So for a week now, I’ve been inundated with this SmackDown Blast From the Past brouhaha and I must admit, I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. I imagined red, white, and blue ropes. I imagined sky-blue floor pads surrounding the ring. Hell, maybe there would even be some metal barricades! …I got nothin’. I got a bunch of old guys in terrible skits. I know they’re old, I wasn’t expecting Ted DiBiase to come down off the 2nd rope with a fist drop, but for the love of god, give them something worthwhile. The closest thing to worthwhile entertainment was Jimmy Hart managing a tag team whilst simultaneously annoying the crap out of guest commentator Mick-cactus-dude-mankind-love-jack-Foley to the point of him taking out Sock-O. What was really great about it was the fact that the audience was on Jimmy’s side! Take that, Mick!
The rest of the evening was spent with 1 minute matches and Johnny Dimples stammering his way through his Jerkface speech to Sheamus. Here’s my problem with this work: He goes out and continues to be blatantly unfair to the faces, and that would be fine with me if the WWE hadn’t spent all of Summer 2011 working an angle of “the higher up’s can remove your ass if you’re out of line.” McMahon got thrown out on this premise, and he’s fuckin’ Vince McMahon! If they want me to swallow the notion that he could be kicked out of his position in the company, don’t you dare try to make also “believe” they couldn’t do the exact same thing to Johnny. I’ve brought it up in an old post, but i feel the need to reiterate it now: If you’re going to have fake rules and a fake hierarchy, at least have the decency to fake follow it! I don’t think I’m asking too much here. I think Johnny Dimples (i’m going to keep using this nickname til it sticks, so get used to it) is a great character. Now, the guy playing him sucks as an actor, but we’re kind of in a catch-22 in that regard, so let me approach it from another angle. Why doesn’t J-Dimps (spin-off of a nickname that hasn’t even caught on yet, man I’m good!) have to abide by the same standards of fairness that were required for HHH to keep his job? I understand that we want to build heat for this guy, but for the love of god, the heat is already so high, I think we can just let it continue to boil at it’s current pace. I feel like the audience would get a kick out of watching Johnny squirm as he has to play by the rules, knowing it’s killing him inside. Now, to be fair, the People Power era has just begun so perhaps this will come up eventually, but it’s already dragging too long for me. (Side note: Everybody’s hat needs to go off to the creative man or woman who played up this whole politician/propaganda angle for Johnny Dimples. It’s so good it almost pisses me off.) But I’ve been sidetracked by the worst wardrobe in show business for long enough, lets get back to the geriatrics.
“Cowboy” Bob Orton got mysteriously beat up by Kane, who then beat up Randy when he went looking for his dad. Kane then said “I love family reunions”. I should have turned the TV off right then and there, but I didn’t. Because I’m stupid. I then got to watch more of my heroes tarnish their legacy, until finally Roddy Piper came out and put on a clinic of how to use a microphone to it’s maximum potential. If you want to hear a badass story about Piper and Cowboy Bob, told by the Hot Rod himself, click here. Most of the Legends still looked pretty decent (considering their incredibly advanced age), and I would have bet my very last dollar that Mae Young was dead, so it was great to see her in what was honestly one of the funnier moments of the evening. But all is not bad in the WWE. One thing appears to be here to stay and I, for one, couldn’t be happier: SQUASH MATCHES! RyBack, Brodus Clay, and Lord A-Train are all squashing 180 pound sacks of potatoes and it’s fantastic! They kick jobber’s asses for 20-60 seconds and then they move on. This is how you introduce people. This is how you get people to believe that these guys are godless killing machines, and unstoppable forces of nature. Now, when every one of these guys get into their first legit feud, i’ll be truly wondering who is going to come out on top, and who is going to be the superstar to derail (pun intended) these new monsters on the roster.
Overall the night was a definite disappointment, but hey, these guys never take a week off, and even I can cut them a little slack. Here’s to hoping next week is better. Thanks for reading everybody. Remember, when life gets you down, kick out at 2. When you can’t kick out at 2, reach for the ropes.
