Reviewing the 24th anniversary of WM…
So last night we were treated to the 24th anniversary of Wrestlemania. Yes, it was the 25th Wrestlemania, but no…..it wasn’t the 25th anniversary of Wrestlemania. The day you are married is not your 1st anniversary…..one year later is. The day you are born is not your 1st birthday…..one year later is. Do you mean to tell me that there wasn’t a single person within the company that realized this? Nonetheless, regardless of what anniversary it was, last night was the biggest night of the wrestling calendar…Wrestlemania.
Last year I was on a flight during the big event, so I was forced to watch on delay. It was the first WM that I had not seen live and I was not about to let that happen again. Pizzas, chips, friends, beer, etc. – I was doing it up right this time. I think I’ve made it expressly clear that I DID NOT like this card on paper or the buildup to the card whatsoever. However, I think my point of view may be slightly misunderstood. I don’t hate wrestling. I LOVE wrestling. The problem is, I’m so passionate about it that I want to see a better product…a product that I know could easily exist is certain big wigs got their heads out of their behinds. Yes I am critical, but it comes from a place of love…I only wish the best for us viewers and I feel we aren’t getting it.
So I was willing to watch the card with an open mind, but I found most of my fears to be realized. If there was one sentiment that I wish I could echo from the night, it was JBL’s "I quit." Sadly, unlike him I don’t own several other companies, so unfortunately I’m stuck honoring my journalistic duties. Here come my mostly agitated thoughts on NOT THE 25th ANNIVERSARY OF WRESTLEMANIA. I will rate each match on how much it made me want to quit watching wrestling (on a scale of 1 – 10…..the higher the rating, the more it made me want to quit).
Money in the Bank (7 out of 10 on the made me want to quit scale)
As we all know, I was disappointed by the participants that were selected for this match. Too many repeats and lazy booking ("What are we supposed to do with all of our upper mid carders who we don’t have a storyline for? I know! We’ll just put them into MitB so we don’t have to deal with them!"). That said, I was undoubtedly looking forward to this match the most of any on the card. If there’s one match in the WWE landscape that can breed ingenuity, it’s this one. The problem here was that a lot of the spots felt a little bit contrived and set up. The double plancha, the building of the 3 ladder structure, etc. all lacked spontaneity. I would have liked to see more power based spots out of Kane and Henry. Why didn’t they launch Kofi and take him out of the match completely? Why not crush someone inside of a ladder? Why not rig up a ladder so Henry can actually bend the ladder and contort it around someone? Shelton’s dive was pretty sick…he almost didn’t rotate enough…very close to an extremely scary landing. I felt that FInlay carried the match on his shoulders for the most part.
While the match was okaaaaaay…..the result was AWFUL! Punk was the last guy in the entire match anyone wanted to win. The crowd was soooooooo dead for this. The ending spot (pushing Kane with a foot?) was lame, but the choice of winner was inane. He has no mic work. It’s been done. Oy oy oy oy oy. The only way this could have been salvaged is if he turned heel and cashed in on either Cena or HHH at the end of their matches…and we all know that didn’t happen. This is what should happen now. Punk should come out tonight and say, "I’m not stupid…I’m not cashing this in until next year’s WM…I’m going to main event next year’s WM whether you like it or not." That’s what I’d do. But it won’t happen. It will be wasted. And stupid. I better stop…I’m getting angry.
Kid Rock Concert (8 out of 10 on the made me want to quit scale)
While I didn’t object to the concert as a concept, what I did object to is it’s placement on the card. Shouldn’t this have been at the midway point, like a halftime show? There is no logic to anything they do. We didn’t need a break at this point. Oh, I should give a shout out to the Pussycat Doll from earlier for having the tightest dress I’ve ever seen. Sure, the singing was bad, but it served its purpose.
The Divas Battle Royal (10 out of 10 on the made me want to quit scale)
Please note, that I don’t believe in going over 10 on a scale of 10. I am very literal, hence you can’t give 120% or have 11 out of 10. The fact is, a 10 is the most a match could possibly make me want to quite watching wrestling and this earned its 10. This was the biggest cluster(bleep) I’ve ever seen. This made the Gimmick Battle Royal look like a masterpiece. No ring announcements. After all of the talk and build up, zero explanation of which past divas were even in the match. Piss poor announcing…no acknowledge of who was there, who was eliminated, who was in, etc. There were no wrestling moves. The fact that they pretended to not know it was Santino was beyond idiotic. How do you mess up a match with a ton of hot girls? This was so awful that it should be a fireable offense. A complete and utter mockery.
Chris Jericho vs. The Legends (8.5 out of 10 on the made me want to quit scale)
At this point, I was about ready to call it a night. This was even more awful than expected. There was no passion, no ring psychology, and the expected poor in ring quality. Once a match with Rourke was out of the question, this storyline has pretty much not made any sense since. Jericho has given some strong performances to do the best he could with it…but there wasn’t any logic behind it. Does the average wrestling fan care? Probably not. But as a more thoughtful/analytical fan, it bothered me. And it showed in the end. The Rourke spot was lame. Flair’s involvement was disappointing. The only reason this didn’t max out the scale again is because I gave 1.5 points to Steamboat for giving a nice effort. The rest was garbage.
