Friday, April 5, 2013

Why You Should Watch WrestleMania This Sunday

Notice I titled this article “Why you should watch” and not “Why you should buy”. You should definitely go to either a wing joint that is showing the PPV or your chump buddy’s house. But give your chump buddy a few bucks to help out. I say this because I am the chump buddy. WWE’s pay-per-views have achieved a price level that goes far beyond ridiculous. Regular PPVs are now $55 and I’m not even sure how much WrestleMania is supposed to be. There was a time when I ordered all of the PPVs. WCW and WWF, or WWE and TNA. A few years ago I whittled it down to WWE’s Big Four – the Rumble, ‘Mania, Summer Slam, and Survivor Series. Now I pretty much only get Rumble and ‘Mania. Not only are they too expensive to afford, they are rarely worth it.
But if there is one pay-per-view all year that you can count on to be worth at least your time, it’s The Showcase of the Immortals – WrestleMania. And I am here today to convince you of that. Not because I have any great love for WWE right now. I don’t. I find a large amount of what my DVR records every week to be uninteresting. But WrestleMania is the one show that you can count on to be entertaining regardless of the depth of the storylines or the amount of build-up the company has thought to put into the show.
I’m also writing this because I’ve been sick for the past week and am behind and this is the first thing that popped into my head for a post for today.
            WWE used to put a fair amount of planning and forethought into their biggest pay-per-view of the year. They had to. There was competition in the form of WCW and WWF/E knew that they had to make their big show the biggest show. Now there is no competition (don’t even mention TNA, silly pants) and WWE knows that all they have to do is put on WrestleMania and we’ll watch. At least, some of us will. And to their credit, regardless of how much planning goes into the scheduled matches, the show itself is always truly the biggest, most entertaining wrestling spectacle of the year.
WrestleMania used to be where months-long feuds were ended. It was considered the rest point for the promotion and things started fresh afterwards. Then a few years ago things started carrying over to Backlash, where the fallout from the truly huge WrestleMania matches got taken care of. Now we’re to the point where feuds and storylines can barely be maintained for longer than a month and WrestleMania is not the place where scores are settled for good. Now it’s just the place where the biggest exhibition matches take place and every Superstar still gives everything they have regardless of their place on the card or supposed importance of their bout.
And that is why you need to watch WrestleMania.
But to get even more specific, I’ll do a brief rundown of each scheduled match and give you a little look at what I’m expecting going into this thing. Maybe I can get you hyped up enough to drive over to Wild Wing or Hooters or Barnacles and watch some wrestling with your dinner on Sunday. Not out of any support for WWE, but because I think it’ll be a good time you should have. I’ll run down each match and then list my picks at the end, just for fun. The purpose of this post is to hype up what I think will be a good show, not to speculate on the outcomes. But I kind of have to.
Also, I am listing these in the order that I think they will be booked. Who knows for sure?
Broadus Clay, Tensai, Cameron, & Naomi versus Damian Sandow, Cody Rhodes, Nikki Bella, & Brie Bella
