Pre-taped pre-show notes:
– Comments, shares, likes, what-have-you are greatly appreciated. Let your friends and wrestling pals in on the jokes, or at least the big long-winded paragraphs about women’s rights!
– I had a big weekend, so if you’re the type who only checks With Leather for the wrestling reports, please take an active interest in my non-wrestling life: You can check out the teaser trailer and posters for my feature film debut in ‘Summer League,’ then visit my gallery of sports from Fun Fun Fun Fest 2012, featuring me as an Air Sex Championships judge and as the YES-chant-starting host of a Veggie Hot Dog Eating Contest. Fun times.
– I may (may) need someone to fill in for me on the Survivor Series report, so if you’re an Internet or real life person of note and are interested, shoot me an e-mail at MrBrandonStroud@gmail.com.
Anyway, please click through to enjoy the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw for November 5, 2012.
Best: Let’s Go Ahead And Get This Out Of The Way – Fandangoo Is Awesome
Some ideas are terrible. Some ideas are just terrible until you accept them as reality. When that happens, the terrible idea transforms itself into a beautiful little flower on your gray-ass sidewalk, and in no other pop-cultural medium does that happen more reliably than pro wrestling.
Chikara’s Mr. Touchdown is a great example of this. I remember seeing his first “hype” video, where it’s just vague football stuff with a boring font saying MR. TOUCHDOWN was coming. Every part of my brain registered it as a terrible idea, even in Chikara. A football guy? Sure, there’s already a basketball guy and a baseball guy, but calling him “Mr. Touchdown” seemed like the laziest thing to me ever. Then he shows up, and he’s just a guy wearing a football helmet and pads to the ring. After a while, my brain stopped reacting to Mr. Touchdown existing and accepted it as fact, and that allowed me to open my eyes and see how fantastic of a goofy f**king local wrestling dynamo Mark Angelosetti can be when you ask him to strike Heisman poses during leapfrogs. Now he’s just a thing that exists in my happy pro wrestling life.
I’m hoping Johnny Curtis in a weird Dancing With The Stars/Don Flamenco hybrid gimmick will be my brain’s next Mr. Touchdown. If you told me “Johnny Curtis is gonna be on TV, but he’s pretending to be a TV-PG Magic Mike” my brain would’ve turned to slurpee and drained out of my nose. But now he’s got a hype video with sparkles and his name is FANDANGOO (F**KING FANDANGOO) and he describes himself as both NOBLE and NAUGHTY and I love it SO MUCH. I want to fill a money bin with this gimmick and swim around in it. I hope he feuds with 3MB over their fundamental differences in musical taste.
Worst: Hey WWE, Don’t Change Your Booking Plans Because Of Guys On The Internet, Unless It’s Specific Guys On The Internet Who Could Help You, I Mean, I’m Not Naming Names Or Anything But … No, Seriously, Don’t Do This
Via the Observer, by way of 411, by way of joshswrestlezone.edu/index.shmtl:
– Word is that WWE changed the WWE Survivor Series main event to a triple threat match for the WWE title, mainly due to the negative reaction that came from last week’s announcement of the Team Punk vs. Team Foley match.
Of all the things WWE has ever done, all of the horrible moments where people went TERRIBLE IDEA ABORT ABORT, all of the 2-month Kevin Nash return stories and Kung Pao Bitches and women barking like dogs, it’s the “ehhh, this is just like Hell In A Cell” reaction to WWE’s 10 biggest stars being in a Survivor Series main with 3 weeks to build it is when they go “hey, maybe they’re right, let’s change everything”. This?
The Survivor Series match wasn’t a bad idea, it was just lazy. Easy. They took the Hell In A Cell matches and crammed them into one big thing so they wouldn’t have to write anything new, and they could coast on CM Punk making angry faces at Mick Foley for two weeks until they could finish up John Cena’s ILLICIT AFFAIR and move on to their WrestleMania stuff. It was an extension of their lazy “pair up two main-eventers, tag them against their rivals” main-events, exactly like the one that closed this show. Now they’ve got even LESS time to make these stories compelling, and they’ve got to do more writing to justify it. What’s happening here is like when your girlfriend breaks up with you for not proposing to her, so you try to win her back by proposing. If you aren’t gonna be a good boyfriend, at least continue forth with your complacency and don’t piss us off with your back-against-the-wall audibles.
