Worst: Ryback Should Probably Talk Less
So, I guess it’s appropriate to start this week’s column by saying how hard I’m turning on Ryback, and now a couple of interference runs in pay-per-view main events have taken me to the heights of Funkasaurus Debut to the bowels of Funkasaurus Now.
I think Ryback has an upside. I’ve always liked Skip Sheffield, and I feel like if you pulled the cameras away from him a little and highlighted his strengths without throwing him out there with a microphone to open Raw he could still be a thing. Unfortunately for all of us, there he is with a microphone opening Raw, yammering on like he’s Vader in that one episode of ‘Boy Meets World,’ screaming in Mr. Feeny’s face about how he’s THE FACE OF FEAR and being taken seriously by nobody because the crowd is just Cory Matthews (me), Shawn Hunter (Dave Shoemaker) and a bunch of extras who were just told to show up and have no idea what’s happening (everybody else on the Internet). Yes, the only way I justify being a blogger is by imagining myself as the protagonist of a 1990s sitcom. Sorry for inadvertently making you Joey The Rat, Guy At Bleacher Report.
You know what made those weird, rambling Ultimate Warrior interviews so great? The fact that they happened right before his matches. It felt like he’d just been wandering around in circles backstage mumbling to himself, and it was close enough to go-time that Mean Gene could say HEY ULTIMATE WARRIOR and uncork him. So he’d be all THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION IS THE DESTINY OF YOUR DOWNFALL HO KOGAN, FOR IT IS THE HAND OF AN AIRPLANE THAT MAKES OUTER SPACE RELEVANT, and you’d be all YEAH THIS GUY’S F**KING INSANE and five minutes later he’s press slamming dudes with tassles on his shoes and it all goes together. Imagine if Warrior had to open shows with 10 minute promos to nobody in particular, never looking into the camera and just saying things about how he’s a BEAST and how he must FEAST and how he is on top of the food chain and you are just YEAST. You’d f**king hate it, because there’d be an hour and a half between the bat-shit and the slamming.
Here’s a quick outline for any WWE guys reading on how to fix Ryback, or at least preserve him for future shows and stories:
1. Don’t let him talk if he’s supposed to be a savage cyborg (or whatever).
2. Do not under any circumstances let him beat three promising wrestlers by himself at TLC. Put Stansky in the Olive Garden Hospitaliano uniform and pretend like you accidentally called him Seth Rollins.
3. Make him stop leading his own chants. It was embarrassing when Edge tried to do it, and it’s worse here. We’re noticing it, and we’re wrestling fans — we don’t want to be a part of any club that would have us as a member.
4. Do something to teach WWE fans how to count on rhythm. It’s supposed to be “FEED (pause) ME (pause) MORE,” like a King’s declaration, not “FEEDMEMORE, FEEDMEMORE,” like E-C-Dub. Trust me, it’s more fun when you do it right.
5. Maybe make him a part of a group to take the focus off of him for a while. It seems like he’d more effective as the NEVER MIND THAT SHIT HERE COMES MONGO type, rather than the “these FANS want to see me take the WWE Championship!” type.
If you can do one or more of those things, you’re moving in the right direction. If you can do all five, the next steps are “lose the RVD tights” and “just bring back Batista already”.
Worst: So Long, Lord Tensai, And Thanks For All The F**KING NOTHING
Earlier this year, WWE had four concurrent “unstoppable” winning streak new guys: Ryback, Brodus Clay, Antonio Cesaro and Lord Tensai. Five if you count Damien Sandow. The key to winning a lot in WWE is to always be just arriving. That’s why you can’t beat the Rock. He’s gone for seven years and has saved up SO MUCH POWER. If you’re Brodus Clay and you’re here every week, your power keeps going down until you can’t beat anybody. See also: Viscera, The Great Khali and every other unstoppable monster giant who loses whenever someone more important needs a win.
Sandow seems to be doing fine (despite that horrible, immediate Survivor Series loss). Cesaro is GREAT, because they haven’t thrown him in to lose to Cena or Orton or whoever and have let him pick the bones of guys like R-Truth for a while. Ryback is starting his descent from Main Event to “wrestling NXT guys in a gimmick match, probably”. Brodus ran headfirst into a wall called RACIST WRESTLEMANIA SKETCH and has never recovered. Pretty sure Naomi could’ve done better against Antonio Cesaro last night. But worst of all is Tensai, who brick by brick lost everything that made him an identifiable character — the plus-sized Muta costume, the green mist, the spit hand of doom, Sakamoto, his title as “lord,” basic wrestling ability — and just became the fattest, saddest jobber on the roster.
If the rumors of massive roster cuts are true, let me, the biggest Giant Bernard fan you know (probably), be the first to hope
Lord is the first one out the f**king door.
Best: Wade Barrett Decimating Kofi Kingston
Surprisingly, Wade Barrett versus Kofi Kingston was my favorite match on the show. They worked hard to find the perfect formula for me to enjoy a Kofi match: Kofi must have the piss beaten out of him by his opponent for 10 minutes before being elbowed in the eyeball and pinned. Who knew?
Worst: There Is No Reason For This To Be A Non-Title Match
The only downside to the match is that it wasn’t for the Intercontinental Championship. I write a lot about how pointless non-title matches are as stepping stones to title matches — if you’re building a challenger to the IC Champion, have him beat OTHER guys so we can wonder whether or not he’ll take the strap and be interested in your goddamn mid-carders and tune in to see what happens — but I don’t think I’ve ever expressed how sick I am with WWE treating secondary titles as situationally important.
They’ll put the US title on a guy for like, eight months and have him defend it twice. The second time is when he’ll lose it. Cody Rhodes, I’m looking in your direction. In-between he’ll lose a handful of non-title matches, effectively making the guy with the belt the worst guy in the ring and valuing shit like “making a statement” over winning and having tangible evidence that you are the best. But then they’ll get to the end of the run and start pretending like the champion has done all these great things, and is one of the “best champions we’ve ever had,” and how the US title has been on the waist of Stone Cold Steve Austin and Ric Flair and Harley Race.
All I’m asking is for some consistency. If the title isn’t important, don’t pretend it is when you need it. If it IS important, as it should be, be brave enough to WRITE it as important, and to have it change hands when your champ loses. That’s the entire point of being champion — the moment when you lose the belt, and the next guy takes over. If it has to jump around a lot because of your ADHD, fine, but at least let it stand as a symbol of who won last.
Note: Wade Barrett totally won last.
Worst: Matt Striker’s Face
I don’t care if it’s Movember or NaNoGroFacialHairMo or what, you should not be allowed on TV looking like a teen girl’s half-assed manga interpretation of Hulk Hogan. I take back what I said about Tensai being the first out the door. Put him on all fours and let Matt Striker ride him through the door like a big gross molerat pony.