Wednesday, April 4, 2012

WWE Wrestlemania 2012 Review

Sunday night was Wrestlemania 28.  It's taken me a few days to get my thoughts in order.  This was a really difficult Wrestlemania to write about.  It's been difficult to watch the event without any baggage and even more difficult to collect my thoughts in a way that I could clearly express.

Daniel Bryan v Sheamus
This was the match I most anticipated.  I left the Colonial (after a total butt whipping that you can read about here) at 3PM and sped home anticipating this match being first.  It took me 7 hours to drive up on Friday due to traffic, but I managed to get home in 4 hours so I could see this match.

This was a huge letdown.
I expected this match to go first or second, to last 15 minutes, and for Daniel Bryan to lose.  I also expected this match to be really great.  Daniel Bryan is amazing and I really like Sheamus, and I knew these two can put on a great match.  I figured Sheamus would win clean and that Daniel Bryan would go back to wrestling Tyson Kidd on Superstars.  I came to terms with Daniel Bryan losing because he would have his Wrestlemania moment.

I expected too much.  This match really hurt the rest of the evening for me.  I was either still upset that my favorite wrestler, and someone I relate to, got screwed, or I was expecting Daniel Bryan to come on and get a rematch because of John Laurinaitis.  Either I was upset or constantly looking for something that was to never come, and it really affected my enjoyment of the show.
The worst part about this is that the crowd loved Daniel Bryan.  Look at those signs!  He got a huge pop and there were lots of "Yes!" and "Daniel Bryan" chants.  I also really like Sheamus and we all know that Sheamus deserves better as well.
I have heard some people talk about how this is part of a bigger storyline and how this is good for Daniel Bryan.  I see where those opinions are coming from but they forget one important thing: THIS IS WRESTLEMANIA!  WRESTLEMANIA!  This is where stories are supposed to hit a high note.  Sheamus won the Royal Rumble this year just to be there!  Bryan Danielson has worked so hard his entire life to get here.  I don't care what story they have planned for Daniel Bryan (his absence on Raw likely means there was nothing planned, but the crowd reaction might now demand one) since nothing won't compare to being in a singles match at Wrestlemania.
The Hammerlock Wrestling Theorem is a reliable tool.  This match, above all others, had the highest possible outcome.  Daniel Bryan is my favorite wrestler and Sheamus is easily in my top 5 in the WWE.  They have not called each other "gay", "ladies", or anything of that sort.  They both spend more time wrestling than not, and when they aren't wrestling, they are getting to the point and making me care about them.  I really do care about these two guys and all they had to do was go out there and do what they both wanted to do.  Instant success.

This really put me into a sour mood for the rest of the evening.  I watched Wrestlemania again last night just so I could better review it without just typing, "WHO THE F*^K CARES ABOUT KANE WHAT ABOUT MAH BOY DBRY!!!!!!" to every match.

Randy Orton v Kane
This match had no build up.  I don't really care about Randy Orton and Kane is boring (and a Paultard).  Even still, they put on a perfectly decent wrestling match.  I really don't have a whole lot to say about this match.  Kane was Kane, Randy Orton heard voices, and no one really cared.  We did get a lot of "Daniel Bryan" chants during this match.  Thanks, Miami!

Cody Rhodes v Big Show
Cody Rhodes is the future of the WWE.  He will be bigger than Orton in 5 years.  I'm serious, this guy is the complete package and he will be huge.  He's one of the big reasons why I think that today's roster is better than any other time in the WWE.

Cody Rhodes got a good enough match out of Big Show.  I think this match could have been the squash that Daniel Bryan v Sheamus was.  Imagine this: Cody Rhodes has been a total jerk to Big Show and Big Show just cold lays him out because of it.  Rhodes could then have a face turn as his father and brother help him grow into a better person because of this experience.  He could become a little more humble and human.  This could be a clear point of character growth for Cody Rhodes.
Instead, we got a pretty good match.  I don't care about the Big Show but I respect that there are lots of people who do.  When he's not being the Racist Big Brother We All Wished We Didn't Have he can be okay.

Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos v Beth Phoenix and Eve
I really didn't care about this match.  I've long been trying to decide what is more sexist: using Divas* Matches as a chance to get a snack and use the bathroom or to sit down and watch the match.  I'm still unsure.

