Re: Official DVD/Match/Show Discussion Thread
Hey peeps. Was a bit bored today so thought I'd put fingers to keyboard and bash out a review of Wrestlemania. Might bash these out more regularly if people find it interesting/worthwhile.
The following review assumes that you have watched the show, and don’t require a tedious step-by-step recap.
It’s been a while since I’ve anticipated a Wrestlemania as much as this one; I was like a child on Christmas Eve and must have watched the same Striker/Shaemus interview at least five times. The card was obviously strong, but unpredictability was also a lure. Trying to get into the mind of WWE creative is a fun, if somewhat frightening challenge, but one that can lead to countless debates with friends. It might also explain why PaddyPower decided to run a book for a prescripted event.
It’s impossible not to be excited about a match with that many Roman numerals.
Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan *
No! No! No!
I almost shed a tear twice on the night, but for very different reasons. This was the first. Time was obviously a factor, but an ultimately unjustified one given how the show developed. If you have to go this route, then save it for Show/Rhodes – it just makes sense. Sadly, logic isn’t a strategy often employed by WWE.
Despite the weak lead-in (it’s already tough to buy the clash as a ‘Main Event’ given their demotion just 12 months prior), the fans were behind both men but robbed of a decent match due to atrocious booking. Sure, they surprised us, but for what purpose? It was merely a buzzkill, and the defiant Daniel Bryan chants continued for half the PPV.
The result doesn’t benefit either participant, but the biggest casualty is the title. If ever there were a final nail in the World Championship coffin, then this was it. This title – so rich in history – was murdered by Rousso, ‘handed’ to Triple H, passed around the likes of Swagger, Kane and co. like a hot potato, and now dealt a low blow of Chyna proportions on the biggest stage of them all.
It really wouldn’t surprise me if they gave Hornswaggle a run on Smackdown.
Randy Orton vs. Kane **
Ah, the epic encounter sparked by a handshake! Amazing storytelling.
I foresaw this ‘spares tyres’ duel months ago, but I never predicted it would receive the rushed build-up they gave it, and you could see the participants felt the same. If WWE don’t care, then why should we?
It wasn’t as bad as many imagined, but it was hardly befitting of the stage and was obvious filler that could have been better utilised by Sheamus and Bryan. As for the swerve – meh, whatever; it just didn’t really matter who won, yet it mattered that someone lost: a monster who never wins is laughable, yet Randy Orton has already put over Henry, Barrett and the like and is danger of slipping into midcard!
I guess it’s ironic that there was no spark when Kane inexplicably wears a welder’s mask to the ring.
Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show **
I’d been vying for a Golddust/Rhodes angle since pre-Rumble, yet was still intrigued by this match and looking forward to an inevitable payoff in which the water buffalo finally caught up with the cheetah. I was therefore a little befuddled that Show came out smiling and laughing and sharing his hat with the crowd (a more willing recipient, this time) rather than striding down like a rabid wolverine eying up a three-legged cat.
As for the match, it was okay, but fell into that awkward five-minute zone - either make it Bundy/Jones, or give Cody time to showcase his skills. I don’t mind Show winning as long as Cody receives his push and Show continues the belt’s recovery, which his tears suggested would be a feasible path.
Kelly Kelly / Maria Menounos vs. Beth Phoenix/Eve **
It’s always a concern when the highlight of a match is thinking a competitor has defecated mid-bout. I’ve seen worse Diva matches, but this was still throwaway and could only have been saved by a Kharma intervention, which obviously didn’t happen despite her random appearance at the Rumble. And what a shock – the face team won with a roll-up, and after one of the luke-warmest ‘hot tags’ I’ve ever seen. Sigh.
Fans are critical of the WWE’s treatment of the Tag-Team division, but the Women’s is worse. Kelly Kelly is as bland as oatmeal, Beth is given no viable competition whatsoever, and Natalya is stuck doing anal-wind gags – and it’s not as if storyline has been replaced with eye candy. It really feels as though WWE have given up on the division, which seems unjustified given the talent that is actually out there.
Still, I guess all shows need a piss break at some point.
Undertaker vs. Triple H *****
I was one of the many eye-rollers at first. A third match with Hunter? Seems like a lazy ego-inflater to me, and even if he won, it would still be 2-1. But, of course, the build-up was excellent, and Undertaker had a legitimate, and intriguing motive for requesting the match – within a week I was gripped. Throw in HBK and the Cell, and we have an epic encounter that you just knew wouldn’t fail.
At first, I was a little worried they were following the same path as last year: with Undertaker being dominated for most of the match before stealing an unlikely victory. We all knew who was going to win (if fucking Hunter ends the streak, then I riot in my lounge), so it was to creative’s credit that they managed to fool me on at least one near-fall, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only fan who marked out on the SCM/Pedigree combo.
