Part 2 of this two-part series looks at the top matches at Sunday’s WrestleMania XXIX at MetLife Stadium. Click HERE for Part 1. e are just one day away from WrestleMania, and the buildup for the headlining matches has played out pretty well over the last month. The three marquee matches at WrestleMania 29 all [...]
With WWE Extreme Rules 2012 this Sunday, let’s take a look at the self-awareness of professional wrestling.
I used to be a big pro wrestling fan. I was never into the DX/Attitude era stuff, mostly because my mother was a teacher, and when kids started wearing shirts that said “SUCK IT” to school, she found out where it came from and I was banned from the WWF. No, I was into the WCW/NWO era, with “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan and the rest. I don’t remember much after the NWO split into the “Wolfpack” because I was really focused on girls sports my education at the time. So after I got this boss new job in Nashville, I convinced an affable nitwit to move with me from our homeland in Arkansas to the big city. He convinced me to start watching wrestling again, at least for the month leading up to Wrestlemania, because pay per views are always entertaining, and he was going to buy it, so I might as well watch it. I was certainly hesitant at first, but now, three months into it, I’m once again hooked on the never ending muscle bound soap opera that is professional wrestling.
The biggest difference in pro wrestling now than when I was a kid is the heightened sense of awareness of the ridiculousness and pageantry of their sport. You would think that would make wrestling suffer, but in fact, it’s as good or better than it’s ever been, in my opinion. The product in the ring is at an all-time high. In the olden days of wrestling, not many guys came up in the ranks, from the time they were 18-20, wanting to be a wrestler. It was something they stumbled upon to in one way or another. Now, don’t get me wrong, that’s fine. You have to go after talent when and where you can. But there are guys in the ring now, that aren’t the biggest bodied people, but damn are they great wrestlers. Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Jericho, Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, The Miz, and of course, Cody frickin’ Rhodes. Those guys there live wrestling, and they have fought their way up into the WWE, and are all outstanding, both in the ring and on the mic. The future of the WWE looks strong with these guys in the wings.
As good as those wrestlers are, and as much talent as there is in the WWE, it’s the changes in the approach to pro wrestling that has drawn me back in. How over the top can we go with some of these characters? Santino is a very good wrestler, but his character is his strong point. He power-walks to the stage and has a cobra sleeve that, if Dolph Ziggler’s hands don’t lie, has the power to briefly paralyze people with one punch. Speaking of Ziggler, we haven’t had a guy sell this well since Billy Mays, AMIRITE? Brodus Clay as the Funkasaurus is just outstanding as well. R-Truth has an imaginary friend named Little Jimmy that is always at ringside, and last but not least, Jericho’s jacket.
All of this pomp, and indeed, the following circumstance would not have been tolerated by fans during the Attitude era. This is some truly funny stuff they’re doing at the WWE, and they have more potential for characters as well once they truly figure out what to do with Sheamus, Kofi, Ziggler, and Ryder. There is a whole lot of untapped promos right there. Indeed, pro wrestling has come a long way, and I’m truly enjoying the ride. Even the true Superstars have had great storylines since I started watching.
John Cena and The Rock had a great back and forth, and a great fight at Wrestlemania. Remember, I was not subjected to a full year of teasing and stare downs between Cena/Rock, because I didn’t start watching until January. The whole notion of The Rock abandoning the WWE for Hollywood, while the rest of the wrestlers stayed behind and kept the company going was fantastic.(Although, really, if Cena was half the actor that Dwayne Johnson was, he’d be out of the WWE just as fast. It’s not Dwayne’s fault “The Marine” was a piece of shit.) But now, we come to the only thing that really bugs me about the WWE right now, and yes, wrestling fans, it has to do with Superman Cena.
The biggest two names in the WWE right now are John Cena and Brock Lesnar, who just returned from an extended absence while he was fighting in the UFC and looking like a grown up Bobby Hill. Cena and Lesnar will undoubtedly be the top-billed fight at Wrestlemania next year, and they are set to square off this Sunday for the “Extreme Rules” PPV. Lesnar is going to win; you all realize that, yes? Lesnar will win, then Cena will truly be on the backburner for the first time in his career as a face, and Lesnar will be promoted to the main guy by John Laurinitis. Then, Lesnar is going to start going apeshit. He already lost his cool on some poor guy trying to do his job backstage this week. He’s going to start ruining matches, and messing everything up for Johnny and the WWE. Then, in a last ditch effort, they will have to turn to the one man who can save them from the crazy ass Lesnar, and of course, that man is John Cena. And he’ll accept the challenge, not for Johnny, not for himself, but for the WWE. And he will win at Wrestlemania. Because he’s not the hero the WWE deserves, but he’s the one they need. He’s Batman.
That was a great storyline, wasn’t it? Would be a lot of fun to watch! But something is missing, and I can’t quite put my finger on it…..OH YEAH…in that entire storyline, did you hear me mention anything at all about a Championship belt? Of any kind? NO YOU DIDN’T. Because for the last 3 months, and I’m assuming longer than that, the two main belts have been held by Sheamus/Bryan and Jericho/Punk. This is what annoys me the most about the WWE. When did 1 man, John Cena, get bigger than the belt? It’s certainly not Cena’s fault, and I feel that he takes WAY TOO MUCH criticism from fans for being “Superman”, when 1) It’s not his fault he’s an incredibly dedicated wrestler that people, especially kids, just absolutely love, and 2) I clearly explained that Cena is Batman earlier. Did you know that John Cena has helped over 250 Make-A-Wish kids get their final wish? He’s just too damn likable, and the WWE can’t do shit about it now. They can’t turn him heel, not because we wouldn’t want to see it, but it would literally destroy every wrestling fan under 13’s soul. There’s not real solution to the belt problem that I can see, unless you wrap up one of the other story-lines, let’s say Jericho/Punk, and then have that winner fight Lesnar in 6 months. Then Lesnar takes the belt to Wrestlemania and Cena takes it back. But that wouldn’t be fair to Jericho or Punk, would it? Cena is just too damn popular, and that’s why they brought Lesnar back. Not only is his dominance going to somewhat curve the Cena spotlight, but it’s going to give the other guys a chance to rise up. Do you think Hulk Hogan or Triple H would have done that? Do you think they would have lost at Wrestlemania, only to turn around and be a smash match for Lord Tensai’s return the next week? Hell no. Because they aren’t the hero the WWE needed, but they were the heels they deserved.
My point here is that the superstars of the WWE today are much different than the ones of the past. The biggest names in the WWE will lose a match on RAW, and they will take a back seat to another wrestler in preparation for Wrestlemania, and allow other wrestlers to share the spotlight. And that is the key difference. Because up until recently, crowds at the live shows were still yelling “WHAT?!” every chance they got, something they learned from the Attitude Era. Now, those chants are drowned out by chants of “YES! YES! YES!” and it’s about damn time. Because as much as people bitch about the PG era and Cena, and so many other little things, they’re likely to miss out on the rise of a new generation of WWE superstars. And one of them has a Cobra. And it’s great.