Well, more like dissenting opinion. Look, I LIKE The Corbin. I’ve liked him from the moment I saw that he was a ratchet, if understatedly intelligent, wordslinger. Something that stood out to me: I don’t think anyone else I’ve spoken to in the realm of professional wrestling commentary had a voice like his. It seemed like everyone else was combining the lingo of Chicago with the false knowledge of wrasslin, but not him. As a writer he’s come a LONG way since the initial conversation we had. However, my man Corbin Macklin still has his delusions.
Daniel Bryan CAN be the face of the WWE. Punk cannot.
Welp, that was easy. Now that that’s out of the way, guess I can go home…
Ah dammit, Bryan, you’re gonna make me keep going? But I’m tired and I wanna bask in the fact that I got to touch Brie Bella before you did! Wha? Pics or it ain’t happen? Well I DO have a pic. Suck on that, goatboy! You know what? Maybe The Corbin is right after all. Maybe you CAN’T be the face of the company. It’s bad enough CM Punk is too rebellious to match the current landscape of the company: he can at the most be this generation’s Stone Cold, but not as a poster boy for rebellion in the WWE but rebellion in the current PG Era. What made Steve Austin stand out was being the most rebellious AMONGST other rebels, and even now his name makes people say: “He IS wrestling!” across a spectrum, whereas when people see Punk they may think, “He IS wrestling… eh… but he’s no Stone Cold.” And that’s your fate too, Danielson. You’re nothing more than the Mick Foley of the age, going against the Corporation just like he did against Dwayne. You just don’t have the look, B. You’re a goat-faced freak with delusions of being taller and too much natural wrestling ability. When’s the last time the WWE had more than a handful of people like that? Not like we have a Light Heavyweight title anymore! You can’t shine in the main event category!
That’s why that pretty boy Randy Orton is on top. He’s long, and tall, and handsome. He’s good in the ring. He appeals to the casual fan and the hardcore fan, everyone! He’s even better than Cena: when’s the last time you’ve seen ANYTHING even remotely different out of him? YEARS, that’s when! People love his character, that brooding, that “I’m entitled to everything, including the Divas” mentality, that “Last of the Mohicans” look that less and less Superstars seem to have in the company. You’ll NEVER be that guy, Bryan Danielson. The Corbin is right! Because things never change: look at the shelf life of the McMahons and how Triple H has stepped up and exerted his power as the executive vice president of talent and live events, bringing in people like Sin Cara and the other Sin Cara and Kharma and Antonio Cesaro and Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. They’re monsters of men and Triple H is keeping in line with Vince McMahon’s long-extinct “size and strength” mean everything and not the direction the industry is going in more so. Danielson, you dick.
I have to disagree with Macklin though: you AREN’T better than Randy Orton in anything. He’s a better wrestler, a better mic worker, a better judge of who to date or marry, hell, he’s even better at going AWOL! They don’t want you to be the face, Bryan Danielson, with that scraggly beard and all, they want the man who got discharged from the Marine Corps for bad conduct to be the face of this forever super-patriotic company! THAT’S why he wasn’t in The Marine 3: Homefront! It’s so beneath him as an actor: have you SEEN 12 Rounds 2: Reloaded?! THAT MOVIE WAS BRILLIANT! Move out the way, Danny Boyle, you can add as much intrigue and as many Rosario Dawson nude scenes as you want, you can’t touch a Randy Orton movie!
Well actually, Rosario Dawson nude scenes galore might actually be the greatest movie of all time… even the excellence of excellence himself Randal Orton can’t quite match Rosario Dawson’s naked magnificence. BUT HE COMES CLOSE!
And what’s an “it” factor? You don’t have it. Orton has it. He was the little guy in a big pond. He was the baby in Evolution, amongst a big guy like Triple H, and a bigger guy like Batista, and a legend like Ric Flair, and the whores who constantly went in and out of their limos, crying because they had to deal with stories of impotence and Triple H having a wife. He was the little guy, I don’t care how tall he is, and he ended up winning with Triple H’s help and promptly being screwed over! Because Triple H feared his rise to the top: look at him now! Top of the company and now he’s being hugged by Triple H, and Vince McMahon, and even Stephanie, who damn near sexually assault at one point! Because he’s the smaller guy: he’s good for business! He has the “it” factor, a factor he’s always just had, not something he developed over the years with feuds and title runs and interesting concepts! He’s right up there with John Cena!
Bryan, why are you even still arguing with me? Obvious Corbin is completely and utterly right about you. What are you, a technical wrestler in a sea of other technical wrestlers? How dull. Look at Alberto Del Rio. He’s a technical wrestler too, and he’s a champion. What are you? Nothing. Because the crowd loves you and you reach a wider audience by the virtue of being an indie wrestler who’s taken on the best in the world, INCLUDING the man who claims to be the best in the world? That ain’t shit. Look at Christian! Captain Charisma! People love him: they don’t even remember that he comes from that cesspool we call Mexico North! THAT’S greatness! He hasn’t even changed! He was a bland, talented but reliable worker before when they fired him, and what happened? He floated around a bit, went to that company we don’t name, wrestled some people around the world, and came back and for what? To become a champion. You just don’t have that kind of charisma, Daniel. What does it say about a man who can build an entire legion of people around him by chanting one of two words? That’s not REAL charisma. Now that Del Rio! HE has charisma. He wakes up every morning, brushes his teeth with unicorn-infused toothpaste and takes a dump and every clump is loaded with charisma! And y’all say they put something in the Mexican’s water… peasants.
And why even bring up CM Punk? He’s a nobody just like you! A rebellious, hard PG-13 nobody! Why else would they put the WWE Championship on him? Oh, so you could see that someone else could hold the title? No, because it needed to go to someone not named Cena, and what a boring reign it was. Beating Alberto Del Rio in his most charismatic form, beating Del Rio and the Miz in a triple threat a month later, taking out Dolph Ziggler, winning arguably the most athletic elimination chamber contest ever, bring Chris Jericho to submission AND beating him senseless in a street fight later, taking YOU out at Over the Limit, then you AND Kane – a REAL Superstar – in the following PPV, then doing it AGAIN – that’s THREE victories – at the next PPV, are you even hearing me, Bryan?! Anyone can do that! Punk was just a transitional champion, just a long, 434 day transitional champion.
Hmm? Don’t try and bring no secondary logic into this, Danielson! Every champion who holds the title is most certainly NOT a transitional champion by the very nature of eventually losing the belt! What matters is that your reign MEANS something, and it doesn’t matter if you hold the belt for 400 days or 4 minutes. Unless it’s you. Because no one cares about seeing Daniel Bryan as the face of the company. The posters for Wrestlemania HAVE to have someone terrific on them, or who cares? Who cares that both world champions now conflict with Vince McMahon’s notion of a marketable Superstar? And who’s next for the World Heavyweight title? RVD? That stoner?! As champion?! Ha! Oh, Bryan Danielson, don’t make me laugh. And what about you? A continued rise to the top? A retribution story?! WHO WANTS TO SEE THAT?! Don’t let all these people claiming that it’ll work out confuse you: no one is THAT optimistic. The world is a cold, dark, dreary place of no goodness and even less compassion: your career is already in the toilet. We’re just waiting for the McMahons, who should’ve just fired your ass last Monday, to fix the stopper and flush.
Man, see this? Corbin has more compassion for you that I do. He says that you’ll win the title at one of the PPVs before or after Wrestlemania. Like hell: he’s being nice. I’m gonna tell it to you straight: you’ll NEVER be headlining something like Wrestlemania or even one of the lesser PPVs. Summerslam? A fluke. Nothing more. Because you’re not worth it. You’ll be like the Miz, headlining Wrestlemania and then going down and down and down until the most you’re doing is knocking off figures of authorities at future PPVs. It’s such a step down. You won’t even get that high. You won’t win at Wrestlemania like he did. You certainly won’t usher in an era like he did. You’re so screwed, and I DON’T mean anything involving Brie Bella’s fine ass. She could do SO much better. You probably do nothing but tickle her with that beard and scream “YES!” all night anyway. Jerk…
You’re just a placeholder for Cena anyway. That guy, he knows how to treat a lady. He knows how to be an all-American all star. He knows the importance of being a class president, valedictorian, A+, star quarterback, Cadillac convertible driving, cheerleader autographing big shot. He’s never mean and always tells you to never give up. He fights with unsightly injuries and only hits you when you deserve it. Like when he slapped you. Because you deserved it. He’s the perpetual underdog because that kind of character will ALWAYS be popular! Look at Jeff Hardy! Look at how popular he is! Tens of fans at TNA constantly chanting his name and praising his tired style can’t be wrong, can they? Oh what would you know. You don’t watch TNA. You don’t even have a TV. I can only IMAGINE how you manage to keep Brie entertained when you and her are home alone. But John Cena? Lives like Thugnificent and you know what? Earned it. Because when you think of an underdog, you think of a man who lives in a mansion and have a dozen cars and has relations with a woman who may or may not have any feeling in her chest. THAT’S MY KIND OF UNDERDOG!
So screw you, Daniel Bryan, as if that’s your REAL name. I almost shudder to think that at one point I wanted a match between you and CM Punk for the unification of the World Heavyweight and WWE Championships. The universe wouldn’t even bother to watch, let alone acknowledge you two with imploding in on itself. I leave you to your thoughts, Mr. Danielson. Not like you have much else. Like real Americans we’re going to be busy watching football instead of even THINKING to flip back and forth between the game and that show you wrestle on. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to do something you and fix a pork roast. Because I am about that life and you’re lucky if you can aspire to mediocrity.
*Disclaimer: all pictures used throughout are utilized for the purpose of criticism and entertainment*
How much truth can a man stand? That’s not a question I want you to really answer, it’s rhetorical in your case, reader. It’s also a lyric to a rather quirky song of the same name. I’ll answer, however, and say, “Er… somewhere in the vicinity of a little bit and too damn much”. See, I only acknowledge so many truths right now, in my 24 years and one month of life. One of these truths is that The Walking Dead really isn’t all that amazing a show. That’s not to say that it’s bad, but as whole, the episodes are usually C+ to B quality in my opinion. Another truth: the two best episodes of the show (season one, episode one; season three, episode twelve) owe virtually ALL that status as “best” to one man: Lennie James, who plays Morgan Jones. Another truth: these brilliant performances are likely why he’s starring in the new AMC show Low Winter Sun.
Yes, truths are fun. Here’s one that’s directly related to the WWE: this year’s Summerslam is shaping up to be Wrestlemania: Summer Edition. And that’s saying something. With the white hot intensity of the Bryan v. Cena feud and the reintroduction of fire in a match, I see few people even ABLE to complain about the card. But what’s in a card? What do you think will happen? Frankly I don’t care: here’s what I think will happen though, and if you agree, that’s cool. If you don’t, that’s cool too. I’ll just feel all types of special that you cared enough to read.
Pre-Show: Rob Van Dam vs. Dean Ambrose (c) for the United States Championship
Right off the back, a big match. For the casual fan, this is due to be a treat beyond treats. For the indie fan, this is a dream match. For people like us at L.E.W.D., this is two meals at the Varsity, a fresh roll of toilet paper and a second copy of Batman: Hush. Translation: epic.
It’s no secret that Swatkowski and Good are two tremendous talents, and the idea of them doing battle is terrific, so the question isn’t whether or not it’ll be a good (no pun intended) match, but rather why put such a match in the pre-show? Well, I wish I could tell you. So I will.
Fact is we have to remember one thing: RVD is a part-timer. That’s not to say that he shouldn’t hold a belt or have a feud, however. He’s a 42 year old man who is noticeably slower than he was in his ECW/WWE prime, or even in his tenure with TNA (earlier on), but he is more than capable of putting on a great match and putting over good talent. Dean Ambrose (Jon Moxley (Jonathan Good)) need something to maintain some relevance as the focus on the Shield has taken a backseat to the Wyatt Family, and a bout with RVD is just what he needs.
There’s something else that’s special about this match: the title that’s on the line. You can argue that the United States Championship is the spiritual successor of sorts to the ECW Championship, the belt that Rob Van Dam is almost notorious for. Should he win come Sunday, he’ll have come full circle, and the series he and Ambrose can put on could result in a strong push for the unofficial leader of the mercenary group.
As for predictions, I see RVD winning, but just barely. Frankly it doesn’t matter who wins: WE win because it’s sure to be a damn fine match.
Natalya (with the Funkadactyls) vs. Brie Bella (with Eva Marie and Nikki Bella)
Say what you will about Total Divas: the show is a hit. I like it. Maybe you do too. If anything I gained a new respect for most of the Divas, save for Natalya. I’ve always significantly respected Natalya. With the canon of the show, Natalya plays the role of the older sister who both does all she can to uplift her younger siblings and yet can’t get a break of her own to really shine. The way she is on the show, you can’t help but feel for her. Hell, even ?uestlove was feeling for her, and that man has better things to do than watch TV, like work on the new Roots album, or find a barber.
No hate, ?uest: I wanna fro like you when I grow up. Anywho, part of me is surprised that it’s Brie Bella vs. Natalya as opposed to Nikki. Nikki just comes across as more of a bitch, but what I anticipate is a fan favorite crowd response for Nattie as well as her carrying Brie through a lot of the match. The Bellas are a decent enough pair of wrestlers, I suppose, but Natalya is a Hart: she’s got it in her blood, and I think she’s finally getting that push into being a contender for the title. We can only hope. As much as I love seeing AJ
with those pigtails and short shorts, er, I mean with that belt, Natalya would bring some class to it, and straight laced prestige.
My prediction: Natalya wins via submission. Don’t ask why.
Also, this serves as an extension of the show. I find it harder and harder to say it breaks kayfabe, really. It’s just as scripted as RAW or SmackDown! as far as I can tell. That’s why the other four are there. On another note, I can’t stand Eva Marie. But I respect her. Because she called out Jerry Lawler for looking at her a certain way and smacked him. God bless you, unnatural red head. God bless you.
Dolph Ziggler and Kaitlyn vs. Big E Langston and AJ Lee
First and foremost, shout out to that guy on Smackdown a week ago who screamed “AMY SCHUMER!” when Dolph Ziggler mentioned ex-girlfriends. I haven’t laughed so hard at an ad-lib since someone tried to explain that Control was Big Sean’s song. HA! BWAHAHAHAHA! That liar…
What we have here is your standard mixed tag match, and all the parties involved have one thing in common: AJ Lee. Still. Hard to imagine but she’s been in the forefront of a major story one way or another for months, and I dare say her rise from nothing to something has been as dynamic as Daniel Bryan’s. Even now we have a sick kind of love (sic) angle shy of a Nujabes series. Dolph is an ex. Big E is a wild card. Kaitlyn is a lesbian in fan fiction. And AJ is just soaking up everything, playing the narcissistic woman with zero self-esteem, justifying her existence with that belt and the men she’s ran though (or should I say who’ve ran through HER? HIYO!).
But as a whole, I struggle to see the necessity of this match outside of putting together two feuds that could be split apart. We have AJ and Kaitlyn still, but that’s lost a lot of focus and relevance. Sure, it’s entertaining, but Kaitlyn is fighting for revenge and AJ is just fighting, playing the role of defense. With Dolph and Big E, it’s an odd kind of mentor vs. student thing, but Big E’s role as AJ’s friend/Ziggler’s heavy has never been expounded upon outside of a hatred for Ziggler and a “I love her, I love her not” thing with AJ. Sure, she’s cute, almost adorable, certainly desirable, but Big E himself still stands as little more than a big black guy with personality and a borderline painful-looking finisher.
I’m not even sure what CAN be resolved with this match outside of a decent showing. All four of them are impressive enough in the ring, so if nothing else it’ll be a solid exhibition, but as Bruce Lee said:
Kane vs. Bray Wyatt in a Ring of Fire match
Ooh baby, when’s the last time we have a match involving everyone’s favorite element fire?!
Let me wipe the drool from my mouth right quick. Yes, the Devil’s Favorite Demon is taking on the Devourer of Worlds in a Ring of Fire match. What does this mean? It means the ring will be surrounded by fire, and the two will do battle. As far as gimmicks go, this is the closest the WWE has gotten to blatant sacrilege in a while, and praise Jebus the Jew for that! We need blatant sacrilege every once in a while, keeps up on our toes, keeps us focused. The match itself is an extension of the still more or less undefined mugging that the Wyatts committed on Kane way back when, and this match likely serves as a way for Kane to lose his match, join the cult and give the Undertaker someone to challenge in due time, all the while reintroducing the dark, violent man that has been Kane on various occasions in the past.
But here’s the thing: this is a very “adult” storyline, if you can catch my meaning. Not for the violence or the imagery or anything but because of the symbolism. I compare it, ironically enough, to the song Hellfire from the Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Disney version. As far as Disney songs go, it broke EVERY rule. The song featured a judge (judge for the Disney movie, archdeacon for the traditional tale) who was essentially singing about a gypsy girl he was in lust with. Lust in a Disney movie? Not blatantly! They usually do that in a subtle manner.
But lust, religious imagery, the mea culpa, fire, DEATH, the song covered it all. It wasn’t just about his lust, or how evil the woman MADE him as opposed to how evil he himself was, but how he was asking God to either make the woman (kid by our standards, but this was 1400s) his, or give her up to the flame (Hell), all while begging for mercy for himself AND her. It was deep, and frankly the sequence alone in the film was worth the price of admission. Don’t let your kids see it though: they WILL be scared and confused. But since I endorse scaring and confusing kids…
Sorry, I got a bit off topic. I just enjoy that sequence. As far as Kane and Bray go, it’ll be a welcome reintroduction to the man we once called Husky Harris, and I see him winning, thus dragging Kane into the Wyatt Family. And yes, I WILL be playing this awesome song if Wyatt embraces Kane as a new disciple.
Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow
You can consider this a prequel for a World Heavyweight Championship match in a near future PPV. And you can also be mad at the WWE for not being wholly consistent with Cody’s character. At first he came across as a petty, whiny, sore loser who was wholly unjustified in how he was treating Sandow and his briefcase. After last week, he ADMITTED that he was a petty, whiny, sore loser who was wholly unjustified in how he was treating Sandow and his briefcase, and to add insult to that he admitted that he would have done the same thing to Sandow if he was in his position.
You may wonder why I have an issue with this. Simple: after admitting something like he did, his role in attacking Sandow becomes moot. The idea of Rhodes taking the briefcase is ridiculous, and the notion of Sandow fighting Rhodes first and THEN cashing in adds filler, not content, to Sandow’s first World Heavyweight Championship reign. Because he WILL win it. It’s written in the stars, or at the very least MY stars.
The saving grace is the match itself come Summerslam, which will be a good one, and will almost certainly result in a Rhodes win. Why? Just because. If Sandow wins, which I doubt, the ultimate outcome will remain the same, and I’ll get to it in a little while.
Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio (c) for the World Heavyweight Championship
Let’s address the elephant in the room right now: this match is irrelevant. Yes, irrelevant. Completely and utterly. Never mind my melancholy towards Del Rio or my disinterest with Christian: this match is little more than the equivalent of a place holder for the future title match between the above two. Now, from a pure wrestling standpoint, this will be a MONSTER. Seriously, it’ll be beautiful to watch. Christian and Del Rio are two of the most gifted wrestling talents in the WWE, but one is nearing the end of his career I think and the other is… Del Rio.
Nothing more to say about it. The belt? Who cares? It’s the World Heavyweight Championship: it hasn’t had meaning for a while, and it’ll stay that way even after Del Rio wins. Yes, I call Del Rio winning. But therein lies that “ultimate outcome” I mentioned in the Rhodes v. Sandow match. So long as Sandow can MOVE after that match, win or lose, and they do battle BEFORE Christian and Del Rio, I see him cashing in during the PPV. Sandow will be loved as a hated fellow, Rhodes will be looked at as the man to take the belt from him, and MAYBE Del Rio will be thrown into a storyline that’ll make him worth a damn.
We can only hope.
CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman (and likely Curtis Axel))
The Best vs. the Beast. How poetic. How appropriate. Or IS it? Perhaps another indie favorite is making a solid claim as being “the best”. But I digress. It doesn’t matter who is the best. Trying to determine who is stands as a fruitless test. A worrisome quest. In choosing one you neglect the rest.
I apologize: I was having fun at your “This guy is SO corny” expression’s expense. The story is simple here: CM Punk wants revenge on Heyman. Heyman chose Lesnar as his champion. Punk turned one-track minded and stayed focused on trying to hurt Heyman. Lesnar introduced Punk to a special variation of the F5 I refer to as the F.Y.L. F5, F.Y.L. standing for “f*** yo life”.
Honestly I think Lesnar really tries to hurt people in that ring. Good for our visceral nature but bad for business. In any case, this will probably be the second best match on the card, from both an in-ring perspective and a psychological perspective. Punk is fighting like a man possessed and Lesnar is in his zone, doing what he does best: hurting people. We like that. We like it when Lesnar hurts people. You hear that, WWE? Resign Shannon Moore!
So here’s the truth regarding me: as fun as this match will be – and it WILL be fun – my only question is “What now?”. I’m not sure who is set to win, but I’m leaning more towards Punk, because I don’t see HOW this story can progress from this point. Including Axel is odd, but he’s the third Heyman Guy, and he’ll likely have a role, but it doesn’t answer my only question.
I’m leaning toward Punk winning, beating Lesnar and Axel senseless, then turning his attention to Heyman, and afterwards getting back into the title hunt. As I was telling the Right Reverend Showtime the other day, I have a feeling the CM Punk who looked at the new WWE Championship belt and said, “I want THAT one” would be VERY welcome once this feud was over. And it could culminate in my dream main event for Wrestlemania XXX. Ah, dreaming…
Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena (c) for the WWE Championship (with Triple H as Guest Referee)
Here it is. The big one. The granddaddy of matches this Sunday. Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena. What can I say that hasn’t in some way already been said? It’s the wrestler’s wrestler vs. the sports entertainer’s superman. We’ve seen promo after promo, funny shirts, a few puns, even a brief appearance by Heel Cena (also known as Jerk Cena, also known as the Dick) and now we even have Triple H as the guest ref.
Why? Because. Because why? You’re asking too many questions. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t like him being a part of the match, but with McMahon being a part of the Bryan v. Barrett match on SmackDown! the ref position is “justified”. Like I’ve said, and will say in a piece that’ll probably be up just before the PPV starts, the McMahon power struggle is a grand storyline that’ll likely end with McMahon being ejected from being the primary figurehead seen on TV. Don’t ask me about it here, wait until the other piece comes up.
As for the match, it’s going to be interesting. Note: interesting. Good? Yes. Great? Likely. Epic? Perhaps. Five stars? Remains to be seen. At the end of the day we have a man who stands as today’s Hogan and a man who would shine the best against someone like Kurt Angle, or the man with no name himself, Chris Benoit. That triple threat match would have been incredible. But c’est la vie: it’s impossible now. Stupid Angle drinking and getting caught…
Now, let’s address some wild cards. First: Randy Orton. I don’t know WHY they’re making him out to be this boogeyman, but that’s all he is right now. He’s constantly reminding Bryan and Cena that he’s there, and in true buzzard fashion he WILL likely swoop in on the victor when they’re out, and… lose. Well no, that’s not quite right. I’ll get to that later.
Second: Wade Barrett. Remember the McMahon power struggle story and how Vince said he didn’t want Cena OR Bryan to hold the belt. His vision of a Superstar isn’t Orton either though: he’s too lean. But who stands as big, muscular, clean cut and constantly angry? Wade Barrett. Who MIGHT be finally getting his chance to shine. The hell with a title, I’m happy to just see him pursue it actively. As I’ve said: I think he’s the most deserving guy on the roster for a title opportunity/run.
Finally, who I see winning. This… is a hard one. There’s what I WANT to happen, what I THINK will happen and what I think is BEST. They aren’t all the same. What I THINK will happen is John Cena winning via help from McMahon, but it’s a ludicrous notion too. It would be further heel momentum for McMahon, confusion for Cena who wouldn’t accept anything like assistance (see: Money in the Bank 2011), and even MORE support for Bryan, who is already dazzling hot (you see what I did there?) as it is. But what I THINK will happen means little, because I don’t have much faith in that.
What I WANT to happen is even more ludicrous. I want Bryan to be the first one to make Cena tap. Only two people in the history of the WWE come to mind when it comes to never tapping out: Hogan and Cena, but there is a third. Cena would be embarrassed beyond belief, Bryan would be champ, Orton would attempt to cash in AND Bryan would make Orton the second person to cash in AND lose. That would make me happier than some quality alone time with Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman on a deserted island.
I take that back: that would NOT make me happier than some quality alone time with Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman on a deserted island, but it would come about as close as… forty miles. Nautical miles. On foot.
Then, there’s what I think would be BEST. And this is subjective, I have no problem saying it. Daniel would win, and he’d force Cena into a position that the third was in. Cena wouldn’t tap: he’d pass out. Cena would pull a Stone Cold Steve Austin. Daniel would get his props, Cena would maintain his respect, and Orton… would stay in the shadows. He’d strike later, on another day, at another PPV, and be a sneaky son of a bitch as a feud between Barrett and Bryan took the spotlight and Cena took some time off. That would be fun too.
Well, loyal random interwebz vagabond, those are my predictions and whatnot. Hope you enjoy the PPV as much as I think I’m going to. Sleep tight. Blee.
It is prediction time for this year’s installment of the WWE’s Money In The Bank. This time, I am not only asking you who do you think will win, but who do you want to win as well. This way, we can see how predictable things may be, but is predictability actually what people want… With that said, let’s get to the card:
If you have any thoughts, feel free to express them!
In less than eight hours World Wrestling Entertainment is poised to present the first ever Payback sports entertainment event LIVE on pay per view!
Tonight’s event, emanating from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois, looks to give fans the signature action that only WWE can provide. How fans actually feel about that action is up for debate, but breathe easy and be confident that whatever happens tonight fans from all over will find a way to be entertained by the action in the ring or in the Twitterverse.
The card tonight is robust enough to hold our attention even though the name of the pay per view is less than thrilling or energetic. With the exception of two or three matches, everything scheduled for tonight meshes well with the “retribution” theme of the event.
A part of me feels that this “retribution” theme is a tad bit weak, but who nowadays sits at home and complains about the theme of a pay per view? I get the feeling that this event will simply serve as a capable and sturdy bridge to next month’s Money in the Bank pay per view, where the real excitement will energize us as we launch into the big summer angles headed towards Summerslam in August.
With all that being said, let’s launch into some predictions:
Business between these two superstars picked up when Sheamus volunteered to participate in Sandow’s intellectual challenges. Frustrated at his inability to solve the challenges, Sheamus did what any normal bully would do and physically attacked Sandow. Does anyone else out there notice that John Cena tends to do the exact same thing when he’s verbally bested by an opponent? I digress…
I suppose the intent here is for Sheamus to silence Sandow and his self-righteous pseudo-intellectual pretentiousness, the goal being to punish Sandow for assuming that everyone else is his intellectual subordinate. It is slightly concerning that the Sheamus character chooses to solve complex brain games by beating a man senseless; keep in mind that Sheamus is the face of this match. What the hell kind of message is that sending to the kids? Be a star, why don’t you?
I would be surprised if this pre-show match up was a precursor for a long rivalry between the two men. I can’t imagine a feud built on such a silly premise would turn into something serious between these particular competitors. This isn’t to say that it can’t happen, it’s just that the thought of it has yet to materialize in my head. I also don’t get the picture that fans yearn to see Sheamus fumble at solving a Rubic’s Cube or understanding the intricacies of the Devils Fork anytime soon.
What is more concerning is that Sheamus’ last few feuds have been superficial at most, which makes me believe that the investment moving forward is (or should be) in Sandow. The “Irish John Cena” has flip-flopped around the upper mid card for some time without solid direction and seems to work best when he’s just as much in danger of a massive beating as the person he’s facing. The only behemoth left for him to face is Big E Langston, which again would benefit his opponent more so than himself.
I expect Sheamus to win this feud and move on to something else while the company figures out what to do next with Damien Sandow.
Prediction: Sheamus wins
Look at the three men in the graphic above and answer two simple questions: do you really care who wins this match, and if that Photoshopped Intercontinental Championship wasn’t present in the picture, would you still care who wins the match?
I’m not saying this to poo-poo entirely on the match; my concern is that the importance of the title has been tossed so far over the horizon that it doesn’t bring a “big fight feel” to the match. Unfortunately the participants in this match don’t do much to make the title at least appear like it’s worthy of attention. What we have here is an unholy circle of mediocrity.
Curtis Axel, the “it factor” of this match, replaced the recently concussed superstar Fandango in this trio of turmoil. Even with the brilliance of Paul Heyman at his side the Axel character is technically still a newborn in the grand scheme of things, lacking the charisma and established persona that would add an element of electricity to the match in the same way that Fandango would have. That electricity is absolutely needed in a bout featuring two great athletes and The Miz.
Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett, in all due respect, has essentially carried the title around as an accessory. The title is Barrett’s large, white and garish purse which he never sits on the floor and keeps others from scrounging around in it without his permission. He gets pissed if it’s taken from him, but could just as easily opt to leave it at home and take a wallet instead if he wants to travel lightly. The Miz doesn’t deserve a paragraph of his own.
There’s just no reason to invest in this match at all. The bout is no where near being deficient in wrestling talent and ability, but as we’ve discussed several times on this site a WWE match is much more than just showcasing great wrestling; that’s what TNA is for. There’s nothing remotely distinguishable about these three men and the significance of the title was lost long before this match, making it unnecessary for anyone to emotionally invest in the action other than to see two of the three competitors wrestle well.
