Reality From Ringside #2
February 16, 2009
Reported By: Doug Lackey of WrestleView.comWrestlemania XX: Then and Now
Before I begin, I would first like to thank everyone for your responses (both good and bad) to my columns. What makes Wrestleview.com the premiere professional wrestling website it is is its wealth of information and the integrity it brings with the most eclectic and credible columnists you can find. We don?t just give you the typical opinions? ?This guy sucks,? ?he should be pushed,? ?he/she is going to win,? ?this is going to be the result?? as columnists we give you deep, thought-provoking opinions and concepts that others can?t.
It's one thing to just 'say? something is good or bad, will or will not happen? it's another to ?prove? that something is good or bad, that something will or will not happen. That is where ?Reality from Ringside? comes into play.
Also, before I go into my little introspection here? who was the only one among the Wrestleview staff who predicted Edge would not retain the WWE Title? Who was the one who proclaimed HHH/?Taker, ?The Company Man vs. The Company's Backbone? at WM25? Read my column from a couple weeks back? the answer will be realized. (Okay? so this is my only time I will be a typical columnist? sue me).
Now, onto the REAL reason for this column.
With the twenty-fifth edition of Wrestlemania approaching in April, I felt it apropos to look back at previous Wrestlemania's. How far has WWE come within these past five years? Has there been a maturation process? Has there been a devolving back to mediocrity? More important, is Wrestlemania still as entertaining as it has been? Let the flashbacks, painful memories, re-hashing, and memorializing begin.
Wrestlemania XX was broadcast live from Madison Square Garden, ?where it all began, again.? March 14, 2004, can you remember the last time ?Mania was held in March? It was this one, you big dummy.
Furthermore, after 2004 WWE has held ?Mania on the first Sunday of April, a full three weeks later. Why this change? Promoting, marketing, public relations. There is no way you can gather mainstream media frenzy for Wrestlemania in only one month. Storylines and angle first need to be realized. A fevered pitch needs to brew. Tensions need to boil over. All this occurs within WWE, within the hearts and minds of wrestling fans all over the world. What about the other people? You know, the people who aren?t wrestling fans. The people that WWE tries to tap into at every Wrestlemania. THIS is the reason for the three-week push back.
This is what makes the Jericho/Flair/Rourke fiasco so warranted. Sure, Mickey Rourke of ?The Wrestler? fame is not involved with action inside the ring whatsoever. And yes, Ric Flair is old and seems to be doing this just to grab a check. But how do you bring both old fans and make new ones in this industry? Find a celebrity of some kind who likes professional wrestling or is doing something remotely-related to the activity and embody said celebrity in the form of a living legend in the industry that any fan over the age of Coca-Cola can remember cheering for.
There were no such celebrities or living legends in New York City on this night. Sure MSG was sold out, but what about the pay-per-view buyout? According to their 2004 fourth quarter fiscal reports, Wrestlemania XX was estimated at over 880,000 buyouts, an increase of well-over 50% compared to Wrestlemania XIX (http://corporate.wwe.com/news/2004/docs/PressReleaseQ42004Final.pdf
). So without celebrities to attract the casual, non-mark viewer, what was on this card to cause this increase?
The role of Mr. Peabody will be played by me? you will be Sherman? jump into the time machine and let's go nuts.
Match #1 - John Cena defeats Big Show to become the new United States champion. This match would catapult John Cena's career to epic heights. Though his rap skills have been tossed to the wayside (I highly encourage you to watch his heel raps), he is still as charismatic as ever? to the young?uns and the girls. Big Show continues to be what he always has been in Wrestlemania, the mediocre loser. Sure he has participated in main events, but there is just something bogging him down. In columns to come, we will look into what these nuances are that keep talents like Big Show out of the limelight. If you would like to give your two pennies on why this is so, please do so! I will give you the credit you so rightfully deserve and possibly debate your point here in print.
