Miami Heat


Wrestlemania is almost impossible to put into words. There is so much to take in. The spectacle, the matches, the crowd, the atmosphere. Ultimately, it is WWE hitting the reset button and initiating a new year of programming.

Wrestlemania 27 was not nearly as good as it was made out to be. There were a lot of fans feeling let down after last years event. It all felt so half-assed, thrown together and poorly executed minus the Triple H vs Undertaker Match.

Wrestlemania 28 was a thousand percent better.

This isn’t to say that Wrestlemania 28 didn’t have its down times. Many people are upset about Daniel Bryan and Sheamus. Despite my sincerest efforts, I simply cannot muster up and explanation. Hopefully, desperately hopefully, WWE has something in mind and this wasn’t just Vince McMahon giving a giant middle finger to the IWC.

However, I would say, Wrestlemania 28 had greater peaks than it had darker valleys. Jericho and Punk definitely put on a show. This match was not the five star classic some had come to expect, but their performance was by no means a letdown. It was entertaining, back and forth and the closing five minutes of reversals and tapout teases was extraordinarily executed. I’d have gone with a different finish, had Punk lose and then have him walk into his hometown of Chicago as the challenger next month.

Triple H, Undertaker and Shawn Michaels reminded us that wrestling can be one hell of thing when it is done correctly. A nearly flawless match that absolutely lived up to whatever hype was drummed up in the past few weeks. That match has a series of moments (Triple H jumping back when Undertaker sat up, Shawn Michaels pleading with both men, the Superkick / Pedigree combination, blood, spit and eats) that should, and will, live on in the legacy of Wrestlemania. What this match did leave us with though, is three important questions: Was this the Undertakers last match? Is Triple H down for good? Was this the last gasp of the attitude era?

There were so many questions, doubts, backstage rumors, on screen bombs and chaotic experiences leading up to John Cena vs the Rock. Did this match payoff? Absolutely. Understandably there are some upset John Cena fans, but as someone who dislikes John Cena (his character, not the Make-A-Wish champion) I think this is the absolute best thing that could happen to him. This will force Cena to go to new places, assuming that he sells this loss and doesn’t come out giggling tonight like he often does after a big loss. If this is handled properly, John Cena could come out of this shinning. Also, no one should associate the Rock winning to the Rock not giving John Cena some amazing shine and Legendary rub.

The Rock proved he could still go. John Cena proved he could hold his own against the greatest superstar of all time. This is absolutely a win win situation that WWE can make into something even more amazing. Remember, folks, there’s always the possibility that this is a best of three series. I certainly hope not, I’d rather this was a one time thing.

Wrestlemania 28 was definitely a great show worth watching and paying attention to. The challenge for WWE coming out of this, which could be a fantastic thing, is to build new stars so that next years roster is full of young talent rather than returning names and old stalwarts. It’s time for a changing of the guard, but don’t be surprised if they wait until Wrestlemania 30 to make the switch. Next year they may want to cash in on that New Jersey, New York attitude with some old names. We know the Rock will be there, speculation points to Brock Lesnar and don’t forget a beer drinking, ass kicking, mudhole stomping guy from Texas with some gas left in the tank who might want to make a last impression.

Wrestlemania 28, as a whole, did what it was supposed to do. It reinvigorated, and for the most part, it paid off what it has been hyping. I rate the event an eight out of a possible ten. The eighteen second world title match kept this away from being a nine. Oh, and did I forget to mention, Good ol’ Jim Ross showed why he is, was , and always will be, the best announcer in the business.

Monday Night Raw has all the potential to be absolutely amazing tonight. Maybe WWE will show us that they don’t just pull out all of the stops for Wrestlemania.

