I’m hyperbolic about … basically everything.
The title of “best pay-per-view of all time” is a hard one to bestow. A lot of people will say Wrestlemania 3, or Wrestlemania 10, or Wrestlemania X-7. As an NWA kid, I might say Starrcade ’85, or The Great American Bash ’89. Maybe Wrestlewar ’92. That’s lofty company, and I don’t want to sound hyperbolic when I say that last night’s Money in the Bank show seems like it’s as good as any of them. How do I come to terms with that? How do you admit that this new thing is just as good as the old stuff you’ve been building a love on your entire life?
I am a nerd about wrestling on the Internet, and to me, it was wonder.
Best: Daniel Bryan is a NERD, KING
I don’t want to fill the parts of this that aren’t about CM Punk with CM Punk, but one of my favorite wrestling memories is being live at Wrestlemania 24 (right at that moment when Chavo Guerrero and Kane were having 4 second matches for the ECW Championship when you thought Punk was too small a fish in too big a pond) and seeing Punk win his first Money in the Bank briefcase. I remember my good friend Bill Hanstock flipping out, turning to me and yelling ARE YOU KIDDING ME over and over.
Part of me felt that way last night, watching my favorite wrestler in the world win Money in the Bank. Sure, there’s always a chance that the guy who wins it is going to be the first to lose a cash-in (that really should’ve happened to Jack Swagger), and hell, part of me though Bryan was going to get fed to Punk at the end of the show, but as of right now there is a greater logistical chance than ever of “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson becoming WWE Champion. That would make me the happiest person ever. I want him to keep it for a year and a half. I want a match where Big Andy Leavine’s hand gets sliced open and Daniel Bryan taps him out by working it for twenty minutes. I want him defeating Drew McIntyre with a small package at the 28-minute mark.
Worst case scenario, I want him to be a popular wrestler and remain employed for as long as possible, because he’s great and deserves it. Actually, nevermind, worst case scenario is Edge coming out of retirement, spearing Bryan, taking his title shot and cashing it in for absolutely no f**king reason whatsoever.
I wish WWE hadn’t conditioned me to always expect the worst.
Worst: I Forgot Who Was In This While It Was Going On
Admittedly I don’t watch a lot of Smackdown, but these Money in the Bank participants were decided so quickly and randomly that at one point in the match Cody Rhodes shows up and I’m all, “oh, cool, Cody Rhodes is in this”. And that was seriously about ten minutes in.
As cool as it is to pile these guys on and have them do crazy spots to each other, I wonder if Money in the Bank wouldn’t mean something greater emotionally if we did it with four, maybe five guys. For example, people always speak fondly of Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon at Wrestlemania X, but nobody is going to care about those Jung Dragons/Three Count/Knoble and Karagias triple threat tag team ladder farts from Nitro no matter how many times you shoehorn them onto a DVD.
Worst: But Seriously, the Nerd Thing
Michael Cole is getting into that scary territory he got into on NXT where people started thinking his nonchalant, insulting character was funny, so they turned it up way too loud and we suffered through six months of sailor tattoos and blaze orange singlets and 60,000 emotional instances of Jack Swagger putting Jerry Lawler in the ankle lock. Cole is extremely interested in calling Daniel Bryan a nerd, so much so that he’ll do it in response to any sentence. It doesn’t have to be Booker T saying Daniel Bryan is tenacious (or whatever), it is literally anything:
Lawler: “Wade Barrett just punched Sheamus.”
Booker: “that right there is what we call a punch, king, and that right there will knock yo lights out, knock you clean out, that right there”
Cole: “DANIEL BRYAN LIKES BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, WTF”
And nobody f**king mentioned Battlestar Galactica. He’s like Austin Powers trying not to say “mole”. He used it on AJ on Smackdown, too, because she said “dude”. WHO SAYS DUDE, AJ IS A NERD. AJ is a gorgeous tiny gymnast made out of muscles and Ashley Massaro’s leftover underwear. When did “dude” become a nerd qualifier? The only people I know who say dude are surfers, frat guys and Ninja Turtles.
Worst: Goodbye, Mexico’s Rose
So hey guys, how about that Sin Cara?
In accordance with its Talent Wellness Program, WWE has suspended Luis Ignascio Urive Alvirde (Sin Cara) for 30 days for his first violation of the company’s policy.