Best: Babyface Miz?
The Miz bailing on Team Punk was the first really interesting thing he’s done since showing up from Hollywood’s D-League with a haircut and some stubble
I honestly think (and have thought for a long time) that the Miz’s true strength would be as “one of us,” a true wrestling fan from the WWE Universe who made it, and went from being a guy holding a toy belt and doing a Rock impression to holding the REAL belt and getting beaten up by The Rock. He’s their real, honest Universe-to-roster success story. The only problem is that his natural charisma is really really negative, so when he shows up all affable asking us HOW Y’ALL DOIN’ TONIGHT in a fedora we want to see somebody kick him in the face. See also: him being accidentally racist in front of the black ladies on his reality show. He’s a good guy down in there somewhere, but it’s buried under miles of dickface.
I think a babyface Miz run could work now because we’re used to him. He’s been around for a long time now, and we get it. If he shows up on Raw explaining how he’s been a butthole for his entire run and wants to try listening to the fans and accepting them instead of pretending he’s better than them (because that’s all he’s ever been doing … pretending) and immediately gets into a thing with, I don’t know, Heath Slater, it could be something. Start him off easy. Don’t throw him in there with Big Show and expect us to care. Let him make up with R-Truth and Alex Riley and all the people he wronged and maybe say he’s proud of Daniel Bryan. How much would you like that guy?
Best: Sin Cara Should Only Wrestle Antonio Cesaro
I’ve written about this a lot (and don’t want to get into Chikara twice on one page), but Antonio Cesaro’s greatest strength as a pro wrestler is as a base for the ridiculous nonsense of the tiny high-flyers in his life. He’s the one guy in the world that could make Helios look competent and pass off a Mike Quackenbush chest-stand as a legit transitional move, and when one of your company’s biggest problems is rehabilitating Sin Cara’s image, you should be putting him in the ring with Cesaro EVERY F**KING SECOND. Daniel Bryan is great, but he’s not gonna be able to stand there and throw Sin Cara around his body for five minutes and end it with both of them looking great. That’s a Claudio special.
In a related note, Rey Mysterio is a great guy to throw in there with people like Titus O’Neil, really big guys who are supposed to be super strong but aren’t really (Mason Ryan, I’m looking in your direction). Sure, even I could backbreaker Rey Mysterio a few times without stopping, but the “man-handling” illusion is there, and that’s really all that matters.
Best: WWE Trios
In French! Joueurs de Prime Time.
In German! Prime-Time-Spieler.
In Italian! Primo tempo i giocatori.
In Spanish! Jugadores de Prime Time.
In Michael Cole! Darren O’Neil and Mr. Flonase Off
I think I’m going to call the Sin Cara/Rey Mysterio/R-Truth trio “Invisible Car Stereo”. Fun fact, that’s also the name of my 90s band. We were buzzworthy!
I don’t have a lot to say here (as the match had a fun finish, but wasn’t anything special and was somehow gutted by a 5 minute commercial break even though it was taped earlier in the day), but WWE should consider doing more 6-man tags, because they let everybody get in their stuff without forcing an ADD crowd to sit through heat.
Best: Vickie Guerrero’s Wah-Wah Delivery Of Everything
The story is awful — we are seriously in week 3 of a scandal storyline about two single people who may or may not have hooked up, orchestrated as a power grab from a lady who has exclusively been involved in “hooking up with wrestlers” angles and wears a gold “cougar” necklace — but Vickie Guerrero trying to get John Cena to break character and laugh on TV is my new favorite thing.