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Wrestlemania 28 Predictions

I thought I’d give a quick rundown of my Wrestlemania 28 predictions:

WWE Title:
Chris Jericho defeats CM Punk

World Heavyweight Title:
Sheamus defeats Daniel Bryan

Intercontinental Title:
Big Show wins via Disqualification

Randy Orton defeats Kane

Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos defeat Beth Phoenix and Eve

12 Man Tag:
Team Johnny defeats Team Teddy

Hell in a Cell:
Undertaker defeats Triple H

Once in a Lifetime:
The Rock defeats John Cena (Possible outside interference.) 

Wrestlemania Questions

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In 9 days, all of our questions will be answered. In 9 days, the big names will clash and the face of the WWE will be changed. In 9 days, Wrestlemania 28 will come and deliver or fall short of expectation. No matter how you slice it, we are 9 days away from what is being pushed as the biggest Wrestlemania of all time (they should have gotten Tony Schiavone to announce that.)

Wrestlemania 28 is almost upon us and there are a few burning questions which are only going to scorch that much hotter in the 9 days leading up the event. There are several matches on this show whose outcomes will define the future of WWE for, at least, the next few months. There is a rumor that next years Main Event will be announced a year in advance, again, so it is probable that this event could lead to another year of build up (or tear down, based on your perspective) of the Rock, or perhaps, another name from the past.

Regardless of where you stand on the feuds heading into the event, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at a few of the questions which will, hopefully, be answered.

Does Kane vs Randy Orton do anything to help either of these guys?
Kane is facing Randy Orton in what could best be described as a last minute, thrown together feud all revolving around Kane randomly attacking Orton. It should be obvious that this match is being given to these two to assure them a place on the Wrestlemania card, but not to do much more. I sincerely doubt that the outcome of this match makes any difference whatsoever for either of these men. It seems highly unlikely this could be a sleeper match that steals the show, and even less likely that it will result in a long standing Orton vs Kane feud, which I’m not sure anyone would want to see anyway. You can’t get much lower on the card, short of being in a twelve man tag match. Speaking of which…

Team Teddy vs Team Johnny – Does it Matter?
We all know that Team Teddy will face Team Johnny at Wrestlemania with the winning team winning control of both Monday Night Raw and Smackdown for their respective namesakes. The question lingering here is, who cares? Whether Teddy or Johnny are in charge, it isn’t going to make a bit of difference. They’re going to be the same shows, ultimately. The only difference is whether or not we have to see Johnny introduce himself randomly or Teddy saying “Hold on playa.” The result of this match will change absolutely nothing, aside from who you see as the GM from time to time. Let’s face it, the GM storylines have been played out for years. Johnny has become a pretty big heat magnet, but I could live without having a GM on either show.

Who truly is the best in the world?
Chris Jericho vs CM Punk was originally billed as the Battle of the Best in the World. This has recently taken a backseat to being the battle of the straight edge superstar with a family history of drug an alcohol abuse versus the smug, not sure where he stands, he wasn’t talking, but now he is, Chris Jericho. To both men’s credit, they’ve managed to take a WWE Title match, which should be important but has been almost ignored by WWE, and made it must-see-TV. This angle has been excellently executed, and last weeks attack from Chris Jericho on CM Punk’s sister was nearly flawless. It should also come as no surprise that these two are highly capable of tearing the non-existent roof off of Wrestlemania. One question which lingers is, does CM Punk walk out with the title only to defend it the next month in Chicago, or does he walk into Chicago as the challenger? Either way, I don’t foresee this match letting anyone down.

Does anyone remember Sheamus is facing Daniel Bryan?
You can’t be faulted if you’ve forgotten, WWE hasn’t exactly gone out of their way to make this match seem like something you can’t live without. I hear more about AJ than I hear about Sheamus when Daniel Bryan is on my screen. Regardless of WWE’s severe lack of push for this World Heavyweight Title Match, this could absolutely be that sleeper. Daniel Bryan and Sheamus were the opening dark match last year and you have to believe they want to show WWE and the world exactly how good they can be. Keep your eyes open during this one because it may be the show stealer.

