My Two Centsss - The Andre the Giant Battle Royal STINKS of Lazy Creative Booking
By Super Chrisss
Mar 22, 2014 - 1:05:31 PM
(Tom Jenner is the man!)
If my name was Dolph Ziggler, Alberto del Rio, The Big Show, Sheamus, Christian, Rey Mysterio, Damien Sandow, The Miz, Kofi Kingston, Mark Henry, or Big E, I would be extremely pissed off about being a participant in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal at Wrestlemania XXX. An argument could be made for every one of those guys (except maybe Miz) being deserving of a singles match at the biggest Pay-Per-View of the calendar year. Instead, they're being grouped together for what could very well be a forgettable, throwaway match at Wrestlemania. Regardless if you're a fan of any/all of these men, you can't deny that they deserve better than this.
Before I continue, I will admit that there are positives to be found within the Battle Royal. For instance, it could be a star-making moment for a wrestler who is struggling with his spot on the card; maybe even more than one, as the final two participants of Battle Royals/Royal Rumbles tend to walk away with additional admiration from the audience. Furthermore, thirty men will now be getting Wrestlemania "pay-days", especially those who never would have made the card without this match being included (I'm looking at you, 3MB). In all fairness, having a 30-man Battle Royal at Wrestlemania - as opposed to sticking it on the pre-show or making it a dark match like they've done in the past - is a great way to showcase talent who should have been featured on the card anyway.
And that's the main, underlying problem - in recent years (since the introduction of Money in the Bank at Wrestlemania 21), midcard storylines have been all but forgotten about between the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania. For a long time, I and many others have been thrashing WWE's creative team for being inept at their jobs, but their greatest fault has been not bothering to make the audience care about anything other than the top storylines. That's why every time a Pay-Per-View rolls around - not just Wrestlemania, but pretty much every monthly PPV - the focus is constantly on three-four matches, no more. Everything else is simply filler.
It's a shame, because it didn't use to be this way. On last Wednesday's edition of "The Doc & Super Chrisss Show" on LoPRadio (link below), Doctor Chad and myself named some of our all-time favourite Wrestlemania matches. The funny thing is, we chose several midcard bouts, not just main-event matches. The trip down memory lame took us down to Wrestlemanias 18, 19, 20, and earlier. Some of those 'Mania card were better than others but they had one thing in common - main-event and midcard matches that had a backstory to it. Christian vs. DDP from WM 18 will never be considered a classic bout, but at least the fans had a reason to care about both men battling over the European Championship. Speaking of the European title, that Wrestlemania featured every active championship being defended, as it should be every year. At Wrestlemania 18, six different championships were up for grabs. We are two weeks away from Wrestlemania XXX, and there is currently only championship match scheduled. We'll be lucky to get three title matches if Aj and The Usos are booked to defend on April 6th, which brings me to my next point:
Why hasn't WWE elevated the Intercontinental title yet (or at least the U.S. title)?
It makes no sense. If you're a WWE superstar, isn't it your goal to win as many championships as possible? Now that the two world titles have been unified for the first time in over a decade, you would assume that the IC title would become the second-most prestigious championship, wouldn't you? Instead, the current title-holder, Big E, hasn't had a single meaningful feud since winning the title back in November, and instead of being scheduled for a title defense at Wrestlemania XXX, the champ is just another guy in the 30-Man Battle Royal. You can't blame Big E for being a poor champion - the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the creative team. They're the ones who have no idea how to book their midcard division. They're the ones who create new contenders for the IC/U.S. titles by having the champions lose random, non-title matches. It's lazy booking all around.
I think it's pathetic that WWE couldn't find anything better for guys like Ziggler, Del Rio, and Sheamus to do at Wrestlemania. All three men are former world champions who spent several months in 2012 and 2013 either competing for or defending the world title. Now, they're all stuck competing in a match that won't even allow them to show off their best abilities - putting on a great match. I may not be a fan of Del Rio or Sheamus' characters, but they're both capable of putting on fantastic singles matches. Ditto for Ziggler. When you factor in other top Battle Royal participants like Henry, Christian, and Mysterio, you have a lot of potential midcard matchups that won't be happening on April 6th because WWE couldn't be bothered to give any of those guys a storyline. Wrestlemania is four hours long, yet they don't have time to create a midcard feud or two. Incredible.
Ironically enough, part of the blame goes all the way back to the unofficial end of the brand split a few years ago. Before the brand extension started showing signs of coming to an end and Raw "Supershow" became a thing, I said it was a bad idea. I knew it would do nothing but hurt the midcard and force us to see the same matches over and over, but people disagreed with me. Here we are, in March 2014, and I still believe it was a bad idea. Despite having six hours of wrestling content every week (counting Main Event; excluding Superstars & NXT) yet we still see the same faces featured on every show. We've also seen the same matches over and over again. As badly as I want to see some midcard matches added to the Wrestlemania XXX line-up, what could WWE offer us that we haven't already seen a dozen times in the past 365 days or so? Ziggler vs. Del Rio, Sheamus vs. Christian, Sheamus vs. Henry, Big E vs. Del Rio, etc. have all been done to death. But that's what happens when you use the same people at every TV taping.
Don't get me wrong; I'm looking forward to the Andre the Giant Battle Royal two Sundays from now. As long as it's not a rushed clusterfuck like that Divas Battle Royal from Wrestlemania 25, which was shorter than the Kid Rock concert minutes earlier, I think it could be a solid addition to what may very well go down in history as one of the best Wrestlemanias of all-time when all is said and done. However, I was even more excited for the eight-man Team Johnny vs. Team Teddy match from Wrestlemania 28 which turned out to be a major disappointment due to not being given enough time to work with. So I'm a bit skeptic, but hopefully WWE have learned from their mistakes and will make this year's Battle Royal memorable, either by giving a few stars an opportunity to create a "Wrestlemania moment" or giving the win to someone who could clearly benefit from it. In other words, if someone like The Big Show or Sheamus is the Last Man Standing, then it will be a complete waste, in my opinion. [Early prediction: a babyface like Ziggler or Mysterio is seemingly the last wrestler in the ring, only for The Miz to sneak back in and dump him over the top rope for the win. This keeps Miz's almost forgotten Wrestlemania streak alive and officially turns him heel once and for all).
It's too late to save the Wrestlemania XXX midcard, but maybe, just maybe, WWE will finally get their heads on right next year and create some compelling feuds for Wrestlemania 31 other than the triple main-events. A strong midcard can do nothing but enhance any 'Mania card - just look at WM 28 which had an amazing top three matches but lazy booking everywhere else (Team Johnny vs. Team Teddy having a good back-story but failing to deliver; Orton vs. Kane having almost no build-up but turning out surprisingly good; and of course, the random divas match). Wrestlemania will always be the one PPV where the wrestlers will go the extra mile to lay everything on the line and give the performance of their lifetime - so why not give them the opportunity to do so?
Your Two Centsss: Do you see the Andre the Giant Battle Royal becoming a new 'staple' for Wrestlemania, like Money in the Bank once was?
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