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Dolfan Watches Every Wrestlemania On Lockdown


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1 hour ago, Log said:

WWE likes to manufacture legends.  I'd say, other than HHH, Edge is their most manufactured "legend".  As in, he's a guy who's referred as one, but just doesn't have the resume or popularity to back it up.

It's been said that in his prime, Ric Flair could carry a broomstick to a 5 star match. With Edge, it's the opposite--the broomstick would be the one carrying him. Every great match Edge ever had required copious amounts of ladders, chairs, and other plunder to be memorable. 

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He's also one of the few Ruthless Aggression era guys left standing so that helps. 

I did enjoy Edge vs Undertaker at Wrestlemania 24. I do agree though, most of his big matches are weapons matches. I wonder if they'll make the Roman match a no DQ match...

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Given all that it's kind of weird they didn't build up Edge as kind of a hardcore legend, especially after the 'mania match with Foley.  Even all that aside, he did some great character work and made the World Heavyweight Championship feel more important than a lot of other people who held it did.  I think his resume of matches is.... fine... with a few gems in there (I loved the 'mania match with Undertaker too) but he did really connect with the fans.

Could have done without La Familia though.....

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3 hours ago, mattdangerously said:

It's been said that in his prime, Ric Flair could carry a broomstick to a 5 star match. With Edge, it's the opposite--the broomstick would be the one carrying him. Every great match Edge ever had required copious amounts of ladders, chairs, and other plunder to be memorable. 

I can get with the general sentiment, but off the top of my head, No Mercy 2002 tag with Mysterio/Benoit/Angle was a five star banger. 

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2 hours ago, For Great Justice said:

I can get with the general sentiment, but off the top of my head, No Mercy 2002 tag with Mysterio/Benoit/Angle was a five star banger. 

I'm pretty sure anyone posting on this board could have had a great match in 2002 with Angle, Benoit, and Mysterio.

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4 hours ago, For Great Justice said:

I can get with the general sentiment, but off the top of my head, No Mercy 2002 tag with Mysterio/Benoit/Angle was a five star banger. 

I think you could make a pretty convincing argument for that match as the peak of the "SmackDown Six" era/style. I remember loving it at the time and I am sure in a vacuum it is still great for what it was. However, it sure has influenced a lot of shitty self-indulgent wresting in its aftermath. It's kind of like how Pearl Jam were a legit great band but they have inspired a lot of truly dire third-rate imitators. Not Jeff/Stone/Mike/Eddie/Matt's fault, nor Edge/Rey/Redacted/Angle's fault at all but hard to shake when thinking about it/them these days, at least for me. 

Edited by El Gran Gordi
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I agree that as a "legend", Edge comes off as manufactured. A lot of folks on this board (not necessarily (or at all?) the ones on this thread) were all over those E&C show on the Network, and that's kinda his appeal: an indy (as indies were back then) guy whom you could identify with, who paid his dues made good (like Sean Waltman and the Hardys) who appeared to be happy to be wrestling (unlike XPac) and who stuck around (unlike the Hardys). Christian has always been the more over one on DVDVR but in my eyes Edge and Christian together was much more than either separately. Edge has been in some very fun and a few influential matches (and skits), even if you think he was over-pushed or carried. Some people have had none (hello Dolph!). Since his return it is certainly much more popular to bag on him. I could think of plenty more channel-changers in any of the Eras he was in in the WWE, but "legend"? No.

kazoos over 36 minute WM wankfests,

RAF

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3 hours ago, El Gran Gordi said:

It's kind of like how [SOMEONE] were a legit great [THING] but they have inspired a lot of truly dire third-rate imitators.

This is about half of the Circle of Art, followed by [SOMEONE ELSE] starting off as a third rate imitator, but then finding their own style and then becoming a legit great [THING WHICH IS SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT]

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DAY 126

Alright, after "the greatest match in pro wrestling history", and boy are those quotes doing a lot of heavy lifting there, we need a filler match to bring the crowd back up.  Well, we now have 4 guys making their WrestleMania debuts. 

Andrade "Cien" Almas had proven himself more than capable in NXT, briefly holding the NXT Championship.  He would go through the Vince McMahon patented "I can't pronounce that shit" machine, so he just became Andrade. He was originally slated to defend his US Championship at this point against Rey Mysterio, who may or may not have had COVID, I don't think it was ever made clear.  However, Rey did quarantine so he was off Mania.  So, they put Andrade and his manager Zelina Vega into a tag team with a very recent NXT call up, Angel Garza. 

Andrade went through another change and became Am Injured, so even though he and Garza had won the right to fight for the Raw Tag Titles at WrestleMania, Garza needed a new partner.  Well, a new kid had just debuted on NXT TV, 22 year old Austin Theory -- who I personally had just seen the previous summer wrestling as EVOLVE (rip) Champion (a delightful match against Roddy Strong) -- so I'm sure Vince got one look at him and said, "you'll do."  