Does Big Show’s embarrassment continue?
Cody Rhodes has made it his business over the past few weeks to go out of his way to show recaps of Big Show’s most embarrassing Wrestlemania moments. From Big Show getting beaten by Floyd Mayweather to hosting a dinner party at the old WWE restaurant in Time Square. This past Monday, Cody handcuffed Big Show to the ropes and delivered several blows which resulted in the announcers pushing that Big Show was officially pissed. There is more than meets the eye on the line in this match. Cody Rhodes has held the Intercontinental Title for quite some time and is giving some credibility back to it. Should he lose, and the belt goes to Show, does this destroy the small build they’ve been giving that belt? If Rhodes should win, where does he go from there and could this be a step toward the main event? This all remains to be seen, and though I have complete confidence in Rhodes abilities, I do question the quality of this match and whether or not it is granted more than seven or eight minutes.

Does Maria Menounos actually qualify a celebrity?
This is highly debatable. What is not debatable is that WWE continues showing just how unimportant they consider their Divas division to be. Imagine the awesome matches we could have gotten in place of this tag team debacle; Beth Phoenix vs Natalya was a match I was truly hoping for. Two tough, gorgeous, badass women going out there and showing what women’s wrestling can actually be. Instead we’ve got Beth working with Eve whose claim to fame is being called a whore, Kelly Kelly whose wrestling skill is somewhere on par with a door mat and Maria Menounos who.. hosts a level C show where they talk about celebrities. Perhaps the burning question here is WHY?!

Does the Undertaker’s streak end?
I’d say there is a good chance the streak stays in tact, but this could be the last harah for the Undertaker. He’s been through a hell of a lot, and aside from wrestling once a year, I can’t see him doing much more after this. WWE have gone out of their way to make it debatable as to whether or not Triple H can end the streak and the involvement of Shawn Michaels is pivotal. The problem is, does anyone truly believe that if there streak were to end it’d be to Triple H? It seems unlikely they’d have HBK screw the Undertaker, and if he screwed Triple H it seems worthless since he has said he will not wrestle again. Is it possible he’d come back for Triple H’s last match? Maybe, but I think it is highly unlikely the Undertaker will lose. One question I have, though, is can these three live up to the hype and deliver a Hell in a Cell match worthy of the grand stage of Wrestlemania? We shall see.

Do the Rock and John Cena make it worth our while?
The hype has been insane. Between personal attacks, cutdowns, verbal assaults, songs, raps and everything in between, we have been told, time and time again, that this is the biggest match in Wrestlemania history. The ratings for Raw argue that fact, hell the ratings seem to show that this match doesn’t mean a great deal. Then again, maybe people have stopped watching because they’ve already decided to buy the show and they don’t want to watch these guys behave like children any further. Suffice it to say, this Monday has the dubious challenge of making this entire years feud come to a head where you can’t live without seeing what happens. What matters, though? The match? Absolutely. These two who have legit heat have to make a match together that will go down in history as amazing. What also matters, though, is what comes after. I’ve been pretty vocal about this, and it remains true today, I have no idea who is going to win this match. If Cena loses, well then he lost to a guy who is a part timer and hasn’t wrestled a singles match in years. If the Rock loses, well, actually, does it really matter to him? Probably not, but it seems likely a Cena victory would ensure Wrestlemania goes off the air to a sea of boos. I somehow doubt this is where they want to go. Ultimately though, will this match and the result make the past year worth the while for those of us who have committed to it? It better. Also, does the rumor come true and do we see the Miz make an appearance?

So many questions linger about Wrestlemania 28 and we’re only 9 days away from having all of the answers we’ve been seeking. Truly though, one of the greatest questions is what happens in 17 days. The Raw a week after the one which follows Mania. No more Rock, Undertaker, HBK. More than likely Triple H will be back behind the scenes. The show will fall back to the default superstars. Do the ratings continue their steady decline, and if so, what is done to correct it? This is a much more precarious time, creatively, for WWE than we have seen in a long time. Ultimately the one question which will remain is: Where do we go from here?