I’m giving the win to Curtis Axel, as a win here would only add to the roll he’s been on with his high-profile victories…although it would make sense for him to fail at winning the title seeing as those high-profile “victories” are questionable. Then again if the man can beat John Cena but fail at beating The Miz…
Prediction: Curtis Axel wins the Intercontinental Title
Tonight will be Dolph Ziggler’s return to pay per view action after being shelved from a concussion. Since stepping back into active competition, Ziggler has been used sparingly in matches as WWE is treading water lightly when it comes to concussed superstars. This is a good thing; it does have some effect on the match and the World Heavyweight Title, but when it concerns a wrestler’s mental health and stability we fans should be understanding enough to allow the company to utilize precautionary methods and booking to ensure the wrestler’s longevity in life and not just in the business.
Ziggler and Del Rio are both accomplished athletes and wrestlers, so the match should deliver for as long as Ziggler sees in-ring time. I sincerely doubt this match will go the distance even though Ziggler has been medically cleared to perform. The company thus far has erred on the side of safely with Ziggler. who’s first real championship reign (not counting his wet fart reign during his time as Vickie Guerrero’s cabana boy) hasn’t been all that spectacular or memorable.
The other side of the coin is that Del Rio as champion is far more lifeless than Ziggler’s reign. The main and major redeeming fact in placing the belt on Del Rio is that you can get longer and more intense matches from a healthy champion than you can the one you’re keeping safe.
Del Rio will win the title in a relatively short match while the company plays it safe with Ziggler.
Prediction: Alberto Del Rio wins the World Heavyweight Championship
To put it mildly, the match between Dean Ambrose and Kane will be great.
The Kane character has seen a revitalization similar to that of Dave Batista’s final run in the company. Ironically enough Kane is also building a WWE legacy that will be remembered as fondly as that of his “brother’s,” The Undertaker. The man behind the mask is a consummate professional and his love for what he does can be easily seen by fans every time he steps through the ropes.
That being said Ambrose is fortunate to share the squared circle with a star of Kane’s magnitude. Ambrose is definitely deserving, having been given this opportunity after surviving his stint in Florida Championship Wrestling and NXT. He easily stands out in The Shield primarily for his mic skills, while his wrestling style is the epitome of the “unorthodox” style that other wrestlers attempt to pass off as a controlled form of flailing all over the place.
The fight between Kane and Ambrose will be ugly in the sense that the passion both men exhibit will easily permeate through their actions. It won’t be hard for fans to become invested in the ebb and flow of the match, as Ambrose’s facial expressions and body language make it simple for fans to say “Damn, I bet that hurt!”
I see Ambrose retaining the title with a little help from his Shield brethren.
Prediction: Dean Ambrose retains
Seth Rollins and Daniel Bryan are the stars of this match, which leaves Randy Orton and Roman Reigns as finger cymbals in this symphony of kicks and bodyslams.
The team of Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan is just as volatile, if not more, than Team Hell No. Fans have been screaming for a more edgy Randy Orton, or at least an Orton character that isn’t floating around as aimlessly as Sheamus. I’ve read a lot of commentary that’s placed the blame on Orton for being what amounts to the green or red practice dummies in the Create-A-Move Set option on WWE video games. I myself don’t fault Orton, but creatively it is quite possible that the character has gone as far as it can as a face.
There’s also a concern among fans and pundits that the company won’t go the distance with Daniel Bryan. It’s no secret that WWE has a storied track record of neglecting superstars that are fantastically over with fans, particularly ones that aren’t huge and larger than life. I’m not clear on our expectations for the company regarding Daniel Bryan; do we want him to be handed the WWE Championship now or have him kick his way to the top of the roster within a month?
The perception is that the company won’t do right by the character, but if the character makes money I cannot see them doing anything wrong with it. I’d rather let the company show me they’re going to abuse the character and the wrestler rather than assume the worst from the jump. Keep in mind that many didn’t believe Bryan would make it this far in the company; our expectations can be just as restrictive and condemning as the reality they exist in.
With Jimmy and Jey Uso receiving a renewed push of sorts I expect The Shield will retain due to friction between Orton and Bryan. Reigns and Rollins will move on to defend their belts against established tag teams while Orton and Bryan duke it out in a rivalry concluding at the Money in the Bank pay per view a month away.
Prediction: Rollins and Reigns retain
Last Monday’s episode of RAW saw AJ Lee revealed as Kaitlyn’s secret admirer, which was the result of a cruel joke played on the Divas Champion by Dolph Ziggler’s questionably sane girlfriend. Enraged after being publicly humiliated by AJ Lee, Kaitlyn has gone on rage-filled rampage that Lee will have to contend with tonight if she hopes to win the Divas title.
Kaitlyn won’t be thinking clearly, however; a large part of Lee’s offense includes mind games, similar to that of Goldust during his first run in WWE. With Kaitlyn’s unfocused anger present, Lee with more than likely capitalize on mistakes Kaitlyn will make throughout the match.
What surprised most fans about this match up is the fact that WWE actually devoted energy into giving the Divas a specific storyline. Some fans even commented how AJ Lee’s “crazy chick” persona is a weak version of Mickie James’ initial WWE character. I think this opinion does a disservice to Lee, James and Kaitlyn, however. Mickie James’ character was crazy from an odd infatuation with Trish Stratus, while Lee’s character tends to be a calculated insane, crazy with a purpose and goal … and just plain nuts from the get go.
By comparing Lee to James fans are intentionally disabling themselves from investing in Lee’s character as Lee’s character. By conjuring up the Mickie James character of old, fans negate anything done by James after that and currently. Kaitlyn also suffers because fans will think of her in terms of Trish Stratus even there is no comparing the two whatsoever. The end result is back to square one, looking at the Divas division as something that it once was some 15 years ago; even then our understanding of that era is somewhat stained by inaccurate perceptions and bias.
AJ Lee will win the title, creating a rivalry and furthering the storyline between the two.
Prediction: AJ Lee wins the Divas Championship
CM Punk will hopefully make his triumphant WWE return tonight in Chicago as he looks forward to facing WWE veteran Chris Jericho.
Jericho and Punk have had excellent matches in the past and will not disappoint tonight. The match between them was booked due to Paul Heyman, which could be the foundation for an eventual split between the Straight Edge Superstar and the maniacal mastermind behind the original ECW.
Chicago will go bat sh*t crazy over Punk’s return, fueling rampant speculation around whether or not Punk will be a face or heel moving forward. Plans are always subject to change and I personally have no other reason to look to this match to indicative of where the Punk character is moving next. Instead fans should simply enjoy what will be a near five-star match between two top-tier competitors and allow the story to unfold before our eyes.
The only wildcard in this match is Punk’s status in the company. The superstar has talked very little about the match on the various social media outlets available and has only openly stated his enjoyment of life while not wrestling. There is a slight chance that Punk may not show up tonight, giving us a “surprise” match between Jericho and someone from the Heyman Family. The only other feasible option in the event of a Punk no show would be the debut of the Wyatt Family … but that’s not going to happen.
If Punk wrestles he won’t lose in his hometown and Jericho won’t fall into mediocrity by losing here.
Prediction: Punk wins
Last month’s Ambulance Match between John Cena and Ryback revealed a few things that most older fans either missed or cared very little about.
For one a John Cena WWE Champion has officially done as much as it can and will do creatively. Cena holding the title seems forced, uninspired, and plain flat. He’s rarely booed anymore because his detractors don’t even care enough to boo him. Every time Cena steps into the ring, armed with his killer work ethic and never-say-die attitude, the end result is the same wash-rinse-repeat cycle we’ve seen of him for what seems like centuries. He’s always presented as the underdog even while being the champion, and there’s nothing dynamic about the psychology of his matches or character. Franky he’s just there like a pair of shoes that you really should’ve gotten rid of months ago.
Secondly, Ryback was positioned to be the Doomsday to John Cena’s Superman. The fallout from their stalemate at Extreme Rules, however, has turned Ryback into a tool being used to make fans give a damn about Cena again. This isn’t very different from a number of feuds Cena has been involved in, but it is rather unfortunate that Ryback was forced to become a heel for no other reason than to get fans to organically support Cena as an underdog … even though he’s the champion.
Thirdly, the fact that a gimmick match was used in their first official singles match as well as their second foray against each other is concerning. I find it concerning because most gimmick matches are used when a fight escalates to certain levels and to mask certain deficiencies a wrestler or wrestlers may have. From that perspective what does it say when Cena and Ryback’s first match needed a stipulation?
John Cena will retain his title. There’s nothing else that can really be said or done about that. I expect Cena and Ryback to go at it at least one more time at Money in the Bank, maybe even with a final match in August at Summerslam. Other than that … whatever.
Prediction: John Cena retains
Payback looks good on paper but will only serve as a competent segue to the next pay per view and summer storylines pointing directly at Summerslam. The pay per view won’t be a total bust, but if you choose to spend today doing something else, the WWE Universe will continue to roll on without a hitch. For those of us actually watching the pay per view, here’s to hoping we’ll get some enjoyment out of the action!
That was the exact word I used when I first laid eyes on Sin Cara. It was Monday night, April 4, 2011 when I was seated next to the Rt. Rev. Showtime in Phillips Arena here in Atlanta, Georgia. The Rt. Rev. purchased tickets for us to see the post-WrestleMania XVII episode of Monday Night RAW live. That night the crowd was pumped from the previous night’s wrestling spectacle and extravaganza held in the Georgia Dome.
During the show that night, then United States Champion Sheamus scored a victory over Daniel Bryan and proceeded to pummel him further after the conclusion of the match. With only his music as an introduction, Sin Cara appeared on the stage and sprinted down the ramp to confront the champion.
Sin Cara scored a few moves and managed to knock Sheamus to the apron and off of it. The star then mounted a turnbuckle and soared through the air with a diving crossbody, landing on Sheamus and making an immediate impact on his debut:
I remember sitting there, mouth agape and thinking, “Wow!” I was truly rendered speechless; time literally seemed to slow down as Sin Cara gracefully flew through the air with the greatest of ease. I knew for a fact that he would electrify the fans for years to come, eventually receiving the torch from beloved Mexican WWE Superstar Rey Mysterio to serve as the company’s future crossover Lucha Libre sensation.
Up until that point the company spent tons of money and television spots advertising the debut of a new, masked Mexican superstar. This wrestler, renowned around the world and revered in his home country, was set to bring his unique talents and skills to WWE. The promos and video packages were exceptional, and I for one was excited to see this new wrestler debut with the promotion.
Unbeknownst to me and others at the time, however, the advertising and hype would eventually prove itself worthy of serving as a clever facade capable of hiding the true Sin Cara character, a mask that worked as well as the stylized one concealing his true identity.
Sin Cara arrived in WWE as one of the first talents signed under Paul Levesque’s watch as Vice President of Talent Relations. He initially appeared to represent a drastic change in the way WWE evaluated and hired wrestlers to groom as future superstars. The fact that the company hired a luchador amid the large hulking and semi-immobile behemoths WWE is known for courting suggested a much needed infusion of new blood in the company’s uninspired roster.
Already having some acclaim in Mexico, Japan and China as Mistico, there was hope that this unique character would excite the company’s global audience and appeal to their Latino demographic in the same way as Rey Mysterio. It was very obvious that the company was positioning him to be the new Rey Mysterio as the former WCW star slowly entered the twilight of his career after suffering numerous injuries and personal setbacks.
With an extremely large amount of potential energy surging behind him, Sin Cara exploded onto the scene immediately with the daunting task of “getting over” as quickly as he could. Ironically enough a botched entrance on that fateful April night in 2011 would be an omen of sorts that would describe his entire WWE career to date.
The Lucha Libre style of pro wrestling developed in Spanish speaking countries and embodies a culture of its own that is too storied and detailed to describe in this piece. The hallmark and most identifying feature of this style are the high-flying, high-risk aerial maneuvers performed by the wrestlers. The ring psychology of this style rests in lightning fast strikes and dizzying maneuvers that confuse, frustrate and leave opponents disoriented.
Instead of relying on power and strength, most Lucha stars use their agility and speed to land stunning blows to their opponent’s head and legs. Attacks to the body are minimal, leaving luchadors to work at softening their opponents with rapid blows to specific areas (the head, thighs or knees). A luchador’s finish typically involves a devastating blow to the head or aerial maneuver that serves as the exclamation point to an incredibly action-packed, fast paced match.
Sin Cara brought this same style with him to WWE but was brought up to the main roster without making the necessary standard two year stay in Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW). Without that stay Sin Cara didn’t have the opportunity to learn the “WWE style” or adapt elements of his Lucha style to that style, causing a disconnect between the Sin Cara character and the American fans in the United States, the company’s primary demographic in its “global audience.”
The company recognized this shortcoming early and perhaps even prepared for it upon his arrival. Special lighting was used during all his matches (and is still used today) and he was paired with opponents familiar with the Lucha style. A few of his first matches and feuds involved Chavo Guerrero and Primo and Epico Colón. Interweaved in between were high-profile matches and partnerships that involved John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Jack Swagger, Cody Rhodes, The Miz and Ted DiBiase.
Sin Cara also gained a spot in the 2011 Money in the Bank Ladder match, but was unsuccessful in his attempt to receive a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship. In that same match Sin Cara was “injured,” as a quiet way of being removed from television for his first violation of the company’s Wellness Policy.
When he returned a feud was ready for him with imposter Sin Cara Negro (portrayed by fellow Lucha wrestler Hunico). This feud was short-lived as the real Sin Cara suffered a legitimate injury in November 2011 that sidelined him for six months.
He returned in May 2012 and began teaming with Rey Mysterio in a series of matches, most of which were designed to reinvigorate the tag team division. Mysterio would serve as the storyline and real life mentor of Sin Cara, but the two would fall short of their tag team championship goals. Once again Sin Cara suffered an injury that would place him on the shelf in December 2012 for one month.
He returned in January 2013 at the Royal Rumble pay per view and was used sparingly for two months. More injuries kept him out of action until May 2013, where he returned to a nice and comfortable spot in the undercard and remains there at the time of this writing.
To that extent, Sin Cara is officially a lame duck in the WWE hierarchy of superstars.
With only two years in WWE under his mask, Sin Cara appears to be one of the fruits that have fallen far from the WWE Tree of Destiny. He’s more known and celebrated for botching moves/matches than he is for breathtaking moments and jaw-dropping athleticism. No one questions why he does the job for matches when he should be planted firmly in the upper mid-card. No one missed Sin Cara when he was off of television; his returns receive no fanfare and the commentators seem unenthusiastic about his abilities and presence.
In a match against Damien Sandow on Wednesday’s episode of Main Event, even Sin Cara’s body language seemed to be that of a man defeated, a depressed and sterile shell of what once housed limitless potential. Sin Cara no longer embodies the hope of a superstar destined to take our breath away; he’s become the laughing stock of smart fans and an afterthought to a generation that’s content with the same old predictable product.
Contrary to popular thought, Sin Cara is more of a victim in this series of unfortunate events than he is the deserving subject of ridicule and apathy. Sin Cara was set up to fail from the very beginning.
WWE’s developmental territory and “system” at this point in time is a necessary evil. The entire process of hiring a potential superstar is designed in a frustratingly precise way to achieve an insanely specific result. The very style the wrestlers learn is specific to WWE, and even if a wrestler brings a distinct style to the table it is altered to suit WWE audiences.
By allowing (or forcing) Sin Cara to bypass this crucial step in his WWE career, the company inevitably forced him to work a style familiar to him for an audience largely ignorant of anything outside of WWE. At the time Sin Cara was also limited in the opponents he could work with that meshed favorably with his style. This would account for his frequent “botching,” messing up moves with opponents because either his or his opponent’s timing in the ring was off. There was also speculation that Sin Cara spoke very little English upon his arrival in the company, which would naturally lead to miscommunication with opponents in the ring.
His first Wellness Policy violation, as well as a string of injuries, also hindered his growth in the ring. The stop-and-go pace of his journey caused continuous gaps in his rise to the top, which was only confounded by the back-to-back occurrence of these events. A substantial program between Sin Cara and a credible opponent could not be established because of his time off; he also avoided being placed in serious title contentions for the same reason.
Sin Cara was also not allowed time to speak, forcing him to convey emotion through his body language. Further pressure was placed on his body language due to his face being completely hidden by his mask. While this is not a bad thing for promotions that make wrestling a priority (such as in Mexico or Japan), it becomes a MASSIVE albatross around his neck within a promotion that emphasizes microphone skills and charisma. Even with an impressive array of moves and maneuvers, he lacked the knowledge to piece those moves and maneuvers together in a way that invites WWE fans to invest in the character.
The final product in most instances was a dull, lifeless character that moved from one spot to the next with no story told in between spots.
Sin Cara was rarely, if at all, allowed promo time, and the number of hype videos and vignettes featuring him declined over time. His best pairing over time was with Rey Mysterio, a union that showed some progress for his character but was snuffed almost in the blink of an eye.
Because of these things the fans never really got behind him and he slowly turned into one big punch line in a never ending joke. He became ridiculed for his mistakes more than he was appreciated for his work. When his work improved fans were silent about his progress and stayed mired in the filth of reminding others of their own personal ill-informed opinion of him.
To make matters worse the smart fans began to blame him for being the “colossal failure” many believed him to be. Without fan support or reaction from the American crowds, Sin Cara was placed on the back burner as attention was given to more rousing and exciting characters. From this perspective there should be no wonder as to why he wrestles with no purpose or reason for being in WWE; he is currently the only superstar most fans have no issue with watching lose a match consistently.
This is quite possibly the worst form of Hell a wrestler can exist in: being relegated to working in a less than desirable position while being intentionally kept in your company to serve a purpose other than the one you were originally hired for.
There is an often used phrase about abandoning hope at a certain point of no return; it’s safe to say that if this is where Sin Cara currently resides, he would be extremely lucky to have a penny with a hole in it … (see what I did there?)
Sunny days could be in store for Sin Cara, however; depending on how you look at those bright skies could mean the difference between seeing a renewed Mexican luchador or a man liberated from the oppressive gray skies of WWE.
Perhaps there’s truth to the signing of luchadors Amazing Red and Samuray Del Sol; WWE Superstar Hunico, who is an amazing talent and highly prized by WWE, has recently returned to the company after an injury. Rey Mysterio will eventually begin his last run in the company, and must pass his torch to another Latin American performer. Alberto Del Rio has already alluded to retiring in a few years and Ricardo Rodriguez is positioned to be a perennial manager of lackey.
Point being the door is wide open for Sin Cara to make a statement if he earnestly wants to do so. What that statement will be, however, remains to be seen and heard; whatever he decides to do will determine the fate of his WWE legacy, either launching his name high into the upper echelon of amazingly gifted stars to perform for the WWE, or send him spiraling into an abyss of damnation and irrelevance with the likes of Braden Walker, Hade Vansen, Colin Delaney and Arthur Rosenberg.
All is not completely lost for Sin Cara. The faceless luchador from Mexico can prove his worth, but he has to be the one to take the first step towards redeeming his name. For Sin Cara the conversation isn’t about hope; it’s about determination and pride. In some way, even while bearing the load of a mountain of losses, habitual mistakes and repeated injuries on his back, Sin Cara could rise from his trials and tribulations as a standout star in a WWE Sea filled with forgettable countenances.
The moment that happens, you can be guaranteed that one way or another we’ll all be left stunned in our seats gasping for air.
On Thursday, April 18, 2013 a press conference was held in Orlando, Florida by World Wrestling Entertainment.
It was at this press conference that WWE Executive Vice President of Talent and Live Events Paul “Triple H” Levesque, along with Florida Governor Rick Scott, Full Sail University President Garry Jones, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Orange County Commissioner Peter Clarke, announced the opening of the WWE’s state-of-the-art Performance Center. The Performance Center will serve as the home to WWE’s talent developmental system and will also create at least 100 new jobs in Orlando.
The following is taken from the press release about the facility:
“With 26,000 square-feet, seven training rings, a world-class strength and conditioning program and cutting-edge edit and production facilities, the new Performance Center will give WWE the ability to train more potential performers than ever before through a comprehensive program including in-ring training, physical preparedness and character development.
The new center will be the training ground for talent that includes former professional and collegiate athletes, Olympians and entertainers, and will offer a best-in-class sports medicine program creating a central location for all WWE talent to receive the best care both in and out of the ring.”
Among other things this announcement also furthers WWE’s relationship with Full Sail University, which serves as the current home for the WWE NXT taping series and also allows students (such as our very own THE Nic Johnson) of the university to gain “real-world experience” alongside WWE production team members.
The creation and announcement of WWE’s Performance Center is rife with irony, the incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result.
The irony of the whole Performance Center project is that most people expect the facility to produce top-notch WWE Superstars when the actual result will more than likely resemble the same crop of superstars already present in the company. Effectively it appears that WWE has partnered with several entities in Orlando to create more modern and efficient methods of producing crap.
That assessment of the situation is a tad bit unfair, particularly seeing as the fruits of the Performance Center won’t be truly seen for at least another year or two from today. As nifty as the bells and whistles sound, however, all the wrestling rings and hi-tech equipment in the world cannot and will not replace some of the most fundamental and rudimentary realities that are necessary for the development of a “true” wrestling superstar.
The phrase “Performance Center” is oddly reminiscent of the same cold and mechanical training regimen used by Ivan Drago in the blockbuster film Rocky IV. Despite the flashing lights, the new age equipment, the meter readings and steroid vitamin enhancement injections, there was no machine or drug vitamin in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics that could develop the one muscle Drago needed to defeat Rocky Balboa…heart.
WWE’s hi-tech Performance Center will undoubtedly provide wrestling hopefuls the tools and opportunities necessary to become a WWE superstar, but it will most assuredly lack the proverbial heart needed for athletes to excel as wrestlers with the total package. The skills and tools needed to have the total package cannot be found or taught in a fancy facility in one of the country’s most well-known hot spots for tourists and alcoholic college students.
This facility will not “train” men and women wrestlers to become WWE Superstars; it will eventually breed WWE Superstars flat out, and a WWE Superstar is something very different than a wrestler looking to become a WWE Superstar.
On April 5, a pre-WrestleManiaXXIX interview with WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan was featured in The Washington Post. In the interview, journalist David Malitz had the following to say about Bryan’s journey thus far in his career:
“Bryan’s path to WWE was built on giving his best showing night after night on stages microscopic compared to the scale of that on which he’ll perform Sunday. Over a decade, he has worked for dozens of companies on the sprawling independent wrestling circuit, from Pennsylvania to Japan, and earned a reputation as one of the best technical wrestlers in the world. This means he is someone who can make any move in the ring look devastating, graceful and believable, whether he is on the giving or receiving end — an essential skill for a wrestler.”
According to Malitz’s piece, Bryan—formerly known to wrestling fans by his real name Bryan Danielson—honed his craft for ten years prior to arriving in WWE. In those ten years Bryan traveled extensively all over the United States and even wrestled in Japan on numerous occasions; Malitz implies that it was during this time and not upon his arrival in WWE that Bryan gained a reputation for being one of “the best technical wrestlers in the world.”
What’s missing from the Performance Center is a focus on talent developing their skills as wrestlers before landing a developmental contract with WWE. More telling is the idea, the notion that these men and women (or professional/collegiate athletes, Olympians and entertainers) would have gained this experience on their own which would ultimately lead WWE to giving them a developmental contract. That idea is not necessarily a given, as has been made painfully obvious with certain Superstars and Divas in the past (Kelly Kelly for example).
Fans paying attention to this are witnessing a distinct difference in the execution of a developmental territory as opposed to a developmental system. Wrestlers today looking to make it big in the WWE enter into its developmental territory and spend 2-4 years translating their craft into an easy-to-swallow WWE-esque style, not necessarily gaining any experience from working around the world by being a part of a network of territories in a full-fledged developmental system.
But in those 2-4 years these men and women are picking up the habits, traits and skills that will define their careers in terms specific WWE. These wrestlers will learn one particular style that is honestly suitable for that specific company and its specific audience. As a result the wrestler will only have limited resources to pull from when it comes to putting together a match that energizes and entertains fans.
In the WWE’s case, that is a simplistic style that tends to look and operate like the pro wrestling equivalent to a color-by-the-numbers activity book. This, of course, does not sit well with older fans or those fans that prefer “wrestling” over “sports entertainment.” In the same breath it positions the company to consistently churn out more and more individuals will simply provide the WWE with the same results they’ve been garnering for the past 10-11 years.
Consider Bryan’s words towards the end of the Washington Post interview:
“I don’t consider it wrestling…I’ve done wrestling. Everywhere. And just by being a good wrestler you can become popular. But not here. It’s more important to be entertaining than it is to be a great wrestler. It’s fascinating to me…”
The new WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida is perhaps best equipped to produce entertainers. The problem is that wrestlers can be very entertaining if they’re given the opportunity to add new dimensions and layers to their already vast repertoire (i.e. Bryan Danielson).
On the other hand it is not set in stone that an entertainer will be able to be a convincing wrestler, “someone who can make any move in the ring look devastating, graceful and believable, whether he is on the giving or receiving end — an essential skill for a wrestler.” That’s not something than can be trained or gained in 2-4 years in a stint in a facility in Orlando.
Chris Jericho’s amazing story as a professional wrestler serves as a perfect example of this point. Although Jericho’s journey has been extensively covered in his books A Lion’s Tale: Around the World in Spandex and Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps, his path in wrestling was most succinctly described in his DVD “Breaking the Code: Behind the Walls of Chris Jericho.”
Jericho began his trek with two goals: to become a rock star and a wrestler. This started with Jericho getting a degree in communications at 19, wrestling at the Hart Brothers School of Wrestling in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1989. In 1992 he traveled and wrestled in Mexico City until 1994, where he learned how to “work a crowd.” It was in Mexico where he also learned and adopted elements of the Lucha Libre style.
For six weeks after his stint in Mexico City he worked in Hamburg, Germany where he learned how perform mentally a different match every night (as he performed in front of the same crowd every night for six weeks straight). From that point Jericho found himself in Japan, where he learned how to become a technically gifted wrestler and gained the respect of several key figures and wrestlers in the industry. Jericho also learned the Strong style and adopted that to his repertoire.
Also in 1994 Jericho worked for Smoky Mountain Wrestling in Tennessee, where he learned the Southern style of cutting great promos. In 1996 Jericho was able to land a job with Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), where he wrestled in front of the country’s most rabid and diehard wrestling fans. From 1996-1999 Jericho worked for Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Finally in August of 1999, Chris Jericho debuted in the WWF, bringing altogether 10 years of experience from organizations spread across five different countries in Asia, North America and Europe. To this day Chris Jericho is one of the most well respected wrestlers and veterans still able to entertain fans as a wrestler…and a rock star.
Is it feasible or possible for those same skills to be taught to a young wrestler coming into the Performance Center for a 2-4 year stint before being brought up to the main roster? Even with the guidance and tutelage of veterans in the business, nothing can replace the real life experience of having to perform for different crowds around the world or even the country.
That being said, the WWE’s state-of-the-art facility can only exist to help future superstars add one more element to their skill sets as wrestlers. The real issue, an issue WWE will have to respond to eventually, is whether or not they’re open to hiring wrestlers that have honed their skills over a solid period of time in promotions outside of the United States. Better still, will WWE have the gumption to send all of its developmental stars around the world (or even the country) to adequately hone their skills and talents?
It’s exciting to have a facility in Orlando with seven rings and a team of nutritionists, but all the fancy pants flash in the world can’t make up for a wrestler’s experience in putting on an entertaining and captivating story.
Truthfully speaking a lot of important things happened on the show, but the live New Jersey crowd far surpassed all the in-ring action and story line development hands down. Random chants, enthusiasm, flat out being LOUD…New Jersey fans definitely had their post-WrestleMania game on point.
As exciting as the live crowd was it could also be said that their self-centered antics took away from the wrestlers plying their craft in the ring, as definitely was the case with Randy Orton’s match against Sheamus. When the fans made their first vocally obstreperous stand against WWE’s questionable booking, words “rude, obnoxious and disrespectful” were used to describe the crowd as well.
It’s no secret that wrestlers work their tails off in order to entertain the fans, but there a fine line between enjoying the show as a fan and sopping everything up like lobotomized sheep. Wrestlers including Shane Helms, Sugar Dunkerton, Matt Hardy, Gran Akuma and Lance Storm all chimed in their varying opinions on the crowd’s activity during the actual show; those opinions ranged from chastising the fans to praising the workers and scolding the promoters.
Despite how one may feel about the raucousness of the crowd last night it cannot be denied that the entire audience—the same audience that paid good money to see a post-WrestleMania episode of RAW live (a feeling the Rt. Rev. Showtime and I know very well)—was engaged in the show completely. The crowd was electric and were way more into the show for all three hours than the NY/NJ crowd at the MetLife Stadium twenty-four hours prior. You only get that type of crowd once in a blue moon and it really made the show.
What’s interesting to note is that the crowd didn’t become obnoxious until someone *cough cough* made the call to have Orton face Sheamus despite the overwhelming number of fans who voted via WWE Fan Active to see Orton square off against Big Show (Orton’s 77% to Sheamus’ 23%). What message does that type of booking give to the fans? How does that promote the “interactive” nature of the show and product if you’re willing to blatantly disregard what they fans said they wanted? What does that do to the performers in the ring who have to perform in front of a crowd that’s just been jilted?
