Explaining The Undertaker’s WrestleMania Loss

Pro Wrestling Powerhouse
Wrestling’s Weekly Rope Break #2 (SPECIAL ‘RANT’ EDITION) : Explaining The Undertaker’s WrestleMania Loss 

Believe me, this was NOT the article I had planed to write this week.

I really questioned if i wanted to join the angry mob that emerged following the events of WrestleMania 30. I had my rant on twitter (@WrestlingRBreak). I could of left it at that. But, 24 hours removed from WWE‘s “Show of Shows”, I continued to see screenshot after screenshot of fan’s faces showing absolute shock and horror at what they had witnessed. Then, this cult-like reaction went viral, popping up at nearly every major news web site in the world, be it Fox Sports to even International Business Times!

I had to voice my opinion.

The underlining tone from these articles is that the world outside pro-wrestling is scratching their heads. Why are fans so distraught over The Undertaker loosing to Brock Lesnar , clean, in the middle of the ring, at Wrestlemania 30?

“You know The Undertaker’s Streak is FAKE, don’t you?” they say.

“You know Wrestlemania 30 was SCRIPTED, right?” they point out.

“So what’s the PROBLEM!?”

Picture 1aThe problems we have, as pro-wrestling fans, can be summarised under 3 distinct headings:

Where was the Epic “Final Chapter” ?

Every great story needs a great build up and an even better payoff. WWE has stayed true to this formula. In fact, they have made a career of delivering such effective stories throughout Wrestlemania’s 30-year history. Hogan vs Savage at Wrestlemania V? Classic. Austin vs Rock at both Wrestlemania 15 AND 17? Doubly Incredible. Hell, The Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels twice, Triple H twice AND CM Punk at Wrestlemania 25, 26, 27,28 and 29? All of them, enthralling and logical.

With the right story comes the right “money match” that fans will pay to see. Why? Because they know the end result will be something special. It’s clear that history shows us that the proper build up and the proper pay off complement each other when all is said and done.

This year, unlike any other year, a majority of the fan base struggled to EMOTIONALLY INVEST in The Undertaker’s Streak Match. This lack of emotional connection to the match’s lead up made people immediately expect nothing special to come out of its finish. Sure, this was a ‘big match’ on paper, but it definitely didn’t feel like a “money match” where something unheard of was going to happen. Hell, The Undertaker’sundefeated streak was on the line! If he was going to loose, you would think that his program with Lesnar would of been front and centre on WWE TV. Instead, the company was light on impactful angles leading up to the match and thus, were light on attaching true emotion to story of The Undertaker eventually loosing at Mania 30.

Maybe it had to do with WWE portraying Lesnar as a “Chicken-Shit” Heel instead of the “Destruction Machine” we thought he was? Maybe it had to do with the formulaic structure of the story (Heel challenger is confident he can beat the streak/Taker disagrees/ Taker scares Heel challenger/ Heel challenger lays out Taker one week from Mania)? Regardless, fans went into New Orleans having little to no expectation in Brock Lesnar being the 1 in 21-1.

Picture 1bUninspired storytelling with no real emotion behind it will do that to you.

A Main Event slot for a Main Event moment.

I understand that Wrestlemania 30 was “The Daniel Bryan” show and rightfully so. The guy deserved his time in the sun. But having Brock Lesnar end the legendary streak of The Undertaker in the middle of a 4-hour broadcast greatly detracted from the impact of the loss. We don’t know the circumstances surrounding Taker’s decision to end The Streak. But if this loss was planned all along, Taker being defeated in the MAIN EVENT of the show he helped put on the map should of been a no-brainer.

Like Shawn Michaels ‘s legendary exit from Wrestlemania 26, The Undertaker deserved to have all eyes on him as the cameras stoped rolling for Wrestlemania 30. His Wrestlemania career has spanned 22 years. His undefeated streak has, not only become more important than most WWE Championships, but also become one of the major reasons for why fans go to Wrestlemania in the first place. If this is considered a universal fact, then why present this match “4th from the top” of the card!?

