– Hey, you, person reading this column. Register and leave us a comment. You’ve gotten used to me prodding you about it, and I’m never going to stop, so just go ahead and join our little wrestling column community so you can at least stop being the one prodded. I’d also really appreciated it if you’d click that “like” button over the banner image and/or share this with everyone you have ever met, including your 10th grade physics teacher and any girls you may’ve kissed.
– I’ll remind you again as the column rolls on, but Justin O’Connor of Progressive Boink and myself are hosting a Best And Worst Of WWE Smackdown Live-Blog tonight at 8 PM EST. They’re airing it live this week, so you should come and chat with us and leave comments that I can hopefully multitask well enough in spite of Justin’s funny to include. Seriously, you’re going to laugh your ass off at this. Stop by, and tell folks.
– Another good reason for you to stop by and get to know Justin: he’s going to be filling in for me on the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 12/19 report on Tuesday the 20th. The 19th is my girlfriend’s birthday, and as much as I love wrestling, yeah, no.
– All the gifs you see within the report are courtesy of the awesome Jerusalem at Punchsport Pagoda.
– Listening to me is better than reading me, so be sure to spend … jesus, two hours listening to me talk to K. Sawyer Paul over on the International Object podcast.
But first, please to enjoy the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for November 28.
Best: John Cena’s Emotional Complexity
I loved this opening segment so much, and I hope you already know why. For months (and arguably years) I’ve been trying to justify John Cena’s crowd reactions and motivations, and for once WWE too a chance at making those justifications a reality. People like to say things like “compare CM Punk or Alberto Del Rio or Ricardo Rodriguez’s facial expressions to John Cena’s, it’s like he’s not even TRYING”, but they’re wrong. CM Punk’s character is simple … he’s an anti-establishment type who is secretly in it for himself. Alberto Del Rio is a rich guy who thinks badly of anyone who isn’t him or employed at Del Rio Estates. Ricardo is a nodding yes man who is emotionally invested in every turn of the conversation. Those things require a specific kind of reaction. Cena’s is different.
John Cena is, and continues to be, the most subversively complex character in WWE. He is neither a “good guy” nor a “bad guy”. He is what others have tried to desperately to be to get over with the fans: himself. He is a man (and a former robot, if you’re going by OVW history … and possibly WWE history, now that I think about it) driven by a moral code, to be loyal to those he feels are loyal to him and do anything to preserve that. It’s why he refuses to change. Why would he? This is what he believes. He knows that guy in the camo in the front row is happy to be appreciated. He knows those kids in Cena gear are gonna get jaded one day and grow up and leave him … but he won’t leave them.
If John Cena “turned heel” like so many of you suggest, he’d be the most false character in WWE history. He’d be faker than Festus. Hell, he’d be faker than Festus Kane. He knows what he’s doing might be not “right” in the eyes of the fans, but they’re right in the eyes he’s developed for himself, and his fans and supporters share those eyes. That’s part of being a Cena fan, you don’t just wear the slogans, you adopt them. He has an entire dresser drawer full of Say Your Prayers, Eat Your Vitamins. That was great advice to kids from Hogan. “Rise above hate” and “never give up” are great advice for kids today. So why should he get pissed? Because you don’t understand that? Cena says he’s in a “good place” and Piper doesn’t believe him, because Piper doesn’t know that the place Cena’s in is the only one that keeps him from robotting the f**k out and laser killing everyone. That’s what he means. That’s why he gives Piper back his Hall of Fame ring, and the first thing he does after is kissing his dog tags. THAt’s the symbolism. That’s the real meaning of this segment.
The dog tags are it. That’s his heart. If we get The Rock pulling an Andre the Giant at any point and ripping those dog tags off — the one prop Cena’s never really lent to story — that’s when the sh*t goes down. Cena can still be himself, never turn heel, and still be the craziest, angriest, most irrational motherf**ker alive… because he’s already that. He’s already the heel. You just aren’t paying close enough attention.
Best: Referencing The Most Bad Ass Ring Entrance Of All Time
I’m a huge sucker for John Cena Wrestlemania entrances, especially the drumline at Wrestlemania 24, but his entrance against Rob Van Dam at One Night Stand remains the most indignant, confident entrance of all time.
He just puts the belt over his head and walks to the ring with his head down. The Cena here is the Cena from Piper’s Pit. He knows how they feel, he just doesn’t care. Because why should he? He’s the f**king champ.
Best: Cena Kids Are Always Awesome
Regardless of your pro wrestling allegiances, you’ve got to love that. One of my favorite things ever is the BELIEVE IN THEM part of the old “don’t try this at home” warning where the kid in the Cena military bulldog shirt pumps his arms and goes RAHHHH. I was this kid. I was just dressed like Robert Gibson. And then Road Warrior Hawk.
Best, Just In General: Piper’s Pit
I don’t talk about it a lot, but Piper has been responsible for two very important moments in my life.
