Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Top Ten Things: Overrated Wrestling PPVs

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com, where I count down ten best or worst of whatever I happen to be wasting energy thinking about that day.

Today's edition is about wrestling PPVs I consider to be overrated.  Certain shows just resonate with large numbers of people for some reason, and while I understand some of them, there are PPVs where I'm baffled by how much people love them.  Either from an in-ring standpoint, a booking standpoint, or a time management standpoint each of these shows disappointed in some way that prevented them from being truly great (or even good in some cases).  Here we go....



10. Great American Bash '89


Before you cry foul, just hear me out.  I really enjoyed GAB'89.  It had star power, a stacked lineup, and a great main event.  But it had nine matches when it should've had six, and therefore multiple bouts got horribly shortchanged.  1989 was the first full calendar year for the NWA under Ted Turner's ownership, and while overall it was probably the best year in the company's history, management stripped away a bit of the NWA's personality in an effort to make the product more WWF-like.  One such tactic was to load PPVs and Clash of the Champions specials with more matches than they had room for, something the WWF had been doing for years.  Thus with GAB'89 we started off with a Battle Royal, a pointless Brian Pillman-Bill Irwin match, an elongated Skyscrapers-Dynamic Dudes squash, and an unwatchable Tuxedo Match between Paul Ellering and Teddy Long.  So entertaining bouts like The Steiners vs. The Varsity Club and Sting vs. Great Muta were criminally short (Seriously, Pillman-Irwin and the Skyscrapers match both got more time than the TV Title match??).  Don't get me wrong, the last five matches were all good-to-great, and after the first hour GAB'89 was still one of the best shows of the year.  But imagine how much better this could've been had they trimmed off the fat and presented a streamlined PPV a la Clash of the Champions I.



9. WrestleMania 24


Another case of a very good show being held up as a truly great one, WrestleMania 24 was for me an unexpectedly strong night of wrestling.  Going into this I had little interest in any of it, as the main event scene had been stagnant for the last three years and no one new was being heavily featured.  Plus the most-hyped match pitted the 400-pound Big Show against a boxer one-third his size.  But the show ended up being pretty darn good, thanks to a pair of near-4-star Title matches, a fun Money in the Bank match, and an emotional Shawn Michaels-Ric Flair retirement match.  So yeah, this show had a lot to like.  But that doesn't make it one of the best 'Manias of all time, as many people call it.  Aside from the aforementioned four bouts, this show was weighed down by a ton of mediocrity.  JBL vs. Finlay, Batista vs. Umaga, Kane vs. Chavo, the Divas tag match, and the Show-Mayweather fiasco were all middling at best.  'Mania 24 is one of many cases of people fondly remembering the good stuff but forgetting how much crap we had to wade through to get to it.




8. WrestleMania 22


The second of five WrestleManias on this list, WM22 was another show I expected to hate but actually enjoyed somewhat.  We got to see Rey Mysterio win the World Title, we got an amazingly brutal Mick Foley vs. Edge fight, we got a wild Money in the Bank sequel, a tremendous Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James bout with a great story, and even a solid main event where the crowd's anti-Cena reaction added an unexpected layer to the match.  But sadly we also got a whole lotta filler and an unforgivably abbreviated World Title match (Seriously, a nine-minute semi-main event slot for the Royal Rumble winner?).  Plus there was that interminable Shawn Michaels-Vince McMahon squash that went on for almost nineteen minutes.  Basically Shawn beat the shit outta Vince FOREVER before jumping on him from a ladder, through a table.  All that nonsense for one big spot.  And that was Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Match of the fucking Year!  Christ, it wasn't even the match of the night.  It wasn't even the best match THAT HOUR.  WM22 is an example of WWE pulling off a fun PPV despite almost the entire product being in creative shambles.  While it defied horribly low expectations that doesn't make it a great show (Remember this a little later).



