Product Reviews from a Scientific Perspective

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wrestlemania 27 Predictions

I've been tired of searching around for well-qualified Wrestlemania 27 predictions, so I thought I'd post my own thoughts on here.

Oh yes, I forgot to explain why this article is on a blog called "Science in Products." Basically, I've been following wrestling since 1996 when I was a middle schooler. Back then, wrestling was the cool thing to watch. This was the era of Stone Cold and The Rock, known as the "Attitude Era," a true golden age of wrestling. Even though I stopped actively watching by the end of high school, pretty much once John Cena became the face of the company, I always kept up with the online reports.

Anyway, here is my reasoning for who should win versus who will win at Wrestlemania.

Predicted Winner: Jerry Lawler
Who should win anyway: Jerry Lawler.

Having King win is obvious. According to the behind-the-scenes backstage information, Vince McMahon has always wanted to rectify the fact that Jerry Lawler never wrestled at Wrestlemania. Given Lawler's age, and position as a commentator, and the hotness of this angle, this will probably be the only chance Lawler gets at having a match at Wrestlemania. Vince isn't so cruel as to let him lose at the one match he's been waiting years and years for. Also, this feud has great heat. Lawler has been on fire as a wrestler lately, feuding with WWE Champion The Miz as the face, and Michael Cole has been a deeply hated character. And of course, Michael would gain nothing by winning the match, considering the fact that he will never be a wrestler. Having Jerry Lawler overcome the odds to absolutely destroy Michael Cole would make for a great and memorable Wrestlemania Moment, one that would add to the happy moments that Vince has always banked on to perpetuate the reputation of Wrestlemania as the biggest show of the year. 

Predicted Winner: The Undertaker
Who should win anyway: The Undertaker

Triple H has been getting older and older, with no fresh challenges (storyline wise) for his career. He's a multiple time world champion, has been involved in many of the most memorable angles in wrestling history, and cemented himself as an immortal name within wrestling. There's really nothing left for him to accomplish (at least, within his means. He still hasn't reached that level of iconic status on par with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, or Steve Austin, but I think he knows that this is something a person could try as hard as he could and still never ever achieve). On the other hand, Triple H is becoming more and more involved backstage as a manager of sorts. He, with his wife Stephanie, might inherit the throne of Vince McMahon in the future.

The Undertaker's great legacy, on the other hand, is his undefeated streak at Wrestlemania. In fact, this streak is part of Wrestlemania's reputation and legacy. The Undertaker, in a sense, is the invincible specter of Wrestlemania, a seemingly supernatural force within the world of wrestling. 

Given this double legacy, there's a really strong chance that the Undertaker will never be beaten at Wrestlemania...ever. It can be one of those tales about Wrestlemania that give it even more prestige, and give it more of that "legendary moments are made" feeling of the event. If the streak is broken, however, Vince McMahon would probably do it to give the biggest rub in all of wrestling history to a favored, trusted, up and coming superstar (like John Cena before he won his first world championship) instead of an established superstar like Triple H.

Probably what will happen, as hinted by Triple H's February 28th RAW speech, is that he'll put his career on the line. This will allow him to retire on the grandest stage of them all, ending his epic career in a huge and beautiful blaze of glory. The Undertaker can continue his epic career and legendary Wrestlemania streak, an perpetual investment into the Wrestlemania brandname and one that can be reserved for the next great face of the WWE.

The Undertaker winning makes financial sense, backstage political sense, and storyline sense.

3. ALBERTO DEL RIO VERSUS EDGE (World Heavyweight Champion)
Predicted Winner: Edge
Who should win anyway: Alberto del Rio

First of all, let me make the case for why del Rio's win would benefit the WWE more than an Edge retaining win.

Edge is old news. He stopped being marketable when he stopped being that sleazy, "Rated-R Superstar" heel  character, which was very probably his best incarnation of his entire career. That character was unique, full of character, and contrasted well with most faces, especially John Cena and his squeaky-clean Superman-like character.

In fact, Edge was very timely for contemporary culture, a factor that is incredibly important for wrestling success in mainstream media. Part of the reason why Stone Cold's success was so huge was that it came during a time in our cultural history where lots of people had jobs, but resented their bosses who were greedy and time demanding, or coworkers who were jerks. Stone Cold's rebellious charisma transformed fantasies of punching one's boss into great storylines. Now with the great recession, most people are grateful to have whatever job they have, or unfortunately, have no boss at all. 

Part of the reason why Hulk Hogan reached great popularity was that during the 80s, America needed to believe that it was the great invincible superhero. The Cold War was continuing, and deep down inside every American felt the specter of the possibility of nuclear annihilation. People need to identify with an invincible and perfectly morally good hero, whether Superman or the Immortal Hulk Hogan, in order to feel secure at the end of the day. Hulk Hogan, with his perfect moral goodness (encouraging fans to eat their vitamins and say their prayers) and invincibility in the ring, was the perfect hero of his times.

