The April 25 edition of WWE Raw featured the WWE Draft, an annual event that allows fans to pretend like they know how wrestling works, and wrestling announcers to get completely bent out of shape about things that don’t matter. Since its inception back in [some year], stars from Raw have routinely appeared on Smackdown and brand-nonspecific pay-per-views without incident, to the point that if you put everybody in WWE in the ring without brightly-colored t-shirts and asked me to tell you who is in what brand, I couldn’t do it. And I write about wrestling for a living.
I know Cena’s on Raw, I know Kane’s on Smackdown. Which brand is The Great Khali on? Did it change? When did it change before? Is that Rosa Mendes with the dark hair, clapping about draft pics? Is Kevin Thorn still employed somewhere? We may never know.
[images -> MGFanJay @ DVDR]
Worst: No, Seriously, the Draft Doesn’t Matter
WWE hasn’t drafted this badly since Bob Holly was a race car driver. Most of the time people watch the draft, then jump online to explain how Sheamus needs a face push and John Cena needs a heel turn and how this can only be accomplished by putting them on different shows. They explain things like workrate and heat and pops, as though we really need to hear about those things, and it’s generally very anal and difficult to read. I’ve got a couple of problems with the draft that have nothing to do with storylines, so bear with me as I try to get through them without turning into Scowling Internet Guy.
Major Issue #1: Everybody shows up on any show they want whenever they want anyway. Wait, I think I might’ve actually covered that in the intro blurb.
Major Issue #2: The rivalry between Raw and Smackdown is inconsistent. When it’s time for Bragging Rights or a spotlight match at Wrestlemania, Raw and Smackdown wrestlers put on these bright t-shirts and pretend to be fiercely loyal to whichever TV show they’re on. They don’t really have a reason to be, other than some weird “Raw is the A show, Smackdown is the B show” Internet thing that seeped onto the worst parts of television.
A guy like Drew McIntyre spends a year or two trying to cheat and manipulate the Smackdown roster, getting into heated physical and legal debates with the show’s general manager and ends up having the deck stacked against him when the GM and a pissed-off good guy want to deliver comeuppance. So why is a guy like Drew McIntyre wearing a Smackdown T-shirt, cheering when Smackdown gets a big name and feeling bad when they lose one? How does this make sense? I’m not asking for an incredibly three-dimensional character study here, the guy is a dick who hates everybody on his show, but he loves his show and everyone on it when they’re in front of the Raw guys?
And THAT leads to
Major Issue #3: Why DO the people on Smackdown get excited when John Cena gets drafted? From a personal point of view, a lot of guys on Smackdown have run amuck of The Champ in the past. Cody Rhodes spent like a year and a half getting sh:t-kicked by Cena at every turn, and even less obvious people like the Big Show have been humiliated and defeated by this unstoppable WASPy goofball. Are they excited because they stole him from Raw? Guys like Kofi Kingston could be happy, because they’ve gained a strong fairplay ally. But why is Ricardo Rodriguez all YEAH JOHN CENA YEAHHH?
From a professional point of view, these guys should be PISSED that Cena has come to Smackdown, because he immediately leap frogs every single one of them and their attempts at championship gold. If pro wrestling is your job, you want to be a champion and win all the time. That’s the goal of any athlete. You don’t apply for a job at WWE (and again I’m speaking completely in kayfabe [insider wrestling term +1]) so you can dick around as a wrestling plumber in comedy sketches with Jason Hervey or whoever, do you? You want to succeed. Cena showing up means you’ve run into a brick wall, and not only a brick wall, a bright ass technicolor crayon red wall who keeps RUNNING AT YOU and screaming and killing you with 4-6 moves.
Realistically, if Smackdown gets a big name, the guys on Smackdown should be “oh great f**k me.” If they lose guys, they should be happy, because now they’ve got a better chance of being at the top. Who would you rather face for the World Championship, the Canadian Rage Christian Cage, or some monstrous hydra made out of Cena, Orton, HHH and the Undertaker?
Worst: Oh God, Nothing Matters
Cena gets drafted to Smackdown, gets all excited about it, fights for the glory of Smackdown, gets drafted to Raw, beats up everybody on Raw, and we all get punched in our goddamned stomachs. This is coming from a Friend and Supporter of John Cena, too. The whole “we’re going to do something fresh, lol just kidding” status quo straddling isn’t necessarily the best or worst, it’s just … it’s just getting dangerously close to making me type the word “meh,” and I swear to God I’d rather chop off my f**king femur than sincerely say meh. You are making me indifferent without the passion to explain why.
