I have to admit I’m a little worried about where the WWE is going to go after WrestleMania.
I mean, I’m sure they (surely) have some ideas in place, but I can usually make an educated guess or two, and while they certainly have the opportunity to shake things up and set a course with Elimination Chamber yet to come and ‘Mania itself to have a few big payoffs, I’m not seeing any really exciting potential match-ups on the horizon.
Rock-Cena is going to be a big success. There’s really nothing short of a freak injury that will stop that juggernaut. And it is a great “dream match,” pitting the top star (with all due respect to Steve Austin) of the previous era against the top star of today’s WWE. The only thing that might have made this better is if they had been able to pull it off last year when Cena was slightly lest reviled by the fan base. But, it’s still a big, big match.
So, after that? No, I’m asking…I have no idea. So, Cena wins, right? I mean, the Rock is going back to Hollywood to make movies and Cena is the face of the WWE right now, so I can’t imagine Rocky going over…unless there’s more Rock-in-WWE in the works, and there’s nothing wrong with that if there is.
Assuming there’s not, then what?
Does Cena jump right back into the WWE title scene. We’ve seen a lot of Punk-Cena. Maybe Punk drops the belt to Jericho? Sure, it’s been a while, and there’s plenty of history to draw from, but are we clamoring for Cena-Jericho either? Maybe Cena will embrace the hate once and for all and have a feud with Zack Ryder or something (there’s got to be some kind of payoff to all of that business, right?), so Cena’s not in the title hunt. Then who?
That’s kind of where I am focusing here – who do we want to see feuding over the WWE Championship over the next few months? There just doesn’t seem to be a bevy of fresh intriguing matches.
So, does the WWE have a ‘dream match’ left in its arsenal. There are a few match-ups that are more like “pipe dream” matches. Let’s look at those…
CM Punk vs. Steve Austin – Now, this could really be “Stone Cold” vs. (fill-in-the-blank) – whether it’s Punk, Cena, Orton, etc., fans and WWE execs alike would love for Austin to agree to his fabled “one more match,” preferably at a major pay-per-view. Unfortunately, it seems less and less likely as time goes on that we’ll ever see that happen. And, you know what? If I’m Austin, and I don’t need the money, and there’s risk of permanent injury, then I’m going to pass and enjoy retirement and an occasional guest appearance.
Undertaker vs. Sting – Probably THE remaining but possibly viable dream match. Apparently this was at least somewhat close to happening a time or two in recent years, but it never came together. Now, it probably never will, but I do love the idea of Sting and Undertaker going out in a blaze of glory together, maybe at next year’s ‘Mania. They were pretty much the defining “characters” of the past twenty years for their respective wrestling organizations. In fact, in a time when pretty much all the big names were jumping from WCW to the WWF and vice versa – including Hogan, Savage, Flair, the Road Warriors, Hall, Nash, Steamboat…umm, the Big Bossman – they stayed home. Now, whether it was loyalty or money or whatever, the fact remains that even now, with both men in the twilights of their careers, fans would pay and pay big to see them go at it.
DX vs. The Outsiders – I know these guys have wrestled each other in various combinations dozens of times, but not since the nWo formed in 1996. And I know that a number of health and other reasons will likely mean this match ain’t gonna happen, but HHH and Shawn against Hall and Nash would be awesome in the promo work alone. Actually, probably only in the promo work, as the Outsiders are really in no condition to be in the ring at all, much less putting on any semblance of a good match.
The pool is getting pretty shallow…
I guess there’s Punk/HBK maybe, or I don’t know…Cena/Samoa Joe?
Seriously, pick two guys who you would love to see, would pay to see, and would qualify as a “dream match.”
Back in the day, and by this I mean the 80s and 90s, when there were two or three legitimate national promotions and strong territories. Oh, the matches my friends and I would fantasize and argue about.
The granddaddy of them all, of course was Hogan-Flair – the ultimate face vs. the ultimate heel. To this day, I don’t know how the WWF screwed that up once they finally had them both under one company banner from 1991 to 1993. And WCW did give us a proper Hogan-Flair match-up in 1994, but by then, the luster had worn off considerably.
Hogan-Andre was a great dream match that we didn’t even know we wanted, but holy crap, once we got it into our heads – 93,000 people in Pontiac, Michigan can’t be wrong.
Eventually, we got to see most of our dreams come true – Hogan/Luger, Hogan/Sting, Sting/Savage, Savage/Luger. Flair/Hart, Road Warriors/Demolition, Flair/Steamboat, Sting/Hart, HBK/Flair. Some didn’t quite live up to expectations, and there were a few my friends and I wanted but never got (Hogan/Steamboat, Flair/Andre, Sting/Warrior), but at least there were dream matches to consider.
Just like everything else today, it seems like wrestling has put everything into fast-forward mode. With two weekly shows, monthly pay-per-views, and an audience that is supposedly incapable of or uninterested in appreciating the art of the slow-burn, maybe building feuds and storylines that span months just isn’t feasible. Maybe that’s why we’re burning the high profile feuds in weeks or at most a couple of months. It’s hard to save a “dream match” when you’ve got to have a high-profile main event for the pay-per-view – and oh, by the way, it’s in three weeks, so don’t even think about trying to tell a story leading up to it.
