Saturday, 17 March 2012

How Grand Is The Grandest Stage? By @DMC316

A variety of wrestling exists all over the world, some good some bad, and some preferred over others. But come the end of the third month of every year, all eyes are on the powerhouse that is WWE as they put on their strongest show of the year. Wrestlemania is a display of the most popular talent of the roster and manages to pull out the happenings that can’t occur on any other day of the year. Legendary returns and celebrity appearances are just a fraction of what manages to bring an unparalleled 70,000 people to watch professional wrestling in person. It’s a tall order though, and just how strong is this year’s Wrestlemania looking?

Concern stems from last year’s Wrestlemania, the 27th in the series, which was not well received by most. Its main problem could be that rather than being the culmination of a year of programming as it should be, it actually managed to be more of the last Monday Night Raw show building up to Wrestlemania 28. Take its two biggest matches as examples. The Undertaker and Triple H put on the match of the night, an outstanding match which is only slightly tarnished by it’s ending. The image of Undertaker unable to stand, and being carried out of the arena was not so much a Wrestlemania moment as it was something we could look forward to being reminded in ten months so that their rematch had something to play off.

Then we look at the main event from Wrestlemania 27, for the WWE championship. A singles match with such prestige, which should display the absolute peak of WWE talent and what they can do. And what can they do? They can end on a weak double countout leading to a restart which would see The Rock rain on the parade and give The Miz an even weaker victory over the fan favourite (though I use that term loosely) John Cena. Which is usually fine, it’s a style that’s common in WWE. But this closed the show. People waiting for the big pay off and waiting for the moment that would leave them satisfied were left disappointed. 70,000 in attendance were just told to go home now, and millions watching at home were left with a screen fading to black. Disbelief and question marks received high usage. Then the next day it was made clear that the main event of the biggest show of the year, in the position with the most prestige, for the title with the highest regard, was tossed aside to build a feud for a match that was a year away. Fans are now left with the fear that they will get played twice. People pay their money to see the biggest and best WWE has to offer, not an advert for what could be next year’s advert.

Now that’s off my chest, let’s look at the matches for Wrestlemania 28 shall we?

The Diva’s Match, it’s importance shown by how long they took to actually announce it. It’s a match which has been christened by some fans as a toilet break, but despite the popular opinion and their portrayal on TV, WWE contains some very capable female wrestlers. Given the opportunity they can deliver great wrestling, but one very much doubts them receiving such an opportunity. Even more concerning is the fact they seem to building more on a Kelly Kelly vs Eve feud, which would be fine if the Diva’s champion wasn’t absent from that rivalry. If the Diva’s champion is in lower regard than others, then the whole division is made to look weak. What may save the match is the celebrity involvement which alludes to a Wrestlemania moment, but besides that one expects the match will be met with sighs and remarks regarding the waste of talent.

12-Man Tag Team Action, which see’s John Laurinaitis pit his team against Teddy Long. Well that’s one way to pad out time and make sure 12 good wrestlers get to appear at Wrestlemania. Participants are only part announced at this time, but one predicts this where the likes of Dolph Ziggler and Zack Ryder will be allowed to show their faces. Isn’t that all it really is? A chance to go “and look who’s here!” As far as the general managers go, I’m not sure anyone really cares. But I’ll take a guy who I can hurl abuse at and enjoy hating, over a guy who likes making tag team matches. At least Santino has the opportunity to be on screen during this match, which is all he needs to steal an entire show.

Intercontinental Championship Match, which throws together two wrestlers who had nothing better to do. Why is the Big Show fresh off his bid for the World Title now chasing a title with mid-card status? Because Cody Rhodes needed an opponent for Wrestlemania. On the plus side Cody Rhodes is a capable performer and the Big Show is a sight to be seen, so one can expect a good match from the two but I won’t hold my breath for that elusive Wrestlemania moment.

Randy Orton vs. Kane, and déjà vu as it became apparent that Randy Orton needed an opponent for Wrestlemania. It is arguable that Kane has passed his peak, and is now simply put in play to keep people busy. Before it was Cena as he awaited The Rock, and now it’s Randy as he looks for a Wrestlemania opponent. The fact of the matter is that WWE’s top guy when it comes to performance is Randy Orton. He spent most of last year carrying the Smackdown brand, and even now still overshadows the title in his appearances. In the ring he is very gifted, and after an outstanding performance last year against CM Punk, one predicts that lightening will strike twice.

