The Common Denominator – “Wrestlemania Reflections & The Heel/Face Dynamic” (John Cena, CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler, The Undertaker, The Shield, Ryback, Brock Lesnar, HHH)

Hello, my Common DenomiNation of Justice…or whatever. Before I get to the main point, I figured since everyone else was weighing in with their Wrestlemania Reflections, I would too.

First off, I will preface my comments with the declaration that I am solely looking at this from an entertainment standpoint. I spent $70 to watch this show with my kids (and to a lesser extent, my wife, who was in and out of the room). That’s actually a little less than I would expect to spend taking everyone out to see a movie, let’s say “The Groods,” since I am sure that’s coming, so basically if this show was at least as entertaining as going to see a movie with my family, I’m okay with the expense. And when it comes down to it, I was entertained. My kids were entertained, and I was able to watch it in stunning HD from the comfort of my living room, so on that end it was a success.

I will note the general disappointment in my home about the nixing of the Brodus Clay, Sweet T, & Funkadactyls vs. Team Rhodes Scholars & The Bellas match. Sadly, it had one of the better builds leading up to the show. Upon realizing the match would not take place, my middle child said, “But…but…Somebody should call his Momma!” Yeah, we did get the match on RAW the next night, but it does make me a little mad that they felt like the 8,000 promos for a show we’ve already purchased and the mini Diddy concert were more important than an advertised match. And yes, no one ordered the show specifically for the Funky Bunch vs. Brains & Boobs, but the exact same number of people ordered the show for the Diddy concert (and there’s no telling how much they paid the guy).

We had our own little Family Roundtable during lunch yesterday. I, of course, gave my “real” picks and my “what I would like to see” picks. I can’t say there were any real surprises, outside of being sure Ryback would win. I guessed Henry was being kept strong for a feud with either Cena or Del Rio. If that’s the case, fine, but I think it would have made more sense to have Ryback hit the shell-shock for the win and THEN have Henry destroy him post-match. Oh well, by the time RAW was over Monday night, the actual result of this match was the last thing anyone was worried about.

The Shield vs. Orton/Sheamus/Show match and Team Friendship vs. Ziggy and Biggy match were both a lot of fun. I was also glad to see Bryan interacting with the crowd and enjoying his Wrestlemania moment with them. And I think the crowd at both Mania and RAW showed just how hot DB and Ziggler are right now.

So, Fandango can now claim that he beat the man who beat Stone Cold and the Rock in one night to become the first ever Undisputed Champion. Now what? Not a bad match, but I’m not sure Fandango’s gimmick has, umm, legs. Unless, the crowd singing his theme song becomes a regular thing. I guess Y2J is going to be his “dance partner” at least until the next pay-per-view.

Didn’t see the Miz/Barrett match. I like both guys just fine. Not sure what the point of a one-day IC title reign for Miz was. Maybe the lack of a real face reaction means Miz’s time is drawing short with WWE? Maybe a shift to more of a announcer/interviewer role?

My wife has been impressed with Zeb’s ability on the mic. During ‘Mania, I gave her a long discourse on the history of “Dirty” Dutch Mantell. Thankfully, Swagger lost. Now that he has served his purpose (injuring Del Rio and allowing Ziggler to cash in the MitB briefcase) I hope he can just go away now, but I’m afraid that will not be the case. I was chanting along with the “We want Ziggler!” faction Sunday night, and the whole living room popped Monday night when he did cash in. Here’s hoping that SummerSlamm is headlined by Ziggler vs. Bryan for the World Heavyweight Championship.

Just a brief note: I’m not the first to mention this, but you would think that it would be hard for 80,000 people to be quiet, but they were for a lot of the show. I’m sure it makes sense from a financial standpoint, but if it’s going to be this subdued in New Orleans next year, I wish they’d just decide to have Wrestlemania XXX at MSG. Just a flat crowd for most of the night, especially considering the red hot smarky crowd they had for RAW..

Okay, I thoroughly enjoyed Taker/Punk. I don’t really think there was much they could have done to make it better given the circumstances. I was still hoping Punk would somehow pull off the win, but I certainly have no problem with the streak continuing, what with WM 30 on the horizon. Let the speculation on that match-up begin! Having said that, when Undertaker came out on RAW, only to be confronted by The Shield, only to have their thunder stolen by Kane and Bryan…well, that was super awesome in many ways. I had no intention of ordering Extreme Rules, but if this leads to a six-man between these guys, I may have to reconsider.

Brock/Taker was just boring. Sorry, maybe it was just my lack of enthusiasm for the match-up, but there wasn’t anything that really piqued my interest. The ending sequence was pretty good, with HHH and the repeated use of the Kimura Lock and Brock fighting out of it. I still think Brock should have gone over. I mean, he’s lost to Cena and HHH. Where does he go from here? HHH is advertised for Smackdown. Does this mean he thinks his presence on the “B Show” is a selling point, or does Trips realize that no one cares enough about this feud for it to be on RAW?

