How The Miz saved WrestleMania 27 - maybe
Be sure to follow @sethmates on Twitter and check in here at the Steel Cage for the latest from Anthony, Alfonso and I during WrestleMania this Sunday.
WrestleMania 27 is built around so many stars of the past -- HHH, Undertaker, Rock, Lawler, Austin and Trish among them -- that even the modern-day overused stars such as Cena, Orton and Edge aren't in the spotlight as they should be. Normally at Mania the stars are in the spotlight and the old-timers are sprinkled in, but this year is an odd mix that to me takes away from the entire show.
WWE is building HHH-Taker as a "Dream Match," but it's not. It's a marquee match, yes, but it hasn't been a dream match since it took place 10 years ago at WMX7. The lack of physicality in the build and the No Hold Barred stip for the show have been carefully put in place to mask both performers' physical limitations and to try and protect the "money" match for this year's show. Perhaps 2011 is the year that Triple H and Undertaker officially segue from being featured megastars to part-time role players once and for all; I say that meaning no disrespect to either, but it definitely changes their role in the WWE world, particularly at the biggest show of the year.
But what results is a balance where no other match (perhaps save Miz-Cena) is put on par with this one, so it seems none of the current and future stars are positioned to shine at the biggest show of the year. So whereas normally talent like Punk, Sheamus and Del Rio might be spotlighted at Mania while guys like Austin, Rock and Trish might be there for some sizzle, this year it seems everyone is in the same "sizzle" world, HHH and Taker included.
The man who's single-handedly saved the build is The Miz, who's established himself as the same level of entertainer as both Cena and Rock, which is not an easy feat. He has given WWE fans hope, as he's the only fresh face positioned on par with the other megastars. Let's be honest; Rock-Cena has supplied a lot of the sizzle building up to Mania, but they're not even in a match; a weaker opponent than Miz would have exposed this dynamic long ago.
Edge vs. Del Rio is an afterthought, Lawler vs. Cole has a ton of heat and I hope will help elevate Swagger, and I'm not even sure why Mysterio vs. Rhodes is happening. The other matches will supply some good moments, but the top two matches -- interesting as they might be to watch at WM -- have a certain emptiness to them, knowing that after WM (when HHH, Taker and Rock likely fade into their hiatuses), WWE will ask fans to believe as main-eventers a lot of guys who played secondary roles at the biggest show of the year.
I'll be watching the show because it's WrestleMania and because it's 70,000 people and because I'm still a huge mark at heart. Millions of you will as well. But will many watch the TV shows and attend the live events afterwards, once they feature a lot of performers who weren't positioned to shine at the biggest show of the year?
This is why the treatment of The Miz at Mania is the single most important thing to watch at this year's show. He's a guy they need to position as a top, top performer to have any momentum coming out of the show, since he'll be here for the long haul. His run as champion has been a huge success so far, but if he becomes just a bit player in the Rock-Cena saga, they've lost a huge opportunity.
Miz is the main reason I'm looking forward to WrestleMania. Now let's see if they give him the chance to steal the show -- and take them into the next 10 years.