Let’s get a couple of things out of the way:
– I am not Brandon. My name is Andrew Johnson, and while both Brandon and I are wrestling fans and bloggers, the best way to tell us apart is that he’s vegan and I only eat things that can look at me with sad eyes. Also he’s really good and I get paid in superfluous wanking motions.
– I write about wrestling four times a week (usually) at The John Report, a blog about wrestling and your toiletry needs.
– I’m funny. If you don’t believe me, ask my mom.
– Although Lobster Dog was not on the card he is the champion of my heart, so that has to count for something.
– This is my first time writing at With Leather, so leave me some good karma in the comment section. Brandon has some extremely large shoes to fill, and your positive feedback is the only thing that will give me the experience points I need to having more Uproxx opportunities, so hook a
destitute blogger guy up. Unless you don’t like what you read. In that case just keep it to yourself.
– I really like bullet points.
Enjoy the Best and Worst of Night of Champions.
Best: Tag Teams Matter Again
At least it seems like that’s where this new tag team resurgence is heading. I didn’t give much credence to the rumor that Triple H was legitimately (and when I say legitimately I mean in real life, backstage) trying to make tag teams matter again, but when I saw Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne walk out with matching green attire I felt hopeful. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a far cry away from The Hart Foundation vs. The British Bulldogs. Hell, it’s a far cry away from the Quebecers vs. Men On A Mission, but it’s a start. For me in order to be a real tag team you have to have matching tights and enter the ring together. Air Fart is halfway there, so they at least get points for trying.
Best: Evan Bourne Is A Dirty Little Cheater
The line between “good guys” and “bad guys” is usually pretty clear; good guys play fair, bad guys cheat. But, every once in a while someone will throw you a curve ball and do something that doesn’t line up with these carefully established perimeters. When Evan Bourne saw that the ref’s back was turned and slapped his hands together to give the impression that the tag was made, I immediately went from “this match is okay” to “this match is awesome”. While that might be an exaggerated reaction, it was definitely something that made me take notice. It was great because it added depth to the story. It showed Evan Bourne wasn’t afraid to get a little dirty to keep his championship, and it added legitimate evidence to all of Miz and R-Truth’s ramblings that there was a conspiracy against them. Miz and Truth were actually trying to play by the rules, and that dirty little star shooter and his jumping non-Jamaican buddy were blatantly breaking them and getting away with it. If Bourne had thrown the tag team belt into Miz’s hands and then flopped on the mat while holding his head I might have cried.
Worst: DQ Finishes Are The Vanilla Sky Of Wrestling
While the match itself wasn’t a classic by any stretch of the imagination, it was a fun little opener for a throwaway PPV. I know that the finish of having the Miz and R-Truth attack the referee that so obviously screwed them over added to the overall story, but I couldn’t help but feel a little cheated. Disqualifications are cheap and easy way to keep anyone from getting buried. You can have a match that covers all the so-called stipulations that make something a classic, but if you have a DQ finish the match always ends up feeling like a corporate-controlled dream sequence that makes you kill your girlfriend and forces you to be best friends with Jason Lee. I’m sure there are better analogies out there, but I really can’t think of many things worse than having to be friends with My Name Is Earl.
Bonus Worst: A Non-Big Four PPV Is Forty-Five Dollars
Seriously. I know WWE’s pay-per-views have been expensive for a long time, but I usually don’t buy them because I’m what my brother calls “embarrassingly cheap”. For a show that isn’t one of the “big four” (Royal Rumble, Summerslam, Survivor Series, and WrestleMania) this price almost seems unreasonable. I understand that times are tough and there is inflation to factor in and other big number stuff that I really don’t understand but say I do to sound smart, but forty-five bucks? Yeesh. I was originally planning on streaming this one just like I do the others, but since this was my With Leather debut I got a little overly excited and bought the show without really thinking about it. I get disgusted with myself when I spend nearly fifty bucks on anything. My wife is disgusted because I spent nearly fifty bucks on a wrestling show while I still make her buy the store brand feminine products, and apparently that’s horrible.
Best: Hey, Matt Striker Still Has A Job
Whenever I see Matt Striker on TV, I always get the feeling that he’s just waiting for someone to hand him a pink slip and pull the lever for the trap door he is conveniently standing on.
