– First and foremost I’d like to
thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ give a huge thank you to Bill Hanstock for filling in on the WWE Raw Open Discussion Thread and to Chris Trew for his excellent fill-in job for me on yesterday’s Best And Worst Of Raw. I’ve been in an airport for seemingly the last month and a half so I had to miss everything. Yes, it was spoiled for me before I got home. No, it won’t be as good when I get to write about it next week.
– Comments are appreciated. I’ve gotten a lot of WHERE’S THE WRESTLEMANIA THING feedback, so let’s hear what you thought about the show below. Shares, Facebook likes, Pinterests (?) and Google Plussage are all appreciated.
– Thanks again to THESTINGER for helping me out with show images and gifs. Anything that wasn’t grabbed from TV was taken by me, or someone holding my camera.
– I am extremely tired!
Please click through and enjoy my take on the live experience of WWE Wrestlemania 28. It was … something.
First of all, yes, they were selling those shirts at Axxess. I’m pretty sure they were only selling them at Axxess. Yes, finding out I could by one was the best thing that happened to me all weekend.
Well, one of the best.
Best: WWE Fan Axxess
At the risk of immediately making the biggest column of the year too personal (“Blargh, I’m a vegan! Blargh, I have a girlfriend!” et al.), regular readers may be aware of the two things that make me happiest in life:
1. Taking mark photos with sports mascots, because I had a really traumatizing introduction to “regret” during a Smurfs stage show at King’s Dominion when I was like six.
2a. Pro Wrestling
2b. Taking mark photos with pro wrestlers
It’s not the aspect of my wrestling random I’m most proud of, but if, I don’t know, Abyss is standing ten feet away from me I’m not gonna NOT say “hey Abyss, stand beside me while I make a fist at my camera”. It’s weird. I’m like George Costanza — when he stops thinking about sex, he becomes a beloved genius. If I liked math as much as I like pro wrestling I probably would’ve grown up to be the millionaire scientist who cured algebra.
Anyway, what I’m getting at is that WWE’s Fan Axxess event was right up my alley and allowed me to pose for pictures with all sorts of people you might barely care about (Layla! Johnny Curtis!). To make it even better, I put my Wrestling Hipster thing into overdrive by going to Axxess on Saturday night during the Hall Of Fame induction ceremony, meaning all the main-event level guys were off wearing tuxedos and I was left to mingle with the lower-level guys I love, like Drew McIntyre and Sin Cara.
If you get a chance to go to a Mania, go to Axxess, too. Even if you don’t want to stand next to Hornswoggle for 5-second meet-and-pose you can look at Bret Hart’s jacket and touch Mr. McMahon’s exploded limousine tomb.
Worst: No Funkasaurus As Advertised
When I explained my plan to go to Axxess during the Hall Of Fame, the first guy I mentioned was always The Funkasaurus. Not only was Brodus Clay advertised, but Naomi and Cameron (the “Funkettes”), too. “Okay, we’ll stand in this line until we find out who’s signing next, and if it’s R-Truth or whoever we’ll run around and try to find the Funkasaurus.” I think I said that sentence more than I said “hello”.
As you may have gathered from the emboldened header, no, the Funkasaurus wasn’t there. He wasn’t at the afternoon event either, I was told. I thought maybe he’d missed a flight or had been deemed “suddenly too dangerous” again and taken off TV. At some point near the end of WrestleMania I figured out why. We’ll get to that later. Spoiler alert: IT IS SUPER RACIST.
Best: Me Destroying The Impersonation Contest
Best Announcer In WWE History Scott Stanford was in the “watch Antonio Cesaro wrestle even though you don’t know who he is” Axxess ring and asked for anyone who could do an impersonation of a WWE Superstar. My hand shot up.
“Who are you gonna do?”
“GET IN HERE.”
So I got in there. There were a few of us, and the guys around me were doing terrible impressions of Stone Cold, Triple H and The Rock because I guess I’m the only one who watches the shows every week and doesn’t pretend we’re still playing Smackdown: Shut Your Mouth. The production guy started playing duck quack noises because we were doing so terribly.
Then, it was my turn.
I’m sad the video cuts out before the YES chants get going. Stanford described the impression best: “A little pitchy in parts, but he made it his own”. I was trying to do the “voice fading out before you can hear what he’s trying to say” thing and it ended up sounding like Peter Brady. Regardless, I won in a landslide and did a second, unsolicited Great Khali impression to celebrate. My prize was this amazing photo with Scott Stanford. If you look at the bottom right you can tell he put his leg up on my butt to hump me.
Best: Derrick Bateman’s Autograph
He gave it a worst, but he’s wrong.
