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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
WrestleMania 27: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania 2?
April 1, 2011

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OOWrestling.com

 

With baseball season starting earlier in recent years (to avoid November baseball), it's becoming an annual tradition: the most super-awesomest weekend of the year when Opening Day, the Final Four, and WrestleMania all happen over the span of the same handful of days.
 
That convergence of fun is in play against this year, and on two fronts, it's already guaranteed to be a great weekend. 

 

I mean: he Reds and Yankees are defending champions as we start a new season, so I am optimistic (and how about the Reds win yesterday?). Butler and VCU in the Final Four are a reason for any person-with-a-heart to get up and cheer; if you can't love an underdog story like Shaka Smart (former Dayton assistant, by the way!), then you're probably a terrorist. Or worse: you might even be a Kentucky fan. How do you live with yourself?
 
However, baseball and hoops are only my hobbies. They are not the reason I am an internet semi-star: wrestling is. So I guess I should scoot on along to talking about WrestleMania 27, which is a bit of an odd bird this year. It definitely "feels" like WrestleMania, but it feels more like a WrestleMania from when I was in 4th grade than like a WrestleMania that we got during the Attitude Era golden years.
 
So it's hard for me to lump this weekends Granddaddy of 'em All in with the no-brainer slam dunks provided by MLB and the NCAA... but it's also hard for me to deny my inner 10 year old and completely deny an interest in WWE's biggest show of the year.
 
Let me try to explain my feelings about how this year's Mania compares with past years' efforts... and then after that, I'll close out with a quick match-by-match rundown, complete with my predictions. 

 
WRESTLEMANIA 27: A Throwback to a Simpler Time
 
For whatever it's worth: when this time of year rolls around, I still want to kick back, relax, and be a wrestling fan. But my ability to dismiss my Inner Internet Wanker is still predicated on WWE giving me an excuse to do so. Since 2004, I've found it much harder to detect that extra something special... but last year, we sure as hell got the WrestleMania "Feel" in spades.
 
And as much as it makes some folks out there vomit in horror (because they wear their Internet Wanker proudly on the outside), I'm also going to admit to sensing a bit o' the WrestleMania Feel this year, too.
 
This WrestleMania "feels" like a WrestleMania. But it feels like a WM from my youth, when I was impressed by different things than I was during my college/immediate-post-college years when Attitude and Monday Night Wars were all the rage and there was a "golden age" of sorts between 1998 and 2004.
 
To wit:

(1) The main event heel has never headlined a PPV before, but has been built up awesomely so as to be fed to the superman babyface in a first-ever showdown. [Are we talking about the conveyor belt of heels built up only to be mowed down by Hogan in the 80s, or about Miz getting ready to job to Cena?]

(2) The heavy use of celebrities/stunt casting all over the place, instead of just shelling out for the one big celebrity. Further, those celebrities aren't just hanging around, they're actually wrestling and refereeing and commentating. [Are we talking about WM1 and WM2 where you couldn't turn around without bumping into another celeb like Mr. T boxing, or Ozzy managing the Bulldogs, or Kate-or-Ally doing commentary? Or about WM27 where Snooki is wrestling, Austin is reffing, and JR will almost certainly be commentating, all while Rock does whatever it is Rock's gonna do?]

(3) One huge main event with lots more lesser matches to showcase everybody, instead of fewer ultra-important matches with a battle royale or something to get everybody on the show. [Are we talking about the 12-match WM cards of the 80s, where Hogan's match was the centerpiece and everything else was secondary? Or about the 9-match card -- which may be 10 by Sunday -- that's banking on Miz/Cena/Rock and which has almost nothing else capturing the fans imaginations to the same degree?]

So yeah: I guess the part of me that's still a 10-year-old getting my first live-on-closed-circuit taste of WrestleMania (luckily for me, it was WM3) appreciates what WWE's doing. This WM already has a "feel" to it where you know it's going to be a special/unique once-a-year happening. It's just a question of whether you are capable of enjoying the things that are making it unique.

Myself, I'm leaning towards being able to enjoy it. I may be left with a slightly empty feeling once the show is actually done, and I realize WWE did a nice job on the facade but forgot to -- you know?? -- build the actual building (think the ending of "Blazing Saddles"). But the build-up and spectacle will still make the ride worthwhile. I hope.

