- Category: Idiot Box
- Created on Saturday, 31 March 2012 22:26
- Written by Romeo Moran
- Hits: 2123
Wrestlemania 28 is just around the corner, and due to a combination of various factors involving my time and energy, I haven’t been able to discuss it as much as I should (of course, apart from my observations of the Cena/Rock feud and my predictions for the Battle of the GMs). At this point, I have a number of opinions on the many facets of Wrestlemania that could fill up an entire week’s worth of columns – even more so now that it’s shaped to be a very packed card – but I don’t have enough time to write that many.
So what I will do today is a hodgepodge of those different topics. Slightly unheard of in my weekly, which is usually a structured, straightforward affair, but this week I don’t really have the luxury of time.
Wrestlemania as a Hallmark
Before anything else, though, I’d like to discuss Wrestlemania 28’s place in pro wrestling history. It hasn’t happened yet, but yes, it has already secured itself a spot – as the Wrestlemania that will either completely usher in the Reality Era, or totally end its short dynasty. The latter seems to be most likely.
Its most marquee matchup, John Cena vs. the Rock, is also its most “real” storyline, for reasons I’ve already gone in much depth into. However, as it stands, not only is it the most polarizing (because real life is stranger than fiction) but it’s now also the only actual-reality-based storyline running, as the End of an Era match has already long deviated from its relatively looser roots in the world behind the curtain. (More on that later.)
Everything else continues to take place firmly within the rules of wrestling’s mise-en-scene, with admittedly tighter storytelling, as one would normally expect at the Road to Wrestlemania. Honestly, that’s what we really need; not continuous backstage references, but logical plots and progression that we can sink our teeth into.
Cody Rhodes and the Big Show are currently working in what is really a throwaway feud (par for the course for Big Show at Wrestlemania time) but by God, are they making the most out of what they’ve been given.
Their refusal to have a bland build-up towards the match is commendable, as I love the approach Rhodes has taken in embarrassing Big Show with his less-than-stellar Wrestlemania record, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Show’s own idea. If the Undertaker can have a heavily-hyped winning streak, then Show’s various losses is fair game, right?
But what is most interesting about Rhodes’s approach is his thesis that Big Show is admittedly dangerous “364 days a year,” but definitely not at Wrestlemania night. Given his record, the notion isn’t hard to disagree with, and that sound reasoning behind the champion’s confidence lends that element of intrigue to a written-off feud like this, which it normally wouldn’t have. And it really wouldn’t, just from the way it looks on paper.
To whoever thought of it, whether it was Show or Rhodes or Vince or some random creative team member, kudos to you.
The Battle of the Hams
My fellow Main Page columnist Al Laiman may have already given Kane one of his ham awards, and if he did, then I’m here to affirm it.
When Kane first assaulted Randy Orton the SmackDown after the Elimination Chamber PPV, I assumed that they would be part of the Ace vs. Long feud due to the short snippet of Ace approving of Kane’s attack. Naturally, I was disappointed that they were made a separate match, as once again, this feud looks nothing but thrown together. And like Show/Rhodes, it still is.
But also like Show/Rhodes, it has managed to redeem itself lately. While it requires a lot more suspension of disbelief on the part of the viewer, Kane’s insistence that he’s doing this because he stooped down to the level of humanity (imagine that?) is a good enough reason for me to string this feud together, mainly if it helps rebuild the Kane character as the demonic monster he once was.
I suppose the problem here now is, while Orton’s doing a fine job of playing along, knowing the WWE’s love of Super Orton, this isn’t going to end well for the Kane rebuilding. At the same time, it’s also a matter of if either man actually needs building up, and if either man will actually be harmed by a loss. I’d like to think that Kane will be, simply because he just doesn’t have as much universal credibility as he once had.
A piece of trivia, courtesy of my buddy Stan: this is Orton’s second Wrestlemania feud in a row where the plot point was something that happened in the past. If you recall last year’s feud with Punk, Punk took issue with him for punting him out of the Unforgiven 2008 main event, which caused him to forfeit the World Heavyweight Championship. This feud gets plus points for continuity.
The Battle of the GMs
This is just a final update on my columns predicting the teams. Looks like I’m still only 50% right, and Stan’s only got one guy wrong, but only after he was already 100% right with the people he actually picked. (Jack Swagger was never one of his picks, but at the same time, he didn’t pick anyone who was never on Team Ace, if that makes sense.)
Nevertheless, I do appreciate the fact that every man on both teams have a logical reason to be in the match, even if in varying degrees. Down from the most obvious (the team captains, Mark Henry, Zack Ryder) to the last additions like Drew McIntyre and Booker T, everyone makes sense to be where they are. I suppose the only problem is that Team Ace is more sensible than Team Long, because Creative has spent a lot more time and effort antagonizing Teddy Long than they really have Johnny Ace – who only really has issues with Zack Ryder and CM Punk, who obviously isn’t even in the match – and I thought he was the heel in this match? Sadly, it sort of gives away the direction the match is heading.
