It’s Monday, February 18, 2013, and fans here in the United States are 24 hours removed from last night’s Elimination Chamber pay per view. While most analysts, pundits, naysayers and emotionally immature grumps have already trotted out their diatribes, raging against the WWE machine and swearing off supporting sports entertainment forever until RAW comes on in less than 2 hours, I decided to take the road less traveled in order to craft a more paced, temperate review of last night’s pay per view.
I typically judge pay per views using one simple question that encapsulates a wide range of criteria used by others when watching a pro wrestling pay per view: do I want to buy this on DVD?
That question, as simple as it may seem, takes a number of complex views and opinions and crams them all into one nifty little, digestible nugget that’s easy to understand and consume. Fans can bicker back and forth about the logic behind the booking, or how Wrestler A should’ve beat Superstar B and all that jazz, but the proof in the pudding lies within that one question: would you be willing to spend money to see this show again?
For the WWE’s 2013 iteration of Elimination Chamber, the answer for this analyst is a thoughtful, sincere and stoic no.
This isn’t saying that the show was bad, nor is it saying that the event was great and/or good. The pay per view last night was essentially a little more than an expensive RAW-like segue, a bridge designed specifically to get us from the 2013 Royal Rumble to WrestleMania 29. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that; we like bridges. They help us get across large bodies of water, or small streams. The covered ones in Madison County are to die for, or so I’m told.
The show also had entertaining moments and all of the wrestlers did awesome in their respective matches. However for this fan in particular there was only one match on the card that would move me to buy the DVD, and even then that one match wasn’t enough to move me that far; sorry, Best Buy.
In the end the show left fans wide open and ready for what could be a sensational build to the biggest pro wrestling pay per view of the year. Last night’s event was more about focusing our attention on the bumpy trail leading to New York/New Jersey than it was about the “evil, diabolical and unforgiving” play pen Elimination Chamber.
As such with all things in life, there are several lessons we can glean from having spent our precious time and moments alive watching what Vince McMahon had to offer us this month:
The Rock & John Cena = $$$; You Don’t.
There were a ton of fans that were “surprised” that The Rock defeated CM Punk last night to retain the WWE Championship, even though it was already a foregone conclusion that Rock was headed to fight Cena one more time when the latter won last month’s Royal Rumble.
There are a couple of things that should strike fans as being pertinent and important in any discussion involving the second “Once In A Lifetime” match between Cena and The Rock. For starters, the match makes money. The WWE has been catering to casual fans for some time now, and casual fans will pay money to see Rock and Cena square off again, this time for something more than that “I’m the better man than you” bravado that gets grown men killed in real life.
The difference between you (generally speaking, not YOU in specific…unless YOU are one of the fans complaining, too) and the casual fan is that the casual fan ordered and paid for the pay per view last night. YOU, on the other hand, watched it via illegal stream and complained the entire time. That’s like asking for a cup of water from McDonald’s and getting mad because they won’t give you the supersized gallon jug.
As frustrating as that may be the harsh reality is that people will pay for what they want. If the WWE’s fan base didn’t want to see The Rock and John Cena that badly, it would not happen; money speaks louder to WWE than internet rants and tirades. If you truly want to end this “travesty,” purchase as much stock in the company as you can and convince at least 1000 other people to buy front row tickets at each WWE show around the world so they can consistently show off their “We Hate Rocky!” signs to every camera in the building.
If you can’t do those things, save your breath and expert typing skills for a product that is more worth your time.
Another thing to pay attention to is the fact that we cannot pretend as if Rock and Cena have had the only repeat match after their first match was billed as a one-time only shot. Without naming names there’s at least one other wrestling duo that literally wrestle each other once a month, each time with the same “one last time” tagline limping meekly behind them.
No one blinks an eye at the fact that these two wrestlers have had as many televised matches as the UFC has had pay per views, but I guess that’s okay because they’re not John Cena and The Rock…; whatever. And surprise, they may have a match at an upcoming pay per view…
It’s no secret that Rock’s return to the WWE last year wasn’t celebrated or highly favored by a number of hardcore fans, and even then there weren’t that many thrilled by their outing at WrestleMania 28. April’s sports entertainment extravaganza will feature the same two wrestlers with way more at stake, and the crux of this match’s success will all depend on whether these to superstars (because that’s what they are) can tell a drastically different story outside the ring and in between the ropes leading up to their second match.
