Sunday, January 17, 2010

Guest Post: Best & Worst Guest Hosts

Well, the title's a bit of a mouthful, but this Guest Post comes to us from our friend Big Daddy D-Bone of Night of the Living Blog, who examines the best and worst of the Raw guest host concept. Don't forget, if you'd like to participate in Guest Posts, just e-mail me: razor@kickoutwrestling.com:

Since the guest host program was instituted back in June we've seen some stars guest host Raw and seem to really put their all into it. Other weeks we've had guest hosts that showed up to shill their product, showing no desire to remember the names of the WWE Superstars, never mind even bothering to try and show some ability to talk in front of a live crowd. In my guest column here on Kickout! Wrestling I'll be giving you guys a glimpse of my five favorite and least favorite guest hosts. Let's start with the least favorite.

#5: Cedric The Entertainer
Usually the key ingredient to being a comedian is the ability to be funny in front of a live crowd. Instead we got a long opening segment showcasing the local football team, a couple of barnyard animals and an old granny (among many, many, MANY others) getting out of Cedric's limousine. He also allowed Santino Marella to talk him into “wrestling” Chavo Guerrero in what amounted to little more than comedy gone wrong. Cedric goes under the ring and comes out looking buffed and jacked. When Cedric was announced as being the guest host, I figured that we might have a pretty good one on our hands because it's obviously someone with a lot of experience with talking in front of people. Instead, he narrowly edges out ZZ Top for the fifth worst Raw guest host. Why didn't it go to ZZ Top? With ZZ, they didn't add anything to the show, but it was a business as usual Raw. They didn't detract. Cedric detracted from the overall show, and thus gets the #5 spot.

#4 Joey Lagano and Kyle Busch
If Kofi “Johnson” is reading this, I'm sure he's wondering why they're not number one. Sure, they were bad, there's no debating that. Neither of them looked comfortable in front of a live crowd. To add to that, both of them had accents that would have left people scratching their heads, even if they were comfortable on the microphone. But the Nascar gimmick did lead to one of my favorite WWE moments of the year. Kofi Kingston bashing up the Randy Orton indy car that was given to him as a gift by Legacy made this show worth watching. And I think it's safe to say that if Lagano and Busch weren't hosting the show, they probably wouldn't have had the indy car there. So at least it lead to something worthwhile.

#3 Sgt. Slaughter
What was the whole point of this? I mean, seriously. Why? Does Vince have an agenda against Canada or something? Everything involving Slaughter on this show seemed like it was a complete throwaway segment. Were there no D-List celebrities with valid passports? Slaughter flubbed a bunch of his lines, and only served to antagonize the audience. Nothing productive whatsoever came from him hosting Monday Night Raw.

#2 Johnny Damon
One would think that someone who makes millions and millions of dollars a year playing baseball in front of a packed house at Yankee Stadium night in and night out would be a natural fit for the guest host gig. I'm sure that was the WWE's line of thought, and by god, they couldn't have been any more wrong. He might be a pretty big personality in the baseball world, but when the spotlight was on just Johnny Damon and not his entire baseball team, he faltered. Once Damon got on the microphone he looked like he had some crippling fear of speaking in public. Damon tried yelling into the microphone to amp up the crowd, and it came out in a complete monotone. He looked like he was scared shitless. When he did speak into the microphone, he mumbled, or got so nervous that he kept repeating himself. All in all, he looked completely unprepared for this, and finds himself ranked number two behind only...

#1 Dennis Miller
Last year, the Slammy Awards was one of the most fun, entertaining episodes of WWE television all year. This year... wow. Where to begin. He practically said he had no interest in professional wrestling at all. Whenever he took the time to get off his political soapbox, he'd say that he respected everything that Vince McMahon and the WWE do for the troops. But that's about it. He seemed completely unprepared for anything other than his lame ass comedy routines that were sprinkled in throughout the show. (maybe because he showed up a couple hours late?) On top of that, he flubbed Triple H's name and even took a personal shot at Vince McMahon trying to tell him about comedic timing in the back. Dennis Miller is a very successful comedian, but maybe McMahon had a couple of useful tips for comedic timing in regards to the WWE audience. Either way, Dennis Miller did things his way, and not once did he connect with the audience. His poor comedy, inability to feign interest in wrestling, lack of being able to connect with the audience and penchant for creating awkward moments make him the worst Raw guest host since the program's inception.

And now for the top five.

