WWE: Lack Of Excitement Building Towards WrestleMania?
Thursday, March 19th, 2009
THE MADNESS BEHIND THE MANIA
The Iron Sheik - "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff - "Cowboy" Bob Orton
With all the happenings in the Millennium Wrestling Federation, I apologize for the lack of updates on the site. My 85 year old like quality body fell apart on me this week and forced into some R&R after another tour of duty at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital, I had plenty of time to look at the national landscape. What could be bigger than WrestleMania 25, just a few short weeks away. This past weekend, we taped "The Madness Behind The Mania," a documentary-style Studio Shoot Interview with The Iron Sheik, "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff and "Cowboy" Bob Orton, hosted by myself, John Cena Sr. and wrestling historian The Jackal.
The build-up to this years Mania was great. Everything had a flow from the Royal Rumble into No Way Out. I thought the Raw in Boston a few weeks back was a hot one. But. . .since then. . .I don't know, how excited are you about this event??
I suppose the company pushed main event is Triple H vs Randy Orton for the WWE Championship . Portions of the build-up to Shane McMahon and Randy Orton made me sick (out of shape Shane-o taking out Orton, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase all by himself). In the end, the payoff of Orton taking out each McMahon one-by-one until Triple H "exposed" his marriage to Stephanie, which was a hot angle. Since that, eh. The angle where Triple H showed up at Orton's house with a sledge hammer really didn't establish HHH as a babyface. I can't stand those "you're going to be arrested" type storylines, because if you look at it with any logic, laws are broken each and every week on wrestling shows. . .it's an insult to your intelligence to believe that this infraction of the law is any different than other weeks or other segments of the same tv program. These two have worked countless times over the past couple of years. Nothing fresh about it, it's a match we've all seen over and over and over and over again. As great as the majority of WWE's main events are, the problem to main is the same - the rosters are too small for three "brands"/promotions. . .they're very stale and you see the same wrestlers overexposed week after week after week after week after week. How hot would Hogan have been in the 1980's if he was on television every week on two hour broadcasts? Ditto Andre, Randy Savage and the rest. Television contracts are big money in 2009 compared to the syndication of the 80's to promote house shows, but at the same time, there is absolutely nothing fresh or "special" about the TV's or PPV's for the most part anymore because there's NOTHING different from event to event, TV to TV. No one new ever gets elevated or gets their legs cut out from under them. If you have access to WWE 24/7, take a look at the size of the rosters during the Monday Night Wars when the promotions were FORCED to be fresh and creative each and every week. A little off topic from Triple H vs Randy Orton, but how excited are you for this as the main event? I think back to attending WrestleMania 18 in person and seeing one third of the crowd leave in the middle of HHH-Jericho in the final match to beat the traffic.
On the other side, we have the triple threat match for the World Championship with Edge vs John Cena vs Big Show. Again, any real interest in this match?? Edge and Cena could have a great match in their sleep, their 2006 series was off the charts. But again, we've seen a lot of it. Nobody cares about Big Show anymore because he's been turned DOZENS of times in his WWE career. . .just like with Kurt Angle, no one takes him as serious because no one makes a long term investment in a guy that turns three or four times per year. I think the storyline building up tot he match is silly. . .hopefully a hot crowd will make what on paper should be an average match stronger.
Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels to me is the "main event." This should be a good one and worth the price of the PPV itself. Two legends, winding down their careers, getting it on for the first time at WrestleMania. Undertaker's WrestleMania streak is something we'll likely never see again, I'd be shocked to see him go down in defeat at a WM unless it's his retirement match and he's working with someone he truly believes he can make in one night (which is what would happen). Michaels does a fraction of what he did in the ring now compared to his prime, and he's still just as good. . .a hell of a worker than can make so much out of so little. You hate to say "this one will be a classic," but I believe it will be. Again, the build-up lacks a little common sense. One week JBL and Shawn Michaels both say they're going to end Taker's Mania streak, and that's that. Why?? Neither of them are on Smackdown. Why would they have the "right" to make such a challenge and not have an authority figure challenge it?? OK, I'll block common sense out for this one because it should be a hell of a match. . .
Jeff Hardy vs Matt Hardy. . .like 2001, I believe this is a match the fans really don't want to see. . .the fans love the Hardy's together, always have, always will. Would have loved to have seen the Hardy's work a reunited Edge & Christian. . .I believe that really would have brought something to the table. Their PPV match from 2001 wasn't awe-inspiring. . .but Mania is a different animal than a monthly "B" PPV. Shouldn't be a bad match, I just don't know how much heat they'll get out of this one. . .both deserve a better fate, in my humble opinion. . .