Also consider the little traits that make a big difference between a “good” wrestler and a “great” wrestler. Orton and Sheamus barely acknowledged the crowd’s response outside of a few smirks and annoyed grimaces, but even a slight acknowledgement that either wrestler realized the bee ess of the match would’ve most assuredly gotten the crowd back in the palm of their hands. If you think that’s fluff, look at what Fandango’s acknowledgement of the crowd’s rowdiness did for him last night…
On the other hand, look what Sheamus’ post-RAW acknowledgement of the crowd did for him last night…
There are several ways to entertain a crowd; it’s understandable when a crowd gets out of control, but it’s something completely different for any promotion to flip fans off and expect them to be okay with it. In fact this is a major criticism against WWE while TNA is consistently praised for doing the exact opposite. Then again, there was the time when fans chose Desmond Wolfe as the next in line to receive a World Title shot and Sting was announced as the #1 Contender…
At least WWE acknowledged how into the program the fans were; in the end that’s what everyone wants, right? To leave the show entertained with the experience of witnessing the action of WWE live…
Alas, here’s what stood out to me about the show other than the red-hot crowd:
- Dolph Ziggler: Your NEW World Heavyweight Champion
- Tidbits: Fandango and Wade Barrett
- The Brothers of Destruction Reunite…YES! YES! YES!
- John Cena and the Heels of the 21st Century, ft. The Ryback as Your #1 Contender
With three months left until the expiration of his Money In the Bank contract, WWE superstar Dolph Ziggler cashed in his opportunity on RAW, defeating Alberto Del Rio to begin his second reign as WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Last night was a momentous occasion for Dolph, an occasion that prompted the several fans and wrestlers to send congratulations towards the new champ.
There were a few fans, however, that disapproved vehemently with the this recent turn of events:
Overly dramatic exclamations aside, Ziggler’s victory over Del Rio presents fans once again with the eternal struggle with understanding and compartmentalizing their expectations. For months accusations were launched at WWE for their perceived inability to create new stars or push certain stars deserving of a main event status. Dolph Ziggler was one of those stars who fans began to grow lukewarm about (including yours truly) because of his meandering around the mid-card.
All of a sudden Dolph cashes in his contract and believably defeats an injured Alberto Del Rio to become the new World Heavyweight Champion, and a solid number of fans seem largely underwhelmed by the thought of his second championship reign. It’s lose-lose situations like this that put promotions in weird situations; they’re damned if they do or don’t push a guy at a specific time.
Regardless of how one may feel about Ziggler’s victory, the more exciting part of his victory is the prospect of what lies ahead for him. With Big E Langston’s enforcer role still relatively undefined and AJ Lee’s quirky presence easily ignorable, Ziggler’s reign and role as World Heavyweight Champion still needs meaning a depth. Whether he’s a transitional champion or not, there’s got to be something interesting waiting for him in the next few weeks, if not months. Our best bet is to sit tight and at least give Ziggler a chance to prove us that his status as a main event star is or will be a complete bust.
What a difference a day makes…
Fandango went from being one of the most despised gimmicks to debut in the company in recent times to an instant classic overnight. The gimmick feels to be an awkward and unholy mixture between “The Model” Rick Martel and Simon Dean. Whatever the case may be the fans in the Izod Center in New Jersey effectively made Fandango a star. The overly garishness of the gimmick was one thing, but to see and hear 16,000+ fans solidly behind that ridiculousness is pure awesomeness.
Also last night in one of the many WrestleMania Rematch matches Wade Barrett defeated The Miz to regain the Intercontinental Title he lost the night before.
Very few fans can comprehend why the title was hotshot between these men, but there are two things to consider: this isn’t the first time this has happened before (Kane vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin in a First Blood Match at King of the Ring 1998), and now we’re actually paying attention to what happens with the Intercontinental Title.
This “rivalry” between The Miz and Wade Barrett still feels lifeless and inorganic. Some have argued that Barrett deserves to be in the main event picture, but it’s not quite understandable how one can arrive at that opinion given the character’s development since his return to WWE television.
The Intercontinental Championship, and to some extent the United States Championship, both feel like archaic relics that are kept around simply for the sake of novelty and tradition; fans at this point in the business are largely unaware and indifferent of what these titles represent today and represented in the past. While Barrett can bring some prominence to the championship, he can only do so with the help of a performer we actually give a damn about. Unfortunately The Miz is just not that opponent.
This would be one of those moments where WWE’s annual Spring Cleaning event would come in handy, opening the space for new faces and new rivalries. But outside of that, fans can only hope that some new life and meaning is injected into the Intercontinental Championship now that Barrett’s win has our attention.
At one point in time there was good reason to worry about the intended direction of The Shield. After Monday’s RAW, those worries have been sidelined at least for the near future.
The Undertaker was scheduled to make an appearance at RAW, which was an odd thing for Mark Calaway and The Undertaker to do in the last few years. As The Deadman opened his mouth to speak about his victory over CM Punk at WrestleMania, the now infamous entrance theme for The Shield interrupted him mid-sentence. The treacherous trio consisting of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns made their way to the ring, surrounding The Undertaker for what was sure to be a sound thrashing.
As things began to look hairy for everyone’s favorite legendary wrestler, Kane’s pyro erupted and the superstar rushed to the ring with his tag team partner Daniel Bryan in tow. The Shield thought wisely about their course of action and actually retreated. In that one instant, fans were given what could be the most important feud for The Shield in their early WWE careers.
This tweet from a fan from Twitter pretty much explains it all:
The other thing worth noting is that The Shield’s prominence in the company as a trio has created some of the most interesting and dynamic alliances in the company. From Big Show/Sheamus/Randy Orton to John Cena/Sheamus/Ryback, the trio’s presence in the product has created some interestingly compelling stories. The announcers keep pushing the group’s effectiveness as a team, forcing their opponents to become strange bedfellows that have to work together just to hang with the young up-and-comers. Since most of their opponents have operated more fluently as individuals than they have as tag team members, things always fall apart and work out better for The Shield than anyone else.
Despite their rough beginnings, both tandems of Kane/Daniel Bryan and Kane/Undertaker have worked extremely well given time and the eventual maturation of the groups. Now The Shield has to face all three men at the same time…they are in for one hell of a battle.
To make matters more deliciously awesome you’ve got four hungry, young wrestlers in the ring with two extremely gifted athletes, wrestlers, and future Hall of Famers. What more could a fan ask for…well…may he truly rest in peace.
Fans should not make judgements yet on the outcome of the brewing feud between John Cena and the Ryback. We’ve seen Cena laid out before and he always manages to come out victorious; nothing too new or shocking about the image above.
However…something does seem a tad big fishy.
Dissecting the John Cena character has been one of the foundational tenets that keeps the L.E.W.D. site together (other than our questionable behavior towards Gary the Intern…but I swear he’s cool with everything…honest…). From the unfinished L.E.W.D. Booking 101 series to our WrestleMania XXVIII back-and-forth, Cena’s character still manages to squeak his way back into our pieces on a regular basis. As much as we say we dislike the character, we still talk about him more than anything else…unless we’re talking about TNA.
The odd thing about Cena’s character, the character that so many fans scream at to turn heel, is that he’s honestly displaying tons of heel traits as is. Cena’s not a heel in the sense that half of fans across the country boo him, but a heel in the sense that a good bunch of everything he does screams “heel tactic,” but doesn’t come across that way to most folks who aren’t used to it.
Think back to Vince Russo’s fascination with creating ambiguous characters that exhibit “good” traits and “bad” traits at the same time. For some fans, Cena’s presence is cheered and hailed; he’s got a million-dollar smile, his move set is predictable, and he does nice things for sick kids and has a really great work ethic. John Cena, in that line of thinking, is an All American American that everyone wants to be like when they grow up.
As has been said on this site many times before, the Cena character is that high school All-City Varsity Sports Team Captain that gets what he wants when he wants because he’s that damn good and he brings money and publicity to an otherwise lackluster institution. John Cena is the senior that has received a letter jacket in every single sport in the school, even the ones he had no business participating in.
The girls love him; the freshmen just want him to acknowledge that he exists. All the popular kids have been at his house and have had tons of fun at the killer parties thrown when his parents are vacationing in the Hamptons for three weeks.
The problem with that high school All-City Varsity Sports Team Captain is that in order to stay at the top, he has to stand on someone’s face (see what I did there?)…
John Cena entered the Izod Center last night to a roaring chorus of boos and simply smirked their remarks away. Cena’s speech spat in their faces; despite their dislike of him, he was still the champ and they had to deal with it. He traded in his trademark shirts for one crappy one that pointed to his new championship belt, and when he removed that belt there was another belt printed on the actual shirt. Cena reveled in the chorus of jeers and knew that the fans catcalls couldn’t phase him; all that mattered was that he finally beat The Rock and could move on with his life.
When Mark Henry approached Cena his smile turned into a look of concern, which then turned into snide comments and jokes at Henry’s expense. Cena then condescendingly introduced himself to Mark Henry as the WWE Champion, and a match for Henry’s opportunity as the number one contender for said title was made for later on in the show.
Cena’s look of concern was just for show; he’s already beaten Mark Henry before when the stakes were high. He wasn’t scared of Mark Henry at all…Cena’s tone suggested that Mark Henry should’ve been scared of the champ.
Cena then goes on to face Henry in the main event and wins the match by count-out, something highlyunusual for the man that can withstand leagues of abuse from all types of wrestlers. Once again Cena defied the odds and once again he’s shoved down our collective craw.
This has been the sum and substance of Cena’s character since fans began to vocally show their dislike of him. Yet he returns each night, unfazed by the shouts of his haters, to show off the fact that he knows he’s that damn good and there’s nothing that will change that. He even said it to The Rock prior to their match at WrestleMania XXVIII; it was along the lines of, “I know how this is going to go. You’ll talk smack, you’ll do this, I’ll beat you, and everything remains the same.”
Babyface characters don’t do that; good guys at least pretend that their opponents are threats. Cena can’t even feign intimidation because he can barely fathom that someone in the company actually has his number. Most heels are the same way, that despite their obvious weaknesses they still remain untouchable. More importantly they flaunt that Teflon don status all the time…
All of a sudden Ryback is inserted into the picture, a beast of an opponent that has obvious weaknesses but a beast that Cena has managed to avoid in the past year. Think back to the Triple Threat Match at Survivor Series and Cena’s elimination of Ryback at the Royal Rumble. The Champ honestly wants none of Ryback because out of all his high school conquests from freshman to sophomore year, he hasn’t had to face anyone that could beat him this silly since Bobby Lashley.
Cena’s already a heel, but a new type of heel that doesn’t resemble the Blackjack Mulligans or Bruiser Brodys we’re use to seeing. Ryback will be the face that we will pay good money to see defeat John Cena. Ryback is that force that keeps moving forward, chasing Cena even when The Champ thinks everything’s going to end once he gets a pinfall victory. That (hopefully) won’t be the case here, and we’re praying that the creative heads can keep the story compelling.
Just reflect on those thoughts for a moment, and while you do so check out this meme:
Those are just my thoughts on Monday night’s episode of RAW. What did y’all think of the show?
Anticipation is at a fevered pitch as fans are only a few days away from the biggest sports entertainment spectacle of the year! WrestleMania XXIX is practically here, and we’re all anxious to take part in the majesty of this weekend surrounding the “grandest stage of them all!”
The build for this year’s event has been characterized by some fans as “lacking,” not having that humph that makes the event worth spending so much money for. That is a fair and accurate criticism to make of the event, which questions the rationale for shelling out tons of money just to attend it live or ordering it on pay per view.
If you’ve followed the L.E.W.D. site from its very humble beginnings, you can easily recall that WrestleMania is the anniversary of our first official gathering; this weekend (if not the entire week) represents the first time many of us witnessed the event live and in person. Having paid the money, helped with organizing damn near 20 people from around the country, and visited the many different events surrounding WrestleMania, I can honestly say that the magic of the weekend lies not within the actual event, but just experiencing everything that comes with it.
This year’s WrestleMania, outside of anything WWE is promoting or pandering, appears to be the largest gathering of pro wrestling related events fans have ever seen. Wrestlecon is happening this weekend; our great friends at DragonGate USA/EVOLVE will be doing stuff, as well as Chikara, Shimmer and CZW. Hell, even TNA is cashing in on this opportunity and hosting an event in New York on April 5!
This all goes to say that there is no reason for any fan that prides himself/herself on being a pro wrestling/sports entertainment fan to intentionally pout in the corner because this WrestleMania has somehow failed to live up to the hype and grandeur of WrestleMania X7. There are so many different events going on and ways to see them that WWE’s premier pay per view will literally be the bookend to one hell of a weekend. In that regard, the show cannot fail to meet expectations if you limit your expectations to simply experiencing WrestleMania by itself.
Given the pomp and circumstance of the event it isn’t unreasonable to expect WWE and its superstars to deliver come Sunday. My point is that at this point in the game we have to begin to appreciate what the event symbolizes and not just the event itself. This particular WrestleMania may seem like trash to some, but having experienced WrestleMania XXVII live here in Atlanta…I’ll just say this one is a big step up from that in more ways than one.
I also realize in these economic times we’re all strapped for cash and our finances won’t allow us to indulge in everything offered by the weekend; but if I had a choice, I’d honestly encourage you to purchase one of the iPPVs and locate your nearest Hooters or Buffalo Wild Wings to catch WrestleMania. If push comes to shove, you could also consider rounding up your closest friends and chipping in to order the event together.
Having said that let’s look at the card as it stands now and attempt to make some good ol’ fashioned predictions:
For some time now The Miz has been involved in a series of matches battling against Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett. Ironically enough their placement on the WrestleMania card appears to be a metaphor for their current rivalry: easily forgettable.
I believe their rivalry began with a spat over who was the bigger movie star, with Miz and Barrett speaking highly of their films The Marine 3: Homefront and Dead Man Down, respectively. Once again in a strange twist of fate, I’m not in a particular rush to see either movie or their match.
This match feels as if the men were placed together because in the grand scheme of things both were aimlessly floating around with very little to do. I haven’t been all that thrilled about their matches, which isn’t a slight at either individual’s work rate or abilities. The bottom line for me is that the feud and rivalry is rather dull and the Intercontinental Championship feels like an unnecessary accessory altogether, not even speaking about Barrett’s ho-hum reign.
I expect Barrett to retain in what’s going to ultimately be an over exaggerated exhibition match.
Prediction: Wade Barrett retains.
Let’s face facts: the average wrestling fan believes this match is a waste of time and space on the jam packed WrestleMania card. The average fan would also believe that there are tons of wrestlers (Ted DiBiase and Kofi Kingston maybe…) who deserve this coveted spot more so than Fandango. Those opinions, while valid, also miss the mark when it comes to the whole of Jericho’s burgeoning feud with Fandango.
For starters, Fandango (formerly Johnny Curtis from the fourth season of NXT) is a “debuting” wrestler in the company. That word “debut” can be used loosely here, but he’s new talent relatively speaking. It’s hilarious to see some fans dump on new talent, only to turn around and complain when the company fails to make “new stars.”
Secondly, Fandango is making his “debut” at WrestleMania against Chris Jericho, a soon-to-be-legend that works extremely well with getting over…you guessed it…new talent. The man should be honored twice as much to have Jericho as his in-ring coach and to face him at the company’s biggest pay per view of the year.
This brings us to our third point: the higher ups in the company must think he’s worth his salt if they’ve chosen to (a) not release him, (b) have him wrestle against Chris Jericho at his (c) debut at WrestleMania. This isn’t taking into consideration the tons of money placed into his character with the garishly elaborate sets.
Fourthly despite whatever the fans may feel the need to chant, the man can actually wrestle; there is a HUGE difference between chanting “you can’t wrestle” and “you don’t wrestle.”
All things considered Fandango’s presence at WrestleMania is enough of a big deal for Curtis Jonathan Hussey. He doesn’t need a win here to legitimize himself, so expect Chris Jericho to humble the star Sunday night.
Prediction: Chris Jericho wins, feud with Fandango continues.
The feud between Del Rio and Swagger started off as a red hot rivalry rooted in the controversial subject of immigration. Since Swagger’s return to WWE he, along with his manager Zeb Coulter, have crusaded against the individuals they believe are causing America to decay in the sort of moral turpitude that only “immigrants” can apparently cause. Unfortunately that angle lasted about as long as a Hot Pocket in a college student’s refrigerator; as it stands now the main reason fans are invested in this match is because Jack Swagger beat up Ricardo Rodriguez.
Del Rio’s run as a face has been much better than the latter part of his run as a heel; the sad part of it all is that even with Rodriguez by his side, Del Rio consistently struggles to get the fans to rally behind him. This nagging reality haunts Del Rio to this day, and thus creates a situation similar to that of The Miz and Wade Barrett; yeah he’s going to wrestle Jack Swagger, yeah there’s a title on the line, but do you really care?
I’m hoping that the match will be a clinic between two exceptionally gifted wrestlers, but other than that it probably won’t be anything worth writing home about. Del Rio retains much to
Yosemite Sam’s Zeb Coulter’s chagrin, and Swagger survives only to spend another day frustrated with change.
Prediction: Del Rio retains
The bout between Ryback and Mark Henry is one of those fights that force you to ask yourself, “What took them so long?” Actually, wrestling logic dictates that these two will feud for another month or so, realize that they’re not so different after all, and unite in a formidable team that will rise up the ranks and win the WWE Tag Team Championships. Alas, they’ve already got a Black Guy/White Guy powerhouse team, so that dog won’t hunt anytime soon.
WrestleMania XXIX will also be a huge night for Ryback as well, serving as the star’s coming out party against another WWE legend in the making. Say what you will about Mark Henry, but it cannot be denied that he’s one of the most tenured WWE stars still wrestling today (he debuted in 1996, while Triple H debuted in WWE one year before him in 1995). Despite having gaps in his career due to injuries, Mark Henry has remained a fixture in the company and the man has to be worth something if they haven’t released him yet.
“Two bulls in a china shop” is the best way to describe this match; Ryback will walk away with the rub from Henry, which will bring him one step closer to his eventual run as a main event star in the company. If Ryback is able to lift Henry up for his patented Shell Shock finisher, then WrestleMania XXIX will officially be worth the $55 you’re planning on spending on it.
Prediction: Ryback with the pinfall victory.
It’s amazing how quickly the members of Dolph Ziggler’s stable have managed to fall from grace in such a short time. There was a point where the AJ Lee character was the focus of Monday Night RAW and involved heavily with multiple main event superstars at once. There was also a point where Lee’s heat was translating nicely over to Dolph Ziggler. Things really began to look awesome when the very large and intimidating Big E Langston joined the crew as the silent and brooding enforcer.
Then it all went to hell.
Ziggler is still in possession of his Money In the Bank championship contract and with three months left until its expiration we can only hope he cashes it before becoming the third person (after John Cena and Mr. Anderson) unable to successfully cash in their MITB contract. AJ Lee and Big E have no purpose or direction whatsoever right now because they’re too busy living in Ziggler’s shadow, which in and of itself is a shadow of the spectacle of WrestleMania.
Whatever the case may be these two men are being fed to the WWE Tag Team Champions as neither team really has much going for them at this exact moment. Team Hell No will retain and high-falootin’ hijinks will ensue.
Prediction: Team Hell No retains.
It truly is hard to believe that two years ago we had the extreme pleasure of watching Jon Moxley wrestle right before our eyes; we knew then that Moxley had a try-out match with WWE that weekend, but we never imagined that it’d be two short years later when we’d see him in a marquee WrestleMania match.
The same can be said for Tyler Black, who was scooped up from ROH by WWE seven months before Moxley. Most fans immediately assumed that Black would be “misused” by WWE…but three years later, he’s got a WrestleMania match.
Roman Reigns debuted in FCW Wrestling in September 2010, the same month and year as Tyler Black. As a member of the legendary Anoa’i, the superstar first known as Leakee had massive shoes and expectations to fill. Fast forward three years…well you get the picture.
Collectively speaking The Shield is beginning to show signs of monotony as their justice-leveling antics appear to lack substance and value. They’ve amassed two straight pay per view victories and have proven themselves to be formidable contenders against numerous superstars, including John Cena. At WrestleMania XXIX they face their biggest challenge to date against the team of Sheamus, Randy Orton and The Big Show, but their presence still lacks a solid direction that could make the difference between their match being good and great.
The consensus among some fans is that Orton will turn heel and align himself with The Shield; this would solve a few of the company’s problems: refreshing the Randy Orton character, breathing some new life into The Shield and adding some star-power to their mix. Think of this as WWE’s “Bully Ray-slash-Aces and 8s” swerve.
I have two problems with that rationale: there are already tons of heels in WWE at the moment and I also never saw the trail of breadcrumbs leading to such a drastic shift in Orton’s character. With or without a heel turn from a member of the opposite team, expect The Shield to pull off the victory against Team Non-Compatible.
Prediction: The Shield wins.
The WWE took advantage of Paul Bearer’s unexpected death to concoct a convenient storyline for Taker/Punk match at WrestleMania. Some fans have even gone as far as to question the build to the match prior to Bearer’s death; whatever the case may be, Punk has one hell of an opportunity to steal the show with the Deadman this Sunday.
Ever since Punk’s near mythic year long reign as WWE Champion, the Straight Edge Superstar has fought for the respect he feels he rightfully deserves. If you’ve followed Punk’s WWE career (or watched his 3-disc DVD set), you would realize that he fought tooth and nail just to stay in the company and has amassed quite a bit of stock by now. If Punk manages to give a good show with Taker, he would undoubtedly receive the credit he deserves just by hanging with him in the ring.
The build for this match leaves a lot to the imagination, but do you really care about the build more than you do the actual psychology and athleticism of the match? Here are solid facts: Taker can still go in the ring and Punk can get a five star match from anybody (remember the bout with John Cena from RAW?). Two exceptionally gifted wrestlers, athletes and entertainers going at it for at least twenty minutes…and some folks are stuck on the build for the match? Please.
The safe (and accurate) assumption is that Taker will go 21-0 by defeating Punk. I hope and pray in my heart of hearts that this is the case, but I’m not convinced the “build” was solid enough to give us reasonable doubt about Taker’s chances of losing this year. At the very least, however, I’ve got a feeling Punk will finally gain the “respect” he’s been searching for.
Prediction: The Undertaker defeats CM Punk
Prediction: Tons of Funk & The Funkadactyls
I’m hoping you didn’t drink the Kool-Aid and let the smooth taste fool you…
While a solid and consistent number of fans were up in arms about “Twice In a Lifetime,” I failed to see anyone question the necessity of yet another Triple H “Your Career Is Officially Over…Again…” match at WrestleMania. I swear the last time Trips showed his body at this pay per view the match was billed as the “End of an Era;” but I guess a new era can start when you cut your hair even though you still wear your leather jackets and enter the arena with a Motörhead song blaring through the sound system.
The most recognizable Attitude Era wrestlers that are still going at it are Triple H, The Undertaker, and Mark Henry. Oddly enough each of them have matches at WrestleMania, and even more sinister is the fact that only two of those individuals are in matches where they are in a position to put over other younger superstars. Guess which individual gets the spotlight all on his own…
It was once commented that Triple H has yet to have that “WrestleMania moment,” the one pivotal career-defining WrestleMania moment that serves as the magnum opus of his 18 year WWE career. I’m not so sure his match with Brock Lesnar will be it.
The last match between Lesnar and Triple H wasn’t as enthralling as Lesnar’s match with Cena, which makes getting excited about this one a very daunting task. I expect brutality and a certain level of “legit” from Lesnar (two times the average level of legit, in case you were wondering), and that’s enough to get fans interested in the match. Who wouldn’t want to see Brock Lesnar beat someone senseless?
But again, the focus is on Triple H…the focus is on Trips settling a score with Brock and showing the WWE Universe that The Game still has it. It’s also a way for Trips to try once again to get that WrestleMania moment he’s thirsting for. Even with the tantalizing possibility of Lesnar ripping off Trips’ arm and beating him with it, the reality of seeing Trips’ puppy dog face as he grieves another loss to Heyman’s boy is enough to cause fans to yawn themselves silly until the main main event.
To borrow a quote from our L.E.W.D. brother Corbin Macklin, “I sweafogawd if I see this man lose onemotime…”
I call Trips beating Lesnar, enabling him to keep his wrestling career and perhaps setting up a rubber match sometime in the future.
Prediction: Triple H defeats Brock Lesnar
What more can be said about WrestleMania XXIX’s main event that hasn’t already been said?
There are a ton of possibilities that could come from the finish of the match. At this moment I’m not sure of what future projects The Rock has lined up; I think he’s supposed to be Hercules or start filming the another movie with Vin Diesel and Paul Walker or whatever. All signs point to John Cena regaining the WWE Championship, placing a big thumbs up emblem on the sides where the Brahma Bull logos are at, and mediocrity on RAW ensues for another millennium.
I would actually enjoy seeing John Cena lose again to The Rock; it’s tragic to see any fan yearn to see a character’s downfall, but that’s what makes for compelling television. It’s sickening that John Cena can manage to escape clean losses time after time; everyone has a weakness and dammit someone’s got to know how to keep Cena on the sidelines. For me, seeing a different personality trait in Cena’s character would be gold. He doesn’t have to be a full blown heel, but just something different than the life coach we get each week right now.
The problem with changing something that isn’t broken is that it begins to wear thin on some, particularly those of us that wish for some type of depth to be shown in the character. Depth among shallow-end pool swimmers (i.e. kids and young women) isn’t something valued or sought after, and because of such we’re going to get another Cena WrestleMania victory and everyone for the most part goes home with a warm and fuzzy feeling inside of their stomachs. I’ve been told that ulcers and abdominal pains have that same effect…
There have been reports that seeds have been planted for a Ryback/Cena post-WrestleMania feud (remember the Triple Threat match for CM Punk’s WWE Title and Cena’s elimination of Ryback at the Royal Rumble pay per view?), and that’s something I even hinted at in a previous post. That type of feud will suffice, but it’s the same wash-rinse-repeat cycle Cena’s been placed in before. Hell, I’d like it if they brought back Alex Riley as some young, upstart collegiate so-and-so attempting to assume the throne when Cena’s Jersey City All Pro character get’s ready to “go off to college.” But alas, I’m on the internet writing for you and not the WWE for a reason…I guess.
Cena wins and we’ll get to pout about it in a post-WrestleMania blog post.
Prediction: John Cena redeems himself to himself and wins the WWE Championship for the 800th time
All things considered this action-packed WrestleMania will keep us enthralled all Sunday night. I hope you enjoyed reading the predictions, and stay posted to the L.E.W.D. site all weekend as we indulge in the cavalcade of pro wrestling going on as we speak!
We are one day away from the second WWE pay per view of 2013, an event billed as being one of the most demonic and unrelenting structures ever constructed and conceived in the history of professional wrestling. The Elimination Chamber pay per view (also known as No Escape 2013 in Germany, and you only get one guess as to why) is the first stop on the highly romanticized and hyped Road to WrestleMania.
Expectations for this pay per view seem to be mild compared to that of previous events, particularly previous Elimination Chamber pay per views. Perhaps this is due to a build that makes the pay per view a means to an end, a show that in itself is a build to WrestleMania more so than anything else. That isn’t a “bad” thing, per se, but the show must deliver in order to convince us that another Rock/Cena match is worth paying for.
The other thing that sticks out to me about this pay per view is the fact that the Chamber match is honestly a shell of its former self. Many moons ago I wrote a piece on Bleacher Report about how the actual chamber was no where near as diabolical as its described to be or once was.
The “21st Century PG Era” (because there have been several “PG” eras in WWE history) pretty much neutered the chamber. This isn’t to say that the structure isn’t demanding or that it doesn’t pose threats to the athletes well-being and safety. What it is saying is that without the presence of blood at some point during the match, the fans have to really focus on the stories told by the facial expressions and body language of the athletes. The sight of blood only intensified the hype about the grueling structure; without it, the fans who’ve seen just how dangerous these types of matches are will have to use his/her imagination, and that’s kind of difficult for desensitized hardcore fans.
Nevertheless I think we’re all looking forward to the pay per view just to see if our predictions for WrestleMania 29 are right. The lineup consists of paper-great matches, and perhaps a slew of new stars will be groomed tonight for spectacular showings at “the Grandaddy of Them All.” Without further ado, here’s the lineup:
Color me simple, but I could’ve sworn that Team Rhodes Scholars broke up a few weeks ago. Then during a house show circuit and a few media appearances, they teamed back up for “one time only” or for “limited engagements.” Yet here they are curtain jerking for a pay per view together as a team. It would seem that the Historical Conservation Department at Titan Towers has snookered us again.
I’ve missed out on a lot of RAWs and WWE shows as of late, so it was really out of left field for me to hear that Tensai and Clay teamed up. I vaguely remember their interaction on the RAW from Vegas with Tensai wearing the dress and participating in the dance contest, but that’s about it. On the other hand I do recall that there are a number of fans, and even perhaps some wrestlers, who feel that a comedy schtick for Tensai is beneath a man of his Japanese honed talent and skills. I personally wouldn’t know what to do with Tensai at this moment in time in his career; be it far from me to suggest that the man should be happy he’s on the card and at least has a gimmick to work with (Hi, JTG!), but it is a good thing that he gets some sort of exposure as opposed to none at all.
