2004-02-19 / Arts & Entertainment

Through The Ropes

By Josh Stewart
Through The Ropes By Josh Stewart

By Josh Stewart

The WrestleMania XX card is start-ing to take shape, although the results of the 2/15 Smackdown! No Way Out pay-per-view and the following night’s RAW only confirmed what seemed to be the obvious direction of the show.

New WWE Champion Eddie Guer-rero, with some assistance from Bill Goldberg, beat Brock Lesnar and will defend his new crown against Kurt Angle. Angle outlasted John Cena and Big Show in a three-way dance to earn the shot. It sure took awhile to get to the matchup that everyone has anticipated for weeks, but there’s still some drama in this.

Before World Wrestling Entertain-ment’s creative upswing, the big ques-tion was when Angle would turn back heel so he could play bad boy to Guerrero’s "lyin’, cheatin’ and stealin’ " popularity. But the company isn’t writ-ing its stars into stale, predictable corners anymore, so both could take their rooting factions into Madison Square Garden, then see who can out scream the other.

For another example of two swell guys trying to kill each other, we go to RAW, where Shawn Michaels’ is-sues with Chris Benoit dealt only with the fact that Michaels desired Benoit’s shot at Triple-H and the World Heavy-weight Title at WM. So, when Michaels tried to decapitate Benoit at the 2/9 RAW with Sweet Chin Music, then signed a contract that Benoit had in hand to face H, it was nothing personal.

Everybody knew that the 2/16 RAW was going to end with the announcement that Triple-H would face Benoit and Michaels in a three-way dance, but as in the case of Guerrero-Angle, the matchup is so appealing that WWE gets excused for not concealing it very well.

Everybody knew about a millennium ago that Goldberg would take on Lesnar at the Garden, although this match doesn’t have me checking my watch every five minutes in anticipation. Both can deliver stunning PPV performances only when they have a more-experienced opponent in the ring to carry them along. Look for the two to get a little lost while trying to ex-change power moves, which will make it hard for the match to build.

And on the subject of building, the spooky circumstances that have been making Kane cringe over the past few weeks have been great. But let’s have The Undertaker show back up (in his Dead Man garb) before WM. WWE has done an outstanding job with this cryptic storyline, but three more weeks of power outages and smoke will have me thinking of the overdone "Sting in the Rafters" days in World Champ-ionship Wrestling. Let UT out of his casket a little early.

And let Mick Foley out of his en-counter with Randy Orton, entirely. This feud just doesn’t do anything for me. Part of building an epic encounter between two guys for the biggest show of the year is advancing their singular hatred for the other. But Orton’s Evo-lution buddies, Ric Flair and Batista, have gotten more shots in on Foley than Orton has. I’m sure the idea is to further paint Orton as a Polo shirt, GAP slacks-wearing pansy who talks tough but can’t fight his own battles.

Take a look at the other encounters, though. At WrestleMania, it’s all about getting personal.

You can contact Josh Stewart at throughtheropes1@cs.com.

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