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The Wrestlemania 26 thread: The Undertaker ends Shawn Michaels career, Bret Hart makes me sad


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Cageside Seats liveblog

 

Dave's coverage at F4WOnline

 

Weird show. Looked great on paper, wasn't so great in execution. The 3-way was surprisingly good with a crowd that cared a lot more than I expected them to, MITB was fun with some innovative spots like Kofi's stilts, Dave-Cena was very good with a great finish, and Michaels-Taker was great with an even greater finish, but the rest was pretty underwhelming. The tag title match and Rey-Punk didn't get any time. Jericho-Edge was mind-numbingly dull but the post-match spot was cool. HHH-Sheamus was nothing as a match and pointless without Sheamus going over or looking like something special. Bret-Vince was bizarre and sad. It was Bret slowly beating on Vince with some help from his niece and nephews for ten minutes with no offense from Vince as the crowd loses interest. It was clear that Lloyds of London decreed that Bret couldn't get hit or even put in any holds. I guess they felt like it had to go ten minutes, but with the restrictions, that killed the match. It should've been nothing more than a Bret flurry, the Hart Attack by the Dynasty, one or two low blows, and the Sharpshooter, in that order.

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I enjoyed this show way more than I probably should have.

 

I agree that Punk-Rey and Tag Title didn't get enough time but both were good while they lasted.

 

I enjoyed the three-way but thought there were some wierd stalling moments that kind of broke up the flow for me .I didn't know if they were selling doubt in attacking former friends or if they forgot what they were going to do next.

 

HHH-Sheamus was a good RAW TV match but not a good PPV match. Trips shouldn't have gone over but whatever.

 

MITB was not one of my favorites.

 

Bret-Vince was a complete mess. They should have just been surrogates for Cena-Batista and had Bret lock Vince in the Sharpshooter after.

 

I disagree with Edge-Jericho. I thought it was pretty good throughout and the build-up to the big finale was well worth it. Someone mentioned it at DVDVR, but they deserve credit for getting the crowd back in the swing of things after Bret-Vince killed the crowd.

 

I really enjoyed the two main events.

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It was a great show. I can't imagine what peoples expectations must have been like coming in to think this show was bad. The match that we knew would suck sucked and it was put in an awful spot on the card, but other than that and Punk v. Rey being a great short match as opposed to a great long match, I thought everything on the show was better than could have been guessed coming in.

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Ok, time for "Jérôme hates WWE" moment of the year.;)

I pretty much fast forwarded through most of the show after having to get through the first hour or so. I guess WWE really passed me by. I find the homegrown talent dull and pretty much unwatchable. Rey vs CM Punk was a good ECW TV match, and you can feel the difference between them and WWE "talents".

Really the only thing that interested me was the Bret and Shawn matches... Yeah, I'm from the 90's folks... Bret was just sad to watch. The double cross was painfully obvious. Diana still looks hot after all these years. The match itself was pretty shitty and really, coming back for *this* ? I hope he got paid shitloads of money and appeased his heart or whatever, because as a spectacle, it sucked.

Taker vs Shawn was a good match, but not a great wrestling match by any stretch of the imagination. Problem is that it's a self-consious epic, like all big WWE match, with obligatory finisher counter and kick outs.... At least these guys know how to work, it shows the gap between workers from their generations and the new guys (when you compare with the robotic, obviously rehashed style of Cena, Batista, Orton etc...). The announcing is fucking atrocious though. I mean, god awful stuff. Ruined every nearfall and the actual fall but being so obvious about it. Ok, so post match is all emotionnal and shit, and at least the announcers shut the hell up during this, which was the right thing to do, and Lawler saying goodbye at the end was a nice touch. I can't say I give a shit about Shawn Michaels now, although I was a big fan of his when I was 17, but it was still kinda moving, not because the guy is retiring (frankly, I couldn't care less), but because it's clearly a big part of my teenage years and my youth that I see go away. Isn't that ironic that Bret and Shawn finally get the big sendoff of the same show ? With Bret looking sad and Shawn looking "great" ?

Anyway, like I said, I do think WWE passed me by. The fact that I realized last Christmas that my niece and nephews watch the WWE now and are big fans just makes it all more odd, as I used to be a big fan. And now I can't really share that with them like I could have before. Odd to find yourself in the position of being the "old jerk" who only enjoys old stuff. Well, at least as far as US wrestling goes, since everytime I watched a modern puro show I enjoyed it a lot, so maybe it's not all wrestling that passed me by. But since I was brought up on US wrestling and particulary WWE, it feels kinda odd. Anyway, I'm rambling, but these thoughts to me were more interesting than the matches themselves.:) I guess in a way I wish I could enjoy the current product, but I just can't, and with each years passing it's getting more and more difficult to even try to watch it.

