- Category: Idiot Box
- Created on Wednesday, 04 April 2012 18:15
- Written by Romeo Moran
- Hits: 872
The 28th edition of Wrestlemania has come and gone, and boy, we can use one word to describe the entire show at face value: controversial.
I don’t exactly mean Montreal Screwjob-levels of controversy, although that would’ve been good for the show, but what has gone down has proven to be polarizing. After experiencing it, it seems as though you either love it or you don’t. Of course, you can always choose to sit in the middle, but Wrestlemania, as a creation of the WWE and its hype machine, naturally demands an extreme. In theory - the operative word – there is no room for the middle ground. In theory. But I’ll get back to this later before I lose you, because dammit, you clicked this to read a review!
Anyway, if you’ve seen the show already, or at least follow the results, you might have an idea why the show is so controversial. If not, you’ll see soon enough. Let’s begin!
Sheamus def. Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Championship
Remember the controversy I was talking about? This is where it all begins. This was not a match; it was an 18-second segment masquerading as a title match. That’s right – this match lasted all of 18 seconds as Sheamus delivered one big Brogue Kick to knock Bryan out long enough for the three-count. I am not joking. You are reading this entire paragraph right.
There are so many things wrong with this. Let me list down the three most important reasons.
1) This is a World title match. The World Heavyweight Championship deserves respect. It’s not even about the two contenders anymore. Sure, in real combat sports, this kind of thing goes on all the time in their championship matches, but this is pro wrestling. Boxing and MMA are actually jealous of wrestling’s nature of showmanship to the point that we become annoyed when Manny Pacquiao knocks Ricky Hatton out in only the 2nd round. Real combat sports only wish they can eternally and naturally manufacture such drama. In the self-contained universe of pro wrestling, we are conditioned to think that big-time matches are usually long, drawn-out battles of attrition, which establish both men as warriors whose only equals are each other.
The last time a World title was disrespected like this is when Kane beat Chavo Guerrero for the ECW World Championship in Wrestlemania 23. (Incidentally, according to dirtsheets, the idiot in charge of booking this match wanted to break that match’s record.) At this point, even Christian’s five-day reign last year was more respectful to both the champion and championship. It doesn’t even matter anymore that the World title match went up first; if they were given the same amount of time Edge and Alberto del Rio had last year, people would have still been satisfied.
2) We were cheated out of what we expected was a normal match. Plain and simple. There’s no other way around it. People enjoy both men’s wrestling and are fully aware of what they’re capable of, so who was expecting anything less? It’s a swerve for the sake of a swerve.
3) The opening match sets the tone for the entire show. Guess what? By pulling the rug out of everyone’s feet, you set everyone up to watch the rest of the show with a bad taste in their mouth. Sure, much better acts will and did eclipse the sadness of that first match, but that doesn’t change the fact that fans – whose expectations fuel their motivations to watch, and therefore support your show – were betrayed by the bait-and-switch. I’ve talked to many people who said they would’ve liked the rest of the show better had this not happened, and I’m sure that for the people who already thought the show was good, it would’ve been even better had we gotten a full match. Instead, the failure of this match became a derailing frame of reference for the entire show: everyone wished that all the minutes of every segment and match they didn’t want to see went to the World title match instead.
It might have even been better if this happened as it did, but much later in the show. Not suggesting that it’s a proper alternative, but the idea is there.
The WWE should also consider themselves lucky that Sheamus was over enough to garner a positive reaction towards his win. (The audacity of the move overshadows it at first glance, but the live crowd really did go crazy for Sheamus’s win.) At this point, since the rosters are pretty much merged, it’s time for a unification match soon. There’s just no reason for the World Heavyweight Championship to exist anymore.
Kane def. Randy Orton
The first hour is littered with matches that could’ve replaced the opening match, and this is one of them. In fact, this and the next match could either be the opener and everyone would be happy.
