Hi, everybody, and welcome to The Best and Worst of WWF Capital Carnage, the UK-only pay-per-view from 1998. The show’s poster depicts The Undertaker wearing a Kane t-shirt and D-Generation X burning down the Palace of Westminster, so you know it’s got to be good! They always save the cool stuff for England, right? Right?
Best: Tiger Ali Singh defeated Edge
…proving that wins and losses in professional wrestling mean absolutely f**king nothing! Unless you’re Chicky Starr or Victor The Bodyguard, losing to Tiger Ali Singh should automatically disqualify you from professional wrestling forever.
Worst: The Headbangers pinning The Legion of Doom in three minutes
Eesh. Okay, they mean something sometimes.
You know what? This show has a Triple H versus Jeff Jarrett match on it near the end, and if I’m going to review that I should just do the Best and Worst of Chugging Drāno. Let’s just cover WWE Capitol Punishment instead.
[pics (mostly) courtesy of MGFanJay @ DVDR]
Best: The Set
Between Cleveland and Austin I spent about five months living in Bethesda, Maryland, which is literally just down the street from Washington, D.C. The Verizon Center is where I got two nonconsecutive pictures taken with Slapshot the Eagle and sat front row to watch the Caps come back from a 4-1 deficit to beat the Habs 6-5 in playoffs overtime. And, uh, as far as I remember, that was the end of the playoffs and nothing happened after it.
Anyway, I think if a pro wrestling company decides they want a themed event (such as Anarchy Championship Wrestling’s prom or CZW’s ‘Family Dollar employees stab each other with bulb shards’) they should go all the way. I appreciate Washington-area iconography, and could just picture Randy Orton forearming Christina in the chest 400 times in a row on the White House front lawn, while tourists in FBI shirts circled by on Segways. And then fell asleep and wrecked their Segways. And then Obama did breakdancing!
Worst: Kofi and Dolph Aren’t Going Anywhere
There was a moment during the show opener when the announcers mentioned how Kofi Kingston is always watching tapes of “the legendary Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels”, and all I could think was “which parts?” He should watch the parts about upward mobility and how to hit your finisher when you’ve come up with a big pre-finisher ritual. Seriously, how many times has Kingston actually hit Trouble in Paradise when he’s been standing in the corner clapping his hands, yelling “boom”? Close the deal, Kofi.
But yeah, Kofi and Dolph have good matches, but they aren’t going anywhere. Keep in mind that this exact same match opened Summerslam 2010 and neither guy has changed or moved on since then. Dolph got a haircut and won a World Championship (apparently), but if you watched this match without watching the ten-month in-between you’d have no idea of either. Kofi has done even less. The last time Kofi grew as a character was when he got outed for being a fake Jamaican. Getting new trunks that look like your old trunks isn’t character development, it’s what baseball teams do when they want to get people to buy their gear without paying good baseball players. YOU ARE THE BALTIMORE ORIOLES, KOFI KINGSTON.
If this match opens a show next year, we might as well put them in a crate and mail them back to OVW.
Worst: Rating Matches
Before I get too deep into this Best and Worst, I have to mention that I am dramatically opposed to Internet interpretation of pro wrestling events. That sounds hypocritical, sure, because I’m interpreting the wrestling on the Internet, but my opinions tend to differ from the coagulated masses and I flake out on most of their conventions. The most obvious is that I don’t give star ratings to matches. I’m not Scott Keith. The closest I ever came was giving an arbitrary number of Hulk Hogan Pastamania images to matches during my fill-ins at DDT Digest. I think match ratings are dumb, especially when they’re done by people like this guy on the right, randomly deciding that Kingston/Ziggler 850 deserved three-and-a-quarter stars like some pro graps celebrity Star Search judge to fill out the description section of his YouTube videos when he should really somewhere washing his f**king face.
If you rate matches on the Internet, I urge you to stop. Yes, I know Christian can “work boaf hull and face” and I understand why that might bump up the rating by half a star, but Jesus, I feel bad saying things are “best” and “worst” sometimes, I don’t know how you can live with yourself if you’ve got a points system with precedent. Unless I start making you pay for a newsletter you won’t read anything more declarative from me than “I liked this” or “this sucked”, because what am I, a gymnastics judge?
