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WRESTLING COLUMNS

I GOTTA SAY THIS
The Post Wrestlemania Drainage Factor
March 10, 2004 - by Brad Dykens

Today started out as a day like no other. I woke up, scratched myself, hit the showers, let in the cat, and then apologized to the cat for leaving it out all night. It all started to get interesting when I logged into the world wide web to check out the news; I was treated to what I consider the most shocking piece of news in a long time. "Brock Lesnar quits WWE!" What the &$#@! In the words of David Spade's latest movie character "Dickie Roberts" -- This is NUCKING FUTS!

This immediately brought to mind my old theory as it pertains to Wrestlemania as an annual attraction. I always find it funny how every single year, like clockwork, wrestlers come out of the woodwork; healthy as can be; ready, willing & able to cooperate at their fullest capacity ---- right around January ---- two months before Wrestlemania ---- just long enough to get involved in a high profile program for "the granddaddy of them all!" Of course this leaves the hard working employees of the WWE out in the cold. The year's Wrestlemania (20), they at least filled the card with as many matches as possible to get every wrestler they could on the card, but I'm not sure that helps. On the flip side of this theory, there is what I call, the "Post Wrestlemania Drainage Factor", where all the big names start dropping like flies due to "injuries", or getting movies roles, or all of sudden they have a "problem" with the way they're being used, then take their bags and go home!

This Post-mania period is always an interesting time of year for the WWE, because while ratings often begin to drop from their peak, a lot of the guys who work their butts off 12 months of the year, get a chance to step up into the spotlight and show the world what they can do. You suddenly get new challengers for the titles, and guys who are constantly passed up for a push because a "name" is in front of them in line, get an opportunity to headline. These are the Superstars who I love and respect, because they LOVE the business, they LOVE the fans, and they have a passion for it, and have no desire to do anything else. Take for instance Chris Benoit, who will be headlining Backlash in April! I'm not afraid to say it's probably my favorite time of year in the WWE!

Birds of a feather, flock together -- towards Wrestlemania -- It happens every year, The Undertaker, Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, add Goldberg & Brock Lesnar to the list, even Kurt Angle (who I respect the hell out of) seems to schedule his operations around Wrestlemania appearances. I can't really blame them, because it's a big money show, and lots of eyes are watching; Who I do blame though is a little fact I like to call "management", but I'll rip into them later.

The Undertaker is the elder of the WWE roster, not the oldest, but possibly the wisest; I reckon he's respected by all, but secretly resented by some. For the past few years he's worked probably six months out of each year, taking lengthy absences, only to come back and beat everybody. The psychology going through my mind is, how can an old injury prone fella' like Undertaker be so dominant (in a real fight). This year Undertaker lucked out; he doesn't even have to appear on TV until the Pay Per View. While Undertaker is sitting at home growing his hair back, Kane, with help from the crew of special effects engineers, is single-handedly carrying the storyline on RAW! I think the angle is among the best in years, but it will bug me to no end if Taker goes over..

The Rock is the most blatant violator of my theory. While I freely admit that the Rock is one of the greatest WWE Superstars of all time, and is the ultimate total package, I still think he needs to step away from the WWE. The more I sit here and think about it, I can't say anything else negative about the Rock. He is good for a pop every few months on TV, and this year he is appearing at Wrestlemania in a tag match instead of a headlining match, so I have no beef with Rock.

Hulk Hogan is a prime example of my theory. He, Nash & Hall signed with the WWE back in January of 2002 -- Just in time for Wrestlemania, where he ultimately faced The Rock (to his credit, he did the job). The Hulkster continued to work for the next seven months before taking time off to heal up, just in time for -- you guessed it -- January 2003, and the "Immortal" is miraculously fit as a fiddle and ready to work again! That relationship didn't last as long, and fell apart three months later and the Hulk quit! Vince McMahon vowed to never do business with Hulkamania ever again. This year, January 2004, Hulk Hogan said in an interview that "if Hulk Hogan doesn't appear at Wrestlemania XX, then that is what is wrong with the business today", and that really ticked me off! He was sending out feelers, letting Vince McMahon that is was miraculously willing to cooperate once again. Why? So he can get paid and screw the company AGAIN? Pft! If I were Vince McMahon, I would have sent him a plane ticket and invitation to attend, WITHOUT a paycheck. You think Hulkamania would run wild at Wrestlemania XX unless there was a paycheck involved????

