As has been the case for the last few “What If Wednesdays”, today’s exploration into the ‘what-if world’ is taking an unusual bent. Rather than focus on something that a promotion could have done, or a wrestler, this week I’d like to focus on the fans at large, and something they could do in the days leading up to Wrestlemania.
I know what you’re thinking - “DC, this is madness you’re talking about now - Surely the IWC can’t stop the negativity, no matter how many people you convert to the cause of #PromotingPositivity!” You’re right, of course, which is why this is here in the house of the hypothetical. There will always be trolls, those “fans” who get their daily dose of superiority by (usually humorlessly) belittling this experience we all share, ones who will always prefer the ideal of their imaginations (or, more likely, what someone with more creativity came up with that these people will just take credit for) to the reality of the wrestling world. To be honest, I’m not even steering this discussion to those people - most of them are beyond help.
No, I am speaking of the fans who simply seem to take issue with the lack of “feeling” leading up to this year’s Wrestlemania. Whether its simply their distaste for Roman Reigns or just their belief that the last few months have lacked excitement, these fans just seem to be down on everything Mania.
Now, let me say here and now that the majority of these folks are all good people whom, on many occasions, I have enjoyed conversing with on a wide variety of topics. These fans are also, of course, entitled to their own opinions and have full freedom to share them, just as we who are excited for Wrestlemania can share ours.
Moreover, we all have the freedom to question others’ opinions, provided we do it in a respectful, appropriate manner, and can engage in a healthy debate.
This is where my problem lies. I have spoken with a number of people, both publicly and privately, who have negative feelings towards Mania, and through our conversations, I’ve discovered that most of them will not be deterred from their opinions. No piece of evidence nor explanation seems to do - The build just stinks and Wrestlemania will be bad, and that’s the end of it.
Part of every debate, or at least the good ones, is a willingness to compromise, so let me make a concession - OK, so the build hasn’t been as good as it could be. With the number of part-time wrestlers on the card (not that part-time wrestlers are bad; in fact, I think it should happen more often), you can’t have as many face-to-face interactions as in previous years, and that is truly a shame. This narrows the number of opportunities, which increases the pressure for each one to be perfect. I wasn’t overjoyed with how Sting sided with Randy Orton on RAW this week and while I love the promos, I’d like to see something more tangible happen with Bray and Taker before the day of Mania itself. There are things I would have done differently, make no mistake.
However, I submit to you that despite the build-up, Wrestlemania is going to be an excellent show. The fact that the drama unfolding in the weeks prior hasn’t been A+ stuff doesn’t matter as much when the show begins.
You just can’t.
The show will likely begin with a 7 man ladder match for the IC title. If you’ve enjoyed any Money in the Bank match in the last decade, you’re going to like this contest. Unlike previous years, there isn’t currently a guy like Mark Henry or Kane to muddy the waters; the two “big guys” in this match, Harper and Barrett, are both excellent combatants on their own. Adding in Ziggler, Ambrose, Stardust, Bryan and even R-Truth, quality wrestlers all, and this match may very well steal the show. This will set the mood for the night, and that mood is going to be exciting.
The tag title match, which I have argued shouldn’t take place simply due to lack of quality-caliber tag teams, will still be a good bout. All 6 of the combatants (Yes, including the Matadors) are talented in-ring workers and this match right now looks to be a showcase for Cesaro and Kidd. How is that a bad thing?
Speaking of good things, Randy Orton and Seth Rollins will finally get the chance to settle their long-running feud. Seth Rollins has taken his place among the elite talents in WWE and there are few who are better than a passion-filled Randy Orton, which is how he has been since Rollins has been involved. If the ladder match doesn’t steal the show, I imagine that this one will.
The ATG battle royal is a throw-in match, there’s no denying that. I can’t even say it’ll be good, since it’s a battle royal and battle royals are almost never decent to watch. What makes this match important is that it will be. . . I mean, it HAS to be. . . the climax of the Miz and Sandow storyline. This entire segment should be devoted to continuing to tell their story, and besides possibly the return of Sheamus, I’ve seen no reason to believe otherwise. Sandow finally turns on his “boss” and becomes firmly ensconced as one of the biggest faces in the company. Again, you can’t tell me you don’t want to see that.
I’ve been seeing a lot of Bray / Taker hate as of late, and when I talk to people about it, they quote Wyatt’s history of one-direction feuds that seem to go nowhere. Again, I’ll concede that one can interpret that to be the case, but in order to truly appreciate what Wyatt has been doing, you have to ignore the past (You’re a WWE fan, that should come naturally to you) and focus solely on Bray in 2015. You have a dominant performance at the Rumble and then a series of promos which, while cryptic, are not anywhere near aimless. He’s been focused on one thing and one thing only since January - The Undertaker, and it’s been a thing of beauty to behold this entire time. If you have a problem with abstract, “mysterious” promos, I’d wonder if you’re even an Undertaker fan to begin with. That’s kind of his thing, ya know; To paraphrase Vinnie Mac - Get excited, darn it!
On the other end of the spectrum, I’m not going to ask you to get excited about the Rusev / Cena match and its possible implications. We’re very likely to see another #CenaWinsLOL situation, and if that happens, I will join you in voicing my displeasure. However, I will admit this - John Cena is not in the main event (good thing) and he has done his part in elevating Rusev to the next echelon (another good thing). A world where Cena becomes US champ for a while and Rusev moves on to challenge for the WHC is a world I don’t mind living in.
There will be only one Diva’s match at Wrestlemania but I firmly expect those four women will get their chance. An eleven minute match on RAW is a promising sign, and while no title is on the line, I’m not counting out the possibility of a 15 minute program for these combatants. Though yes, that does include entrances.
Sting. Triple H. The embodiment of all that is good about WCW vs. . . Well, HBK is retired, The Rock’s making movies and Steve Austin is injured, so I guess HHH will do as “The WWE guy”. Still, anytime you get two legends facing each other, no matter the age, life is good. I just watched 43 year old HBK and 59 year old Ric Flair put on a wrestling clinic at Wrestlemania 24 - If Steve Borden and Paul Levesque can do even 50% of that, fans will be happy. Yes, even you.
Then there is the WHC match, Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns.
If Daniel Bryan was facing Lesnar and Reigns was in the IC title match (or even taking Cena’s place fighting Rusev), I’m willing to bet than 75% of the complaining I’ve seen online would never have happened. Most people are convinced that they know what’s going to happen - Wrestlemania will end with Roman Reigns atop the mountain, just like what happened at the Rumble and just like what happened at Fast Lane. People HATE this idea, so it sours their entire view of the card.
Again, a concession - I’m not a huge fan of this main event either. Unless I see Brock Lesnar toss Reigns around like a Samoan Rag Doll, there’s a good chance I’ll find the main event of Mania anti-climactic. This is why I have been pushing for Sting and HHH to be the final match of the night, or for there to be swerves a plenty following Reigns win. Seth Rollins can become the biggest face in the company if he makes Roman’s first reign (unfortunate pun) a brief one. So again, I fully understand why some people feel this way.
Just don’t let it affect the rest of the show.
This is a good Wrestlemania line-up, with easy potential of it becoming a great one. With few exceptions, each of these matches can be a high-quality affair, with multiple possibilities for Match of the Night. There will be no Texas Tornado vs. Dino Bravo, no Earthquake vs. Adam Bomb, no Chavo Guerrero vs. Kane in less than two weeks.
What do YOU think? Are people setting the bar too high, or is it just the season for displeasure? Be Heard.