Vickie was AMAZING last night. From the impossibly-overconfident stuff here, breaking out phrases like “Johnny Boy” for no reason and goof-smiling her way through shit like THIS IS FROM A DIFFERENT SECURITY CAMERA BUT OF THE SAME ROOM as though any human being ever would buy it, to the Vince McMahon on-air meeting where she kept being forced to make decisions and tried to slide Dolph Ziggler into the discussion, she was the best kind of pro wrestling character. She was slimy and borderline-invalided, but she was fun to watch, and she was clearly having fun doing it.
If John Laurinaitis isn’t going to return as the Raw General Manager, Comedy Vickie isn’t a bad replacement.
Worst: Stop Using Secret Footage As A Crutch
That all said, man, who in WWE Creative has a hard-on for voyeur porn and thinks stories revolving around people obtaining security footage of shit is awesome? It’s never good, it rarely ever reveals anything (which you’d think would be the entire purpose of introducing VIDEO FOOTAGE OF SOMETHING HAPPENING to prove that SOMETHING HAPPENED) and it takes wrestlers weeks to piece together.
If Vickie had footage of John Cena and AJ buttf**king it wouldn’t matter, because again, they are two single people who are allowed to hook up, and even if it was an abuse of power thing, AJ’s been removed from power over it and life goes on. Proving John Cena is a liar isn’t something you need security camera footage for, all you gotta do is play that clip of him yelling REAL MEN WEAR PINK and follow it up with every gay joke he’s ever told. But yeah, if you have evidence of wrong-doing and you’re obsessed with being “right” and making Cena and AJ admit that they’re bad people, why stagger it and reveal a tiny bit every Monday? WHY ARE YOU ONLY DOING THIS ON MONDAYS? Why not just say “John Cena, did you have sex with AJ and get her fired,” wait for him to say no, then say “oh rly” and drop all of it on him? You are instantly SUPER RIGHT, Cena and AJ are exposed as liars and you can just witch cackle until they Charlie-Brown-walk away in shame.
If you’re Kaitlyn and you’re trying to get to the bottom of who attacked you, don’t make grand statements like “the person who attacked me … WAS A BLONDE” like you’re playing some big real-life game of Guess Who, give the proper authorities ALL THE INFORMATION YOU CAN GATHER and spend longer than from “when the show starts” to “when my segment happens” watching it. These are important things happening in your lives, you dumb fictional characters, take your lives seriously.
Best/Worst: Daniel Bryan Is The Most Popular Guy In The Room (And Losing In 2 Minutes)
British chants are funny. They’ll cheer for anything stupid you want. They love the “what” chant, they have quaint interpretations of assy smark chants (“YOU CAHN’T WRESTLE!”) and when the guy who says YES shows up they LOSE THEIR MINDS OVER YES. Daniel Bryan gets a Best for being the most over non-European person on the show and for getting “DAN-IEL BRY-AN” chants, even as he was losing.
The Worst is the losing. Not that he lost, necessarily, because Cody Rhodes is great and WWE loves the idea that a tag team wrestler loses singles matches easily (which they’ve always done, whether it makes sense or not … I guess if a tag team guy wrestles without his partner he’s only got a 50% chance of winning*!) (*WWE math), but because you’ve got Daniel Bryan wrestling Cody Rhodes in front of a hot crowd that wants to see them go and you take it home two minutes in to set up a different thing down the road. Can’t you set up the thing and take advantage of the thing happening right now at the same time? Couldn’t we have shoe-horned in another 5-10 minutes of wrestling before that finish? People probably would’ve been excited to see them wrestle again, instead of that weird thing we all are where we’re excited at the possibility of wrestling happening when they’re scheduled to wrestle. That’s the worst.
Worst: Damien Sandow Is Suddenly Pink Again
Sorry for using tweets on two pages in a row, but if I could think of a more accurate way to say what I’m feeling, I would:
John Cena takes off his pink stuff as soon as he’s not contractually obligated to wear it and pretend he’s not ashamed of it, and Damien Sandow gets his pink trunks back because people are supposed to wonder whether or not he’s gay.
