Monday, February 25, 2019

My dream Wrestlemania 35 card ... based in reality

Wrestlemania is just a few weeks away and it seems like it's going to be a lengthy show.

After the Royal Rumble's main show was approximately 5 hours, there's no way that Wrestlemania won't be just as long.

I'd like to see them place several matches on the pre-show (and start early so that the East Coast doesn't get done watching it at Midnight) so that it's not such a chore to sit through.

Anything over 5 hours and it's bordering leg cramps, people going home from viewing parties so they can get up for work the next day and losing interest.

So how would you book Wrestlemania?

To be honest there aren't a lot of matches I'm really looking forward to seeing.  There are some matches I'd like to see happen but I know they're not going to.

I have a dream card, but, realistically, it probably won't happen.  For example, I think this year would've been a great time to do The Undertaker vs. Shinsuke Nakamura.  I can say with 99.9% certainty that it's not going to happen.

So, when coming up with this, I tried to base most of the booking in reality.

The main card:

Raw Women's Title Match (Main Event):
Ronda Rousey vs. Becky Lynch

This should be the main event.  Becky Lynch is at an all-time career high.  Ronda Rousey is a star.

Rumors are that Ronda Rousey is going to be taking time off to spend time with her husband and possibly become a mom.

There's no better time to let two women main event Wrestlemania than this.

WWE will likely keep Charlotte in that mix (making it a triple threat), but I'd let her sit this one out.  Let Ronda and Becky tell their story without that additional element.

WWE Universal Title Match:
Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar

I don't know if I'm excited for this or not.  I'd say give Rollins the win, but he's got some nagging injuries so maybe not?  Still, it's time for Brock to lose the title.  Seth is a safe babyface candidate to win the title and lead the Raw brand for a couple of months before losing the title to someone else.

Whoever wins, I expect it to be a 10 - 15 minute Brock Lesnar match.  I don't think there's much of a reason to spend more time on it than that.

WWE Heavyweight Title Match:
Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton vs. Rey Mysterio vs. AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe

WWE just did an Elimination Chamber match with 6 competitors, but they've booked themselves into a corner here.  Unless they have several one-on-one matches without titles on the line (and they'd need to build up the feuds pretty quickly to make that happen), they're going to have to do a multi-man WWE Title match.

Give Kofi the shot since fans want it to happen.  Randy is reliable and seems to be entering a feud with Styles, so may as well throw them in there.  Rey and Samoa Joe are two good additional options.

You could put Jeff Hardy or Mustafa Ali in there too, but why rush Mustafa.  He could main event Summerslam if need be.  Wait on him a little bit.

Smackdown Women's Title Match
Asuka vs. Charlotte (the rematch)

Instead of inserting Charlotte into the Becky Lynch / Ronda Rousey match, I'd give her and Asuka a good amount of time to work another great match for the Smackdown Women's Title.  Asuka needs a win and the Smackdown Women's Title needs some credibility after all the focus has been on Raw's Women's Title.  A memorable match is just the thing to revive some interest on the blue brand.

4 Corner WWE Women's Tag Team Title Match:
Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Nia Jax and Tamina vs. The IIconics vs. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville

I'd prefer Sasha and Bayley vs. one tag team from each brand:
 - Nia Jax and Tamina (good heel team from Raw)
 - The IIconics (from Smackdown)
 - Io Shirai and Kairi Sane (representing NXT)

You could remove Nia and Tamina to throw NXT UK's Toni Storm and Rhea Ripley (who are feuding) in for their brand, but Nia and Tamina are big and could probably take more of Io and Kairi's aerial offense.

I realize that the match I want to happen probably won't, so let's just make it a 4 corner bout with Mandy and Sonya in there instead of Io and Kairi.

I don't think I'd make a title switch just yet.

Save that for after Wrestlemania.

Cruiserweight Title Match:
Buddy Murphy vs. ???

I'm not sure who will end up facing Buddy Murphy.  WWE has done zero to get fans interested in 205 Live.  They just released a couple of their main roster guys, too.

I'd turn Murphy face (he's got the moveset to make it work) or at least make him a tweener and have him go up against Noam Dar.  Or maybe Noam Dar and Cedric Alexander in a triple threat.

The cruiserweights always get the short end of the stick so they'll probably end up on the pre-show, but I'd love to see them on the main card this year.