If WWE put this match here to evoke complete and utter shock from their audiences, then mission accomplished. But after the shock subsided and fans began to consider what they have just witnessed, its clear to fans that Taker’s streak was treated like a complete afterthought to the rest of the broadcast. Sure, we got replays of the loss. Sure, we got Taker’s long walk to the back as everyone stood and clapped. But then, it was business as usual as we witnessed a complete clusterf**ck of a match for the irrelevant Divas Championship (Sorry AJ Lee).

Complete disrespect.

Picture 1c

Brock Lesnar: Not the Animal we thought he was.

I was front row for RAW when Brock Lesnar returned to WWE in 2012. He F5′d Cena out of his boots and kicked his green hat out of the ring for good measure. It was obvious that night that ‘The Beast’ was back…and i emphasise the word BEAST.

Fast forward 2 years later and it was obvious leading up to Mania 30 Brock Lesnar had lost ALOT of his initial steam. Yes, he was still one of the coolest monster heels out there, but losses to Cena at Extreme Rules 2012 and Triple H at LAST YEAR’S Wrestlemania had tamed his beast-like aura. In short, he was seen as a beatable competitor as he stepped into the ring against The Undertaker at Mania 30.

If what they say was true – that The Undertaker had chosen Brock to be the man to end The Streak 3 years prior to last Sunday – then why did no one believe Brock worthy or able to put Taker down for the 3-count? The answer is that Lesnar had a lack of credibility and believability behind his character pre- Wrestlemania 30.

Look at Shawn Michaels first match with Taker at Wrestlemania 25. The reason that match worked so well is that fans went into the match BELIEVING Shawn had what it took to topple Taker. Furthermore, it was a logical presumption: surely if Michaels could end the career of Ric Flair, he could do the same to Taker because HE’S DONE IT BEFORE!?

Brock is generally presented as an rabid animal with Paul Heyman as his leash. However, we were never reminded of Lesnar’s animalistic tendencies going into Mania 30. We didn’t see him rip down doors or massacre every single competitor he ran into. Instead, all we got was a singular beat down of the Big Show at Royal Rumble 2014 that went way too long and segment after segment involving Lesnar acting scared of Taker’s theatrics.

We saw no historical video packages putting over Lesnar’s ability to defeat Taker (such as Lesnar’s bloody 2002 VICTORY over Taker in a HELL IN A CELL match for the WWE Championship). We saw no footage of Lesnar training for Taker ala his 2002 WWE Championship Match with The Rock at Summerslam. NOTHING to make us think Lesnar had any chance of toppling The Man From the Darkside.

If there was to way to believe that Taker could loose at the hands of Lesnar, then why would there be any reason to get into the match and its possible outcomes!?

Now you know some of the main reasons why we, as professional wrestling fans, are angry following the end of The Undertaker’s undefeated Wrestlemania streak. We aren’t just angry for ourselves. We are also angry that Mark Calaway the performer put his heart and passion into making something in pro-wrestling mean something…only to have it mean so little.

Sure, Mark is a very private individual. Always has been. He may have wanted to go out this way without the fanfare and the pageantry. He may have realised “business is business” and didn’t want to overshine on the same night Daniel Bryan was ascending to super-stardom. But still, that doesn’t change the fact that we, as fans, invested in The Streak.

Do you know what did we got from our 22-year investment?

A lousy “4th from the top” Wrestlemania match that had a lacklustre build, a finish that came out of nowhere and, in the end, a finish that meant NO WHERE NEAR as much as it should of.

The Undertaker character, Brock Lesnar,  Paul Heyman and the fans that have followed The Dead Man for his entire career deserved better than this.

Stereotypical, pro-wrestling “mark” rant over.

#ThankYouTaker…no matter what went down at Wrestlemania 30.