It'll be different from last year, when I thought it "felt" like a WrestleMania again (in the grown-up sense) for the first time since 2004. WM20 in 2004 really was the end of an era, now that we have hindsight: it was the last time Rock came back in mid-March to make his once-a-year cameo in the ring (with Foley, making his 2nd-to-last WM wrestling appearance), it had Goldberg/Lesnar/Austin all together in the same ring, it had Eddie and Benoit (the latter winning a MotY candidate before he turned into a murderer), it had the Love Rhombus, it had a woman getting her head shaved, it pretty much had everything. It ruled, and it ruled on the 20th anniversary of WM, at MSG, which only served to make everything seem bigger and better.

Then came the front office house cleaning where Patterson/et al were replaced by the Hollywood Writer Monkeys under Steph (which finalized a slow pre-existing transition in that direction), and Jim Ross was replaced by Johnny "Peter Principle" Ace in terms of talent relations (which had massive effects on the roster, both in terms of existing stars leaving and creation of new stars).

WWE as a whole had peaks and valleys after the regime change, but never really peaked at WM in the truest WM sense of WM. WM22 in 2006 came close, I guess, but was more enjoyable after the fact when so many matches delivered the goods, rather than in the "weeks and months of build-up to something special" sense.
 
I genuinely believe last year is the year that finally bucked that trend in a real way, and had a "WM feel" in the grown-up sense:

Bret coming back was a big part of creating that atmosphere from the very beginning of January; that laid a "can't wait till April" foundation that WWE hadn't had in a long time, and gave them a hook, something to build on (the importance of WM beginning in January cannot be understated when it comes to building the "feel")..... Then came the realization that HBK/Taker were going to try to top themselves and have ANOTHER match of the year (this time with it possibly being Shawn's last)..... Then came the Wanker Dream Match between Edge and Jericho for the SD Title..... Then came Batista's amazing swan song where he turned heel and instantly re-made himself into the most entertaining he ever was at any point in his WWE career.... HHH/Sheamus had a nice little run leading up to their match; the birth of CM Punk's SES was going gangbusters as he got paired up with Rey; don't forget MitB....

That really was something last year. Then the show came and went, and was every bit as good in reality as it was on paper.

This year is something, too. You can't deny it: WWE is treating this show as something special and has created a "feel" entirely different than any other show we'll see all year. It's just that it's more of a call-back to WM2 than to WM20. And while I can feel that, and while I'm enjoying it for what it is, I'm stopping short of celebrating it like I did for last year's feel.
 
I guess my Inner Wanker still senses all the underwhelming elements of this WM line-up, and still feels like (easily-correctable) mistakes were made in the run up to the show. It's as though a narrow band of my enthusiasm has been engaged, but WWE has not managed to tap into the full range of potential excitement that they could have.
 
From what I feel and from what I've seen/heard others saying, it's as if we recognize that WWE has loaded this show up in a way that it's truly a once-a-year spectacle, but we also recognize that the way the show is set up, we'll end up watching the spectacle once, and don't have a sense that there's gonna be a whole lot of "rewatchability" going on. And rewatchability is one of the big things that makes WrestleMania WrestleMania in the post-Hogan Era "grown up" sense.
 
We're looking at a show where you could make a case that the #2 Most Interesting Match is An Announcer vs. An Old Guy, just in terms of mindless fun and crowd heat. But once it's over, and Jerry gets his vengeance, and Stone Cold drinks beers, how's that one gonna hold up upon a second viewing? If I tried to find a #2 match (after the consensus #1 of Miz/Cena/Rock) that would be an actual possibly-good wrestling match, you've got to dig down to Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan as a sleeper pick.
 
That says a lot about the state of things this year, in terms of WWE selling WM2's childhood sizzle over the grown-up's steak. I know that I won't be getting a full 20oz Porterhouse (and some of what I do get -- ahem, HHH/Taker -- will probably be over-done and way past its peak tastiness), but I think you still give credit to WWE for making the place smell so good while they're cooking that interest is growing and fans are crowding in. [EVIDENCE: RAW ratings are up 20% since the last PPV, with the exception of one week where there was no stunt casting on 3/21. WWE didn't turn on the grills that night, and the fans were smart enough to stay away.]
 
If you're immune to that feel, I'm guessing it's because while we all agree on the problems, we deviate on the REAL-WORLD SIGNIFICANCE of the problems. In theory, is it crazy that an announcer vs. a geriatric is one of the most pushed/showcased matches on the show? Sure, it probably wouldn't have come to this if I were in charge. But now that it has, fact is it's going gangbusters with the audiences, I'm enjoying it more than I would have guessed (and when things leave me cold, it's usually just Cole over-doing it), and WWE's to be commended for getting the most out of Lawler after he and Miz clicked so well back in December.

