Mar 282014
 

It’s been some time since I’ve had a few minutes to compile one of these, as my life has been super busy as of late. However with that said, I’m just gonna jump right into this one and start talking about the build for this year’s WrestleMania pay per view.

So way back when WWE was starting to put together their plans for this big show, the initial lineup had the returning Batista vs. Randy Orton on top for the WWE World Heavyweight Title match, Triple H facing CM Punk, John Cena facing Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker and Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus. On paper, this one didn’t really have a lot of sizzle to it. In past years, maybe this one might look a little more appealing, but this is WrestleMania 30, a monumental event for WWE having now done this 30 years in a row. There needed to be something BIG to this.

The main event was really the big black hole to this whole mess though…for the last two years, WWE has been trotting out Hollywood megastar, The Rock and pairing him with their own face of the company, John Cena. If you want to talk box office money, there’s your big name match right there. In this day & age, it doesn’t really get any bigger than those two guys. So here’s the real problem with this year’s build…Batista who is the big returning star this year, can’t hold a candle to the huge box office numbers that The Rock has managed to draw since transitioning to being the big Hollywood star that he is now from reviving the Fast and Furious movie franchise to GI Joe, Dave Bautista’s name just doesn’t carry that level of marketability that The Rock does. Hell, even if you want to say that he didn’t go right into acting after leaving WWE 4 years ago and tried his hand at Mixed Martial Arts, his name still doesn’t mean even what Brock Lesnar‘s does in terms of drawing power on that front. So you’ve got a guy coming back from a hiatus of 4 years from the wrestling business who really hasn’t done a whole lot with himself in the time he’s been gone. So instead of being able to market it as this all-time great like The Rock coming back or a young beast like Brock Lesnar returning, you have a 45-year old guy returning being pushed by WWE as the second coming of The Rock when in all reality, he’s not half of what The Rock is in the entertainment industry or even in the wrestling business.

Meanwhile, since Summer Slam, they’ve been telling a story that they really never intended to actually give the fans any payoff with all along, with Daniel Bryan winning the WWE title on multiple occasions, only to be screwed out of it one way or another over the last number of months with wins over John Cena & Randy Orton. Also, along the way it was supposed to be the new authority figure, WWE’s “Chief Operating Officer” Triple H taking on the guy who has done the best over the last 5-6 years to buck authority and seemingly do what he wanted to the way he wanted to do it, CM Punk.

And while that match on paper sounds good, it’s also something we’ve seen already. Punk ate a pedigree and took the pin. It’s been done already and in all honesty, with his contract coming up in July and from all accounts, he’s told people that when this contract is done, so is he…it was looking like this was just gonna be a retread of the last time he faced Triple H. So what was really in it for CM Punk when he’s stated numerous times that his one goal he had left to accomplish was to main event WrestleMania and close out the show? If he was really going to accomplish this task, WWE wasn’t about to let him have what he wanted just because he wanted it. He’d have to give them something for it and they were going to dangle that carrot out in front of him until he signed a new contract. So he did what someone who isn’t happy with what they’re doing and is burned out from the vigors of being on the road for WWE for 10 straight years and not getting the proper respect by being booked behind returning stars does. He walked out.

So after a Royal Rumble match where CM Punk drew one of the first two numbers and had a largely uneventful Royal Rumble where most people will remember he was a real nonfactor, though he was in the match a long time (at about 50 minutes), he only eliminated 3 people and was eliminated by someone who was already out of the match. Following this pay per view, the Voice of the Voiceless went home. He stopped fighting the fight to change WWE, he gave up & seemingly called it a career.

What Punk may or may not have realized is that by going home and taking himself out of the plans for WrestleMania, it would force WWE to make a change. Now that he wasn’t there for Triple H to have a match with at WrestleMania, combined with the fact that while WWE has been building this story arc without intending to give the fans a payoff in the end with Daniel Bryan, coupled with the now failed return of Batista, WWE had a very vocal crowd on their hands that started to hijack their shows. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such a rabid fanbase who wants what they want and will let WWE hear about it night in & night out like I’ve seen lately. But it all started back at the Monday Night Raw following WrestleMania XXVIII where Daniel Bryan lost the World Heavyweight Title to Sheamus in 18 seconds. Daniel Bryan has been known for his ability to have long matches and make anyone look great in those matches. He’s really a throwback to a time when Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes & numerous other NWA Champions would wrestle hour-long matches only to end in a draw to make the individual territory’s challenger look good to build anticipation for the champion coming back and their guy finally beating the NWA Champion. It was a formula that worked quite well back in those days and to have a wrestler like Daniel Bryan who has that ability to put on a show like that and to take his title from him in 18 seconds and trot him off, having his part of the show over with was criminal and the WWE audience knew so.