I can’t help but think of the recent CM Punk-Daniel Bryan match that took place recently on Raw (I think). Here was both the WWE Champ and the World Heavyweight Champ wrestling each other…on free television…and I’m pretty sure it was the opening match. That’s just sad. If these are the best each show has to offer (and the Internet Wrestling Community seems to think along those lines) why would you even have these two guys in the same building?
As much as I have never liked the brand split, it does (or did?) serve to keep some guys apart. Let’s jump back, oh say 10 years…It’s 2002, would you have World Heavyweight Champion Shawn Michaels vs. WWE Champion Brock Lesnar during hour one of your weekly cable show? Hell no! That’s a pay-per-view main event…maybe even a Wrestlemania Main Event! (Come to think of it, did we ever get that match? I don’t remember it, if we did. That’s quite a pairing).
Anyway, here’s what I’m saying.
Here’s the common denominator – you have to create matches fans want to see. It was true when Hogan and the Warrior locked up in 1990, and it’s true today. When Rock and Cena lock up at Wrestlemania it will be epic. Yes, the anti-Cena backlash currently underway will affect the dynamic of the match, but it’s a marquee match-up that everyone is excited about. They announced it a year ago and have been building toward it ever since. Let’s see them announce Austin-Punk for next year. It ain’t gonna happen. Let’s see them announce Anyone-Anyone for next year. Not likely. I mean, who would it be?
So, here’s a thought – and I know I’m not the first person to think of this, but I’m going to give my take. Pick a couple of guys you have faith in. For argument’s sake, I’m going to say Cody Rhodes and Dolph Ziggler. I don’t follow Smackdown as closely as I do Raw, so I may be wrong here, but I don’t think they have a history, so let’s go with these two (but really, any two guys will do). Okay, now put them on different shows and keep them there.
Cody’s the Intercontinental champ, right? Cool, keep the belt on him and move him to Raw full time. Keep the U.S. belt on Smackdown. Put Ziggler on Smackdown. Put the World Title on Sheamus. Eventually, Orton or Wade Barrett can get it off of him, but ultimately Ziggler gets the belt, maybe even via a Money in the Bank win and cash-in, a la Edge. So, you’ve got smarmy cocky, Mr. Perfect-esque Ziggler with the Big Gold Belt.
Meanwhile, Rhodes gets to stay busy pretty much dominating the semi-main event scene, threatening Honky Tonk Man’s I-C title longevity record and building his status. Sometime late in the year, though, Goldust is making an appearance, getting squashed and destroyed by Kane or a heel-turned Brodus Clay, or an angry Mark Henry – whatever, but guess who makes the save…Cody Rhodes.
Suddenly, he’s a good guy and he’s getting cheers. Come January, he wins the Rumble, maybe by running the table. Then, instead of challenging for the WWE title, he wants the belt held by his father, a belt that’s about “wrestling” – and challenges Ziggler at Wrestlemania in a fresh and anticipated match-up. He wins, becomes a double-champion and a bona fide superstar. Not only that, he gives up the Intercontinental title and you give the belt to the next superstar-in-waiting. I recommend Joe Hennig.
Like I say, it doesn’t have to be Ziggler and Rhodes. Or it doesn’t have to be JUST Ziggler and Rhodes. Pick a few guys like Del Rio, DiBiase, Truth, Kingston, Barrett, and keep them apart. Pick some NXT or developmental guys and bring them up, but keep a few of them on one brand and a few on the other and start building them up now. If you bring in say eight guys and four of them catch on, you’ve got mixes and matches for six different programs right there! I don’t care if it’s Brodus Clay. If he can build a fan base and get over, save a high-profile feud for down the road.
Speaking of the Funkasaurus, where has he been the past couple of weeks?
So, as far as “dream matches” go, picture this…It’s 1998, you’ve got Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Sting and the Ultimate Warrior all under contract. What do you do? Hogan-Hart? (finally!) Sting-Warrior? (yes!) …Well, if you’re WCW, you do a tag-team match. Yes, slightly less exciting, but still super-cool right? That’ll sell some pay-per-views. What? Give it away on free TV? Okay, then…
What? You were expecting something a little more decisive (and interesting)? Oh, then you’re not very familiar with WCW then, huh? Yeah, they had those four guys (and an ass-load of other guys that could really go, like Goldberg, DDP, Savage, Luger, Flair, Booker T, Scott Steiner, Kevin Nash…you know, I’m getting sad just thinking about it) and this was the best they could do with all the douchebaggery and politics going on.
Anyway, thanks for reading.
Comments are, as always, welcome.
Tags: Bret Hart, cm punk, Cody Rhodes, common denominator, Dolph Ziggler, dream matches, DX, goldberg, Hulk Hogan, Lex Luger, Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Sting, The Rock, undertaker, WCW, wrestlemania, WWE