March 31, 2010
WrestleMania 26 Reflections
One of the biggest WrestleManias of modern times has been and gone. It was well promoted, it was well attended & I would be shocked if it wasn’t well supported on PPV.
And I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Some of the matches delivered more than I expected, some exactly what I expected & some nowhere near what they should have, but that didn’t stop me staying up until 4 a.m. GMT here in Northern Ireland with my brother to watch Shawn slowly exit the WM scene (for how long? Let the rumours begin……….)
I enjoyed it as an overall show more than I have most of the WWE PPV’s over the last several years. That being said, I’m not oblivious to the WWE’s faults, of which there were several.
To show you what I mean, I’m going to list the results from WM XXV & WM XXVI (in match order) and see what difference a year has made, as well as looking at one or two other downsides from this year’s WM:
Dark match – Carlito/Primo defeated Miz/Morrison to unify the tag titles (lumberjack match)
MITB – CM Punk (winner), Kane, Mark Henry, MVP, Shelton Benjamin, Kofi Kingston, Finlay & Christian
25 Diva battle royal (won by Santina Marella)
Y2J defeated Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka & Ricky Steamboat (managed by Ric Flair)
Matt Hardy defeated Jeff Hardy in an extreme rules match
Rey Mysterio defeated JBL (to win IC title)
Undertaker defeated Shawn Michaels
John Cena defeated Edge & Big Show (to win World Heavyweight Championship)
HHH defeated Randy Orton (to retain WWE Championship)
Dark Match – Yoshi Tatsu won a battle royal
Big Show/Miz defeated R-Truth/John Morrison (to retain Unified Tag Team Titles)
Randy Orton defeated Ted DiBiase & Cody Rhodes (Triple Threat match)
MITB – Jack Swagger (winner), Dolph Ziggler, Shelton Benjamin, Drew McIntyre, Christian, MVP, Matt Hardy, Evan Bourne, Kofi Kingston & Kane.
HHH defeated Sheamus
Rey Mysterio defeated CM Punk
Bret Hart defeated Vince McMahon
Y2J defeated Edge (to retain World Heavyweight Championship)
Michelle McCool/Layla/Maryse/Alicia Fox/Vickie Guerrero defeated Beth Phoenix/Kelly Kelly/Gail Kim/Eve Torres/Mickie James
John Cena defeated Batista (to win WWE Championship)
Undertaker defeated Shawn Michaels (no DQ, no count out, Career v Streak)
What are (in my opinion) the main positives to come out of the last year, comparing PPV to PPV?
The tag titles made it to PPV.
MITB was won by, at very best, the third favourite & not the obvious choice thankfully (McIntyre).
Maybe we’ve heard the last of the Montreal screw job.
A lot more of the younger/newer talent was shown, and pushed, on the actual PPV (DiBiase, Rhodes, Swagger, Ziggler, McIntyre, Bourne & Sheamus) rather than be stuck on the pre-show/dark match.
Oh, and no celebrity involvement!
Any downsides from last year to this?
No IC, US, Divas or Women’s title matches (regardless of the reasons why).
HBK. No more need be said.
Notice any similarities?
This generation’s Hulk Hogan, namely one John Cena esquire, won a heavyweight title on both PPV’s (albeit a different one each time).
Half of this year’s MITB competitors were in last year’s as well (stagnant & no useful storylines from the writers).
Miz & Morrison were in the tag title match (although this year they were not only on different teams but they were also on the PPV itself).
Both had a (relatively) pointless battle royal – although this year’s wasn’t on the PPV. And before anyone says anything, yes, I know, it’s just to get everyone a WM payoff (has anyone ever thought that this is genuinely generous of Vince? Just saying……)
Both featured a ‘legends’ match.
Both had someone retire on the show (as did the year before, with Ric Flair).
HHH defeated a heel that the WWE had been trying to give a red hot push to.
Both had a lumberjack match.
Starting to see my point?
In some respects, not a lot has changed from last year to this. The build up to this year was superior as far as I’m concerned, but WM always brings out the best in the writers.