I’m not expecting a Harley Race stature match from these four men and neither should the fans. The plus side is that two tag teams will get the chance to ply their craft on WWE television, and that’s a very good thing considering our collective love fest for all things tag team wrestling. I imagine that Team Rhodes Scholars will pull off the victory if Damien Sandow hits the Terminus on one an opponent…Brodus Clay perhaps.
Prediction: Team Rhodes Scholars
Antonio Cesaro has held the United States Championship for an impressive 6-month reign, and The Miz looks to end that streak tonight at the Elimination Chamber pay per view.
As of late The Miz has been on a roll as a babyface, with some saying that his character feels more organic and natural as a good guy. While that perspective is arguable I’m just not convinced that this Whole Foods Miz can really dethrone the United States Champion. Miz will have to look for a way to counter Cesaro’s amazing strength and exceptional wrestling repertoire, and that is not a small feat.
Cesaro, on the other hand, will have to contend with the fact that he is wrestling a former WWE Champion. This gives a slight experiential edge to the Miz, but the only “edge” that could help the Miz in this situation retired back in April 2011; so much for that hope.
I expect Cesaro to retain in what will be a pretty straight forward match; Cesaro will beat the hell out of Miz, and Miz will try not to get hurt or hurt Cesaro while in the process of being beat silly and senseless.
Prediction: Antonio Cesaro retains.
Big Show lost his title to Alberto Del Rio one month ago after a grueling and brutal feud with Sheamus. Since then Del Rio has managed to get over as a face, Big Show attempts to get under Del Rio’s skin have been fruitless, and Ricardo Rodriguez is still the most entertaining person in the entire rivalry. This rivalry between Del Rio and Show will more than likely culminate at Elimination Chamber, as there is speculation that returning superstar “The REAL American” Jack Swagger will enter into a feud with Del Rio over the championship.
Since returning Swagger has been “repackaged” as an American badass with a chip on his shoulder. Mic work has never been Swagger’s strongest suit, so legendary wrestling fixture Dutch Mantel has been given the daunting task of working the stick for him. Matel works as Zeb Colter, Swagger’s cantankerous manager with an ax to grind against a country filled with what he sees as “illegal immigrants.”
Atlee Greene just wrote an interesting piece about Swagger’s new gimmick and manager over on Gerweck.net. Check it out, as it’s worth the read and also worthy of some conversation among fans.
All that being said, I think a Swagger/Del Rio feud over the championship will provide for some interesting and colorful twists and turns in a controversial main event storyline for SmackDown. The only problem I see is that this storyline can’t happen or progress until Big Show is out of the picture…well, that’s not the only problem I see. I would’ve enjoyed seeing Swagger use this same storyline as a face against Antonio Cesaro for the United States Championship, but perhaps a Swagger/Del Rio feud is best at this moment in time.
Del Rio will put Big Show down tomorrow at the pay per view and move forward to a program with a rejuvenated and pissed off Jack Swagger.
Prediction: Del Rio to retain.
This year’s actual Chamber match is the only one that will take place, and the stakes are high for the six individuals who will face each other within the confines of the massively intimidating steel structure. Also unique is the fact that three returning superstars—Chris Jericho, Jack Swagger and Mark Henry—will try to withstand the offense of their three seasoned and active opponents.
As mentioned in the previous blurb, it’s speculated that Jack Swagger will put World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio squarely in his sights. If this is the case, we can expect Swagger to storm into the match and walk out as the sole survivor of this year’s Chamber fracas.
We can also probably expect to see more dissension between Team Hell No, while Randy Orton and Chris Jericho will ultimately provide some memorable moments in the match. Mark Henry is the dark horse (no pun intended) in this match, but he and Kane will provide scores of wanton brutality that will make the match worth a damn. I’m particularly interested in seeing Swagger and Bryan provide some excellent moments of wrestling that hardcore fans mess themselves over.
Prediction: Jack Swagger with the win to become the #1 Contender for the World Heavyweight Championship
There’s not much to be said about this match other than the fact that once again the WWE is providing fans with something they’ve clamored to see for the longest. I’m expecting this match to deliver exactly what folks claim is absent from the Divas Division: a wrestling match between two women who are wrestlers and not models trained to be wrestlers. Kaitlyn has only held the belt for a month and her reign as champion hasn’t been solidified or heavily emphasized as much as it could have been; I see her retaining the belt against Tamina, perhaps beginning a lengthy program with her in the process.
While I have your attention, there are a few things to say about the Divas Division and women’s wrestling today:
- Women’s wrestling will never get the respect some fans (self included) feel it deserves unless we give it the respect it deserves. As long as we sit on our hands during Divas matches, as long as we don’t celebrate and appreciate the work these women put in to entertain us, and as long as we don’t expose ourselves to other companies that have outstanding women wrestlers on their rosters (SHIMMER, Shine, WSU, etc.), then the two major promotions in the U.S. will continue to push their respective women’s divisions as they do now.
- Fans claim that one major U.S. promotion treats its women’s division with way more respect than another particular major U.S. promotion. While that may have been true prior to 2010, it’s a very debatable point here in 2013. Bottom line is this: if any promotion was serious or “more serious” about their women’s division, then why haven’t we seen a women’s match main event a pay per view in one of the major promotions? I’m still waiting for that moment, and any excuse made to explain why this hasn’t happen only leads back to the reality that fans are not as serious about women’s wrestling as they imagine themselves to be.
- Will there ever come a time when we’ll see an all Diva Elimination Chamber match, or Extreme Rules match, or Hell In a Cell Match…you get where I’m going with this…
Prediction: Kaitlyn to retain.
This match might be the most epic ass-whipping in WWE history since the career of Stone Cold Steve Austin. Three typical big and burly WWE superstars square off against the hyper-aggressive and relentless offense of The Shield. Damn a slobberknocker, this match is going to be flat out brutal!
Despite the incredible amount of talent present in the group, The Shield is starting to suffer from the Wild Bill Hickok Social Consortium Syndrome; this crippling disorder occurs when a poorly defined heel group becomes insignificant due to their poorly defined status. The remedy that WWE saw fit to give the group is to place them in a match with two of the most popular superstars in the company…and John Cena.
It’s not just that The Shield is a poorly defined group, but rather they represent a nebulous yet integral part of a much larger storyline. This form of storytelling, one that literally lasts an entire year, happens at a pace that is frustrating for most fans who have very short attention spans and poor long-term memory. However its necessary for the group to be mind-numbingly ambiguous right now for a major reveal to occur later down the line.
In order to keep the group fresh and relevant they’ve been placed with three of WWE’s heavy hitters, thus keeping their momentum at the forefront of fans’ minds. The real question is where do they go after their match Sunday night?
Essentially we’re staring at three bullish monsters facing three bonafide wrestlers. Seeing as their match is a six man tag team bout, it will be noteworthy to see just how Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose can handle superstars when they don’t have numbers to work in their advantage. Keep in mind we’ve yet to see any of the men in singles competition, which honestly brings up a lot of questions concerning their presence in the company and how they’re able to have and not have “contracts” at the same time.
The other thing we should pay close attention to is how the members of The Shield wrestle. Up to this point their wrestling style, collectively speaking, has not been any different that of their opponents, casting them as brawlers more so than technical wrestlers. I’m interested in seeing whether or not they keep this up as individuals when they face their opponents.
Unfortunately for The Shield, John Cena can’t possibly lose this match and will put an end to this Shield nonsense for the time being. That sounds super negative but it’s always the case when dealing with John Cena.
Prediction: John Cena to pick up the win for himself, Sheamus and Ryback
Last but not least is our WWE Championship Match, where The Rock will defend his recently acquired title against the disgruntled and disenfranchised former champion CM Punk. While a definite rehash of their match from last month’s Royal Rumble, this battle has an added stipulation: if The Rock gets counted out or disqualified, CM Punk will regain the title.
Fans expect Punk to lose this match, which will set up the second “Once In a Lifetime” match between The Rock and John Cena at WrestleMania 29. I can’t say that I’m thrilled at that prospect, but I’m definitely not totally against it either. The Rock defending the title against John Cena at WM is a money match all the way and it gives Rock the opportunity to put over Cena in the same way Hollywood Hulk Hogan put him over at WrestleMania X8…as if Cena needed any help getting over at this point in his career…
My particular perspective is this: there are several wrestlers who face each other countless times throughout their careers. Seeing Rock vs. Cena one more time at WrestleMania won’t do more harm than seem some other stars face each other over and over again. Also, Rock and Cena are far from being the only two wrestlers who’ve had “one time only” matches…so it’s useless to argue about whether or not the WWE is crossing some imaginary line of hypocrisy by having Cena and Rock face each other once more.
I expect Punk to do most of the heavy lifting during the match, as Rock is obviously not the same performer he was years ago when he moved on to other avenues in the entertainment industry. I’m not sure if or how interference in the match will play into the finish, but I’m definitely sure that Punk will not walk out of the match as the new WWE Champion. Anticipate the finish of the match to play an important role in the development of the storyline for the WWE Championship match at WrestleMania.
Prediction: The Rock retains.
So far on my scorecard I have all the titles being retained as we head into April’s WrestleMania 29 pay per view. Hopefully the show will deliver and whet our whistles for the biggest show in pro wrestling today. Thanks for the reading, and can’t wait to catch the pay per view tomorrow!
Place in your predictions as to who you think will will these matches. If you have a certain scenario to go with your decision, then put it in a comment for this article.
What was it I said back when AJ was simply known as “Daniel Bryan’s manager”? Oh yeah: “She’s cute, but I can’t say what I really want to because she CAN’T be legal.” Yes, she was a bubbly thing of freshman innocence and barely legal physique, but there was something undeniable about her appeal as well. Maybe it was her smile. Maybe it was her obsessive traits. Maybe it was because the chick was crazy, and as we all know because of this saying that I paraphrase from a Mr. Peter Ian Staker: “Crazy chicks do it better.”
I guess that’s true, whatever “it” is. I have theories. Maybe “it” is sports. AJ is a rather athletic little imp. Maybe “it” is collecting nerd things. AJ is something of a video game nerd, a real geek as it were. God bless the population of gamers that look that good and act that crazy. Gives this heavy gaming geek hope he hasn’t had since Zoe Saldana broke it off with Keith Britton. Sure, she’s with Bradley Cooper now but I have hope. Let’s start this hashtag and get something started: #BoycottBradleyCooper.
Then, at the end of the day, maybe it’s just that she has a magnetic appeal that draws people in. Maybe that “it” is sheer appeal. Or straight sex, I don’t know. But when her power pop music hits and her brightly colored Titantron intro begins, the crowd cheers. When she skips out from backstage, with her usually tight midriff shirt, impossibly short short-shorts and Converse sneakers, we get that warm feeling along the lines of what Leopold Bloom had in The Producers. Max Bialystock called it an erection… or Malaria… not that it matters: there’s a shot for everything these days.
And in complete transparency, I have to say that I love the character of AJ Lee. I love how she rose from being Daniel Bryan’s latest conquest to being the leading woman in the company (arguably sports entertainment (that’s a post for another day)). I love seeing her come out week after week, from the position of manager to the position of lunatic to the position of power to the position she is in now. And much like our friend Bryan Danielson, her story is a curious one. It literally is a story that extends as far back as NXT, Season 3, where she was the rookie to Primo, of all people. This is my confession: I did NOT watch NXT Season 3 that much at all.
I know it doesn’t really help my “Women’s wrestling is valid!” argument (another post for another day) but I just didn’t care. My feelings towards NXT were lacking because it wasn’t what it is now. This lends to the issue of expectation, but I appreciated what it was even then, just didn’t care to watch it. Season one of the program had Wade Barrett win and shortly after the Nexus came into existence, as well as the rise of Daniel Bryan (funny how these things connect). Season two featured Kaval, aka Low Ki, aka that guy whose racial makeup is harder to read than Vin Diesel’s, win and, subsequently, get let go. That guy Alex Riley was there too. Great how that worked out. It’s really something when your greatest claim to WWE fame is getting thrown into a wall by the Big Show.
By the time Season three came along I was really “meh” about NXT. I watched two episodes, saw Naomi kicking serious buttocks, and just assumed everything would end up copasetic. End of the day, Kaitlyn won – to my surprise – and outside of Jaime the women all had futures in the WWE. Just to jog your memory, these women are: Kaitlyn, Naomi, A.J., Aksana and Maxine. You may be wondering to yourself what they’re all doing now. Well here’s the short form:
Kaitlyn is wrestling at the top of the Divas division right now, a stark contrast to most of the Divas in that she doesn’t come out as a sex object so much as a violent tank of a woman (I like that). Naomi is paired with Cameron as a Funkadactyl, dancing for Brodus Clay and touching her cohort’s behind with her own (I like that too). Aksana went through a bout as Teddy Long’s love interest, which was bizarre and unnecessary, but mostly bizarre and mildly amusing as old sexual innuendos are smile worthy, not guffaw worthy. Maxine was paired with Johnny Curtis, and that’s all that needs to be said about that. She was released and she most definitely will NOT be Fandango’s dance partner, if you catch my meaning.
And then there’s A.J. She was paired with Kaitlyn and they were thrown into the tag team fray, one representing power, one representing speed (I’m assuming). Prior to all of this she was FCW, had the title but gave it up to Rosa Mendes. That should have been mentioned earlier but I don’t do traditional rules of literary form. Anyway, paired with Kaitlyn, the team known as the Chickbusters tried to do damage to the tag team division, but kept getting damaged in return by the Divas of Doom (Beth Phoenix and Natalya), a team that was unfair in every conceivable way. After getting repeatedly beaten up, A.J. focused on a new prize: the then-James Bond of WWE Superstars, former World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan. Like I said, funny how these things interrelate, eh?
So as some of us pondered on what Jay Lethal was thinking as A.J. was slobbing down his old tag team partner, we saw the dark fall of Daniel Bryan, and A.J.’s degradation as a result. With Wrestlemania and the 19.3 second loss Bryan suffered, the degradation began to affect A.J. parallel to Bryan. As he went through his denial of losing the title and began to long process of growing his beard to Bunyan proportions, A.J. was going through the denial of being dumped and, you could argue, was feeding off of the cruelty that was Daniel Bryan’s entertaining anger. Superstars and Divas alike attempted to calm her. Her reactions to that comfort ranged from mild to extreme, and the further we went down the line the harsher she was. She noticeably smacked NXT Season 3 winner Kaitlyn, twice, but the second time came much later.
This was around the time of the turning point, where A.J. advanced from sympathetic jilted sidepiece to sexy violent jilted sidepiece. Before Wrestlemania the Big Show served as the catalyst to Bryan’s true “feelings” towards A.J. and it became clearer and clearer before TRULY culminating in A.J.’s straight demolition of Kaitlyn. An amused Daniel Bryan went to the ring following A.J.’s furious assault and further berated the woman who claimed to still hold a torch for him. Introducing Crazy A.J., who went from cute and bubbly to “Oh my, it appears I’ve been struck with a rigor mortis in my….” Well, you get the idea.
With this new crazy (as well as sexy (not necessarily cool)) A.J.’s affections turned to the WWE Champion CM Punk. I remember the first words I said when she cried around him and stopped as suddenly as she began….
Because, of course, I had grown invested in the character at this point, and like an
underwhelming episode episode of Days of Our Lives. I looked at CM Punk the way I would Chad DiMera, confused and questioning the world at large following a major revelation when here comes that bitch Abby Deveraux ready to screw up everything with her… uh…
She seduced CM Punk who famously “digs crazy chicks”, and shortly after Kane was brought into the fray. Remember this, reader, because it comes back later. Daniel Bryan began to show signs of jealousy and he and Punk feuded, and then Kane feuded, and as the WWE Championship was being pursued by two new upstarts there was a curious thing going on: A.J. She was the center of everything, with Punk’s growing attraction to her at one point, Bryan’s confused feelings for her at another, and Kane’s recovering memory of what lust for a living
teenager woman feels like at another. Who was the point of that triangulation though?
She locked lips with the whole of them, Bryan before, Punk later, Kane most humorously as it led him to tag himself out of a match and probably go to the back for a date with Pamela Handerson. Then everything became about A.J. first and that belt second. This was when Punk was still an underappreciated face, Bryan was slowly coming around to face territory and Kane was… well, Kane was, as he always is: Kane. After a while, A.J.’s popularity reached skyrocketing status, and prior to the 1000th episode of RAW, Bryan had made a full turnout to sympathetic face territory. Punk was slowly going towards heel territory and Kane was, as he always is: Kane. This, of course, led to the proposal and, subsequently, the wedding on that aforementioned episode. This was the proposal of Bryan to A.J. mind you, not the one from A.J. to Punk before. Lunacy was running rampant. Anyway Reverend Slick, in all his greatness, led us to the most light hearted wedding we’ve seen in the WWE since Kane made a habit out of a assaulting religious figures. It was nice, it featured the sexy nymph in her Converses even as she skipped out in a wedding dress and…
She said no. Forget the fact that Daniel Bryan was about to make that word as great as it is now following his successful campaign to make “Yes” Webster’s word of the decade, the fact was that A.J. was about to do what no Diva had done and take over a show. McMahon came out and introduced the new general manager of RAW: A.J. Lee. As she left the ring, doing the infamous “Yes!” chant her now ex-fiancé popularized (this was the birth of Daniel Bryan’s equally awesome “No!” chant and tantrum) we could see that a new era had begun. And only so soon after Johnny Ace introduced People Power too. At least the new unnamed era of A.J. Lee was easy on the eyes. She has the touch.
A.J. began to run RAW with a cute, iron fist. Bryan was reprimanded for his cruel behavior to her and committed (remember how we all wondered about the orderlies on episode 1000?) and Kane was sent to help. Punk gained a new enemy following a heel turn and began to taunt A.J. with expanded definitions of “best in the world”, if you catch my meaning. Sure, it was funny. We all miss the segments with Dr. Shelby and the oh-so-awesome Harold, but it was still all about A.J. As she ruled backstage and the like, we saw her begin to break down little by little in her finest corporate attire, a look she managed to pull off better than Eve in my opinion. Eventually it became a little uninteresting to follow, and eventually it turned to Vickie Guerrero to challenge A.J. and constantly refer to her as “little girl”. By this point I had put aside my underage jokes too so I didn’t find it to be amusing. And, because I’ve skipped a few minor elements to get to this point, eventually Vickie began a campaign of her own to remove A.J. from power and become the new GM in the same way she wanted to run Smackdown. This brings us up to her firing from the position of general manager, Vickie’s rise as an emperor to the WWE shogunate.
Oh, and John Cena is involved too. That’s nice, I guess.
Now back in the Diva role, A.J. is still doing something spectacular, and that’s pushing along what has the potential to be a truly compelling story. Ultimately what she’s pushing forward is the rise of Dolph Ziggler, which began as a proxy from Vickie’s ambitions and Cena’s unnecessary (at least I think so) inclusion. Short form: A.J. lost her position because of an alleged affair with John Cena, and now Ziggler is involved because Vickie wouldn’t let up. The latest real culmination was a backstage brawl that featured Ziggler nearly murder Cena by putting him into and thus through bathroom stalls. To quote that school therapist from ‘Til Death: “It’s pretty awesome.”
But despite that, let’s look at what’s really interesting here: A.J. is once again leading something of a triangle. The original was Punk, Bryan and Kane, all fighting for her attention and prepubescent body, NO! Bad DiZ, no more jokes like that, stop it! What I mean to say is that they were all attracted to her completely legal persona. This time we have Cena, Ziggler and, surprisingly enough, Guerrero. Walk with me as I get into this.
Point one. It started with Vickie Guerrero. She’s on a standard power trip but her consistent use of the term “little girl” when referring to A.J. spells blatant jealousy as well. The necklace she wears, “Cougar”, would normally imply a kind of acceptance or admiration of her age and personal sex appeal but the constant booing from the audience, booing that drowns out everything and sounds louder than almost ANYTHING that the WWE can generate right now, is a definite deterrent to that confidence that she exudes when she comes out. A.J., on the other hand, is almost on the completely opposite end of the scale, from her physical appearance to her personality. Whereas Vickie is thick (in a good way, mind you), A.J. is VERY slender, if athletic. Vickie is in her mid forties whereas A.J. is a spry twentysomething.
At the same time, Vickie could and likely DOES see similar elements of herself in A.J. The most obvious thing might be the vengeful attitude they both share. It comes across differently, with Vickie being a bit of a deceptive sort and A.J. being the type to preserve her anger until it explodes, but they share the same kind of mean streak that manifests in SOMEBODY getting messed up royally. You could also say their desire for men is similar, with both of them going above and beyond their stations as managers to achieve their goals and help their Y chromosomed companions win or maintain their championships or chances thereof. For Vickie the clear reference is Dolph Ziggler, her longtime “client” whom she has a physical attraction to and has made clear implications to being attracted to, arguably under the guise of maintaining his Money in the Bank briefcase (kind of like the second female voice in Saints Row the Third, who wants to do things to Pierce that I highly doubt are legal outside of Bangkok or Mongolia). A.J., on the other hand, had Daniel Bryan before, the World Heavyweight Champion, who went further and further down the path of villainy. A.J. stuck by him before it, during it and after he dumped her, and made any effort she could to maintain that championship run in her man, past, present and future. Did it not continue with her relationship with CM Punk?
Finally, they are both of Hispanic origins. I’d make a comment about how they’re both dangerously hot headed, but that would be racist. And I’m not racist: I drive a Prius. Wait… no, I mean… damn that The New Adventures of Old Christine logic. Damn that Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her fine ass…
Point two. The second person to be introduced into the arc was technically John Cena. At this point John Cena doesn’t need an introduction or a rationale: he’s John Cena. He comes out and cuts a promo and there is guaranteed money. What his inclusion into this story means is likely (A) a result of his aging, (B) utilizing him to put other stars over, or (C) just because. An affair with John Cena seems to have some element of validity with the sports entertainment world, I don’t know, look at the whole Cena-Ryder-Eve mess from way back (which I CALLED!). Cena was accused of having an affair with A.J. He seems to play second fiddle to everyone else involved right now though. He’s the straight man, the one who wonders aloud what he’s doing and tries to play the good guy despite the temptations around him. Despite Vickie’s accusations he tries to merely deny them. Despite A.J.’s advances now he tries to merely remain professional. His focus, as usual, is on the man standing opposite him in the ring in all his sweaty goodness. Before you think it: yes, I do think John Cena is a major gay icon. You know, in the same vein as Madonna, who isn’t gay herself, but has a TREMENDOUS gay following. Just saying: you got a kid six, seven years old, watches John Cena every week, don’t be surprised if he’s bringing home a male cheerleader for dinner ten years later. Yeah, I said it.
John Cena also plays the role of the knight in shining armor, the man who protects the damsel in distress (A.J.) and fights the dragon (Ziggler) and the evil witch (Guerrero) for the sake of it being the right thing to do, not anything else. But despite all this he’s human, and on one hand he attempts to appease the dark forces by actually indulging in the very thing he’s criticized for. Does he look like he enjoys it? Not when he initiates it. Why? Because he was just making a point. But when the other side of that fence initiates it, well, it’s a different story. With a healthy dose of plausible deniability towards beginning a PDA with a co-worker, he indulges, so long as he didn’t start it. It’s similar to how he was with Eve so long ago. Remember: he didn’t kiss Eve. Eve kissed him. Otherwise his focus was on protecting Eve and Zack from the villainous Dark Lord of the Sith Kane. But he was kissed, and as a result, when Zack went to the ring to confront him, who came across as the innocent one, even as he stepped to his sidekick as if he was the enemy? That’s right…
Point three. The real focus, the man of the hour, Mr. Money in the Bank himself, Dolph Ziggler. You could make a case that his inclusion into the storyline revolves, in the beginning, around his protection of his manager. Soon after it becomes an attack on A.J.’s life and personality, even accusations about her motives and intentions. That’s part of what made the culmination of his and Cena’s brief backstage brawl so compelling. Recall how it began. Ziggler made an assumption that A.J. was thinking about him when she was kissing Cena (because it’s PG we can’t say when they’re doodling each other’s no-no regions (remember: it’s the Attitude Adjustment in the ring, the FU in the boudoir)) and Cena, being the boy scout that he was, went to defend the lady’s honor, or get revenge for his “girlfriend” with a Forrest Gump type of focus. Either way, he ended up messed up.
But Ziggler’s role in this triangle is the most interesting of them all. When A.J. burst into the men’s locker room and confronted Ziggler, I found it almost divine that he went off on her the way he did. It wasn’t loud, it wasn’t extra, it was straight up and, in a way, empowering. April Mendez’s circumstances in life were bad, this is true, and implanting them into a WWE storyline is a questionable tactic, but we watch for the character versus the person behind them, even though oftentimes they blend, something we’ve seen with CM Punk’s family being utilized in his feud with Chris Jericho, or Jerry Lawler’s recently deceased mother when he was feuding with Michael Cole.
We also have to look at what Ziggler he said on both sides of his argument about A.J., berating her in one instance and almost joyously claiming to be the object of her desires in another. A solid heel tactic, it also shows us Dolph’s confusion towards the woman, likely being just as disgusted by her as he is attracted to her. What began as a two-sided conflict between Cena and Ziggler over the attack and defense of Vickie’s accusations, respectively, turned into a three-pronged assault for A.J.’s eye following Ziggler’s grand standing statement of “She’s thinking about ME!” Like I said, normally this would just be a common heel tactic. When A.J. is involved it becomes a question along the same vein of Lupe Fiasco as Michael Young History: “‘Do I love her?’ Said, ‘I don’t know…’”
Ziggler’s character is that of a big time chauvinist and ego maniac. What he said to and about A.J. was harsh, enough to spawn a rough silence even in the audience, but behind what seemed like a damning serious of accusations (which, again, were translated into PG territory) was a scary subliminal message of “Do better!”. As a person, mind you, a character. When I watched Ziggler and A.J. in that segment, I didn’t get the sense that I was watching a man with an inflated ego talk down to a woman trying to get answers for her friend. I got the sense that I was watching a concerned elder brother deliver tough love to a troubled younger sister unable to see – or acknowledge – her faults.
It’s weird. Of course saying brother and sister is a bit of a stretch, but it does paint Ziggler as a more well rounded figure as opposed to just being an asshole (sidenote: Bully Ray is more of an asshole than Mr. Anderson according to Aaron James, Ph.D). He represents the stark reality of who A.J. just may be. He’s on the rise to greatness in this company, and it’s great to see his character is more than just a heel with an overactive ego.
But who is at the center? A.J. Again. To make it even stronger, she’s in the center of a storyline with John Cena being a part of it. That’s like having a Wrestlemania match with the Undertaker* in terms of prestige. Seeing the two in the ring together, sharing a kiss, I couldn’t help but think about that Cena-Ryder-Kane-Eve storyline that took place so long ago. As great as that storyline could have been it was ruined by the payoff that was Eve’s “revelation” of using Ryder and Cena for prestige, grandeur, greatness and possibly physical pleasure. If anything you could argue that SHE was Kane’s protégé the entire time, or the Amanda to Kane’s John Kramer, if you will. It makes me wonder about A.J.
That’s the second major point of the curious case of April Mendez. If the first is that she forms triangles around her, the second is a question of her ultimate intentions. While the kiss with Cena physically resembled the infamous Suddenly (as sung by Billy Ocean) moment with Eve, the cold-blooded words from Ziggler got the cogs in my head turning. “What does A.J. Lee really want?” She went from tag team Diva, to Bryan’s latest conquest (maybe it was SHE who invented “Yes! Yes! Yes!”, if you know what I mean), to main event symbol of attraction, to general manager, to sharing the spotlight with John Cena. That’s arguably a step up in power each time.
What does this have to do with Eve? Eve lusted after power, and she went from top Diva to Ryder’s reason for plunking his twanger to Cena’s fleeting but significant snake charmer, to being Johnny Ace’s head administrator, and yes, I have to admit that it sounds really sexualized but that last part was her official title. She rose in strength, and last I checked she was Divas’s Champion, again, after a bit as Teddy Long’s assistant.
I say they ruined that storyline with Eve the second they had her reveal her intentions; Cena overhearing was just icing on the nasty cake. If A.J. is supposed to have some kind of dark element or egomaniacal intentions to her, it can work because she’s believable as a long-term planner. Eve seemed to use, of all people, Zack Ryder, and John Cena was thrown in later as some kind of twisted “big brother” to the man who made wheelchair violence seem funny. A.J. can come across as vindictive and sympathetic, and all the while everything can seem organic with her. If she does turn out to be doing all she’s doing, forming these triangles and such for her own advancement, would it seem wrong? Would she not have motive and proper motivation? What if she was really just crazy? What if she really did just jump from guy to guy because she liked the attention?
This is what makes A.J. Lee such a curious case. She’s the girl next door but she’s so impossibly believable too. How can you not love her bubbly personality and, if I am to paraphrase Rich Boy: “Dat ass”? April Mendez, in all her wonder, is at the top of her game right now, and this is completely unrelated, but she’s not too too bad in the ring either. All that in mind, I look forward to what’s next for April Mendez, aka A.J. Lee. She’s the queen of the crazy in the WWE. The queen of sanity.
Oh, and just because I’m feeling nice, here’s a John Laurinaitis promo:
* denotes hyperbole, exaggeration or drunken assertions
I’ve got to be honest with you guys…I really wasn’t into Monday night’s episode of RAW. In fact I was so not into the episode that in order to do this review properly, I watched the show again on YouTube. I actually watched it while typing this review.
