Happy Saturday TJR faithful, and here we are just one week removed from Wrestlemania XXX. It is amazing to think that we are so close to the historic 30th edition of Wrestlemania. With three decades of Wrestlemania history behind us, we are entering the next phase (Phase 4 if you will) of the WWE, which will ultimately culminate in 10 years at Wrestlemania XL.
In honor of Wrestlemania XXX, the culmination of the third decade of Wrestlemanias (or Phase 3 as I’m now calling it), I felt compelled to go back and look at the previous monumental Wrestlemanias, those being Wrestlemania I, Wrestlemania X, and Wrestlemania XX. What I noticed fascinated me and I decided that I would look into what I discovered during my trip into Wrestlemanias Past.
Did anybody know that no wrestler who competed at the inaugural Wrestlemania competed at Wrestlemania X, and that Shawn Michaels is the only wrestler from Wrestlemania X to compete at Wrestlemania XX? This is interesting to me because several performers from Wrestlemania XX are set to compete a decade later at Wrestlemania XXX, including John Cena, Big Show, Christian, Randy Orton, Batista, Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker, Kane, possibly Rey Mysterio, and Triple H, who is featured as prominently now as he was at Wrestlemania XX. That’s 10x more performer retention from the previous decades Wrestlemania than has happened at any of the previous decennial Wrestlemanias combined!
Now the question is what does this information tell us? What significance, if any, does the fact that there has never been this much repetition of competitors at Wrestlemanias a decade apart have? As far as I’m concerned there are two ways to look at this, an optimistic way and a pessimistic way.
An optimist can look at this piece of information and say that it’s great to see the WWE retain so much talent. Less people are suffering career ending injuries, and the WWE is chewing up and spitting out less superstars. Our favorite characters are privy to longevity both physically and creatively that wrestlers in the 80s and 90s never could have imagined in their wildest dreams, and that is something to be celebrated.
Furthermore Wrestlemania has evolved into a celebration of the WWE’s past and present. It is because of this that we are seeing more old favorites willing to return to bring about dream matches that in previous decades wouldn’t have been possible, either due to disinterest from the legendary superstars, or physical incapability. At the end of the day, having less guys be injured or excommunicated, and more superstars willing and physically able to return and wrestle at the showcase of the immortals can only be considered a blessing to the modern era WWE fan.
Now a pessimist on the other hand sees this information and can only meet it with disdain. This only goes to show that there is very little opportunity for new stars to be created. In the 80s and the 90s, you were all but guaranteed that the Wrestlemania in 10 years would feature nearly all new faces and characters. The fact that in 2014, there is so much holding over from the previous decade’s Wrestlemania illustrates that the WWE doesn’t know how to create new stars and are more than willing to trot out old, stale performers that many fans are sick of.
The product isn’t fresh, it isn’t exciting, and its landscape hasn’t changed all that much in ten years. The Undertaker is still streaking, Triple H is still one of the main focal points of the show, John Cena is still prominently featured as the biggest babyfaces in the company, and while there are a few new faces like Daniel Bryan, Bray Wyatt and The Shield, Wrestlemania XXX is chalked full of the previous decade’s stars leeching off of the youthful energy and excitement that these young stars provide. Fresh faces should be heavily featured at Wrestlemania and it should be the event that solidifies them as stars heading into the WWE’s next decade!
In reality, I think that the truth lies somewhere in the middle of these two extreme points of view. I do think it’s great that careers are lasting longer than ever in the WWE, that superstars are falling victim to catastrophic injuries less and less, and that our favorite characters can withstand the rigors of a decade wrestling on the highest stage in professional wrestling.
I’m not exactly thrilled that most of the young talent in the WWE is being relegated to performing in a battle royal, that can only truly benefit one of them (and even then, how much it will really benefit them is anybody’s guess). I do feel like there should be more opportunities for these young guys to become stars at the Showcase of the Immortals, where stars should be born, and certainly lament the WWE’s lack of star building over the last 10 years.
I love that guys like heel Batista and Brock are being featured, and that they are willing and able to come back to the WWE and perform at high level, especially at an event as big as Wrestlemania is. I love that The Shield, Bray Wyatt and Daniel Bryan are getting to wrestle veterans of the WWE where victories will all but assure their dominant positions in the WWE’s landscape (more so for Bray and Daniel Bryan, because let’s face it, a victory over Kane and the Outlaws isn’t exactly a star making performance). Wrestlemania XXX should be about the new overtaking the old and claiming the 4th Phase of the WWE for themselves!
I’m not ecstatic that Triple H is as prominently featured now as he was during the build up to Wrestlemania XX, but I have to say that he’s doing a phenomenal job of playing the foil to Daniel Bryan. His heel promos, where he’s constantly throwing out internet wrestling lingo to troll the internet fan has been fantastic (who didn’t smile and say “Triple H you glorious son of bitch” when he said at Wrestlemania XXX he buries Daniel Bryan and the Yes Movement. It was perfect). He’s at the top of his villainous game, and despite myself, I find that I’m enjoying his heel musings on Raw and Smackdown.
At the end of the day, Wrestlemania XXX is historic for many more reasons than the fact that there is more talent hold over between decades than ever before. It is a celebration of three decades worth of Wrestlemania, and there are some great things and some bad things that come along with that. I’m not always happy with the way WWE chooses to handle things, but I’m a fan and I find myself getting excited every year right around this time when Wrestlemania approaches. Once Wrestlemania XXX closes we officially enter a new decade of WWE. Who knows how many more beat the streak matches we have (not many, so WWE needs to start figuring out a new attraction to consistently feature at coming Wrestlemanias), how many more times will we get to see heel Batista be the perfect picture of douchebaggary, or The Shield united as The Hounds Of Justice? I anticipate the next decade in WWE will feature sweeping changes, and in ten years at Wrestlemania XL, when we look back at Wrestlemania XXX it will be noticeable how much has really changed (I hope).
There you have it, but as always I want to know what you think! What are your views of the WWE retaining and using so many talents they used at Wrestlemania XX at Wrestlemania XXX? Is it good or bad that there is less turnover in the WWE these days? And how many talents from Wrestlemania XXX do you anticipate will still be wrestling with the WWE at Wrestlemania XL?
Until next time folks, where I will rank the Wrestlemania XXX matches in terms of interest for the 3rd year in a row in what is becoming my annual Wrestlemania companion piece, I’m Matty J. Douglas starting a new campaign for Dave Franco to play Gambit (did you see his card throwing skills in Now You See Me?) in an X-Men movie! Have a great weekend everybody! #DaveFranco4Gambit