I would like to apologize in advance if this post sounds like I’m only repeating stuff I’ve said before; the sad part is that usually when I repeat myself, it’s because I’ve found validation in remarks I’ve already made. Essentially I’m giving myself a congratulatory pat on the back, a lá Barry Horowitz.
As I’ve stated before here, particularly on my last RAW review, WWE creative seems to be spinning its wheels when it comes to crafting provocative storylines and characters for fans to invest in and get behind. They seem to be suffering from the exact same problem that plagues other sports entertainment companies: subjecting fans to seeing the same stars face each other in the same matches each and every week, with the needle of progression stabilized in a comfortably stagnant area. The writing and wrestling in WWE right now just feels like one excruciatingly lingering and cumbersome expression of mediocrity.
It’s not just that the creative writing and execution is terrible, but it’s also the feeling that everything seems uninspired and bland. Feuds and rivalries are rehashed, recycled and reused. Characters feel forced and far from organic. We’re shown wrestlers each week who bust their humps wrestling, and we have no earthly reason or urge to support their cause or wage verbal war against them.
This isn’t complaining at all, but rather an honest critique of one person’s experience watching Monday night’s episode of RAW. In the three hours I spent watching the show I eventually became more enthralled with being on Twitter than I did with paying attention to what was going on in the ring.
Perhaps WWE could benefit from shaking up the creative teams or introducing new characters to the product while phasing out older ones, or give the secondary titles real and authentic value as well as become the means through which superstars can transition to the heavyweight championship and main event scene. In the meantime the company could stand to at least pretend as if they have enough writers and wrestlers to have a vibrant mid-card rife with a mixture of tag team and Diva action involved in captivating stories that entertain instead of lull fans to sleep or coerce us to change the channel.
On the other hand as proactive fans perhaps it’s also wise to walk away from WWE programming for a bit to give our brains a chance to rest from mundane nature of the product. The company is motivated by money, and if any of us truly want them to do better we have to speak with our wallets and not our internet browsing speeds.
But alas, here’s what stood out for me during the show:
- The Awakening of Antonio Cesaro
- Foreshadowing, Dean Ambrose Style
- Mark Henry: The Greatest Man Who Ever Kicked Somebody’s Ass
- Brock Mad, Brock Smash
- John Cena versus Ryback: A Tale of How the Mighty Have Fallen
It wasn’t very long ago that fans began to sour on the prospect of Antonio Cesaro’s run as a WWE superstar. After inexplicably losing several matches as the United States Champion, Cesaro’s run was unceremoniously ended by the foots of “Double K” Kofi Kingston, also known in some parts as the Crown Prince of Mid-Card Excellency (Jeff Jarrett is still the reigning monarch in that kingdom of inadequacy). In a lot of ways Kofi reminds me of Jeff Hardy, but that’s another blog for another day.
Along with his loses Cesaro was also conspicuously left out of WrestleMania XXIX despite having a lengthy and historic run as the United States Champion. It wasn’t long after that fans began to naturally assume that Vince McMahon “hated” him and he was essentially being buried for the unknown and unnamed personal grudge the Irish-blooded McMahon secretly harbored against the Swiss.
On an unrelated note this idea absolutely infuriated me because fans became super vocal about this the night after Cesaro was named the WWE’s Swiss Ambassador for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. That makes perfect sense; send the guy you “hate” to be the official international ambassador for a foundation that brings joy to dying kids. If that’s the case then McMahon must really hate the s**t out of John Cena…but I digress again.
Oddly enough all of the anti-Vince McMahon pundits were nowhere to be seen when Cesaro cut a pipe bomb-esque promo last night after defeating the modern day Brooklyn Brawler, Zack Ryder, in short fashion. Simply put, Cesaro said he’s a beast and there’s no one on the entire roster that can walk a mile with his jock strap…because Swiss jock straps are nothing to yodel at.
All jokes aside Cesaro made his intentions as loud and clear as a clarion call from the top of the Matterhorn. In fact his promo was one of the few moments during the show that piqued my interest and sent chills up my spine. We all know that Cesaro is a beast and the more prescient fans (i.e. everybody at L.E.W.D.) knew that his losses were only a red herring to his eventual rise to prominence.
Simply put if Vince McMahon didn’t think he was worth a damn he would’ve simply released him (Braden Walker) or taken him off of TV completely (John Morrison) and used him once a month to do the job for someone else (Zack Ryder).
Stay tuned to see where Cesaro’s new found awesomeness will take him; if his promo last night wasn’t proof enough, check out this video done for him prior to this year’s WrestleMania:
Since we were almost on the subject of Kofi Kingston, the current United States Champion teamed with the Uso Brothers on Monday’s show to face The Shield in 6-man tag team action. Kofi ate the pin for his team after dining on Dean Ambrose’s unnamed finishing maneuver. While the WWE’s self-proclaimed arm of justice remains undefeated as a trio, the more interesting event occurred after the pinfall.
For some odd reason the referee thought it necessary to hand Kofi his United States title during the most inconvenient time after a match. For starters Kofi was still slightly incapacitated, lying almost lifeless on the mat while attempting to recover from Ambrose’s maneuver. Secondly the referee held the belt in the middle of the ring right next to Dean Ambrose as he celebrated the victory with his Shield brethren. It was at that time Ambrose gave the title this lingering and desiring glance, long enough for anyone to justifiably insinuate that the man is going to destroy Kofi in the near future.
The slow burn that has occurred with The Shield has apparently arrived at a point where it would make sense that the trio would start to consider chasing after championship gold. Most fans will easily agree that Ambrose stands out the most in the group; I believe it’s his charisma, matched with his body language/facial expressions and ability to work the mic that makes him pop more so than the amazingly athletic Seth Rollins and devastatingly intense Roman Reigns.
While I’m not too sold on an Ambrose/Shield and Kofi Kingston rivalry, I do appreciate the hint at this development for all men involved. The Shield has wreaked havoc in WWE for some time and creative has nothing substantial at the moment for Kingston. Pairing the four men or at least Ambrose and Kingston together gives fans the new feud and mid-card energy we’re craving for. The main problem is waiting for this whole thing to come to fruition if it indeed is meant to be.
Mark Henry deserves to be a WWE Hall of Famer and has most assuredly earned that honor after his 17 years of dutiful service in the WWE. I don’t recall Henry ever working for any other company other than WWE, and at 41 years of age he is one of the last Attitude Era wrestlers still on the active roster (along with notable stars such as Triple H and The Undertaker).
It says a lot about Henry in real life that he’s worked for the company for this long and they’ve made sure to keep him around after a series of injuries have stalled his character’s development at various points of his career. You have to respect the man and I’d be highly upset if some sort of WWE book or DVD wasn’t made highlighting his career and his life.
The Henry accolades don’t stop there, however; Monday night’s episode of RAW didn’t really seem to pick up steam until Henry beat Sheamus silly with a leather belt. Prior to that Henry held the audience in the palm of his hands during an in-ring promo and then, after a verbal exchange with Sheamus, delighted us with his commentary and his verbal abuse of Michael Cole. Everything surrounding Mark Henry last night was pure gold and even got the man trending on Twitter.
This rivalry with Henry is the same exact program they had during their first skirmish. While the program worked well the first time it is disappointing that the writers have returned to the well to give us the same thing over again. There is a saying that goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but I wonder if there’s more they could do with Henry and Sheamus other than having them crash into each other like two rams butting heads in a fine china shop.
“The Celtic Cena” Sheamus is serviceable in this rivalry, but it’s Mark Henry who’s making it sizzle and pop. Their outing at the upcoming Extreme Rules pay per view will be good to watch, but I’m still hoping the company can do right by both men in giving them (and us) this Hulk versus The Thing bout for the second time.
The biggest “shock” of the night came when exclusive footage was aired of Brock Lesnar destroying Triple H’s office at WWE headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. Lesnar’s legal aid and handler Paul Heyman documented their entire mythical journey all on his iPhone.
The whole thing was designed to further their program with Triple H who, after arriving to RAW, didn’t seem pissed at all that Lesnar destroyed his “office” and was allowed to do so by the years’ worth of staff that allowed Heyman and Lesnar to trash said office.
I joked with fellow wrestling fan Tom Bobbitt the entire night about possible storylines that could come from the segment. One included Triple H having Lesnar arrested for vandalism, destruction of property, unlawful seizure and abduction of an individual, trespassing, and reckless behavior and endangerment. Heyman, of course, would be sent up the river for aiding and abetting criminal activity.
Ideally Trips would have his lawyer request that bail be denied for both men, citing their danger to society on the whole. The legal process behind that would be far more interesting and would coincide perfectly with these long drawn out yearlong storylines everyone seems intent on writing today.
The bottom line is that Brock smashed Triple H’s corporate office and the Game wasn’t even phased by his shenanigans. If he doesn’t give a damn, neither do I…moving right along…
WWE Champion John Cena is still set to face Ryback at Extreme Rule in a Last Man Standing Match despite having a bad ankle. Considering the players involved it’s astonishing that we really could not care any less.
Cena’s championship reigns at this point of his career are about as predictable as the likelihood of water being wet. It’s almost moot to nuance or argue about his character right now, mostly because no one will listen and we’re slowly realizing that the man will retire in 40 years the same way he’s wrestling now.
Ryback, on the other hand, has slowly earned our angst due to WWE’s insistence to force him to become the heel in this feud. Ryback went from having a solid core of fans behind him to having fans against him, only to find a resting spot in a place where fans are largely indifferent about him. There was almost no reaction for him when he wrestled in Monday night’s main event, and the crowd didn’t really pop for him during his post-match attack on John Cena.
We’ve all seen this song and dance from Cena and a monstrous opponent before; it’s extremely laughable and disheartening at the same time for Ryback’s character to be pompous enough to believe he can defeat Cena on his own in a Last Man Standing Match given the man’s track record with never giving up. This isn’t to say Cena hasn’t lost a LMS match before, but the odds are definitely in his favor on this one.
There’s only one more episode of RAW between now and the pay per view, so it will be mildly interesting to see what WWE does to add fuel to the fire burning between Cena and Ryback. With The Shield, Daniel Bryan and Kane involved, however, this whole mess looks and feels more convoluted than necessary. Unfortunately I just cannot shake the feeling that when it’s all said and done, this feud will just be business as usual for John Cena; such is life.
But those are just my thoughts on the show…what did YOU think about it?
“I sell the things you need to be
I’m the smiling face on your TV
I’m the cult of personality
I exploit you, still you love me
I tell you one and one makes three
I’m the cult of personality…”
This review will not be the typical Mr. Morris review you may have grown accustomed to reading. For starters this piece is being crafted with a little under forty-five minutes left in the show. There also won’t be many pictures from the evening, as the WWE has more than likely not published them prior to the show actually ending.
Much like last week a lot of “significant” things have happened on tonight’s episode of RAW, but those things were largely overshadowed by the not-New-Jersey crowd in Greenville, South Carolina and the annual creative reset that happens after WrestleMania.
Before launching into those two spiels, it must be noted that most of the champions that wrestled tonight—with the exception of the Tag Team Champions Team Hell No—all lost their matches. While the Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett and World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler suffered non-title defeats to their opponents (R-Truth and Jack Swagger respectively), former United States Champion Antonio Cesaro fell victim to Kofi Kingston’s patented Trouble in Paradise finishing maneuver, giving the Ghanaian athlete the victory and the United States Championship.
As of this point right now (10:25 PM EST), John Cena has yet to appear in the ring with his WWE Title. He did make one appearance in a backstage segment with Matt Stryker, which received no reaction whatsoever from the audience in Greenville…interesting…
This brings us back to one of the aforementioned points; my fellow L.E.W.D. writer Mr. Lamb spoke at length about the necessity of filler. Apparently the same applies for the types of crowds a WWE show appears before. Tonight’s crowd in Greenville, compared to the red hot crowd at the post-WrestleMania RAW in New Jersey, is close to being the one friend who nods off before everyone else at a sleepover. I wonder how much more entertaining this show could be (and could have been) if the crowd tonight had not been the exact polar opposite of last week’s crowd.
The other concerning issue is that the product is in a rebuilding phase right now, setting up entirely new and different feuds than what we were presented with specifically for WrestleMania XXIX. It’s going to take time and some exceptionally great writing to get fans behind these new stories, but the action surrounding said stories feels dry, stale and uninspired. In the same spirit of Mr. Lamb’s piece, perhaps this “phase” is a filler phase for the product, a moment for us to catch our breath before things are kicked into high gear once again.
I wouldn’t go as far as to characterize this as a “bad” RAW, because there have been worse shows than this. However tonight’s episode, while good on in-ring work, was not one of those shows that would cause me to call one of the L.E.W.D. brothers or sisters and enthusiastically scream into my cell phone about the show.
The three major things that stuck out to me in the show (now with twenty minutes remaining):
- The Absurdity of Antonio Cesaro
- The Ryback Has Feelings Too
For those fans keeping count, not only has Antonio Cesaro lost his United States Championship, but he’s also been saddled with a yodeling gimmick. I’m sure someone somewhere in the company thought this would be hilarious and get Cesaro “more over” with the fans. I won’t point fingers or name names, but instead I’ll allow this video to reveal a possible suspect:
Let’s recap the storied history of Antonio Cesaro: here we have a new WWE superstar who was a former Rugby player in Europe, but was kicked out of the sport for being too rough. At some unspecified time in his life, this same former Rugby player also learned how to yodel during his time working on a Swiss farm training St. Bernards, all of which became world renowned rescue animals in their generation under his tutelage.
Update: Nikki/Brie Bella just defeated WWE Divas Champion Kaitlyn (10:49 PM EST)
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!
The Holy Triduum – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil/Sunday – always serves as a time of great reflection for me, and a large part of that stems from my love of looking at the water. I live right on the water; it’s Virginia, Hampton Roads, EVERYWHERE is right on the water. Five minutes away is the river that sits between Portsmouth and Norfolk, as well as the shipyard – the largest shipyard in the world. Sometimes I like to sit near the ferry and the pier and Waterside and just cool out, pondering on the greater mysteries of life or the why of my lack of motivation to actually work out consistently.
But back to the Holy Triduum. It serves as the ritual days symbolizing the Last Supper, death of and resurrection of Jesus. This means a lot of solemn behavior, peaceful contemplation and days in church where you wonder if your time might be better spent doing something else. For me, it means sitting back and thinking about the “why” of everything; not just Jesus or my faith or why freckled women are so appealing – and rare – in major films, but everything. For me, it’s a time where I look back on everything up to that point and grin. It’s a time where I sit in a pew (I hate pews; like cubicles they make me feel like a slave, just in a different context) and listen and ask myself if the sexy MILF is thinking about me when she kneels and –
NO! BAD DIZ! STOP THAT! What I mean to say is I continually remind myself that I’m a sinner and so long as she inhabits that church of mine (or rather I inhabit it as well) that I will remain a sinner. Because what is sin anyway? Some would say an offense to God. If so, I don’t think lust for a gorgeous woman who manages to maintain a flawless figure –
Before I have to beat some sense into myself, let me say that I said most of that because it revolves around my psychological state. I love religion and studying different faiths and practices so I’m into the whole of Holy Week (even if the past five years have burned the words “stressful as hell” into my mind as the description of it). I love the water and how it is a metaphor utilized in nearly every aspect of everything. I lov… lust… I am a sinner as well, but I stand by the notion that lusting after someone isn’t a…
Psychology! That’s what it’s all about. Without psychology an interaction between living entities loses validity. Seeing as this is a professional wrestling/sports entertainment blog, I think we can assume that this means I’m going to tie the psychology to pro wrestling, and you are right! Congrats, you get a gold star and my blessing to consider me, Da Infamous One, your hero. You should be honored. Introducing my new series: Ringside Psych!
With this new series, we dive, delve and dig into the psychology of a match, always a match, always a feud, always a conflict, usually with a focus on how everything plays out. In other words, it’s like what I usually do, but now it has a name, and a graphic picture I purposely kind of edited so as to not offend the childrens who might come around and look at Goldberg attempt to snap a bleeding man’s screaming head in two. I did a few of these pictures, I’ll likely post a different one every now and then.
