WrestleMania Monday, 2011

Posted by under *mixed, Television |

This year’s WrestleMania has come and gone and while it wasn’t the greatest of all time, it was certainly good. If nothing else, the show had possibly the best presentation and production I’ve ever seen in terms of the ring entrance and staging. It makes sense since that is something they can improve upon every year regardless of who’s walking down the aisle and just about everything else. It really did look impressive and was worthy of WrestleMania even if there were some details of the show that weren’t.

The overall card for the event seemed short at eight matches even though the show ran for four hours on pay per view. What stood out most to me was that only the World Championship and WWE Championship were on the line last night. These matches opened and closed the show, and although I was surprised to see it as the first match of the night, opening with a strong performance from Edge and Alberto del Rio made closing with John Cena versus The Miz seem even weaker. Cena versus Miz was just a lackluster match that just seemed sloppy and slow. I don’t know if Cena may have been legitimately hurt or just playing up a “concussion,” but bringing the Rock to regulate did make for a better finish even if it was a little obvious. It was disappointing to see that there were no matches for the Tag Team or Women’s titles, and the U.S. TItle match between Daniel Bryan and Sheamus ran as a dark match before the show went on the air.

The match that probably had the most appeal for me heading in had The Undertaker putting his undefeated WrestleMania streak on the line against Triple H. It became clear early on that this was not the match to end the streak on as neither of these two looked their best in the ring. The fact that both of them haven’t been on TV in months goes a long way to explaining why, but the fact that the match was really just composed of high spots that weren’t held together very well really made this pale in comparison to what we’ve seen from The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels at the last two WrestleManias. The ring entrances of these two is what made the match stand out more than anything as most of the work in the ring reflected the build up to the match, looking great in theory but poor in practice. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t holding my breath at each pin attempt, but the streak and the potential for it to be broken were the only things this match had going for it. I also really hated that they didn’t acknowledge the fact that The Undertaker already defeated Triple H at WrestleMania in 2001. That was actually a great match and the only reason I can see to not build it into the backstory is knowing this year wouldn’t live up to it (that and the fact that the Undertaker was in his short lived “Biker-taker” phase).

More than anything, there was a lack of satisfaction and closure that normally comes with WrestleMania this time around. The matches and feuds we see throughout the year usually culminate at this event, and as Brian from MLD pointed out, this is normally the place they’re building to every year to settle things not just a place to sell the next pay per view event. I couldn’t agree with this more as what comes next for the WWE universe has always been saved for the Monday Night RAW the night after WrestleMania. This usually makes tonight almost as anticipated at WrestleMania itself for a fan like me. There were a few notable exceptions here as the aforementioned match between Edge and Alberto del Rio as well as Rey Mysterio versus Cody Rhodes provided some resolution to their storylines. The ongoing feud between CM Punk and Randy Orton was also perfectly capped off by their match. Even though I would have liked to see a different winner there, that match was probably the highlight of the night.

Even though we had signal problems from the moment the event started, these were overcome by the surprise arrival of a WrestleMania cake at our get together. The show certainly could have been better, but I think this year’s installment of WrestleMania still falls toward the better end of the spectrum. Having just watched The True Story of WrestleMania documentary, it’s clear that this one had more positives than negatives. Even the inclusion of “Snooki” from MTV’s Jersey Shore was well handled. I didn’t like that her appearance was billed as the second to last match, but it was one that was mercifully open to being cut down for time along with a three minute 8-man tag team match squash. The returns of The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin will probably be the most memorable aspect of this year’s WrestleMania, but I’ll probably remember it for featuring Jerry Lawler’s first WrestleMania match. This is not because of the match at all, but as a milestone for “The King” (although admittedly Steve Austin’s involvement really helped). I know I have my biases toward the days gone by, and the matches I’ve played in the WWE All Stars video game certainly reflect them, but there just wasn’t one match that made this one special to me.

We’ll all get to see what comes next at 9PM on tonight’s Monday Night RAW on the USA Network. A special airing of this year’s WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony kicks things off at 8PM.

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