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The Road To Wrestlemania: 3 Weeks and Counting

Written by Jeff Moss on Wednesday, March 15 2017 and posted in Features

The Road To Wrestlemania: 3 Weeks and Counting

Thoughts and observations about the state of WWE as we traverse the dangerous road to the Granddaddy of Them All (whatever that means)!

Source: WWE

As I've mentioned before in these reports and as the WWE has mentioned a couple of times, WRESTLEMANIA is coming. We're just 3 weeks away from the April 2nd "Showcase of The Immortals" and as has become the standard for this time of year, much of WWE programming is simply about moving pieces around to fit their already-announced, marketed and speculated about Wrestlemania matches. This leads to a LOT of promos, fake talk shows and backstage segments on RAW and Smackdown Live and very little wrestling.

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Even for someone who often just makes up the motivations of wrestlers in matches, it's hard to understand why we have to sit through week after week of, say, John Cena and Nikki Bella chirping at Miz and Maryse, only to set up a match we knew was going to happen a month ago.

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Now, some might say that it's only those hardcore fans and "dirt sheet" readers that know about matches planned and rumoured ahead of time, but listen to the crowd reaction when the match between Cena/Bella and The Mizanians is made official by Daniel Bryan Smackdown Live this week. There's some light cheering, but hardly an overwhelming excitement. I think the people most happy about it were Cena and Nikki, who did a great job pretending like it was a surprise.

You can also look at Goldberg/Lesnar the same way. Or Undertaker/Reigns. Or Orton/Wyatt. Aj/Shane. Owens/Jericho. The list goes on.

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What baffles me the most is that in a lot of cases of the matches I just listed, the match wasn't made "official" by the actions of one wrestler or the other. It was an authority figure decision at the end of weeks of talking promos, usually to solve a minor issue. All this, while Big Show, Mojo Rawley and Apollo Crews, wrestlers who have declared for the Andre The Giant Battle Royal, get TV time to have matches that don't matter.

I use this, what some might call "rant," but what I would call "observation" to make an announcement about the Bottom Rope Reports. As long as we are on the Road To Wrestlemania, I'm going to cut through the fat and just give you, the loyal, kind and sexy reader the quick rundown of most of the show(s) while highlighting the important stuff, with a little bit of commentary. To accomplish this, I'll be combining both Raw and Smackdown Reports into one. After Wrestlemania, we'll see how things shake out. I wanted The Bottom Rope Report to be a fun, but ever-evolving thing. It's less fun when the shows themselves aren't fun and on the rare occasion a show is good, it deserves the praise it's earned.

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This may come as a surprise, but I like wrestling. I have watched it almost my entire life. Which is why I know that the WWE concept of "Sports Entertainment" is not really wrestling anymore. Wrestling is exciting, competent performers telling stories in the ring. Those stories lead to more matches, and hopefully satisfying payoffs in the match results. The closest thing WWE has to that right now is NXT, a Network-only show that is probably mainly watched by those same "dirt sheet" readers who are excited to see a lot of the talent they liked on the independent circuit in a new environment. What sets NXT apart though is they are able to use the matches and the wresting to promote their stories and don't rely on overly-scripted, long-winded ways of getting to the match in question (most times).


The reason that people flocked to Wrestling in the "Attitude Era" that everyone has such a boner for is not simply because the programming was cruder and showed more T&A (I do not mean Test & Albert). It was because there was a logical pathway to the final confrontations between the people involved in the show. They weren't just wrestling because they are wrestlers, and it's their job to wrestle. They were wrestling for something. A title. Vengeance. To prove something. That was what made it compelling to watch. There was a genuine sense of "what's going to happen next?!?" And excitement at the possibilities, because the outcomes were not always predictable. Now, we can clearly see the lines drawn from "a-to-b-to-c" and so by the time we get to "d," the excitement is gone and we just want them to get on with it. Or even worse, we're already looking ahead to "e" because that's what we've been conditioned to do.


The main point I'm trying to get at here is that WWE are not using their TV time effectively to get people invested in the matches they have planned. When I look at a 2-hour Smackdown Live and I see that it had 3 matches (4 if you include the Ziggler/Rawley countout) and SIX different talking segments, not including short incidental promos like Carmella and James Ellsworth or Baron Corbin's "interviews." Raw is even more bloated, especially with WWE literally shoe-horning in a second show (the Cruiserwieghts*) to fill out it's 3-hour run time.


The Main Event of a wrestling show should not be people talking at each other every week. Nor should it be throwaway matches with mid-card talent that has no ramification or affect on said talent's storyline. Yet, week after week, this is what we see on the Road To WRESTLEMANIA (insert intense stare or actual point at the Wrestlemania sign here). In-Ring action and Promos can co-exist with each other and I respect the WWE talent doing their best with what they are given. But someone, anyone, needs to take a second and remember what that second "W" stands for.

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*Incidentally, I would watch the shit out a show called The Cruiserweights that was done like Friends or How I Met Your Mother where they all lived in the same neighbourhood and got into wacky shenanigans while learning valuable life lessons.


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About the Author - Jeff Moss

While most kids spend their days dreaming of being firemen or astronauts, Jeff Moss was firmly holed up in his room with a stack of comic books and wrestling magazines, shying away from natural light. Jeff works as an editor at Blind Ferret and manages the subscription box service, Comic Bento Jeff lives with his Transformers, girlfriend and daughter who both don't get wrestling. He attended Wrestlemania 18, just ask him. He'll tell you all about it.
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