4 Corner WWE Tag Team Champions Match (no titles on the line):
The Usos vs. The Revival vs. The War Raiders vs. James Drake and Zack Gibson

Not sure how to get the tag team champions on the card, so I figured may as well do a champion vs. champion thing.  WWE actually has 4 sets of male tag team champions between all of their brands, so may as well throw them all out there to make it a little more interesting.

The Usos vs. The Revival would be a good match by itself too.

Shane McMahon vs. The Miz

I'm not interested in this feud.  I'm not interested in Shane McMahon wrestling (at the big shows or on weekly TV).  I know I'm stuck with it though.

Miz will turn on Shane before 'Mania and they'll have a big match there.

It's not that I don't like Shane.  I do.  It's that he's not a wrestler and he's taking up a spot that someone else could have.  This can be the one non-title match they have on the card.

Let's not give them 25 minutes for it though, huh?  15 is more than enough.

Intercontinental Title Match:
Finn Balor vs. Lashley (with Lio Rush)

Finn hasn't really had an interesting feud for most of 2018.  Going for a rematch here is easy but may as well do it.  Either that or Drew McIntyre vs. Finn vs. Lashley?  Or Drew vs. Finn?

Raw has a lot of guys who are floating right now --- ready to main event but not being given the opportunity to do so.  Braun, Drew, Lashley, Finn and even Elias could all be main eventing Raw each week.

Remember in 1999 when Mankind, The Undertaker, Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H and The Big Show were all main event ready and could step up as a challenger on any given night?

WWE has that same kind of situation here.  The only difference is that Lesnar has the WWE Universal Title.

I'm a fan of the  guy, for sure.  But it's time to take it off of him and then let the new crop of guys emerge.

They can still use Brock at their big events.  He doesn't need the championship to be an attraction though.  He is an attraction all by himself.


Women's Battle Royal (they should rename it the Chyna Memorial Battle Royal or the Sherri Martel Memorial Battle Royal)

Not much to say about this one.  It gets the other women on the card.  Naomi could win it two years in a row.

If WWE is going with Charlotte vs. Becky vs. Ronda, then put Asuka's title on the line, put this on the main card and let her dominate the thing.

If Asuka is not involved in this match, then it's a pre-show match.

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Put Braun in this match and let him destroy everyone.  I'm talking 12+ eliminations.
WWE needs to build him up as a monster again.  This would at least be a step in the right direction.

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Goodbye to TV superheroes

For a while there you couldn't turn on the TV without seeing some kind of superhero show.

It seems that the end of a TV superhero era is upon us, however.

Rumors are that Arrow (on the CW Network) will be cancelled after the next season. Along with that, Legends of Tomorrow is also apparently on the way out.

There are even rumors that Supergirl may be replaced by a Superman TV show.

Netflix just announced the cancellation of Jessica Jones and The Punisher.

This is after Daredevil, Iron Fist and Luke Cage were all cancelled last Fall.

And any Gotham fan knows that this show is going away after the end of this season, too.

Relax --- it's all cyclical:

While many fans are probably upset by the abundance of cancellation news, I'm not.

I'll miss Daredevil and Gotham. To be honest, I haven't had the chance to keep up with Jessica Jones' second season, Luke Cage's second season, the last season and a half of Arrow or finish the first season of The Punisher.

It's just a lot to keep up with (especially when I'm watching The Good Place and Manifest in real time each week).

Also, I grew up in the 1990s. The only (non-animated) show we got back then was Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

Before that (in the late 80s), there was The Flash and The Swamp Thing (though neither lasted for very many seasons).

Smallville came around in the early 2000s (though I never watched it) during another lull in superhero TV programming.

Then Marvel changed everything with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There was a big boom with superheroes on the big screen, so, naturally, that trend migrated to the small screen.

Just think about all of the shows we got in the past 5 years:

  - Arrow  |  CW Network
       Oct. 2012 – present

  - Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. | ABC Network
       Sept. 2013 – present

  - The Flash  |  CW Network
       Oct. 2014 – present

  - Gotham  |   FOX
       Sept. 2014 – May 2019

  - Agent Carter  |   ABC
       Jan. 2015 – March 2016

  - Daredevil  |   Netflix
       April 2015 – Oct. 2018

  - Supergirl  |   CBS (and then CW Network)
       Oct. 2015 – present

  - Jessica Jones   |   Netflix
       Nov. 2015 – 2019

  - DC's Legend's of Tomorrow  |   CW Network
       Jan. 2016 – present

  - The Iron Fist  |  Netflix
       March 2017 – Nov. 2018

  - Inhumans   |   ABC
       Sept. 2017 – Nov. 2017

  - The Punisher   |   Netflix
       Nov. 2017 – Jan. 2019

  - Black Lightning  |  CW Network
       Jan. 2018 – present

  - Cloak & Dagger  |  Freeform
       June 7, 2018 – present

What a time to be a fan of superheroes!  We had a good 7 years -- really good!  Plus, the Arrowverse gave us several crossover events.

