The match no one wanted: Is Shane/Undertaker the new Bret/Vince?

 

In 2010, Bret Hart returned to RAW for the first time since the infamous Montreal Screw Job in 1997. People were pumped. He called out his longtime nemesis, Shawn Michaels, and the two hugged, putting years of bitterness behind them. It was a nice moment, despite Hart’s decision to wear jean shorts.

Then Hart called out his other longtime nemesis, Vince McMahon. The two also appeared to reconcile, but McMahon ruined the feel-good story by kicking Hart in the balls, kick-starting (#fireable) a feud for a Wrestlemania match.

I and many others were happy to see Hart once again involved with WWE, but I and many others also had no interest in seeing him go one on one with McMahon inside the squared circle. Hart, one of the greatest in-ring wrestlers of all time, was limited physically as the result of a stroke he suffered years earlier. McMahon, one of the great wrestling characters of all time, was limited physically by being a man in his mid-60s.

The feud was weird: McMahon refused to accept Hart’s challenge, then Hart was hit by a car, then McMahon changed his mind since Hart had a broken leg as a result of the accident, then Hart revealed that he faked the car accident and actually didn’t break his leg after Vince signed the contract. Actually, what am I saying: that’s a perfectly acceptable pro wrestling feud. But the whole thing felt off.

The match itself was … not good. And I was in the building for it! My first Wrestlemania (I’ve since been to two others, no big deal). I expected it to go for about five minutes, with Hart quickly dispatching of McMahon with the sharpshooter. Instead, it went for like 15 minutes, with Hart’s extended, dysfunctional family first coming out as though they had aligned with McMahon, then immediately turning on him and siding with Bret. The entire family basically destroyed McMahon who — while not the most sympathetic character in the world — was still an old man being pummeled.

The highlight of the match was McMahon finding a crowbar and yet somehow becoming less powerful with it, flailing aimlessly. Eventually, after teasing it about six times, Hart finally put McMahon in the sharpshooter and won the match.

Screenshot 2016-03-22 at 4.09.57 AM

The reason I bring this up, other than the fact that this MLBlog hasn’t been updated in months and I’m bored, is the current match that appears to be slotted for the main event of this year’s Wrestlemania: Shane McMahon vs. the Undertaker in Hell in a Cell.

A few weeks ago, Shane McMahon returned to RAW for the first time in years (he has been pursuing another career outside of the WWE) to confront his dad, Vince, and his sister, Stephanie. I wasn’t watching, but my brother @poolhalljames sent me a text that said “SHANE O MAC!!!” People, myself included, were pumped. Then he sent me another text that said “He’s fighting Undertaker at Mania.” People, myself included, were puzzled. It’s great that Shane is back with WWE, but why the hell has he returned to wrestle, of all people, the Undertaker?

Now, there are some legit reasons this match is happening. WWE’s roster at the moment is decimated by injuries, with John Cena, Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan (who had to retire due to concussions), Sting and Seth Rollins, among others, sidelined. And they’re holding Wrestlemania 32 at Cowboys Stadium, which means they need plenty of star power to get 90,000-plus people in the building. Also, I guess Naked Mideon is busy, as I would’ve personally gone with him vs. the Undertaker over Shane.

But, so far, this feud, like the one between Hart/Vince, has felt off. The stipulation for the match is, if Shane wins, he gets control of RAW. Why would Undertaker, a guy who shows up about five times a year at this point, care who controls RAW? No idea.

It seems at first they wanted people to just accept that Vince is the boss, and Undertaker doesn’t particularly have any reason to not beat up Shane, so he was fine doing it. But that didn’t really track. They then had Shane call Undertaker a “bitch,” which — someone calling another person a bitch has certainly fueled plenty of fights in human history — but I’m not sure if that’s enough for the main event of the Showcase of the Immortals. Last night, Vince announced that if Undertaker loses, he will never wrestle at Wrestlemania again. I kind of feel like that one won’t stick.

And, in the most egregious part of this feud so far, Vince called Shane the Undertaker’s most formidable Wrestlemania opponent of all time.

giphy

All that being said, the match could end up being amazing. Shane, despite being a not-overly-intimidating-looking 46-year-old, is a maniac; the Undertaker, despite now resembling Frasier, is a legend; and I, despite being a super smart person, am often wrong, as last year’s Wrestlemania proved.

But it definitely won’t be as good as Asuka/Bayley.

1611001_10207892792890647_915988666832521306_n

Brian Cougar

Advertisements
The match no one wanted: Is Shane/Undertaker the new Bret/Vince?

