WWE creative get plenty of flack online (arguably deservedly) but sometimes they do get things right.
And sometimes they get it so right, it takes the fans a little time to catch up. Plenty of people were stunned at the decision to end the Undertaker's Westlemania undefeated Streak. It seemed like Pro Wrestling sacrilege, somehow surreal.
I included myself in that list. I was just like the many fans at the Superdome, with my hands on my head and my mouth wide open. But one year on, I have realised it might just be the best booking in the history of wrestling. Here are nine reasons why.
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1. It was a shock: Wrestling fans these days are rarely shocked. We applaud when WWE manages to give us an unexpected appearance, but usually ALL possible options have been worked out in advance.
In this Reality Era, WWE gave us the biggest shock in the history of wrestling. It is a moment I doubt I'll ever forget, and that is why any of us becomes wrestling fans.
2. The Conqueror:
Going into that match Brock had lost a lot of his mystique. He had been a transitional rival for Cena and Triple H, had a decent match against CM Punk and had beaten up the Big Show. 30 minutes later he was the biggest draw in wrestling.
In his next match it was somehow believable that he could dominate John Cena in a fashion never seen before (more fantastic booking). Now he is the most must-see WWE champion in history. Sorry Miz.
3. Vince has a point... It could only be him:
"When you look at that talent roster,who was it going to be? There was no one on the roster, potentially, and the following year or the year after that."
To think of what this has done for Lesnar; I can't imagine it having the same effect on anyone else on the roster. As Vince McMahon said on the Steve Austin Podcast it was a huge deal, but who else has the presence to make it truly count? I feel like the victory would have gone somewhat forgotten on a full-time star, whereas it is still a huge part of Lesnar's appeal.
And it's not like the opportunity for one huge push has gone missing...
4. Who can beat the one:
People have speculated for years who would be the one to get the rub of breaking the Streak. Then people cried out that it was wasted on Lesnar. But in truth, that opportunity isn't just still available, it's more achievable than ever.
Whoever beats Lesnar cleanly now gets a rub on a similar level to breaking the Streak. Both feats are unique. Brock's run as champion was dominance of the kind we have never seen before... except for the Streak.
Now WWE doesn't necessarily have to wait until Wrestlemania to bestow that honour upon someone; though chances are it will be. Think about the effect of a young star like a Kevin Owens or a Roman Reigns beating Lesnar now compared to in 2012. Exactly.
5. Paul Heyman:
Who better to take advantage of the victory by reminding us of it so frequently than Paul E? As if he needs the additional material, but since Wrestlemania 30 Heyman's promos have been on another level. And much of that is due to being the one behind the one in 21 and one.
6. Long-term Booking:
When Taker lost it caused doubt and therefore intrigue. Would he ever return? Would he compete again? As his sensational return has shown, the result gave WWE Creative options heading into the Battleground main event. Similar to the beauty of the Money in the Bank, it gives the writing staff get-out-of-jail-free cards.
I'm not saying it's an excuse for lazy booking; but it's better than a situation Ryback faced when he was pushed into the title match with CM Punk in 2012. The forced Hell in a Cell stipulation left no leeway and the pinfall loss destroyed his momentum. I'm not suggesting the writing staff had a SummerSlam rematch in mind going in to Wrestlemania 30, but having unresolved stories isn't always a bad thing.
7. Less pressure:
Bray Wyatt went into his match with Undertaker at WrestleMania on a seemingly level playing field. The Deadman's legend was growing year on year and had the capacity to overshadow the opponent. It was basically a token gesture to pair someone with The Phenom.
But now, we are in for good ol' wrasslin' matches, with near falls and false finishes and genuine doubt. That's much more appealing than a 22-0 Phenom guaranteed to steamroll the future of WWE.
8. Someone can chase it:
It's still far from likely, but 21 is now a target. It is no longer an ever growing feat of insurmountable proportions. 21 might still be out of reach but it's closer than 22 or even 23. If someone achieves maybe 12 or more wins in a row, that provides WWE with an enthralling new narrative going forwards to... Mania 50!? Just kidding.
9. It had to end sometime:
If not Wrestlemania 30 then when? Against whom? Those become serious issues when you look at a long term plan. Undertaker will retire in the coming years. It makes sense for it to be next year in his home state, and against Sting.
Not having the Streak as a factor makes that match much purer. All the greats go out on their back, but imagine Taker losing in Texas!? No thank you. This way he can end his career and be remembered for being the Undertaker, rather than the man who lost the Streak.
If the dream match with Sting does take place, that match would be diminished somewhat if it became about the Streak. There would be no good outcome if that were the case but now, thanks to some amazing booking, the options are more open than ever.