I really enjoyed The Defenders (the Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Iron Fist and Luke Cage team-up) too.

All things come to an end, though, so it makes sense that an overly saturated market on the superhero front couldn't sustain itself.

There's more to come --- but you'll have to pay for it:

Unfortunately the trend these days seems to be each network or company having their own streaming service like Netflix and Hulu (I have my own thoughts on that for another blog post at another time).

The good thing is that the DC and Disney (and therefore Marvel) platforms need content for their services.

DC Universe launched in Sept. 2018 and already has a couple of TV shows that are available to watch:

  - Titans  |  DC Universe
       Sept. 2018 – present
       based on DC's Teen Titans, this show has been renewed for a second season

  - Doom Patrol  |  DC Universe
       Feb. 2019 – present
       it's a spin-off of Titans

They have a handful more that are in development:

  - Swamp Thing  |  DC Universe
       Scheduled to debut sometime in 2019

  - Stargirl  |  DC Universe
       Scheduled to debut in Aug. 2019

Disney+ is probably going to be one of the new homes for a lot of superhero content.

There's a good likelihood that Daredevil and Luke Cage will be revived on Disney+.  That would mean viewers would have to follow the show from Netflix to Disney+.  Fans did that with other shows in the past, however, so it could work.

They also have 3 exciting shows at various stages of development:

  - The Vision and Scarlet Witch  |  Disney+
       Scheduled to debut sometime in 2019
       this will be a limited series that explores the relationship between Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany)

  - Untitled Falcon and Winter Soldier project  |  Disney+
       In development
       Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan will reprise their roles as Falcon and Winter Soldier in this live-action series.  It's apparently going to be kind of a buddy cop series with a superhero flavor.

  - Loki  |  Disney+
       In development
       Lastly (and perhaps most exciting), there is a limited series on Loki that is being worked on.  So even if Tom Hiddleston doesn't return in Avengers Endgame, he'll be reprising his now iconic character at some point.

While all of this means we'll have to pay for content, it is going to be available.

I'm a fan of DVDs because I like to have a copy to watch when the internet goes down or when programs are removed from Netflix or other streaming services, so I'm hoping they release some of these series on DVD.

Then I can purchase them (and watch them over and over) without having to pay that monthly fee.  I'm not sure if DVD releases will happen though.

What does the future hold?

I wouldn't be surprised to see some new superhero shows end up on the mainstream networks again.  DC Universe and Disney+ almost need to keep shows on their platforms in order for them to be successful.

It's one thing to get someone to watch network television, but it's another to get them to pay $10 - $15 a month to watch your shows.

I anticipate additional shows coming soon on both platforms, especially on DC Universe since it consists entirely of superheroes.  Disney+ can utilize Mary Poppins, Aladdin, etc., etc.

DC Universe doesn't have a library of ready-made content that vast, so they need to create new shows.

New superhero shows on the main networks probably won't debut within the next couple of years, but give it another 5 years and we may see an entirely new crop of superhero television.

With such a vast library of characters in Marvel and DC's extensive comic book archives, some of the lesser known characters are perfect for TV.  They can be developed into something bigger.

The Green Arrow was never an extremely popular character, but just look at what Arrow did for the character.

It spawned an entire Arrowverse.

CW has always been a superhero-friendly, but they're also focused on ratings.

If they think a show will do well, they've proven that they'll take the chance and pick it up.  If the show doesn't perform, it will get cancelled.

That's how TV networks operate.

While this may be the end of one era, it's sure to lead to another.

Maybe a Fantastic Four television series?  Or a series about Amanda Waller and her rise to the top of A.R.G.U.S.?

I could see either of those shows airing on the CW.

Superhero movies aren't going away anytime soon, so superheroes on TV aren't going away either.  I'm sure there are several TV networks that would love to cash in on the popularity of the superhero genre as much as they possibly can.

It's just a matter of finding the right characters to tell a good story to garner ratings.

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