I’m Not Ordering ReMatchMania
I’ll never hide how much I pirate, especially WWE material. When I say I have every WCW/NWA and WWE Pay Per View on disc, they have all been downloaded. Every week, I download Smackdown on Friday mornings, along with NXT and Main Event, while streaming Raw live on Mondays. Most PPVs are viewed through an online stream as well. I’ve downloaded most of the WWE documentary DVDs as well, though I’ve not watched most of them.
But, don’t for a second think WWE doesn’t get any of my money. I ordered Wrestlemania last year through wwe.com to stream in HD. I went to the movie theater and purchased tickets for both SummerSlam and the Royal Rumble in the last year. I ordered the CM Punk Blu-Ray in the fall, and bought one of his T shirts at the last house show we had here in Nova Scotia, which was a ticket I paid for. I’ve even bought DVDs of events I streamed illegally and then downloaded, but enjoyed so much that I bought the DVD as soon it was released (Money in the Bank 2011). I won’t say it’s the fairest practice, but when I feel WWE has earned my money for something I didn’t pay for, I buy it. Even though I’ll NEVER pop that Money in the Bank DVD on the TV, I bought it because it was so fucking good.
Of course, it goes both ways. I refuse to give them money when I feel ripped off. I recently had lots of friends suggest chipping in to order the PPV, and I still turned it down because of how horribly dreadful this Mania is looking to be. I will not give WWE a cent for this event, if it stays the way it is.
Now, I’m not calling for a mass boycott. Don’t get this confused. If you are interested in what they are selling, buy the PPV. Don’t stream or download it: purchase the show. WWE deserves the truth. If you want the show, show your support by buying their biggest show of the year.
But, if you’re like me, and have no interest in the very poor development of the event, sit this one out. Hit the WWE where it hurts. After last year’s record breaking Wrestlemania sales, don’t you think WWE might get the hint that WM29 is a failure if the sales don’t even come close to the same? This isn’t to say that Mania is going to be a failure, I’m just stating my opinion on it so far. The build up to this show has been piss poor.
Let’s take a look at what we saw last year in the top 3 matches on the card:
1 – Undertaker vs HHH (Hell in a Cell with the Streak on the line and HBK as Guest Referee)
This was a rematch from the year before, but they upped the ante by throwing in not only a referee who had major history with both men, but surrounding them all in the structure all 3 made famous in some form. I won’t pretend I was excited for this match, but it was an improvement from the year before, and was solid enough, and deserved to be on the card.
2 – CM Punk vs Chris Jericho for the WWE Championship
You can’t deny the wave Punk was riding after the successful Summer of Punk, and WWE capitalized by putting him in the biggest spotlight of his career against a near perfect opponent to work a Mania caliber match in what I felt was the best of the night. So, for all the fans online cheering for the internet darling, we got to see a great title match where he was victorious in tremendous fashion. Very satisfying.
3 – The Rock vs John Cena
With an entire year’s worth of anticipation, we saw the return of one of the biggest wrestling stars of all time take on the man who has led the company since Rock’s departure. It was one of the better “dream matches” of late, as most of the time one of the performers is well past their prime. The Rock might not be the cardio machine needed to be wrestling on a regular schedule, but he held his own for this PPV quality main event.
Think about that? I know there was an undercard, but the top 3 matches had decent build up and drew interest from a wide variety of the WWE audience, which is what I imagine WWE is looking for. For comparison sake, take a look at the top 3 feuds so far this year:
1 – Undertaker vs CM Punk
No history that will be built upon (and there isn’t much to bring up from their 2009 encounters anyways) and was done as lazily as possible. Undertaker bookended Raw last Monday, while Punk merely made a challenge for no real rhyme or reason, and then won a fatal four way to earn the right to take him on. It’s been covered enough in the last 6 days how terrible this match was set up in week 1. I won’t pretend Wrestlemania is tomorrow; I realize there are still 4 more weeks to make this angle interesting. But they haven’t started on the right foot.
