It is a little over two weeks left to Wrestlemania and the biggest show of the year cannot come quickly enough for a company that has stumbled, tripped, fell and knocked itself unconscious on its way there.
I’m sure we will all have fun on the day but while writing its way along the ‘Road to Wrestlemania’ the WWE has somehow managed to underwhelm or mess up nearly every single high profile story they are trying to tell. Like Goldilocks who got everything too hot or too cold, too big or too small, the WWE has pulled off the impressive feet of under doing the stories they should be digging deepest on, ridiculously complicating the rivalries that should have been the simplest to put together and in the process revealed a panicked company that has absolutely no sense of proper long term storytelling.
For me the straw that broke the camel’s back was Kurt Angle’s announcement this week that he would be retiring at Wrestlemania 35 and facing Baron Corbin. I’m not normally a fan of part timers at all but I figure if we are going to have them then they may as well have good stories, and this could have been a great story. It is the retirement of one of the absolute greats of modern pro wrestling, arguably the wrestler of the decade in the 00s, he could blend fantastic in ring action with goofy charm outside of the ring, as a former Olympian he blended sports and entertainment like very few others. Yes he is now a shadow of the man he once was but what does he get as a retirement match? A 3 week build that will end in a match with Baron Corbin.
If you’re going to do a big retirement match, this is not how; this is not a passing of the torch, this is not a fitting end for a legend. Surely the WWE have known this was coming, Kurt has been out there wrestling seemingly random matches since Royal Rumble and yet the WWE didn’t see fit to make something out of it. A simple option could have been just re-running the Ric Flair Mania 24 angle, have someone tell him that the next match he loses will be his last and have him beat lower tier guys like Jinder Mahal, Curt Hawkins or Shelton Benjamin and build up to a true passing of the torch to Chad Gable, another Olympic wrestler who posses the kind of goofy charm Kurt won everyone over with. Have Gable tear up as he puts an end to the career of someone he would have looked up to for years.
It isn’t a hard angle to run, Kurt was already having these kind of matches on Raw, just a little foresight would have made this match so much more impactful for Kurt and his fans. It may not have been original and Kurt may not be what he once was but it sure as hell would have beat a series of random matches, followed by an announcement out of the blue, two weeks and then a match no one wants to see for the fourth time (yes Corbin and Angle have already wrestled in singles matches three times).
Let’s keep going though because this match was just the straw that broke this already extremely overloaded camel’s back and instead look at a match that has done the complete opposite and made something simple ridiculously over complicated: Ronda Rousey v Becky Lynch v Charlotte. This match has been a lock seemingly since Survivor Series and has the most simple premise for a Wrestlemania match possible: we are putting the three baddest, toughest and most skillful women on the planet in a ring together to fight for a championship. Yet instead of playing things simply and effectively, building off the existing fan excitement and the natural rivalries already in place, in a desperate attempt to do God knows what the WWE has tied itself a Gordian knot of stories involving twists upon twist, suspensions, injuries, bureaucratic interference and too many turns to even keep track of. By over complicating what should have been something simple the WWE has taken what was once the most organically over main event match in a number of years to something fans like myself are just waiting to be over and done with.
Even the match I’m personally most looking forward to has not escaped the story line curse with Seth Rollins v Brock Lesnar ignoring the massive depths of backstory and character development they could build on and instead running a completely uninspired rehash of the part timer lines Roman Reigns trotted out this time last year. This is a match I have been anticipating for nearly half a year, I have written countless words about the story of Seth Rollins and his road back to Brock Lesnar, yet I am now utterly bored by this build. This should be the story of a hero who has risen from the depths of his own hell, reclaimed his soul, redeemed and rebuilt himself and is poised to regain the position at the top of the company he stole off Lesnar at Wrestlemania and then lost through injury. I’m not making up any of that material either all the history with Lesnar is there ready for them to bring up but for some inexplicable reason they can’t see it. I trust the night the match will deliver but the company’s inability to exercise even an iota of creativity with this build has been very dispiriting.
In fact I think that up and down the entire card the only build that has added anything to the actual match has been the Kofi Kingston saga and the WWE creative team hardly deserve praise for the way they have lucked their way into that story.
This frustration is not something I am revelling in either, I’m the guy that a few months ago wrote ‘Sir Sam’s Guide To Not Hating Wrestling in 2019’, I don’t enjoy this kind of negative critique but watching the WWE right now I feel the need to vent. There is no continuity, long term character development is decided by chance and stories change direction on a whim. All of this absolutely stinks of a company that simply has no creative vision, a company that has no idea the stories it actually wants to tell and a company desperately trying to simultaneously cater to the die hard and mythical mainstream casual audience at the same time and failing miserably at both.
With the matches I spoke about headlining Wrestlemania this should be one of the history books but I am now left wondering how one of the most disappointing builds to Wrestlemaia in recent memory will affect the legacy of what should be historic matches.
I’m still looking forward to it but right now April 8 cannot come fast enough.
Thanks for reading LOP, how have you found the build to Wrestlemania, are you feeling as negative as me or is something keeping your spirits up?
Let me know in the comments below, on Twitter @Sir_Samuel or you can even write about it yourself on the LOP Columns Forum. It is where every columnist on this site started and will make you both a better writer and a more engaged wrestling fan. You can sign up here.
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