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Friday, December 13, 2013

TLC: New Hype For Some Old Ideas

I don’t want to be one of those guys. You all know what I’m talking about. Those Internet guys. The guys who complain and complain and complain about every single angle going on in pro wrestling today. The ones who tweet, post, and blog about what’s wrong with the business but offer no new or substantive ideas on how it could someday get bettermostly because they’ll never be satisfied anyway. The ones who say there hasn’t been a good Monday Night Raw since 1997. But somehow, y’know, they’re still fans.  And hey, at the end of the day, I really don’t think I am one of those guys. But I have to admit that right here, right now, I do agree with them about one thing: The “big match” heading into TLC doesn’t have a whole lot going for it. Not much at all. Note that I am choosing my words carefully here because PWI Publisher Stu Saks tends frown upon the kind of coarse language that I’d rather use to describe the big Cena/Orton “showdown.”

It’s just tough, that’s all. It’s tough to get excited about this when it feels like all we’re being offered is a warmed up batch of leftovers from the back of pro wrestling’s gigantic, stainless steel LG refrigerator. Many, many voices on the 'net have sharply (and correctly) criticized the current incarnation of the Cena/Orton feud, largely because we’ve already seen it. More than once. And why would this particular showdownin which things have been just thrown together for the sake of choosing the “new” face of WWEbe more personal than the other ones? Like the time in 2007 that Orton shackled Cena to the ring while he punted Cena’s dad in the head…I mean that’s personal, folks. Or how about when Orton’s 2010 win over Wade Barrett resulted in Cena’s brief exile from WWE? Those were some high stakes, right? The point here is that we’ve seen these guys before. Sure, they can work a match, but it seems like WWE is just putting some lipstick on the same old cash cows.

And the title unification thing? Again, we’ve been down this road before. Is the title unification for keepsies this time or is this just another story that’ll be undone in a few weeks or a few months when the story gets stale? I think my friend and fellow PWI contributor Kevin McElvaney captured the cynicism of a lot of frustrated fans when he jokingly told me that the TLC main event should be re-christened as the “No, It's Only Going to Be One Belt, For Real This Time!” match. 

In a recent message to their text subscribers, WWE kept up their full-court press for the forthcoming showdown, asking fans if TLC’s Cena/Orton main event is “the biggest match in WWE history.” It was a rhetorical question, though, because it wasn’t attached to any particular poll. But really … Bigger than Hogan and Andre? Bigger than Michaels and Austin? Bigger than Rock and Cena? Bigger than Sammartino and Morales? It was the aforementioned text that got me thinking: Is there any other sport or form of entertainment that consistently hypes its product to a level that makes it almost impossible to deliver at the end of the day? I think the potential is usually there, but most comparable enterprises resist the temptation to do so just in case they don’t deliver … so that they don’t hurt their overall product in the end.

Did anyone know that the Rams and Titans would put on one of the best championship games ever before the kickoff for Super Bowl XXXIV was in the air? Nah. Can anyone say that a World Series will have a nail-biter ending in Game 7 before the first pitch? Nope. But can we say that Sunday’s champion vs. champion match at TLC is the most important contest in WWE history? In this case, logic is absolutely turned on its head by the hype machine because WWE suggests it could very well be the best ever. 

Sure, this could all be an elaborate set-up for a much larger and more exciting story that naysayers like me are too shortsighted to imagine. But with a healthy mix of recycled ideas and a shaky build for Orton as convincing and formidable opposition to Cena’s veritable freight train of momentum, it’s really hard to get excited about Sunday's main event.

Mike Bessler
PWI Contributing Writer
@OfficialPWI Contributor

1 comment:

Tony Laplume said...

Having the two reigning champions actually fight each other in the unification match is something that hasn't happened before. That's how we got Chris Jericho. And if it works, this may be the match fans actually care to remember between Cena and Orton, who were always headed toward each other in some way after being the two biggest debuts not named Brock Lesnar of 2002. They never did it at WrestleMania, and at this point it seems likely they never will. But context is everything. If there is no swerve, this is automatically history. And no one saw it coming. Me, I'm waiting to judge this until I see the results.