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WrestleMania XXX: One Week Later

Written by  Published April 13, 2014 02:09
Reflections, Legacies and Saying Goodbye to Warrior   Welcome eXPress Legions, DAMMnation and the eXpertComics faithful. As always, thanks for reading. We are a week out from the single greatest professional wrestling event of all time and the shock and awe has not quite worn off. Daniel Bryan is champ, the streak is over, the legacy is intact, Cesaro is a Heyman guy and maybe the greatest class to date of the Hall of Fame was inducted. It surpassed expectations despite some poor execution in ring throughout, verbal miscues and the most disappointing moment in sports entertainment history. I got WWE network, I have watched it 4 times now. There is a lot to cover here. So let’s get this monkey smoking…  

The Hall of Fame Class of 2014

You know the names like the fading scents of your childhood. It is illustrious HOF14_Photo_110and covers about every difference in style, position and standing in the business. Lita, Jake the Snake Roberts, Paul Bearer, Mr. T, Carlos Colon Razor Ramon and The Ultimate Warrior It is a hit list of controversy, pioneer spirit and cutting edge personalities.

There was another unofficial inductee in my opinion but more on Jimmy Miranda later.

In what is sure to be the most remembered class ever there is a fire of white hot unconformity. All of these inductees are the very symbol of bucking the system. Their acceptance speeches proved that.

It was a train wreck of honor and validation mixed with grief, regret and anger. I have never seen anything like it in my 38 years of watching wrestling.

Lita spoke of the end of her career due to neck injury.

Mr. T rambled for 20 minutes sentimentally about his mother.

WM30_Photo_223Jake Roberts told of redemption, new choices and his children accepting him now that he is clean and in the care of Diamond Dallas Page’s life transformation program.

Razor Ramon – Scott Hall – spoke of his friends and of his life’s philosophy, replete with poem.

Carlos Colon spoke of his struggles and accomplishments in pioneering the Puerto Rican wrestling industry and as a proud father and uncle…

Kane spoke of Paul Bearer’s life and what he meant to him, then the Undertaker did a silent tribute to Bearer (Paul Moody) and there was not a dry eye in the house.

Then it was the Warrior’s turn. He did not disappoint. It was the first time we saw the man without the filters he allegedly hated and we were amazed at how the DVD “The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior” seemed like a dream of fiction compared to what we were witnessing on the HOF stage. Unsettling to see him in the most fitting of places, the audience squirmed (and I am sure wherever Bobby Heenan was – screaming) at the person who they remembered and the person they saw. There was humility laced with subtle ego, there was anger and dismissive ridicule for the way he left. There were truly open and tender moments of brutal transparency. There was a vulnerable and grateful Warrior being validated for the legacy he left on wrestling. Vulnerable. Sigh.

 

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While many outlets have talked of his speech it is the selfless parts that stand out to me and the foremost among them was his idea right on stage for the “Jimmy Miranda Wing” of the Hall of Fame. Who is Jimmy Miranda? He was a behind the scenes employee of WWF and WWE for decades. Never seen and always faithful. Warrior admired him and said so. Then he suggested the HOF should include hands, producers, technicians and writers for the HOF under his banner.

It was going to be a HUGE weekend for the Warrior.

Memories made before the first pyrotechnic. And it was only Saturday.

Wrestlemania XXX – The Showcase of the Immortals

Not since Wrestlemania I had there been a more scrutinized and talked about card. In fact fan expectations were for a lousy event based on the information available yet few knew just how amazing the event would be. But c’mon it is Wrestlemania XXX!!! They were going to get it right, or mostly.

3 WrestleMania Moments with Future Implications

1. The Opening

When Hulk Hogan was brought in to host the PPV the celebration seemed less d 12than grand and by the second sentence out of his mouth where he called the Superdome the Silverdome nearly had the fans proved right before the first collar and elbow tie-up was thrown. However rather than ignore his error Hogan had the sense to admit it, apologize and get back on script. He is the pros pro.

When Austin and The Rock showed up to join him it was one of the greatest memories of Wrestlemania highlighted by both Austin and Johnson to ridicule him for getting the stadium wrong. However all three were microphone rusty (Stone Cold’s “lip someone’s ass and Rock’s “Rew Orleans” as examples). It added to the honesty of the bit.

Reality era indeed.

The Possible Implications:

With the shocking and unexpected death of the Ultimate Warrior there is going to be a gap in the plan at WWE. Any and all of these guys can fill it. From story development and being side characters in rivalries to personal appearances and guest spots Hogan, Rock and Austin are prime candidates as all have current WWE contracts of some sort or another. Rock is the least likely (but most ring ready) with his film work likely to take his time but a Austin/Hogan rivalry (with no real fighting between them because of Austin’s injury) seems natural way to fill that void. What was once a fluff in ring appearance, to start WMXXX, now seems like a perfect inception point.

2. Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

d 6In what was a pretty good match overall Cesaro ended up memorializing the spirit of Andre in one of the greatest expressions of respect in WM history. Big Show, who has the anti-streak at WM gave the nod for Cesaro to lift him (all 500 lbs of him) over the top rope to win a ’la Hogan in WM III.

