No Chance – What I Learned From WrestleMania (and the night after)

The Importance of Entrances: I have never been a huge fan of The Undertaker’s entrance. It’s long, he walks slowly, and usually that first gong is a good signal for a bathroom break because I have plenty of time to get back before he ever gets to the ring. But this is not a specific complaint about Mr. Taker. Entrances always take a good bit of time, and that gets cranked up to 11 during WrestleMania. Sometimes this quite entertaining, such as the giant inflatable Awesome Miz used to bust through at big shows. Sometimes it’s a bit sillier, such as the mini concerts we got for both Rock and Cena last year. But a good entrance, done right, can create quite an impact. Take the two entrances for Taker and CM Punk this year. Two incredibly different styles of entrances for the two incredibly different men, helped set a stage for the matches we were about to see. On the other hand we have the main event, which just had the competitors walking to the ring (though some more complex stuff may have been cut in the interest of time.) But whatever the reason, the first part of that match just felt off, as if we weren’t quite built up to that match, even though the bell had rung.

I’m a sucker for callbacks: Two favorite moments of WrestleMania, and they are my favorite moments for the same reason. One is when Daniel Bryan tried to beat Ziggler in eighteen seconds after he kissed AJ, and the other was when Cena started to perform the People’s Elbow on the Rock only to stop at the ropes. In case you weren’t able to figure it out, in both cases this was a direct reference to an incident that had happened at the previous WrestleMania. And in a type of entertainment where continuity is often the first thing to go, I will admit to getting a little giddy at seeing someone reference something so specific that happened the previous year. Plus Cena’s face when he pulled out of the People’s Elbow attempt was a perfect, smug “Suck It, Internet!” face. It probably won’t be anytime soon, but that guy’s going to make a great heel someday.

The importance of the next generation: If there was one true problem with WrestleMania, it was how undeniably predictable the three main event matches were. Sure there could have been an argument made that Triple H was in his retirement match this time around, but most were pretty much convinced that he would be the victor of the evening. See that is one of the biggest problems when it comes to guys that wrestle on a part time schedule. When they do come back, it’s for one specific reason. The Rock came back to pass the torch. Undertaker came back to continue to be undefeated at WrestleMania. Because we know that these guys are here for a limited time, it’s much easier to figure out exactly what WWE has planned for them, and where their storylines are going to go. From the moment that The Rock announced he would be competing for the title at the Royal Rumble, most people were able to figure out exactly what story beats WWE would be following between the Rumble and Mania. And they were right. Now think to some of the mid card matches, such as Team Friendship vs. Ziggy and Big E. That match could have ended in a number of different ways. Team Friendship’s dynamic continues to work, so it’s easy to see them continuing to carry the titles. However, the crowd is so hot for Ziggler, perhaps he will be tag team champion. Big E is new but has support back stage, what does that mean for the guy’s future. Add in the briefcase, which throws a constant wrench into any predicted booking, and you’ve got solid arguments for multiple outcomes happening. In this instance, each near fall is far more believable as, we don’t know, where WWE is taking this storyline in the next weeks.

 At the end of the day, the crowd is everything: Every now and then, a wrestler, usually one who has just won a championship or a hard victory, will get the mic and say to the crowd present, that this win is for them, and without the crowd they would be nothing. It’s a nice sentiment, but one that we don’t put much stock in. Sure the crowd has sway, but at the end of the day, there are a few very specific voices backstage, and if they want something to happen a certain way, that’s the way it’s going to happen, regardless of how much I complain about it on the internet. But every now and then there is a crowd, a crowd that’s so loud, so entraining, and works so well together, that they just can’t be ignored. In the past few years, we got to see, Chicago turn CM Punk face, and the guy continues to get cheers despite six months of the WWE trying to get us to boo him. In Miami, the crowd “YES”ed Daniel Bryan from losing his Mania match in eighteen seconds to the WWE Championship scene a few months later. But here’s what’s truly great this time around. The WWE is admitting it. Videos of people singing Fandango’s theme have appeared on WWE’s YouTube account, and official statements saying what a great crowd Raw had this Monday. This is the same company that in the past year tried to play off the “YES” chants as crowds mocking Bryan and having Lawler say that a loud and clear “Lets go Ziggler” chant was for Sheamus. Hopefully, this is a case where the crowd is just loud enough, and just rambunctious enough to make a difference.

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