And hey, aren’t you excited to see what happens in the Randy Orton/CM Punk Last Man Standing match now that Orton’s going to Smackdown? They should just change it to an Agree to Disagree Match. Headlining WWE’s next pay-per-view event, WWE Agree to Disagree.
Best: R-Truth Continues To Be Almost Awesome
Last week, R-Truth’s half hour heel turn and cigarette PSA extravaganza gave me one of the least enjoyable six or seven hours of my life. This week’s sepia toned recap didn’t help much. I think if I had to rank the ten things I like least about being alive, “watching sweaty people smoke” might be in there (right ahead of “watching fat people smoke”).
However, one of the things I pride myself in as a person and a wrestling fan is an objective approach to what happens and an ability to change my mind when appropriate. Truth’s “Little Jimmy/What (reprise)” promo from last night seems to be getting extremely polarized reactions from The Internet, but I’m going to go with my gut here; I loved it. I though it was money. I thought it was workrate heat pop. Truth’s delivery is weird and unconventional for WWE standards, but that’s not a bad thing. He got a little too pissed at the dumb crowd for chanting “what,” but that’s also not a bad thing. Truth’s only selling point has been his crowd interaction, and he’s keeping that going (one way or another) as he becomes a bad guy. Some of the things he says don’t make a lot of sense (diddly squat, his weird pelvic taunting at the end, and DEUCES~!), but many of wrestling’s most famous promo guys never made sense (Ernie Ladd, Ultimate Warrior, WCW Saturday Night era Dusty Rhodes).
I’m going to give Truth a chance, because Ron “The Truth” Killings (when he can avoid spinning) can be great. He can be a genuine, caustic GET YO SOUP DRANK style heel, and that’s about a thousand times more constructive than getting crunk with Fly Girl Eve Torres.
Worst: Speaking of Eve Torres
Holy sh:t that was the worst STO/reverse STO ever delivered, I mean, holy sh
Worst: John Morrison Can’t Fight
Oh, and before I forget, I’ve been light on John Morrison lately, but there’s no way to take the fire out of a pull-apart brawl like worked forearms. Remember when Daniel Bryan and Miz did that crazy pull-apart? They were clawing and punching and gnashing their teeth at each other. Morrison got beaten up for like twenty minutes last week, and all he could muster this week was a cheap shot from behind, some wimpy forearms, and repeated hair flipping. R-Truth can stomp a puppy to death on Raw, John Morrison is still the heel to me.
Learn to fight, John, Jesus. I’ve met you, you’re a big guy in great shape. Buy a punching bag and start punching it. Stop skateboarding without a skateboard. Punch the bag. Punch it until the bag starts moving.
Best: Michael Cole Bleeds His Own Blood
It takes a sixty-year old palsied fat man to do what any number of employable pro wrestlers could’ve for instant career success — potato the hell out of Michael Cole, breaking your hand on his teeth and making him bleed from his face. When Ross started throwing those Rob Van Dam punches (you know, if Rob Van Dam ever punched anybody) I cheered. This is what the Wrestlemania match against Lawler should’ve been. Cole should’ve screwed around until Lawler grabbed him by his orange ass Chino Reyes singlet, thrown him to the ground and punched him in the face until blood occurred.
Of course, Jim Ross is sort of the Bad Luck Schleprock of WWE, so even this segment had to involved a prolonged humiliation, with (again) a sixty-year old palsied fat man being held up by the leg and whipped in the butt with a belt. JR should just show up to Raw next week with a dildo on his head and be done with it.
Worst: Michael Cole’s Stalling is a Meta Theme
The second half of Cole vs. Ross was satisfying, but the first half was some archaic Greensboro Coliseum nonsense that just absolutely does not work in modern WWE. Well, I don’t want to say that, it might work, but the stalling without getting beaten up thing is what Cole has been doing FOR LIKE SIX MONTHS. The “hold on, I need to take a time out, hold on, I need a stool, hold on” thing is a representation of every time Cole opens his mouth on the mic during a match to get himself over at the expense of everyone else. THAT is the stalling. When Cole enters a ring, it should involve swift, immediate violence, because we’re already to that point.
Stall when you need to stall, piledrive when you need to piledrive. Or hire somebody with a working index finger so the trigger can occasionally be pulled on SOMETHING.
Worst: Do You Remember the Animosity Between Michael Cole and Jack Swagger From Two Weeks Ago?
Yeah, me either.