Just like A-Train, the PerfectHeel is back on track. I must admit, a large part of the hiatus of this blog was due to the fact that I’m lazy. An even bigger part is that I was uninspired. However, that could not be further from the case today. Even going into WrestleMania, I didn’t seem as jacked as most of my friends were. This is at least partially because I knew my boy was going to go down to the Big Slow (nobody talks that much shit and gets away with it, not even the son of the American Dream), but also, I just didn’t feel the spark and spirit that my comrades had in their hearts. They knew the night was going to be magical, and I was just too much of a Negative Nancy to see it. My mind changed quickly after the 18 second jobbing of Daniel Bryan. Was he going to lose that match? Of course. Did I see it going down that way? Absolutely not!
One of the biggest things that was destroyed with the internet is the element of surprise. With so many rumor mills and message boards, the truth almost always comes out, but I don’t know of a single person that saw this coming. Many people are upset because they feel those two didn’t get the time to shine like they deserved, and those people are 100% correct. Sheamus is amazing, especially for a big man (who I generally think are just a bunch of overrated sack of potatoes) and D-Bry is a true wrestler’s wrestler. It was great to see the fans give him the props he deserves. Even still though, I loved the kick-off just for the shock and awe factor, and I am forever grateful that Rhodes didn’t have to job for the element of surprise. I like ya Bryan, but not that much. The night was filled with great moments, but I hate the kind of blogs that just do rundowns and don’t look at the bigger picture, so lets widen our scope a little.
I can honestly say for the first time in many, many, many years that I have no idea what’s going to happen next. More gimmicks are coming out of the woodwork (people who have been reading this for a while already know my love of well-executed gimmicks) every week, random alliances are popping up out of nowhere (Brodus Clay coming to the aid of Santino Marella? Fo Realz?), titles are being defended regularly on weekly programs? All I can say is I WANT MORE! This is one of the most exciting times for wrestling. Its the dawning of a “new era”, and if the crowds can keep up even one fifth of the excitement and intensity that the Miami crowds had for WM and Raw, this is going to be a full-blown circus. And I say good! This is professional entertainment. There was a bit of a staleness going on lately that was starting to effect a lot of people. My friend Tony and I continued our tag-team debate, and I’ll admit that tag team wrestling can be VERY formulaic at times, but that doesn’t have to be the case. The WWE is constantly re-inventing the wheel, and if they can do it for the tag team division, I might be in WWE ecstasy. Who knows, they might even start giving DZ the respect he deserves, but now I think I’m just getting ahead of myself.
Of course, no Heel post would be complete with me throwing love to the best Intercontinental Champion in the last 15 years, Cody Rhodes. Yes he went down to the Big Slow, but he did his job, and that’s bring credibility back to the Intercontinental Title. No longer is this belt in the same ranks as the U.S. title or Diva’s title. This is a title that actually means something now. You have to be a name to deserve the shot. He didn’t drop it to Kofi Kingston or Alex Riley or Ezekiel fuckin’ Jackson, he dropped it to a 5 time heavyweight champion (6 time if you count ECW, but nobody counts ECW, and nobody should.) Furthermore, Rhodes brought back the classic design (which I think we can all agree was brilliant), engaged in huge storylines, and successfully defended his title against headliners. And now, it’s on to bigger and better things. I think that big gold belt would look damn good around the waist of the dashing one. That pasty Irish cheese-bomb better be shaking in his kilt (Jingoism for the win!) because now the sky’s the limit. Did you hear the response he got from the Miami crowd at Raw? My man is getting respect. And by the way, NOBODY looked better coming down that aisle on Sunday.
So where does the WWE go from here? I have no idea, but you better believe I’ll be tuning in to find out. What were your impressions of WrestleMania XXVIII? Where do you see these storylines going? And also, what gimmick are they going to re-work next? I’m thinking a re-work of Duke “the Dumpster” Drose, or perhaps we can bring back The Brood.
Thanks for reading everybody and remember: when life gets you down, kick out at two. And if you can’t kick out at two, reach for the ropes.