We can nitpick all we want, but let’s wait until they actually botch the whole deal before we bury it and piss on the grave.
The Rise of the Next Gen Superstars
A terrific piece was crafted by fellow analyst Ross Rutherford some time ago that analyzed, in part, the WWE’s inability (or defiance) to create new superstars. While last night was far from a showcase of new talent, it definitely gave several superstars to prove their mettle and worth to the Titan Tower suits and WWE fans.
From a wrestling perspective Antonio Cesaro thoroughly embarrassed The Miz last night, so much so that I actually felt bad for the man. There’s a saying in pro wrestling that a wrestler is only as good as his opponent makes him look; if this is the case for Cesaro, Miz deserves ALL the credit left in the United States for his work with the champ last night.
Some would argue that Cesaro should’ve gained a clean win against Miz last night, but in all honesty the finish was smooth, seamless, and protected both wrestlers to continue their rivalry. As a face Miz has most assuredly won over a number of fans, but his real life return to the WWE has left him floating in this sea of mediocrity. If the WWE can’t find anything “worthwhile” to do with him at the moment, why not utilize him to help build up Cesaro…you know, help create a new superstar?
It was a thing of beauty to watch Cesaro work Miz like a carny at a traveling circus. Most fans can easily agree that the current United States Champion has “WHC/WWE Champion” written all over him; let’s hope we’re right.
Big E Langston also got a chance last night to do and be more than just Dolph Ziggler’s big, Black friend. After Ziggler’s impromptu match and victory over Kofi “House Cat” Kingston, Langston used his 3 Moves of Doom to exact some true Afro-Caribbean street justice on the former Intercontinental Champion. In an eerily yet somewhat similar way as The Miz, Kingston was able to make Langston look more intense than he usually does; given Langston’s size, however, that’s not hard to do when the man’s handshake can burst your appendix.
I also feel badly for Kofi Kingston who, also like The Miz, is languishing in mediocrity for no apparent reason. The truly disappointing point of it all is that Kofi’s career has gone this kind of up-and-down rollercoaster ordeal before. At one point he was a possible contender for a major title, then he got bumped off; he had a red-hot feud with Randy Orton, then it got dumped in the Baltic Ocean. They gave him a catchy nickname and talked incessantly about his crazy and wild offense, and then they stopped giving a damn.
We should expect some sort of feud to erupt between Kingston and Langston, and it will be pretty interesting to see the mix of their styles. It will also be interesting to see Langston have a sanctioned match in the company, which is long overdue for the man at this point. As for Kingston, perhaps a rivalry with Langston will show someone that the man can do more for the company if given the opportunity.
Last, but not least, The Shield triumphed against all odds and defeated Ryback last night at the pay per view.
I know what you’re thinking; I should’ve said that The Shield defeated Ryback, Sheamus, and John Cena last night at the pay per view. If I said that I’d be a liar.
Ryback ate the pinfall for the team after Sheamus was (once again) speared through the barricade and John Cena was busy pandering to the crowd with his Attitude Adjustment finishing maneuver. There was a lot going on in that finishing sequence, and the entire match, that we should recall and pay attention to:
- Ryback, unlike Goldberg and John Cena, can be defeated by conventional methods. The man is not invincible; the man is not without a weakness. This separates him tremendously from Goldberg, which makes any similarities between the two superficial, at best.
- The Shield worked like a well-oiled machine, and as my L.E.W.D. brother Mr. Lamb put it, the match ended up being a 3-on-1-on-1-on-1 match, as opposed to a six-man tag match. It’s quite possible that the story told here worked best for the pay per view and the group, whereas a War Games match would have definitely told a decidedly different and potentially harmful story for The Shield.
- John Cena avoids being pinned and stays virtually immaculate for another day. In fact at this point he could not honestly care less about The Shield as his attention is now focused squarely on preparing to face the WWE Champion, The Rock, at WrestleMania 29.