I'm not capable of just looking at the labels of "announcer" or "old guy" in a vacuum and then building my narrative from there. That distorts the reality of it, which is that no matter what the labels are, the actual performers have excelled at Sports Entertainment in the good/Shane McMahon sense of the term (as opposed to the bad/Katie Vick sense). No, it ain't wrestling, but it's been fun so far, and it should remain so, and if I can't have Jack Swagger doing something significant (which he would be if I were in charge), I can at least see the benefit of having him proximate to one of the more-engaging storylines on the show. I also wish there were more wrestling -- the kind with re-watchability -- on the show, too, but I'm not seriously going to blame 15 minutes of Lawler/Cole/Austin for being the solely responsible part for the lack of my precious workrate. Ideally, I'd like the wrestling AND the kind of entertainment I expect that match to supply. Not OR. Like Tommy Dreamer, I'm hardcore: I'll take 'em both.

You can apply that same philosophy to one of the other most maligned "shortcomings" of this WM card: the Snooki-flavored mixed tag. Somebody else might look at that and call it "2 great workers getting stuck in a girls match." I look at it and say "It's 2 great workers who'll get to work against each other for the lion's share of the match, and also, there will be girls there. Ones who the fans actually care about and might respond to."

Or in other words: it's like getting a Ziggler/Morrison 1-on-1 match, except with crowd reactions. ZING~! I can deal with that. Or to go back to my steak analogy: the portion of steak (Ziggler/Morrison) may be a smaller portion than you wanted by a small margin, but it will still taste good, and will more than justify the huge amounts of sizzle that would be non-existent otherwise. The only real fear is that Snooki's such a loathed whoretard that the fans turn on her (and Trish and Morrison aren't enough to turn them back), but no matter what: at least the fans will be making noise, which is a good thing. Again, it's not necessarily the exact way I would have handled things, but it's not so horrifying once you see it playing out that it deserves to be shoehorned into a list of WWE's Biggest Booking Blunders EVAR.

I could go on, but I begin to feel as though I'm out of different ways to frame my point. WM2 Feel vs. WM20 Feel. Facade vs. Complete Building. Sizzle vs. Steak... hopefully through all that it's clear that I'm crediting WWE for one thing, which is distinct from the things that I admit are problems and do not endorse.
 
There are a lot of reasons why anybody still harboring a lapsed wrestling fan somewhere in their being would be enthusiastically excited in advnace WrestleMania 27; but I understand why that same wrestling fan might be haunted by a nagging feeling that their enthusiasm would be less once WM27 has come and gone and not.
 
I'll leave it up to you to reconcile those two feelings, and at this point, move on to a quick match-by-match rundown of Sunday's card...
 
WRESTLEMANIA 27: The Matches and Predictions
 
Four hours. Nine matches (so far). One guest host whose exact role is unknown, but who is the reason why a goodly number of fans will be buying the show. Let's take a look, shall we:
  • The Miz vs. John Cena (WWE Title Match, or "The Match in Which The Rock Will Participate Somehow, or Else Many Fans Will Be Disappointed"). That bolded headline says it all. The Rock was named "Guest Host" of WM, which would seem to give him all the powers of having a backstage altercation with Santino or possibly the powers of guest ring announcing a divas match, if you went based on the powers of RAW Guests Hosts.
     
    But instead, Rock immediately took it upon himself to take an interest in the Miz/Cena match, and specifically took umbrage at a few comments Cena made 2 years ago about the Rock "going Hollywood" and forgetting his wrestling roots. Cena immediately retorted, and fans have enjoyed the back and forth War of Words, all while Miz (the forgotten WWE Champion) took advantage of Cena's distraction to physically assault him for about 5 weeks running.
     
    That ended 2 weeks ago when Cena turned his attention directly to the champ, and spent an entire episode of RAW laying a trap for Miz. Miz fell into it, and Cena was quite proud of himself... Cena's hot streak continued this past Monday, when the Rock appeared -- in the flesh -- to confront Miz and Cena. That confrontation ended with Cena delivering the FU to the Rock, and the loudest mixed reaction in the history of John Cena's reign as the King of Mixed Reactions.
     
    And so it is that we've got Miz vs. Cena for the WWE Title... and we've also got a fanbase itching to see how the Rock figures into this. Guest ref? Outside enforcer? A flat-out heel turn (an inverted Mike Tyson helping Austin at WM14 after spending the build up bad-mouthing him)? An even bigger swerve where Rock wants to wrestle? Or pulls some stunt where he doesn't wrestle at Mania, but might stick around for a month or so afterwards to have one more match in an effort to hype his crappy new movie? Who knows? But everybody's waiting to find out, and we don't want to be disappointed.
     
