With the WWE Brass still trying to use the namesake of the “8th Wonder of the World”, in a feeble attempt to lend an air of credibility in its
second year on the card, the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, in its
current state, is still a weak attempt to get 20 or so members of the roster booked
onto Mania in what is sadly still just a “poor man’s Royal Rumble”. As I write this, I am continually asking
myself: Where the hell did this idea go so wrong, and how could it be salvaged?
Now I’m what I would consider to be an avid wrestling fan,
and have been since I was a kid. I
absolutely love and appreciate virtually every era of the business for many different
reasons… But I cut my proverbial pro wrestling teeth watching the global WWF boom
of the 1980’s, and like so many, was enamored with the mystique that was Andre
the Giant. Now I could go on and on
about a lot of things that have been written about Andre before, but for me,
Andre was simply an unbeatable, benevolent giant, and through the mid 80’s, was
booked very appropriately as such. From
his numerous Battle Royal wins in his prime, to his clashes with other “giants”
like King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd throughout the mid 80’s, Andre literally
was the 8th Wonder of the World!
The crescendo of his baby face career, and what cemented this moniker
for me, was Andre’s decisive win at the WrestleMania 2 Battle Royal! A dominant performance through and through,
THIS was Andre the Giant!
So when WWE announced the first Andre the Giant Memorial
Battle Royal for WrestleMania 30, I was a bit skeptical. Why hold a Battle Royal at the “Grand Daddy
of Them All” just two short months after the Royal Rumble? But my skepticism began to turn into
excitement as I re-lived some of my favorite Andre, and WrestleMania moments on
the newly launched network (shameless plug: DEFINITELY worth the $9.99 boys and
girls!). This could become a new
WrestleMania tradition, and if booked correctly, could become and launching pad
for much of the talent through the coming years. A classic feel match, with the newest
crop of up and comers? For a fan like
me, yes please!
Well, WrestleMania 30 came and went, and overall, I was
pretty stoked with what I saw. After
Cesaro pulled off a legitimately impressive strong man win at the inaugural
Battle Royal, my hopes that this match would become a tradition to showcase
some of the lost talent on the roster seemed like a real possibility. It was a new idea that not only exuded an old
school feeling, but could give one of those under-utilized superstars the opportunity
of winning a prestigious match, without watering down the title picture any
further. The Memorial Battle Royal looked
like it was poised to be a must see yearly attraction, much like the legend it
was named after. The emotion was there… the crowd was there… and Cesaro, after
months of teasing greatness, had his bonafide WrestleMania moment! What wasn’t to love?
Fast forward to last year’s post WrestleMania Raw. A segment to award the huge trophy to the
winner, helmed by none other than the “Immortal” Hulk Hogan was booked… HOLD
THE PHONE?! This was clearly a recipe
for disaster! Hulk Hogan passively
congratulates Cesaro and walks away?! Cesaro
suddenly, and for no apparent reason wants to become the next Paul Heyman guy?! Jack Swagger gets pissed at his Real American
cohort and destroys the trophy?! WHAT
THE HELL WAS GOING ON?! Was I the only
person seeing that this was clearly the wrong angle at the wrong time, and with
the wrong guy? So much for prestige… And
Cesaro’s push. The Battle Royal went
from old school classic, to WrestleMania throw away in less than 24 hours.
So the question now is: Should this match be a WrestleMania throw
away? HELL NO! But how do you salvage the Andre the Giant
Memorial Battle Royal in its sophomore year????
Easy… You book Cesaro to win it AGAIN!
Slow down. There are
those that are perfectly happy that Cesaro is currently getting a mini-push
with Tyson Kidd and the Tag Titles.
Those are the same people that would be content with a simple Tag Team
Title match at Mania, and call it a day.
Hey, he has some gold, right?
Maybe they even retain the belts, and add a little more credibility to
their team. Not bad. But this is my article, and it’s not
(completely) about Cesaro and his push, it’s about the @%*# Andre the Giant
Memorial Battle Royal! And in my perfect
little world, this is how it goes down…
First, keep Kidd and Cesaro together up until Mania, and keep
the Tag Titles on them. There is enough
entertainment value with their team dynamic to keep things moving. Booking them in the Battle Royal is a no
brainer with Cesaro’s win last year, and spending the next few weeks with the
announce team talking it up would be natural.
This brings me to an important point, the announce team needs to talk
last year’s win up, not Cesaro himself.
