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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

WrestleMania 27: More Bankrupt Than "Money"?

After covering WrestleMania either WWE or PWI for the last seven years, I packed my suitcase and went to Atlanta to be a fan this year.

I can't say I'd trade the five days of debauchery 900 miles from home for anything, but WrestleMania itself almost felt like the low point of the trip. That's not to say I hated the show by any means, or that it was poorly worked. I'd classify five of the eight matches as pretty good, and give Triple-H vs. Undertaker the distinction of "interesting," given their physical limitations.

But I don't know: Was it just me, or did the show feel a little ... flat?

Yes, the matches were good, and half of them had a "big match" feel. But after years of Money in the Bank shenanigans, crazy Undertaker matches, and world title classics, it felt more like just another PPV.

Undertaker's match with Triple-H might have been his least built/anticipated main event match since WrestleMania XIX, the eight-man tag felt like an old Survivor Series "smash three feuds together into one match" special, and as great as the build was for Cole vs. Lawler, the token non-wrestler grudge blowoff spot (which in the last few years has been occupied by Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon, Chris Jericho vs. three Hall of Famers, Floyd Mayweather vs. Big Show, and Bobby Lashley vs. Umaga as a proxy for Vince vs. Donald Trump) was occupied by two announcers.

I think that while any of us could quibble about match results, show order, or other superficial factors, there were three major things that really hurt the show: too few title matches, the lack of brand interaction, and the absence of Money in the Bank.

The first is almost inexcusable. I'm sorry, I know Night of Champions is guaranteed to be one night where all the gold is on the line, but if the titles aren't even important enough to be defended at WrestleMania, then what's the point of having them? And, no, I don't count the fact that the Intercontinental and Tag Team Champions comprised three-quarters of the Corre team. The U.S. title match was bumped to the pre-show, and Divas champion Eve got the most PPV time of them all in a backstage segment with The Rock and Mae Young, but I don't count that as "all the champions being involved."

The second? Well, I know Triple-H is a Raw guy and Undertaker is on Smackdown, so that was technically an inter-brand match. But Hunter pretty much hadn't wrestled in 11 months, Undertaker has been on the shelf for most of the last nine, and the match wasn't even hinted at until six weeks ago, so it's hard to think of the match as inter-brand. If you don't, then brand interaction was limited to Santino Marella taking one spot in an otherwise Smackdown eight-man tag and Lay-Cool teaming with Dolph Ziggler in an inter-gender six-person tag match that featured a retiree and a reality star on the babyface side.

And for the third, yes, I know Money in the Bank has its own event now, but WrestleMania 27 desperately needed something, anything, to get excited about. Outside of Rey Mysterio, the most flying we got was the finish to CM Punk vs. Randy Orton.

Rectifying problems 1 and 3 would have been very easy.

First, instead of having the eight-man tag and having Ziggler and John Morrison tied into what ended up being a five-minute match, they could've had Big Show and Kane destroy Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater for the tag title and swapped in Eve and Vickie for the boys to make a six-Diva tag match. Then, instead of a "traditional" Money in the Bank, they could've had Ziggler, Morrison, Kofi Kingston, Wade Barrett, Ted DiBiase, Drew McIntyre, Evan Bourne, and R-Truth in an eight-man ladder match for the Intercontinental Title. This would've given fans a Money in the Bank-like trainwreck where either Kofi could've regained the title or Barrett could've won it instead of doing so a week earlier on Smackdown.

Boom, easy. All the champions get a slot and you have an extra match added that could've stolen the show. Heck, Sheamus and Daniel Bryan could have even stayed as the pre-show match and still turned into a 20-man battle royal, as long as they did something like at WrestleMania 24 where the pre-show ECW number-one contender battle royal was streamed on WWE.com.

Very disappointing, WWE.

I'll be going to WrestleMania again in 2012 simply because it's in Miami, but I certainly hope the show itself feels more special.

-Louie Dee
Contributing Writer

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