WrestleMania season is upon us. The road to the “night of the immortals” has begun.
While WWE has been building up what seems to be a very solid card for the big event, as well as some exciting moments on television, it has also shown off everything that is wrong with the current product.
With almost every big angle and surprise, WWE shows off another big weakness in a way that makes this one of the riskiest WrestleManias of all time.
On the final Raw leading up to the Elimination Chamber, The Rock made his return to WWE after a seven-year absence from the company. He was announced as the “guest host” of WrestleMania 27 and cut what has been considered the best promo of the past decade.
While this announcement makes a big impact on WrestleMania, it also showed a big problem: A man who has been retired from wrestling for seven years came back and blew everybody on the current roster out of the water.
With one promo, The Rock made everything and everyone in WWE seem stale and boring.
This is not the Rock’s fault. He is just being his character and doing what he was doing during his prime. He showed that the characters of today pale in comparison with those from the Attitude Era.
The Rock’s return created another big problem. John Cena won the Raw Elimination Chamber match and is now booked to face The Miz for the WWE Championship. This match has unfortunately been buried underneath a Cena/Rock feud. The Miz championship reign is now being overshadowed by a war of words between his WrestleMania opponent and a retired wrestler.
Another big feud that has been brewing for months now involves Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole. This match has been given a surprisingly large chunk of time for the buildup, which shows that they really want to give Lawler his big “WrestleMania moment” and make this match mean something.
The buildup was going really well, stacking the deck against Lawler by adding Jack Swagger to the match as a personal trainer for Cole. Speculation over who the guest referee would be kept fans interested—and then the big announcement finally happened.
Michael Cole announced John "Bradshaw" Layfield as the guest referee. This got a big reaction from the crowd, but before JBL could sign the contract for the match, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin came down to the ring and hit JBL with a stunner before signing the contract and spoiling Cole‘s plan (which was interesting given part of the agreement for the match was that Cole could pick the referee).
The big issue with involving JBL and Steve Austin in this match is that the two will almost certainly draw attention away from Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole. While an argument could be made that Swagger does the same thing, it is basically a given that Swagger would be physically involved and give Lawler the underdog role, which could make for a very emotional moment if Lawler would overcome the odds.
Steve Austin as a referee can hurt this match, as it will no longer be viewed by fans as an uphill battle for Lawler and really doesn’t add much to the match other than a name that in and of itself is big enough to take attention away from the two men who the feud is built around.
Speaking of Cole’s big announcement, anybody who watched the Divas Championship match that preceded it saw another glaring problem in WWE. While Cole’s blatant disregard for the match was viewed by many as funny, he seemed to hit a little close to home for WWE.
The Divas division is severely lacking these days. Many fans see their matches as a good time to go get a refill on their drink or use the restroom. WWE seems to take the division just about as seriously as those fans. Cole’s attempt to get over as a heel only took away from what was actually a decent match and served to further devalue the championship.
Then we come to what will likely be the main event at WrestleMania: Triple H vs. The Undertaker. This feud started off with a classic moment when Triple H interrupted The Undertaker’s return to WWE.
The two had an intense stare down before looking up at the WrestleMania sign hanging overhead. This feud is probably the biggest example of everything wrong in WWE right now.
Triple H was "put out of wrestling" by Sheamus at Extreme Rules nearly a year ago. The Undertaker was buried alive by his brother Kane, as well as the Nexus, which was being led at the time by Wade Barrett.
The logical choices for the two would be for Triple H to return for a big match with Sheamus to get revenge, as well as The Undertaker going after either Barrett or Kane.
These ideas were tossed aside when both The Undertaker and Triple H decided that WrestleMania did not have that “big match” that it sorely needed.
The two are absolutely correct, and their match will help solidify this event, but the big problem presented by this feud begins in the truth of their reason for having the match.
In an attempt to build this match, Triple H came out the following week and cut a promo clearly stating that he and the Undertaker have no challenges left in WWE aside from each other.
While this was said to make the match feel even more important, it also puts the notion in fans’ minds that the rest of the WWE roster is way beneath these two men.
After hearing that nobody can touch the two, it takes away all interest in seeing them against anybody else on the roster.
Triple H would go on to prove his point when Sheamus, who had sidelined Triple H, ran to the ring and was totally destroyed by The Game. He didn’t even appear to break a sweat as he tore apart the man who put his career in jeopardy.
This year’s WrestleMania card is shaping up to be special, but it leaves WWE with a reality that it needs to face now: The stars of tomorrow cannot wait for tomorrow.
The stars of tomorrow must become stars today, because after bringing back all the big names this year and pulling every trick it has out of its bag to make this event a success, WWE won’t have the “surprise return” card to play again.