Best: An Awkward Chickbusters Thumbs Up
And in case you were wondering exactly why this was the Axxess to attend, please enjoy this picture of me doing my best patented Chickbusters-taking-pictures awkward thumbs up with AJ and Kaitlyn.
There will be no more wrestling coverage on With Leather. This is the end. I have reached the mountaintop. Goodbye forever!
Best: Finally, A Chance To Sit In One Of Those Empty Orange Florida Marlins Seats
As a longtime baseball fan I was excited to do something no-one else had had the opportunity to do before: visit both the old and new Florida Marlins baseball stadiums in a single day.
The first is the monolithic Marlins Park, the brand new Infinity Billion Dollars stadium that someone’s 10-year old daughter was put in charge of designing so it looks like a spaceship on the outside and a swimming pool on the inside. You can take a look at my pictures from the game in The With Leather Photo Tour Of Marlins Park. If you don’t follow baseball, oh god, go look at it. You’ll want to see the motorized metal fish machine that spins around like a hippie freakout when someone hits a home run.
The second is Sun Life Stadium, the artist formerly known as Joe Robbie, the home of the Miami Dolphins and former home of the Marlins. The greatest running joke about the Marlins is that nobody in Florida gives a sh*t about them, so they can win two championships in ten years and still have an annual attendance of four buckets of orange paint. Sitting in one of those empty, orange-ass seats was one of the weirder things on my bucket list.
My excitement wore off pretty quickly when I realized my WrestleMania viewing experience could be recreated at home by standing with my nose to a tree.
Worst: These Goddamn Palm Trees
See those four gigantic palm trees holding up the lights? That’s all I was able to see from section 138, one of the unfortunate sections built diagonally from WWE’s prop masterpiece. For a while I thought the bark part was gonna come down, because hey, at least if they were metal support columns they’d have holes in the middle and we could still kinda see.
Nope. I paid x-amount of a hundred dollars to watch WrestleMania on a big TV screen at WrestleMania.
Best: Cena Kids
Kids are the best part of any wrestling show, and a great reason why companies who put too much emphasis on the “extreme” should remember to also at least throw in a guy who doesn’t tell everyone to suck his dick for these guys to cheer for. My Team Johnny shirt created a lot of heat between me and the kids I’d pass, including one in a friend’s section who badgered me so badly I promised to come back to his section, shake his hand and apologize if Team Johnny lost.
The kid directly to the left of Green Cena Kid was my favorite. When I stood up to cheer for Laurinaitis, he looked back at me, saw my shirt and engaged this conversation:
Him: “Boo! John Laurinaitis sucks!”
Me: “No he doesn’t, he’s gonna be the General Manager of Raw AND Smackdown!”
Him: “He sucks!”
Me: “His team’s gonna win this match!”
Him: “Nuh uh he sucks!” (continues doing double thumbs down at me)
Me: “Team Teddy is the one who sucks, have you seen who he picked for his team? Those guys are terrible! Team Johnny’s gonna win!”
Him: “He sucks!” (thumbs)
The great capper to the conversation is that when Miz got the win for Team Johnny, the first thing that kid did was look back at me with his eyes all welled up with tears. I remember how that feels. And I say “remember how that feels” like I didn’t spend 20 minutes with my head down and my back to the ring after Sheamus did his goddamn thing.
Best: People Taking Off Their Hats For America The Beautiful
You don’t have to do it. You shouldn’t do it for the Star-Spangled Banner either, because of how hilariously f**ked up its third verse is:
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Yeah Francis Scott Key, f**k those hirelings. Anyway, what I’m saying is that if you take off your hat for America The Beautiful, you might as well be taking it off for Lee Greenwood, too.
Best: Seeing All The People Who’d Hoped They’d Get On Television But Didn’t, So They Had To Be Dressed Like Idiots All Night
Nice job on your Ric Flair costume, guy! Now enjoy watching four hours of wrestling in public in your f**king bath robe.