That’s why I get shitty whenever WWE pretends to care about bullies or breast cancer. It’s fine, and I’m glad you’re using your time and money for something worthwhile, but being a wrestling fan involves accepting that you and at least 90% of the people who like what you like have some kind of mental disorder where a thing you love is about people who pretend to fight alienating as many people as possible to define who is bad and who is good and physically killing themselves to entertain America’s worst people. It sucks, but it’s the truth. Wrestling CAN be beautiful, and it CAN be an art form and it CAN bring people together and illustrated the best parts of sports, honor, fellowship and humanity, but there’s only one thing it ALWAYS is.
Anyway, I’m happy that Sandow’s back in the pink trunks so people think he’s gay, because my experience is that gay people are rad and way more fun to hang out with than the guy in the XXL t-shirt and jean shorts.
Best: Brad Maddox Is Saying Some Interesting Stuff If You Guys Would Stop Saying What And Listen To It
I guess the theme of this week is BRANDON GETS JUDGMENTAL ABOUT JUDGMENTAL PEOPLE. Sorry.
This is a pretty solid example of why we can’t have new or good characters. Brad Maddox shows up as a referee and does some crummy stuff, culminating in an inexplicable moment where he uppercuts Ryback in the junk and costs him the WWE Championship. So Maddox finally speaks and delivers a convincing, honest-sounding speech about how difficult it is to make it in WWE when you aren’t a monster or a genetic freak athlete and on the pressures of “making an impact,” and what happens? The crowd doesn’t even hear it. They’re just waiting for a pause to say “what”. Not saying “what” because they want him to shut up, saying “what” because they don’t know who he is and aren’t interested in something they don’t already know about.
It’s terrible. It’s the same reason they chanted “you can’t wrestle” at him when he talked about how he can’t do three flips in the air and land on his feet. Really? You guys don’t watch FCW, hell, you don’t even watch Smackdown, of COURSE you don’t watch FCW. You have no idea whether or not this guy can wrestle. If Chris Hero or Jon Moxley showed up on Raw and delivered the same speech, they’d get the same chant. Having to please the ignorant is one of the reasons I’ve always gravitated toward heels so much … they KNOW how ridiculous these people are, and see how fake it is when a guy like Cena says he’s only here because of them. You’re only here because you’re a handsome muscular tall guy whose dad was a wrestling promoter who got lucky because he’s got the body type and the can-do Republican troops-loving attitudes the boss of the company loves. That guy in the RVD shirt had f**king nothing to do with your success, John.
So as of now, I’m on Team Maddox. I hope next week’s Million Dollar Contract match with Ryback ends the way it should: with Brock Lesnar showing up to save the day, break Ryback’s arm and officially usher in Brad Maddox as a Paul Heyman Guy.
Best: Big Show Is The Best At Purposeful Guest Commentary
Sincerity and the ability to show ass (figuratively) are two things I love in a pro wrestler. I like a guy who sounds like he means what he says, and I like a guy who isn’t afraid to look like a jerk or get the shit beaten out of him from time to time.
Right now, Big Show is the best exemplification of those things. Listen to him on commentary during the Sheamus/Miz match. He’s confident, sure. He knocked out Sheamus and won the World Heavyweight Championship. But listen to what else he’s saying — he’s complimenting Sheamus for having a jaw like stone or whatever and gets really bent out of shape STILL when he thinks somebody’s about to bring up his 45 second title run. He says that he’d love to see Sheamus lose to Miz because he’d be “destroyed,” but clams up when Sheamus starts to roll, and gets visibly upset when Miz doesn’t pull it off. He’s a successful champion who won clean but still doubts himself. That’s AWESOME. That’s a human emotion. He can’t shake the challenge of this pissed off kicking Irish guy who almost knocked him out. He knows he can beat him, because hell, he just did, but he doesn’t know if he can do it again. This is the heel. Sheamus isn’t saying or doing anything stupid, he’s just kicking off people’s heads and getting ready for another fight, because sure, he lost, but he’s not going to lose again. That’s the best.
In a related note, I really want Miz and Sheamus to form a tag team just so I can call them “Sheamiz”.