I think this will be the opener if it doesn’t get bumped. Sandow and Rhodes were tremendous heels even before the addition of the creepy twin hobags. Tensai and Clay along with the Funkadactyls are big crowd-pleasers and would be a hot open to the show. I’m a little more invested in this match after seeing the Bellas and the Funkadactyls have a surprisingly fun match the other night on RAW. But I like I said – this might get bumped. They have already relegated Miz versus Antonio Cesaro for the United States Championship to the pre-show match, which sucks because that one will be good despite the fact I don’t buy Miz as a babyface and I hate his Ric Flair thing.
Fandango versus Chris Jericho
I have to admit that Fandango has grown on me. I was massively disappointed the first time I heard him speak, as he had no accent and didn’t actually seem very good at speaking. Since then he has refused to wrestle on the basis that nobody can pronounce his silly name. I’m not sure how Chris Jericho ended up in Fandango’s crosshairs (or vice versa, I guess) but I do think this will be a solid match. Both men have had a serious intensity during their limited physical confrontations. Jericho is in amazing shape (™ DDP Yoga) and the promise of seeing Fandango compete for the first time adds a little artificial (but still effective) stank onto this one. The outcome is in question because Fandango is a new guy and Jericho doesn’t have the best WrestleMania record ever.
Regardless of the short duration of their feud and my complete inability to understand it or remember how it started, these guys have created an intensity that has me eager to watch them fight.
Kane & Daniel Bryan versus Dolph Ziggler & Big E. Langston w/ AJ Lee for the WWE Tag Team Championship
I think Kane and Daniel Bryan are an awesome tag team. Every time I pass their new Elite Collection figures I have to pause and consider buying them. Their chemistry is awesome and while I usually hate it when they use Kane as a comedy act, the guy is at the point now where everything he does is entertaining in some way. Kane – perhaps even more so than Undertaker – is the ultimate company man. They definitely need to dedicate a wing of the WWE Hall of Fame to the guy when he retires. And Daniel Bryan is just Fiery Wrestling Magic.
I am also a huge fan of Dolph Ziggler. I feel like he keeps getting cockblocked and I can’t figure out if it’s his fault or not. Big E. Langston has a tiny face and it freaks me out and also he isn’t actually that big. The guy hasn’t clicked with me yet. AJ Lee is pretty much my favorite person to look at on television every week. It’s a shame we’re not getting to see as much of her character lately.
I do not know how these two came into conflict and I have no idea why none of WWE’s actual tag teams are involved in this match. It would have been great to see Epico and Primo or the Usos involved in this one, possibly even taking the titles due to the three-way situation. Still, this will definitely be an entertaining match. Everybody but Langston is proven in the ring and as long as he can at the least either convincingly no-sell or be a brute this one will be okay. I’ll be watching this one hoping to see more of Ziggler later in the show…
Ryback versus Mark Henry
Ryback doesn’t do a thing for me and despite his excellent performance a couple of years ago I don’t have much of an opinion about Mark Henry right now, either. I honestly don’t understand why this match exists and to me it is the only guaranteed piss break on the card. That’s not to say it doesn’t have the potential to be a hard-hitting, brutal match; but these guys can’t go too far seeing as Triple H will be facing Brock Lesnar on the same card. If I were WWE I’d bump this one before bumping the intergender tag match. If that match does get bumped I predict this one will open and Ryback will go over.
Sheamus, Randy Orton, & Big Show versus The Shield
I have no doubt whatsoever this will be a good match. Rollins, Ambrose, and Reigns have proven they are one of the best teams the WWE has seen in years. The three work well together and have a combined sense of timing and teamwork that is awesome to watch.