- The only thing Sheamus has left to do is face Wade Barrett for the Intercontinental Title, but Bo Dallas is already in that spot right now. Poor Sheamus…
All three members of The Shield—Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns—were absolute gold last night. I anticipate some sort of purpose rising to light for the group soon, but that may be more wishful thinking than anything else. Perhaps a Freebird like stab at the Tag Team Championships, as someone suggested on Twitter last night, could breathe some meaningful purpose into the group?
Right now is the perfect time for Langston, Ambrose, Rollins, Cesaro, Reigns, and even Ryback to rise up the ladder in the WWE. In order for them to truly be break out stars at this point, they’ve got to have the same intensity and drive as superstars had during the Attitude Era. They have got to be hungry for that main event status and they must be willing to fight for that top star status.
This isn’t suggesting that they backstab one another or intentionally discredit their fellow wrestlers; they must, however, do more than just play the roles or read the scripts given to them. They have got to be willing to go beyond what’s necessary in order for fans to really react to their presence and help catapult their game to the next level. And I, for one, am glad that these stars are on the cusp of that level of greatness in the WWE.
Do or Die: Jack Swagger, Alberto Del Rio, and Good Ol’ Fashioned Envelope Pushin’
There are scores of fans that have commented on the lack of a solid and consistent main even push for Jack Swagger. Be careful what you wish for…
My friend Ken Drabek commented that this may be Swagger’s last chance to have a significant presence as a top star in WWE. And what better way to so than with a gimmick that’s rife with political and social commentary that could easily cross the line between polite rhetoric and flat out bigotry?
Eric Bischoff wrote a book based on the idea that “controversy creates cash,” and that idea has been proven correct more often than not. The bigger picture is that these Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio, wrestlers, have to have a controversial gimmick stapled to them just to make us give a hoot about their upcoming title match; I’m surprised no one picked up on that sooner.
Alberto Del Rio’s face turn has also been hailed as a roaring success, but the jump from a snooty Mexican aristocrat to a fan favorite was…slightly inorganic. The best way, in somebody’s mind, to evoke more sympathy for him is to have an uber-American degrade his heritage and humanity; on the flip side, the best way to reintroduce Swagger to the fans is by having him saddled with a grizzled and disillusioned war veteran that can’t accept the fact that America in 2013 shouldn’t look like America in 1779. This, of course, isn’t even taking into consideration that the whole gimmick is blatantly ripped off from another pro wrestler. Yep…Swagger has a hell of a ride ahead of him.
So ends my thoughts on yesterday’s Elimination Chamber pay per view. What did YOU learn from the show?
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.
Whoa…whoa… whoa…. it’s ok. Calm down. Take a deep breath.
…you with me?
It’s all…going to be…ALRIGHT.
It seems lately that this blog has turned into a condensed micro-chosm of everything we claim to dislike about the Internet Wrestling Community. We’re doing nothing but pointing out all the things we dislike, talking about why John Cena is the anti-christ, and general huff-puffery that, to be quite honest, is disheartening.
Come along with me, as I provide a change of pace.
It seems as though we as wrestling fans seem to have forgotten what storytelling really is. We seem to have gotten so caught up in what we wanted, expected or thought should happen, that we forget that there is more to the world of wrestling than one isolated PPV, or Monday Night Raw. Storytelling, especially in the modern era of WWE Creative (which has documented their acquisition of former soap-opera writers) sees stories being shaped and told in bigger, longer, more dramatic and over-arching fashion than we had become accustomed to in the previous 3 or 4 years (when we were also still complaining about everything). Think about it – I can’t honestly think of even any short stories I have ever read that are only one page long – hell, not even the old-school pop-up books were! So, why do we as wrestling fans get so bent out of shape with each passing moment in the wrestling story?
When reading a book, and you have a vision of what direction the story should go in, do you throw the book down because it hasn’t happened yet…or do you read on in the hopes that it will, in fact, happen? If it doesn’t, does that make it a bad book? I think not. If it does, we say, “what a great story!” Stories have pacing – beginning, middle, end. Yet we seem to want to cut every story so short and just start complaining about…it…..whatever it is we want to see (it seems to change every week), not happening.
