For Your Consideration…The Importance Of The Post Wrestlemania RAW

Welcome back. First and foremost, I would like to congratulate the Florida Gators on demonstrating yet again why they are the most dominant school in college sports right now. Oh, and to Ohio State, be thankful we don’t have a women’s lacrosse team.

Oh yeah, Wrestlemania was this weekend also. I thought the show was good. I’m not leaping out of my chair with excitement but I’m not fleeing from it either. This year’s Wrestlemania was a solid if unspectacular program that delivered what it promised and nothing more. Allow me to elaborate

Cena v. Michaels was a damn good match. It was probably match of the night. I’m going to repeat that, because that’s the type of thing that bears repeating. John Cena was in the match of the night at Wrestlemania. This can be attributed to two things; either Shawn Michaels is a miracle worker or John Cena is actually getting better. Now I won’t decide which because frankly I’m not even sure what the answer is. What I do know is that fans have to stop booing Cena out of the building. He isn’t the abomination he once was, and it’s clear that people are booing him because they think it’s “cool”. Cena worked his ass off in that ring and he deserves some respect for that. And this is coming from a guy that was all for the booing of Cena last year.

Batista v. Undertaker was a fine big-man match. The right guy went over in the end and Batista proved that he still has something there worth watching.

Money in the Bank didn’t seem to have the spark for some reason. It just didn’t work for me. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination and I can appreciate the fact that these guys almost killed themselves and each other in the ring. I think it has to do with the fact that the big spot of the night felt forced. Now, wrestling is not known for its logic, but when you’re in a ladder match, you’re supposed to be motivated to win. Worse, this isn’t just a ladder match, but rather Money in the Bank. This is supposed to be a match that gives you a shot at the gold and a shot at the upper card. When Jeff Hardy went for the big spot instead of going for the suitcase, it highlighted a pretty major problem for the credibility issue. This guy chose the high spot over the purpose of the match. If we can’t be tricked into thinking that the wrestlers care about the match, then why should we? Jeff’s dive off the ladder looked cool as hell, but it didn’t further anything other than neutralizing Edge. It made this look more like a stunt show and less like Wrestlemania. I kinda hoped that this was going to be the start of a character change in Jeff Hardy, that he was going to get called out for going for the big moment as opposed to going for the win. Instead, we got a cool moment that took me out of the flow of the match.

Khali versus Kane was sad for two reasons. First, the fact that I was watching Khali versus Kane. Second, the fact that Kane was being turned into a jobber on the grandest stage of them all. Kane was always a great go-to character and could always come back from any loss due to his loud pyro and imposing physique. This, however, is something he might not bounce back from. Worst of all, it was pointless. The Great Khali looks imposing because he’s over seven feet tall and possesses like 9 chins, but Vince will never let this guy near a title, so why push him? Face it, he ain’t Andre. Not by a long shot. Andre the Giant looked imposing and captured the imagination of the fans despite his limited in-ring repertoire. Khali looks relatively interesting and no one cares about him. No one bought a ticket to see him. Kane, on the other hand, is a great monster. He’s capable in the ring and has the look of a genuine lunatic. Now look at the finish of the match. Kane looks really weak and Khali looks like someone who makes me want to change the channel. This match was where reasoning came to die.

ECW Originals versus the New Breed was forgettable. This was the debut of ECW on Wrestlemania, and they gave the fans a true taste of what the new ECW was about disappointment. This should have been the hardcore junk match of the night. This should have captured the Kane/Raven/Show match from 17. This should have at least been as fun as the hardcore battle royals, where the match might have sucked but at least is was a mildly entertaining time-waster. This did nothing to elevate anyone. I think it was summed up best when it dawned on me that this might be Rob Van Dam’s last Wrestlemania match, and that sucked the last bit of potential enjoyment out of this pile of rubble.