No Selling

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Wrestling was never Shakespeare but at least it made sense once upon a time. Storylines had identifiable beginnings and endings. You knew when you were watching a match that it was going to begin a feud or end one. The wrestlers built up to things, to Pay Per Views, to blow offs, to matches that mattered. The wrestlers themselves sold it. Would anyone have believed that Bob Backlund was a threat to Bret Hart unless Bret made it clear, through promos, that he was? Would anyone have cared about a ladder match for the Intercontinental title at Wrestlemania X if the title changed hands as much as it does these days? Would the Undertaker be perceived as the deadman, as a real threat, if guys like Yokozuna and Shawn Michaels didn’t act like they were nervous to face him? Hell no. Unfortunately, these days, we don’t get any of the great little things which used to make the matches mean something.

Titles change hands at the drop of a dime. Bret Hart was a five time WWE champion and that was an accomplishment back then. How many times has Cena held the title now, twelve? The title doesn’t mean a whole lot when it is won and lost at every Pay Per View or two. The prestige of all of the titles have been in jeopardy for years now. They want the fans to care when a title is defended, and they want you to believe that title could change hands at every moment, but you’d think they’d also want the title to mean a little more than it currently does. Holding the title means about as much as an empty net goal in hockey; sure it counts towards your total but no one ever puts it on a highlight real.

As for building each other up.. WWE has completely lost its way in that department. CM Punk, whom many of the fans love, comes out there and tells everyone that Alberto Del Rio is boring, that people are fast forwarding past him on their DVRs and that they should be. Punk holds a lot of sway, so many people love what this guy is saying and when he tells you that the former (then current) champion is boring and not worth watching.. why would you bother watching? That doesn’t build him up. Also, when did someone being boring or not boring have anything to do with an opponents ability to kick your ass?

Punk didn’t say Del Rio was weak so he’d beat him. He didn’t say he was stupid or skilless. He said he was boring. I never faced a tough fight in a bar or in the school yard where I thought for a moment that I could win because my enemy was boring. Everyone wants to “shoot” so badly and WWE wants so desperately to pull in people that they’re willing to sacrifice the quality of their product. It doesn’t seem to make any sense. Punk talks about how boring Raw is and how he wants to make it cool again. Imagine if your favorite football team’s Quarterback did pregame interviews where he said “Well, we’re boring and we’re not very good and people fast forward through our games but you should watch anyway.” To quote the Miz: Really? Really, WWE?

This brings us to the man who is most responsible for this kind of irrational, counterproductive behavior; John Cena. John Cena and the Rock are going to face one another at Wrestlemania. They teamed up at Survivor Series and at the end of the show the Rock left Cena laid out from a Rock bottom. Does Cena say it hurt, does Cena say he’s mad, does Cena say anything to build up heat? No. The guy walks out to the ring with a smirk on his face and says that people do things in the heat of the moment. So his method by which to build heat is to forgive his opponent for attacking him. Seriously? What the hell is going on here? Cena basically says it is ok that the Rock laid him out, that he isn’t bothered by it, and worse yet, he understands and forgives it. Oh yeah, now I really can’t wait to see these two rip each other apart. Imagine if in the film “The Matrix” that Keanu Reeves’ character, Neo, had said “We shouldn’t dislike the Agents, they’re just doing their job and I can understand that. I mean, we’ll fight them anyway, but let’s not have hard feelings about it.” Sounds like a blockbuster to me.

This isn’t just a WWE problem, though recent weeks of their television have made it clear that they show no signs of changing. Is this the future of wrestling? There is no future this way. You cannot castrate your product and expect it to produce in the years ahead. Some argue that Vince McMahon is losing it as he ages but the problem runs deeper than that. Stephanie is there and she should know better as well. Triple H should definitely know better but during that whole “walk out” storyline he implied that him wrestling a mop was more entertaining than watching the WWE Superstars perform. There are ways to build up your product, to make your opponents and roster look strong without losing your credibility as a more reality oriented, shooting promotion. WWE doesn’t seem to understand that and, as a result, they’re stuck with basically the same ratings week in and week out. Maybe, just maybe, if you made it seem like your matches mattered, your champions were credible and your show wasn’t “boring” than people would actually watch. This isn’t a solution to all of their problems, but it is a place to start. I love wrestling and they’re even beginning to convince me that it isn’t worth my time.

 

3 Reasons Not to Order Vengeance

The hype for WWE Vengeance doesn’t seem very powerful.  Actually, if we’re being completely honest here, it doesn’t seem much like “hype” either.  It feels more like Vengeance is an additional episode of Raw coming up on a Sunday.  WWE has managed to devalue their product to such a point that most of the PPVs aren’t worth buying and Vengeance is an excellent example of that.  Why are people going to put their hard earned money down to view a PPV which was lauded with all of the fanfare of a mid-season sitcom episode?

Pay Per Views used to be built up as special events, as something you had to see.  The cards weren’t always mind blowing or fantastic but they attempted to present it to you as if they were.  WWE used to be concerned with perception, and they understood the old rule that if you make something seem like a big deal people will believe it is a big deal.  WWE doesn’t do that anymore, they throw PPVs at you every month not because you want them but because they have them to give to you.  Matches aren’t earned, they aren’t necessary.  They’re scheduled a year ahead of time and when the PPV gets close they just cram some matches onto it.  There’s nothing important about it anymore.

Why should you order a PPV when the matches are barely promoted for it?  Why should you want to reward terrible booking, stupid storylines and recycled angles?  Why should anyone find it necessary to sit down for three hours (more like 2:45) and see the same thing you can see the next night on Raw?  I can’t answer these questions but I can say, I will not be ordering WWE Vengeance and I will give you three reasons why.

1)  John Cena is in the main event… again.
Sure there are a lot of people out there that love the hell out of John Cena.  I can’t name any of them, though, because I don’t know any of them.  Either way, love Cena or hate Cena, it’s pretty damn hard to not get sick and tired of watching this guy be in the headlining main event of every PPV in which he is involved.  Is that reason enough to not order the PPV?  No, but if you add to the soup the fact that Cena doesn’t actually ever show care for the title he is pursuing it makes it difficult for anyone else to care.

Cena loses the title and comes out on Raw the next night.  He doesn’t say he’s mad that he lost the title, he doesn’t say he’s desperate to get it back, he doesn’t say much of anything beyond he terribly infantile jokes.  If this guy doesn’t care about the belt, why the hell should I care about watching him go after it?  Also, if he doesn’t have passion for chasing the title, why does he keep getting all of these title matches?  I guess just so he can walk around getting called a ten time or twelve time or eighty time world champion.  As if that actually means something.  I have no desire to watch the John Cena show, episode 900.

2)  Michael Cole and Booker T.
Next to the matches themselves, the only other thing that is filling my head during a WWE broadcast are the commentators.  Michael Cole seems to have slid back into his heel announcer, pain in the ass, annoying whiner persona.  I will never, ever, understand WWE’s logic in not only pushing their commentators to ignore the matches and talk about random news but in putting Michael Cole in the position as the head announcer.  Maybe it’s a joke, maybe it’s a rib on all the fans out there, to make them sit there and listen to Michael Cole, but it isn’t funny.  Cole is wornout, tired and bothersome to the ears.  As soon as I hear Michael speak I just want to change the channel.

Booker T isn’t much better either.  I truly cannot grasp how this man has been involved in the wrestling business for as long as he has but hasn’t seemed to learn anything about the psychology involved.  When you’re a heel, you want heat.  You want the fans to be angry because you’re doing things for no reason other than to win, to upset your opponent and to hurt people.  That is incredibly difficult to do when you’ve got someone like Booker T sitting at the table and justifying everything you do.  When a heel goes over the edge, you can always count on Booker to scoop the heat by saying something like “Well he’s doing what he has to do right there.” Seriously, Booker?

3)  The Miz and R-Truth lost their meaning.
When the Miz and R-Truth were fired by Triple H they were in the middle of a storyline where they were disgruntled.  They felt there was a conspiracy against them that was holding them down and that Triple H was the main person who was keeping them down.  So they get fired and thrown out of the building and there’s this great whirl of interest surrounding them.   They show up at the next PPV, climb under the cage and attack Del Rio, Cena and CM Punk.  They beat them down, they beat down guys in the lockeroom.  They’re basically a thorn in Triple H’s side and showing that they will not just quietly go away.  They get arrested and we’re all waiting to see what is going to happen the next night…

Nothing happens.  Not a damn thing.  Triple H gets removed from his position, R-Truth and the Miz get hired back.  Where is the fanfare, where is the intrigue?  So they attack CM Punk and Triple H comes out to save him and then we get a tag team match.  That’s it.  What is on the line here, what matters about this?  It doesn’t mean anything.  I love the Miz, I really liked R-Truth and I was intrigued to see where this would go.  Well, it didn’t go anywhere.  Maybe something will happen at Vengeance to make it important again but with as terrible as the booking has been lately it is hard to have much faith in this going anywhere.

WWE hasn’t put much into their PPVs lately.  Maybe they’re focusing on the bigger ones, or caught up in the plans for the Rock.  Maybe they’ve just lost their way and don’t know which way is up anymore.  Or maybe, just maybe, they don’t really care anymore because they know a fan will order a PPV whether they want to see it or not.  They’re banking on the habitual ritual of ordering those PPVs.  That doesn’t work for me anymore, you don’t get my money because they feel you deserve it.  You get my money because you earn it.  Until they show some interest, create some stories and push some hype, I won’t be buying Vengeance or any other PPV for a long time.

