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.
Worst: John Morrison
hey, all right, john morrison’s coming back
This video is called “See why John Morrison is called the The Guru of Greatness”. It’s a bunch of clips of him jumping and kicking and sometimes landing. Nowhere in the video does it say “he’s called this because when you’re a bad guy you say facetious stuff you don’t mean, and when you become a good guy you have to pretend you meant everything”. He’s called that because he made up a bunch of nicknames for himself on The Dirt Sheet. You ever seen those promos and videos where the Rock is all “I EARNED THE NICKNAME THE GREAT ONE AND WILL BE FOREVER KNOWN AS THE PEOPLE’S CHAMPION”? Yeah, when he came up with those nicknames they were to piss people off, because he was bad and people hated him.
Also nowhere in the video does it explain how Morrison typed “authority” into Thesaurus.com and just did alliteration with every result. Here, I’ll do it, ten new nicknames for John Morrison.
1. The King of Kicking
2. The Judge of Jumping
3. The Wizard of Whiffing Finishers
4. The Connoisseur of Convoluted
5. The Oracle of Open Relationships
6. The Governor of Coverin’ Her (works when he’s wrestling against women)
7. The Witch Doctor of Making Me Watch Someone Wrestle Sheamus
Okay, seven new nicknames. But that literally took me twenty seconds.
Worst: Jack Swagger Needs To Be More Accepting Of Loss
The only thing I can seem to remember Jack Swagger doing (besides putting Jerry Lawler into an ankle lock on 67 consecutive shows) is that Madball face where he grabs his hair with both hands and breathes heavily. I could understand this if he’d just shown up or was on some sort of power winning streak, but damn Jack, you’ve been here since 2008 and I’ve seen you lose to Evan Bourne about forty times this year, why are you super shocked when R-Truth pins you?
Much like people need to abandon the “C’MON REF THAT WAS THREE” when someone kicks out, wrestlers need to get newer or more varied emotional responses to losing. “Passed out” or “surprised” seem to be the only two they can muster.
Best: Ricardo Rodriguez
If you’re a longtime reader of this column, you know how much I like CHIKARA alumnus Ricardo Rodriguez, and if you don’t know why I feel this way, allow me to transcribe his appearance announcement from last night.
Alberto Del Rio: “here is a thing”
Ricardo: “ALBERTO DEL RIO, ALBERTO DEL RIO, ALBERTO DEL RRRRRRRRRRIO, VAMANOS ALBERTO DEL RIO, TODOS ALBERTO DEL RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRIOOOOOOOO DONDE ESTA ALBERTO DEL RIO ALBERTO DEL RIO ES UN ABOGADO DE LOS ANGELES, QUE HORA ES ALBERTO DEL RRRRRRIOOOOOO”
And it kept going on and on until I was smiling and clapping my hands. Welcome back, you wonderful guy, you.
Best: Wrestling Like You Might In A Tournament
I’ve read a lot of criticism of last night’s wrestling (which I understand, because I, too, was wondering what was happening backstage with Kelly Kelly), but I enjoyed a lot of it, particularly the Kofi Kingston and Alberto Del Rio match. It made the most sense — Del Rio was wrestling to win a tournament, going hard and fast quickly to try and put away his opponent because hey, in his mind he’s got two more matches after this. Kingston responded with Controlled Frenzy™, and we got a nifty few minutes that included ADR sticking the Chris Hamrick bump and getting hit with one of the most effective looking dives we’ve seen on Raw since Benoit was hurling himself into tables.
Okay, since Daniel Bryan was injuring his shoulder by accident every week. Lots of murderer references in the report this week!
Best, But Secretly Worst: Summerslam ’92
So Casey Anthony is in the news today, have you seen this, have you heard about this
I’m kidding. No, Summerslam ’92 was the Lugz Boot Of The Night or whatever in remembrance of the fantastic Bret Hart and Davey Boy Smith Intercontinental Title Match in front of 80,000 people at Wembley Stadium. Quick, tell me what happened on the rest of that show. Give up? Let me give you a quick Best and Worst of Summerslam 92.
Worst: Nails vs. Virgil (and it ends with a SLEEPER HOLD), Crush vs. Repo Man on pay-pre-view, Macho Man losing to Warrior by countout at the THIRTY FREAKING MINUTE MARK, a Rick Martel double count-out, a Kamala disqualification and Jesus Christ, the Beverly Brothers.
Best: Repo Man’s amazing entrance theme. Also the Legion of Doom vs. Money Inc., but even that is sort of a “worst” because it’s the WWF version of the Road Warriors, and the WWF version of anything not native to the WWF is a little worse.
That “one match show” phenomenon is real, and it lives at Summerslam.