As you can tell from the title, this one is about the main event for the upcoming Wrestlemania (I’m watching it on a big screen; are YOU?), featuring WWE Champion and A-list actor with B-list talent Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and former WWE Champion and spawn of Superman and Tebow-inspired Scout Master John Cena. And there’s no better way to start this off than by saying this: Wasn’t that match last Wrestlemania just great? I mean it, it was a good match, both of them did their thing, it was relatively slick, and 90% of us were actually surprised by the way it all ended. Very few of us expected Cena to lose (had to choose my words carefully there) but that’s what happened.
Cena lost. And we celebrated.
That’s to say a lot of us were very pleased that we were thrown for such a loop. The year and a day buildup was questionable at times, every now and then bordering on foolish, but the payoff was pretty good. The “historical” promos were lame, even if The Rock amused me by
further polluting Boston Harbor (damn Yankees and their stupid plan to oppose King George by throwing the tea into their OWN WATER). The random segments where there would be some degree of interaction were a mixed bag, but there was one that stood out to me, and it stood out to a few people because a lot of people said it never played out. It was a party (I forget the occasion, maybe Mark Henry added a new wing to the Hall of Pain or something) and Cena and Johnson were briefly discussing their upcoming Wrestlemania conflict and the only way it could be better: if the WWE Championship were on the line. It was assumed that the belt would don one of their waists before the grandest stage of them all became a reality, but to a few people’s surprise it never did. It was more of a footnote than anything else; if anything Cena crashed the party, that jerk. Now, the Wrestlemania after, it comes to fruition, crappy excuse for it and all. In a way, you can argue that everything has come full circle, or that long-form storytelling has become the new norm for the major stars of the company.
But let’s ignore the fact that this match was teased at long before “Once in a Lifetime” became a reality. Let’s ignore the fact that around 75% of us were surprised by The Rock’s victory at the last Wrestlemania. Let’s focus instead on the now, and the promo that took place on Monday, 3/25/2013, where Cena and The Rock stood at opposing podiums and answered questions from the all-star and vocally incomprehensible panel of the hardcore legend Mick Foley, the gay icon Dusty Rhodes, the testament to hard living Bret Hart, and of course G.I. Bro, with a host of Jerry Lawler, who gets no fancy name because he doesn’t need one, he IS a punch line!
I apologize to any offended by my assertion that Jerry Lawler is a punch line… from now on I’ll try and make sure that Victory Road stays as my go to punch line, seeing as it consistently pisses people off as a bad PPV. Oh TNA, you can never win, can you? Ha.
During this loose and – at first – boring debate, as we waited for Ol’ Dirty Bastard to return from the grave and interrupt the group with a stream-of-consciousness ramble and a suit “that costed him a lot of money”, we heard a single question from each person and weak answers from Cena, a contrast to the chiding answers from the Champion. The burning question was asked: why, Cena, do you want to win this upcoming matchup?
To be fair, I rubbed my chin at this: at first glance it seems obvious. Cena wants “redemption” for whatever that’s worth. He wants to win for the sake of winning, after losing before. But as he became more and more intense in his answering, he revealed more and more. “THE ROCK DIDN’T BEAT ME, I BEAT ME!” With these words we got got a bit of clarity – and exposition – regarding the character, the “why” if you will, of John Cena. Ever the Boy Scout, ever the all-American club sandwich, the reason it was impossible to take him seriously with a “redemption” persona was because he was at the top of the food chain and it took literally an army to strike him. Compare him to a massive company. Big, powerful and able to handle every single threat, insult and jeer thrown their way because nothing short of the collective assault of every detractor and a few dozen converts can do more than cause a little pinch of pain, if that.
Better example: Freiza. Remember Freiza? From Dragonball Z and an arc of episodes within its billion plus? The white and purple guy that sounded like a disease-ridden Amy Irving (sidenote: Amy Irving sounds SOOOOOO good… don’t worry, I’ll control my thirst)? Now go even further back and consider Goku’s father, the guy who gains some brand of clairvoyance and discovered what Freiza planned on doing (because he wasn’t a punk Saiyan like Broly). When Freiza discovered that Bardock was going to try and take
her him out, Freiza decided to make the first move. Bardock assembled literally EVERY Saiyan he could, millions, all ready to attack, and Freiza wiped them all out in one violent powerful middle-finger of an attack that MAYBE another five million Saiyans could have stood against. You get where I’m coming from? Freiza was too big to suffer attacks from those below her him, and Cena is the same way. Well, WAS the same way.
For all of Punk’s greatness, and… well, whoever else might say that they’re on Cena’s level, Cena was still at the top. He was the big shot. To paraphrase Eyedea (RIP), he’s the popular school kid, the always have been and always will be cool kid, the class president, valedictorian, A+, star quarterback, Cadillac convertible driver, signing cheerleaders autographs, letter on the jacket, medal around the neck, pin on his chest, and mind on his rep, who only dates models, drinks his Summit from the bottle, when he… well, I’m not going into the whole song, just follow the link here; it is worth nothing that one of the lines is “and he ain’t never lost a squabble!”. Cena is that guy, but then the original “that guy” comes back and Cena doesn’t just fail to measure up: he straight up gets BEAT up.
What does that do for the psyche? Well, it serves as a reality check for one. In fact, that’s precisely what it serves as, in every capacity, and it’s funny to see it. You can’t dismantle a massive beast from anywhere but within, so going back to Cena’s powerful line “THE ROCK DIDN’T BEAT ME, I BEAT ME!”, it’s the constant specter of “I lost? I don’t lose!” that replays in Cena’s mind, and plagues him. It’s not a “redemption” story; it’s a “back to normalcy” story, and it revolves around a great jock who meets the last great jock, the jock that set a standard in an era where great jocks were the norm, an era where great jocks were the norm and even THEN someone could shine and be seen as a GREATER jock. So while The Rock is basking in his legacy, knowing full well that it doesn’t matter if he wins OR loses because his status in the world is set in the most indestructible of stones, he’s merely looking at Cena with a “You whiny bastard!” type of look. Why? Because Cena has no legacy like that, and Cena knows it. What else did he mention in the promo? He mentioned the question of whether or not he’d be able to stand toe-to-toe with the greats of the Attitude era (pft, right, even Hogan shifted before he was fully embraced/hated in the era). While that is debatable, it comes down to Cena looking up to his big brother in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the blueprint to his current status and wants to be better. And he’s not. If anything, he’s looking at the greatness that The Rock is and realizes that his next plateau is mediocrity (I believe I said that before in some capacity).
Basically, when it comes to Cena/Rock II, it lacks any sort of logic to refer to it as a “redemption” story for Cena, even if his impressive display on Monday may make it feel a little more valid. No, the closest comparison I can come up with is an episode of Spongebob, that one where the old fry cook comes back to visit. Spongebob has been crafting Krabby Patties that most love, and some hate, to acclaim but here comes Jim, with his 1950s drive-in hat and his Nathan Drake stubble and he makes up a burger, for old times sake. Spongebob eats it and creams his pants, if sponges are capable of such an act. Now Spongebob, in all his naivety, is trying to be better because he figured that he himself was ALREADY the best, and despite all the training and all the roses he throws at the man’s feet, Jim is still just better. At the end of the day, when Squarepants is ready to leave the Krusty Krab Krew (yeah, I said it) Jim and Mr. Krabs talk him out of it, the former continuing to tell Spongebob how he’ll NEVER be on his level until he does something that could be seen as drastic by his standards, and Krabs reveals the truest reason for Spongebob’s continued employment: he’s cheap.
Wrap your mind around that: Krabs lost Jim because he wouldn’t give him a raise, and Spongebob is naive enough to accept nothing or even pay his own boss (under the sea my suspension of disbelief is rather coked up) and, more than anything, he’s cost-effective. Only difference between Spongebob and Cena, really, is the concept of understanding. Squarepants is just happy to be around, whereas Cena is completely conscious about where he is and what he thinks he has to do. Imagine him as that Boy Scout that he portrays, bright eyed, high in the clouds, virtually immune or untouched by the ills of the world. Then, all of a sudden, his happy, black-and-white, “I’m the Prince of Never Never Ever Ville!” perception is shattered by defeat, hard hitting insults and the slow notion that he’s not invincible but quite vulnerable, and those open blue skies he once knew have gotten blurry and its gotten hard to breathe. He hasn’t gone too high up or too close to the sun though: he’s crash landed into the water, just hasn’t sunken so far that the light is out of view.
So is that the case? Is Cena more cost-efficient than The Rock? Yeah, I think so, and how terrible does that have to feel? Cena, you are the top of the food chain and The Rock just waltzes in and steals that from you because he WAS the top of the food chain and came back to make sure that he was STILL the top of the food chain. Cena can’t deal with not being the best; that just doesn’t compute, and as Wrestlemania creeps up on us (again, I’m watching it on a big screen, ARE YOU!?!) the challenger’s mind is at “I have to win to be on top again! Yes, Tyra Banks, I wanna be on top!” whereas the champion is thinking “It’s better than the last G.I. Joe flick… but is that because of me, or Bruce Willis…?” Because The Rock literally has nothing to lose. He’s a four-time WWE Champion now, and his legacy, as said before, is set. In stone. Cena’s is too, but he’s too myopic in his thinking to acknowledge it. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the psychology of this match will play out. Will Cena resort to anything to win and end up on The Rock’s level? Will The Rock defeat Cena once again and put Cena in a new year of melancholy? Will the WWE finally induct FDR and MC Hammer into the Hall of Fame like they deserve?! All these questions – and less! – will be answered in another edition of Ringside Psych! Same Ringside location! Same Ringside… man, I can’t even type that without shaking my head in shame. Deuces.
It was only a matter of time before parallels were made between two of the industry’s most prominent and squeaky clean babyfaces.
It wouldn’t take much for any given fan—casual, hardcore, average or “extraordinary”—to recognize that both A.J. Styles and John Cena had terrible stints in their respective companies last year. While 2011-2012 saw the rise of unlikely champions in several pro wrestling promotions (CM Punk, Austin Aries, Johnny Gargano, Eddie Kingston, Kevin Steen, Colt Cabana and Adam Pearce), it also saw Cena and Styles play diminished roles in companies that had at several times in the past ten years relied heavily on their presence and activity.
For A.J. Styles, 2012 was a year that saw him as a suffering protagonist accused of engaging in adulterous and illicit activities with a pregnant “crackhead.” Once vindicated and redeemed, Styles then suffered a humiliating loss to his longtime on-screen friend-slash-rival, Christopher Daniels.
John Cena’s 2012 was mired by his bench-warming role in CM Punk’s historic yearlong WWE Championship reign. After suffering a devastating loss to The Rock at WrestleMania XXVIII and surviving a brutal thrashing from Brock Lesnar at Extreme Rules 2012, Cena found a sliver of hope in winning the 2013 Royal Rumble, awarding him the chance to face his rival for the second time in a lifetime.
As different as both instances were from each other, the John Cena and A.J. Styles characters (as well as the individuals portraying them) are traveling on similar highways at this point in their professional wrestling careers. Both characters have arguably suffered from severe stagnancy, a type of static complacency that resonated with few and nauseated most. With Cena relegated to inconceivably winning unimportant matches and incessantly spewing promos like a southern Protestant preacher or pee-wee football coach, and Styles meandering around aimlessly in a god-forsaken storyline like Howdy Doody in a Martian whorehouse, each character was on the fast track to irrelevancy.
It would become necessary, at some point, for the creative writers in TNA and WWE to evolve the Cena and Styles characters beyond the straight-laced, doe-eyed do-gooders they’ve portrayed for most of their careers.
It is assumed that the natural evolution of a “good guy” character means that they should inevitably be turned heel, made into a callous and uncaring “bad guy” that is the exact anti-thesis of what they once stood for. That often abused notion of duality, however, is what keeps most wrestling fans in their arena seats and not the plush and cushy creative director office chairs in a promotion’s front office.
Infamous wrestling guru Vince Russo once noted that he believed wrestling characters should mirror the “characters” of everyday life, noting that in life there were no completely “good” or “bad” people. To Russo, all people were a mixture of both good and bad, and if wrestling characters were to remain relevant they would have to resonate in the hearts of consumers. In other words, fans would cheer or boo people they felt were more like them (i.e. Stone Cold Steve Austin).
While Russo’s perception had it’s strengths and weaknesses, it raised a point that has surfaced in the John Cena and A.J. Styles characters. For each character to remain relevant a slight adjustment was all that was needed to provide fans with fresh faces in the stale seas of mediocrity they navigated.
A.J. Styles’ character represents retaliation, a notion of justice that’s needed to right the wrongs inflicted upon an unsuspecting individual who had lived by a disciplined code of morals and ethics. Styles’ character can be easily associated with the “Crow Sting” character from WCW after Hulk Hogan’s heel turn (something I spoke of in this piece); he can also be associated with the biblical character Job, a righteous man that found himself caught in a bet of sorts between God and the Devil.
John Cena’s character represents redemption, a response to an injustice that has occurred at his own hands. Cena’s character can be associated with Michael Vick more so than Donavon McNabb, as Cena’s downfall—the year he spent languishing in nothing in particular—was due to his own irresponsible behavior.
That being said one important question arises from these occurrences: which character has experienced the more compelling shift in evolution and priorities?
John Cena’s segment with The Rock on the March 25, 2013 edition of RAW was brilliant for several reasons, one of which was the brief glimpses of an arrogant, heelish John Cena that we haven’t seen since the rarely mentioned “Ruthless Aggression” Era. Cena was contemptuous in his resolve, admitting that his loss to The Rock was due to one simple-minded act that left him on his back staring at the lights. Cena was vehement in making it known that he defeated himself, which reveals to us a character that truly believes in the hype that has surrounded and dominated his career.
In that sense, the John Cena character is reminiscent of the real life Bret Hart, a man that honestly believes he is the end all, be all when it comes to professional wrestling. The implication from the words that came from Cena’s own mouth is that The Rock never defeated him; John Cena defeated himself.
The only reason The Rock scored the pinfall was because John Cena slipped on the goal line, allowing Rock to take advantage of the fumble to score the game winning touchdown. From this Cena contends that The Rock was never strong, talented or determined enough to truly beat Cena, that The Rock was still a Hollywood sell-out that doesn’t deserve to be in a wrestling ring.
This type of Cena is very different from the Cena that has openly admitted to losing to stars like CM Punk, Sheamus, and countless others. This type of Cena is the All-Star Varsity Team Captain who goes unpunished for violating the privacy and personal space of a cheerleader, simply because “she was asking for it.” This is the Cena that fans despise, that fans yearn and thirst to smack when they see him in the streets.
This is also the type of Cena that could snap when he loses to The Rock again, the type of Cena that could “injure” The Rock during his post-match celebration at WrestleMania XXIX. The injury would sideline the WWE Champion and force the WWE Title to be vacated, thus allowing for a reinvigorated and more edgy John Cena to find his way back into the main event picture while embracing the jeers of the crowd.
A.J. Styles, on the other hand, returned to IMPACT Wrestling two weeks ago after a lengthy hiatus following his embarrassing loss to Christopher Daniels at Final Resolution 2012. In the final moments of the match, Daniels utilized Styles’ own finishing maneuver, The Styles Clash, to gain the pinfall.
Prior to this match, Styles was the unlucky recipient of a pinfall loss in a triple threat match at Turning Point 2012 to determine the number one contender for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. As a result, Styles was locked out of receiving a championship match until Bound for Glory 2013.
Dejected and absolutely humiliated by Daniels’ victory (ironically, a victory gained in the same manner that caused John Cena to lose his match to The Rock), Styles appeared on the December 13, 2012 episode of IMPACT Wrestling and gave a bitter soliloquy in the middle of the ring disguised as an address to the fans.
Styles’ words that day were surprising at most, but effective nevertheless in planting seeds for an A.J. Styles that fans had never seen before.
Styles’ inner thoughts and feelings were revealed for the entire wrestling audience to consider (and are loosely quoted as follows):
I don’t know where I’m is going or what the next step is. I’ve spent too much time being a corporate man and worrying about everyone else that I forgot about myself. (While taking off his Impact Wrestling shirt and hat) I’m tired of cleaning up TNA’s messes and doing the right thing. From now on, I’m going to be doing my own thing (Styles drops the microphone and leaves the ring).*
When the broken and disenfranchised wrestler returned to IMPACT Wrestling on the March 14 episode, he attacked the two men that were the source of his year long consternation (Daniels and Kazarian) and James Storm, the man that pinned him at Turning Point 2012. These actions make him a social outcast, an outsider that has every justifiable reason in the book to walk around with a huge chip on his shoulder.