    My Prediction: Miz retains the title, and Rock is to blame. Miz moves on after WM to a new feud, spotlight shifts to Rock vs. Cena. Why do I say this? A gut feeling based on Monday's utterly forced and ham-handed introduction of "Team Bring It" by the Rock. You don't draw a line in the sand and give your supporters a new name if you're not planning on having the actual battle against Jon Jon and his Team CeNation. I don't know what the timetable would be for Team Bring It vs. Team CeNation, I just know that it feels like it's something WWE is setting up to be a feud where fans are encouraged to pick a side and be utterly dedicated to one or the other, even though there is no clearcut babyface/heel; you're free to pick either, just so long as you don't pick to not care. I know it's a gutshot, but if WWE wants to do a finish that suddenly makes the show seem worthwhile/memorable after the fact, this is one way they could go.
     
  • Undertaker vs. Triple H (No DQ, No Countout Match). The story: there isn't one, really. Undertaker made his return (after being "Buried Alive" in a gimmick match last autumn) 6 weeks ago, and before he could say a word, Triple H made his own return (after being concussed by Sheamus last spring). Then neither said a word, but instead gestured (Broadly) to the big WrestleMania logo in the rafters. From this silent nothingness, we were told a match was born.
     
    Then for weeks, both guys cut monologues vaguely referencing their status as the last two men standing from a long-ago era, and wanting to face off to see who would be the ONE last dinosaur standing. But it fell utterly flat, and created almost zero sizzle with fans. In wrestling, the trick is to make the fans want to see two guys fight, and then give it to them; this was backwards, as Taker and HHH were basically saying "we want to fight, and for only the flimsiest of reasons" before the fans indicated any interest whatsoever in seeing said fight. The fact that WWE went so overboard with video packages pretending tthis match was "epic" and the fact that they tried to sell it as something special by NEVER HAVING BOTH GUYS IN THE SAME BUILDING SO THEY COULD ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING INTERESTING just compounded the issue. To recycle my favorite Immanuel Kant-ism, it was truly a spectacle of He-Goat Milking. And from the sounds of things, the fans were smart enough to stop paying much attention. It was so bad that WWE finally changed their plan for this match to be the main event (and switched to Miz/Cena as the headliner in their advertising/planning); why it took them until last week to figure that out is beyond me.
     
    Anyway, at least things looked up on Monday, when Taker and HHH did get face to face and Shawn Michaels even interjected to FINALLY give this "epic" match some kind of grounding and some kind of actual connection with the audience. Shawn built up how big these two mega-stars are -- not just by having announcers claim it, but by telling personal stories from his own copious pasts with both of them. Then, he asked one simple question of his best friend: "What makes you think you can do what I couldn't do?"... and HHH had the answer: he says he can do it because he has something Shawn never did in his 2 tries versus the Undertaker. He has the physical NEED to win. Shawn just wants to steal the show and be "Mr. WrestleMania" and get Match of the Year.... but HHH doesn't care how pretty it is, he must win, or he will be furious with himself. THAT's the difference.
     
    Shawn retorts with a story about HBK and HHH making a pact to retire before going out at WM a shell of their former selves, and he says that he has no regrets about being retired now, especially if he was still "Mr. WrestleMania" even in his last match. He muses that HHH isn't the HHH he once was, and when he loses to the Undertaker, he won't even have a "Mr. WrestleMania" performance to reflect on as his last WM moment.
     
    Taker then chimes in about his respect for Shawn, and a threat for HHH: if HHH is a dog that needs to be put down, and he's just lying to himself to avoid the inevitable, then Taker will be happy to put HHH down himself at WM. Rest. In. Peace.
     
    HHH thinks about getting a jumpstart on WM by having his buddy Shawn help him out... but Shawn's having none of it. He leaves the ring even as HHH pleads for something, anything, even just a verbal vote of confidence. HHH is on his own at WM27. And with HHH finally showing a tinch of being-intimidated, Taker left the ring, too, with one of the most perfect sarcastic/patronizing "tips of the cap" that I've ever seen.
     
    Pitch perfect. But five weeks too late. You know that thing I said above about it being paramount to start the WM Feel in January (which is what happened with Bret last year)? Well, I'm right about that, and HHH/Taker is the perfect microcosm on how WWE was wrong in their handling of this. Imagine if you'd done last Monday's promo a month and a half ago and BUILT ON IT, instead of DOING NOTHING and introducing the reason-to-care at the last second? Imagine...
     