7. Royal Rumble 2007


The one really overrated Rumble PPV took place in 2007, again at a time when WWE's creative direction flat-out sucked.  Still reliant on the OVW Class of 2002 and Attitude Era stars, WWE hadn't correctly pushed anyone new in quite some time and the product was quite stale.  The relaunch of ECW didn't help, as it was a farcical shell of the once beloved brand.  The Rumble PPV included bouts for all three top championships, as unwanted ECW Champ Bobby Lashley faced Test in a dull affair, World Champ Batista battled Mr. Kennedy in an equally uninteresting effort, and WWE Champ John Cena had a decent (that's "decent," not "great") Last Man Standing match with Umaga.  And then came what was billed as "the most star-studded Royal Rumble in history," featuring a veritable who's-who of 2007 headliners like Finlay, Kenny Dykstra, Gregory Helms, Matt Hardy, Shelton Benjamin, Tommy Dreamer, Sabu, Super Crazy, The Sandman, Viscera, Johnny Nitro, Kevin Thorn, Kane, CM Punk, Bob Holly, Chris Masters, Chavo Guerrero, MVP, Carlito, The Great Khali, and The Miz.  The only participants one could even consider bona fide "stars" at this point were Ric Flair (aged 57), Edge, King Booker, Jeff Hardy, Randy Orton, Chris Benoit, Rob Van Dam, Shawn Michaels, and The Undertaker.  But even that roster hardly qualifies as "star-studded" when compared to some of the earlier Rumbles.  Besides, this Rumble match was pretty forgettable up until the excellent closing stretch between Shawn and Taker.  Other than that there was very little of note.  So reviews calling this Rumble or its surrounding PPV anything close to great are just bizarre to me.  Watch the 1989, 1992, or 2002 Rumbles if you wanna see "star-studded."



6. SummerSlam '91


The lone SummerSlam event on this list is from 1991, when the WWF returned on PPV to Madison Square Garden after three years.  This event was treated as a major deal, with multiple blowoff matches, a big handicap main event match, and of course the pretend wedding of Randy Savage and Elizabeth (who in actuality had been married since 1984).  But sadly almost none of it was any good.  The one really memorable bout was placed second on the card, as I-C Champ Mr. Perfect defended (and lost) against Bret Hart, in Bret's first big singles match.  The rest of the show ranged from watchable (Bulldog/Steamboat/Von Erich vs. Power & Glory & Warlord; LOD vs. Nasty Boys) to instantly dismissible (Dibiase vs. Virgil; Bossman vs. Mountie) to pure drivel (Natural Disasters vs. Bushwhackers; Hogan & Warrior vs. Slaughter, Mustafa & Adnan).  Seriously, anyone who remembers this event being great should give it another look now.  There's really nothing good on this card except the Bret-Perfect match.  Plus what the hell kinda wrestling show features a fake wedding as the main event??



5. WrestleMania VI


Sweet Jeezus I hated this show.  Even in 1990 when my 14-year-old tastes were far less discerning I hated WrestleMania 6.  I know everyone has nostalgia-colored glasses on when they look back on the Hogan vs. Warrior battle, but it really was not good.  And that was the only noteworthy match of the fourteen presented!  First off, fourteen matches is way too many.  Period.  Hardly anything got enough time to matter, many of these matches had exactly zero at stake, and the one match that got significant time was just boring as all get-out.  For all the praise it got in 1990 and still gets to this day, I found Hogan vs. Warrior such an incredibly dull brawl full of powderpuff-looking offense, endless rest holds, and safe, indecisive booking.  Plus Warrior never became the new torchbearer for the company, so it didn't even mean that much in the end.  It was significant as the first major babyface vs. babyface PPV main event and Hogan's first clean loss in years, but that's really the extent of it.  For me WrestleMania VI ranks squarely at the bottom of the list.  Yes, even below WM9.



