Wrestlemania XXIX is upon us. In most years, LOP would be buzzing; the fanbase teeming with excitement over what will undoubtedly be the most spectacular event of the wrestling year. Yet, this is not most years. Perhaps more than ever before, the hardcore followers of the WWE and pro-wrestling, in general, seem to have collectively decided to be apathetic toward the “Showcase of the Immortals.” I, respectfully, do not understand it. Call me the biggest WWE “homer” on the internet, if you wish, but I will never understand how you can pay attention to professional wrestling and not find a way to get excited about Wrestlemania.
Doctor's Orders: Why You Should Absolutely Order Wrestlemania
By The Doc
Mar 27, 2013 - 5:35:40 PM
Wrestlemania is Wrestlemania, just as March Madness is March Madness, the Champions’ League is the Champions’ League, and the NBA Finals are the NBA Finals. They are each the yearly pinnacle of their respective sports and, while there may be some variation in quality from calendar-to-calendar, they are the events that shape legacies, make history, and define eras.
“It’s kind of like our Christmas,” WWE Hall of Famer, Edge, once said about Wrestlemania.
I hear you, brother. And I miss your enthusiasm.
I view Wrestlemania the same way that he did. The moment that I started getting excited about Wrestlemania XXIX was the very second that Wrestlemania XXVIII ended. If I’m being honest, there probably is not a day that goes by during the year that I don’t think about Wrestlemania. Of all my extracurricular activities, there is nothing that comes close to it. It is the “Christmas” of my adulthood and has been for ten years. So, to see so many of my fellow writers and wrestling fans denouncing this year’s “Granddaddy,” to me, is like you telling me that you’re not looking forward to Christmas because the line-up of holiday movies on television have not been up to par. So what, ladies and gentlemen?
Wrestlemania has long since passed the point where it’s only about the television product leading up to it or even the paired names on the card. It is bigger than that, crossing over into a realm reserved for the Super Bowl in which the teams playing in it is merely part of what makes it special. The presentation and the atmosphere make up for the years like this one when, I will admit, the hype has been paint-by-the-numbers, at times.
It’s not always about how you get there.
It’s what happens on the grand stage that matters most.
The attitude toward Wrestlemania XXIX has reminded me of the general feeling about the 2002 National Championship game in college football. Ohio State was the undefeated Big Ten champion, but they had squeaked by to get to the title game and some were calling for a one-loss Georgia team to take the field against defending National Champion, Miami. Well, the pouting doubters missed out on the single greatest national championship game played in the modern era. The 2010 NCAA Tournament final between Duke and Butler provided another example. The Bulldogs were the first mid-major to reach the title game, underwhelming basketball enthusiasts. For those that missed out, it was one of the most tightly contested finals in years and came down to one last desperation half court heave that just barely missed. For my international friends, remember when Liverpool, the ‘03/’04 fourth place finisher in the EPL, snuck into the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions’ League, and ended up in the final against AC Milan? I remember football critics being blasé about the affair, only for the final to be one of the most memorable in history, with six goals combined in regulation forcing the match to be decided on penalties.
Trust me, I wish that every Wrestlemania Season provided brilliant hype for each match at the “Show of Shows.” However, as your tastes mature and you become more grounded with life, in general, and stop living inside the IWC bubble that constantly finds new ways to dislike pro-wrestling, you start to change your perspective. I have, personally, come to view Wrestlemania like I do the NBA Playoffs, the NFL Playoffs, March Madness, and the College Football season - I choose to enjoy those things for what they are; not for what I wish that they would be. I don't have ANY control over what gets booked at Mania anymore than I do who ends up in the Finals, the Super Bowl, the Final Four, or the ABC Game of the Week in November. I just sit back and enjoy what's there.