Bill Goldberg debuted the day after Wrestlemania last year. I reluctantly hypothesize that when he entered into negotiations (around January uhhuh) he was secretly campaigning to debut on the Wrestlemania card, but that didn't happen. My feelings for Goldberg have been made clear in the past so I won't dwell on that, and I fully expect to hear from the same three Goldberg fans that whine at me every time I speak the truth about their passionless hero in my columns. You can argue that Goldberg is a good wrestler, that Goldberg is a good entertainer, but I don't know how anybody with an once of brain matter, can honestly say that Goldberg cares about the business at all. He, just as the Undertaker, has somehow managed to get over a month off work leading up to Wrestlemania, leaving Brock Lesnar & Steve Austin to build up their storyline without Goldberg. The ironic part about it is, the feud has increasingly become more about Lesnar & Austin, than the forgettable "Man they call" Goldberg.

Finally, Brock Lesnar --- Words can't express my disappointment. A lot of people are split down the middle as far as Brock Lesnar goes. Some people love him, and some people hate him. The people who hate him probably just don't like the fact that he got so much, so fast, like a spoiled little brat. The motivating factor in my deciding to support one wrestler over another is how much dedication they have for wrestling. Experience is a factor, but enough dedication will void that aspect. I tend to lean towards the wrestlers who have wrestling running through their veins, and I thought Brock Lesnar was 100% dedicated to wrestling. But I was wrong. I personally thought Brock Lesnar was an awesome performer. Most of the wrestlers who are bulked up like Lesnar is, can't move around all that well (HHH, for example), but Lesnar often moves around like a Cruiserweight, which makes for outstanding showmanship! When Lesnar first started out, he was immediately compared to Bill Goldberg. Getting pushed too hard, too fast! I dismissed those predictions, with the knowledge that Lesnar had a rich background in amateur wrestling and at least had a stint with a developmental territory. I had faith that Brock's head was screwed on tighter than Goldbergs.

Brock showed steady improvement in the first year of his WWE career, and solidified himself as the first NEW main-eventer in years! The past few months have reportedly been stressful on Brock Lesnar, who is a fitness fanatic and HAS to do a certain amount of working out per day, or he gets really cranky. Apparently the WWE travel schedule had been cutting into his routine, and this resulted in Brock purchasing a plane to make travelling more convenient for him. I can only speculate that the planned outcome of his match with Goldberg was a factor in his decision to quit, but it wouldn't surprise me. I lost a lot of respect for Brock because of the attitude he had gotten, quitting five days before Wrestlemania is just not professional. Especially to a company you made him a lot of money, and made him more famous then he could have ever dreamt.

Speaking of the "COMPANY", I promised to rip into management so here goes -- You rotten sons of bitches.... eerrrr........ well.... uhhhh.. I just wanted to say, good job on booking Wrestlemania! I can't deny that the Wrestlemania card has been beautifully constructed and all storylines have been brilliantly built up in a perfect manner. However, what I will criticize you for is your lack of ability to do this sort of booking for the OTHER 11 months of the year?? You don't have to have stack the line-up every month, but for each PPV just put a little effort into writing ONE or TWO decent storylines and give it TIME to develop. If you have an idea for a main event three months down the line, get it started NOW. I will say that compared to last year at this time, the WWE has gotten increasingly more enjoyable, so good job.

The 2004 Drainage factor will be as lethal as ever; It appears as though both Lesnar & Goldberg will be gone from the company, Rock is back to Hollywood, Foley will go back to his typewriter, Ric Flair's future is in question, Triple H leaving to do a movie, Kurt Angle's health is ALWAYS in question, John Cena's knee is shaky at best, Big Show's push is deflating as we speak, Shawn Michaels is always a risk, Kane will likely be off selling whatever ghastly beating he took from Undertaker, speaking of Taker, he will be back with no one to work with, Edge will return and may slide into a staring roll. Those who will benefit, Eddy Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, Rob Van Dam and God bless him - Matt Hardy! I also expect a crop of wrestlers to get pushed following Wrestlemania, including Mike "Nova" Bucci, Stevie Richards, Billy Gunn (unfortunately), Paul London, Orlando Jordan (unfortunately), Rhyno, Haas & Benjamin, Tajiri, Akio & Sakoda and of course the returning Edge! So drainage isn't necessarily a BAD thing, for those who understand it, it will be a GOOD thing!

by Brad Dykens


Enrique Casteles wrote:
First off, I want to thank you, Brad. I've been sick, and running around today -- to the doctor's office and other places. I had no idea that Brock Lesnar was quitting the WWE, and just as I am reading your article people are telling me about it.

