From The Fans: C.J. Tuttle looks at the build to WrestleMania
Submitted by C.J. Tuttle
We are wrestling fans. We come from all walks of life and have different ideas of what should and shouldn’t be done to our passion. We are bookers, fanboys, complainers, and for the last ten or so years legitimately fed up. The WWE owns the wrestling world and dictates what we watch on a weekly basis, which for the most part has been sub-par, cliche, been there done that storylines that have been rehashed hundreds of times. (SEE: KANE/UNDERTAKER FEUD). Making money is the model and that is evident with everything the WWE does. To be honest I don’t blame them, but after awhile you can only make so many DVD collections, tweak the “attitude” moniker so many ways and above all else find a way to make John Cena the mainstream Hulk Hogan of 2013.
Sunday everything resets, all the failures are forgiven, and the WWE has the chance to make everything right. Even if it is for only one night: Wrestlemania 29.
Recently, instead of trying something and immediately throwing in the towel (SEE: Kofi Kingston) as they usually do when it doesn’t get mentioned on TMZ or doesn’t sell as many t-shirts as Cena does, WWE has been letting things simmer and slowly gain momentum. This applies mainly to the development of new stars who bring freshness to a product that used to rely much too heavily on older established superstars, and even when that grew tired, throwing those same old superstars into all types of gimmicked matches where violence/blood/heel turns were at a premium. (SEE: Punjabi Prison) Before you say “Hey that sounds exactly like what’s on tap this weekend!” allow me to explain my reasoning.
With the establishment of the PG era, came a clean slate of sorts where the aforementioned gimmicks were not expected. So now, when they do appear, they hold much more weight with the casual viewer. More importantly, the WWE superstars (as the WWE insists on calling them) involved in these matches are men and in the case of AJ Lee, women* who on a regular basis are involved in the most interesting facets of the programming even when they are not slated to be.
World Wrestling Entertainment needs to grab the opportunity being given to them Sunday and run with it. They can do this by backing the promising talent waiting to flourish underneath the spotlight and build for the next 365 days of programming, not just Wrestlemania 30. Am I pining for a Cena heel turn? No. Am I begging for “The Streak” to be ended? No. Am I as pissed as Seth Mates? Yes.
The undercard of the “Showcase of the Immortals” features (WWE) newcomers who have created a buzz amongst the hardcore internet brethren and with women/children looking to drown out loud marks. Amongst them are: Fandango, The Shield, Team Rhodes Scholars, and more established yet, famously held-back internet darlings: Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler. Then there is Ryback.
Aside from the smark chants of “Goldberg,” Ryback has already grown into one of the top babyfaces for the company and has even been given reigns over saying more than three words. His rise to the top has been steady and involved plenty of super squashes, but when he finally reached the main event slot of the program, he held his own. The WWE did (what they should do this weekend) and utilized an already established superstar in CM Punk to bring the best out of Ryback’s character. This in turn created another superstar in the process. To cement the transition the WWE even had their baby John Cena, give him a public vote of confidence.
Ryback is angled as invincible and his physique does a great deal to add to this perception, but what better way to bring the megalith down than by bringing in a stable of established independent wrestlers in The Shield and having them wreak havoc on Ryback’s championship aspirations? WWE did a wonderful job of not jumping the gun immediately and handing the title to Ryback. In not doing so, they added to Punks historic (albeit not long enough) reign, created 3 more superstars and made The Shield the uber-heel by preventing Ryback’s pursuit of the strap.
This ideology in itself is something to be commended and breaks the mold from the WWE’s previous rash booking strategies.
Both Ryback and The Shield are primed for huge nights Sunday.
Ryback and Sexual Chocolate Mark Henry’s personas bring the best out of one another and help to make both continue looking dominant. In my opinion it is the hardest match to pick on the card.
Meanwhile, The Shield should continue their trend of great matches and lead toward the eventual push of each individually. Plus, it will be nice to watch them wrestle without the frenetic camera.
A little further down the card you have the wrestling machines known as Dolph Ziggler and Daniel Bryan. What more can you say about the two? They are the internets boy’s, (aside from Godlike Punk) could get a five-star match out of Moppy, and have the “it” factor that Jim Ross likes to throw around in all his interviews.
Ziggy has held the Money in the Bank briefcase for the better part of WWE’s calendar year and most recently used common sense in not feeling the need to compete in the Elimination Chamber, which is something the writers at WWE ask us to suspend far too often. His pairing with AJ Lee and NXT champ Big E. Langston has made him all the more entertaining as Lee is best used in making others interesting rather than being a PG-esque whore on her own; Langston well, mangles people.
When Ziggler does win the title, which at this point is a formality, the victory is sure to propel him to the top. This will also go a long way in creating fresh opportunities for babyface’s to pursue him and his title, making for endless possibilities over the next year.
Daniel Bryan has already reached the mountaintop and been treading water during his childish run with Kane but is ready for another solo run amongst the big boys. This alone makes me willing to pay the price for the WWE network and the eleven pay-per-views that supposedly will come with the service.
You love to hate Team Rhodes Scholars, you genuinely hate Fandango. One loses at Mania, the other has a coming out party (not literally.)
Chris Jericho is the legend primed to put over another newcomer eager to show that he can actually in fact CAN wrestle. It seems like after every Fozzy tour Y2J comes back, regains momentum, reinvents himself, makes another superstar in the process, then disappears again. (Most recently Dolph the RAW after Summerslam.) Fandango is the epitome of what a slow build-up of an angle leading into a showcase match at Mania should be. They haven’t even had to bring up Jericho’s Dancing with the Stars tenure. The fans are willing to pay to see him get his ass beat. But in the end, Jericho should lose.
While Fandango will win and be the next huge heel of 2013, the team of Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes are the guys you want to cheer for but can’t because WWE makes them out to be weasels. Sunday they face two men even more pathetically angled than themselves. With a victory both can move onto bigger and better things. No I’m not talking about Nikki Bella’s boob job.
So how does all this occur and how does the WWE lay the groundwork for a successful 2013? Where does this leave the legends/THE movie star? All the Mickey Rourke’s of the WWE play as large of a role in these fantasies coming to fruition as the creative writers. All must set aside the false image of themselves that has developed over years of being the top dog and do the right thing. Put them over. Whether that’s done by losing, taking a large bump, or shaking their opponents hand following the match, all hold the future of the business in their palms.
The point to all this is that the WWE deserves some sort of pat on the back and encouragement. Keep doing what you are doing. You are doing something right, still are making money and still are keeping six year old boys in those seats. Simultaneously, you are holding the interest of the wrestling fans who spend almost more time reading analysis from fat kids blogging about WWE than fast forwarding through Divas title’s matches on RAW. This can all be undone with one fatal swoop, but for now I will hold out faith and hope that the Wrestlemania that WWE is planning is one that leads us into the future. I maintain hope that the time, money, and interest we’ve spent on the product is well spent.
If all else fails, they could always just turn Cena heel.
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