In the past few months, pro wrestling fans have flexed their critically cynical muscles by lambasting the WWE for producing subpar programming, particularly with respect to the product offered by other companies. But this is a RAW review, and we’re not here to compare oranges to crab apples; if we’re going to rake RAW over the coals, we can do it without mentioning who does what better.
My feelings from last week haven’t changed; pro wrestling/sports entertainment seems to be in a dormancy period that is in turn making everything seem boring. This is unfortunate for the WWE because there are a lot of great things going on for the company right now, most noteworthy being the revitalization of the tag team division.
But everything else is just blah to me. Fact is that if you missed this show, you could get the gist of it by watching the 40 billion RAW Rewinds that will air on the 900 hours of WWE programming airing between now and Friday.
I’m not one for ultimatums, but I can say that Monday’s RAW left me anxious for this week’s episode of NXT. Terrible thing when the flagship show makes you appreciate the show that doesn’t even air in this country.
Those feelings aside, here are three things that stuck out to me:
- Live from Oklahoma City, it’s Monday Night RAWWWWW!
- MinoriTEAMS featuring Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara
- Newfound Respect: Cesaro and Sandow
I was initially amazed at the talent in the ring at the beginning of the show…and those feelings quickly dissipated once the segment reached its climax.
When conversations begin about the next generation of WWE Superstars (something I’ll hit on in a future post), it’s amazing to consider the abilities and skills of the superstars and divas surging down the pipeline. As Paul Heyman mentioned during the segment, the “here-and-now” of the WWE was gathered in the ring at once and it was a beautiful sight. To see CM Punk with Heyman, Dolph Ziggler with Vickie Guerrero, Kane and Daniel Bryan and AJ Lee all in the ring at once…it was quite the sexy sight.
It was when Daniel Bryan interrupted the segment to talk about his looks, his beard, and his reign as the tag team champions that the whole thing just got silly. What was an interesting back and forth between Team Best In the World and Team Money In the Bank turned into an opening monologue for Saturday Night Live. It depressed me.
This isn’t to say that all opening segments have to be as serious as a soteriological debate between Lance Storm and Dean Malenko, but the reality of a sports entertainment doctrine was very evident during that opening segment. I understand and agree with the idea that pro wrestling has to be entertaining, and the segment was entertaining before the introduction of shtick.
It was entertaining for me mostly because of Paul Heyman. Watching the man work a crowd and turn a phrase is like witnessing Michelangelo craft a masterpiece. His mannerisms, facial expressions, and poignant comments made the whole thing pop, and to see him verbally spar with the equally abrasive Vickie Guerrero was near perfect.
The whole purpose for AJ, Kane and Daniel Bryan was to set up the main event and that’s fine; but I just really feel like it took the entire segment in a different direction, a direction that really had to do with AJ more than it did the superstars and managers in the ring.
If that truly is the case then we can understand why (kayfabe) CM Punk feels disrespected. Even with John Cena missing from television, the show is still not about the WWE Champion. A fan can only hope a payoff to all this is coming in the near future.
WWE has done wonders to revitalize its dying tag team division. From having a single-elimination tournament to decide the number one contenders, to having the tag teammates dress alike, these minor improvements have gone a long way to show fans that WWE truly “cares” about tag team wrestling…well, at least Triple H does.
Did anyone else notice how the teams made up of minorities were facing each other in the tournament? Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara faced Epico and Primo Monday night, and on Friday The Prime Time Players will face R-Truth and Kofi Kingston on Smackdown.
That type of wrestling brings back memories…
And people said they wanted the Attitude Era back.
Occasionally there are moments in a given company where superstars will go above and beyond what is expected of them. We can only assume that these superstars have, at some point, become aware of an opportunity for career advancement. In other words, no John Cena equals prime opportunity to run with the ball.
Both Antonio Cesaro and Damien Sandow showed their asses Monday night by doing some impressive things in the ring. Cesaro’s moment arrived when he leveled the massive Brodus Clay with his finisher, The Neutralizer.
Damien Sandow’s spot in the sunshine came during his entire match with Sheamus, where he literally went toe-to-toe with the brutish son of Ireland and held his own for the majority of a very lengthy match.
I won’t sit and predict that either man will hold a major championship before the sun sets on the year, but I can say that both men performed as if they had something to prove to someone watching the show. Creatively speaking Sandow and Cesaro’s characters have been stuck in neutral for quite some time; their performances injected some much needed life into the two stock, generic characters.
For example: up until Monday Cesaro dominated his competition with relative ease. While he did not give Clay a sound thrashing, he did manage to lift the behemoth off of his feet for his finisher. Keep in mind that there are only a select few individuals that put Brodus Clay on his duff.
Meanwhile Damien Sandow shed his typically foppishly dandy demeanor to prove that he could be just as ruthless and relentless as Mankind. I still think the character is a tool, but kudos to the man and his work by showing that he can hold his own against opponents of substance.
Those are just my thoughts on the show; what do YOU think???
It was towards the latter half of 2009 when I finally began to appreciate Jeff Hardy. With his rock star appeal and devil-may-care lifestyle, Hardy was embroiled in a bitter feud with CM Punk over on the Smackdown side of sports entertainment. This was probably the best main event feud going on in pro wrestling at the time
Punk and Hardy were polar opposites inside and outside the ring; Jeff’s high-flying, reckless wrestling style seemed to compliment Punk’s technical ring savvy. Hardy’s “live-in-the-moment” carefree view of the world was very different from Punk’s “I’m-better-than-you” straight edge, disciplined lifestyle. Punk was a natural heel to Hardy’s baby face; Hardy’s fans loved to live vicariously through his high-risk antics while viciously jeering Punk’s regimen of self-controlled pomposity.
In some ways that feud foreshadowed the depth of Punk’s abilities; he made you want to hate him and love Hardy. Just as equally important was Hardy’s natural, infectious charisma despite being every bit as much of a screw up as Punk made him out to be. Fans hated Punk for being right because secretly they wanted Hardy to rise to the top while overcoming the hurdles, self-imposed or otherwise, that stood in his way.
Everyone loves an underdog…
But I was one of the few that didn’t cheer for Jeff Hardy until his feud with CM Punk began to heat up. I wasn’t infected with Hardy’s charm nor was I bedazzled with his hazardous wrestling style. I didn’t even believe that Hardy stood a chance as a top singles competitor despite his having proved several times over he could by that time. To me Jeff Hardy only thrilled fans by falling off of things; his style wasn’t crisp, it wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t technical. Watching a Jeff Hardy match was not the highlight of my wrestling experience three years ago.
But the more and more Punk rallied against him, the more I found myself cheering him. I became engaged in his character, more entertained by his matches, caught up in the back and forth between him and CM Punk. It was at that point, you could say, that I began to invest in the Jeff Hardy character.
But that investment was due in large part to CM Punk. It has been said that in professional wrestling, where the finishes to matches are predetermined, that a wrestler is only as good as his opponent makes him. Jeff Hardy never wrestled himself in that feud with Punk, and it’s debatable if anyone else in WWE at that time was capable of helping Hardy reach the level of success he did.
CM Punk gave fans that extra nudge needed to catapult Jeff Hardy into the maelstrom of a mega-main event push. That moment happened exactly three years ago yesterday, on the August 28, 2009 episode of Smackdown, when Punk defeated Hardy to retain the World Heavyweight Championship in a steel cage match. It was on that fateful night that Jeff Hardy was also “forced” to leave WWE.
I knew he would return some day and I looked forward to it as pretentiously as I could. I read the Smackdown spoilers and knew that Hardy needed time off to heal some injuries. I had even read that he had a handshake agreement to return to the company one day in the same exact main event spot he was leaving behind. I knew Hardy was in a good spot in WWE, that he wouldn’t allow his two previous Wellness Policy violations lead to a third infraction.
I was ready, willing, and able to bide my time until Hardy returned to exact revenge on CM Punk, the man who made his singles run interesting to someone like me.
A little over three months later on January 4, 2010, Jeff Hardy appeared in Orlando, Florida…
No one talked about expired contracts or a free-agent status; a few fans here and there speculated about his status with WWE and TNA. But no one anywhere was able to satiate the anger I felt when Hardy returned to TNA. I felt betrayed; after beginning to buy into the character, it hurt tremendously to see him abandon the company I felt launched him into pro wrestling super stardom. The anticipation I had for the renewal of a Hardy/Punk feud slowly withered away as I realized that Jeff Hardy would more than likely never appear in a WWE ring again.
Much to my chagrin very few fans felt the same way I did. Most of Hardy’s fans cheered his defection, rejoicing at his unexpected presence on the biggest night in TNA’s history two years ago. Even more fans celebrated with TNA that night for their major acquisition, reveling in the fact that a free spirit such as Hardy was able to spit in the face of the soul-less WWE empire. I, however, was not amused; I did not cheer, I did not celebrate. To answer Monty Brown’s oft asked question, I was not entertained.
Who cared? What did my opinion matter? No one would be moved or concerned with how my personal feelings on the matter. What was important to most fans was that Jeff Hardy was free to be the wrestler fans yearned for him to be. He was the rare charismatic and enigmatic bird, yearning to be liberated from the restrictive whips and chains of WWE. He finally made it; he survived CM Punk, he no longer had to worry about strict and random drug testing, and he was able to stick it to WWE.
What the hell does all of this have to do with Scorpio Sky, a.k.a. IMPACT Wrestling’s Mason Andrews, b.k.a. RAW’s “Harold?”
The build-up for TNA’s 2012 Destination X brought with it the prospect of a reinvigorated and rejuvenated X-Division. Several stars were contacted to fill the limp and barely there division in an attempt to crown a #1 contender for Austin Aries’ vacated X-Division Championship. NWA Television Champion Scorpio Sky was one of those individuals.
Very few people actually knew that Sky was a major champion, and even less knew that he was actually in the National Wrestling Alliance. He was more known for his work in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), and there were probably a handful of people (including myself and the Rt. Rev. Showtime) that recalled his work in the now defunct Wrestling Society X:
His performance in a qualifying match on Impact Wrestling LIVE! was not all that memorable, but speculation ran rampant after he changed his Twitter name to reflect what was then a one-shot deal with TNA. When he appeared again at the Destination X Pay Per View and even made it to challenge Zema Ion, Sonjay Dutt, and Kenny King in the Ultimate X Match for the X-Division Championship, everyone “knew” that Mason Andrews was set to add life to the X-Division’s roster.
There were even websites that reported he and Kenny King signed exclusive contracts with TNA, only to quickly turn around and add that only King had signed a contract with the company.
There were interviews where Sky talked fondly about his TNA experience, expecting that talks with the suits in the company would lead to a positive future for the star.
Then he shows up in the WWE during backstage taped segments as “Harold.” All of a sudden, a slew of fans are pissed.
No one cares to question the terms of the deal Sky had with TNA, and very few people have spoken favorably of the deal between WWE and Sky regarding his appearance in a taped segment on the show…
Very few fans have even bothered to mention that Sky has appeared on WWE television at least twice prior to becoming “Harold,” and there are only a scant few individuals who will even acknowledge the tremendous response from fans—casual and otherwise—by being in a “useless, stupid, and boring” comedy skit opposed to the mild and lukewarm response from diehard fans he received by being in a match for a secondary championship in the country’s second largest wrestling promotion.
What people have done and will continue to do is root for the underdog, proudly proclaiming that Sky gave up a golden opportunity in one company to shuck and jive in another. Meanwhile no one will think or consider that shucking and jiving in that one company a) paid more, b) gave more exposure, and c) opened a door of opportunity in a company that is expanding in a very different direction that what most are willing to admit to.
WWE, specifically the current PG-laced WWE, is the “heel” company that is giving its competition the nudge it needs to be catapulted into some level of prominence. Hordes of fans to this very day cannot speak positively of a company without referencing how bad WWE has become. No matter what happens on RAW or Smackdown, every single wrestling match and skit is met with some complaint. As such, Sky’s appearance as “Harold” sent asinine shock waves that were at best subjective emotional outbursts equivalent to a six year old flailing about in the middle of a grocery store.
That’s what I did when Hardy debuted with TNA on January 4, and I was summarily ignored. It shouldn’t be any different for anyone who thinks Sky wasted a “golden opportunity” just to be “misused” by WWE. That golden opportunity is starting to look more like a wooden nickel when you consider that company didn’t feel it necessary to extend a decent contract to Sky; in the event that they did, it’s sad that the comedy skit had enough potential to dissuade Sky from accepting the offer in the first place.
Brass tax is this: the business is a business. Trades, defections, acquisitions and takeovers are practices that happen more than we would like to believe; that’s just a part of playing the game. Fans can only speculate to the logic or rational behind a wrestler’s maneuvering through the system, but at the end of the day, the star has to do what’s best for their own situation no matter how upset the fans may get.
I can guarantee you Jeff Hardy lost very little sleep over my feelings when his head hit the pillow between January 4 and 5, 2010. The same can be said about Scorpio Sky after he (and NOT Daniel Bryan…take that fact for what it is) and Kane closed out the comedy segment from Monday night. We’re extremely fortunate if either Hardy or Sky considered what we fans thought when they made the decisions that would either make or break their careers or jeopardize their personal and financial situations.
Outside of that, our opinions are moot; our opinions can’t pay someone’s mortgage or health insurance. Our dollars can, and I don’t think now is the time to get into a conversation about profit margins in either TNA or WWE.
One thing can be said, however: Hardy and Sky’s situation are very similar to one another. Without CM Punk, the self-righteous prick of a heel, Hardy’s jump would not have been as significant or relevant to me at that time…
Without the WWE, the self-righteous prick of a company, Scorpio Sky might not have been as significant or relevant to you at this time…
We’ve all had the same question for the last few weeks: will the three hour format work for RAW. Short answer: it can. Long answer: it has been. Going from a two hour show to a three hour show is about the equivalent of going from a long single disc album to going into a double disc that, combined, is still less than 100 minutes overall. That may not make the most sense to you but it carries significance, believe me.
We started of this edition with Lawler coming up and demanding an apology for Punk kicking him unconscious last week. While most of us, if not 99% of us, rejoiced at this response to disrespect, the more or less dead crowd wasn’t really into it like they should have been. Punk came out to respond and proceeded to completely bury Lawler. COMPLETELY. I can’t emphasize that enough. Bringing up the fact that a man’s never won the WWE Championship is one thing; bringing up the fact that his Wrestlemania moment is defined by losing to Michael Cole is another. Subsequently, I felt very screwed that I had to sit through that match when I went to Wrestlemania and I want either my money back or the promise of Vaseline next time, WWE.
Punk challenged the commentator to a match, emphasizing that Lawler would leave that arena embarrassed: either because he lost against Punk or because he didn’t even accept the challenge. Be A Star. A defeated Lawler responded, “I’ll think about it.” Be. A. Star.
The first match was between one-time World Heavyweight Champion Jack Swagger and Goldberg 2.0 Ryback. You already know who won so I won’t bore you with minor details, but let me ask this question: does ANYONE remember when Swagger was the World Heavyweight Champion? It wasn’t a really long reign by any means, but it lasted for nearly three months and it was exponentially longer than the World Heavyweight Championship run of former BFF Dolph “I’m Jericho 2.0” Ziggler. To add more humor to that statement, Swagger won the title OFF of Jericho back then!
In any case, Swagger’s defiant “THIS IS IT!” shout outside the ring tells me that they’re going to do something with him now. Anything is better than jobber hell; he can be in jobber nirvana easily.
Our next match was the obligatory Divas match: Natalya versus Layla, the Champion. The crowd, already dead, wasn’t enthused, and Vickie coming out before the match and actually pushing for the match to be done with throughout was an annoyance more than anything. Layla wins the match and Vickie quickly shoos both her and the Hart chick out of the ring to scream about her discomfort, anger and disgust with AJ, as well as push that subtle (citation needed) invitation that she should be the GM again. In response, AJ came out and attacked Vickie. Aside from Vickie showing herself to take a fall better than a lot of women AND men on the roster, this crowd, which still pissed me off, chanted “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” repeatedly during AJ and Vickie’s quick scuffle, AJ caught my attention because she displayed some of that crazy she’s become so famous for as of late. I like that. It’s sexy. And crazy chicks are sexy.
And she’s Latina. I don’t know if that’s supposed to carry a hidden meaning or anything, but my conspiracy theories on Mexican and Hispanic Superstars and Divas are pretty well known on this blog, and a significant portion of Part 4.
Next we get the first Triple H video package, and the thought process is set in peoples’ minds that he’s set to retire. Note that this hasn’t been verified in any capacity though. Nice package, but it lacked something I wanted to see…
Speaking of lacking things I wanted to see, we get to Daniel Bryan in his first week of anger management. Stop processing what I’ve written for a second and consider this: Daniel Bryan in anger management. If those words don’t pop out at you and sparkle gold with diamond outlines then something is wrong with YOU. Daniel Bryan has proven time and time again that he is a god-like technician in the ring and a god-like technician when it comes to working the crowd. Now he can add the title of god-like technician in working a comedic segment. Nothing about this was wrong and everything was hilarious, from the small group, to the shirt Bryan wore so proudly, to the COMPLETELY unimpressed look on his face when the camera first focused on his face. Assaulting the child? Very Be A Star, and very, very hilarious. Ironically enough, the most memorable moment in that first segment to me was when that man said his son, wearing the goat mask, was playing a goat in the school’s production of Noah’s Ark. Why? Because I never actually considered that the Ark had goats on it.
Oh, and I like Harold. When you need a good token black guy then you get Harold! Harold kicks ass!
We come back to the live segment and Lawler accepts Punk’s challenge. We already know what outcome that’s going to have, but then Cena comes out for his match versus the Miz. No, this is NOT a Wrestlemania rematch, despite how it may look, you know, with Cena being Cena and the Miz being a champion and all. Standard match. Standard everything. Cena wins. I’m so shocked. If only you could hear my intense sarcasm.
Lawler is still gone (not complaining) and Cole announces that the crowd can decide what kind of match Punk and Lawler battle in: tables match, cage match or No DQ match. Like many of you, I wondered if there was going to be a cage brought in from India or something because I didn’t see one, but there was one later. Not wondering where the cage was; I have better thing to do than wonder. Another highlight video for Triple H plays, yay.
But fun times abound when we come back to the anger management class. They had said that there was one person missing, and sure enough that empty chair was next to Daniel Bryan. After my new hero Harold spouted his issues, Bryan quickly dismissed them and said that HIS issues were greater, and sure enough, we may agree. The last member of the class came in and it was (who else?) Kane. Everyone but Bryan scooted their chairs away; Bryan just looked pissed. Not even mad, just pissed, almost as if to say, “This some ol’ bullshit, man…”
But my point is proven: Bryan is a god. And Harold might be too. Harold kicks ass. WE LOVE HAROLD!
Our next match was a continuation of jobber paradise with former United States Champion Santino Marella and one-man rock band idol Heath Slater. Here was my question before it even started: if Slater loses, will that be a bad reflection on Sin Cara? Yes, the answer is yes, and I already think Sin Cara is underwhelming. The match was pretty standard until Santino pulled the green sock from his crotch and prepared to put an end to the match. Here Aksana came out, theme song and all, and the second brand of comedy came about: the kid brand, which is the topic of Part 2.
No, a lot of people who can remember Ren and Stimpy will not be amused by this. A lot of kids will, however. With that in mind, just deal with it. Kids find this kind of thing to be humorous, and they’ve worked to a more kid-friendly product for years. It’s worth noting that now they can have a Saturday morning show and can argue that they have found a wavering, if steadying, balance between adult humor and kid humor. They can make that claim; I’m not entirely convinced. We’ll see as time goes on.
Oh, and Santino won, hinting at a feud between him and the Swede. Okay. It’ll give them both something to do, and it could be SERIOUSLY intensified if Cesaro had the nerve to turn the United States title into the new European Championship. I know I’ve said this before, several times, but it’s an election year! Think of the heat! THE HEAT!
Cole plugged in another Triple H bit before the break. Rumblings are beginning to erupt on Twitter from people who haven’t watched this product for about ten years. Worth ignoring for now. Our next match begins with introductions: Brodus Clay and Sin Cara versus Damien Sandow and the man he claims he can have an intelligent conversation with: Cody Rhodes. I’ll keep it 100 with you: I didn’t really watch this match too closely. I saw who won and that was about it. Honestly I’m only a fan of one of the four competitors: Rhodes, and I tolerate the others because of nostalgia, genuine heat and two fine black women who touch their asses together for our amusement. You can decipher who is meant by which on your own time.
Clay and Cara win. Ignoring the fact that Sin Cara can’t dance (helps when you can’t see someone’s face when they try to dance) the third anger management segment began to play, and this was arguably the greatest segment in the history of taped RAW segments in the past few years. The focus was on Kane, and after taking his mask off (to reveal the other mask), he briefly went through the events of his life, much to Bryan’s chagrin. What made this the most epic thing of the evening, of course, was the fact that he mentioned Katie Vick.
He wins, bitches. Aside from being a perfect compliment to Dr. Evil’s group therapy monolog from the first Austin Powers movie (side by side comparisons at the end of the post) this monolog was hilarious AND informative! Seriously, just READ what the man said:
Well, I grew up locked in a basement suffering severe psychological and emotional scarring when my brother set my parents on fire. From there I sifted around a series of mental institutions until I was grown, at which point I buried my brother alive, twice. Since then I’ve set a couple of people on fire and abducted various co-workers. Oh and I, uh, once electrocuted a man’s testicles. Years ago I had a girlfriend named Katie, but, um… let’s just say that didn’t turn out so well. My real father is a guy named Paul Bearer, who I recently trapped in a meat locker. I’ve been married, divorced, broke up my ex-wife’s wedding and tombstoned the priest. And for reasons never quite explained, I have an unhealthy obsession with torturing Pete Rose.
WHAT?! No! After laughing to the point of crying, and significantly appreciating the fact that there was no logical rationale for his torture of Pete Rose (hey Ash, Kane doesn’t need a reason to hate, so why should I?!), I finally advanced into the show.
That’s a lie: I anxiously waited to hear what was next for Kane and Bryan in anger management. Arts and crafts are coming up next week. And you know what that means? MORE HAROLD!
After we have to say goodbye to Kane, Bryan and Harold (*sniff*) we get ANOTHER Triple H video package. I like them but this is enough. Our next match has Good Times (Kingston and Truth) come out, the latter in a match, the other in a suit. Have to say: I like Kofi in a suit. He comes out with his wife too, he has all the wins a black man can have in the WWE without being named Harold. Who is Truth’s opponent?
Why, a fresh out of anger management Daniel Bryan, who in keeping with his anger management going character (reiteration: god-like technician), responds to the heavy “YES!” chants of the crowd with a calm and dignified “No”. BRILLIANT! He comes to the ring and shows respect to Truth with a fist bump. Nice. After a brief back and forth Truth encourages Bryan to show Lil’ Jimmy the fist bump respect too. Bryan, still in anger management mode, agrees, and does, and the match begins anew.
But we might need to come to that anger management class again sooner than next week. Bryan and Truth leave the ring, Truth starts a “Yes!” chant throughout the arena, and Bryan slowly begins to lose his cool, responding with a soft “No” at first and then devolving into a pained, crowd-pleasing, crowd-working, furious “NO!” rant with, I swear, the same son of a bitch from the last few weeks, with the same shirt and everything! Obviously Daniel Bryan has fallen off the wagon. I think we need Harold to be his anger buddy.
Truth wins by countout. Bryan is disheveled and my point, first stated in the Curious Case of Bryan Danielson, is further proven: Bryan is a god. Next, Triple H is said to be there. That’s a start. He comes out. That’s validation. His speech is carefully worded and sometimes you can hear the man break up a bit as if about to cry. While he kept questioning whether or not he was done with the ring, he NEVER explicitly stated that he was done, never. That’s partly why I was left wanting throughout, even with that douchebag yelling loud enough to shout out TNA (yeah, fool, I heard you!). He left with no resolution but a heavily implied retirement. I hope he stays until the next Wrestlemania actually; I want my master plan to play out and yes, YOU WILL AGREE WITH ME!
That’s not a command so much as an assumption: I think you would really appreciate how I see Triple H going out of the WWE’s in-ring action. But c’est la vie. We’ll see what happens.
Next the lights go dim, and the Y2J music hits. For the two people who honestly thought it was Jericho, shame on you. It was Jericho 2.0, who can now boast that he retired the Obi-Wan to his Anakin Skywalker (not going into the Episode posts again until I hit 1000 views on one). He came out and Del Rio followed, the tell-tale signs of a tag match. Their opponents: who else but Orton and Sheamus?
Decent match. Good guys win. At this point (I failed to mention this earlier) Josh Matthews has replaced Jerry Lawler on commentary. I mention this now because Kane comes out, and as he approaches the commentator table Matthews takes off and Cole stands up, scared to sit next to the big red monster. Ignoring the possible Heidenreich-Cole comparisons, Kane’s commentary was as epic as Pootie Tang’s hit single. What was the match? Zack Ryder versus David Otunga. Yes, I was the same way: “Oh my God, who the hell cares?!” It was a match, point blank, and after wards Kane came out and looked as if he was about to chokeslam Ryder.
That didn’t materialize. Kane let go of Ryder and chokeslammed Otunga. Anger management classes ARE working for Kane. He doesn’t need Harold to be his anger buddy, but I think he would benefit nonetheless.
As we begin to wind down, a cage match has been chosen by the WWE Universe and there was a cage. I still didn’t question. First Lawler comes out. Then Punk. Punk offers Lawler the first punch, which he promised if Lawler accepted the match, and the first punch is thrown. The match begins, and sure enough it actually isn’t a bad match. No one thought Lawler would win, but in-ring psychology suggested that he might, all until Punk locked in that Anaconda Vice. Lawler tapped. That ended the last match of the evening.
But the show was not over. A kid yelled at Punk to show Lawler mercy (I know plenty of people that would jump on that comment too) but Punk found a chain and locked him and Lawler in the cage. He began the slow, drawn out torture of Lawler all for the purpose of having King admit that Punk is the best in the world. Eventually Lawler passed out, but the assault didn’t really end. Cena came out and tried to break the chain, a feat I only remember Mark Henry actually accomplishing, and failed. He barked at the people to raise the cage, raising the question as to why Superman didn’t just fly over it, but what do I know? As soon as the cage began to raise Punk bailed. THAT ended the show.
I never actually said it before, but the three hour format, in my opinion, works because they can utilize more talent and give some worthy stars more time, like Bryan, and now Harold, because we love Harold. Is there more filler? Yes. Does it feel unnecessarily drawn out from time to time? Yes. But so did the two hour version. I’m just spouting my opinion though. Be easy people, I’m gonna go shout the praises of Harold.
And now, the comparison. Who did it better, Kane or Michael Myers as Dr. Evil?
*All moving gifs courtesy of ilovewrestlinggifs*
Hello again, dear friends and enemies. Welcome back to the site. If you’re like me (and you’re not, because I’m the incarnation of perfection) then you come here for pro wrestling and/or sports entertainment commentary, insight, witty banter and, of course, the occasional bit of hardcore animal porn. But since the nation of Kickassia has passed the Protection of Oriental Pigeons Act (aka the P.O.O.P. Act) we’ve had to fall back on pure analysis.
But not me, true believers! Never a fan of the status quo or hot bird-on-bear action, I, the Infamous One himself, is proud to bring you ranting! Yes, ranting, pure unadulterated ranting on something we all love to hate: the WWE! As we all know, last night was Summerslam 2012, one of the big four PPVs the company puts out, and the question is simple: “DiZ, you clandestine paragon of forthrightness, what did YOU, in all your greatness and humility that I can never hope to achieve, think of the PPV?”
Since you are so kind to acknowledge my greatness, I’ll tell you. I’ve picked up a bad habit, I’m sorry to say, one that compels me to actually buy the PPVs, fry up some chicken wings, drink Yuengling and Sam Adams and occasionally endure a random appearance by a long-lost friend. The last element within that circle did not occur last night, but just as well. Those long-lost friends are usually casual fans and at a certain point last night they would have felt cheated out of the $0.00 they paid to watch it.
Not that they matter. What did I think? Well we start with the pre-show match between Antonio Cesaro, the man of five languages (and six words) versus the United States Champion (and I use that term loosely) Santino Marella. Just for you, reader, I’ll treat you to highlights from the match via moving gifs which highlight the best parts of the matches. So let us begin.
We all know the reign of Santino Marella as the United States Champion has been stupidly underwhelming. His high point came in the Elimination Chamber match when he was literally the cock of the walk. His inclusion into the PPV, even in the pre-show, is fulfillment of the role of the champion who puts others over. Enter Antonio Cesaro, master of one-word phrases and questionably attractive European women. He’s quickly risen from being Teddy Long’s pseudo-adversary to PPV pre-show talent, and why not? He’s a big Swede who beats people up, kind of like this guy here (only he’s Spanish).
Besides that, with patriotism very high right now (election years will do that to you) a good international heel is needed, and Cesaro fits that bill to a Rocky IV kind of perfection. The match was entertaining, far more than Marella has been in a long time, and his loss came as a sigh of relief to us, the masses. Frankly I think Cesaro can enact a respectable and entertaining run as the United States Champion, and maybe he’ll even bring a little validity back to the title. The big question now is who he feuds with next. I’m hoping for a low-to-mid carder who hasn’t exactly had a chance to shine or, hypothetically, gets thrown into walls by giants.
