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March 4, 2008

WWE’s Mayweather dilemma

Floyd Mayweather is no babyface. He isn’t one in boxing and he is miscast as one in WWE, which was never more obvious than on last night’s Raw.

Mayweather, who was live via satellite, had a verbal confrontation with The Big Show, his opponent at WrestleMania XXIV. Once again, he came across as a heel and the fans certainly treated him like a villain. As long as Mayweather is on the scene, John Cena doesn’t have to worry about being the babyface who gets the most jeers in WWE.

WWE should have seen this coming when considering Mayweather’s boxing persona and the fact that he is an outsider coming into WWE. Mayweather wasn’t done any favors either by the manner in which he was booked in the initial angle — bringing an entourage against one man and then all of them running away from an angry Big Show.

I’m not sure what WWE can do about this. The creative team could try to come up with a plot device in which Mayweather and Big Show do a double turn, but I don’t think there’s much that WWE could do to get people to cheer for Mayweather. Or, perhaps WWE could try to make Big Show more of a “tweener” and just let the fans cheer and jeer as they like.

Beyond the negative reaction to Mayweather, the larger problem is that fans just don’t seem very interested in this angle, which has to be disappointing to WWE because it has made a financial investment in Mayweather. Last night’s “mixed martial arts” match in which Big Show tossed around boxer Brandon “The Thrill” Hill, who was about Mayweather’s size, did not get over with the live crowd.

Other thoughts on last night’s show:

It was great to see Randy Orton get the last laugh again by laying out Cena and Triple H for the second straight week. Orton has been projecting a superstar aura that is equal to that of his two opponents. …

Cena and Mr. Kennedy had a good match. Kennedy got in a lot of offense before losing and Cena brought his “A” game. .…

The buildup for the Ric Flair-Shawn Michaels match has been very good to this point. Michaels changed his mind and said that he didn’t want the match, but that if Flair persisted, Michaels would have no choice but to end Flair’s career because he won’t give anything but his best effort at WrestleMania. When Michaels slipped into his cocky “HBK voice” and said, “This is WrestleMania,” I expected to him to follow with, “and at WrestleMania, The Heartbreak Kid lays down for nobody.” That was Michaels’ famous line prior to his match with Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIV.

Jeff Hardy continues to get tremendous pops from the crowd. It’s not just young girls either; he has a lot of guys cheering for him. Chris Jericho played subtle heel in a “Highlight Reel” segment with Hardy, and it was a nice twist — pun intended — to have Hardy deliver the Twist of Fate after suckering Jericho with a handshake. Hardy needs to keep doing things like that to demonstrate that he has more of an edge to him now. …

The Hornswoggle story line has so many holes in it that I would swear Vince Russo wrote it. I hope WWE will eventually fill in the blanks. Why did Finlay conspire with Mr. McMahon’s family to make him think Hornswoggle was his son? Why wouldn’t Finlay tell Hornswoggle that he was his father in the first place? How did JBL find out about it? What was the secret that McMahon and Finlay alluded to in January? (I think we’re supposed to pretend that one never happened.) …

The “What?” chant is so five years ago. Enough already. …

This just in: Mike Adamle still stinks. I’m surprised that WWE — to my knowledge — has never tried to recruit TNA’s Jeremy Borash. …

For longevity alone, Mae Young, the latest inductee into WWE's Hall of Fame, deserves to be in. I’ll never forget some of the crazy bumps she took when she was in her late 70s, including being power-bombed through a table by Bubba Ray Dudley. I would love to forget that she gave birth to a hand, but I don’t think WWE will let me. …

Why do NASCAR drivers keep showing up on my wrestling programs? At least on last night’s show we didn’t have to hear Hermie Sadler “interview” anyone or commentary by that awful NASCAR announcer.

Posted by Kevin Eck at 9:33 PM | | Comments (18)
        

Comments

We finally got to see the "Grandson of a plumber", Cody Rhodes, without Hardcore Holly holding him by the hand. SAD! Hopefully, they'll have a tag match at Wrestlemania XXIV, so they can LOSE. Maybe the team of Kane & CM PUNK?

