maniaWhen you’ve only got an hour to write a blog and you’re drawing a blank you turn to what you know and what you’ve been thinking about for the past 48 hours. In my case, that’s wrestling. More specifically, WrestleMania.

As someone who frequents /r/squaredcircle on Reddit and reads my fair share of dirtsheets and episode recaps I think I can consider myself a pretty big “fan” of wrestling and by extension, the WWE. One only need to look at how often we have wrestlers over on Go Plug Yourself to know that.

That being said, the overall reaction in the “smark” (smart-mark, someone who’s into the product but knows far too much about the inner workings) crowd to the 32nd annual WrestleMania was pretty mixed to negative.

I mulled it over for a long time, and I think that WrestleMania in terms of being a collection of wrestling matches was pretty good. On an individual basis, there were no particularly dull matches to be had. But I was still wondering why I felt so unfulfilled.

I decided that it was because stories didn’t come together and nothing even really moved forward. It’s kind of weird because wrestling runs every week, 365 days a year. Every Monday has Raw, every Wednesday has a Smackdown and there are 12 pay per views a year. But if WWE has a “season finale” it’s WrestleMania.

That’s the part where I think it missed out this year. Maybe it’s the writer in me, but I kept thinking about how, without completely overhauling the outcomes, it could’ve been better. So, this is extremely self-indulgent, but here are my minor revisions that would have left me much more excited for what happened.

In the interest of keeping this short (something WWE gives zero fucks about) I’m not counting the pre-show.

WWE-Womens-Championship-Title-3Oh, one extremely important thing that did happen in the pre-show is that Lita came out and informed us that the WWE was taking a bold progressive step for gender equality by abolishing the term “Diva” and introducing us a to a very good looking Women’s Championship belt. This very cool, but let’s also remember that they used to be called Women Wrestlers and the WWE took it upon themselves to re-brand them as Divas. But hey, progress back to where you were is still progress.

So let’s start off with the 7 man Intercontinental Ladder Match.

What Happened: Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens basically took each other out of the match in their neverending blood feud (and hopefully it never ends) and Miz looked like he had an easy win on his hands, but Zack Ryder swept in for a surprise victory. Sincara managed to hit some cool spots and not hurt himself, Dolph Ziggler was there but I can’t remember him doing anything and Stardust paid tribute to the American Dream with some polka dots.

Minor Storytelling Change: Even though it’s sort of what happened, I think that I would’ve been way more interested in Owens and Zayn getting so caught up in their hatred for each other that the brawl really took them out of the match. Like, a whole one on one situation would just sort of keep happening ringside and the rest of the participants would just sort of give them their space. It would have been a great moment if the bell rang and they both sort of stopped and looked up and were like “oh fuck” and then just kept beating the hell out of each other. It would be clear that neither really “lost” the match, but rather they just have so much hatred that it overrides their brains.

Next Match: AJ Styles vs Chris Jericho

What Happened: In the zillionth time these two have faced each other across various AJ Styles ate the pin as fans chanted that Jericho was burying him. For the record, Styles and Jericho have faced each other on Raw, Smackdown and Fastlane since Styles’ debut AND they were a tag team in that period. It’s hard to be excited by something that’s happened 3 times already in basically two months.

Minor Storytelling Change: People seemed really mad at this one, but I actually didn’t mind it. Provided that Jericho sticks around for a bit as a heel I don’t think even a ‘Mania loss is really going to hurt Styles’ momentum (let’s not forget that we now know he’s Number 1 Contender). One thing I would have changed (and maybe I just missed it) would’ve been to see Styles’ hit that massive flying forearm. It’s not a finisher so Jericho could justify a kick-out and seeing Styles get that height in front of crowd that big would’ve been dope. That is all.

Next Match: The League of Nations vs The New Day

What Happened: The New Day came out of a giant Booty’Os cereal box dressed as Saiyans. Then a match happened and they lost because it wasn’t for the title and it doesn’t matter anyways. Then unstoppable legends HBK, Mick Foley and Stone Cold come out and beat up the League. Austin then hits Xavier Woods with a Stunner for trying to make him dance. Stone Cold doesn’t dance.

Minor Change: I get it. Stone Cold doesn’t dance. Stone Cold hits anybody and ‘errybody with a Stone Cold Stunner if they even look at him wrong. It’s going to happen and everyone is going to cheer. The one thing that might have been a little nice to see would’ve been for HBK and Mick to look at least a little concerned that in kayfabe Steve just murdered the guy they were dancing with a second ago instead of just partying it up.

