Wrestlemania 27 – the hype

Before I watch Wrestlemania, here are some of my thoughts on the event… as far as I know, there are 10 matches. 3 of them are for titles, the top singles title for each brand (World Heavyweight and WWE) and an US Championship match. The Intercontinental and Tag titles are locked up in the 8-man monster tag pitting the Corre against Kane/Show and Santino/Khozlov, so I don’t think they will be defended at this event. However, I expect something to happen from this match which will lead to the next feuds… I am ever optimistic. 

Here is a brief look at the card as I know it (predictions to win in bold):

  • The Corre vs Kane/Show/Santino/Khozlov
  • Cody Rhodes vs Rey Mysterio
  • CM Punk vs Randy Orton
  • Michael Cole vs Jerry Lawler, Stone Cold special referee
  • Snooki/Trish Stratus/John Morrison vs Dolph Ziggler/Laycool
  • Triple H vs The Undertaker, no holds barred
  • Sheamus vs Daniel Bryan (US Championship)
  • Edge vs Alberto del Rio (World Heavyweight Championship)
  • The Miz vs John Cena (WWE Championship)

All in all, a star-studded line-up with appearances from Edge, Triple H, the Undertaker, Trish Stratus and Stone Cold, and featuring The Rock as the guest host for the evening. Anyone see a problem with this? This is Wrestlemania 27, but they’re using the star power of those who were there at Wrestlemania 17 to boost ratings. 10 years on, and no one seems to be as reliable as The Rock, Stone Cold, Triple H and the Undertaker. Doesn’t say much about the current main eventers, if you ask me.

On the last episode of Smackdown before the pay-per-view, they cut to the Fan Axxess area quite a few times where Todd Grisham and the Bella Twins were hyping up the matches on the card. The conversation was a bit weak, I think, and I didn’t really like the way they went about it. Maybe the WWE creative team should let the wrestlers in the ring do the hyping themselves… they seem to have lost their way a little recently, or broadened their scope, if you choose to look at it that way.

I’m thinking of TNA’s recent booking of the feud between Mr. Kennedy (OK, fine, Anderson!) and RVD. There was a double pinfall in a fatal four-way for the no. 1 contender’s spot (which I think was a bit sloppily executed, since neither RVD nor Mr. Anderson was covering the other), a double countout, lots of backstage confrontation, and plenty of action all-round to keep the adrenaline flowing and the expectations up.

I really liked the idea of Mr. Anderson sitting outside the cage while his two tag team partners for the night, also his opponents for Lockdown (on April 17th) got pummeled by the Immortal wrecking crew of – don’t hold your breath – Matt Hardy, “Bully” Ray and the only man that night to not have been in the WWF/E before, Abyss. Then Hulk Hogan comes down the ramp and tosses Anderson into the ring to get beat down as well… not only by the Immortal trio but by Sting as well. And in the events leading up to the match, where Sting and Mr. Anderson were beaten down by Immortal, RVD came to pull Bully Ray off Sting, but completely ignored Mr. Anderson. Here, you have rivalries being built up between the three main eventers for the coming pay-per-view as well as between them and the ruling faction, Immortal. Which I think is pretty good booking.

Then again, TNA has other issues: they took the 2.21.11 idea off Undertaker’s vignette sequence which had been running for weeks, made it a 3.3.11 video – yes, just the one! – and used it for Sting, who was called back by “the network” and smashed Jeff Hardy into oblivion twice to win and defend the TNA title, with absolutely no warning whatsoever. Granted, Jeff has some other problems to deal with, hence his hasty departure, but to me it degrades the title quite a bit. Booking schizophrenia on the part of the TNA folks, I think. Before I go any farther down the TNA road, though, let’s just say both feds have quite a bit to learn from one another.

Back to Wrestlemania. Here’s what I thought about the road to Wrestlemania:

I think the WWE has done well building the feud between Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler, underlining the ambition of Michael Cole to become the voice of the WWE and giving Lawler his first Wrestlemania match. Though I’m not too keen on watching Michael Cole wrestle against a Jerry Lawler who’s not had much ring practice at least on TV, the two commentators have had plenty of verbal sparring, with Cole bringing in figures from Lawler’s past, building a Cole-Mine right next to the announce desk on both Smackdown and Raw, and adding security guards around it… it should be a miserable match but it got a lot more attention than some of the other matches. Like the development of the Sheamus/Daniel Bryan match, for instance.

One other thing I liked was the addition of the Intercontinental championship to the Corre. The stable has made some progress in the past few weeks, being put over by Show and Kane, and so far still keeping somewhat true to their “equals” tag. Wade Barrett looks better with that strap around his waist, and he should get more attention soon with other wrestlers gunning for the IC strap as well. The presence of the other Corre members around at ringside will help to make Barrett an even more formidable opponent, and should be good for a decent reign as IC champ. Maybe even as long as Shelton Benjamin’s?

