Random Thoughts from the Office: March 26, 2010


Just the name alone invokes grand memories, no matter how bad wrestling may be almost every fan looks forward to Wrestlemania. I still have fond memories of watching Wrestlemania I on free to air TV on a Monday night after it aired. I was almost 4 at the time and for some reason I thought SD Jones was the unluckiest guy on the planet and then there was the main event: even at 3 I loved Roddy Piper more than Hulk Hogan. A lot of argument has gone on to this day about who "Made" Wrestlemania, was it Hulk Hogan or Roddy Piper? (Technically it would be Vince since it was his idea and his money in the first place but I'm talking about who made the show a success.) Maybe I'm biased with this as I'm a noted Hogan Hater but I've always had a very simple philosophy when it comes to wrestling and big events.

Babyfaces sell MERCHANDISE.
Heels sell TICKETS.

Roddy Piper is the man who made Wrestlemania. Yes, Hulk Hogan was the biggest name star in wrestling at the time and indeed still is the biggest name in wrestling today, but a strong babyface is only as strong as the heels he has to face. Piper was perfectly billed as "The Man you love to hate". He wasn't the best wrestler, he was barely what you'd call good (although he could have good matches, like his Dog Collar match with Greg "The Hammer" Valentine at the first Starrcade can attest) but Piper had a big mouth and wasn't afraid to use it: he would rile the fans into such a frenzy that they would pay to see him get beat up. That's why the WWE hardly ever put him on TV in wrestling matches, instead using him in Piper's Pit. If you wanted to see him get shut up you had to buy a ticket.

The one time they really did expose him to a TV audience is was to set up their big show. "The War to Settle the Score" - on MTV no less - after Piper attacked Cyndi Lauper and Captain Lou Albano during a Gold Record presentation. This match was the prime example of the "Hook and Drag" philosophy of the time in wrestling. Not many remember that the match was total garbage, but everybody remembers when Piper, Orndorff and Orton had Cyndi Lauper surrounded again that Mr T jumped the rail to defend her and promptly got killed doing it. The Wrestlemania main event was born and the WWE did not screw it up. They put Hogan and T out there for the world to see to get everyone excited for it and countered with Piper doing what he does best: being a dick on their programming. The result is history. Wrestlemania drew a huge number, Vince McMahon became very rich, most of the territories in wrestling died and the WWE became a powerhouse that is still around today.

Which brings me to Wrestlemania XXVI and specifically the Undertaker-Shawn main event. The big debate is will this match go on last? After all there is precedent for it, Wrestlemania XI's main event was the match between Bam Bam Bigelow and Lawerence Taylor. There's no doubt in terms of crowd heat that Taker-Shawn II: This Time it's Personal is the main event and plenty of people are saying after the debacle that was Orton-HHH last year this year it HAS to go on last. However I say it CAN'T go on last and it can't for a very simple reason.

In 24 of the 25 Wrestlemanias so far, the WWE has booked the main event to "Send the fans home happy" (Before anyone asks, the exception was Wrestlemania XVI [2000] when HHH retained the title in a four corners match]. Usually with a title match and because Good must ALWAYS triumph over Evil in the end in wrestling, it ends with the plucky babyface challenger beating the Evil Heel champion who has made his life hell for the past month or however long it has been. Tried, true and it works.

Turn that logic to Taker-Shawn, the stipulation is Streak versus Career. So either way we're seeing history. We either see the greatest streak in Wrestlemania history end or arguably the greatest WWE career end. From what I've seen from fans online not only in the WWE universe but other message boards, opinion is pretty much 70-30 Taker winning. But let's say for the sake of argument that we suspend our disbelief (which even though we are all Smart Marks nowadays we still do), because that's when we are happiest, when we can suspend that disbelief and believe it's real. Let's give each man a 50-50 shot and for the sake of argument again let's say that Taker does the expected and wins. What happens? The Taker fans celebrate and go home happy, the Shawn fans go home disappointed because their man lost and his career is over. Flip the script and it's probably worse. The Shawn fans will be delirious that their man is still able to compete in the WWE. The Taker fans and a lot of fans who love the streak will be immensely pissed off (To use the Wrestlecrap Forums as the example, imagine the blowup on the WWE forums if Shawn wins). And don't even get me started if they do what a few fans believe and go the Taker-Kurt Angle finish of Shawn tapping to the Hell's Gate just as Taker gets pinned.

There is no way out of pissing off someone in that match; you can't send all the fans home happy and that's why it can't main event.

Compare that scenario with Cena-Batista. Almost everyone hates Batista in the WWE Universe while Cena is ten feet tall and bulletproof. You follow the half and half match that is Taker-Shawn with this match. Batista beats up Cena for 10 minutes and just when things seem their worst, Cena does what he's done so many times to the anger of Smart Marks everywhere: he overcomes the odds and wins. Except this time it actually works, Batista doesn't lose anything as he got surprised by Super Cena, Cena raises in triumph, the WWE Universe goes home happy. Simple, Safe and this case totally the right option for the WWE to choose.

There's no doubt in terms of hype that Taker-Shawn is the main event of Wrestlemania. But to actually put it in the main event slot is to ignore history. It wouldn't surprise if I'm wrong I have to say, but I'm still betting that at the end of the night the WWE will "Send the Fans home happy" and Cena-Batista is YOUR main event.

Clarence "Showstealer" Mason

No comments: