WrestleMania 29's Card Called "Lazy Booking" on ESPN.com

Tom Clark@tomclarkbrFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2013

photo by wwe.com
photo by wwe.com

WrestleMania 29 is right around the corner and as WWE’s biggest event of the year draws closer and closer, the exposure is at an all-time high.  And as is often the case, Vince McMahon’s company is making news on the web with its upcoming pay-per-view extravaganza, most notably on ESPN.com.

That’s right kids, the Worldwide Leader in Sports has an opinion on professional wrestling‘s SuperBowl.  And, it’s not very positive.

Imagine that.

Before I go any further, I have to say that upon reading the following excerpt from yesterday, my guard immediately went up.  As a lifelong fan, anytime the “outside” media decides to criticize, my first two instincts are to defend the sport and then take as many shots at them that I feel are being thrown in our own general direction.

But, we’re all adults here and there’s no reason to get crass with this one, so instead I will just let you read and decide for yourself how you should react.

For a company that prides itself on listening to its fans, I wonder how much weight it gives to 3 hours and 20 minutes of near silence…I think the dead crowd speaks volumes about the upcoming WrestleMania card and the lazy booking that goes along with setting up a string of rematches people weren’t really clamoring to see in the first place.

Okay, so how is that one hitting you?  Not too bad?  Hmm.

To be honest, I can see the point being made here.  After all, the top three bouts are all indeed rematches.  We have seen Triple H and Brock Lesnar go to war just last year.  CM Punk and The Undertaker have faced off before and of course John Cena versus The Rock is being billed as “twice in a lifetime.”

Wait, it’s not?  Why, exactly?

So yes, the three top matches are all ones we have already seen.  But, we are talking about a half dozen of the biggest Superstars that have ever worked for WWE.  That has to count for something, right?

A trio of top-money matches involving six top-money guys.  These are men who know how to bring it on the main event stage.  They understand that fans all over the world will be watching on April 7 and are expecting some classic matches, ones that will hopefully be remembered for years to come.

They will be ready for WrestleMania.

But like many fans out there, a popular opinion expressed in ESPN’s column concerns Mania’s undercard.  It features some of the company’s best talents like Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler, plus rising stars like The Shield and Ryback.  These are all guys who are all very visible on TV and who will likely be just as ready to bring everything they have to entertain the fans on April 7.

So, now for my real issue with this.

First off, the insinuation that the Monday Night Raw crowd in Philadelphia were dead because of lazy booking for WrestleMania.  

Okay, what?

Here’s the thing.  The City of Brotherly Love is and always has been a tough audience  Many of the biggest names in pro wrestling, as well as professional sports, have died in front of the Philly crowd. An icy cold reception here, a chorus of boos there, and we the fans at home are left with an open-mouthed expression that says “are you kidding?”

Speaking of a criticizing chorus, how about the “you can’t wrestle” chant that came out during Fandango’s attack on Chris Jericho?  Shouldn’t it have been “you don’t wrestle,” considering the fact that we have yet to see the dancing Superstar perform in the ring?  

How do you judge talent you don’t even know?

The fact is that the Philadelphia crowd, because they are extraordinarily hard to please, will say and do whatever they want when they’re not happy.  But yelling out misplaced insults at inopportune times just makes no sense.

Combine this with the “boring” chants during Wade Barrett versus The Miz and the crowd’s surprisingly positive reaction to Ryback though he has been torn apart in other cities, and I for one am left scratching my head wondering what this particular crowd really wanted to see on Monday night.

But again, does all of that necessarily mean that they’re just not into WrestleMania?

Then there is the point about the Mania undercard being a very intriguing one.  Well, it is.  And did we really expect anything less?

This is the biggest night of the year for WWE.  The event is used to showcase the stars who have been the workhorses of the company over the past year, a way to thank them for their efforts.  It’s also an opportunity for those stars to do what they do, and to make history in front of a worldwide audience.

They can show off, using the spotlight to their advantage. This night is for them to shine, just as much as it is for the six Superstars at the top of the card.

WrestleMania is the night when legends are made.  We’re expecting a major event, because that’s what WWE does.  They are the biggest pro wrestling company in the world and when they are on their game, no one does it any better.  

So let the critics talk.  Let them complain about the card and its buildup.  Let them talk about a sports entertainment company that ordinarily doesn’t merit coverage unless something controversial happens.  In the meantime, we will all wait and watch with anticipation as WWE once again makes history with the grand spectacle that is WrestleMania.

No dead crowds allowed.