And now, to the consternation and frustration of all but five or so of our readers (here’s to you, Fighting Geek), it’s pro wrestling talk time!
WrestleMania XVII is under two months away at this point and the card is quickly taking a not too shabby shape. We’re looking to get a Randy Orton/C.M. Punk grudge match, Edge/Alberto Del Rio for the World title and some business between Rey Mysterio and Cody Rhodes. I’d also wager another round of Undertaker/Kane as well as the long-awaited return of Triple H to take on Sheamus are headed our way as well. Were I booking, I might also throw in a Big Show & Diesel vs Wade Barrett & Ezekiel Jackson match, perhaps a triple threat Tag Team title defense involving members of the Nexus and Corre gunning for Marella & Kozlov, something for the Divas to do, Jerry Lawler against Alex Riley & Michael Cole and hopefully a Money in the Bank Ladder outing.
But regardless of what leads, it’s looking fairly likely at this point that the show will close with The Miz defending his WWE title against John Cena.
Miz has a pretty forgone title defense against Jerry Lawler coming up at Elimination Chamber; the “legend who has never been to WrestleMania” storyline is nice, but it’s also perfectly set up for Michael Cole to interfere and further their little feud. With Miz staying champion going into the big event, Cena is the most logical number one contender to emerge from the Chamber as number one given that the two already have a simmering issue going (that said, I would love to be surprised and see John Morrison pull the upset—I’ve been watching his DVD lately and that guy can go).
So there you have it: WrestleMania XVII will be headlined by The Miz against John Cena with the WWE title on the line.
Does that sound right?
I feel like it should. Those are two of WWE’s biggest names and certainly both hardworking performers who have earned their place in the spotlight. Yet when I hold Miz/Cena up against Hogan/Andre, Bret/HBK, Rock/Austin or even Sid/Undertaker and Bam Bam Bigelow/Lawrence Taylor, it feels like it’s missing that marquee value to some degree. It feels in many ways not like a WrestleMania main event, but just another match.
Let’s tackle the pros and cons to Miz/Cena headlining WrestleMania.
-Like I said, these guys have earned their spot. Both have worked their asses off both physically and as ambassadors for the WWE. Neither guy had anything handed to them and it’s nice to see people get rewards when they deserve them. In particular, Miz went from being a reality TV joke to one of wrestling’s most compelling performers and belongs in this position.
-It will be a good match. These two have good proven chemistry and both turn it on in “big game” environments. Again, you’ve got two guys who have worked hard to get here who each have a tremendous amount of pride; they won’t let it suck between the ropes.
-From a man on the street perspective, Miz is the most hated heel in WWE and Cena is the most over babyface. They have worked the press junkets and most people beyond the hardcore wrestling fanbase know them as their characters. It’s a match that comes off as the ultimate good vs the ultimate evil to the casual fan, and that’s very important for WrestleMania.
-It’s a relatively fresh matchup. They’ve only had one other pay-per-view meeting two years ago when Miz was at nowhere near the level he is now.
-At the end of the day, Cena vanquishing the evil Miz, ending his four-month title reign and regaining the WWE championship for the first time in three quarters of a year is the kind of vibe you want to close the show on.
-Miz does not feel like a credible champion and Cena is Superman. Since winning the WWE title back in November, Miz has had to cheat against Randy Orton and struggled against 61-year-old Jerry Lawler. The only clean title defense I can recall for Miz was against John Morrison back in December, and even then Alex Riley played a role. Meanwhile, Cena has been a dominant force even without the title; in an even remotely fair fight, there’s no way to go into this match with it feeling like Miz has any chance or that it will go longer than five minutes or so.
-This is a bigger “problem”—I’ll explain the quotes in a moment—for WWE, but as much as the viewers who just know about wrestling from mainstream media coverage and only buy WrestleMania may love Cena, a lot of hardcore wrestling fans can’t stand him (I think he’s great, for whatever that’s worth). It really shouldn’t be an issue, because that casual audience as well the young fanbase who love Cena are really WWE’s target demographic at this point in time, but still, a WrestleMania that ends with half the crowd booing isn’t ideal.
-It’s a “relatively” fresh matchup, but not that fresh. Though they’ve only met once on pay-per-view, Miz and Cena have battled countless times on Raw since 2009, as recently as a few months ago. With wrestling the way it is today and the grueling pace of so much television to produce, you’re unlikely to find too many truly fresh matchups, but even when Cena faced Batista last year, that was a good example of a main event feeling special on the basis of the combatants having been in the ring against one another only a handful of times with significant space in between. Cena and Orton have wrestled on dozens of occasions, but they’re big enough names to make it feel special every time; I’m not sure Miz is there yet (if he’s not, he’s close, but still).
The good seems to outweigh the bad and in the practical sense it’s the perfect choice…but there’s still something. I think my first con is the one that concerns me the most: I hope Miz’s credibility can be upped by WrestleMania to the point where Cena doesn’t need to come into the match with a played up injury that would drag down the quality in order for the champ to at least appear to have a chance.
I’m sure WWE, Miz and Cena will find a way to make it work. Fault them for all you want, but when the chips are down, they know how to build epics.
This just in: Apparently none of this matters.