“We are 24 days away from WrestleMania!” yells Michael Cole.
How sad is it that I don’t feel the usual jolt of excitement that would accompany those words? I am such a sucker for WrestleMania hype. I savor every superlative, every video package, every passionate promo. And if it’s a poor build that year, I just invent my own damn hype!
Sting vs. Triple H is going to be a horrible match. Anyone who “yeah, buts” me about the wrestling itself is delusional. However, I will eagerly anticipate the grandeur of their entrances, and the surreal nature of Sting being in a stadium for WrestleMania. All he has to do is remedy that hair situation, that’s all he has to do, and I’m fine with whatever happens between the bells. (I have a very grave look on my face as I type that.)
The ladder match has loads of potential, and even though things never clicked at Fastlane, I think Stardust and Goldust have potential as well. It’s unfortunate that they’ve taken the “hot potato” route with the IC belt, because as I and many others have said already, it devalues the title, AND has already been played out, with 24 days to go. You’d think with all of the experience under their belts, WWE would have some sense of pacing for the build to Mania. Some shit peters out a month in advance, and other shit gets thrown in during the copyright warning that opens the show. Matches get too much time, matches get dropped… for a show of its reputed caliber, the poor planning defies explanation.
And while I have no problem with John Stewart as the token celebrity, it pains me to see Seth Rollins being occupied by him. As much as he’s improved, Rollins doesn’t have the mic skills to hang with him, and it reflects poorly on one of the company’s best wrestlers. And as one of the company’s best wrestlers, he should be having a proper feud culminating in a singles’ match. I’d say this seems like punishment for the tweets about his junk, but I believe Vince would see this as a vaunted position on the card.
The last match that I’ll comment on is Rusev/Cena, because I was really turned off by Cena’s promo on Raw. You don’t have the face of the company call a woman a bitch, when that face is supposed to be geared towards women and children. If I was letting my kids watch that, it would be TV off goodnight, and I’d be insulted. Because I don’t think Cena is supposed to be a heel. He supposed to be the vulnerable good guy, battling his evil boss. There is nothing heroic about him these days, and whoever thought that promo was a good idea can suck it.
Maybe I’m having a harder time inventing WrestleMania hype than I thought I would. Let’s watch Smackdown, shall we?
In-Ring Promo: Dolph Ziggler and “friends”
Dolph comes out wearing the IC title belt that he stole on Raw. He cuts a promo on the other ladder match participants, and they all come out and beat each other up, and Truth takes the belt.
He runs into Renee Young backstage, and tries to give HER the belt once she explains that he’ll have to climb a ladder for it. It’s taking some getting used to this stupid-is-as-stupid-does side of R-Truth, but he is working it OUT.
Cesaro/Kidd vs. Los Matadores
Lawler: I wonder what Los Matadores use to cut their pizza?
Cole: I don’t know, what?
Lawler: A pair of “little caesars”! [in Hispanic accent]
Byron Saxton: L-O-L on that one.
Los Matadores are so bad that Cesaro is practically wrestling himself. In some cases, he is LITERALLY wrestling himself. The highlight of this match comes at the end, when Cesaro gets Diego into a giant swing, and Tyson Kidd dropkicks him mid-swing. It’s hilarious and merciful.
Ryback vs. Kane
Meathook clothesline for the win. That’s all you need to know, if that.
Big Show stands at ringside, ogling the Andre trophy, and fans chant “You sold out!” at him. It got my tired brain thinking about how impressive it would be if fans started chanting the “John Cena sucks” song, but instead of only chanting it to the tune of Cena’s entrance theme, they chant it to the tune of all the other wrestler’s entrances! Just imagine it, set to the tune of Kane’s music:
“JOHN! CE! Naaaaaah… SUCKS!”
And everyone would be trying to stay on key and at the same pace as everyone else, and it would be a total disaster, and awesome.
After Ryback wins, Kane gets mad and immediately books a match between Ryback and Big Show. Big Show wins by knockout punch, with lots of interference by Kane. And you wonder why my mind is wandering off to such weird chant places.
Brie Bella vs. AJ Lee
I will say this: the Bellas should only ever be heels. It suits them well, which is ironic, considering they’re married to/dating the two biggest faces in the company. Before the match, they take the mic and monotone about AJ being on vacation, and “giving Divas a chance”, but not in the way fans mean. They’ve been giving Divas a chance to win the title, but none are up to the Bella standard.
Then AJ comes down the ramp, and she looks peppier and more engaged than she was for quite a long time before. Unfortunately, I think she’s a bit rusty in the ring, or maybe it’s just her lack of chemistry with Brie. AJ isn’t a heavy hitter, and she needs one to play off of. That’s why she shone with Kaitlyn, and has potential with Paige.
Mind you, this isn’t a bad match, and it gets time. If Brie could work on her consistency, and intensity, it would go a long way. She has bursts of possibility, weakened by a plodding approach to everything she does. In someone who’s so compact, you’d think she could really go. I don’t think she’s needed to. Conversely, her approach is pretty heel-ish. It’s cocky and frustrating, and at least she’s conserving her energy enough to pull out some decent moves when she’s ready.
AJ wins by submission, and when Nikki tries to sneak in and break it up before the bell, Paige drags her out of the way. This was a good match, and a good build towards a tag match at Mania.
New Day’s Kofi Kingston and Big E vs. The Miz and Damien Mizdow
I will admit that the build to Mania for Miz/Mizdow has been good. I’m fine with the stupid Niagara commercial, because it gives Miz something to react to, and quite frankly these penis jokes are better than the D-X rooster ones.
Mizdow acquits himself so well in the ring that Miz ejects him from it, only to be beaten by Big E. Mizdow stands nearby, looking smug.
I don’t know if they should have more than one match though, what do you think? Like if their first match is at Mania, it makes sense to me that Mizdow wins it. Then it’s over. Hmmmm.
Jack Swagger vs. Rusev
These guys have a good match, because they allow Swagger a lot of offense, and some clever offense at that (when he senses that the Swagger bomb is about to be countered, he quickly shifts to the ankle lock). It’s all to no avail, of course, but it’s nice to see Swagger in an outing like this.
After the match, Curtis Axel appears on the Titan Tron, with a classic Hogan rip-off promo. He challenges Rusev to a match on Raw. “WHATCHA GONNA DO WHEN AXELMANIA RUNS WILD ON YOU!”
Okay, time to weigh in on this: what do you think of the overt Hogan-ism? I thought Axel did better on Raw when it wasn’t an impersonation. The concept was fun, and funny. Now it’s lame.
Ziggler/Ambrose vs. Harper/Barrett
It’s the battle of jeans and trunks, and R-Truth (who also wears jeans when he wrestles, so that’s going to be a very denim ladder match) is at the announce table yet again. I don’t mind at all.
“Do you think you could talk to someone about not having the belt hung up so high?”
So will Truth be the comic relief, having multiple shots at the ladder and being too scared to climb it? Again, I don’t mind, as long as he’s the palate-cleanser between thrilling bits of ladder action.
Ziggler wins after a zig-zag on Harper. Post-match, Barrett tries to retrieve his belt from Truth, but Ambrose takes him out. Then Harper confronts Truth at the bottom of the ramp, and Truth knocks him out with the belt, clicks his heels, and marches off. He encounters Daniel Bryan at the top of the ramp, gleefully hands him the belt, and Yes chants away. I can’t figure him out, and in the words of Bobby Heenan, I LIKE IT.
Bryan celebrates with the belt, and is attacked from behind… by Stardust??!! I was NOT expecting that. No. No no no no no no… why his HE a part of this now? Isn’t he in a feud with his half-brother? What do you all make of this?