2012 is going to be a fantastic year for the WWE. Launching the WWE Network, the much needed re-vamping of the logo (the attitude era is long-since gone, its time to get rid of the “extreme” font), and some good old fashioned fun being brought back to the squared circle, from two of the most unexpected sources. First we have John Laurinaitis and this whole Corporate interference thing the WWE is bringing back. Now, don’t get me wrong, the guy still can’t act, and has an absolutely desolate wardrobe, but the storyline he’s in right now is fantastic and Punk is good enough on the mic to make up for Johnny. This character is great. He’s hated in a comparable yet completely separate way from the way Mr. McMahon was hated. And how appropriate is it that Punk is pretty much the modern day Stone Cold to play antagonist to Laurinaitis’ stumbling, bumbling, executive-vice-president-of-talent-relations version of the Boss.
And then there’s Brodus Clay. Where the hell did this come from? I remember a few short months ago watching Brodus stoically destroy hometown jobbers and all the sudden, i have a fatter version of the Godfather on my hands? Let me just say: I love it! I know I’m the heel and all of that, but this guy is entertaining as hell. For a big man, he can move very well in the ring, and I have to admit, i’m totally captivated by this guy. For reasons unknown, I’m fully on board the bandwagon.
However, what has me even more geeked is the Royal Rumble match coming up in about 10 days. To me, this is the best match the WWF has ever created. Born in ’88, improved in ’89, and perfected in ’92 (making the Rumble winner become WWE champ, or at least WWE #1 contender), the Rumble is non-stop action for an hour. The only thing that they could do to improve the rumble is to bring back the wrestler thoughts segment. Why the hell would you ever get rid of this? This is promo gold!
I’m not one for predictions, especially in a scripted sport, so I’ll just say the top 5 Wrestlers I’ll be pulling for in the rumble.
Brodus Clay – If this guy wins, it’d be the quickest and biggest push any superstar has received since Hogan winning the WCW title in his first in-ring appearance for the company. However, he’s entertaining, and i dont think nearly enough big men have won this rumble. Again, i know it’s scripted but Rey Mysterio going coast-to-coast? give me a break. Brodus would have eaten his children before Rey even hit the ring.
Chris Jericho – This return still has me confused. He’d be such a great opponent for Punk, and while I love Dolph, there’s no chance Punk loses that title before ‘Mania. So why not have 2 of the best technical wrestlers in the biz face each other for the title at Wrestlemania? Besides, we still have no idea what he’s doing back in the WWE yet because of his silence, but they’ve already had him turn his back on Punk in a match, perhaps the Rumble will really set this thing in motion?
Sheamus – Going back to the big guys, it’s totally plausible for Sheamus to win the rumble from a size standpoint, he’s been in several undercard feuds, coming out the winner in all of them (literately and figuratively ). He’s a great character who’s fantastic in big matches. Him and DB could have a great Wrestlemania match. Especially now that Mr. Bryan is becoming quite the convincing heel.
Randy Orton – The Viper has been out of the Main Event scene for too long. This guy is still unbelievable, and lately i’ve been watching matches from earlier in his career before I got back into the scene. This guy deserves to be one of the most decorated champions ever. An Orton/Punk reboot would be much appreciated by me, who missed some of the better moments the first go-around, and Orton/Bryan would be entertaining also. Pretty much anybody you put in the ring with Orton will have a good match. And damn…those dropkicks…
Cody Rhodes – My man-crush on Cody does not appear to be dying down at all, does it? The current I.C. champ (5-month long reign and counting. Just sayin’) recently said he was going to pull an Ultimate Warrior and hold both titles. Now, even I admit that Rhodes is not ready to be the face of the company yet, but a push like this could get him ready very quickly. Either way, I think 2012 is going to take Cody to the main event level, and I say bring it on.
One bold prediction I will make: This year, the winner comes from the dreaded 11-20 range. I’m thinking #15. Go define the odds, middle men!
Discussion Question: Who are YOU pulling for in this year’s Rumble?
In watching the most recent Smackdown, A great storyline (and match with Cody Rhodes) was continued with Daniel Bryan’s quest for championship gold. You see, five months ago DB won the Smackdown 2011 Money In The Bank match. I truly feel this is the best concept the WWE has incorporated in the last 10 years. Here are my top 5 reasons the Money In The Bank match is such a beautiful idea.