Worst: CM Punk’s Wah-Wah Delivery Of Everything
The opposite of Vickie Guerrero’s wacky delivery was Punk’s. I don’t know what was going on with Punk backstage. Clearly he didn’t want to do it, and it’s not a shock to think he’d be the guy most against Listening To People On The Internet, but his exaggerated fist-bite when he found out Team Punk had become Team Ziggler was terrible. Equally terrible is the idea that the guy who told Vince McMahon that he didn’t know or care what his audience wanted to his FACE, just last year, would be too nervous to walk into an office and confront him. What’s the worst that could happen? He puts you in another math with John Cena? Already there.
If I was put in charge of WWE (and I will be at some point during the next three weeks, I can only imagine), the first thing I’d do is establish a consistency in cowardice. A guy can’t be a situational coward unless it makes sense. If Punk isn’t afraid to stand up to Vince when the stakes are super high (i.e. winning the WWE Championship on your last day in the company), he shouldn’t be afraid to stand up to Vince when they’re at their lowest (i.e. “Vince doesn’t want you to be a part of a week-old challenge from a retired legend you don’t respect or want to face, and you were facing Ryback in one form or another already anyway”). Actually, the first thing I’d do is shit-can Kofi Kingston, but the cowardice consistency thing would be second.
Worst: Kofi Kingston’s Rana
This match contained three things I hate:
1. Alberto Del Rio losing.
2. That wretched thing where somebody’s music plays and a guy in the ring gets distracted long enough for his opponent to roll him up and pin him. These usually happen in pairs.
3. Kof Kingston
And more specifically 3a. Kofi Kingston’s hurricanrana, where he jumps and sits on a guy’s shoulders and just falls backwards, not making any effort to close his legs whatsoever, relying on his opponent’s hand placement on his legs to create enough momentum to make the guy flip over like he’d been rana’d.
Seriously, if you are a pro wrestler and you do a hurricanrana, close the goddamned window. It’s just like a chinlock. If you hold a chinlock and the bend of your arm is a foot below the guy’s chin, nobody’s going to buy that you’re hurting him. If you’re a jumpy guy and you do ranas, remember that the idea behind a rana is that you’re grabbing the guy’s head with your legs and using the downswing of your body weight to flip him over. If you aren’t GRABBING HIS HEAD WITH YOUR LEGS, what do you think is taking him over? Your ruthless aggression? A controlled frenzy?
This isn’t just a Kofi problem, everybody does it. Sin Cara just jumps and swings. He should know better. Kelly Kelly used to headscissors people by pressing the side of her leg into their head and jamming another into their armpit. Rana seminars, everybody.
Best: Rosa Mendes (Presumably) Throwing In With Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio and Rosa Mendes interacting was like watching pedestrians have a conversation in ‘Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas,’ but Del Rio has needed a foxy lady in his posse to substantiate the plantation millionaire thing for a while. Rosa needs it, too, because “Hispanic Miss Elizabeth” is a way better gig than “doing something entertaining for a few seconds before a Primo wrestles”. Plus, you get the adorable side story of Ricardo Rodriguez being jealous of her getting too much attention, yet being bound by his service duties to wait on her hand and foot.
Best: Aksana Trying So Hard To Ruin An Okay Divas Match
The Divas match wasn’t bad. How do I know? Because Destiny turned to me after it was over and said, “That wasn’t bad. I don’t say that a lot about Divas matches!” Keep in mind that Destiny has seen more Sara Del Rey matches in her life than 75% of the people you know, so it’s relative.
But yeah, it wasn’t bad. There were a lot of things I loved about it. I liked Kaitlyn doing the Scorpion Death Drop better than Sting. I liked Layla giving a flag to the guy with the FEED ME TO LAYLA sign because she saw a sign that said “Layla” on it and didn’t read on to see whether or not he was trying to get her to blow him. I liked Eve wearing lipstick that matched her gear. I liked the Booty Poppin’ Moonsault being countered by a kick to the ass and I liked Layla just doing convoluted roll-ups to as fast as she could so she could get through them without Aksana reacting and f**king it up. I also liked whoever that was on Twitter who said Aksana was dressed as a “sexy carpet”.