Be sure to follow Joel O’Brien at WrestlingRBreak for daily updates, analysis and critiques of all things pro-wrestling!

Ultimate Warrior, Our Ultimate Hero

Pro Wrestling Powerhouse
Ultimate Warrior, Our Ultimate Hero

Ultimate Warrior, legally lamed Warrior, passed away at 54 years old just 4 days after being inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame.

When his music hit, you could not help but run to the TV just to see this man run down the aisle in a manner of seconds and get in the ring and run all over the place. Or when he spoke you may not have understood what he said, but you still watched.

Ultimate Warrior was one of the greatest superstars that ever graced the WWE ring. He was apart of five WrestleMania’s and had an impact on every one of them.

When a wrestler passes on, you realize how much real your childhood heroes are.

savage-warrior-heaven

Tweets from wrestlers:

Vince McMahon: We are all so sad that the Ultimate Warrior has passed away. Our heart is with his wife Dana and his two daughters.

Triple H just tweeted, “Saddened to announce the passing of the Ultimate Warrior. Icon and friend. My sympathy to his wife Dana and his daughters.”

Stephanie McMahon also tweeted, “#RIPUltimateWarrior Your strength of character is to be admired. There will never be anyone like you. Your spirit lives on in your family.”

Hulk Hogan – Warrior’s greatest rival — has also tweeted, “RIP WARRIOR. only love. HH”

Kevin Nash wrote, “So happy I embraced Warrior with a hug when we saw each other backstage Saturday night.My heart goes out to his family.Always Believe.”

@MrMainEventBDuB

Mr Main Event’s Thoughts on WrestleMania XXX: The Greatest of All Time

Pro Wrestling Powerhouse
WrestleMania XXX: The Greatest of All Time 

I have been a fan of wrestling since I was born (literally; my mom said while she was pregnant with me, every time wrestling would come on) but I have never enjoyed a pay-per-view as much as I enjoyed WrestleMania XXX.

There are many WrestleMania’s that are special to me. VI because it was the last one I watched with my grandfather; IX was the first one my parents ordered for me; XVII was the last one I watched with my grandmother; XXVI was the last one I watched with my favorite uncle; and of course XXVIII because it was the first one I attended.

But WrestleMania XXX has climbed the ranks as my new favorite WrestleMania.

LEGENDS

Hogan-rock-undertaker-beer-wrestlemania-xxx

WrestleMania XXX opened up with arguably the three biggest stars in professional wrestling in the past 30 years, Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock.  When thinking of WrestleMania X, and XX, one may felt it lacked some star power. From I-IX; Hogan was the staple of WrestleMania, but when X came, he was no longer with the company. Same goes for XX. When XXV came, neither Hogan nor Rock was not there. On this night we had all three legends. In addition to these three, WrestleMania XXX also featured legends such as Ultimate Warrior, Jake the Snake Roberts and Razor Ramon being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

And during the weekend, legends such as Bruno Sammartino, Harley Race, Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Bob Backlund, X-Pac, SGT Slaughter and many more made appearances. When I think of this WrestleMania all I could wish was the Macho Man Randy Savage was still alive and in the building.

GREAT MATCHES

20140406_WM30_LIGHT_HP_CesarAndreCup1

From start to finish, I felt that this WrestleMania was done perfectly. For years we have seen some WrestleMania’s have matches that were added at the last minute. Every match on the card had a story. While watching this one, I really could not pick a “bathroom break” match. Daniel Bryan and Triple H set the tone when they opened this show. It reminded me of Bret and Owen Hart opening WrestleMania X and setting the tone for the rest of the show. I loved how the Shield proved that they are stronger than ever with their win over the New Age Outlaws and Kane. They really said, “get out of our ring old timers.”

A year ago, then United States Champion Cesaro was left off the card. This year he won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, and to have his WrestleMania Moment, he picked up the Big Show, much Hogan did Andre at WrestleMania III, carried him to the ropes and eliminated him. Cesaro proved on this night that he is indeed over with the live crowd.

