Worst: Nobody Is Going To Say “Wow, I Wish Someone Would Pin Fandango” No Matter How Many Count-Out Losses You Have Him Take
☑ 1. heels taking purposeful count-out losses
The Rob Van Dam “Coming Out Of Our Shells” nostalgia tour continues as he gets in all of his greatest hits — jumping kicks, running kicks, kicks while standing still — and Fandango gets to do the one thing he’s done consistently since debuting — roll out of the ring and take a count-out loss.
I understand having him occasionally take the easy way out to build suspense for his comeuppance, like when the Honky Tonk Man held the Intercontinental Championship in shady fashion for three decades or however long it was before Warrior warrior-trotted along and press-slammed him to death. But are there any kids out there going “AW MAN DAD I CAIN’T WAIT TO SEE FANDANGO GET PINNED?” Seriously? He’s not in a position of power. He’s not holding a title and keeping it under scummy circumstances. He’s just a guy with no faith in his wrestling game who doesn’t know when to hit his catchphrase and can’t stop losing on purpose.
I don’t do this a lot, but I’ll give Van Dam a supplemental Best for just being like, “sure, I’ll take it. ROB! VAN! DAM!” instead of being upset.
Worst: And Here Come The Non-Title Losses
☑ 2. non-title match losses for champions
Here’s how the WWE Divas Division used to work: they had seven Divas. One person would hold the belt, and every few months they’d rotate the six other girls into the position of “challenger,” usually through a #1 Contenders Battle Royal. When I say “usually” I mean always.
Here’s how the WWE Divas Division works now: they have seven Divas. Five of them are off filming a reality show about how sad and mad they are and who they date, leaving one Diva to be champion and one to be challenger. Poor Kaitlyn can’t rotate out, so she gets an endless string of title shots with decreasing levels of interest and reason that started at “we were best friends for three years,” devolved into “you’re fat/you’re a whore” and now rests comfortably at the bottom, aka “non-title losses leading to pay-per-view wins.” In my field we call this Wade Barretting.
I wish we could see more of the understated, unique AJ “crazy” character that got her shoved into the spotlight and less of the “I sure am crazy, huh guys” thing she’s been doing since she got made GM. I’ve seen AJ enough to know that she’s got more varied speeds than “angry stare” and “screaming tantrum.” Before, she seemed unhinged because she was pulling the strings of everyone around her and manipulating everyone’s emotions. Now she’s just saying random shit because “crazy.” Going from happy to mad and back suddenly doesn’t make you dark or complex, it makes you a cartoon character. You are Doink. Doink in jorts.
Worst: How Are You Making Dolph Ziggler Vs. Big E Langston NOT Exciting
Before I get into what’s going on with Big E, here’s your regular reminder that Face Dolph Ziggler is everything bad about Face Chris Jericho times a thousand, and every time he starts talking on the microphone it should shock him like a joy buzzer.
But no, Big E Langston reminds me of Shawn Michaels, and I know that sounds like the most ridiculous way to start a sentence ever, but bear with me. Remember when Shawn had just started the Heartbreak Kid character and was using the “tear drop suplex,” and it sucked shit so they gave him a superkick? And you know how eventually Sweet Chin Music became one of the most iconic and memorable finishes in wrestling history? Well, when Shawn first started using it he didn’t “tune up the band” or whatever, he just kicked guys. So there’d be these long, awkward pauses while he waited for guys to get up where the crowd would die and then be expected to get up for a kick. Shawn would sorta wander around or stand in a corner like he knew he was supposed to do SOMETHING, but he wasn’t sure what. Then one day he started stomping his foot all big and everything came together.
Big E Langston is Sweet Chin Music without a stomp right now. What he does works and he knows how to do it, he just spends most of his matches standing around like he knows there’s something more. In NXT, where he’s treated like a thundering God, he’s got his whole FIVE FIVE FIVE act, the ONE MORE TIME chants, the straps coming down, the stomping around the ring with his hand open. He’s got an entire thing happening. On Raw, he hasn’t yet taught the crowd when to do what (or been given the chance to, because his character is “be huge and stand still”), so his matches aren’t as dynamic and exciting as they should be. He’ll figure it out one day.
Until then, we’re stuck with Big E as a walking Tear Drop Suplex aimlessly clubbering a neutered-as-f**k Dolph Ziggler until a cardboard cutout of AJ randomly causes a DQ. Why the hell did you break these guys up again?
Best: Christian Vs. Alberto Del Rio For The WHC Would Be A Great PPV Match (If We Hadn’t Already Watched It Just Now) (And Won’t Watch It Again Several Times Before SummerSlam)
☑ 3. multiple non-title match losses for champions on the same show
Typing “this shouldn’t be on Raw, this should be a PAY-PER-VIEW MATCH” makes me feel like the worst fan, because I value a rewarding narrative arc over instant gratification and that means I’m doing it wrong. Wrestling is, more than anything else in the world (besides porn, I guess), about instant gratification. Having problems with your boss? WATCH SOMEBODY PUNCH THEIR BOSS, NOW YOU’RE BETTER.
But yeah, lots of “why is this on free TV” stuff happened this week. The biggest example for me is Christian pinning Alberto Del Rio to set up … Christian not pinning Alberto Del Rio at SummerSlam. Regular readers of the column know I’m a fan of Del Rio’s, more than most people, but one of his biggest and most legitimate Worsts is that he wrestles the same guys over and over, so every ADR match feels stale as balls. Think about it. Do you want to see Del Rio vs. Cena again? What about Del Rio vs. Sheamus? Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger? Even Del Rio vs. Ziggler, which is always great. No, probably not, because you’ve seen them 60 times each.
So when Del Rio gets a relatively fresh opponent, why are we building to their match by having them wrestle every week? By the time SummerSlam actually happens, Del Rio/Christian will be just as stale as Del Rio/Sheamus. Why not, for the sake of stimulus response if nothing else, build a beef between them that has nothing to do with OH NO YOU DIDN’T non-title roll-up losses and let us see them wrestle for the “first” time at the big show? I’m all for the instant gratification of seeing two wrestlers I like wrestle each other, but damn, I’d rather see them wrestle once when it’s important instead of 8 times when it isn’t.