Oh, and Aksana’s TitanTron video/logo being the Wolverine font. That never stops being funny to me. Aksana has a job on TV as a professional wrestler and Jessicka Havok doesn’t. Just saying.
Best: Wade Barrett, Superstar
Last night was a fantastic example of how cool WWE becomes when you let the wrestlers be accepted as Gods in their hometowns.
Wade Barrett was treated as a superstar for one of the first times ever last night. Even when he was being tossed under a production cart by John Cena and murdered with chairs he felt like an afterthought, the cowardly leader of a bunch of nobodies. Here, Paul Heyman was talking to him like he was the most important person in the world, and the crowd went BONKERS for everything he did. Wade’s the real deal. He’s a huge guy with an above average ability to pro wrestle, he’s handsome enough to be the “handsome” guy and tough enough to be tough. If you could just let him be as smart and interesting as he seems in real life AND give him a finish that looks like it could knock out a newborn kitten, you’d really be onto something.
But yeah, I’m back in the Barrett Barrage. He should use this as an example of how WWE crowds should treat and respect him whenever he’s anywhere other than England. Let England be his Chicago, and never make him call them You People.
Best: Thank God I Bought That WWE ’13 Fan Axxess Pack So I Can Change Brodus Clay To A 30 Overall
Whew, Brodus Clay.
I think it’s safe to say that Brodus’s star has fallen as low as it’s gonna fall with a WWE paycheck, and that if they’re ever gonna have him ditch the Funkadactyls, fire Cameron for being a weird drunken liar, shift Naomi into wrestling like they should’ve a year ago and convince audiences that Brodus HATES DANCING FOR THEIR ENJOYMENT and would rather YELL ABOUT PHILOSOPHY as the muscle/bodyguard for Rhodes Scholar or Alberto Del Rio or whoever, now’s the time. The guy is just the shits right now. His moveset is “hope they touch my head” and he loses in under five minutes to anybody better than JTG. PULL THE STRINGS, guys.
Best: Did WWE Finally Read The Internet And Discover How Much Everyone Hates The Overdrive?
I bailed on this show after hour 2 last night (that Davey Vega Create-A-Superstar isn’t going to make itself) and caught up with what happened this morning, and my favorite part of doing that is watching wrestling reporters try to identify which Uso Heath Slater wrestled. I think it was Bobby! BOBBY USO!
I love the 3MB gimmick but I already miss a lot of my favorite things about Heath Slater (the Johnny Cash tights, the ‘Flirtin’ With Disaster’ rip-off music … uh, Drew McIntyre), but the eyeliner somehow makes him even less likable, and as CAW as it is, the Impaler is a way better finish than the Overdrive. The Overdrive requires wacky balance and the belief that falling onto your back from a bent over position is deadly because you spin and is not the exact same motion you use to get into bed. Now they just need to stick with a finish and let him establish it, or give him 15 more and let him claim them all. I would support a wrestler who yelled about how EVERY MOVE IS MY SPECIAL MOVE!
Also, from now on and for no reason, the Usos are to be known on this website as Bobby and Rick.
Jack Swagger Of Mars
A tight close-up of a man tying his shoes. As we pulled back, living vicariously through the WWE Universe’s cameraman, we saw the hulking figure of WWE strong-ish-man Mason Ryan. Sat next to him was United States Champion Antonio Cesaro, smiling from ear to ear because he’d just used his incredible intelligence to teach a 30-year old Welsh guy how to tie his shoes. Suddenly, the head of WWE Creative burst into the room. His eyes darted around to the colorful, sleeveless jackets hanging around the room and finally focused on the taught, orange skin of Ryan.
“You! Mr. McMahon wants you! Ugh, I’ve been looking for you for like two months.”
“Congratulations, Mason,” said Cesaro, patting Ryan on the shoulder. “You’re finally back.”
“Well, not exactly.” WWE Creative had never been known for their assertiveness. “You aren’t returning to television, but we are giving you a gimmick change.”
Mason Ryan’s massive eyes rolled. He’d just heard about the character of Fandangoo and worried that he’d have to spend all weekend being fitted for shiny pants. I mean, he had plenty of shiny bicycle shorts, but none of them were long enough to be considered a “pant”.