Worst: This Is The Last Picture I Took For 25 Minutes
Worst: 18 Seconds
You guys are lucky I spent the entirety of Monday sitting around in an airport, because when it happened, my paragraph about the Daniel Bryan and Sheamus World Heavyweight Championship match read something like this:
ARE YOU F**KING KIDDING ME, I’VE BEEN FOLLOWING THIS GUY FOR 12 F**KING YEARS, HE’S THE BEST WRESTLER IN THE WORLD AND HE KEEPS GETTING OVER NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO TO HIM, EVERYONE LOVES HIM AND HE’S GREAT AND YOU FARTJOB HIM OUT TO F**KING SHEAMUS BECAUSE OF YOUR GODDAMN BODYBUILDER FETISH AND YOU’RE SO OBSESSED WITH CREATING MOMENTS THAT YOU DON’T GIVE A SH*T ABOUT WRESTLING FANS AND F**K YOU, I JUST PAID LIKE 200 DOLLARS TO SIT AND STARE AT A F**KING PALM TREE SCULPTURE WHILE THE ONLY F**KING WRESTLER I HAVE A LEGITIMATE F**KING EMOTIONAL CONNECTION TO GETS KICKED ONCE AND I’M SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE THAT’S IT AND WORTH THE PRICE OF MY TICKET
I AM GOING TO PULL DOWN MY PANTS AND TAKE A SH*T IN MY HANDS AND F**KING THROW IT AT YOU SO HARD IT DECAPITATES YOU, WHOEVER DECIDED THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA
FROM NOW ON I’M ONLY WATCHING PWG TAPES AND F**KING CHONO MATCHES, YOU EAT SH*T AND DIE AND STOP PRETENDING TO BE A WRESTLING COMPANY, CHANGE WWE NETWORK’S NAME TO THE DRUG-ADDLED PEOPLE WHO COULDN’T FINISH HIGH SCHOOL AND THE FAUX-TANNED WHORES NETWORK, I’M F**KING DONE WITH YOU
That describes roughly the first … let’s say 20 minutes after that 18-seconds-in Brogue Kick went down. Thankfully, I was with friends and there were no bridges within walking distance from which to throw myself. It felt like the most indescribably large middle finger to me — to me personally — ever. I wanted to leave. I really did. I wanted to say f**k it, leave WrestleMania and drive back to my hotel room, where at least sleep wouldn’t disappoint me.
Also thankfully, time and a few deep breaths help put things into perspective.
Best: The Silver Lining Of Where That 18 Seconds Took Us
The crowd at WrestleMania loved Daniel Bryan. We loved him before he showed up, and we loved him after he lost. That carried into Monday night, where the YES~ YES~ YES~ chants took on a life of their own, and Bryan was forced to be namechecked by guys like Cena and personally address the crowd.
It’s common knowledge, but as much as we like to believe they do, wins and losses don’t really matter in pro wrestling. The emotional connection I feel to Danielson when I see him wrestling doesn’t go away when something bad happens, and I’m stupid for letting myself get caught up in it and scream about it. He’s going to be fine. He’s the best wrestler in the world, and eventually every single person who pulled that “he’s a vaniller midget he’s boring dur-hur” thing over the last two years will be wearing his t-shirt. Punk was fine, Danielson will be fine. It’s fine.
(I was really upset.)
Best: Randy Orton Vs. Kane Actually Ending And Being A Thing
At the time, Randy Orton versus Kane was the best wrestling match I’d ever seen while staring at a 90-foot tall palm tree.
I don’t remember a lot about it except being surprised Kane won (cleanly, even), then realizing how Kane had been treated like so much Viscera (in both definitions of that) since he’d returned as a “resurrected monster”, so yeah, unless they want to team him with Big Zeke and have them get Backedcracker on the reg they needed to have him beat some dudes of worth. Plus, this sets up a rematch at Extreme Rules and another month wherein Kane has a chance to logically explain any of his motivations ever.
The chokeslam off the ropes was cool, but I (and the entire crowd) was calling a Kane Flying Clothesline into an RKO. Orton matches these days are almost built exclusively around which signature move he’s gonna turn into an RKO, and that one made the most sense. When Kane came off the ropes and Orton dropkicked him, the crowd went HERE IT COMES OH YEAH BOOM WAIT NO WELL OKAY DROPKICK YEAHHH.
Worst: This Crabnabbers Segment Is 40 Times Longer Than The Daniel Bryan Match
Between Daniel Bryan losing in less than twenty seconds and the follow-up segment involving Mick Foley and Santino wasting food with the guy from ‘Deadliest Catch’, this is shaping up to be the least vegan WrestleMania ever.
Best: Ron Simmons Should Change His Catchphrase
While I enjoy Simmons showing up at only the worst possible times to say “damn” (I think he should show up during a championship celebration or something and go “oh, okay, this is actually pretty good” at least once), I think he should change it to “dammit”. That would change the entire point of what he’s saying, and come a lot closer to mirroring how I feel every time a segment is bad enough to necessitate Ron Simmons showing up and ending it.
Secondary option, have Simmons show up in harmless segments (like those ones where CM Punk is backstage tying his shoes and the cameraman is zoomed in SUPER CLOSE because I guess before they got interrupted by Zack Ryder or whoever they were filming an instructional video), stand around for several seconds and scream DAMN only for Punk (or whoever) to ask him what his problem is. Maybe Simmons got shoved into the same electrical power supply that gave Goldust curse-Tourrets.
