This year’s mega-event from World Wrestling Entertainment had the tagline “Where it all begins…again”, of which I can make no sense, but there were hints towards one interesting development. Larger men, brawlers and power wrestlers, have been a very big part of the WWE and WWF’s success over the years – Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, Brock Lesnar, even Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Rock were biggish and more fighters than technicians. This Wrestlemania may have suggested a change in that.
The WWE is split into two semi-autonomous brands these days, Raw and Smackdown. The latter’s title match pitted Eddie Guerrero (16 stone) against Kurt Angle (17 stone, and the US’s first olympic wrestling heavyweight (I think it was that division anyway) gold medallist). Guerrero won, from a combination of skill and cunning. Raw‘s match was a triple threat between Triple H (nearly 19 stone, but known more for skill and intelligence than brawling), Shawn Michaels (16 stone) and Chris Benoit (also 16 stone). Benoit, considered by many to be the most skilled heavyweight wrestler in the world, won the title. Guerrero became champ for the first time in his career a month or so ago, Benoit holds a world title now for the first time in his 18 year career.
So two men pretty much on the dividing line between heavyweights and cruiserweights are the top two figures in wrestling right now. Such erstwhile megastars as Goldberg (20 stone, all about explosive power) and Brock Lesnar fought out a dull match down the card to the crowd’s derision. The Big Show (7 feet tall and 38 stone!) lost his US title to a man less than half his weight. This may be a lot of speculation on flimsy grounds, but are we seeing a return to greater skills, and away from lumbering giants? Frankly I don’t know, and I wouldn’t wish to lose the Big Show or Kane (6’11, 23 stone) – but I am glad to see some real skills in the big matches.