Many years the Divas match is the match that everyone uses to go to the bathroom. On this night, we witnessed the biggest shock in wrestling history since Hogan becoming a heel, that being the Undertaker’s streak coming to an end. For the divas to follow that, I thought it was brilliantly executed.

The match began with everyone in the ring having a brawl and by the time the most notable divas got their time to shine, it was enough time for the crowd to come back down off their emotional shock they had just witnessed.

Undertaker 21-1

Undertaker loses at WrestleMania XXX

With the internet, wrestling fans have an outlet to express their opinions more than ever. Everyone wants to be the “smartest fan” who knows things before they happen. But then there are moments that literally make your mouth drop. On this night, everyone was in shock when the Undertaker’s shoulders was counted to the mat for the 3 count.

I was in a sports bar on this night and I remember the place going quiet when the Undertaker did not answer the 3 count. Since WrestleMania XVII WWE fans have been paying attention to the streak. Many felt at WrestleMania XXV, Shawn Michaels had a chance to end it, but he did not. And when Undertaker reached the unthinkable 20-0, many thought that would be his last match.  But then there was a guy named Punk who fell short a year later.

After that, it seemed like a lock that he would never lose. Yes Lesnar was bigger, stronger, faster, and younger, but would he break the streak, no way. As the CEO Jay Alletto pointed out though, when have we seen a t-shirt that marketed breaking the streak? Did some pick Lesnar to win, sure, but when it happened, the look on everyone’s faces and the fact that the referee did not call for the bell, nor did the announcers say anything at first told the story.

SHOCK.

It compares to when a baseball player hits a walk off homerun to win the World Series and the announcer lets the home team and fans celebrate with cheers, you let the environment tell the story.  This could not have ended any better for the legendary Undertaker. Im still in shock.

DANIEL BRYAN, YES YES YES

daniel-bryan-wins-wrestlemania-30

Since SummerSlam, fans have been asking Daniel Bryan to be the man. Everything the authority threw at him, he took it and gave it back ten times better. When it seemed as if he would not be in the main event at WrestleMania, fans even considered boycotting. When he walked anywhere around the Superdome, the famous “YES” chant would erupt.

On this night, Daniel Bryan finally realized his dream, winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania. Fans have not experienced that moment where a wrestler finally achieves his dream at the biggest stage of them all since WrestleMania XXII since Rey Mysterio Jr won his first World Championship.

Sure Bryan has been champion before, but one, this is first time winning the title on a big stage, and two there is no asterisk that goes with this title. He defeated Triple H first and even when The Game tried to beat him down, he still made his way to the main event and overcame the odds of beating Batista and Randy Orton to become champion.

On this night, fans finally got the payoff they have been desiring since August, to finally see change, to see someone new as the face of the company.

WWE Finally Building Toward Their Future

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WWE Finally Building Toward Their Future

On the April 7th, 2014 edition of Monday Night RAW, we were taken for another roller-coaster ride just 24 hours removed from WrestleMania 30. The night after WrestleMania has become something big, and it is always a hot crowd due to the energy of coming off of WrestleMania. Everyone in the arena expected a good show, and in my opinion, WWE delivered in a big way.

After WrestleMania 29, the RAW after ‘Mania has gained a mystic about it, where it is expected to be the most outrageous crowd of the year. I am confident in saying that just because of that, this will become something big for years to come. Speaking of years to come, WWE’s future looks brighter than ever, as they seem to have finally committed to the future of their company, and the stars that will represent it.

Alexander Rusev and Lana after their victory on RAW against Zack Ryder.
Credit: WWE.com

The first thing I wanted to touch on from RAW was the debut of Alexander Rusev and Lana. That was impressive, and I think that gimmick and pair has the most important thing: It’s Believable. I can believe that some huge weight lifter from Europe came to WWE to destroy every and anything in his path. His squash match with Zack Ryder was very well done. It was quick enough to where it doesn’t make it look like Ryder can hang with someone like Rusev, but gave him enough time to some off his move-set. He’s got a good look, and with Lana on his arm, what more of a look do you really need.

