I sit here watching a replay of WrestleMania 30 on the WWE network, a 44 year old fan with mixed emotions about a form of art I've loved (on and off) for roughly 28 years. There was really only one thing I wanted to see going in, and there are two big stories coming out.
Daniel Bryan is the WWE champ, having won two matches last night. The man spent 10 years working the independent circuit and was called the best in the world by some before he ever showed up on WWE television. To say that he spent a long time paying dues is an understatement. He is now the champ largely because the audience DEMANDED it. As a fan and "smart mark" I'll never know for sure, but the conventional wisdom was that Dave Batista was brought back after a four year absence to become champ because he has a major role in a predicted summer blockbuster.
The fans, however, had other ideas.
Batista was roundly booed, and to the WWE's credit, they listened to their audience and changed what most perceived to be their booking plans. It may have taken longer than we liked, but it really is a great story. If you follow the WWE, you know what I mean. If you don't, you don't care. I'll move on to the other big WM story.
Brock Lensar ended the Undertaker's unbeaten WM streak. I don't know anyone that saw this coming, mainly because Lesnar is a part timer. Because of his appeal, he negotiated a deal that requires far fewer dates than any other wrestler in a similar spot on the roster - which is fine. I don't blame him for a minute. But, that means he shouldn't be champ, and he shouldn't end THE STREAK. So, why did it happen?
A number of fellow smarks have speculated that Mark Callaway - The Undertaker - made the decision, and perhaps even did so during the match. I have no doubt Mr. Callaway made the call, but I doubt it occurred that late in the process. In any case, my best guess is that the man just wants to retire. He's been a pro wrestler for about 25 years, and while he has really only worked a few weeks a year over the course of the last 5, there is no doubt that his body has given about all it can. He is nowhere near the same athlete he was as a young man, and he honestly looked bad in the ring last night. It was time.
But...to Brock Lensar?
I suppose there were a few that thought this would happen, but 99% of us were utterly shocked. The live crowd at the event was in complete disbelief. And, perhaps worst of all, this had a direct effect on the crowd response to Daniel Bryan's moment of triumph. In my opinion, the crowd reaction was lacking. They were deflated.
Wrestling, and stories in general, work the best when there is an emotional impact. Sometimes that impact is bad. Think of a movie you enjoyed right up until the ending ruined it. Roadhouse, Point Break, and Fight Club come to my mind. This is somewhat similar. To the crowd, it was a given that Undertaker would win. When he lost cleanly, it was a swerve that no one wanted.
Bryan managed to get the crowd back in his corner, but I can't help but wonder how much more impact the moment would have had if 'Taker had not lost. The reaction when HHH lost in the night's opener was much hotter.
One could argue that a 4 hour event has something to do with a crowd being worn out, and that might be true. Overall, the show was booked very well. But that one loss, the one blemish, that resonating count of three, might be the biggest story of the night. And it shouldn't be. At least not when a part timer who really doesn't like wrestling that much is involved.
But, onward we go. Monday Night Raw should be a fun watch tonight.
In other news, school progresses for me. I expect to start work on a collection of instrumental material soon, and I am considering starting a cover band.
Y'all take care.