By Nick Perkins, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@WesternRebel)
Well, another WrestleMania Week has come and gone. While those who actually journeyed to New York/New Jersey are undoubtedly exhausted after an action-packed weekend, the rest of us have been battling fatigue as well. For those who only watched WWE programming, we’ve consumed nearly 20 hours of professional wrestling in the past five days. And that’s just WWE. There were countless amazing matches and moments that took place in other rings.
But, as the Executive Vice President of a pissant little company once pointed out, this was always WWE’s week(end). And boy, what a week it was. The majority of WWE fans got almost everything they wanted. Kofi Kingston, Becky Lynch, and Seth Rollins each won their respective World Championships. The underdog finally got the title he’s deserved for years. The part-time champ is no longer champ. And, for the first time ever, three women main evented WrestleMania. It was an important show and it will go down in the history books as an all-time game changer.
So, at the end of it all, why did I feel so underwhelmed?
Don’t get me wrong. I was almost moved to tears at least a few times throughout the weekend. The DX Hall of Fame speech, Tomasso Ciampa coming out to celebrate with Johnny Gargano, Kofi finally winning the WWE Championship and the WrestleMania main event all made me a bit wispy. Taken individually, those moments were perfect and they will forever be etched in stone and in my heart.
But as a whole, it never felt like WrestleMania.
My yearly tradition during WrestleMania season is to watch all of them back, and see how far I can get. I made it to WrestleMania 20 this year. There were the usual standouts, of course. WrestleMania 3, WrestleMania 17, WrestleMania 19 and WrestleMania 20 all continue to age well. But it wasn’t just the matches or moments that made these events feel special. It was the pomp. The circumstance. The pageantry. It was all of these things and more but, most importantly, it was the stories that made WrestleMania special.
When Steve Austin won his first World Championship a year after solidifying himself as a superstar, we felt it.
When Shawn Michaels achieved his boyhood dream, we began crafting our own.
When Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit embraced after both winning World Titles, we called our best friends just to tell them how much we cared about them.
When Daniel Bryan won the WWE Championship, and when he returned four years later after fighting for his dreams, we knew that we always fight for ours.
These were the stories that made WrestleMania “the grandest stage of them all.”
But for the players to dazzle on that stage, they need a good story.
The outcomes of a few WrestleMania 35 matches were exactly what they should be. They were, in many ways, perfect endings. The human beings behind the characters earned those endings. But they were endings that didn’t feel deserved, in a story sense.
I cried for the “real” people behind the WWE characters when they won, because I like when good people find success and are rewarded.
But the stories that were being told left much to be desired and after hours of fatigue, and months of mediocre buildup, when the endings of these stories finally happened, I just didn’t care. They didn’t feel like WrestleMania. Nothing felt like WrestleMania this weekend. I don’t know if I’m just jaded, cynical, or too damn old to stay up late watching wrestling, but I wanted to feel WrestleMania. And I didn’t. And it’s because of the stories. Real life was, in fact, stranger/better than fiction.
A movie can feature the greatest actors in the world but, if the script sucks, it doesn’t matter how hard Robert De Niro tries – the movie will fail. WrestleMania 35 wasn’t a failure, not by a long shot. It made a lot of people a lot of money and gave a handful of men and women a moment they will never forget. As a human being, I’m happy for and proud of all of them.
But as a fan, as a consumer, as an audience member, I was disappointed. I was unimpressed. I was bored.
As I’m writing this article, Jeff and Matt Hardy just won their eighth tag team championship, and I just don’t care.
I look forward to WrestleMania every year. That will never change. But it’s getting harder and harder to invest 20-plus hours of my life into something that no longer moves me. The ending of WrestleMania 35 was a happily-ever-after. But the story, the one that WWE was trying to tell, was a never-really-there.
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