5. It involves a ladder. I’m a sucker for ladders. Ever since Shawn Michaels went “Superfly” on Razor Ramon, I’ve been all about the ladders. They’re so versatile! The drama is great, the finishes are always over the top, and there’s always a good chance someone is going through a table, which segues nicely into number 4…
4. It is attitude-esque. Oooh that violence! At times it seems a little absurd that all 7 guys on the floor would just stand in a little huddle while someone like Jeff Hardy or John Morrison jumps on them from 20 feet in the air, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s super dangerous and entertaining to watch. These guys kill themselves for our mere entertainment dollar. The least we can do is respect and give props when done so. The Attitude Era took a lot of liberties with the word “wrestling” but i’d be lying if i said it didn’t WOW and impress me.
3. It ALWAYS fast-tracks your career. It’s pretty much a given that if you have that briefcase, you’re going to be a mainstay on every single televised program. And since that briefcase has been cashed successfully EVERY time, it’s pretty much a title in-and-of itself. Of course, someone is going to be the first person to not capitalize on it, and that person will have that stigma with them forever, but until that day comes, I consider the MITB briefcase to be the 3rd biggest title in the game.
2. Anybody can win! Because this briefcase can be cashed in 3 calendar seasons later, it truly means that any of the competitors have a realistic shot of winning. if they plan on using the briefcase soon, then of course one of the bigger names in the event are going to win. However, like in this case, where they planned on making this thing go the distance, they were able to have DB win it, a true upset in this scripted world we enthrall ourselves in.
1. You have to stay on your toes. Unless you have serious insider information, you don’t know when the MITB briefcase is going to be cashed in. So any time the champ is down, if that briefcase is still in play, somewhere in the back of your head, an alarm goes off, telling you to be on alert for the drama. Summerslam was a lackluster of a main event, until CM Punk won, then Kevin Nash, then BAM, Alberto Del Rio (without even being properly introduced by Ricardo Rodriguez!) runs down, cashes in the contract, and dashes the dreams of the Punk fans. Now, I consider myself to be one of those Punk fans, but I still love a good twist. And that single move made me feel just in actually ordering the pay per view (before i realized you could watch it online for free.)
This is a call to arms. I’m going through writers block, so if you read this and have any ideas for topics/top 10 lists/whatever, please let me know what you’d like to read about. After all, I write this blog for others to read, not myself.
If the world of professional wrestling is ever-evolving, why does it seem like I’m watching a weak version of the same old thing? We should learn from the past, not fuck it up.
I was having a conversation with a fellow wrestling aficionado , Tony, about the “PG” nature of the current WWE. He is steadfast in the belief that the current WWE is too soft compared to what it used to be in the heart of the Attitude Era. While I don’t think professional wrestling is too “soft” per se, I do think that it’s become a bit too polished and clean. So what do I mean by too polished?
Back in “the day” wrestlers typically had a ver different build and things were much more mat-oriented. However, as the 90’s wore on, WCW turned to higher violence, but really focused on cruiserweights. Meanwhile the WWF started bringing in some real high flyers like the Hardy Boys, but where the WWF really broke out was the uber-violent department. I loved both of these wrestling organizations at this time because they were so starkly different from each other, yet both had an amazing amount of talent. Now it seems, we’ve watered down the best of both of those worlds.
The fun, high-flying luchadors are now doing the same moves to Sheamus and Drew McIntyre as they used to do to Juventud Guerrera and Psychosis. I have a hard time believing Rey Mysterio Jr. can actually huracanrana Wade Barrett. Meanwhile, the “violence” has been turned down significantly compared to 1999, but not to the point it was in the late 80’s. However, to be honest, I think it’s worse in a way now. In watching a “street fight” with Randy Orton and David Otunga on today’s Smackdown!, I actually just started channel surfing. A certain amount of this can be chalked up to the fact that Mr. Hudson was allowed to enter the squared circle. However, a bigger reason for disappointment was the sheer lack of chaos that ensued. Street fights should not spend any significant amount of time in the ring, they should involve more than 1 weapon, and by the end of it, you better have me convinced someone actually got hurt. I would rather see a normal match than some weak excuse for an “all out brawl”. Even the WCW knew how to properly put on a street fight in the mid-late 90’s. You want to see a street fight? Here’s a fuckin’ street fight!!! …and here’s the 2nd part of the fuckin’ street fight!.
