The Path to ‘Mania

Nick Paglino

(I’m not crazy about the lights going out, but it’s not often been used in WWE. It’s not quite a cliché.)

When the lights come back on, Austin is in the ring. Ryder is standing behind him, laughing. Lesnar, about 20 feet from the ring, backs up. Just a step, but he backs up. Austin grabs a mic and cuts his typical bad-ass promo. (I’d never pretend that I could script it.) Lesnar is 95 percent stuttering and spluttering, 5 percent scared. Five percent unsure, anyway. He’s speechless. Everyone knows that a bully never shuts up…unless he’s frightened.

Heyman runs out and talks Brock to the back. “Not now. Not here.” Heyman makes it sounds like he’s keeping order, but the execution makes it clear he’s saving Lesnar. SUBTLETIES.

It’s on for ‘Mania. A new sherriff’s in town. He made the bully flinch.

Between that moment and ‘Mania, Lesnar finally catches Ryder alone and unaware and DESTROYS HIM. Part of the buildup. But Lesnar and Austin never touch until ‘Mania. Ryder had been avoiding Lesnar. Now Lesnar avoids Austin. Lesnar’s bravado turns phony. Lesnar’s confidence seems forced. But he’s still a MACHINE. He’s still REAL. But is he tougher than Austin? The cracks are small. But they’re there. The cracks sell the match.

Who wins at ‘Mania? I’d have Austin win, of course. That’s what you’ve built to, and ‘Mania is designed for feel-good moments (i.e. babyface wins). But who cares? You’ve got their money.

Is this flawless booking? Probably not. But I guarantee it’s better than whatever ‘Mania plan WWE uses for Lesnar or Austin.

Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m.weekdays on WXDX-FM, Pittsburgh, PA (105.9). Check out his web page at Contact Mark by FOLLOW MARK ON TWITTER: @MarkMaddenX

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