Hardy vs Hardy (3 out of 10 on the made me want to quit scale)
This was my second favorite match on the card. The Extreme Rules gave them a chance to shine. Since that gimmick isn’t done much anymore, it gave it a "what once was old is now new again" sort of feel. I felt like they worked hard and had the requisite violence. Nothing too new or innovative, but solid. I very much liked the decision to put Matt over decisively. I do wish that they would have had him be a tad bit nastier though. A really vile, brutal assault on Jeff would have elevated him to a whole new level. It’ll be interesting to see where this goes next. I expect the feud to continue, but it’d be exciting if this ultimately leads to Matt’s ascension into the top of the card once and for all. If not, this won’t be worth much. Good showing though and enjoyable match. Absolutely saved the card at this juncture, as it couldn’t have taken one more dud in a row.
IC Title Match (1 out of 10 on the made me want to quit scale)
While I wasn’t particularly impressed with the booking, how could this match really make me want to swear off wrestling? I don’t like JBL as a person or a performer and I’m glad he’s gone. Plus, it was quick and painless. I seriously hope they give Rey Rey an actual feud and put some focus on this title, rather than have it fading away as usual. How about one of Priceless? As an aside, I thought JBL was very entertaining as an announcer and I would be more than happy for him to fill Tazz’s seat at the table. However, JBL is isn’t that isn’t the game plan. I wish I liked him enough to provide a JBL career retrospective here. Then again, he didn’t care enough to learn my name when I worked there, so I don’t much care about him either. Good riddance. I will say though, I don’t like how WWE always has people’s last matches be losses. Can’t they let them go out on a winning note?
HBK vs The Undertaker (1 out of 10 on the made me want to quit scale)
Well, this obviously stole the show. This was head and shoulders above the rest of the card. Two savvy vets doing what they do best. They told a story. There were many exciting near falls. And I whole-heartedly agree that this was the proper outcome. There is no point for him to ever lose this streak at this point. It’s discussed every year and every year the same conclusion is made. There’s not much to say, other than this match lived up to the hype and expectations. Very, very good match. You see…I give things their due when they deserve it!
Triple Threat for the World Title (5 out of 10 on the made me want to quit scale)
Well, this match was very similar to what I expected. The storyline was lame, hence there was very little vested rooting interest in the match. Cena and Big Show are far from the most dynamic workers on the roster, so you knew the pace was going to be what it was. And of every match on the card, this one had the most obvious outcome, so there wasn’t much suspense. That said, they did a decent job under the circumstances and if the plan was to make Cena look good, they did a pretty effective job of it. Thought Cena’s entrance was amusing. Much like Mysterio, Cena badly needs some new opponents to play with. I’m hoping that the draft will mix things up and give him some new blood to deal with.
Hall of Fame Interlude (6 out of 10 on the made me want to quit scale)
Not much too this. I would have preferred if they gave him a mic and gave the segment more of a special feel to it. Driving around the ring did not create a magical moment for me. I would have vastly preferred some genuine heartfelt sentiment.
Tag Title Match (10 out of 10 on the made me want to quit scale)
This completely infuriated me. This match had a legit, long-standing build up. It was the only tag match on the card. It was unifying the tag titles. It was filled with good workers, who were likely to put on a good match. So they took it off the PPV. It was a 4 hour show…they could have fit this in. Sheesh. Why do they even have any tag team wrestlers under contract if this is the way they feel about the division? What a waste.
WWE Title Match (5 out of 10 on the made me want to quite scale)
I didn’t feel much of anything about this match, which I suppose is not a good thing for the main event of your biggest event in the past 5 years. It was lacking a certain feeling of intensity and closure considering the personal nature of the buildup. I did like how they mixed things up by both hitting their finishers right off the get go…that kept me on my toes for the rest of the match. I dunno, maybe it’s because I’m older or something, but this just did not have that Hogan vs Warrior feel for me. It didn’t feel special. It felt standard. Fine, but not the mega end of a huge card. I would have liked an Orton victory, but I’m not surprised by the outcome.
Am I glad I watched the card? Yes. Did I have fun? Yes. However, it was actually in spite of the card itself. A two out of eight match success rate is not strong. I felt all along that the lead-in to this card was not strong and it showed. It lacked pomp and circumstance. And as much as I wanted to care about these matches, for the most part I did not. Last night was also the first time that I realized how much they miss Batista. He would have been a huge addition to this card and opened up a lot of options. I expect there to be MAJOR shakeups with the draft next week. And it’s necessary to freshen up the product. I’ll be back later in the week to make some predictions about who will be moving in the draft. I believe last year I was something like 9 out of 10. Ultimately, as always, I won’t quit watching or writing about wrestling. I’m just way too passionate about it. I simply wish WM25 had drawn that passion out of me a little more and shown that same level of passion itself.