Honestly, this was the kind of match I was expecting from the Cena/Kane feud; snappy, crisp, and flowing. Cena can do just this when he has to, and so can Kane, but it was Orton who managed to bring the old speed out of the monster. What resulted was a match that was enjoyable to watch, and would not have been out of place as a five-star SmackDown TV main event.
That’s where it kind of fails, though; this is Wrestlemania, and the ante must be raised. Five stars on TV isn’t the same as five stars on PPV. And any match involving Kane’s character that isn’t a no-DQ match just looks… strange. For two top guys who have fully embraced the hate, you’d think they’d have maximized the opportunity to make this feud stand out a little more. Even if it’s clear that they’re continuing the storyline after the match, you’d think they’d start intense, like with Falls Count Anywhere (as Cody and Rey did last year). Also, it suffered from lulls more than partly caused by the previous “match,” with the crowd continuing to chant “Daniel Bryan.”
I also have to give praise to Randy Orton for losing clean at Wrestlemania, of all places. I had predicted that Super Orton would kick in, but secretly hoped Kane would win; Orton’s stellar record in lower-rung ‘Mania feuds (2-for-2 before this) made it hard to bet against him. Not even some kind of overbooked finish, bless his soul.
Big Show def. Cody Rhodes for the Intercontinental Championship
A guy with a destructive right hand? Seems a lot better for an 18-second title squash, don’t you think?
But in any case, I actually picked Big Show to win. For all the five months he’s spent in the World Heavyweight Championship picture, I picked him to lose, and I was right every time except once, where he won it only to drop it to Daniel Bryan. But I had to change directions on this one, as I felt a Big Show win would be beneficial to all involved.
Lo and behold, I was right, but the match was just passable. Cody did a good job of playing the smaller man on offense, and it was good that he wasn’t quickly dismantled by Show. Had they been given more time, though, I’m sure they could’ve put on an even better match. It also kind of suffers from the TV main event problem, but in their case, it’s more forgivable.
Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos def. Beth Phoenix and Eve
For all intents and purposes, this was not a bad match at all. The face team – the weaker one – held up their end of the match, as every lady came to work, even their celebrity participant Maria Menounos. I was mostly amazed at how much punishment Menounos took in the match, considering how much Wrestlemania celebrities – especially the ladies – are protected.
It was a serviceable enough match, but I suppose the main issue here is that it basically did nothing to advance the cause of the Divas division whatsoever.
Undertaker def. Triple H in Hell in a Cell
Really, did you expect any less?
The match gets pretty brutal early on, with no pretenses of flashiness or technique at all; these two want to end each other, and this era, so bad. That said, though, this match was a lot tamer than last year’s, even if it’s Hell in a Cell, and that’s the principal shortcoming: the cell was not maximized. Like what we see during the forced Hell in a Cell matches during the eponymous PPV, the usage of the cell as a weapon was limited to a few smashes on the chain-link. That ended up in a HIAC match that was more Randy Orton vs. Sheamus 2010 than, say, Triple H vs. Batista or Undertaker vs. Mick Foley, which hurts it a bit if they were going for a sense of finality for the whole thing.
That doesn’t mean to say that the brutality wasn’t entertaining, though. The match was the slowest-paced affair of the whole evening, but that definitely doesn’t mean it was plodding. There were some disconcerting lulls, but it was nothing they couldn’t get back from. The crowd was rightfully electric for the entirety of it, which magnified each man’s actions inside the cell. Praise must be given to Shawn Michaels for his specially nuanced performance; things started getting real when Shawn beautifully reacted to ‘Taker kicking out of a finish attempt that the former had a hand in, and you can see the terror in his face when he realizes that ‘Taker might get back at him.
In today’s age of multiple holds a minute, this match might require an acquired taste, or perhaps repeated viewings in order to really appreciate what’s going on. What went down was definitely not my usual preferred style, but the three men delivered what they set out to deliver, and the drama and the atmosphere certainly helped. Some, if not most people just want a straight-up, everything-out-the-window slugfest that they can easily sink their teeth into. This is that match, above all.