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Oh, two remarks about the Mysterio match. First, it says how much out of the loop as far as current pop culture I am when I just didn't make anything out of Rey's costume before one announcer mentionned Avatar. Yeah, I'm one of the few human beings in the western world that just didn't watch that movie...

Second, I found that pretty ironic in a very twisted way that rey would "pay hommage" to Eddie in this match. CM Punk is an evil straight edge guy, right? And Rey is the face who pays hommage to his dead drug addict friend... Just made me chuckle !

 

Ok, so when does Shawn comes back now?

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That said, and after reading some very mixed reviews from DVDVR, a board that's pretty much very pro-WWE, including a "Why Cody and DiBiase have a job ?" remark that warmed my heart (I don't see shit on them, they look like jobbers on Nitro circa 1996), maybe I'm not that much of an old jerk, and maybe the show was just not that good with lot of really boring stuff and a overhyped main event.

Maybe, just maybe, WWE product really does suck and it's not me who is an old jerk.;)

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That said, and after reading some very mixed reviews from DVDVR, a board that's pretty much very pro-WWE, including a "Why Cody and DiBiase have a job ?" remark that warmed my heart (I don't see shit on them, they look like jobbers on Nitro circa 1996), maybe I'm not that much of an old jerk, and maybe the show was just not that good with lot of really boring stuff and a overhyped main event.

Maybe, just maybe, WWE product really does suck and it's not me who is an old jerk.;)

I was actually thinking the same thoughts as you. I also questioned myself as to whether this show was just boring or I'm just sick of and not interested in WWE and wrestling. After seeing people say that there were so many great matches and HBK/Taker was just as good as last years, I'm beginning to think it's just me. Thankfully, I have Memphis wrestling to watch :)
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Shawn/Taker and Cena/Batista were exactly what I expected - not much of a 'story' but following that 'Wrestlemania Epic' template - tease finisher, escape, finisher, nearfall, finisher, reversal, finisher etc with characters who are really over. And I like that kind of match when it's done on the big stage by guys like this who can do it really well, so I enjoyed those 2 matches.

 

Didn't care much for Jericho/Edge, I'm just not a fan of either of them at all. Rey/Punk was really disappointing, didn't seem to go much more than 5 minutes, they had a better match on Smackdown not long ago. Rey is always a disappointment at Wrestlemania, not necessarily his own fault. HHH was just an OKish average but dull RAW main event, totally forgettable. MITB did nothing for me, seen it all before, and I've forgotten anything about the three way and the tag title match.

 

Bret/Vince was just brutally bad. Horrible booking where a 60+ year old is getting endlessly beaten by a large gang of supposed babyfaces which made Vince seem like the sympathetic character. Sadly but predictably Bret looked awful, although maybe this match was fitting as the end of one of the worst and most ill-advised comebacks ever. Everything about this was awful.

 

But overall, I really enjoyed it, like I do most Wrestlemanias. I love the huge arenas, the big spectacle, the amazing production and the final 2 matches, so thumbs up.

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A lot of the show struck me not as bad but as flat.

 

The 3-way was structured fine, but Rhodes and Dibiase just don't have much presence at this stage. It felt like Orton beating up a few goofy kids who acted up in class.

 

MITB had too many guys and fewer memorable spots than in past years. Why did MVP or Kane need to be in there, for example?

 

HHH-Sheamus exceeded my expectations until the end, which seemed too easy and featured an awful pedigree.

 

Punk-Mysterio was great while it lasted, but I'll be pissed if that was the feud ender. I hope it's like the Rey-Eddy feud in '05, where the Mania match was just kindling.

 

Others have covered the failings of Bret-Vince but Christ, they could have done something to make Vince seem sinister at least. Bret's speech about thwarting his bribery plan was so ham-handed and ill-timed. I kept waiting and waiting for the next phase of Vince's malevolent plan. Without it, Bret's victory felt so hollow. One of the worst Mania segments in recent memory.

 

Jericho turned in a strong performance against Edge, but why do the most memorable spot after the match? Like Sheamus-HHH, it exceeded my low expectations but isn't something I'll remember.

 

Cena-Batista was good but never achieved the clash-of-titans feel I was hoping for. I wanted to see resentment drive Batista to extreme actions. I wanted to see Cena sell a real beating and then do something memorable to overcome it. Instead, they just had a solid wrestling match with some nifty counters and spots. Maybe it's something I'll like better on rewatch.