This A.J. Styles is a shell of the Phenomenal One that captured the hearts of fans for his years of dedication to TNA; this A.J. Styles is only concerned about what’s good for A.J. Styles because it seems that no one else really cares. This A.J. Styles spits in the face of TNA’s beloved authority figures. This A.J. Styles will climb to the top of TNA’s ladder of success just to throw it back into the faces of all his naysayers.
Ironically enough, this A.J. Styles is also the savior TNA will need to rid the company of the Aces and 8′s infestation come Bound for Glory 2013; unfortunately for TNA, he’ll be doing it for himself and not for the company.
So the question remains…which character is more compelling? Which character would you be willing to pay money to see?
Hey everybody, I’m Chris, and happy day after St. Patty’s Day. I’m back out of character with another pseudo-serious piece and this one is for the children. Rather, it’s for the parents, or the people who care about the children. Question: why are powerful heels such a minority in the realm of the WWE?
For the ill-informed, a “heel” is a character that does villainous things and commits villainous acts as a means to achieve victory. They piss off the crowd, spawn the occasional angry fan who becomes a meme, and at the end of the day they’re just not good people. For long time wrestling fans, smarks, sports entertainment enthusiasts and over-opinionated know-it-alls, a “good” heel can make or break a program and can spawn heat that a feud, rivalry or even a company needs.
When a “good” heel emerges, especially amongst a myriad of baby faces and tweeners, one might rejoice, much like when Mark Henry began a violent streak of destruction, or Randy Orton made a habit out of hurting old people, or CM Punk descended into the messiah of his own twisted, if accurate, world. But when it comes to one of the heaviest audiences of the WWE, the children, the reaction might be little more than an unremarkable: “Meh.”
That’s not to say they “hate” the heel, but they aren’t amused. They don’t love or hate them, they just don’t exactly know what to think. Me personally, thinking back to when I began watching professional wrestling so many years ago, my concept of face and heel was undeveloped: I saw one guy beating up another guy and my youthful love for stylized combat left me feeling very neutral about most scenarios. Examining that now, I asked myself why, and it’s because I wasn’t paying attention to much more than the violence. Had I found myself actually comprehending the face and heel tactics, I would have begun understanding just how watching these characters can affect a developing child.
What do I mean by that pretentious statement? Well, let’s look at what professional wrestlers can represent to a child. Imagine a kid no older than seven or eight, standing at the barricade or sitting on his parent’s shoulders. Loud pyro hits, music begins blaring, the crowd starts to react with cheers and here comes Shawn Michaels. I’m using Shawn Michaels because he’s one of the most universally loved pro wrestlers I can think of. He comes out at the top of the ramp and does his bit, walks out to the ring acknowledging his fans and detractors alike and slides into the ring. To the kid, he’s twenty feet tall, and that’s just as literal as it is figurative. Shawn does his act some more and he stands like something of a god, a creature worthy of worship from a little boy looking for something to look up to.
That child leaves the live show copying the mannerisms and words of the Heartbreak Kid, wanting the pants he wore or the title belt he may have been holding, trying to execute Sweet Chin Music in the parking lot to the point where his parents are apologizing to the unfortunate little girl that “came out of nowhere” when he was trying to kick the air. Her response is executing the infamous DX “suck it” gesture because she understands and suddenly a friendship is formed.
And while that fictional scenario is just that – fictional – it features two very glaring realities: the reality of the kid who idolizes Shawn Michaels, and the reality of the parent who may or may not comprehend it. To the parent, a little boy in the parking lot wanting to be Shawn Michaels is cute, and arguably inspiring. The people that see him may laugh but it’s in appreciation versus chiding. When he hits the girl, it’s bad, but if she’s even half as enamored with the product as the little boy, the parents are going to be mad or regretful, but the kids are simply going to keep it moving because they’ve already found something to bond over. To some, that children’s reality may not make sense. But if you really think about a child, their reality doesn’t HAVE to make sense. Children are a specialized state of mind: the early years of a person’s life are development. Exposition, if you will. A six, seven, eight year old is still trying to figure out life, and it’s very common for them to delve into a world of missing logic and find a role model in a larger-than-life character, i.e. Shawn Michaels, or, in this generation, John Cena.
It’s a slippery slope: children are sponges. They take in everything and how it manifests or displays is anyone’s guess. I ask you: do you remember your first time watching professional wrestling? Your first kiss? Your first broken bone? First foray into film, or music, or something you find to be a great passion today? You may, you may not, but at the end of the day it had some kind of effect, putting a permanent mark on the tabula rasa that was, for lack of a better term, you.
Regarding the parking lot superkick, children don’t always think beyond “this moment”, and as a result they become a lot better at apologizing than asking for permission. One might say that they lack logic as a result, but delve into the mind of the child again: logic will always take a back seat to emotion. The allure of nailing someone with a superkick overshadows who might get hurt. Hitting a jumping Shelton Benjamin with the perfect Sweet Chin Music becomes a goal, a would-be unreachable summit that takes plenty of practice to achieve. So the parking lot foot action comes across as a weak kick to a little girl’s stomach, and instead of cheers and applause at getting his foot high enough to introduce toenails as an unlucky victim’s teeth, it becomes reprimanding of “What the hell is wrong with you?!” Again, very logical, and a child should be punished for kicking someone, intentionally or otherwise, but always take care to comprehend what went through the little boy’s mind: “I think I’m cute! I know I’m sexy! What does sexy mean…? Oh well!”
This is the world of a child, and being a sponge has just as many disadvantages in how it accepts virtually anything as it does advantages to accepting virtually anything. Plenty of people, children especially, take pro wrestling and sports entertainment, a bit too seriously, and that same kid who came out of the arena worshipping Michaels can just as likely come out fearfully acknowledging the bad guy.
It’s a similar concept with people who blame video games or violent media on a person’s behavior, but where it differs is with the intensity and impact of the product. No one with a single-digit age has any business playing a video game like Gears of War, I firmly believe this, but all media can affect a developing mind, for better or worse. That being said, a good outside influence saying “That isn’t good to do” or “Don’t do that, it’s wrong” is just as potent and preventative, but apply this to the powerful heel.
We’ll use Mark Henry, because he stands as my favorite heel right now. He’s big, scary, dark of skin and full of sin (as Uncle Ruckus might imply) and has a very simple ideology: enter, wreck, depart. He enters the ring with the intent of wrecking somebody and after he does he departs. Period. It stands as a terrific template for a good heel. In any case, he carries just as much weight as Shawn Michaels would, especially with the way he draws heat. Suddenly the parking lot scenario, while innocent enough in theory and lawsuit worthy enough in practice, becomes another matter. A failed kick is one thing; picking someone up, slamming them into pavement and screaming “THAT’S WHAT I DO!” becomes the basis for a restraining order.
The thing is, I don’t think there is really a lack of strong heels so much as a basic theme the company follows for the young fan base. As we get older we acknowledge and even take joy in the concept of a bad guy claiming the throne or winning the gold, but as children we’re taught that the good guy always wins, and that evil never triumphs. We’re taught with a degree of morals and ethics that, more than likely, encourage us to be charitable, pleasant and strong, while caring and friendly at the same time, five traits that a heel isn’t privy to actually maintaining. If we take Mark Henry again, he doesn’t display these, unless you twist the meanings around and take “charitable” and “friendly” to mean including people into the Hall of Pain without asking them first (see three-time entry Ryback).
And Mark Henry comes across as a powerful force; big, mean, nearly unstoppable. But therein lies the thing: nearly. As scary as Mark Henry is, he has never been shown to be unstoppable. As a bad guy, a heel, he’s been portrayed as having at least one chink in his armor, and that has often been exploited by the underdog of the week, or John Cena. Because John Cena is the hero that the kids can look up to. No matter the situation (being beaten bloody by an angry Brock Lesnar comes to mind) he overcomes and stands as the Superman the children can turn to for truth, justice and the American Way.
Superman has plenty of enemies, rivals and villains but we have to remember that there are only two things that really manage to harm him: kryptonite and Doomsday. The former is his weakness, as all people have, and the second… well, he’s, uh… just watch:
I offer this rebuttal to the claims of weak heels: I don’t think we have too many weak heels so much as overpowered faces. Because kids love faces. Period. If we get a Doomsday in the WWE, then maybe we can talk about the equal-powered heel, because we must remember: Doomsday DID kill Superman, but he got himself killed in the process. Cena’s Doomsday would be…
I don’t know, don’t even want to think about it. That’s my two cents on it though. You have a nice day after St. Patty’s Day. Hope you aren’t too hungover.
When I tell people I’m an old school guy, there’s a lot of layers going on in an otherwise simple looking sentence. In a broader sense, I admit that personality wise I’m simply from a long gone era (think way long gone…think your great-grandparents and probably earlier).
In a narrower sense—in this case, related to wrestling—it means I like the 70′s and live for tapes of the 80′s. There is a litany of reasons why this is, but it all adds up to this: I simply enjoy the product of the first mega-boom more than that of today, and certainly more than that of the “Attitude Era,” which I happen to have stunningly little love for in comparison to pretty much everyone reading this.
Perhaps nothing better exemplifies this than my hate/sort-of-ok-with relationship with the career of John Cena. For the past five years, I’ve been involved in some way with the business of Internet Wrestling Writing and Podcasting. In some instances, it’s merely been as a consultant, others as an editor, others as a writer, and on In the Room it’s in the capacity of a sports talk host…but for pro wrestling. However, no matter what the capacity it’s been in, my stance on Cena has pretty much never changed.
I like him…sort of. From the very first time I wrote about anything that involved him, I made it clear that I think he’s a serviceable talent who got pushed to the top more out of situational happenstance than any kind of marquee headlining talent. In a way, I’ve always sort of felt bad for his career because no matter how hard he works or how hard he tries, when it comes down to real ability measured against the rest of the wrestling world, he’s simply out of his league when it comes to being at the top of the wrestling world. Sure, those people have been around for as long as there’s been professional wrestling (Nick Bockwinkle anybody?), but in this age of the Internet that talent disparity just becomes that much more abundantly clear.
That leads us to this past Monday night, and the closing match on Raw.
With all due respect to Kevin Steen—and the next roughly nine months left on the calendar—John Cena teamed up with arch-nemesis CM Punk to put on the 2013 MOTY candidate from the United States. And while there’s a long way to go, it’s probably one of the two or three leading candidates for the overall MOTY, at the very least until Triplemania rolls around this summer. Even if you think I’m a bit over the moon here, you’ll be hard pressed to find anybody who was any bit down on the match itself. The reaction was almost overwhelmingly positive, and that sort of leads to the bigger question in its aftermath: what is this feud’s—and by some extension, Cena’s career’s—place in history?
After the match that night, more than one writer or podcaster made the comparison of Punk v. Cena to Steamboat v. Flair.
In some senses, that’s a reasonably apt comparison. Much like Steamboat and Flair, Punk and Cena work well together and are able to do a very good job complimenting the others’ strengths instead of accidentally highlighting the others’ weaknesses. Both sets of men now have developed years’ long feuds, and both in and out of storyline there’s a reasonably good comparison of Steamboat to Punk.
But, there are just as many reasons why it’s a bad comparison. For one, which man is the Ric Flair? It certainly isn’t John Cena, who can’t even get his hometown to do what he needs it to when he’s in the ring (that would be cheer…). Punk and Cena aren’t competing against promotions with the same or better talent depth, and neither man has to compete with the same kind of marquee level feuds within their same promotion.
The biggest difference, however, is in the percieved (and mostly real) talent drop off for Cena. Flair and Steamboat may have had a series of classic matches at or near the zenith of the wrestling world, but neither man is ever going to be talked about in the same disparaging way Cena so often is.
For me, Monday night showed that Cena vs. Punk is a hybrid of two feuds from wrestling’s greatest era…
It’s part Hogan vs. Savage, and part Hogan vs. Warrior.
This past week on ITR, Brady Hicks planted the idea that it was—at least in part—Hogan vs. Savage, with Cena being Hogan and Punk being Savage. I suppose in the overall scheme of things, that’s got some validity, especially because both men compare well to their historical counterparts in a side-by-side. Punk is absolutely Savage, the inarguable more talented individual whom should probably be on top of the roster in comparison to what else is there—especially over Cena. Cena, meanwhile, is absolutely the Hulk Hogan of the feud. He’s the man on top, the man who can draw passion from fans into any feud regardless, and could make money if he were to fight Eugene while also being the man whose talent isn’t bad but, is at best, serviceable.
Meanwhile, Monday night’s match was much more like Hogan vs. Warrior. Nobody could have expected a match of that quality would come forth that night, and it wasn’t just because it was happening on Raw.
When I say John Cena is serviceable but not bad, I’m not necessarily saying he’s much good either. He’s okay enough that good workers can get good matches out of him, but he’s never going to make a classic on his own because he simply has too many deficiencies.
His moveset and style in the ring are clunky limited. Part of it is probably his talent ceiling, but part of it is that he’s simply just not an athletic man…at least not by the standards of top wrestling talents. While he certainly looks the part, there is a difference between having a lot of muscle and being an athletic guy. Cena isn’t by any means unwatchable, but if watching Bryan Danielson is the exercise of watching poetry in motion, watching Cena is more the exercise of watching Celebrity Deathmatch reruns.
His promo ability is narrow and not likely to grow. He’s not necessarily good at making others look good. The beat goes on.
The point here? Punk and Cena’s match on Raw had no business being as good as it was because a man of Cena’s talent level has no business being in a five star kind of match. By and large, that statement has remained pretty true throughout Cena’s career. He’s had some good matches, but not great ones. He’s had some okay feuds, but he’s had nothing of great note, which brings me to the Hogan vs. Warrior analogy.
Hogan vs. Warrior at WrestleMania VI had no business being as good as it was; the reality is that Hogan got a far better match out of Warrior than pretty much everyone else ever did or would (with the exception of Savage one year later). Punk and Cena’s feud—much like that match—is defined by overcoming expectations as much as anything else.
In the world of professional wrestling, Punk’s resumè was already world class before he set foot in WWE. Cena’s was not, and much like Chis Jericho’s feud with the Legends at WrestleMania XXV won’t define his career, The Rock won’t define Cena’s. In fact before this feud with Punk, Cena’s career looked pretty bland.
The Orton feud didn’t really go anywhere; a feud with Batista never developed. Jericho wasn’t around too long, Edge wasn’t always there, Miz fell flat and Big Show was underwhelming as an opponent.
CM Punk, and this now ongoing and established feud with Cena, will ultimately be the defining one of Cena’s career, but maybe not of Punk’s.
And so we reach the final question: what is the place of this feud—and Cena’s career—in the history of professional wrestling? At this point, I think the answer is that it’s safe to say its place is “What could have been?”
We’re not going to get this kind of match at WrestleMania, and there have been long term booking decisions which have made the feud start and stop, stalling just when things could get hottest. When Cena faces The Rock, his arch-nemesis and most iconic opponent will be doing something else, or lost in a three-way never meant for him.
And we’ll wonder, “what might have been?”
Ray Bogusz is the co-host of the In The Room Show and a syndicated wrestling columnist. You can reach him via his Twitter @RayITR. To get his column on your website, email email@example.com.
Most fans won’t readily acknowledge that RAW’s ratings, as of late, have hovered around the 3.1 area. While this means absolutely nothing to the average fan, it means a lot to analysts and pundits such as us.
It doesn’t mean or suggest that the quality of the product is getting better; what it does suggest is that fans are finding more reasons to tune into the show each Monday night. The “Road to WrestleMania” is typically filled with more than enough elements to energize fans and entice them to purchase the WWE’s annual mega-sports entertainment event, but last night’s show offered more than what most probably expected or anticipated. To say that last night’s RAW was knocked out of the park would be a huge understatement. While I would hesitate to say the show was “perfect,” I will say that it was great all around and well above average.
Three things made the show awesome: the hot Dallas, Texas crowd, the opening brawl between Brock Lesnar and Triple H, and the MOTY candidate bout between CM Punk and John Cena. Everything in between seemed to add some depth and volume to the undercard for WrestleMania XXIX. It will be interesting to see how the company can keep up this momentum between now and April.