Team Johnny def. Team Teddy
The previous match posed a major problem. No doubt that, being the only truly gimmicked match of the entire show, the only thing that had a huge shot of topping it was Cena/Rock, and maybe Jericho/Punk. Anything else would be lucky to get sustained energy from the audience.
This is a match that really didn’t deserve the relative silence of the audience. The action was nonstop, and even if it slowed down, it was solid. Luckily, Santino and Zack Ryder were able to make the crowd come alive, even if it was near the end. It didn’t help that it was merely one fall to a finish; an elimination-style tag match, no matter how compressed, would’ve infinitely increased the drama. Also, a few more minutes wouldn’t have hurt.
The twelve men tried as hard as they could, and at least they were still able to fire the crowd up. On the plus side, Zack Ryder’s story finally advances somehow, as Eve pulls a Trish Stratus to Ryder’s Jericho.
CM Punk def. Chris Jericho to retain the WWE Championship
You know the WWE still values their main championship when the WWE title match is still the penultimate main event. (I was afraid that they would prioritize the Hell in a Cell match.)
I’ll admit that I was a bit afraid for the two as the atmosphere wasn’t as electric as Triple H/Undertaker, as they were also following a similar pattern in storytelling, albeit much faster. The story of Jericho goading Punk to give him a chair shot and the like in order to win the title (before the match, Johnny Ace added a new stipulation where if Punk gets disqualified, he loses the championship) was well-played, but it didn’t get much of a reaction.
But everything else was brilliant. The drama was present, the exchanges were stiff and amazing, and I loved that the last stretch of false finishes were mostly on the ground – you don’t see stuff like that anymore. I just can’t shake off the feeling that the crowd dragged it down for most of the match; it could’ve used a couple of higher spots early on to grab their attention. Luckily, they were able to reel them back in and explode when Punk made Jericho tap out.
The Rock def. John Cena
What exactly do you say to the fact that they actually did the unthinkable?
It’s been a time-old tradition that veterans pass the torch to the younger generation by putting them over. That was the expected outcome of this match, but as soon as rumors swirled that the program might be extended to next Wrestlemania, the result which was originally already written off suddenly fell in jeopardy. The Rock’s win – a steadfast refusal to pass that torch – confirms and signifies that prediction, that things are not over; in fact, the game has only just begun.
And, perhaps, they’ve only made sense of it recently, hitting two birds with one stone. Extend the storyline and avoid what could possibly be a stadium-scale riot in the Rock’s own hometown? That’s a good deal if anyone ever saw one. Perhaps it’s a practical maneuver that only looks like a short-term payoff. What is certain is, because everyone’s notion of how it should be has become challenged by this win, everyone is now aware that there is still a loose thread that needs wrapping up.
As for the match itself, I’m only disappointed that for such a blood feud, the match started in first gear. One would think that these two, who have openly professed to not liking the other, would immediately tear at each other the moment the bell sounded. Instead, however, we had too many rest holds, and the match only started to really kick in about a third of the way through. The crowd, for their part, did their job in setting the correct atmosphere; never mind the rest, this is what they’ve been waiting for, and they weren’t afraid to show it, all the way until the very end.
So, was the decision right? I can tell you that it was clever, but clever doesn’t always mean correct. We’ll have to wait and see again, but we know that it isn’t over. And because there’s definitely no finality to be found in this match, I can’t give it a perfect score.
There we go, Wrestlemania 28 for you. Remember what I said in the beginning that in a Wrestlemania, there should only be an extreme, and that there is no room for a middle ground? Well, you can take this show however you want, because Wrestlemania was never built on the legacy of entire events, but instead, the magnified poignancy of particular, individual moments. I’ve heard this show called the best Wrestlemania so far, and I’ve also heard it called the worst Wrestlemania, but in my opinion, what it really is is, well, solid as a whole. The collective is the basis I must officially rate it on, but you are free to choose which memories you deem worthy enough to take with you.