 

HBK-Taker was the one match that felt like a big deal. Great selling performance by Taker. I've seen people complain about all the finishers but come on, it's the two most (storyline) resilient guys of their generation in one of the most hyped main events ever. By the end, they really seemed like desperate old men willing to risk death so they could stay in the light a few moments longer. That's the kind of broadly melodramatic shit I want from Mania.

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On Bret Hart's return it's HHH who does a possum spot? I thought Hunter's match was fine but I like him more than most. I knew the finish half way through it was total formula for him. Playing possum on one of the guy's two finishes is a bit... but they killed enough time between and they saved the Razor's Edge. I actually think HHH should've gone over. Now I realise WWE isn't All Japan but Seamus not being able to beat Hunter now; assuming he does down the road and is focused on it, and wins clean, it puts him over far more than a mid-card win. HHH hardly shit on the guy and the commentators were putting him over so I'm fine with what they did.

 

MitB was what it was. I don't think TLC I can be beat in that setting so at least they toned it down. Surprised Shelton didn't do something though.

 

Vickie Guerrero is awesome. She gets a bigger reaction than every other diva combined, and when they screw up the finish she just keeps splatting Kelly. Awesome.

 

Cena/Batista was fine, good even, but it wasn't the big epic that the two biggest stars of this generation should have. I preferred the SummerSlam match actually.

 

Bret/Vince was just... I mean, fuck.

 

Taker/Shawn was great for what it was. I actually think their match last year was more of a conscious epic... what with the "do stuff, reset (dives), finishes" whereas at least this had somewhat of a more natural progression and a great, great finish.

 

I was disappointed Rey and Punk was so short... but... assuming this feud continues (and it should it's been great) then using this match as a preview of what's to come down the road is fine with me. The Havoc DDT wasn't the worst it's been botched and everything else (especially the quebrada->GTS) was great. Am I the only one who thought Konnan rather than Avatar?

 

Overall I found the show fun. It wasn't the best Wrestle Mania ever, but it was a good show that left me satisfied all things considered and I'm fine with that.

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Yeah, and Dave sounded so confused over it and wants to find out more about the thought process that went into that terrible match.

 

Undertaker's selling was really fantastic throughout the main event. 'Taker's been a guy that for the last decade has been getting better and better at selling (both in very subtle ways and very melodramatic theatrical ways), and this sell job might be the best one he's ever done. Like Dylan mentioned on DVDVR, the match had it's share of flaws, but they accomplished a really cool main event that felt special.

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I was thinking that Vince and Bret were convinced that the people who still cared about the Screwjob wouldn't be satisfied with a quick victory, and wanted to see Vince get beaten up for hours by Bret AND the Hart Family. And I felt that Vince blading a gusher would have made the whole long, boring middle part great.

 

And as blah as it was, Vince scaring off Harts on all sides with the crowbar fucking ruled. "Yeah, yeah..who's bad now?" was Striker's best call of the night.

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My standards must be really low now because I enjoyed the show. Then again, I didn't stick by WWE through the lean years either, choosing to pass them by from 2003 to 2008. Any footage I watched from those years was after the fact and usually for comps. I just started watching WWE programming on a regular basis lately and have really enjoyed it. It's probably because I am not tired of the characters that others are calling stale and boring. I also don't have some pre-concieved notion of what WWE is supposed to be and kind of expect what I get coming in instead of having them try to hold up to my high standards.

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And as blah as it was, Vince scaring off Harts on all sides with the crowbar fucking ruled. "Yeah, yeah..who's bad now?" was Striker's best call of the night.

No way was that better than Striker saying that Natalya would be wished well in her future endeavors after she slapped Vince.

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Putting aside nostalgia, Wrestlemanias in recent years are so much better than they used to be in the 80s and 90s. So many of the older WMs were long, bloated, boring cards full of short, meaningless matches, whereas now the cards tend to be a lot tighter and each match has a reason for happening, and the midcarders are kept occupied in the MITB match or a pre-show battle royal. The incredible production and large arenas, the way it's built up and the various events surrounding the show like the HOF give it much more of a 'big event' feel than in the past, even with all the other PPVs we have now. Some of the more fondly remembered older ones were made memorable as a result of a big main event but they'd usually have something like 13 other matches as well, most of which were pointless.

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I agree!!! Since WM 17, Mania really hasn't had a big miss. There were more than a handful of bad Mania cards prior to WM17. I usually exempt 1 and 2 because they were still finding their way. However, WM 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15... all overall mediocre cards. Yes, each one had its memorable moments but the overall cards sucked.