Battle of the Billionaires got mainstream press. Battle of the Billionaires got people who knew nothing about wrestling to talk about wrestling. Battle of the Billionaires gave the fans what it promised, a bald billionaire. Was the match good? No. Was it overly memorable? Not really. It had the Shane-terminator, it had like 20 stunners, it had Trump/McMahon physicality and it had entrance music for a barber’s chair. Unfortunately, the chair’s entrance got more of a pop then Lashley. I don’t know why the mainstream fans haven’t latched onto this guy considering his size and look. I will give it to Vince; he was willing to shave his own head to get this guy over. Unfortunately, since Vince was willing to make that sacrifice, it means that he isn’t abandoning Bobby any time soon, so get used to Lashley being lodged in your throat for a long time to come. (Ewww)

The divas match has been getting a lot of flack, and to that I say, “So what?” We know how bad the woman’s division is, but at least this was short and got some T&A out there and gave the crowd a chance to rest up. I refuse to believe that anyone thought this was going to be anything more than it turned out to be.

MVP versus Benoit wasn’t the offensive spectacle everyone predicted, and while heaping universal praise on Porter would be a mistake, I will say that he did an acceptable job in there. How much credit does Benoit deserve? Let’s put it this way, Benoit is the Karl Rove to MVP’s Bush. Benoit was the mastermind and MVP was the one who got the inexplicable adoration from people.

There you have it, Wrestlemania. All that and I haven’t even gotten to this week’s topic. Sorry for the scattershot layout this week, but I think Wrestlemania affords me special circumstances.

My concern isn’t about Wrestlemania as much, because I think that my favorite night of the year is always the day after. The RAW after Wrestlemania is traditionally the biggest show of the year, which brings me to this week’s issue:

For Your Consideration The Importance of the Post Wrestlemania RAW

Wrestlemania is the biggest event of the year. Even when WCW was around and Nitro was owning RAW almost as much as Florida owns Ohio State, people still cared about Wrestlemania. It’s like a holy day for pro wrestling fans, and no matter how bad the show is, it tends to always get the benefit of the doubt.

While Wrestlemania is the culmination of 364 days of storytelling, it is day 1 that concerns me most. The post-Mania RAW is almost as important as Wrestlemania itself. Back in the days of the Monday Night War, it meant that both RAW and Nitro were going to put on the best show possible. It also meant a rare ratings win (or at least made it close) for the WWE, something that RAW loyalists rooted for on a consistent basis. It was a roadmap, a chance to look back at where we’ve come from and look forward to where we’re headed. Most importantly, it was the one night where the fans’ goodwill was unwavering.

Last night, Vince squandered the goodwill of the people and dropped the ball. The moment in my mind that sticks out as the major shift in the company was the night after Wrestlemania 14 when Triple H brought out X-Pac. It represented the turning of the tide, the moment where it looked like RAW might finally be able to beat Nitro. The moment that Hunter called out X-Pac was one of those “magic” moments that sticks in a fan’s mind.

I also think that the night after Wrestlemania 17 was a milestone RAW. That was the night when Austin solidified his heel status, and the two-man power trip of Steve Austin and Triple H was formed. That set forth some great moments and who knows how great it could have been if Hunter hadn’t torn his quad?

Which brings us to last night. After a slapped-together Wrestlemania that was compensating for the loss of Hunter and a face/face title match, I was expecting last night to show us where we’re going. Instead, I got more of the same. Shawn’s seething hatred towards Cena seemed justified but uninspired. So now Michaels and Cena hate each other, so what? Didn’t John Cena just make Shawn Michaels tap out in the middle of the ring? This makes Shawn look like a prick, and that’s fine except I don’t see Vince turning Shawn heel. Also, what more can HBK and Cena do? Somehow the WWE turned this makeshift feud into something intriguing, but can this carry over for another show? And now that Edge and Orton are staking their claim, does this mean we’re getting a fatal 4-way? And aren’t Edge and Orton the guys that Vince just thought weren’t big enough to main event Wrestlemania?

Also, Lashley versus Umaga was tolerable when it was put into the sports entertainment machine that was the Battle of the Billionaires. Putting it as the main event of the “biggest” RAW just shows how little deference Vince has for the fans. No one wants to see this match and no one cares about Lashley.

Maybe instead of giving us a retread from Mania and a 600 man battle royal, give us something fresh. Shock the fans. Create a stir. Do SOMETHING!!!! We’re sick of the same stagnant circle pattern that the WWE is stuck in. Make us care about this show because if this keeps up, we’re all going to be Jeff Hardy on top of that ladder.

This has been for your consideration.