As for the Main Event. The ending sequence was very entertaining. I’m actually glad to see the title back on Cena…assuming we can get some new match-ups. My wife was even happy to see Cena finally get a win over the Rock and regain the title. They tried for the “mutual respect” thing at the end of the show, but the crowd didn’t really get into it. Have I mentioned how much the crowd sucked for this show?

Anyway, I’ve seen probably 15 Wrestlemanias live on pay-per-view, and this was not by any means the best (WM17) or the worst (WM9) in my opinion. I have no regrets in ordering it.

Okay, so the crowd at last night’s RAW, to me anyway, highlighted just how far from the pulse of the wrestling fanbase the WWE’s finger actually is. To quote Jason Lee’s character from “Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back,” “See, here’s the pulse. And this is your finger, far away from the pulse, jammed straight up your ass.” Now, I understand some of that (okay, a LOT of that) crowd was just basically taking a collective crap on the WWE’s plans and screwing around just to have fun, but you know, if the fans who were watching that show and are going to be at next week’s show saw that and decided, “hey, that looked like fun!” and it caught on, then maybe, just maybe, the fans actually could get through to the WWE higher-ups and the guys we want to see get pushed actually get pushed, and the guys we don’t like can either be re-packaged or used as fodder for the other wrestlers or just gotten rid of altogether. Like Johnny Ace would say, that’s some real “People Power.” I’m not a diehard Attitude Era guy, but there did seem to be more of an effort to A) simply establish a character and allow that character to develop, B) not have a roster entirely made up of strict face/heel characters, C) push the guys that were over.

People have been talking about a Cena heel turn (which, technically we saw on RAW, in a moment I thought was cute), an Orton heel turn, a Ziggler face turn, or whatever. I could be overanalyzing, but it seems like they might be getting away from the strict face/heel dynamic somewhat. I mean, Kane and Daniel Bryan have been interchanging almost at will between being heels or faces. Did Ryback’s actions at the end of RAW constitute a heel turn, or was he just a man who wants the WWE title and was just sending a message to the champion? I’m not sure Big Show even knows what he is right now. And in the end, does it matter? I mean, the WWE wants to compare favorably to mainstream sports, particularly UFC. The UFC does not have heroes and villains! The fans cheer for fighters they like, and they pop for exciting action. Brock Lesnar, for example, was simultaneously one of the most hated and most popular guys in the promotion during his MMA career.

Some people are just “natural heels,” just because of their personalities. Randy Orton has never changed his style, mannerisms, or attitude despite numerous heel/face changes. The only thing that has changed has been how the announcers describe their actions and who he gets matched up against. The fans just like him and will cheer him pretty much no matter what. Contrast that with Sheamus who went from badass heel to goofy joke-cracking face and many of the fans turned on him. Why couldn’t he just be a badass face? Wasn’t that a winning formula for Stone Cold? If they try to force someone into a category, especially if it’s one that the fans don’t buy into, it just frustrates the fans and makes the product less enjoyable.

Case in point: Even with all the terrible things Punk did and said in his build-up to his match with Undertaker, there were still thousands of fans at Wrestlemania cheering and chanting for him, even against the beloved ‘Taker and with the streak on the line. And look, in cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase and winning the World Heavyweight Championship, Dolph Ziggler made a face turn. Yes, they will still match him up against face contenders, and yes crazy AJ will still be at his side, probably with Big E running interference, but no crowd is ever going to boo him again. He MIGHT get out-cheered if he’s wrestling, say, Bryan or Jericho or Punk, but that’s about it.

I’m not arguing that the WWE should cater to the fans’ every whim (I’m not saying that they shouldn’t, either). If there are plans and storylines that they want to execute, then go for it, but be willing to listen to what the fans want and give them something to get excited about. They have missed out on some great opportunities recently, including Alex Riley immediately following his split from the Miz (or a true face turn moment for Miz himself when he was over), to the chance for a hot-shot Elimination Chamber WHC win for Santino last year, to Kofi Kingston’s push against Randy Orton, to the outright shame that was (and is) their handling of Zack Ryder. And I still say the top of the card at Wrestlemania this year should have been Rock vs. Undertaker and WWE champ CM Punk vs. John Cena, where Cena finally gets his clean win against the guy he could never beat in the big one, but oh well.

I’m not really treading new ground here. They kept Randy Savage and Jake Roberts away from Hulk Hogan for years because they got cheers against their hero champion. Same goes for Sid Vicious. It’s my money, my time invested in watching your programming, my opinion. Don’t tell me who to cheer and who to boo. Present your product and let me make my decision. And once you know what I like, give me more of it. Let John Cena be who John Cena is. He seems like a clever guy with a pretty quick wit. Some people will like him no matter what, and some will hate him no matter what.

Let me decide.

Well, since I’m kind of on a Daniel Bryan kick, and since Batista has been in the news a bit with his casting in the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and really just because someone recently mentioned this on some thread I was reading about awesome short matches, here’s Daniel Bryan vs. Batista from a while back…

Anyway, thanks for reading.

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