Mediocrity in a Cell

Hell in a Cell is one of the more epic and exciting gimmicks created within the WWE Universe.  Cage matches were once the be all end all when it came to ongoing feuds.  No matter what had happened, if two guys were at war with one another, they would ultimately end up inside a cage.  The cage was where their problems would finally be settled, where the frightened heel would be locked up with the vengeance seeking face or the smaller face would be trapped inside with a monster heel.
Hell in a Cell upped the anty.  Now the cage had a roof, the door wouldn’t open and the cage itself would encompass the ringside area as well as the ring.  This was a match not designed around escape or evasion but around punishment.  When a feud had gone on, when things had reached a boiling point, when the anger, hatred and violence had grown to an extreme there was only one place left to settle things.  Hell in a Cell.
Hell in a Cell was never pretty, it was never about seeing a technical match grounded in mat technique.  It was an all out, bloody battle to the end with no rules and no restraint.  Once the competitors stepped inside it was a literal free-for-all of violence and pain.  Of course, things evolve.  Eventually we saw matches moving outside of the cell, climbing to the top.  We saw, in possibly the peak of how danger Hell in a Cell could get, Mick Foley flying head first off the top of the cage to go crashing through the announce table.  Then, moments later, we got to watch him break through the top of the cage and land in the ring looking like he’d just been in a car accident.
Now, it seems, Hell in a Cell is a relic of a bygone era.  This is the PG WWE.  We aren’t allowed to see a bloody massacre inside the cell.  We don’t see barbed wire baseball bats or bags full of thumbtacks anymore.  Hell in a Cell is no longer the ultimate, epic gimmick.  It’s be relegated to an annual PPV where it has about as much significance as any of gimmick match.  They’ve destroyed what made it feel special by making it typical.  It has been stripped of everything it was supposed to represent and even the reason for its existence has been damaged.  This isn’t the blow off match anymore, this is just a match.
When was the last time we got to see a Hell in the Cell that actually meant something, where the cell was a last resort to put an end to the issue between two wrestlers?  We just get it thrown at us like we’re supposed to be excited for it.  There isn’t a whole lot exciting when you know its coming and when it isn’t really necessary.  It’s also hard to get excited when they’re throwing it at you two weeks after you just spent fifty dollars on the previous PPV.
One of the most important things about sustaining a gimmick match is being wise enough to know when to use it and when not to.  You’d think WWE would have learned over the years that there is a negative aspect to using a gimmick match too frequently.  Then again, Impact Wrestling hasn’t learned from their “Lockdown” PPV yet so maybe it’s asking too much to expect this.  There are certain matches which actually mean something.  The Iron Man Match comes to mind.  You don’t see it all of the time and when it happens it has a special feeling to it.  Though, as I type that, I grow dreadful of seeing an “Iron Man” PPV someday in the future.
The matches for the upcoming Hell in a Cell PPV don’t have me too excited either.  They’ve tried to make it seem important that we’re getting the first ever Triple Threat Hell in a Cell but in doing so they failed to recognize something:  why is this going to be a Hell in the Cell?  The Cena / Del Rio feud is hardly hot enough to necessitate the cell and Punk just got himself involved in it.  Sure, they ended Raw with the cell coming down and Del Rio beating both men down with a chair but that felt a little second guessed.  It certainly didn’t pump me up for the PPV because, as seems to be WWE’s history, with Del Rio looking dominant going into the match it’s more than likely he is going to lose.
Randy Orton and Mark Henry could have made sense.  It seems to me it would have made more sense for Mark Henry to have destroyed Randy Orton at Night of Champions and gotten himself disqualified.  Then he could have a match against Orton in the cell where Orton couldn’t escape and Henry could destroy him and win the title.  This would have kept Henry completely heelish and made Orton sympathetic.  Instead, they gave the belt to Henry already and they’re having a Hell in a Cell match though you haven’t really seen too many instances of these two interacting leading up to it.
I don’t know folks.  Five years ago if you’d told me that Hell in a Cell would be a bland, mundane, typical concept in the future, I’d have told you that you were an idiot.  Now, though, it seems to have come true.  Hell in a Cell doesn’t feel special, it doesn’t feel like a must see.  It feels like another gimmick that WWE finds necessary to beat to death.  If there is one thing they’ve proven in recent years it is their ability to take an amazing concept and make it seems less than worthwhile.  If you are ordering this PPV, I truly hope it stands up to your expectations but I can’t do it and I can’t in good conscience recommend that anyone do it.  I don’t care to see these matches, which speaks volumes about what Hell in a Cell means today.

Buried Alive

WWE is creeping steadily toward overwhelming mediocrity.  Some would argue that they actually arrived there months, or even years ago.  If you’re a frequent viewer it is hard to argue against the fact that the quality of their shows has been in a state of decline for some time now.  Ratings have been plummeting faster than Mick Foley off the top of the cell.  However, in this instance, if WWE is planning on landing on a table it probably isn’t gimmicked enough to break the fall.  Just ask Jerry Lawler about that.  A large chunk of WWE’s viewing audience has been gradually turning away from product over the past few years and, unfortunately, WWE’s approach to correcting this issue seems to be to continue doing the same old things with some hotshots here and there.

Some have made the argument that WWE’s aim toward a PG environment has led to nothing but trouble for the company.  In light of Linda McMahon’s aim for senate and several contracts with youth oriented merchandise, much to the chagrin of older viewers, it doesn’t seem likely that the WWE will change course on that anytime soon.  The idea with PG was presented as an idea to “hook them while they’re young” and follow them as they age.  To grab the kids and get them to stick with the product as they get older.  The problem is, however, that viewers in the upper teens are losing interest.