So, now that I have ranted on that – let’s apply it to some recent events and see if I can’t challenge you to begin changing the way you perceive things.
#1 – John Cena vs. Kane (Ambulance Match Fallout)
All I have been hearing, over and over, is how horrible the “Ambulance Match” at this past weekend’s Elimination Chamber ppv was. Apparently Cena did nothing but prance around, no-sell, smile, and win…. I guess I watched a different pay-per-view. I’ll address some of the main concerns I have been hearing voiced:
- Kane got “destroyed”
Again, maybe I watched a different ppv, but I saw a very normally paced heel/super-face match. Kane got his normal work in, in addition two big spots in which he had Cena completely defenseless via smothering (at one point nearly winning the match), as well as putting Cena through the announcers table.
- Cena didn’t “embrace the hate” and his heel turn wasn’t completed.
Could there have been more weapons used in the match? I guess so… but that wasn’t really the purpose of the story. The purpose of the whole feud was to get Cena to start thinking alongside, acting with, giving in to – his dark side. The idea wasn’t to beat Kane in the same way that anyone else could – it was beat Kane by giving in to darker things. Cena was using the steel steps, being the aggressor, was initially planning to put Kane through the announcers table, and ultimately A.A.’d Kane OFF of the Ambulance – while mild to most, it’s pretty extreme for someone like John Cena. “So why didn’t Cena turn heel?! This match susckeddddd” Well, as I mentioned in a previous article, John Cena is all but guaranteed to be turning heel at WrestleMania XXVIII against The Rock (which we’ll get to later.) The Cena/Rock program has been building for one entire calendar year, but ultimately there is only so much TV time that you can fill with only one participant being there on a weekly basis, and no match until months in the future. Cena couldn’t take two months off of TV, while everyone else was in the midst of their feuds and he was a sitting duck waiting for The Rock at ‘Mania – so what do you do? You add to the long, dramatic, over-arching story that you’re building which will reach its climax at the resounding finale of the wrestling year – WrestleMania. You give Cena a reason to turn heel against The Rock.
- The Rock vs. John Cena
The other overwhelming point I have been hearing and reading is that Cena is becoming more and more bland, and no one seems to understand why he isn’t already a heel/why the program with Kane didn’t result in Cena turning heel. Again, take a step back, and think about the story.
If Cena were to become a full-fledged heel against Kane it would be completely, 100% uneffective and would absolutely ruin WrestleMania. As we have seen, Cena doing heel-ish things against a heel, does nothing but make Cena fans happy – their guy is being edgy and winning by “any means necessary”, “not giving up in the face of evil”. So, what happens is we Cena start doing some uncharacteristic things (“skank”, “friend-stealing”, “almost hitting the handicap guy”, “using weapons”) and if you remember, all Kane ever said was that Cena wouldn’t be able to defeat him until he had “embraced the hate”. Notice the subtlety? Me either. Cena finally started getting a little heel-swag, and whala…he defeats Kane, in what some would say was a dominant performance (I disagree, see above.)
Now, why didn’t Cena become a full-blown, trash being thrown in the ring, snarling, maniacal heel? Well, let’s see how that would pan out going into WrestleMania.
As it stands, John Cena vs. The Rock is one of the biggest matches in WrestleMania history. It’s the Hogan/Andre of our time. It’s the two biggest stars of the modern era, going against each other on the biggest stage of them all, in one of their hometowns – this match has money written all over it. I was worried that they wouldn’t be able to span an entire calendar year and keep everyone interested in the program, however, they’ve managed to do it. What’s really funny is that the story is playing out even when most people don’t see it happening.
Mr. Ashley Morris wrote an interesting, somewhat scathing piece about why he’s now on Team Bring It. That’s perfectly fine, and I can respect his opinion. He mentions how Cena has been complaining like a little girl about how Rock get’s all the attention and Cena busts his ass and gets nothing – sounds like motivation for a heel turn, to me, and the guy is pissing you off before he beats your Team Bring It captain…just imagine the heat when he cheats to win, at Mania.