    Prediction: Taker wins. Duh. I'm not so sure the Streak should ever be ended, but if it should, it should be done by someone who can use it for something. HHH is too close to retirement to use it as a stepping stone to anything. I don't see Shawn being all that integrel to said inevitable finish, but they may run him out there or try to build up his INaction when it comes to saving HHH as having some sort of significance. But I don't think he'll be PROactive in doing anything fishy. I also predict that the quality of this match will be subpar in a vacuum, but that if the atmosphere of the match feels big time -- be it a bit of HBK or an unexpected red-hot crowd or whatever -- we may be tricked into thinking otherwise (think Hogan/Warrior at WM6 as the best example of an athletically shitty match that seemed epic).
     
     
  • Edge vs. Alberto del Rio (World Heavyweight Championship Match). Not as much backstory here, as del Rio's title shot comes as a result of the Royal Rumble win, and not any original animosity between the two. Of course, the closer we got to WM, the more they both came up with excuses for animosity, but this story isn't so much about the interpersonal drama as it is simply about the prestige of being the World Champ. Del Rio even views it as his "destiny," as he has a chance of being the first man to ever win a World Title in his very first WrestleMania appearance, after he debuted last summer and immediately caught on as a top heel.
     
    [TRIVIA TANGENT: WWE will make a lot of del Rio's history-making opportunity, but it should be noted that Ric Flair was ALREADY THE CHAMP at his first WM, and he was defending the title that night against Randy Savage, after debuting the previous fall and winning the World Title at the Rumble. A year later, Yokozuna duplicated Flair's feat. I don't believe it's been done since. So del Rio's accomplishment is big; but perhaps not as big as others.]
     
    The animosity has taken the form of sneak attacks, mostly. Alberto has even enlisted his "protege" (from NXT) to help. Brodus Clay is a dandy hired goon, and is also a throwback to WM2 when King Kong Bundy was headlining despite his un-Vince-like physique. Along with Personal RingAnnouncer Ricardo Rodriguez, the trio were causing quite a few headaches for Edge...
     
    Until Christian made his surprise early return from a pectoral injury (an injury that was blamed on del Rio in storylines). Since Christian's return, the odds are a bit more even, and in fact, del Rio's been cleanly defeated by Christian twice in the past two weeks (once in a cage match, once in a no holds barred match). And I mean cleanly: Edge didn't have to help his little buddy out at all (though he was more than happy to pick up the scraps once both matches were done). Did del Rio just phone it in while his attention was focused on Edge, or do these losses really mean his destiny may be something other than a World Title win at his first WM? We shall see...
     
    Prediction: I'm going with del Rio for the win. Alberto's clicked with the fans from almost Day One, so it's not even that big of a risk to hand him the title on the B-show (it's about 10 times safer a choice than when Sheamus won the RAW title for his first time). And del Rio's also proven his worth as a grappler as he's moved up the card, culminating in a couple of stellar free-TV matches against Christian, so I actually look forward to the prospects of him having more and more 20+ minute matches as champ. And even better is if those matches are again against Christian: not only would they be solid contests, but it could come as part of a story where Edge wants rematches, and Christian's all "hey, I actually proved I can beat this guy when you couldn't," and it leads to 3-way goodness and/or a heel turn by either E or C.
     
  • Jerry "the King" Lawler vs. Michael Cole (Stone Cold Steve Austin as Special Referee). Throughout the second half of 2010, Cole became increasingly obnoxious on commentary as a result of somebody finding his anti-smart-fan/anti-Dan-Bryan commentary on NXT amusing. So WWE decided to take his heel persona from the show that nobody watches, and let Cole do it on RAW. For obvious reasons, his over-the-top shtick often left him at odds with his fellow commentator, Lawler... but it didn't come to a head until December.
     
    That's when Lawler was shoved into a TLC Match vs. Miz as punishment for something-or-other by the RAW Virtual General Manager... Lawler was about to win, until Cole interfered on behalf of his favorite wrestler. Hostilities continued, but with a "no touching" rule in effect, per the GM. Then Lawler got another WWE Title match against Miz, this time on PPV, and again Cole ruined it. Not only was King's shot at the title ruined, but the loss also ruined King's (last) chance to compete at his very first WrestleMania.
     