There’s also no doubt that the build-up for this match has been nothing less than superb, especially considering that it’s an undercard match. It is satisfyingly appropriate for a match that will literally decide the fate of the WWE, and I’m glad that they weren’t stingy with this one. Sure, the match could always use bigger names, especially for Team Long, and shoddy execution might ruin the whole thing, but Creative was successful in drumming up enough interest for this.
Drunks and Addicts
When Chris Jericho brought up CM Punk’s alcoholic father from seemingly out of the blue, some people felt it was too tacked on. Other people, myself included, just pointed towards Punk’s old feud with Raven back in the indies, where he bust out a legendary promo on being straight-edge and the same alcoholic father Jericho utilized in his barrage against Punk.
While the way Jericho brought it up did seem too shoehorned, I felt that it was a necessary addition. Punk/Jericho has all the makings to be this year’s blood feud, and you’re not going to get there just on bragging that you’re the true Best in the World and not making things even a tad bit personal. I appreciated that Punk has basically updated his own storyline with actual, real-life developments – and that’s the good kind of shoot.
If I must take anything away from the program, though, it’s that while he’s a great talker, Punk isn’t the best actor in the world himself. If you don’t believe me, watch him sell Jericho’s revelation that his dad was an alcoholic.
Also, Jericho’s admittedly notorious for being very wild when he’s hammered – Punk couldn’t use that in a pipebomb?
Everything But the World Heavyweight Championship
There’s no doubt that the World Heavyweight Championship match is set to prove itself as the best straight-up contest we’ll be seeing on Sunday night, but it feels like neither man is really treating it as such, as much as they should. Out of all the storylines going into Wrestlemania, this is what I’m least satisfied with.
The good news, though, is that I do like how the progression has been about Daniel Bryan both being groomed and grooming themselves to properly reign at the top of the SmackDown main event. I enjoyed seeing Bryan evolve into the smarmy big heel that he is right now, and I enjoyed his attempts to turn AJ into his own Lita even more. (Which, by the way, is kind of the right track.) We’re seeing the slow-burning evolution of Daniel Bryan and AJ, two indy darlings once doomed to WWE oblivion, and little by little, whether you like it or not, they’re becoming relevant.
On the other hand, the bad news is that the storyline has been more about Daniel Bryan and AJ, as they build up either AJ’s eventual split from D-Bry or her turning heel (the beauty of this plot progression is that, really, either possibility is plausible) and not much about the actual feud between Daniel Bryan and his challenger Sheamus. Beyond Sheamus’s initial promo on how he became a bully when he was champion and how he hates them, and Bryan watching from skyboxes and ringside and interfering every now and then, we have nothing from these two.
The plot point about how they were bumped off last year’s card and are now main eventing it? That was totally right on the money, and it should’ve been inserted somewhere, even if just on one promo and never mentioned again. It’s the greatest crux their storyline could possibly ever have, and they’ll miss out if nobody mentions it on the last SmackDown before Wrestlemania.
That combined with the Bryan/AJ evolution would make this a star-making program. There’s still time, fellas. You can still pull this off.
Ends of Eras
This entire shindig with Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and the Undertaker is quite interesting. I mentioned earlier that it all started out with backstage roots, but was quickly steered to a more traditional plotline, with all the nuances of its great storytelling kept intact all along the way.
How was it a reality storyline, you ask? Well, remember that in the beginning, Triple H was denying this match in the first place because he didn’t want to destroy the Undertaker and hurt his image, claiming that it’ll be “bad for business.” Friends, that’s already an open look into the mind of a booker right there, and even then, you rarely ever hear such a line coming from an on-screen General Manager. Hell, you rarely ever hear such a line from Vince McMahon.
But the course was quickly righted as Shawn Michaels entered the picture not long after the storyline began. As HBK hopped aboard, the plot points quickly shifted to questions of who the better man between all three of them is, and it all became better from there. Really, while I appreciate Triple H’s evolution to the man being groomed to be the next Vince McMahon, any head booker sensibilities and elements don’t belong here in this story. They’re on the right track now.
All three men are playing their respective part well, pulling their load, but if there would be a problem with this, it’s that not everyone is willing to pay attention. While the Hell in a Cell stipulation has worked its magic, immediately drumming up a lot of interest in the match, not everyone wants to see Triple H square off with Undertaker, especially after last year’s polarizing affair. It doesn’t help that each man is pretty much saying the same things over and over to an ear that isn’t willing to listen closely.
Now, all of that said, Wrestlemania is going to be huge. On paper, it’s already looking better than last year’s edition, and a lot of people are already relieved to know that. Of course, we’re all on the edge of our seats to see whether the show will be a letdown, but, come on.
This is Wrestlemania, and a card like this is in every position not to disappoint.