Push someone new, push someone new, push someone new. It’s been the ringing complaint every year since WCW died, and WWE loyalists needed an outlet to flop their discontent down on. Even with TNA around, they more often than not ripe for the mockery pickings, there’s still plenty of flaws to poke at in the WWE product. Chief among the cries, the same people get pushed over and over again, and the show’s become as predictable as the flip of a mythical one-sided coin.
Yes, it was cartoonish and a wee bit hacky that this child, using the old Black Scorpion/Shockmaster voicebox, distracted John Cena in his steel cage match, but it led to Bray Wyatt winning, which will pacify the aforementioned peanut gallery.
Equally pacifying to the maw of the discriminating fan is this: for the first time in WWE history, every winner on the PPV was born in the 1980s onward. Bad News Barrett, who rode a wave of crowd love and support past a dust-collecting Big E en route to winning the Intercontinental Title, was the oldest victor at age 33, born in August 1980.
In order from there, Cesaro (33), Daniel Bryan (32), Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Alexander Rusev (all 28), Seth Rollins (27), Wyatt (26), and Paige (21) were the chosen winners of the evening. All but Bryan and Barrett have spent extensive time in the actual promotion NXT (Cesaro as a semi-regular).
Before you ask, yes, even El Torito, whom Wikipedia claims was born in 1982, qualifies for the list, even if his solid effort against Hornswoggle was passed off as cheap comedy by the announce team. What I would’ve given for the match to have been followed by one of the hypocritical anti-bullying videos.
Conversely, the old guard, much like WrestleMania, were the fall guys in all this. Evolution dutifully put over The Shield clean as could be, Kane was outbrawled by Bryan, RVD was out-extremed by an indy-darling successor Cesaro, and R-Truth scraped together just enough remnants of rub to let Rusev crush him one more time.
Unlike WrestleMania, Cena joined in the lay-down parade, albeit with his usual convoluted ‘out’ in the form of the possessed child, who may or may not have been the kid from the Cam Newton/NFL Play60 spot (fun fact: the commercial kid is the son of former WWE comic relief Jameson. Really.)
The Cena thing is particularly eye-rolling, since WWE’s stale Superman (Jort-El, if you will, and yes, I know Superman is Kal-El, but hey….) basically ran roughshod over the entire Wyatt Family like he was on rainbow-colored bath salts, at one point out-muscling Rowan and Harper, two men larger than he, as he tried to pry the cage door open. That Cena was only felled by a small child only makes Cena a further parody of the ideal hero, which is Bo Dallas’ domain. Difference is, we’re supposed to take Cena seriously. Perish the thought.
Comparatively speaking, Triple H, Batista, and Randy Orton did the honors the old school way against The Shield, getting soundly outmaneuvered and overpowered by the younger machine. Rollins and Ambrose made their presence known with a serious of wild stunts (a table-run-dive for Ambrose, a crowd-balcony dive for Rollins), essentially giving the modern WWE crowd a new version of The Hardy Boyz, with less flash and more silent macho.
Reigns scored the pin on Batista with his usual display of brute force, concluding a very satisfying mid-show match that served as bout of the night. The Shield seem incapable of bad matches, and remain the most enjoyable heroes on the roster, simply because they’re never anything less than what they act like they are: a force. They promise punishment, and they’re scripted to deliver it without cutesy insults and the like. The only issue they’ll have is surviving t-shirts of different colors being made for sale. Yellow and purple don’t scream ‘justice.’
In the other major match (which I’m surprised was made the main event, given Cena and Hunter’s standing as ‘priority’), Bryan did indeed go over on Kane in an “Extreme Rules” match to retain the WWE Championship. All notions of psychology surrounding Bryan’s injured neck, and his refusal to surrender the title, went out the window in favor of an Attitude-lite brawl that involved Bryan driving Kane on pallet elevated by a forklift. The ending made up for some of the silliness by having Kane get slung through a flaming table. Pretty bad ass until you saw the guy with the fire extinguisher waiting for his cue.
On the subject of cues, despite just being turned into main event flambe by Bryan, Kane still rose up after the match, swung his arms to summon his fearsome pyro, and his theme, not Bryan’s, played to send the show off the air. Michael Cole even had to work in a hasty “Daniel Bryan is still champion”, in case we missed the pinfall or something.
It’s symbolic: despite the new class going over, the old guard will still hang on and find use.
With a Network built on yesteryear, and an aging fanbase of entitlement that wants change, but still gleefully sniffs the aerosol of a legend’s cameo appearance, WWE has no inclination to let Evolution or Kane or Cena or even Rob Van Dam fade into Bolivian (credit: Mike Tyson). Hell, WrestleMania 31 is purportedly based around Goldberg, who hasn’t been culturally relevant since Y2K was a yet-to-occur punchline.
We know that Cena will rise up like some crestfallen phoenix and vanquish the Wyatts while saving the soul of that child like the savior he shares the initials of, and we’ll roll our eyes once more, but until it happens, consider Sunday night a thumbs up.
For we fans have got the whole world, in our hands.
Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.
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