They're here to face the Street Profits. It would be unfair to call them the 2020 version of Men on a Mission, but... I'll just say you can see the clear line from MoM to Cryme Time to the New Day to Montez & Angelo.  Seems to be a pattern with WWE.... *thought emoji*  

Anyway, HHH is not on this show, so I decide the Profits entrance is as good as any to do one last sprint to.  So I dutifully sprint as they dance their way to the ring, solo cups and Raw tag titles in hand.  I should note that Tez is shouting WrestleMania as loud as he can, which again, just draws attention to the huge weirdness of everything.  I'm sure he was told to amp it up to 11 despite there being no crowd, but it's just weird.  

The fact that he continues doing it as the match starts is enough to annoy both Garza and Theory. Once the heels take control, Garza even starts shouting "it's WrestleMania!!!" back at Ford, which makes me like him even more.  Theory basically says nothing in the whole match and is just there to bump around and fly high.  Because, frankly, that's what he's good at, and almost no one watching this knows who he is.  

It's a quick affair, as Theory takes the Profits' finisher as SP retains.  Zelina Vega and Angel attack Dawkins after the match to set up what appears to be the point of this whole thing...  introducing the newest callup from NXT:   Bianca Bel Air.  

Bel Air dispatches Vega, and the Profits deal with Garza & Theory and they all celebrate after.   Bel Air would go on to have quite the year and is, at the moment of this writing, still choosing between Asuka & Sasha Banks as the prize of winning the 2021 Royal Rumble.  So, good for her.  

The other team is so cursed, it's scary.  Andrade became a feuding partner with Garza for months after this. Eventually losing his US Championship to Apollo Crews. Getting turned on by Garza, and attacked by the Fiend.  He's hurt and hasn't been seen since the fall. Garza has been demoted to "creep who hangs out backstage giving women flowers."  Austin Theory was named in the sexual assault allegations wave that swept pro wrestling last summer and was taken off TV for months and sent back to NXT.  He's currently a member of The Way, Johnny Gargano's heel squad, where he plays an absolute idiot. 

And Vega....  well, she was let go allegedly after her OnlyFans site was discovered by management.  My understanding of her release though was because WWE felt that she owed them a cut of not only her OF, but her very profitable Twitch stream, where she played video games and talked about life, etc. She had also made it very clear she supported a union for pro wrestlers, another big no no in WWE. Her case is an extremely interesting one because it has ramifications for a lot of people in the industry.  But as of now, she is a free agent.  

Cursed team.  

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Gronk wins the 24/7 Title after diving onto everyone on the roster without a match.  Notably, Gronk really, REALLY didn't want to do the spot until Vince did it himself in rehearsals.  As Rippa said at the time, I can't imagine why he wouldn't want to do a spot he's never been trained how to do. 

--

When I saw Bayley for the first time, I remember thinking, "She's connecting with the crowd and all, but not that impressive after that." It's really, really amazing how much better she's gotten over the years. Her heel turn in 2019 has made some inspired work from her.  She works as an arrogant, yet deeply paranoid person, which is a very wonderful twist on her original character.  Before it was "god I hope they like me" and it turned to "oh god they like me".  It took a couple of months to find her footing, but her pairing with Sasha created some terrific work.  

She's here to defend her Smackdown Women's title in a multi-challenger match. Originally billed as a six pack challenge, it became a 5 Way when Dana Brooke had to quarantine.  The remaining challengers are Naomi, Tamina, Lacey Evans (her Mania wrestling debut), and... Sasha Banks.  

Leave it to the women to actually have what turns out to be the match of the night.  Because as I've complained many times before this, it's next to impossible to tell a story in a multi-person match, especially when it's winner take all. But they clearly said fuck all that, we can do this.  

First of all, they all do the *very* smart thing of collectively deciding, hmm Tamina is as big as the 4 of us combined, let's take her out first.  Tamina fights valiantly, but ultimately, even the largest animals will get exhausted if they get attacked over and over again by multiple hunters who are determined to take them down.  

After Tamina takes all 4 of the other's finishers, they all turn to face each other. The battle lines are drawn, Bayley and Sasha - long time friends vs. Naomi and Lacey - convenient partners, with Bayley doing a world of shit talking the whole time. Bayley and Sasha are actively working together and eventually get the break they need and split the two off each other, going to work on Naomi.  Though there are some bumps on the road, notably when Bayley accidentally kicks Sasha, and then has to use the height of her persuasive powers to calm Banks down to get her to focus on the task at hand, the former Boss & Hug Connection puts enough damage on Naomi to finally eliminate her. 

Lacey's down to two on one, but beats away Sasha and apparently has Bayley dead to rights.  Sasha gets Bayley out of the way and eats a Woman's Right from Lacey and is eliminated.  As JBL notes, Bayley may have been exhausted, but didn't exactly jump to Sasha's aid while the pin occurred.  

But it's all down to Lacey and Bayley, and after some back and forth between the two, Evans gets the upper hand back. But Sasha saves Bayley by attacking Evans from behind, and.... 

I don't know if Bayley's new finisher has a name yet (I know it was the 'Rose Driver' before), but I really want it to be known as I'd Like To Speak To The Manager , though Ding, Dong, Hello!  works equally well. 