He is currently entrenched in his tag angle with Kidd, and aside from
being booked in the Battle Royal, should remain quiet. The task at hand is booking an intriguing
match. Let the world accept that the Tag
Titles are the focus for Cesaro and Kidd.
Follow up with the obligatory weekly segments of everyone and their
mother claiming victory in the match, and we have minimal build up, but also
some all-important seed planting.
BOOM! WrestleMania 31
is here, and the second annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal is under
way! The match itself plays out like any
other Battle Royal, with necessary high spots for many of the participants, and
the watering of the Cesaro seeds from the announce team. Cesaro dumps one Superstar out, he dumps a
second… The announce team selling his strength, and recounting his win last
year. After the third elimination, several wrestlers see Cesaro’s growing
dominance, and team up to eliminate him.
This is unsuccessful the first time.
The match carries on and Cesaro is up to five eliminations. The announce team is laying it on thick
now! Another coup from several wrestlers
to overthrow Cesaro erupts, but who comes in to save the day? His friend and partner, Tyson Kidd! Kidd and Cesaro fend off the group and are
back to back, defending their ring! The
match ensues, and before long, another group gangs up on Cesaro again… Kidd in
for the save! Now the announce team
begins to spin away from Cesaro’s individual dominance, and into the friendship
that he and his partner share.
We’re down to the final five participants, including, Cesaro,
Kidd, Erik Rowan, Adam Rose (hey, why not?), and a returning “World’s Strongest
Man” Mark Henry! The talk from the
announce team is now centered on the team of Cesaro and Kidd still competing in
unison, versus the insurmountable size of Rowan and Henry… and wondering how
the hell Adam Rose is still in the match?
Tyson Kidd gets holed up in the corner by Rose, and soon thereafter
Rowan joins in to eliminate him. Who
comes to save the day? Cesaro! But instead of helping save his partner, he
kicks Rowan to the side and muscles up both Rose AND Kidd over his shoulders, dumping
them both to the floor! The crowd goes
nuts! The announce team goes CRAZY
selling the amazing feat of strength, while immediately moving from “tag team
friendship” talk back to “the dominant Cesaro can win this thing twice”! Kidd is irate, screaming at Cesaro from the
floor as Nattie tries to calm him down, all while Cesaro raises his fists in
the air and pounds out his dual cannon arms taunt (That’s what it’s called,
right?) Is Cesaro over again? You’re damn right he is!
We’re down to Cesaro, Rowan and Henry! The announce team is putting over Cesaro in a
huge way, lending credibility to his strength, talent, and laser focus to
win! As Cesaro is catching his breath,
Henry and Rowan immediately double up their efforts to eliminate him in the
corner. Much like the previous attempts,
they get him up on the ropes but unlike before, there is no Tyson Kidd to save
him. Cesaro is lifted over the top rope,
but lands on the apron. In this
precarious position, the announce team all but guarantees his elimination. As Henry winds up to deliver a stiff elbow to
eliminate Cesaro, it’s blocked, and Cesaro nails a vicious European Uppercut,
knocking him to the mat! A stunned Rowan
is up next, and Cesaro blocks his elimination attempt from the apron as
well. In an amazing feat of brute
strength, Cesaro dead lifts Rowan into a Vertical Suplex from the apron, and
dumps him to the floor. The crowd goes
Cesaro re-enters the ring and now he’s one on one with Mark
Henry. The announce team is full on
marking out for Cesaro! The two collide
and go back and forth with competing feats of strength. Clotheslines, Shoulder Blocks… Neither will
budge. Henry hits to ropes one more time
to deliver a Clothesline, but Cesaro counters with another stiff European
Uppercut! A staggered Henry hits the
ropes, and in a repeat finish from WrestleMania 30, Cesaro lifts the “World’s
Strongest Man” and Body Slams him over the top rope for the win!!!!
The key to this win comes with the Raw after Mania. Cesaro needs to cut the promo of all promos
on his strength, ability, and grabbing those @%*# brass rings from Vince! He needs to over-sell his win like freaking Paul
Heyman who, a year later, STILL sells being the one behind the one in
21-1. The announce team will help, but this
is on Cesaro, and the booking of his dominance in matches for the ensuing
months. The dropping of the Tag Titles
and obligatory feud with Kidd are eminent.
But the push that comes after can, and should be huge! THIS is what the
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal should be.