Rest In Peace: On The Burial Of Wrestling's "Bury"

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Rest In Peace: On The Burial Of Wrestling's

Sitting in front of my television on Monday night, I had a moment of foresight.  The channel was on USA and it was a few minutes away from the three-hour extravaganza to celebrate surpassing 800 episodes of Monday Night RAW. 

As part of the milestone, Triple H and Shawn Michaels were scheduled to reunite as D-Generation X.  I was personally very excited, but in one moment I realized that the next day I would read accusation upon accusation about the "burial" of Miz and Morrison. 

Though I had yet to view the match, with various writers and fans posting on forums in the same boat, the fact remained that speculation ran rampant from the outset of the announcement. 

The immediate response on the Internet indicated that the only expectation was for the absolute burial of the talented tag team, Miz and Morrison.  In a heartbeat of moments, I resolved to turn my attention to the show and consider the implications at a later time.

Unsurprisingly, while some writers fairly noted that the match was great and that John Morrison and The Miz looked strong, many people hurried to make the accusation that the veterans "buried" one of the most promising tag teams in the WWE.

The resultant outcry of the D-Generation X victory gives insight into the burial of the wrestling term "bury," and its conjugations. 

According to the Pro Wrestling Torch Glossary of Insider Terms, the definition of "bury" is as follows:

Bury (v) 1. To criticize or attempt to defame someone.  2. To lower someone in the eye of the fans or their peers.

Traditionally, a burial of a wrestler or group of wrestlers can occur in the full view of the audience and may be the result of backstage machinations to which the fans are not privy.  Similarly, a burial might be the result of violating the trust of the office or of the fans turning on the wrestler.  There are several reasons why a wrestler might be buried. 

Inherent in the above definition, as well as the context in which wrestlers use the term in books, interviews, and other media, is the implication of deliberate intent to cause a wrestler to be considered less by the fans, whether that be verbally or in the ring. 

Using the example of the match between D-Generation X and Miz and Morrison, there is no definable aspect of either the promos or the in-ring action that supports the application of the word "bury". 

Not only did Miz and Morrison receive the most talking time over the course of the past few weeks, but the antics of the veterans prior to the match were almost completely aimed at themselves.  There is no denying that Michaels and Triple H pointed out that Miz and Morrison were in high school when, alongside a revolutionary Stone Cold Steve Austin, D-Generation X was shaping the face of the business. 

Yet, they spent most of that pre-match promo mocking the size of Triple H's nose and the thinning hair and attire of Michaels.  The most derogatory comments of that promo were aimed at themselves.

In the ring, Michaels and Triple H not only sold the offense that Miz and Morrison dished out, but Miz and Morrison were able to enjoy a significant amount of heat during the match. 

As ECW wrestlers, Miz and Morrison got to show off their own unique tag team maneuvers and, as a bonus not likely to be granted to any other team, Morrison used Sweet Chin Music on Triple H.  Who, by the way, promptly fell flat on his back as if laid out by Michaels himself.

This is not the only example of the fan who cried "Buried!" lessening the value of the term.  Anytime a wrestler loses, the victor is likely to be accused of burial.  Particularly, it seems, if the victor bears the name Triple H, The Undertaker, John Cena, and Shawn Michaels. 

With the exception of Cena—Michaels, Triple H, and The Undertaker are established veterans.  These three names should not be losing that often, for the simple fact that when they do lose, it should provide an effective rub for the man that receives the victory.

Triple H shocked everyone by losing three big Pay-Per-View matches in a row to Batista.  Those three victories assured that Batista would henceforth be viewed as a main event player.  He has done the job for Randy Orton. 

Shawn Michaels tapped out to Kurt Angle and John Cena on major stages, affirming the place for each man on the top of the WWE food chain.  He did the job clean for Jeff Hardy just a few months before the latter failed his second Wellness test. 

The Undertaker has never pinned Michaels, and he did the job for Mankind and later Lesnar.  All three men have taken more losses, of course, but these are prominent examples.

Yet, most of the time when one of these three men goes over another wrestler, a portion of the fan base is quick to scream "burial."  Someone such as The Brian Kendrick, though talented, has barely seen a few months of wrestling singles.  He has yet to win either the United States Championship or the Intercontinental title. 

Why should fans be so quick to see him go over an established veteran like Triple H, when he hasn't seen significant victories over mid-card performers?  It cheapens the World titles to expect otherwise.

Jeff Hardy is a special case.  The man has been in the business for some time, but has consistently proven to be untrustworthy.  Particularly in the wake of the Chris Benoit tragedy, the WWE, nor any other promotion, can truly afford for the standard bearer of a show to fail a drug test. 

Prior to this current run in the WWE, Hardy failed several drug tests, no-showed events, and refused to seek treatment for his addictions.  Upon returning, Hardy failed two drug tests under the new Wellness policy within less than two years.  Based on his popularity and his talent, it is clear that the management would like to be able to put the title on him.  The weight is on Hardy to prove that he won't embarrass the company.

Even in a loss, however, a wrestler can still receive a push.  A young Shawn Michaels proved that in the Wrestlemania X ladder match.  As the veteran, Michaels provides opportunities for younger talent to be viewed as stars.  Shelton Benjamin immediately comes to mind, considering that their match in the Gold Rush tournament is often cited as proof of Benjamin's potential.

Triple H sells his opponents' offense and rarely dominates unquestionably in matches with younger, less experienced stars.  The argument can certainly be made that the ending of the Cyber Sunday match saw him no-sell Hardy's finisher, but alternatively, the argument could be made that it is an element of the storyline that Hardy's high risk style costs him the championship again and again. 

The Undertaker also provides a push by giving his opponents' a great deal of heat in their matches with him.  Shawn Michaels' trademark is how well he sells for his opponents and he rarely dominates an entire match.  A push can be provided without victory.

Use of the term "burial," or any of its forms, implies that the decision of who wins and loses the match is determined specifically to lower the value of the wrestler that does not win. 

More often than not, this is not the case.  In promos, it implies that the wrestler cutting the promo is maliciously looking to defame his opponent.  A promo in which an established veteran says an up-and-comer isn't on his level isn't a burial.  It is simply a promo.

The nature of wrestling, in which one loses and the other claims triumph, and promos are cut on both sides denigrating each other and hyping one's own prowess, will continue to provide entertainment. 

The question is whether or not the term "bury" will continue to be buried by the fans of wrestling.

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