    So of course various challenges were made and agreed to, and here we are: Lawler gets his WM debut match against his hated broadcast partner. Steve Austin is the ref because of a foiled plan by Cole to insert his OLD broadcast partner (JBL) as the ref. Cole will still have former World Champ Jack Swagger in his corner as his "trainer." Rumors abounded that Lawler would bust out Jimmy Hart in his corner as a throwback to Memphis wrestling of 30 years ago, but apparently that rumor was a bust.
     
    It won't be wrestling, but it should be fun.
     
    Prediction: Lawler wins. The beatdown should be so severe that Cole is carried to the back for medical assistance. I expect WWE to have a solution on commentary: Jim Ross should call the majority of the show (perhaps partly with Booker T or somebody, but Lawler should rejoin him shortly after his victorious outing and a cool beverage to rehydrate, giving the duo one last rodeo on the grandest stage of them all). If Jerry's really thinking about calling it a career, the Perfect Storm of Awesome -- with the win and JR and everything -- would be a well deserved swan song. Plus, if the beating is sound enough, Cole might be humbled back into being a non-obnoxious announcer (essentially a "reset" for him, much like ref-turned-onboxious-heel-who-got-his-ass-kicked-so-bad-he-returned-to-reffing Danny Davis back 20 years ago).
     
  • CM Punk vs. Randy Orton. When Punk accepted a Slammy for Most Heinous Deed of 2010, he hinted that there was somebody on RAW who had wronged him in the past, and that people who wrong him do not fare well. He was sort of pre-promising a win for Heinous Deed of 2011... well, enter the New Nexus, now under Punk's leadership. And enter random attacks on Randall Orton.
     
    Turns out, however, they were not random. They were justfied revenge on somebody who wronged CM Punk. "When?" you ask. Two and a half years ago, when Orton led Lethargy in a 3-on-1 attack against Punk that resulted in Punk losing the world title. And Punk, much like Khan, never forgets. So Orton's bastardry of 2008 was repaid, with interest, with 4-on-1 attacks by Nexus.
     
    Then Orton started delivering bootie kicks to the heads of Nexus members, and they disappeared until it was down to Orton vs. Just Punk. It was really a boring and floptastic stretch of predictable blandness, save for sporadic bits of promo work by Punk... but last weeek, things picked up a notch when Poor Mantard Randall was dumb enough to randomly mention his awesome tour bus. Punk, as an evil genius well versed in the rules of pro wrestling, was obligated to use the bus against Randall. He pretended he was goign to defile Orton's wife (who tours with Randy on the bus), and when Randy sprinted to the rescue, Punk whacked him in the knee with a monkey wrench.
     
    Then this past Monday, he cut a killer promo and lured Orton out, punctuating his promo by proving Orton can't bootie-kick with one leg and then GTS'ing him after he stumbled to the mat. Orton, not to be outdone, actually responded with a brief backstage interview where he came off as convincingly angry and intent on destroying Punk, which makes the first time he's used his words successfully since even further back than 2008.
     
    Prediction: tough call, but I'll go with Orton for the simple reason that you have heels win when you plan on continuing the feud. And I can't think of where else you go with this feud that would be any fun. And I'm much smarter than the Writer Monkeys, so if I can't figure out something good, neither can they. So have this be the blow-off, and be done with it, and let both guys move on to other stuff. For some reason, I'm struck by the notion that I'd like to see Punk vs. HHH take a stab at a real rivalry. I'm also struck by a nagging fear that no matter who wins, a match in which Randall is selling a knee injury will probably have some issues: you think Orton's slow-moving and boring with two legs? Cower in fear at how limptastically lethargic things will get when he only has one.
     
  • John Morrison, Trish Stratus, Snooki vs. Dolph Ziggler, Michelle McCool, Layla (Mixed Tag). At one point, a Morrison/Ziggler match would have made some sense. And WWE had even seemed to set up a Trish/Kelly vs. LayCool match. But then Justin Bieber's people decided he shouldn't participate in WM and be exposed as a nonlebrity by getting booed out of the building, so WWE had extra money to blow on "famous" people. Enter Snooki, exit Kelly. And since Snooki is not trained to hold up her end of even a women's tag match, enter the men to help make sure there's some wrestling here, instead of an aborted 3 minutes of Jim Ross' Bowling Shoes.
     