Best: The Attendance Record Would Be Even Better If You Didn’t Have To Tarp Off The Top Two Rows To Avoid Fire Injuries
At WrestleMania 24 (the only other WrestleMania I’ve been to), John Legend sang America The Beautiful and Kim Kardashian gave me the attendance announcement. At WrestleMania 28, Lilian Garcia sang America The Beautiful and Lilian Garcia gave me the attendance announcement.
What, did MGK cost you so much money you couldn’t fly out Bella Thorne from Disney’s f**king ‘Wizards Of Miley Cyrus’ to read from a piece of paper? Maybe that explains Flo Rida’s “shoving Heath Slater” segment — he had to get Bella Thorne’s announcement money AND look better than all the people who’ll be here next week.
Worst: These Palm Trees Aren’t Going Away, Are They
This was my epic view of the Big Show/Cody Rhodes Intercontinental Championship match. Not that I needed an intimate, independent wrestling-style experience to enjoy it, but Jesus, maybe I should try watching Extreme Rules next month from about 100 feet away from the television with a goddamn cat tunnel around my head.
Best: Dick Spear
The most painful moment of the night (besides maybe “CM Punk kneeing Chris Jericho’s head into the ring post” and “watching Kelly Kelly run the ropes”) goes to the Big Show’s high-workrate DICK SPEAR to counter Cody Rhodes’
Beautiful Disaster Kick.
Look at that thing. More wrestlers should counter moves like that. “Oh, are you trying to Codebreaker me? Just let me fall body-first into your dick.” “Oh, you’re gonna try to leap frog me? Just let me stand here under you and make your dick land on my shoulder.” It’s good for the reality of the in-ring product, but I guess it’s terrible for the guys’ dicks.
Best: Big Show Winning Sucked, But Was The Right Call
As I’ve mentioned several times during the one episode of Raw they’ve been showing for six weeks, Cody Rhodes’ incessant condescending video packages and Intercontinental Title Reign With No Defenses set it up so that anything other than a Big Show win would be backwards. Cody Rhodes is shoot one of the best pro wrestlers in the world right now and Big Show a 40-year old fat guy who does things like Dick Spears, but Cody dropping to show decisively was the right call.
Of course, it would’ve made a lot more sense to give Show/Cody the Daniel Bryan/Sheamus 18-seconds record. Bell rings, WMD, boom, new champion. It would’ve accomplished mostly the same thing, given Show more of a “WrestleMania Moment” than being a former World Champ who gets awarded a secondary title before he retires, and we would’ve gotten to see Daniel Bryan wrestle a wrestling match.
Worst: Maria Menounos Winning Sucked And Was The Wrong Call
WWE loves celebrities and it doesn’t make sense to have the people who’ve never wrestled lose to the professional wrestlers who are champions in your professional wrestling league (wait, what) so here we are watching Maria freaking Menounos wrestle with injured ribs and still pin Divas Champion Beth Phoenix with a roll-up. It seems entirely possible that we could’ve accomplished Maria’s WrestleMania Moment and had Kelly take the pinfall for her team at the same time. Especially considering that it’s Maria Menounos and not an actual celebrity who can get you ANY nominal publicity or sell a ticket.
That was the running theme for the night. On the same show, the biggest show of the year that some people make the ONLY WRESTLING SHOW THEY WATCH EVER, we saw:
1. A retired movie star defeat Only Marketable Guy Left John Cena
2. A TV co-host with injured ribs pin your best female wrestler
3. A rapper threaten and shove down a much smaller man who happens to be one of your wrestlers
So hey, if Extreme Rules has The Rock, Maria Menounos and Flo Rida competing on it, go right ahead and have those things happen. And have a guy from a Discovery Channel reality show about fishing stop by to make one of your beloved former champions look like a fat psychopath while you’re at it!
Worst: Two Stinks-Face In A Row, Really?
Big Show rubbed his asshole in Cody Rhodes’ face during their Intercontinental Championship match, so Asshole Rub Standard Bearer Kelly Kelly had to up the ante by pulling off a double Stinkface to Eve with Maria Menounos. When did Stinkfaces at WrestleMania become brainbusters on an indy show?
Best: Eve’s Tanner Skidmarks
The only good thing about
1. This match
2. All those Stinkfaces
is the fact that Eve Torres’ self-tanner rubbed off on Maria’s bright white pants and gave her skidmarks.