Punk and Orton have done well building up their match at Mania, as well, and I was pleasantly surprised to be reminded of Orton and Legacy dashing the hopes of Punk retaining the World Heavyweight championship way back in 2008. WWE used to assume wrestling fans have a short memory, and there were some inexplicable character turns in the old days, so this to me is a sign of consistency which is good.

However, I didn’t like the fact that the Nexus was once again put down by a single wrestler, albeit this time in a series of singles matches. Randy Orton winning against Punk with Mason Ryan or David Otunga in his corner would still have done the two Nexus members some good. And Harris/McGillicutty going for the tag titles would be nice too… but we’ll see what happens. I’m rooting  for the Nexus to make an appearance nevertheless, maybe taking out Orton before the match, which would make his win all the more dramatic. But things don’t look good for the Faithful Four.

And of course, what’s not to like about the Rock coming back? The guest host of Wrestlemania 27 is finally electrifying audiences once again, and introducing a new generation of fans to the high-intensity Good Old Days™. The Miz has benefitted somewhat from the Great One’s return, working some of the Rock’s own catchphrases and routines into his feud with Cena and using the fans’ desire to see the Rock to his advantage. The downside, I guess, is that it takes some of the attention off the actual main-eventers, and kind of makes the Miz look weak because the Rock and Cena are already well-established draws. However, Cena’s attention being focused on the Rock means that the Miz will have a better chance of retaining the title – which is a good thing for both the Miz and the WWE title – and then we can look forward to John Cena vs The Rock. I keep my fingers crossed.

Triple H vs The Undertaker is the other big match to look forward to. This rematch from Wrestlemania 17, where Triple H became one of the Deadman’s long list of victims, could really go either way because both men are great performers in the ring and there’s nothing much between the two. No Holds Barred may favour the Game, but Taker is no slouch when it comes to all-out brawls either. What I didn’t like about this match, however, was the rude interruption of Triple H on February 21st as the Undertaker made his much-anticipated return. I guess this upstaging was one of the biggest reasons why there should be a match in the first place, but it smacks of last-minute planning to me, and if you want to beat on that dead horse again, it might look like Triple H is pulling some really big strings backstage. To be placed into Mania with only a month to prepare, and instantly receive so much attention, is something only these two (or Rock, Hogan, Austin, HBK etc.) can accomplish, but only HHH among them has done this. No one else has this sort of opportunity…

I personally wouldn’t have minded if the Undertaker had been left out of this Wrestlemania, keeping the streak intact, and giving the current roster a bit more air time. A lot of time on Raw and Smackdown has been devoted to lengthy promos from both, mostly Triple H, and reviewing these moments. Both men have not had match practice in the intervening weeks, but Triple H has managed to take out Ted DiBiase and Sheamus and make them look like fools. Not a very nice thing to do… considering the Rock took an F-U, sorry, “Attitude Adjustment”, from John Cena at the end of the final Raw leading up to Mania, and watched idly as Cena and The Miz beat on him verbally. At least he is doing what’s good for the business. Triple H seems to still be doing what’s good for Triple H. And for that, I do want to see the Undertaker send the Game into retirement with his 19th consecutive Wrestlemania victory.

Almost as an afterthought, there is this other title match between Edge and Alberto del Rio. It has been built well, with the reintroduction of Edge and Christian, del Rio talking on and on about his “Destiny”, taking out several wrestlers and especially Christian with the cross arm breaker submission, and the “Mexican aristocrat’s” in-ring performances have been pretty solid as well. On hindsight, maybe it was part of the plan that Christian was one of del Rio’s first victims, to add to the feud with Edge. This also makes the Rumble win and the choice of title all the more obvious, and if this was all part of a long-term plan, I have to commend the WWE creative team for putting all these threads together subtly. Though maybe I’m giving them too much credit. 😉

Smackdown’s World Heavyweight Championship, of course, is not meant to be an afterthought. It is supposed to be the top title of the brand, in theory on par with Raw’s WWE Championship. But it is being treated that way. Why else would the last episode of Smackdown before Wrestlemania not end with a spot hyping the title feud – even if it was just Brodus Clay beating down Christian to ensure del Rio had the, ahem, edge over the champion come Wrestlemania – but with a review of the confrontation between Cena, the Rock and the Miz on the Raw that happened four nights before?

If you factor in the origins of the belt, that it was modelled after the championship belt used in WCW and at its inception (in 2002? 2003?) awarded by Eric Bischoff to *ahem* Triple H, and that it was moved from arguably the ‘A’ brand, Raw, to Smackdown, it does seem that it is playing second fiddle to the Raw championship. I would prefer it if the WWE Championship, with all its attention, was moved to Smackdown and the Raw champion held the World Heavyweight Championship instead, so that the two brands could be seen to compete on a more equal footing and the WWE can put over its ‘brand extension’ a little better.

But enough talk…. FINALLY. It’s time to watch Wrestlemania!

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