Starting the following night on Raw, Daniel Bryan‘s “YES!” chant took off. The most rabid of wrestling fans — those who tend to pay big money to go to the biggest weekend in professional wrestling each year made it known to WWE that they wanted to see more of their guy, Daniel Bryan and they weren’t happy that WWE screwed them out of being able to watch him perform as they all knew he could on the biggest stage WWE could offer. So WWE had to start to embrace Daniel Bryan and they did so by giving us some rematches with Sheamus, they gave us matches between him & current reigning WWE Champion, CM Punk and they put him in a tag team with Kane. It was during this time that Daniel Bryan finally really started to “get” the whole character aspect that WWE pushes so strongly alongside the actual in-ring competition. He grew his beard in & let his hair grow out, creating the guy we see today. He became much more of a charismatic version of the guy we had been watching have great matches with everyone under the sun, and now he was doing it the “WWE way“. And the crowd kept building behind him. It eventually took him to finally getting a shot at the WWE Championship against John Cena at Summer Slam.

I watched that match that night in hopes that WWE had finally begun to understand why the fans got behind Daniel Bryan in the way that we have over the course of the last few years and might give him a run at the top to see exactly what they had in him. However, Randy Orton was still lurking with his Money In The Bank briefcase and the story WWE decided to tell that night was one of an incredible underdog winning the big title only to have it taken away from him minutes later. So while we got to watch Cena & Bryan have an amazing match, we still got screwed in the end when we really didn’t need another title switch. So now they were gonna make Bryan chase the title. And he did so for a few months and while he may have won here & there, in the end the title got put back on Orton for one reason or another and Bryan was screwed time & time again. All through this run, the WWE mindtrust figured the fans would sour on Bryan and they would finally be able to proceed with what THEY had planned for WrestleMania. Problem is…the fans didn’t sour. They got behind Bryan even more and started chanting Bryan’s “YES!” in the middle of matches that had nothing to do with Bryan at all. They booed the hell out of Batista when he returned and made his eventual win at the Royal Rumble a complete nonfactor because it wasn’t the ending they wanted to see. These fans have paid their hard-earned money to go see WWE tell the stories that they wanted to have told and WWE was not doing so. So when that happened, they decided to tell WWE what they thought and instead of letting the crowds at live events dwindle, they kept going and voicing their opinion that Daniel Bryan needs to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania to finally finish off the story arc they unintentionally started back at Summer Slam.

So while CM Punk walking out was out of his frustration with the company and not being able to create the change that he so desired within WWE, by walking out he actually became the catalyst for said change! Now, since Triple H doesn’t have the storyline with Punk, they’ve transferred that storyline over to Daniel Bryan and also twisted it to actually continue the arc since Summer Slam. Now, Daniel Bryan is set to face Triple H at WrestleMania with the stipulation being that if (and when) he beats Triple H, he gets put into the title match at WrestleMania to complete what he’s been working for months to do.

So now, while I’m sad to not see my Straight Edge Savior, the Voice of the Voiceless, Best In The World, CM Punk factored into WrestleMania in any way shape or form because he chose not to be there, I do get to see Daniel Bryan face Triple H in a match that will insert him into the WWE World Heavyweight Title match with Randy Orton and Batista.

I’m also looking forward to the Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker match since Undertaker is still one of my all-time favorites and his undefeated streak — while impressive and somewhat an anti-climatic factor for his WM matches at this point — is something that no one will ever amass probably ever again. And hearing Paul Heyman run down the list of Steve Austin, The Rock, John Cena, Hulk Hogan, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and a number of other legendary names and their inability to string together more than 5 straight wins at WrestleMania while Undertaker has run his streak up to 21-0 is truly remarkable that he’s stuck around all these years and every year Vince McMahon has decided that Undertaker should win his match on this biggest stage of the year. I’m sure that decision has been quite easy probably since they started realizing this streak has been in existence, since they started actively counting since #10 went into the books with Ric Flair at WrestleMania 18, but to put the Undertaker over everyone who came before that year has to be a complete & utter coincidence.

Also, Brock Lesnar‘s propensity to go out there & have these over-the-top insane matches that he has nowadays , seemingly throwing caution to the wind and being unafraid of hurting himself with some of these crazy bumps he takes is really crazy and fun to watch. So throwing him in the ring with an aging Undertaker, while it’s cringe-worthy in the terms that you hope Brock doesn’t injure Undertaker…at the end of the day, Undertaker is one bad ass tough man. This one should be a TON of fun to watch.

The rest of the card doesn’t hold the same weight as these three matches do for me, but I’ll gladly sit through everything else to get to watch these matches. WrestleMania is now 9 days away & I’m really looking forward to watching it on the WWE Network! For $9.99, those three matches should definitely deliver!

That’s my story & I’m sticking to it!