Best: Triple H Emerging From Castle Grayskull
1. Edge looks like Sebastian Bach from Skid Row
2. Triple H looks like He-Man
Eventually people forgot who Sebastian Bach was (how the hell did they even remember him in the late 90s?) and Edge started looking like the guy from Puddle Of Mudd, but I’ve always enjoyed the Triple H as He-Man comparison, especially since it affords me a chance to call Stephanie McMahon “Trapjaw”.
That being said, I was extremely excited to see him embrance his Eternian roots and emerge from Literally Castle Grayskull. He should’ve ridden out on a green tiger. Regardless, it was a step up from that crummy 300 “Spartans with cardboard shields” thing where the only good part was the Metallica song that got scrubbed away on the DVD from last year.
Worst: Thanks A Lot, Hell In A Cell
I’m holding Hell In A Cell responsible for the big ass palm trees. I know they probably would’ve been there anyway, as they need to hold up the lights and we’re decades away from that cool World Class Championship Wrestling thing where you just stick a wrestling ring in a football endzone and make Kamala wander around in it, but still, how cool would it’ve been to see an outdoor wrestling show where the wrestling is also really outdoors? Besides, if I’m chancing being rained on, Zack Ryder should face those same chances.
The worst part of Hell In A Cell is that they didn’t even use it. There was some light “we’re gonna go outside and shove each other into the mesh” stuff, but it was largely pointless, and I’m wondering if it was only there to differentiate the stipulation from the “no holds barred” stuff at 27 so they could do No Holds Barred twice and not get sh*t for it.
Next year I hope Kane and Undertaker have an Inferno Match that ends with Taker just chokeslamming Kane and pinning him.
Best: Going Out For Pretzels And Sh*t During Inappropriate Ponytail Theater
Be reverent all you want, that’s your prerogative, but I literally do not give a dancing f**k about Triple H and The Undertaker’s third WrestleMania match, especially after having to write five pages of column about them over the last month and a half. They were chairshotting each other to preserve the integrity of an era of THIS BUSINESS about to go by, and I felt it would be in my best interest to go to the bathroom and buy a Super Pretzel and peruse the Zack Ryder medallions or whatever while they did it. It was a good call.
I remember trying to buy a shirt at WrestleMania 24 and getting a panic attack because of how many people were crammed up against me. This was the opposite of that so I’m Besting it, and now I have a souvenir soda cup with Daniel Bryan on the side.
Best: Okay Okay, This Turned Out Pretty Great
The best thing about bailing for the first 20 minutes of the match is that I came back in time to catch the last 10, which were fantastic. Well, here’s a mini-breakdown of what I did and didn’t like:
– I am not enough of an elitist dick to pretend like the H/Undertaker match has no significance in the context of a WWE-led wrestling Universe, so I enjoyed the story they told. I feel like they should’ve written that story, then worked backwards to build to it with compelling programming over the last two months instead of just having them grimace and pat each other, because that might’ve been wonderful.
– I like that they told a smaller, more classic story WITHIN the match, and one that nobody ever tells these days: wherein a wrestler does something dastardly early in the match (Triple H hitting Taker a thousand times with a chair) and eventually gives the wrestler comeuppance FOR that act (Taker hitting Triple H a thousand times with a chair) in the same match. Now they push everything to a four week cycle and we don’t remember what happened to cause the issues and we never get closure on anything.
– That superkick into a pedigree spot was money. I’ve never heard a crowd flip out for a nearfall like that, whether my jaded old man brain could or not.
– Mohawk Undertaker in a spiked Super Shredder suit is easily my favorite thing the Undertaker’s looked like since he was a biker with light sensitivity problems.
– I’m guessing the 20 minutes I missed would not have enhanced my experience.
– Shawn Michaels should’ve stopped being emotional about the one job he’s been asked to do in the last like three years and relax. I get that he’s selling the emotion of the story, but christ, Triple H once got dropped from a crane while he was still in the car and HOW many times exactly has the Undertaker been literally murdered? He gets buried alive at least once a year. Like ACTUALLY buried alive. Those chair shots probably hurt, yeah, but not as much as being suffocated to death for real.
Best: Undertaker Lighting
Another big Best for this match is the post-match lighting, which distracted me from the nonstop congratulatory Bro Hugging by making me feel like I was living out the ending to Close Encounters.
Editor’s note: This is also the light I see whenever Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston are in the ring together on Raw.
Best: John Laurinaitis And The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit
You knew I was gonna give a huge Best to Team Johnny, and more specifically to John Laurinaitis and his awesome Brother Love suit, right?
