles and McMahon at WrestleMania 33, and last night’s SmackDown brought matters to a head.
As reported on the official WWE website, not once, three times, Styles and McMahon had a dust up in the car park, which ended with Styles shoving McMahon through a car window.
Styles then had a heated conversation with SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan. We are invited to believe that Bryan fired The Phenomenal One and had him ejected from the arena. Styles also called out the WWE backstage team over what he views as disrespectful treatment by the network.
Now some would argue that WWE can be a little transparent at times, and so it proved on last night’s SmackDown. After his dust up with Styles, McMahon took to the stage to say, “AJ Styles says he doesn’t have an opponent at WrestleMania — he does now.” Who saw that one coming?
What has been interesting on both SmackDown and Monday Night Raw is the fact that the exciting action has all taken place outside the ring. The WWE website has devoted the majority of its coverage of both events to the buildup to WrestleMania 33. The WWE would do well to remember a subscription is for more than just WrestleMania. Of course, the WWE needs to sell tickets and PPV subscriptions for its showcase event, but they also have a responsibility to offer good entertainment on Monday Night Raw and SmackDown.
Monday Night Raw has been losing viewers and SmackDown has now drawn more fans than the flagship weekly show on a couple of occasions. Some might argue that recent weeks have been all about WrestleMania 33 hype, at the expense of quality entertainment.
[Featured Image by WWE]