It can be a very frustrating existence, the life of a wrestling fan. When not defending giants fake-wailing on other giants in their underwear, there is always the sinking feeling that everything you knew and loved about the industry as a kid will be shat on by the powers that be. That being said, we wouldn't go through all this if we didn't love/like/accept wrestling (almost) unconditionally.
Here's five things we learnt from Wrestlemania XXVIII (here-on to be referred to as WM).:
1.The Tag-Team title means nothing
Granted, it's not like we didn't already know this but the fact that the triple-threat tag-title match (a match variant that is pretty much impossible to fuck up) was relegated to a dark match. Plus the fact that Rosa Mendes “sex-all-up-in-yo'-face” dancing didn't reach the millions (...and millions) of people in the television audience is a travesty of Arrested Development cancellation proportions.
2.WWE gives zero fucks about the World Heavyweight Championship.
Think about it: the World Heavyweight Title; the go-to reference point for the dreams of millions. The iconic Big Gold Belt, instantly recognisable for generations, has been relegated to a prop to be passed around and disrespected like a crappy ten-bag or medieval harlot.
Royal Rumble winning redhead Sheamus (he's Oirsh, din't ya know, laddy!) squashed the oft-lamentable, occasionally-right IWC's golden boy, Daniel Bryan in eighteen seconds. One move. That was it. That's not the way to open a show and that's not how to treat a wrestler of Bryan's calibre.
I'm not sure if it's the belt's reference to “Championship” and the still-tentative-relations between the former state of WCW and the current staff (no other title is referred to as the “championship”) but it certainly got a pasting last night.
3. WWE may well have a weird ethnic prejudice thing going on
The Usos and the off-brand Mexicools (Epico & Primo) being relegated to warm-up acts is an unfortunate (if understandable) situation but combine that with the fact that the only other non-Caucasian wrestlers on show were in a comic-relief battle royal that also featured a midget, a “hoeski”, a seven-foot tall Indian guy who can't wrestle and a guy who keeps a cobra in his pants then it starts to make you feel uneasy.
Now, liberal I may be, but it seems to me that black guys on the roster only have two characters: “Scary Black” and “Funny Black”. Factor in that the “funny” black guy face's gimmicks are R-Truth's borderline-racist “ign'ant field-hand” character and Booker T's “Bookerisms” (“Shucky-ducky, quack quack”, anyone?) then it can leave a strange taste in the mouth.
With all that being said, I wholly condone prejudice against Teddy Long on account of him being a fucking idiot.
4. From horrible, horrible promos decent matches can grow
HHH and The Undertaker are the only two marquee idols left from the Attitude era and, by God, if they don't let you forget it. After six weeks of boring, half-hour-going-on-forever long promos about “This business...” and “End of an era” and “I don't want to end your career!” bullshit platitudes, I was ready to forsake their entire WM match. The fact that H melodramatically called for a Hell in a Cell stip on the match was a major selling-point for many but the smarter among you would know that the gimmick matches involve less actual wrestling and more Exciting Moments™ and lying on the floor.
What we ended up with was actually a pretty good match (or as good as two wrestlers nearing fifty can do). It was the same finisher-fest we saw last year but the outcome was genuinely surprising. The more jaded among us (me) expected Hunter to win, to end the streak because rampant backstage egotism and nepotism wins out over legacies every time. Except Taker won. He was sprightly and, sporting a new skin-head look, he looked up for it (with the added bonus of Shawn Michaels, the greatest of all time, as a special guest referee providing pathos and ZOMG background-faces, abundantly).
5. Wrestling will kill all your heroes
This much we should all know. Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Sting; pretty much anyone who was involved in WCW, fat Mick Foley and now The Rock; the (Scorpion) king of crappy action movies and malleable brow.
He came back last year, it was fine. He came back this year, meaning business, butchering promos, challenging Cena at every-turn. His hash-tag fetishism was apropos for a company whose increasing social network awareness is reaching its zenith. Cena came out on top in every promo, debunking The Rock's swagger, and name-checking his writers, calling out his cue cards.
The match itself, set since last Wrestlemania, in a stunningly dickish bait-and-switch build, was anti-climactic. The ending was strong but the damage had been done early, with a puffing Rock needing a Cena bear-hug every five minutes to stop him from keeling over right there and then.
In the end Rocky won, countering a Cena's People's Elbow with a Rock Bottom in a fun-if-predictable spot, but lasting damage will be felt. John Cena has been the company superman for ten years and his being beaten by an out-of-shape, retired wrestler sends the whole thing into tumult. This could end up being a good thing, though I doubt it. Cena could finally officially turn heel and WWE could finally excise all of the dead wood it's been carrying since the nineties. Out of the embers could rise a better product, “Could” being the operative word. Besides, being the jaded wrestling fan on the internet is nothing if not fun.
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