2 – HHH vs Brock Lesnar
Did anyone else watch SummerSlam and felt the main event match blew goats? It seemed like no one liked this match last summer. Yet, WWE is pushing forward with a rematch. Predictable as it is, the storyline is so far terrible. We knew HHH needed to get revenge for coming out the loser in August after another poorly developed build to that blockbuster let down, and this return has been similarly set up so far. HHH’s mic work since 2010 hasn’t really been to his normal standards (which was never in the top echelon) so he’s been futile in his attempts to get me excited for anything he’s done, nevermind using silly quotes like “sit home and bleed” and calling himself the ass-kicker. Sorry, but no. Just no.
3 – Rock vs Cena II for the WWE Championship
While I have a huge issue with the other 2 matches, there’s no denying that this is the single biggest match WWE could book to headline Mania 29. My problem is how they wrote themselves into a corner to deliver it. They had a year to elevate other talent to reach a higher level on the card and find a new challenge for The Rock. Instead, they developed one guy for 434 days, then wiped him out of the WWE Title picture so they could have a rematch that oddly feels rushed.
More so than ever, WWE has seemed to be hesitant to take risks. I’ve called them out for refusing to change the dynamic of John Cena since 2005, but it goes so much further than this. Vince McMahon followed in his father’s footsteps for a long time in having the WWF Champion be a face for the people to rally behind. It took a long time for him to book a heel as the top draw, much like the NWA so masterfully did during their true existence. In fact, it was during WWE’s most successful era in terms of ratings that heels seemed to be the main focus of the shows, with the Corporate Ministry, Mr. McMahon himself, and HHH all being the antagonists that drew the ire of the crowd. Sure, there were still super hero faces like Stone Cold and the Rock, but they honestly didn’t hold the titles as much as usual. Vince seemed to enjoy changing it up, and letting his top face chase the champion heels. Maybe it was because HHH was starting to have his influence on his soon-to-be father-in-law, with his admiration for the Nature Boy and the 4 Horsemen from the 80s. There’s a lot to be said for what WWF/WWE accomplished in this time frame.
I bring this up because it’s exactly the sort of aspect missing from WWE today. It’s not that they need to venture away from PG, but they do need an edge that hasn’t been around for a while. It’s hard to deny the landscape of WWE changed with CM Punk as a prime focus, be it as face or heel. I keep going back to Punk as a reference, but don’t mistake me for calling him the savior. I honestly feel his time has come and gone, and at this point he needs to reinvent himself to find success again. No, my point is that his rejuvenation in 2011-2012 was a breath of fresh air that we haven’t experienced in what feels like too long a time. Whether it was 100% organic on his part alone or not, he was a blueprint for what other stars may look to follow.
WWE apparently had penciled in half a dozen names at the next generation of stars a few months back. Something tells me these stars need to push forward more than ever.
I’m going to make a personal reference here. I work in radio. I was doing part time on weekend mornings for 8 months, while still doing 36 hours a week at another near full time job. It was the sacrifice that was needed to make an impression. As of a couple of weeks ago, I was offered a full time radio gig. I’m replacing the evening guy, who is moving into the afternoon slot. I have made the weekends my own, and I plan to do the same with the evenings. But it’s not going to be the exact same show as I did on weekends. Nevermind the change in times or demographics: I’ve been given an opportunity, and it’s no time to coast. I need to do more than expected again, so I’m going to invent new weekly segments, and add to what I’ve already done.
WWE talent need to do the same. Why? Because it’s obvious WWE doesn’t seem to be doing them any favors. If the creative team truly had their heads on straight, we wouldn’t be getting such a poor Wrestlemania. And, again, this is in my opinion. There’s nothing wrong with being excited for the show. I’m stating the reasons I haven’t jumped on the bandwagon
Perhaps I associate with too many like-minded wrestling fans, because most of the ones I speak to in real life are also unphased by this year’s offering. “Meh” – everyone. Online, it’s a mixed bag, but I think there’s a lot more sour attitudes towards 29 as there was last year.