Match one (two if you want to speak in technicalities) was between the Show Off Dolph Ziggler and Y2J Chris Jericho. I don’t know who said it, but a very wise person said that this match had the potential to be the best PPV opener in the history of the WWE.
I agreed. Jericho versus Ziggler, old versus new, unofficial mentor versus unofficial mentee, Yomi versus Shura (Yu Yu Hakusho fans might get that one), and sure enough it was all that and more. The in-ring psychology of the match suggested to me that Ziggler was like a younger brother to Jericho, desperately trying to earn his elder sibling’s respect through ability, skill and imitation. That, as well as the fact that Jericho’s role in the WWE right now is to put over the next generation of stars, fueled this great match.
We were treated to just over 13 minutes of smooth ring work and flashy bravado that ended, surprisingly, with a Jericho win. The crowd was enthused and, even better, we were treated to the Lion Tamer. Not the Walls of Jericho as many figured, but the Lion Tamer. I explained to one person, “The Walls of Jericho is a renamed Boston Crab. The Lion Tamer is there to crush your skill and snap your back in two.” Big brother wasn’t amused.
But I’m looking past that and to what this match might mean for this feud between Jericho and Ziggler. It seems like many a Superstar right now are playing the shadow game to a wrestler they emulate or idolize, and this is the first time I’m seeing how blatantly this is being shown. I don’t see Jericho doing anything big for a bit and Ziggler may not cash in that briefcase in the near future (or maybe he will; get the belt of Sheamus; oops, spoiler) but we may finally see that almost Rule of Two Sith thing I was hinting at so long enough back when Cena was supposed to join the dark side.
Maybe. I hope so.
Match three was between Daniel Bryan and Kane, more in-ring story for the long (and compelling) arc between AJ, Punk, Bryan and Kane. While the “anger management” angle has seemed to fade a little bit, the sun that is Bryan’s career hasn’t subsided in the least. Easily one of the finest workers in the WWE in a long time, he makes the ring work look good and he plays the crowd to perfection, whether friendly or jerky, aggressive or downright psychotic. Pair him with Kane, another of the great workers in the WWE, and we have a great match.
It is interesting, I think, that this angle has lasted as long as it has, and it all revolves around a Diva, the most powerful Diva on the program, the Diva that did what Eve couldn’t do and did it without any sexual innuendo (the mantra is “I will resist Eve breast, mouth or sex jokes. I will resist…”) and now it seems like she punishing every man that had any relation with her along the way. Look at Punk and his triple threat. Look at Bryan and his psychological evaluations. Look at Kane and his relative third wheel status. Look at Josh Matthews and…
Well to be fair, he was just doing his job. But really, when’s the last time that paid off? That’s not very “Be A Star”-ish, WWE. What does it say when a man who is just trying to do his job gets manhandled and may just suffer from some anal bleeding?
But Bryan won the match via a Small Package (ironic, I know) and AJ has promised retribution and consequences for Kane’s attack. A great match, great work from both Superstars, great tolerance for Josh Matthews. I don’t know WHO he pissed off to get thrown around and beat up as of late but he’s taking it all in stride.
Our fourth match was for the Intercontinental Championship, a real barn burner between token talking Mexican good guy Rey Mysterio and (not a) movie star Mike Mizanin, aka the Miz. I didn’t know what to expect or think of this match but I have to admit: I hate Batman and Bruce Wayne just a little bit more now that we have this image:
Personally I think he’d have been better off coming out as the Riddler, being “Mysterio” and all, or even Bane, because of the similar Mexican heritage, but hey, when you need to impersonate a hero, you impersonate everyone’s favorite psychologically damaged, sexually repressed/confused, forever lonely billionaire! Trust me, I know Batman lore, I’m being VERY nice just saying that.
Like I said, I didn’t have much of an opinion for this match because my only thought was that I wanted the Miz to win. I’m in the minority here but I’m not big on Rey Mysterio for the same reason I’m not big on Sin Cara: I don’t see their styles soar because they rarely face other luchas. When the eventual (and inevitable) battle between him and Sin Cara becomes a reality (not that tag team mess where they look like Double Dragon) I’ll probably enjoy it more. After all, what is Sin Cara in the WWE but in the shadow… of… Rey… Mysterio… do I hear the sweet bells of validation?!
The actual match was surprisingly good. The back-and-forth was clever and enjoyable, and the end of the match actually did feature some serious edge-of-your-seat(-with-a-beer-in-hand) moments. The Miz’s victory pleased me even more because it looked like a hard fought victory, which is the best kind of victory.
Match five was the rather noteworthy Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio 463 (I don’t think the number is that high, but it might as well be). We’ve seen this match plenty of times but despite Del Rio’s in-ring skill he’s just not that fun to watch overall. He’s rather dull on the mic and he’s grown stale. Someone’s left the cap off of the bottle of Senzao if you catch my drift.
Therein lies the issue: the actual match was solid. It was clean. But like the Primetime Players vs. Kofi Kingston and R-Truth 353 (again, not that many, but might as well be) back when A.W. was their manager, the crowd wasn’t into it. A.W. brought energy to that match, and Ricardo Rodriguez couldn’t do the same for this match.
There was a certain time when the crowd popped though that caught my attention, as shown here:
But that pop actually came BEFORE Sheamus displayed his strength, when Del Rio locked in his finisher. That was curious, but even when Ricardo threw his shoe (you’re missed, A.W.) the crowd just wasn’t into this otherwise solid match. Sheamus retained, but it’s about time we had something new. Sheamus vs. Del Rio has long since overstayed its welcome, and I wouldn’t mind seeing Orton in the WHC title hunt again. Speaking of Orton… no, nothing. I just wanted to get your hopes up. Like I said to Quinn before: he dismantles with arguments and logic. I just hurt people’s feelings. Deal with it!
The next match was the Primetime Players against Kofi Kingston and R-Truth, who seemed to be dressed in Superman attire for some reason or the other. You’ll notice the lack of moving gifs for this one. That’s because there are none (or at least I don’t feel like looking). It was a standard match, and the consistent chant of “Kobe” throughout (or maybe “Kofi”, it was hard to tell) was the highlight.
My biggest thing was finally acknowledging that one of the biggest African-American wrestlers in the WWE right now is a Que. That’s gotta be an interesting article in the Oracle I reckon. Kofi and R-Truth (I call them “Good Times” because I think of this song when they come out) retain their titles, but honestly I don’t feel too strongly either way about them right now.
The WWE Championship match followed this tag team encounter, and the first thing that caught my attention was the order of appearance. John Cena was first, then the Big Show, and finally the CHAMPION CM Punk. That’s good. It’s progress. Punk wasn’t in the main event but that’s a gripe for another post.
I’ll say this: that match was as good as it could have possibly been. There was a consistent attempt to keep it a one-on-one bout and the double tap out was, predictably I’ll admit, interesting if not a little cliché. Punk’s victory was the icing on the cake because it was both so like him and so unlike him at the same time, which only makes his tweener status (HE’S NOT A HEEL!) all the better.
But you have to wonder: is this part of a grand months long arc like that of Daniel Bryan? We know the Rock is waiting at the Royal Rumble for his match (with no reasonable explanation as to why this match CAN even go down) but what until then? Minor sidestories within? Gaiden? Cheese? The Tahj Mahal? Hammer? I’m actually voting for Hammer. Otherwise, CM Punk is a terrific tweener, in the same vein of Stone Cold himself (SHADOWS! SHADOWS! SHADOWS!) and I like that.
What the people (i.e. – many of thee) don’t understand is that there’s a lot more to the characters you love and hate in the ring. There’s more than just black and white; there is gray, several shades of it, about fifty to be exact. That’s where CM Punk is. That’s actually where a LOT of wrestlers are, but people don’t like to think. There’s black and white, but no gray. Gray SUCKS! So people just think, “Oh, he hit the Rock so he’s a heel!” Shut up, fool, he’s a tweener, between face and heel, adept in both, master of none!
I’m sorry, I got angry because I envisioned your (ADRIAN!) face and just screamed at the computer screen. Let me sum up my feelings on those that feel like CM Punk is a heel with this:
Next we had our Cash Money performance, and being an ardent hater of anything post-2003 from the Cash Money camp that was NOT Teena Marie let’s just apply the above moving gif to my feelings for the performance. There wasn’t enough dancing Layla but there was enough trying to sing Spanish announcers. That made the overall performance about a C+. It would have been a B-, but like I said: not enough dancing Layla.
Finally, my legion of followers, we come to the main event. Brock Lesnar versus Triple H. I’ll offer this disclaimer now: if you’re a casual fan of pro wrestling/sports entertainment, this match sucked. If you’re a deep thinking pro wrestling/sports entertainment fan, this match was intriguing.
It was like a game of chess, that’s the only way I can describe it. And chess, while interesting, isn’t always something that has your eyes shifting like a game of ping pong. It was like a ballet almost, a psychological struggle between a man with no morals and a man who still thinks he has something to prove after losing a record third time to the Undertaker at Wrestlemania.
No tables were destroyed, no weapons utilized, just some retrospectively brutal attacks by both combatants. Looking at what this match is truly here to symbolize, you have to wonder if this is all part of the long road (or an extended storyline) leading to the end of Triple H’s in-ring work. He’s been around for a while, staked his claim, and now he’s been emasculated and defeated, both as an athlete (Lesnar’s repeatedly beat him senseless) and professionally (Lesnar didn’t get his way, but he left the scars). Is it time to see the end of Triple H, the wrestler?
Maybe. I have a scenario in mind actually that would be a perfect way for Triple H to leave the ring, but it would need to happen at Wrestlemania. In any case, it was a gentleman’s match, not full of spotfest excitement or bloody indulgence but true, technical, specified brutality. Watching from both a casual and deep thinking pro wrestling/sports entertainment state of mind, I was equally bored/angered and amazed/melancholy, because with the abundance of shadows I’ve spoken of earlier, who exactly is the shadow for Triple H? Stone Cold’s legacy is in the spirit of CM Punk right now. Hogan’s is in Cena. Rey Mysterio’s is in Sin Cara. Jericho’s is in Ziggler, maybe even a few others. Could perhaps Sheamus…
Well, it was a deep match, with Triple H tapping out to Lesnar. He left the ring like a king who had finally taken too many wounds. Classy. Very cool, very classy.
That sums up the PPV for me. Because I’m in the weird habit of paying for these and essentially hosting little private parties for them now, I hold the PPVs, especially the big four, in a higher regard now, and I can say that Summerslam didn’t disappoint. The crowd wasn’t as enthused at all times as they could have been, and the main event is going to be a polarizing thing for many, but by and by I liked it, money well spent, a nice compliment to my many, many beers.
The DiZ gives this PPV a B for a grade. That’s about all I have to say today. You stay classy, San Diego. I’m Ron Burgandy…?
I decided to take a page from Da Infamous DiZ’s book, and do an audio post. I hope you like it. It might be amateur at best, but I just wanted to make some points. (Believe me, this is harder than it seems!)
Let me know what you think.
Hello, hello. Greetings fellow wrestling lovers. It’s been a while since my last post, but that’s mainly because I grew tired of complaining about things that will never change and decided to have a more open mind about the state of Sport’s Entertainment today. I mean, come on. Does Vincent Kennedy McMahon really give a damn what we think? He’s probably sleeping on a bed made out of all the money he makes each day which is, in all likelihood, more than any of us will ever make in this lifetime. So why should he care what we think? However, that does not mean I can’t resort to my trusty laptop and my fellow L.E.W.D chaps when I feel like whining about something or another.
I don’t know if any of you noticed it lately, but there seems to have been some dramatic shift in wrestling within the big two. I don’t mean some mass exchange of talent either. I’m talking about the quality of their programming. I never thought I’d say this, but I cannot stress enough how much better TNA Impact Wrestling programming is over WWE’s current programming of Raw and Smackdown. I cannot speak for Smackdown much because I rarely watch it. I might catch it once a month if that because I have a small life outside of wrestling. Either way, TNA “seems” to be on the right track in its own weird way while WWE is making me feel like I’m wasting hours of my life each week.
I’ll start with Monday Night Raw, the flagship of WWE programming. Honestly, who actually–as of right now–think three hours of Raw is a very good idea? If you’re looking forward to three hours of a snoozefest then either you’re being completely optimistic or you’re insane. Most L.E.W.D readers, with the exception of the few TNApologists we get, are often optimistic so we’ll go with that. And I hear your optimism. I have heard many arguments as to why three hours of Raw is a good idea.
For instance, some people are hoping the first hour of Raw is dedicated to FCW/NXT hopefuls that want to main event someday. That’s actually a good idea, but I don’t exactly see that happening. I feel like it will be the same “business as usual” attitude with Cena closing the show each week. No Way Out gave us jumbled up tag team match and the end result was a future title match featuring Young and O’Neil versus Kingston and Truth. I guess I could get behind the idea of this fresh new tag team, but WWE’s track record with tag teams as of late hasn’t led me to believe they are ready to get behind the tag team division full force. If that were the case, the Hart Dynasty would have never been “screwed”, The Usos may have had a strong push for the belts and Epico and Primo never would have lost the belts to begin with to two main event level superstars who were thrown together as a tag team. Why not use the tag teams you already have and let main event stars main event?
In the case of Jerishow, they had a purpose which was, and I am assuming here, to revamp the tag team division and it worked for a while, but like most everything in WWE these days, it fizzled out somewhere down the line. I will say though, that the hope–possibly false, but hope nontheless–lies in the fact that WWE currently has more tag teams these days. At No Way Out we saw the Usos, Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd, Epico/Primo and Young, O’Neil. There’s also Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks which I think they don’t often get the credit they deserve, but as you can see, there’s clearly some kind of tag team division forming. Does this mean we’ll get to see the tag titles defended on a regular basis rather than just as a random filler for pay per views? Well, during three hours of Raw there’s certainly plenty of time for decent tag team action.
From tag team action, we move right along to women’s wrestling which is actually what finally pushed me into sorting my thoughts. On last night’s Raw, we saw an appearance by none other than WWE Hall of Famer Wendi Richter along with Roddy Piper and Cyndi Lauper, her former manager. The crowd was absolutely dead for this segment. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen such a dead crowd since Nascar drivers attempted to guest host Raw. It was that bad. Some feel like Heath Slater saved that segment, but to be honest, I don’t think anything except Sweet Chin Music could have saved it. Shawn should have been teleported from his couch and sent in to superkick everyone in the ring, including the writers who thought this segment was a great idea.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am a huge fan of all those legends (including Lauper) who were in the ring, but the segment was just cringe worthy. Not only that, but it made me feel sorry for the ladies due to the fact that nobody seemed to care. The crowd popped BIG time for Vader, another person whom we haven’t seen on WWE programming in years and yet when Wendi Richter, another legend, makes her way to the ring there’s no pop. There’s nothing and it makes me think about how WWE has ruined everyone’s perception of women’s wrestling. In a nutshell–the Divas get no love, not even the ones who paved the way.
Layla and Beth Phoenix did a fantastic job during their match at No Way Out. I say fantastic by WWE’s standards because any smart “wrestling” fan knows that those women weren’t exactly tearing it up like Marti Belle or LuFisto. (Yeah I know who they are. I might not watch them often, but I do know them.) But for a WWE women’s wrestling match, it ranked up there with Michelle McCool and Layla’s match before McCool retired. I was entertained, people discovered Layla actually has moves, and they (Layla/Beth) got a great deal of time to tell a story which is what helps wrestling fans get into the match. When there’s no kind of story going on, it makes it hard–at least for me–to invest in that person. When I started watching wrestling, women were actually allowed storylines. They worked the mic–quite often–and even had decent length matches. Of course, they weren’t always five and ten minutes, but if there’s a good story going on, there is no need for a ten minute match each week. Segments are used to keep people interested and invested in that character so it all works out.
These days though, it is very hard. AJ Lee, who is currently the only interesting Diva in WWE programming right now, doesn’t get the mic very often. However, she IS involved in a major storyline and people are beginning to like her. Rose Mendez is a “manager” for Epico and Primo, but no one cares because she never speaks for them often. She doesn’t do the things women like Sherri Martel used to do. Only Vikki Guerrero is playing the part of the classic female manager. She doesn’t wrestle often, but you can bet her Dolph Ziggler is gaining a following. Not only that, but she gets a reaction. I just think it’s sad that the women are only seen as a bathroom break and that a legend like Wendi Richter got absolutely no love from the crowd. I would say, “Shame on you WWE fans”, but if WWE cared more about their women, so would the people who watch their programming.
From WWE’s hatred of women, we now turn to the main event scene. Punk and Bryan have been tearing up as of late. I’m sure it may not compare to their old Ring of Honor stuff, but by WWE standards it’s been great stuff. Even Sheamus has been kicking a whole lot of ass lately and yet that isn’t enough to make two hours of Raw and a three hour WWE pay per view exciting. In the case of No Way Out, I do not think it was a bad show. The match between Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler was very entertaining and had many wanting more. It was a great way to set the tone for the show and yet, as usual, WWE finds a way to ruin such momentum.
Cody and Christian’s match was sorta just there. It only got good near the end. It’s not Christian’s fault, but I don’t feel like Cody’s there yet. The crowd did not seem so hot for that match. The Santino match absolutely killed the pay per view. The crowd obviously, did not appreciate it for they shouted “boring” very loudly. I’m sure that gets edited out for the DVD copy, but that match had no business on the pay per view. Some folks complained about Ryback, but honestly, he didn’t kill the momentum–the Suits match did. The triple threat match was great and should have closed a sour show, but the Cena match closed it. While some people hated that, the crowd certainly popped for Cena so your opinions of Cena closing a show are irrelevant.
But despite No Way Out being watchable, TNA’s Slammiversary kicked No Way Out’s ass six ways from Sunday. Hear that TNA fans? I am openly admitting the fact that I enjoyed a TNA pay per view more than a WWE one and I’ll do you one better. TNA programming, as of late, is BETTER than WWE’s. Yes folks. We’re finally reaching the point of my ramblings. WWE programming seems to drag on and on from one show to the next in the span of two hours. By the time 11pm hits, I’m already half way asleep only having forced myself to stay awake long enough to see John Cena. If WWE is putting me to sleep in two hours, I have no doubt by 10pm, I will not be able to stand much more of it.
I am not, by any means, saying WWE sucks. That isn’t true. It doesn’t suck completely, but it’s mundane, mediocre and predictable. It’s the same old routine. You get your opening 10 to 20 minute promo, followed by a match that will have at least one commercial break, pointless backstage segments with random Zack Ryder, another match, a Diva sighting, a Punk or Bryan match to save the show and then Cena to close it out. Even the damn matches are routine. Its like each match is paced slow and methodically that I often find myself zoning in and out–even during the good ones–because there’s no quick action. No, I’m not saying each match needs that Rey Mysterio pace, but at least in TNA, we get a variety. The matches are not all the same. Not all of them are fast paced, but they don’t seem to drag either. You might get an Aries/Xion match to start things off followed by something a little less quick such as Abyss and someone else. Then you might get a Knockouts match which isn’t at all like a Divas match.
To be fair, I was concerned at one point, but after last week, it looks like things are shaping up again for the ladies of TNA. My point is that TNA has learned (or so it appears) that in a two hour live show, one must keep the audience’s attention and you can only do so much in two hours. Last week there was way more ring action than segments. WWE–that’s another problem. They tend to talk entirely too much during a broadcast and that’s going to keep me from watching, especially when its the same old people holding a mic each week.
I urge all of you to give TNA a chance. They’ve put on two great shows and a great pay per view, but don’t get the ratings to show for it. I actually QUIT watching TNA for months. I think I quit right around November of last year and only just recently got back into it. Even if you’ve never watched TNA, I guarantee you’ll recognize old WWE superstars. That is how I got into the show to begin with. I saw people that I recognized and decided to give it a shot. No, TNA isn’t perfect and God I despise Hogan.
However, I won’t quit watching while they’re trying. If everyone who’s always tooted their nose up at TNA gave it a shot, I think you all would be pleasantly surprised. In fact, you can watch full episodes of TNA on YouTube and looky here. I did you the favor of looking up last week’s show so you can enjoy it. Watch with an open mind and prepared to see wrestling and not that methodical, slow, boring, predictable stuff you see every Monday Night. When TNA actually does something right, they deserve to be watched. With WWE’s epic permanent move to three hours, it’s hard to see a bright future when they’re only advertising returning legends rather than the new generation while current shows are boring everyone to death. Dixie Carter, keep up the good work and with that, I’m finally shutting the heck up,
After roughly a year of being introduced to the WWE Universe, learning the characters’ personas, story lines, skills, and athletic abilities, The Right Reverend Showtime presented me with tickets to WWE RAW World Tour in Birmingham.
After a couple of months of anxious waiting, the night finally arrived. Mr. Banks and I arrived in our fan wear; he in CM Punk’s merchandise, and me clad with Alberto Del Rio’s t-shirt and necklace. The Rt. Rev. refused to tell me where our seats were. I was so excited to actually go see a live event that I honestly didn’t care if we were sitting in the nosebleeds.
Arriving at the BJCC was a spectacle. A line had already begun to form at the doors, and we filed in toward the front. As the fellow fans arrived the audience itself was a major spectacle to me. I understand L.E.W.D’s mission to strive to present wrestling fans in a…better, thoughtful light, rather than the heard of rednecks hooting and hollering outside. But, I have to admit I enjoyed the display of Alabama’s varying walks of life . . .and the four-year old with a sign that read “ Somebody call my Mommy.”
In line in front of us was a little boy with his dad, who was very excited and bouncing around, and realistically, I was just as anxious!
In such a natural setting at a live WWE event, the wrestling fan, upon seeing someone wearing their favorite wrestler’s fan wear, automatically exchange looks, handshakes, or other civil demonstrations of approval.
The doors opened.
The crowd applauded.
I still haven’t been allowed to see where we are sitting. When we went inside, I learned that we are sitting on the floor. I was so excited. So we’re sitting there four rows back from the ring. The building gradually floods with people. There weren’t that many good signs like on Monday night RAW, but the crowd was intense. I’m not sure what The Rt. Rev. expected of my experience, but I was quickly submerged into the crowd’s excitement and hysteria.
As the stars came out, though I can’t wait to experience a live Monday Night RAW, I was just as enticed as when watching the show. These characters come out dripping with their personas and gimmicks. My attention was captivated, and it was even better in person.
The matches were an interesting concept in person. I was afraid that when the stars came out, the magic was going to be disrupted by fake, choppy realism versus the deception of camera. I was not disappointed. I could see the athleticism and skill it took to make sure no one dies during a match. I also entirely doubt the rest of the world’s comments about how “fake” wrestling is after watching in person. You can’t fake a huge man plopping down off of the top rope onto another, smaller man.
I’m a little hesitant to admit this next segment of my first live wrestling adventure: I joined in with the women and children chanting for John Cena during his handicap match with Big Show & Tensai.
Mainly, I just don’t like Big Show right now because I feel like every week for the past month has been him either 1) Crying/Whining about something or 2) Kicking everyone in the ass like a beast.
There’s no in between for him [ at least during my viewership] .
But, my point is that live wrestling crowds are wonderful. Being a part of that crowd that I’ve seen on T.V. was so much fun. The mass hysteria about these characters spreads like wildfire. Watching at home and deciding I don’t like a character is one thing, but to be in a crowd of people who don’t like that star either and will boo or cheer was empowering. In this audience, our opinions of them mattered. WE were the fans for which they perform.
My favorite match was a tie between the John Cena vs. Big Show & Tensai and the No Disqualification match between C.M. Punk and Daniel Bryan. I hate Daniel Bryan because he looks like a leprechaun. I do not care how “great” of a wrestler he is, I don’t like his character.
The C.M. Punk match really got me riled up; because I love the matches where anything goes. Watching someone get hit with a chair in person is terrible. I had to close my eyes a couple of times.
I didn’t realize how much the crowd influences who wins these matches. Maybe the World Tour is a little different because they are swaying results based on what the people want, but I wonder about that theory in relation to actual live filming/pay per views/ WrestleMania.
How involved of a fan was I? Well, I was hoarse after the show and the next day. The experience was to die for. I can’t wait to go again, and have a chance to see a pay-per-view or Live Monday Night RAW or SmackDown. (Maybe I’ll actually get to see Alberto Del Rio one day).
Another episode of Monday Night RAW is in the books, this one fresh off the heels of an extremely well produced and executed Pay-Per-View.
While most of us anticipated this particular showing of RAW to be off the charts as far as action, excitement, and entertainment is concerning, the actual end result was a tad bit…underwhelming. If you read my previous piece, then you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say it was whelm deficient.
I’m sure many fans will disagree with that assessment for various reasons, but in my humble and 8-times-out-ot-10-right opinion, this show was just average; some pretty awesome things happened, but it was a particularly safe show and probably so on purpose.
Most of us here at L.E.W.D. learned long ago that not every show should be expected to be a five star offering; if this were to happen, then what exactly would a five star show be? So habitually a company will offer a less than stellar show in order to bring fans expectations down slightly in order to enhance the potency of the next show or event.
Think of it like this: there was a reasonwhythe Divas match yesterday was placed between the CM Punk/Chris Jericho match and the Brock Lesnar/John Cena match.
Given that WWE Over the Limit is taking place in three weeks, it’s slightly understandable why the show lacked some chutzpah; the build for the WWE’s gimmick-less Pay Per View is potentially building up for the June 17 No Way Out event. If you’ve seen the leaked poster for the Pay Per View, then you’ll too agree that tonight’s sub par showcase was a necessary evil.
With that intro out of the way, let’s look at a few of the things that made the show important:
- The Bellas get “fired;” Ash is partly wrong, and there’s a disturbance in the force.
- CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan at Over the Limit: Don’t blow your wad just yet.
- The Ace Crusher Returneth for John Cena
Leave it to the WWE to throw another wrench in the plans of this idealistic sports entertainment pseudo-analyst…
I crafted quite the post yesterday detailing, in so many words, what I thought the WWE was going to do with the departing Bella twins. My plans were whimsical and involved the missing-in-action WWE anti-Diva Kharma, the one person I was SURE would return tonight during the Bellas’ rematch to destroy the twins in one easy and swift motion.
At least I was right about the rematch…
My boss, a closet casual fan at best (which means he’ll talk about how silly pro wrestling is but will watch it with us for at least fifty minutes), made a very interesting comment after the Bellas’ blink-and-you’ll-miss-it title rematch:
Ash’s Boss -”Clearly there’s something more to the story than this…”
Ironically enough this singular thought from a semi-casual fan would serve as the theme for most of the show. While we’ve yet to see even the slightest clue as to how Kharma will re-debut for the company, the Bellas’ weird departure has to be intertwined with a story line somehow, someway.
Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks were “fired” in a similar fashion and they’ve received little corporate fanfare, noticeably missing the infamous “Best in all your future endeavors” WWE.com announcement that follows a release. Only the WWE knows where they’re going with this, so we’ll just have to wait and see…
In a move that shocked all of three fans in the WWE Universe, Daniel Bryan defeated Jerry Lawler in the Beat the Clock Challenge to become the #1 Contender for CM Punk’s WWE Title. Suffice it to say that hundreds of thousands of WWE fans climaxed at this turn of events.
While this is great news for any fan of Punk and Bryan’s work together, this upcoming match is also something that we’ll have to watch unfold. I’m not so sure we should get our hopes up so soon and mess ourselves over the anticipation of the match as opposed to the execution of the resulting story line and actual match.
CM Punk’s reign thus far can be summarized as five months of wrestling excellence. He’s actually wrestled everyone he’s had to defend his belt against; if we’re being honest with ourselves, Punk is actually one of the few “wrestling champions” out there.
But that’s about it; besides having a very strong showing during the street fight against Chris Jericho at Extreme Rules, Punk is still fighting for the one match/feud that will catapult him into super stardom. He’s hungry for the match that will make his reign more important than John Cena.
With three weeks to go until the Over the Limit Pay Per View, there isn’t enough time for the WWE to craft such a feud between Punk and Bryan. Sure it’s a great thing that we’ll get another classic wrestling match between two professional wrestlers that is guaranteed to get money, but it’s only going to play second fiddle to John Cena’s match against Johnny Ace.
This match is the answer to most fans’ prayers, but it is not and will not be Punk or Bryan’s defining WWE moment; that is still to come and we shouldn’t spooge our shorts until we get a better feel for how they’re going to build up to this match. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…
Everyone was positive last night that Lord Tensai would be named as John Cena’s opponent at the Over the Limit Pay Per View. I shuddered in my seat at the thought of that match mostly because…well…to me it just didn’t make sense.
But before we get to that point, we must recall that everyone was positive Sunday night that John Cena would be taking some much needed time off. Cena’s cryptic speech at the conclusion of the Pay Per View, plus this tidbit from WWE.com had us all assuming that the Champ was going to gracefully bow out for awhile to heal himself.
Leave it to Mr. Invincible to do right by the fans and risk injuring himself even further for the business that he loves. After defeating Brock Lesnar and summarily embarrassing the People Powered EVP of Talent Relations and the GM of both RAW and Smackdown,Cena had to return last night to reclaim his spot as the face of the company.
Earlier in the night, Johnny Ace attempted to redeem Brock Lesnar by bringing him out for whatever reason. Lesnar’s mic time was spent explaining that his “loss” was really a “victory” seeing as all he intended to do was “bring the pain.” And that is exactly what happened.