Sheamus is great and so is Big Show when he’s motivated. I don’t know how he came to be a Good Guy, but whatever. Randy Orton doesn’t seem to hurt anybody other than himself and that’s about the best thing I can say about him. He’s still utterly dull in the ring and possesses and amazing sort of anti-charisma on the mic. Not Drew Makeyoutired levels of dull, but something about Orton just makes me not want to listen to him. Also, he is a terrible babyface.
But throwing all six of these guys together in a match should be entertaining. I expect to see The Shield’s typical divide-and-conquer tactics fail now that their opponents have them thoroughly scouted. I think WrestleMania might be the last we see of the trio in this form, if not at all.
Triple H versus Brock Lesnar w/ Paul Heyman – No Holds Barred Match
Paul Heyman has been an absolutely crucial component in the two matches on the card that I am most interested in. His verbal interactions with Triple H have been nothing short of perfection and the resulting beating that Triple H has laid on Heyman have been awesome. I love Paul Heyman, but I love seeing him get his ass kicked.
This match is going to be brutal. I expect to see blood and lots of it. I haven’t actually seen Lesnar wrestle since his return thanks to my aversion to paying $55 for pay-per-views, but he’s Brock Fucking Lesnar. And in the other corner is Triple Fucking H – one of the baddest me ever to come out of the WWE locker room. He has wrestled and won – and lost - every kind of match there is.
Jack Swagger w/ Zeb Colter versus Alberto Del Rio w/ Ricardo Rodriguez for the World Heavyweight Championship
Alberto Del Rio is one of the most talented Superstars in WWE right now. He is golden on the mic and his ring work is excellent regardless of who he is facing. The man carries a certain electricity with him that screams for attention. He has “It”, whatever “It” is. His babyface turn was sloppy and poorly planned, but Del Rio has made the best of it. He has won the support of the people despite the complete lack of logic involved in his turn from heel to fan favorite. There’s no doubt he is championship material or that he belongs in one of the Main Events at WrestleMania 29. This man is a hot commodity.
Jack Swagger is a workrate machine. I can’t bear to listen to him on the mic, but I can watch him wrestle all night long. He has a power and skill that not many other possess. WWE has tried to make up for Swagger’s mic deficiencies by pairing him with Zeb Colter. Unfortunately, not only is Colter pretty terrible on the mic, the agenda that the two have feels stale and artificial, not to mention unfocused. As friend of the site and sometime contributor Alicia pointed out – why aren’t the overbearingly pro-American Swagger and Colter upset about that filthy Swede (right? I’m not sure) Antonio Cesaro holding the United States Championship? It makes little sense that they’re so focused on apparent legal resident Del Rio and his hetero lifemate, Ricardo Rodriguez. It’s not that the chemistry isn’t there. The interaction between the four men is solid enough. But the basis of the feud feels forced and artificial. I think it would be more effective without the cheap heat.
Regardless of Swagger’s motivations, this match is sure to be a slobberknocker. If you can put the shitty story aside and just focus on the sheer talent of Swagger and Del Rio I think you’ll be able to enjoy this one. As a matter of fact, if not for the stink of the lousy story this could stand a chance at being one of the best matches on the card. Unfortunately, the confrontation has the albatross of lackluster WWE writing around its neck. I’m honestly not even sure this will end up this high on the card. We’ll see.

