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No Mania To Be Found: How WWE Lost That Unique WrestleMania Magic

WrestleMania is one of those terms ubiquitous with WWE and pro wrestling itself.  Non-fans know of it and they know what it means: the biggest wrestling show of the year.  While it's impossible to erase it from our consciousness, the fact is that in recent years and especially this year, WrestleMania has kind of lost its once-imposing luster.  It's no longer a must-see and often stands as emblematic of WWE's current philosophical and practical problems. And it's all WWE's fault.

No Mania To Be Found: WWE Has Lost The Unique Magic Of WrestleMania
The official logo for WrestleMania 38, courtesy of WWE.

As fans, we all have some special memories of WrestleMania growing up.  There was something that just felt different about it when it was done right.  Either because of the match-ups or the ceremony of it all, nothing on the rest of the calendar came close to WrestleMania.  There were other big events throughout the year, some of the time better ones, but they didn't have that special aura about them. Unfortunately, that feels long gone.

Part of the issue in recent years is WWE has made too big of a deal out of lesser events, which in turn steals some of the shine from WrestleMania.  While Mania wasn't always held in major football or baseball stadiums, the ability to do so and at least make it look like a sellout was unique and special, indicative of how big the event inherently was.  But now, the annual event being held in some mega stadium is a given and WWE has even branched out into holding other events, such as SummerSlam and the Royal Rumble in outdoor stadiums.

Another problem is the over-promising/under-delivering of WrestleMania in recent years.  This year their entire marketing is based around this weekend's two-day event in Dallas being "the most stupendous" show of all time.  While that's a nice flashy adjective to throw on a poster, there's also something incredibly glib about it.  Fans and commentators alike have been highly critical of this year's card and it's no secret that WWE was having problems selling tickets at the huge AT&T Stadium.  That is until the announcement of a return to action of sorts for "Stone ColdSteve Austin, which brought sales up, and that brings me to my next issue.

WrestleMania used to be marketed as "the showcase of the immortals", a stage where legends were born and made their names.  Hulk Hogan became immortal when he slammed Andre The Giant at WrestleMania III, while Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat created the template for future generations of wrestlers on the same night.  Bret Hart opened and closed the show with big matches at WrestleMania X, while Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon made the Ladder Match iconic in the middle of it.  Hart and Michaels then fought for over an hour at WrestleMania XII and Hart couldn't make a bloody Austin tap the next year in a match that laid the groundwork for the company's biggest era ever.  The Undertaker's streak… 'nuff said.

These were iconic moments. Images that they replay constantly, still to this day.  But the important thing was that they were also in the moment and involved current stars.  Hogan didn't have to face Bruno Sammartino.  But now, it seems the main event spots at WrestleMania are reserved for stars of past generations.  The Undertaker, Triple HGoldberg, and Batista have all main evented the show in recent years.  Austin is main-eventing Saturday night. And next year's main event is apparently already penciled in to be Roman Reigns facing Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock.  How are new icons supposed to be made and moments created if the big stage they used to do it on is only reserved for those from the past?

I wish I was more excited about this weekend's show, but like many fans, I just don't feel WWE has put anything forward here that feels very special.  This will be the third WrestleMania main event where Brock Lesnar has faced Reigns and the other two weren't very good.  It is also the third scheduled Pay Per View main event match between the two over the past year.  What's special about this?  Why should we get excited about something we've seen far too much and has never been great?

It's this kind of tone-deafness that enrages fans and forces them away, especially by a company that brags so loudly about always listening to them.  Could we be in store to be wowed by an amazing weekend of wrestling action?  Sure, but will WWE take the right lessons from that and put that forward to better the overall product?  Probably not.  And so we as fans will continue to be caught in a seemingly never-ending catch-22, one where we can only continue to relive the great WrestleMania memories of the past, while begrudgingly being force-fed stars from it, all at the expense of something and someone new.

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Ryan FassettAbout Ryan Fassett

As a lifelong fan of movies, comics, wrestling, and collectibles, Ryan is excited to share his thoughts on all of it with you. He is also an active filmmaker and published comic book writer, along with being a connoisseur of soda.
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