In those years when we get a Cena-Rock "Once in a Lifetime" or an "HBK vs. Angle" (or better put - HBK vs. anyone) or a Punk-Jericho, then by all means, let's allow that natural excitement to be ENHANCED. But does that mean that we cannot fundamentally appreciate the season if we don't get what we want in the “championship game”? That we won't tune in and allow that suspension of disbelief?
That's where my gripe comes into play with all the negativity. Some years are better than others, but it’s still the Super Bowl even if the Arizona Cardinals are in it – and they gave us one of the most thrilling comebacks in forty-seven games; it’s still the NBA Finals even if two small market franchises are in it – and the last time that happened we saw the greatest winner since Jordan (Tim Duncan) humble Lebron James; it’s still the Champions’ League final even if FC Porto and Monaco come out of nowhere to embarrass the world’s premier soccer powers – Porto's coach turned out to be a legend in the making; it’s still College Football season even if your team sucks – I sat through six God-awful Notre Dame seasons to get last year’s run to the title game, but I still intently watch the big games every week.
It’s still going to be Wrestlemania. Legacies will be enhanced, a career might end, stars may be born, and legends will grow. I once sent a money order to a dying man’s grandson so that he could surprise his wrestling fanatic grandfather with Wrestlemania 23. I once gave a health presentation at the very coliseum where Michael Jordan and other ACC basketball greats initially made their names on the hardwood and, immediately afterward, thought, “John Cena vs. The Rock is tomorrow.” One of the fondest memories of my life was watching Shawn Michaels retire Ric Flair with my now-deceased father sitting next to me, the two of us “Wooo”-ing our heads off with 74,000 other people. My wife gave me Wrestlemania tickets as a wedding gift and I consider it the most thoughtful present that I have ever been given by another person. I dream of my kids one day asking me to take them to Wrestlemania. I’m about to see two of my best friends on this earth for the first time since we graduated from professional school together, all of us using Wrestlemania as an excuse to get together and have a blast.
So, you see, I cannot fathom why you would waste your time complaining and not order Wrestlemania; why you wouldn’t put the critic glasses in the drawer for the next week, sit back, and enjoy the ride. There are eleven other months to poke holes in the WWE machine, but if you cannot emotionally invest yourself in Wrestlemania, then why do you even bother anymore? Surely there is something more constructive that you can be doing with your life than writing about what you DO NOT like. Life’s too short.
I’m not going to B.S. you – I would have ordered Wrestlemania XXIX no matter what and I think that you should, too. I thoroughly enjoy discussing the ins and outs of the wrestling world with you each of you. I have nobody in my real life with whom I can have a conversation about wrestling.
Here’s a little extra incentive for you, if you’re still on the fence:
The Rock vs. John Cena - The awesome promo video for this match suggests that the rematch is about Rock’s legacy and Cena’s redemption. No, it’s about Cena’s legacy. Rock solidified his last year in an epic match where he became the only man to defeat the three other most successful wrestlers in modern history (Hogan, Austin, Cena). That’s not to state that there’s nothing on the line for Rock, as he has an opportunity to add another classic to his resume as the top drawing star on another million-plus buy Wrestlemania. Yet, this match is primarily about giving Cena the ultimate moment and making him a draw on an entirely different level. It’s about elevating him to the point where he might have a chance to overtake his all-time peers. As we will soon find out, that has always been what the Rock-Cena feud has been about. Hate on Cena the 24/7/365 character all you want, but recognize the fact that he’s one of the greatest ever before it’s too late to appreciate him.
Rock vs. Cena 2 will be excellent (again) and will one day be talked about in the same breath as Austin vs. Rock, Hogan vs. Warrior, Savage vs. Flair, and Michaels vs. Hart in the pantheon of all-time great Wrestlemania WWE Championship matches.