Best: Eve Doesn’t Even KNOW You Anymore!
R-Truth’s backstage segments could’ve each been their own little “bests”, but his interaction with his former … girlfriend? Valet? Cheerleader? Eve Torres. His former “Eve Torres”.
Truth approached her innocently enough, figuring it was the right time for him to get crunk, stepping up to knuckle up and blow the roof up. Eve responded with an awesome Lifetime Movie Network-quality I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO YOU ARE ANYMORE, proving she is the ultimate Little Jimmy, because if Truth isn’t skipping around and rapping for the delight of America’s young whites, who IS he? Certainly not the same guy who had to make an extra lap around the ring to compensate for her iceberg-slow Fly Girl dancing. Certainly not the same guy who wore cargo pants with “WHAT’S UP” written across the ass in chalk.
What’s wrong with you, Eve? He’s exactly the same guy. This is why we’ve been telling you that you suck for the last two years.
Supplementary Best: “Fo’ Shizzle”
I’m not sure what Truth was trying to do by repeatedly saying “fo’ shizzle” at Cap Pun™, but I hope he was trying to get it over as a babyface catchphrase. Some wrestlers can have both. When he’s happy, he says “fo’ shizzle”. When he’s mad, he begins listing off Jimmies. Sort of like how Booker T is all “heh, hey dog, what’s up dog, spinaroonie dog” when he’s happy, then reverts to “tell me he/you didn’t just say that” when he’s challenged backstage by Jack Swagger or watching Vince McMahon break out the n-word for lulz.
Worst: The Actual Wrestling Part of Alex Riley
I keep reading about what an “awesome” job WWE did with the wrestling on this show, and I can’t see it. Maybe it’s because I was watching the show on a pixelated 500-by-400 screen with a huge neon racist chatroom to the right, but most of the show bored me to tears, especially the Miz/Riley match, best encapsulated by my good friend Justin from Progressive Boink:
why the f**k are they presenting this match as a sluggish borefest as opposed to “hey these guys HATE one another.”
That was Riley/Miz for me. The announcers (and most of the people watching at home, apparently) thought watching Riley get calmly beaten up for ten minutes only to break out a Smackdown vs. Raw finisher and get the win meant Riley “showed toughness”. I thought it showed that WWE’s pool of talent is starting to plateau, and unless you get the Rileys in there against someone better than Mike Mizanin you’re gonna get stuck with those Cena type matches everyone hates but only seem to attribute to Cena. Riley worked a totally John Cena match here, getting beaten up, then never giving up against insurmountable odds to hit a finisher on a heel who f**ked up his own cheating and get the win. People cheer him and it works for this audience, but it’s not great.
I feel like you can still do “hate” in a TV PG environment. Wrestling managed to do hate believably for years before Tournaments of Death started popping up, I don’t think you need Miz gushing blood with broken Christmas ornaments sticking out of his face to let Riley punch the ever-loving sh:t out of him. WWE is great at doing “mean” and “mad”, but bad at doing them for a reason.
Worst: Who is a Worse American, Sergeant Slaughter or Reggie Brown?
Reggie Brown is a comedian who does an impression of Barack Obama, most recently at the Republican Leadership Conference where he made a string of what CNN is going to call “racially-tinged jokes” (and what I like to call “racist jokes”) about how Obama and his wife look like Fred Sanford and Aunt Esther. Sergeant Slaughter is a guy who pretends like he was in the Army even though all he ever did was hang around G.I. Joe, then completely abandoned America to support Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War. I can’t decide which of them is the worst American, and kept wishing the segment between them would end with Serpentor popping up out of nowhere and dragging Reggie Brown to his death inside of some mobile assault vehicle while Slaughter used a pistol to shoot lasers at the ground in front of him.
What is it with WWE and Presidential lookalikes? I remember Sunny sitting on “Bill Clinton’s” lap, and I remember how embarrassing it seemed. When 9/11 happened they should’ve gotten Frank Caliendo to read Bush’s speech, then re-used it without irony when Osama Bin Laden got compromised to a permanent end.
Best: Who Remembered Mark Henry Was Strong?
