Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ramblemania 30

Superdome (or is it Silverdome?)
New Orleans
April 6, 2014

(I should probably point out that the following text was written before news of Warrior's death broke out. Just covering my ass here for anything that might be construed as "negative" or "offensive".)

I will say right off the bat that Wrestlemania 30 was a far better show than Wrestlemania 29... I'd go so far to say that this was a better show than any of the past five or six Wrestlemanias. Bold words, I'm sure, but that's just how I feel... and I'm not just saying that because of the big story. I honestly never felt that much investment in any Wrestlemania main event in about ten years or so.

Opening segment began with Hulk Hogan welcoming everyone to the Silverdome... wait, that's not right. I thought this was the SUPERDOME. Fortunately, here comes Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock to jog ol' Huckster's memory. This segment, while no doubt depriving valuable matchtime from potential talent, was quite inoffensive and it was somewhat amusing... and surreal to see these three WWE icons in the ring at the same time.

Daniel Bryan Danielson defeats HHH via Knee To The Face to make the WWE World Title match a Triple Threat match. I question opening with this match because now people are going to have to follow it and not be able to top it until the main event, but all in all, it was a great match that had the right ending. Probably the best match HHH has had in years and it's all thanks to Daniel Bryan Danielson carrying his ass... Yeah, I'm sorry, but after two overpraised and mediocre matches with Undertaker and a sleep-inducing one with Brock Lesnar, good ol' McSon-In-Law needed a GOOD match to sate his ego and he got one courtesy of Daniel Bryan Danielson. But in all seriousness, both guys really busted their ass out and I must give HHH some sliver of credit, for he could have easily kicked out of that Knee To The Face after Daniel Bryan Danielson kicked out of the pedigree and he DIDN'T. He went down and took it like a man. For once, he kept the shovel at home. By far, the best match of the show and the prelude to the true main event of the night.

The Shield defeated the New Age Outlaws in a glorified squash. It is what it is, so nothing to complain about. At least it was short and we didn't have to suffer through

Cesaro won the 30-man Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal to win the giant Andre The Giant trophy and he did it by slamming the Big Show out of the ring, which people have treated as a big deal, but then you take a step back and think "Yeah, but it's just the big show" Unfortunately, the trophy didn't get trashed as per battle royal trophy traditions, but that's okay. This was an example of a match that anyone could win and I'm sort of glad that Cesaro won because this is a guy who I honestly believe could be kind of a big deal.

John Cena defeated Bray Wyatt in an okay match with an otherwise shit ending. Way to put over the new talent, WWE. Despite that, it wasn't that bad of a match; told a good story, had some solid action, and it wasn't boring. Bray Wyatt busted his ass here and Cena did his usual share, complete with completely underwhelming "overcome the odds" trademark that ruined any chances of this being a memorable match. Bad for business, hashbrown and all that. All in all, not too bad.

Gotta admit... two hours in and it's already been better than the past five or six Wrestlemanias. No time wasted (save for one or two brief segments and commercials for pizza rolls) and what matches were presented thus far were very entertaining and well done. So far, so good... I have a feeling that this isn't going to last.

The Hall of Famers are introduced... and despite blaring music, Warrior does not come out and run around like the maniac he used to be in his younger years. Probably a good thing because if he did, HHH might ask Warrior for his win back.

Undertaker's entrances are elaborate and somewhat impressive at first... but for fuck's sake, motherfucker could move a little fucking faster. The time it takes for him to make his way to the ring, you could have easily fit a match where Zack Ryder gets squashed by Mr. T's mother. I miss the Attitude era when Undertaker entrances were less elaborate and took less time to be over and done with... Also, I like that when they're showing off the caskets of past Undertaker victims, they purposely cut away from the casket of CM Punk. That seems pretty petty.

Oh and... Brock Lesnar defeats the Undertaker after three F5s, bringing the streak to an end at 21-1 and my only reaction is meh. I suppose in the grand scheme of things, I'd probably treat it like a bigger deal if the match hadn't been a total stinkin' bore and if the build-up prior to the match made it seem like this would be a tossaway match with a very predictable ending and somewhere along the way, they decided to end the streak like that because anything can happen...

Look, it's difficult to make people care about an Undertaker match at Wrestlemania when the end result is a given and it really takes somewhat who is that talented and that skilled to make a match interesting, let alone entertaining.  It takes a substantial amount of effort on the part of both men to pull off a match that might have a predictable outcome, but there's a tiny bit of doubt that it could go the other way. You almost sort of got that with the two matches with Shawn Michaels and you almost kinda sort got that with HHH-Taker at Mania 27. But the match with Brock Lesnar... that was a BORING, FUCKING TERRIBLE match that you knew it was gonna go one way, that there was no fucking way that Brock was gonna win this one... especially when you factor in the way he was made to look like a chump in prior weeks and also during the match...

