Doctor's Orders: The WrestleMania XXX Weekend Preview - To What Extent Will WWE Deliver?
By The Doc
Apr 1, 2014 - 9:54:49 PM
The WrestleMania Era: The Book of Sports Entertainment.
The Snowman is a genius
Please check out the LOP Hall of Fame inductions. I am quite proud of that project. I wish it to be something that all can look forward to in the years to come.
I will be on the WrestleMania post-show on LOP Radio this Sunday immediately following “The Granddaddy of ‘em all.” Check it out.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: Which match at WrestleMania XXX are you most looking forward to and why?
QUESTION 2 OF THE DAY: Which match at WrestleMania XXX do you think is most likely to win Match of the Night honors?
It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
(ding ding…ding ding)
With the Yes! Movement swelling
And Roman Reigns yelling “Uh-Ah” for the Spear"
It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
“Yes!” It is that time of the year. The joys of the Christmas season and the Andy Williams tune referenced above are not completely lost on me, but I echo the sentiments of the Rated R Superstar in the “True Story of WrestleMania” documentary when I state definitively that, for me, WrestleMania is to adult me what Christmas was to childhood me. “It’s the grand-grandest stage of them all.” No time on the sports calendar captures my imagination quite like WrestleMania. This weekend promises to be awesome, starting with the Hall of Fame ceremony being broadcast live for the first time in four years and ending with what should be a great edition of “The Showcase of the Immortals.” If you have never been to a WrestleMania, I highly encourage you to pony up the money and do it. You only live once. I have now been to four of them and the experience has always been unique. This year, I will be watching from the comforts of my home.
My eyes will be glued to the WWE Network when the star-studded, stacked-as-much-as-any-year Hall of Fame class gets inducted. The Ultimate Warrior was a childhood favorite of mine, responsible for taking my young attention away from the old school (from the wrestling to the production value) of the "NWA presents WCW" to the glitz and glam of the World Wrestling Federation. Jake “The Snake” Roberts was a huge star in that era, playing whatever role he was needed to play much as Mick Foley did a decade later. It would not shock me to see those two bookend the enshrinement. Both speeches should be tremendous for their own separate reasons. I also look forward to seeing what Razor Ramon a) looks like and b) has to say. He has been through so much in the last decade. I am pleasantly surprised to see him get the nod. I presume that the WWE plans to induct the New World Order as a unit in the near future, leaving the Scott Hall persona separate from his pre-WCW counterpart. Razor was similar to Jake during his excellent run in the New Generation. He was consistently one of the top five stars in the company despite limited chances in the main-event scene. Lita is very deserving, as well. Her era of women’s wrestling was something I did not really appreciate until it was over. It is so bad nowadays that you long for the females that actually contribute something. They’re running out of relevant women to induct. Mr. T’s induction is long overdue. He did a lot for wrestling’s transition to the mainstream. Paul Bearer was an amazingly unique talent. I am quite curious to see who inducts him and who accepts on his behalf. The Brothers of Destruction, perhaps? Cheers to Carlos Colon, too.
WrestleMania excitement is, as usual at my house, through the roof. I am a firm believer that there has not been a disappointing WrestleMania since 2000. Merely, there has been a dichotomy of how good the shows have been. Some have been great; all have been good by my estimation. It is an event about which we should not ask the question “will it deliver,” but rather “to what extent will it deliver.” It always delivers. I take off the critic hat and enjoy it, but even when I put it back on, the match ratings are consistent with the best super cards (no longer just PPVs) of the year. Thus, there are no differences in expectations this year as compared to the previous few. The pressure is never higher, the spotlight never brighter, and the moment never greater. To excel at Mania is to be remembered for all-time and anything less just fades to varying levels of obscurity.
