Best: SummerSlam Axxess, Featuring Giant Daniel Bryan Banners
I don’t want to open a SummerSlam column with wistful introspection or whatever, but four years ago I was watching American Dragon Bryan Danielson wrestle Kenny King in front of maybe 70 people at the Grays Armory in Cleveland. Fast forward to 2012 and I’m outside of the Staples Center at WWE SummerSlam Axxess, taking a photo of a giant banner with his picture on it. We like to talk a lot of shit on the Internet about WWE hating wrestling and not knowing what to do with talent, but the American Dragon is a former World Heavyweight Champion who gets a showcase graphic at their big summer pay-per-view. We’re doing all right.
Of course, they had these big posters for a lot of people (including Kofi Kingston, a picture of Chris Jericho that was at least four years old and one of Miz doing that weird taunt where it looks like he’s scooping something into his mouth), but it’s still great to see. Also great to see were the “and everybody else” banners they hung on the security railings around Axxess, because the more random WWE fans see Damien Sandow and Antonio Cesaro, the better.
Best: THQ Is The Best Organization With The Nicest People In The Entire World And I’m Not Just Saying That Because They Let Me Go To SummerSlam
The only reason I was able to make it to SummerSlam is because the nice folks at THQ thought enough of me to fly me over/down to cover the WWE ’13 events and watch a little pro graps. In a few years when this has happened to me more than once, I’ll give you a jaded “the game looks phenomenal and thanks to everyone who let me play it” copy-paste job, but I’m still new to the experience of being treated like a Somebody so I’ve spent all afternoon drawing pictures of me kissing their boots in MS Paint. Everything you see or read in this report was made possible by these guys, and if they hadn’t thought enough of me to shoot me an e-mail I would’ve half-watched a crummy stream of the show and farted something out on Monday afternoon. I cannot think of a way to thank them enough.
One of the cool things THQ had set up at Axxess (besides this booth, where you could play the game against strangers who only wanted to be Triple H or Undertaker) was a photo booth where they’d take your picture, put it on the cover of WWE ’13, then print it out and give it to you in an XBox 360 box. I will not reproduce mine here for two reasons:
1. They cropped off my fingers to get my face in the right place, which means you can’t tell I’m doing the Keiji Mutoh taunt (everyone was doing wrestling taunts, it was either that or a bunch of crotch chopping).
2. Everyone made fun of me for wondering if they had a PS3 case I could have my picture in. Apparently having a PS3 is frowned upon in video game circles. Who knew? I like Kratos and watching blu-rays. My homework between now and next year’s SummerSlam is to learn how to care about framerate and lag, or something.
Best: Finally, A Belt I Can Mark Out For
If you read the Best And Worst Of WrestleMania XXVIII Live column, you might remember that I use Axxess events to wander around and meet jobbers and have little-to-no interest in doing a “superstar entrance” video or seeing old wrestling props. It’s cool that you’ve got Ric Flair’s robe on display, but unless Ric Flair is IN it, I’m not going to waste valuable “meeting Johnny Curtis” time snapping pictures of it.
At SummerSlam Axxess they had their usual title belts display, and this is basically how my experience sounded:
Me: “wwe championship, okay, world heavyweight championship, ecw championship, tag belts, okay, whatever, let me take a closer look at this and OH MY GOD THEY HAVE THE LAYCOOL BELT GUYS COME HERE LOOK THEY HAVE THE LAYCOOL BELT OH MY GOD” /frantically fumbles with camera
Of course, nobody but me CARES that they have the LayCool title, but I may love LayCool more than both Lay and Cool so it was a treat for me. They even signed it as BsFF. If anybody from Highspots is listening, sell a replica version of this, I’ll buy it in a heartbeat.
Best: Damien Sandow Crashing The WWE 13 Roster Reveal
Another moment like that for me was Damien Sandow showing up out of nowhere during the WWE ’13 roster reveal. Part of being in town for the weekend was doing work, and my intention going into the roster reveal was to tweet out everybody they announced with a joke about their finisher. I had a bunch of them planned. “Announced: The Miz. Finisher: turning to face the hard cam”, or “Announced: Ken Shamrock. Finisher: Telling you to slap him”. Some where better than others. But then they started announcing who was in the game in these big groups, and gave you like 4 1/2 seconds to react to everyone. I think I got out half a joke for each group. Not my finest moment.
Anyway, the event was hosted by Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler and CM Punk, which as you know is a weird cocktail of people I enjoy hearing speak and Jerry f**king Lawler. And I’ve just formally stepped into a Twilight Zone where fun stuff has become work, and instead of just going AAAAH AAAAAAAH at wrestlers I was thumbing a smartphone, so it’s like I’m at a desk in an office somewhere. Then HAAAAALLELUJAH starts up, and my brain goes from work to play in 0.4 seconds and I rush the ring and start screaming about how much I love Damien Sandow. It was great. It’s not something I can turn off, apparently. I’m a grown man and I still can’t handle someone I love standing in front of me. I’m like f**king Hugh Grant.
The highlight of Sandow’s appearance (besides the greatness of him being announced as DLC for WWE ’13) was Punk trying to get over on him with a “I thought I was dumb wearing a t-shirt and jeans, this guy comes out in a robe!” and having Sandow respond with an amazing, “I’ll have you know, this is Egyptian cotton”. A guy with class speaking for intelligent wrestling fans is the REAL voice of the voiceless, you snarky fry cook.
Best: WWE ’13 Is Actually Really, Really Fun
One of the things on my list of things I couldn’t do was take a picture of the screen while I was playing, so I can’t reproduce that glorious moment when I used Daniel Bryan to tap out Comics Alliance’s Chris Sims’ Mankind with a guillotine choke.
I throw a lot of shade at WWE ’12 (short version: I incessantly unlock everything in the first week, then make a bunch of photo-realistic local create-a-wrestlers I never use and never play the game again until somebody I know who likes wrestling visits my house) and am not at liberty (until Thursday, I think) to talk about a bunch of the particulars of ’13, but this game is fun as f**k. It might be the first WWE wrestling game since Here Comes The Pain I play more than a couple of weeks. Just Sandow and Heath Slater matches all day long. I think I said “THIS IS ACTUALLY REALLY FUN” out-loud a few times during the event, which is probably the shittiest compliment to give THQ guys to their faces, but there you go.
So yeah, get this game when it comes out. The worst thing I’ve seen about it so far is that Daniel Bryan doesn’t have his entrance jacket. That’s it.