CM Punk versus The Undertaker
In my opinion CM Punk is the best guy on WWE’s roster right now. That opinion is definitely influenced by years of following Punk and the fact that he is my favorite wrestler, but it cannot be denied that each and every outing on the mic is great and every time he wrestles it is at the least very good. Sometimes I feel like he has gone a little too far into the WWE Style – punch, kick, hit your signature moves, hit your finish – but when the big matches come around Punk still delivers like no other.
Undertaker is a living legend. He is one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time and has earned his spot as a yearly attraction. He has been a part of the best matches and most significant storylines in the WWF/E over the past twenty years and has consistently lived up to his reputation as an unstoppable force. Undertaker’s WrestleMania winning streak is just as planned and contrived as anything else professional wrestling brings us, but at the same time is just a legitimate. If ‘Taker hadn’t earned such a thing he would never have it. But year after year he has been a team player and a locker room leader in WWE. Nobody is more respected by fans and by the talent there. At this point in his career the question is not only how will he bring it, but can he bring it? And I think he will. I firmly believe that when ‘Taker can’t go anymore he will stop. I don’t think we’re going to see any substandard matches from this guy.
And that brings me to the match itself. While I whole-heartedly believe that Undertaker still gives everything he has and will stop when he can’t anymore, I have to believe that he is going to give even more against CM Punk. Punk occupies a spot that few other WWE Superstars have – he is beloved by the jerks who follow wrestling on the internet and base every opinion they have about a wrestler on how many submission moves they know; but he also gets genuine reactions from the regular fans. Both sets – normally divided – respect Punk and his abilities. And whatever bad locker room feelings Punk may have brought upon himself, you can bet the rest of the WWE roster respects the career he has made for himself. This puts Punk on nearly equal footing with the Undertaker as far as reputations go, and you can bet that ‘Taker is aware of this.
The story of the match has been a bit rushed, but it has been intense. After Paul Bearer passed away, CM Punk and Paul Heyman almost immediately started disrespecting his memory to goad the Undertaker and it has been ugly and emotional. I have no problem with this. I obviously didn’t know Paul Bearer at all, but from what I know of Bearer not only do I think he would have approved of what Punk, Heyman, and ‘Taker have been doing, I think he would have loved it. Believe me – none of those three men would ever do anything that would hurt Paul Bearer’s legacy or that they thought was disrespectful. No matter what their public personas might be, those guys have a respect for the heritage of wrestling and Paul Bearer is very much a part of that.
I don’t know that The Streak will ever be in any real danger, but you never know if Undertaker will decide that this is the guy to hand it to. And out of all of his WrestleMania opponents, Punk could be the one with the determination and potential longevity to earn that unthinkable victory.
John Cena versus The Rock for the WWE Championship
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say I am a fan of the Professor of Thuganomics. But there’s no denying that he has mastered what he does and also that he has been a part of some of the biggest and most entertaining matches of the past ten years. He delivers every single time. I feel like the guy genuinely gives 110% every time he hits the ring, even if I don’t necessarily appreciate the way he does things. And you cannot question his dedication to the sport.
The Rock is a spectacle. I would think that he has to be considered the most successful Sports Entertainer ever at this point. And his return to the ring a few years ago was nothing short of astonishing. I don’t feel like The Rock is nailing it with his promos all of the time now, but when he does he is still the best. And there is no doubt in my mind that he will Bring It Sunday night.
The problem that a lot of people will bring up with this match is that we saw it last year. But we didn’t. We saw John Cena and The Rock fight at WrestleMania last year. True enough. But we didn’t see this match. Pro wrestlers can fight each other hundreds of times over the course of their careers and when you’re talking about the best of the best, none of those matches will ever be the same. And whatever you might think about Rock and Cena, there’s no denying they are the cream of the crop. Whatever they give us Sunday night will be the very best and I have no problem believing it will be the most entertaining match on the card. It won’t be a mat classic. There won’t be a lot of high-flying or chain wrestling. But there will be a story to the action and it will be a spectacle. And that’s what WrestleMania is all about.
In Closing…
I expect this to be a great WrestleMania. The card is absolutely packed with nine matches and only one of them is a snoozer. And even that one – Henry versus Ryback – could turn out to be good.
I’m not overly concerned about the outcomes of any of these matches, which might be the only thing this PPV really has going against it. I’ll be satisfied with however any of them go because, as I stated before, WrestleMania is no longer closing the book like it used to be. If you care, though, here are my random and totally uninformed predictions of the winners:
  • Broadus Clay, Tensai, Cameron, & Naomi
  • Fandango
  • Dolph Ziggler & Big E. Langston
  • Ryback
  • Sheamus, Randy Orton, & Big Show
  • Brock Lesnar
  • Alberto Del Rio
  • CM Punk
  • John Cena – However – Mr. Ziggles will run out and cash in his Money In The Bank Title Shot, becoming the first-ever WrestleMania Double Champion. I don’t even know if that would be true. But I think the Cena/Ziggler feud still has some value. And Rocky certainly isn’t going to be sticking around much longer.
I may or may not have something to say post-PPV on Monday. At the very least I’ll be Tweeting and Facebooking during the PPV itself. I also might have another great Guest Post. We’ll see.
-Phantom

2 comments:

  1. Terrible Show Hated Most Of It

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    1. I was going to do a review, but couldn't find the time before a review seemed irrelevant. I can't say I agree with you at all. The Rock/Cena match was one of the most boring I've ever seen. The Jericho/Fandango match was a decent match for SmackDown. Not so much for WrestleMania. Everything else ranged from mildly entertaining to awesome. Punk/'Taker and Lesnar/HHH were both great.

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