I believe in The Shield, both in the men that make up the stable and that they’re match will once again open WrestleMania. This year, with their roles reversed from a year ago, they will be responsible for kicking off Mania with a bang and a pop. I was a tad underwhelmed in 2013, but they have a lot of momentum as babyfaces right now. They are fully ingrained in the minds of the current fans and will be looking to leave a more lasting impression on the unique viewers. The New Age Outlaws will be motivated, having asked to work with Rollins, Reigns, and Ambrose before they split up. Mania is not known for its mid-card, but The Shield have done well to provide it one for two years, now. I suspect that next year will see at least one of them ascend to headlining (if not main-event) status. The Hounds will leave WrestleMania with a convincing victory.
Quietly, I have really gotten behind the booking of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Many of my colleagues clamor for greater mid-card focus, but it’s time to get realistic about that and recognize that you cannot have it both ways. If you want a ton of time dedicated to the main-events, then you cannot have a ton of mid-card matches. If you want epic battles, there has to be a trade off; nothing is perfect. For that reason, the Battle Royal is a fantastic idea. Instead of asking Sheamus, Christian, Dolph Ziggler, Sandow, and (hopefully) Cesaro to attempt to achieve their “moments” in 6-minute throwaway matches, they will get the chance to do so with Hulk Hogan’s endorsement and Andre the Giant’s spirit. I would have bet you money when this was announced that Cesaro was winning. His momentum has been dashed by his inclusion in the irrelevant tag title bout on the pre-show (apologies, enthusiasts, I have not changed my stance on the fact that a pre-show match is this generation’s Sunday Night Heat match – it doesn’t matter). I do not believe that Big Show will win. This is too golden an opportunity to give a young talent some shine at the biggest event of the year, so I believe that the (quieter) odds on favorite to win is actually Sheamus. The Celtic Warrior has a lot of main-event life left in him. He is the type that could parlay winning that trophy into something meaningful. The awesome thing about a Battle Royal of this style is that they do not need to be long to be great additions to a wrestling card. WrestleManias 2 and IV, respectively, had perfectly enjoyable Battle Royals and neither was longer than 10-minutes. I think Sunday’s will be a rip-roaring blast of a good time. I also think that Hulk Hogan will make his appearance before, during, and after it rather than in one of the headlining matches. It would not surprise me if Hogan opened the show with a promo and then introduced the Battle Royal. The Shield would then have to follow it and would do well in doing so, if you ask me.
I hate to bury the Divas, but there’s barely enough talent in that division to have a Fatal Fourway, much less a Fatal Fourteenway (credit "The Right Side of the Pond" on LOP Radio). God Bless us for having to endure that.
Either Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker or Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena will headline the top of the second hour and get the show kicked into the next gear. Given Cena’s status as “The Man,” I think he’s more likely to be given the nod for the top of the third hour, so look for Taker vs. Brock to have their showdown earlier on. I’ll admit that my interest in that match was piqued weeks ago with the first segment that they had. I did not really need much else. For those of you that like to be super critical, I read you loud and clear. Remember this, though: a match hype’s enduring legacy is its finest moments – not its entirety. The WWE does such an outstanding job with their pre-match videos that, four years removed from an event, you will be hard-pressed to recall anything outside of the key plot points. Those points, more so than the overall, week-to-week quality, determines how a feud is remembered throughout history. Taker vs. Brock has achieved what it needed to. Paul Heyman sold the feud verbally and the reputations of the combatants have carried it the rest of the way to New Orleans. It honestly does not matter that you could see Taker fishing around under the ring last week or that they have seemingly phoned it in since mid-March, once Taker and Brock have added another incredible match to The Streak within The Streak, all you are likely to remember about the feud was “pen stabbed, chokeslam, Heyman promos, and an F5.”
I’ll tell you the one thing I will miss most about Taker when he’s gone – WrestleMania has been elevated by his mere presence these last several years. His performance level has been so ridiculously high that it’s an automatic, in my opinion, that once you see his Mania entrance, the entire complexity of the show changes and everyone else on the roster has to follow his lead. Can he make it eight straight Match of the Year contenders? I don’t know. This will be the toughest task, yet. How can you question him, though? He has truly lived up to his nickname from the early years of his career. He has become WrestleMania’s PHENOM.