This comes after a horrible blow up with his one-time tag team partner Jack Swagger on the preshow.

Strings are being cut, stars are being made.

The nod from a big time pro like Paul White was the last thing Cesar needed to put him over for good. Unlike failed attempts at pushing a superstar down our throats like with Swagger and Ziggler or Even Santino at first, it was the fans that saw his talent and embraced him. There will be plenty of time to watch this young man but be assured. He’s the next Hitman.

The Possible Implications:

Cesaro is going to get a huge push to the championship. In fact, I would even d 7suggest he wins it at next year’s WMXXXI. But when he announced on Raw following the PPV he had left the Real Americans and joined Paul Heyman’s stable then it dawned on me WHY the push is so great with Cesaro (other than he is talented, technical and fun).

CM Punk. The silence is deafening from bith Punk and the WWE and despite rumors of termination or dispute it is my guess they are just waiting until the best moment to spring him.

He is the perfect foe. He now works for Heyman. There will be matches of technical wrestling reminiscent of Hart and Michaels, Flair and Gagne or Benoit and Guerrero.

But what is the biggest implication? It means the Intercontinental Championship will mean something again. Add to this the rising stars of NXT who are technically gifted like Bo and Sammy Z there is much joy for the IC contenders and the fans.

3. Daniel Bryan is the Champion

d 8The payoff was worth the wait. It is rarely in ANY entertainment that I make that assertion, True Detective and Dexter Season 4 if I had to name a couple of others. The yearlong saga that is Daniel Bryan vs. The Authority had every element of underdog glory from the wicked witch to the insurmountable odds (even getting off a gurney mid triple threat match for the title).

While both of Bryan’s matches were by far the best on the card, his reign was expected and the documentary of his rise to the belt right after the event poignantly punctuated the feat.

What intrigued me far more was how well Batista performed. Then on Raw Monday night we saw the future of what is possible when Orton and Batista acted on orders of HHH to assault Daniel Bryan as a unit. This setup has me engrossed. Because it is taking place with the SHIELD’s rebellion against the authority and the lack of direction in the tag team division.

The Possible Implications:

Look for Orton and Batista to win the titles from the Usos in the coming d 3months. With the SHIELD no longer the Authority’s lap dog it seems natural that a collision (not with the Old Age Outlaws or Corporate Kane) is likely.

It seems with the WWE Network in full swing and Ric Flair’s appearances everywhere that an Evolution reunion with Flair as manager is possible. Maybe HHH won’t be actively involved in the ring and someone like Kane or a rising star will join. One thing is sure Evolution vs. The SHIELD is a cash cow too big for WWE to ignore and it seems in line with the return to the Attitude Era mentality.

As for Bryan I expect there is no limit to the stories they tell. My guess is Lesnar will be one of the rivalries.

Goodbye Warrior: A Personal Farewell

When I first started watching professional wrestling with my grandfather Hulk Hogan had just entered the AWA. I will remember being bitten immediately and grandpa Tindell said, “Remember this is fake so you can enjoy it.” Well, while scripted I found out much later (Andy Kaufman and the King) the world of pro wrestling was all too real in spots. I was reminded again last week when one of my all-time favorites, The Ultimate Warrior, passed away suddenly.

 

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In the heyday of his stardom there were two camps. One who believed in prayers, training and the vitamins on screen and one who believed the collective power of the fans and a cosmic force empowered them. I was in the latter. While I understood the greatness of Hogan I gravitated toward Warrior naturally. His cheek blowing, running nonstop, rope shaking persona was wild. His hair was like my hair metal idols and he spoke in riddles. He was the first live-action comic character I ever saw translate to TV successfully.

The Hall of Fame was validation for all of us because we all still believed in Warrior despite his reputation or disputed standing among other pros. On Raw a week ago today when he donned the mask and addressed us I teared up a little in satisfaction as he announced his multi-year deal.

Now we will never see it happen.

He is survived by a wife and 2 daughters who will miss him forever.

He left us a legitimized legend. For that I am grateful.

Rest in Peace…in Parts Unknown Ultimate Warrior.

 

Tell the monkey to crush his butt…

Steve DAMM

DAMM is the proud father of two beautiful daughters. As one of ENR's founders and passionate comics' lover, he is committed to bringing you fair but passionate reviews as well as breaking news without the overreaction. A Colorado born curmudgeon, comic purist and pop culture crusader, he's on a mission to make new readers aware of the legends who came before in an in-depth way, how they changed comics and why the Silver Age is the most important era to modern American art (comic, commercial & fine). His opinionated style and audacious boldness making him a must read. As a reviewer, opinion columnist and con reporter his objective is the acquisition of truth, justice and the American comic book way, though he's been known to pursue foreign comics voraciously too. A champion for the creator-owned, a proponent for Indies and intolerant of towing corporate lines DAMM brings praise to those who deserve it and lays out the bad news without pretention.

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