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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.
Best: Chris Jericho, One More Time (Again)
Hey look, Cool Dad’s back!
I legitimately wasn’t expecting Jericho. I was expecting MVP, or Carlito. Internet, don’t ever lie to me about Carlito again. The next time 411 or whoever is all CARLITO SPOTTED IN PHOENIX HOLDING APPLE IT’S A SCOOP and Carlito doesn’t show up, I’m canceling my Internet forever and taking odd jobs at local farms for the rest of my life. You are forcing me into Man Of Steel-style exile, you dirt sheet f**ks.
Anyway, I’m happy to see Jericho back. I had the highest-possible hopes for his run last year, especially when he showed up as a mute crowd-worker, but it ended up being terrible. He had that limp feud with CM Punk, ended up getting fired out of nowhere on a Raw and that was it. He’s one of the best of our generation, you know? He deserves a for-real “last run” that reminds us why the Conspiracy Victim Jericho and Best In The World At What He Does Jericho were the greatest characters in wrestling history without being either of them. Especially not both of them at the same time, which is what I think he was going for last time.
Even his hair got better as the match went on. Just wet your hair down before the match starts, Chris, you don’t have enough hair to pull off that funny WCW thing anymore.
Actually, forget Jericho, because GOLDUST IS BACK.
When Goldust’s music hit, I stood up from the couch, threw up my arms and yelled YES. When I realized he was coming to the ring to confront Cody Rhodes, that “yes” response turned into an actual OH SHIT I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS YEAH FIGHT pro wrestling thing I wish I could feel more often. Nothing makes me happier right now than the idea of a Goldust/Cody Rhodes WrestleMania match finally happening. Maybe Cody and Damien Sandow as tag team champions defending against Booker T and Goldust.
Goldust is one of those guys you know you can bring back every three years or whatever and not only will he get a nostalgia pop, he’ll be GOOD. You can put Goldust in the ring with anybody in WWE right now and it’ll be a great match. Goldust is the kind of guy Wade Barrett should be taking on while he holds the Intercontinental Championship … guys who have a lot of experience and really know how to work, and can help Wade even out the edges in his own wrestling. I still positive that Sheamus is only as good as he is between the ropes because he spent his first few TV months f**king with Goldust.
Keep him around, please.
Best: Cody Rhodes Was The Best Part Of The Entire Rumble
For real. Nobody played a character at the Royal Rumble better than Cody Rhodes. Maybe the “Cody’s Mustache” thing and Damien Sandow’s instaheat has freed him up to really dig in to what makes Cody Rhodes great, but he’s figured it out, and he is suddenly the most effective, opportunistic jerk in the company. He had a lot of great moments during the match, but these two were my favorites:
1. His elimination of Goldust.
He HAD to be the guy to eliminate Goldust, right? The look he gave Goldy, with his arm draped over the top rope, has to be the greatest inaudible Nelson Muntz laugh ever. He brought it back, too, for Great Cody Rhodes Royal Rumble Moment #2:
2. His elimination of Kofi Kingston.
Well, hold on, I should explain this, first.
Worst: Kofi Kingston Is Stupid
I talk a lot of shit about Kofi Kingston in this column (which some of you take very seriously, because I guess you weren’t around when I was ragging on John Morrison every week and formally transferred my Eat Your Lunch animosity over to Kofi when Morrison got fired), but he has a very important role in these Royals Rumble: do the fun athletic thing.
In last year’s Rumble, Kofi did that thing where he avoided elimination by walking on his hands. It wasn’t as good as the time Morrison Spider-Man’d the security railing and found his way back into the ring, but it was pretty special, and shows up in basically every Rumble video package. Now they have to keep topping it, so for this year’s moment they had him stumble off the apron, jump onto Tensai’s back, ride poor Lord Dugong around like a cyclops in ‘God Of War’ and end up stranded on the Spanish announce table. How did Kofi avoid elimination, you may be asking? He asked Drunk JBL for his chair, then bounced it toward the ring like a pogo stick until he could put his ass on the apron. See:
It was fine for what it was, but oh my God was it stupid. This isn’t me hating on Kofi as a gag, I just think it was dumber than shit. If you’re stranded on the announce table, there are SO MANY WAYS to get back into the ring. The easiest way would be, I don’t know, hop on one foot? Just put one foot down and hop over to the apron. You’re still in. You’ve got that surfboard sized protective covering you’re standing on, right? Drop that on the ground and walk over like a bridge. If you can stand on a table and not be out, there are no thickness limits for objects allowed between your feet on the floor. You could also do the John Morrison thing and take like, one step to your right, jump from the rail to the stairs and still be in. OR, if you get a chair, why not just sit down in the chair and push it over? You can even use your one leg to “row” it. OR JUST USE MANY CHAIRS AND WALK ACROSS THEM. I feel like pogo sticking it over was seriously the stupidest and least reasonable way to get back over.
