Wrestlemania season is here once more, and with only a few short weeks left till the supposed “Grand-daddy of them all”, the developing card has come under a lot of scrutiny. Most notably, WWE has had to try and strike a balance between displaying sheer star power through big names and raising some of the younger wrestlers into important roles. This can easily be seen when we take a look at the main events which are going to be put on display.
Both the main championship matches (as they stand at time of writing) are going to pit a relative veteran of the current product against a newly ascended superstar. On the red brand, we will be getting John Cena going against The Miz for the WWE title and on the blue, we will see Edge facing Alberto Del Rio. This could perhaps be seen as proof that WWE has taken on board one of the biggest criticisms lobbied against it in recent times; that they no longer have the ability to truly create new top tier superstars. Here, we’ve got not one but two matches at the top of the most important card of the year with two relative newcomers to the title scene. And yet, how the show comes across on paper and how it actually is in reality paint two very different pictures.
Starting with Smackdown, we have Edge, who has been with the company for twelve years. He will be going against Alberto Del Rio who has only been wrestling on WWE television for nine months. Big difference. Del Rio’s rise has been meteoric, debuting with a lot of hype, a strong showing against big-names like Rey Mysterio, being given the rub in the Royal Rumble and wrestling on both Raw and Smackdown in recent weeks. It is obvious someone likes Del Rio, be it due to his charisma or his drawing power in Latin quarters.
And yet, he’s not really being given the chance to help carry the headline Smackdown feud. We are not getting a straight forward story detailing the conflict between Edge and Del Rio. Instead, Edge has been busy dealing with the firings and hiring of Vickie, Dolph Ziggler, Kelly Kelly, Drew McIntyre and Teddy Long, while Del Rio has had the threat of Christian looming over head. Yes, there have been confrontations between Del Rio and Edge but these have not really be the focus of the show in the way a headline Mania match should probably be. It could be argued that although Del Rio was given the chance to prove himself with his Rumble win, the powers-that-be don’t have enough faith in him to participate in a straight forward one on one storyline. Rather, we are presented with constant distractions and obstacles which separate the two as it appears both wrestlers are more interested in other problems and are only really fighting each other because it’s expected of them.
Whatever excuses can be made for the Smackdown brand, over on Raw, things are worse. It goes without saying that Miz’s title reign thus far has been something of a rollercoaster. While he has enjoyed strong showings in impressive matches against Daniel Bryan and John Morrison, he has struggled to beat a man twice his age in Jerry Lawler, and has yet to be given a real chance to prove himself with a win over Orton or Cena. It’s quite clear that the two top babyfaces of the company are set on a level well above all other prospect main eventers; no one is allowed to get an advantage over either for long. Easy examples for Cena include Miz, Nexus and Sheamus. All feuded with him and were meant to be serious threats. Yet none ever really got the upper hand on him. Even when Cena was forced to work for Nexus, he was shown to be fully in control of his own actions, and one does not even need to bring up the fiasco that was his “firing”…
The problem then lies in the fact that there is no one who really believes that The Miz can beat John Cena, especially with the “firing” of Alex Riley last week on Raw. The Miz has not been built up as someone capable of getting a win over John Cena in a fair fight. The Miz has not been built as someone who can beat a 61 year old commentator who wrestles three times a year in a fair fight. Meanwhile, John Cena has been portrayed as someone who can easily dispatch five men at once should he feel like it. Amazingly, The Miz, the heel of the story, is going into the match as the underdog, the champion in peril with the odds stacked against him!
And to top it all off, The Miz verses John Cena is not even the real story despite being the headline match for the “A-Show”. That privilege belongs to John Cena and The Rock. Now, I should state that I love The Rock. I marked like a little baby when he returned, I sang the catchphrases from my sofa and I laughed merrily when he admonished Michael Cole. But it does not seem likely that The Rock will stick around past Wrestlemania, and it certainly does not look like he will engage in another wrestling contest. In other words, there is not going to be a solid pay-off for the war of words being waged between the two. As such, The Miz, the top champion in the business today, is playing second fiddle to a storyline which has no possible climatic conclusion. Yeah, Miz is main-eventing Wrestlemania, and that deserves admiration based on how far he’s come in recent times. But once again, the youthful superstar is not being given a chance to show he can hang in the upper echelons of WWE.
It may appear as if WWE has taken a leap forward in terms of booking and creating new superstars. But this is all for nought if when push comes to shove, you shove them aside to push established stars with only a short shelf-life left. The placement of fresh faces in the main events is for lip-service only, plain and simple.