WrestleMania is four days away and I couldn’t care less.
For my longest-tenured friends, this must sound pretty blasphemous. Professional wrestling has always been a favored passion right alongside motorsports, baseball and otaku culture — my own personal pillar of geek.
The cliché is spoken all the time, that wrestling just ain’t the same, for the most part harkening back to the so-called Attitude Era of the late 1990s. But that’s not what I mean. I wasn’t a fan of Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara’s “Crash TV” style of promotion.
When I say professional wrestling ain’t the same, I’m referencing actual professional wrestling and not sports entertainment, the overly theatric and cheesy brand of choreographed athleticism produced by World Wrestling Entertainment.
My fandom goes back to southern style, with roots centered on names like Mid-Atlantic, Mid-South and World Class, my appreciation of the business starting with Atlanta-based World Championship Wrestling.
I like my professional wrestling sports-based and without flash and seriousness and that died a death in the United States the moment that WCW hired Russo and Ferrara back in 1999.
Today’s legitimate professional wrestling, at least stateside, is a WWE monopoly and the reasons that have pushed me away have finally outnumbered the reasons that I kept tuning in week-to-week, the final straw breaking violently in half when CM Punk suddenly called it quits following the Royal Rumble.
Punk was the last vestige of the professional wrestling world that didn’t bow to corporate pressures. He overcame his lack of size and muscle, making it in the Land of Giants, based purely on athleticism, work-rate and his uncanny ability to make you believe whatever he told you on a microphone, regardless of if he was playing the role of a baby face (hero) or a dastardly heel (villain.)
He was authentic in a wrestling world overran with bright colors and silly conflicts in no way based in reality. The latter is a reason why MMA has thrived at the behest of pro wrestling, by the way. People want to believe that the characters are real, and that the conflicts are genuine, something that WWE fans are unable to do when Scooby Doo occupied television time on the prior segment.
Today’s WWE is a variety show of nonsense … enough is enough and it’s time for a change, to quote the late and great Owen Hart.
But more than anything else, I’m insulted by WWE giving Daniel Bryan the push and moment that CM Punk so desperately wanted and deserved, doing so after his departure almost as if a FU … err, Attitude Adjustment to the legacy of Chicago’s Straight-Edged Superstar.
I have no doubt that Punk, despite his hard-edged attitude and moodiness would still be at the company today if he had been treated like the superstar that so many, still chanting his name two months later, knew him to be.
Instead of giving Punk the obvious Stone Cold treatment, he was forced to job (lose) to Triple H, a non-regular who has long since moved into a corporate position with the company. Punk, who was trusted with the longest championship reign in company history, was continually overlooked for his WrestleMania main event for returning Hollywood stars The Rock and Dave freaking Batista.
The latter has already lost favor with the company, the other reason that Bryan was inserted into the main event — and that should be CM Punk.
But Punk, the last true professional wrestler in the WWE, has taken his ball and went home to Chicago. And without Punk, I really don’t care anymore.
With that said, I will always watch the Showcase of the Immortals, so here are some thoughts and predictions for WrestleMania XXX.
Randy Orton (c) vs. Batista vs. TBD
The TBD is of course, Daniel Bryan or Triple H. This will certainly be Daniel Bryan’s spot and I’m totally done with the business Triple H places himself into the main event. Daniel Bryan will defeat Triple H earlier in the night, earn his spot in the main event, and complete one of the greatest feel-good storylines in the history of modern professional wrestling.
Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H
The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar
The streak will never end — take it to the bank. I believe The Undertaker has three matches remaining in his career and he will win all three of them. He and Brock Lesnar will put on a pretty fantastic show on Sunday and Undertaker will bow out after defeating Sting and a heel John Cena in his final two appearances.
John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt
John Cena has nothing to lose in losing this match but he’s going to win because he’s Superman and this is WrestleMania. If the WWE was serious about establishing Bray Wyatt and his creepy Deliverance gimmick as a main event player, he would win on Sunday in the Big Easy.
André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
It just makes a lot of sense for Big Show to win the inaugural Andre the Giant battle royal, right?