Match #2 ? Fatal Four-Way World Tag Team Championship Match ? Booker T & Rob Van Dam defeats La Resistance, Mark Jindrak and Garrison (or Lance? whatever the hell his name is this week) Cade, and the Dudley Boys to retain. Eight performers, all of them no longer with WWE. Booker is still incoherent. Rob Van Dam prefers cameos and comic books. If Brett Favre was cloned as an African-American male, forced tag team with said clone, went into professional wrestling, and just never knew when to retire, you will have created the Dudley Boys. Mark Jindrak seemed to be a promising talent but was released with a dozen or so others in 2005. Seeing Jindrak reminds me of many performers with so much promise but not enough utilization to realize them. Cade was your consummate filler. A performer you could count on to bring you good work in the ring, but not on the microphone. Maybe that's why he went to Shawn Michaels? school. Do I really need to talk about Conway and Grenier too? I mean, I?m running low on coffee? *walks downstairs to refill mug*
Match #3 ? Christian defeats Chris Jericho with Trish Stratus. Ah, the All-Canada match and a battle over a woman at that. I think I was having supper while this match was going on. The traditional double-cross, it's what's for dinner. Christian is back, albeit in ECW. Chris Jericho reminds the world why he moved to New York City and moved out of the British Columbia province via YouTube video (http://www.wrestleview.com/news2009/1234083950.php
). And Trish Stratus still has boobs but is pressing them onto a mat by way of her yoga studio in Canada.
Match #4 ? Handicap Match ? Randy Orton, Batista, & Ric Flair defeats The Rock & Mick Foley. There is so much to say about this thoroughly entertaining match. Randy Orton showing why he gives some of the best heel monologues in the business. The Rock's mic-work before the match (Helms + Rosie + Cheeseburger = McDonald's reference). Batista, with hair, cementing his role as the muscle-fueled powerhouse of the organization. Mick Foley is another Brett Favre? not knowing when to quit except he's even worse. Wasn?t Foley forced into retirement back in February of 2000 by Triple H? Why is he still around? Either work full-time in the ring or just work the microphone. What's the real reason to watch this match? Ric Flair imitating The Rock. ?Nuff said!
Match #5 ? Playboy Evening Gown Match ? Sable & Torrie Wilson defeat Stacy Keibler and Miss Jackie. Miss Jackie has boobs and is somewhere? I think she was in TNA wearing a cowboy hat for no reason or something like that. Torrie Wilson was released from WWE last May due to her back injury that was diagnosed by doctors? last January. Of all the decisions made by this organization, waiting five months to release a talent due to injury and giving her no camera time during that period made absolutely no sense to me. Sable was grounded and pounded by Brock Lesnar and is now peppermint? I mean pregnant. Stacy Keibler's last appearance on any medium was for an athletic footwear commercial (the brand leaves me right now, if you know who it was, please be a nerd and tell me.). After suffering from a seizure in March of 2006 following her highly-successful appearance on ?Dancing with the Stars? while still employed with WWE, she was released. Keibler's tragedy is not the only one to speak of while we look back at WMXX.
Match #6 ? The Cruiserweight Open ? Ultimo Dragon def. Shannon Moore; Jamie Noble def. Ultimo Dragon; Jamie Noble def. Funaki; Jamie Noble def. Nunzio; Billy Kidman def. Jamie Noble; Rey Mysterio def. Billy Kidman; Rey Mysterio def. Tajiri; Chavo Guerrero with Chavo Classic def. Rey Mysterio to retain the Cruiserweight Championship. My god? what a cluster of a match! Never again! I banish the match from the recesses of my mind, now and forever! Unfortunate for all of us, clusters like these seemed to be the only cruiserweight matches that WWE would insert in pay-per-views, as if a regular one-on-one title match would not engage us just as much. The reason you will no longer see the Cruiserweight Title in WWE is not because there are no talent to vie for it? but because WWE doesn?t know how to promote it and make it a relevant title. Speaking of irrelevant titles, did you know the Intercontinental Title has not been defended in a Wrestlemania since 2001?