World Heavyweight Championship, which finally presents the match which was scrapped at last year’s Wrestlemania. This match has manufactured no excitement. The feud between the two competitors is non-existent and only comes from Sheamus winning the Royal Rumble and having a title shot, and now and again he throws Daniel Bryan back in a ring when he tries to leave. It hardly has the emotional strength of the three feuds that will follow, and that makes the match look non-important. Luckily however, wrestling fans know better and they know that Daniel Bryan is one of the best professional wrestlers in the world, while Sheamus is just shy of being on top of the WWE as he fits snuggly into the ideal of a sports entertainer. Poor build aside, these two can put on a great match and can create Wrestlemania moments. That’s as long as they aren’t knocked down to a dark match by a Rock promo.

Once in a lifetime, The Rock vs. John Cena, no doubt the biggest match on the card but sees it’s position as third from last in this piece. The Rock is one of the greatest stars in the history of WWE and is the star attraction for this year’s show, but there is major concern that he might not show up to Wrestlemania. He has made occasional appearances, but a lot of the time there someone else feuding with his Wrestlemania opponent John Cena. That person is Dwayne Johnson, and Dwayne is nice guy who deserves a lot of credit, but he’s not The Rock, and if The Rock doesn’t show up April 1st people aren’t going to be sure who to follow in this match. The bigger concern is whether The Rock can still go out and do it. Survivor Series was a preview, but hitting five moves in a tag team match which allows your partner to carry you, is far different to going one on one for 20 or even 30 minutes. And The Rock is busy making movies while one hopes he is hitting a wrestling ring regularly and practicing because the bigger the match, the bigger the potential letdown, and this match could not be bigger. One can’t enter this match with expectations, only hopes.

Hell in a Cell, the Streak defended with Shawn Michaels as the guest referee. For 19 Wrestlemanias they have come, and for 19 Wrestlemanias they have fallen, and for the past 3 Wrestlemanias the Undertaker has stolen the show in a singles match showing the power of two men alone in a wrestling ring having a wrestling match. People are constantly awed by what the man is capable of with little need for gimmicks and props which is why the addition of what looks like an unnecessary crutch is cocerning. Hell in a Cell is also a little wasted in an era where chairshots and blood are outlawed, and the two competitors are old and held back by injuries. People are excited about the stipulation but I hope they aren’t expecting moments on par with the early matches where Shawn Michaels and Mankind used the structure to shine. That is the only problem as these two legends are very capable and will undoubtedly have the match of the night. The addition of HBK is even welcome, as one can picture the emotion they will be able to evoke from viewers. Get five gold stickers on standby.

WWE Championship, and a battle to be the best in the world. This title match should headline the show to put importance on it’s title and it’s competitors. Sadly, it looks to be lost in the shuffle with so many popular matches on display. CM Punk is currently the man. He’s the man you should pin an era on, he’s the man with the shoulders your company should rest on and he’s the man who’s face you should put next to every use of a WWE logo. CM Punk is now that man and yet he could find himself five matches from the top spot if the order follows WWE standards. That will not stop him going out there and putting on a match that will reduce the people who must follow him to tears. There are no doubts on his ability to do that, and having such an accomplished wrestler like Chris Jericho opposing him makes it very easy to get excited. As the headline championship on the flagship show, these two have managed to create a white hot feud which leaves you in expectance that these two will have a match for the ages which fills up Wrestlemania highlight reels for years to come. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your main event.

So if all goes well this should be a strong Wrestlemania. Four matches that instil confidence and enough filler to keep the pace flowing. If they deliver, this could be one of the all-time best Wrestlemanias, but one should never forget the WWE’s ability to drop the ball. Will Rock and Cena go all out, or spend thirty minutes preparing groundwork for Rock vs Cena II at Wrestlemania 29. The main point is that the above is your Wrestlemania card, and WWE are currently selling it. The question becomes, are you buying it?

1 comment:

  1. Another strong article Derrie. A joy to read. Keep up the good work!