WWE, if any of your representatives are reading this, I have a great idea. Have you ever heard of a wrestler named “Ricochet”? He wrestles in Dragon Gate, used to be in CHIKARA as Helios. Anyway, he’s skinny and olive-skinned, hire him for 1/10th of what you’re paying Mistico, dress him like Sin Cara, and let him do all this basic lucha sh** without screwing it up. I’ve seen him do a double moonsault with my own goddamned eyes, I’m pretty sure he can do a headscissors without f**king up and dropping himself, Chavo Guerrero and 2/3rd of the audience on their faces.
The best part of that paragraph is that I assume a guy in Dragon Gate isn’t on a ton of drugs. CIMA could inject anabolic steroids into a bag of weed and sell it at his gym, nobody would care. He could call it DO GREAT BREATHING STRENGTH.
Best: All Hail Kelly Kelly, Destroyer of Divas
You know a Divas match is great when all the reviews the next day include the sentence “even the women’s match was passable!” Some places have even called it “good”. I liked it, but I’m a women’s wrestling apologist. And at four and three-quarter minutes it was nearly four times longer than your standard Divas affair.
At some point during the afternoon, Kelly and Brie figured out that they could just do an abdominal stretch and bounce a K-Driller (or whatever she calls it) off the ropes and people would be fine with it. They didn’t have to get naked, they didn’t have to fall all over the place, they didn’t have to pull a Candice Michelle and screw up something they saw on YouTube. They just had to be completely passable at wrestling and people would give it a thumbs up. It’s like a Coldplay album. If “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall” had shown up on Radiohead’s Kid A people would’ve threatened to kill themselves, but because it appears on Sh:tty Coldplay Album by Coldplay, people think it’s fine.
For the record, that song is terrible. Just work with me.
Best? Worst: Kelly’s Entrance Attire
Kelly Kelly comes to the ring wearing gold lamé hot pants and a long-sleeved gold lamé top that stops just below her boobs, then turns into what I can only describe as a Greek sandal until about the middle of her stomach. Then, she takes OFF the top, but just the sleeves and sandals part, leaving a bra.
So was that supposed to be entrance attire, or did she just take off her shirt? The wearing and removal of sleeves makes even less sense than those sheer bracelet capes the Bellas wear or the chain wallet shoulderpads Kharma was rocking. Kelly should’ve taken off her hot pants to reveal one pant leg and half a vagina.
Worst: Eve’s “Back-up”
There’s a great moment at the end of the match where Kelly hits The Bella with her finisher and goes for the pin. Additional Bella gets upset and toward the corner like she’s going to get in the ring and break it up. Eve, who accompanied Kelly Kelly to the ring as “back-up”, backs Kelly up by walking into the corner and lightly swatting at the mat as the other Bella gets in the ring. The Bella does nothing, and Eve kneels on the apron in beige-ass pants until it’s time for her to celebrate.
It is time to wish Eve the best in her future endeavors. Her future endeavors in that sentence being “a booth beside Maria at Wizard World” and “a boring shoot interview about how Randy Orton once blew his nose on her shirt”.
Worst: I See You Working That Match With the Girl I Love, and I’m Like, F**k You
This is the theme for Summerslam.
WRITTEN IN THE STARS
A MILLION MILES AWAY
These things keep getting worse. What, is Jet Black Stare too busy to record your pay-per-view theme? What could they possibly be doing? (They could call it “Rock and Roll”!)
Best: Mark Henry Is My Favorite Wrestler
I don’t know what universe I’m living in, but here’s a sentence: The Big Show versus Mark Henry match at last night’s pay-per-view was fantastic. How did I get here? This is not my beautiful wife.
But it was. It WAS my beautiful wife. As a supporter of North American and Japanese independent pro wrestling I love and appreciate a couple of little guys jumping around and dance fighting, but occasionally the red-blooded fan needs to see two hoss-ass monsters being fat and beating the sh*t out of each other. In just under six minutes, Mark Henry (continuing his month-long streak as the second-best booked person in the company) dismantled and dispatched The Big Show, most notably in my favorite type of finishing sequence — Big Show kicked out of a World’s Strongest Slam, so instead of standing up and yelling C’MAWN THAT WAS THREE THAT WAS THREE REF until Show could roll him up and win, Henry picked him back up, hit him with two more World’s Strongest Slams and splashed him repeatedly until he won. THAT is awesome.
If you are not on this big motherf**kers bandwagon yet, get on it, because if he’d wrestled like this in 1996 we’d be talking about one of the all-time greats.
