The Stomping Ground: A Critical View on the Build to Wrestlemania

Greetings, my loyal minions, for another edition of The Stomping Ground. As always I am your humble host, Mike Gojira. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s kind of difficult to talk about current events at the end of the week because by the time Friday rolls around you’ve heard and seen everyone’s (and their mother’s) opinion on the matter. Nevertheless, I intend to give you another look at what’s currently the hot topic making the rounds for the past few days: the build to Wrestlemania.

Now, I try to keep my work original, since constantly bringing up the same tired old arguments for the sake or arguing gets quite monotonous. However, being as unique a writer as I am (did I mention I was humble?), I decided that I would critique the build to each Wrestlemania match and cover the arguments my colleagues here on the Pulse have made over the past week. In addition, I will also predict where the ‘E will go with each feud after Mania has come and gone.

I think this is going to be yet another long read. Grab a couple of Steveweisers.

WWE Championship: The Miz vs John Cena
The Build: Something I’ve noticed that has been repeated over and over in both comments and columns is that The Miz is being overshadowed in this feud by the interactions between The Rock and Cena. I firmly believe that this was the way the match has been INTENTIONALLY built. Let me explain what I mean. The Miz as a heel is not overly intelligent. He is also not a powerhouse or a marauding monster. The Miz is your smarmy, cocky, cowardly heel who does whatever it takes to win and takes all the credit for his slippery getaways. Even if wrestling were 100% legit there’s no way anyone would think Miz could take on someone with the size and strength of Cena and win. The WWE, for all their faults, is not ignorant to this and booked the storyline to reflect that. We all know that Miz is losing at Mania, so in order to add some spice to this feud the ‘E has reintroduced The Rock. Despite the “Miz is an afterthought” argument he has consistently made a fool out of Cena week-in and week-out. The Rock’s involvement adds intrigue and brings in fans from the previous generation with the hopes that their eyes stay glued to the TV post-Wrestlemania. As an added bonus, The Miz has used this test to prove himself without backing down and has made for some compelling television, especially his promo three weeks ago egging on The Rock with his People’s Elbow to Cena.
The Outcome: After a couple of false finishes involving Alex Riley and shenanigans, Cena makes Miz tap out and becomes WWE Champion once again to the surprise of no one.
Aftermath: Miz uses his rematch clause for next month’s PPV (if it’s still Extreme Rules) with some sort of stipulation that doesn’t benefit Cena.

World Heavyweight Championship: Edge vs Alberto del Rio
The Build: Ever since the Royal Rumble, del Rio has claimed it’s his destiny (or “density” if you read Wheeler) to win the title at Wrestlemania. This is one match whose ending is not set in stone. On the one hand, Edge lost his last four Mania appearances (Money in the Bank at 23, vs Taker at 24, vs Big Show/Cena at 25, and vs Jericho at 26). He’s due for a win to break his own streak since last year’s horrendous face turn. On the other hand, del Rio has been pushed to the moon and would freshen up the main event scene on Smackdown quite a bit. Personally, I think del Rio should have waited until AFTER Elimination Chamber to decide on Edge. This would have made things more interesting on both Raw and Smackdown and would also better explain del Rio’s Raw appearances as of late. Adding Christian to the feud has added a bit more drama and intrigue, but if he’s not going to be in the match itself his attacks have come off as annoying, rather than heroic.
The Outcome: You know what? As I type this, I’m strongly considering giving Edge the win here.
The Aftermath: del Rio blames Christian for his loss and demands a match with him on Smackdown, which Teddy Long turns into a Number One Contender’s match. There is no clear winner, setting up my much-desired Triple Threat match at the next PPV, which del Rio will then win.

