Worst: John Cena’s Pre-Show Q+A
If there’s a worse way to spend 30 minutes, I’d like to see it.
I’ve got a Worst a little later for the Atlanta crowd and how dead they were, but who can blame them? Their night started with half an hour of John Cena calmly responding to Touts with sentences like, “CM Punk calls himself the best in the world, but Ryback says ‘feed me more,’ they will wrestle later tonight”. That was the most controversial thing he did or said. At one point he mentioned how he was excited to see the main-event because nobody can exploit a weakness like CM Punk. Didn’t you (YOU) arrange this match to see Punk get his ass beaten? Didn’t you say that out-loud? It was an impossibly pointless exercise in letting a WWE crowd see John Cena since they really weren’t going to “see” John Cena, and I can’t shake the feeling that it would’ve been better for all of us if they’d just let John wander out with a t-shirt gun during one of those 8-minute video packages.
Let me put it to you this way: John Cena stood in the ring and talked about stuff tangentially-related to him (at best) for 12 minutes, which is the same amount of time four over wrestlers got to compete for the tag team championships in the blow-off match to a tag titles tournament that lasted over a month. If that doesn’t work, try this: as a lot of people in our Hell In A Cell live thread pointed out, John Cena tossed Dolph Ziggler out of the ring, then got mad at him for not being in the ring. John Cena’s brain in a nutshell, everybody.
Best: Randy Orton’s Complete Inability To Function Or Handle It When Something Goes Mildly Wrong
I don’t know if it’s the voices in his head, “intermediate” explosive disorder or the natural tendency of his child-tempered, bag-shitting true self to shine through, but nothing brings me greater Botchamanic joy than watching Randy Orton lose control of his mind and body when somebody does something wrong. Remember when Kofi Kingston didn’t properly sprawl out for the punt, so Orton just yelled STUPID at him a bunch?
Alberto Del Rio went to the top rope to hit a heel’s favorite transitional move (I like to call it the “jumping nothing” … Tully Blanchard used to Jumping Nothing into raised feet on the reg), and Orton was supposed to turn around and dropkick him. That would’ve set up the finishing sequence and carried the very, very good match to its logical end. Instead, Orton just watusi’d for the enjoyment of nobody, ADR jumped and landed near him with VICIOUS NOTHINGNESS and Orton just shrugged and semi-dropkicked his way through it. It wasn’t the most terrible thing ever, but Orton’s “derp, okay WRESTLING MOVE” was great, and if it isn’t in the first 30 seconds of Botchamania 217 with the NES Thunderbirds shuttle launching music behind it I’ll eat my Internet.
I really enjoyed the match itself. Alberto Del Rio’s entire thing should be “I’m going to break your arm, and I can do it from anywhere,” so when he starts falling off the top rope into armbars and jumping and snapping your arm with his knees it really means something. Also, Ricardo Rodriguez continues to be my favorite part of any show and should be the highest paid person on the roster. Make-A-Wish kids should be requesting Ricardo Rodriguez.
Best: My Initial Reaction To That RKO, or
Worst: That Awkward Replay Hesitance
Best: I wasn’t expecting Del Rio’s corner enzuigiri to be the finish, so when he went up too high for it and came down into an RKO, I flipped out. Cutters out of nowhere — I’m talking cutters from ridiculous positions like this, not a guy getting beaten up for 12 minutes and busting one out for a lame win — make my heart swell, and Del Rio crashed and burned like a champ. If I was booking WWE (and I will not ever), I would construct Orton storylines based solely on who has something in their moveset that could unexpectedly end up as an RKO. For the longest time I wanted Orton and Ziggler to RKO/Zig Zag each other simultaneously for a double KO. Better yet, run Ziggler and R-Truth vs. Orton and The Rock and have them quadruple-KO each other.
Worst: Maybe I’ve watched too much wrestling, but you can always kinda tell when a move didn’t go as well as they’d planned, because they don’t make as big a deal out of it as they should. When Shawn Michaels kicked Shelton Benjamin’s head off in the Gold Rush tournament, the announcers practically vomited blood onto the announce table and demanded 75 replays. When Orton hit the RKO on Del Rio last night and it wasn’t really what they wanted, they stuck with “WHAT A MOVE” and “RANDY ORTON IS DANGEROUS”. JBL sorta innocently snuck in a “I WANNA SEE THAT AGAIN,” and nobody responded to him. Then they jumped to the replay, but put like 4 unrelated clips of armbars and stuff before it. To me, that feels like code for “a producer need like two minutes to decide if it was okay to rebroadcast, because God,” with a side of “from our angle it looked like an asshole”. Something was off.
That spinning armbar into a powerslam was on point, though.
Best: Everything About The Tag Team Championship Match Before The Horrible, Horrible Finish
And then, the match we’d all been waiting for.
The first 12 minutes and 30 seconds of the Team Hell No versus (Team) Rhodes Scholar(s) tag team championship match was glorious. It felt like the first 12 minutes and change of a 40 minute classic, with the good guys trying to work together and running into problems and the bad guy team trying to isolate and destroy the champs but not being good (or lucky) enough to make it happen. Ideally the +Rhodes on Daniel Bryan would’ve been the beginning of an epic 15 minutes of Midnight Express ass-whomping from the challengers, building to Kane as a literal House Of Fire* and D-Bry using the last of his strength to help out an important moment and give his team the victory. It would’ve cemented Team Hell No as the Aces To Beat in the finally functioning tag team division, would’ve kept Rhodes Scholar as a threat for future title matches and would’ve given legitimacy to that number one contenders tournament you used to resuscitate a fourth of your roster.
Worst: The Horrible, Horrible Finish
Instead, the referee thought he was working Saturday Morning Slam and disqualified Kane for briefly punching his opponents. That’s it. Are we that worried about people taking pinfalls? How many times do I have to write the 50/50 booking paragraph? Wrestling isn’t real, so you can let a guy like Damien Sandow get beaten by a guy like Daniel Bryan and still make money with him in the future, you just can’t be wishy-washy about it and book stupid disqualifications and ref screwjobs, because then you live in a world with no consequences, and if we wanted to spend hundreds of dollars investing in a world where everything sucks and nothing matters we’d collect comic books.
I’m interested to see if they book a rematch for Survivor Series (in three weeks, which is totally enough time to create compelling, episodic stories), but I’m also interested in directly telling WWE that shit like this is why I do everything I can to avoid dropping 50 bucks on pay-per-views. I’m going to get the pay-off for free on Raw, right? You’d rather have my TV ratings than my PPV dollars, right? Enjoy me not having a Nielsen box, WWE.