"Wait, what year is it again?"
(Before I start this column, I have to apologize to all the Bleacher Report readers for a serious lack of content. For those who don't know me personally, I had a lot of family issues to take care of, hence why I just haven't had the time to write new content for the site. Those who are closest to me already know why, but for those who don't, I'm sorry, and I will be posting again on a regular basis from now on.)
So, with that out of the way...
I have been keeping up with WWE's programming over the last couple of months, and it's been very newsworthy to say the least.
The announcements of the trainers for Tough Enough, Booker T and Kevin Nash returning at the 2011 Royal Rumble, Trish Stratus making a return at Elimination Chamber, the 2-21-11 video promos that teased Sting (which never was the case), but instead made Taker return, with his setup for Triple H's return, and of course, the return of the "Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment," The Rock, and his back-and-forth sparring with John Cena, with The Miz stuck in the middle.
Heck, even last night, Stone Cold Steve Austin and John Bradshaw Layfield made appearances to set up Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole for WrestleMania.
Do you think the WWE is booking desperately right now?
Don't get me wrong, while these returns are great and draw a nice pop in the short term, I can't help but feel like the way the WWE is booking in the lead-up to WrestleMania 27 in April screams desperation to me.
Before the Rumble in January, you could just about see the Rumble card begin to take shape. Cena against Punk or The Miz, or The Miz with Morrison in a potential Corre/Nexus match, Triple H/Sheamus in a potential WM rematch and so on.
Before the Rumble at the end of January, there was very little to get excited about for WrestleMania, even after Kevin Nash and Booker T came back for Rumble appearances (Take THAT, TNA).
It looks like that all changed on Valentine's Day when The Rock returned and delivered one of the best promos of the decade. As much as that was an awesome and truly historic moment, it made the WWE look a little stupid, as The Rock blew everything out of the water that the WWE had spent months building up.
It was a cold reminder that while that era of wrestling in the early 2000s was amazing, it was sad that no wrestler (even John Cena) could ever come close in drawing ability. So while The Rock was incredible, inside, I was a little sad.
Anyway, with all these appearances from stars that were big and in their prime in the early parts of the last decade, and even older still for some, it makes me wonder what year the WWE thinks we're in.
Look at the headlining match, for example. Triple H will face The Undertaker in a No Holds Barred Match. Most hardcore fans will remember that these two had a WrestleMania match already at WrestleMania XVII (an underrated gem, if you ask me). Yet, WWE Creative are actually telling people that their first match didn't exist! It's the old eight-year rule: If it happened in the past, forget it existed.
If you strip away the extras and special attractions by those superstars of yesteryear, it leaves a rather hollow and empty-looking card, that looks something like just another pay-per-view from the WWE.
Cena/Miz we've seen before, No Money In The Bank it seems, Del Rio against a winding-down Edge, a battle between a commentator and Jerry Lawler, and Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio, where Mysterio once again plays the babyface in peril.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of all the older guys making returns, but if WWE creative instead made younger stars sooner and had not forced them up so quickly due to the injuries of more experienced workers, they wouldn't need to bring in some of their alumni in order to make fans and casual viewers (because let's be honest, it's the casual fans that carry most of the WrestleMania buy rate) care about these guys (like Ziggler, Morrison, Sheamus, Miz and so on).
I like the Youth Movement as much as all the other guys who say they're tired of Cena, Orton and others, but if the WWE makes it look like they don't care about them, why should we as viewers? Ask Sheamus after Triple H buried him last week.
It looks as if the WWE are using their alumni in a desperate attempt to get people to buy WrestleMania.
It'll probably pay off in the end, but that doesn't bode well for the future. We'll have to see down the stretch if it pays off or not. However, as a hardcore fan, I'm nervous, as my faith in the WWE creative team has been knocked down time and time again in recent months. It's as wobbly as Dolph Ziggler's employment rate.
One more thing for the guys who'll comment on this post: I have a bet with former Ring of Honor booker, and now Dragon Gate USA and Evolve booker, Gabe Sapolsky (@DragonGateUSA on Twitter) that WrestleMania 27 will get LESS than 750,000 buys. Looking at the current trend of previous years:
WrestleMania 23: 1,188,000 buys
WrestleMania 24: 1,058,000 buys (-130,000)
WrestleMania's 25th Anniversary: 990,000 buys (-68,000)
WrestleMania 26: 885,000 buys (-105,000)
I think I could be right. Let me know you what you think on here, or on Twitter (@TheHarrison101), and of course, your feedback is much appreciated. Thanks for reading, I've been Andre Harrison, and it's good to be back. Sayonara!