Friday, March 21, 2014

Wins, Loses and Titles and If They Matter For Wrestlemania?

Coming from a pro sports background everything in that world is about wins and loses at the end of the day. Yet in pro sports today there is so many stats and the focus on those wins and loses seems to be to a lesser extent. While in the world of wrestling where outcomes are pre-determined we all seem to be obsessed with wins and losses some times. This includes the talent at times not wanting to put this guy over and lose a match.

Which leads to the obvious question do wins and loses actually matter in wrestling? The answer is not as black and white as it would seem. Obviously once have established yourself to a certain level the wins and loses don’t really matter as much as the match itself. Unlike in pro sports there is a story that goes along with the event or match. Sure sports can have stories too sometimes made by the media and sometimes just naturally happen. Wrestling is not like that it is a story that is already laid out to some extent.

Wins mean more for people that are trying to establish themselves with a wrestling crowd. Take the Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena match coming up at Wrestlemania 30. It seems fairly obvious who benefits more from a win between these two. John Cena gets a win it is a minor notch on his belt that would mean very little in comparison to his career. Bray Wyatt is a guy on his second gimmick and starting to build a huge buzz for himself. This is first big moment at Wrestlemania in a high profile match simply based on who stands across the ring from him.

It leads to this great debate on does Bray Wyatt simply need a good performance and wrestle a match that makes him seem on the same level with Cena?  If wins and loses truly doesn’t matter, the answer is obvious, but it does matter here based on people involved and where they are in their careers.

Another example of this is Daniel Bryan and his long and winding journey to Wrestlemania 30. There is no way to justify anything other than two wins for Daniel Bryan. It is all about building what the WWE has liked to coin “Wrestlemania Moments”: and Bryan is due for his this year in New Orleans. He has come full circle from a loss a few years ago with an 18 seconds loss to Sheamus.

In a strange sort of way this was the reverse of logic where a loss started all of where we find ourselves today. Fans were so upset that Bryan had been booked in the opening match and losing in such quick fashion that they rallied behind him and the Yes! Chant was made and got over to this day.

Perhaps the best example of wins and loses and what they mean especially at Wrestlemania comes down to what we all know as simply “The Streak” and it has a life of it’s own. That zero in the loss column for the Undertaker has become the biggest angle in the history of Wrestlemania.

The Streak for many should never come to an end. Others think it should one day end at some point. What we all believe though is that likelihood it ever ends becomes harder to imagine as the years go by. Still we all have that moment of doubt in a match for the streak. Going in we all know deep down it isn’t going to end but still there is that moment when something happens and you question yourself. The last 5 years of Undertaker matches involving HBK, HHH and last year C.M Punk have been some of the best matches in the history of this event.

So maybe just maybe wins and loses do matter at least on the biggest stage of the year at Wrestlemania. What has seemed to have lost its meaning and mattering at Wrestlemania at times have been the titles themselves.

In the early years of Wrestlemania the title matches for both the WWE and I-C titles were very important matches and so were the titles themselves. Long before the Rock won a title at Royal Rumble and lost it at Wrestlemania did the value of titles seem to lose their importance. In fact another example of The Rock against Hulk Hogan being booked as the Main Event at Wrestlemania 18 took the shine away from a HHH vs. Jericho match for the same Undisputed title we have today. Go back further to Wrestlemania 9 in Las Vegas where Hulk Hogan not even booked in a World Title match would walk away with the title after Yokozuna defeated Bret Hart. Year prior at Wrestlemania 8 the Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair match did not close the show it was Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice (Vicious) instead.

That just touches on the World/WWE Title there is no comparison to how far the Intercontinental Title and Tag-Team Titles have fallen.  Randy Savage against Ricky Steamboat has stood the test of time as one of the greatest matches not just in Mania history but in Wrestling history. This Wrestlemania the I-C Champ is in a battle royal. The Tag Titles had huge matches like the British Bulldogs defeating The Dream Team of Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and Brutus Beefcake. This year we may see the Jimmy and Jay Uso defend there titles against two guys that were having mania matches over 14 years ago. At least we think so but we are just weeks from the event and at this moment the Tag-Team titles are not even booked on the show as far as public know. Would it shock anyone to see this match on a pre-show?

I step out of the WWE and look over to ROH and what they do at their big show Final Battle and how they treat their titles. ROH makes Final Battle what Wrestlemania use to be as the conclusion to the unofficial wrestling year for a company. They have big feuds climax at that event. It always ends with what matters the most the Ring of Honor World Title.

It is a company where the focus of pretty much everyone on the roster is about getting to a level to win that World Title or one of the other two championships in the company.

No one is going to say filling a place in New York City that holds 2000-3000 people at most is the same as filling a football stadium. WWE no matter what path they take will always be number one and Wrestlemania is so established the name of the event sells it now more than any match they make or do not make.

A lesson can still be learned though about making the titles mean something and making a big show for your company mean something as well. Adam Cole will be defending his ROH Title in Ladder War 5 down in New Orleans against Jay Briscoe. It will not be seen by 70,000 people but it will be a hell of a match because the belt Adam Cole wears is not just a prop it matters. Just like if Daniel Bryan doesn’t win that title it will matter for fans. The champion that holds that belt doesn’t matter at the moment in WWE.

Even when Punk had historic title run the belt he held was not treated like the most important thing. John Cena was and that is flawed logic. The title in any wrestling company always outlasts the people that hold it. When a title isn’t strong than you have a problem that needs to be solved or addressed at some point to make it matter. Now you’re not relying on a belt that never gets injured your relying on a person or people to carry your show. If done correctly, that marriage of people and title can carry a company on to greatness. 

So really wins, loses and titles all do matter to some extent. If they didn’t why bother even declaring a winner and having a belt.