Here’s the most noteworthy stuff:
- WWE Vengeance: Lesnar vs. Triple H II
- WWE Insurrextion: Sheamus vs. Wade Barrett
- WWE Judgement Day: The Shield vs. Randy Orton
- WWE December to Dismember: Featuring AJ Lee, Dolph Ziggler, and Ryblack
- WWE Bragging Rights: CM Punk vs. John Cena
The evening started out with last week’s proposed fight between Mr. McMahon and Paul Heyman. While it was safe to assume that very few people (right-minded folks, mind you) expected a true fight to take place between the million-dollar geriatric and South Philly’s favorite son, even fewer could have accurately predicted the magnitude of the brawl that followed their slap fight.
Two really cool things happened during the exchange between Heyman and Mr. McMahon; for starters, Scott Stanford sent a tweet question whether Heyman had been robbing homes in Dallas prior to appearing on the show. Secondly, Heyman gave Mr. McMahon “The Pounce,” and no one seemed moved by his perfectly executed, skillful and dangerous maneuver.
Nevertheless the whole spectacle was cut short by the unmistakable sound of Brock Lesnar’s music. The beast of a man approached the ring and prepared to sink his teeth into Vince McMahon’s old and surprisingly muscular carcass. Before Lesnar could get another taste of McMahon’s blood, Triple H’s music blared through the arena and we all knew that a rematch between the two would take place at April’s blockbuster pay per view. The standard brawl took place between the two after McMahon hightailed it out of harms way, and everything that happened afterwards was unintentionally magnificent.
The brawl between Lesnar and Triple H seemed real; it felt real even though it looked phony at times. You could easily tell that Lesnar was using his MMA training against Triple H, who’s experience in body building didn’t seem to help his situation at all. I even wondered if there would be a point in the fight where Trips had to whisper to Brock, “Hey! It’s not real fighting, bro!” Not too soon after I had that thought, Lesnar eased up a bit on the realism and switched back into scripted entertainment mode.
The money moment of the fracas was when Trips sent Brock’s skull sailing into the ring post, busting him open the hard way. Half of Lesnar’s head was soaked in blood as the cameras attempted to avoid showing it on live television. Despite their best efforts the effect of this was necessary to make this rematch between the men mean something. I would venture to say that it was Lesnar’s blood that sold a good number of people on this pay per view alone; the awkward part of it all is that this was only the beginning of the show…
It’s anyone’s guess as to how epic their match will be at WrestleMania, but if their brawl last night was any indication we can expect this grudge match to be more passionate and grueling than their first encounter.
Another thing that stood out was a segment in which Sheamus made fun of Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett and his work as an extra in the upcoming movie Dead Man Down, starring Ireland’s second favorite dandy, Colin “Remember Me?” Farrell. A few fans in my Twitter feed commented on how absurd it was for a face (Sheamus) to continue to be a face while making fun of (bullying) someone for their small part in a movie. I started to respond to a few of these comments but stopped when I thought about the lack of angst against John Cena and his many heel-like tactics over the past few years; be a star, everyone.
The eventual exchange between the two was far from being bad, and it actually provided a few chuckle-worthy spots (I particularly LOL’d when Barrett referred to the fans as “idiots;” it was the accent and the air of arrogant confidence that did it). I also site this as being worth mentioning because of a previous post where I stated that the only program decent for Sheamus at this point is a feud with Barrett for the Intercontinental Title. I also stated that spot belonged to Bo Dallas, a spot he was politely pulled out of because of WrestleMania season.
Another thing to consider is the recent “international flair” the title has acquired with its most recent champions. The title has suffered from a lack of importance, prestige, and significance as of late. Having non-American champions gives some sort of meaning to the title even if that meaning is still not all that defined. Another match between Sheamus the feisty fighting Irishman squaring off against Barrett the brutish bare-knuckle Brit is something good for both men and for the title.
Sheamus would make another appearance that night during an in-ring segment involving The Shield. The three members of the so-called “arm of justice” in WWE were busy spouting their manifesto to the audience when they issued a warning to the hapless superstars in the back. Sheamus strolled out in his wrestling gear and responded to their warning, only to serve as a decoy for a sneak attack at the hands of Randy Orton. With Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns advancing on Sheamus, Orton slithered into the ring and leveled Seth Rollins with a surprisingly devastating RKO.
A number of fans have commented that Orton seems to be floating aimlessly at this point in his career. I wouldn’t say a feud with The Shield would invigorate Orton’s character, but it would give the rub to the group of young lions. What’s more interesting about this story is the story of how all three of these young WWE superstars made it to their first WrestleMania. Speaking particularly about Dean Ambrose’s rise to glory, it was only at WrestleMania XXVII two years ago in Atlanta (where we first saw him in person) that he received a try out match with WWE, a match that got him this far in the company. It’s an impressive story, and to share that story with two equally talented young superstars in a match with Randy Orton is pretty big. It will be a thing of beauty to see what comes from this.
Speaking of things of beauty, AJ Lee’s fall from grace has been less majestic than anyone could have ever imagined. When you consider the amount of time and energy that was put into AJ’s character during the latter part of 2012, it’s amazing how dimly her once radiant aura shines now. Ever since being partnered with Dolph Ziggler, AJ has seriously fallen off the radar of relevance; problem is, there’s is no justifiable or logical reason for such a tremendous dip in attention given to her character.
The same thing could be argued for Dolph Ziggler, the current Mr. Money In the Bank contract recipient. Dolph has literally seen several stop and go storylines and at one point looked to be headed towards the main event scene like a bat out of hell. Things looked even better for the bleach blonde superstar when he was essentially given his own little stable to work with. It just seems like after awhile the writers gave up on him and have reduced him to wrestling matches for the sake of simply keeping him on fans’ minds and in our collective consciousness.
All of this could be for a good reason, however; Ziggler has until July to cash in his contract for a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship, and a lot can take place in the five months between now and the July 14 Money In the Bank pay per view. The more cynical fans tend to write off wrestlers or storylines that don’t receive immediate attention or payoffs. It remains to be said that patience is a virtue, and Ziggler may be in the midst of being primed to have a major role in the company moving forward.
The question is where does AJ Lee fit in the middle of all of this? At this point in the game she’s barely a skid mark in the frilly unmentionables of the Divas Division, and the creative writers have all but abandoned the idea of making her a credible valet for Mr. Ziggler. The good news for AJ is that she’s an actual wrestler, and given our affinity with Trish Stratus and Lita it would not surprise me at all that AJ’s “sunny days” are ahead of her.
As for Big E Langston, the massive and mysteriously silent monster is playing his role to the tee. Langston is standing in the footsteps of such legendary bodyguards as Diesel, Dave Batista, and Ezekiel Jackson just to name a few. Perhaps Big E will one day serve as the potential grouse in John Cena’s pheasant hunt. But then again, a man can dream can’t he…
Speaking of John Cena, just how exhilarating was his match against CM Punk on Monday night?!?!
Many fans and pundits have said this before already, but Cena seems to be the type of wrestler/superstar that is very capable of having an excellent match if he’s pushed to the limit by his opponent. It’s anybody’s guess as to the pep talk given to either Punk or Cena prior to the match, but whatever was said or done it gave both men the passion and desire necessary to deliver one hell of a battle.
We often condemn the WWE for not having matches like this on the regular, but the truth of it all is that these rare gems should be rare gems, because if matches like this happened all the time what exactly would a rare gem be?
The other thing to pay attention to is CM Punk’s ability to bring the best out of Cena. It’s often said (and ignored largely by fans) that a wrestler is only as great as his opponent makes him look. While the myth of John Cena’s stature tends to overshadow all around him, Punk truly stood out as a performer by showing off his ability to take Cena beyond complacency and mediocrity in the ring. This is why Punk’s legendary 21st Century WWE Title reign is lost among fans today; we miss the significance of all he brings to the product because we’re too busy focusing on the obvious flaws of the company to appreciate the crown jewels in their possession.
I did get truly pissed me off during the match as Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler casually ignored the fact that Punk spent a majority of the match working on Cena’s neck and head. It’s one thing to constantly state that Punk was “trying to wear Cena down,” but he could’ve easily done that by working on Cena’s mid-section, making it harder for him to breath the longer the match progressed. Instead Punk worked over a previously injured area of Cena’s body, making him super vulnerable for a knee to the face or the dreaded Anaconda Vice submission hold. I know understand why people say RAW’s commentary team has gotten awful. The little things always make a difference, and I wish the commentators could’ve at least acknowledged that in their incessant banter.
So what’s the end game for both men? Of course we get another “Once In a Lifetime” match between The Rock and John Cena, but more importantly CM Punk is available for what could be the biggest match of his WWE career against The Undertaker at WrestleMania. We assume Taker will win the match, but what would it say about how the company feels about Punk if he becomes the first and only wrestler to defeat “The Dead Man” at the pay per view? Once again…a man can dream, can’t he?
That all I felt about the show last night. What do YOU think about it?
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?
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.
DISCLAIMER: This is simply food for thought. I want to make L.E.W.D. put some more wrinkles back on the brain because I’m sure it’s about as smooth as a baby’s backside after the Friday Farces.
On April 4, 2011 (the night after WrestleMania XXVII), many Professional Wrestling fans, I included, witnessed a verbal contract agreement between John Cena and The Rock for a match at WrestleMania XXVIII in Miami, Florida. At some point, I vaguely remember Cena seeking to raise the stakes by carrying the WWE Title to that match…
On May 1, 2011 (Extreme Rules), Cena won the WWE Championship from The Miz in a Triple-Threat Match involving John Morrison. Many fans (I included) were a little peeved about this outcome simply because we had a sinking feeling that Cena was going to be champion from May 1, 2011 to April 1, 2012 and defend his belt against The Rock at WrestleMania. These fans (I included) were DEAD WRONG!!!
On July 17, 2011, just 77 days after winning the belt for the 8th time, John Cena would lose the belt to CM Punk would claim his first WWE Championship and flee the company (Arrival Point).
During Punk’s time away, Rey Mysterio and John Cena would lay claim to the New (Interim) WWE Championship. Upon Cena winning, CM Punk returned to make the statement that HE was the WWE Champion, and Cena was just keeping the seat warm, and on August 14, 2011, CM Punk defeated John Cena to be the undisputed WWE Champion (Arrival Point). Then Alberto Del Rio would cash in his “Money In The Bank” and win the WWE Championship from CM Punk.
Del Rio would hold the belt for 35 days and lose it to John Cena for what seemed like the title reign that would lead to WrestleMania XXVIII…But it wasn’t.
Only 2 weeks later at Hell in a Cell on October 2, 2011, John Cena was both literally and metaphorically locked out of the WWE Championship scene. Alberto Del Rio would regain the WWE Championship. (Arrival Point)
The one question that seemed to stick out from many fans, “Did the WWE really give the belt to Cena just to give him his 10th Title reign?” Maybe the better question was, “Did the WWE change their plans for something and/or someone bigger?”
Del Rio’s reign would last 49 days before he would lose it to CM Punk at Survivor Series on November 20, 2011. (Arrival Point)
This Survivor Series featured a returning Rock teaming with Cena in the “Never Before, Never Again” Tag-Match… Given that Survivor Series is one of the WWE’s Classic 4 PPVs, the WWE Championship can’t just be involved in a Tag Match and not defend it unless the WWE revisits the Shawn Michaels/Diesel vs. Owen Hart/Yokozuna Championship Match (4 Men, 3 Titles, 2 Teams, 1 Match) scenario.
It seemingly felt like we had the answer to our aforementioned question. Cena can’t be champion if he teams with The Rock in this match for one of the WWE’s Classic 4 PPVs, so the WWE hit the reset button and put the belt back on Del Rio.
Now remember that The Rock promised that he was never leaving again…We all (including Cena and I) knew that he would be gone to do more movies, so basically that statement was a lie…or maybe we were taking him to literally… maybe he was saying that he would be in and out, but was going to be involved for a long period of time…maybe the plans were drawn out farther than just WrestleMania XXVIII…
On November 20, 2011, CM Punk would start a WWE Championship reign that would last 434 days. CM Punk was raising the standard of the WWE Title. He was making the belt a Hot Item, and made it more important to hold, even after the fans turned on him when he became obsessed with receiving the proper respect.
Punk was not being respected as the Best In The World even when holding the Title that represented that stature. John Cena and The Rock upstaged him on the first night of him being champion in this historic reign. 434 days later, John Cena wins the Royal Rumble, and The Rock wins the WWE Championship on January 27, 2011. (Arrival Point)
Who was the transitional champion in all of this?
A transitional champion (as defined by Wikipedia.org) is defined as a short-reigning champion who serves to move the title indirectly from one wrestler to a third. They are usually used when the title is to be moved between two faces, to avoid requiring them to wrestle each other.
Based on this definition, one could argue that Alberto Del Rio was a transitional champion; but was he?
I challenge one to think a little more about this situation. Does the arrival point have to be a person or a situation?
What is the big picture?
As mentioned before, The Rock vs. Cena was the main attraction/advertisement for WrestleMania XXVIII. It was billed as “Once in a Lifetime”, but given the recent events, one could believe it may become “Twice in a Couple of Years.”
Given that The Rock promised to be here for a long time, could one also believe that plans were being made and stories were being written for time periods that would span over the course of years. This was seemingly already going on with some storylines. For example, Triple H and The Undertaker and their two matches at WrestleMania’s XXVII and XXVIII. The ending of the first match just short of obviously led to the rematch a year later. Could it be possible that the situation with John Cena and The Rock was written 2 years out, and could that plan have been put in place on October 2, 2011 (Hell in a Cell)?
I remember being on the phone with Mr. Ashley Morris and Mr. Quinn Gammon during that PPV, and when Cena was locked out, we all agreed that the symbolism of that turn of events was too strong to ignore.
Did Del Rio hold the belt to keep Cena from fighting Punk?… Well seeing that Punk was involved in the match that Cena lost the belt, I doubt it.
The last time the belt was in the hands of Cena was September 8, 2011, and The Rock won it on January 27, 2013. There were 507 days between, and CM Punk was Champion for 434 (86%) of them, and if the story was written out to be that John Cena (Royal Rumble Winner) will face The Rock for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXIX, could it be said that CM Punk was given the belt to raise the value, make it a Hot Item, and make it stand for the Best in the World to give it back to The Rock and John Cena’s WrestleMania stint, and would that mean that CM Punk was the man to hold the belt to keep it out of the hands of John Cena?
This is a business right? CM Punk did benefit a lot out of the 434 day reign, but no one is bigger than the business, and if the business is going year to year, then everything in between is just a group of arrival points leading to a big payoff at each year’s end.
Now I am very aware that this argument is only valid if a few things are true: My theory that the WWE is writing in a long-term and full-circle format. and if CM Punk is out of the Title picture by the time WrestleMania XXIX occurs.
Was CM Punk’s reign a transition to raise the value of the belt and to keep it in a high profile?
Tell me what you think.
My memories of the infamous Attitude era of the WWE (then WWF) are lacking. I can remember the bigger things: I remember Brian Pillman (RIP), the sexual overtones, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels’ major feud, ‘Taker and Michaels’ equally significant feud, Tyson, and of course the face of the era himself: Stone Cold Steve Austin.
I suppose you can group the era into seven major factors (hyperbole, but for the sake of this piece we’ll use seven): the rises of Stone Cold and The Rock, the Ministry of Darkness, the Brothers of Destruction, Degeneration-X, the rise of the many faces of Foley and the long-standing war between Austin and McMahon. Up until recently I was looking for a missing link between what I was attempting to write a little while back and what I’ve been trying to scribe here for what seems like several weeks. That link comes from the Attitude era. It comes from the feud between Vince McMahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Looking at the return of The Rock, I can’t help but immediately return to the why of his return in the first place. His irregular forays into professional wrestling/sports entertainment have been to put someone over on the entertainment side and to bring in reasonable financial gain on the business side. At this point it’s fair to say that he’s more a Hollywood mainstay (which is pushing it a little in my tastes) than a special guest Superstar. Skipping ahead a bit it functions as the reason I’m not for him winning the WWE Championship at the Rumble; he’d fall under the same category of people that Punk criticized recently, i.e. Bob Backlund. Kayfabe, to be sure, but I find it to be an interesting deal. In any case, Dwayne Johnson’s latest foray back revolves around his gripes with the bastard son of Kamino engineering and Kal-El himself, John Cena.
