Imp’s Wrestling Adventure
I currently have very little mental space left for wrestling, never mind critiquing the thing. But the world is need of distraction right now and that our crazy little world provides. With a few less lights, a lot less cheer and a lot more Michael Cole than anyone bargained for; the show goes on.
WWE & AEW slowly figuring out and adapting to this new temporary world, working the kinks and flow of these truly unique shows. Both doing a damn great job. My bar isn’t high, if I’m distracted and able to get lost for a short couple hours then colour me grateful.
There is one massive pirate elephant in the room howev-arrr…
From WrestleMani-arrr to WrestleMani-errr
As the event becomes thrown about and loosely held together with Sellotape, was it the right call to go ahead with the show? Or in hindsight irresponsible?
Hyped main event match participants dropping out and an undercard collage of random faces in a pop up tent production. Was it really worth it? To proceed with a show, yes steeped in annual tradition, but one tied with such high risk?
That’s the question I’ve been asking myself whilst attempting to get excited for next weekend’s double whammy of wrestle nights: COVID-19 is a very real danger, is my potential enjoyment of a big wrestling event worth the danger of those working it getting sick?
Because that is a very real scenario, there’s a reason Roman Reigns removed himself from the event. Hell to upscale it a tad, Europe is in lockdown for a damn reason. So is this show really worthy of brave applause? In the coming weeks it may go down more a tainted memory than heroic effort, putting employees and their families at risk for our enjoyment.
Which is why I’m in conflict with myself. The show in production maybe shouldn’t have gone ahead, but in output is incredibly welcome. Arms wide open and thankful for such a mighty level of distraction. You mean I get to enjoy/laugh/moan about wrestling for 2 straight nights? Count me right the hell in.
I’d be eternally grateful for something like that right about now.
Do I care it’s recorded? No, the fact there’s anything at all is testament enough. It’s certainly going to be a unique WrestleMania, that’s an understatement, but I for one find myself excitedly looking forward to it. That isn’t in some kind of ‘tuning in for the car crash’ either, I’m genuinely up for the ride.
100% the UK being in lockdown helps with that, WrestleMania suddenly gives me something in vision to look forward to. Changing from a product to write and critique into me being thankful it even exists, the distraction is so bloody welcome.
Life’s bleak right now, a bit of fun does no one harm.
As Shayna Baszler put it when speaking to Stephanie Chase for Digital Spy, “I think to give a couple days where people can sit and talk about like, the good guy and the bad guy and who they’re cheering for, it’s something else to talk about. It’s kind of the most important time for us right now. The world needs it, you know, just as a mental reprieve.”
A WrestleMania Card Cut Into Pieces
Doing The Best In A Crappy Situation
This is where the on screen issues crop up. The empty arena is what it is, I get drawn in to the in ring action enough that it’s not really an issue for me. For example New Day vs The Usos had me paying full attention and I was totally invested, didn’t care one iota where it was taking place.
Given the stories and arcs that were already rolling, this wall was always eventually going to hit the Road to WrestleMania marathon. What happens when the wrestlers themselves either become sick or pull out of the event?
The answer appears to be, “Errrr…”
Then come the event itself just put on something else. Normally I’d raise my fist proclaiming WWE scallywags, but honestly here it really isn’t the end of world. It is what it is, nothing about this is best case scenario. Would it be nice if we saw built up stories and arcs come to a high end? Yeah, but on the list of importance that’s all pretty low.
I’m envious of anyone that has the mental space to get angry about wrestling booking in the current climate. How bloody lucky you are if you have that time or energy to reach that point.
If Vince’s crazy world distracts me from the crap realities then WrestleMania will have been a resounding success. Really it doesn’t matter what the card ends up being, the only note I’m personally looking for being ‘feel good’. Have the show as upbeat as you can, remind us how happy wrestling can make us. The room really isn’t calling to showcase how dastardly, dominant or dreadful the devils are.
A weekend of pure distraction, even if only half the hyped matches happen that’s not really what matters. Because God knows what happens next, this virus is going to last months not weeks, as this still just the beginning when the next shows will be recorded is truly up in the air.
For all we know WrestleMania 36 will be the last fully fresh WWE content for a while, so I’m ready to sit back and soak it all in. Who cares if Rhea Ripley doesn’t beat Charlotte Flair? Yeah it sucks with the build that Reigns pulled out, but again it is what it is. Does it really matter what the card is? If we’re able to all sit down and temporarily get drawn into this world, that’s enough for me.
