Ronda Rousey challenging Charlotte Flair for the SmackDown Women’s Championship was the planned main event for night one of WrestleMania this Saturday night. However, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin will have a confrontation with Kevin Owens. Rumors of Austin/Owens closing the show were confirmed by the Wrestling Observer. Naturally, some fans are not happy that a “talk show segment” will headline over an actual match, but it’s the right call.
WWE is strongly hinting at physicality between Austin and Owens even though their confrontation is being promoted as a talk show segment instead of a match. The simple truth is no one, not WWE, not even Austin, knows what he’s capable of after 19 years away from the ring. If Austin can’t bump, gets blown up, or his body can’t handle the rigor of a live match after a couple of minutes, he and Owens can call an audible and take it home early. Wham, bam, Stone Cold Stunner, and everyone leaves happy.
Austin and Owens are great entertainers and will make the best of it, regardless of how long or short it goes. However, WWE putting them on last strongly suggests that Austin is confident enough that he can have a match-like performance. I say confident enough because if Austin and WWE were 100% confident, they’d change the promotion to a straight-up match against Owens.
Wrestling Observer reported that Austin is in “fantastic shape” and expects Austin and Owens to “have a brawl all over the place.” If all parties’ assessment is correct, Steve Austin and Kevin Owens will put on a tremendous show in Dallas.
If Austin/Owens is great and Flair vs. Rousey goes on last, it will be WrestleMania 18 all over again. You know, the one where The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan was too hard for Chris Jericho and Triple H to follow.
Hopefully, we’ve learned from history by now. Putting Flair vs. Rousey in such an unenviable position to close the show in the wake of a legendary return is a disservice to both women. Hunter and Jericho didn’t have a speck of go-away heat in 2002, and they were two of the best workers in the business.
In 2022, Flair is at the top of her game, and Rousey has her moments for sure, but they almost have as much go-away heat as they do heat to see one rise and one fall. They’ve also main evented WrestleMania before, so it’s not as if they’re losing out on an opportunity. Plus, WrestleMania 38 will not be the last chance for Flair and Rousey to obtain main event glory on “The Grandest Stage of Them All.”
Rousey is rumored to headline next year’s WrestleMania against Becky Lynch, and Flair will always be in the main event mix with an opportunity to perform in that coveted spot.
In today’s wrestling space, diehard fans are soured by the notion of part-time wrestlers taking main event spots from full-time wrestlers who endure the grind of WWE’s hectic schedule. It’s a just argument; however, at the end of the day, this is show business and not the one who deserves it business. Steve Austin versus Kevin Owens is the most anticipated match, brawl, segment, filibuster of the evening and in a position to be the most entertaining.
That means it’s also the most deserved.