Baiamonte’s Casa: Wrestle Effin’ Mania
April 6, 2014
By: Joe Baiamonte of Wrestleview.com
Because every WrestleMania deserves a comeback…
Four moons (or years, whatever) have passed since my nonsensical ramblings last graced the pages of WrestleView. For 48 months there has been a chasm in my inbox (does that sound like an innuendo?) where fan/hate mail once flooded in with the regularity of a Kennedy funeral.
Originally, I’ll admit I didn’t miss typing up the Casa in the wee hours of a Monday morning, utilising the time difference between the British Isles and Iowa to my advantage before emailing WrestleView’s Editor-in-Chief/Big Daddy, Adam Martin with whatever colourfully languaged bollocks my sleep deprived brain could muster. From what I remember a lot of my columns revolved around the majesty of Ric Flair’s hair, the shameful lack of sequins in modern wrestling and the size of Ashley Massaro’s lady garden. Pulitzer Prize winning shit, I’m sure you’ll agree.
For the majority of these past four years, my interest in pro wrestling has been fleeting at best, waning even. My enthusiasm would be roused occasionally by a Funkasaurus, an electrifying return or a Pipebomb, but little else. However, despite this indifference to the product, one element remained constant . . . WrestleMania.
WrestleMania is professional wrestling’s (or ‘Sports Entertainment’s’) SuperBowl. Not necessarily for it’s grandeur or it’s superfluous eccentricity, but for it’s uniting nature. WrestleMania has been uniting wrestling and non-wrestling fans alike for four hours at the beginning of every April for three decades. The SuperBowl is now a regular annual fixture on UK television, yet one would hazard a guess that almost half it’s viewers are only in it for an alcohol fuelled five hours of pretty colours and LOUD NOISES. I couldn’t even tell you either of the teams who competed in this year’s game, but I can tell you for certain that a white horse was involved at some point and that a bloke called Joe Nemeth was wearing a glorious fur coat. That’s enough for me to go back for more next year. And this ridiculous brand of spectacle is primarily WrestleMania’s finest virtue, too.
WrestleMania is an excuse for a party. It’s simple, mindless fun. There are good guys, there are bad guys, there are celebrities, fireworks, the National Anthem and everything in between. It’s a chance for people to enjoy the spoils without having to put the legwork in for the rest of the year. OK, so you might not have religiously watched Raw and SmackDown every week for the intervening 12 months since the last ‘Mania, but within a two minute montage this Sunday you’ll be fully aware that HHH is a treacherous bastard, his wife Stephanie is a psychotic cow and Daniel Bryan is a bearded superhero that looks like he should be running a bohemian hemp emporium. You get to choose sides and shout politically incorrect obscenities at a TV screen while spilling questionable, budget alcohol on your best friend’s shag carpet and taking bets on matches taking place within the realm of a FIXED sport. It’s so ludicrous that you leave the experience gratified but with a hungover sense of self loathing akin to having ventured too far sexually after one too many sambucas. Happy, but a bit dirty.
For me, ‘Mania is a childhood memory, as grotesquely cliched as that sounds. Endless Friday nights were spent pestering my Dad to drive me down to BlockBuster (RIP) so he could rent me out whatever Coliseum Home Video WWF VHS was on offer. I took in WrestleManias I through IX (1-9 to you non Roman Numeral sorts) and with them the rise of the Hulkamania, Macho Madness, The Ultimate Warrior and the beginning of The Streak.
What the WWE do faultlessly, every year is that they rekindle that nostalgia just like TV companies do with Christmas. Oh you’ve seen ‘Elf’ 146 times already? Well here’s an advert telling you it’s going to be on Channel Four on the first Sunday of December. What’s that? You’ve made a gentleman’s mess in your trousers in excitement? Well that’s precisely the reaction we were going for! THIS is the same genius rinse and repeat formula the ‘E feeds us around every ‘Mania after the formalities of the February PPV (whether it be No Way Out or Elimination Chamber) are done with. You’ve seen Hogan body slam Andre and you know, move for move how to replicate Savage/Steamboat and Austin/Rock, but you’ll gladly watch them again, just to ‘get in the mood’ (for WrestleMania, not a bout of sexual congress, you animals). For fuck sake, I’ve somehow devoted enough of my spare time this past fortnight to watching every one of The Undertaker’s 21 undefeated WrestleMania bouts and I’m supposed to be planning a wedding and working out what my new hairstyle should be. That right there is (rather misguided) dedication to the cause.
You’ve got to be a stubborn motherfucker not to howl with laughter at Kane tombstoning Pete Rose or at an immobile and most likely intoxicated Iron Sheik winning a Battle Royal. You’ve also got to be made of stone not to tear up at Flair’s last stand or at Macho’s reunion with Miss Elizabeth. And how the fuck do you not get pumped when the Warrior’s music hits inside the Hoosier Dome at the end of VIII (8) or when Hogan and The Rock have their staredown at 18 (OK, even I’ve tired of Roman numerals, now)? If you hate any of the aforementioned moments, you hate life.
But what is it about this WrestleMania that is going to keep me sticking around for more where the previous three or four couldn’t? It’s the sense that this is the dawning of a new era for the WWE. One that they’ve tried and failed to establish over the past couple of years by switching their focus to older heads (Rock, Taker, HHH) instead of pulling the trigger on the new breed.
Bryan’s the obvious game changer and main talking point heading into the show, being possibly the most over ‘Mania baby face since the Attitude era, but there’s so much more than Daniel Bryan, namely The Shield and The Wyatts. The Shield’s match against Kane and The New Age Outlaws may not be marquee, but handled correctly, it should serve as the launch pad for a split and at least two hugely successful solo stars, with Reigns a big money, walking tall babyface and Ambrose a more unhinged CM Punk. The Wyatts, meanwhile, have been outstanding since day one. Their feud with Cena has done just as much for him as a big money, World Title match would have done, which says a lot about how much of an impression they’ve made in their short time on the roster. They look like an unholy splicing of The Devil’s Rejects and The Manson Family and in Bray, may just have the company’s top monster heel for the next five years. Whether Bray goes over or stares at the lights on Sunday is almost irrelevant. The Wyatts have arrived, and the bastards have ruined sheep for me forever.
Oh, and this year we get The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal, where the winner receives a trophy. More trophies in wrestling is always a good thing, although I would have preferred a life size statue of Andre himself. Throw in The Hulkster as special guest host and The Ultimate Warrior and Razor Ramon being inducted into the Hall of Fame and you’ve got yourself a show that’ll be bigger than Ashley Massaro’s va….
Until next time comrades,
Keep on keep in’ on,
Follow me on Twitter @joebaia