Why there is no excuse for failure at WrestleMania 33
There's no doubt that the pressure is on Vince McMahon every April, but this year he has no need to worry.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls - it's almost time. WrestleMania season is just around the corner and this is every wrestling fan's favourite part of the year, because business is really about to pick up. Storylines are going to be advanced, legends are going to return and most importantly, moments are going to be made that will last a lifetime.
Of course, we all know that not every year proves to be a resounding success on all counts. For example, WrestleMania 32, less than twelve months ago, suffered from a number of issues. Some of these were at the fault of WWE, meanwhile, others were simply uncontrollable. Still, whatever the case may be, they broke the oh-so-glorious attendance record, so there may well be a silver lining after all.
However, when it comes to this year's ‘show of shows’, there doesn't seem to be many excuses standing in the way of a glorious success for Vince McMahon. After all, everything that was perceived to be wrong last time round has fallen by the wayside and as a whole, WWE appears to be in a much stronger position.
To work out just how exactly this is the case, you've got to go back to late 2015. The men and women behind the scenes at WWE were starting to construct numerous plans and ideas for WrestleMania 32 in Dallas, with the event set to break the company's all-time attendance record that stood since WM3 at the Pontiac Silverdome.
So, basically, it was a pretty big deal. Unfortunately, the wrestling gods had other ideas, striking down on the WWE with great vengeance by awarding long-term injuries to Seth Rollins, John Cena, Cesaro, Randy Orton, Sting and many more.
This year however, for the most part, there's been a clean bill of health. In addition to all the main roster stars that are fit and healthy, a whole host of part-timers such as Goldberg, Triple H, Undertaker and Brock Lesnar look set to appear on the show in Orlando. The talent is overflowing in both brands right now, and there isn't a broken bone in sight.
In terms of the match making, the brand split has opened the door for a number of different alternatives. With the Royal Rumble, they have a few different routes they can go down in terms of the winner, which will increase buys and subscriptions for the event, and the possibility for Raw vs SmackDown bouts can always get them out of jail, if need be.
Plus, they have, what can essentially be called a guaranteed free pass towards success with the blue half of the equation. The writing team of SmackDown Live have been knocking it out of the park of late, and even if some of Raw's matches for WM33 fall short, SmackDown will come riding in to save the day.
They're also going back to somewhere they know like the back of their hand. With WrestleMania 24 being hosted at the Citrus Bowl and NXT pretty much being located in Orlando, they have so many possible cards to play that the shows can almost book themselves.
Oh, and the wrestling itself? Exceptional. In a WWE calendar that has been stuffed full of way too many pay-per-views, the natural ability of the superstars involved has saved the day on more than one occasion. They know that masking over poor stories with a brilliant in-ring product is going to work more often than not, and the current crop of wrestlers is more capable than ever to provide that service.
Then we move on to the compared expectations. Last year, despite the fact there were so many injuries, WrestleMania 32 had an insane amount of hype due to the sheer scale of the AT&T Stadium. Everyone was expecting something of a masterpiece, but WWE's illogical and seemingly panicked booking ensured that those plans were ruined.
But they're a year older and a year wiser now. The crowd isn't going to be quite as large, and given the nature of the Citrus Bowl, there should be a more intimate feel to the entire event. Several superstars were in the infancy of their characters twelve months ago, but now they've been allowed to grow and thrive.
For the first time in years, it feels like WWE are going into Mania season with a lot of momentum. They have storied rivalries and long term booking situations that are just waiting to be blown off, so failure really isn't an option. If they were to mess this up in the 11 weeks or so between now and the showcase of the immortals, they really wouldn't have anyone to blame but themselves.