Wrestlemania 30: Rookie Footage of the Major Participants (Video)
Randy Orton, a Wrestlemania veteran.
With a sublime combination of cuisine, bars, and a complete lack of curfew, decorum, or rules (not to mention a massive domed stadium within walking distance of all the debauchery), New Orleans is the best city in the country at doing big events.
It was a little over a year ago that New Orleans hosted one of the best Super Bowls of the last couple decades, a nail biter between Baltimore and San Francisco that included everything from a Jacoby Jones near-MVP performance to a power outage in the middle of the game.
Well, hopefully, the good folks running the Superdome have done their power checks again, because this weekend Wrestlemania 30, essentially the Super Bowl of professional wrestling, takes place in that very same Superdome.
As Wrestlemania cards go, I would call the anticipation for this one somewhere between a B and a B+ (with the understanding that the Wrestlemania "brand" is so strong that anticipation will always have an absolute floor of a C+).
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Among the storyline highlights and most anticipated payoffs:
1. Daniel Bryan, the most popular wrestler in the company and the MVP of the promotion for the last two years, is getting his shot at the company's Chief Operating Officer, son in law of Vince McMahon, and WWE legend Triple H, with the winner getting a shot as the third man in on the World Title match in the main event between Randy Orton and Batista. If Bryan doesn't come out of the Superdome with the belt, look the hell out on Bourbon Street. (Actually, if Bryan does come out of the Superdome with the belt, look the hell out on Bourbon Street. Basically, always look the hell out on Bourbon Street.)
2. The Undertaker puts his undefeated streak at Wrestlemania (21-0 and counting) on the line against the beast incarnate, Brock Lesnar, or as Lesnar's manager Paul Heyman calls him "MY CLIENT....BBUHHHHROCK LEEEESSSNNNUUUHR...." I love that! This bruising match will look drastically different (read: slower) than the Undertaker's last five Wrestlemanias, which included two matches apiece against Shawn Michaels and Triple H and last year's classic with C.M. Punk.
3. Bray Wyatt's first step onto the biggest stage in the business. Through a combination of creativity, near flawless promotion through vignettes and production, and solid in ring work, Wyatt has gotten over huge as neither a heel, or a babyface, he's just over as "Bray Wyatt." (Wrestling term alert: "over" means gained popularity, "heel" is a bad guy, "babyface" is a good guy. We good? OK, let's keep it moving...)
4. For the first time in a few years, no Rock at Wrestlemania, which is just fine.
5. For the first time in several years, no C.M. Punk at Wrestlemania, which is not fine. Not even one little bit.
6. The Hall of Fame class of 2014 is about as good and as interesting a class as we've seen in some time. If nothing else, this should be as interesting a class of acceptance speeches as we've seen, maybe ever. Jake Roberts and Scott Hall (who have both been battling major addiction issues their whole adult lives), Ultimate Warrior (who is crazy), Mr. T (one of the ten most important Wrestlemania performers of all time, easily), Paul Bearer (assuming Undertaker is doing his acceptance), Lita (hoping for a Matt Hardy run in), and Carlos Colon. That's a really solid class.
Now, how do we celebrate Wrestlemania? Well, posting video of the angles that have led up to the formation of this year's card is too easy, and frankly, that's what the WWE's company website is for.
No, Let's post some rookie (or as close to rookie as is available) video for all of the major participants on Sunday's card.
This is kind of like watching high school highlights of all of the Pro Bowl players in an upcoming Super Bowl, only if the players were all shirtless and got to give really awkward interviews right before the game (I'm looking at you, Mark Calloway).
So without further ado, here you go...
BRAY WYATT vs JOHN CENA Here's a video of Wyatt, who's real name is actually Windham Rotunda, his grandfather's (Black Jack Mulligan) and father's (Irwin R. Schyster) real last names. Wyatt actually entered WWE as a contestant on WWE's NXT program by the name of Husky Harris. He was eventually eliminated, but is now on track to become one of the biggest breakout stars to come into the company from that show...
Wyatt fights John Cena on Sunday, who can be seen playing a bitter, somewhat pretty boy heel in this video as the character Prototype in Ohio Valley Wrestling...
Obviously, the fun part about this video is getting to see Randy Orton cut an overzealous, overly "thanky" 80's style promo to the fans of OVW for all their support, which is something Orton 2014 wouldn't be caught dead doing.
This also provides a segue to our next match on the card Sunday...
RANDY ORTON vs BATISTA (WWE World Heavyweight Title) We got to see Orton in the previous video, so here is his opponent on Sunday, Dave Batista. This one is also from Ohio Valley Wrestling and pits Batista (as the character "Leviathan") against Brock Lesnar (as the character "Brock Lesnar")...
Lesnar jobbing cleanly to Batista. Chew on that, Internet. This also brings us to our next match on Sunday....
BROCK LESNAR vs THE UNDERTAKER Has anybody ever been given a better character or gimmick by a wrestling promoter or Hollywood producer than Mark Calloway? Granted, it takes a talented performer to sustain the aura of a character like the Undertaker for 24 years, but timing, if it's not everything, is a big thing. (I maintain Aaron Paul, by the way, is the Undertaker of actors. A decently talented guy who got handed a totally transcendent, game changing character (Jesse Pinkman) and ran with it. But go watch Need For Speed and tell me Paul's character isn't just Pinkman with a different name. Which is what I think all of his characters will be, now and forever.)
At any rate, here is Mark Calloway cutting a really awful promo as the Master of Pain in 1989...
TRIPLE H vs DANIEL BYRAN (winner gets WWE World Heavyweight Title shot) Long before he became the future leader of a billion dollar, publicly held company, Paul Levesque (Triple H's real name) was toiling in WCW as Terra Ryzing...
Terra. Fucking. Ryzing. That's awful.
So WCW recognized how awful it was and did what they always did -- changed it to something equally terrible, Jean-Paul Levesque, or basically Terra Ryzing with an awful French accent....
I mean, hell, at least WWE gave Levesque a cool name (Hunter Hearst Helmsley) and a modified British accent...
And here is Triple H's opponent, and the leader of the YES! movement, Daniel Bryan, under his real name Bryan Danielso, in the Ring of Honor promotion back in 2008 (against Claudio Castognoli, who some of you may know as Antonio Cesaro)...
YSE! YES! YES! YES! It's Wrestlemania time! YES! YES! YES!
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