Taker improves to 22-0. Enjoy him while he lasts. Two-three more (if that) and that’s probably it.
The new Phenom in the WWE might very well be Bray Wyatt. Working with top talents is a put up or shut up, make or break time in a young star’s career. I was quite critical of Bray in respect to his character and how well it would translate with a modern audience. While watching him interact with Daniel Bryan and John Cena, however, I changed my tune. The questions remain about the character in the day and age in which we live, but when the opportunity knocked for the man behind Bray Wyatt to show his potential, he made the most of it. I have no doubt that Bray, if he plays his cards right and the chips keep falling his way, will be a major star for years to come. Much to overcome he has and of that there should be no mistaking. He is not what the WWE looks for. Once a generation or so, there comes along a mold-breaker. Taker was that star 25 years ago. Tall and athletic, indeed, but monkey butt ugly and resigned to being a virtual mute on TV. He possessed intangibles that made him worthy of long-term investment and here he stands on the eve of defending the most heralded streak in the history of the sport. Wyatt has different intangibles, but they're similarly fascinating. That is why I believe Bray can’t lose on Sunday. Winning and losing still matters to me and I act as a sounding board to the casual viewers who do not have as firm a grasp as you that a wrestler can lose and still immediately benefit. If Wyatt loses to Cena, he becomes another guy to that giant portion of the WWE Universe that descends from the constellations to witness what the wrestling world has to offer each spring. Where does he go from there if he wins? Who cares? Worry about that after giving him the victory that could make him credible for the next decade. Too much, too soon? Perhaps. It is a gamble. It is, though, a gamble very much worth taking. Bray Wyatt wins.
Of all that is booked for this year’s WrestleMania, the one story that I am most excited about is Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H and the WWE World Championship match that will follow. Months ago, I suggested that the WWE should just go all-in and make this Bryan’s WrestleMania. The people spoke. It was time for the WWE to listen. Forever and always, Sunday will stamp Bryan’s legacy – one way or another. I fully expect that the WWE will pull the trigger and end what has been one of the most compelling roads to success that I’ve witnessed in 30 years. I’ve seen it all in the WrestleMania Era – hell, I wrote the book on the WrestleMania Era. My emotions have been lifted, dropped, swung, thrown, and skyrocketed. This part of the fanbase needs Bryan to win like it needs to breathe. I’m unsure of its collective fan survival without Bryan achieving his dream. And I believe he will win. I’m not sure it could have happened to a better guy, either. Genuinely, Bryan Danielson seems like a good dude. You root for good people thinking good things and getting good things in return. He deserves it. I never in a million years expected that he’d be in this position but I am thrilled to have been around to see him get where he’s at. If the WWE drops the ball with this – and, frankly, anything short of a win over Triple H and him hoisting the WWE Championship over his head with the New Orleans Superdome rocking with YES! chants would be borderline criminal – then I think that they can kiss goodbye a part of the audience that the suits have long since assumed were a “given.” Everyone has their tipping point. A Bryan loss on Sunday would be that for many.
A victory, on the other hand, would be one for the ages. One can only hope that the WWE realized that Bryan winning may not be what is best for business in the long-term, but the short-term demands that he must win and satisfy what is best for business right now. Roman Reigns and his peers are waiting in the wings, but they are a year away. Dave Batista can’t tie his shoes without splitting his skinny jeans, but he might be what’s best for business in four months when his movie hype hits its peak. He is not, however, what is best for business right now. Daniel Bryan is. Yes! Yes! Yes! He is. Yes! Yes! Yes! Bryan will win on Sunday!
Join us for “The Doc and Super Chrisss Show” Wednesday at 5PM for a special 2 hour edition that includes a WrestleMania XXX preview, our Win/Fail of the week from the go-home Raw, and the finale of our favorite WrestleMania matches.
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