WrestleMania XXX is right around the corner. January starts WrestleMania season, and traditionally (?) should lead to some promising buildup and exciting television before the Showcase of the Immortals. This is an important Mania. It will be the first time in the Superdome in New Orleans, which people down south have been screaming for since I can remember. It will be WrestleMania XXX, the thirtieth anniversary of the WWE’s flagship event. It will certainly bring millions of dollars in revenue to the state of Louisiana. Rumor has it being part of the WWE Network package start.
It should be one for the ages. But the key word is SHOULD. What have we got to look forward to this year for Mania? Well to be totally honest, I don’t have a damn clue. I haven’t watched RAW, SmackDown or a PPV in 3 months. It’s too painful. I read the results of every TV, PPV and house show (oh excuse me, I mean Live Event). I know what’s going on. But I can barely ready it. I can’t imagine watching some of this stuff on television. We all should know by now that pro wrestling doesn’t exist anymore. Not in WWE. And even though we might occasionally get glimpses of great wrestling, the next segment is usually something so drastically stupid and mind numbing that it makes you forget about the good part you just saw.
The gaps in booking, logic going right out the window, half assed babyface and heel turns, are just some of the reasons that fans are getting turned off. Not to mention all of the great talent that WWE has at their disposal who keep suffering from horrendous booking choices. Wrestlers (excuse me, sports entertainers) careers and chances for getting over are being destroyed right before our eyes.
What we all grew up watching is gone. It’s like finding out Santa Clause isn’t real anymore, then your parents telling you to forget all of the Christmases where Santa came. I think Abraham Washington said it best when he was released, “I was told not to have attitude, by the people who taught me to have attitude.” Never met AW but he was spot on.
I’m surprised they haven’t changed the name of WrestleMania to EntertainaMania. Whoops, maybe I shouldn’t have typed that because now someone up there will read it and will use it. But WrestleMania is and rightfully should be where the best WRESTLING of the year takes place. So whatever glimpses of awesome wrestling moments we’re going to get, should happen there. It’s only my opinion but the last few years of WrestleMania have been so inconsistent that it makes my head hurt! One year it’s great, the next year it sucks.
To me, it feels like it started with WrestleMania XXIV. The Ric Flair “Career Threatening Match” Angle that ended with him losing to Shawn Michaels to me was the best angle they had produced in years. The Big Show return and feud with Floyd Mayweather produced some mainstream publicity, some good television, and a decent match. Edge and Undertaker were awarded the main event slot after carrying the SmackDown brand (my team haha) to some exciting and awesome television moments for WWE in 2007-2008, a solid undercard that featured Finlay vs. JBL, Umaga vs. Batista Brand Supremacy match, Money in the Bank won by CM Punk, and Cena/HHH/Orton Triple Threat match for the WWE Championship (eh.) But overall, it was a solid WrestleMania.
Mania 25, the Silver Anniversary, was like farting at the altar at your wedding. The presentation was nice, but it stunk. Other than Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker, what else really stood out? Chris Jericho vs. the WWE Legends was fun to watch, but him taking a hit from Mickey Rourke wasn’t. Maybe I’ll elaborate more one day in another column, but two of the hardest working guys in WWE from 2007 to 2009, Miz and John Morrison were bumped from the main Mania card to the pre-show in their title unification match with Carlito and Primo Colon, despite being advertised. Oh but we needed time for a Kid Rock concert! And a 25 Diva battle royal that started the awful “Santina” gimmick. CM Punk won a decent Money in the Bank match, but who remembers it as an all-time classic? Matt vs. Jeff Hardy in a hardcore match was good, but WWE never really got behind that angle like they should have. Edge vs. Big Show vs. John Cena Triple Threat was textbook example of the horrid independent wrestling “we gotta do something with these guys, so let’s have a triple threat” booking style. Rey upsetting JBL for the Intercontinental Championship in just a few seconds was a feel good moment, but I’m pretty pissed if I spent $60 on a ppv and a championship match ended in 10 seconds. So thumbs down and fart sound to Mania 25.
