Michael N. Todaro
It's a chaotic time at WWE right now, what with WrestleMania 29 less than one month away, and the big boss himself, Vince McMahon, is reportedly creating a toxic environment backstage.
Roughly one week ago, Eric Pankowski was let go by WWE as Senior Vice President of Creative. His job, essentially, was to oversee the storylines we get on television each week, taking them for approval to the big bossman himself, Vince McMahon. Knowing what we do about Vince, or at least what we constantly hear from anyone who has ever worked for or with him since he's been running the show, this is a very difficult task.
Apparently, it's even more difficult than normal these days.
According to the latest edition of Figure Four Weekly (subscription required but strongly recommended), McMahon is on edge and creating a toxic environment backstage:
"He's very argumentative and contrary right now," one WWE source said of Vince. "He's constantly second guessing people's stuff as well as his own." This person said he didn't know what triggered it, but Vince goes through these spells every now and again. "The Rumble number might've been a mere coincidence. No one knows, all they know is he's a massive pain in the ass to work with right now. People are working a very demanding schedule at the office right now. He's demanding constant changes and Steph is fanning the flames requesting the guys come up with more and more and more options for Vince when that's the last thing an indecisive egomaniac needs."
This gives us the answer we were looking for when wondering why the WrestleMania 29 match card looks the way it does. Sure, the top three bouts are set in stone with The Rock defending the WWE championship against John Cena, Brock Lesnar giving Triple H a rematch from SummerSlam last year, and CM Punk attempting to break Undertaker's streak, but beyond that everything is unclear.
That includes the already announced world heavyweight championship match between titleholder Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger. McMahon may love the angle but fans aren't biting at TV tapings the way they are at house shows and even then, there are very real problems with both Del Rio as a babyface protecting the values of America as a non-American, and Swagger as a top heel fans are willing to buy into. Zeb Colter has all the heat in that angle and that's not going to do them any good once it comes time for the match.
The rest of the undercard is an absolute mess, with plans currently looking like this:
- Dolph Ziggler and Big E. Langston vs. Team Hell No
- Mark Henry vs. Ryback
- The Shield vs. Randy Orton, Sheamus, and Big Show
Because of all the uncertainty surrounding the show, as many of you Cagesiders have expressed in the comments on this here site, WrestleMania this year doesn't feel like it's as big as it is inevitably going to be. The show has already sold out thanks to the New York market and the absolute star power the event boasts but there's no questioning the creative direction has been lacking for nearly every match, save for maybe Rock vs. Cena, which has been planned well in advance.
They even had to scramble for a storyline for Undertaker vs. Punk and who knows what that would have been were it not for the untimely death of Paul Bearer.
There are a combined seven episodes of Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown remaining before WrestleMania 29 on April 7, 2013, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, so there's plenty of time to get everything in order but it appears as though McMahon is hurting matters more than he's helping them.