Hilarious Best: You Poor Spanish Bastards
They showed the Spanish announce team? Ha ha ha, that table doesn’t stand a chance.
Best: Cody Rhodes vs. Ted DiBiase
I’ll be honest, I’m surprised how much I liked this match. Not because Cody Rhodes isn’t awesome because he is, but because Ted DiBiase has a habit of being incredibly mediocre. He’s been so disappointing in his role as this generations cocky rich guy, that I think when his dad tells people his son has followed in his footsteps he shows them a picture of Alberto Del Rio. He’s had three years to develop himself as anything other than default Superstar #4, and all he’s accomplished is wearing a dollar store version of the million dollar belt and growing then shaving a beard. He had Maryse on his arm for a while, and even she couldn’t make him stand out. Maryse. And she looks like this.
I don’t know if it’s a credit to Cody’s ability to make something cool out of nothing or Ted finally finding the gene his father passed on that makes him interesting, but these two really have great chemistry together. Everything just seemed to flow. If Ted DiBiase wrestled like this more than once every three years I might stop putting him on my short list when future endeavored season comes around.
Worst: I Guess Buffalo Doesn’t Like Wrestling
Yes the Intercontinental title match was good, but if you paid any attention to the crowd you wouldn’t know it. A crowd can make or break a show, and it seemed like everyone in the audience decided to check their Facebook accounts at the same time when this match started. They were so quiet it was actually frustrating. Honestly though I couldn’t tell if it was because they were bored with the match, or if they were just upset that they were in Buffalo. My brother lived in that city for a year, and the only activity he could think of for us to do was eating at restaurants. Three days of eating at different restaurants, and it was football season. And they were playing at home. That’s how miserable it is to be in Buffalo. The only way to find any joy in that city is to eat it.
Still, it’s extremely frustrating to watch two guys work their asses off and see a crowd of people just sitting there stroking their chins. People boo John Cena and chant “you can’t wrestle” but fall deafly silent when two guys who can wrestle put on a show. You’re only enforcing the idea that wrestling is secondary to crotch chops and oily fat guys dancing when you don’t react to what’s going on in the ring. God dammit people, this is why we can’t have nice things.
Anytime Christian decides to show up on TV automatically gets a best from me, even though he was just re-hashing all the stuff he’s been saying for the past two weeks. Hell, he could come out and to tell us cuddly kittens are extinct and Big Bird was charged with selling child pornography and I’d still smile and cheer after he slapped his chest and pointed. His promos are always fun, because unlike a lot of other Superstars his don’t seem like they were memorized from a piece of paper four minutes before he walked through the curtain. I’m not saying they aren’t, it’s just that they don’t seem like they were written by a committee of frustrated soap opera writers. Christian came out, basically said nothing, and still got a better reaction out of the Buffalo crowd than Evan Bourne killing himself with a dive to the outside. He even got them to chant “one more match” and he’s a freaking bad guy. Whoever says Christian doesn’t have what WWE calls the “it” factor is a moron, unless the it factor is two hundred pounds of muscle and the ability to do a lot of body slams.
Also Best: “Sit down, Cole”
At one point during his promo Christian told everyone who thought he deserved one more title shot should stand up. They cut to a crowd shot where about one out of every twenty people were standing, and almost immediately you could hear Jerry Lawler interject with “sit down, Cole.” No cut to Cole standing triumphantly in support of Christian, no response from the guy that holds more WrestleMania victories than the hall of famer sitting next to him. The image I formed in my mind legitimately made me laugh out loud, which is probably the most positive thing Michael Cole has made me do in months.
Also, Also Best: Testicle Jokes Are Back
I don’t know who gave the green light for Sheamus to make a joke about his uncle Fargus’s lucky green testicle, but whoever it was I would like to kiss them on the head. The last time I remember WWE talking about a man’s ball sack on TV was when Vince McMahon was calling his testicles grapefruits and saying he was going to jack hammer Linda. I know I’m past the age where I should laugh at a grown man claiming his uncle is the luckiest guy in Ireland because of his gangrenous nut, but last night reminded me why it’s awesome to be twelve.