4. WrestleMania 28


Despite my hatred for WM6 it isn't ranked #1 because most people don't consider the overall show great, just the main event.  But our next entry is widely considered a great show with multiple Match of the Year candidates.  I however consider it a good show with one Match of the Year candidate (and not the one you're thinking of) that could've been amazing had Vince not acted like a horse's ass when booking it.  WrestleMania 28 was off to such a promising start, as World Champion Daniel Bryan was set to face Rumble winner Sheamus.  18 seconds later the night was ruined for many.  Vince thought it'd be funny if Sheamus broke the record for shortest-ever WrestleMania match (which didn't happen anyway) by pinning Bryan after one move.  What happened instead was a major fan backlash resulting in Daniel Bryan becoming a huge star while Sheamus languished in midcard hell for the next four years and counting.  This stupid, tone-deaf booking cast a pall on the next three matches, none of which were above a three-star rating, until Triple H and Undertaker won the crowd back with a very good (again, "very good," not "great") Hell in a Cell match.  I enjoyed this bout thoroughly, and felt it overshadowed their match the previous year, however calling it the best match of 2012 is ridiculous, especially since it was upstaged only two matches later.  That's right, CM Punk's WWE Title defense against Chris Jericho was an eminently better match, full of excellent storytelling and counterwrestling.  But that one seemingly never gets talked about in the WrestleMania 28 conversation.  Finally we arrived at the overhyped Rock-Cena dream match.  I went into this expecting something pretty special, and I was actually rooting for John Cena to win since he represented the current full-time roster.  I agreed wholeheartedly with his comments going into this: "I'm here every day busting my ass for these people, while you've been away seven years making movies."  Cena needed to win this match to show everyone that today's stars are just as important as those of yesteryear.  Nope, that isn't what WWE is about anymore.  The Rock beat Cena clean in a rather ponderous 32-minute match some were actually calling a five-star bout.  Was it a fun match?  Sure.  Was it five-star worthy?  Not remotely.  WrestleMania 28 was one of the more infuriating in the series because it could've been excellent had those in charge used common sense when assembling it.  Cut 7-10 minutes from each of the half-hour matches and give that time to Bryan vs. Sheamus, and you'd really have something.



3. ECW One Night Stand 2005


2005 saw the first (of many) attempts to revive/relive the ECW days, when Rob Van Dam conceived of an authentic ECW PPV from the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC.  Vince brought back most of the promotion's top stars and even let Paul Heyman get involved, and the result was a reasonably entertaining ECW show.  And well, that's it.  This was a fun one-off PPV that let everyone feed their nostalgia jones for one night.  Strangely though, people hold this show up as one of the greatest things ever created by human beings.  I really don't get it.  For one thing the longest match of the night was just under eleven minutes.  Eleven.  And most of the bouts were considerably shorter than that.  Nothing had enough time to be a great showing (The seven matches totaled just under an hour!), and the result was a PPV that felt like ECW-Lite, rather than a grand homecoming.  Couple that with a convoluted WWE vs. ECW theme, complete with forced Heyman and RVD "anti-WWE" promos, and the whole proceeding had an air of phoniness about it.  And when it was over WWE went back to business as usual, until One Night Stand 2006 (which incidentally was miles better than this show), leading of course to the putrid ECW relaunch.  But all that is secondary to the real issue, which was that the wrestling on this card just wasn't that good.  Really guys, name me one match on this show you'd rate at four stars or better.  I thought not.