Michael Cole COULDN’T BELIEVE that Mark Henry, called the “World’s Strongest Man” for the last twenty years, could perform a feat of strength we’ve seen from Kane, John Cena, Brock Lesnar, and several others. Pretty sure Ricardo Rodriguez could bodyslam The Big Show at this point. However, Mark Henry World’s Strongestly Slamming the Big Show through a table does get a best for being (1) violence, and (2) an actual use of Mark Henry’s one marketable ability.
Think about it. Mark Henry is the World’s Strongest Man. I mean, he isn’t, but work with me here. Remember that brief period when Henry was lifting cars and bending pipes and stuff, and how cool that was, and how it seemed like if he did that to a human body he’d totally mangle it? You probably do, but not as much as Sexual Chocolate Mark Henry who got put into a cock vice by the Pretty Mean Sisters, or Incestuous Mark Henry who had sex with his sister when he was 8 and kept doing it through adulthood, or Half-Mannequin Mark Henry who impregnated Mae Young and caused her to give birth to a rubber hand. Mark Henry can ACTUALLY LIFT A CAR and you market him as “this big black pervert”. Why not market him as THIS GUY CAN F**KING LIFT A CAR and have him do stuff like this all the time? You might’ve made some money on him in the last decade and a half, idiots.
Worst: We Want Ryder
so uh, when do we start rioting
Worst: Wade Barrett’s Not From Here!
He’s got his OWN customs! CHECK OUT HIS CRAZY PASSPORT!
There is nothing worse than when WWE decides to get their guy from Europe (or wherever) over by having him suddenly care about politics. Besides having that voice and face, Wade Barrett hasn’t seemed to really give a sh:t about being in America since his debut. But now that we’re in Our Nation’s Capital© Wade has to cut a big long promo about how Libyan officials are accusing NATO of attacking another non-military target and how where HE’s from, ENGLAND, would never do such a thing to an arena full of people who paid $50 dollars to get in to pay $50 for a NEVER GIVE UP t-shirt and COULD NOT POSSIBLY CARE ABOUT ANYTHING IMPORTANT.
The reason the Iron Sheik worked is because he stuck with “Iran best, America, spitting noise”. He didn’t wander out in his pointy boots and start explaining why Obamacare doesn’t work. WWE should go full tilt on this and have John Cena stop his matches in the middle to grab a microphone and say “okay kids, I need to explain to you why gas prices are so high, and it’s because of your black President.”
Washington D.C. is smart enough to chant U-S-A, U-S-A to help a guy from goddamn Guyana rally and defeat a guy from England. I almost gave this a “best” because of WWE not actually announcing where Ezekiel Jackson is from during his ring entrance. But there he was, kicking his feet and stomping his hands to harness the power of the USA and bodyslam Wade Barrett to death. This is the worst use of USA since I went to Fall Brawl ’98 and watched Winston-Salem chant it to help Alex Wright come back against The British Bulldog.
One good part, though: after adding the Intercontinental Championship, Zeke is about nine kneepads away from completing his Ahmed Johnson Halloween costume.
I don’t want to be the guy who thinks everything about wrestling is terrible, so here’s a “best” for Zeke’s stupid bodyslam rush, and for the announcers selling it like we all know how dangerous it is. “OH NO KING WE KNOW WHAT COMES AFTER THE BODYSLAMS.” Is it more bodyslams? And if they’re so deadly, why does Barrett get up and turn around and walk back into Zeke after each one? Shouldn’t he be too hurt to get up?
Worst: Stop Mentioning America, Zeke
I didn’t want to give another Best or Worst to Zeke vs. Wade Barrett, but yeah, Zeke’s post match promo was the worst, and he should only talk on television if he’s responding to a philosophical question from Brian Kendrick. If you didn’t see the show, he basically read the preamble to the Constitution and added in some Ezekiel Jackson terms.
“We the people of the United States, in order to BODYSLAM a more perfect INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP, establish BODYSLAMS, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general BODYSLAMS, and secure the blessings of DOMINATION to ourselves and our EZEKIEL JACKSON, as long as we both shall live, AMEN!”
And then his dumb rap song started.
