Worst: Three Moves In 10 Seconds Does Not Constitute ‘Still Having It’
I’m wondering what people were expecting. The Rock started off the match with what, three armdrags? He tossed R-Truth out of the ring and tried to pin The Miz with La Magistral. It looked great. The crowd erupted in chants of YOU STILL GOT IT while Miz and Truth kicked dirt on the outside. Does… does that constitute “still having it”? Did we really expect Rock to start off the match and f**k up the tie-up, and just kinda stand there for a second with a nervous “oh, sorry, let’s try that again” look on his face? Was he going to try an arm drag and just fall down helplessly? The guy was a wrestler for ten years and basically works out for a living. He did three arm drags. I spent a few months in wrestling school four years ago and I guarantee you that if you put me in a ring right now I could throw three convincing arm drags without f**king up or dying.
He tagged out shortly thereafter with nothing but a bad headlock to show for it, then went Full Hogan for the remainder of the match. He took a hot tag, and the hot tag went as hot tags do. He fell down a grand total of one time in the entire match. It was like watching the Honky Tonk Man wrestle at my local armory. Honky’s still got good timing, and he never falls down. Does he still have it?
The dragon screw leg whip hasn’t gotten better in the last seven years, and his Sharpshooter still looks so bad you have to justify it. I was talking to my good friend (and Dugout fill-in writer) Bill Hanstock during the show, and he described it as impressionism. A next-level postmodernist take on the Sharpshooter. He’s not applying an actual Sharpshooter; he’s applying the concept of the Sharpshooter. Similarly, his people’s elbow is not an actual elbow drop. it is the interpretation of what an elbow drop means to wrestling fans. Even when you aren’t justifying it, he still throws those shoulder-level punches that start ten feet behind him and end at his pec. It’s the John Morrison clothesline of punching. Does that mean he’s still got it?
But Still, I’ll Give You A Best: The Rock
He’s a presence. When he stands next to other wrestlers he makes them look like children, both in physical and social stature. He’s just naturally better at this than most people, which is one of the reasons people cling to him so hard and mark out for even the terrible things he does when he comes back. It’s why he can show up via satellite and people call it “amazing”. It isn’t, but he sorta is, like him or not.
So I’ve got to give him a Best, in addition to that big long wordy bitchy Worst. He looked good in the ring, doing what little he did. You don’t want to blow him out before Wrestlemania. You’ve got to keep him healthy. He’s going to go back to Hollywood again in April, and probably from like, today until the end of March, so you don’t want him leaving with a broken leg or whatever. Take it easy, let him be the Rock, make people happy. That was accomplished. He’s The Rock. Nobody else can be that. Stone Cold Steve Austin is better than that. A guy like CM Punk means more to the show right now than that. But nobody is THAT.
Worst: Yep, They Were Afterthoughts
Remember the last month or two when we were like “Miz and Truth are going to get steamrolled and nobody thinks they’ve got a chance to win”, and that led to speculation that it was SO unlikely that they’d win that maybe they would, and maybe Cena would turn on Rock or Rock would turn on Cena or some miscommunication to set up Wrestlemania would happen. Remember that? Yeah, they didn’t have a chance. Cena and Rock could’ve been taking on The Chickbusters here and it would’ve been the same match, the only difference being how funny it’d be to see Cena get all glassy-eyed selling A.J.’s offense.
Worst: That’s It? or “Jesus Christ, Cena, Get Mad And F**k Him Up”
The very worst part of this was the ending, where Rock makes Cena eat boos for five minutes and Cena basically writes “when I turn around I want you to Rock Bottom me” on a Post-It and sticks it to Rock’s forehead. I wanted so badly, for just a moment, for Cena to get as mad as me about this. For one goddamn second I wanted him to stop being polite and smack this dude in the face. Stand up for that whole “you left, I’m always here, I stand by the people who support me” thing. Smack him in his face. Punch him, whatever. You tossed Being A Star out the window years ago, just STF him until he passes out from blood loss and leave the ring. Flip out, tear up some stuff. Kick the ring steps, toss somebody into a barricade. Scream. Make that little ejaculate of spit pop out of your mouth again. Just be pissed the f**k off about what’s happening because Fast And God Damned Furious Guy is physically illustrating your waning popularity and making you look at it.
And no, Cena doesn’t need to turn heel. He’s already the biggest and best heel you’ve got. It would not, however, kill him to take this seriously for a minute and use some of that punching and shoulderblocking he loves so much for a good damn reason. F**king f**k him up, John. DO IT.
Best And Worst: The Role Of Nostalgia, And A Place For It
And that’s it, really.
People want to see the Rock in a match in 2011 not because they want to see a good wrestling match, but because they remember good wrestling matches from the past. Nostalgia. I’ve seen more than one tweet or status update or whatever talking about how they’d ordered the show (their first since Money in the Bank, or even farther back) and they “felt 19 again” or called Rocky a God for singing Sinatra and doing the elbow. That’s good. That should happen. Nostalgia has a very real, very powerful place in the hearts of wrestling fans, and it’s the reason I thought about getting my picture taken with the Nasty Boys when they were at Wizard World, or when they were getting hammered and trying to motorboat girls at the Mohawk in downtown Austin. I don’t even like the Nasty Boys, but I REMEMBER them.
There’s a time and place for that. In Japan, when a former star gets to a certain age, he’s usually ushered into the undercard, put into six-man tag team matches where he can come in, do his stuff and leave. Sometimes he does some comedy, because f**k, we like him and we want him to stick around for as long as he can.
The time and place for nostalgia — for the fleeting thing we’re going to lose again and never get back — is not in the main event of your pay-per-view, at the expense of your last marketable star, to set up another pay-per-view. It’s not. Jake Roberts has that great story about when Muhammad Ali was in Mid-South, and wrestlers would pile into the ring to get knocked out by him. Ali punched Roberts and he no sold it. It pissed Bill Watts off. When confronted about it, Jake said that Ali wouldn’t be here next week, but he would.
The Rock’s not going to be here next week, but John Cena, R-Truth and The Miz are. We’ll fondly remember how cool the Rock looked at Survivor Series, but we won’t have a reason to tune in to see Cena, Truth or Miz. Do you see where that’s going? Do you see the hole that digs? And if you see it, is it tinted rose?