At that point, WWE COO Triple H entered the arena and attempted to put a leash on Ace’s monster…
Needless to say that didn’t work out well for the COO, who received a broken arm via the Kimora Lock from Lesnar. Is it just me or does Triple H get beat up each time he comes out and tries to assert his authority as the COO?
Laurinaitis then paints a picture for Cena, a pretty Crayola-drawn portrait of what he envisioned as the way to bring the best out of the superstar. Cena and much of the audience in attendence hated Laurinaitis’ picture but, in a gesture of good will, promised to place in on the refrigerator for everyone to see.
Lord Tensai creeps into the picture and is teased as Cena’s upcoming opponent in one month. As Cena hulked up and prepared for a two-on-one assault, Johnny Ace attacks him from behind and names himself as Cena’s challenger at the Pay Per View.
This interesting turn of events left me feeling enthused and confused at the same time; I was conthused…
While terribly happy that Lord Tensai would be far away from a Pay Per View match against Cena, I was bewildered at the progression of Cena’s story line in the form of one John Laurinaitis. A parking lot conversation with DiZ cleared up a lot of that confusion, but also left me wanting more.
I guess that’s the purpose of a decent show, to leave fans eagerly anticipating the next show by giving them a cliff-hanging ending that reels them deeper into the story. But a match between these two Johns, both of whom tend to excel in providing moments of blandness, kind of reminds me of the match between Vince McMahon and Bret Hart. Who is going to carry who in this match?
Those thoughts aside, the development has intrigued me and much like the rest of the show, we’ll just have to…wait and see…
In the end, those are just my thoughts; the real question is, what do YOU think???
Disclaimer: an asterisk (*) indicates a bold faced lie.
If you can tell me what difference there is between the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship, kudos to you. If you can do it in less than ten words, excelsior. Looking at those strange, overindulgent hunks of gold and leather make me wonder exactly what they are supposed to be for, period.
Did you celebrate when CM Punk won the title from John Cena back in Chicago way back when? How about when Daniel Bryan pinned the Big Show? When Zack Ryder finally climbed the tower to achieve his first official championship, despite his custom made title carrying a lot more weight (no pun intended)? Let me make it perfectly clear: you can count on one hand how many titles in the big two companies of professional wrestling are worth even a fourth of a damn. Why, you may be asking? Because the titles are merely for show now.
As I’ve said in many of my previous pieces, I’m a storyteller. Whether telling the story of my musical journalist who might as well have been a spokesman for Trojan, or making kids smile with the misadventures of pseudo-philosopher Jeff (real name Andrew), I take into consideration the importance of symbolism and motif. “DiZ, you splendid sight of splendor, what are symbolism and motif?” you are no doubt asking. Well symbolism is, in plain terms, something that serves as a representation of something else. Examples include a wedding ring. That symbolizes marriage.
Take Cleveland. It represents failure.
And what about this fantastic, self-explanatory scene from a classic program:
Symbolism. And motif is a recurring element that has symbolic significance in a story. Don’t worry so much about motif, this is about symbolism. When it comes to the WWE, I hate two things more than anything: the draft concept and the belts. As a storyteller, you can’t have pointless elements unless it is used to a comedic effect. When it comes to both the draft and the belts, I’m not laughing. I’m not even cracking a grin.
I’m unimpressed, people. Having stories is great but when the object of your quest is stupid or horribly undefined, what’s the point? I’m already all over the place so let me put it into perspective and then I’ll go deeper into the meat.
Read the comments for Mr. Morris’ latest piece on, quote “Damien ‘effing’ Sandow” and he responds to my comment – where I politely suggest he let it go – by reminding me of my sheer hatred for actresses (and I use the terms loosely) Terri J. Vaughn and Tasha Smith. While I’m sure that these ladies are both fine people and capable of worthy performances* I can’t help but feel unjustified anger whenever they are on the screen. Maybe it is because they both seem to pull a Terrance Howard and portray themselves ten times out of nine, or maybe it’s because they both bask in the secondary role of wingwoman (wingman without the Y chromosome) to women who are infinitely their superior. As actresses, especially in this market, being typecast is commonplace but you never relish your role in being typecast. If you go into a company knowing you’re going to want to stay for a while, you never go in as a low-level intern and anticipate staying a low-level intern for years to come. If you work at Wal-Mart for ten years, then at the very least you need to aspire to a managerial status.
When I was a kid, I wanted the Intercontinental Belt. I wanted to wear it around my waist, go to school and exert dominance upon my international peers, claiming that I was better and America was number one because the champion of all continents was an American. To me that title meant something, more than just a heavy piece of metal with a fancy design on it. But the years have humbled me* and my patriotism has matured* and now I have an idea of what the belt would mean to me now. As irony would have it, it STILL represents that dominance in a way, but not in a smarmy “I’m better than you” but an inspiring “I’m better than you”.
I’m still tiptoeing around the issue: the belts don’t mean anything. There’s no difference between one belt or any other belt. Outside of a select few, putting the belt on someone does nothing but enhances their normal stance (faces are more heroic, heels are more dickheaded) and the surrounding nonsense is purely pomp and circumstance from everyone else.
I want to like this angle between CM Punk and Chris Jericho in the sense of the championship. I want to. But I can’t. Do I like the straight edge lifestyle of Punk being put on the chopping block? Yes. Does it do anything to distinguish either one of these highly talented athletes as the best wrestler in the world? No, not at all. If anything it does the unthinkable: puts it on the back burner and merely does the same thing I wanted to do in my earlier years. The belt is just a McGuffin used to push the story along.
There’s another word you may be unfamiliar with. McGuffin. In terms of a story, a McGuffin is a plot device that has no explanation but pushes the story along. Cite Pulp Fiction for example. That suitcase’s contents remained a mystery, and they remain a mystery to this day. Some say it was Mr. Wallace’s soul, some say money, some say a cornucopia of violent Russian pornographic magazines (I have some sick friends) but the fact was that no one in the film revealed what it was and no one watching knew what it was, but it pushed the film forward. And that meant it was important, right?
Not exactly. Getting it around was important, sure, but otherwise it was just a symbol (you’re catching the recurring motifs (you’re seeing how all the terms are coming together (sah da tay*))) of responsibility. At this point that’s what the titles are. They don’t really symbolize anything in and of themselves, and they should have the indoctrinating effect of the ring from Lord of the Rings or Pamela Anderson in Baywatch or, if you’re like me, Rosario Dawson if she had hardly anything on (and it is AWESOME to see that).
I don’t think I can properly talk about this so long as I don’t go into each tier of championship. For the WWE, you have the top tier (WWE, World Heavyweight), you have the secondary tier (United States, Intercontinental), the divisional/brand exclusive tier (Divas, Tag) and the discontinued tier (European, Hardcore, Light Heavyweight, Cruiserweight, etc.) and you may be surprised to find out* that the discontinued tier was the best defined championship branding.
Take the WWE Championship. Winner is supposed to be the best in the company I take it. He is at the top of the ladder, the summit, the mountain top, they are the best of the best of the best and they defend that title against only those who climb the mountain in an effort to actually challenge them. You know, back when being a number one contender meant something? You don’t remember those days? Well Pepperidge Farm does*, and dammit, so do I*! It really makes no sense to have challengers with no clear indication of number one contender status challenge the champion! I’m not talking about the Money in the Bank matches or the Royal Rumble, those are solid. Those are good. I’m talking about arbitrary six-man battle royals the week before a PPV to determine something as significant as the challenger to the top belt in your damn business!
Like I said, I WANT to like the belt’s role in the Punk/Jericho storyline*, but it doesn’t mean anything. It’s just there so Jericho will be more of a dickhead should he win it and Punk will be more of a hero if he retains. The bottle of Jack and wasted cans of beer are more important to me, and not just because I think the company wasted some quality libations.
But alas, the belt means nothing when it isn’t the focus. I’m going to harp on Daniel Bryan because with his title reign and his subsequent battle to reclaim it, the belt is the focus. When he first one the belt, he was elated. Slowly it began to turn his persona more and more evil, as he was constantly trying to keep the belt and you KNEW he was trying to keep the belt. Him screaming “YES!” was a testament to this desire and still is. He kissed the belt versus getting kissed by AJ, another small fact (I notice the small things). When he lost it, he dropped the girl (who suddenly got very VERY attractive) and began his reign as the new anti-hero: Yes! Man*. Yes! Man flies through the ring with his index fingers high and demolishes his opponents with his powerful attack renamed from martial arts: the Yes! Lock*. And with this powerful lock and tremendous determination he climbs the lonely mountain to reach the object of his desire, his precious World Heavyweight Championship*!
So no, the belt itself means little, but the person makes it worth something. Fact is this: if CM Punk loses that belt next Sunday, he will STILL call himself the best wrestler in the world. If Jericho loses, he will STILL call himself the best in the world at what he does (he’s no Wolverine…*) but when Daniel Bryan lost his belt, he said he would do whatever he had to do to become, once again, the WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP! YES! YES! YES! YES!
Okay, I think that’s a nice entry point into what I’m trying to get at. We can look at the secondary championships too, but for the love of all that is good and holy, what in the blue hell does that even mean? Secondary? I think it’s a nice term* but again, what does it mean? The two secondary titles in the WWE are the United States Championship and the Intercontinental Championship. As we all know, Santino Marella possesses the former, the Big Show possesses the latter. In a round about way, both of these reigns are significant, just for different reasons.
Take the Italian Stallion Marella (I would use my nickname for him but ethnic slurs are discouraged). Aside from being his fourth title reign, Santino’s character is supposed to be Italian, as stereotypical as you can make him without giving him overalls and incompetent royalty. I say that Marella’s holding the title was significant because he, along with Sheamus and Kingston, are among some non-Americans who have held the title as of late. Does this mean anything for the belt? Not unless you fear communism.
Then you have the Intercontinental Title, and again, the belt isn’t the significant part of this current reign so much as the person holding it. Paul Wright: the Big Show. Latest Grand Slam Champion. Why is this big? Not only because only a select few have been Grand Slam Champions, but because only a handful can be Grand Slam Champions in the WWE at this point, and the list may shock you*.
There are twelve people who have reached this goal: Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Kane, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, Jeff Hardy, John “Bradshaw” Layfield, Christian and the Big Show. The five that can get it now are: The Undertaker, William Regal, Goldust, Mark Henry and R-Truth. Go ahead and see if I missed an asterisk, I’m completely right. You have to have held the top title, a secondary title, the tag title and a tertiary title, and it made sense to me why the Big Show cried when he won the title at Wrestlemania. On one hand, he finally won solo at Wrestlemania. On another, he became a Grand Slam Champion. There were only six more that could do it before he accomplished the feat.
But being a Grand Slam Champion in and of itself carries no real value. To be frank, Chris Jericho is the only Grand Slam Champion who might be considered the Supreme Grand Slam Champion because he’s held every title necessary and applicable.
But back to the topic at hand. A secondary title, in my view, and my view is gospel*, is one that represents the top of that particular belt’s wording. The United States Champion should be the best in the United States. The Intercontinental should be the best amongst all continents. Both of those notions are negated when the WWE Championship represents the best in the company, which is based in the United States, and the World Heavyweight Championship encompasses the world, which continents are a part of. It’s comparing the president to the vice president. Kids aspire to be the President of the United States. NOBODY, I repeat NO-EFFING-BODY aspires to be the Vice President of the United States. Not a single person. Not one. It is merely a foothold to reach the level of president. Walter Mondale did NOT jump for joy and say, “Yay, I’m going to be vice president!” George H.W. Bush did not say, “I’m the vice president, hooray!” Joe Biden did not say… much of anything. Really, he hasn’t.
And before you mention Julia Louis-Dreyfus remember this: you don’t see the president ONCE in that show, okay? Effectively, in that world, she IS the president*.
Of course you have the tag titles – and whatever the (expletive) iteration they’re in now – and those titles go to a tag team. For what it’s worth, I respect that there is a sense of direction with these guys. Sadly that direction is based on circumstance. See, you can’t have one man with the tag team title belts. You can’t. I’m sure Mick Foley could have pulled it off at one point (him or DOOM, but Viktor Vaughn might have fondled AJ a little too much) but no one can. By default you automatically have a rationale for tag team champs, but the whole number one contender thing I mentioned before is screwy, at best. I’m still struggling to understand exactly where this invisible listing comes from. At least with TNA they do a “RECOUNT!” chant.
Oh, and just in case you’re wondering why I’m focusing on the WWE and not smacking my (expletive) on the crying, abused face of Dixie Carter, it’s because TNA is so mediocre and asinine that they aren’t worthy of my time. With that being said, Part 3 focuses on TNA’s championships.
Finally we come to the defunct championships, the tertiary gold bars that went between stupid and oddly entertaining. Let’s begin with my favorite* one, that one that I still feel like Christian made: the European Championship. Maybe back during the Attitude era, when the world made sense*, this was a big title to have. Not because of the title, however, but because of who had held it. Owen Hart (RIP), Shane McMahon (could’ve been great), William Regal (the best Grand Slam with no name you’ve never known), amongst others, but RVD did with it what should have been done from the very start: he merged it with the Intercontinental Championship. In this PC society it would be wrong of me to indicate how weird it is for the smallest and arguably only non-continent to have a belt while other continents are left without one, but this is a PC society and I don’t want to do that*. Honest*. I don’t want to do it at all*.
Again, and this is just for the sake of posterity: I think Christian made that title. I didn’t pay any real attention to who had the titles back when he first went out on his own as a singles competitor, but the man went on TV with that damn belt and had a crew of interns singing that he was the champion of Europe. I throw my hands up here, that’s true champion behavior. And his choir of interns singing his then entrance music was beyond dope. Hell, even his being a crybaby was great*.
We also have the Hardcore Championship. Okay, I put my hands up here: this title was great. A lot of people don’t like the Hardcore title because it put spectacle over skill, and the 24/7 rule wasn’t really to a lot of people’s liking, but guess what: that (expletive) was entertaining. Anyone could have the title and the concept of a number one contender was rendered pointless because it could be gained or lost at the drop of a dime, anywhere, at any time, by anyone. For my FPS fans, it was true King of the Hill. True King of the Hill. Everybody loves true King of the Hill. That and a good shotgun to obliterate your online enemies.
For the sake of time, let’s speed through the last ones. Cruiserweight and Light Heavyweight. Same difference, stupid name on the latter, glad they’re gone, still mad that the weight cap on it was 215-220 pounds and the heaviest champion was 260, but what’s done is done. The Women’s and Divas titles are exclusively for women, good job, get a decent roster and it’ll mean something. Technically it means little now because the second a man won the title of Miss Wrestlemania all logic went down the drain, no matter how entertaining the guy appeared to be. Question: who is the Divas champion right now? See, you don’t know, because it doesn’t matter. Or, as Elaine Stritch so beautifully puts it:
I guess I’ve spelled out something of a point that the biggest issues with the belts are lack of a purpose and no secure rationale behind the number one contenders. That’s a problem all around. You can’t do that in boxing. You have to work your way up the ranks and then you can challenge the guy in charge. You couldn’t do that in Afro Samurai, that awesome anime where Samuel L. Jackson portrayed both the protagonist and his sidekick. To challenge the person with the Number 1 Headband (a lot of holes present with Afro’s father being this guy) you had to have the Number 2 Headband (there are even more headbands than these but again, a LOT of holes present).
You couldn’t do this in Cleveland*. Well, maybe you could.
I say all this to say that WWE titles are pointless. Very pointless. They serve no goal, just shiny belts that can’t even hold up their pants (when they wear them). I understand and appreciate the joys of the story, but you have no reason to include the belt when it won’t serve a purpose. Look at the recent John Cena/The Rock battle. The belt had no place in it, and the match was all the better without it. Until then, the only belt without a proper stipulation is the World Heavyweight Title, and that’s because of Daniel Bryan. Maybe he’s a Martian though. That would complicate things*.
(A.K.A. — Yes. Yes! YES!)
(A.K.A. — Bryan vs… the Hype)
If you had told me at his WWE NXT debut that the now-Superstar we call Daniel Bryan would be the fan favorite, arguably the biggest one in a long time, I would have said “I can see that” with a minor bit of apprehension. If you (talking about you, Adrian) had said that he would be so popular that non-fans, casual fans and “I know more than major promotions” fans alike would be chanting his curiously simple catchphrase no matter how far down the road to Heel Nirvana he went, I would have said, “No, you’re a damn liar” with great gusto.
So brace yourselves for something I’ve grown accustomed to never doing: I’m going to admit that I’m happy to have been wrong. I thought Daniel Bryan, as he’s called now, would be nothing more than a mid-card darling on his best days and now he’s reminding me of a white Eddie Guerrero.
When he first hit the ropes of NXT, people were mad. They weren’t quite as vocal as the recent Wrestlemania 28 controversy, but they were mad nonetheless. Why the hell would the
idiotic fine people at WWE Creative debut this wrestling living legend of sorts as a rookie under the tutelage of Mike Mizanin, the man who can STILL make the claim for changing the face of the WWE and ushering in the new era? We can, of course, attribute this to the role of the WWE in crafting Superstars.
Having established wrestlers just come in and wrestle is a no-no for Vince McMahon and, maybe, Paul Levesque, though I might be one of the people to contend that our favorite COO meant for Daniel Bryan to be the first of his wave of new talents. It’s exceptionally rare for anyone with an established background to come into the WWE as they are. They are taken in, revamped, repackaged and returned to the world of active pro wrestling as a new character entirely.
Look at Chris Hero. Now he’s Kassius Ohno. Screw the fact that he was an independent promotion mainstay (like Bryan Danielson); he’s the new guy in FCW with a funny name. Look at Jon Moxley. Now he’s Dean Ambrose, and after this I have hope in the direction of things in the WWE. Never mind the fact, mind you, that Moxley was with CHIKARA and Dragon Gate amongst other promotions.
On the same coin (just the other side), take the also curious case of Sin Cara. To say he was entertaining is an understatement, and everything surrounding his pomp and circumstance was well deserved, even if he was stereotypically another face Hispanic in a mask. A lucha libre to the core, his only true crime was being foreign to the style of the WWE. So yes, putting him in matches with people he can shine against (Daniel Bryan, Chavo Guerrero, further Hispanic stereotype Sincara who is now full Hispanic stereotype Hunico) was a plus, but the fact that he was still wrestling LIKE a lucha libre to the core meant that he wasn’t fully translating to the WWE. Yes, there’s a reason that he’s MIA and Hunico is still riding out on a lowrider bike.
At the same token, we have to remember that the WWE is marketing to an audience that doesn’t necessarily look beyond what they can already see. TNA means tits and ass, ROH is a poor way of imitating a dinosaur’s stereotypical call and Dragon Gate is either a sparsely-remembered concept of Dragonball Z or a Yu-Gi-Oh! card that accompanied the Blue-Eyes White Dragon. In that respect, the revamp/repackage/return method is, at one level, a concession for the WWE fans as a whole. Simplicity is good for kids and the mentality of the myopic. It becomes something entirely different when the person came up through the WWE (look at recent comeback kid Lord Tensai).
But Bryan Danielson was, from jump, given the treatment of “Why the hell is he here?!” from the very start. He was on NXT, feuded with his own “mentor”, and was subsequently “fired” from the company for no apparent reason. A lot of people, myself included at the time, figured that this was the less-than-impressive rise and fall of this guy that everyone continually referred to as the American Dragon and/or he who wrestled one of the greatest matches in the history of pro wrestling. With a shrug and a nod I washed my hands, ate a cheeseburger and went to bed. Oh well, easy come, easy go.
As we all remember, the first season of NXT produced one of the biggest angles in years: the birth of the Nexus. It was a good act: unity through brotherhood, the leader being the winner of the show, an indestructible force that could call Chris Jericho something of an intellectual godfather a la Ron Paul, and as the weeks went through they showed themselves to be truly unstoppable. Alone they were formidable but combined they were like a pack of hungry piranha. Honestly, the only thing they were missing were a crew of Divas to manage the more uncharismatic of the collective (i.e. – most of them…).
Eventually they pissed people off enough to get a “Team WWE” to come up and do battle against the seven-man crew at Summerslam. But lo and behold, Team WWE was only at six people even as the event was seconds from starting. Who was this mysterious seventh man? Who, I ask you, who? WHO?!
His name was Bryan Danielson. Some people maintain that Daniel Bryan’s return to the WWE was all part of a long, technically still ongoing storyline to build him up; I can understand this and even somewhat support this because:
- A) I swear that Daniel Bryan is the leading flag bearer to Triple H’s newest position, and
- B) Look at where he is now. That’s long-form storytelling at its finest.
Daniel Bryan and Team WWE won, and Daniel Bryan began his wavy ride as a true member of the roster. He feuded with the Miz, allied himself with the Miz’s latest protege Alex Riley (oh, what a sad story that is now…), won the United States Championship, played the part of the international playboy (AJ is the first American one, quote me), and we can say that Daniel Bryan had began a more or less average run as an average Superstar. He was a terrific wrestler, one hell of a technician, even managed to make us all do a few double-takes with how deserving he was of a title such as one of ROH’s “Founding Fathers”. After his feud with Cody Rhodes and a management position on NXT Season 4, the first sign of the future WWE greatness of Daniel Bryan came with his inclusion into the Money in the Bank ladder match at the pay-per-view of the same name. He won.
I throw my hands up here: I honestly didn’t see that coming.
He won, and he pledged to cash in that briefcase at Wrestlemania 28, and was a bigger face as a result, even partly due to having the new girlfriend who looked barely legal. He was included somewhat into the storyline between Bald Mountain and Dark Mountain (both real mountains from what I understand) and became the sneaky little son of a bitch that tried to cash in his briefcase on whichever giant was felled at the time. He failed a few times, leading to plenty of minor mark out moments for us, but what sealed the deal was his “victory” at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs, where he finally cashed in his briefcase to win the World Heavyweight Championship from Big Show, who just a few seconds before won it from Mark Henry. Hope you caught that:
…who just a few seconds before won it from…
Less than sixty seconds. The Big Show held the World Heavyweight Championship for all of less than sixty seconds and Daniel Bryan was the newly crowned World Heavyweight Champion, and dammit, the downward spiral to heel territory and awesomeness that eclipses that of the Miz began.
I’m going to pause for a second to bring up one of my favorite things: the art of storytelling. One of the finest tools of a good storyteller is recall. This is a simple concept: bringing back to the light something that had happened before. This isn’t necessarily the exact same thing, but it can be similar to the point of irony. That’s all; I was just bringing it up.
Daniel Bryan. The new World Heavyweight Champion was a humble young man with a chip on his shoulder, a woman on his arm and a target around his waist. Big Show was mad because he felt slighted, despite trying to get Daniel Bryan to do the exact same thing to Mark Henry. Mark Henry was mad because he’s always mad. Daniel Bryan began to kick ass, take the coward’s way out, take advantage of people and chant “YES!” at his entrance. He wasn’t quite a heel but he was far from a face too. I hesitate to call him a tweener because he was still pretty undefinable. A lot of people were happy to see him as the champion but he wasn’t necessarily the fan favorite.
Then AJ got involved. Manipulative Daniel Bryan (slow corruption; it was pleasing to see) planted AJ to get run over by the big man, and suddenly Daniel Bryan became the loving protector. The vegan lifestyle was pushed HEAVILY, and still is now kind of, and now he was generating a lot of heat, as both an asshole, a possible poster boy for domestic abuse and the recipient of unrequited love.
From this point we have four major title defenses from Daniel Bryan, only one of them actually relating to his skill as a wrestler in terms of victory. He defeated the Big Show by getting Mark Henry to hit him and cause a disqualification (or as I like to call it one of the finest guest commentator spots in a long time). He defeated Big Show in a No DQ match that, as far as I know, has yet to truly end by running over AJ (see the above paragraph), and he won the triple threat cage match at Royal Rumble by escaping the clutches of the Big Show.
Prior to Wrestlemania 28, the American Dragon successfully retained his title in the elimination chamber, to the excitement of many, the disappointment of others (Santino Marella stole the show) and the supreme disappointment of the people that wanted him to go on super submission mode and leave everyone a managed mess. Whatever, who cares, he won.
On the road to the grandest stage, a few great matches between Daniel Bryan and CM Punk took place, no doubt another treat for fans of the man prior to his time in the WWE. They were great, all 486,747,674,856 of them. During this time, Daniel Bryan had all but converted into his asshole self. Sheamus, winner of the Rumble, had begun to say that the championship had corrupted the wearer (that whole angle is mysteriously gone…) and fast forward to Wrestlemania and… Bryan loses in 19.3 seconds.
Oh wait, sorry, that’s inaccurate. Bryan lost in 18 seconds.
While everyone began to bitch and moan, they were blind to the fact that his story is really just beginning. The next night the crowd was livid, a word you rarely hear in improper pro wrestling writing such as my own, and chanting “Yes!” or “Daniel Bryan” with the customary series of five claps. When Sheamus and Del Rio were in the ring, the crowd was chanting for Daniel Bryan. When John Cena came out, they were chanting for Daniel Bryan. This was quickly put down with the return of Dolph Lundgren fanboy Brock Lesnar, but it was still something to behold.
Now we have Daniel Bryan chants, talks of the “Yes! YES! YES!!!” shirts finally being put into development, and our favorite submission specialist short of Dean Malenko and Chris Jericho’s loaded list (I think he listed the Boston Crab more than once…) is suddenly staying after the show is over to address the crowd. Imagine that, a heel that the fans love…
How does something like this happen? Essentially we’re seeing a few elements of storytelling manifest; there’s been a LOT of payoff in the curious case of Bryan Danielson. A pure wrestler, a terrific technician, he was considered something of a bore in the early goings by some for that, and upon winning the World Heavyweight Title because of treachery (I use that term loosely) he used his “skill” less and less to maintain his heel status and play the part of the coward who loves his belt. Putting him up against CM Punk and other wrestlers who can actually wrestle kept the fact that he was a ring magician fresh in our minds.
The freshest bit of recall came with Wrestlemania 28, and I’ll admit that I am the farthest thing from mad with how that “match” turned out. The outcome was unexpected – pleasing but unexpected – with Sheamus becoming the source of tremendous boos, and Del Rio didn’t help that, though as a heel he really should have used that better. In any case, Daniel Bryan had to lose that belt to attract this new level of height. I honestly doubt he could go into this super submission mode that a lot of people are clamoring for unless he has the incentive to win something back.
I’m slowly (emphasis on the “slow” part) crafting a piece on the role of champions, and that’s one of Bryan’s Achilles Heels. I say this in terms of his character: the gold. Whenever gold is around his waist, he gets a new degree of cockiness. Same thing happens to me when I wear a suit. You can’t tell me nothing and there’s a 60% chance that I’ll steal your girl every time. A belt does the same. When Daniel Bryan had the United States Championship, he was surrounded by women, even indulged in light infidelity. He also lost this title to Sheamus in a dark match before Wrestlemania 27 that was supposed to be on the main card (but shit happens). That’s significant, don’t you think? First match of Wrestlemania 27 is the same as the first match of Wrestlemania 28 with a different title. Of course the former became a lumberjack match because people don’t know how to act but what does it matter that a successful rivalry is remembered?
But I’m talking about the belt, and what Sheamus briefly mentioned about the almost Lord of the Rings quality of one of those things. For the overconfident and overzealous and average arrogant, the belt does have that quality. A title isn’t meant for those who can’t control the power of the precious. Weak hearts cannot be involved and other such terms. The once pure man had been turned jerky by the belt he was pushed into trying to obtain. Rather appropriate for the first world title run, longest run since Kane before him (it was longer than Mark Henry’s run but it didn’t feel that way did it?).
In a way, I suppose I’m saying that Daniel Bryan, or Bryan Daniels, or Mr. I’m-Going-To-Kick-Your-Fucking-Head-In is an unexpected folk hero in the WWE now. No one could have predicted that he would be as big as he is now, outside of maybe whoever hired him (I still think Levesque had a hand in it). No one could have predicted that he’d literally pull the Jesus move and go in, get fired and come back at these heights. What Bryan represents is more than just the zenith (and he’s not even there yet) of how far a wrestler’s charisma and talent can take them. He represents the genius of long form storytelling and the ever present possibilities of taking an indie god and translating them into the mainstream.
I could easily draw comparisons with this to music, video game companies, Star Wars, apples and oranges, bodyspray deodorant, even dead languages, but let’s just keep it simple and say it plainly: an indie star can thrive in the WWE if the right time and investment in them is given. We’ve had two years of WWE Daniel Bryan to watch his slow but powerful growth, and now with three years only a few months away, he’s advertising his own shirt. Can we say the touch? Because Bryan Danielson has the touch. Can you say the touch? I can.
Now, if we can just get those ice cream bars already…
“The Monday after WrestleMania has always been interesting to me…”
Those semi-prophetic words were typed by yours truly yesterday. I say that they’re semi-prophetic because the original statement was based on WrestleMania XVIII, the subject matter of the actual piece. What wasn’t made crystal clear was another belief that I subscribe wholeheartedly to.
WrestleMania usually serves as the end of a year’s worth of story lines and the beginning of an entire new set of characters, stories, and dramatic in-ring action. The Monday following the pay per view, therefore, becomes the unofficial beginning of a new season of angles and action packed drama.
Yesterday’s episode of RAW did more than enough to give my crackpot theory some legs. So much happened on the show, as a matter of fact, that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where to begin. It’s also hard to figure out where to begin when both the Rt. Rev. Showtime and DiZ beat me to the punch with their stellar pieces…the bastards.
So let’s cut the crap and get down to the nitty gritty that impressed me thoroughly with last night’s offering of Monday Night RAW.