I thought this match would be a total joke and it wasn't.  It had some good moments.  MrsTHESTINGER and my best friend made some good points: the women wrestlers can get into really good spots but lack the experience to follow through.

I was expecting something awful and I got something that might pass for a Knockouts Tag Match on TNA Impact Wrestling In The Impact Zone.

*I hate the name "Divas" for the women's division.  It's one step above calling them the "Bitches".

Undertaker v HHH 
I really didn't expect much from this match.  Undertaker and HHH had a pretty good match last year (for some reason I hated on it for a lot of the year, but when I rewatched it last week I ended up liking it quite a bit), but this match had the worst build up ever.
There was good reason to be apprehensive: between Inappropriate Ponytail Theater to Shawn Michaels being the ref to fears that this would end dirty and lead to another match next year or HBK wrestling one more time.  Instead we got a dramatic match that had a clean finish that gives a worthy end to everyone involved.
This was not the most technical match and I could quibble about how it was paced (Undertaker looked way too strong in the beginning if the dramatic point in the middle was to focus on how he should just give up so HHH wouldn't have to legit murder him with a hammer) but it was well done.  This match is one of those times where it's important to judge something based on the criteria it demands.  This match demands to be judged on its drama and I think it succeeds greatly there.  Nothing else really matters.

Team Johnny v Team Teddy
This was probably my second most anticipated match.  The midcard is positively stacked with amazing talent.  Almost everyone in this match is exciting, interesting, and really awesome.  Combine that with John Laurinaitis being hilarious and this could have been something special.
Instead, this match was largely forgettable.  David Otunga and Dolph Ziggler used their brief moments to shine, but this match never really clicked.  I thought it was going to be a Survivor Series styled match so I expected lots of pinning, drama, and for everyone to get a chance to shine.  Instead it was a regular tag team match (but with 6 people per side) and it never really clicked or told a story.
This match wasn't as disappointing as Daniel Bryan v Sheamus, but it wasn't nearly `as good as it could or should have been.  This should have been the fun match that helped give a Wrestlemania moment to all of these really great guys.  Instead it felt like a waste of time.  I'm happy Team Johnny won, though.  Good job, Mr Excitement.

CM Punk v Jericho
This is the one match that I most expected to be great.  This didn't end up being a bad match or anything, but it wasn't the classic match I was hoping it could be.  CM Punk and Cena had a great match last year and I think Jericho is a better wrestler than Cena, so I had pretty high expectations.
Since their feud is going to continue into the future I fully expect them to have a classic match in the next few months.  These two guys can.  I don't think I'm being quite fair to what is a very good match.  These guys put on a good show and it was very enjoyable.

I really wanted this feud.  This feud felt like a natural fit, but I think it's ultimately not doing anything for me.  CM Punk is much too sincere in his feelings for smarmy-troll Jericho.  I feel like no matter how much CM Punk cares that Jericho can always just say he was joking.  Part of what made CM Punk v Cena so great last year was that both CM Punk and Cena are sincere and really care.  That gave a certain gravitas and drama to what happened.  All I can see happening in this feud is Punk proving he's better than Jericho and Jericho leaving to go play Metallica covers.  I expect some good matches and interesting promos between them, but nothing more.
Still, this was a good match.  If I wasn't so upset at Daniel Bryan v Sheamus or if I didn't hope for this match to be something more than it was I think I would have liked it more.

FUNKASAURUS! v A Little Goes A Long Way
Seriously, a little goes a long way.  I still love ya, Mr Brodus Clay.

John Cena v The Rock
First, I want to admit something: I liked MGK's song and performance to introduce John Cena.  I think it and recent John Cena promos have really tried to make this match something important.

For a while this match came down to who had the biggest penis, and really not much else.  I dig John Cena's earnestness and I think MGK's song helped to sell that.  I want to care about these guys and I want to be emotionally invested in these matches.  It's not enough to simply think someone is cool and want them to win because they're cool.  I want to care and I think John Cena has been making a good case for why we should.
This ended up being a really good match.  I didn't know who was going to win and it was a well wrestled match.  The lead up could have been better as they both spent months just making me hate each of them, but the actual match itself was good.  It wasn't great, but it wasn't disappointing or otherwise a let down.

