Over the last few years I’ve really stopped buying the Wrestlemania hype. Triple H v. Batista. Cena v. Whoever. You know, who cares. I’d usually skip to the Undertaker match and even those never really live up to the hype. But this year I preceded Mania by watching the excellent documentary/commercial The True Story of Wrestlemania, which I’d sort of half recommend. The first half was above-average quality, more like a mainstream doc than what’s typically produced by WWE, but the second half was much like any commercial you’d see during Raw. Still, it really put the grandeur of WM in context for me, so I was enthusiastic and hopeful, my cynicism kept almost entirely in check…but then:
Edge v. Del Rio: A big snooze devoid of even one interesting moment, no different than what you’d see on any episode of Smackdown. As Edge has admitted before, maybe he set the bar too high with those life-risking TLC matches.
Cody Rhodes v. Rey Mysterio: The exact same. I feel bad for Rey because he still busts out some very impressive moves, but once seen 10,000 times they really don’t blow your mind in the way Andre v. Big John Stud might have way back when.
Corre v. Big Show, Kane et al: Skipped it entirely, I’ll wait for the rematch on Superstars, where this match belonged.
Orton v. Punk: Decent wrestling, and I like Punk, but again I found myself zoning out since there was precious little I hadn’t seen before.
Lawler v. Cole: Even though this was probably twice as long as it needed to be, it was my favourite match of the night. The highlight was either announcer Booker T’s ecstatic, “Jerry Lawler still throws one of the best right hands in the business,” or yet another egregious case of Stone Cold’s drinking and then driving an all-terrain vehicle.
Taker v. Triple H: A solid match for certain, but really what happened here that didn’t at their previous Mania encounter, or any of the Undertaker’s recent WM matches? The one thing I look forward to every year is when Taker does his over-the-top-rope dive/swanton manoeuvre and comes within inches of breaking his neck each time. Like a devoted Nascar fan I sometimes wonder if I’m just tuning in for this eventuality. I mean how many more times do I care to see either of these men go through a table? And where was Shawn Michaels? Instead of Mr. Wrestlemania stealing the show with a run-in he was relegated to Bullet Bob Armstrong status in the HOF segment.
Laycool/Vicki/Dolph v. Morrison/Snooki/Trish: I was expecting a longer tussle between the two most talented guys on the roster, but there was precious little. Snooki’s backflips were another highlight in an otherwise lacklustre show.
Miz v. Cena: A better match than I might have expected from these two. Cena’s red shirt was a dramatic departure, if not quite the necessary game-changer w/r/t to the fact that most savvy fans hate Cena, excluding the pre-pubescent/female merch-buyers that will forever keep him at the top of the card.
I didn’t feel the Rock was quite as sharp as one recalls. In the opening segment his “When I say Yabba, you say Dabba” bit seemed a bit sophomoric and not up to the Rock’s sterling 1998-2003 comedic standard.
Sheamus v. Daniel Bryan: Not televised!
Conclusions: The WWE probably doesn’t need another Attittude era-esque revolution, as they are the only major player in the game, and I assume they are raking in money hand over fist. But even though they are developing plenty of “exciting” new talent and resuscitating the Austins and Rocks of yesteryear (with ever-diminishing returns), there is a feeling of staleness. Fortunately hardcore wrestling fans almost prefer wrestling to be terribly bad so they can be the snickering ironists that hardcore wrestling fans were born to be. In the future people will see WM 27 as a Hogan v. Sid Vicious type of non-entity in the grander historical purview of this world-class event.