Some might say that that isn’t true. It is. And you may not realize it, but you’re
likely wrong if you disagree. I’m talking to YOU, Adrian. Everything about The Rock’s latest romp has, in some capacity, revolved around John Cena, whether shameless talking about how much he doesn’t like him, to misinterpreting colonial American history and polluting sources of water AGAIN by throwing in Cena merchandise, to mysteriously shutting up after his Wrestlemania victory. Remember, he was relatively quiet after that until CM Punk began to run his mouth more and more heel-ishly. The announcement was made that he would have a WWE Championship match at the Rumble and I don’t think I can invoke my reaction any better than this here. Mostly because it made no sense. Secondly because it was an almost perfect set-up for Once in a Lifetime… Again. Which cheapens a good match from a good PPV. That’s the exposition; now let’s get into the sexy elaboration.
With Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber, Wrestlemania, Extreme Rules, Over the Limit, No Way Out, there was a theme. Each match featured a significant match with Cena and someone trying to
murder defeat him. This does not differ from most of his matches in concept, but we were dealing with Kane’s attempt to drag him into darkness, the Big Show living up to his “new” contract with the “fat” bonus and, of course, Brock Lesnar’s violent, and highly appreciated, decimation of Doomsday before being overcome by his equally broken opponent. Again, nothing special about that, except for one thing: John Laurinaitis.
Outside of failed Odd Future philosopher Scorpio “Harold” Sky and the unknown soldier known only as Dr. Shelby (no one can verify that his name is Sam Huntington), there are few out-of-ring talents I immediately appreciated. The chain-smoker voice, the petrified wood chin, the history as a skateboarder, the past with a porn star, the still head-scratchingly confusing WXO promo, he was a godsend. He was great. He had a problem with Cena, just like he did with Punk (foreshadowing) and it showed as Cena became more and more of a nuisance to the executive vice president of talent relations and the general manager of both RAW and SmackDown! Mr. Excitement, as I’m sure Seka called him during their relationship, had a mission: kill Superman. And with this Lex Luthor state of mind, Johnny Ace (as I’m not so sure Seka called him during their relationship) sent out enforcer after enforcer to put him out of his misery. To varying results. All of them failures, save for Over the Limit, which DID feature a John Laurinaitis victory. Not that it put much of a dent in Cena’s momentum.
Big Johnny (as I’m sure Seka never called him during their relationship) waged his campaign silently. Cena was the unstoppable juggernaut and he was throwing everything he could at him, even hairy non-Japanese people. One of my more unfounded, but wholly comprehensible, conspiracies is that Mr. Skillful and Dangerous (as I’m sure NO ONE has ever called him in any situation) attempted to utilize Eve to a succubus effect on Cena and his plucky cohort Jason Todd. I mean Zack Ryder. Both of them died miserably, what’s the difference?
Hmm? Oh, Ryder is still alive? You say you knew that? I didn’t. He’s irrelevant.
With Laurinaitis’ departure there was a void left in the “Let’s Kill Cena!” leadership, but the movement never faded away; it kind of stayed around like an unpaid bill. Cena’s ambition towards the WWE Championship, as well as his failed love life with various women of Hispanic descent (and levels of mental stability), crowded his mind state and at the end of the day the Royal Rumble became his goal. All signs even point to him winning, which is a very reliable indicator as there is only one sign courtesy of unnecessary commentary by pro wrestling/sports entertainment commentators such as ourselves. We all “knew” Cena was going to win at Wrestlemania as well. We (most of us) were happily surprised at how wrong we were too.
People are clamoring for Rock and Cena Part 2 now, and the loudest person calling for this match, even without calling for it at all, is Cena. Yes, Cena. In an interesting inverse to Punk (more foreshadowing) Cena is still attempting to acquire a level of respect and prestige that he doesn’t feel he has. Personally I think it just comes across as greed at this point. Even the best of intentions can be disastrous, if the person doesn’t appreciate what they already have. The character of Felix Anthony is one of accepted opulence: the children love him and he keeps striving for an achievement he can’t possibly reach because it would be backtracking.
For better or worse, the Prototype is at a level of prestige even he can’t acknowledge. He’s a multiple time world champion, a Make-A-Wish maven, a money making jam boy, a platinum selling recording artist, a workaholic, loved my millions, the man responsible for more little boys considering homosexuality than any other man in the United States (citation needed), and at that point there is only one thing a person wants: more.
The hunger for more is a very real thing, and it’s not a fleeting disease like with that somewhat lyrical hip hop guy from New York who ran with half a dollar hanging out of his ass. John Cena can only aspire for more now as he’s at the peak of Mount Everest. He COULD go the Kurt Angle route, which was lazy at best, and say he’s going to the bottom of the mountain so he can rise to the summit again, but why? What does that prove? All it means is that Cena did the same thing twice. And at this point, he’s done is three times. Notice how a hat trick is considered the ultimate in a hockey or futbol game.
And what does Cena really want? “More” is a basic term. He wants more prestige. He wants more gold than a party hosted by Mr. T. and Trinidad James. He wants women (and I bet I had my hand around a Bella before he did). He wants the big screen and Hollywood lights. He’s a horrible hybrid of the two biggest stars of sports entertainment, Hulk Hogan and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and so long as they have a place in the mainstream Cena will want more. Again, he’s already at the tip of Everest, but like a European stuntman he seeks greater heights, like perhaps a moving platform that lets him free-fall from the atmosphere to the ground.
Long and short: John Cena wants to be the immortal face of sports entertainment and professional wrestling, and much like Ric Flair says you have the beat the man to be the man he knows he has to beats his only competition, or himself. And I don’t know, I just don’t get the notion that Cena is the kind of guy capable of beating himself. Too infused with steroids, you know? Very uncomfortable I hear. Anyway, like I said, his only “competition” is Dwayne Johnson (who lives the life of Cena’s aspirations) and Hulk Hogan (who lives the life of Cena’s worst nightmares). He doesn’t want to be the king of the mountain; he wants to sour above it.
And that ambition is greedy. Everybody wants to rule the world (says Tears for Fears) but humility is sacrificed every bit of the way, and the ideals of “hustling” for it fall by the wayside and get warped into greed. Greed. Greed.
That’s the word. When it comes to the Rock, you can argue that he sees in John Cena the same thing he sees in his past self, and the Rock, as a result, has two options: let that continue, or put the upstart down before he gets too uppity, or goes from a Red Sock to a Yankee as CM Punk said once before (I haven’t forgotten about Punk yet, don’t worry). Think of it like the plight of lions. See, when a mommy lioness and a daddy lion decide to get together and have little Simbas, Nalas are safe. Females are safe. But males are in trouble. The daddy lion may, in an effort to maintain power, kill and, in some cases, eat the male cub. Isn’t that special? The Rock is the latest enforcer in the quest to dethrone John Cena, by the establishment. However, The Rock has nothing to prove; he’s done his time, paid his dues and kicked plenty of ass along the way. He had his own Wrestlemania moment doing battle with the face of sports entertainment himself Hulk Hogan. He’s the one souring. That’s why he gets the pop he does at this point.
But Cena is hungry. He’s hungry with no right to be. In many ways he’s already surpassed the object of his greedy delusions. And it’s not hard to imagine how clouded your vision gets when your ambitions outweigh your common sense. Some of us call it writing about professional wrestling or sports entertainment. I’m enough of an ass to say a lot of you (i.e. – Smith, Smith, ADRIAN, Scooby-Doo) need to calm down, step back and realize that you’re not that great at what you do. I’m cocky and back it up with humor, wit, shameless attempts at flirting with beautiful celebrities and a keen appreciation for Joseph Ducreux. After all, I am DA Infamous DiZ, not just Infamous DiZ. So to all y’all trying to put your shit out:
So Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has the right to say: “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Cena IS that higher rock, but he’s too blind to see. Blinded by the light, as it were. And personally I have a BIG problem with anyone who directly or indirectly insults the good name of Manfred Mann.
But that takes us to the other end of the scale. The Rock versus CM Punk. The man who is breaking in to fight the champion versus the champion who maintains the epic greatness of the late, great Rodney Dangerfield. That’s not even a full sentence and it spells out the perfection of their conflict.
Hmm, that’s not quite right. There is no perfection with this match or the concept, but there is validity and comprehension. CM Punk has come across as a savior of sorts, a messiah figure, who doesn’t seem to give the slightest damn about the people he’s leading to a promised land. I like to compare him to Moses as portrayed by Seth Macfarlane’s Family Guy. You know: apprehensive to lead his people to freedom, constantly complaining, likely the father of a number of illegitimate children with red-headed rock stars (we’re not finna talk about what I want to do to Christie Hemme (I apologize to Christie Hemme)), etc.
Punk plays the anti-hero, not the good guy or the bad guy, but the protagonist to an age old story, transcending history, and the world. A tale of soul and sword, eternally retold. He’s the greatest of all time, by many standards and according to a number of critics, but he still plays second fiddle to the likes of John Cena, Dwayne Johnson, and of course John Felix Anthony Cena.
Let me ask you, “you” being the reader: have you ever been better than someone, and KNOW that you’re better than them, but they achieve what you put your heart and soul into as opposed to you? The answer is “Yes” because all of us have gone through that. Some people feel it when they deal with work-related things. Some with relationships or the lack thereof. Some do it on forums or following articles or the like; commenters, they’re sometimes called. Granted, nine times out of ten a commenter doesn’t know shit.
I don’t know: it irks me from time to time. What does a number of comments mean when the piece or topic isn’t worth a damn to begin with? I don’t know; frankly I don’t want to know; it’s an answer I can do without. So please, miss me with the notion that a lot of comments means something. Granted, a comment might mean something if it, in and of itself, carries more weight than the piece it is a comment for. That’s logic talking.
See what I just did there? I spoke truth. Truth is what CM Punk is known for. He has two things going for him when he gets on the mic now: truth and opinions damn near impossible to argue with. That’s his appeal. He backs it up with tremendous in-ring performances and the occasional bit at the commentary table. I found it to be very nice that he was disappointed whenever the table was destroyed; he questioned whether or not he was at the Spanish announce table. He also joked (?) about not wearing pants during the third season of NXT, also known as the Divas edition. You and me both, Punk, you and me both.
By all (citation needed) accounts, CM Punk’s only logical competition as the best all-around character in the WWE is Daniel Bryan, and with that in mind you have to ask the question: WHY doesn’t he get the respect he deserves?
Well it depends. In terms of kayfabe: because it’s fuel. In terms of business: I don’t know. He won’t sell as much as Superman; Superman will always sell more than John Constantine does, but people can relate to a John Constantine more as they advance as opposed to an alien who, really, isn’t all that remarkable. Seriously, think about it. What makes Superman so special? He’s not on his home planet, that’s all. Otherwise he’d be another denizen of a destroyed planet, as opposed to the only one left, that they know of.
But that’s CM Punk’s character: striving for respect where he shouldn’t have to. Seeking to grab a gold ring he should already have a dozen times over. Where does the Rock come in to this equation? Simple: he’s another roadblock, another Cena. Punk has had to overcome opponent after opponent, match after match, clean or dirty, and at the end of the day, he gets nothing but hate. No respect. Dwayne Johnson comes back after doing movies only to, and to borrow a word from L.E.W.D. brother Corbin Macklin, abscond back to doing movies after doing a sequence in the WWE. And he already has a title shot. More than that, he has a title shot, period. I have to say: that’s that shit I don’t like.
What does the Rock mean for CM Punk? He means CM Punk has either:
- A title to lose to set up Once in a Lifetime, Part 2, or…
- A milestone to cross that Cena could not.
It seems like a simple fork in the road, but the possibilities are great, what with the Shield, Ryback, Brock Lesnar, Cody Rhodes and his debonair mustache, Damien Sandow and his intellectual greatness, a host of others and of course AJ “I make men cry when I wear actual pants” Lee. Did I mention Ziggler? No, I suppose I forgot. I’ll remember for the future.
At the end of the day, the Rock represents expectation. Anticipation. The standard. The Rock represents today what Hulk Hogan did during his run that culminated with a match with, not surprisingly, The Rock. It’s not really all that complicated, but it is interesting that the mental aspects of Punk and Cena have been playing out for as long as they have. The triangle between Punk, Cena and Dwayne Johnson MAY culminate in a triple threat match at Wrestlemania, but as I stated earlier – or should have if I didn’t – it wouldn’t mean much. Maintaining a feud for a year is hard work, and the feud between Rock and Cena had plenty of low points during the year it took to manifest the actual match, like further polluting New England’s nasty ass waters.
But what do I know? I just talk about stuff. What do YOU think? And by “What do YOU think?”, I mean what do you want to add to the conversation?
I have a problem with wrestling fans.
Man, do I have a problem with some wrestling fans.
Following my usual routine of following the action on Twitter while simultaneously following the action on Monday Night Raw (‘cause I’m just good like that), I couldn’t help but notice the overwhelming abundance of “smart marks” dumping their collective poop chutes all over the product, per usual.
Not that #Raw20 last night was extraordinary. On the whole, the 20 year anniversary of Monday Night Raw was fairly average. There were some good wrestling matches, some silly booking fails and the show did its job of building towards the Royal Rumble.
The part that gets me is that everyone was complaining about the fact that the show wasn’t loaded with Attitude Era stars.
Let me get something straight, people: You same pious flapjacks whine and gripe incessantly about how WWE needs to not load their show with older part time stars because it “takes time away from the younger talents who need it.” Then, when WWE has something lined up like an anniversary show/reunion/celebration event, everyone simultaneously cries foul that those same older part time stars that YOU DIDN’T WANT TO SEE aren’t there to fill time on the show.
I actually saw people on Facebook blaming the PG era for this.
Let’s call a spade a spade people (and get to enjoying that phrase, we’re gonna revisit it frequently in this piece) and just admit that:
A. Most of the people reading this (Not all but a fair few) have no concept of what the PG Era actually is and it has become a scapegoat for your dissatisfaction with the product. The PG Era is responsible for wrestling’s decline about as much as the Happy Meals you buy your son three times a day are responsible for him being the size of a dump truck.
B. On ANY OTHER NIGHT, if these guys were making cameo appearances, most people would be on Twitter or Facebook or whatever social media outlet they feel would make them look the most important and they’d be screaming from the rooftops about how WWE doesn’t need to be giving the spotlight to older stars.
I find this funny for a variety of reasons.
One reason the IWC will never be taken seriously by most professional wrestling companies is because the vast majority of them behave foolishly, doing things like whining on Twitter about how bad the show was because THEY could have booked it better. Much like our aforementioned obesity analogy, personal responsibility needs to be taken into account.
Don’t sit on your hands like a bunch of idiots and blame the WWE for things they have no control over. Do some research. ‘Taker didn’t show up because he’s likely to make an unannounced return at the Royal Rumble (Be real people: When does ‘Taker just show up on a show anymore? It’s too early for him to pick a ‘Mania opponent so the Rumble is the logical place to be.)
Austin and Shawn Michaels had prior booking engagements at the SHOT (Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade) Show in Las Vegas last night. Did we expect Triple H to just randomly show up on Raw?
Someone said on Facebook that he should have reformed Evolution to fight the Shield. Honestly, does anyone think before they speak?
Batista is gone. Orton is already fighting the Shield. Flair isn’t about to put on the panties for another match. Use some common sense folks.
Did anyone stop and think that maybe the reason that WWE didn’t advertise the hell out of this show was because they weren’t planning on doing anything extraordinary with it? If none of those special appearances were able to happen then of course they’re not going to promise a huge show. THEY DIDN’T. Everyone who watched with their expectations on Mars expecting Randy Savage (God rest his soul) to come back to life to re-enact his IC Title match with Steamboat was just delusional.
The show was average and did what it needed to do: It built towards Royal Rumble.
Let’s call a spade a spade people. Everyone throwing up memes about how horrible it was, comparing it to WCW’s dying days, get over yourselves. You’re not funny, you’re not witty, you’re not clever and you’re not right.
Once again, blame the WWE for things they have control over. Blame them for stupid booking moves like jobbing Ziggler to Cena for the 3rd straight time, since he clearly needs about 15 wins to make up for one loss.
Blame them for things like that. Things they control. Don’t blame them for global warming, the violence in the Middle East, smart cars and the extinction of Twinkies. Have some self respect for goodness sakes.
While we’re on the subject of calling a spade a spade, let’s talk about TNA for a moment. If you’re a butthurt TNA fan then don’t even bother reading this because I’m going to offer critique and you will not like it because you don’t like anything that doesn’t involve worshipping this company.
