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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Is The Joke On Us?
March 14, 2007 by John Austin


Editor's Note: The author of this column can be contacted via the OWW Forums, where this submission was first posted. Feedback can be posted automatically by clicking here - but remember you must sign up for the forums to post feedback on a column. Thanks you!


WrestleMania is near again, and aside from the normal level of excitement that I have around this time of year, I have a strange uneasiness in the pit of my stomach. Once again, a WrestleMania will happen on April Fool's Day, and because of that, I think that the biggest travesty in the history of sports-entertainment is about to take place. Mark Callaway, A.K.A. The Undertaker, who is to World Wrestling Entertainment what Sting was to the old WCW (its Franchise player) , is very likely going to "whore" - - excuse my French, but I cannot think another word to describe this- - his legendary streak away to the most egotistical jerk in the business today, Dave Batista. Of course, this could possibly not happen, and the Deadman could be kneeling in the middle of the ring hoisting up the World Heavyweight Title at the near-end of the pay-per-view. But I wouldn't bet on it, and I'll tell you why in a little bit. But first, let's talk about why I am SO opposed to Batista being more than likely granted this honor- - because that's what this is, perhaps even bigger than the honor that Andre The Giant bestowed upon Hulk Hogan, allowing him to be the first man to ever pin him, but because more importantly, Batista is not even a third as much deserving as Hogan was. We know what impact the Undertaker has had on the business, so there is no point in mentioning his credentials just yet, especially in comparison to Batista, so why don't we first take a look at the "accolades" Batista has accumulated over the past two years?

In 2005, after winning the Royal Rumble, Dave Batista reached the pinnacle of this business by beating Triple H for the World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania. He then went on to become the first person to ever beat HHH in Hell in the Cell. At this time the World Heavyweight Title was considered more prestigious then the WWE title. I assume that the "powers that be" were closely observing Batista and John Cena during this time, because the Raw/SmackDown draft was soon to be on it's way, which truthfully is where the big-wigs decide whose performances have been top-notch, lucky wrestlers that fall under this category get sent to/ get to stay on RAW, and those whom have either: A):lost a step due to age/injury, B):Been slacking, or the more respectable C):can be used to help build up the younger talent, get sent/remain on SmackDown. Even though King Booker was in character when he said this, every fan of this business knew that he was telling the truth when he said that SmackDown was/is the "Minor leagues". At least in Booker's defense, its obvious that he represented the "C" category. The same can definitely be said for Undertaker, who was taking a lighter schedule, but was definitely beneficial to helping re-establish Randy Orton as a major player, and helping Mr. Kennedy reach the next level as well. Dave Batista? (Aside from the fact that John Cena completely outshined him and still does today, regardless of boos or cheers), he got sent to SmackDown in exchange for Cena after his lackluster performance against HHH in Hell in The Cell. So Batista fell under category "B"...........for the moment.

After getting big cheers for defeating JBL, and let's face it, those were just because of how much we all hated JBL, "Big Dave" got into a feud with The Coach...............THE FREAKIN' COACH!!!!! They threw Goldust and Vader into the mix as well, and although a Vader-Batista feud might have been interesting if Vader was 10 years younger, this was entertaining for as long as the duration of the match. After this, the creative team began a feud involving Batista and the late, WWE Hall-Of-Famer Eddie Guerrero which would have done a tremendous deal for "Big Dave's" career. Batista defeated Eddie, and instead of Eddie going insane (as he had did with Rey Mysterio after WrestleMania) and stalking Batista at every turn, Eddie and Batista became friends. I was hoping that this was some ploy from Eddie to get on Batista's good side, which I think might have unfolded around the next WrestleMania, but after Eddie's unfortunate death, a story was created with Mysterio and Batista, where they became Tag Team champions. I think this was also because Batista was injured at this time and they were trying to hide it. It was obvious at Survivor Series, however, where the World Champ was the third eliminated.

Mark Henry returned at the end of 2005 during the "harassment story" between Batista and Melina, and he made his presence known by attacking Batista and leaving him laying in the ring. As a Power vs. Power war began to brew between the two of them leading up to the Royal Rumble, Batista injured his tricep during a house show. at this point, he officially fell into the "A" category. Injuries happen, but this was the third injury of the sort for "Big Dave". After his return in July, it was definitely obvious that he had lost a few steps, which was highlighted in matches with Finlay and Mr. Kennedy. Does Batista do anything anymore besides spinebuster people? At least when he was in Evolution he had a clothesline. But regardless of this, the "Big-wigs" thought that he was the man to be champ and de-throne King Booker, even sending better choice Bobby Lashley to ECW.

