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Alfonso's WrestleMania review: Too much of everything, except quality wrestling

The Rock at WrestleMania XXVII in Atlanta, GA,

The Rock at WrestleMania XXVII in Atlanta, GA, on April 3, 2011.

I may not have called all the winners and losers correctly, but in some ways, my WrestleMania predictions were as accurate as anyone’s. I expected WrestleMania XXVII to be high on spectacle, and low on match quality. And, unfortunately, I was quite right.

This was one of the most overbooked WrestleManias I can recall. At every turn, WWE writers tried to create a “WrestleMania” moment. In the end, it turned out to be a show that would have benefitted from taking Coco Chanel’s famous advice: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.”

From overturned finishes, to church choirs, to Pee Wee Herman, this was an event in serious need of some editing. It was almost TNA-esque in the level of amount of stuff that was thrown at the wall here. It came off as WWE writers trying much too hard to fill four hours of TV with memorable moments. In the end, it was just way too much, and would have been well served to cut down on some of the needless filler. I’d bet Daniel Bryan and Sheamus would agree.

Let’s go through the show:

. First things first. From a pure production standpoint, this was one of the best looking WrestleManias in a long time. The Georgia Dome looked just great, and the set up, from the giant curving WrestleMania logo hanging over the ramp, to the logo printed on the actual ramp, it just looked phenomenal on television.

. This show may have been hurt by Rock overload, especially since “The Great One” did not do anything much different than he has on Raw over the last several weeks. Having him start the show slowed down the pace from the outset. The show was about 20 minutes in before the first bout got started.

. Having Alberto Del Rio vs. Edge kick off the show was a gamble, and may have hurt the already weak perception of the Smackdown world heavyweight title as a major championship. But considering some of the heavy hitters elsewhere in this show, it may have been a good idea to put this match in the opening spot, where it had the best chance of getting some genuine crowd heat. Edge going over clean was a surprise, but not an unwelcome one. He’s been doing great work on SD lately, and deserves a few more weeks or months on top. Del Rio’s time will come soon enough. This match would have benefitted from being allotted five more minutes.

. Filler, filler, filler. I’m all for the fun backstage stuff, but some of it felt unnatural and forced. The Snoop Dogg stuff with Piper, Hornswoggle, etc. was a perfect example. It was one of many moments that felt like it was there simply because WrestleMania is supposed to have those kind of moments. I think that’s one of the places where this show was so different from past years. There seemed to be little faith in wrestlers being able to go out and just do their job and deliver a solid show. Instead, everything was just over seasoned.

. Cody Rhodes and Rey Mysterio was fine. It probably got the right amount of time, and had a solid finish. Probably not as good a match as these two could have if they weren’t concerned about inadvertently upstaging other matches.

. I wasn’t crazy about Randy Orton and C.M. Punk. They ended up having a good enough match with a good finish, but Orton is not sufficiently over as a babyface, so this whole storyline suffered.

. Cole vs. Lawler was just an overbooked mess. For this match to have been successful, it needed to have followed the obvious formula: Swagger and Lawler scrap a little to deliver the athletic quotient for this match, then Lawler annihaltes Cole and beats him cleanly, then Austin gives Swagger and Cole stunners and he and Lawler drink some beer. The whole thing should have been over in about 7 minutes. Instead it seemingly dragged on forever, and ended with the Raw GM overturning the decision and giving Cole the win. Booker T and Josh Matthews being beat up was also unnecessary. Not a fun segment.

. Undertaker and Triple-H delivered on the high end of expectations and, as expected, was the lone match on the card that could be a candidate for match of the year. That said, it was far from perfect, and fell way below the high standards set by Taker and Michaels in the last two Manias. As I wrote in the live WrestleMania blog, this almost came off as an imitation of Shawn’s recent WrestleMania outings—what with all the dramatic nearfalls, dramatic storytelling, and wrestlers audibly talking to each other in the middle of the match. Triple-H asking Undertaker “Why won’t you stay down?” was a bit corny and heavy handed, and too derivative of Michaels doing much the same with Undertaker and Ric Flair before him. As expected, this one was filled with every short cut imaginable, except blood. I think the best description of this bout is “self-indulgent,” particularly for Triple-H, who pretty much dominated the bout before tapping out to Hell’s Gate. All that said, this was unquestionably a suspenseful, dramatic, well-executed piece of wrestling storytelling. Taken for what it was, without being compared to similar WrestleMania matches in recent years, it was very, very good. But even here, the writers felt the need to do more than they needed, what with all the melodrama of ‘Taker’s health scare after the end of the bout. Again, it just got to be too much.

. Not much to complain about in the Snooki six-person tag. Again, it was almost exactly what I expected—some less-than graceful action from the divas, a jaw-dropping high spot from John Morrison, and Snooki getting the win. Snooki’s athleticism was a fun surprise.

. The main event of WrestleMania embodied everything I disliked about this show. It was just a busy, gaudy, overbooked mess. Cena’s absurdly over-the-top entrance. The pointless double countout false finish. The Rock’s interaction with the Raw GM. My gosh, let these guys just wrestle. What’s more, the pay off to the big Rock storyline ended up being very anti-climactic. He gave Cena a Rock Bottom and The Miz a People’s Elbow—just like he did last week on Raw for free. The match itself was not very good, and was hurt by the fact that everyone was waiting on The Rock to get involved. WWE should have been able to predict how this would have turned out, and should have planned accordingly.

Like Lawler-Cole, this match would have been better served if it followed the somewhat obvious formula: Cena and Miz have a good match. Rock comes out to help Cena win. Cena and Rock celebrate together at the end. That would have been infinitely better than the convoluted finish we got. It reminded me of when supermarkets douse spoiling meat with loads of BBQ sauce to disguise the fact that the meat, itself, doesn’t taste very good. This match—and most of this entire show—was just dripping with BBQ sauce. And not the good, Jim Ross brand either.

In the end, this was not a great WrestleMania. I get that WrestleMania is not all about the matches themselves, and that all the frills are key to making WrestleMania a great show each year. But there was simply too much sizzle this year, and not very much steak. I wouldn’t be surprised if, bell-to-bell, this show had the least wrestling of any WrestleMania in several years. And that’s a shame, considering that WWE still has some very talented wrestlers on its roster, including some who were barely featured on this show, or left off all together.

This show came off as a desperate attempt by WWE to pander to the masses and the mainstream media by delivering over-the-top spectacles at every turn, and very little quality wrestling. Along the way they may have alienated many of their core fans.

On a scale of 1-10, I’d give the show a 6.

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