    Like I said above: I actually consider this a reasonable trade-off. I'd prefer No Snooki, since I think Kelly would have made good use of a little rub from Trish. [Mmmmmm..... Trish.... Kelly... rubbing....] But what the hell? Snooki's first appearance, she was completely out of character, and did not offend the senses. That did not extend to her second appearance, where he annoying on-screen persona was accompanied by off-screen unprofessional behavior that resulted in a short video shoot wasting 8 hours of Trish/LayCool/the crew's time because of Snooki's affinity for drinking vodka at 10am. We can only hope for the best out of her, including some actual self-awareness so that she can adjust if the fans decide to boo the shit out of her.
     
    Prediction: I'm calling for an upset here. The heels win. Why? I dunno, really... but it sort of feels like the team with 3 regular roster members should win over the team that has 1. Plus, the heels have Vickie Guerrero, who has the kind of heat on her that the fans will only get louder the more successful she/her team is. Trish is a trooper (and she's also undefeated in countless matches since her retirement), so I'm sure she could be convinced to take the fall, secure in the fact that nobody's opinion of her would be negatively affected. And you can still do the standard "heel wins, but celebrity gets last laugh" ending, too, so Snooki/Trish/Morrison stand tall at the end.
     
  • Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan (US Title Match). Sheamus won King of the Ring in December, and then promptly went on a losing streak (supposedly, the whole King costume and jobbing as a "rib" from the vestigial ass-bone that is Kevin Dunn; talk about a guy who was key to WWE's growth but who has completely outlived his usefulness). To motivate himself, Sheamus declared that he'd quit wrestling if he couldn't take the US Title from Dan Bryan.
     
    Well, guess what? He won the US Title from Dan Bryan on the very same night he stopped wearing the King costume, and reverted back to being the Albino Warrior.... errr: Celtic Warrior. At WrestleMania is Bryan's rematch.
     
    Prediction: Sheamus wins. It's only been 2 weeks since he returned to being a credible Celtic Warrior. Losing again this soon would not be the best way to retain said credibility. And looking ahead: the last guy to beat Sheamus during his jobber streak was Evan Bourne.... so projecting the US Title scene, it's a no brainer to give Bourne a shot as the next contender. That could be good.
     

  • The Corre (IC Champ Wade Barrett, Tag Champs Slater and Gabriel, and Zeke Jackson) vs. Big Show, Kane, Santino Marella, and Vlad Kozlov. Since inventing the group in January, WWE's planned to have the Corre in a 4-on-4 match at Mania. But their planned opponents kept changing and changing, and didn't solidify until Monday.
     
    For the most part, the groupings make sense. Zeke hasn't really been involved, and Kane's inclusion is semi-random (up until a few weeks ago, he was a diabolical heel, and just sort of arbitrarily started playing Air Trombone and teaming with Big Show). But the interactions among the other six are major. Barrett "made his name" after moving to SD by targetting Big Show, so they have history; and Slater/Gabriel beat Santino/Kozlov to win the tag titles, so they have history, too. Now, at Mania, they will all try to have history together. Or something. OK, I admit it: it's mostly just a way to get 8 guys in one match so that everybody who deserves a WM paycheck gets one.
     
    Prediction: the good guys win. The young up-and-comers get a WM Match as their reward for meritous service in 2010. The vets get a WM Win as a reward for being some of the best soldiers WWE has ever had (especially the long-suffering Glen Jacobs and the willing-to-try-anything Santino). This isn't a match that "means" much in the big picture, so wankers should stifle it if they think a loss "buries" the young guys; I mean, christ, they still walk out of this holding two titles. This is a match that should be played for an undercard crowd pleaser to keep the fans primed, rather than a big downer complicating an otherwise dull stretch of prelim action.
     
  • Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes. Two months ago, Rey and Cody had a match on SD, where Cody tried to isolate on Rey's SURGICALLY REPAIRED~! knee. He even ripped Rey's pants to expose his bulky knee brace. But his attack didn't quite work, and Rey came back to win with a (619). In so doing, Rey's knee brace whacked Cody in the face, and broke his nose. [Not for reeelz, just for storylinez.]
     
    Cody was absent for a few weeks, and then began cutting cryptic promos about the horrific mangling of his face, and how he was a freak, now. He wanted to confront Rey about this, but his dad, Dusty Rhodes, came out and told his boy to chill out and apologize to Rey, cuz Rey didn't do it on purpose and Rey doesn't need somebody putting him on a guilt trip. So Cody "apologized" with a punch, and Dusty joined in, since it was all a Rhodes Family Set-Up from the get-go.
     
    Cody made a bid deal of getting doctor's permission to wrestle again, though he does so while wearing a suit and a clear face mask. With doctor's permission, he also decided he wanted to face Rey at Mania. So here we are.
     
