Tuesday, April 8, 2014

WrestleMania Recap

OK, show's over and it's time to move on to the new WWE year.  Daniel Bryan is the WWE World Champion, the Undertaker's streak is over, and Antonio Cesaro looks like he's about to get a big push.  Bray Wyatt's (and John Cena's, for that  matter) future is unsettled, the Shield is intact for a little while longer, and AJ Lee survived as Diva's champ (at least until Monday Night RAW).  And last but not least, my predictions got shot to hell.  I went a whopping 3 for 8, getting everything wrong except the Bryan-Triple H match, the Shield's six man tag match, and the main event.  For that, I give all props to the booking committee and the Undertaker, who reportedly picked Brock Lesnar to end the streak.  I've been nailing these pay per view predictions for over a year now, largely due to the fact that I've been watching since 1985 and have seen damn near everything there is to see from a booking and storyline standpoint.  And they got over on me this year.  Kudos to you guys.  So what are my takeaways from the show?

  • Common sense prevailed - Bryan beating Triple H, and then winning the main event, were the outcomes that the fans most wanted to see.  The only threats to those things actually happening were the real belief among the WWE braintrust that Bryan is not championship material, and Triple H's tendency to do the Triple H thing and put himself over at the expense of others.  Neither threat came to bear, as Hunter jobbed clean in his match with Bryan and Bryan went on to win the main event and walk out as champion.

  • The Streak Ends -  NOBODY saw this coming.  I had my hunch that it could happen, but I didn't have the guts to put in writing and went with the safe pick.  But it did, at the hands of Brock Lesnar.  The crowd reaction shots were priceless, and more than told the story of just how shocking it was.  That was followed by an outpouring of disgust by a lot of fans.  It seems people were pissed that: (a) the streak ended at all and (b) Lesnar was the one who ended it.  To both of those I say......really?  I explained before why it was time to end the streak.  The man is 49 years old, and flat out cannot do what he could do just three years ago.  He reportedly chose to end the streak here and chose Lesnar as the guy to do it; this is not some Vince McMahon machination at work.  'Taker respects the business as it is supposed to work; guys at the end of the line with some cache are supposed to put the younger guys over on their way out.  That's what he did; as much as we rip guys like Triple H, Hulk Hogan, etc. we need to give the folks who do it right by choice their props.

  •  Not sure about Wyatt (and Cena) - I predicted Wyatt to win that match, figuring that the need to give a rising star another leg up would win out over the need to protect Cena's star status.  I was wrong.  It wasn't a demoralizing Cena squash finish that so many hate; Wyatt more than held his own and did not come out looking too weak.  But he was a bit sloppy in his big showcase match, and that may affect how he's treated in the future.  Cena is in a real limbo right now.  There's no room for him in the title picture right now, and if he's going to continue to work with Wyatt then he should put him over at least once (Extreme Rules would be a good place).    And then what?  If he's not in the title picture then he only serves as someone for an up and comer to try and knock off, but he hasn't slipped enough to start putting guys in that position over regularly.  Wyatt, on the other hand, seems to be ok even with the loss, as long as he doesn't start losing more.  But as I said, he was a bit sloppy in the match and that could hurt his long term chances because nobody wants him messing around and injuring the champion in a title match, whoever he may be at the time. We'll see what happens.  Wyatt is way over with the crowd and that should not be squandered.  

  • The awesome opener -  I can't go without praising the segment that opened the show.  Seeing the three biggest stars of the Vince McMahon, Jr. ownership era - if not the history of the business - together in one ring, even if it was just to talk, was a thrill for everyone like me who'd seen all three of them at their best.  I'm not a big Hogan fan by any stretch but even I respect what he was able to do in the ring and at the box office.  And Austin and Rock, of course, followed in his footsteps in a major way and revived the business when it most needed it.  Paying homage to the work all three did to start off the 30th anniversary of the biggest show of the year was the best possible way to kick things off and set the tone for the night.

  • Cesaro's big shot -The other big winner of the night was, of course, Antonio Cesaro.  He won the big 30 man battle royal and got himself a new manager in Paul Heyman the night after on RAW.  It looks like he's going to get a chance to make some noise this year; will he capitalize on it?  Dolph Ziggler was in this position last year and didn't come through; he's been relegated to a Kofi Kingston like role of putting on exciting performances in a loss to someone the front office is giving a boost.  We will likely see him losing such a match to Cesaro pretty soon.  Cesaro's main weakness remains is inability to talk; Heyman will help tremendously here but he will still have to string together a least a few sentences in order to move to the next level.  He has championship ability but so does Ziggler; that alone won't cut it.
All in all, I thought it was a good show.  30 years of Wrestlemania was celebrated with some history and a genuine feel good moment to close the show.

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