Best/Worst: The New Usual
I’m officially calling this feeling “the new usual”. It’s that feeling you get when a segment features people you like saying and doing things that seem compelling, but are either totally misguided, badly-written or hurtful to the show/narrative. A great example of this is the CM Punk/Mick Foley segment from Raw two weeks ago. I like Punk. I like Foley. They’re both good at what they do, and they sound great. But Punk’s just regurgitating what he’s been regurgitating for months, and Foley’s saying things that don’t make any sense. YOU HAVE TO BEAT JOHN CENA BEFORE YOU CAN CALL YOURSELF THE BEST IN THE WORLD. BEAT JOHN CENA ALREADY? SEVERAL TIMES? UH, BEAT HIM AGAIN, OR ELSE
Last night’s Punk/Vince mouth-off was The New Usual. I like Punk. His new shirt made me really miss the New Nexus. I like Television Character Vince, despite his roughly 60-40 shot at ruining the show with something. Punk and Vince have great chemistry together, and when they’re in the ring (especially with Heyman in tow), it feels like it’s going to be an important moment.
What’d we get? Vince telling Punk his t-shirt is ugly. The t-shirt that Punk has just debuted, which WWE created and designed and hopes to sell to people watching at home. Vince saying he doesn’t like Punk and pull a “how dare you” when Punk compares himself to people like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels or Stone Cold Steve Austin. How dare you, 5-time champion CM Punk, compare yourself to 6-time champion Austin, 5-time champion Hart or 4-time champion Michaels? How dare you compare yourself to Andre the Giant, who never held the championship and was a draw because wrestling used to more blatantly be a freak show? HOW DARE YOU. Vince is telling the 300+ day WWE Champion that he’s nobody, and that nobody makes the WWE a success except the WWE Universe, and when he says “WWE Universe” he means “John Cena”. Vince tells Punk he’s not important. The guy whose 3-disc retrospective DVD was released today. The guy on the cover of WWE ’13, released this month.
On the other side, you’ve got Punk delivering his lines with gusto, but lacking that believability that made his criss-cross applesauce manifesto so engaging. He says the WWE fans don’t respect him. The WWE fans chant “CM Punk”. He says fans chanting CM Punk are doing so ironically, and that nobody respects him. He’s a bad guy, sorta, sure. But he’s in the ring with the KING OF THE BAD GUYS, a guy doing nothing particularly babyface, running him through the mud because he’s the guy who runs the company and can do that for kicks. Punk’s raging against this horrible darkness, but still pretending to be a condescending coward because that’s on the whiteboard. It doesn’t make any sense, and it doesn’t get us anywhere.
The new usual. A great segment featuring great people doing a great job of saying terrible things.
Best: Paul Heyman Is An Invaluable Television Character
The MVP of that segment was ab-so-lutely Paul Heyman, who balanced the right amount of caution and pants-shitting fear to be the guy in charge of keeping CM Punk moving forward, but being unable to reign him in in the face of the greater evil. Watch him in the background of any shot. Watch him trying to dissuade Punk on the stage. He’s not mugging. He’s not taking away from the people you’re supposed to be paying attention to. He’s contributing to the mood, giving you a focal point, letting you know what you should feel. He’s Nick Carraway in the worst adaptation of The Great Gatsby ever.
Well, at least until the Baz Luhrmann one gets released.
Best: If I Was 10, I Would Be All About Sinsterio
I tried to get “Myscario” over last week, but I think Sinsterio is better. I take great pride in my tag team naming abilities, especially after I single-handedly named Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes ‘Rhodes Scholar,’ an accomplishment that no other man could have come close to matching. I am deadly serious about my tag team naming abilities. Please believe that everything in this paragraph is something I get upset about and would fight you over in real life.
Where was I? Oh, right, Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara (or “Scene Cara,” as Michael Cole calls him) (Kiliman-jare-o) are continuing their run as a straight-fowrard babyface tag team in coordinating masks, and I love it. Vince included “masked luchadors” in his State Of The WWE Address alongside leprechauns, so I’m not expecting WWE to understand the finer points of Mexican wrestling, but I’d love to see Sinsterio move on to a real lucha blood feud with somebody soon. If they want to break up Mysterio and Cara to build to a WrestleMania match between the two, they should give them a real thing to bond over, not just how much they like being tag partners. Get them into a luchas de apuestas thing with Del Rio and Ricardo. Maybe Del Rio has to give up his mansion, or ownership of Ricardo or whatever. Give me blood, mask-ripping, crying family members at ringside, air horns, the whole 9. Really let them battle through something together, so that when they split we’ll feel mournful about it. We don’t remember the barber shop window because of what happened, we remember it because Shawn and Marty had been tagging forever and it was a big f**king deal.
And like I said, man, if I was 10 years old, these guys would be my absolute favorite wrestlers. I wouldn’t care about botches or Rey Mysterio’s fatshirt, I’d just care that they were diving around onto people and looked awesome. I wish we could all find a way to watch wrestling like that again.
Worst: Tensai, You Ruiner!
This is the match I’d play in WWE ’13. Well, assuming I can’t give John Laurinaitis an RKO and a Rocker Dropper, max out his stats, make a photo-realistic Jun Akiyama and throw them at each other for an hour.
It was good, too. I’ll talk about it more when I get to the Antonio Cesaro match, but a 3-hour Raw could benefit from matches like this, assuming they’d let it go for a while and give it a clean ending. People need to come around to understanding that Sheamus is a boss in the ring, which should take precedent over that horrible shit he spews every time he opens his mouth, and they need to build Wade Barrett back up in their minds as a guy who can get the job done and take out top-level WWE Superstars. Wade won NXT season one and once terrorized the WWE for like three months with a gang of jobbers. In my mind, that should make him one of the most important people on the show.
The worst comes from Lord Dugong showing up, but mostly for WWE copping out and not letting this end, one way or another. 50/50 booking is the asshole of the creative wrestling mind, and in a fake sports where wins and losses don’t matter, you could MAKE wins and losses matter by, I don’t know, writing them to matter. If Barrett f**ks up everybody but the World Heavyweight Champion, then almost f**ks him up, too, Wade looks great for having proven himself as a top-shelf pro wrestler, and Sheamus looks great for defending his championship against a guy who could believably take him out and win it. At no point should either man fall victim to Sakamoto’s out-of-control ethnic monstergimp.
Best: Big Show Dismissing Sheamus With A Figurative Wanking Motion
One of my favorite moments from last night’s show was what immediately followed the Ten-terruption. Sheamus started in with his Super Sheamus routine, quickly dispatching both Wade Barrett and Lord Fusiform. Show snuck into the ring, and Sheamus (who has turned on Infinite Finishers) turns around and tries to Brogue Kick him. Because sometimes God loves me and wants me to keep watching wrestling, this happened:
Thanks, Show. They’ve made such a big, specific deal about Sheamus not being able to kick that high that I’m totally expecting the finish at Hell In A Cell to be Sheamus running down the announce table to Brogue Show (or worse, stepping up onto the ring steps somebody’s thrown into the ring). That’s going to be kinda sad, but for now we have Ring General Big Show, and every day in the reign of Sheamus as World Heavyweight Champion gets us closer to Mark Henry showing up out of nowhere and napalming him to death with a World’s Strongest Slam.