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Well, I disagree completely. Personally, I still have more desire to watch a mediocre show from 89 or 93 than what is seen as a good show today. Outside of Punk and maybe Jericho, I couldn't even imagine a blander and less convincing set of personalities than what is seen in WWE today. You can probably get 20 different muscle heads off the street and program them to act and wrestle exactly like Cena and Batista. Also, the commentary is horrendous. And stylistically, other than Rey, it seems to me like everything is looped. It's like a college football team where they recruit different players but have them run the same plays.

 

With all that said, plenty of people seem to like current wrestling, so what do I know?

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Well, I disagree completely. Personally, I still have more desire to watch a mediocre show from 89 or 93 than what is seen as a good show today. Outside of Punk and maybe Jericho, I couldn't even imagine a blander and less convincing set of personalities than what is seen in WWE today. You can probably get 20 different muscle heads off the street and program them to act and wrestle exactly like Cena and Batista. Also, the commentary is horrendous. And stylistically, other than Rey, it seems to me like everything is looped. It's like a college football team where they recruit different players but have them run the same plays.

 

With all that said, plenty of people seem to like current wrestling, so what do I know?

Well, seems like you are channeling my brain. Couldn't agree more with everything you said here, word for word.

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Two thoughts stirring in my mind. Keep in mind I have not seen either WrestleMania or Monday's Raw.

 

Bret mentioned Davey Boy and Owen being proud of him after beating Vince? He really has no problem bringing up very real deaths to get over a storyline?

 

Does Triple-H ever notice that he keeps wrestling the same plodding, methodical style and none of his matches are ever remembered as fondly as The Undertaker's, who actually adapts his move set and has made many improvements in overall work rate? Does he still think he's this generation's Ric Flair or is he content to let Shawn have that title?

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Well, I disagree completely. Personally, I still have more desire to watch a mediocre show from 89 or 93 than what is seen as a good show today. Outside of Punk and maybe Jericho, I couldn't even imagine a blander and less convincing set of personalities than what is seen in WWE today. You can probably get 20 different muscle heads off the street and program them to act and wrestle exactly like Cena and Batista. Also, the commentary is horrendous. And stylistically, other than Rey, it seems to me like everything is looped. It's like a college football team where they recruit different players but have them run the same plays.

 

With all that said, plenty of people seem to like current wrestling, so what do I know?

There is some of that I agree with with regards to the blandness and sameness of a lot of the wrestlers, especially the in the lower and mid card, but I think Cena is a phenomenal babyface and Batista has been such a great heel recently - most guys will never be able to have that much charisma.

 

As for the quality of WMs now vs then, I disagree. I generally prefer older wrestling but the cards are so much better structured now. Looking at the WMs between 88 and 93: First WM I ever saw 'live' was WM 6, and I had fondly remembered it for the epic main event and the cool arena but if you watch it again it was pretty horrible. Aside from the main event there were 13 matches, most of which were pointless with no real story, only one of which went over 10 mins (the very disappointing Jake v Dibiase match), 7 of which went under 5 mins:

 

1 Rick Martel defeated Koko B. Ware 03:51

2 Demolition (Ax and Smash) defeated The Colossal Connection (André the Giant and Haku) © (with Bobby Heenan) 09:30

3 Earthquake (with Jimmy Hart) defeated Hercules 04:52

4 Brutus Beefcake defeated Mr. Perfect (with The Genius) 07:48

5 Roddy Piper and Bad News Brown fought to a double countout. 06:48

6 The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart) defeated The Bolsheviks (Nikolai Volkoff and Boris Zhukov). 00:19

7 The Barbarian (with Bobby Heenan) defeated Tito Santana 04:33

8 Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire (with Miss Elizabeth) defeated Randy Savage and Sensational Queen Sherri 07:52

9 The Orient Express (Sato and Tanaka) (with Mr. Fuji) defeated The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty) by countout 07:38

10 Jim Duggan defeated Dino Bravo (with Jimmy Hart and Earthquake) 4:15

11 Ted DiBiase © (with Virgil) defeated Jake Roberts by countout 11:50

12 The Big Boss Man defeated Akeem (with Slick) 01:49

13 Rick Rude (with Bobby Heenan) defeated Jimmy Snuka 03:59

14 The Ultimate Warrior (Intercontinental Champion) defeated Hulk Hogan (WWF Champion) 22:51

 

WM 4 had 16 matches, 13 of which went under 10 mins and the atmosphere in Trump Plaza was horrible. WM 5 had 14 matches in the same arena with the horrible atmosphere with 12 matches under 10 mins, even thought the build to the main event was amazingly built up. WM 7 had 14 matches, again 9 went under 10 mins but it was saved by the amazing Savage/Warrior match. I liked WM 8, 2 very good matches and less filler, but WM 9 was shiity.