Team Johnny vs. Team Teddy turned out to be one of the most enjoyable matches on the show, probably because it was one of like three that had a reasonable build, so you knew what to expect and knew what was at stake. I’m happy that a lot of the less showcased guys got a spot on the WrestleMania card, I’m happy that John Laurinaitis’ team won and now he gets to be the general manager of both Raw and Smackdown, I’m happy that Zack Ryder is continuing his descent into unbelievable helpless futility and I’m happy that I didn’t have to eat crow in front of a bunch of kids for repping Team Johnny.
Best In Show: Dolph Ziggler’s Monkey Flip
Look at this:
No, seriously. Look at it.
If you aren’t just assuming the way Ziggler takes somebody’s offense will be the best part of a show, I don’t know what to tell you. A major thing to pay attention to here is that Zack Ryder should only be allowed to wrestle Dolph Ziggler, because when he wrestles someone like Mark Henry or Daniel Bryan he looks like a goofy jobber with two moves, but when he wrestles Ziggler he looks like the Incredible f**king Hulk.
Best: Being Right In The Face Of Teary-Eyed Children
I don’t want to be the guy who finds joy in the sadness of kids, but I’m just saying.
Worst: How Is This Still About Eve
One of the least enjoyable things about the Generals Manager match is how it ended with Zack Ryder once again getting screwed over by Scandalous Bitch (© WWE) Eve Torres, getting kicked in the nuts and left for dead (?). It was also another example of how hilariously pathetic Team Teddy was, as they just stood around together in ONE CORNER and watched it happen. Good job, guys, you really helped out here.
Booking suggestion: Move Zack Ryder and Eve to NXT so more casual Raw fans will tune in, and move Derrick Bateman and Kaitlyn (Kaitman) to Raw so they can make hundreds of thousands of dollars and be people strangers say OH WOW COOL about when I mention I’ve met them.
Worst: I Don’t Care How Funny And Vegan He Is, I’m Still Not Giving It Up For Mike Tyson
The explanation I gave people for my complete disinterest toward attending the WWE Hall Of Fame ceremony over the weekend was as follows: “I don’t really care about a Hall Of Fame with no physical location and no election criteria for a fake sport.” I think the Hall Of Fame is the only thing about wrestling that makes me call it fake. It’s a great idea to respect and honor the most important people who’ve helped your company, but damn, isn’t the Hall of Fame ceremony just a really congratulatory episode of Raw without any matches? If I wanted to see old people talk about what they used to do I’d watch Impact.
Anyway, Mike Tyson beat and raped women so hey, you were great at boxing and all but no, I’m not gonna get misty-eyed that you’re being honored by a show you’ve barely been a part of.
Best: Tully Blanchard~!
On the other hand, how great did Tully Blanchard look? Maybe there was a thing going on where anyone who stands next to Ric Flair looks like a virile, athletic 20-year old, but Blanchard looked as good as he’s looked since Magnum T.A. was driving shards of chair wood into his eyebrow. How much do I have to pay to get him to run down to the ring on Raw next week and Slingshot Suplex somebody?
Best: CM Punk’s Ric Flair Entrance, And An Explanation For That Random Video Package
I was wondering why they let Chris Jericho walk to the ring before playing the Punk vs. Jericho video package, but then CM Punk got the Ric Flair fireworks entrance and I figured it out (family style).
As that guy on the Internet who’s been watching local wrestling forever, it’s interesting to me that Daniel Bryan loses in 18 seconds on the same show CM Punk gets a fireworks parade and a victory in a “best in the world” match for the WWE Championship. Is it because he sat Indian style and spoke compellingly once? Ah well, I’m happy for him. Happy for both of them, really. I ran into Samoa Joe outside selling pretzels and he says he’s happy for them, too.
Best: Punk/Jericho As Savage/Steamboat, And An Explanation For That Daniel Bryan Match
CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho was the best match on the show.
That being said, I have the same complaints with it that a lot of you do — mostly that the “if you get disqualified you lose the match” stipulation added on like four seconds before the match started was pointless, and took too much away from the technically brilliant match you feel like they’d have planned out. It made sense from the point of view that Punk was gonna go crazy and kill Jericho with weapons for all that stuff he said about the Punk Family (“your nana is actually TWO YEARS OLDER THAN SHE SAYS, Punk. She’s a liar!” etc.), but it just didn’t feel important. You knew Punk wasn’t gonna waste it at WrestleMania, especially over some “your sister does drugz lol” bullsh*t.
