Best: Big Show Losing Because He’s Fat And Stupid
To once again quote Casey, good pro wrestling is putting Cody Rhodes into a match he has no chance of winning, then having him win. The Intercontinental Championship is back on the waist of the guy who changed its strap color to match his underpants and all is right with the world. Now Cody can get to the business of defending it (regularly) against guys who can go and Show can spend the next 6-8 weeks hip-hop dancing with The Great Khali until they win the tag team titles, break up and have the worst four matches ever.
Anyway, this match was shorter than Santino/Miz, but I found myself really enjoying it for a wonderful reason: at some point between x and y, WWE decided to go over “foreshadowing” with the boys and they loved it. So in a match that has to end with Big Show being sorta fat and dumb and breaking a table with his oafishness, that finish is foreshadowed by Cody Rhodes being nimble as f**k and Beautifully Disaster Kicking Big Show from a table. Daniel Bryan telling the referee he’s got until five, then getting DQ’d for knowingly keeping Sheamus in the ropes past five was another great example. Basic storytelling structure can make pro wrestling really kick ass, and whoever pointed that out before Extreme Rules went on the air deserves a raise.
Worst: Figuring Out Why Ryback Doesn’t Work (Right Now)
I mentioned it earlier, but the easiest character to get over is probably “dominant guy who shows up out of nowhere and destroys everybody”. It worked with the Road Warriors back in the day, it worked with Goldberg in the 90s and it worked with Brock Lesnar in the 2000s. That’s an important character to have, and “how will the new dominant guy do against a guy who has been great here for a long time” is easy money. The Road Warriors vs. The Fabulous Ones and the Freebirds in the 80s, Goldberg vs. DDP and Hulk Hogan in the 90s, Brock Lesnar vs. The Rock in the 2000s.
Right now we’ve got Brodus Clay, Lord Tensai and Ryback doing this at the same time. Mason Ryan and Ezekiel Jackson just finished up their attempts, and guys like Antonio Cesaro are showing up and beating Tyson Kidd in 60 seconds on Smackdown and Husky Harris pulling a Cape Fear version of the act in FCW, so who knows who else’ll follow.
That makes the act commonplace, and the only thing that makes that character work is how special and different they are. I remember specifically cheering for Goldberg because he’d just show up and f**k guys up and leave without talking and getting into soapy storylines like everybody else. Skip Sheffield is a talented, occasionally brutal pro wrestler and I feel bad that he’s cosmetically the least interesting of the “big 3” … he’s not racist dinosaur with a crew of oddities and he’s not the big white penis lookin’ fella from Japan who spits Mountain Dew and has tattoos on his face. He’s just a really muscular guy in Rob Van Dam’s old clothes. It’s unfortunate, and hopefully they’ll have him go face-to-face with Wade Barrett whenever Wade’s healed, have them stare at each other menacingly for several seconds and then just have Ryback blush and go “awww man I’m just kiddin’, yip yip yip what it do” and they’ll go back to being undercard violence friends.
A Million Bests: TWO Is Greater Than ONE!
where was this jobber asshole for every raw main event between 2004-2008
Best: LAYLA EXCLAMATION POINT EXCLAMATION POINT
As the Internet’s #1 LayCool historian and enthusiast I am so goddamned excited to have Layla El back in the rotation, especially to mark the one year anniversary of one of the saddest moments of my modern fandom: Extreme Rules 2011, wherein she defeated Michelle McCool in a Loser Leaves WWE match that ended LayCool forever but hurt herself, so we didn’t see either of them for a year. That sucked.
Anyway, most people were expecting Kharma to sub in for the injured Beth Phoenix and start up that whole thing (I was one of those people too, mind you) so while Layla’s return and victory is underwhelming to most, it’s wonderful to me. I loved her in the Diva Search, she was my favorite member of Extreme Exposé (which is sorta like saying your favorite person at the Last Supper was Jesus), I loved her as the shoe-throwing girlfriend/familiar of William Regal and I loved her as the hoodie wearing, “real talk”-ing, Piggy James humiliating Lay.
Give her stories, let her do things, let her speak in her wonderful voice and don’t write “point at people and get roll-up victories over bitches” on her next cycle whiteboard.
Worst: The Kharma Situation Is Giving Me Total Anime Teardrop Head
To catch you up:
1. Kharma signs with WWE, is one of the best wrestlers in the world, can have good-to-great matches with women who are way worse than Kelly Kelly (Velvet Sky, I’m looking in YOUR direction).
2. Kharma starts a fun storyline where she may or may not end up having fearsex with Kelly Kelly.
3. Kharma gets pregnant in real life.
4. Kharma bursts into tears, announcers her pregnancy, gets called fat by the Bellas and bails.
5. Kharma tells her employers that she had a baby and everything’s cool.
6. Kharma shows up at the Royal Rumble, is awesome, Implant Busts Dolph Ziggler and is about to be a thing again.
7. It turns out that Kharma’s baby didn’t survive the birth, which is a horrible tragedy … and then you remember the whole “she said everything was cool” part and you make a face like you just watched your grandma fall down, because how the f**k else are you supposed to react to finding that out.
8. Kharma starts tweeting about how she’s returning.
9. Kharma doesn’t return, the Bellas get another weird push, Kelly Kelly starts screaming and then goes silent for three months and Eve becomes a whore at some point and nobody really knows what’s happening.
10. Nikki Bella gets a mystery opponent at Extreme Rules, and hey, Kharma promised she’d return and get the Bellas in a year. The Bellas contract is up on the 30th of April, so this is basically your last shot.
11. Kharma tweets about how she’s gonna show up at Extreme Rules and destroy the Bellas.
12. Layla shows up at Extreme Rules and destroys the Bellas.
So … what the hell is going on? Is she fine? Is she still employed? Is she a liar? Is she just mentally f**ked up from the thing that would obviously f**k someone up mentally? If she’s coming back, why didn’t she come back? If she isn’t, why does she keep saying she’s coming back?
And more importantly, why did it take somebody until 1 day before their contract was up to figure out you could beat Twin Magic by just attacking the second Bella?