“Fleahgflah,” he said.
“What he said was,” Cesaro offered, “What’s the gimmick? I know what he’s saying because I speak many languages, and Welsh is one of them.”
“Oh, that’s convenient,” said the writer. “How’d you learn Welsh?”
“I looked at a wall of consonants and just word jumbled them until they made sentences.” Cesaro looked especially proud. “By the way, while you’re here, I have a great idea to bring up my girlfriend, you see, she lives in my house and is the best female wrestler in the world, and she’s already supposed to be in developmental but so far she’s just stood in group shots, and I think she could-”
“Anyway,” the head of creative interrupted. “Mason, your new gimmick is a United States General.”
Mason’s eyebrows perked up, meaning they stayed exactly where they were.
“You’re a general, but like … a SPACE general. Which means you fly spaceships. Or, I guess you just ride in the spaceship, and other people drive it, because you’re in charge of them. That sound good?”
“Cool, we’re putting you in a program with Jack Swagger.”
“Jah SWAGGER??!” Mason Ryan erupted. He turned and flipped over a table, spilling several clipboards and partially signed WWE contracts.
“That’s pretty cold,” Cesaro added. “Kalt. Frío. Fred-”
“Jesus Christ. Cesaro, you’re wrestling R-Truth when we go to England.”
Cesaro did not say another word.
“Mason, you’re a space general now and your mission is to fly to Mars and retrieve Jack Swagger. That’s … where he is, I guess.”
Mason nodded again. He had never thought about Jack Swagger, so he might as well be on Mars.
“We don’t know what’s up there, so you’re gonna take a bunch of our staff and a bunch of troops, because we love the troops, and you’re going to … smoke him out. Burn Mars to the ground if you have to. Turn it into a pit of danger and walk around in it, whatever you want to do. Just get Jack Swagger back to Mr. McMahon so we can put him into meaningless undercard matches and not have to hire anybody else over 6-5 to do it. Got it?”
“YEAHRGHHH” Mason affirmed, standing and raising his arms above his head.
“And here,” the writer said, tossing Ryan a black tank top. “Put this on. We need you to stand around the ring tonight, Ryback’s gonna do a thing with Punk in a lumberjack match and we need lumberjacks. If you put on a shirt nobody will see your muscles, and shit, that’s the only way I can fathom somebody recognizing you.”
Ryan’s lips curled. His eyes tightened as he turned his attention to the writer. The writer, having never been physically confronted for something bad he said about a wrestler, was already emptying his bowels. Ryan snatched him by the throat, slamming him against the wall. If he’d been a stronger guy, he would’ve lifted the writer off the ground. In perfect English, he spoke.
“I will Jack Swagger. I will Mars!”
Okay, almost perfect English. Ryan stormed out of the room, leaving Antonio Cesaro to ponder five other ways to tell a man he pissed all over himself.
Jack Swagger of Earth sat patiently as the Descent Shaft transport began to slow. A series of LED lights illuminated the seating area, causing Kaa’orri to begin digging in her bag, looking for something. After a moment, she pressed down the bag in frustration and reached for her speeder helmet.
“Here, put this on.”
Jack took the helmet. “Whath THITH for?”
“The people of Hellas haven’t seen a human in … well, I don’t know how long. I don’t want them getting suspicious of you. I’m just going to make my delivery, keep you as dimly-lit as possible for as long as possible, then drag you back up this shaft. You’ll get yourself killed. Plus … no offense, but your hair is weird.”
“Thith from a lady WITHOUT hair,” Jack countered. Kaa’orri glared at him for several seconds.
“All right, offense. All of you looks weird. Is your hair even that color? And aren’t you people supposed to be able to grow facial hair?”
“Awright awright.” Jack Swagger placed the helmet over his weird, weird head.
“Be careful,” Kaa’orri added. “You aren’t going to believe what you’re about to see.”
The transport doors slowly opened, and a brilliant white light filled the cabin. They had arrived in the great Martian city of Hellas.