Monday, March 31, 2014

WrestleMania 30: The Absent Player

Last year, the Undertaker's match at WrestleMania was different from all his past matches. Leading in, many believed CM Punk would be the one to break the streak. Then, a month before show, Paul Bearer died. The story behind the match became Paul Bearer, and speculation shifted to Taker winning for Paul.

While it is a much different situation this year, there is still a player involved who is not present. Paul Heyman has Brock Lesnar facing Taker as part retaliation for CM Punk.

According to Heyman's "pipe bomb" at the beginning of March, things changed for Punk after his WrestleMania loss to Taker. That was when things started going downhill for straight edge Superstar. That was a factor in his departure.

And, while Heyman is confident Lesnar is the one to break the streak, I am not so sure. Lesnar couldn't even defeat Triple H in a No Holds Barred match last year, and McMahons often lose big matches to favor the talent.

Another factor is Paul Bearer. He will be inducted into the Hall of Fame the night before WrestleMania, and, this year, we can watch the event live on the WWE Network. It will have to be an emotional night, and he will most certainly be on everyone's mind, even if the announce team doesn't mention his name during the match.

All of that, and there's no way the streak will ever break. Taker could be 99 years old wrestling Max Stratus at WrestleMania 80, and he will still somehow keep the streak alive.

I believe that at the end of the day on April 6, Taker will be 22-0 at WrestleMania.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

WrestleMania 30: The Title

Like many, I was incredibly disinterested in the WWE Heavyweight Championship match about a month ago.

I saw this match being overshadowed by other matches. Randy Orton can put on a show, but the fans haven't exactly been interested in him this year, and that may have affected his performance. Then, Orton wasn't given any favors with Batista as his opponent. Batista didn't exactly deserve the title shot, like so many guys in the locker room who will now get their WrestleMania paycheck from the Battle Royal match.

Now, one of those guys, the guy the fans wanted, could be added to what is now a Triple Threat match.

As an obvious response to the fans' plans to "Hijack Raw" each week since CM Punk left, WWE ingeniously had Daniel Bryan's character gather fans to "Occupy Raw." They basically kowtowed to the fans both in story line and real life. They not only went along with the rumored plan (at least since Punk left) that Bryan would face Triple H, but added what the fans wanted by adding Bryan to the title match if he beat Triple H. But, if Triple H wins, he gets to battle his former Evolution buddies in a Triple Threat match.

Do I like this? Does this make me happy?

Not exactly. I'm not sure if making this a Triple Threat match makes the match any better. Sure, the fan interaction will be better, but that's not all that makes a match. And, with the Triple H/Bryan match, yes, we are assuming Bryan wins. Doesn't he have to? And, what if he doesn't? Will the fans really get what they wanted in the end? Will the WWE simply take this opportunity to show the fans what they want isn't always best for business?

Maybe Orton v. Batista would have been a spectacular match. Maybe throwing Bryan in the mix will throw off some of the chemistry these guys have from working together in the past. Maybe putting Triple H in it will create a new story line branching off from the Evolution days (remember, Orton was Batista-bombed out of Evolution when Triple H gave Batista the signal to do so.)

I also can't help but wonder if Bryan's real life wedding to Brie Bella shortly after WrestleMania (April 11, if I remember correctly) will affect the outcome. Sure, The Usos both got married (one to Funkadactyl Trinity, in fact) and not only didn't take time off, but won the Tag Team titles. That doesn't mean Bryan would want the extra responsibility of being champ putting pressure on his wedding and new marriage.

While they did the expected with the Royal Rumble and pissed off the fans, and the entire arena chanting, "yes" at WrestleMania could be epic, I'm sticking with my orginal prediction from the Royal Rumble. I think the fans will get their "yes" moment at the end of the Bryan v. Triple H match, but that Batista will be holding the belt at the end of the night. Cowboy Bob Orton could even get involved in the result, as he did 30 years ago...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Story Teller

"I came here tonight to tell the story of a Paul Heyman guy."

Raw was in Chicago, CM Punk's hometown. It opened with "Cult of Personality" and Punk's entrance video. After enough time for the fans to celebratory cheer (and for me to say "holy sh*t," then call someone to make they were watching), Paul Heyman walked out on stage and proceeded down the ramp.

This was it. WWE was finally addressing the CM Punk departure.

Heyman sat cross-legged in the ring, and informed the fans this was his "pipe bomb." As only he can, Heyman wove his tale, blaming the fans and, finally, the Undertaker for Punk's departure. This, of course, set up up Brock Lesnar's match against Taker at WrestleMania.

Will this stop desires for Punk to return? Were the fans really cheering for Lesnar at the end of that segment when they once again chanted, "CM Punk?" Yes, the CM Punk chants continued throughout the night, but once again, this was in Chicago and there were those rumors that he would return...

The important part is Heyman beautifully constructed a story around Punk's sudden and previously unexplained departure. He made Punk a part of the story for WrestleMania without Punk having to show up.