Reader Column: How Long Can WrestleMania Last?

WZ fan Kevin Dua sent in the following editorial:

How long can “Wrestlemania” last?

It’s a question that has less to do with the annual “Greatest Stage of the All” event and more to do with the Vince McMahon’s family business that has been on the forefront of sports and entertainment for over five decades.

As the new year approaches, the “Road to Wrestlemania” commences, where many claim to believe that the best storylines, angles and feuds are written and played over TV programming for weeks, leading to the culmination at ‘Mania. But what makes 2011 different?

Is it the lack of attraction appeal that has been the core of many ‘Mania (and WWE) events for years? Last year saw the career ending match of Shawn Michaels. In 2010 alone, the organization saw the departure of Michaels, an-injury prone legend, the Undertaker, MMA-destined Batista, wrestler-by-day-rock-star-by-night Chris Jericho and the soon-to-be-Vincent, Triple H. The youth era has come into full swing, with the year ending as former reality star, the Miz, as the WWE Champion.

The ratings have been stagnant, the PPV buy rates on-and-off, the celebrity guest hosts has fizzled, the PG-era still on the upper corner of your television screen and the stars of yesterday hitting their late 30s and 40s.  Competition doesn’t exist, as TNA, UFC and NFL are in their own leagues of their own and we leave a decade into the millennium where, for the first time in a while, a wrestling year could be a pivotal turning point–good or bad–that may foreshadow where wrestling may end up in 2012.

John Cena, the company’s man, is a loyal employee, who we’ve seen as been the default person for anything profitable. “Fired” for a few weeks, then re-hired, he was a part of potentially one of the hottest angles this year against Nexus. And when many thought it had all sizzled at the one-sided beat down at Summerslam, Cena joining Nexus brought new life into a stale angle. Unfortunately, the remote idea of Cena fired or a heel was all that it became–remote–as Cena ended the long rivalry by releasing a set of chairs on top of Wade Barrett at the TLC main event (for no championships). The following week, as WWE aired live all week on the USA Channel, Cena was featured as the closing of WWE Smackdown, to promote ratings for the show, as oppose to the World Heavyweight Champion, Edge (a star on the brand).

The point of the matter is that, a fear that I wondered for the first time since Cena became a household name, what would happen if Cena suffered an injury? Or when Cena has to retired? The various eras of the WWE have always had a couple of wrestlers in rotation as a supporting cast to carry the company (Hogan/Macho/Warrior, HBK/Hart/Undertaker/Diesel, HHH/Rock/Foley/Stone Cold, Lesnar/Angle/Benoit/Eddie, Edge/Chris Jericho/Cena/Batista/Orton, Orton/Cena/???).  With Orton and Cena in their mid-30s and Orton with working injured, what will happen in this upcoming year to the company? Who will be that person(s) to pick up the ball?

This article isn’t about the title holders, ratings, John Cena or Wrestlemania, per say. This is more about what 2011 will mean to the company. For the first time in years, the main event at ‘Mania (or even the main attraction) is questionable. With Taker fighting for recovery and external celebrity cameos looking dismal (I.e. Justin Bieber, Lebron James, Shaquille O’Neal, Brock Lesnar, Bill Goldberg), the WWE is looking on what to do to salvage their “Superbowl” and company in making the AP the following day. WCW-related angle for the Atlanta-host-Mania city? Shawn Michaels as the main event special guest ref? Triple H or Cena in the main event?

The way 2011 starts, ends and all in between will show, when dealt with a new hand of cards, what Vince McMahon will and can do to make WWE relevant. Again, why is next year so different and crucial as oppose to other years for the company? What new information does this article share that other overanalyzing article posted on a wrestling website haven’t done before?

In one year, one of the greatest wrestlers of all time retired at ‘Mania. In the same year, the Miz became WWE Champion.  Next year may see the career end for another future Hall of Famer.  By the end of 2011, who will the WWE have left? Because come 2012, if a change hasn’t occurred, Wrestlemania and WWE will be questionable. This isn’t just a slump or phase or making excuses anymore for the WWE.

Make the atmosphere of “Wrestlemania” last for more than just three months. Make it last all year and into the next.