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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: The Undertaker in the Driver's Seat Down the Road to WrestleMania
By The Doc
Feb 25, 2014 - 11:50:23 PM

The WrestleMania Era: The Book of Sports Entertainment.

The Snowman is a genius

For a classic Doc/CMV1 PPV Review of Elimination Chamber, click here

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Of the five likely WrestleMania matches, which are you most looking forward to?

It has been an exciting couple of days for wrestling fans. Many of you enjoyed the two match show that was the Elimination Chamber and were left upset for what I’d call the “right reasons” when Daniel Bryan was yet again screwed out of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The Royal Rumble, by contrast, left everyone upset about a non-story that “We, The People” made into the story, but Sunday’s PPV was booked to leave you wanting more. With another Match of the Year candidate added to our young list for 2014 in The Shield vs. The Wyatts, EC was a satisfying wrestling event. Yesterday, the WWE Network launched and many of you were – perhaps with some similar difficulty as I experienced – able to enjoy its spoils. Personally, of all things Network-related, I think it’s most awesome that we have access to a high quality version of the early Ric Flair-featured Starrcades. No matter your opinion of the current product, the WWE Network has a lot to offer. Last night, of course, pressed down the gas pedal on our respective rides down the Road to WrestleMania. Less than 6 weeks out, five of the top matches appear to be taking shape, with two announced and three others teased. Raw, itself, struggled a bit with the three hour formula this week (particularly with the placement of the Bray Wyatt-Roman Reigns match), but ended on a high note.

Several months ago in my WrestleMania Season Preview column, I stated that, because of my strong desire to see John Cena vs. Undertaker, it would take some doing to make me interested in Brock Lesnar challenging The Streak instead. Cena-Taker has essentially become the most highly anticipated match of the current decade for me – even ahead of Rock-Cena 1 – the reason being that I see it as such a no-brainer match to book that I keep waiting and waiting for them to pull the trigger on it when it is just sitting there right in front of their faces as the one Streak match left that nearly everyone in the WWE fanbase would find unpredictable to a degree. They’ve either teased it or had it ready to pull off the shelf since 2007’s Mania 23 segment where Taker got to choose the champion that he’d face and momentarily stopped in front of Cena. For them to go a different route (I suspect due to Taker’s own desire to work with Brock) has fundamentally ensured that the WWE will have to work hard to hook my interest in any non-Taker-Cena direction. Combine the previous statement with the fact that last night’s Raw failed to elicit the kind of emotional investment in me that I figured the WWE would earn by a first or early second hour Daniel Bryan segment and I wound up putting a lot of self-psychological pressure on the final few minutes of the show (featuring Brock and Taker) to both make me feel as though we were heading down the last leg of the Road to Mania AND connect me to the Deadman vs. Beast story.

Up until that segment, I really did not get that “WrestleMania” kind of feeling that I should get when watching the first Raw to set-up the card. Hulk Hogan being back was a five second nostalgia trip. His presence does add to the aura surrounding the New Orleans “Show of Shows,” unquestionably. However, while the WWE may have a short memory, mine is quite long. I’ve seen Hogan return numerous times in the last 12 years. So, Hulkamania running wild did not leave me wanting to run to the calendar and count the number of weeks until Mania. John Cena’s verbal (and, ultimately, physical) altercation with Bray Wyatt had the potential to up the “Immortal” ante and, though I came away from it having lost no interest in their match, it did not gain any added enthusiasm on my end, either. I went into the night thinking that, in all likelihood, one of two guys would wind up making it “feel like Mania” for me – Undertaker or Daniel Bryan. When Bryan beat Kane and challenged Triple H, that was cool and I do feel that Bryan-Trips will be the most compelling story for this year’s “Granddaddy.” On the other hand, I had hoped for more. I wanted to see last night and will continue to hope that we will see the set-up of the scenario that I described last week, in which Bryan would earn the right to face the WWE World Heavyweight Champion on April 6th if he defeated Triple H first. I’ll settle for just (and I use that word lightly and somewhat sarcastically- just) Bryan vs. Trips when I’m convinced that *just* Bryan vs. Trips is all that we will get. Batista vs. Randy Orton is the pebble in our collective WrestleMania shoe; it’s very annoying to walk down the Road to Mania with it there. Naturally, their Monday night interaction did not give off a “Mania Season is here” kind of vibe. Batista can’t even breathe without messing something up. Historically, I like Dave. Currently, he’s a chore to sit through, bringing about similar emotions that I have when de-pooping the backyard of dog feces. That left it all up to Taker, Heyman, and Brock.