The following is straight from one of the many wrestling dirtsheet sites, who copy/pasted it directly from PWInsider.com.
“According to PWInsider.com, backstage morale at TNA Genesis last night was said to be high. Overall, everybody felt the show was solid from top to bottom, with a great main event. Most of the roster feels the company is moving in the right direction at this point.”
Let’s call a spade a spade (Told ya we would revisit this phrase) and dissect this logically.
OH NO, HE’S USING LOGIC! LOCK UP THE WIFE AND KIDS, EARL! I FEAR A TWISTER IS HEADIN‘ FOR KANSAS!
For starters, whoever decided to start using the word “solid” to describe wrestling shows should be drug out back and shot in the trachea. That is the SINGLE most overused word in the world of wrestling analysis. The only word that even comes close is “buried” but we’re not going to use that word here.
For this analysis, we’re going to do something different. I’m going to school some TNA fans on how to build a logical argument. I am going to do something TNA fans can’t do and I’m going to critique this product without mentioning any other company. That IS possible, you know.
Because much like with those weirdos in Connecticut, personal responsibility is our lesson here. Personal responsibility and perspective. We’re not going to blame TNA for things they can’t control. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of their woes stem from things they CAN control.
Back to our point.
Screw the word “solid.” That’s a lazy way of saying that the show didn’t fall to pieces. If you build a car that’s extraordinary, you can imagine it’d go fast, be durable, hold up well in an accident, get good gas milage, come with restraints and mouth gags for kids on road trips (Totally kidding about that last one.)
If you build a car that’s solid, all one can expect from it is: “It goes. Vrrooooom.”
Now that we’ve pointed out the sin of using the word “solid”, let’s delve deeper into this, shall we?
Reading this very vague report, we can sum up that according to “the roster backstage at Genesis”, talents are feeling good about the direction of the product/progress of the company.
Calling a spade a spade again (you will never want to play cards again after reading this), the questions need to be asked.
Just who in the heck was polled?
I could say something along the lines of:
“According to PWInsider.com, backstage morale at JCW was high. Overall, everyone felt the show was solid from top to bottom with a good main event. The roster feels the show is moving in the right direction and hope to transfer to a large front yard with a few more successful shows.”
And that’s just what I came up with off the top of my head.
If morale is really that high, cite examples. Who did you poll? And here’s the interesting part that no one is going to notice because apparently, I’m the only one who dives this deep into this crap.
Are we to assume that you only polled the guys backstage at Genesis? Because that’s a fairly skewed opinion. Of course they’re gonna be happy about the direction of the show. THEY’RE ON THE SHOW!
Did anyone go down to OVW, where talents have been collecting dust like cars in a garage for years and ask them how they feel about the direction of the company? Did anyone ask them how they feel about TNA bringing in random outsiders for Gut Check instead of using their own flipping developmental territory?
Did anyone outside of the usual 17 stars on TV each week get to speak? How about anyone who didn’t get a spot on the show because TNA is bringing in guys for one-off returns and no contracts?
Did anyone ask Bully Ray if he thinks this absurd angle is a good move for the company? We’ll never know because our grandiose report just says “The roster,” and/or “everyone backstage.”
If I went and I polled Jeff Hardy, Austin Aries, Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff and Bobby Roode about TNA, then obviously they’re going to say they’re happy with the direction. They’re getting what they want from it.
TNA doesn’t get off scot-free for being TNA. They make some of the most idiotic decisions I have ever seen but they’re the only ones who get praised for it week in and week out.
Take this PPV change for example. Everyone is jumping TNA’s bones ready to start sucking. Well, maybe not everyone. But it seems like most people just read the headline “TNA to make MAJOR changes to PPV schedule in 2013” and immediately assumed it was good. Does anyone read anymore?
A good example was given on Twitter not that long ago.
After pointing out the fallacy of their tweet, they quickly amended it by reminding everyone that the six sided ring was coming back for ONE NIGHT ONLY.
But no one clicked on the link. People were responding to the headline itself, praising the company for bringing back the beloved six-sided ring.
Fans do the same with the PPV lineup. It’s already going to be talked about on the podcast so I’m not going to go completely off on it here. But facts are fact.
Fact: TNA is only dropping from 12 PPVs a year to 11.
Fact: TNA is only moving seven of these events to Friday night as opposed to Sunday night.
Fact: TNA isn’t really saving any money here. They’re just spending less.
Wake up folks. Stop putting pool floaties on TNA and telling them it’s okay to never learn how to swim. Stop wiping their tears away and telling them that there are no winners and losers. That’s half the problem with society nowadays. Stop babying them.
Throw ‘em in the pool and let them swim you knuckle headed fruit booties.
And remember: Let’s call a spade a spade. (Insert Aces & Eights joke here.)
~Mr. Quinn Gammon
I certainly hope everyone’s 2013 is off to a great start. This is my favorite time of the year because the “Road to WrestleMania” is arguably the most intense, exciting time of the wrestling year.
That being said, here at the L.E.W.D. Headquarters I am the one who is always pontificating on weird scenarios I think I see playing out, and possible matches as we head towards the “grandest stage of them all”.
Given that tonight is the first Monday Night Raw of the New Year and officially marks the beginning of the “Road”, I thought I would share something I found very interesting and get our loyal readers feedback.
Recently, Showrenity posted some comments from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson regarding his upcoming WrestleMania match:
“The storyline will be that starting this coming Monday [for RAW], I’m gonna go back, and it’s going to be a big return. That will lead to, hopefully, what will be the biggest WrestleMania of all time at Giants Stadium. I will headline that show, with someone who I can’t say right now. We’ve got an amazing four months lined up and planned out that will culminate in the biggest WrestleMania of all time. It’s going to be a hell of a thing.”
“…biggest WrestleMania of all time.” Those are mighty big words…even for The Rock.
Now, riddle me this LEWDers… does The Rock vs. CM Punk sound like “the biggest WrestleMania of all time”? What about The Rock vs. John Cena – ‘Once In A Lifetime, Again?’ Nay, I say.
What if…WHAT IF… Cena causes Punk to lose to The Rock at the Royal Rumble out of mere spite for having not been able to beat the “People’s Champ” at WM28, hoping to once again rub shoulders with the “Brahma Bull” in New York, this year? Well, that’s all fine and dandy except that little stipulation that the winner of the Royal Rumble gets to main event at WrestleMania against a champion of their choosing (of course, not forgetting that Dolph Ziggler having his guaranteed World Heavyweight Championship match would pretty much lead the winner of the Rumble to the WWE Championship.)
Then the thought struck me – what other marquee name and match is missing from the WrestleMania line up? Ryback isn’t quite ready. Orton will need an opponent… HHH and Lesnar are set to do battle…..hmmm….(this is when I got that eerie feeling I get sometimes)
Could the Undertaker be a mystery entrant into the Royal Rumble, win it, and go on to have a true blockbuster of a match with The Rock at WrestleMania 29? Aaaaand……..discuss!
It amazes me the level of hatred some fans have for the WWE’s product. I’m not complaining about the hatred, per se, because the barbs thrown at WWE are very reminiscent of the same barbs thrown at TNA.
What amazes me is that whenever WWE does exactly what fans say they want, the hatred only grows instead of subsiding. We were tired of seeing John Cena dominate the show and the WWE Championship scene, so he’s removed and folks are still mad. We wanted the face of the company to be an actual “wrestler,” we get CM Punk and folks are still mad. We wanted new characters and more “wrestling,” better Divas matches and a focus on tag team wrestling…you get the drift.
I’m not sure what fans are expecting from pro wrestling today, but simply put the last two days have been very good for WWE. The TLC pay-per-view delivered in many ways and was followed up by a RAW that gave us many reasons to be intrigued and invested in the product. This is what we wanted, right? We wanted a show that wasn’t predictable, a product that left us hungry for more, a product that features “wrestling” and focuses on “wrestlers wrestling.”
Why, exactly, are folks still grumbling? *shrugs shoulders*
At any rate, here’s what stood out to me:
- It was the Slammys episode; why so serious?
- Ric Flair and Tommy Dreamer visit the WWE; why are YOU mad?
- John Cena/Vickie Guerrero vs. Dolph Ziggler/AJ Lee: Who are the “bad guys” again?
- Introducing RyBLACK…I mean…Big E Langston
A few fans tweeted their disappointment at the lack of “wrestling” on last night’s episode of RAW. While their disappointment is justifiable, it’s still lacking perspective.
When I say perspective, I mean understanding that for at least one week, if not two or more, yesterday’s episode was advertised as the Slammys episode of RAW. There have been at least a kajillion Slammys award ceremonies over the years and by now we all know what the show’s going to be like.
If we all know what the show’s going to be like, who’s fault is it then to expect more than the standard slapstick surrounding giving wrestlers semi-valuable trophies? Once again, it’s like watching an episode of Saturday Night Live and being pissed off that the musical guest takes away precious sketch comedy time.
In comparison, very few fans pitched a fit when the November 22 episode of Impact Wrestling tanked in the ratings. The low rating was more than likely due to it being Thanksgiving Day as opposed to being completely about the quality of the product. Fans knew and expected the rating to be extremely low because most people were spending time with their families or watching football around 8:00 pm. What’s more befuddling is that the company chose this particular episode to debut all of its Gut Check winners…but no one blinked an eye or even questioned that logic.
For the most part, however, the episode was largely considered a “throwaway” episode; not much storyline progression or major occurrences took place because everyone knew that most fans would be busy with family obligations.
The same in a sense applies to last night’s episode of RAW; to expect an episode chock full of “wrestling” when then Slammys are literally the focus of the show seems slightly unrealistic. Then again this seems to be the same, consistent calling card of the “We Want Wrestling” minority. It’s not that I’m against the notion of a wrestling show having actual “wrestling” on it, but to take such a narrow-minded view of the product on the whole is simply silly.
The Slammys episode of RAW was a throwaway episode, period. If you’re thirsting for “wrestling,” you’ve always got Impact Wrestling this Thursday or the Smackdown show tonight; don’t have a cow, man.
In one of the many surprises of the night, former WWE superstars Ric Flair and Tommy Dreamer returned to the WWE. I’m not holding my breath on either one of them returning to full time competition in the company, but will admit it was pretty refreshing to see them both back in WWE.
This opinion wasn’t shared with all viewers, however; a few fans on Twitter noted that the same folks who panned Flair and Dreamer’s presence in TNA were the same hypocritical nut jobs who cheered for them last night. At this point it would be more than appropriate to say that “it takes one to know one.”
When news of Flair’s financial calamities while in TNA surfaced, more than a handful of TNA’s faithful spoke at length about how Flair tarnished his image and was dead weight to the company. When Flair was fired in May of this year those same fans cheered the move, citing that it was done in the best interests for TNA. No one (at least not from where I sat) spent any substantial amount of time signing petitions or writing open letters to Dixie Carter begging her to resign Flair; NO ONE.
Not until he appeared back in a WWE ring last night…and all of a sudden there’s a problem. The same thing goes for Tommy Dreamer; the notion of a 15th ECW “One Last Time” reunion overshadowed his purpose and presence in TNA, and when it was all said and done the fans questioned the necessity of him in the company for longer than the standard cup of coffee. All of that nay saying fell to the side once Dreamer appeared on RAW last night.
All of this intrigues me because it’s all really about perspective; fans can all look at the same side of a coin and swear up and down that they’re not. Where one can easily point a judgmental and accusatory finger at the fickle WWE hardcore fans, one could just as easily point several back at those who disagree with anything and everything produced by WWE.
I don’t think anyone is expecting Flair and Dreamer to hang around for more than a minute, which is why fans appreciated their presence back in WWE after such lengthy hiatuses. If the creative direction they traveled down elsewhere was so consistently good, then they’d still be there, right?
I’d also like to point out that Flair, Dreamer, Foley, Booker T, Kevin Nash, and Devon are all superstars that were panned for either leaving TNA or making some sort of disparaging remark about the company well before making any return (or supposed return) to the WWE. What’s really funny is that a lot of fans shat all over Devon after his contract “wasn’t renewed,” and now folks don’t have much to say seeing as he’s a part of a major storyline…
In the heat of an argument with Dolph Ziggler last night, Vickie Guerrero booked a mixed tag team match that pit her and John Cena against Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee. I’ll be the first to admit that move was the most confusing thing I’ve seen in this era of pro wrestling and sports entertainment. Who exactly was I expected to boo???
Earlier in the night Dolph Ziggler attempted to cash in his Money In the Bank briefcase on an incapacitated Big Show, the current World Heavyweight Champion. Right before the referee was able to have the bell rung, John Cena barreled down the aisle and rang Ziggler’s bell for him. To be perfectly honest, that was a heel tactic that was exactly the same thing done by Wade Barrett during an attack on Kofi Kingston that took place earlier in the night.
Cena lost his match fair and square against Ziggler at the TLC pay-per-view Sunday night, but found it necessary in all his machismo to keep Ziggler from cashing in on the opportunity he rightfully earned and defended. Where I come from Cena’s actions would be classified as “a b***h move.”
We’ve complained for years about the lack of complexity in the Cena character. His actions last night can be added to the list of suspect things he’s done which at least hint to some dynamic shift in the character. Notice he never explained his actions, never spoke about the attack of after it. Even with our attention directed towards AJ’s explanation of her actions at TLC, Cena never commented on how he felt about losing to Ziggler and having just as bad a year as AJ Styles.
Hell Cena didn’t even talk about how he felt about tag teaming with Vickie Guerrero; he just went along with the program, didn’t make a sound or anything.
These things add some much needed volume to the John Cena character; it’s not exactly a heel turn as we’re use to seeing it, but it is something that makes us glance at him in a different light. Instead of being the All-American, clean cut life coach that he’s been for most of his career, he’s now turning into just as big a douche as Alex Riley was in FCW.
Right next to that is the weird, in-between limbo area Dolph Ziggler exists in. He’s not a heel in the classic sense of the term although he isn’t exactly a face that fans have rallied behind in large droves. He’s a character that you can relate to while quietly hating most of what he stands for. We hate him for berating AJ and cheer him for putting Vickie on blast and making John Cena more of a loser than he already is. It’s a confusing mix of conflicting feelings that makes for a character we can get behind as he rolls into a well deserved main event status in the company.
I won’t get into AJ’s character development outside of directing your attention to Mr. Lamb’s excellent piece on Ms. April Mendez. The infamous one did an excellent job at explaining all the things that makes AJ the diva to watch in the WWE right now. My one concern is that AJ’s importance right now comes at the expense of her having make-out sessions with multiple male partners.
I realize that’s not the full extent of her character, but it’s just awkward to note that the more prominent divas in WWE history made their names by canoodling with men. It’s also noteworthy to mention the same goes for a current female champion who’s reign was accompanied with a Hollywood boyfriend…
A few things piqued my interest about Big E Langston’s debut last night on RAW…
For one his debut reminded me of a piece I wrote at the beginning of the year about adding some spice to Cena’s character if the company refused to turn him heel. Langston’s debut was a far cry from what I initially suggested but the basics were definitely there: big guy comes into ring and puts Cena on his ass. In hindsight anyone two wooden nickels and a mimeograph could’ve booked Langston’s debut; I guess there aren’t many mimeographs and wooden nickels floating around…
The second thing that caught my eye was the number of new stars that have suddenly crawled from the FCW/NXT recesses: Brad Maddox, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Big E Langston. I’m excited at the wave of new faces flooding the scene and can only hope that they’re given creative directions that lead to a reinvigorated WWE product.
I’m also reminded of a piece I wrote at the beginning of the year regarding the usefulness of watching NXT. If you’re not familiar with any of these individuals and their abilities, then that’s your fault and not WWE’s. Langston, in all his bigness and resemblance to the cookie cutter WWE wrestler, is a good athlete and can get over with the fans. The brass must see something in him to put him up against John Cena (same thing happened with Sheamus and look where we’re at now) so all the nasty “Vince’s erection” jokes are completely unnecessary if you can’t even seriously invest time into seeing what the man is all about.
The final thing that stands out to me is his presence. One commenter made a note that they figured Langston was going to have a “Nation of Domination” type of gimmick because 1) he’s Black, which apparently immediately makes one militant, and 2) because he was wearing an all black singlet with green, yellow, and red colors.