Chris Jericho vs "Rowdy" Roddy Piper & Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat & "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka (with Ric Flair). If this was any PPV but WrestleMania, I would have loved it. But at WrestleMania. . .no. This match will suck. Piper's body has been destroyed, Steamboat hasn't had a match since 1994 and Snuka wasn't all that good when he came back at WrestleMania 5 (not 25) in 1989. Flair almost seems whored out in this role after his unforgettable night last year. I liked the idea of Jericho vs Mickey Rourke, but as I told people back in January when there was first talk of it, an in-ring match would not take place with all the press Rourke got out of the movie. For better or worse, 90% of the population hates pro wrestling with a passion and it will likely always carry that stigma despite all the great things the sport, especially WWE, does. I would have liked to have seen a longer angle built out of this. . .let Jericho have a longer title reign, attack a legend each week until John Cena finally saved one from a brutal beating, building to Cena-Jericho for the title and have Cena win it back after losing it due to injury last year. Survivor Series was a great, feel good, hometown moment, but with a little patience, it could have been a blockbuster of an angle for the big show. . .
Money In The Bank Ladder Match could be the worst of the pack since it's inception at WrestleMania 21 (CM Punk vs Mark Henry vs Kane vs Shelton Benjamin vs Christian vs Kofi Kingston vs MVP vs Finlay). Shouldn't be a bad match by any stretch of the means, but just doesn't have that "special" feel as it's had every other year (like most of this event). Mirade booking would have Christian go over and switch brands (Smackdown's really short on heels and he could re-unite with Edge, and Tomko would have been good to add into the mix if he wasn't released before he even made it back to TV. . .could have been a great stable). Internet critics feel that Christian was sent to ECW as "punishment" for going to TNA by choice when his contract expired in November 2005. At the same time, ECW is desperate for any star power and Christian gives Tuesday nights a boost. Punk's been there, done that. . .Mark Henry should have been saved for a battle royal. . .ditto Kane, even though he's earned a place on the show. In ten years, I'll probably still be saying "Shelton would be money with a mouth piece" (Paul Heyman again?). Kofi Kingston is another tremendous athlete, love his fresh character and unique workstyle, but I don't ever see him elevating himself above present day WWE IC Title level. MVP and Finlay are fine, but would be surprised to see either come away with a win. Wouldn't Evan Bourne be made for this match?
I like the idea of the 25 Diva Battle Royal, for the sole purpose of getting all of the women in and out in one match. Of the 19 current WWE Diva's, I don't even know a third of them. Nameless, faceless and most don't last long. They're a complete waste of TV time and this current group of diva's is a far cry from the group of quality workers WWE had in the early 2000's. It is what it is, I suppose. Interesting to see which of the proverbial "old timers" pop up for it, that will make the match a little more fun.
JBL vs Rey Mysterio for the WWE IC Title. It will be a sad night if it's the end of John Bradshaw Layfield. People can say what they want about him in and out of the ring, but this man is a tremendous heel, a tremendous talent, and could be even BETTER as a color commentator! Would have loved to have seen a long Honky Tonk Man type run for him, but his back is what it is. If Rey gets the belt, he's the perfect man to restore some long term credibility to the belt as he's worked on top or close to the top since joining WWE in the summer of 2002. . .
The Colon's vs John Morrison & The Miz in a unification tag team title match. I'm a HUGE fan of unifying the belts (and would love to see the same done for the world titles and womens titles. . .go back to have one national champion that defends on all three "brands" instead of the different territories as back in the old days). Should be a good match. I think Morrison and the Miz are fantastic heels, even if their pre-written comedy lines aren't all that funny. . .they really could be one of the better tag teams of this generation. . .and this is coming from someone that said the same about MNM & Melina. Carlito could really do so much more than he does now, but the situation is what it is. . .a solid spot on the show. Should be a good match. . .
You have to figure Jack Swagger fits in for an ECW Title Match. . .would be nice to see Tommy Dreamer get the nod as his career winds down. No spot for Umaga after being in the biggest drawing match in wrestling history just two years ago?? Again, a quick glance at the rosters on WWE's web-site really exposes how slim it really is. Once you eliminate the bullshit diva's, announcers, etc., you really don't have that many guys. Everytime I hear that "X was released," you have to ask yourself "why?" This is a company making huge profits each and every year, yet wondering why their PPV buys are tanking, and that's with international buys figured in. . .take away the international numbers, and they'd be in big trouble. . .
I really like the Hall of Fame roster this year and would have been something I would have loved to have been at in person. Steve Austin is the greatest draw in the history of this business. Keep your Hogan's and Rock's, thank you. Ricky Steamboat is one of the all time greats. The Funk and Von Erich families both belong in there. Bill Watts and Howard Finkel are both HOF'ers in my opinion. Koko B. Ware. . .well. . .he was around from 1986-1993. . .pretty much as a job guy that was a decent singer. If you went by "real" HOF credentials every year, the HOF wouldn't be around all that long. . .so congrats to Koko, I'm sure he's not crying about a $5,000 payday and a beautiful ring he can show off for life. . .
So are you going to order this or what? My prediction: fewest buys since WrestleMania 19. . .