To the question, “Did Paul Heyman, Lesnar, and Taker succeed,” I answer with a resounding “Yes!” If that could have been handled better, then you would have to tell me how. I like The Deadman in the role of the aggressor and suggested that he play that part in recent weeks. After all, it is Taker that has something to prove against Brock; not the other way around. Rewind the clock 12 years and Brock was proving his worth against the locker room leader in two excellent, brawling style WWE Championship matches. I urge the younger readers to use the WWE Network or the internet to view their Hell in a Cell match from No Mercy 2002 for a preview of what Brock-Taker could be at Mania 30. Such were the memories brought back as I watched Taker, sporting his 1999 goatee circa the Ministry of Darkness days, quietly exude the very presence that Mania season had arrived without even saying a word. The Phenom is the exception to the “returning stars” rule. He can come back once a year and, because of his stellar track record via “The Streak within The Streak,” bring with him an integral piece of the yearly Mania puzzle – that being a special attraction that we cannot see at any other point on the remainder of the wrestling calendar. Taker IS WrestleMania. Everyone steps up their game when The Deadman is around. He is as revered as any superstar in history. Taker vs. Brock should add #8 in a row to the list of consecutive classic Mania matches if last night was any indication. A year ago, Michael Cole said after the Taker-Punk match that “Undertaker is the greatest performer in WrestleMania history.” That can no longer be considered hyperbole, with all due respect to my all-time favorite, Shawn Michaels, or any of the other legends with glowing Mania resumes. No one – not even Mr. WrestleMania – has put together seven straight critically acclaimed Match of the Year candidates at “The Showcase.”

Taker, I salute you, sir.

The WWE has built up a lot of good will with me during this time of the year. My columns and my book make no mistake about my outright fascination with WrestleMania. Thus, I do not wish to come across like I'm not generally excited about Mania. It goes like this for me - I'll do 50% of the work for the WWE. I will hype myself and, in turn, try to hype you with my own passion for Mania. I look at Cena vs. Wyatt and see a rookie who owns 2/3 of the 2014 Match of the Year list to date getting the opportunity of his life against "The Man." I'm excited for that. I can reflect back to Taker and Brock's matches from the past, think about "The Streak within The Streak," and generalize that Lesnar has had two awesome matches in six tries, combine it all of it together and be perfectly content to watch them lock horns for 30-minutes at Mania. Of course, Bryan vs. Triple H is the match I've wanted since Summerslam. I love being right like everyone does, but - more than that - Bryan getting his shot to headline the "Show" gives us a payoff to the most organic, emotionally engaging WWE storyline in recent memory. I'd pay $70 for that match and I've got the Network. Even Orton vs. Batista has the potential to intrigue me if for no other reason that to see The Animal genuinely react to the fan backlash in the coming weeks. There is history upon which they can play off. Plenty of it. The Shield break-up is plenty intriguing on paper alone. They could realistically produce the best mid-card Mania storyline in a decade. It's just up to the WWE to fill in the remaining 50% with creative takes on basic concepts. Last night, Taker, Lesnar, and Heyman were provided a basic game plan, they executed it really well and scored a touchdown.


Join Super Chrisss on "The Doc and Super Chrisss Show" Wednesday at 5PM. He'll be discussing Elimination Chamber, Raw, and the Road to WrestleMania. As usual, featured will be our Win/Fail of the Week.

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