2. Survivor Series 2002


Apparently the years have been kind to Survivor Series '02, because I recall most people more or less hating it when it happened.  But more recently I've read glowing reviews of this turd.  I've even seen this show called one of the best Survivor Series PPVs.  Just insane.  First, this didn't deserve to be called Survivor Series, being that it had not one traditional Survivor Series match.  Sorry, but for me that's already a strike against the show, and it better be pretty fucking awesome to justify ignoring its roots.  But this show wasn't.  From a mildly entertaining but ultimately forgettable six-man tables match to a just-okay Cruiserweight Title match, to a decent Women's Title match, the undercard was unequivocally weak.  But then the show took a turn toward offensive with Brock Lesnar's four-minute, streak-snapping loss to The Big Show of all people.  The fact that perennial midcarder Paul Wight was moved from RAW to Smackdown and then suddenly pushed as an unstoppable monster was bad enough, but Lesnar's manager Paul Heyman then "opportunistically" turned on Lesnar, costing him the match and the WWE Title despite Lesnar having the match won at that point.  Nothing about this booking made any sense, and putting the Title on Big Show was logic-defying.  The one good match on this calamity was the Triple Threat WWE Tag Title match between Edge/Mysterio, Los Guerreros, and Angle & Benoit.  After that we got the inaugural Elimination Chamber, an awkwardly wrestled, plodding affair where all but two of the participants were treated as expendable afterthoughts despite the RAW brand desperately needing some new faces at the top.  Triple H could (and should) have dropped the World Title to Rob Van Dam or Booker T, but instead the company gave the strap to the returning part-timer Shawn Michaels, only to put it back on Hunter four weeks later.  Had the match been great, this counterproductive booking could be forgiven, but it wasn't.  In fact this bout ranks very high on the list of Worst Elimination Chambers.  No one really seemed sure what to do inside this new structure, and there wasn't enough action to justify the 39-minute duration.  How anyone considers Survivor Series 2002 (a one-match show if I've ever seen one) one of the best editions is far beyond me.



1. WrestleMania 31


Finally we've arrived at the PPV that's really got my goat.  I dunno if it's just because it's so recent and thus fresh in my mind, but for me WrestleMania 31 is the most overrated PPV of all time.  Look, I liked this show, okay?  I consider it a solid 7/10.  Given the absolutely horrid buildup it got, it's miraculous the PPV was even watchable.  But low expectations plus a great ending doesn't intrinsically make for an all-time great PPV.  And many, MANY people are calling WM31 one of the best WrestleManias, or even one of the best PPVs they've ever seen.  That is so over-the-top laughable I can't even wrap my brain around it.  Even calling WM31 the best PPV of 2015 is heaping excessive praise.  WWE's main roster alone bettered it twice, with Elimination Chamber (featuring TWO 4-star matches) and SummerSlam (featuring much more in-ring action, a 4-star Title vs. Title match, and an equally terrific main event).  Not only that, but NXT by my estimation pummeled WM31 with the Brooklyn, Respect, and London TakeOver specials (and of course New Japan's WrestleKingdom 9 was easily ten times the show 'Mania 31 was).  Let's take a look at 'Mania 31's award-winning lineup.  First off two matches got bumped to the pre-show, reducing the total in-ring time to around 98 minutes.  I'm sorry, but a four-hour PPV only featuring 98 minutes of in-ring action is fucking unacceptable.  If you can't make room for 8 or 9 matches when you have 240 minutes to work with, you seriously need to reevaluate your time management skills.  Anyway, back to the actual PPV.  The show opened with an entertaining but unremarkable 7-man Ladder Match, into which WWE shoehorned their three most popular young babyfaces.  Super.  Next was a very good Orton-Rollins match that could've been great if given another five minutes.  Then we got an insipid Triple H-Sting dream match that quickly devolved into an Old-Timers Battle Royal, and a throwaway Divas tag match.  After that was an underwhelming Cena vs. Rusev US Title match, followed by an underwhelming Undertaker-Bray Wyatt match.  The main reason people love this show however was the main event between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns.  To be fair, this was a helluva big-time fight which defied expectations and featured Seth Rollins' surprise mid-match Money in the Bank cash-in.  Rollins stole the WWE Title and stood tall and defiant to close the show.  So no argument here, the ending to the show was spectacular, lending credence to Vince Russo's claim that people mostly remember the last five minutes of a PPV, thus the ending is the most important part (Christ, I'm actually validating something Vince Russo said??).  But folks, really go back and watch WrestleMania 31.  It is by no means a top-to-bottom classic.  Not one match exceeds 3.5 stars, and WWE presented easily ten non-WrestleMania matches in 2015 that bitchslapped that main event (widely considered the Match of the Night).  So I'm really not sure where these glowing reviews are coming from.  WrestleMania 30 for example was LOADS better than 31 on every level (better main event, better opener, better Cena match, better Battle Royal, better Tag Title match, and way more wrestling).  How quickly we forget, right Mr. Russo?


That's enough negativity outta me for today.  Comment below with your thoughts!

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