So here you have this injury-prone guy with a crappy work ethic and a limited repertoire of moves as the top guy of SmackDown when there were so many other more deserving wrestlers who could/should have been champions. I honestly think "Big Dave" was feeling threatened by the younger lion and used his stroke to get Lashley away from the World title. Clearly my opinion, but it makes sense if you think about it. That is one of the many reasons that I perceive Dave Batista as a self-centered-jerk. On a similar note, if you have noticed, King Booker is now technically a mid-carder ever since losing to Batista. A little revenge, perhaps? I'm sure you are all aware of the "now-infamous Summerslam Incident". There are many variations of the story, but this one seems the most plausible. The wrestlers are all doing their thing, taking their cues, trying to make a successful commercial. "Big Dave" comes in, strutting like a rooster, appearing as if he was too good to shake other wrestlers hands, and overall acting like they should change the name WWE to "DBE". The "boys" are pissed about it, and tempers are beginning to boil, as Batista is about to be receiving end of the beating of his life, perhaps. Booker T, being a team player and a humanitarian, pulls Dave aside and tries to tell him about the hole he is digging for himself. "Big Dave" assumingly tells Booker T, who was only trying to help, mind you, some form of "go screw yourself", or "cock-a-doodle doo", and Booker T tried to walk away before the problem got worse. But Batista would have none of it. The fight got more intense, and in the end Batista was laid out more than once. They were said to have settled their differences afterwards, and worked fine together in the ring with no altercations, but look who got the better end of the deal out of their business relationship. Would Batista be this affable if he hadn't been scripted to beat King Booker? Possibly, but I doubt it. Perhaps Booker managed to knock whatever screw that was loose in Batista's head back in place again in their fight, but if he didn't, imagine what "Big Dave's" attitude will be if he wins at WrestleMania?

As far as Mark Callaway goes: Arguably, and in my personal opinion, he is the greatest wrestler that the WWE has ever had. He has always had the complete package of power, speed and agility, wrestling ability, and undeniable charisma. I started this paragraph Calling M.C. by his first name because of the fact that the character of "The Undertaker" has been this successful ever since Survivor Series 1990 because of Mark Callaway HIMSELF. No other man could have ever pulled off this gimmick with this amount of success. You also have to think about the legendary matches that UT is given credit for innovating, like the Casket Match, Hell in a Cell, and the Inferno Match. M.C. has also been probably the most unselfish wrestler WWE has ever had, constantly putting other wrestlers over for the "good of the business." Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels (these two are undeniable legends, but UT was a main-eventer for a longer period of time), Steve Austin, Mick Foley, King Mabel, Goldust, Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, and Mr. Kennedy to name many.

There is also the point that he has never ever been allowed a lengthy WWF/WWE title run, either. The fact that UT has never complained, and dealt with this over and over with dignity, all the while gaining the respect of his peers, wrestling pundits, and us fans alike, is why his WrestleMania legacy should not be tarnished. I honestly thought that Randy Orton was going to be the guy to beat UT at WrestleMania it, not because I wished for it to happen, just that it seemed like it was going to happen. But when it didn't, I thought maybe they would at least give UT his unblemished streak, seeing that his title reigns were lackluster. Trish Stratus was allowed to win the title in her last match, so why shouldn't Undertaker receive that kind of treatment if WrestleMania is indeed where plans to call it quits? Are they implying that somehow, in "Bizarro-land", that Trish made a bigger impact on the business? Maybe not, but they still appear to be denying the size of an impact that UT HAS made, and more importantly, the fact that he is more than deserving of a proper send-off. Even if he is going to stick around for a bit after 'Mania, shouldn't he get one more run? But I believe that what is getting ready to happen, like I previously mentioned, is that there are going to be a lot of pissed-off fans, myself included, come WrestleMania-time, because the "Powers That Be" are setting us up for the most horrible April Fool's joke in Wrestling History.

You see, this situation has happened once before, on April 1, 1990, when the "Ultimate Hypocrite" defeated Hulk Hogan for the then-WWF title. I am sure that Vinnie Mac is well aware of this, and with UT getting ready to hang it up soon, (let's be honest, All of us expected this upcoming moment a long time ago {I personally thought he was going to retire after the Hell In A Cell with Brock}, and are surprised that he kept going as long as he did, even with this part-time schedule that he has been on) it would be the sensible outcome, at least from a point of view that expects this kind of thing from VKM. For everybody else, you might want to think about my logic. The main difference between this match with UT/Batista and the one with Hogan/Warrior, besides only one title being on the line, is that the fans were split nearly 50/50 on the outcome of WrestleMania VI, even thought the majority would have bet on the Hulkster. Almost everybody expects Taker to win this one. Fans like myself are hoping for the storybook ending, with Taker FINALLY winning the Royal Rumble and after going on to become World Heavyweight Champion. If this storyline had went on three years ago, It would be the obvious assumption, UT winning at WrestleMania and defending the title for some-odd months. But Vince and his "Powers" want us to hope for this ending, just so this April Fool's joke will be all the more sweet.

by John Austin (View/Submit your feedback here)..




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