Triple H, October 2011:

“When I grew up, I hated Hogan. I thought he was terrible and didn’t like to watch him. I was like Punk in a way. I liked the Steamboats and Flairs and the ones that could go. Would I be right in saying that Hogan was the wrong guy to go with, and they should’ve changed directions and gone with Steamboat because he was the better wrestler? Ludicrous.” - Triple H. October, 2011.

Mistakes, I've Made a Few...Wrestlemania Version

Thursday, June 01, 2017

So, here's what this is.  I've been doing this, at the time of this writing, for more than 11 years.  Reasonable to offer a mea culpa, or a hundred and thirty. 

For each event, I'll offer a reconsideration.  We'll start with Wrestlemania.

1.  There are a few possibilities, I think the benefit of the Valentine/Piper match probably should have been outweighed by the continutiy of a Hogan/Piper match, for example; but the opening match where the women got squashed is the easy winner, particularly since I doubled down at both 10 and then 20.  I was overly hung up on the ECW of it all in attempting to brand this version of WWF as not WWF and it makes me cringe a little bit.  I'll choose something else for 10 and 20 having covered it here.  

2. This one's pretty good; there's nothing that clearly strikes me wrongheaded.  Had I a little more spirit of play with these early shows I think a 9th match with the football players would have been fun. Say a tag match after which the football players all got beaten up.  

3. The big issue is maybe I've pushed Dynamite's ability to work that big singles match a year too far, I certaintly overestimated at the time, I think the quality of the match given his physical limitations at the time.  I couldn't redo it without Dynamite's not holding the belt and I wouldn't want to do that, I think probably this would need to have a garbage stip to mitigate Billington's condition.  I think I'd also be interested in adding Adonis to the Muraco/Hercules muscle act, just for the body disparity and I could have put Zenk in with the Bees (a third Bee, give him a mask and everything) to open with a 6 man.

4.  I definitely pushed Dynamite too far by this point, it's 1988, I don't see a way he can have this big singles match to regain the title.  What makes more sense is to bump him down the card into a feud with Davey Boy, he can put the Bulldog over in a short match.  Who then becomes the WWF Champion?  Who runs Steamboat out of town?  I think DiBiase.  Bring Ted in with his gimmick, have him go hard after the WWF Title, maybe there's something nefarious in how he got the shot or even (gasp) the finish given his ability to bribe people.  I think that's the move, I think I'd make DiBiase WWF Champion at WM 4.

5.  I didn't really use Bad News Brown very much, I think I would have borrowed from his history at Stampede and made him a little bit more of a figure; a program with the Big Boss Man makes some sense and they could have had a garbage match of some type as a 9th match for this show.

6. Bad Company was a better gimmick than the Orient Express and I would have let Tanaka and Diamond keep it.  I also had access here to Power&Glory and would have thrown them in that opening tag, I could have made it a 4 way by teaming Bad News and Boss Man after their feud.  

7.  I would have kept Power&Glory going from the year before and slid them into the main card, they could have worked Haku/Barbarian.

8. I didn't care for the Nasty Boys, but they would have been a better choice for the opening tag than a Sarge/Boss Man team, I could have thrown the Warrior/Sarge white supremacist act away, moved the Boss Man into the Tatanka spot.  

9.  I used everyone available to me but Beefcake, so there's not a lot of available options - I could have broken format and had fewer matches or a tournament to use fewer guys, but honestly I'm inclined to leave 9 as it is.  

10.   Similar to 9, not a lot of meat left on the bone, other than the previously mentioned issue with the women's match, I'd be inclined to leave it alone.  I should have done the women's match they actually did and made it the first women's match in WM history.  

11.   Lot of football players here, they can't work matches but I could have put them in the LT angle and had the Clique beat them to death.  

12.  Here's where the prior two attacks on the women really hurt me, because I like Hunter's pedigreeing Sunny here and had it never happened before that would really add to the power of that moment.  12 is a good show.  

13.  The show overly traffics in a particular brand of controversial humor, I'm doing gay overtones with the Godwins and the Golden Girls and doing the racially charged angle with the NOD.  Individually, none of those things strikes me obviously problematic, as a collective, it's a couple of toes over the line.  

14.  It's a small thing, as I really like the show, I wish I could have done a little more with Taka but those are the cards that were dealt - many years after this I do a tag thing with Bradshaw, in the GHB gimmick, where he can't find a partner.  I could have planted those seeds even back the year before in 13 and always had him with a different partner, even though it wasn't an overt part of any angle.  He could have worked with Ron Simmons in the four way, we could have taken the Rock and Roll Express out and had them work the Road Warriors in a 9th match.  

15.  This is maybe the first modern Mania in that there's a culimination of some long angles (partal pun intended) at the top of the show HHH/Waltman beat the Outlaws in the blow off to that feud, and later in the show, after the Hardys won their first tag belts, they added E/C and Trish to the Clique in a beatdown of those Hardys.  Also we had the debut of Kurt Angle, stopping the Southern Men from burning the American flag - I recall at the time there was some pushback about the Southern Men characters, that was a case where the entirety of that gimmick was really to get to this moment where I could use Angle, another area where there was pushback was the Skip McMahon character, but he largely just existed (beyond to add layering to the alternate McMahon reality, which in and of itself, is a really, really long storyline that is close to paying off although not in the way intended) to work with PAUL~, who also debuts here - and that debut is really just to start the build for his being fed to Angle.  So, I was trying to both pay off storyline but also sew the thread for future payoffs.  

