At No Mercy, WWE marketed two of the marquee matches as “WrestleMania caliber,” as Braun Strowman challenged Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship, and Roman Reigns sought to earn his stripes by competing against John Cena. The outcomes of the matches saw Lesnar retain his championship against Strowman and Reigns defeat Cena after a hard-fought match.
On Raw Talk following the pay-per-view, Cena heavily put over Reigns, stating that he is indeed the face and future of the company. He added that the verbal jabs that he gave Reigns throughout the previous weeks were designed to fire up the Big Dog, and truly see if it was his yard. Admittedly, Cena stated that Reigns stepped up to the plate, and proved to be a valuable and top talent.
For Strowman, although he came into the match red-hot, and perhaps Lesnar’s toughest foe throughout the course of his career, The Beast was able to execute an F-5 for the victory. As a result, there were many who felt that Strowman should have won the match, or at the very least looked stronger and kicked out of the initial F-5.
While these criticisms swarmed the WWE Universe, one person was satisfied with the outcomes. According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Vince McMahon was happy with the overall turnout and purpose of the matches.
It has been very clear that the plan for WrestleMania34 is for Brock Lesnar to defend the Universal Championship against Roman Reigns. While the popularity of Braun Strowman and Samoa Joe have risen since the original plan, signs point to it staying in place for the showdown in New Orleans.
The feeling from Vince McMahon was that the matches were clean and non-controversial, and served its purpose of making Lesnar survive the threat of Strowman, while looking like a threat for Reigns come April 8.
Since Strowman is pretty much impenetrable at this point, and the loss against Lesnar did not significantly hurt his momentum, the criticism from the WWE Universe does not hold much weight to the long-term plans leading into WrestleMania. Moreover, there have been discussions of Strowman being involved in the current Shield vs. Miztourage angle, so he remains in a prominent position on the roster.
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