SMOKING GOOD: Sting makes for best 1-hour RAW yet

I hate three-hour RAWs*. Hate them. People complain about pace-of-play in Major League Baseball, but I’ll take the most boring three-plus hour baseball game over a three-hour RAW almost anytime. Even when a three-hour RAW is good it drags. Too much talking. Too many random matches or repeat matches. Too much of the fireable RAW commentary team (Michael Cole/JBL/Booker T).

As a result of this, over the past six or so months, I almost never tune into RAW when it starts at 8 p.m. I might briefly turn it on at some point during the first two hours, but I generally don’t. Some weeks I just skip the show all-together. But if I do watch, it starts at 10 p.m. (maybe I just really miss WAR ZONE**)

This week, that decision paid off. I got to see the great Paul Heyman as he valiantly (desperately) attempts to sell the Wrestlemania main event between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns (the fact that Heyman needs to try so hard to do this is a good sign of why it probably shouldn’t be the main event). I got to see an entertaining six-man tag match centered around the dopey feud for the now near-worthless Intercontinental title. I got to see Bray Wyatt cut a promo while holding an urn that contains the ashes of his favorite rocking chair. I got to see Seth Rollins (dubbed the new Shawn Michaels by noted wrestling historian @poolhalljames). And I got to see STING.

If you have not been watching WWE recently (and many weeks I would not blame you), Sting made his first appearance in WWE this past November at Survivor Series. If you are not up to speed on the history of Sting (and why the HELL aren’t you), he was the one major guy over the past 30 years to never appear in WWF/WWE. Sting was the biggest star in WCW for a while, both as “Surfer Sting” and the Crow knock-off you see at the top of this post, and after WWE bought WCW in 2001, he wrestled against Ric Flair to close out the final WCW Monday Nitro, then vanished (well, he wrestled for a smaller promotion, TNA, for several years, but if you don’t know the history of Sting there’s no shot you have ever seen TNA).

Since the end of WCW, there were occasional rumors that Sting was going to sign with WWE to fight the Undertaker at Wrestlemania, but it never happened. When he finally appeared at Survivor Series, it was to begin a feud with HHH (aka The Game aka The King of Kings aka The Cerebral Assasin aka the Connecticut Blueblood).

It didn’t really make any sense why Sting had any beef with HHH, other than that Sting is a good guy and HHH is a bad guy (I mean, I guess that’s a good enough reason). WWE randomly started calling him The Vigilante Sting (for this there is no good reason). HHH then decided the feud was about Sting being mad that HHH ran WCW out of business, which is a stretch for multiple reasons, the main being the fact that WCW went out of business because of the dopes running WCW.

I’ve enjoyed every Sting appearance in WWE. The Survivor Series one was slightly spoiled ahead of time because the Internet is a force of good and evil, but when Sting showed up at a WWE show for the first time, it was still surreal. At the PPV last month, HHH/Sting had a “confrontation” which Sting got the better of despite the fact that he had a baseball bat and HHH had a sledgehammer (although, to be fair, Sting’s baseball bat is up there with Excalibur). But Monday night was my favorite so far.

When Sting first started the Crow deal in WCW, it was during his feud with the nWo (4 life). The nWo would be ganging up on someone, then Sting would drop down from the rafters and start wrecking people.  It was great. On Monday, the Authority (HHH, Rollins, Kane, the Big Show and J&J Security … legends, all of them) surrounded the ring with plans to attack Randy Orton, who was all by his lonesome. The lights when out. When they turned back on, there was Sting. BASEBALL BAT TO KANE’S KNEE. JACKET CHUCKED AT HHH. STINGER SPLASH TO J&J SECURITY. SCORPION DEATHDROP TO ONE OF THE J&J SECURITY DUDES. POUNDS CHEST LIKE KING KONG. It was great.

To cap things off, after the show Sting spoke for the first time since coming to WWE, and he yelled that he feels “SMOKING GOOD!” I have no idea what that means, but if you ever ask me how I’m feeling and I don’t yell “SMOKING GOOD!” you should be concerned.

Brian Cougar

*As a way of keeping the show/wrestlers fresh, I would go back to two-hour RAWs, lose Smackdown (unless they were to go back to a legit roster split), keep NXT (of course) for the WWE Network, then have a one-hour show on Saturday mornings that’s highlight videos/a couple of goofy matches FOR THE KIDS. I’m sure none of this makes sense from a business standpoint.

**Back in the 1990s, for ratings purposes, the first hour of RAW was called Raw is War and the second was called War Zone.

SMOKING GOOD: Sting makes for best 1-hour RAW yet