I'm coming back around to John Cena.  I used to be a "Cena Sucks!" guy, but now that "Cena Sucks!" means "I hate Cena because something something internet!" instead of "I'm saying I hate Cena but really what I'm saying is that Cena is the personification of what I think is wrong with wrestling and I really don't hate him but I can't easily chant "I hate you not giving us wrestling and ruining stuff so please stop it!" so I'm just going to use Cena as short hand for what it is that I don't like!"

I seriously don't understand the actual hate for John Cena.  He's a good performer, he's good on the microphone, and he's just not really bad in any way.  There's really nothing to hate.  How many local news stories do you need to see about him visiting a Make-A-Wish kid before he wins you over?
It is weird that The Rock won.  The Rock won't be a full time wrestler.  He'll hardly be a part time wrestler. I expect he'll be on Raw as often as Yoshi Tatsu.  It makes no sense to call attention to how an actor can come back to the WWE and win the championship without a problem in an age where professional wrestling is mocked by fans of Mixed Martial Ultimate Bum Fight Championships.  I'm serious, the WWE is facing some real competition and I think The Rock winning can hurt the company in the long term.  Who cares if CM Punk is WWE Champion since The Rock could take a break from shooting movies to come back and Rock Bottom him?

Wrestling is fake but it shouldn't feel fake.  It should feel important, real, and dramatic.  I'm sure fans of The Rock were excited and happy after he won, but I don't think it's going to help the company into the future.
The one upside to this match is that John Cena lost because of hubris.  He went for the People's Elbow and got laid out in the middle of it.  That tells a story and is how you have someone lose and then develop as a character.

In Closing
If I can ignore the massive disappointment of Daniel Bryan v Sheamus, and I'm not sure I can, I still don't think this Wrestlemania lived up to what it could have been.  No other match disappointed but none of the matches really made me excited.  I thought there were four matches that had chances of being something special (Daniel Bryan v Sheamus, Undertaker v HHH, CM Punk v Jericho, John Cena v Rock) and the only one to get close was Undertaker v HHH.
Team Johnny v Team Teddy, and Cody Rhodes v Big Show could have been really exciting and fun matches.  They weren't bad but they weren't what they could have been.

For months we've been on The Road To Wrestlemania and we constantly hear about how important Wrestlemania is.  We were told throughout the night that this was a "once in a lifetime" event and how special it was.  I don't blame them for building up Wrestlemania but I don't think it delivered on the all the promise it had.  This whole evening could have been back-to-back classic matches and it wasn't.  Combine an event filled with good-but-not-great matches with an early slap in the face and it's just hard for me to rate this highly.
The best thing to come out of this is the backlash about what happened to Daniel Bryan.  It's exciting to see audiences cheer for him and to really care about him.  More than last Summer I think this can be a time where the audience really voices their opinion and makes some positive changes.

I'm a wrestling fan and I don't think I've ever watched a wrestling show that I disliked.  I watched the worst of WCW in the late 90s and I don't think I hated any of those shows.  I'm a sucker and in it for the long haul.  Wrestling always moves forward despite our wish for it to remain in the past, and despite a lackluster Wrestlemania I'm optimistic about the future.

3 comments:

  1. this review is probably the closest to echoing my own sentiments regarding the show that ive come across so far.

    after all the talking we had to sit through for the last several weeks, it was too easy to believe that with the biggest event of the year, that they would finally back it up with quality, potentially instant classics.

    instead, we got a bitch-slap, followed by some pretty decent matches. with all the hype leading up to WRESTLEMANIA, 11:00 sunday night ended up feeling more like over the limit. AND THEN compare that to how incredible raw was, and it stings just a little bit more.

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    Replies
    1. What makes that Raw sting even more is that it was free. :(

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    2. Thanks for the comment!

      I could have instantly forgiven the last few months of Inappropriate Ponytail Theater, Rock and Cena measuring their dicks, and having Raw and Smackdown be positively inert had Wrestelmania delivered. I don't think it was ever BAD, but man there was so much potential.

      I don't know, had everything not been so rigidly set in stone after Royal Rumble (we knew CM Punk v Jericho was going to happen, HHH v Taker, Daniel Bryan v Sheamus, and Rock v Cena) than maybe I could forgive Wrestlemania being what it was. Instead we got lots of spinning wheels and a lackluster Mania of Wrestling. To be fair to the WWE, I kept watching because I was sure they were going to have DBry drop the belt in the weeks leading up to Mania. Not sure if that would have been worse than what we got.

      Thanks for replying, man. It really means a lot to me that you guys read my ramblings!

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