Monday, March 9, 2015

WrestleMania Is Broken

Reigns will be left high and dry if Lesnar no-shows, and it'll all be Vince McMahon's fault
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Brock Lesnar has a chance to skip down on WrestleMania this year. It's one of the most confusing stories of the year, and Lesnar's disappearance from the show would sink a whole year of build to the coronation of Roman Reigns. But the fact that anything short of The Rock or Steve Austin beating Lesnar for the title in Rio de Janeiro before dropping it to Reigns at Mania would cause the main event to lose what little juice it already had is endemic of the problem that WWE has on its hands. WrestleMania cannot exist without a cadre of giant stars, and that is a huge problem. The event is broken, much like the rest of the company.

WWE's main event is a morass right now because the only two regular roster guys who are over are being forced out of it. Vince McMahon doesn't want Daniel Bryan as a figurehead in his company, and John Cena, who still looks like he could eat lightning and crap thunder for another five years, is the subject of a "he's too old" character makeover in an attempt to put over Rusev. The fact that anyone else who is over is a part-timer damns the process by which WWE creates new superstars. But this problem has been evident for awhile now.

The last wrestlers that WWE created arguably were Cena, Batista, and Randy Orton. Anyone else felt like they were set up to be fed into the wood-chipper. Any time someone got close, like Mr. Kennedy, MVP, CM Punk, Sheamus, Bryan, Alberto del Rio, and now Dean Ambose, they were placed in self-defeating stories where their characters were nerfed. Don't fool yourself; Punk should have been king shit of fuck mountain the way he came off during his initial Voice of the Voiceless emergence, but instead, it was used as fodder to make Triple H come off as the most intelligent person in history. Everyone is sacrificed for a different pet project that is either already established or who isn't sticking around.

So what happens when no stars are created? No stars are available to headline the biggest show of the year and make it feel more important than some shitty B-pay-per-view in the autumnal doldrums. All the stakes rely on part-timers showing up and being healthy enough to go. It's an unsustainable formula as the part-timers, who aren't around for a reason, start to drop off and leave no one behind.

If I can be real for a second, this year's WrestleMania should have been headlined by WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins defending against Royal Rumble winner Roman Reigns and Money in the Bank holder Dean Ambrose. If breaking up The Shield was going to be in WWE's cards all along, the endgame probably should have had the three members meeting up in one, cataclysmic showdown that didn't rely on a fickle beast whose mind is occupied by wanderlust for mixed-martial arts. Or maybe Cena should have broken The Streak and been the one to put Reigns over this year. Or any number of different plans could have been deployed.

But having to rely on Rock and Undertaker and Lesnar and Triple H and now Sting to wrestle in order to make the event feel like WrestleMania is a broken model. Having part-timers supplement the show is never a bad idea, and one could argue that from jump, guest stars were part and parcel of the Mania oeuvre. I mean, Mr. T was in the main event of the first one, but he was only one-sixth of the proceedings. Hulk Hogan, Jimmy Snuka, Roddy Piper, Paul Orndorff, and Bob Orton were going to be around afterwards, or at the very least, if they were leaving WWE, it would have been to go to Jim Crockett Promotions, the AWA, or some other competing promotion that WWE doesn't have against it today.

Odds are Lesnar won't no-show Mania, but if he does, then McMahon has no one to blame but himself for not having a contingency with juice behind it. WrestleMania shouldn't be the biggest show on the calendar because the part-timers take over; it should be the paramount because it's the culmination of the roster's work the whole year. Someone who will be around the week after should be able to make a WrestleMania moment, and that set should not be limited to two guys tops. Mania cannot be fixed this year, but going forward, McMahon would be wise to follow a better model, build at least two more big-time main event guys, and work on creating a sustainable midcard where wrestlers can thrive outside of the main event and be called at the ready when they need to make a run in the future.