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WrestleMania Guest Column: Why I dread Rock vs Austin
By STEVE EVENDEN -- For SLAM! Wrestling

The other night, I had a dream; actually, it was more of a nightmare. I dreamt that the WrestleMania X-Seven main event was going to be Stone Cold versus The Rock. I woke up the next morning with a cold sweat on my forehead. Surely, I thought, it was only a dream. I couldn't be so lucky. WrestleMania X-Seven, Steve Austin and The Rock, one on one. I hope someone else is paying for it, because I won't. There are so many reasons to hate this. Some involve tradition, some involve who rightfully should be there, and one revolves around the fact that the match could suck, to put it bluntly.

When I think about this match, I think about the fact that it seems so quickly put together. Here we have two guys that just a few weeks ago were fighting on the same side (though not friends). Now I'm supposed to believe that they hate each other? History has taught me that WrestleMania is to serve as the culmination of the feuds from the past year. As a prime example, we see TLC 2 with Edge and Christian, The Dudleys and The Hardyz facing each other. These teams went at WrestleMania 16, and have continued to feud since then, with the tag titles staying, for the most part, between those three teams.

The only way that WrestleMania would make sense, in my mind, would be to put Triple-H against Austin, which they wasted at No Way Out instead. That match was WrestleMania quality, and had WrestleMania-style heat. The World Wrestling Federation's number one heel, facing the number one face. That is what WrestleMania is all about. Instead, we get to see two matches which have been manufactured within the last few weeks on TV, the other being a senseless match between Hunter and The Undertaker, the sole purpose being so the Undertaker can put HHH over some more. The same can be said for Shane McMahon vs. Vince McMahon, Tazz and The APA vs. RTC, Eddie Guererro vs. Test, and the list goes on. Triple-H deserves to be in the main event. He's carried the company on his massive shoulders for the past 16 months, and to put him in the pre-main event is nothing but a slap in the face to the WWF's MVP.

Another problem I have with this match is that overwhelming feeling I get that the match will stink. Andre and The Hulkster at Mania III comes to mind. Lots of hype, lots of heat, but ultimately nothing memorable in the ring. (Well, that body slam was kind of cool, but other than that...) Rock and Austin's styles just seem incompatible. Both men thrive on playing Superman. They get beat down for a while, then jump up out of nowhere and no-sell a bunch of moves. How are they going to make that work? How many Rock Bottoms or Stunners will it take to finish the match off? How much can we, the fans, take either man getting stomped into the corner for a minute, only to have them run out and stomp the other man into the corner, without running to the kitchen and gouging our eyes out with the nearest sharp appliance or tool? Don't get me wrong, both of these man have shown recently that they are capable of putting on good matches, this one just doesn't look like one of them.

I did see WrestleMania 15, and I'm aware that Rock and Austin put on a pretty good match there. However, it's worth noting that both men's wrestling style has changed since then. Especially Rocky's. Even then, his style was more technically oriented, and carried a definite heel flavour to it. They played off each other well in that respect. Rocky's style now, is a combination of sloppy suplexes, the occasional submission, and his characteristic spitting and punching. While he's proven he can adapt to the likes of HHH, Angle, and Benoit, an utter lack of experience working big matches against Austin creates the possibility for problems.

I really can't blame Vince McMahon and the booking committee for putting this match together, it's a huge draw for the biggest pay-per-view of the year. It's millions more dollars in his already well-stuffed pockets. It might even set a few records for buyrates, and should even grab the interest of non-wrestling fans and others who are riding the fringe. Also, I have nothing personal against either Austin or Rock, I think they're great Sports Entertainers. The thing is, and simply put, it goes against what WrestleMania is all about. I really hope they prove me wrong (to quote fellow Canadian Chris Benoit) in the main event and tear the Astrodome down. However, as far as things stand now, the match appears to be a brawl-fest between two men who aren't much more than big names with catch-phrases. It's not to say that I'm so against Austin/Rock as that I'd prefer HHH/Austin. Regardless, Vince McMahon won't be getting my cash this year, I'll just mooch off of someone else.
Steve Evenden is from Ameliasburg, Ontario. He can be emailed at steveden@kos.net.

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