The Undertaker vs. CM Punk - I sometimes wonder what this world would be like if there were not levelheaded people around to place certain things into proper perspective. There needs to be more of them. I have seen so many people disgusted with CM Punk’s role at this year’s Wrestlemania and then how his role has been shaped in the build-up. All the haters have completely missed the point and the underlying theme of Punk’s match. This is the biggest match of Punk’s career, narrowly edging out his Royal Rumble title match with The Rock. The Deadman is iconic and is coming off five consecutive matches with current or surefire future Hall of Famers. CM Punk is following that. He’s being given the opportunity to have a match with Wrestlemania’s (arguable) all-time greatest figure. That’s a huge step up from last year, which was a huge step up from the year before. Punk is leaving Wrestlemania XXIX looking far better than he did before he got there because, unless something crazy happens and those two don’t have one of the best matches of the year, he’s going to benefit greatly just from having been in the ring with Undertaker at Wrestlemania and nearly (or, with a remote possibility, actually) defeating the Phenom and ending the Streak.
Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar - It is safe to state that the Summerslam 2012 main-event was a little disappointing. I thought it was a good match, but I think everyone was expecting something epic. Low and behold, that might have been the point – not to have an epic match, yet. I figured from the moment that Triple H announced his retirement that a rematch with Brock would eventually bring him back; I just miscalculated the date. With Triple H’s career on the line at Mania, I expect that we will get that epic match that we wanted last summer. That was a helluva stipulation to add, by the way. There is an air of unpredictability to it, now. I could certainly see Trips going out this year. He’s got nothing left to prove and it would quiet a lot of his critics to end his career by putting over one of the key cogs in the wheel that his detractors roll toward his past to support their arguments of his backstage political maneuvering. The only problem that I can foresee is that Trips has never done well in the badass babyface role at Wrestlemania. His previous two attempts have ended badly, but the third time might very well be the charm since he won’t be expected to go on last and might, again, find himself in the cushy second hour main-event instead of the fourth. I’m not a betting man, but I’d put money on Trips-Brock being a four-star clash.
Set your expectations realistically for the rest of the card. The Shield should pick up another win, but don’t expect a lengthy match to precede their victory. Alberto vs. Swagger will likely open the show and be a solid match and I’m quietly still hoping that Ziggler cashes in to show that they’re endorsing his main-event career by starting it off with a bang. Mark Henry vs. Ryback should be a solid, short brawl akin to Sheamus-Henry at Summerslam 2011, but don’t expect it to be given the time to steal the show. Expect one of the title matches to be moved to the pre-show; likely Team Ziggles vs. Hell No (sorry Bryan fans) if Dolph is pegged for his cash-in on the main show (it’s not like the tag title match is a showcase for Bryan, anyway, so for God sake don’t let that ruin the show for you). If not the tag title match, then surely Miz vs. Barrett will be on the pre-show. Fandango vs. Jericho is funny. I didn’t care to see Y2J return this year in the first place and I don’t imagine that he’ll be quick to come back next year after taking on the debuting mockery of his stint on “Dancing with the Stars.” I do like Fandango. Me saying his name draws a huge smile from my baby girl.
For all intents and purposes, this year’s Mania is setting up to follow last year’s formula of the big three matches getting a lot of time, two matches notching ten-minutes or so, and the rest of the card picking up the scraps.
On a final note, there was a Wrestlemania twelve years ago, in which two of the top matches were rematches from previous years, neither one had hype that lit the world on fire, and yet that event is widely regarded as the all-time greatest Wrestlemania. That was X-Seven, featuring the rematch of the disappointing Rock-Austin main-event from Wrestlemania XV and the second official TLC. Two years later, the build-up to Mania XIX was considered to be atrocious by many and featured a ton of returning stars “stealing the spotlight from then current wrestlers,” but it ended up being another “Showcase” in the conversation for best ever. Five years later, Wrestlemania XXIV had storylines written in generic pen, but it, too, delivered on a “top 5” level. So, it’s not as if we haven’t seen something incredible emerge from arguably lousy storylines.
I look forward to reading your thoughts on Wrestlemania next weekend…hopefully.