Best: The Finishing Stretch
The last couple of minutes of Punk vs. Mysterio were off the charts, and a great reason why they keep getting put into the ring with each other, long after their issues have been Pro Wrestling Settled. Punk ducking a 619 and catching Mysterio on his shoulders for the Go To Sleep completely makes up for him flopping into that second rope on an armdrag that wouldn’t have budged Lizmark, with the joke here being that if a breeze rolls by, Lizmark takes a floating bump into the nearest tree.
I don’t think I can write another compelling paragraph about why Punk and Mysterio was a good match, but here it is. When you put legitimately talented pro wrestlers in the ring together, no matter which parts of pro wrestling they’re talented at, good things will happen.
Also, Rey Mysterio’s face. Look at that thing.
Best/Worst: Goodbye, Punk
Before the match, CM Punk promised that he’d beat Rey Mysterio, then he would do one of the “most honest things the WWE Universe has ever seen”. What that thing is has yet to be revealed, and I really hope it isn’t CM Punk quitting WWE.
There have been rumors going around about Punk not re-signing, and while I’d love for Punk to go on a magical mystery tour of the independents where he stomps Eddie Edwards in the face in Ring of Honor, teams with Colt Cabana in CHIKARA, then stops by Austin, Texas to compete for Anarchy and then hang out and not have beers with me afterward, I don’t want the one thing I can always count on on WWE television to be great to go away. He’s really it, you know? And with wrestling interest waning as it is, WWE should do anything and everything to keep the one awesome drug free guy they’re ever going to sign (pending the signing of UltraMantis Black, which should’ve happened already) from getting away.
Of course, the “honest thing” could be disbanding the New Nexus and firing them all, because honestly, they are pretty hopeless.
Worst: Just Saying, This Could’ve Still Used Serena
Maybe the honest thing will be bringing back and re-shaving Serena Deeb, because in all honesty she shouldn’t have been fired for breaking kayfabe in a world where Dolph Ziggler defends Zack Ryder on Twitter and Vince McMahon can survive a limo explosion because he has an important message about honoring Chris Benoit on the next Raw. Bring her back, put her in that jacket thing again, shave her little burgeoning mohawk and pay her thousands of dollars to spear the water bra off of Kelly Kelly once a week.
I’m terrible at grassroots campaigning, but dammit, come on.
Best: Randy Orton vs. Christian
Randy Orton and Christian have good-to-great chemistry together and put on another great match, but three things:
Worst: Christian Can’t Even Beat a Guy with a Concussion
The announcers were playing up Christian’s failure to beat Orton as the last of his championship opportunities, and hey, if he can’t beat a guy who has a concussion, why keep giving him chances? The smarter thing (I think, as a guy on the Internet) would’ve been to have given Christian the win relatively easily here, with a Killswitch at about the five minute mark, and shock the WWE Universe. Then you’ve got the belt back on Christian while Orton gets fully healed up, and he can come back and make the realistic claim that Christian lost to him twice and only won when he had a concussion, but now he’s back and ready to HEAR VOICES or whatever and personally RKO Christian to the gates of Hell.
Instead, Randy Orton is better than his top challenger without a working brain. Well, there you go. A huge posterboard reading SPOILER: ORTON WINS.
Worst: Concussion Angles in General
Maybe I watch too much TNA and have seen too many Mr. Anderson matches (one of those things is true), but concussion angles should not be used in pro wrestling. Not because they’re “taboo” or whatever, because if you can write an angle around a guy getting attacked in the parking lot by a gang of rich Southerners who then break his hand with a baseball bat, you should be able to write about concussions.
The problem is that they aren’t really interesting, and the only thought you have when you hear someone has a concussion is “well, I hope they get better soon.” A guy breaks his arm, I’m gonna be all YEAH GET IN THERE WITH THE BROKEN ARM AND KICK HIS ASS. If he has a concussion, all I can picture is Chris Benoit hanging from gym equipment with a runny brain, and I’d rather keep that out of wrestling as much as possible.
I would also like to keep Mr. Anderson out of wrestling as much as possible.
Worst: Christian Needs a Character
He’s a great wrestler and performer, but even Edge had the “ultimate opportunist” and “rated-R superstar” things going for him. What does Christian have? A self-given joke nickname from eight years ago? Try describing Christian to your friends. “Uh, he’s a Canadian guy and he’s Captain Charisma, and he used to be Edge’s brother, and he used to be a vampire.” That’s it. He needs a hook, or a motivation, or something other than “whimpering guy who loses”.