There were also some great angles: HBK’s inner turmoil, Taker stopping him from making the call, the teased finish from last year. And when Taker stood on the sledgehammer, looked down on a defeated Hunter and smirked with a shake of the head, it was almost cinematic in its presentation. A defiant Hunter walking straight into the sledgehammer shot was the icing on a pretty delicious cake.
The cherry was the wrap-up, and the second near (tear)fall: the three legends of the industry, pillars of the company and loyal to the core, exiting together for what could be their last hurrah – and what a memorable one it would be. Wrestling is at its best when it forces us to suspend belief, but even better when it’s blurring the lines of reality: Taker’s welts, Triple H’s battered carcass, and the emotion etched on HBK’s face. It doesn’t get any better than this.
My only niggle was that the Cell seemed pointless, and the story could have been told just as effectively in a no-DQ match. Also, where does Taker go from here? Considering the punishment he took and the finishing moves he kicked out of, how can we possibly believe that he can be beaten? I’d love to see him take on Cena, Lesnar or Rock, or even elevate a younger talent (Ziggler, Miz, etc), but it’s a mighty tough sell that now makes me wonder if the streak can ever come to an end. Even if he faced Alien and Predator in a handicap match it would be hard to pick a winner.
Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny **
It’s a shame that instead of the classic Money in the Bank matches of yesteryear (even the overcrowded eight-man bouts) in which something truly worthwhile was at stake, we’re forced to settle for this uninvolved clusterfuck. Bragging Rights proved that no one has a particular allegiance to a certain brand, yet here we are again, watching 12 ‘extras’ fighting for power (not even their own!) in super XL T-shirts at the biggest event of the year.
Even then, they somehow managed to make Eve the focus, despite the absurdity of the angle. For a character who had so much momentum and fanfare, WWE have somehow buried Ryder into oblivion within the space of a few months. She announced her evil attentions on Raw, made out with another dude, and even fought as a heel earlier on in the show! Supporting Iced-Z has suddenly become very uncool.
Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk ****
This match has divided critics considerably, but I think they did a grand job. True, there was a lack of chemistry at first, but Jericho’s bound to be a little rusty, and you can’t expect fast-paced chain wrestling and a perfect understanding of each other when they’ve never met before. I imagine it takes experience in wrestling a particular person to reach that level of fluency.
When they did find their momentum, it was great, and I think the finish was executed superbly with the reverse holds, near falls and Punk’s final readjustment to avoid the kicks to the head (which added realism). Apparently, the result was agreed months ago, but Jericho should be commended for putting over yet another talent so finely.
I do, however, think this match should have kicked off proceedings rather than following the emotionally draining Cell match. The crowd was buzzing initially, and what better way to light the fire than with a Best in the World squared match?
John Cena vs. The Rock ****
It was always going to be impossible to live up to the hype of a 12-month build-up, and they inevitably fell a smidgen short. Emotionally, I didn’t feel quite as invested as I’d hoped, perhaps because I’d become bored of watching the same promos, or maybe it was because I simply didn’t believe they truly disliked each other. I would love to have seen Cena slap the taste out of Rock’s mouth in the face-off, rather than just repeating the Rock/Hogan staredown and flat-falling show-of-strength that followed. It seemed unimaginative.
The match was good, but felt a little lethargic, and it was clear that Rock was bearing a little ring rust. There were respites when we needed action, but given the hiatus, Rock can be forgiven for needing the occasional breather. He still has the unrivalled ability to electrify a crowd, and no one lifts up that last-second shoulder like The Great One. And how often can you remember him flying from the top turnbuckle?
Despite the pacing issues, I remained on the edge of my seat throughout, mainly because they’d achieved that rare feat of leaving me in doubt of the finish – no clean conclusion made sense: Rock winning would bury Cena, whilst Cena winning would go against the traditional ‘feel good’ moment and denied us of what was a huge final pop.
As such, I was sure some thing controversial would happen. I was praying – admittedly, in vain – for a Cena heel turn following a Rock win (will there ever be a better opportunity?), or, at the least, a Lesnar run-in, but neither occurred, and I was left a little disappointed that such an monstruous build-up had led to Rock just going over cleanly. If it’s a set-up for a return match (once in a lifetime?), then it’s a promotional swerve I wouldn’t welcome and would surely take something away from that ‘WM moment’.
This was an above-average Wrestlemania. Many will rate it lowly based on the strength on the card, but when compared to previous Wrestlemanias (please, think back to XI), it was pretty entertaining.
Although not every match was a classic, there wasn’t a true stinker of the Lawler/Cole ilk (I vomit in my mouth just writing that) that made you want to punch a hole through the TV (monitor, if you’re naughty). And how can you argue with an event where someone elbow-drops a crab leg?
Did it live up to expectations? Not quite. But was it an entertaining four hours of man-on-man spandex-squeaking oiled-up action. Hell yeah. (I may edit out those adjectives later.) It's certainly a Wrestlemania I won't forget in a hurry.
Last edited by snoopy1239; 04-12-2012 at 05:46 PM.