Take a gander at this for a second:
This is the flag of the African country, Ethiopia. The lion in the middle is often referred to as the “Lion of Judah,” which is a title for Christ found in the Holy Bible (Rev. 5:5) and the title for Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia. I’m bringing all of this up because all of these things are present on Langston’s singlet. While Wikipedia states that Langston was born to Afro-Caribbean parents, it’s more than likely one of them is from Ethiopia, which is why the three colors and lion are on his ring gear.
Please…read a damn book before jumping to conclusions. Wrestlers will often sneak things they hold dear to their hearts into their ring gear. Bret Hart had three hearts on his gear to represent his kids; CM Punk always has Chicago’s flag represented on his tights. Kofi Kingston has a Ghanian symbol called “the war horn” on his boots…but alas the average fan wouldn’t know or care about these types of things because “it’s not wrestling.”
Alas, those are my thoughts on the show. There were a lot of things that happened last night worthy of conversation, so please tell me…what did YOU think of the show?
As it currently stands the most popular thing to do is bash any and everything produced by WWE regardless of what the end product looks like. Makes me reminisce about the days when it wasn’t popular to speak ill of TNA and their pre-Bruce Prichard booking. Nevertheless Monday’s episode of RAW provided the haters with all the ammunition they needed to have a spectacular time.
On the other side of the coin, it’s funny that for once in a long time I was actually entertained by what has been (for me at least) a typically dull three hour sports entertainment cavalcade. No matter how you look at it, however, this show contained something for everyone; whether you bashed the show, complained about not watching it while watching it, or remained engaged from 8 – 11:03 PM, you were talking or tweeting or texting about the show. That, much to the chagrin of the company’s detractors, is a good thing.
For what it’s worth RAW was made all the more interesting by two things: the wrestling and the live crowd. Everything in between, ranging from the mundane or nonexistent storyline progression to the highly entertaining segments, pointed back to the strength of the in-ring action and riding the momentum from an energetic crowd.
We shouldn’t be so quick to shake a stick at those two factors, one of which has been a major criticism of the WWE’s product for sometime now. Fans clamoring for more “wrestling” in WWE matches have quietly ignored the reality that the three hour format lends itself to allowing for longer, more in-depth wrestling and psychology in matches of some importance to the bigger picture. Longer matches then give way to building solid feuds and rivalries (a point that Mr. Gammon brought up), as opposed to having two guys face each other randomly because they haven’t done so before and for the sake of it being “different” with no rhyme or reason other than being “different.”
An immature fan, hell bent on being angry for the sake of being angry, would argue that seeing the same match-ups over and over again are pointless and boring. It could be argued that Sunday night’s 4,000th match between AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels at TNA’s Final Resolution proves that immature perspective to be a) silly and b) chock full of bias. I highly doubt that most fans yearned to see John Cena and Brodus Clay tear it up in the main event match, so what’s the real reason behind disliking recycled matches?
That stuff aside, this go-home episode of RAW did very little for me to build excitement for this Sunday’s TLC pay per view; but on the flip side it didn’t dilute my interest in watching the pay per view, especially my desire to see The Shield’s official wrestling debut against Team Hell No and Ryback. I’m sure there are thousands of fans who disagree with that perspective.
Here’s what stood out in the show for me:
- No Muppets were filmed in the making of this show. Are you frickin’ happy now?
- Cody’s Mustache + The Miz’s Face Turn = Unintentional Gold
- Antonio Cesaro continues to impress
- Colt Cabana was backstage
- The Shield finally attacks John Cena…THANK. YOU. JBL.
Yesterday before the show I crafted a lengthy piece about the Muppets serving as Social Ambassadors for RAW. I must begrudgingly admit that I didn’t consider the fact that the fuzzy and fun-loving creatures from Jim Henson’s Monster Workshop wouldn’t actually be featured on the show as Social Ambassadors; rather they’d simply tweet here and there about the show, perhaps even be mentioned here and there on the live broadcast.
If you watched the show you could’ve probably counted on one hand the number of times the Muppets were mentioned by Jerry Lawler and Mike Cole. So in the long run it was hilarious to have wasted an entire blog post on defending stars that didn’t even appear on the show. What’s even more tickling is the fact that some fans were pissed off at something that never manifested on the show. As fans we really have to start picking and choosing our battles.
Now the Muppets will be featured on the Tribute to the Troops show coming up in a few days, but it’d be way more ridiculous to see people get pissed off at a variety show done for those brave men and women who serve our country in the armed forces. If you don’t like Flo Rida, Kid Rock, the Muppets or matches that have very little to do with current storylines, then piss off because the show wasn’t designed for you anyway.
Cody Rhodes returned to action last night after suffering an injury one month ago prior to the Survivor Series pay per view. Unfortunately Cody’s return to action was dwarfed by the debut of his new mustache, a debut that garnered at least two boisterous chants from the New Jersey crowd and a Twitter hashtag. To make matters even more awesome, the Rhodes Scholars (tag team consisting of Rhodes and Damien Sandow) were subjected to an interview with The Miz on MizTV.
The unintentional hilariousness that ensued was enough to at least give the dissenters and advocates a moment of tranquility.
The whole segment easily reminded us of what makes being a wrestling fan fun. It’s understandable to want solid wrestling matches, but the segments that take place in between those matches are important for a number of reasons; wrestlers prepare for matches, get time to recuperate, get last minute instructions, get checked out by physicians, etc. Most important the segment served as a buffer in between matches so the fans get a moment to breathe; seriously think about watching two hours of straight wrestling with nothing in between…
This particular set-up not only did a lot to reintroduce Rhodes to the fans that may have easily forgotten about him in his month long absence (in comparison, does anyone miss Mr. Anderson in TNA?), but it also furthered some sort of rivalry between Miz and Sandow, an exchange that initially began some weeks ago. There may be nothing that comes from it, but it would be peculiar to have Miz constantly egg Sandow without some sort of payoff in sight.
And Cody’s mustache…priceless.
United States Champion Antonio Cesaro defeated Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston in a long and extremely athletic match. The highlight of the match was Cesaro reversal of Kofi’s top rope cross body splash into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. To say that reversal was glorious would be an understatement.
When speaking of making a mid-level championship relevant one would be remiss by not mentioning Cesaro’s name somewhere at the top of that conversation. Cesaro has come quite a way since his WWE debut as a defrocked rugby star turned wrestler and consistently shows the top brass in WWE that he’s a worthwhile investment and a future main event superstar.
Kofi Kingston as of late has settled quite nicely into his mid-level role as Intercontinental Champion. While he doesn’t bring the same flair or notoriety to the belt as former champion Cody Rhodes did during his reign, Kingston seems comfortable in a position that feels to be a grooming session for a main event spot. What should concern us is that this isn’t the first time Kingston has flirted with the proverbial main event mistress, and there’s much to be said about his appeal to those fans who expect their champions to be “wrestlers” in the Antonio Inoki/Great Muta sense of the term.
I will say this: if there was any chance that Kingston would become a major champion sometime prior to 2014, he’d remind me a lot of TNA’s current World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Hardy…minus the drugs and D.I.L.L.I.G.A.F. attitude.
Everyone’s favorite wrestler, Colt Cabana, was apparently backstage at last night’s show. Wrestlers always find their way backstage to shows so it’s not all that big of a deal really. In Colt Cabana’s case, it was interesting to find out that he was backstage at RAW a mere four days after the WWE posted that video on their website.
Colt recently “ended” his tenure with NWA after defeating former NWA World Heavyweight Champion in a series of matches known as the 7 Levels of Hate. This series, culminating with a steel cage match in Australia, saw Cabana defeat Pierce but not for the NWA Title due to some b.s. that’s too complicated to delve into at this moment in time. Point being Cabana may be free to do something with the WWE if he and the company choose to enter into some sort of agreement.
Cabana is funny as hell and also one unique athlete that really didn’t get a solid opportunity to do what he does best in a WWE ring. With stars like Brodie Lee, PAC, Chris Hero and Martin Stone currently making waves in NXT, Cabana could fit in quite nicely with the vast number of “wrestlers” being developed for the WWE. We can’t jump to conclusions because of a WWE.com video and backstage sighting, but it is interesting that the WWE referenced a former wrestler out of the blue for seeming no reason other than to reference him. Let’s just hope he’s at least brought in as a trainer (a la Sara Del Ray).
And finally, the WWE once again ripped off TNA by ending the show with a pier 6 brawl initiated by the hijinks of The Shield. Luckily for us the initial attack was aimed at John Cena, an attack that was long overdue.
It was only a matter of time before The Shield directed their swords of justice towards John Cena. Some fans questioned the group’s motives for attacking Cena, motives that were literally laid out by Dolph Ziggler at the beginning of the show. The simple version is this: Cena, despite having had one terrible 2012, still managed to get opportunity after opportunity to wrestle for the WWE Title. We fans even criticized this for years, so is it really any question as to why The Shield would go after Cena at this point? Hell, my question is “why’d it take them so long to do it?”
What makes The Shield compelling to watch is their calculated and slightly vicious campaign against injustice in the WWE. They attack at random and at will, and it still remains to be seen if they’re indeed working for someone or for themselves. As Mr. Lamb stated in a conversation, they’re like a special ops force within the WWE, striking with intention that’s confusing to anyone outside of the master plan. The attacks can only go on for so long, but at the least we get to see them perform in an actual match in less than a week from now.
Those are just my thoughts on the subject; what did YOU think of the show?
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
Let me say this first: I don’t maintain any political party affiliation. I’m not really left or right, liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican; admittedly I am considering joining the “The Rent is Too Damn High” Party. Because it is. My affiliations are independent in nature (as if that’s really an affiliation) and I can find myself on any side of any fence at any time. On some things I lean left and on others I lean right. On gun control, I lean conservative. On prostitution, I lean liberal. If those issues ever become entangled I’m likely leaning liberal.
Let me say this second: I know that Vincent and Linda McMahon lean to the right, the latter even running for Senate on the Republican ticket. Honestly, were this the brain child of a coalition and not a man like Vincent Kennedy McMahon, I’d be a little upset that they used their own company as a platform for their political beliefs, no matter how classily subtle or shamelessly blatant it was. But again, it’s McMahon. I’m amused, almost as much as I was when Clint Eastwood spoke to a chair, or when Jim Lehrer decided to come out of pseudo-retirement. All that being said…
Being a young twentysomething during an election year is fun. Watching the debates is fun, picking out the little knick knacks and paddy whacks of the would-be candidates is fun, and the only way I’d be having more fun right now was if this wasn’t an incumbent year: I like hearing would-be candidates on both sides of the coin (Christie/Bush 2016, woo!). You look at CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, CSPAN, or any major broadcast channel and you’ll see coverage, questions, gaffs from the candidates (bias varies depending on the channel) and likely a silver haired journalist will put you into a state of honest query.
That’s right, I’m talking about Tom Brokaw. All journalists are silver haired  and sexy and maintain some kind of perpetual youth (Isha Sesay, be mine), but my point is what else can we watch for political happenings? Saturday Night Live is constantly engaging in some kind of satire; it’s even funny sometimes. Of course you have shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, or The O’Reilly Factor or Hardball with Chris Matthews (I discourage you from watching one of the four; can you guess which one?) but they focus more so on entertainment first. If none of those gratify your phantasm you can always watch some good ol’ sports entertainment. While no one should look at a squared circle and say, “This is how I’ll decide who gets my vote!”, it IS noteworthy to consider that someone is clearly expressing their political leaning on such a grand scale.
You may be thinking, reader, “DiZ, you douchebag who doesn’t deserve adjectives to describe him, you’re talking out of your behind!” In a rare moment of humility I say that you may be right. Maybe this is just an over-observation I’ve more or less considered for a while but haven’t acted on because it didn’t sit well with me until nearly a month ago (9/10/2012) with the completely and utterly confusing Hart-Cena-Punk promo. Long and short: I didn’t like it, not because of the political aspects but because I’m dismayed with what they’ve done with Punk’s character since then. He was a hungry tweener champion who reasonably championed for respect that he more than deserved, and now he’s still championing for respect but he’s been pushed into straight heel territory. In any case, John Cena, back then, was going through a shift himself. It was subtle, it is ongoing, and he was doing something I haven’t noticed in quite a long time: he was playing the crowd.
This will take us to our first dose of political mumbo jumbo; sidenote: you know pro wrestling/sports entertainment can be compared to so many other industries and ideologies? The music business, sports stars (not necessarily teams), higher levels of politics, the list goes on. What is a politician that doesn’t play to their crowd? If John Cena didn’t come out spouting his “Never say die, hustle, loyalty, respect” attitude would the children and their desperate housewives mothers gravitate towards him? If CM Punk didn’t command respect for the position he rightfully earned and consistently maintains, would hardcore fans and the antithesis of the aforementioned children and desperate housewives mothers gravitate towards him?
No. They wouldn’t. We wouldn’t. Compare them to Governor Willard Mitt Romney and President Barack Hussein Obama. Like most, if not all, politicians, they adjust to their crowd, as a means to make them more personable and likeable. Ignore the fact that the governor does it more when he’s in the South and that the president seems to have a bit of a dual identity between black and non-black crowds. Instead focus on the idea that CM Punk doesn’t adjust to any crowd whereas John Cena changes to appease the crowd, keeping the core message so to speak, but employing some new tactic or skill set, something as minor as newfound love and respect for the city he is in, or something as reasonably different as speaking French.
French. If I may break character for a moment, I have a lot of respect for John Cena the person after that display way back when. It was pretty good French. Back into character, that pop he received from the crowd, after getting so many boos before, amazed me. Defending Hart was standard, we expected that, but the French is what drove people over the edge. Can’t lie: reminds me of someone saying he had grits for breakfast one time.
But every politician flip flops, breaks promises and makes gaffs. You can hardly fault them for that: they’re after a political job and… I’ll be honest, I don’t know why anyone would even WANT a political job. My thing is, if someone really loved their country so much that they’d want to be a senator or a president or some kind of political pezzonovante then I think (and this is just me) that they’d take the job for free. I know, it’s an outlandish point of view, but who’s really benefitting when we pay our congressmen and congresswomen when they’re there to pass, amend and repeal laws? Call me super patriotic, but my views are extreme when it comes to paying for people that don’t seem to do much.
Lost focus, I’m coming back. I call this piece Partisan Judgment because it sounds nice, but more so because two of the faces of this company right now, CM Punk and John Cena, have been playing out like the president and governor, respectively. That’s no exaggeration, they are sports entertainment doppelgängers of the president and governor.
I WISH it was an exaggeration. But even physically the two pairs share similarities. We’ll start with the challengers (for the presidency and the WWE title): Willard Mitt Romney and John Felix Anthony Cena. Both are of Massachusetts (“of” because of there ties to the state, not their actual origins). Both of them have a strong passion for cars. Both of them maintain a perpetual half-smile when they do interviews, press conferences or public events. Both are talented speakers that know how to dismantle their opponents when need be (Cena on any given Sunday, Romney at a podium debate). Both of them had/have charismatic and ultimately failed underdog sidekicks (Ryder for Cena, we’ll see what happens with Ryan). Most importantly though, both are clean cut fellows with PG appearances and demeanors that go for the jugular when an opportunity presents itself, which goes with the debate thing more or less. Oh, and people don’t like them.
I’ll concede that that last point is debatable, arguable, etc. Saying that people don’t like Romney is a sharp edge to walk along. Many would say that the old thought process “Anyone But Romney” was common during the primaries, hence the fact that EVERY other candidate save for Ron Paul had a chance to shine. I’m going to come back to the opponents after a while because trust me when I say that everything ties back to the WWE Championship.
What can’t be debated, however, is that a lot of people don’t like Cena. Sure, worldwide he’s popular, but in the States he’s a very polarizing figure, invoking hatred from some, love from others, and a lot of money. Oh, there’s another similarity: both of them are worth a lot of money. Cena isn’t worth NEARLY as much as Romney, but he’s worth some money. But with so much polarization, a lot of people do NOT want to see the belt on Cena. Contrast this: a lot of people, even in the GOP, do not want to see Romney with the presidency. They DO want to see Obama without it though, and that outweighs a lot of personal feelings people have towards Romney.
So how about you, reader? How do you feel about Punk holding the WWE Championship? Personally I like it, but I’m still not sure if I like the reign or the fact that CM Punk is the one behind that reign. I certainly don’t want to see Cena with that belt again, and I don’t like all the second chances that he’s been given either. I’m so amused that people clamor for Cena to get a load of second chances (even the legends) when anytime Christian or Alberto Del Rio did it they were completely dismantled by the crowd.
