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'Rassle Dazzle: A Wrestlemania Recap

Bob "MovieBob" Chipman | 7 Apr 2014 16:00
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Opening ceremonies

Hogan comes out to "Real American," takes the mic and does what he does best these days: Make an alternately endearing and awkward spectacle of himself to give a nostalgic charge to Gen-X wrestling fans. You can't say he doesn't still have it, he's in good shape as older pros go and it helps that his persona was always more than a little cartoonish. The catchphrase laden braggadocio has evolved to call-repeat pop-gospel, delivered with a knowing "Heh. This still works on you guys, huh?" humblebrag smirk; which makes it (mostly) okay when The Hulkster stumbles over the event's actual number and location in his monologue.

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin, often seen as Hogan's successor as "the" WWE star of the 90s (Hogan spent most of that era working in the now-defunct WCW), makes an unannounced entrance. Neither of these guys are in shape to fight, but for the assembled crowd it's enough for them to stand face-to-face and spit their catchphrases. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (the next big star post-Austin) joins them soon after. Pure crowd-service, nothing more - they're here to provide a "3 Generations" pose-off to be the money shot of every WWE montage from now until the end of time, and it works. It's also nicely illustrative of the peaks and valleys of the sport's identity: Hogan's cartoon/superhero mugging still works, ditto The Rock's smirking self-caricature spin on the same. But Austin's annoyed/dismissive blue-collar brute persona, so refreshing in its day? Weightless. If his beer can salute gag didn't make for a good capper to the bit, he'd have no purpose for showing up at all.

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