Match #7 ? Goldberg defeats Brock Lesnar with Stone Cold Steve Austin as special guest referee. Goldberg is the host of Speed Channel's version of ?Cannonball Run?? that's pretty sorry to go from World Heavyweight Champion to Burt Reynolds. Brock Lesnar is the Heavyweight Champion of the Ultimate Fighting Championship after only three fights? speaking of irrelevant titles. Stone Cold will be inducted into WWE's Hall of Fame this year. I have some questions about this decision, not because the does not deserve to be in it, but the timing of his induction. Wrestlemania this year is being held in Houston, so I guess it's academic to have Stone Cold inducted. Then why didn?t they have Wrestlemania in the Carolinas last year for Ric Flair's induction and retirement? If that's the argument we?re making for Austin's induction, why didn?t we do it for Flair's?
Match #8 ? Fatal Four-Way WWE Tag Team Championship Match ? Scotty 2 Hotty & Rikishi defeat Basham Brothers, World's Greatest Tag Team, and APA to retain. Ron Simmons has been released from his one-word contract. Rikishi and the Bashams have made their cameo appearances in TNA. There's nothing bad to say about Scotty: Engaging performer, consummate fan-favorite, never in the big matches but always fun to watch. Charlie Haas has finally become the superstar he has always wanted to be, someone who impersonates others and will never be recognized as an individual. Sure he's fun to watch, but hell? any professional wrestler can run through a costume store, slap on someone else's apparel, and perform their mannerisms and maneuvers. Shelton Benjamin is wearing a title, does it matter which one? And lastly, Bradshaw, the only one of these eight performers that seems to have cemented a spot in the Hall of Fame. Admit it, you know it's true. To go from incoherent mid-carder in the 80's to pay-per-view main event status and pay the dues that he has over his over-twenty year long career, he deserves this recognition. Furthermore, he evolved from just yelling like a homunculus mongoloid in his debut to being one of the best heel monologues in the business? it's like watching a 300-pound Caucasian flower bloom.
Match #9 ? Women's Championship Match ? Victoria defeats Molly Holly to retain. Victoria retired quietly. Molly grew back her hair and is spending more time with her church and family. I cannot think of anything bad to say about these two great women. You can say what you want about the match itself, but don?t deny the professionalism of these women.
Match #10 ? WWE Championship Match ? Eddie Guerrero defeats Kurt Angle to retain. I?m not really going to type long about these two performers. Eddie Guerrero's passing has been exploited for far too long with the hiring of his widow Vickie and the constant evoking from Rey Mysterio and Chavo Guerrero. Let him rest in peace, please. Kurt Angle is in TNA? ?Nuff said. He can?t decide if he is a cast member from ?The Godfather?, the co-starring celebrity in a wacky situation comedy about him and his wife's odd marriage, or an actual wrestler who won Olympic gold medals constantly bringing them up like a small child reminding people it's his birthday today. Please stop patronizing me and stick with one persona, Kurt.
Match #11 ? Undertaker with Paul Bearer defeats Kane. I was so excited about this match. Undertaker ditching the chopper, growing his hair back out, and going back to the ?dead man? I had grown to fear when I was young. Paul Bearer walking out with the urn, the indecipherable chanting before his grand entrance, I was so amped! And then? wait? what is that? Undertaker the bounty hunter?! Where's the purple? Where are the oversized gray gloves? Where the hell is the body-bag for the post-match festivities? Instead, he crushed my spirit with a black cowboy hat and black eyeliner. At least Paul was back to his old form. Kane is still Kane? not doing anything meaningful within the company.
Match #12 ? Triple Threat World Heavyweight Championship Match ? Chris Benoit defeats Triple H and Shawn Michaels to become new champion. I hope you?re like me and that you feel very uneasy watching Chris Benoit's past matches. I completely understand WWE striking a link to his name on their website and essentially living in denial, like he never existed. Can you blame them? Triple H is still ?The Company Man?, recently became champion for the thirteenth time, and looks to headline Wrestlemania again. Shawn Michaels has been the ?go to guy? when it comes to having long-winded feuds with emotionally-charged storylines. How many more can he write before his retirement?
Phew! 12 matches? man, I?m spent. And to think, only four more ?Manias to go before I can sit back, soak in the silver edition, and then analyze that one in 2010. I just pray we don?t have as many cluster matches this time around. I think WWE has learned from those mistakes.
Until next time, mouth-breathers!