WWE WrestleMania: Why John Cena, Triple H should have won
I gave myself nearly a week to simmer about this one.
After all, there are lots of ways to book a wrestling show, and if I had the corner market on creative team omniscience, I might actually be on the creative team.
But sometimes you know you're right, and I am on this one: Triple H should have beaten The Undertaker Sunday at WrestleMania XXVIII, and John Cena should have beaten The Rock.
I keep hearing there's no money in "The Streak" ending. Really? I tend to look at the question in a different way. How much money is there in The Streak staying alive? WWE is hoarding more part-time employees than UPS at Christmas these days.
The Rock will be back. Brock Lesnar will make selected appearances. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin will likely make a return next year to face CM Punk at the Meadowlands. There are enough guys who can draw money -- and can actually make media appearances -- in short-term stints that The Undertaker is finally expendable.
This was the chance to officially crown Triple H as the company corporate scoundrel for decades to come. The heat that would have come on him would have pushed storylines forever. Undertaker, Triple H and Shawn Michaels hugging all over each other on the ramp after the Hell in a Cell match was beautiful, poignant, and ultimately, useless. What do you do with this?
The argument in keeping The Streak alive was that there are still "money matches" waiting for The Undertaker. Who? John Cena? Wrong. He'll be in the ring with Lesnar in New Jersey, so that opponent isn't available. WWE may have just decided to retire Undertaker at 20-0 so they can mooch off specialty T-shirt sales for the next 15 years.
Sorry, the Triple H turn would have been more valuable.
Oh, and as for Cena? Let's see. WWE refused to do a heel turn with him because they couldn't risk marginalizing the company's golden goose.
So instead, they jobbed him out to a part-timer, Rock, then had him throttled the next night by another part-timer, Lesnar. The "Cena Sucks!" chants were in full force, the "Let's Go Cena!" chants nonexistent. His fanbase was too disheartened to even respond.
Bottom line, WWE still has all of one blue-chip megastar who will be at that house show in Peoria in January when folks are driving through a snowstorm to get there. That's Cena. I have a feeling that to get guys like Rock and Lesnar back, WWE is essentially letting them book themselves. If WWE's part-timers are able to have that much pull creatively, the result will be similar to the NWO or TNA's high-pay, low-work-rate signees. Eventually they will suck all the air out of the show for their own benefit.
These guys are great for WrestleMania, but destructive for the company as a whole if you end up having to use Cena as a tackling dummy much like WCW did to "Nature Boy" Ric Flair? Think that can't happen? Who thought in 1986 that it would be humanly possible to screw up someone of Flair's stature? But many pulled it off. WWE needs to bring back the likes of Rock and Lesnar only if they're willing to take a huge payday to be the franchise's foil.
During the WWE Hall of Fame induction of The Four Horsemen, Flair told a story about a late-night drinking binge with Cena. Hopefully they're still in touch. Flair played ball with his employers and got screwed as a result.
Company man Cena, a wrestling historian, had better take heed.