Cody Rhodes agreed, and as soon as Kofi got up on the apron, he handled it.
Thank you, Cody Rhodes. You're the best.
Best/Worst: Post-Crisis Godfather
The Godfather is terrible. He’s one of my least favorite gimmicks from the Attitude Era, which I guess is probably the most predictable thing I’ve ever typed. His entry in the Rumble was a total waste of time. Nobody likes The Godfather enough to go crazy about it, all OH SHIT IT’S THE GODFATHER YES I LOVE THE GODFATHER LOL or whatever. Literally any other core member of the Nation of Domination would’ve been a better entry? D’Lo Brown? I’m happy. Mark Henry? I’m losing my mind. Rock? It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but okay, it’s better than the Godfather. I’d even take Ron Simmons stepping in, getting dropkicked out, then standing there for 4 minutes making upset faces while we all wait for him to say “damn.”
That said, I did enjoy the hilariously lazy retcon of the Godfather’s character. I guess in the PG world of WWE you can’t say, “he’s a pimp, children. See those ladies with him? He employs them as sex workers. Traditionally, men in his position are violent and controlling with these women. Watch as he offers sex with strangers in place of a wrestling match!” Now it’s just “he likes to party.” That’s how you explain a pimp to a child. “He’s dressed like that and has ladies with him because PARTIES ARE FUN.”
Best: Daniel Bryan Pulls An AJ
Even AJ called this one:
This was my group’s picks for most adorable moment of the Royal Rumble. Daniel Bryan sneaks up behind Kane and eliminates him, then hits the YES chants. That’s what got me on board. You can preface pretty much anything 19 seconds or longer with YES chants and I’ll like it.
Anyway, this comes back to haunt Bryan, and he ends up getting tossed into the
loving waiting arms of Kane. He begs Kane to put him back in the ring and Kane seems like he’s gonna do it, but just drops him and bails. Bryan is left with an amazing look of sadness on his face, and the Team Hell No will-they-or-won’t-they continues.
This was cute, but I probably would’ve replaced it with with more kicking. And honestly, what was with the pre-Rumble conversation they had about Bryan having a way worse number? You were THREE APART.
Worst: Rey Mysterio’s Ring Gear Keeps Getting Worse
Rey Mysterio’s near look is clearly inspired by Big Daddy V. He’s got the bad tattoos, the baggy pants and the low-cut singlet top. Haha he’s even got the fake contact lenses. Mysterio should give up completely and just start wrestling in pajamas.
I’m glad Rey’s
not on drugs feeling better and all, but whew. I’m not looking forward to his super hero choice at WrestleMania this year. He should show up as Cyborg. He’s already got the shirt and the robot legs.
Worst: The Inevitable, Part 1
Here, I stopped the tape at the exact moment when Ziggler hits the ground, leaving Sheamus, Ryback and John Cena in the ring:
I guess this is probably where the show died for most people. For like a month, people have been asking me, “hey Brandon, what do you think’s gonna happen at the Rumble?” My first response was always, “What do you think’s gonna happen? Rock wins the title, Cena wins the Rumble, Rock/Cena 2 at WrestleMania.” Once In A Lifetime 2: This Time, It Only Happens Once. I think I kept saying it because it was the worst, easiest, most predictable thing. I wanted to be wrong. I wanted to be all, “yeah WWE sux0rz they don’t know the product derp derp” or whatever and just be that asshole who underestimated them.
When John Cena won the Rumble, the chance of Punk retaining fell to zero, and that was that. The inevitable was happening. “Maybe Punk will retain and they’ll do a title change at the Elimination Chamber!” I told myself. “Maybe Ziggler will cash in on Rock or Punk even though his briefcase is for the other title, because they don’t give a shit about continuity and can just say it’s for whatever they want without consequence, because if you call WWE on its mistakes you’re a mark who takes things too seriously.”
So I just kinda took a deep breath, remembered that wrestling is a fake show for babies, and crossed my fingers that the rest of the show would take me by surprise.
Worst Ever: The Rock’s Hard Times Promo
If you ever needed proof that Rocky reads this column and is a diabolical mastermind determined to destroy my brain from the inside and get away with it, because who would believe the Rock would care about a comedy sports blogger, please consult that interview from last night where he somehow manages to top comparing himself to Martin Luther King Jr. by straight-up aping Dusty Rhodes’ Hard Times bit.
If you haven’t seen that, here’s a short piece I wrote about it for AOL FanHouse. It’s a compassionate plea from a man who came up from nothing and made something of himself, asking the fans to come together and support him, because he never forgot the people who put him face to face with the ideal-destroying devil Ric Flair. It was honest, and it was one of those wrestling moments that would last forever.
Remember when David Arquette showed up in WCW, and he was a rich movie star who got a title run because they need to promote a movie, because people who don’t give a shit about wrestling might tune in if they heard about it? Yeah, that wasn’t hard times either.