A few prerequisites before you read this week’s column:
1. As always, Best and Worst assumes you’ve seen the show and is full of spoilers, so read the Best and Worst of WWE Money in the Bank 2011 to get prepped.
2. Know that your shares, likes, +1s and whatever else are extremely appreciated. Also, be sure to drop a comment if you read, because your voice is important to the success of the feature and because I need near-constant positive reinforcement. I don’t care if you just post “john cena gay” as long as you’re leaving a comment.
3. To view the complete column, you must hop on Twitter and tell NXT winner Kaitlyn to call me on the telephone. Once you’ve sent the message, your computer will register you with With Leather and you’ll be able to read pages 5-10, or whatever.
Best: Professor Plum in the Billiard Room with the Genetic Jackhammer
Vince McMahon has been a secret fashion icon since his earliest days on television. Who could forget his bright red bowtie, his over-sized Raw is War dress shirt flak jacket or his leisure suit overalls from the “Stand Back” performance? The sleeveless black shirt he wears in all the video games is iconic. So is the doo-rag and suit ensemble he rocked as the first truly black ECW Heavyweight Champion.
So it pleases me to note that the older and wider Vince gets, the more he starts to look like someone’s ironic sofa. It takes a real man to pull off sorbet, and while I’m not sure even Vince pulled it off, it does add legitimacy to the size-of-fruit comparisons he bestows upon his own balls. If I showed up on TV wearing a Purplesaurus Rex suit I wouldn’t look like a millionaire pimp, I’d look like Lloyd Christmas. The man looked like he should be abandoned in a 1990s fridge in favor of Sunny D. Who’s his tailor, Urban Decay?
Worst: The New Stooges
At the risk of telling you too many uninteresting things about myself, lately I’ve gotten really into comedy from the first half of the 20th century. If you listened to my appearance on the House of Punte podcast you know I’m a sucker for a good Our Gang folly (as long as they involve Stymie), and if you’ve ever doubted my heterosexuality (and trust me, that’s an easy thing to do), allow me to verify it with five words: I love The Three Stooges.
I want to pretend like I’m an elitist who only enjoys Chaplin and Keaton, but no, I think it’s funny when Curly accidentally stabshreds Larry in the ass with a power drill. Without getting too deeply into what makes what funny, here’s Exhibit A, a Stooge chart.
Curly – Always funny
Shemp – Funny
Moe – Funny until Joe showed up
Larry – Funny until Joe showed up
Joe – not funny
Curly Joe – god damned awful
Using these adjectives as scientific fact, we see a decline in Stooge quality as time moves on and Curly has strokes and somebody at the motion picture studio decides being fat and bald makes you enough like Curly to be a Three Stooge. In wrestling terms, a “stooge” has come to define the hapless Yes Men who follow Vince McMahon around and do his bidding. The classic Stooges were Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco, and I don’t think I’m making any rash judgments by saying they were probably the worst thing that ever happened in wrestling. Yes, the Hardcore Evening Gown match was worse than Jimmy Snuka murdering a whore, why would you even ask me that?
Assuming that means wrestling’s stooge chart STARTS at Curly Joe, there is not much hope for John Laurenaitis, who at his best is the love child of Shawn Michaels and Steve Zahn and at his worst is a skateboarding idiot. Exhibit B:
And it it turns out Johnny Ace is wrestling’s Emil Sitka, who does that make Shane Douglas?
Worst: Tournaments In Theory vs. Tournaments In Practice
In theory: Wrestling tournaments are awesome. It sets up wrestling like a real sport: guys who might not always compete against each other are paired up with a common goal, so things like heel vs. heel and face vs. face become workable dynamics. It gives your show a plot. You have a clear beginning, middle and end written for you with an excuse for tons and tons of wrestling. And not only does it make the wrestlers look like they’re competing for something, it makes your company look great because the wrestlers are competing for YOUR something.
In practice: Ugh, tournaments.
So many problems with tournaments. One, the family that paid 60 dollars a pop for upper deck seats paid to see Rey Mysterio once and have no interest in seeing him three times. Those people don’t really care what you do, they just want to see you doing it. People watching at home need structure, action, drama, a story. People watching at the arena would be happy if the five biggest stars just stood in the ring and waved at them for two hours.
Two, you’re asking guys who are used to working five minutes a night to do three times the work, so you get a lot of stuff like R-Truth lying on the ground with Rey Mysterio in a headlock for five minutes. Imagine what would happen if you dropped Rosa Mendes into the middle of a SHIMMER show. Can’t picture it? Put your housecat in a car and push it down a hill, see if it knows how to stop the car and drive back up.
Three, tournaments bring out the worst in fantasy bookers, especially on the Internet. As soon as its announced, everyone with a functioning set of hands jumps on their keyboards to explain what’s going to happen. Think I’m being condescending? I did it too. Last night the first thing that went through my head was “Alberto Del Rio’s going to lose his first round match, then cash in Money in the Bank after somebody who had to wrestle three times wins the finals”. I didn’t care about the matches, I cared about how the bracket was set up and what happened at the very end.
Four, nothing they’re doing matters. Like two weeks ago Alberto Del Rio won a #1 contenders match against R-Truth and Rey Mysterio, but didn’t get his shot. So he gets entered into a Money in the Bank ladder match against R-Truth and Rey Mysterio, and wins that. The championship gets held up, so he gets put into a title tournament involving R-Truth and Rey Mysterio. NOTHING YOU DO MATTERS, ALBERTO.
Best: Mike Mizanin, Superface
As phony as Miz comes across as a heel sometimes, I feel like he could be the most sincere and effective babyface wrestler in the world. You know that thing Cena does where he talks about how much he loves THIS BUSINESS and they show pictures of him holding WWE belts when he was three? That’s not the life of the modern WWE fan. The modern fan didn’t love wrestling as a kid, then work hard to be a star athlete so they could spend four seconds in wrestling school before getting a developmental deal based on their incredulous natural genetics and wax-faced good looks.
WWE fans aren’t Cena, WWE fans are The Miz. They’re googly-eyed guys in bad shorts who were still carrying around toy replica titles when they were 20, doing sh*tty impressions of The Rock, being bad at everything they do but sticking with it until they’re accepted. That’s the guy WWE fans want to cheer for. All the wispy heel stuff Miz has done can be easily swept under the rug as the “heh, that’s just me bein’ me!” part of the paint-by-numbers anti-hero act of 1998. He’d be Orton, but identifiable. He’d be Punk, but impossibly average. The best part is that people would believe it, because it’s true.
Worst: Put Alex Riley in the Crate With the Rest of the Spirit Squad
Riley was in the Spirit Squad, wasn’t he? He was the one that yelled RILEYYYYY right
Regardless, the Alex Riley experiment has been completely overshadowed by the other, more important things happening in the company, so I think they need to take a step back, put him in some underwear that don’t make him look like he’s in La Resistance, and let him simmer on low a little while in Florida. The guy can obviously make a living out of this, but he is Create A Wrestler as f**k and needs to be doing nothing deeper than getting Skull Crushing Finale’d on the reg.