1. The first was when I was five. I spent most of my childhood in the hospital with lung problems. I’ve got a lot of stuff wrong with my lungs. To make me feel better, my Mom brought me those old rubber WWF thumb wrestlers to play with in the bed, mostly because the NWA didn’t make toys. I had Hogan, the Iron Shiek, Big John Studd, Junkyard Dog … and I had Piper. But Piper had Piper’s Pit, and I didn’t. So I took an old wooden… I don’t know what it was, a box? Like something you’d put jewelry in. And from my bed I took off the lid, turned it upright, drew some plaid carpet in the bottom with crayons and wrote PIPERS down one side and PIT down the other. I had my thumbwrestler guys do interviews in Piper’s Pit to set up my thumbwrestling matches for later in the day. I’ve always just kinda been like that.
2. I went to Wrestle Fan Fest in San Francisco a few years ago to meet Kurt Angle and The Great Muta. I didn’t show up on Friday, and because the fest was run by people in the wrestling business it was like 75% scam. I didn’t get to meet Angle or Muta. I’ve still never gotten to meet Muta, but I did get to meet Piper. I used my “meet Kurt Angle” ticket to meet him. I waited in line and watched him take a few moments with each person, not just taking our money, not just rushing us through like everyone else. I watched him kiss a kid in a wheelchair on the forehead. When it was my turn, I shook his hand and asked “What’s the secret?” He told me. I don’t tell anyone else.
Worst: Rowdy Roddy’s Deep V-Neck
and if I can be less serious for a minute, “how to properly wear a dress shirt on television” was not the secret. The hell was he wearing?
Best: Goodbye Forever, John Morrison
I wanted to write an entire “Candle In The Wind” parody and copy-paste it in right here, but you get the idea. Copy and pasted from WRESTLE HEAT~. Wrestle Heat, for the HOTTEST news in wrestling!
As noted earlier today, the contract of John Morrison is expected to expire either on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. His original contract with the organization expired earlier this month but he agreed to an extension to appear at events he was advertised for. It is not known whether he will be making a farewell appearance at Monday’s Raw SuperShow in Columbia, South Carolina.
Well, now we know (even though people on the Internet kept saying it was going to happen against Brodus Clay … hell, even Brodus Clay said that) and this is it. I expected more of a definitive squashing sound and/or JoMo getting MuHa’d through the stage with a Last Ride or something, but what I got was a compelling, historically-significant back-and-forth Falls Count Anywhere thing that at once encapsulated the Best and Worst of John Morrison’s WWE career. Think about it, he was in a Falls Count Anywhere match, his freerunning specialty. It was against the Miz, who shared the best years of Morrison’s character’s life. It had him getting hurt out of nowhere (my favorite Morrison segment, of which there have been many) and selling a debilitating leg injury by dragging his leg around like f**king Cindy Brady worming her way out of the Fairy Princess because she can’t get enough tickets for her Old Mommy and her New Daddy. Dude got hit 35 times in the leg with a lead pipe and was throwing clotheslines 40 seconds later. But we cared, a little. And that was John Morrison.
John Laurinaitis coming out to look at him on the stretcher earns bonus points. He should’ve peeled off a FUTURE ENDEAVOR’D sticker and stuck it to Morrison’s neckbrace. I can’t wait to see you “tear it up” in Impact, John, or worst case scenario I can’t wait to watch you sit in the background and text while I talk to Melina at next year’s Wizard World.
Best: The Miz As An Actual Pro Wrestler
How refreshing is it to see Miz actually beating people up again? He went through a thing with Alex Riley where he seemed like he was ditching his “The Miz” character to focus on being an Actual pro wrestler in Actual pro wrestling, but then he stopped showing up on TV and R-Truth came along and we went right back to his Our Gang scripted “we’re TV characters” thing. The Hell In A Cell handcuffing incident aside, Miz hasn’t looked like a threat possibly EVER, so having him Gotten Get R-Truth and put John Morrison’s beautiful jawline through the stage grating Event Horizon style was wonderful. Thematically this should continue with The Big Show next week and maybe Chris Jericho thereafter, and he can spend January f**king up the cast of Extreme Expose and finally giving Coral from The Real World a Skullcrushing Finale through one of those bean bag couches in New York. Do a full Butterfly Effect thing that builds to him throttling himself in the womb.
Worst: Jesus, Back Up A Little
1. It was pointed out to me that Miz looks like Howard The Duck, and now I’ll never be able to unsee it.
2. You do not need to fill up my entire widescreen with Miz’s face. I could see his pores clogging. It reminded me of one of those Samoa Joe promos where he’s chewing gum and has his head tilted back and they zoom right up his f**king nose for two minutes while he chews threateningly and barfs platitudes about “pain”. I know they were trying to get over how “ice cold” he is or whatever, but damn, I can notice that his eyes are blue from a few feet back. I don’t want to end up in Innerspace.
Not Sure If Want: Second.
Have you convinced yourself that this is for anyone other than the Undertaker? If you haven’t, I’ve developed a few new theories.
1. Ted DiBiase, because he’s a Jr., which is American for “the second”
2. 3 Minute Warning, because minutes have seconds, and classrooms have clocks
3. D-Generation X, because if you pause at the 0:15 mark you can see the DX logo on his buttons
4. John Morrison returning from his worked contract situation, because that’s how the Internet thinks wrestling works
5. Kharma, because it’s about “bad things coming back around”
Actually, that last one would be pretty sweet. I’m going with that.