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And now, please enjoy the Best and Worst of WWE Royal Rumble 2013, a thing that happened.
Best: Antonio Cesaro Retains, Thank God
I initially missed the pre-show thanks to a combination of cable box problems and recording ADR (not Alberto Del Rio) for ‘Summer League,’ but my heart didn’t collapse in on itself at 7:55, so I had a feeling Cesaro won. The Miz at the worst he’s been since he was the Host Of Smackdown defeating Antonio Cesaro at he best he’s been since ever would’ve been too much, and coupled with the way the Rumble and main-event turned out, it might’ve turned me into a replica belt-throwing a-hole who storms into his wrestling toy room and tears up his Real World season 10 DVDs.
The highlight, of course, was this:
Worst: Now He’ll Never Be Able To Do A Figure-Four
This picture also works if you pretend Cesaro went for a clothesline, and Miz tried out the R-Truth dodge.
Anyway, yeah. The announcers did a bang-up job of convincing me that Miz’s Sid Vicious-style drop from the top rope was intentional. They slow-mo’d Cesaro’s shoulder getting under Miz’s leg on the way down, they emphasized Cesaro dropping Miz on his knees with the Neutralizer … hell, Miz stands up and starts kicking with his bad leg as soon as he lands. If this wasn’t part of the scam (™ Secrets Of Pro Wrestling Revealed) it was brilliantly executed.
I think it’s time to move Miz elsewhere — him being the guy in charge of The Shield is still my favorite idea — and to shift Cesaro back into “Foreign Superman Who Defeats Americans And Doesn’t Really Ever Mention The Miz” mode. There are so many “America” things he’s yet to tackle as champion: a returning Jack Swagger, the rise of Derrick Bateman as USA Guy, a crummy Hacksaw Jim Duggan legends appearance, even former-“foreigner adopting the US facetiously because he’s US Champ” Sheamus. I’d rather see all of those guys than Miz right now. Yes, even Jim Duggan.
Best: The Canadian Alberto Del Rio
Last night’s Rumble pay-per-view wasn’t heavy on great wrestling, but it was chock-full of ADORABLE. Whether or not this is something you look for in a wrestling show, I dunno.
Anyway, the first adorable moment was the backstage moment between Alberto Del Rio, Ricardo Rodriguez and
the ghost of Jacob Marley Bret “Hitman” Hart. This segment cemented two truths:
1. Alberto Del Rio really IS the Mexican Bret Hart. He’s a great wrestler from a famous wrestling family in a country neighboring the United States, treated differently here because of what we’d previously decided about his country. He favors submissions, he got his WWE break being accompanied by a loudmouthed guy who introduced him too much and he forgets like 10 random words during in-ring promos. I was gonna compare Owen Hart to Sicodelico Jr., but … yeah, no, the comparison doesn’t go that far.
2. Del Rio’s face turn might be my favorite ever, because of how much sense it makes to me. Here’s this guy who came up in Mexico and earned fame and fortune. He comes to WWE and starts brutally taking people out, claiming that he’s motivated by his destiny: the World Heavyweight Championship. It eludes him, and he’s always miserable, beating up his best friend, trying to run people over with cars, whatever. He wins a couple of WWE Championships, but that’s not what he wants. Finally he sees an opportunity to win the World Heavyweight Championship and DOES, and what happens? He’s HAPPY. He opens up to his friends, he smiles, he’s proud to be who he is. He was a guy beaten down by the idea that he’d never reach his destiny, and was then shocked into bliss when it worked out. Now he’s just chill to Bret Hart backstage and pats Ricardo on the back when he gets Hitman sunglasses, because they are best friends.
I love you, babyface Del Rio. Don’t ever be John Cena.
Worst: Alberto Del Rio Pulls From The John Cena Playbook
WWE’s got a bad habit of repeating themselves. For a while I thought it was lazy writing, but I’m pretty sure somebody on Creative has Memento disease and just can’t remember anything. In the same way I couldn’t enjoy Big Show and Mark Henry destroying the ring with a superplex because I’d seen Show and Lesnar do the same thing and had not been hit in the head with a hammer at any point between the two, I didn’t dig the finish to Del Rio and Big Show’s Last Man Standing match because it was a rehash of the John Cena/Big Dave affair from Extreme Rules 2010. If you don’t remember that, here’s a highlight video set to the worst music.
Part of the problem is that the spot didn’t make as much sense here. I’m not talking psychologically, I mean physically. When Cena did it, he dragged Batista crotch-first into the turnbuckle post, facedown, and wrapped the tape around his legs. There was no way Batista could possibly get up, and that was the gag. Here, Ricardo is kinda-sorta loosely duct-taping Show’s ankles to the bottom rope, and Show has to sell that he can’t get up. I’m not a physicist or anything, but I feel like a 500 pound dude on his back with like, half a roll of tape around his foot could just pull himself up in the ropes and break it. Your feet aren’t even that far from the ground. What’re you, a turtle? I also really hate that Last Man Standing matches are literally “whoever can’t stand up,” and not a thing where you have to actually knock your opponent out. You shouldn’t be able to park a bus on him and win. Del Rio should’ve done that. Driven a really nice bus into the arena and parked it on Show. THERE IS PRECEDENT.
So yeah, it was a good match, and even though it wasn’t as good as their Smackdown thing, it was probably the best match on the show. Just don’t end the rematch with Big Show being Attitudinally Adjusted from the roof of a car (or bus) on the stage. Eve’s already given me enough sad Batista Leaving flashbacks this month.
Best: Dos Caras
If you haven’t seen it yet, WWE.com’s video of Del Rio celebrating his win with his dad is so, so good.
I’ve had a lot of people ask me my thoughts on Del Rio “pandering” to a Hispanic audience, and while yeah, I don’t like it when WWE gets really obvious with their LIKE ME PLEASE campaigns, I’m okay accepting it from Del Rio, because I believe him. He’s lucha royalty, you know? His family’s livelihood exists almost exclusively for the happiness of the people Mexico. Not only that, but WWE has pretty consistently treated every non-United States nation and non-white, non-dude person in the world like expendable cartoon garbage. Maybe in six months when he’s wearing a shirt that says ALBERTO DEL CHIMICHANGA or whatever and he’s using a fire hose to shoot tacos at Big Show while people laugh and clap I’ll throw shade at it, but for now? It just makes me happy.