As usual, the WWE have done a sterling job in hyping the main events of WrestleMania.
On this last Raw before the big event, it is imperative that the company reinforces the importance of several of the undercard matches.
Each match has its own reason to be brought to the fore.
The Intercontinental title fight between Wade Barrett and The Miz has to be heralded to maintain—and rebuild—the importance of the WWE’s secondary title. Meanwhile, the battle pitting Ryback against Mark Henry will probably produce the next big challenger for the WWE championship.
Team Hell No is taking on Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston not only for the tag-team titles, but also to establish at least one high-profile heel going into the new wrestling year.
How much faith there is in The Shield’s gimmick will be revealed when they take on Randy Orton, Big Show and Sheamus. The renegade unit have been making hit-and-run attacks for almost six months. They have also picked up high-profile victories in lesser pay-per-views. How important a win for both sides would be, in both the real world and the WWE’s, will only be fully appreciated with reinforcement tonight.
Whether WWE truly believe Fandango is a viable long-term superstar will also be revealed when he takes on Chris Jericho. Such a long introduction does suggest nervousness on the company’s part, but on the other hand he is on the card over US Champion Antonio Cesaro.
Even Team Rhodes Scholars and The Bellas up against Tons of Funk and The Funkadactyls has merit. This may be conspicuously hidden under an underwhelming mix tag-team encounter, but it should lead to either Cody Rhodes or Damien Sandow getting a push in the long term.
Making sure every undercard match means something is also important in maintaining WrestleMania’s legacy.
This is the premier wrestling pay-per-view of the year. It is supposed to be different from any other event, and part of that is making sure every match means something to the fans. Two possible ways the WWE could remind fans of the importance of these matches are through focusing on the history of the Intercontinental championship or by selling how key it is to be known as the WWE’s most dominant individual.
As important as the undercard is, Raw also needs to be carefully balanced. The headline acts are there to sell to the casual—or even one-off—fans who buy one pay-per-view event a year. Figures like The Rock, John Cena and Brock Lesnar have a transitional quality that Wade Barrett and Co. cannot compete with.
However, this three-hour long episode of Raw should be more than enough time to promote everything on Sunday’s card. If the WWE can manage this, then the excitement levels for WrestleMania will go into overdrive even earlier than normal.