Worst: Keith Stone
Remember when Robert Wuhl showed up on Nitro as Arliss, and he wasn’t Robert Wuhl, he was supposed to be actually Arliss? That’s the vibe I got when Keith Stone showed up for no reason alongside the Bella Twins, who were also showing up for no reason. What’s next, a run-in from the “we’re GUYS and we’ve got to GET READY” shampoo commercial guy? One of those shitty CGI babies from the Gerber Generation?
The only thing that would’ve made a Keith Stone appearance bearable would’ve been Stone Cold Steve Austin stunning everybody and doing his call for beers thing, and then we zip over to the timekeeper’s table and Keith Stone is there with a case of Keystone tossing them out. We reveal that Keith Stone has always been there, and the reason he gets women despite looking like Bill Paxton in a fake mustache is because he’s been clearing big dollar WWE paychecks for the last 15 years.
Best, I Guess: Bourne? Again?
Evan Bourne wrestled Jack Swagger. The end!
Best: Booker Thinks That’s Actually Obama, Doesn’t He
Back to Reggie the Racist Fake President, I actually laughed out loud when Booker T tried to get his attention by yelling HOMEY, HOMEY over the microphone. He brought Faux-bama back into the ring and listed off a bunch of his accomplishments (I was seriously expecting the WWE universe to boo the “first black man to be President” line), so either Booker thought that was shoot Barack Obama, or he’s like the blind Klansman from “Chapelle’s Show” and just hangs out with Vince McMahon, coming up with ways to say “black folks is stupid” on television. I’m going to go with the less racist sounding one, as soon as I figure out which one sounds less racist.
Worst: The Racist Republican-a-Roonie
Okay, Reggie Brown is a worse American than Sergeant Slaughter. In one week the guy has made Kim Kardashian jokes about Barack Obama’s mom to a room of hooting Republicans and had the black President breakdance to a bored wrestling crowd. I expect him to take off the hair and wipe his face and be Jamie Kennedy. Or Howie Mandel. Or SOMEBODY doing this as a Borat-style rib on America.
But no, it’s just Barack Obama breakdancing. It’s just… Barack Obama breakdancing.
Best: Cena’s Dueling Chants
The crowd was more mixed than a co-opted line from a Childish Gambino song, and Cena’s LET’S GO CENA CENA SUCKS personal dueling chant was the first time the crowd seemed to come alive after they got their mics turned off for the “We Want Ryder” chants. I put “best” here, but really it could go either way, as Cena gets a legitimate interaction moment from people good or bad, but he’s also overshadowing everything he participates in by being That Guy. Does the crowd care about who Cena’s facing? Nope, they just want to tell him that he sucks. He should just wrestle cardboard cutouts every month and save us the TV time.
Worst: The Actual Wrestling Part of R-Truth
Much like Alex Riley, Truth has a fantastic build up, but what’s he going to do with it? At the end of the day he’s still Ron Killings, and no matter how much personality he shows outside of the ring, he doesn’t show a lot of it inside. In fact, the best part of the entire match was the cheeseball finish, which allowed Truth to step back outside of the ring and become his character. I liked his Ballin’ leg drop (all moves like that with an extended appeal are going to be called the “Ballin'” whatever by me for the rest of my life, thanks for SOMETHING, MVP) and I liked how much he could spin after doing certain things, but yeah, just like Riley, it just wasn’t great.
I almost gave a best to Booker T for mentioning that he “invented” the axe kick, which is the funniest pro graps invention of something since Perry Saturn and Glacier feuded over who invented the superkick.
Best/Worst: Little Jimmy
At your next live WWE event, which would you like to see more
1) Your child as the center of attention, helping John Cena defeat his nemesis
2) Everybody thinking it’s okay to throw shit at the wrestlers
… because both of those things are terrible. I’d probably rather have number two, because it would remind me of WCW, and number one would just remind me of every other thing about children in existence. I hope Raw features R-Truth calling that kid out and beating the hell out of him. You touch the wrestlers, you gon get GOT.
Or at least you should.