A bunch of talent will be missing, matches may feel thrown together without much in the way of reason behind it and all paired with a dose of pre-taped ‘creativeness’. Cut up pieces of a card hastily superglued together, but a WrestleMania nonetheless.
And at the end of the day, that’s exactly what I need right now.
Even if it’s the silly/weird/strange side of unique, at least I can escape for a tad.
Kind Of… Who Knows What The Card Will End Up Being
This won’t be a full blown match-by-match run down, because who knows what the cards ended up being. I’ve avoided spoilers so don’t really know much apart from the names who withdrew/were unable to compete.
But overall, I really do expect WWE to hit that ‘feel good’ note. Send us off happy, give us the wins the audience wants instead of the accustomed swerves.
To be fair last year’s WrestleMania was exactly that, hitting all those crowd pleasing moments for an enjoyable night – if it weren’t for the fact it was so ruddy long. Splitting the show into 2 nights helps with that, although they’re still built up of around 8 or 9 matches each. These ain’t going to be your quick little NXT TakeOver like 5 match rapid fire shows, more 2 full blown PPVs totalling up at a likely 8 hours of content.
That’s… yeah that’s a lot. Especially with them being empty arena shows, keeping us engaged for that long 2 nights on the trot sure is going to be one difficult task. But hey they could do it, optimistic Imp’s low bar can still easily be met.
Matches like Brock Lesnar vs Drew McIntyre, Sami Zayn vs Daniel Bryan, Goldberg vs ?, all read like perfect moments to deliver those delightful pockets of babyface joy. Celebratory title changes to give us something to cheer, the wrestlers we’ve gotten behind succeeding at the show of shows.
Yes I put the Goldberg match on there, even if it’s not Reigns that same note can still be hit. Hey, it’s the benefit of there not really being much of a story in the first place. Swapping out a character doesn’t really do much damage.
On the women’s side with Becky Lynch vs Shayner Baszler, Rhea Ripley vs Charlotte Flair and Bayley defending in the multi-woman, we’ve got three matches setting up rather than finishing off stories. A tad different than the rest of the card in that it doesn’t matter as much who the winner ends up being, more reliant good showings and them being tight contests over which one is actually booked to win.
The two attraction matches arguably have a bit more hanging on them, but still like everything else I’m valuing the ride higher than the destination. Edge vs Randy Orton has had an incredible build up, with the empty arena RAW episodes lending themselves perfectly to the serious monologues from both parties. A result seemingly more certain, but it’s due to the build being so damn on point. A great story is a great story, the wild brawl this Last Man Standing should separate this from the pack in all the best ways.
Then there’s AJ Styles vs The Undertaker, pretty much a nothing build trying to make us care in its final moments. That said the potential of a pre-taped Buried Alive Boneyard Match has me intruiged where I wasn’t really before. Do they bury The Undertaker or add one more soul to the list? Either way this will also be different, these two cards certainly have variety.
Speaking of different brings me to the perfect final match to talk about: John Cena vs ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt in a Firefly Funhouse Match. Yowie wowie, this is guaranteed to be weird… whether that’ll be a good or bad thing is undecided. Hey this may end up being the most divisive of the lot, like The Fiend character itself with folk loving it equally as others can’t stand the thing.
I’ve personally dug everything about The Fiend, just a shame WWE creatively took a couple of wrong directions that brought the character right down from ‘awesomely special’ to simply ‘unique. I didn’t have any time for the House of Horrors match after WrestleMania 33 however, so consider me cautious for this one.
It’s fair to say, the card itself is just as unique as the circumstances surrounding WrestleMania. A slew of misfortune and a handful of stubbornness, who this plays out is anyone’s guess.
I’m looking forward to it though. I’m in lockdown, can’t go anywhere so it’s not like I’ve got much to look forward to. WrestleMania is like this shining beacon off in the distance, that thing I’ve got my eye set on as the boat sails extremely slowly.
As I said earlier, there is that tainted aura around the show, but I ain’t going to lie the distraction is damn welcome.
Stay safe everyone.
And wash your bloody hands.
Comment below, rate and click an emoji too. I’ll be here to reply and chat this weird wrestling world.
Imp’s LIVE every Thursday on LOP Radio, this week he started previewing WrestleMania 36 with the first half of matches!
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