Be honest, who still hasn't seen Wrestlemania 22?

 
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Please just take my recommendation and watch this fantastic pay-per-view if you haven’t yet. But if that’s not enough, take a look at this video above. It excellently sums up what’s so great about this PPV, and I want to actually challenge Verbatim’s argument from his Evangelion review about themes in this post.



Wrestlemania is the Super Bowl of WWE with plenty of comedic elements and wrestling matches. It takes place on April 2, 2006 George W Bush-era America, in the Ruthless Aggression Era of WWE which many consider when the company had its best in-ring talent. It has a huge cast of interesting characters, some appearing in only one match, some appearing in two, and one set of wrestlers extremely important but essentially Main Eventers, who appear in all the matches. Despite how muddled this may sound, it never gets bogged down and you’re never at a lull where you’re asking “wait, who is this mid-carder again”?

The wrestlers and their characters make the show, in my opinion, but make no mistake - the story lines of the matches is one of the most well-crafted ones where you’re never confused, but always wanting more. The only time you might be scratching your head is at the end of the Triple H vs John Cena match, as, fair warning, it’s more of a “the wrong guy won” situation that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense on first viewing except to the most eagle-eyed viewer. I always tell people that no, you can’t skip the first match, as it expertly sets up the match card and the tone, but the first aspect of a concise, serialized story begins in the Money In The Bank match.

The PPV is almost, almost like a “Pulp Fiction meets a mafia movie meets the genius mind of Vince McMahon”, in a way. That’s just a simple comparison, though, and the PPV itself is unique and unlike anything you’ve probably seen.

This show makes me disagree with Verbatim’s idea that themes make a story. He said that without themes, without the tomato in the sandwich, a story is just bread. That may be the case with most stories, yes. That may be the case when a story is trying to illustrate a larger point or provide some larger reason for you to watch it - for Verbatim, he likes to walk away from a story with some takeaway he can apply to his life, to feel like his time wasn’t wasted.

I can understand that, but really, do you need a theme or lesson to have something to apply to your life? What about a “I relate to this wrestler and the things they went through in this story remind me of things I’ve gone through in my own life”? What about “their arc and how they changed, and how they resolved the crisis they were in has given me new insight on how to combat my similar life situation”? I’m mainly speaking to Verbatim in this paragraph, because for most people, merely the promise of watching an incredible, high-quality show is its own reward. What I’m saying is that you don’t need a theme, or to be taught a lesson, to take something away from a show or film. The wrestlers themselves can be what you take away.

Verbatim compared shows to a sandwich - the tomato being the themes/lessons, and the bread being the vehicle - the plot and characters - on which those lessons are served. Wrestlemania 22, as I said, is unlike any PPV I’ve ever seen, and I think an exception can be made. Wrestlemania 22 is like an entree of tastiest potato chips you’ve ever tasted. Not some Lays bullshit - the genuine article, made by some renowned Southern cook and served to you in a fancy restaurant. Are they a sandwich, are they good for you? Not really.  They’re still deep fried and covered in salt and seasonings and all that. They have no health food content (i.e. themes, lessons, deeper meaning), but goddamn they are delicious. Goddamn you will reach for one after the other, and they’ll be gone as fast as you can consume them. And while they didn’t do anything for you on a health food level, goddamn you’ll remember that dining experience, eating those chips, for a long, LONG time.

WWE takes its characters and narrative very seriously, and everything is very consistent. But it also doesn’t pander to you pretending to be something it’s not. It’s definitely not an Evangelion or something like All Elite Wrestling. If I had to reach and guess the overall themes of the show, they would be “Big Time”. The show goes out of its way to reward the wrestlers who try to do the right thing, make the morally neutral ones reconsider their lives, and punish the outright monsters. There’s a sense of camaraderie in each match, working together to defeat this darkness that looms over everything. And in the end of the show, there’s yes, a sense of familial love that these non-related wrestlers have developed toward each other.

You will love the wrestlers that’s for sure. You’re connected with them and want to see them triumph over their foes almost immediately. Even the “villains” are endearing and charming (except for literally two who are meant to be Randy Orton and Mark Henry). Anyway, this isn’t really a PPV that even has themes, and the three I listed above are almost more like plot fixtures than themes. It’s not a pretentious show, even if it might seem that way initially. Just give it a chance and you’ll enjoy it - I promise, on the honor of The Iron Sheik  ;)


 
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