The stepover DDT ends the match at just under 20 minutes.  The match was a LOT better than I'd remembered.  

Bayley's absurdly wonderful heeling was great.  Evans did quite well her role as straight-laced babyface who gets screwed. And Sasha was also just great as being caught between her ambitions and her friendship.   

That's it for this ride though.  Last ride ahead.  

End of Day 126. 

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DAY 127

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John Cena, movie star, is back inexplicably once again as a babyface.  But mostly because he said he will not wrestle at this year's WrestleMania. I still think he has one last heel Hollywood star run in him like Rock in 2003, but he has absolutely earned his right to do whatever he wants.  As someone on the board pointed out, there is no one on the current roster who is even remotely in the mainstream zeitgeist, especially with John Cena being gone.  But anyway, Cena's saying "I'm not wrestling" is Vince's way of him laying out a challenge.  

Well, Bray Wyatt and his new unstoppable Fiend character was recently obliterated by Bill Goldberg for the title at the last Saudi PPV.  (I'm guessing because MBS doesn't know.) Anyway, The Fiend's card is open, so he Points At WrestleMania Sign in a place where Cena can see.  And as David Attenborough has made very clear in countless nature videos, this is a challenge to a fight.  Cena accepts. 

The build is actually interesting as they do lean into the Cena-Wyatt match from 6 years before where everyone in the world just assumed Wyatt would go over.  Because it would be just stupid to not build your new hottest heel over the aging veteran who has a foot out the door.  (*sigh*)  They even point out, correctly!, that Wyatt's career never recovered from that loss. (Getting squashed by Undertaker, and then by proxy by the Rock didn't help either.)

So, the match is set, but the last twist.  It's a "Firefly Funhouse Match."  Which, again, no one knows what the fuck that means.  (I'll note, either they can't say Firefly Funhouse anymore or the announcer fucked up, because there's a notable dip in the audio and he just calls it a "Funhouse Match.")  

So, it's a cinematic match.  But we don't find that out until Cena's already in the ring.  

Wyatt and Cena roll through his career. They make detours to Saturday Night's Main Event (with Animotion's "Obsession" theme intact!) - to make the point that Cena did steroids? - and the nWo, to make the point that Cena has gone Hollywood. 

They spend a while on the Doctor of Thuganomics.  Again, it's very cute to see how Cena actively avoids going anywhere near the verses he would make in 2004, removing all misogynistic and homophobic references.  The verses he spits out constitute his 'offense', as it were, for the match.  

Eventually, we get back to modern Cena.  The Fiend has taken over Wyatt, Mandible Claw and Sister Abagail literally vaporize Cena. Wyatt stands triumphant and disappears too, having destroyed the thing that destroyed him 4 years before. Titus O'Neil makes a dumb face. 

The whole thing plays like a 70-something addled cokehead smoked pot and watched a David Lynch movie... let's say... Lost Highway.  He had no idea what he just saw, but after having it explained it to him, explained it to someone else. 

I am not complaining about this, btw.  They actually went for it and more or less got there.  It's entertaining, it moved, had a decent pacing to it, and actually told the story it wanted to. I will say that on the second watch, it loses a little, because you actually know where they're going with it.  But all in all, it was a good way to deal with the no crowd circumstance, and a very good way to dispatch Cena with him taking minimal risks.  Plus it got over The Fiend. 

That last part is critical, because The Fiend is clearly a building block for their company in the 2020s. And getting him over as an Alpha-level threat needs to happen if you ever plan on making any kind of money with him.  

Alright... it's here, we're down to the last match.  

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Interesting to bring up David Lynch.  I finally saw this match a few weeks ago and my thought at the end was "So Cena's trapped in the black lodge?"

I thought it totally delivered, it was a really gusty move to go and and finally have Cena face all his past actions like that and actually stick the ending.  The Fiend "got in" and that was the beginning of the end.  Also Rambling Rabbit getting down to Basic Thuganomics popped me pretty big.

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The brilliance of the Firefly Funhouse match is that, under the guise of mocking Cena's career, it actually mocks Vince's formula for making the top guy. And most importantly, it finally tells us what Vince's"brass ring" really is. Like many others before and since, Cena starts out by assuming it's a ripped body. Only by accident does he actually figure it out through his rapper gimmick and the opportunity it affords him to do dis rhymes: Vince's brass ring is cruelty. The willingness to mock, destroy, and bury your opponent in an utterly self-serving fashion - that's what makes you a cut above in Vince's world. 

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On 2/25/2021 at 10:22 PM, Log said:

WWE likes to manufacture legends.  I'd say, other than HHH, Edge is their most manufactured "legend".  As in, he's a guy who's referred as one, but just doesn't have the resume or popularity to back it up.

I would put JBL above Edge for that. Everytime they announce the pre-show panel it is something like "Hall of Famer Jerry 'The King' Lawler", Hall of Famer Booker T and the legendary JBL". JBL had a good career, a better one that you would have expected in 98 or even in 03, but the only thing he is "legendary" in is (allegedly) being an arse and a bully.

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