It seems irrational to believe that a product aimed at thirteen-year-olds could keep the interest of nineteen-year-olds.  Often times the concept of what is “cool” or interesting to a thirteen-year-old is based more around what the older kids are into.  By aiming low you’re cutting off the top, whereas, if you aimed to entertain the older kids you’d probably hold onto some of the younger kids.  This isn’t to say that WWE needs to make a return to sleazy, sex driven angles with blood spilling all over the place.  Lord knows that hasn’t work very well for TNA in recent years.  Perhaps, though, it isn’t the fault of the age range at all.  Maybe it is WWE’s dedication to maintaining the status quo.

John Cena has been a figure of controversy over the years.  He has become the target for most older viewers that wish to hurl their disapproval at the company.  At the end of the day it seems clear that one fact is becoming evident:  people are getting tired of John Cena being on top of the world.  Much like in the late 80s with Hulk Hogan, fans today have grown weary of what they’ve come to call “SuperCena.”  Anyone who has watched for a while is aware that when John Cena isn’t completely burying some rising talent (Wade Barrett a few weeks ago, for example) than he is making corny jokes about poop or simply pointing out the fact that he still wears jorts.

Let’s face it, Cena has definitely begun coming down from the pinnacle of his time in WWE.  A lot of people are calling for a Cena heel turn and there is a slim possibility that we’re in the early stages of it.  Many analysts and wrestling critics see what they believe to be hints towards it.  John Cena being spotted with Stephanie at SummerSlam, his distance from the current angle involving the conspiracy, the fact that it seems almost set in stone that Survivor Series will see Cena, Rock and a few others teaming up against a new heel faction which will more than likely include the Miz, R-Truth, Kevin Nash and possibly some others.  There has been speculation that we’re about to see a rebirth for the nWo and if WWE is really stuck in the past it would make sense for the biggest face in the company to turn on the WWE and join forces with them.  Of course, this could all just be baseless speculation that never leads anywhere.  It wouldn’t be the first time a John Cena heel turn was believed to be in the works.

The problem is:  what would this really fix?  If John Cena turns heel and the nWo makes a return that is actually good, would that fix the horrid booking, terrible burials and overwhelming failure to push new stars?  Sure we’ve gotten a few people up there, or at least sitting on the backburner, like Sheamus.  However, how many times are we going to see John Morrison get squashed like he did this past Monday, how long will we see the same old names sitting on top?  Randy Orton, John Cena, Triple H.  How often over the past few years have these three been involved in some way, shape or form with the main events of the PPVs?  A lot more than anyone else.

WWE makes the argument that young stars need to “get themselves” over before WWE sees them as marketable, but this could easily be a fallacy, a catch 22, so to speak.  Taking John Cena, for example, is he so over because he gets himself over or does he remain over because he has the entire WWE marketing crew keeping him afloat?  Even with all of his support, backlash is coming swiftly.  If you’ve ever watched anyone in the wrestling business discuss the fall of WCW, one of the major factors they’ve always spoken of is the company’s failure to make new stars.  WWE has time to turn this around but they really have sat on their laurels these past few years.  It appears they believed the John Cena wave would carry them longer than it appears that it will.

There are so many factors which feed into the ratings, the interest level and the success of WWE.  If nothing else, it appears obvious that some changes are plausible and others are necessary.  The shear fact of the matter is they cannot and will not fix their current situation by staying the course and continuing to deliver us the same, freeze dried, reheated, recycled storylines.  Also, just because they throw us a five star match once in a while doesn’t make their creative direction any different than it currently is.  Who thought this whole CM Punk thing would turn to garbage so quickly?  They say the definition of insanity is performing the same actions but expecting different outcomes.  Well, Mr. McMahon, you might have to actually make some changes if you want to see things change.  This isn’t a complicated concept.  Maybe, though, some people just have difficulty letting go.
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