Now that WrestleMania 30 is over, we can slowly but surely start to catch our breath.
What's interesting to me is just how pessimistic pro wrestling fans were -- present company included -- coming out of the Royal Rumble pay-per-view (PPV) back in January, when it was assumed that Batista was being fast-tracked to the World Heavyweight Championship at the expense of Daniel Bryan.
Damn, those were dark days.
But WWE managed to pull the plane out of a nosedive and get back on course. Not that it had much choice. The "Universe" had spoken and as a result, Batista turned deliciously douchey, The Authority chewed up the scenery and a guy named CM Punk took his proverbial ball and went home.
Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
How much his departure influenced the new direction of the company heading into "The Showcase of the Immortals" is difficult to gauge. Clearly it threw a monkey wrench into the previous plans, but in the end, the product is better off now than it was when he was here.
I'll still miss him.
But what happened at WrestleMania 30 -- as well as the Monday Night RAW that followed it -- proved that we don't really need CM Punk. The show must go on, as they say, just as it did when The Ultimate Warrior set sail back in the early nineties.
One door closes, another door opens.
That's what makes the influx of new talent so exciting, from a Creative perspective. When you only have five or six guys at the top, no mid card and 67 jobbers, losing a talent like CM Punk can be catastrophic. But when you have a balanced roster and the kind of programs that can fill a three-hour RAW, you can afford to part ways with disgruntled employees.
And put a little scare into the ones who are sticking around.
I'm sure nobody at the top of the food chain is shaking in their boots or afraid of losing their spots in the wake of recent call ups for NXT imports like Alexander Rusev, Bo Dallas, Paige, and Adam Rose, among others. I mean, c'mon, why would they be?
Because Daniel Bryan, that's why.
The wrestler with the tiny body and ugly beard -- the one who still has Batista scratching his wrinkly head -- is the hottest guy in the entire company. If he can make it to the top through talent, hard work, and a little bit of luck, then so can anyone else on the roster, in spite of physical appearances.
Case in point...
Less than three years ago, Bray Wyatt was Husky Harris, Dean Ambrose was in a Twitter war with Mick Foley, and Cesaro was tagging with Curtis Axel -- and jobbing to Alex RIley and Mason Ryan (lolz). Last weekend, all three of those men were performing in front of 75,000 screaming lunatics inside the
SilverSuperdome at the biggest show of the year.
What a difference a couple of years makes.
That said, there are still legitimate concerns about how well the new recruits will be handled moving forward. Damien Sandow was on the precipice of superstardom and got shelved because reasons, Emma is starring in a rom-com with the village idiot, and Big E. is wearing a title that no one cares about.
But not for long.
Fresh faces means fresh feuds and the more folks we have running around the locker room, the less likely we'll need to use them as cannon fodder for an A+ player who's stuck between programs. The roster is pretty top heavy at the moment, which is why WWE hasn't pulled the trigger on Roman Reigns just yet.
That, plus the fact that The Shield is just so goddamn awesome.
CM Punk is gone, The Undertaker's streak is kaput, and Batista is still in the title picture. The fact that I can say that and still feel good about the next couple of months of programming is a testament to the efforts of those folks behind the scenes who are trying to make it work.
It's not perfect, but it doesn't have to be.
It does, however, need to be balanced, a longstanding complaint among WWE fans (like this one). Today's product has no shortage of superstars and jobbers are a dime a dozen. Now all it needs is a solid mid card that is booked like a main card and we can get back to the days when RAW ratings were in the 5-6 range.
I Bolieve it can happen.