Best: Big Show Gets Henryized
We need to rename the act of getting “Pillmanized”, because it’s quickly becoming this generation’s O’Connor Roll. Do you know where that move’s name comes from? If you’re me or Mike Quackenbush, you do. If you were Twittering your friends to ask them if CM Punk’s worked shoot was a work or a shoot, you probably don’t.
I move we call it getting “Henryized”, possibly with an alternate spelling, because a 400 pound World’s Strongest thing dropping its stuff on your leg and breaking it to sh*t is great. Last week Mark Henry was the rhino from Donkey Kong Country Returns, and this week he’s a Thwomp. Gotta love it. Next week he should be a Linda from Double Dragon.
(that means he should attack somebody with a chain whip)
Best: Big Show is Frank the Tank
Watch Will Ferrell take a tranquilizer dart to the neck and flop around in a bunch of chairs and tell me it doesn’t sound exactly like The Big Show when he’s injured.
The Best and Worst of John Anderson “Money in the Bank”
Best: Country Music Videos Are The Most Literal F**king Things Of All Time
When John Anderson says “I wish I had a bass boat and a Z-28” there is a 100% chance that his 1993 country music video is going to have a bass boat and a Z-28 in it. I don’t know what happened to country music, but everything post-Garth Brooks and pre-Kenny Chesney was a terrible kind of great and so easily understood via visual narrative. Nowadays you’ve got to see Sugarland be “cute” and “ironic” when they’re singing “Stuck Like Glue”. In 1993 their asses would’ve been lying on the ground in a bunch of glue.
I wonder if the most difficult part of making videos for CMT in the early 90s was coming up with ways to express abstract concepts like being “better than” something. You basically just have to have John Anderson look at a woman, look at money in a bank, then back at the woman and give her a thumbs up.
Worst: Is that Rebecca De Mornay?
I just realized I have no idea what Rebecca De Mornay did between Risky Business and The Hand That Rocks The Cradle. I know what she did before that (she appeared in Francis Ford Coppola’s One from the Heart) and I know what she did after (make me want to have sex with my friends’ Moms). Maybe she was hooking up with John Anderson. We will never know.
Worst: The Logistics of a “Money Machine”
1. John Anderson made a good decision not trading his girlfriend for a Money Machine, because we are defined by our personal relationships and even a legitimate Money Machine would raise questions about counterfeiting and proper taxation.
2. The man in the video didn’t invent a Money Machine at all, he just stood next to an ATM and tried to get stupid people to let him have sex with their girlfriends.
Either way, John Anderson comes out of this looking good.
The Best and Worst of Lil Scrappy “Money in the Bank”
Worst: The Little Pissant Dog From Scooby-Doo?
Okay, I can’t do this joke anymore.
Best: The Best Money in the Bank Match Ever?
I don’t normally remember entire Money in the Bank matches, even the aforementioned one from Wrestlemania 24 I love. I remember Punk winning, I remember John Morrison doing a backflip while holding a ladder, I remember Shelton Benjamin dying and Carlito’s funny face about it. I remember Matt Hardy showing up and thinking it was the start of something important (lol). I don’t remember the actual flow of the match, though.
Other Money in the Bank matches are worse. Literally all I remember about Wrestlemania 25’s match is the Shelton Benjamin suicide fall. On last night’s show when Michael Cole was talking about how Kane won last year and cashed in on the same night I went “oh, yeah. Wait, did that happen?”
That said, I loved the Raw MITB match from last night. It seemed like an actual fun match on top of being a collection of ladder spots, and even the inevitable “let’s stand around and arrange structures” stuff was kept to a minimum. I wish they’d introduce the concept of ring boys to WWE, so each wrestler could have a student or two running around setting up ladders according to previous instruction and the wrestlers could do the wrestling without the illogical stalling. Hey Swagger, if you have enough time to set up an elaborate ladder bridge between the ladder and the ropes, you probably had time to climb up it and grab a damn briefcase.
Worst: Miz Gets Cornette’d
A recurring point in my Best and Worst of Raw column is the theory that Miz hasn’t recovered from his Wrestlemania concussion and has been working hurt, which explains his decline in wrestling and speaking quality. I honestly think his brain is still swirly.