Don’t get me wrong – I have bashed Cena myself, many times. The change for me came when Quinn Gammon challenged us to all focus in on only what we liked about the programming, as fans, that we were watching – I admittedly had a hard time doing such. I think it’s a good thing though. I feel like we started getting so caught up in the moment of watching as fans, that we forgot that we are smarter than the average fan we were trying mimic and travel back in time to be. I like wrestling for way different reasons now than I did when I was a kid, and it took that challenge for me to realize it. I feel fortunate that I have recently been able to step back from wrestling and look at the stories for how they are happening and coming together, and not for only what the moment is offering me.
ok… back to the match… Everyone is into this match. The kids and women love Cena; the guys, kids, and women of multiple generations love The Rock. Now, what are the chances of John Cena going INTO the match as a heel, The Rock overcoming him in one-off fashion (before leaving for a few months), and sending Cena into Superstars hell? If Cena loses his “fans” going into the match AND loses to The Rock, what’s left for him to do? Walk around and be a sad puppy wearing sweat bands?
So, how do you solve this conundrum? Well, you don’t have Cena go INTO WrestleMania as the obvious heel. What’s the result? Everyone tunes in for a huge match, and when the inevitable heel turn finally comes – millions of people are watching one of the biggest moments in wrestling, and the heat is astronomical. The “fans” are angry at Cena, the smart marks are excited again – and everyone tunes in to see what happens NEXT (see what I did there? Storytelling is great, huh?)
In conclusion: 4-minute matches on Raw aren’t often harolded as great works of professional wrestling as an artform. However, when we give CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler 27 minutes (which isn’t long in terms of major PPV main-event times) on a Monday night – they put on a hell of a show for us, didn’t they? That’s with Dolph Ziggler! He’s good, but he’s not on the level of a main-eventer, just yet. My point is – good things take time to develop. They need time to breathe, to have a life of their own.
I challenge each of you reading this piece to try to look past what’s happening in front of you, and see how it could be playing into the bigger picture. It’ll help develop your idea of good storytelling, make even mediocre segments seems more pertinent in the grand-scheme of things, and if nothing else – make everyone complain a lot less, and think a lot more!
Please read, comment, and rip this to shreds. It’s my thoughts, for what they are worth, and i’ve been up for about 19 hours…so… I apologize if some of this comes across as jumbled!
Happy reading, folks.
-THE nic johnson.
Anyone else doing the “Funkasaurus Dance” to celebrate the arrival of the weekend? Just me? Awesome.
Hot off the heels of a stellar RAW, WWE’s B-show held its own and delivered a decent night of television.
As fans we got what was expected; an Elimination Chamber line-up, Orton/Barrett match, and another video courtesy of WWE Productions but we also got unexpected farting, veganism, and a new tag-team.
Without further ado, my 7 points of the night:
1. Smackdown’s Elimination Chamber Line-Up.
Smackdown kicked off the show with Teddy Long in the center of the ring, explaining the Elimination Chamber.
He announces Daniel Bryan will defend against Wade Barrett, Randy Orton, Mark Henry, Cody Rhodes and Big Show.
This match piqued my interest mostly because it is Bryan’s/Rhode’s first Elimination Chamber and Wade Barrett’s second. Big Show and Orton are tied with 3 chamber appearances each, so should be interesting to see if that gives either veterans an “edge.”
2. Mark Henry’s “Suspension.”
After injuring himself last week on Smackdown and powering through the Rumble, it was no secret Henry would be taking time off. The only mystery would be how WWE would choose to write him out of Smackdown for the time being.
After hearing Teddy Long run through the EC line-up, a frustrated Mark Henry makes his way to the ring and tries to swap his Chamber entry for an instant title match.
Long decides to take a stand and removes Henry from the match but won’t give him a title shot either.
Henry responds by flipping Teddy’s tie…and he’s suspended…
We all knew it was coming but that was a little weak in my opinion.
Before Henry could actually do some damage to Long, the Great White (here’s hoping his push gets him a better nickname) comes to save the GM.
We see a nice Brogue Kick take Henry out of the ring and learn that Sheamus isn’t deciding which champion to face until after the Elimination Chamber.