A lot of people are comparing Rusev to Vladimir Kozlov. Yes, I will agree they have similar gimmicks, but Rusev is a much better worker, and has so much potential to be a star, if WWE handles his character with caution, and doesn’t rush him into a feud where his character can take a hit. I think this character will have long term success, and that he’s has all the tools to be a success in WWE.

The next topic of young stars shinning on RAW is the vignettes we saw running through-out the night for Adam Rose and Bo Dallas. I think Rose had two or three promos, to Bo’s one. If you don’t watch NXT, or haven’t watch in a while, then let me give you some back story on Adam Rose. His former gimmick as Leo Kruger ran stale, and WWE decided to do a complete 180, and give him a more pop culture gimmick, and it has come off really well on NXT. The wrestler himself is very talented, and has a lot of interesting and fun moves. As Rose, he uses the Arn Anderson or Triple H style spinebuster, which I find awesome to see someone adopt that into their move set. His finisher is a clothesline, which I’m not a big fan of, and I think WWE will change that for the main roster debut. Rose is the real deal, and has a lot of talent.

As for Bo Dallas, we only got one promo tonight on RAW. You may remember Bo Dallas from his Royal Rumble appearance in 2013, and his very short run on the main roster when he pinned Wade Barrett when he was the Intercontinental Champion. That was expected to be his debut and push, but that was derailed, and WWE felt like he needed more work in NXT. He has come back a different superstar, and has become one of the brightest stars in NXT. His gimmick is interesting, and his in ring abilities speak for themselves. I do have some concern about the new Bo Dallas gimmick getting over with the WWE universe. He had trouble before, I wonder if he can start fresh.

On a smaller note, we saw Bad News Barrett get a match for the first time with the new gimmick. I am not sure if they are actually giving him a push, or was it just because the crowd that night was mainly European and English, and they knew he would get good reaction. I would like to see him get a nice mid-card run, but I don’t this goes anywhere. But I will say I freaking love the gimmick and laugh almost everytime he delivers some “Bad News”.

On a bigger note, one of the most shocking moments of the night has to go to Cesaro becoming a Paul Heyman Guy. I felt like that was a huge swerve that no one saw coming. I love that Cesaro will have a mouthpiece because as much of a fan I am of his, he needs one. I follow him from his ROH days, and love his style in the ring, but he needs Heyman. One thing that confuses me the most is if he is a heel or babyface? Paul Heyman usually is paired with some one who can’t speak and is a villain (i.e. Brock Lesnar, Curtis Axel, and Ryback), but Cesaro and Heyman were booked as good guys this past Monday. Maybe it was a one time thing and they will become bad guys, but I think Cesaro is just a likable superstar now, so I guess we’ll see Heyman as a good guy when he is with Cesaro, and bad when he is with Brock Lesnar. Now, Cesaro may not be young in age, but he is fairly new to WWE’s high mid-card scene, and I am excited to see one of my favorites get the push they deserve.

Paige defeating AJ Lee for the Divas Championship.
Credit: WWE.com

Okay, now all that stuff above is all good and dandy, but the epic moment for most IWC fantasy bookers finally happened, as Paige made her long awaited debut. Once again, if you aren’t aware of Paige, she is one of the best Divas on NXT. I thought her walking out the Divas Champion was awesome, and gave her such a push, I am interested to see what they do with AJ and Paige for the next few PPVs. The addition of Paige to the Main Roster is a huge boost to the interest level of the Divas Division, and I am excited to see WWE finally doing something in the ring with the Divas. I’d like to see this feud get a lot of time, and effort, and hopefully we get a soild 2-3 month feud out of these two IWC sweethearts.