Last night he got to briefly hang on a swinging hook and fall eight-ish feet to the ground and jack up his knee. It reminded me of Jim Cornette hanging on the underside of a scaffold and breaking the lower half of his body on the fall. It was unfortunate and I’m not sure what they were going for, and it led directly to this:
Best, But Worst: The Miz Returns
Miz showed up out of nowhere late in the match to climb the ladder with one leg and got a MASSIVE reaction for it, and while it was extremely gutsy and Foley-esque of him, it just furthers my theory that the guy loves wrestling so much he won’t sit the f**k down when he’s injured. If he blows out his knee, he’s still going to try to be the focus of a garbage tornado. If he damages his brain, he’s still going to try to cut promos from the top of a ladder when he should be drinking apple juice out of a sippy box and watching daytime judge shows.
I love you, Mike. You’re my OH-bro. But please, if you get hurt, take a little time to get better. You’re a former WWE Champion, they’re going to keep you around for years before the sh*tcan you for nothing.
Best: Del Rio Snatches Mysterio’s Wig
Alberto Del Rio needed to win Money in the Bank and Rey Mysterio was trying to hit him in the face with a briefcase, so he did what anyone in that situation should — he ripped off Mysterio’s mask and shoved him off the ladder. The dangerous see-saw thing that happened immediately after was a little disappointing, but not enough to ruin two major things:
1. It is Alberto Del Rio’s destiny to become WWE Champion, but you already know that.
2. Rey Mysterio is a dummy for giving up a huge professional perk to protect an identity he’s already lost. Sure, in WWE terms he’s never been unmasked, but if I’m Rey Mysterio, I think I’d want to punch Del Rio in the mouth, grab the briefcase to get a guaranteed WWE Championship match of my choosing, THEN worry about my face. Or worst case scenario I punch Del Rio with a hand over my face. Priorities, Rey.
Best/Worst: Christian is the Best Worst Wrestler Ever
Time for Pros and Cons, which is what they should’ve called MVP’s VIP Lounge.
Pros: Christian is now a two-time World Heavyweight Champion. He finally defeated Randy Orton, using his cunning and intelligence to manipulate an irrational, angry and borderline-mentally handicapped champion. He continues to be a part of an interesting story, whether Chris Jericho’s thing about how it’s “all just storylines” was entirely accurate or not. Christian is good at wrestling, and doesn’t ever have to wrestle at the Impact Zone again.
Cons: Christian won the World Heavyweight Championship the first time because his better, more popular friend helped him, and that’s when he was a good guy. The second time he won it because a better, more popular wrestler kicked him in the dick.
Additional con: Christian is still a WWE Diva in man form. He wears sparkly clothes, he only has a first name, his finisher takes 5 minutes to set up and his character is “catty egotist”. He is 10 deep spray tans from being Eve Torres.
Additional pro: He is really, really good at wrestling.
I don’t know. What wins out?
Best: Randy Orton is Ready for PWG
Watching Main Event Style Randy Orton break out a bunch of moves he learned watching Suicidal Dragon top tens on YouTube is always great. His over the shoulder neckbreaker would be a fantastic nearfall for Jimmy Rave. It would also work well being done to Jimmy Rave.
Best: Randy Orton is Ready for the Continental Wrestling Association
Remember that animated gif of Orton hitting Mark Henry with an RKO, then doing a cheerleader toe-touch and pumping his fist? I think Orton’s “place he goes where he hears voices” is that section of Parts Unknown where the Moondogs come from. The guy starts off as cool and calculated, then he gets madder and madder until he should be riding in a convertible with Rude Dog. Look at that face. They need to put Orton in some cut-off jeans and a tank top with surfboards on it and tell him to go for it.
Best: If Punk Loses, We Riot
Nothing can be said about last night’s main event.
Okay, some stuff can be said. You know how dumb it is that WWE makes guys look like assholes in their hometowns? Or that thing where somebody like The Miz comes out on a Cleveland show and gets a big reaction, but spends the next ten minutes running them down to get them to boo him? This is what happens when you don’t do those things. Sure, Punk has done the “each and every one of you” bit in Chicago, but never so severely that you thought he hated Chicago itself. He just hates a bunch of the people, because he hates a bunch of EVERY people.
Everything worked. How often do you get to say that? Say that and really mean it, I mean.
The wrestling was exceptional. The submission sequence late in the match where Cena turned the Go To Sleep into an STF, only to have it countered into the Anaconda Vice, was as good as wrestling gets. It was akin to — and please note, I’m saying “akin to” – Kobashi and Misawa, building on their previous encounters to make something special (and most importantly, logical) out of this one. The emotion was perfect. Punk wrestled passionately, recklessly, like the underdog. Cena wrestled coldly, callously, going through the motions like the dynasty of a man he’s become.