As for mistakes, I should have added PE to the card proper given the hardcore thing I was looking to do, they could have worked Bradshaw and this year's random partner, say Steve Blackman, or this year could have been the Simmons year given the real world issues they had with PE.

16.  Not a goddamn thing.  From a workrate perspective this is the first Mania where every match was good.  

17.  I'm insufficiently using Trish as the leader of the Clique; the build to that worked, the turn worked, but once she moved into that spot I didnt have enough story for her.  I didn't want to do women's matches, but in retrospect could have had a physical rivalry between Trish and Lita, it was a pretty obvious thing to do.  

18.  I shouldn't have added the Undertaker to the Flair/Hogan match; you get a chance to do Flair/Hogan at Mania you take it.  Leave Undertaker off the card, just like 16, and DMW can still enter postmatch to do the chokeslamming.  

19.  I cheated too much with the Piper thing; he didn't work the show but I billed him as partnering with Hogan, then just never had him tag in - that's not really within the spirit (or the letter) of the rules.  I should have just done Undertaker/Hogan, given that I wouldn't have done them the year prior.  

20.  It's such a loaded show, here sticking to the 8 match limit left off Noble and Kidman, for example.  They could have worked a singles match.  I didn't use the Dudleys (I think selling an injury angle) in MSG, they could have worked the Orton/Cena young tag act.  

21. Looks like this is the show where I caught up, 11 years ago.  I planned to do weekly small posts to build to the next show.  Yeah, that's not how that turned out.  I said Cena was the worst beltholder in Counterfactual history...yeah, not a mistake.  Cena was bad, eventually turned okay, eventually turned good, but never great and always overrated.  

22.  I like Punk doing the same gimmick I've got Samoa Joe doing now, the "I won't wrestle on your PPV" shtick.  I had also forgotten that Angle departed by shooting middle fingers at the crowd, which was the same way Punk will eventually depart.  It's also the end of Benoit's career, he got what turned out to be closure with Angle and Michaels, he put over Rey, he did a major injury angle and then, given the later real world end of his life, never came back.  I indicated in this card that I would have used Stevie Richards more if  I could - I could have used him here.  

23.   This was Flair's last match, but I hedged in case he came back in some type of way down the road, I should have gone all in in the manner they did IRL.  

24.    I don't know if it's a mistake given the available options, but I backed some horses that never really came in.  I built the promotion around Benoit/Eddy/Angle and then lost them all and needed to build the next stars, instead of the real world choices (Cena/Orton/Batista) I went MVP/Nitro/Benjamin and you really see that play out here (I mean, Punk was my top guy, and I created a vehicle in GDI to serve as the railroad from the independents, but I was largely just hoping back then) and obviously none of them stuck around long enough to really pay off.  As it turns out, I didn't need them, but that was more fortune than foresight.  

25.  Really a continuation from the prior year's discussion, I had invested a lot of time in Jericho and Edge/Christian/Hardys over the years and that paid off when they were able to slide into this bridge role between Benoit/Eddy/Angle and what would turn out to be Punk/Danielson/Brock, particularly with Matt, there was a tipping point where the degradation in his work outstripped his push here, but the storyline investment was so strong it made sense given available alternatives.

26.  Putting MVP in that spot in the Bret/Shawn match doesn't hold up well, speaking to the initial choice to put all the equity in him in the first place.  Tatsu also maybe wasn't the best choice for the spotfest match against Sydal, but they had a long program.  We've got Nitro's pivotal role in ending Michaels's career (still waiting for him to come back and relaunch the Clique) and Kidd/Smith as the baby Harts.  None of those bets really paid off (if Harry comes back then we've got one last Hart).

27.   I thought maybe I was done with Taker/Hunter after this one, it took a few more years but now they're both gone.  This one had another pretty big angle where all of the guys trained in developmental united to kill the roster, form Underground as a stable, and get Nemeth the WWF Title.  Trish worked this show IRL and with all of the Clique stuff I should have worked her in.

28.  Pac debuted here, four years later he still hasn't worked Mania.  That would be an IRL mistake as opposed to mine.  We also see The Shield, I wish I had done a better job at expressing the motivation for Black's arc, starting with GDI, moving to Underground against his will and coming out the other side with Ambrose as a unit apart from everyone else.  

29.  Langston as third member of The Shield was not planned far in advance, it was really more a matter of his being the piece that fit.  I think he's fine, I wanted a third man bodyguard type who could work well enough to fit - I think that's Langston but might be overestimating his working ability by a notch given how hard I was going to push that aspect of the team.  I don't really know who the alternate option would have been at the time - and in retrospect, given how often Langston's been available to me as opposed to say, Fandango, this was really the only choice.

30.  I invested too much in Swagger and that fully manifests here, he never became the worker I was betting he'd become, and I kept chasing that potential given how much equity I built into the character.  

31.  I'm good with 31, it was just a year ago and 32 just happened, probably too soon for a reasonable reflection on mistakes.  


Anonymous said...

1) Did you ever consider using Reigns in what became Langston's spot?
2) Did you ever consider using Tyler Breeze as a Hart (he was trained by Lance Storm, after all)?

Jim said...

1. It was too late, I had already had Reigns as part of the Usos act and having him turn on the Usos to join Ambrose/Black just didn't make the kind of sense that having someone leave Underground (just as Ambrose and Black once had) to join The Shield. This allowed me with guys in the Usos and the Shield (and the Wyatts, and Underground when needed) to do lots of matches (especially on TV) with similarly numbered teams.
2. He's just not good enough; Breeze isn't bad, but you can't relaunch the Hart Foundation brand on his back. Were Harry to come back I might be in the market for a couple of Canadian guys to round out a stable.

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