The countdown to WrestleMania 27 officially began this past weekend as the WWE (lead by legendary stars Triple H and Shawn Michaels) invaded Atlanta to promote the event that will take place in the Georgia Dome during the first week of April. The official countdown made me think of what a world of hurt the WWE currently finds themselves in despite their best laid plans to use their big guns to promote the biggest pro wrestling event of the year.
WrestleMania 26 saw perhaps one of the greatest build ups to a WWE pay-per-view that this generation of wrestling fans may ever see.
Coming off a flat WrestleMania 25 where the star power (sorry Mickey Rourke, I still love you), element of surprise, and intrigue just wasn’t there, the WWE masterfully adjusted in preparation for its annual spectacular the following year.
The WWE seemed to pull out all the stops for its Grand Showcase in Arizona. Bret Hart, who had stormed out of the WWE 12 years ago following the infamous (and omnipresent) Montreal Screwjob, worked his first match for the WWE since leaving the company and swearing to never set foot in a WWE ring again.
[adinserter block=”2″]Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker were to wrestle in a rematch for the first time since their instant classic that served as one of the few bright spots in the aforementioned flat WrestleMania 25 pay-per-view.
John Cena and Batista, this generation’s two biggest stars and a very underexposed rivalry, were to compete for the WWE Championship.
The stars had aligned for the type of box-office and in-ring sensation that the WWE needed maintain the luster in the be all end all event in sports and entertainment. The WWE swung for the fences with the lineup for WrestleMania 26, with many pundits expecting the event to flirt with one million buys.
But the event drew a strikingly disappointing 885,000 buys at the box office.
To make matters worse, the WWE is currently faced with a quandary brought about by injuries, a lack of established names, and a youth movement that is to a box office what latkis is to a Muslim.
In WrestleMania 26, the WWE seemed to have put together the greatest build up in WrestleMania history with one of the most stacked lineups from top to bottom in recent memories, and that pay-per-view largely disappointed from a business standpoint.
Adding even more cruel humor to the legendary franchise, the WWE’s objective for WrestleMania 27 will to be to outdo its colossal ’26 lineup with a depleted roster that has been plagued with injuries.
Such is one of the many ill-effects of an overly aggressive initiative for the WWE to feature next generation stars seemingly all at once.
The idea of a youth movement, while noble and ambitious, could have been ruled unnecessary had the WWE elected to infuse young talent while established stars (which are currently few and far between yet you couldn’t blink ten times before seeing at least one just a few years ago), were at their peak and/or the back end of their primes.
Instead, the WWE got greedy. Featuring the same, safe matchups and feuds that were sure to be attractions at pay-per-views yet were quite damning for a future that in hindsight seems to have been overlooked (ironically enough).
The pin drop that was heard throughout Reliant Stadium following the conclusion of yet another Triple H/Randy Orton Main event looked to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back when the WWE finally decided that they needed to create new stars and fast.
Yet even with ample time to build towards future WrestleMania pay-per-views, the WWE had reacted too slowly with such a realization, and is now faced with the harsh reality that Wreslemania 27 in Atlanta as a card in crisis.
Alfred Konuwa is the editor of the Big Nasty Athletic Dept. Follow him on twitter at twitter.com/ThisIsNasty
Triple H is still battling injury, and while a comeback is imminent, an inevitable feud with Sheamus would be played out if it continued into WrestleMania, and there aren’t any home run feuds for Triple H that immediately come to mind.
CM Punk is currently injured, and while he should be back in time for WrestleMania, the expected route of feuding with Daniel Bryan will only excite purists for the most part although Bryan is doing a good job of getting over with the mainstream crowd.
The Undertaker, whose legendary undefeated streak has been one of the biggest draw for WrestleMania on a yearly basis, is suffering from a shoulder injury that recently required surgery. It will be a photo finish as to whether or not the Undertaker (who has been plagued with injuries in 2010 during the twilight of his career) will even be able to compete come WrestleMania 27.
The only matches being thrown around currently involve John Cena, who may or may not be babyface, battling Randy Orton for the WWE Championship *yawn* and Wade Barrett going toe to medically-taped toe with the Undertaker, should he be healthy enough for action.
Cena/Orton had an abundance of intrigue, for a match up we’ve seen too many times, about two months ago when it looked as if John Cena may be a full on heel by the time ‘Mania rolls around.
But the WWE has given this match away on free TV so many times since the start of the CeNexus angle, that I don’t even care if John Cena finally does turn heel. I simply don’t want to see it.
As far as the Undertaker is concerned? With names like Sting, Bill Goldberg, and even Brock Lesnar being thrown and, as rumor has it, pursued as possible Undertaker opponents, it would be quite deflating for Wade Barrett (a rising star in his own right but not quite there yet) to be the ultimate choice.
When WrestleMania 27 buzz centers around talent that is not currently on the WWE roster, it’s safe to say that this is not the best indicator for a healthy buyrate.
The WWE has become its own worst enemy with its ongoing roster complications. Hell, nobody said they had to engage in a full on youth movement because they were too short-sighted to realize the pejorative implications. Band aids heal wounds, too. And a box of band aids, in the form of free agents that casual wrestling fans would recognize working almost (it’s pro wrestling, so give or take some backstage politics) exclusively to help put over younger talent.
The WWE has also caused self-inflicted wounds with constant start-stop booking of talent who could have been the stars they so desperately need today. In the interest of avoiding the electronically ubiquitous discussion of who is getting a raw deal, just go online and Google ‘WWE Pushes’. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of examples.
Unfortunately, now such free agent names are being thrown around as possible solutions to save WrestleMania 27, and while band aids do fix wounds, they can hardly heal bullet holes because this card is beginning to look more and more like it’s going to be shot.
Projected WrestleMania 27 Card
WWE Championship: John Cena (c) vs. Randy Orton. Tagline: This time, it’s different…we promise. Seriously, just watch…please?
World Championship, ‘Panic Mode’ Match: Kane (c) vs. Sting. (Sting’s music will ‘accidentally’ cut out on his way to the ring, and Justin Roberts will ‘accidentally’ announce him as ‘The Sting’ while Vince McMahon accidentally laughs hysterically backstage).
The Undertaker puts his vaunted WrestleMania streak on the line in an arm wrestling match against Wade Barrett. To protect both the streak and Wade Barrett, the Nexus earn their large ‘Mania paycheck by attacking Taker just as he’s about to win.
[adinserter block=”1″]A WCW Flashback WrestleMania paycheck battle royal: Ricky Steamboat wins the battle royal that featured established WCW names such as Arn Anderson, Dusty Rhodes, Dustin Rhodes, Dean Malenko, Chuck Polumbo, Sean O’Haire, Chavo Guerrero, Diamond Dallas Page, and the Sting.
Daniel Bryan battles CM Punk to a five minute no-finish. So the WWE could avoid Internet fans telling them two ROH guys saved their biggest pay-per-view of the year. If WrestleMania’s going down, the ROH representation will go down with it!
The Three Horsemen receive the loudest ovation during the Hall of Fame acknowledgment ceremony.
Singles Match: Sheamus vs. Triple H: A match where, if saved until Wrestlmania, the WWE will have unintentionally done something right in building up a long term feud.
Money in the Bank Match: Expanded to 12 participants to accommodate those who the WWE forgot about. The biggest spot of the match sees Kofi Kingston hit a missile dropkick on Jack Swagger from the second rung of the ladder. Alberto Del Rio is your winner.
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