The time. The glorious, glorious time. Almost 40 minutes. WWE matches don’t go 40 minutes unless that’s the point. They’re like “tune in for the 60 minute match we’re doing!” This one just happened to go that long, because it had to. The crowd. The crowd was with them every moment, from CM Punk’s staggered entrance to the thunderous Cena boos (which he deserved, which I don’t say often) to every transition, every “botch” that led to something better. It even had Cena holding the belt over his head against a defiant crowd in what I’m going to consider a better homage to Cena/RVD than the “we riot” signs.
You don’t need me to overstate this. What good would that do? I’m not giving it stars. I’m telling you it was a f**king exceptional pro wrestling match, and possibly the best one they’ve produced since … well, I’ll let you decide that.
Best: Chavo Guerrero Is Full of Sh*t
Chavo has been running his mouth on Twitter about how John Cena can’t wrestle, retweeting literally everyone who says something nice about him. Most of them involve Chavo being a great wrestler who never had a bad match.
A few realities:
1. Chavo blows. Name something great he’s done that didn’t involve someone better than him to whom he is related. Give up? Because there is nothing. Nothing great. He can’t do the frog splash right and he’s spent the last five years getting pops for a triple suplex his dead uncle made work by being awesome.
2. If Chavo was good at something he wouldn’t retweet everything suggesting he’s good. Why do you think I retweet everyone who says “Best and Worst of Raw is great”? Because I’m a needy-ass blogger and I need people to tell me I did a good job.
3. I don’t want to do the “John Cena is rich and successful” thing, but John Cena is a 10 time world champion millionaire and he never had to dress up as a mascot eagle or sell for Macaulay Culkin.
Are you really going to base what you think is or isn’t good about wrestling by how many moves somebody does? What’re you, 14? Grow up, and think about this harder. Chavo, you are the worst wrestler with that name, and that includes Vickie and her foxy daughter (pictured right).
Best: Second City Saints in WWE
Colt Cabana’s great, but come on, Crazy Ace on WWE pay-per-view in 2011. All we needed was for him to show up out of nowhere and brain Cena with an aluminum garbage can.
And was that Shaggy 2 Dope in the crowd, or just a juggalo? Is there a difference? I think one doesn’t know how magnets work, and the other one pretends to not know to get money from the first people.
Best: Defining Moments
In last week’s Raw report I mentioned how Vince McMahon telling a crowd of chanting people that he didn’t give a damn what they wanted as a defining moment of our generation, and I think Punk and Cena got theirs last night. Punk’s is obvious. He won the WWE Championship against the top dog in his hometown in front of his mom and friends and a rabid crowd as the major part of the best angle in years.
I think Cena’s came when he broke his own submission move and slid out of the ring to level John Laurinaitis. He was being the dynastic super hero, standing up for a company that doesn’t think he’s as good as Hogan or Rocky, losing because of it. He’s a guy battling abandonment issues, just look at his promos against Rock. He’s here, and he just wants you to salute with him and love him, because God, he’s killing himself for you. But you don’t care. Neither does Vince, and neither does that jerk running to ring the bell. Nobody cares, and in ten years when Cena is telling those little kids to stick it and getting trash thrown at him it’s going to be awesome. BECAUSE THEY WILL DESERVE IT.
Best: Being a Wrestling Fan
I don’t know when this feeling will come again. Buck O’Neil liked to describe the sound of Josh Gibson’s bat connecting with a ball as the feeling of baseball. He didn’t hear it again until Bo Jackson, decades later. But he never stopped listening. Every time he saw Sid Bream swing a bat he’d listen for the sound, just in case. He couldn’t describe it, he just knew it.
This is the sound of the bat for me.
And for you, I hope. If you’re a wrestling fan, you put up with a lot of crap. You watch Shane McMahon get a battery hooked up to his balls, or you watch Vince McMahon tell Trish Stratus to bark like a dog, or you live through David Arquette title runs and suffer through John Zandig cussing in the parking lot, for moments like this. It makes this sh*t worthwhile. It’s worth it. It makes me so goddamn happy to be a wrestling fan that watching the torrent this morning I started tearing up at the main event, not because of what was happening, but because of the sound of an arena full of people screaming and chanting and loving it as much as me. Goosebumps, but on the inside. That’s weird. How do you explain that?
I can’t, maybe, but the next time it comes around, I’ll try again.
Thanks, WWE, for this. At least.