Next Match: Brock Lesner vs Dean Ambrose in A No-Holds Barred Streetfight

What Happened: Ambrose took a bunch of suplexes and failed to get any of his legendary hardcore weapons to do any damage to Brock. Brock F5’d Ambrose into a pile of chairs for the win. The end.

Minor Change: Besides adding about 10 minutes to this match (literally the only match that felt like it should have been longer), I feel like they could have had a call back to indestructible Ambrose for the finish. I was really hoping he’d call for the mic again to talk some smack in a nearly unconscious state as Brock made his way up the ramp. Have Brock head back into the ring and F5 him again. Have Ambrose call him out AGAIN. Before Brock can head back down the second time, Heyman holds him back and gives Ambrose a slow clap, Brock and Heyman just turn and walk out. Ambrose would look like a million bucks and Brock still looks like a monster.

Next Match: Charlotte vs Becky vs Sasha

What Happened: Ric Flair holds back Sasha and prevents her from breaking up Charlotte’s pin over Becky. She is now the Women’s Champion (and the Diva’s belt is gone forever I hope).

Minor Change: I get that she’s the heel, but this match was perfect without Ric’s intervention. Have Charlotte cheat without her dad’s help for once to keep the heat on her. That’s all, let her be a heel without Ric. Just this once even. But for real though, this was the best match of the night on all fronts.

Next Match: Undertaker vs Shane McMahon

What Happened: After Shane demonstrated he’s as crazy as he ever was by jumping off the extra-high Cell, Undertaker picked up his body, carried him back into the ring and Tombstoned him for the win.

Minor Change: After carrying Shane back into the ring, Vince’s music hits. He wants Taker to stop. It’s gone too far, he’s changed his mind, blah blah blah. Taker looks at him, runs his thumb across his throat, points at Vince says “you did this” and hits Shane with the Tombstone. Taker’s music plays as he slow walks up the ramp and Linda and Vince and kids run in to the ring to attend to their murdered son and father. Why? Because as it is it really just looks like Undertaker is Vince’s bitch, just like Shane said. And that’s dumb.

I’m skipping the Battle Royal because it was dumb, Shaq and Tatanka were there, but at least a guy who could use the push (Baron Corbin) got the win.

Next “Match”: The Rock vs Erick Rowan

What Happened: Bray talks some cryptic mumbo jumbo, Rock tears his pants off and beats Erick Rowan in 6 seconds. The Wyatts move to attack Rock and John Cena makes the save.

Minor Change: Let the Wyatts get just a little bit of offense in on The Rock before smooshing them into putty. Make him look hurt a little and actually need the save. These guys eliminated Brock from the Rumble, they should be able to at least dent The Rock a bit. How are they ever supposed to be taken seriously as villains if they can literally never look actually intimidating in the ring.

Next and Final Match: Triple H vs Roman Reigns

What Happened: After a tremendous introduction by Stephanie McMahon, Triple H and Roman Reigns proceed to have a pretty decent match that Triple H decides he can’t win (I guess?), takes a hammer from his wife to presumably get the DQ (and lose but retain his title), gets Speared by Roman and is pinned clean.

Minor Change:  You want to make Roman look strong? Look, Roman is going to get booed no matter what, but at least give him a fighting chance of winning over the crowd. Brock beat the hell out of him last year and the crowd actually got behind his resilience a little bit. I would have had Steph distract the ref and have Triple H actually connect with the sledgehammer. Have Roman use one of those little blood packs or whatever. Sledgehammer, Pedigree to the bloodied Roman Reigns, 1-2.. kick up. They had Roman kicking out of F5’s last year so you can’t tell me he can’t kick out of a Pedigree. Have him hit the Spear, stand up, crotch chop and get the pin with zero fucks given. The bad guy actually cheats and Super-Roman shrugs it off. You’ve already booked him invincible, why not run with it?

So yeah, we could have more or less the same WrestleMania with a few changes and I think we would’ve gotten better payoffs without overhauling the whole thing.

Goddamn, this still went long.

Keith does all sorts of things here on, he works with the other founders on 9to5 (illustrated), co-hosts our two podcasts: The 9to5 Entertainment System and Go Plug Yourself and blogs here as The Perspicacious Geek.

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