So this was a match that had all the makings of a pedestrain Undertaker outing that was going to end with the usual ending... and whether they wanted to fuck with the audience or just do a shock ending for the sake of shock endings or maybe they really thought that Brock Lesnar was the right guy to end the streak because fuck you, that's why... And thus out of nowhere it ended... and I mean, out of nowhere. Wwhen Brock made the pinfall win, I actually did a couple replays to see if I missed something because I wasn't really paying attention - the match was just putting me to sleep and I almost was tempted to do another one of those videos where I point at the match with my camera and then I would accuse the match of putting my dog to sleep - but I noticed that Taker's arm sort of went up and maybe the bell rung prematurely... and it took me a while before it registered in my mind that, yeah, that was the pinfall. The streak is over. And most people were shocked. Some were in disbelief. Paul Heyman is mumbling Omigod. Brock Lesnar has this blank expression on his face. And I was just... "Huh? What? That's it? That's how you're ending the streak? Like that? Are you fucking kidding me?"

And before it comes up, I am well aware of the bit going around where 'Taker wanted Lesnar to end the streak back a couple years back and that's probably why we got what we got. And I'm not going to shit over that. If he picked Lesnar to end it, then that's fine. I've no issue with that. Do I think someone else should've been the one? Sure, but that doesn't matter. If he wanted Lesnar to end it, then cool. Whatever. My issue isn't with that, my issue is with everything else. The build-up to the match was shit, the match was boring, the streak ending was sudden and it just feels empty because up until it happened, nobody gave a flying fuck. And I suppose the post-match silence was appropriate to convey the uncoveyable... but it felt like it was tossed in there for the sake of being shocking, because fuck you, that's why, I suppose.

There's been debate - and no doubt, there's going to be debate - over whether the Streak should end or not. I'm of the opinion that it should - because when the time comes to walk off into the sunset, you do business the way it's supposed to be done (on your back) and I'd like to think Undertaker is something of an old-school guy who believed in doing business the right way. And when the moment came that the Streak came to an end, it should feel like a big deal. It should feel like the end of an era. It should feel like something monumental because you only get one shot at it. And when the time arrived and Brock Lesnar made that pinfall that came out of nowhere, I just didn't care. I was like "Oh thank fuck that match was over with... Wait, Undertaker lost?" It was just an afterthought because before you had the big moment, you had one of the most dull and slothing matches ever conceived. It just stunk. And now that it's over... I don't know. I'm going about this too much, aren't I?

Highlight of the post-match post-mortem was someone (Lawler?) wondering aloud what's going through the mind of the Undertaker and was soon followed by a random member of the WWE Universe shouting "YOU SUCK!" Funniest thing.

So it's over. 'Taker is most likely done... unless he gets that Sting match next year... meh.

AJ Lee defeated every single Diva in a single match to retain the Divas championship. I should note, for the sake of context if you're reading this months down the line, that this isn't a traditional battle royal, but rather a straight-up Divas match featuring twenty or so interchangeable Divas where the winner is determined via pinfall or submission. Yeah, it's the usual pissbreak match, but the concept itself is just stupid. Are we that desperate to find these women something to do that we have toss this shit together? If it were a battle royal to determine a contender for a title match later on, that'd be fine. Hell, take a page out of TNA's handbook and rip off their Gauntlet For The Gold concept (battle royal rules until two remain, then it's a straight match). But this kind of stupid booking, it seems as though that WWE is all but admitting that anything involving the Divas is a complete waste of time and that nobody cares. That's the impression I got, anyway.

Here's another amusing segment; Hulk Hogan and Mr. T bury the hatchet with Rowdy Roddy Piper and a mustachioed Paul Orndorff... Piper, obviously, had some misgivings about burying said hatchet with Mr. T, no doubt still irked about that boxing match he had with him at Wrestlemania 2.

Finally, for your main event, Daniel Bryan Danielson defeated Randy Orton and Batista via submission to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and... *slow clap* Say what you will about the match and how it'll hold up, but in terms of the story told, the right guy went over. The story told was a classic one; stacking the odds against the underdog hero and watching him overcome those odds to claim victory and subsequently the championship. It was a match that, for once, pushed any semblance of cynical thoughts and just took me on a ride to a satisfying ending. And my god, what a ride it was. Told a great story, had some decent action, had some moments of Bootista fumbling a bit, and it was a great little main event with the right guy winning and a satisfying conclusion to eight months worth of disappointments and doubts. Daniel Bryan Danielson, after having to suffer getting pushed off the main card to make room for Dwayne's time wasting promos as well as an 18-second World Title squash to Sheamus, finally got his Wrestlemania moment. And though the subsquent celebration might eerily remind few folks of another celebration ten Wrestlemanias that has since been etched from history, I am not quite weery of making that connection just yet. Daniel bryan Danielson, if nothing else, seems like a much more sensible/stable man than the other fellow. Now if only he'll start to shave.

Overall, this was a FAR better Wrestlemania than past iterations of the event, bookended by two awesome matches that told a great story with a happy ending. And everything in between, barring a couple bits and bobs, was pretty solid stuff too. Certainly, if nothing else, this will be memorable for Daniel Bryan Danielson's superb performance in two matches and subsequent affirmation as a top talent as well as the underwhelming end of a winning streak that had been the driving force of a WWE legend's career. One way or another, this is a great showcase of the immortals and a great ascension of an individual who now has the ball in his court... let's see where he goes with it.

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