Best: DAS MY BWAH D-BRYAN
For those of you joining the Best and Worst column for the first time, or for those of you who started reading recently and haven’t realized what a classically-trained ROHbot I can be, Daniel Bryan née Bryan Danielson is my favorite active professional wrestler in the world, and he has been since right around the time he grew a hobo beard, bought a cloak and started airplane spinning people. He also tops a lot of other personal lists, including my favorite title reigns (Ring of Honor World Champion 9/05 – 12/06), the nicest wrestlers I’ve ever met and my favorite famous or semi-famous vegans (a list that includes Billy West, UltraMantis Black, James Cromwell and adorable jazz pianist Nellie McKay). The major reason I’ve wanted to start doing Best And Worst Of Smackdown reports is because of how much I miss writing that “Bryan Danielson is awesome, guys” paragraph every week. Well, here you go.
Daniel Bryan has been on a losing streak as of late, but I’m not worried about it — nearly every loss has been in a good-to-great match, and that’s what I watch Daniel Bryan (and professional wrestling) to see. He’s gotten the best WWE match out of both Sin Caras now, and if I’ve got to see somebody lose to a winded developmental luchador in five minutes I’m glad it’s him. If he ends up losing Money in the Bank to Christian and gets eliminated by Michael McGillicutty in a pre-Wrestlemania battle royal I’m still happy that he’s around and getting paid big money to do what he’s better at than almost anyone.
But I do wish Booker T would stop saying “D-Bryan”, or at least stop calling him D-Bryan fifteen times per sentence. “MY BOY D-BRYAN RIGHT THERE, D-BRYAN COLE, D-BRYAN’S GOT A LOT A GOOD MOVES MICHAEL COLE AN I THINK D-BRYAN WILL WIN THIS MATCH RIGHT HERE.”
Worst: Michael Cole Thinks Hulk Hogan Sucks Because He Doesn’t Even Have Any Hair
Speaking of announcers saying things you hate, holy sh*t, the Smackdown version of Michael Cole, the one without Jerry Lawler to threaten him or Jim Ross to change the subject, is the least constructive wrestling personality of all time. He’s like wrestling’s Ray William Johnson, pointing out only the most obvious things and assuming that makes him a popular genius. I’m used to every aspect of Daniel Bryan being bad (using the Internet, owning a dog, knowing wrestling moves … all signs of a nerd), but he even made a point to say that Sin Cara doesn’t talk. It’s like the Cena thing from the last page, isn’t there somebody at WWE Headquarters who can point out that we shouldn’t say the stuff we don’t want people regurgitating? There was a reason nobody in the 80s pointed out that Hulk Hogan was bald and on steroids. They wanted us to LIKE HULK HOGAN.
If Daniel Bryan wrestles Sin Cara (actual Sin Cara, mind you) you’ve got one of the most celebrated and technically brilliant independent wrestlers of the decade, a guy who came up on your rookie show and made a name for himself with his incredible in-ring performances, going one-on-one on your free, easy to change away from wrestling program against Mexico’s biggest box office draw, a nimble acrobat who (pending him actually being able to do it) can pull off things nobody in your WWE Universe has seen. So why do you boil that down to “this homo nerd who can’t wrestle and sucks is losing to a sh*tty fake guy who can’t even speak English”? If you spent the first five years of the Hardy Boyz saying “these guys are drug-dealing rednecks who didn’t even go to wrestling school, they wrestled on trampolines in their backyard against their mumblemouthed friends, and Matt’s girlfriend has implants and an ugly face and paid for wrestling school by blowing Mexicans” you wouldn’t have sold a goddamn Team XTreme pendant one.
Seriously, there isn’t a wrestler in history who could’ve survived this. This so-called Jumbo Tsuruta, what a goof! He’s not even that big, and he’s got hepatitis, King!
Best: Sin Cara 1000% Rudo, or, WHUT DA HALE
In an attempt to get back to what worked on the show (with the help of a mute button, because christ almighty), Sin Cara showing sportsmanship to Daniel Bryan after the match only to turn on him like the world’s most Smurf-like Mr. Wonderful was fantastic and legitimately surprising. Hopefully (like a lot of people are going to point out) this will lead to the “real” Sin Cara returning in his Mistico white and gold to suppress his evil doppleganger and reclaim his mood lighting. It’ll be just as great as Dragon Kid and Darkness Dragon in Dragon Gate, Lance Steel versus other Lance Steel in CHIKARA, and player one purple gloves Undertaker against player two grey gloves Undertaker at Summerslam ’94.
Now I really want to see Brian Lee as the fake Sin Cara.
Still Worst: Air Boom
I spent the weekend in Bristol visiting my parents, so I didn’t get to do my normal Monday night ritual of settling in to watch Raw with Destiny and enjoying about 45 minutes of her commentary before she gets bored and goes upstairs. I got back into Austin late last night, so a part of our conversation was what happened on Raw, and what I wrote in Best and Worst. I tried to explain Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne’s “Air Boom” tag team name to her, and she responded beautifully:
“Air Boom? Is that like Space Jam? It’s exactly like Space Jam, they just used a different word for Space and a different word for Jam.”
I could not possibly improve on that.
Oh, and here’s another great idea, let them have a conversation with Matt Striker, the least cool person in American history.