We live in a society of instant gratification, so we always want to get something new and fresh. I am not asking for too much in this regard. I’m asking for a change of direction from a company I know can do better. History has shown it.
Maybe we need more comparison to the past. Let’s look at the stars involved in the top 2-3 matches of each Mania card, and you will see that there was a lot of movement and change, even in an era without weekly live TV. Somehow as we’ve added more TV programming, we’ve slowed down how much the upper tier evolves.
1 - Hulk, Piper, Orndorff, Orton, Andre, Studd, (Mr. T)
2 – Hulk, Bundy, Piper, Andre, (Mr. T)
3 – Hulk, Andre, Piper, Adonis, Savage, Steamboat.
4 – Hulk, Andre, Savage, DiBiase
5 – Hulk, Savage, Rude, Warrior, Roberts, Andre
6 – Hulk, Warrior, Rhodes, Savage, Roberts, DiBiase
7 – Hulk, Slaughter, Warrior, Savage
Until this point, Hulk Hogan was the main focus, and essentially Vince changed what went on around the Hulkster. There’s almost a perfect pattern that whoever challenges Hulk had a big win the year before in marquee match-ups. The attention starts moving away from Hogan going on out, so even more stars are getting moved into prime spots on the cards.
8 – Flair, Savage, Hulk, Sid, Hart, Piper
9 – Hart, Yokozuna, Hulk, Brutus, DiBiase, IRS, Undertaker, Gonzales
10 – Hart, Yokozuna, Lugar, Owen, Razor, HBK
11 – HBK, Diesel, Bam Bam, Hart, Backlund, (L.T.)
12 – Hart, HBK, Diesel, Undertaker, Piper, Goldust
13 – Undertaker, Sid, Austin, Hart
14 – Austin, HBK, Undertaker, Kane
15 – Austin, Rock, Mankind, Big Show, Undertaker, Big Boss Man
16 – HHH, Foley, Big Show, Rock, Angle, Benoit, Jericho
17 – Austin, Rock, Undertaker, HHH, Vince, Shane
18 – Jericho, HHH, Rock, Hulk, Undertaker, Flair
19 – Brock, Angle, Rock, Austin, Jericho, HBK
20 – Benoit, HHH, HBK, Angle, Guerrero, Undertaker, Kane
21 – Batista, HHH, Cena, JBL, Undertaker, Orton
Sadly, this is where we start to see the same stars sticking around too much. The core of Undertaker and Cena is the main focus, but Orton, HBK, HHH, and Edge are all in the mix in some form or another. One thing that does change for the better is that more marquee marches are booked into the Wrestlemania cards from here on out. I’m still only going to highlight the top 2-3 of each card though to show how little that epicenter changes.
22 – HHH, Cena, Mysterio, Angle, Orton, Edge, Foley
23 – HBK, Cena, Undertaker, Batista, Umaga, Lashley,
24 – Undertaker, Edge, Orton, Cena, HHH, HBK, Flair
25 – HHH, Orton, Undertaker, HBK, Cena, Edge, Big Show
26 – Undertaker, HBK, Edge, Jericho, Batista, Cena
27 – Cena, Miz, Undertaker, HHH, Orton, CM Punk
28 – Rock, Cena, Jericho, CM Punk, Undertaker, HHH
And now, consider how 29 is looking. Other than Jericho being replaced by Brock, who is the most part time wrestler on the roster (even less than the Rock), nothing is different from last year. Fuck, the main event is the exact same. That’s NEVER been done before. Sure, we’ve seen repeat matches, but never back to back in the main event of the show. Maybe I’m wrong, and sales will exceed last year’s buyrates. I doubt it. This is why.
And on that note, Peace out
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