Best: Wade Barrett’s Skybox
Wade Barrett never seems especially effective in the ring (his Nexas coup blew up in his face, The Corre played out even worse, he tossed Orton down stairs but bailed instead of pinning him, he got R’d-KO in three minutes and tossed out of the Royal Rumble like an afterthought) but outside of the ring he is an absolute dynamo. He could work the “classy wrestler” gimmick, probably by himself, for the rest of his career.
There’s something to like about a guy who wears a gigantic jacket with a rose in the pocket and rents out luxury skyboxes from which to observe his opponents when he’s not scheduled to compete. Right? This is the only wrestler on the roster who you’d be hanging out with and say “hey, let’s go to Olive Garden for dinner” and he’d sorta look down his nose at you and say “oh that’s a great idea, and maybe after that we can clap along to the Buona Festa song and scarf down individual chocolate mousse pies and hang ourselves in the bathroom”. There need to be more people like that. People who will Wasteland you for suggesting we go to the f**king Olive Garden.
Best: Mohawk Jackets
I thought Wade Barrett would be the guy in this segment with the best jacket, but out walked Dolph Ziggler in a sleeveless Thunderdome number with a fur mohawk. Faux fur mohawk, I guess. Faux hawk.
Anyway, the jacket was amazing, and the way he kept his head down as he walked to the ring (at the expense of his usual “slick my hair back and flick it on you” taunt) I thought he was gonna Cody Rhodes it back and reveal a new haircut. Probably for the best that he didn’t, lest we forget last year’s “Is That Evan Bourne’s Big Brother”-Gate.
Best: Randy Orton And A Crowd On Fire
I’ve written about it at length before, but Randy Orton is bad-f**king-ass as the Silent Babyface Who Wrestles Heels. The crowd loves him, and he’s managed to maintain that love with an emphasis on in-ring competition and a de-emphasis of Home Invasion and/or Constantly Killing DiBiase And Rhodes stories. Basically he’s cutting out the stuff I hate about wrestling and doing the stuff I love. He’s winning a lot, and yeah, the top guys winning all the time and putting windex on the glass ceiling is kind of a drag sometimes, but f**k it, when your matches make a Raw crowd chant ONE, TWO, THREE along with the pin, win.
Seriously, listen to them when Orton starts Snaking Up and launches into his Hunting RKO appeal. That’s some Attitude Era sh*t right there. Wake Up taunts are great because they give the crowd a few seconds of OH GOD HERE IT COMES HERE IT COMES and make either a finishing move or a reversal of a finisher really pop emotionally. They’re also REALLY hard to do, as witnessed by Zack Ryder’s hopping L-I of supreme silence or the way Miz has to look around to make sure people see him wiggling his fingers in V-formation.
I don’t say it enough, but I f**king love that pre-RKO taunt. Love it.
Best: Orton’s Once Upon A Time In China Roll-Up
I liked the entire Orton/Ziggler match, but a highlight was Orton going up into hammock position in the corner and rolling down Ziggler’s back for a schoolboy in the style of Wong Fei-Hung circa 1991. I’ve seen him do it before, but he doesn’t do it often, and his “oh man you guys I was THIS CLOSE” when he came up from it was just as good. Stop making Cena look like such a P.O.S., Randy.
Worst: What You Think Is Happening To Dolph Ziggler
When I write these columns I try to establish a consensus opinion amongst the readers so I can tell if I’m on the right track or if I’m whiffing something completely. One thing I vehemently disagree on is the Internet’s idea that Dolph Ziggler is somehow in the doghouse, or “losing his push”, or a “jobber to the stars” or whatever. I don’t think this could be further from the truth.
Ziggler is the go-to guy. Go-to like Chris Benoit was for WCW in the 90s. Go-to like Randy Savage was for WWF in the 80s. Go-to like Hirooki Goto.
Sometimes we forget it, but professional wrestling is a job. It’s also a show. It’s also not a real sporting competition, so as fun as it is for our favorites to win and as passionate as we SHOULD get in our support of them, wins and losses, at least from a job security standpoint, don’t really matter. Sometimes a wrestler’s best use is winning a lot, so you can create a character like Goldberg or Cena or whatever that people buy as a big time important guy in big time important matches. Sometimes a wrestler’s role is to have great matches with everyone, so people BELIEVE those important guys in the big time matches deserve to be there.
That’s what Ziggler’s doing. He’s having great matches with nearly everyone he’s in the ring with. He’s going the distance with them, trading nearfalls, holding championships, doing his job. If he shows up on Raw next week and loses to the Funkasaurus in 30 seconds or spends the next six months teaming with JTG in dark matches, yeah, worry for his job. But don’t get upset when he loses a match he just brilliantly wrestled on the biggest wrestling company in the world’s flagship primetime show against a multiple-time heavyweight champion. He’s doing great.