Who cares about the Mayweather/Big Show fued. It boring that I try to get a few minutes of sleep. I expect the HBK/Flair segments to get hotter in the coming weeks. But honestly I wish it was Sting vs. Flair. Those 2 had one of the biggest rivalries in their respective careers. Kevin, I have to agree with you about the Hornswoggle storyline. Don't know how it started and how JBL found out about it. I just hope that Jeff Hardy keeps getting bigger pops every time he comes out. He fooled everybody when he laid Jericho out. The only thing bigger is that he would done the swant on bomb on Jericho afterwards. As much as I love to see Maria the Divas are so boring also. Maria should be a manager/valet type of diva. Ever since they got rid of the more wrestling type Divas like Molly, Miss Jackie, and when trish and lita retired that was the end of the real Divas. Rumors have it now that Triple H and the Undertaker will walk out of Wrestlemania as champions. When Cena comes back from making his movie this summer he is going to be put into the mix with Triple H possibly by Summerslam. I still can't figure out why they hired Mike Adamle. He seems like he stutters over every other word. George "The Animal" Steele sounds better than he does.

I agree with you completely: the fans are not into the Big Show-Mayweather angle. If the verbal confrontation they had is any indication of their upcoming physical confrontation, that is going to be one butt-ugly match.
Another angle the fans are obviously not into is Hornswoggle. The crowd reaction while Finlay was listening to his son get beaten in the dark by JBL (how cringe-worthy was that?) was almost non-existent.
Off subject a bit, but I was wondering if there is going to be any kind of tag title match at WM24. With Carlito in the MITB match, the potential Rhodes/Holly vs. Carlito/Marella matchup I thought might be possible is now out the window.

I am probably one of wwe's most hardcore fans. I've been following this sport for over 20 years and haven't missed a Wrestlemania ever. But the build up to this one has dissapointed me so much that I am not interested one bit in this ppv. And for me, thats saying something. I haven't been sold to shell out $55 on this one. Before this, I've never heard of this Mayweather thug. And I don't think most fans have either. So why should we care?
Both Triple H and Cena's act have gotten so Stale that I have 0 interest in the triple threat match.
The three matches I'm interested in have predictable endings. Who doesn't think that Flair will lose, Taker is going to win and Hardy will win MITB. And don't get me started with the Hornswaggle debacle.
One more thing, Kevin, what's going on with Shawn Michaels eyes? Have you noticed that ever since he came back last fall, his one eye looks crosseyed?

"Mike Adamle still stinks"
Well, unless you want to write it every week, you better give up pointing that...
I'm looking forward for Jericho's heel turn.
This Road to Wrestlemania I'm founding it kinda anti-climatic. It's a shame that the intercontinental championship is not on the line this year.

"The “What?” chant is so five years ago. Enough already. …" Is a phrase that should belong to a top heel. I wonder if Mr Kennedy is reading the blog right now...

Shane O Mac completely over estimated Floyd Mayweather's drawing power outside of Las Vegas. Other then Atlantic City and Vegas, nobody gives a rat's behind about him.

At least people knew who Donald Trump was.

"Why do NASCAR drivers keep showing up on my wrestling programs?"

You can't see how NASCAR and Pro Wrestling have a lot of cross-over potential?

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: I know there is a logical assumption to lump both fanbases together, but I really think the crossover is not as much as people think. Just my opinion.

How cringe worthy are these promos by Mayweather? Sweet lord, the stuff about breaking jaws and noses and the King asking if he hurts? What in the...? The nonsensical opening with Show and him on the screen. All of it was terrible. I had to turn the channel during Mayweather's incoherent interview. Too painful.

Was it me or did it sound like Hardy was getting some boos for laying out Jericho? MITB is fun and what not, but get that IC strap off of him so we can get something going with that belt and the midcard.

All and all, I think this has been a terrible road to Wrestlemania. Boring and stale. JBL vs. Finlay? Are you kidding? Here's 55 bucks, Vince! Please devalue the tag division and IC title some more and give me lackluster matches. Awful.

PS I had no idea how old Mike Adamle actually is! IMDB that - I was really surprised!

The only match I'm really excited about for Mania is Flair-Michaels because I think they will both put on a great match. I've enjoyed their promos so far, the respect angle from Michaels has been interesting. I expect the tension to keep building with more good promos. Apart from that the money the bank match is the only other match that I've interest in. It was good to see Hardy show an 'edge' by give Y2J the twist of fate. I think they definitely need to give Hardy more of these promos even if short if they want to keep pushing him after Mania.

Did Mayweather forget to mention that he had broken Show's nose and was gonna break his jaw at Mania? Oh dear!

