Here I was, all ready to skewer Fastlane and the lack of plot device used to make WrestleMania worthwhile. Hardly anything was accomplished at last Sunday’s event. There were a couple of notable matches, but the whole thing felt like a pretty good Smackdown.
Unlike some people, I thought the concept of the main event was clever, as Roman Reigns and his Shield brethren, Dean Ambrose, teamed up on The Beast Incarnate, Brock Lesnar, putting him through two tables with their patented Shield powerbomb. I was happy with that. I’m not sure why they didn’t follow the rule of three and go for the last table. I also thought it was a missed visual opportunity to not have Reigns and Ambrose fighting outside the ring when Brock broke out from under the table rubble like a damned monster phoenix. And I think most of the wrestling world was disappointed in the finish. Roman Reigns once again overcoming the odds that were always in his favor. It doesn’t make for an exciting main event at WrestleMania.
Sure, it will be a great match. The stakes are too high for it not to be, but does it create PPV buys? Will the casual fan tune in to the biggest night in all of sports entertainment for Roman Reigns vs. Triple H? Not likely. So, with so many of their current main event superstars injured, WWE broke the emergency glass. On Monday Night Raw, after Vince McMahon presented the Legacy of Excellence Award to his daughter, Stephanie, a familiar tune fills the arena…”Here Comes the Money.”
The music belongs to Shane-O-Mac. Shane McMahon. First born of Vince. Yes ... the literal prodigal son has returned (how did Michael Cole miss that layup?).
Shane left after 2009 to start his own company (which he did, very successfully), and allegedly due to some creative disputes within the company. It seemed that Shane didn’t like the direction in which the company was headed. Neither did the fans. 2009-10 were some rough years. After the Benoit murders, WWE was rightfully afraid to take risks with their content. The show became so predictable and dull, in fact, that it had inspired CM Punk to speak his mind on the stage in Las Vegas in 2011, leading to a significant resurgence in the quality of WWE. Unfortunately, Shane was already gone.
After Punk’s departure, we have fallen back into a bit of a depression. There were some shimmers of hope over the past few years, but it hasn’t been very consistent. Some would think it was because the only member of the McMahon family with any sense of creative progress left with similar gripes, and that was Shane. He always had a good eye for the future of pro wrestling, and was involved in a myriad of memorable moments. One of the most historic episodes of Raw had Shane in the spotlight. Vince McMahon had just bought out WCW, but as we remember, the name on the contract DID read “McMahon.” Just not “Vince” McMahon. And as both Monday Night Raw and Monday Nitro were simultaneously broadcast on TNN, Shane-O-Mac was the face we saw as the new owner of WCW. It was a pretty insane night in television, not just in wrestling. Not only would Shane play a major role in the McMahon family storyline for years to come, but he would put on some surprisingly incredible matches.
As the son of the Chairman, Shane wasn’t meant to be in-ring talent. But what Shane lacked in wrestling prowess, he made up for in heart. As corny as that sounds, it’s true. Maybe we can say the grapefruits don’t fall far from the tree. Shane could make due with his ability, but what made him stand out was his willingness to do absolutely anything to entertain the fans. Sure, I guess you could say it would encourage someone to put their body on the line in such a dramatic way when your family actually owns the company, but Shane never needed to attempt the psychotic stunts that he performed.
Mick Foley will go down as one of the craziest hardcore wrestlers that ever lived, maybe his most famous moment in WWF being his plunge off the top of the Hell in a Cell at the hands of The Undertaker. Meanwhile, Shane comes in close behind. Some of his sacrifices for entertainment were more brutal than those in Foley’s catalogue. The only significant difference between the two is that Mick did it for his whole career, whereas Shane only did it several times in a few years. But Shane is also no stranger to throwing caution to the wind, being one of few men to scale and plummet from the Titantron, and also performing the rarely seen Coast to Coast (aka RVD’s Van Terminator). Yet, I still hear doubters, wondering why Shane McMahon of all people would have the honor of wrestling The Undertaker at WrestleMania?
They seem to think it won’t be a very good match. To them I say, go back and watch Shane McMahon get suplexed through glass panels over and over at King of the Ring against Kurt Angle and tell me that Shane won’t play a good victim to Taker. This match is also in a Hell in a Cell, so even though Shane is a bit older, I would put money on some death-defying, attitude-era fearlessness.
The Shane promo on Raw was excellent, re-igniting the McMahon family feud. Shane told some harsh truths in that opening segment, accusing Stephanie of running the company into the ground - which is a bitter pill for them to admit and swallow. The product is weaker than it was in the attitude era, and Monday’s Raw felt like a taste of that old tone. Shane was back, Triple H bloodied his hands, and Dean Ambrose drove an ambulance out to the ring. It’s almost as if they’re saying, “Fine, Attitude Era fans. We hear your plea. We’ll give you what you want. If only just this once, at WrestleMania. Sorry for the past decade. Come back.”
So, Shane’s music hits on Raw and everything changes. As much as I would love to see a Raw controlled by Shane, I have a feeling his return is temporary. It’s WrestleMania. They had to go big. And they got the old 90s nostalgia mill churning again.
Fastlane was a letdown because they were saving this bad boy for cable. And now we have a blockbuster match to look forward to at WrestleMania. WWE might have just gotten their old fan base back ... if only for a night.
“Here Comes the Money.”
Worked like a charm.
Nathan Burke is a stand-up comedian, based in Boston. He hosts the comedy podcast, "So Now I'm the Asshole" on Fans.FM. Follow him on Twitter @IamNathanBurke