Dern favoritism. Let’s flip the script to the incumbent (for the presidency and the WWE Championship): Barack Hussein Obama and Philip Jack “CM Punk” Brooks. Both are of Chicago, Illinois (I say “of” because I don’t feel like dealing with that past nonsense). Both maintain a habit of doing what they feel is the best move in spite of opposition. Both are talented speakers who invoke tremendous emotion in their displays. They both, currently, display elitist attitudes (not necessarily a bad thing, mind you). Both of them maintain vocal, hard-hitting pit bulls of mouth pieces who essentially hold the gold they wear and immediately come to their defense (Heyman for Punk, Biden for Obama). Most importantly, both are flawed individuals (again, not a negative) that have no problem owning up to it. There are plenty of similarities between the two, but this whole Punk v Cena/Obama v Romney thing is easily explained with this meme:
But as obvious as this is, I like the arc with Cena that played out early on before Punk was clearly going for the respect and Cena was fighting the establishment that “didn’t” want him on the top of the mountain. I like it because I feel like it mirrored Willard Romney’s one-by-one defeat of his competition in the GOP primaries, even though some of them were just knocked out due to their own incompetence; a couple could have used a Kerry Washington to clean it up. Me, I could just use a Kerry Washington period. Make no mistake: Chris Rock lost.
In that regard I look at six of Romney’s opponents and, vaguely, attribute the slow defeat of each one to John Cena’s slow fall. Looking from Wrestlemania to the latest Night of Champions you saw him go into each match. And starting from Wrestlemania we get the first person to fall to the Romney… the Romney… Rush? Romney Rush? Nah, he’s too melancholy for a rush… how about Resolution? Okay, the Romney Resolution. Herman Cane was the flavor of the month because he blew everyone away by his not being a politician (imagine that: a non-politician in a political role) but being a businessman. Morehouse graduate, business guru, golden tie aficionado, and of course the only black guy on the possible ticket. That’s not important, at all, none of it, but of the six I mention he’s the first to go. He suspended his campaign first, on December 3, 2011. We’ll match this up to Wrestlemania. Sure, John Cena lost, and I honestly think there’s a hidden message behind his latest story arc, but…
There’s no “but”. That’s what it is. In terms of politics I think people were finally resigning to the fact that Mitt Romney was going to be the GOP nomination. Looking at sports entertainment again, did we resign ourselves to the fact that John Cena was and is destined to be the flag bearer one half of the two major powers in the company? If we felt this before, did we bitch and moan a little more when John Cena came in and lost?
It’s a good question. Being the official or unofficial go to person for anything is pressure, and using it as a crutch for personal advancement. This isn’t a political assessment, it’s an assessment on the character of John Cena. Doesn’t it just suck that we have a man who can literally lose and act like he just lost the world when he’s already got more in his pocket that Galactus, when in fact he’s still lightyears ahead of the person or people he just demolished? Isn’t that funny? I’ll be honest: THAT was an assessment on Romney’s wealth, unintentional as it may have been. Speaking of demolishing: the fuck happened Wednesday, Obama? No shame in losing a debate but getting played like a bitch is something entirely different. Do better!
The next PPV was Extreme Rules, the PPV that it seems like everybody loved, myself included. How much did I love it? I bought the HD version of it on my Xbox. To clarify, not the whole PPV, just one match. The final match. The bloody match between John Cena and Webster Hulk (Webster, South Dakota, birthplace of Brock Lesnar AND Tom motherfucking Brokaw! BAOW!). It was bloody, vicious, and honestly it was a milestone because it introduced the PPV arc of getting rid of John Cena, thanks to Big Johnny Ace.
Meanwhile, months before in GOP politics (January 4, 2012), Michelle Bachmann suspended her campaign. Despite the collective sigh of relief from all of us, what was established was Romney’s deeper lead over his competition. Suddenly we all missed Herman Cain a little more. I missed that golden tie every other day. He MADE that golden tie. He built that. In terms of the PPV, Cena established himself as teflon, more or less. Send in the most dominating characters in full contact sports history and he’ll take them down. Easily. Happily. Doing his best Superman impersonation by getting beat up as a means to draw out the show and then come back inexplicably and kick ass. Like Superman. Because Superman is powered by the sun and is already a few hundred times stronger on Earth as he would have been on Krypton. By all logic he shouldn’t have had nearly that much competition…
Moving on. Third PPV was Over the Limit. If you’re like me (and you’re not) then you didn’t care much for what this PPV was going to be. Sure, we had Mr. Skillful-and-Dangerous involving himself into the competition, but otherwise it was John Cena versus the head of the overseers. Blah. On the more interesting GOP front, Rick Perry, two weeks after Bachmann, suspended his campaign. I cried.
Seriously, I knew it was going to be a lonely race after the graceful departure of the Texas governor. He was my favorite to combat Romney with his mishandled debate performances and general forgetfulness, but alas, he too fell to Romney. It can be argued, in fact, that he began a downward spiral with the infamous $10,000 bet Romney challenged Perry with. You can’t look weak and broke during a GOP throw down.
Next PPV: No Way Out. John Cena versus the Big Show. On the GOP front, the latest casualty to the Romney Resolution was Rick Santorum, first lasting GOP candidate to not only rise from obscurity but reasonably challenge the grain. You can even draw some stylistic comparisons between Show and Santorum, specifically their long standing natures with politics and their winning smiles. For Romney, this was the end of competition. Period. Santorum was arguably the most conservative (socially) candidate on the panel, and if he was the nomination now he’d probably provider a starker contrast between the two candidates.
Cena, on the other hand, was taking on an old enemy that really was pulled out of obscurity because what’s a better victory lap for the non-champion who is ultimately trying to get the title back than beating up someone bigger than himself? In any case, things in the GOP became something like this here.
Which takes us to the last candidate to leave, and I suppose the last PPV for the moment which would be Newt Gingrich and Money in the Bank respectively. Ironically enough both of them entertained me, and further irony reveals that this is because I was enjoying them with friends. Money in the Bank was a PPV that I unintentionally convinced one of my friends to watch. Newt Gingrich was my go-to guy for the epitome of outlandish and bravery.
I mean, I like Newt Gingrich. Would never vote for him, but dammit, is he not entertaining and powerful?! He’s such a commanding, in-your-face person that I’d be a fool to NOT like him! And as I was explaining to my class, an all black speech class composed of nothing but Obama lovers and a singular girl who didn’t want to vote for Obama because she said she’d look like she was voting black, Newt Gingrich can say whatever he needs to and keep your attention. Example:
Really, Newt? By the end of your SECOND term? Awfully smug there, aren’t we? NO ONE is assured a second term, Mr. Gingrich. Oh yeah, and that whole moon colony business is a little obtuse too.
But what does this have to do with Cena? Nothing. If there was any PPV where you KNEW Cena was going to win, it was Money in the Bank, and you knew everyone in the match was going to fall victim to him like… well, like GOP hopefuls over the span of six months, ending with the only one to have really given him competition before: Big Show. Ironic, seeing as Santorum was the last GOP candidate to give Romney any true competition.
And I could go on, seriously, I could go on for days, but when it comes to the GOP hopefuls, Romney’s slow defeat of each opponent built up some credibility on his part, legitimacy, and showed his reserved genius as well as the idea that he wasn’t letting anything stand between him and winning the election. Compare to Cena. He beats everybody, one by one, cleanly, and his credibility is, as a result, increased. When it comes down to it, both Cena and Romney beat up their opponents, pissed on their remains and reclaimed dominance time and time again.
But will they garner the gold when their time comes? At Hell in the Cell for Cena, November 6 for Willard Romney, will we have a new WWE Champion? On November 6 will we have a new President? On both fronts, speaking purely objectively, I think no, but that’s just me. I just draw comparisons to stuff with varying degrees of validity and then disappear into the sunset for unspecified amounts of time. And I’m bad with conclusions and departures. So check this out and go the hell away ^_^
The August 20th episode of RAW hailed from Fresno, California, fresh off the heels of what I was told was one boss SummerSlam Pay Per View Sunday night. And what better way to cap off an action packed evening of $60 worth of sports entertainment than to allow John Cena to stir the pot, poop in it, serve it up and leave us with yet another reason to hate his character’s guts?
Last night’s episode of RAW was all about respect, particularly the lack of respect shown to the current WWE Champion CM Punk. One could say that Punk’s career in the WWE has been captured accurately in this one story line. I’m not one to believe in coincidence; I think everything happens for a reason even if we’re not aware of what the reasoning is. I can’t be the only one that sees the next few months as the most important and defining in Punk’s WWE career…
He’s the subject of a 3-disc DVD set and he graces the cover of the new WWE ’13 video game (both due out in October). He’s now placed firmly back into a major story line shoulder to shoulder with John Cena. He represents a score of superstars rising the WWE ranks that look less and less like bodybuilders and more like professional wrestlers. I mean, this is what the IWC wants, right?
At any rate a lot of the everything that took place last night was inconsequential; from this point story lines will build up to the Night of Champions Pay Per View, leaving the show in the weird “reset” phase that most fans dislike. The next big Pay Per View for the WWE is Survivor Series in November, which means that we’ve got both Night of Champions (from Boston)and Hell In a Cell (which will emanate from here in Atlanta) to meander through before we can really say “This is the match I’ve been waiting to see!”
Until then we have to pay close attention to the distinct journey Punk’s character is taking. Believe it or not it’s very familiar and it’s looking to be reminiscent of another story line from an era that fans clamored for the WWE to bring back.
For those of you that care, Survivor Series will be held in the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN. Here’s a picture:
Here are a few things that stood out to me:
- Randy Orton: Mercenary
- David Otunga: Tool
- Kaitlyn: New Diva Rising
- Zack Ryder: Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha
- CM Punk: Wrestling’s Finest
Since his return to the WWE following his 60-day suspension Randy has been used sparingly on WWE television. Rumor has it that he’s set to leave again soon to begin filming on the WWE Studios feature film, 12 Rounds: Reloaded. Yep, they’re making another one.
If there is any truth to this speculation, then this role is perfect for Randy because he can easily disappear from TV without anyone questioning it…well anyone other than my buddies @SmkeAndMirrors, @VipersOracle, and the legions of other Ortonites prowling around the interwebs (shameless plug).
It is pretty different to see Randy as someone called in to extract justice for someone else, or to victimize some hapless sap to further a story line he’s not involved in. I like the general direction of the character at this time, which will do him well until the Barrett Barrage returns to television. “Hey Randy, can you open this jar of pickles for me???” RKO! “Hey Randy, I can’t find the derivative of this polynomial; can you help me out here?” Powerslam! “Hey Randy, I need to put this football between the uprights to take the Browns to the SuperBowl; lend me a hand?” Pun…err…gentle yet swift tap with the big toe…
I swore up and down that Otunga lost a lot of body mass once I saw him sauntering down the aisle. But in the midst of my speculation, Mr. Quinn Gammon pointed out that he only looked smaller because he shaved his trademark mustache and goatee combo. That’s a damn shame when your mustache makes you look bigger.
Other than being a swole Carlton Banks, there’s not much worth mentioning about Otunga’s return other than the fact that he was served up to Big Show, who appeared to be more of a face than a heel last night. What’s even more confusing is the fact that Otunga is useful enough to the company to still be employed with the company; maybe there is some good use from that Harvard Law degree he’s got.
In other news, Kaitlyn is now the number one contender to Layla’s WWE Divas Championship. I personally don’t think the fans could have actually cared any less, which is sad for Layla, Kaitlyn, the Divas Championship and the Divas Division.
While most fans take joy in belittling anything and everything the Divas do, their constant complaining causes them to miss the fact that the Divas actually provide some worthwhile matches and entertainment if you’re actually looking for it. To that end, Kaitlyn is one of the Divas that honestly doesn’t fit the “model-turned-model-slash-wrestler-slash-Diva” mold.
If you’ve seen Kaitlyn do anything in FCW and on NXT, you’ll quickly note that she’s actually a decent wrestler. Prior to joining the WWE Kaitlyn was a professional bodybuilder, which is very similar to the route John Cena traveled down before landing in the company. I’m not saying that Kaitlyn is the female Antonio Inoki, but she is far from being a slouch in the ring.
Her impending match with Layla should be interesting enough to watch, but the bigger issue is how that story will be made into something significant for the fans to buy into. The road to relevance for the Divas is long and rocky, but it is refreshing to see that Kaitlyn and not Kelly Kelly earned the right to fight for the title.
Call me weird but I enjoy watching Kane throttle Zack Ryder consistently. It’s just the funniest thing to me next to The Three Stooges and reading people’s comments on news and pro wrestling websites. I literally spent at least three months of my life waiting to see just how Kane chose to eviscerate Ryder from one week to the next.
My thing is always this: Ryder KNOWS what will happen when he steps into the ring with Kane. Why does he continue to do so?? YOU CAN’T BEAT HIM, ZACK! GIVE IT UP…FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS SACRED IN THIS WORLD, GIVE IT UP!
I guess Ryder’s tenacity is what makes this very minor story line engaging enough. He seems to be the only one that believes he can get the upper had on Kane, and you have to admire that gumption. But I’m not gone not laugh when that man gets embarrassed by Kane. I think I’d lose my damn mind if the Big Red Machine/Monster tossed his Long Island behind into a large body of water.
All Punk wants is a little bit of respect; that’s all the brother is asking for. But at what cost?
Fans far and wide have harped on how Punk’s current character is a heel, but that really isn’t the case seeing as Punk is pretty much right about not having the respect he deserves as the standard bearer in WWE. One could even argue the same about WWE on a whole.
Most fans today bitch and complain about WWE and it’s watered down PG product. The fans who stream the Pay Per Views complain about everything; the fans who won’t buy merch complain about everything. From a star not winning a match to even the location of their Sunday night spectaculars, it seems as if the popular thing today is to badmouth WWE no matter what the company does to please fans.
But this PG Era that fans complain about is bringing them money despite popular belief and despite popular belief, the company is making more strides by pandering to kids than it would by peddling the smut that made them uber-popular during the late 1990s. News flash: the smut worked in the late 1990s for a reason; it’s 2012…get over it.
It would appear that some fans have lost respect for the WWE, as Mr. Gammon said to me while watching the show yesterday. While I don’t necessarily agree with his assessment completely, I understand what he meant: no matter what the WWE provides there will exist a very vocal segment of fans who will complain just for the sake of complaining.
Punk’s championship reign is very similar to the WWE in that regard. Here we have a champ who has had excellent wrestling matches for nine months, who has kissed babies and made the publicity appearances, who has towed the line for the company three months shy of a year…and yet he still plays second fiddle to John Cena’s major announcement about what he plans on having for lunch next week. Not only that but the most memorable moment during his rise in popularity goes all the way back to his June 2011 pipe bomb.
Punk has done everything the fans and the company expected and demanded him to do; yet there are no petitions or diatribes to get him to close out a Pay Per View or show. And after all of that, even when he takes a stand, he’s the one that’s turned his back on the fans according to Jerry Lawler. Never let it be said that WWE writers can’t incorporate real life drama into their stories.
So where does Punk go from here? He yearns for the respect of his peers and the people, but demands it instead of letting it just come naturally as he earns with with his repertoire of reigns and wins. On the other hand, John Cena basically said he doesn’t need the fans to think he’s the best because he believes it himself. This is like the fiftieth time Cena has all but said “screw what the people think,” and yet he still gets cheered; it’s almost like all the episodes of RAW are being broadcast from Canada…speaking of which, anyone remember the Stone Cold/Bret Hart story line?
Several of us here at L.E.W.D. believe that WWE is on the way to ushering in a new era (perhaps a PG-14 one) that will see young and rising wrestlers become the superstars of tomorrow. Dolph Ziggler has “retired” Chris Jericho and holds a contract for a guaranteed WHC match; CM Punk can cement his legacy by defeating John Cena next month at Night of Champions. Sin Cara is less botch-prone than before his injury and there’s an actual tag team division with a very basic and solid feud between two teams. Daniel Bryan is still entertaining, AJ Lee is still beguiling, and a credible contender for the Divas Championship has stepped up to the plate…
What more can you ask for???
And that’s a serious question. Please feel free to give your thoughts below…
*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…?