I understand the WWE wanting to create a new image for themselves but I still think there are a few things we can take from the past to make the present even better.
1. (On behalf of Tony) Bring back Tornado Tag matches! So many great tag team title matches during that Attitude Era, and what’s the overlying theme amongst most of them? They were tornado matches! Be it ladder, table, TLC, or just plain tornado tag, there’s no doubt that it was more entertaining. I understand it can’t happen all the time, but it is pretty much completely gone now and all we want to know is “why?”
2. Let the blood flow! This personally upsets me the most. I can’t recal the last time i saw a Superstar bleed significantly. However, this makes no sense to me because even at its cartooniest of times, there was still plenty of blood shed in that squared circle. At WrestlemaniaV, Hogan wrestles most of the main event with blood running into his eye. Shawn Michaels has lost gallons of blood throughout his career (and the changing images of the WWE/F) and it always was appreciated by the fans. After all, aren’t they supposed to give us their BLOOD, sweat, and tears?
3. Cruiserweight division. Right now the WWE has a decent roster of cruiserweights. I quickly scanned the WWE roster and found 20 guys that should be in their own division. Get rid of the U.S. title, bring back the Cruiserweight title, and build it up with some great rivalries. Maybe some people find it entertaining to watch Kofi Kingston face Kane, but I much prefer 2 high flyers move in the ring with each other. They are more familiar with the moves so they are less stiff with their bumps, and more important, it’s actually believable. I get the whole david vs. goliath concept, but let the little guys fling each other around, and let the big guys go back to pounding the crap out of each other.
What aspect of wrestling went away before its time? Or perhaps, what aspect needs to go away sooner rather than later? Let your voice be heard!
This week’s Tales from the Turnbuckle takes a look at the all important “gimmick”. Every once in a while a wrestler has to go through a pretty bad cast of characters before he or she finds one that fits their personality and really lets them shine. Those road bumps along the way can be pretty embarrassing. Hey, we can’t all get it right the first time.
The most important thing for any superstar is to get over with the crowd. Be it in a positive or negative light, every wrestler needs to be receiving some sort of heat. Otherwise, nobody cares. A lot of credibility will come from in-ring ability, but the package still has to be pretty. A back story needs to be interesting, face paint needs to be impressive or intimidating, and we most certainly shouldn’t be laughing at you. Some characters, like Bobby Heenan or R-Truth, make a career getting people to laugh with them, but that is a totally different story and one that merits respect, not ridicule. But the importance of one’s shtick can not be underrated.
Here’s a fun fact: Before becoming “the Big Red Monster, the scarred evil brother of the Undertaker, the fire-breathing and brimstone-pounding machine” that is Kane, that scary mo-fo had a dental practice? In 1995, and thankfully not much longer after, The man now known as Kane was Dr. Isaac Yankem, DDS. A dentist with an ugly streak and an uglier mouth, Dr. Yankem was supposed to be every 7 year old’s nightmare, an evil dentist who wants to harm you by putting sharp metal instruments into your mouth. How could that possibly not be scary? Because he looked like Frankenstien ate Michael Cera. Blonde curly hair on a big oafish guy still makes him far less scary. Add that to the fact that Glenn Jacobs (the good doctor’s real name) was not nearly the in-ring wrestler he would become and he had horrible mic skills. There’s a reason Paul Bearer did all of Kane’s talking for a decade.
