In last week's Smackdown recap , we talked about the implications the Internet has had on professional wrestling.
If there's one other element of this business that has changed perception and execution in the industry, often for the worse, it's the "art" of the swerve or the not-so-subtle hints at steering speculation that direction.
On Monday night's episode of Raw, Shawn Michaels returned to confront his friend Triple H about his match with the Undertaker at WrestleMania. Michaels wasn't exactly friendly with Hunter, taunting and mocking him through the show-opening exchange.
Michaels unsurprisingly shined on the microphone, showing he hasn't lost an ounce of his charisma and natural ability, and Hunter more than held his own, mostly with his steely glare. The promo wasn't bad by any stretch of the imagination.
The issue with it is that HBK's attitude toward Triple H seems unwarranted, given the backstory of the feud. The segment ended with Michaels telling Hunter that he knows who will win at WrestleMania because he's been named the special guest referee.
Anyone who has watched wrestling for more than a year knows how the "swerve" here works. Michaels teases being against Triple H and helping Undertaker, undergoes a change of heart during the Hell in a Cell match (or even prior, given he'll be appearing against next week), acts as if he's going to help his former DX cohort win and then ends the match fairly, putting the Undertaker to 20-0.
There are several issues with this situation and the booking of the match as it stands.
First, if the situation above plays out, which I'll admit is pure speculation and has no basis other than past booking trends and wrestling stereotypes, it seems too obvious. The tension teased between Michaels and Triple H will have been for naught, as most fans will see through it.
Second, what is the long-term payoff? HBK seems to be enjoying retirement, and his departure from the business seemed more legitimate and serious than most, so the likeliness of the feud between the two friends continuing beyond April 1 is almost nonexistent.
Third, and perhaps most aggravatingly, this new wrinkle takes the focus away from Triple H and the Undertaker and places the emphasis more on HBK and Hunter's problems.
It's no secret I have never been a fan of a third Triple H vs. Undertaker match at WrestleMania this year. The work building the match has been solid so far, but not even the inclusion of HBK pushes this match into the win category for me.
Seeing Michaels added was not a surprise at all, as it was even rumored for last year's match. Unfortunately, in this case, it only adds another layer to this already borderline over-booked feud.
The new wrinkle adds intrigue for some, but for me, it's just an unnecessary addition that won't pay off anywhere in the long run.
- Chris Jericho pinned WWE Champion CM Punk in a tag team match that also featured World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan and Sheamus. The match was tremendously enjoyable, and the ending - a roll-up reversal - leaves the door open for things to continue at WrestleMania. I was worried about Jericho and Punk being in the ring together before the big show, but this actually left me wanting to see more.
- The videos of The Rock and John Cena promoting their WrestleMania match were enjoyable, for very different reasons. Rocky cut a promo recreating the Boston Tea Party, throwing a variety of Cena merchandise off a bridge and sang his own rendition of "Yankee Doodle Dandy" about the Boston native. Cena, meanwhile, cut a promo in an empty arena talking about the significance of the match. It was great to see super-serious Cena, proving that he can do more than just his goofy, over-the-top promos. The dichotomy of these videos drove home the point of how each competitor is viewing their upcoming contest.