Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rebuilding

Evan Bourne vs. Jack Swagger MITB Wrestlemania 26
By Chad Smart

There has been a lot of talk lately about how Wrestlemania 27 doesn’t seem to the "IT" factor that is normally associated with the biggest show of the year. I’ve mentioned before how having The Rock as Guest Host for the show seems like a desperation move in order to get people interested in the show. While looking at confirmed and rumored matches for the show, I was struck with the realization WWE is in somewhat of a rebuilding phase.

Think about it for a second. The three main events of Wrestlemania 26 were; Edge vs. Chris Jericho, John Cena vs. Batista and Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels. Half of those guys are no longer part of the WWE roster. Triple H and The Undertaker have returned from lengthy breaks just in time to start hyping a match between two of the biggest stars on the roster. Then you have Randy Orton and Edge who have had a handful of high profile or main event matches at the previous five Wrestlemanias. And of course there’s John Cena, who will be taking part in his seventh consecutive Wrestlemania world title match. What about the rest of the participants?

Show-Miz
Current WWE Champion, The Miz is making his third (or is it second) appearance at Wrestlemania. Wrestlemania 25 saw The Miz and tag team partner John Morrison lose a tag title unification match in a match before the show went on the air. Last year, The Miz and tag partner The Big Show retained their tag team titles in the opening match of Wrestlemania 26. In three years, The Miz has gone from barely being on the show to opening the show to "main eventing" the show. While that’s an impressive path, few expect Miz to retain the title and thus his match with John Cena has the stench of "been there, seen that."

The challenger for Edge’s World Heavyweight title, Alberto Del Rio wasn’t even a member of the WWE roster a year ago. Off the top of my head I can’t think of another wrestler who debuted at Wrestlemania in such a high profile match. Maybe Brock Lesnar did, but by the time Wrestlemania rolled around, Brock was a bonafide star. If Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel can hang on to the tag team titles until April 3, and get a match on the show, they will also be making their first in ring appearances at a Wrestlemania.

The original Nexus when they were still rookies.
Heath and Justin’s Corre brethren Ezekiel Jackson and Wade Barrett also have the potential to make Wrestlemania debuts. Rounding out the group of possible debuts are New Nexus members, David Otunga, Husky Harris, Michael McGuillicutty and Mason Ryan. The last two most likely high profile wrestlers earning their Wrestlemania badges are U.S. champion, Daniel Bryan and potential rookie of the year Jerry "The King" Lawler. That’s 11 guys who have never fought at Wrestlemania. If they all make it on the show, I’m willing to bet it would be the most first time showings on one card since Wrestlemania 1.

If you remove Kane’s 12 Wrestlemania showings, the rest of the roster not yet mentioned have only had about 30 Wrestlemania matches combined. (I made that number up since I didn’t feel like actually doing the math. Hopefully you get the point I’m trying to make.) The majority of those matches have been the annual Money In the Bank which serves as a way to get more people on the show. So even if a wrestler has wrestled at Wrestlemania it’s been in a non-major match.

With the breakdown of talent out of the way it becomes somewhat clear as to why Wrestlemania 27 feels like it’s lacking the big time feel. I may be reaching a bit here with the following comparisons but I think WWE is in a similar place to where they were for Wrestlemanias 11, 15, and 19. WWE has reached a point where most of the wrestlers who have been on the focus of the company have left and it’s time to push new, younger talent. Unfortunately, they haven’t done a good job of getting that talent ready to immediately step in and take the place of the departing wrestlers. I don’t say that to demean anyone. Simply saying there aren’t any larger than life personalities, except The Miz, ready to take the keys and drive the car. Hence the return of The Rock to create some buzz. But we’re talking about Wrestlemania. The main event could be an Iron Man match between two guys plucked off the street and it would still pack 50,000 fans into the arena.

Wrestlemania 27 may not live up to the hype of previous Wrestlemanias but I’m going to predict a few years from now we’ll look back on that night in Atlanta as a beginning of a new era in WWE history.

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