Before starting in the WWF, Terry Taylor and Curt Hennig were considered to be on par with each other as far as superstar potential goes. Well, Curt Hennig was fitted with the moniker “Mr. Perfect”, an arrogant super-athlete who was the definition of textbook wrestler, while Terry Taylor strutted his way into the boots of “The Red Rooster” a guy who had a strip of red spiked hair among his long blonde hair to symbolize a rooster as he bobbed his head throughout the match like a rooster and crowed out to the audience like, well, you see where I’m going with this. The Rooster was supposed to be a face and for all intents and purposes he was, but he was too goofy for anybody to take him seriously or really care if he won or not. Meanwhile, Mr. Perfect slapped his opponents in the face as he yelled at and ridiculed them. He would throw his hands up and his nose in the air as if to say “take it all in, losers” and people despised him. Guess who had the more illustrious career? Gimmicks matter. Here’s a few more fun “AKA’s” for you to impress your friends with.
-Before being the pimp-tastic “Godfather”, Charles Wright also portrayed afro-centric boxer “Kama” and voodoo master, “Papa Shango.”
-“Chris Kanyon” was mortal-kombat-meets-Oakland-Raider-superfan “Mortis”.
-“Konnan” was MAX MOON! If you don’t know max moon, go look him up immediately. I promise you’ll laugh.
So congratulations to those who were able to find a more successful way to express themselves. To the ones that didn’t, perhaps they needed a manager?
Discussion topic: Survivor Series 5-on-5 match. Who’s your 4 teammates and why?
At WWE’s most recent pay-per-view, Vengance, Zack Ryder wrestled Dolph Ziggler for the U.S. title in what was a pretty quick, yet entertaining match. Dolph won the match and I did my usual celebration for the heel retaining his title. Dolph was able to win the match due to an enormous amount of outside interference. I am a big Dolph Ziggler fan for 3 main reasons. 1. His in-ring ability is sick and his mic skills can match anybody in the WWE right now (except CM Punk). 2. He’s ballsy enough to use the word “perfection” to describe himself, and anybody who welcomes comparisons between himself and Curt Hennig is an extremely confident individual and i respect the “ballsiness” of the declaration. 3. He has a manager! Vicki Guerrero may be annoying, obnoxious, ugly, and ear-piercing, but that’s why she’s so great at the lost art of being a professional wrestling manager.
For a very long time, managers have provided landmark moments in wrestling, and offer many practical services. Managers traditionally have amazing mic skills (Mr. Fuji being the exception to that rule) so they can make up for wrestler’s with in-ring ability but a serious lack of personality (Michael Mcguillicutty and Drew McIntyre come to mind). Also, managers provide for many fun and exciting ends to matches.
As a heel fan, it’s fun to watch them screw over the good guys and win in underhanded ways such as distracting the ref, throwing in foreign objects, or interfering with wrestlers on the outside of the ring. But managers aren’t just for heels. There have been several great “face” managers. Paul Bearer continued to manage The Undertaker after his face turn, and Miss Elisabeth was the manager for the Macho Man and Hulk Hogan while they were the two biggest faces in the biz. (Neither of these legends needed a manager, but I’m making a point.)
Managers are often more hated than the wrestlers they represent, especially if they represent multiple wrestlers (Guerrero, Heenan, Hart, Slick, and I’ll throw in Kevin Sullivan for you WCW fans). This is partially because they would be seen several times over the course of an event, but a bigger part is they are just great characters. They are THE characters people love to hate. For only modern wrestling fans, it’s hard to explain the magnitude of heat they can generate. At SummerSlam ’93 I was in attendance, and one of the few things i remember from that event is the only time i covered my ears due to loudness was when Lex Lugar hit Mr. Fuji during the main event. This applause was louder than when Lugar actually won the match (albeit by countout, and Yokozuna retained the title. Damn you technicalities!).
Managers are the little, runty, annoying pests that stand by ringside with too much confidence and too little ability. People loathe them, for managers are often the real reason their favorite wrestler loses. And when they get a title? Forget about it. Nothing more annoying than seeing an ego-filled manager kissing and holding up a belt that takes up 90% of his torso (see: Jimmy Hart & the Nasty Boys) and acting like he’s the man. WWE managers are the sterling definition of sports entertainment, and this is why the WWE NEEDS to bring them back.
Discussion question: what would be your in-ring alter ego?