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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.
Best: Dolph Ziggler’s Vest, Because Holy Shit
If you saw Dolph Ziggler’s metallic, bedazzled, leopard-print vest with pink stitching and f**king SHOULDER SPIKES last night and didn’t mark the hell out for it, you’re doing it wrong. It may have been the very best part of the show. It also inspired the WWE Universe to get CRAZY PHOBIC ON THE INTERNET, as seen here:
I know that’s a parody account and everything, but I take back all those things I said about wanting to see Jim Duggan, because ACTUAL Jim Duggan’s response would’ve been way worse.
Still, Ziggler wins the Rumble, whether he won or not.
Best: Big E Langston
In fact, Ziggler’s only competition for Best In Show is motherf**king BIG E LANGSTON for breaking out an old-timey wrestling interviewer voice and being SHOOT BETTER AT INTERVIEWING THAN ANYBODY WHO HAS DONE BACKSTAGE INTERVIEWS FOR WWE SINCE GENE LEFT. Seriously, Striker, Josh, whoever, watch Big E totally get the fact that wrestling announcers are supposed to be uptight and extremely interested in what you have to say because it is their job, not wet-eyed accusers and sympathy report drones.
I love Ziggy Lee (© With Leather open thread commenters) a lot. It’s starting to concern me that WWE has so many groups of friends I love and want to see succeed (Ziggler/AJ/Big E, Rhodes/Sandow, Kane/Bryan, Del Rio/Ricardo, John Cena/whatever Drop Dead Fred-type creature has been haunting Cena for the last year), but can’t give me enough good wrestling on the regular to justify my interest in their show. When the Rumble started I realized I cared about or liked almost everyone in it, but didn’t really care what happened. That’s weird.
Best/Worst: The Tag Team Match Was Fine, But …
It’s dangerous that I’ve got to add “yeah, but” qualifiers to all the “this was a good match” Bests. Team Hell No defeated Team Road Scholars to retain the Team Tag Team Championships, and it was a good match. YEAH BUT:
1. The tag team division is two teams again. When Daniel Bryan and Kane inevitably break up, and Kane goes off into retirement and Bryan goes off to be The Best Wrestler Ever or Santino’s angry best friend (depending on the fates), it’ll be ONE team. 3MB, the Usos and the Prime Time Players are all afterthoughts. Car Stereo and the Kidd/Gabriel team can’t stay healthy long enough to make any kind of impact. Kofi Kingston’s got a tag team partner curse thing happening, and as much as I’d like to see them bring up PAC and reboot Air Boom (mostly to get Kofi out of singles competition and into tags, where he wouldn’t give me as much to complain about), I don’t want to see poor PAC lose his leg to gangrene or whatever.
2. If the tag team division is only two teams, shouldn’t that second team have, I don’t know, come out on top by now? Team Hell No and Rhodes Scholars secretly have a Cena/Ziggler thing going on, where Cody and Sandow are awesome and great and everybody loves them, and Kane and Bryan have all these plans coming up we’ve imagined so you think NOW is when they’re gonna drop the belts and really do something, but … nope. Another clean loss.
3. Are we just going to keep Kane and Bryan together? Is that the idea? Did we just convince ourselves otherwise at some point? Bryan’s gear is officially just red and black now, which is good because tag teams should have matching gear, but kinda bad because NO BRING BACK THE BURGUNDY THAT IS IMPORTANT TO ME AS A NERD. They got mad at each other in the Royal Rumble, but they’re ALWAYS mad at each other, right? That’s their thing. If they aren’t in the process of breaking up, they aren’t really a team. If they work together, they don’t work. Right?
It’s so hard being a wrestling fan in 2013. We’re always trying to figure out where stuff’s gonna go. Back in the 80s, were there wrestling fans who were always like “yeah, Honky Tonk Man is fine, but I can’t wait until they let him drop the Elvis gimmick and give him a serious push.” Were people waiting for Jake the Snake to drop the snake and put on trunks so he could get that Mania spot? Did we just invent this out of thin air because the actual show isn’t enough to hold our interest?
Worst: Wait, Are We Doing The Rumble Already
I hope you enjoyed the Best And Worst Of WWE Royal Rumble 2013. Here are the top 10 comments of the night!
Best: Drunk JBL
Okay, maybe I’m alone here, but the most fun I had watching the Royal Rumble last night was trying to figure out what the f**k was going on with JBL.
Look at him. LOOK AT HIS FACE. They barely let him talk. When they put to the announce table, Cole and Jerry would be in full on smiley-shill mode, and JBL is just sitting there next to them with glassy eyes, looking at nothing in particular, LAUGHING AT SHIT HE WAS THINKING ABOUT. My group of friends assumed that he was just drunk off his ass, so we listened for everything he said and tried to piece it together.
Sometimes Cole would ask him a question, and there’d just be silence. Other times Cole and Lawler would be talking about something in the match, and JBL would just start yelling YOU GOTTA THROW PEOPLE OUTTA THE RING TO WIN THE MATCH MAHCULL or whatever, explaining the most basic possible point of Rumble strategy. DOLPH ZIGGLER’S SMART MAHCULL HE’S JUST STANDING IN THE RING INSTEAD OF OUTSIDE OF IT WHERE HE’D BE ELIMINATED. In the middle of the Rumble he starts talking about how Natalya and The Great Khali are in an “interspecies relationship.” Watch him when the Rock and Punk come out to the tables during the main. He just sits there gawking at them with his mouth open, and when Cole’s all IT’S THE SHIELD, IT’S THE SHIELD JBL’s just like “what” and starts calling Michael (“Mahcull”) stupid.
The shorter version: Go home, JBL, you’re drunk.