- Miami, Florida Receives the Best Live Crowd Ever Award
- Brodus Clay Gets An Actual Story Line, BLEE!
- Like, 8 Different People Debuted/Returned Last Night, Mega BLEE!
- The WWE Owes Mr. Morris Back Payment in Consultant Fees (i.e. Poor Cena)
- Daniel Bryan: #WINNING!
I’m not sure if you noticed or not but last night’s crowd in Miami was absolutely electric! It was very appropriate that the show began with a brief promo from The Rock, who pawned the Canadian Football League and a whistling weirdo in the audience in one breath. From then on, the crowd popped and chanted for any and everything under the sun, it was amazing.
Fans watching at home take for granted the importance of the audience. Unlike some wrestling promotions that view their live fans as “cast members,” the people attending a live event want to be entertained and will voice their opinions if the show is engaging enough.
At that point an event almost turns into an ideal church service, where the gathered people are actively participating in what they witness just as much as the men and women that are in the forefront of the action. These fans are engaged, and that’s the energy the superstars feed off of.
Miami fans last night chanted and popped and booed for everything. They chanted “YES!” for their support of Daniel Bryan (I’ll get into that later) and chanted “¡Si!” when Alberto Del Rio returned (I’ll get into that later, too). They chanted “JHC!” when The Rock said “Jesus H. Christ” (we can’t say Christ on the air anymore?). They even chanted for most of the new faces of RAW (I’ll get to that next).
While some believe that chanting random things does not make for an electric crowd, it cannot be denied that these fans were having fun and it showed. I’d take random chants from a crowd over dead silence any day of the week (see: Orlando fans).
Earlier in the night, General Manager Extraordinaire Johnny Ace booked a Triple Threat match between Santino Marella, Dolph Ziggler, and Jack Swagger for the United States Championship. The match was decent enough, but the post-match beat down is where business began to pick up.
As it turns out, “The Funkasaurus” Brodus Clay came to the aid of Santino when it appeared ZiggleSwag (© 2012, Mr. Ashley Morris, All Rights Reserved) planned to leave our current U.S. Champion black, blue, and red all over. This unholy alliance between Santino and Brodus got a huge reaction from the crowd.
It was only a matter of time before Brodus received a story line and it’s actually more interesting than one would think. Prior to debuting on WWE television, Brodus wreaked havoc in Florida Championship Wrestling as a “suplex machine.”
When you consider the athletic prowess of Jack Swagger against the monstrous power of Brodus Clay, it’s almost a naughty dream to imagine the type of matches they could put on. That remains to be seen but I look at the situation from the glass-half-full perspective. I expect nothing but good stuff from these four men.
Speaking of men, a slew of new superstars made quite the impact last night on the show. It’s always awesome to see new faces on a brand, particularly the faces of people who haven’t wrestled in a while or for a brand at all. These new bodies bring new energy and life to the story lines and creative direction of the show, and I can’t wait to see what happens with these characters next.
Lord Tensai (Matt Bloom, a.k.a. Prince Albert/A-Train) had the most impressive debut last night with his quick victory over his opponent. It’s also noteworthy to mention that Alex Riley made his return to the RAW last night…as Lord Tensai’s opponent; so much for that comeback.
Abraham Washington returned to our television sets last night as well and looks to be a manager of sorts for Mark Henry. A few fans on Twitter last night were moaning about missing WWE Legend Tony Atlas as Henry’s manager. It seems that they forgot, however, that Tony Atlas became popular with fans as Abraham Washington’s co-host, not as Mark Henry’s manager.
At any rate Washington definitely has the gift of gab and a physique reminiscent of The Rock. I think this move is good for him, especially seeing as he’s avoided the dreaded “future endeavored” club for two years.
Alberto Del Rio and his man servant Ricardo Rodriguez made their triumphant returns to WWE television amidst the boisterous cheers from the Miami crowd. It was incredible to cheer for him during the show and to see other fans do the same seeing as he’s universally panned by…well, most fans; as the saying goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
I loved Del Rio’s return to RAW, but I was bothered by two things: his inability to connect with and feed off of the crowd and Sheamus’ return to the WWE Universe’s bad side.
Be it far from me to judge Del Rio’s work ethic as a performer, but one could easily see his weaknesses last night during his exchange with the World Heavyweight Champion. The crowd was ripe for the picking and he virtually ignored them, something a great heel OR face would have never done.
The fans continued to chant during his conversation with Sheamus, and as the heel of the angle Del Rio should have at least paused to tell them to shut up or something; that never happened. He glanced at them and continued through his spiel as if his contract depended on him finishing his sentences to a tee.
Now I understand why fans say that Del Rio can’t connect with them; going forward we can only hope and pray that someone is mentoring him on how to work the crowd with his words and his actions. It’s the little things like that which could propel Del Rio to the top if he’s really trying to climb that ladder.
The other half of my problem is Sheamus’ quick regression back to the s**t list of WWE fans. Sheamus was berated by fans at the beginning of his stint in the WWE for his nitrous-fueled rise to the top. Someone in the WWE had to realize that shoving him down the throats of fans wasn’t working, so they pulled the reigns and slowed down his momentum just a tad.
In that time Sheamus was gradually built up into the face the WWE needed him to be, and his path to the World Heavyweight Championship was pretty docile and agreeable. Even his 19.3 18 second victory over Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania XVIII seemed to give him a good amount of support from the fans.
That dream turned into a nightmare rather quickly; Sheamus was booed when he came out, booed while he talked, and booed when he delivered the Brogue Kick to the much disliked Del Rio.
I don’t know exactly why fans don’t care for Sheamus; be it his bromance with Paul Levesque or his Cena-like stature, there is something that is keeping Sheamus from really getting over with the fans. We’ll just have to keep watching for more development on this story and these characters.
The biggest most bad ass return last night belonged to Brock “Here Comes the Pain” Lesnar, who slid into the ring and delivered a crushing F5 to John Cena.
It’s time to be honesty, folks; the two wrestlers that irk my nerves are Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley. I tend to talk unfavorably about them for the same reason CeNation members dislike The Rock.
These two men were both “recruited” by the WWE to be standard bearers for the company, and turned down their prominent places to venture out into other forms of expressing their alpha-maleness. Since joining various MMA ranks, neither star looked back at pro wrestling unless it was financially beneficial to them.
That left a bad taste in my mouth towards both stars simply because they were being primed to lead the company and dropped it like a bad habit for whatever reason. At least Lesnar had the respect to totally ignore pro wrestling; Lashley and his half-hearted and lackluster stint in TNA was insulting.
All of that dislike quietly disappeared last night when Lesnar’s music hit; yeah, how very hypocritical of me.
Believe it or not Lesnar’s return is more exciting because of the ramifications it has for the development of John Cena’s character.
I love the Story Editor feature in the WWE video games. For the last three years I’ve always pitted The Rock against John Cena in the story lines for Smackdown. Each year The Rock attempts to break John Cena by throwing everything he can at him; one year I even had Vince McMahon try it.
My vision for WWE ’12 was to continue that same trend but also use Brock Lesnar in the story line. Lo’ and behold, he appears on our television screens last night and my fabricated story line sees the light of day around the world. If we get Zombie Eddie Guerrero next week then I’ll know for a fact the WWE has our game consoles tapped.
As I stated in my last piece, Cena’s loss to The Rock at WrestleMania XVIII was necessary for Cena’s development. The man has practically defeated everyone on the roster, so what else is there for him to accomplish or do? Lesnar represents another challenge for Cena to rise above. His loss to The Rock due mostly to his cockiness dealt a crippling blow to his seemingly invincible character.
Think about The Mummy staring Brendan Fraser; towards the end of the movie, the Jonathan Carnahan character reads aloud an ancient Sanskrit text from the Book of Amun-Ra. The incantation makes the Mummy mortal, allowing for Fraser’s character to “kill” him at the climax of the action.
The Rock was the incantation to John Cena’s “Mummy.” The man that has managed to survive everything thrown at him in 10 years has now been weakened. Enter Brock Lesnar for the eventual kill.
I personally don’t look for the Cena character to turn heel, but he will need some level of edginess and some maturity in order to outlast Lesnar’s onslaught. The irony of it all is this: NOW I want to see how our hero, John Cena, manages to escape this perilous situation.
Congratulations, WWE; you’ve snookered us all again.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the tremendous amount of love Daniel Bryan received from the Miami crowd last night. It appears that “Yes!” has replaced (at least temporarily) the despised “What!” chants.
Who would’ve ever guessed that Daniel Bryan, even as a heel, would be as popular as he is now?
So many detractors assumed that he’d be buried by McMahon because he wasn’t a “WWE original.” So many disenfranchised fans figured that he’d be a watered down shell of the man that ripped the independent wrestling scene to shreds. Tons of people “knew for a fact” that Bryan was being buried after losing Sunday night to Sheamus.
Look at where we are today; fans chanted for Bryan in one way or another during the entire RAW broadcast. That’s a RIDICULOUS amount of power for Daniel Bryan to have, and the WWE has to be reviling in all of it.
It’s anybody’s guess as to how far Bryan will go in the WWE, but at this moment in time it looks like he’s on the right path to superstardom. It’s amazing that so much has come together for him in the perfect storm of events. Say what you will, but the man has officially carved out his spot in the WWE and is slowly building his legacy. I’m all in on riding that wave of emotion.
But those are just my thoughts on the show…what are yours?
Well, well, well, look where we are now. The day after Wrestlemania and people are still clamoring about the event’s highs and lows before our favorite weekly episodic show hits the airwaves. Daniel Bryan is no longer chanting “Yes!” with the enthusiasm of a pre-teen who just watched Milk Money, Big Show became the newest Grand Slam champion (betcha didn’t know that), our resident zombie is undefeated at Wrestlemania still, the Real World jerk-off nearly single handedly (I can’t say the same for Eve *insert
rimjob rimshot [Stop that! Bad DiZ!]*) changed the face of the power structure of the WWE as it is and, perhaps scariest of all, John Cena lost to the Rock… John Cena lost CLEANLY to the Rock.
All of this is overwhelming enough, but on April 2, 2012, the bar wasn’t just raised: it was taken, tossed aside and the people who had it said “fuck it” and moved on to a new arena entirely. And we can all say it’s under the watchful eye of Mr. Excitement himself: John “Johnny Ace” Laurinaitis. So… is it safe to say that we are officially in a new era? Maybe…
It would be pointless for me to properly review Wrestlemania now. I think my brother-in-arms Ashley Morris did it just fine, and I have no doubt that my fellow siblings-in-arms (is that a real term? Screw it, it is now) have their two cents to add as well, so I’ll leave official stuff to y’all. I want to talk about epochs.
Epoch. Pronounced “ee-pahc”. A particular period of time marked by distinctive features, events, etc. Isn’t it interesting that Wrestlemania featured a number of matches between old and new or expelling one old for good? Kane vs. Randy Orton, to an extent. CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho. The Undertaker and Triple H. The Rock and John Cena. With the phrase End of an Era being tossed around like a rag doll for months now, how appropriate is it that we began RAW this evening with Johnny Ace looking out upon his
slaves indentured servants people paid labor fellow employees spare organs and welcoming in the People’s Power. Stupid name aside, not only is it a lie but it points to the true birth of a Christopher Walken-esque villain, whose deadpan delivery and crispy (old school slang), white suits paint him as Gideon in a way (Scott Pilgrim’s main foe; Ramona’s most significant evil ex; had a way of killing with kindness; no, Scott should NOT have stayed with Knives) and, even more, as a true heel. What was he before but a lazy mouthpiece with one job already set in stone and a few people who loved working under him like Eve on an early Thursday afternoon [NO! BAD DIZ!] because he was Superstar-centric (playing to the people and playing to the Superstars are two different things)? Even his color scheme is brighter now, but the red tie remains. Purity with a streak of evil. I love it.
So it’s no surprise that Santino was punished with a triple threat match. It’s no surprise that CM Punk was put into a match with Mark Henry with that belt on the line. Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler will benefit from a divide and they can wreck havoc on the rosters as solo stars. The ever-controversial feud between Chris “I wish I was Wolverine” Jericho and CM Punk has been taken to a new level with the destruction of a bottle and the pouring of what was most certainly not alcohol. Johnny Ace even warned the champ about the coming of a “natural disaster”. I like foreshadowing. Kind of like a tornado. A very powerful one…
Tonight we were gifted with the return of old punchline and pro wrestling footnote Matt Bloom, once Albert, once A-Train, once Mr. I-Do-Not-Know-How-To-Shave-My-Back, once Mr. Test-Had-Stacy-Keibler-And-I-Should-Have-Tapped-That, as the not-so culturally insensitive Lord Tensai, a Japanese non-sumo with great size, many tattoos, little if any body hair and a bad ass attitude. While I regret seeing the death of Alex Riley *sarcasm* I do enjoy seeing the pop that this man who inspired effective and consistent melancholy before received. It’s actually pretty refreshing to see another monster character return, and the fact that he’s pushed as both a monster AND a man who was in the WWE before and came back after a run in Japan strikes me as terrific.
Look at some of the (new) people we have now: Lord Tensai, Sin Cara, Kharma, Chris Hero, someone else who I can’t think of right now (it’s a small list, leave me alone) and the constant is wrestlers who have a base elsewhere, and Japan, as Wannabe Wolverine has said, is a proving ground above all proving grounds.
And even Matt Bloom’s return was overshadowed, as it was destined to be. Aside from Kofi Kingston pulling a classic John Cena, aside from Big Show flaunting his new Grand Slam status, aside from Eve talking about how a big ego is impossible to manipulate (but boy does she try! [Dammit, DiZ, stop doi... well, that doesn't necessarily denote sexual content... meh, carrying on...]), aside from the return of Alberto Del Rio and his little friend, the biggest three things of the night were:
- The chants and cheers (1)
- The role of the Miz, and without a doubt… (3)
- The return of Brock “I’m Bringing the Pain… AND NACHOS!” Lesnar (2)
I LOVED the chants. We all expressed orgasmic joy when Daniel Bryan (yeah, I’ve avoided talking about it for a reason) ran down the ramp with his girlfriend and belt, screaming “YES!” like he was… hell, like he was expressing orgasmic joy, and when that honor was ripped from the stunned fanbase last Sunday evening in a mere 19.3 seconds (yes, I counted; we ALL counted) a lot of people were mad. So mad that “Daniel Bryan” chants were used throughout the damn show. It’s one thing to hear it when Sheamus and Del Rio were conversing, but there were other times it made no sense. Sure, hearing “Si!” at Del Rio’s return was fun. Hearing the cheers when they showed the future organic beer guzzler was better, as was his I-lack-angry face. Who knows what’s next for him and his future? I say a true feud with CM Punk and possibly an orgy to show which healthy lifestyle is better.
Hmm? Oh, no, I don’t have an Eve joke for that, it wasn’t meant to be sexual, intentionally or otherwise.
Without a doubt, the greatest chant was “We want Lesnar” clap-clap-clap-clap-clap. When John Cena came out to (not) call out the Rock and take his defeat like a man, he talked in circles, constantly turning his defeat into a learning experience/motivational speech that slowly – and I must admit, a bit slyly – turned into a blame game. He blamed… everyone and no one, that was an interesting thing, but he didn’t blame himself. He continually said that he was congratulating the Rock, but glazed over the fact that he himself said that the match was the most important match in his life, that everything rode on it and that he was nothing without it (addiction…) but kept going back to the simple phrase: I want to congratulate the Rock on a great match.
In the immortal scripted words of Mel Brooks…
Brock Lesnar. The rumors had been flying around for weeks, and his mere appearance amongst the chants calling for him since the beginning of the show were as prophetic as a… um… saying “natural disaster” when Lesnar’s finisher is called the F5; I know I could have used a better pun but I’m sleepy, dammit! While it was enough that he was in similar clothing to the Rock, and the fact that his music hit caused me and Money to jump and cheer, the kicker came when he did what everyone wanted him to do: beat Cena’s ass.
The F5 just looks devastating coming from Brock Lesnar. Look at him. He’s as big as Godzilla and I wouldn’t be surprised if his morning warm-up regimen resembled the Hearts on Fire montage from Rocky IV. He walked to the ring (oh so menacing) put his hand out to shake John Cena’s and suddenly… life had new meaning to me…
That’s excessive and a lie: it had the same meaning, but it was reinvigorated. Here’s my thought process: the fall of Super Cena is destined to be a product of returning monsters with a grudge against the colors of the rainbow. They can sing the rainbow too…
Needless to say, the return of Brock Lesnar will bring in ratings AND have us all creaming our pans/skirts for a long time.
Yes, it’s a big however. I contend that Brock Lesnar’s return was the SECOND biggest issue with RAW. Yes, I think one thing speaks of more importance as of now, and I think it’s the biggest deal in the WWE right now. I mentioned it earlier but I’m not sure if you actually caught it. I’m going to be a dick and quote myself:
…The Real World jerk-off nearly single-handedly (I can’t say the same for Eve *insert
rimjobrimshot [Stop that! Bad DiZ!]*) changed the face of the power structure of the WWE as it is and…
Remember how we were all talking about how the Miz seemed to get the short end of the stick after headlining Wrestlemania last year? I think being the man who officially ushered in the new era counts for SOMETHING. Maybe not much, but something.
There’s a fundamental difference in how we’re going to view this, loyal readers and Adrian enthusiasts, so let’s deal with the facts.
FACT: The Miz pinned John Cena at Wrestlemania last year to retain the WWE title.
FACT: until no more than two weeks before Wrestlemania 28 the Miz was absent from the grand stage.
FACT: EVERYBODY on Team Johnny ignored the Miz throughout the pre-match festivities, even though he was the rallying cry.
FACT: The Miz, with the “help” of Eve Torres, won the match that put a man out of work and gave a certain former skateboarder with the Touch one and a half more jobs.
FACT: Johnny Ace’s new reign as
overseer supreme overlord general manager is the result of the Miz.
FACT: Eve solidified her Wrestlemania legacy by taking away Zack Ryder’s ability to have any legacy. Not directly Miz related, but interesting to note nonetheless.
For a man who appeared to be slighted from even going back to the grandest stage of them all, he managed to change the face of the company and usher in a new era. I don’t think more needs to be said on that matter really; I just hope they do something special with him. My money is on a main event role in the near future, and possibly the World Heavyweight Title. Right now he can flaunt the “Introduced the New Era” role. Sure, people might say that that honor goes to Undertaker/HHH or Cena/Rock, but like the Miz said once when referring to Shawn Michaels’ retirement: “I was the heart attack that put HBK in the hospital, Undertaker just pulled the plug“.
I contend that he can make the same claim right now. In the words of Batista (*crosses fingers*): done.
The Monday after WrestleMania has always been interesting to me. I find it interesting because the focus of conversation about the pay per view spectacular is always focused on whether or not the show was “good.”
Regardless of how any fan may feel about the event, the bottom line is this: with over 78,000 fans in attendance and millions more watching at home via cable, satellite television or streaming over the internet (legally or *cough cough*), WrestleMania XVIII appears to have been an overall success.
While definitely a far cry from WrestleMania III and WrestleMania X-7, the pay per view was far from being as bad as some fans made it out to be.
I personally enjoyed WrestleMania XVIII from beginning to end. This isn’t to say that the show was without its low points, but the overall experience was worth the money I shelled out to watch it. I will not rate the show on a scale of one to ten, as I’m learning that a simple “like – meh – dislike” tends to work better for me when describing these types of things.
I also won’t rate the show on a scale because it’s easy for us fans to nitpick and moan about every single thing that rubbed us the wrong way about a show…and I’m speaking from experience here; we do it all the time on L.E.W.D. (especially when it deals with TNA).
Two things occur when fans tear apart and super analyze a show: we never mention in glowing terms the stuff we actually liked, and we never provide an alternative to what we saw that would instantly garner better results.
In the middle of so many Twitter followers complaining about the pay per view, I asked one simple question last night at the conclusion of the show: “how would YOU have booked Mania?”
My good friend RiZE and my dear brother Mr. Quinn Gammon (shameless plugs) were the only people to answer the question, and they both actually enjoyed the pay per view. Other than that, there seemed to be a lot of haters flapping their lips but not saying much at the same time.
Instead of going on and on about the positives of the show, let’s look at the things that pissed people off and see if there’s any silver lining to the dark clouds hovering around last night’s WrestleMania pay per view.
Sheamus Defeats Daniel Bryan in 19.3 18 Seconds for the WHC
Arguably the biggest upset/surprise of the night was Sheamus’ “blink and you’ll miss it” victory over former World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan. Sheamus won clean after a Brogue Kick to Bryan, who was distracted after smooching with A.J. on the apron.
The odd part of this match was the fact that people were pissed at the idea that the title was devalued and that Bryan was “buried” because of the quick loss. Please allow me to broaden that perspective ever so slightly…
Question 1: How did Bryan win his title in the first place?
Question 2: How has Bryan retained his championship in the past three months?
Question 3: From a story line and character development perspective, how logical would it have been for Bryan to go the distance with Sheamus in this match?
If you can answer any and all of those questions, then you can also understand that this wasn’t a WWE illogical decision. Bryan has always weaseled his way out of matches and was finally caught off guard by one of Sheamus’ finishing maneuvers.
I believe we all had high expectations for this match, and I will be the first to admit it seeing as I wrote a nice little preview for their bout. However I was not disappointed at the outcome because I felt like there was more to the story.
That quick victory made the rest of the card seem unpredictable, and in true Eric Bischoff fashion, it will drive fans to tune into the televised product (in this case Smackdown) to see what happens next. The feud is far from over and Bryan’s heel character gets an opportunity to evolve while Sheamus begins his slow rise to Super Cena-dom.
As for Bryan being “buried,” I feel that term is one of those overused wrestling terms that fans latch onto when their favorite star isn’t getting a Goldberg-like win streak. Please keep in mind that Bryan’s one three-month championship reign has already placed him in an elite league that Roddy Piper, Curt Hennig, Jake Roberts, and Rick Rude aren’t even in.
Also, the argument that the WHC has been “devalued” is almost as pointless as complaining about the Divas champion being pinned by a non-wrestler.
Brodus Clay, Momma Clay, and the Momma Clay Bridge Club
A lot of fans were highly upset that this segment received more time and attention than the Sheamus/Bryan match.
Here’s the thing: all WWE pay per views have a great mix of in-ring action and backstage segments. The company is constantly working on pleasing its entire fan base in several different ways.
For example: Smackdown is known for having the better wrestling on its show, while RAW tends to have more big name stars and better story lines. By this point fans have adapted to this fact and tune in to their favorite show based on what they like.
Having said that, while the Brodus Clay segment may have felt out of place and unnecessary to those fans that crave Smackdown-like wrestling at all times, it served its purpose of being a carefree intermission segment for folks to go pee or buy food or visit the concession stands. It was needed and it honestly didn’t detract from the show.
The other side of it is that, as we now realize, there are tons of things that are not cross-cultural; not everyone finds it funny to see overweight Black women dancing and “getting it.”
Everyone at the particular L.E.W.D. party I threw thought it was HILARIOUS. Even my girlfriend, who is a casual wrestling fan at best, thought the segment was fine and that nothing was wrong with it. Is it really a bad thing for a casual wrestling fan to be entertained by the product?
I do not speak for the entire African American culture or all African American people, but I highly doubt this set us back 50 years and it was not offensive in the least. It was a bit stereotypical but not insulting at all. Besides, didn’t you know that all mommas wear moo-moos and have big booties?
MGK and Flo Rida’s Unnecessarily Long and Useless Performances/Intros
When has a WrestleMania main event NOT had an elaborate entrance for both stars?
This also goes back to that cross-cultural thing I mentioned earlier. It’d be better for a fan to say, “I hate rap music,” rather than sit and complain about how stupid it was to have the two music superstars perform for their respective wrestlers.
SummerSlam 1998 featured Chris Warren and the DX Band performing Degeneration X’s theme song, “Break It Down,” live. I thought the performance was horrible, particularly because the sound was just awful. It was even more ridiculous when Triple H put Warren on his shoulders at the end of the performance.
Did that ruin the pay per view for me? No! It was just a weird and terrible performance that I didn’t particularly care for, especially since the studio version of the song was light years ahead of the live version.
Fans are in the market to be entertained, but to allow a standard performance from two music stars in a genre we’re lukewarm about to sully the entire event is just silly. Again, grow up.
Maria Menounos Pins Beth Phoenix…and the Poo Stain
Here’s an easy remedy to this complaint: there is ALWAYS a celebrity involved in a match at WrestleMania in some physical altercation in the ring. Some years it was Pete Rose, one year it was Mickey Rourke, last year it was Snooki, and this year it was Maria Menounos. Get over it.
Two birds (no pun intended) were killed with this match; the WWE got their celebrity involvement and the obligatory Divas match was included on the card. What more do you want, a meaningful Divas match? We had one two months ago and nobody cared!
“Well why not just have Kharma face Beth Phoenix?”
For starters we can only assume that Kharma is ready to return to action full time based off of her one time appearance at the Royal Rumble. She’s not back yet so either the WWE is saving her for something much more thought out than a WrestleMania match, or she’s not ready to return to the ring.
“They could’ve let Natalya face Beth Phoenix for the title instead then.”
Please see the first two paragraphs of this section.
The WWE continues to give us Diva fluff because by and large we could not collectively care any less about their matches. That’s not just the WWE’s fault, but it’s also our fault because we’re not running to women’s wrestling in droves.
Do you think I’m lying? Then please explain to me why the most talked about thing of that match was the spray tan stain on Menounos’ booty that folks said was a poo stain; my point exactly.
John Cena Loses CLEAN to Dwayne Johnson
Very few people saw that finish coming a mile away…
John Cena did the unthinkable last night and actually put over his opponent clean in the middle of the ring. The man, the myth, and the legend that we thought was invincible actually showed a weakness last night and loss the match because of it.
For that I will gladly give John Cena credit; he took the pinfall for the fans, not for The Rock.
One Cena fan actually made that argument last night and I figured it would come. I won’t sit here and make excuses for The Rock, because he did appear winded and tired for much of the match. The beautiful part of it all is that despite how they may/may not feel about each other in real life, this match had plenty of give and take.
Dwayne Johnson and John Cena may hate each other’s guts, but at least they both respect the business and the fans. That was proven last night and in my opinion is not open for much debate.
I think both men sold each other’s offense fairly well, particularly Rock regarding his cardio. The crowning moment for me was after Rock gained the pinfall; that’s when I realized that Cena’s cockiness cost him the match.
John Cena was his own worst enemy in the end. In what can be only seen as poetic justice, Cena tried to mock The Rock and ended up staring at the lights for his troubles.
Some fans are disgruntled because this victory for The Rock makes no sense to them. Why would the WWE plan for him to defeat John Cena clean then walk away from the company? There are several theories out there as to why this happened including one that sets last night’s match up as the first in a best of three series that will end at next year’s WrestleMania.
Mr. Quinn Gammon has an idea about it that he will share with us here on the site later, but I would have to say that I agree with what he’s told me about his idea. Essentially Cena is the one who benefits from the Rock’s victory. While Dwayne Johnson trounces off to film his next blockbuster movie, Cena is the one who has to sulk around RAW knowing that for once in 10 years he just couldn’t get the job done.
This allows Cena’s character room to evolve, to become more aggressive and feisty. Dare I say it, Rock was the Bret Hart to John Cena’s Steve Austin; we could finally get a tweener John Cena that isn’t as stale as day old cookies.
For that we don’t need to see The Rock wrestle tonight or again for another year or however long. This match was from the very beginning all about John Cena. What started a year ago on April 4, 2011 in Phillips Arena here in Atlanta will come to its boiling point tonight as soon as John Cena picks up a mic and tells his side of the story.
This is the man who for weeks told us that he could not and would not lose to Dwayne Johnson. This is the man whom fans rallied around and constantly cheered the fact that he owned Dwayne Johnson for weeks. This is the man who said “nobody remembers second place.”
He lost the match. What’s next?
When Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson returns to Hollywood, no one will even remember the match he had last night. We won’t remember it because on the next night – this very evening – we will see a new John Cena that will really get the opportunity to show us that he’s more than just a corporate creation.
Cena may have lost the battle, but he damn sure didn’t lose the war.
With all that literally at our fingertips, how can anyone in their right mind say that 1) the match was boring and 2) the wrong man won?
One fan commented that the cheering fans made the Rock/Cena match while Taker/Trips made the fans cheer.
How the f**k can you compare Taker and Trips’ 39 combined years in the industry (not adding Shawn Michaels’ 24 years) to Rock and Cena’s 17?
How can you compare the first meeting between Rock and Cena to the fifth meeting between Taker, Trips and Shawn?
Exactly; we’re always restricted by our expectations.
The match was fine and set up everything tonight for JOHN CENA and JOHN CENA only. He still comes out on top despite losing to Dwayne Johnson and still has an opportunity to cement his OWN legacy in the annals of WWE history. He still remains at the top of the hill with a good chance of being more than just a stock character.
That’s what we were all asking for, right?
In conclusion, I felt that WrestleMania XVIII delivered. Think back to my first post: this spectacle was not just about WrestleMania, but also about all the other events and opportunities surrounding it. The few rough spots mentioned here were as awful as some claim they were. The real beauty will be seen tonight on RAW and will continue Friday night on Smackdown.
I was thoroughly entertained and I hope you were too. If you weren’t, there’s always TNA Lockdown in two weeks; you have fun with that.