In a perfect world, the match between CM Punk and Ryback for the WWE Championship on RAW this Monday will not be the final one between the two for that same Championship. They’ll have one final rematch in a match where the title can change hands on disqualification at WrestleMania in New Jersey this year. That wish goes against the common logic. The big money seems to be in having a rematch of last year’s ONCE IN A LIFETIME main event between The Rock and John Cena, only this time with the title hanging in the sway. In theory, that sounds like a good idea to me, but in reality, it’s probably about the worst main event I can think of.
[adinserter block=”1″]I know that the business-minded people are going to see last year’s record-breaking number of pay-per-view buys and think doing it all over again with seemingly higher stakes would be a no-brainer. I mean, sequels oftentimes greatly outgross their original counterparts in the theater. However, why does WWE need to resort to gimmickry to fill their biggest event on the calendar? It’s because they’ve done a woeful job of building native stars who are around for the whole year into draws for the biggest show of the year. It’s not like there’s a shortage of talent either. Punk has proven he can be a rock for business. Ratings and buys may not dictate that, but the dude moves a crap-ton of merchandise. Imagine if he had gotten the respect his character imagines he hasn’t gotten in the last 18 months? They wouldn’t need to lean on Cena like a crutch.
Furthermore, guys like Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, Daniel Bryan, Ryback, Antonio Cesaro, The Miz, Alberto del Rio, and even Santino Marella have proven that they can at least get crowd reactions. Yet yo-yo booking and bad storytelling have left WWE in a position where they think they need the top three matches of their most prestigious show of the year to be a rematch between a movie star and their overexposed top wrestler, another rematch between the part-time former MMA guy and the COO; and a match where Punk gets sacrificed to the altar of Undertaker’s streak. Reality is reality, but it really doesn’t have to be that way.
They say you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet, and stars aren’t going to be made just by farting in a jar and making a wish. Maybe you do have to have a Mania that isn’t “laden with stars,” but then again, does it really matter who Rock or Lesnar are wrestling? I’m not really saying that those are guys who should never appear on WWE events, especially ones with the cache of Mania. However, there’s no reason why they need to be the main event at the expense of the guys who are there all year long.
For example, there’s an opportunity here for Bryan to get the rub of a lifetime by going toe-to-toe with The Rock. They already planted the seeds for that at RAW 1000, when Punk and Bryan were both in the ring jabbering with Rocky. Just by jousting with Rock on the microphone and then getting a match at Mania that gets the pomp and pageantry of a Rock match would do wonders for Bryan, even if he didn’t win. Wins and losses are overrated anyway, even if they are still important to a point.
There’s also no reason why Triple H needs to be on this card. He got such a lousy reaction after losing to Lesnar at SummerSlam that he felt the need to go back out there the next night and do as he’s done best in his career, ram a round peg through a square hole just to get people to give him a warm send-off. Lesnar vs. Cena at Extreme Rules was reputed to be one of the best matches of the year. Why not give that one a rematch, given that Lesnar has a bit of unfinished business with Cena?
That would free up Undertaker to put his streak against someone else, someone fresh or new. Whether he was losing it this year or coming back for one last run at Mania XXX, there are options, be they Sheamus, Wade Barrett, or the best one, Dolph Ziggler. Imagine Ziggler fighting tooth and nail against Taker, coming insanely close to beating him and ending the streak, only to fall to two Tombstone piledrivers. Then, later on in the night, after Big Show successfully defends his World Championship, Ziggler can come out, cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase, and get a net positive for his Mania experience.
And that leaves for the main event, or at least one of the several main event level matches (at this point, I’m sure Cena/Lesnar would have to close this show, right?), Punk vs. Ryback. Everyone talks about how WWE sucks at longterm booking, or how they’ve “booked themselves into a corner” with Ryback as if there’s only one way to do a feud or a story. However, it would be nice after all this teasing if the big lunk actually got a happy ending and got to feast on Punk like he’s always wanted. Wouldn’t that be the most appropriate WrestleMania moment of them all, a guy who has waited since October to get a shot at catharsis, cornering his straight-edge prey, and finally defeating him in a moment of decisive resolution? To me, that would be a lot more satisfying than entitled John Cena getting another hollow moment to give The Rock a receipt for beating him at the same event the year prior.
Alas, it feels like that’s not in the cards. There’s an overwhelming sense of dread that if Punk does survive the Royal Rumble with The Rock, it feels like he’s due to drop the title either at Elimination Chamber to Rocky or at Mania in a triple threat match. To go forward with what is being speculated by reporters everywhere (and to be fair, those reporters are far often inaccurate with their spoiler musings) would just hammer home the fact that WWE just has no idea how to create new stars with new moments.
[adinserter block=”2″]Ryback’s signature catchphrase is “Feed me more!” However, it’s his fans and the fans of everyone in WWE who need to be fed and sustained with the feeling that they’re not just paying for cheap nostalgia. To put on a Mania card with the top three matches as Rock/Cena, Taker/Punk, and Triple H/Lesnar would be the prime example of reinforcing what’s been long established. I know that sometimes, we as fans and analysts might seem like we only want WWE to build new stars and forsake those who have been popular, but the way they go, it’s like events like TLC are the exception and status-quo maintaining cards like nearly every other one are the rule. If not now, then when are they going to attempt at putting someone else next to Cena and all the part-timers in the firmament? I don’t think that’s an unfair question to ask. If they were smart, the answers would come at WrestleMania XXIX, and they would be huge positives.
Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.
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