(Hello from 2016. This seems to be the only thing that anyone looks at on the old WordPress version of the site, so perhaps you’d like to see the what I thought about Wrestlemania 32? Maybe?)
United States Championship: Rusev (champion) vs. john Cena
On one hand, this match should be really good, possibly the best of the night, depending on how that weird Intercontinental title ladder match goes, and whether or not they just throw Seth Rollins and Randy Orton into that match instead of letting them go on their own. On the other hand, as far as stories and characters and dramatic elements and whatnot are concerned, everything about it has been put together completely backwards. On the surface, John Cena is the good guy, fighting for Truth, Justice, and the American Way, or if you’re into branding, Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect. Meanwhile, Rusev is the prototypical Evil Foreigner, a throwback to the Ivan Koloff-inspired Evil Russian characters of the Cold War, with the addition of his manager Lana in the role of Ludmilla Drago from Rocky IV. But is it really like that?
First, despite crushing everything in his path and waving the Russian flag everywhere he goes, Rusev is not a bad guy, in the wrestling heel/face structure. Not at all, not one little bit. He’s displayed no villainous traits at all. He wins all his matches cleanly, and he seldom attacks his opponents outside the context of a wrestling match unless they’ve attacked him first. Sure, it might be said that he’s backed down from a threat or two, but what you might see as cowardice, I see as him being a goddamn professional who’s saving it for the official match. Since he’s been called up from NXT to the main WWE roster, he’s cheated in a match exactly one time, when he kicked John Cena in the nuts at Fastlane a month ago. And you know what? Who cares. WWE good guys cheat constantly. John Cena kicks people in the balls all the time. He kicked me in the balls this morning. And I’m still here, hell, I’m jumping around. And really, in WWe storyline terms, just look at Rusev as a human being. A poor Bulgarian nobody who met a girl he liked a whole lot, so much that he left home and moved to Russia to be with her. From there, he used his skills as a Bulgarian Super Athlete to become the hero of the Russian Federation and wrestling champion of the entire United States of America. That’s not a villain’s origin story; that’s the fucking American dream, just taking place in a different country. For fuck’s sake, Rusev and Lana are even totally down with Willie Nelson, Woody Harrelson, and Kris Motherfucking Kristofferson:
If you still consider Rusev to be a villain in any sense, it can only be because you’re a terrible, awful person. And speaking of terrible, awful people, let’s talk about John Cena.
The official party line is that John Cena is a True Blue American Hero, the living avatar of the traits of Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect, which are themselves a modernized version of Hulk Hogan’s training, prayers, and vitamins. But the reality is that he’s none of these. He’s an overgrown bully, a woman-hater, a spoiled-rotten whiner, an opportunist who gladly steps over the bodies of his fallen allies to get what he wants, and despite his avowed opposition to the Authority of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, they always seem to bend over backwards to give him exactly what he wants. Hell, the whole reason he’s getting this rematch with Rusev is because he viciously attacked the dude and locked him in the STF until Lana was left with the choice of either giving him a title shot or watching Rusev die. If I was one to give the WWE Creative staff too much credit, I’d say this was some next-level subversive social commentary, presenting John Cena as the twisted and horrible version of a “hero” in the modern dystopia that is the United States. But honestly, I don’t give them any credit at all, and I have to take into consideration that the WWE is run by legitimately awful human beings like Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn, so this is probably what the WWE powers that be truly think a heroic dude is supposed to be like. We’re all doomed, you guys.
Best Case Scenario: John Cena wins, (of course) but rather than the typical Cena vs. Whoever story, where he just plows through them and destroys their career in real life (Heath Slater once had a future, you guys) they go full Rocky IV with it, in a crazy-ass epic battle, where both men are half dead by the end. And since is is pretty much the only actual good guy in the WWE, Rusev takes his defeat in stride, offering a handshake of GODDAMN RESPECT to John Cena, who accepts it, and that whole “If I can change, and you can change, we all can change” scene plays out, Apollo Creed sheds a single tear in Heaven, and the two straight-up join forces, like Dusty Rhodes and Nikita Koloff back in the day. Soon, the Bulgarican Connection is the hottest thing in the land and revitalizes the WWE’s garbage-ass tag team division. And from there? World Peace.
Worst Case Scenario: At some point, the Rock makes a surprise appearance, and calling back to that fight they had a few moths ago, he just hits Rusev with a whole bunch of Rock Bottoms, pauses to call Lana a whore, then yells gay slurs at Rusev until the crowd decides that he doesn’t matter anymore. Then, at some point, Cena wins.
What Will Happen: Cena wins, then proceeds to beat him at least ten more times over the next several months. As a result, by this time next year, Rusev is in the annual Wrestlemania Sorry You Didn’t Get Booked Battle Royal.
Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker
A year ago, this would have been a dream match, and a lot of us Internet types were openly talking about how cool it would be to see the Old Supernaturally-Themed Guy fight the Young Supernaturally-Themed Guy. In the end, Bray Wyatt got fed feet-first into the buzz saw that is John Cena, and The Undertaker used up his yearly match against Brock Lesnar, where things didn’t end well. And here we are, with Bray Wyatt as a cult leader without a cult to lead, who the WWE made sure to let us know doesn’t stand a chance against top guys from the 2000s, and our freshest memories of the Undertaker are of him as a tired, defeated old man, hiding behind a thick layer of Just for Men, Grecian Formula, and some of that unnaturally orange fake tan he borrowed from the Bella Twins.
And the biggest problem here is what, if anything, the Undertaker is going to be able to do here. Because all of that stuff I said about Sting in the first post can apply to the Deadman. He’s not technically a senior citizen the Stinger is, but he’s still 49, and has a legit 6’9″ frame with a whole shitload of cumulative damage on it. The WWE hasn’t had to resort to pasting his head on someone else’s body for a DVD cover yet, but they are still using headshots from 5-10 years ago for promotional materials. Sure, there’s a good chance that most of the problem with the Brock Lesnar match last year was an apparently pretty horrible concussion, but still, he was 48 then, and he’s a year older now. For every story you hear about him running marathons, you see that picture again of him at the airport, looking like a less young and vibrant version of Jimmy Valiant, and the thought of him having to hold up one end of a Wrestlemania featured match gets scarier by the day. I know they really want to give him a big sendoff next year when Wrestlemania is in his hometown, but man, the Streak is over, there’s nothing left to prove, and they might want to just let it go after this one.
Best Case Scenario: FELL MAGICKS. fuck it, you guys, this is Wrestlemania, and it’s time to go big or go home. The Undertaker is a guy who’s been doing bizarre mystical magical shit since the first time he straight-up died in 1994, and Wyatt has been doing creepy voodoo shit ever since they decided to stop calling him Husky Harris. So you’ve got the Grandest Stage of Them All, you’ve damn sure got the budget, and you’ve got the two guys that wrestling fans would tolerate this sort of thing from. I wanna see fireballs, I wanna see lightning bolts, I wanna see possessed voodoo children, and fucking crew members running around on fire. Wrestling is inherently stupid as hell, but this is an opportunity to get STUPID AWESOME, like Kevin Sullivan conjuring Mark Lewin out of the immutable sea in the name of Satan, King Curtis telling us about Kamala hunting the rare white Bengal tiger by the sacred river Gangee, or Undertaker and Kane having a dang LIGHTNING FIGHT back in ’98. We NEED this. Wrestling has been boring as shit lately, and it’s stupidity has been of the anti-fun intelligence-insulting way. I want my intelligence completely bypassed by two men trying to literally kill each other in the final battle to prove whether Satanism or Voodoo is the supreme form of Dark Sorcery in professional wrestling. And for Gods sake, if you do have The Undertaker lose this bout, make damn sure you have the announcers sell it like he is literally physically dead, and you goddamn sure better have a grip of druids to somberly carry him off like those penguins did for Danny DeVito in Batman Returns.
Worst Case Scenario: The Undertaker shatters both hips while attempting to walk to the ring, and the WWE’s doctor informs Executive Vice President Triple H that there’s nothing that can be done. Triple H, knowing what must be done, takes the Undertaker to a quiet spot behind behind Levis Stadium and feeds him an apple, as he fights back tears, reassuring him that everything’s going to be okay. When the time is right, he takes aim and puts a single bullet in the back of the Undertaker’s head, ending his earthly suffering. As he drops the rifle and falls to his knees, Vince McMahon appears, and the two embrace. “You did what needed to be done, Paul. you did what was right, and you’re a man now.” Triple H wipes the tears from his eyes and gazes into the clear night sky, wondering that if somewhere up there, the Undertaker is looking down, smiling on them both. Men aren’t supposed to cry, but he lets the tears fall anyway, because gosh darn it, the Undertaker was truly his friend, and the best Lord of Darkness that a boy ever had.
What Will Happen: Undertaker wins, because he’s pushing fifty and and a part-time wrestler, and in the WWE Universe, that adds +25 to all your stats. Nothing is gained by either wrestler, and by this time next year, Bray Wyatt is in the annual Wrestlemania Sorry You Didn’t Get Booked Battle Royal.
COMING UP NEXT TIME: A bunch of dudes no one bothered to book in real matches risk life-destroying injuries for a championship belt no one cares about, and a larger bunch of dudes who couldn’t get booked in real matches risk not much at all for a trophy no one cares about.