After Elimination Chamber, I had hopes for WWE. I really did. John Cena was eliminated early, and the match came down to AJ Styles and Bray Wyatt. And for once, I was surprised by an outcome–WWE put the strap on the Eater of Worlds and it felt like there was a definite shift in direction. But last night, as Monday Night Raw put on the most useless pay-per-view of the year a mere four weeks from WrestleMania, Vince McMahon took a gold-plated dump in our collective mouths.
On paper, having Bill Goldberg come back seems like a fairy tale dream. Right up there with Chris Benoit being tossed into the WWE Hall of Fame. But upon closer scrutiny you see the endless laundry list of problems with this sort of thing. Goldberg is 50 years old and he just won the biggest title in the company. And he’s headed to WrestleMania to face Brock Lesnar, whom is almost 40 years old. Why on earth have these two old men hijacked the biggest wrestling event of the year?
The booking at Fastlane was terrible. Owens came in and out of the ring, walked around the apron, talked trash and delayed the bell ring. When the previous match of Bayley and Charlotte was still going on at 10:50, we all knew some sort of bullshit was coming. When Owens finally got in the ring after wasting our time for five minutes, Chris Jericho’s music hit, the bell rung and then one spear and a jackhammer later, Owens had lost his title.
There was no reason for Goldberg to have a title when facing Lesnar. There was no reason why the inevitable Owens vs Jericho match at Mania couldn’t have been for a title. Instead, Owens vs Jericho is a mostly useless fight, and we now have two old-timers fighting for the Universal Title. One thing for certain that Fastlane did set up was leaving no doubt that Smackdown Live is the better brand, hands down.
Granted, maybe ten or eleven years ago, this might have worked. When Goldberg came to WWE from WCW, this might have been the angle they should have used. But he hasn’t wrestled in 12 years. Then he comes back and “beats” the biggest monster in the company in less than two minutes. Then goes on to “beat” Kevin Owens in less than 30 seconds. Professional wrestling constantly asks us to suspend disbelief, but come on. This is getting a little ridiculous now.
It’s the same formula WWE always desperately goes back to. They recruit gladiators from the Attitude Era and Monday Night Wars and neuter them, parading them around on a leash, and continue watering down our memories of days gone by. Let’s bring back The Undertaker for another year to be embarrassed on live TV as he’s carried through a match gasping for air and spending half the match on his back. Let’s bring back Ric Flair to put over his daughter’s opponent while standing in the middle of the ring red-faced and crying. Let’s bring back The Rock to put over his cousin only to have them both get booed out of the Royal Rumble. Rinse and repeat. And let’s not even mention the epic tragedy of Sting’s WWE “career.”
It is utterly baffling why Vince McMahon and the WWE are so terrified of their young talent. They aren’t prepared to take a chance or push younger guys. It has been that way for a very long time. There are guys (and girls) on the roster that other promotions would kill to have as their champion just being squandered and wasting away into obscurity. We could have a fresh, revitalized WrestleMania with amazing young talent. But instead, valuable ring time is going to be stolen by HHH, Goldberg, Lesnar, and The Undertaker. These guys all had their heydays. They’ve been in the spotlight. News flash, Vince: you aren’t “Showcasing Immortals.” You are cramming the same tired crap down our throats, risking the life and limb of the athletes who should have long since retired from active competition.
They used to call WrestleMania “The Granddaddy of Them All” and that’s never been more true than it is now. Most of these guys are old enough to have grandchildren and frankly, it’s getting a little hard to tune in every year to the same old tripe. I mean, Goldberg has a solid white goatee and white chest hair for crying out loud. Sad times.
Jamie Curtis Baker
To the dismay of many fans, it seems that WWE plans to keep The Undertaker off of TV and away from house shows between now and WrestleMania. We recently learned that Taker was indeed the person who Bray Wyatt had been calling out in his promos week after week. The reveal was done perfectly, with Wyatt coming to the ring amidst Taker’s music, complete with fire and smoke and all the theatrics, while hidden in a coffin. Wyatt popped up from his resting place and proposed a clear challenge to the dead man for WrestleMania next month. It confirmed the suspicions of most fans and quite honestly was one of the few bright spots from the dismal Fastlane PPV.
In the past few years, The Undertaker has used the weeks before WrestleMania to make appearances on Raw in order to build excitement and tension for the upcoming battle. This year, we look to be breaking from the norm, which leaves Wyatt alone to continue to build this match. Wyatt is masterful on the mic, making him the perfect person to single-handedly raise the stakes while Taker remains hidden. He can continue to hurl threats at the dead man while bolstering himself up even more as the new face of fear. Wyatt is one of those rare people who can carry a story on his own, so a direct response from Taker is unnecessary.
Leaving The Undertaker off of TV is the only move WWE can make. He was broken and beaten at WrestleMania 30 by Brock Lesnar, who proved him to be mortal and not this mythical creature we once viewed him as. The Streak ending last year was such a shock, I had my doubts that we would ever see Taker in the ring again. Photos were released online of him looking old and frail in an airport, lending to the rumors that his career was over. Now that we know that isn’t the case, we’re left wondering what kind of shape he is in, what he’s been doing over the past year, and how he performs in the ring.
Taker showing up at Raw or Smackdown prior to WrestleMania could ruin this match. We need Wyatt at the front of this all while The Undertaker remains in the shadows. If we get any response from him, it needs to be in a video package that does not show him whatsoever in order to keep the mystery alive. When he finally reveals himself at WrestleMania, we should expect to see someone completely different than what we saw last year against Lesnar. Taker is now a man with nothing to lose.
As far as who will win this match, it could go either way. We could get a ruthless Undertaker who destroys Wyatt and redeems himself for last year’s loss. We could also have Wyatt win in an effort to put him over. Personally, I don’t see Taker losing this match. I didn’t see him losing last year either, but after suffering the worst loss of his career, it doesn’t make sense for him to return only to lose again. Wyatt also doesn’t need a win in order to come out of this match a winner. Having the opportunity to work with Taker on the grandest stage of them all is big, and Wyatt will definitely take advantage of this match. I’m pulling for a Taker win, but last year definitely taught me to expect anything.
From the little bit Fastlane did to build up WrestleMania, I can honestly say that Wyatt vs Undertaker will be the match of the evening. It’s high above the main event of Lesnar vs Reigns, towers over the Battle Royal, and the matches that will likely be added don’t compare at all. Fastlane missed the mark on most of what it tried to do, but it scored big for Wyatt and Taker. A hell of a lot can happen in a month, especially with two theatrical men involved. Leave your opinions and predictions in the comments below.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker