To be fair, I must submit that, like a lot of BleacherReport.com readers, was spoilered beyond belief before I watched the "Granddaddy of them all" on Sunday night. I knew that Sheamus was going to be relegated to the dreaded "dark match" position, thanks to this site and to a "tweet" on Shane Helms' feed, of which I am a subscriber.
I knew there were going to be some really questionable choices, not the least of which was the much-maligned mixed-tag "Snooki-match," and the inclusion of comedian Drew Carey in the 2011 Hall of Fame class. I also knew that there was going to be some over-the-top minute or five in the show, because there always is.
That being said, what the hell was happening in the Dark Tower in Greenwich, to put together Sunday night's show?
There were some truly promising moments: Having The Rock return could have been the absolute greatest thing the WWE had ever pulled off. The Triple H vs. Undertaker match could have been one for the ages, and in my opinion, still is, but I'll get to that later. CM Punk v. Randy Orton could have been a great squash match, had it gotten proper placement and time. Plus, the Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes match went better than I expected. I can't really even fault having Snooki there, as they've always had some eye candy...okay, I can't even finish that statement with a straight face.
All that being said: WM27 was a stinker. But since I am a fan, and since I love WWE, I wish to humbly offer some suggestions that might have made WrestleMania 27 truly great, and to prevent similar happenings next year in Miami.
- All championships should be featured, if not defended, during the actual PPV broadcast: Having Sheamus' U.S. title put in the Dark Match for the live crowd proved two things: a) You don't think much of that particular title, having inherited it from WCW; and b) You don't think much of the viewers who plunked down $40-plus dollars to see belts change hands. Also, since there was no Tag, Women's Tag or Divas' belt defense, the same thoughts apparently apply.
- Another Dark Match gripe: The U.S. Title defense was a Lumberjack match. Those are exciting just as a matter of their nature, no way out without someone beating you within an inch of your life. It would have been completely appropriate for WrestleMania, and it would be a great addition to the WrestleMania 27 DVD.
- How do you justify opening WrestleMania's actual broadcast with the World Championship defense match between Edge and Del Rio?
- Where were the McMahons? Not one member of the family unit, unless you count Triple H, represented the family during the show. Their appearances are vital, and usually bring more drama.
- The Rock was wasted in "hosting" WrestleMania 27. Yeah, I said it. Dwayne Johnson only opened the show, appeared in some interviews, and interfered in the Cena vs. Miz match. The man has starred in some of the biggest blockbusters in theaters, and was a huge draw in previous WrestleMania cards. Give the man something to do, besides interfere in the closing match, if he is going to be there.
- Why is Drew Carey in the Hall of Fame? I understand other celebrities that have been added, such as Pete Rose and Bob Uecker, who've participated in more than one PPV, and have done some promoting for WWE. Bob Uecker was a participant in two WrestleManias, and Pete Rose backed up his PPV appearances with TV appearances. Drew Carey only appeared in Royal Rumble 2001 and jumped in by himself when no one was in the ring. He jumped out after Kane was put in. That was his only PPV appearance. How does that count? If Carey gets a "bye" into the Hall of Fame, then they should put in Elvira, who was a guest commentator at WrestleMania 2, and Mr. T, who appeared at several early shows and participated in a match v. Roddy Piper at Wrestlemania 2. In short: they actually participated in their appearances.
- John Cena's "big entrance." I usually love John Cena's WrestleMania entrances. Who could forget WrestleMania 25's big marching band entrance? I loved, loved his Eminem-style entrance with "clones" of himself lining the ramp! And WrestleMania 22 had the awesome "Chicago Gangster" entrance from under the ramp, with tommy guns and a classic car. This year's gospel choir just went on too long and added no excitement to the match.
- A PPV card should build to a climax! The card for WrestleMania 27 didn't do that, instead putting the hottest match, HHH vs. Undertaker, mid-card. Neither Paul Levesque, nor especially Mark Calaway, have ever "phoned in" a performance, even during a regular TV show, and they always turn it out for PPV. There was drama, intrigue, and best of all, it was exciting without the need for interference from outside. Especially given the lengthy entrances each man had, THIS should have been the closing bout. Instead, the heat was cut off by Snooki of all people! WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE for following up what could have been the best WM ending ever by having her follow it up? My guess is the your son-in-law didn't hurt 'Taker, so much as 'Taker was so embarrassed he begged the Lord above to kill him now. Which brings me to...
- Whomever put together the actual WM27 lineup should be fired. I don't care if it's a member of your own family, put them in the unemployment line immediately. WrestleMania 27 was such a mess, it should cost someone their job. I don't mean fire the performers; they did their jobs, and it wasn't their fault someone put the card together poorly, and in bad order. This would be in WWE Creative, and it needs to happen immediately, and publicly. I have suggested it be done immediately so that they can't cause more problems; and it needs to be done publicly, say, with a press release, to assure fans that their faith in the promotion is not wasted.
There were some great things, however, Vince, and I am a big believer in giving constructive criticism followed by a compliment.
- I understand celebrities are a part of WrestleMania and the ones you picked were at least currently relevant. Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi is on one of the hottest reality shows on TV right now. "Pee Wee" Herman has his show on Broadway right now, so at least he was promoting something ongoing, even if it wasn't directly mentioned. Finally, you got to pick your own "home-grown" celebrity in having The Rock in the show. They were good picks, but just needed something more appropriate to do during the show.
- Aside from Drew Carey, the class of 2011 Hall of Fame is excellent. Abdullah the Butcher was included, despite never working for any incarnation of WWE. "Bullet" Bob Armstrong, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, Sunny, The Road Warriors, and Shawn Michaels...classic!
- Gotta love the entrances for Triple H and Undertaker. "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Metallica plays as close-rank Knights march into the arena, shields raised for battle, then the ranks break: Triple H is revealed in his "Warrior King" outfit! Then Undertaker slowly, methodically paced to the ring to Johnny Cash's somber requiem. It was a great lead-up to...
- Triple H vs. Undertaker match! It isn't overstating to say the match was worthy of gods, complete with the audience as a Greek chorus. They chanted the participants' names as a verbal battle, they exclaimed "Holy Sh*t!" during the most heated parts. Then a rarity: rapt silence, as they were breathless during the final moments of the match. I haven't even gotten to the match's participants yet, but the reaction of the crowd should have been evidence enough.
- The set was amazing! I normally don't care too much about the set pieces during PPV's, but WrestleMania 27 looked awesome. Give that designer a raise!
I admit, Vince, that not every PPV can be a home run. I don't know if I would personally be able to do a better job, to be honest with you. However, as someone once said, "I may not know art, but I know what I like." I just didn't like most of WrestleMania 27. But there's a bright spot: there's always room for improvement. Here's looking to going bigger and better in the future.