When nearly 75,000 fans flocked to the Super Dome, it created an atmosphere that allowed for arguably the best WM event of the modern era. Despite management’s best efforts, Daniel Bryan’s popularity wouldn’t be denied and it took a few months of relentless chants from live audiences to get Bryan the spot he deserved at WM, a position that was justified by the fact that he was the most over athlete on the roster and he undoubtedly has the ability to be a main event talent. Bryan got over because the audience could see a sense of sincerity in him, the same way they could see that Stone Cold Steve Austin was the gruff Texan that sustained a lot of physical punishment and injuries to claw his way to the top of sports entertainment. Granted, Stone Cold wasn’t going to give the mailman a stunner for walking on his porch, but the premise of who he was in real life was amplified for sports entertainment. In a world where everything is based on a work, the fans could see that Stone Cold was genuine, the same way they could see that someone like Mick Foley was genuine. Daniel Bryan’s passion for pro wrestling was genuine. Bryan got over organically, which by definition, is something that management can’t plan or manufacture. Since Bryan wasn’t a part of the corporate agenda, the office, despite the theoretically goal to draw as much money as possible, did nearly everything it could to hinder Daniel Bryan’s progress to the title. As I’ve written several times before, the lack of competition in the industry allowed for the corporate agenda, not the fan demand to dictate the direction of the product. When Nitro was winning the ratings war, the WWF ran with Steve Austin because he gave them the best chance to compete against the Ted Turner organization. The opening promo involved Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, and The Rock. Hogan must’ve been so busy before the show trying to politic for another comeback run that he forget where he was since he called the venue the Silver Dome, the building that saw him slam Andre The Giant at Wrestlemania 3.
That being said, the fact that WWE brass appeared to legitimately want to squash Bryan’s popularity, it actually created a tense atmosphere for the opening match on this show that he had against Triple H because it seemed very possible that Triple H would beat him to keep him away from the main event match. This was a really great bout and the back and fourth action translated to incredible drama. Triple H has at least a perceived reputation of burying talent that might get more over than him and there was thought to be at least a chance that he would be the one to pin Bryan at WM. After 20 minutes of a stellar bout, thankfully Daniel Bryan won to get a spot in the main event.
There’s not much to say about The Shield vs. The New Age Outlaws and Kane because it was only about two minutes and similar to the six man tag from last year, this was just a way to showcase The Shield, which was a wise decision. Another bout that there’s not necessarily much to say about is the Andre Battle Royal just because of the nature of the match. As far as the concept, it’s one of those scenarios that was really good in theory, but was lackluster in application. On the surface, the Andre name can be used to place a spotlight on the match and thus a platform for someone to be noticed, but the fact that none of the winners of the battle royal were propelled to another level from it, there wasn’t any level importance placed on the match. Cesaro won this particular battle royal, but despite all of his ability, it looks like nothing will get the office behind him. Considering he’s one of the greatest pure athletes in WWE history, it’s very disappointing that he won’t get the chance to be a bigger star. That being said, maybe Cesaro is making good money and will have financial security after he retires, which is the most important aspect from a business perspective for his career.
The John Cena/Bray Wyatt bout was a really good angle that had the wrong conclusion. In a trend that would continue until Bray was repackaged as The Fiend, the majority of his career was based on the ability to make other people look good in the ring. Bell-to-bell the action here was fine, but even years later, there’s no logical explanation for John Cena to beat Bray Wyatt on this stage. Wyatt, especially at this point in his career, could’ve been pushed to the next level if he defeated Cena at WM. This is meant as a compliment to Cena, he’s over to the point that he could lose every match for the rest of his career and he would still be just as over. A win here did nothing for Cena because he was already a top guy and it was a missed opportunity to push Wyatt to the next level.
The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar match became one of the most infamous matches in WWE history because it ultimately delivered something that the fans didn’t want to see on the show. As we know, The Undertaker suffered a concussion from a German suplex very earlier in the bout than went over 20 minutes and because of that, this isn’t a quality contest at all. The pace never flowed because The Undertaker looked unsteady throughout the entire match. As far as the decision for Brock to break the streak after an F5, it was theoretically a way to solidify him as the top monster in the promotion, but that thought process was flawed. Brock, who was a former UFC Heavyweight champion, was already promoted as the “legitimate” fighter in the WWE and I honestly don’t think breaking the streak did anything to get him more over than he already was before the match. Lesnar was already known as a top guy so the end of the streak was basically just a major disappointment for the audience. As I mentioned in a prior article, The Undertaker’s matches at WM since the end of the streak just don’t have the same draw because so much of his spot on the show was built around the undefeated streak. The whole scenario seemed like a completely misguided decision because who else will have the longevity to get close to a record like that? As far as what The Undertaker has done since or what he should do going forward, I think it should be completely his decision. Granted, I would rather that he retired a few years about, but that’s because I have a lot of respect for everything he’s contributed to the industry and I don’t want to see him get injured, but he has earned the right to decide when to hang up the boots. For Brock, I’ve written about it several times in the past few years, but I don’t think his continuous mega push is justified and I don’t think the results yielded from it are exactly a good return on investment for the organization. Sure, Brock makes top money for a limited schedule, good for him, that’s capitalism. However, his monster push started to yield diminishing returns more than three years ago, but he remained a mainstay of the main event scene. The narrative was stale and most of his matches were extremely repetitive. Overall, I think the totality of his stint over the past eight years has done more to hinder than help the WWE landscape. The main example for that is, how many competitors have become bigger stars after they’ve worked with him? That being said, Lesnar being under contract has essentially given management and excuse to use lazy booking because instead of building new stars through compelling storylines, it’s much easier for them to attempt to garner the short end money with part-timers. The bottom line is, how many wrestlers currently on the roster are legitimate money-drawing stars? How many competitors could really move the needle right now? The argument could be made that John Cena is still the biggest star the company has and he hasn’t been a full-time wrestler for the past few years.
The Divas championship match wasn’t much of a contest because there were a dozen competitors that were given roughly five minutes and it was more to pace the card before the main event than anything. One of the few major positives of the modern product is that talented female athletes were given more of a platform to truly showcase their skills.
The main event was great and told a tremendous story, especially because the circumstances of the triple threat aspect really emphasized the underdog scenario of Daniel Bryan. The power bomb spot through the table is memorable here, as well as the celebration after Bryan’s submission victory. In another example of professional wrestling being about the moments, the visual of Bryan celebrating with both titles as confetti fell around him is as good as it gets in the sport. The audience genuinely wanted to see him succeed because they knew that he genuinely appreciated their support. It’s puzzling that this bout was originally penciled in to be Batista vs. Orton, simply because Batista had a movie to promote, and the office assumed that would translate to viewers for WM. Again, it’s lazy booking to rely on a part-timer to bring hype to the product. Doesn’t the WWE have dozen of writers that have the job to create a buzz for major events? To be fair, Batista was put in an impossible situation here and nobody could’ve gotten over as a baby face when he was booked as the guy that won the Royal Rumble instead of Daniel Bryan. Thankfully, Daniel Bryan won and the celebration of his victory is one of the most memorable moments in WM history.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.
Until next week
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