 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that as far was structuring a show goes and cutting out pointless filler and short, nothing matches and building up the featured matches, WMs now are far better than what they were back then.

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I'll agree with the generic promos and angles that need improving but the characters in WWE are all actually pretty solid. Way more convincing then the cartoon era characters that were coming out in the late 80s/early 90s that made me and so many others tune out of wrestling for a long stretch of time. I am going to list the main wrestlers in the Fed that are getting pushes and if there were better writers/bookers/more freedom to speak on their own, I have no doubt this would be the strongest the WWE roster/character development has looked in years.

 

John Cena - White rapper / Marine half-loved, half-hated by the audience.

 

Batista - Pink polo wearing bitter heel. Shit, this is like Lex Luger circa 1987 and Batista rules in this role.

 

Randy Orton - The Viper gimmick. Has done so much devious shit in the last 2 years that he is really only hampered by the Rated PG product being put out.

 

Rey Mysterio - Mini-super hero; the little engine that could; ultimate underdog in nearly every match he is in.

 

CM Punk - Straight Edge Messiah. It's no wonder that people use him as an example as what people like in wrestling since he is largely left to his own devices on promos and angles.

 

Big Show - Knockout King. Way more interesting than Andre the Giant's son. Bodyguard of weaker tag team partners.

 

Edge - Rated-R superstar pushed the boundaries of good taste and I'll admit he is stale right now in a Rated PG world. However, his work in E&C / husband of Vivkie shows he has the personality to stand out in general.

 

Chris Jericho - Still has some of the best delivery for a heel 12 years after his masterful 1998 run. Jericho needs a change in appearance more than anything but his promos and angles in 2008 ruled the world as well as delivering in the ring.

 

Christian - has absolutely come alive in the ring in the last year but I admit his character needs something dramatic to make him really break out.

 

The Miz - Real asshole but I think people can relate to knowing someone like this in their everyday life who they wish would get their ass kicked so he would shut the fuck up.

 

+++++

 

I am not saying that WWe is perfect and you can tell that the storylines/matches are dying a slow death when half the arena ia quiet for most matches. Still, the WWE's problem doesn't really have anything to do with the roster and more with the sanitized production of the shows. I agree that a large part of the midcard is really, really generic and that has been the difficulty in elevating new talent. Still, the main core group is more believable, more talented than any WWE roster has been in my lifetime.

 

Really generic guys who need a personality /gimmick change and quick... Jack Swagger (I need to think more about this guy since he is the new world champ), Sheamus, Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes, Ezekiel Jackson, Dolph Ziggler, MVP, Shelton Benjamin, Kane.

 

Kane and MVP had great gimmicks at one time but don't really have the wrestling chops to see them exceed.

 

Sheamus as Celtic Warrior isn't really anything to get excited about.

 

Legacy , Swagger, Jackson, Benjamin and Ziggler remind me of guys who don't really stand out in any way, shape or form. There is absolutley no reason for me to hate or like any of these guys.

 

I am sort of neutral on guys like John Morrison and Kofi Kingston who have shown flashes of being over but have never really show me anything that says these guys deserved to be pushed, personality or ring-wise.

 

I am ignoring guys like HHH, Undertaker, HBK etc. because those guys are instititutions and can become stale but can also deliver in compelling storylines.

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Problem with WWE for years now is that they have had all the talent in the world on their roster, but are unable/unwilling to develop any sort of identity for the company beyond "place where guys wrestle", and consequently, everything feels like it's either as generic as that description, or a sign of directions the company as a whole could take, but doesn't, because they just aren't into the whole "having a direction" thing anymore.

 

It might be worth pointing out that this is a "be careful what you wish for" type scenario to a certain extent. Going into the last decade, the big complaint on the internet about the WWF is that it was all about gimmicks and angles without enough emphasis on actual wrestling. Going into this decade, WWE is a promotion that routinely has long good wrestling matches every week on free TV and PPV, but the characters and angles are often generic, and even when they're not, it often feels like they're not doing as much with them as they could, and people are complaining about that. Neither complaint is wrong. No good reason we can't have both quality wrestling and quality storytelling. But this past decade should probably serve as a valuable lesson to guys making either argument.

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