I have been a wrestling fan for nineteen years, growing up on the World Wrestling Federation. Catching Superstars of Wrestling and Wrestling Challenge weekly on my local affiliate, with seldom viewings of World Championship Wrestling at my grandparents’ place because they had TBS and I didn’t.
My earliest memory of watching Professional Wrestling was when the Mega Powers crumbled on NBC‘s prime-time special, The Main Event. After that show, wrestling became a huge part in my life. Tape trading, actions figures, live events, I was engulfed with every aspect of it.
It became more than just a fad with the cumulation of the Monday Night Wars between WWF‘s RAW and WCW‘s Nitro. And let’s not forget about Extreme Championship Wrestling, which was a true alternative to anything you’ve ever seen at the time. Wrestling was on the rise, booming like it did it in the 80s. It was an exciting period to be a wrestling fan.
Unfortunately, all good things eventually do come to an end.
WCW closed shop in 2001 when AOL merged with Time Warner, causing the conglomerate to pull its funding and take WCW off the air on TBS and TNT. ECW folded soon after claiming bankruptcy. Then, since they’re no longer a threat, Vince McMahon acquired the licensing, rights and tape libraries for WCW and ECW; which he has used quite excessively in producing endless DVD releases and starting a 24/7 OnDemand service for a monthly fee.
Without any viable competition, the World Wrestling Federation decided to fight themselves. This started with the “Invasion” angle, with Shane McMahon joining forces with Stephanie McMahon as the Alliance fought for ultimate supremacy against Vince McMahon and the WWF; which included mid-carders from each brand that were able to maintain their jobs in the new wrestling conglomerate.
Still on top of the wrestling world, Vince McMahon decided to sway towards the realm of Sports Entertainment. The nerve! And still lacking any real competition, Vinnie Mac implemented a brand split between Monday Night Raw and Thursday/Friday Night Smackdown!. Separate titles, rosters, general managers, announcers, and so on. If that wasn’t enough, they added a third brand, ECW. Adding more titles, another roster, a general manager, announcers, etc. And that is the world that we live in today.
The absence of a true competitive market has caused the WWE’s product to become homogeneous. Quality was replaced with quantity, in that there was more WWE programming available; yet, it the same recycled booking and treacherous angles we’ve seen many, many times over.
With all that said, I will not be ordering WrestleMania this weekend. The sole reason is that there is nothing on the show that is compelling enough for me to spend $60 and waste four hours of my life on. I am no longer the childhood fan that I used to be. And it may be due to the fact that Sports Entertainment is not wrestling. Wrestling became Sports Entertainment. In turn, Sports Entertainment killed the wrestling fan inside of me. Vince doesn’t cater to our kind anymore.
To be fair, I’d like to give this Sunday’s card a quick analysis. Let’s browse through the top five matches and see if there is any hint that this year will be any less exciting than last year’s event.
The Big Show vs. Floyd “Money” Mayweather
- How many times have we seen a boxer square off against a wrestler? Mr. T and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Antonio Inoki and Muhammad Ali, Andre The Giant and Chuck Wepner, Butterbean and Bart Gunn. I’m sure there are more and each of these fights have historical significance. Yes, even Butterbean and Bart Gunn had some sort of impact on the wrestling world; albeit, I believe it was detrimental.
- With the rumored pay out of $20 million going to “Money” Mayweather, why not hire writers, staffers, and road agents to improve your product in the long-term. Rather than handover a large payout for a one-time match that will most likely expose the wrestling business even further, why not try putting that money to better use?
- My point is this: What’s the appeal? David versus Goliath? Well, yeah. Whoever thinks that Mayweather is not going to get over on Big Show is living in a dream world. But, why should we care enough to purchase a $60 pay-per-view only to see something that will be replayed on WWE’s programming for the next decade? Its Sports Entertainment, baby!
John Cena vs. Randy Orton vs. Triple H
- This should be self-explanatory, especially if you have been following the product in the last three years. How many times can we see some sort of variation between Cena/Orton/Triple H going at it? Enough is enough! Seriously, enough. Why won’t it stop??
- Even if you decide to catch this match at some point following the show, we all know who is going to walk out of Wrestlemania the KING OF KINGS. There is only one.
- The one person I kinda like in this match, Randy Orton, has no chance. Knowing that much about this triple threat title match, I care even less about the outcome (HAIL THE KING OF KINGS!!!).
- Oh yeah. Did I mention how much I love Triple H? Watch this five star clip of him tearing off an Invisible Shirt! I think we have our main event for WrestleMania XXV.
Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair
- I <3 Ric Flair. I’m also a long-time fan of Shawn Michaels. However, both are middle-aged, passed their prime, and have wrestled one another before. The huge sell for this is that it may be Ric Flair’s “last” match. Bullshit. Even if Flair does lose, this will not be his last match. The guy cannot survive without wrestling. He will be back doing one-night only matches, or some sort of role in wrestling that has kept guys like Terry Funk and Hulk Hogan relevant.
- HBK can carry anyone to a decent match (ie: John Cena, Hulk Hogan, Kurt Angle). So, I’m not going to trash this one as bad as the others, because if I didn’t have such a disdain for the current product, this match would be my sole reason for ordering the event.
The Undertaker vs. Edge
- While this may be the only title match worth watching this WrestleMania, I’m still indifferent. Yes, they have been pushing this feud for about year. Yes, its Edge’s World Title vs. Undertaker’s WrestleMania Streak. But, no, I still don’t care. I can only attribute that to my lack of interest in WWE’s Smackdown! brand. Honestly, who watches something that is comparable to the final days of World Championship Wrestling? Why waste your time.
- That was a little harsh. I’ll admit that. But, Smackdown! really does suck. It’s too bad that these two guys, who are incredibly talented, are stuck on a the B-show. Hell, I’d actually say Smackdown! is the C-show (even ECW is passable for being on for one less hour a week).
- Edge has proven to be an ingenious heel. The dude is making out with the late Eddie Guerrero‘s wife on network television. Additionally, Edge has cashed in his Money in the Bank opportunity in two innovative ways, each time after the champion went through a previously grueling match. I’m a fan. Though, we’ve seen Edge face off against the Undertaker in other variations. And I’m sure we’re going to see it again. Probably, on Smackdown! next week. For free.
Money in the Bank Ladder Match
- This has become a tradition for WrestleMania in the past few years. The concept of this match is that whoever climbs the ladder and grabs the briefcase is the winner and gets a title shot within a one year period. Last year, Ken Kennedy won the match and lost his title shot to Edge. So, um, what’s the point of having a Money in the Bank Ladder match if the winner can lose their privilege at a title shot? Seems contradictory.
- With Jeff Hardy‘s recent 60 day suspension, and exclusion from the Money in the Bank Ladder match, we are left with only other seven participants. They didn’t even bother replacing Jeff Hardy’s spot. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if they substituted one Hardy for another. You know, to see if anyone notices. Or cares.
- I’m not going to downplay that these matches tend to be quite entertaining. It may be good enough to outshine everything else on the card. But, is that really saying much about the rest of the card? Is one great match worth sitting through nine other predictable matches?
To close, I’d like to say that if this year’s WrestleMania exceeds my expectations, and since hindsight is always 20/20, I’ll admit that I jumped the gun and may catch the replay. But, I didn’t bother with WrestleMania last year. I felt that choice was justified when I read the review following the show. I have a feeling that this year will not be much different. Therefore, I will not be ordering WrestleMania this year.
God Bless The Internet.