Let me start by saying that WrestleMania 28 might have been the best WrestleMania I’ve seen. It started poorly but those last three hours were unbelievable; yes even the Team Johnny vs. Team Teddy match wasn’t terrible. The end of an era match was made all the better by having Jim Ross call it, and my hat off to Michael Cole for being respectful to JR. That match became so much more with JR calling it, and I appreciate that the WWE did that for us and for Jim Ross. I’ve read criticisms of the match online, because you know Hell in a Cell isn’t good unless someone gets thrown off the top of the cell /endsarcasm. This was a brutal match that featured real cuts, real bruises, and real emotion. Sure Shawn was over the top at times but all in all it worked. HHH yelling “end it or will!!” and Undertaker responding “don’t end this Shawn, don’t end it” was an interesting back and forth. The closest I came to thinking the streak would end was when Michaels (upset by Taker’s attempt to completely choke him out) super kicked Taker into a pedigree. That moment had me on my feet along with the other three I was watching with. Michael Cole screamed “the streak is dead, the streak is dead!” One…two…….kick out and JR screamed “the streak lives!” and I collapsed into my couch to catch my breathe. That was the moment that I was 100% sure Undertaker wasn’t going to lose. Taker went on to beat on HHH who for his part took the beating like a champ. At the end HHH did what Michaels did, a dx chop and added in a “fuck you” for good measure. Just like Michaels though HHH was ended by a tombstone piledriver. The best moment wasn’t the win though, it was after. When those three walked out together; well two walked and one was carried out. Taker and Shawn walking HHH up the ramp was a goosebumps inducing moment. Then when they hugged…a real tear came to my eye because that was the end of my era of wrestling. That was the end of the era that shaped my views on wrestling. Sure as a little kid I watched wrestling, but the attitude era was when I really started to get “it”. Those three weren’t the biggest stars of the era, which were The Rock and Stone Cold. However, DX was a big part of it and Taker’s character had some big attitude era moments. What made that moment special though was that it is so rare to get a real good bye. Wrestling is rarely self-aware like it was on Sunday. You rarely get three people to break character and walk off into the “sun set” together.
The last match of the night did the rare, the near impossible, it exceeded the hype. The Rock proved that ring rust can be shaken off quickly. Cena showed great real emotion and put on a very, very good match. Yeah you read that right; John Cena played his role great. I’ve spent countless words lambasting Cena’s lack of wrestling skill. Sunday something in me changed and I realized something. Cena is flawed, but so are a lot of wrestlers we accept. Including the guy who came back Monday, you know, the guy several wrestlers went on record as saying is dangerous in the ring. Brock Lesnar is a great MMA fighter but a pretty mediocre in ring talent. He’s a freak of nature in size and athleticism but like Cena, Lesnar has a limited move set. So, why does Lesnar get a pass and Cena get booed? Lesnar is a cool bad guy and cool bad guys are loved. Cena to so many is Superman and in today’s post-attitude era world Superman sucks. Never mind that there was a time when Stone Cold was Superman. Remember when he stunned the entire WCW/ECW roster? We give him a pass because he was a cool bad guy. The Rock at times was Superman, again cheer a cool bad guy. It’s not cool to cheer for the guy that does the right thing like Cena does because that’s seen as being fake now. Forget that Cena really is a good guy, because that just doesn’t fit into the narrative that Cena is a fraud. No one does more Make-A-Wish events than Cena, and few have given this much of their time to the company for appearances. Cena has never gotten in trouble outside the ring like Stone Cold, Jeff Hardy, and so many more that we cheer. “Jared we hate Cena because he only has 5 moves and doesn’t sell”. Trust me I know that argument because I made that argument. Sunday Cena sold for The Rock, at Money in the Bank and Summerslam he sold for CM Punk. Cena is what everyone hates because we reject the PG era. He’s the face of the PG era and that means by proxy he sucks. I’m not a full blown Cena fan, but he won my respect. Cena lost to The Rock because he was told to, but unlike Shawn Michaels vs. Hogan (don’t take that as a criticism of Shawn Michaels) Cena didn’t show up The Rock. Cena went out and sold the story he was told to, no matter what that story was. He could have no-sold The Rock, or over-sold ala Shawn Michaels/Hogan. Instead he went out and put on a very good match and did what he was told. I appreciate guys like that; guys who are willing to do the job and do it well no matter what. Cena has won my respect, I know he doesn’t care if he has it or not but I care that you guys know.
In my opinion CM Punk and Chris Jericho are both best in the world and their match Sunday proved that to us. They fought like wild men and they didn’t need chairs and tables to do it. They brutalized each other, but they did it with no gimmicks needed. They just put on a great old school wrestling match, minus a few overly dramatic moments when Jericho tried to get Punk disqualified. Those two had false finishes, big bumps, subtle call backs to Steamboat vs. Macho Man, and flawless spots. They are two guys that you could watch wrestle for hours and not get bored. I’m excited that they’ll continue the feud and continue it with even more heat. Jericho and Punk get the psychology of wrestling and feuds better than anyone else in the game today. Jericho has pushed the limits of what’s acceptable in the post-attitude era and Punk for his part has played his part perfectly. Punk could easily say “I’m not comfortable with you attacking my family. I’m not okay with you pouring alcohol on me.” (I don’t know if that was real alcohol or not on Monday) Punk like Cena though is a team player and has let Jericho say and do what he wants to him. Again, I just appreciate a guy who does what’s asked of him, no matter what’s asked. Jericho vs. Punk could go on the rest of the year and I wouldn’t get tired of it. Add in that Funkhauser is coming at Punk now more than ever and we have the potential for a career defining run for Punk this summer.
Well that’s all for me this week, thanks again for reading and as always if you want to get a hold of me to call me an idiot, tell me I’m smart, or ask a question you can do so by following me on twitter @JaredGebhardt or via email firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also check out my entertainment column at filmonair.com.