    Personally, I feel like Rhodes' new gimmick is just 9 degrees or so off of spot-on... he could be killing with this shtick if only the people around him didn't take it so seriously. Despite claims of disfigurement and babbling pscyho interviews, he looks exactly the same as ever, and we can see it through his CLEAR mask. Contrast with "Mankind" who wore a leather mask and invented/revealed new personality traits only after unmasking and doing those interviews with JR.... Rey, the announcers, everybody should be going "Dude, you were a male butterface before I broke your nose and you still are. What are you whining about?".... then Cody, a figure of derision (instead of a figure of being taken seriously) would take umbrage at the fact that he was ALWAYS disfigure/never as pretty as he thought, and be angry at the people who are saying he looks the same as ever.... THEN you'd have something.
     
    Instead, you've got a guy saying things that are clearly false, the product of a delusional mind, but everybody's still agreeing with him. It's like he's Glenn Beck, and WWE's his own Fox News. And how do sane people deal with Glenn Beck and Fox News? By not giving a shit about him, and going out of their way to avoid his network. Rey/Cody have been plagued by that same lack of fan interest as this feud has progressed, all because WWE missed the mark by a slender margin when developing Cody's new act.
     
    Prediction: a month ago, I'd have said Cody in a no brainer, because the entire premise for putting these two together is because WWE wanted to make a go over Cody's make-over and Rey volunteered to do it... now, with the make-over not going as well as it could have, I don't know. I figure you have to let either Rey or Show/Kane/Sanitno win just to keep the undercard from completely killing the crowd... and in my mind, it'd be even better to let BOTH win their matches. I don't know if WWE would see it my way, or if they'd stubbornly go ahead with Cody's win.... so I'll pick..... I'll pick Rhodes to win. Final thing that tipped the scales: both men are wearing masks, and if I knows me my "WWE Think," the story won't end until only one of them is. Since there is more story to come, the heel wins to prolong the feud, instead of the face winning to end it. Look for Cody to pull a proven Jericho Stunt by making a grab at unmasking Rey, creating enough of a distraction for Cody to win by other means (maybe a cheap schoolboy). 
     

That's it for the official as-announced card. There's talk of WWE realizing the inequity of Kofi Kingston going from IC Champ to off-the-card in 8 days time.... that was a last second omission due to WWE's change of plans with the 8-man tag match. If he gets a match on the PPV, Drew McIntyre is the likeliest candidate. Thing is, if you do that, then WWE's plan to have Drew win the pre-PPV battle royale is out the window. I have a feeling that Drew would be fine with that, and happy to cede the "big" win to Mark Henry or somebody of his ilk.
 
Other than that, if you're looking for things to fill up time: the only divas in use are LayCool (Trish and Snooki are not really active in the women's division), so pretty much that entire roster is available for something. Oh, for the days of it being not-PG, so I could suggest that a Bra and Panties Battle Royale would be a not-at-all-objectionable way to spend 6 minutes. Divas and then maybe some backstage skits with Hall of Famers, random guests (both Snoop Dogg and Bob Barker will be around in as-yet-unannounced capacities), and what not.
 
Oh, and then the annoying barage of superfluous video/hype packages trying to sell us on a PPV we already paid for by showing us footage of FanFests and other crap that happened in a city that is not the city I am in so I couldn't care less. WWE Video Packages, thy name is Piss Break.
 
But I digress. WrestleMania 27's a show that's got me being of two minds. One that feels a true sense of WM Enthusiasm, but another that knows this is a WM that feels more like WM2 than WM20.
 
Regardless, I'll be watching the show, and whatever you decide, you can count of OO to cover WrestleMania for you on Sunday. Folks will be doing live results/discussion on the OO Forums (actually, they've already begun with predictions and other thoughts), and my PPV Recap will be posted shortly after the show concludes.
 
And then you'll be stuck with me doing all TV Recaps for the rest of the month. And that ain't no April Foolin'.... see you Sunday, kids!


  
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
 
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: 18 Seconds? NO! NO! NO!
 
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
 
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
 
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
 
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
 
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Backfired!
 
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
 
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Destiny Do-Over
 
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
 
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
 
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: In-BRO-pendence Day
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
 
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: #striketwo
 
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
 
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: You're Welcome
 
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Needs More Kane?
 
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Lady Power
 
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
 
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
 
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
 
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
 
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
 
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: No! No! No!
 
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
 
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
 
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 
 
E-MAIL RICK SCAIA

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Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

 

 


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