Best: Antonio Cesaro, Because Seriously
Are there still people out there doing the, “I don’t get it, Antonio Cesaro’s not that great” thing on the Internet? I know I get wishy-washy about everyone being entitled to their opinion a lot in this column, but f**k it, if you don’t love watching Antonio Cesaro wrestle right now, you are a f**king moron.
Cesaro versus Kingston was the best-ever match I had wrestling with a pillow as a kid. It was Cesaro versus a Kofi Kingston wrestling buddy. I’ve written a lot about Cesaro being a great base for high fliers, and that doesn’t just extend to high fliers who know what they’re doing … watch him throw Kingston into position for everything, lean into his strikes, move or roll wherever he needs to move or roll (whether it makes sense or not) to make Kofi’s moves look like real things that would happen to somebody. Watch the impossible timing of that hand on the rope to break up the S.O.S. He couldn’t have done it better if he was counting the pin himself.
It was easily the most I’ve enjoyed a Kofi Kingston match in years, based almost entirely on that awesome moment at the end when Cesaro catches him coming off the top rope FOR REAL and throws him down. That’s not a guy waiting for a catch, that is a strong, superior motherf**ker using real-ass strength to stop a 200+ pound man from falling. It’s the first thing he’s done more impressive than dead-lifting Brodus Clay into irrelevancy, and it’s peppered with ridiculous commentary facts like HE WALKS EVERYWHERE and HE IS SO DISCIPLINED HE SLEEPS ON THE FLOOR. He should be your favorite wrestler. I was never the biggest Claudio Castangoli fan and I don’t know where he’ll be as a character or wrestler five years from now, but right now, as of December 2012, he is every single thing good about pro wrestling.
Best: Rhodes Scholars Trying Desperately To Save This Segment, Or
Worst: I’ve Made A Huge Miztake
Imagine your favorite thing. Now, imagine your least favorite thing. Imagine holding them, one in each hand, and banging them against each other in front of you. That was me during MizTv. In my left hand was smart, funny pro wrestlers creating interesting characters on their way to a match for a tag title shot against luchadors in a tables match on pay-per-view. In my right was Howard the Duck, laughing at his own jokes about how everybody is a stupid gay.
I considered making this page a .wav file of a fart noise. That’s also how I felt during MizTV.
Worst: An Open Letter To The Miz, Or “Get Your Shit Together”
Dear The Miz,
Hi, how are you? I am well. Camp is great. Just kidding, I’m writing a wrestling column.
Over the last few weeks, large portions of that column have been in praise of your impending face turn. I wrote about how you always seemed disingenuous as a be-suited Chris Jericho heel because you love wrestling so much, and always seem like you’re so happy to be there. You do all the press gigs, you fill in for Marine movies when people remember Randy Orton’s a shoot d-bag, you pal around with Miss Piggy and Kelly Ripa and whoever with a smile on your face. You were on The Real World acting like a real, nerdy wrestling fan, because on the inside you’re a real, nerdy wrestling fan. You’re uncool like the rest of us, which is why you wore suits for two years without tailoring them. You didn’t even think to. You are you.
I think that translates well in the ring. When you’re a heel, you have to act like you’re upset at everybody all the time and control the match. You have to “methodically” beat people up. That’s boring to you. When you’re a good guy, you get to zip around and hit people with a sense of urgency. Your wacky move set-ups look like you’re doing them because you’re EXCITED, not because you’re preparing animations for your video game character. The crowd gets behind you easily because they can see that, even if they don’t understand what they’re seeing.
I also know that you work for a company that does not always share the values of people who have their social shit together in 2012. Your company has not been nice to women or minorities or little people or old people or anybody, really, so when you say stuff like “your pink tights mean you’re a FAG,” I know you’ve been told to say it. People will laugh and agree with you and hate the guy in the pink trunks, because it takes a long time to get everybody on the same page. Your job is based on a really unique, cool interpretation of art and human emotion, executed by incredible athletes performing a show that ends their lives prematurely to the delight of everyone who can get past its illegitimacy, but it is also racist and terrible most of the time, and I get it.
You have been around a while, right? You were WWE Champion. You do all the press gigs, like I mentioned. I understand that you aren’t John Cena, but I feel like if somebody handed you a line that read, “call Damien Sandow a vagina, call Cody Rhodes a literal asshole,” you could be enlightened enough to say, “hey, no, let’s try something else.” “Let’s be insulting without demeaning gay people, because gay people watch our show and get demeaned everywhere else.” Something. I don’t know what you’d think. I remember the time when you got weird about black people on The Real World, and Coral and the other lady had to explain it to you, not because you were racist, but because you didn’t know any better. I’ve seen you learn these lessons, and I know you don’t yell YOU MAKE OUT WITH EACH OTHER to two male wrestlers to demean them and think it’s great. You’re laughing at it a lot, but I don’t think you think it’s great. At least, I hope you don’t.
All that said, I still think you should be a good guy. You’re a good guy. I think the problem lies in maintaining the good guy character in the ring without giving in so hard to the good guy character handed to you by creative. The Rock calls people gay and is a big movie star. Chris Jericho and CM Punk and whoever else called people homos for a laugh and made a lot of money. You can be those guys if you want, because I know they mean a lot to you. But what would mean a lot to ME is having a new generation of decent, honest pro wrestlers who work hard to adapt their sport to the age and time wherein it exists, because they know better. You can be base, crude, stupid and pandering without wallowing in the lay-up, surface level playing-to-the-inbreds horseshit that makes 83% of the people I’ll meet in life think I’m an asshole for supporting you and the people you work with.
You have everything you ever wanted, right? You’re a WWE Champion, dating one of the most beautiful people any of us have ever seen, and you get to be in movies and Chef Boyardee commercials. That’s a long way from Parma, Ohio. I want the best for you. I want you to have a long, happy career full of success and personal fulfillment, but as a man at the top of a profession defined by cruelty and premature death, I would really appreciate it if you tried not to do it on the backs of people who are treated cruelly and die prematurely because the weird little screens we live our lives through are full of shit like you telling them they deserve it.
You are not the first person to do this, and you won’t be the last, so please don’t think of this request as melodramatic, or delivered from a soap box, or whatever else would allow you to dismiss it without consideration. It’s not. It just makes me unhappy to see people like you acting like the fictional people you’re given. You can try harder, and do better. You deserve it, and so do we.
Best: Cody Rhodes Looks Like He’s Being Character-Acted By William H. Macy
Best: Backstage Fallout Is The Best WWE Show
It is. I should just start linking it every week.
In this week’s episode, we get WAY more reasons to hate Brad Maddox than the wanky “You Can’t Wrestle” chants, Antonio Cesaro ends an amazing interview segment by bragging about his deadly hands in a foreign language and Titus O’Neil SERIOUSLY performs a spiritual with a gym whistle. Darren Young’s SHOOT!!!! is just icing on the cake. Best show.