Best: El Demonio
Rey Mysterio’s Gene Simmons-inspired mask is a huge Best for this week, and the best use of KISS in pro wrestling since they played for four hours on a two hour Nitro, leading to Dale Torborg literally killing The Wall with a chokeslam during the “Special Main Event” at WCW: Sloth or whatever. I don’t know, those last few years of WCW are starting to run together.
The only thing that would’ve made it better is red mist from Rey. We’ve seen him spit mist before, so why not? Also great would’ve been Rey ascending to the rafters to play “God of Thunder”.
Best: Dolph Ziggler is Still Rad
You know what makes Dolph Ziggler one of the best pro wrestlers in the world? A sense of urgency. It’s important in food service, and it’s important here. When he moves, he looks like he’s trying to get the jump on his opponent. How few people actually do that? He doesn’t waste a lot of movement when he goes for stuff, which is what makes his wacky Mr. Perfect bumping so great — it’s nothing BUT wasted movement. He’s like a Punch-Out character, doing his crisp, choreographed mannerisms until you uppercut him, and then he just flops around freaking out. That’s great.
Compare and contrast him with somebody like Test. Test never once moved with purpose in his life. Even when he was fighting for the dainty love of pre-Crisis Stephanie McMahon, his clothesliens always started with a grimace and a stutter-step that might as well have been a flashing neon sign reading OKAY NOW IT’S TIME FOR THE CLOTHESLINE.
Best: Increased Lack of Backstage Walking
I expected the show to be all-in, balls-out crazy following the events of Money in the Bank, and at first the laid back, evenly-paced nature of the show put me off. Then I realized that we were only going backstage for establishing shots of Vince and some quickie interviews with Josh Mathews and that made my heart grow three sizes.
I’ve never understood why wrestlers allow cameras to follow them around for no reason and sort of long for the day when guys who wanted to talk had to sign up for allotted time and wander out to that powder blue backdrop to talk to Bob Caudle. And the Horsemen paid a cameraman to follow them out into the parking lot because they wanted everyone to see them break Dusty Rhodes’ hand.
Worst: Do Divas Know You Can Tag
Witness once again the very worst thing about pro wrestling today — the 7-on-7 or 35-on-35 good guys vs. bad guys Divas tag team matches that start with two women and end with those same women about 15 seconds later. They accomplish nothing and are the biggest bullsh*t waste of time. It goes back to what I was saying earlier about how the families who came out to see the show don’t want to see the wrestlers wrestling, they just want to see the wrestlers. I guess in twenty years some kid will say “I saw Maryse live!” but won’t remember he saw her stand on the apron for a quarter of a f**king hiccup before Eve Torres yanked her off by the foot and badly forearmed her until Rosa could get the spot right.
It makes me sound like even more of a creepy wrestling nerd, but I love women’s wrestling. From the AJW of the early 90s to the American Joshi division in Anarchy Championship Wrestling today, women have repeatedly proven that they are the performance equals of any man and can be a legitimate, entertaining, money-making part of your program. Some of these women you employ are actually great at what you pretend they’re employed for. F**king utilize it.
Or release a few of them so I can try to hook up with them at Wizard World.
Worst: Kelly Kelly is a Braggart
I think Kelly’s arm is just stuck like that.
But no, seriously, how funny is it when the Brotherhood of Evil Divas are all standing around while Kelly skip-trots around in her pandering football semi-jersey with that Icing By Claire’s hunk of sh*t above her head? Then the match begins and ends without any participation from Kelly, and the bad ladies have to walk backwards up the ramp holding their jaws while Kelly proudly displays the title THAT HAD LITERALLY ZERO RELEVANCE TO ANYTHING THAT JUST HAPPENED
It’s like, what are you bragging about? You more or less got the Rey Mysterio sympathy title run, Kelly, only your dead Eddie Guerrero is living in Kharma’s stomach.
Best: The Chickbusters on Raw
Speaking of women who could participate positively to a pro wrestling show, how about AJ and Kaitlyn getting space on TV to bumpslode knuckles before it was time to celebrate? I feel like they more than anyone could be the… well, let me put it this way. Do you remember the episode of The Simpsons where the Twirl King yo-yo team performs at Springfield Elementary, and Lisa thinks Sparkle is so pretty? Girls do that. Little girls lock on to the nicest seeming girl in the performance and idolize them. It’s one of the reasons why magicians have beautiful assistants. I think in a company where dumb Hawaiian Tropic model Kelly Kelly is the signature face, a couple of pretty, goofy, talented young girls who don’t get to do a lot would be — or at least, could be — WWE’s Sparkle.
In a related story, I think AJ might own more wrestling gear than anyone I’ve ever seen. She never seems to be wearing the same thing twice. Mick Foley wrestled in the same flannel shirt and sweatpants for decades. AJ has had like 8 televised matches and she’s worn something different in every one of them. I’d do the same thing, if only to point out exactly what my alternate outfits should be for the video game.
(note: put AJ and Kaitlyn in the next video game)