Best: The First 26 Minutes Of Michaels Vs. Mankind
I loved it. I loved this match. I loved it more than the Money in the Bank match, which only really got my attention because of how important it seemed. This was the first WWE match since maybe Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler where all the transitions and moves had me interested, and I wanted to know what was happening and where they were going with it. I feel like I needed to say that first, because of all the negativity I’m probably going to spill. Most of you reading this report know what happened at the end of this match, but just like Shawn Michaels and Mankind from In Your House 10: Mind Games, the body of the match is so fantastic that years from now it will hopefully be on a DVD somewhere regardless of its finish. The first 26 minutes of Michaels/Mankind was some of the best and most progressive North American wrestling of the 90s, introducing Foley’s signature weirdness into a WWE main event scene full of Bret Hart or British Bulldog types and being one of the first instances of Shawn’s fourth-wall breaking hissy-fit bullcorn. It was great.
So was Cena/Punk II (because I guess only pay-per-view matches get numbers). Cena took my advice (my personal advice, I’m sure) and brought back the change-up on the five moves of doom, getting cut off in the shoulderblocks but still busting out the Protobomb out of nowhere to keep up the rhythm. Everything hit hard, nothing seemed forced, and John Cena broke out not only his Emerald Flowsion, not only a Crippler Crossface, but the most awesome and hilarious dropkick ever. He still had Erik Watts form, but he got UP THERE. Punk is Punk, and even his requisite “springboard clothesline I should probably stop doing because I’m just jumping into other peoples’ moves” worked. I wouldn’t give this five stars, because I have a very stringent star-scale and don’t award anything f**king stars, but for the equivalent of that first 26 minutes it was one to remember.
Worst: The Last 25 Seconds Of Michaels Vs. Mankind
I feel like Michaels/Mankind might be a bad analogy. Let’s try Apocalypse Now. Francis Ford Coppola builds suspense for 150 minutes with some of the best writing, acting and filmmaking you’ve ever seen, and it ends with a bunch of dudes slaughtering an ox. That’s what happened when Cena put his foot on the rope and Triple H didn’t see it. They spent half an hour building suspense with great pro wrestling and then slaughtered a f**king ox. Cena’s weird thing where he argues the call with the umpire continued to happen and Punk just kinda lingered around not getting any crazy amount of cheers because everybody in the building went “okay, that can’t be it, he’s going to restart the match. Okay, Cena’s leaving. He’s going to call him back out when he sees the replay. Hup, okay now Triple H is leaving and Punk’s celebrating. This can’t be it.”
Worst: John Cena Is Never Worn Down, Cole!
I also don’t want to rag too much on the announcing last night, because while they had their moments on unbearable white noise they toned it down when they needed to. The worst moment, though, was Michael Cole saying CM Punk was wearing Cena down with submission holds and Lawler piping in to correct him. “Wearing him down? Heh!” Jerry Lawler has been watching John Cena wrestle for years and he’s NEVER seen him worn down!
I think the problem comes with Lawler’s definition of “worn down”. Maybe he means he’s never seen Cena wanting to give up. The point we all got at home is “John Cena is going to no sell this in a minute, Cole, because he always does that. He just gets up like nothing happened and does his moves until he wins, and then poses on the turnbuckles and salutes and forgets everything happened. For you see, Michael, John Cena never gives up.” How the hell do you have a Hall of Fame job as a wrestling announcer and not know you should avoid saying “he’s fine, none of this hurts”? When did Jerry Lawler become Mark Madden?
Best, But It Almost Feels Like A Worst: Alberto Del Rio, WWE Champion
Something happened, and then,
Okay, so Alberto Del Rio is finally WWE Champion. There’s a solid chance that Triple H (being better and stronger and smarter than everyone) will review the tape on Monday and realize Cena’s foot was on the rope, thereby nullifying CM Punk’s championship win (and by proxy, Alberto’s) and causing the match to continue. This will ruin CM Punk’s day, it’ll ruin Alberto’s, it’ll ruin Rey Mysterio’s because he’s supposed to have another title shot. As anybody can tell you, the most obvious way to go is a big thing at Night of Champions with everyone involved.
That obvious realization makes me pretty scared that Alberto Del Rio is going to keep the title during the Mexico tour and get screwed out of it somehow, making the guy who with a little work could become our generation’s Ted DiBiase (at least more than our generation’s ACTUAL Ted DiBiase) look like a wiener for about the 50th consecutive time. Of course, this is all conjecture and I will have to wait and see what happens before jumping to a bunch of conclusions. I just don’t want to see guys I like getting the runaround by guys I don’t. I think that’s wrestling fandom in a nutshell, isn’t it? You want to see the guys you like do well, and there’s a reason they don’t, and you hate that reason.
That being said …
Worst: Don’t Tell Me To Wait And See What Happens With Kevin Nash
WAIT A MINUTE, THAT’S KEVIN NASH!
As a person who was watching when Nash debuted as a Master Blaster, as a person who was watching when Nash debuted as Oz, when he debuted as Vinnie Vegas, when he showed up as Diesel, showed up on Nitro to point out adjectives (“play”) and powerbomb Eric Bischoff through things and all the way through the Fingerpoke Of Doom and the paparazzi stuff with Alex Shelley and the tag team matches where the guy who gets the pinfall wins the world title I have had enough of waiting and seeing what happens with this guy. He clearly has a great mind for the wrestling business and could probably be a great asset to the company, but damn, how many times do I have to see this guy pinning Goldberg and unmasking Rey Mysterio before I’m allowed to assume he’ll be terrible?
I don’t want to jump to conclusions. I don’t. I don’t want to be overwhelmingly negative and make you think I’ve jumped the shark. But I lived through a very real wrestling fan reality when Hulk Hogan showed up in WCW in the 90s and replaced my favorite wrestlers with his sh*tty friends (goodbye Cactus Jack and Stunning Steve, hello Nasty Boys and Brutus Beefcake, goodbye forever credible Vader), and I don’t want this to happen with a WWE I’ve learned to love again. I don’t really like it when Triple H pedigrees Zack Ryder and makes him look like a POS. I don’t really like it when 52-year old Just For Men Kevin Nash shows up and instantly trounces one of the hottest new acts they’ve found. And yeah, it could lead to awesome Nash/Punk interaction and a lot of fun stuff, and I don’t know where it’s gonna go. But damn, I want my plane ride to go from point A to point B sometimes without dipping its nose and making me wait to see where it goes.
What I’m saying is that if X-Pac or some form of Billy Gunn shows up on Raw tomorrow night, I’m out.