Here's my way to get the crowd behind Mayweather and against Show. You have Mayweather come out with his entourage on Raw and say that he doesn't need them for this fight and sends them to the back, but he's got one person to be in his corner, a friend who will show up next week. That friend shows up the next week and turns out to be fellow Dancing with the Stars contestant Stacy Keibler, who said she knows a thing or two about WWE and could help Floyd. She's in the ring and Big SHow comes out and she says the first thing she's done is convinced Vince McMahon to make the WM match a boxing match, not a wrestling match. A furious Big Show choke slams Keibler. Instant heel. And with Stacy in a neckbrace in his corner, the crowd's behind Floyd. You even have her get involved -- distracting him at times, so the crowd is on the Stacy/Floyd side. At the end, Floyd can knock show to the ropes and she pulls them down and he falls over. He chases her back and then heads to the ring as he realizes he's being counted out, but it's too late. Floyd wins. Show talks trash and gets one KO punch for the happy ending. It could work, and I imagine Stacy's available.

I don't see "sports entertainment" as we know it working too much longer. The crowds don't react to anything anymore, except the big names when they initially come out.

I can see things getting a lot worse in the next few years, before they eventually have to start doing a stiffer violent style that is MMA-ish.

"The “What?” chant is so five years ago. Enough already. …" So what if it was started 5 years ago.. its a really good chant that is easily reconginasble and easy to use.. i totally disagre with your sentiment and hope it carries on for along time.. so to your comments.. ENOUGH ALREADY... WHAT?! WHAT?!

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: Actually, it isn't just that it was five years ago, it's that it's annoying, which it was from the first time I heard it. Can't fans come up with something a little more clever than just saying "What?" over and over?

We all knew the Jericho heel turn was coming (In his last WWE stint he probably turned twice as much as any other wrestler has in that space of time.), but I can't say im happy with it. Jericho inarguably has the best mic skills and one of the best move sets in the game, retaining immense popularity whether he's being pushed or not. His USP's: ability to get the crowd going and drum up contempt for monster heels at key points in storylines, has always worked best when he's been face and this move seems to be born from the desperation for more main event heels, especially on the raw brand. HHH is surely a better man for the job and whether he wants to be heel or ot, he should man up and make the turn. Also letting heels like JBL and especially Umaga (who probably loses about 95% of his matches) win a match for once may strengthen their position.

Also, Jeff Hardy's mic skills are terrible, he'll never hit the heights until he can make his out of the ring exploits anyware near as entertaining as his in ring ones.

I worry about where the whole Show/Mayweather angle is going. It seems pretty obvious that Mayweather's going to come out on top in this, but how is that going to make Big Show look? His grand return results in a loss to a boxer half his size, killing any heat the guy will have for a good long while.

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: It's all about how WWE follows this up. If Show loses, he could then go on a rampage because he is angry, destroying everyone in sight and possibly challenging Undertaker for the world title (assuming Taker beats Edge).

mayweather you is the best fighter in the world and i now you could beat the big show

I dont even know whats going on...,well actlly i do but the whole Hardy Jericho thing is not working out well.,Sorry Vince mania wont be good.c'mon you have to agree with me.the road to WRESTLEMANIA is just going back to Rosie vs. Donald

Wrestlemania!The grandest stage of them all!The Show vs. Mayweather,Ive not benn lookin foward to it but its an okay match.-But I would rather wach Hardy taking on his brother Matt.Theres been roumors that Triple H and taker come out on top 16-0 and 11 time CHAMPIONS!

Hey Kevin - first-time reader...I'll definitely be back. Some thoughts:

-I don't get why Adamle is struggling so much. It's not like he's being asked to do anything extraordinary, but he seems to flub his words during basic intros. Bizarre, right?

-I could go for Hardy vs. Jericho at WM. I think most would agree that Y2J's buzz factor isn't anywhere where we thought it'd be upon his return. I think he'd make a great heel for a while.

-The biggest hole in the Hornswaggle angle is that he's an adult. Yes, he's a midget, but he also has a full beard. Anyone else think it's strange that he's crying and cowering? Then again, he is a "leprechaun"...

-Finally, the biggest reason people are lackluster on the Mayweather angle is that the promo ability he showed during the 24/7 show is nowhere to be found. Monday's verbal "battle" between the two was awkward, as was the JR/Lawler interview. There's no buzz because neither guy is doing anything to really sell this.

Good stuff as always,
Josh (ropesringandcage.com)

p.s. Anyone that still likes to say 'What?' is also probably happy that Hacksaw Jim Duggan is still in WWE.

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About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
E-mail Kevin.
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