Once the match got going, though, it was bonkers. That finishing sequence, from just before and all the way through Jericho turning a Lionsault into a Walls Of Jericho to counter knees, was the tops. I loved Punk finding logical, non-Kurt Angle ways to reverse his opponent’s finisher into his own, even if they had to go to the small package reversal sequence first to set it up. It was a match that made sense and followed through with itself, and while it wasn’t in the same starfield as Steamboat and Savage, it was the Steamboat and Savage of this show.
Also, I’m really sad I missed the follow-up to this on Raw. If Jimmy Rave shows up next Monday to try to scrape off Punk’s Straight Edge tattoo with a cheese grater I’ll be the happiest guy in grade four.
Best: These Drunk Assholes In Front Of Me
Oh God, these guys.
Okay, so you know how I put up the picture of the cute kid in the Cena shirt doing Cena taunts and told the story of the little boy next to him who got all tear-faced at the idea of Team Teddy losing? These two guys were sitting next to them, and holy sh*t were they a point of interest.
We couldn’t figure out if they were father and son (the one on the left is clearly much older than the one on the right), lovers (notice the placement of the arm, and I’m pretty sure they were talking to each other about sex for a portion of the show) or just drunk and lost. In addition to saying creepy things and smelling like diarrhea backwash, they did the following:
– Wore John Cena hats and forlornly held up John Cena taunts when he lost. Pretty certain this was racially motivated.
– Drank undisclosed brown liquid from tiny water bottles they’d snuck into the stadium. And I do mean “bottles”.
– Kept calling Shawn Michaels “McMichaels” like he was Mongo. Shawn would make one of his Emotion Faces and the guy’d be all C’MON MCMICHAELS STOP BEIN’ A PUSSAYYYYYY.
– Kept calling the Walls Of Jericho the “Jaws Of Jericho”.
– Speaking of “pussay”, they got FLAGRANT with the language, which is fine I guess but they were seriously sitting next to those Cena kids screaming about how Jericho could “go get f**ked”.
– They’d start chants and forget how to finish them. When Triple H hit the Undertaker with a chair I remember him saying “YEAH TAKE THAT T’YER …” and then just trail off.
– Looked like they were gonna vomit constantly, leading to me holding a camera up about shoulder level and subversively trying to keep it on them in case they spewed.
– Yelled out STEINER RECLINERRRR during the Jericho/Punk match and thought it was the funniest thing ever.
I don’t know. I guess they sat next to the Cena kids to be a matching set of stereotypical wrestling fan types.
Worst: Seriously, Look At His Tattoo
In case you can’t quite make it out, the younger guy’s tattoo is of TWO NUDE GARGOYLES SCISSORING.
Best/Worst: The Emotional Funkasaurus Rollercoaster
Best: The Funkasaurus’ music hitting out of nowhere, giving me that “oh cool the Funkasaurus is gonna have a squash match probably!” moment.
Worst: What happened
I like the Funkasaurus, and have been a little distant to the idea that the gimmick is racist, because yeah, it’s a fat dancing guy but just because he’s racially indeterminate and black ladies accompany him doesn’t mean he’s doing anything “racist” necessarily. So when he told us to take out our phones to call our Mamas, called HIS Mama and found out she was here, I hit that peak of excitement and fell down the Mount f**cking Everest of follows-through.
A black lady in a fat suit with an enormous butt came down to dance with her son. But that wasn’t enough — she’d brought “the bridge club” with her, so out walks 20 other women dressed like that to dance in time. I didn’t know what to think. I thought maybe Stymie from Our Gang would wander out and drink gasoline and maybe Spanky would accidentally turn Cotton into a monkey. It was one of those moments where the good will of wrestling racism turned into the smiling Coon Chicken face of wrestling racism and I just shut off. So the Funkasaurus may be ruined for me now. I’ll have to see.
Oh, the only good part of this was the establishing fact that Brodus Clay’s Mama is human (and funky), which zoologically means she made Brodus by f**king a dinosaur. Now that’s a story I want told.
Worst: John Cena Vs. The Rock
Worst: It’s All Right Rock, You Just Take A Nap And I’ll Have A Match Around You
I guess it’s all the bad will built up from a year of terrible Internet Tough Guy back-and-forth, but I didn’t like Rock/Cena. I liked the atmosphere of it, and I liked that it was built up as the biggest deal ever, but it really wasn’t … it was a retired guy against a guy nobody likes for 30 minutes.
I wasn’t impressed by The Rock in the ring. I’ve never been, honestly, but at least full time pro wrestler The Rock didn’t get gassed from two minutes of arm drags and have to hold a headlock for five minutes or take a f**king grounded bearhug to catch his breath. The entire match was built around scenarios wherein The Rock could rest … double jumping dog clotheslines, Cena bailing out of the ring for no reason, the People’s Elbow spot where Rock was just lying there in the middle of the ring for seriously like two minutes while Cena smirked and gestured at everybody. It felt like that Shawn Michaels/Triple H Hell In A Cell match I hated without the cell or the Hell or the blood. It was just … Rock vs. Cena. On paper, that ain’t great.