No Holds Barred: The Undertaker vs Triple H
The Build: I’m a little peeved at the build to this match for a number of reasons. Don’t get me wrong; the video testimonials have given this a “big match feel,” and I am anticipating it, but there’s just something off. Why couldn’t Triple H address Sheamus for putting him out of action and have a solid match with him? Why didn’t Undertaker address being buried alive by Kane and the Nexus remnants? Both of these issues could have been resolved BEFORE Sheamus’s United States Championship storyline and BEFORE Kane was added to Big Show’s Corre feud. Like everyone else, Triple H’s speech burying the talent left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, but I understand that he meant he’s done it all in the company (which is true). I’m also not a fan of Johnny Cash’s song as Taker’s theme because it takes away from the ambiance of his entrance. I know, I’m nitpicking here.
The Outcome: 19-0.
The Aftermath: Taker and Triple H disappear for a while, unless Taker returns to Smackdown to destroy the Corre and Triple H finds a new feud in Punk or Sheamus (Round 2).

United States Championship: Sheamus vs Daniel Bryan

The Build: I honestly can’t say there’s been any real build to this match. This was alluded to over a month ago with a backstage confrontation but nothing came of it until Sheamus’s losing streak forced him to threaten his career. Frankly I think Sheamus should have lost to Bryan, then disappeared until after Mania to join Smackdown. This is simply another case of Creative focusing more on the main events than the midcard. If Bryan wins, then Sheamus will have accomplished nothing. If Sheamus wins, will Bryan chase him for the belt or will he get shunted down the card?
The Outcome: This match should be used to make Bryan more dangerous. In order for that to work, he has to make Sheamus tap.
The Aftermath: I have no clear idea what they’re going to do here unless Morrison and Ziggler suddenly become contenders for the US title.

Randy Orton vs CM Punk

The Build: This match is expected to steal the show, and with good reason. Punk is a master of his craft, both on the mic and in the ring. His facial expressions are amazing; particularly at Elimination Chamber and a couple of weeks back when he had a stare down with Orton after a punt to his Nexus cohort. I hope they’re given enough time to pull off a great bout. I certainly don’t see this feud ending but it looks like the Nexus is officially dead unless they bring back Tarver, Sheffield, or any other castoffs after Mania. I want Punk to win so he can brag about surviving Orton’s assaults, but I don’t see the ‘E giving him that satisfaction.
The Outcome: Despite Punk’s brutal offense and chicanery, Orton wins a grueling match. He then attempts a punt but Punk escapes.
The Aftermath: The feud will continue, if only to keep both men out of the title hunt for now.

Jerry “The King” Lawler vs Michael Cole w/ Jack Swagger (Stone Cold Steve Austin is Special Guest Referee)
The Build: I have to say that out of all the midcard matches the ‘E has built up for Mania, this one was well-planned and expertly handled by all involved. For months Cole has been revealing his heel tendencies, beginning with his new-found love of The Miz after he won Money in the Bank and during the first season of NXT. I’ll admit that Cole’s heel turn was odd because it came out of left field. Take a look at his reactions to Miz before last Summer and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Over the last couple of months he has embraced his change in character and his heat is now comparable to that of Vickie Guerrero, which is not an easy feat. In fact this feud is the closest to perfection that the ‘E currently has going for Wrestlemania, with one exception. I believe that JBL should have remained the special guest referee for the match in order to make it seem as though Lawler had absolutely ZERO chance of winning. Austin could then make the save at the end of the match to a huge ovation.
The Outcome: Cole gets what’s coming to him, and hopefully we see the return of the piledriver.
The Aftermath: Cole and Lawler will work on separate shows to avoid each other for a while.

Mixed Tag Match: John Morrison, Trish Stratus, & Snooki vs Dolph Ziggler & LayCool w/ Vickie Guerrero
The Build: I was honestly hoping to see Ziggler and Morrison battle one another without the ridiculousness of Vickie/LayCool, but it’ll be fun to see Trish in tights again (What? I’m a warm-blooded male, after all). The match sprang up out of nowhere since there was no latent animosity between Morrison and Ziggler prior to Snooki’s appearance. And no, I don’t count Ziggler’s debut win over Morrison as the start of a feud. That was just to give Morrison an excuse to help Trish out. Since then, however, the match is coming along nicely and as long as Snooki doesn’t go total diva (according to reports about a taped segment for the go-home Raw, she’s already attempting that) it should be a fun affair.
The Outcome: The faces win, with Trish pinning Layla or Morrison dropping Ziggler.
The Aftermath: Ziggler and Morrison start a real feud and eventually chase the United States Championship.