I know we say it every year, but now more than ever the WWE needs to push more guys up the roster. With HBK gone & Undertaker on the verge of it, they need to start thinking. I don’t buy the argument that they’ve pushed no-one recently – if nothing else, Sheamus & Drew McIntyre are testament to the fact that they have, and it looks like the Hart Dynasty might be finally receiving their overdue push. I’m not convinced on McIntyre, but he has supporters in the right places (for now).
And whatever everyone may say, John Cena ALWAYS gets a reaction one way or the other, so although I don’t think he needs to be in the title picture constantly, I have no problem in him being at the top of the card. It would be nice to see him feud properly with someone they’re trying to elevate (not like the waste of his Miz feud last year). I think it would have been fun to have Swagger do hit and runs on Cena & threaten to cash in his MITB briefcase but never do it, so that people want to see the match eventually, rather than what happened on Monday night where Swagger looked like a chicken. (Since I wrote this, the scene has changed dramatically. In case any of you haven’t seen the spoilers I won’t divulge it here. Let’s just say it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.)
Release some of the old ECW crew who they’ve no plans for (see me column from a few weeks ago), as well as some of the other dross. Get ready for (some of) the NXT rookies in the lower mid card and elevate some of the current mid card and see if they can handle the pressure up top.
And I know that this will never happen, but how about next year that if MITB happens that Shelton qualifies first & the heels mock him by saying he’s always the bridesmaid and never the bride at WM, leading to him winning the MITB, popping what is usually the WWE’s most loyal & hardcore crowd at WM and having a chance higher up the card. Hey, it’s a thought!
One more thing, and this one irks me more than anything else.
Without a doubt the most pointless absence at WM can be summed up in two letters:
When I heard that Jim Ross had signed a short contract extension I assumed it was to let him see how he felt commentating on some of WM before seeing if he could return full time or just commentate on the PPV’s (which would be my choice).
But no. It was not to be.
Quite simply, it looks like Vice did it just to avoid him going to TNA during the weeks leading up to WM. On the one hand I can understand it – and I just don’t mean from a paranoia point of view. Jim Ross has been involved at a high level in WWE for years, not just announcing. He’s recruited talent, oversaw & read through booking sheets, transformed house shows and, perhaps at the forefront of Vince’s thoughts, been involved with the WWE payroll.
Yes, JR would know what certain WWE wrestlers were earning, and if he was in TNA he could use that to make them better offers. Would he do it? From what I know of him, probably not. Could he do it? He had the knowledge, so of course he could.
Is this the real reason Vince signed him? I would hope not (and given the last set of TNA ratings figures, he rally has no need to panic!). But not having JR commentate undeniably was a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face. He could have helped talk through the emotion of the Hart/McMahon match. He could have added to the drama of the Batista/Cena match. And above everything else, he could have lent much needed gravitas to the Undertaker/HBK match.
The decision to have him at the event, but only watching it from a private box (if we are to believe what we hear) was one of the most asinine decisions in years. It actually left me hoping that before the main event someone would crash through the announce table, taking Michael Cole out and leaving a spot open for JR to call one match at least.
I know that WWE need to plan for the future with their wrestlers, and they certainly need to do so with their announcers, but they have problems. Lawler and Ross aren’t getting any younger, Cole isn’t the same guy he was when he was paired with JBL and Striker hasn’t been allowed to be himself since he was a revelation on ECW.
But common sense needed to prevail, if even for one night. Vince got so much right in the build up to this year’s WM, but with this one decision he really spoilt the night for many fans. (Please note, this is not intended to bury Lawler, Cole & Striker for their performance on the night, but to simply say that Ross should have been allowed to call something. If you don’t believe me, HBK called him ‘the best announcer of all time’ during his farewell speech on Monday night. Enough said.)
And back to the reason for this column!
Some great things have changed since last year’s WM (and some others would have if Jeff Hardy had kept his head together and not left the company) and some things haven’t really changed, but it’s far from doom and gloom.
I’m quite optimistic about the next few months in WWE – I really think we could see some experimentation in the upper-mid card/main event, but if the guys are to get over then they need to stick with them (look at Kofi as an example. Thanks Randy!)
Let me know what you think. As ever, many of you will agree, many will disagree and many will have their own ideas. But that’s what’s great about this crazy business!