Mania XXVI picked up again with a pretty good effort. I would have liked to seen the pre-match battle royal where the first NXT Class was forced to watch from the entrance way on the show, as that could have made for a great PPV moment and even been played into the Nexus angle that was to come shortly thereafter. The divas match, the Sho/Miz vs. Morrison/RTruth matches weren’t anything spectacular, but Jack Swagger winning MITB was an interesting twist. Triple H and Sheamus had a very good hard hitting match. Chris Jericho vs. Edge didn’t disappoint in the World Heavyweight title match. The LONG LONG LONG awaited Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon brawl was fun to watch because Bret and his ENTIRE family beat Vince’s ass for about 12 minutes. Batista vs. John Cena should have been the main event of WrestleMania 25, as it was the only real “dream match” that WWE could have presented at the time. Batista was doing his best heel work ever, even though he was on his way out of the company. The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels “Streak vs. Career” match in my opinion was one of the top 10 matches of all time, if not higher. The Phoenix, AZ stadium gave Mania a very different feel to watch and overall was very enjoyable. So of course next year’s Mania is gonna suck.
Once again, WWE fails to follow through from the get go and pulls Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan for the US Championship from the main card, relegates it to a dark match, changes it to a Lumberjack match, and then a Battle Royal. WTF? Horrible. Ok so the Rock is back to host, which is great, but does every other segment HAVE to feature him? Edge vs. Alberto Del Rio for the WHC was a good match, although I did not like the fact that the Royal Rumble winner was featured in the opening match, and that the WHC was greatly devalued by that fact. Although we didn’t know it at the time, this was Edge’s last WrestleMania. Rumor has it that WWE knew before hand, and may would have made the match more special had they went ahead and filled everyone in on that fact. Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Misterio and CM Punk vs. Randy Orton were good, but they just seemed like TV filler matches. Kane/Show/Kofi/Santino only needed 1:34 to kill of whatever heat The Corre had left (remember those guys? Barrett, Slater, Gabriel, and Ezekiel? What!!! You don’t? Shame on you!). The Undertaker vs. Triple H was a slow paced brawl that really did nothing for me. I shudder to think that after nearly 20 years with the WWE, Jerry Lawler’s only WrestleMania match was that train wreck he had with Michael Cole. The match should have been an old school gimmick match, with Lawler vs. Swagger, with the stipulation being that if Lawler won, he got 5 minutes with Cole. I was happy to see the Miz get his WWE Championship title push that he had been working so hard for, for so long. But I was NOT happy to see him play second fiddle to the Rock, or him sustain a concussion during the main event of the match. Even though he retained, the next night featuring Rock challenging Cena to the main event of Mania the NEXT year gave nobody any reason to have any faith in anybody else as a main eventer…for the next entire year! We have 4 hours’ worth of time to fill, we can give Snooki a match, Pee Wee Herman a segment, but can’t find time for Sheamus and Daniel Bryan? Gag me with a spoon.
Mania 28 had a similar look and feel to WrestleMania 24. Both being outdoors in Florida might have had something to do with it. I was so pleased to see that Daniel Bryan and Sheamus were going to get their WrestleMania moment this year, and show WWE management that they made a horrible mistake the year prior. I was not pleased to see the 18 second match that devalued the WHC even more, disappointed the audience, and served as a punch line to corny sex jokes and putdowns on Bryan for the next year. Bryan did come out getting more over in the end, but IMO, the match they had at the Extreme Rules should have been the match they had at Mania. Kane vs. Orton was good, but felt like a Raw undercard match. Big Show winning the Intercontinental Championship from Cody Rhodes was fun. Show getting his “Mania Moment” was a good piece of storytelling, but I feel that the fact that he was one of the only people to ever hold the WWE, WHC, IC, US, and both tag titles was overlooked and should have been made a big deal. The Divas tag match but it was so painful for me to watch Maria Menuonos have a MANIA match while poor Natalya Neidhart watched from the back. That’s a crime. The Team Johnny vs. Team Teddy match was ok, but just seemed like another “let’s have a huge match just to throw a bunch of bodies onto the program” match. The Undertaker vs. Triple H HIAC match with Shawn Michaels as the referee to me made up for the slow brawl they had the previous year. And how intense was it when Taker took of his hood to reveal a Mohawk? It was great to see Rock back in a Mania ring. The match with Cena was good, although the kicking out of 50 finishers at the end was a tad too much. The Machine Gun Kelly and Flo Rida “concerts” were not good at all. And even though I would have rather seen him wrestle a match since the name of the show was WRESTLEmania, I did get a kick out of watching Brodus Clay dancing with his 200 mamas. That should be an episode of Maury Povich “You are NOT THE MAMA!” Overall, it was a good show. Mania 29 however, was not.
