Air Up There: 03.30.2012 – WrestleMania XXVIII… “Buildup” And The Bottom Line

As any regular readers probably know, I tend not to watch a lot of wrestling on TV, except of course, TNA for the past few weeks, but hopefully that will be over soon. I normally read what was on the show and will YouTube the highlights. I bring this up because I normally DO watch the RAW’s leading up to WrestleMania. This year, I watched the first 2 weeks of the buildup after the Elimination Chamber PPV, but between being pretty bored by the show, as well as reading backlash on the site here about “buildup”, I decided to just black out on WWE until WrestleMania. The only WWE I’ve watched is the odd snippet, and I only know what’s going on because of Scott Keith’s RAW recaps.

WrestleMania, on the other hand, is likely a show I’ll always watch. That and Royal Rumble (although the last couple years might have cured me of my love for Royal Rumbles.) I kind of grew up on it, and if you’re going to watch ONE show in full, it may as well be WrestleMania.

The point is, I’ve been reading a LOT of bitching and moaning about the WrestleMania “buildup”. And it’s not that I disagree in all cases, but really, it’s no worse than the usual stuff that WWE does. This is why I just decided to not bother watching almost anything leading up to the PPV. During the course of a normal year, I pretty much do the same thing. PPV’s are the climax – WWE TV is a wrestling-related variety hour. The odd time, you’ll see something good. But PPV’s are where the wrestling matches… which is what all wrestling feuds by definition must lead up to… happen. And you don’t need to watch all this buildup because they show you the highlights before the matches anyway.

This got me to thinking – why bother WATCHING the buildup if you think what they’re doing is idiotic? Let’s say that you think the buildup for Punk / Jericho is dumb. Is that really going to impact your enjoyment of the match? Because if it is, just don’t watch it. Just watch the match.

 

Do you really think some of the most shit-tacular matches from the last decade could have been saved by better story-telling? What would have needed to be done to make the World Title match between Kozlov and Triple H good? How about this upcoming match between Orton and Kane? Or 95% of all Diva and Knockout matches?

You know that awesome Mark Henry title run that happened last year? The “buildup” for that whole thing… was actually pretty decent. And that’s very rare in wrestling these days. You know why it didn’t work? Because the end result involved Mark Henry having to wrestle when he can’t even BREATHE properly.

Take a look at Savage / Steamboat from WM3 – generally speaking, most people like that match. Do you ever hear anyone say “the buildup for that match is one of the best buildups of all time!” or “that match would have been nothing without the storyline!”. Of course not. That would be silly. The match is what was good. Steamboat was the fiery good guy. Savage was the huge asshole that everyone hated. That came across in the match without having to have watched a frame of either of them before that to enjoy it. And the match is the most important thing that there is. That’s what it all builds to.

Chris Benoit .vs. Triple H .vs. Shawn Michaels was the main event of WrestleMania 20. That match is praised as a great wrestling main-event, and one of the only good Triple Threats of all time. The buildup for that match involved Shawn Michaels getting into the match by superkicking Chris Benoit in the face and signing a contract that didn’t have his name on it in the first place.

Hulk Hogan .vs. The Rock is going to go down as one of the biggest WrestleMania matches of all time. Generally speaking, most people like that match. The crowd went more absolutely unglued batshit insane for that match than any match I’ve EVER seen in wrestling. Do you think that crowd lit up because of a storyline that involved Hulk Hogan driving a mack truck through The Rock’s ambulance? Or because they had Rock no-sell the injury and be back in the ring in 2 weeks? Of course not. They liked it because Hogan and Rock played that crowd like a fiddle.

 

I tried to take different kinds of matches to make my point. But really, those are just a few examples. Listen, I’m not saying buildup can’t help a match. It absolutely can. But you can’t throw a fat fuck like Mark Henry in there with an untalented fuck like The Miz and expect anything but disaster. It doesn’t matter how good the “buildup” is or how good either is “on the mic”. Once they get in there, they pretty much don’t have any of that to fall back on. I don’t care if they’re fighting for a fucking rocket launcher. It’s going to suck. There’s literally no way around it.

One more thing before I go – I’m not ripping on the people who write wrestling shows. They’ve got a tough job. Consider that your average series that doesn’t get cancelled will sometimes go between 5-10 years. That’s a long time to do shows and not run out of ideas. Wrestling has been going on forever, and they have 10-12 hours of content a week. You can only find so many reasons for guys to get in tights and wrestle without rehashing old stuff or running out of ideas.

Obviously, if you ENJOY the wrestling TV shows and how they build storylines, then hey, Bob’s your uncle. For myself, I don’t enjoy about 90% of what they put out in that department. That’s why I don’t bother watching much of the TV and will focus on where the matches (that aren’t 3 minutes long) happen. That’s my personal preference, and I’m not suggesting that everyone likes the same stuff. What I’m suggesting is that if you don’t like the programming, stop watching the fucking show.

I’ve seen people who enjoy Chris Jericho and CM Punk say that they’re now NOT looking forward to the match because of whatever they’ve done with the buildup. This is just one of those things that wrestling fans do that I just can’t understand. Like, say you saw the match and it was great. Does that erase what, in your opinion, is a bad storyline? Or do you actually enjoy it less while it’s happening because you don’t like that Jericho said something about Punk’s dad? I’m legit curious.

Either way, despite how generally bad and boring WWE’s programming can be… I would suggest to any of you that they usually find a way to make WrestleMania a pretty decent show, by hook or by crook. Last year was the worst one I’d seen in a long time, but that doesn’t happen all that often. So just sit back and enjoy it. I think that Punk / Jericho is going to be great. And I’m sure that Rock / Cena, if it isn’t good, will probably at least be really fun to watch. Triple H / Undertaker… well, that remains to be seen.

You know what I’m looking most forward to? Shaemus. You guys spent months telling me how Shaemus was gonna be huge after this show. You were all so sure. So I’m looking very forward to seeing how they make that happen.

 

I won’t be covering WrestleMania in any capacity, I will be travelling to the US this weekend on a non-WrestleMania-related matter. I’m in a hotel that I won’t be paying for, so I can watch WrestleMania on hotel PPV without having to pay for it. (I don’t pay for PPV’s.) I’m planning on enjoying it, or not enjoying it – but either way, I will not be worrying about who called who a kung-pow whatever.

This has been “Air Up There”. Thanks for reading, have a good weekend, and enjoy WrestleMania.

I’ll be in my trailer.

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