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Shockwaves in NOLA

By RICHARD FISCHER
Sports Columnist

Wrestlemania XXX – where the impossible was made possible.

Of course, impossible is a relative term for a scripted event – anything and everything can happen when pen meets paper.

But any written series, whether it be a television show, a movie, a play or even a WWE storyline, develops certain truths and understandings with its audience. It’s the only way to suspend disbelief in a logical manner. For the WWE, those storylines culminate annually in the company’s showcase event entitled Wrestlemania – the 30th edition held this year in New Orleans.

And Sunday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, wrestling fans from across the globe were given two results that not only questioned the very fabric of what should be expected at big wrestling events, but they will be remembered among the most unforgettable moments in wrestling history.

Yep, Wrestlemania 30 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome will go down as one of the most memorable wrestling shows of all time. It featured the end of the never-ending and the reaching of the unreachable.

Both were shocks to your educated wrestling fan but in drastically different ways. One was a shock in the moment and will always be. The other would have been a shock a few years ago before the business changed before our eyes.

Starting with the latter, fan favorite Daniel Bryan overcame the odds to become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion by defeating the much larger Triple-H one-on-one and the much larger duo of Randy Orton and Batista in a triple threat match to earn the title.

In a beautifully developed story, Bryan – a comparatively diminutive 5-foot-10, 210 pound wrestler – overcame on-screen obstacles which mimicked the perceived and previously true behind the scenes obstacles certain wrestlers faced.

In a world where championship titleholders looked as much like Hollywood action heroes as athletes, Bryan was called too small, too ugly and too awkward to ever break through the proverbial glass ceiling set above him. Fans ate up the wonderfully constructed concept that WWE brass held Bryan down despite his toughness, grit and determination, alluding to the undeniable fact that former torchbearers had the movie star looks and prize-fighting build to back it up.

But he kept fighting. And fighting. And fighting – entering a stratosphere of popularity not seen in the business since Stone Cold Steve Austin in the Attitude Era.

Despite all his physical pitfalls, Bryan built enough steam and popularity that placing him in the main event of Wrestlemania 30 went from impossible to inevitable. Bigger wrestlers putting him over (wrestling lingo for letting him win and making him look good in the process) for the championship went from impossible to inevitable.

And when the fans finally got what they never thought they would expect at the conclusion of Wrestlemania 30, more that 75,000 fans stood up and erupted in Bryan’s simple but oh so effective “Yes!” chant. Their guy reached the top. Their guy reached the unreachable star. Their guy had his Wrestlemania moment – against all odds.

But even if 75,000 screams at Wrestlemania 30 showed a changing of the guard regarding who WWE believes can be championship material, it was the silence of those same 75,000 fans that will mark the true historical memory of Wrestlemania 30.

As great as Bryan’s ascendance has been and as well as it was told, with all due respect, Wrestlemania 30 will be best remembered by the following three numbers – 21-1.

For 21 Wrestlemania matches, the legendary Undertaker had achieved a perfect record – dominating and dispatching every superstar in his way. The streak started as an accident. It finished as a spectacle.

Once WWE realized one of the greatest wrestlers in its history had coincidentally been booked the winner in his first several Wrestlemania matches, the company capitalized by lining up one future Hall of Famer after another to attempt to break the ever-increasing streak.

They all failed, upping the legitimacy of the streak and leading the vast majority of wrestling fans to feel the streak would be kept sacred and alive forever.

They all failed, that is, until former WWE and UFC champion Brock Lesnar made the impossible pin Sunday. Shocked silence emancipated through the Superdome as 21-0 became 21-1.

In a way, the Undertaker stole Bryan’s night, causing the big man to overshadow the little man once again – even in defeat.

But even so, Wrestlemania 30 marked a turning point in wrestling’s future.

And those who witnessed history will always be able to say they saw it in the Crescent City.

 

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