WWE Elimination Chamber is behind us and WrestleMania 36 is less than a month away. Here are 36 observations as we get ready for the big show on April 5 in Tampa, Fla.:
1. Edge versus Randy Orton feels like the main event at WrestleMania — but it won’t be. This is a superb, clear and emotional story, and Edge reminded us on “Monday Night Raw” that he can go to that dark place, just like Orton. We are in for some theater from these masters.
2. I know WWE likes to announce things in advance in hopes of popping a rating, but did we really need to know Edge was going to be back on “Raw” on Monday? How about making his return a surprise, get a big pop and make people feel they need to watch the show to not miss moments like that.
3. The women’s Elimination Chamber match was not a great match and under-delivered in many aspects, but it was the best booking of Shayna Baszler we’ve seen on the WWE main roster: The quick tapouts and her brutalizing of Liv Morgan gave us a glimpse of the killer we loved to hate in NXT. You can make the case they didn’t go far enough with how she ran through her opponents. Break and bend some limbs. Maybe leave one opponent bloodied.
4. Baszler is starting to build the heat she needs going into WrestleMania. She will need it for her persona to better translate to the Raw audience, which will want nothing more than for their hero Becky Lynch to send Baszler back to NXT. If not, a Baszler-Asuka feud could be waiting.
5. Does anyone else feel as if Lynch is Rocky Balboa in “Rocky III” before he got destroyed by Clubber Lang? The Man has been positioned as overconfident, strutting her GOAT status. Her promo to open “Raw” did set a great tone going forward and finally brought Ronda Rousey into the storyline.
6. Why should the audience care about the implosion of the Riott Squad when WWE continues to treat them like jobbers and fails to let their story truly play out in the Elimination Chamber? Ruby Riott, not Liv Morgan (so much for her push), can be the breakout star of the group. Just give her time.
7. Say what you want about Brock Lesnar, but the last two years, he helped leave his WrestleMania opponents (Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins) in better standing than he found them. The cheers for Drew McIntyre keep growing, and Lesnar told McIntyre to grab the title while selling a beatdown from last week’s “Raw.”
8. I’m all here for Roman Reigns vs. Goldberg and The Fiend vs. John Cena at WrestleMania. I just wish the former was simply Spear vs. Spear, New vs. Old (without the belt) and the other was Cena going for The Fiend’s WWE’s title, which would be his record 17th world championship.
9. Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley is one of WrestleMania’s most intriguing matches. Flair, who has run through pretty much all of the main roster, would benefit taking the title: She would get fresh matchups in NXT, could help ratings and be used to put over Bianca Belair. Otherwise Ripley gets a big rub from beating WWE’s Golden Girl at WrestleMania. Either outcome has big implications.
10. Undertaker’s surprise appearance at Elimination Chamber was exactly how you should use him and added to the anticipation for his WrestleMania match with AJ Styles.
11. I do have a challenge for WWE: Get me an Undertaker WrestleMania feud that isn’t just about the next guy calling him out for a match. That may be asking a lot from a company that long-term booked Erick Rowan’s cage holding a giant fake tarantula, which McIntyre quickly destroyed.
12. What if this whole Undertaker-Styles feud is about getting Aleister Black a star-making rub? Black also went over Rollins on Monday’s “Raw.”
13. Black Mass is one of the best finishers in WWE. Tell me otherwise.
14. Rollins feels very natural in his Monday Night Messiah role, but how many multi-man tag matches can one wrestler be booked in?
15. Happy Sami Zayn finally earned a singles title on the main roster. It’s about time. But did it have to come at the expense of Braun Strowman so quickly? Strowman has been waiting for a championship run, too. WWE didn’t pull the trigger on him as a world champion a few years ago. Not sure he can afford another start and stop.
16. WWE playing hot potato with the Intercontinental Championship, even in a 3-on-1 handicap match, continues to devalue the once-proud title. It easily could flip back to Strowman at WrestleMania.
17. The feud among Andrade, Humberto Carrillo, Angel Garza and Rey Mysterio has been compelling and fun in the ring, even with being built around Andrade’s Wellness Policy suspension. But it is time to get to the next phase of this story. Any one of them is a worthy U.S. champion. Andrade and Carrillo are the front-runners. Would WWE think about doing Andrade vs. Zelina Vega’s real-life husband Aleister Black if Andrade retains?
18. As good as Andrade and Carrillo are in the ring, you can make the case the charismatic Garza comes across the best on screen. WWE could turn him babyface and make Vega choose between him and Andrade in a post-WrestleMania feud.
19. What Daniel Bryan is doing with Drew Gulak is fantastic. They told an excellent story during their match at Elimination Chamber in Gulak’s hometown of Philadelphia. Bryan also got Heath Slater and Curtis Axel some TV time. Hope the plug isn’t pulled too quickly on this, but WWE could want a more marquee match for Bryan in Tampa.
20. “Who sent Otis the text to spoil his Valentine’s Day date with Mandy Rose?” is a storyline WWE needs to make more prominent, despite Rose telling Otis she’s moved on. Otis vs. Ziggler needs to end with either Otis getting the girl or Sonya Deville being the one who sent the text. If not, what was the point?
21. At the least, WWE has an increasingly over, non-New Day babyface tag team in Heavy Machinery. Will they capitalize on it? Heavy Machinery was the second team out of the Elimination Chamber after getting a huge rub from the gauntlet match on last week’s “SmackDown.”
22. The SmackDown tag team match was the best on the pay-per-view as the division continues stealing the show. Please continue to give them the time and respect they deserve and keep them off kickoff shows.
23. John Morrison and his acrobatic move set has been a fun addition to the WWE roster. How soon until he turns on Miz and starts a singles run?
24. Thank you WWE for giving us more of Robert Roode’s glorious entrance. It used to be one of the coolest in wrestling, and is still up there.
25. Props to Lince Dorado for that shooting star press from hanging from the roof of the Elimination Chamber. Crazy.
26. Ricochet has been relegated to matches on Main Event. He deserves better than the burying he’s getting right now.
27. Does WWE actually have a women’s tag team division? The 24/7 title has gotten more or equal TV time in recent months. At least the Kabuki Warriors were revived on Monday.
28. The Raw tag team match at Elimination Chamber featured two singles stars in Rollins and Murphy against the Street Profits in a match that was more about advancing Rollins’ feud with Kevin Owens.
29. When does Kevin Owens get to work his magic at the top of the card or is he destined to be an upper-midcard storytelling star?
30. The Street Profits are fun, they bring energy and they have a great connection with a live crowd. They are stars. WWE needs to start booking them that way.
31. King Corbin feuding with Elias sounds about right.
32. The Revival’s contracts in WWE should be up in June. If and how they are booked for WrestleMania 36 could be a telling sign about their future.
33. Jeff Hardy is returning to SmackDown this Friday after a long hiatus. It was wonderful to see Hardy look refreshed and healthy on “WWE Backstage” last week.
34. Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder almost made it to the pay-per-view Sunday, but lost on the kickoff show instead.
35. WWE said last week WrestleMania 36 is going on as planned in Tampa, Fla., though they are monitoring the outbreak of the coronavirus. If other major sports, such as the NBA, NCAA or NHL start forbidding fans from attending games, at some point you have to take a long, hard look in the mirror and reevaluate.
36. Stone Cold Steve Austin returns to Raw for 3/16 Day. Oh, hell yeah!