Best: The Miami Crowd
The Miami crowd did their best to make Rock/Cena into Rock/Hogan … an objectively terrible match elevated by the fact that everyone was SO INTO IT. People around me were compelled by everything that was happening and kept going COME ON ROCK or chanting BOOTS TO ASSES whenever the Rock would lie around, because I guess they have a more natural reaction to the story the guys were telling and not so much the basic wrestling training that makes you go “okay, he’s done” when a guy is legitimately sucking the hell out of some wind off a shoulderblock.
The crowd wanted it to be Rock/Hogan. I wanted it to be Rock/Austin, but that’s pretty stupid. I’m actually pretty shocked that Rocky won, too, but I guess Cena is relatively bulletproof to the child and lady audience he reps and Rock probably needs that Best Ever tag to keep him coming back to wrestling shows and looking like the world’s most important guy. That’s pretty important to them.
So this is it, I guess. The biggest match of all time. I don’t know if it’ll take on Hogan/Andre levels of Lore Importance (as that match was pretty much ass on a plate, too), but we’ll see. If The Rock is serious about getting a WWE title shot (and this doesn’t lead to Cena beating Punk randomly and them doing Cena/Rock 2 at Summerslam for the title) it could be something. Until then, at least in my mind, it’s that orangutan pissing in his own mouth.
A really rich orangutan.
BEST: This Guy
Oh, okay, so this guy:
See that look on his face? He had it for the entirety of Rock/Cena and he never sat down. Not sure if he was super drunk or just the younger version of the IT’S STILL RULL T’ME DAMMIT gent, but he reacted to everything that happened in the match by whimpering and explaining how the people around him needed to OPEN THEIR F**KING EYES. I thought by the CM Punk shirt he’d be a Cena hater, but he seemed to be more anti-Rock than anything. But then he’d groan when Cena kicked out and complain more to the people around him, so maybe he was just a smark on emotional overload?
Regardless, his story ends with him yelling at female security guards and flipping them off before being dragged out of the building, his poor girlfriend apologizing to everyone along the way.
Best: WrestleMania Is Like Going To Disneyland
WrestleMania 28 was a bad show, but I’m happy I went.
I have a lot of good memories from the show — joking with my friends, meeting new people, seeing some people I haven’t seen in years — and I’m reminded that the best thing that ever happened in the mainstream acceptance of professional wrestling is the existence of this big event that brings all the diehard jerks like me together with the people who used to watch and catch up with it once a year, and you all just kinda sit around complaining and laughing until it’s time to go. It’s nice. The wrestling sucks, but it’s nice.
It’s like going to Disneyland. You have a lot of fun when you’re there, but when you get home your story is just “we went to Disneyland”. Now I get to tell people “I went to WrestleMania”, and it’s a thing. I can’t do that with like, King Of Trios. King Of Trios was a thousand times better than Mania, but I can’t start a conversation with someone on an airplane about it.
Best: The YES Chants Carry On
We’re gonna get that champ back on the air, buddy.
Best: My Friend Katie As Kelly Kelly
In my second video of the report, my new friend Katie attempts to figure out the logistics of Kelly Kelly’s handspring back elbow by… well, doing it to me. Please enjoy:
The only major difference is that hers probably hurt a lot more than Kelly’s. If we can get together for Mania in Jersey next year, I’m gonna teach her how to whirlybird me with her arms over her chest so her tanner-slicked boobs don’t fly out.
Worst: Thanks For Putting On The Best Raw Ever While I’m Trapped In An Airport, Jerks
And the Best And Worst Of Wrestlemania 28 report ends like my trip did: with several hours of me standing and/or sitting in an airport with nothing to eat but Oreos, wondering if American Airlines was gonna be able to fix their mechanical error in time to get me home before Wednesday.
Meanwhile, on Monday Night Raw, the following happened:
– Brock Lesnar returned, destroyed Cena
– Lord Tensai debuted, used HAND SPIT to destabilize Alex Riley
– Abraham f**king Washington returned and the guy I got to fill in on my report had no idea who he was, and it was ABRAHAM WASHINGTON
– Chris Jericho finally took Punk to the next step of that old ROH story
– John Laurinaitis is now Emperor King Of Raw
And guess what happens on the next Raw, the one I’ll be able to watch and write about?
– “The Three Stooges” host
Maybe I’ll stop watching until WrestleMania 29.