"Rated-R Superstar" Edge captured the sleaziness of the decade from 1998 to 2008. Sex scandal after sex scandal was coming out, from American presidents (Bill Clinton) to celebrities (Paris Hilton), and more and more young women were getting taped having sex. A sleazy, promiscuous villain was perfect during these times. Had the WWE invested in its villains as much as its heroes, Edge would probably be a huge icon now.

But that's not how things turned out. Edge is a face again, and a lost one at that. He simply lacks a definable character. He goes out there, cracks jokes, and wins matches. So what? What defines Edge? Why is he a man we can identify with? Who cares?

Alberto del Rio, on the other hand, is an up and coming star. A big investment, in form of a world title win at Wrestlemania, would pay off much more than giving the stale, 11-time world champion Edge another few months holding the title. Not to mention that Alberto del Rio could be the next big superstar. Keeping in line with the idea that a successful character channels the cultural issues of the day, a rich snotty superstar could be a villain that fans could identify with the enemy. The big villain of today are rich, greedy, corporate types that screw everyone over, throws a tantrum for a big bailout from corrupt politicians, and give themselves raises as they lay off thousands of employees and nose-tail profits. If WWE was clever, they could have a third coming of the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase (the second coming was JBL), where Alberto del Rio's wealth gives him incredible advantages. I'm not just talking about bribing officials, here. He can hire the best trainers, use the most technologically advanced (and expensive) training equipment, all the while taunting fans that "if you just work as hard as I, you too, can reach the top" or calling them failures because of their laziness. Blow up the hypocrisy of being successful from wealth inequalities instead of true hard work. 

Anyway, in the real world of the WWE, Alberto del Rio is still a fresh face. He needs to pay his dues, and Vince McMahon has had plenty of bad experiences with wrestling being hotshotted to the top, then taking advantage of Vince's generosity and leaving. Granted, the latest cases have been young ambitious athletes such as Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashely, but these instances have probably given McMahon enough of a bad experience that he's loathe to take such risks again.

The other reason is that Wrestlemania is all about pleasing the fan, meaning that the face always has a huge advantage of winning at Wrestlemania. So my prediction is Edge.

Predicted Winner: The Miz
Who should win anyway: The Rock

Oh wait, The Rock isn't actually in the match. What I really mean is...

Predicted Winner: The Rock
Who should win anyway: The Miz

The Rock might not win the match, but he is certainly the winner of this whole feud. The Rock has pretty much destroyed John Cena on the mic. Fans miss his once-in-a-lifetime charisma, and The Rock isn't just phoning it in anymore; he seems genuinely pissed at John Cena's rude and selfish remarks about him, and is on fire. In fact, I don't remember seeing The Rock ever having been more intense in his entire career.

The Rock's made only two speeches, and already he's come up with memorable catch-phrases. Fat bowl of fruity pebbles? Yabba-dabba-BITCH? These names will haunt John Cena for the rest of his career, and not necessarily in a good way either. Cena just isn't charismatic enough to go mic-to-mic with The Great One, and in the only truly competitive aspect of wrestling, will get destroyed.

But there's still an official match, here. John Cena challenging The Miz for the WWE Championship. 

My real prediction here is going to be The Miz. Now, this decision I'm the least sure of, because there are so many different variables. The momentum behind The Rock versus John Cena feud is massive enough to collapse into a blackhole (kudos to those who understand that incredibly nerdy joke), and needs to blow off some steam at Wrestlemania. This could mean The Miz goading John Cena into accidentally butting heads with The Rock during their match, until The Rock gets mad and literally lays the smackdown on John Cena, effectively costing him the match. Or there could be some kind of passing-on-the-torch moment from The Rock to John Cena, which seems doubtful given the direction of their feud, and would come off as extremely awkward.

The Miz is a good investment to win. He's bringing in new media attention, and he's an effective villain. He also plays into the stereotype of the frat-jock, which is magnificently combined into the reality-TV attention whore, another cultural villain that people would pay to see destroyed. Mike Mizanin, the man behind The Miz, is both incredibly passionate about wrestling and young, and has incredible charisma compared to his relative inexperience. He's very likely to become the next great WWE superstar, and I think Vince McMahon knows this. Very few wrestling villains have won the main event at Wrestlemania - Triple H is the only one in my memory. A The Miz victory here over superstar John Cena would be a huge endorsement of The Miz's stardom and menace as a heel.

What's a harder question is how the feud between John Cena and The Rock will be resolved; on one hand, they need an actual wrestling match to blow off the rivalry. Seeing how intense (and therefore both epic and incredibly profitable) the feud is becoming, a wrestling match is guaranteed. The Rock has come back into a wrestling match before while his acting career was in full-bloom, when he teamed up with Mick Foley to temporarily reform The Rock-n-Sock Connection against Evolution.

On the other hand, however, the only PPV that can truly be worthy of hosting a match of this incredible magnitude is Wrestlemania...which is an entire year away. Vince McMahon is going to have to use his best talents and brilliance in order to solve this problem. But until then, we can hopefully expect some incredible magic until Wrestlemania 28's main event: JOHN CENA VS. THE ROCK.

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