I was totally against the idea of the “Once in a lifetime match” being the main event for the second year in a row. And the WWE Universe felt the same way, as this Mania did not have the number of buys that the previous year had. First of all, I felt that the importance of CM Punk’s year plus long WWE Championship reign was greatly diminished by having him play second fiddle to Cena/Rock Act 2. The longest championship reign of this era was lost by Punk dropping the title to the Rock, who was merely a transitional champion. As soon as The Rock won the championship, we all collectively groaned because we all knew what was coming next. The “You win, I win” booking strategy was back with a vengeance. Not that it ever went anywhere. We all knew the moment that Cena won the Rumble, and Rock defeated Punk for the championship, what was going to happen. So instead of heading into Mania season with a sense of excitement, we had a sense of “been there, done that”. A title reign the length and importance of Punk’s should have ended at a WrestleMania. It should have been non-negotiable. Punk worked so hard to carry that championship and restore importance to it, and he deserved a place in the main event of WrestleMania. But instead, we HAD to let Cena get his win back. I’m not that big on triple threat matches, but I think it would have been a far better story to see Punk screw the Rock over at Royal Rumble, then have Cena/Rock argue over who was going to end the historical title reign, then build to a Triple Threat match. But hey, that’s just me. So from my point of view, the main event scene of Wrestlemania 29 was in shambles from the get go. Then Rock/Cena had a match that was so similar to the one before that it seemed like a colossal waste.
The Shield’s WrestleMania debut was fun to watch, as they had taken the WWE by storm, and seeing them get a big win over three established main eventers and former world champions in Big Show, Orton, and Sheamus gave me hope that the WWE would continue to build them up. Boy was I wrong. Mark Henry defeating Ryback was a bad idea. Daniel Bryan and Kane vs. Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston wasn’t bad, but it felt like a SmackDown main event and not a WrestleMania match. Fandango’s long awaited debut was a major success, and Chris Jericho helped get him over to the point that Fandangoing became a national sensation for a little bit. Johnny Curtis is a great guy, hell of a hard worker, and WWE did him justice here. But then he got a concussion and it’s been nothing since. Not his fault. Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger was weird. Alberto’s babyface turn was so half assed that it never really caught steam. WWE pulled back on Swagger’s push after his brush up with the law, and this supposed “hot mainstream worldwide trending controversial angle” became just another filler match. Triple H and Brock Lesnar was an exciting brawl but again, it was just a case of Triple H getting his win back from SummerSlam the previous year. The Undertaker and CM Punk had an exciting match, but did WWE really build up any reason to believe that Punk was going to end the streak? No. So there you have it. Mania 29: toilet flush sound effect please.
Feel free to post your thoughts, opinions, feedback and comments below.
Thanks for reading.
About Wes Adams: Wes Adams is a former WWE official/referee who signed a WWE developmental deal in early 2007, and was assigned to Deep South Wrestling. After working as a official/referee on WWE television, the company released Adams on August 15, 2008. In November 2008 Adams opened his own wrestling promotion “PowerSlam Productions.”