RAW was also very good for the three man stables of the Shield and Wyatt Family as both teams look strong, and stood tall in the end of their segments. The Family looked strong, and had an amazing reaction from the fans in New Orleans. I though they did a good job of making them look good after having Wyatt lose at WrestleMania.

As for the Shield, them officially becoming babyfaces is a good thing for the group, as I think they will become a fan favorite as they have been given new purpose and life. I don’t see them breaking up anytime soon.

Finally, it was good to see Daniel Bryan stand tall as champion with the Shield as they look down at the Authority. I really like what they did with that last segment, and I am interested in seeing a new version of this angle.

This RAW proved that WWE is really looking toward the future now. I mean they been working at it for a bit now with Big E and others, but WWE has turned it up to ten after WrestleMania with two new superstars debuting in the near future, another one just debuting this past week, and pushing Paige, Cesaro, Wyatt Family, Shield, and Daniel Bryan. I think this proves that WWE realizes that they need to start creating their stars of tomorrow as arguably their biggest fell hard at WrestleMania. I am excited for the future of WWE, and I think it’s a great time to be a wrestling fan.

 

Follow me on Twitter @EronTSM!

 

The Streak Ends; Emotion Runs Wild at WrestleMania 30

Pro Wrestling Powerhouse
The Streak Ends at WrestleMania 30

I’m still reeling from The Undertaker losing at WrestleMania 30. But the more I think of it from a psychology standpoint, the more I like it.

I have taken this entire weekend as a learning experience. No, I’m not a wrestler. No, I don’t plan to be one. But I do study it. I don’t just watch as a fan…I study what I’m watching and absolutely love it.

When the incomparable Jake “The Snake” Roberts talks about toying with the emotions of the fans, I get it. I’ve heard him talk about it before. “You bring em up, you take em down. You turn em around. And turn em upside down.”

If you put a guy in there with The Undertaker that the crowd WANTS to win, you lose that shock value. You lose that moment where everyone says, “What. The. Hell. Was. That?” I sat there in pure shock…as the majority of us did. I didn’t really know what I just saw. It’s been commonplace over the course of the past 7 or 8 WrestleMania’s for us to just KNOW that The Undertaker was going to kick out no matter what.

But he didn’t.

I know I was dumbfounded for an hour…and I’m an admitted HUGE Brock Lesnar fan.

brock-lesnar-summerslam-2013

Pro Wrestling is a rollercoaster ride. When Austin fought his last match against The Rock, it took three Rock Bottoms to get the job done. For Undertaker, it took three F-5′s against one of his toughest opponents ever…a guy that he NEVER defeated.

I understand why fans would LOVE to see Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt, Cesaro or Bryan defeat ‘The Streak’ because it would be a way to elevate that talent. That’s a very simplistic way of looking at it.

Think about the moment when you saw that referee’s hand smack the mat for the third time.

That was the emotion that WWE was trying to get out of you. That was the emotion that The Undertaker wanted to get out of you.

If, for one moment, you believe that The Undertaker lost at WrestleMania to Brock Lesnar against his will, you have another thing coming.

This goes back to that infamous moment after Lesnar lost the UFC Championship to Cain Velasquez and had a brief staredown with Undertaker at the show. If you aren’t familiar with it, Undertaker simply looked at Lesnar and said, “You want to do it?”

At that moment, you had to know that The Undertaker wanted a WrestleMania match with Brock Lesnar. It started the ball rolling on Lesnar’s return to the company that started to make him a household name.

The Undertaker has solidified himself as the greatest WrestleMania competitor of all time. We don’t need Michael Cole to tell us that to know that it is simply the truth. Where we go from here remains to be seen, but I think we will find out pretty soon…like tomorrow night on Monday Night Raw.

I think it’s a safe bet that Brock Lesnar continues his quest to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion and The Undertaker is able to lose the pressure of The Streak and move on to a possible “dream match” with Sting.

Jay Alletto
@PWPowerhouse on Twitter