You've made some very valid points, I agree with a lot of it, and disagree with a lot, as well.

I have to stand up for the Undertaker. He is dedicated to this business, but at his age, still wrestling, you can't blame him for taking some time off -- especially when he's not the only one that does it. He's been putting fans in the stands for almost a decade now, and I don't think anyone should question his love for the business. I do see where you're coming from, however.

I also strongly agree with you about Bill Goldberg. I met him in real life, and he's a great guy and all ... But I personally wouldn't want him on my roster if I was Vince McMahon. ... Actually, I take that back. I would sign Bill Goldberg, because he does have a way with - some - fans. But I'd sooner put him in the united states/IC division then at a main event status. Simply because he doesn't have Brock Lesnar or Kurt Angle's in-ring abilities. Guys like Brock and Angle - despite their great physiques - don't hesitate to get up top. Angle's one of the greatest technical wrestlers of all time, and Lesnar has a background in amateur wrestling, as you mentioned. I don't get much entertainment out of watching Goldberg's matches ... But for some fans, the impact and charisma(he has it in the minds of some) is enough.

Triple H has some talent, and maybe deserved to hold the World Heavyweight Championship once. But he's definitely got WAY too much of a push, because he bopped the bosses daughter. However, I can say this: While others sat at home, took long breaks -- Triple H was there, at work. I'll give him credit where it's due.

I have nothing but respect for Kurt Angle. He's a phenom. But you never know what's going to happen with that neck of his.

And The Rock. The Rock - is without a doubt - my favorite wrestler of the 6 or so years. He's done so much for the business, and revolutionized skills on the mic. Lets face it, when The Rock's got the mic he's pure gold. NO ONE has come CLOSE to the mic skills of The Rock.

Brad, you seem to be concerned about dedication of the wrestler's. I know you didn't question The Rock's dedication, but I'm going off the record to say that he does love the business. If The Rock wasn't dedicated, he wouldn't come back every time. You can't blame the guy for acting a lot. Those guys have a ball making those movies. He's making more money to do less work. If the oppurtunity was presented, any man in the right mind would do it. Now I don't think The Rock should step away.

It's what he loves. And as long as Vince doesn't get him involved in long-term storylines, he won't diappoint. The fans love him, and I and many others will forever. So if it sells, let him keep coming back. Everyone enjoys it.

That's all I've got to say. Just thought this article was well written, and worth responding too. Thanks, everyone.
K2 wrote:
Brad Dykens' column on the post-Wrestlemania exodus, to and from WWE, was right on the money.

For the past few Februarys, I have cringed as the usual assortment of Hogans, Undertakers, and yes, even Rocks have come from out of the woodwork to shove the same old brand of wrestling down our collective throats. I can only hope that next March at Wrestlemania XXI, we can see a new group of headliners in the spotlight.

However, I also agree that the months following Wrestlemania can be some of the best for wrestling fans. If you think back to some of the post-Mania fueds/matches in recent years, you've got Angle vs. Edge, Jericho vs. Benoit for the IC title, and Eddie vs. RVD. I'm excited to see what the upcoming Spring will hold for a sans-Hunter, Goldberg, and Brock WWE.
Brad Dykens adds:
Now that Wrestlemania is in the books, I just have to add this, I am totally impressed by the attitude the WWE took towards Wrestlemania this year. It was totally refreshing that, besides the "first push" of the first fourth generation McMahon, the McMahon Family managed to stay completely out of the spotlight and Vince showed some class for a change with his "thank you" speech. I was impressed that they paid tribite to the Hall of Fame inductees. I was impressed with Molly Holly "taking one for the team". I have to give it up for my fellow Canadians, Chris Jericho, Christian & Trish Stratus for pulling off a respectable performance. I was impressed with the NYC fans, being brutally honest towards Brock Lesnar & Bill Goldberg. I was also impressed that every title didn't chance hands, two titles changed and that is cool because the more titles that change, the less important they seem. I have to give Triple H credit (yes mark it on the calander) for "doing the right thing" for a change, but all I can say is "don't screw it up Trip. I was most impressed by the finale, with Eddy Guerrero & Chris Benoit capping off the pay per view with a celebration, signifying the change in product direction for the company. The only complaint I had was the way they used Bobby Heenan but that's a minor issue..
wrote:

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