Cody Rhodes vs Rey Mysterio
The Build: This has been a fabulously built match, stemming from before the Royal Rumble. It really has a lot to do with the nuances of Rhodes and his progression as a character. Who would’ve thought that Cody would have gone farther than DiBiase, Jr? For me, the only way this match can end well is if Cody wins. Why else would Rey have hand-picked him as an opponent? If you’re going to put over young talent, then PUT OVER YOUNG TALENT. I know that Rey has an Undertaker-like mentality to doing the job, but he needs to start thinking about the future of the biz. I can’t complain about the build, but I’d like to see Cody pick up the victory or this might have been all for naught. Yes, I know that sometimes a guy can lose and still look like a million bucks, but in Cody’s case I think a win over Rey at Mania would be better in the long run.
The Outcome: I’m pulling for a Rhodes win, but I think Rey will take this one.
The Aftermath: The feud continues into the next PPV, where Rhodes puts Rey out of action. Can’t have two luchadores on one show, right? (Sin Cara will most definitely go to Smackdown.)

Big Show and Kane vs The Corre
The Build: At the time of this writing, the match is not official, so don’t scream at me in the comments that the match somehow involves Kofi Kingston or Kevin Nash. Remember, this gets posted on Fridays and I don’t read the Smackdown spoilers. Anywho, I am a little disappointed in The Corre since they have great potential to be an excellent heel stable. Instead, they’re just a bunch of midcard bullies, far removed from the actions of the Nexus. I’m happy that Barrett and the boys get a Mania payday but I think it’s rather sad that they do so at the expense of a big man beatdown. Give them the Intercontinental Championship (Ahmed Johnson 2.0! Smell the buyrates!) and have Barrett chase Edge for the World Championship. Unfortunately, del Rio is the golden heel at the moment so The Corre has been relegated to the background for the foreseeable future.
The Outcome: Show and Kane win by pinning either Justin Gabriel or Heath “Generic” Slater.
The Aftermath: I honestly have no idea. If The Corre wins, they could claim to have taken out two giants and move on to Kofi. If they lose, do they continue to feud with Kane and Show? I hope not.

And there you have it. Notable mentions for wrestlers who don’t have anything to do go to Kofi Kingston (what the hell did he do wrong? He’s been jobbed out every week or isn’t even on Smackdown and he’s the god damn Intercontinental Champion!), Drew McIntyre (what a shame!), and the Divas (such as Eve, Natalya, and Kelly Kelly). Christian will likely be involved in Edge’s match somehow, and Borscht Marinara (love that name, Wheeler) will probably help out Kane and Show or be involved backstage in one way or another. Evan Bourne is an Airborne Afterthought again and Mark Henry…is not needed on my television screen.

Random Thoughts
I don’t have much in the way of random thoughts this week, but I can’t wait for the debuts of Awesome Kong and Sin Cara. I can’t say I’ve ever been excited for a WWE Diva, but Kong is a beast and needs to crush the roster before facing Beth Phoenix in a titanic clash at Summerslam. That’s how I’d book it: let her run through the other Divas month in and month out until Beth steps up to the plate. Sin Cara will add some star power to Smackdown and is desperately needed there as a face.

Cheap Plugs
Who to plug, who to plug……hmmmm. Steve Murray has returned to the Pulse with his thoughts on last Monday’s Raw which you can check out here.

Everybody’s favorite irate lesbian Penny gives her thoughts on concussions in wrestling after suffering from one herself.

FLEA loves to plug older columns (from nearly ten years ago) in his latest Saturday Evening Post.

Mark Allen loves my work, but will never admit it (he has a problem with commitment). Nevertheless, here is his latest masterpiece.

Finally, fellow “lyrical motha fuckin’ wordsmith” (thanks, South Park Kanye) Jonah Kue has a more in-depth look at the build to Cena/Miz.

By the by, I’ve been looking for a good image to have for my column, but I’m no good at creating one. Can someone come up with an image of, say, Godzilla in a wrestling ring or something to that effect? I would be eternally grateful.

Until next time, so long and thanks for all the fish.

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