Worst: The Fatal 4-Way Match
I like to imagine the WWE creative team looking at the card they came up with, and seeing that they put these four guys in a match together while the clock ticked ominously in the background. Nobody wanted to discuss it, they just threw this match together because they forgot that Ziggler and Swagger are both bad guys and thus can’t have a one-on-one match together. Ziggler is great and deserves better than this, Swagger is good despite the ridiculous career he’s had, John Morrison is mediocre at best but capable, and Alex Riley is about two years away from doing local tough man competitions. This match shouldn’t have happened and yet it did, because they literally have no one else to put in those spots. To be fair it wasn’t the worst thing ever, but it certainly wasn’t something I wanted to think about again after it was over. My hope is that with Ziggler getting the cheap win by screwing Swagger out of his pin fall will lead to them finally having their blow off match at Hell In A Cell in two weeks. Of course that’s just wishful thinking, as I’m sure somebody obscure like Yoshi Tatsu will get thrust into the match just to keep two guys who ride the same bus from not being best friends.
Worst: Oh, F**k You Buffalo
The fact that the crowd was dead for the whole Rhodes/Dibease match but acted like someone in the crowd was handing out free iPhones when they thought Alex Riley was going to win the United States Championship is the worst thing ever.
Worst: Vickie Guerrero’s Close-Up In HD
Just… don’t do that again.
Best: “I’m Gonna Whoop Your Ass”
Mark Henry of 2011 has done everything he can to make me forget that he fathered a hand with Mae Young and was given the European title by Jeff Jarrett for being such a swell lacky. He’s been with the WWE for fifteen odd years and for the first time he’s actually shown a convincing mean streak that won’t end with him in Undertaker’s comically large casket. When this version of Mark Henry looks at Randy Orton as he’s posing in the corner and mouths “I’m gonna whoop your ass” I 100% believe that he is going to whoop that ass. Randy Orton could have dressed like a gladiator and carried a broad sword in the match, and all I think it would have done is made Mark animorph into a silver back gorilla.
Worst: Figure Out Mark Henry’s Weight, Cole
I know this it nitpicking, but when the ring announcer says Mark Henry weighs 428 lbs, and then the first chance he gets Michael Cole says he weighs 398 lbs, that’s kind of a problem. I know WWE has selective history but he just said it. You have to give us time to forget stuff before you go changing your continuity around. Who do you think you are, DC comics?
Worst: Just Move, Randy Orton
I love Mark Henry, but his offense has the speed of Bowser in Mario 64. There is no reason why Randy Orton couldn’t just move out of the way every time Mark charged, get behind him, grab his tail, and throw him into a bomb. The most amazing thing about Mark Henry’s 15 year career is the fact that he’s yet to have a heart attack in the middle of a match. The guy sweats gravy for God’s sake, can’t someone get him a brochure for Atkins?
Worst: Standing On The Apron When You’re Wrestling Randy Orton Is Not Wise
Twice during this match Mark Henry went to the apron to avoid Randy Orton’s specials, and twice the announce team said it was a wise move to do so. If you’re wrestling Randy Orton you don’t go to the apron, because he’s going to drop you on your f**king skull. Just go ahead and pretend the apron is lava and you can’t go there, because the only way it will end is with the top of your head on the ground and Randy Orton pounding his fists on the mat like a lunatic.
Best: Mark Henry Is World Heavyweight Champion
Despite the gripes I had about the actual match, I absolutely loved the finish. Randy Orton standing face to face with this behemoth who just won’t go down, and getting flattened after a failed RKO was fantastic. This has been a landmark year for honorary championship wins. First Christian, who nobody ever thought would get a world championship, was given the belt because he’s friends with Edge and I guess Vince McMahon thought they were interchangeable. Rey Mysterio was given a token WWE title win for some reason, I still think that Ziggler’s title win counts, and I can’t see CM Punk’s most recent reign as anything other than a means to an end. I know that this title reign is probably going to have the shelf life of about two weeks because apparently WWE can’t go more than a month without re-touching on the status quo (more on that later) but I’m going to try and enjoy this while I can. Maybe I’m just being negative, but I really think that when WWE sees an unstoppable murder machine their first instinct is to make him lose to a guy pretending to be a snake.
Worst: Mark Henry’s Promo Was Written By Tyler Perry
When the large black man screamed “Welcome to the hall of pain” into a microphone, I couldn’t help but imagine Madea rushing toward me with a frying pan.