WWE WrestleMania 33 is more about Roman Reigns than The Undertaker, Goldberg, Brock Lesnar or any other star on the card.
Whether fans are willing to accept it or not, WWE officials seems hellbent on pushing Reigns as “The Guy”, catapulting him into that next stratosphere where he can assume his spot as the face of WWE. The true beginning of Reigns’ climb to the pinnacle of WWE could begin at WrestleMania 33 during his highly anticipated encounter with The Undertaker, one that you could say is the most controversial and tantalizing aspect of this year’s pop culture extravaganza.
Reigns vs. Undertaker is also arguably the biggest match at a WrestleMania 33 pay-per-view that will have historically high ticket prices and is hoping to shatter records for ticket sales, social media use, merchandise sales and so much more. But the ramifications of this marquee match will extend well beyond WrestleMania 33 itself.
Yes, “The Guy” vs. “The Deadman” is truly a match that could forever change the course of WWE history. Here are five potential long-term effects that may result from The Undertaker vs. Reigns at WrestleMania 33.
A Roman Reigns Heel Turn
Though Reigns vs. Undertaker is technically a feud between two babyfaces, Reigns has clearly been positioned as the more heel-like of the two.
Naturally, this had brought back the question so many fans have asked for so long: When will Reigns turn heel? The answer to that is “probably not anytime soon,” but Reigns vs. Taker does provide WWE with a great chance to do the unthinkable and move Reigns to the dark side.
Of course, a Reigns heel turn would send shockwaves through the wrestling world, but it wouldn’t necessarily be the smartest decision on WWE’s part. Reigns has already proven to be the company’s biggest YouTube attraction, is clearly one of its top merchandise sellers and is incredibly popular among the majority of fans, even if the vocal minority skews his popularity at times.
Although it’s best for WWE if Reigns stays a babyface, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a possibility he turns heel against The Undertaker. And if he does, it will have long-term ramifications on both brands as WWE will be forced to build up new babyface stars in his spot, which is easier said than done.
The End Of The Undertaker’s Career
WWE is paying The Undertaker a lot of money to do very little.
By last account, he made $2 million a year. Yet, in 2015, he wrestled just seven matches (and just four on pay-per-view), and in 2016, he only wrestled once, facing Shane McMahon at WrestleMania 32. This year, he showed up for a brief Royal Rumble appearance and will also work WrestleMania 33.
But The Undertaker was reportedly hurting badly following his limited participation in The Royal Rumble, and WWE is already teasing his possible retirement at WrestleMania 33. Given his hefty salary, his injury-riddled body and WWE’s need to push new superstars, WrestleMania 33 could indeed be the swan song for “The Deadman.”
The Downfall of Braun Strowman
Let’s not pretend like this isn’t possible.
If we’re going to constantly compare Reigns to John Cena, then consider this: After Cena defeated Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania 30 and Rusev at WrestleMania 31, ending their impressive ascensions to the top of WWE, they were never the same. Wyatt is only now starting to recover from that while Rusev never has.
Fast forward to 2017, and Braun Strowman is in a similar position. He just lost clean for the first time at Fastlane when Reigns pinned him, and since then, he’s cowered in fear from The Undertaker and was choke-slammed by him on this week’s Raw. “The Monster Among Men” is dangerously close to following that Wyatt/Rusev path as a victim of bad booking whose momentum is completely killed by a feud with WWE’s top babyface.
Strowman deserves a major WrestleMania match, but he appears to be a pawn in the Taker/Reigns feud and may get nothing more than a spot in the forgettable Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. If both of those things happen, WWE may ruin the trajectory of Strowman’s career, which had him well on his way to a solidified main event spot as Raw’s top heel.
Now? That doesn’t seem so certain, and Undertaker vs. Reigns could be to blame.
Reigns Vs. Brock Lesnar At WrestleMania 34
We’re more than a year away from WrestleMania 34, but according to The Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t WrestlingInc) the main event for that show is already penciled in: Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship.
Should that really surprise anyone? Reigns vs. Lesnar headlined what was, at the time, the highest grossing WWE live event ever at WrestleMania 31 in 2015. Last year, WrestleMania 32, headlined by Reigns vs. Triple H (with Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose as one of the show’s other marquee matches) shattered that record and was the most financially successful WrestleMania of all-time.
No matter how much, or how little, Reigns and Lesnar had to do with that, WWE undoubtedly sees that Reigns has done well in headlining WrestleMania roles. Thus, if WWE wants to start Reigns’ journey to a Universal title shot against Lesnar at WrestleMania 34, it will likely start with “The Big Dog” defeating The Undertaker at WrestleMania 33.
And that’s sure to upset some very vocal fans.
Reigns One Step Closer To Being The New John Cena
John Cena is set to leave WWE temporarily after WrestleMania 33 to film the movie, The Pact.
He is not expected to be on any SmackDown events until after the Money in the Bank PPV on June 8, which is probably the biggest reason why WWE reportedly has plans “to make Reigns the ‘next John Cena’ of the company.” That won’t sit well with Reigns haters, but the March 20 Wrestling Observer Newsletter notes that Reigns “does move merchandise well” even though he, like everyone else, is not at that Cena level.
During Cena’s rise to the top of WWE, he faced and defeated countless legends who crossed his path, from Randy Orton to Triple H to Shawn Michaels, in high-profile matches. WWE, in all likelihood, will go a similar route with Reigns, booking him as the unstoppable and unbeatable top babyface in the company.
That all starts with “The Deadman” at WrestleMania 33, when WWE could have The Undertaker lose to Reigns in order to position him as the face of WWE and the “next John Cena” in the absence of Cena himself.