3. Sheamus v.s. Rhodes
Sheamus’s mic time draws out Cody Rhodes, who announces he is going to win the title at the upcoming PPV.
Long seized the opportunity and left the two to put on a pretty great match. I feel like both Rhodes and Sheamus have come a long way, and I enjoy Rhodes as Intercontinental Champion.
I would not mind seeing something develop between these two.
4. A new tag-team added to the “tag-team” division.
Apparently Santino was disatisfied with his current partner, Yoshi Tatsu and decided to replace him with….Hacksaw Jim Duggan?
The two made a funny pair and the tag-division is a bit of a joke anyway…. so I guess it works.
In their non-title match against Primo and Epico, Rosa came through with yet another distraction and the P&E got the win.
5. Heel heat brought to you courtesy of Veganism.
How do you get the crowd in Omaha, Nebraska to turn against you? Tell them not to eat meat.
::sigh::, I get where they are going with this and it is nice to see Veganism get some play. My dad has been vegan for the last 36 years and I have eaten vegan off and on for most of my 26 years.
More and more people are becoming Vegan and there are a lot more options out there for Vegans in 2012. In case you did not know, Vegan does not just limit one to no meat. It means no diary, honey, eggs, seafood, poultry, etc.
After my grandma battled stomach cancer, which her doctor attributed to too much red meat, my dad became Vegan as a sign of support and actually did find it giving him many health benefits. My dad tried to force the diet on me from birth but my mother, who loves all things fried and meaty, had other plans. Nevertheless, I always eat vegan when I go to my dad’s for PPV’s. Spicy fried tofu…yum!
My problem with this Bryan-Vegan business is that A. We saw this angle with Punk/Hardy already… “I’m better than all of you, you shouldn’t eat meat” and he gets booed while an oversized giant wrestler gets cheered for eating a steak. Granted, it’s not as bad as booing the guy preaching “no drugs” but still, we have seen it before which leads me to B. Bryan isn’t Punk.
Because they both have similar backgrounds and were Indy Darlings, there has been constant comparisons between the two and now we have similar angles. Some commentors and writers on various other sites have gone as far to say that Bryan rivals Punk on the mic…
That claim is so ridiculous to me, I will just keep moving…
Bryan continued his descent into sneaky heel status by claiming he shouldn’t have to be in the Elimination Chamber, he already proved his worth as champ, womp womp.
He and Show have it out via mic/chokeslam and Bryan narrowly escapes a punch to the face thanks to an injured AJ.
6. People are talking about the Divas.
Too bad it has nothing to do with their skills, great matches, or even looks this time…
In a backstage segment we were given Natalya farting and Santino throwing up into a trash-can because of it.
While I did not cry injustice like a lot of people, I don’t really see this helping anything…
Natalya and Beth squared off against Tamina and Aksana, with Beth ordering Natalya “out of her ring” and gaining the victory. Natalya is left behind and takes it out on Aksana only to be attacked by Tamina.
Look at that, my blurb about the Divas is about as long as one of their matches and probably about as interesting…moving on.
6.5 Khali replaces Henry in the Elimination Chamber.
My friends and I really enjoyed the movie “Despicable Me.” If you haven’t seen it, you should. It is fun for all ages.
Whenever we are in disbelief or surprised by something, we quote the minions from the movie and deliver a high-pitched “Whhhhaaaaaaaaaaa?”
Yeah, we are really cool…Anyways, that’s what Khali’s involvement in this PPV received from me.
Big Show and Khali in the same Chamber match seems risky to me. How many big, awkward moving superstars do we need in an already cramped space?
7. Orton and Barrett Git R’ Done.
These two beat the hell out of each other and I was happy to be along for the ride.
Both men looked great but Orton came out victorious via RKO to Barrett on a steel chair.
Backstage, Bryan finally gets a match up with someone other than Big Show… yep, Randy Orton. Already looking forward to next weeks main event.
***An honorable mention goes out to IMPACT this week. The London crowd really added some much-needed energy and the matches were pretty good. Usually I equate watching IMPACT to watching paint dry but not this week.***
Until next time, Too-da-loo