#5 Seth Green
For those of you who are looking at this list and waiting to see where Bret Hart is going to rank, you can stop now. I'm considering Bret Hart to be an exception to this list, because while everyone else was clearly just a one show gig, Hart will be featured in an ongoing storyline. So, Seth Green. If I recall correctly, Seth was the first celebrity to guest host Raw. And Seth did a bang up job. He seemed like a natural in front of the WWE universe. He didn't get scared on the microphone, and had a pretty sweet verbal battle with Orton, before wrestling in the six man tag main event. Green was a pro about it all the way, getting roughed up a little by Legacy, and landing a pretty nasty punch to Cody Rhodes' grill.

#4 Roddy Piper
Roddy Piper hosted the Madison Square Garden episode of Monday Night Raw and did a terrific job of it. He was a ranting and raving mad man but he had the crowd in the palm of his hand the entire time. Piper blurred the lines of good taste in typical Piper fashion when he said that people who cross him either end up bald or end up dead. The other reason Piper makes this list is because of the starmaking performance that took place during Piper's interlude with Randy Orton. Kofi Kingston saving Piper from a further beatdown by Randy Orton, and whooping his ass before hitting the Boom Drop from the stands through the table.

#3 Shaquille O'Neal
Everybody knew Shaquille O'Neal was a personality way before the guest host program was even an idea in somebody's mind. But when he hosted Raw, he showed us all that The Diesel was a character that fit in so perfectly with the WWE. All of the interactions he had with the WWE Superstars with entertaining. His backstage segment where he was hanging out with Hornswoggle was pretty damn funny, and his confrontation at the beginning of the show with JeriShow set up the fireworks that were to come perfectly. Shaq served as the special enforcer for the main event of JeriShow vs Cryme Tyme, but the entire time you knew it was building up to a moment between Shaq and The Big Show. We finally got that SportsCenter moment when both Shaq and Show grabbed each other by the throat. Shaq won the battle, and the third spot on this list, when he got physical with Show and knocked him out of the ring.

#2 Jesse Ventura
Number two on the list is Jesse Ventura. All those years as the Governor and this guy still looks and sounds like he belongs doing color commentary on Monday Night Raw or Friday Night Smackdown. He was absolutely golden on the microphone. There were two things that I loved about Ventura's performance. The first is that he didn't play a face, or a heel. He played Jesse Ventura. He wanted to see a young guy earn a title shot, so he made the qualifying matches for the battle royal for wrestlers that had never held the title before. The fans loved it. He saw how ruthless Randy Orton was and awarded him a spot in the battle royal. The fans hated it. He put Vince McMahon in a goofy suit and got the old commentary team back together. The fans ate it up. And this ties in with the other thing I loved about his turn as the special guest host. He gave Sheamus a rub that he's still benefiting from today. Much to the fans dismay, he came out and said how Sheamus was the future of the WWE and a future WWE Champion. He assisted Sheamus in driving John Cena through that table and really jumpstarted Sheamus' push.

#1 Bob Barker
But that still wasn't enough to dethrone The Prince of Plinko,The Swami of Stack The Deck... the one and only Bob Barker. The WWE did something that they haven't quite been able to replicate since Barker took the reigns of Monday Night Raw. They created an atmosphere that worked well for both the guest host and for the WWE roster. The Price is Right format lead to some pretty entertaining segments with Chris Jericho winning the Best of Smackdown DVD. The comedy with Santino Marella and Jillian Hall worked very well, which is a rarity for Jillian. The Chicago crowd was hot as hell for Barker, and he was spot on. Barker seemed genuinely happy to be hosting Raw and raising awareness for his cause. The old dude especially looked to be having a good time in his backstage segment where he took out Chavo Guerrero. It was an awesome show from beginning to end, with everything Barker touched turning to gold. The one thing that the Slammy Awards show got right was announcing Bob Barker as the guest host of the year. Thanks for reading.

6 comments:

  1. The choices here seem to be more or less in line with my own, and probably with those of many of the Kickout Wrestling readers.

    Reading through the list has reinforced my view that the guest host gimmick has yielded more positive results than negative. Upon thinking about my own potential rankings, I found that I could think of more candidates for the "Best of" list than I could for the dud list, with the likes of Dusty Rhodes, Ted DiBiase, the Osbournes and Freddie Prinze Jr all cropping up as justifiable choices.

    I always enjoying reading these kinds of columns, so thanks for such an entertaining read.

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  2. The only thing I might've changed is adding Dusty Rhodes instead of Seth Green. Both were awesome, but the bit at the end of the Dusty RAW was fantastic, even if it didn't actually lead anywhere.

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  3. No hate for Jeremey Piven and his god-awful lil' sidekick? Boo. That was wretched and annoying from a guy who everybody was sure was going to bring the funny once he was announced.

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  4. I was debating between Piven and Cedric for my fifth spot on the worst list. But as bad as Piven was, he kind of redeemed himself in the end. Him turning on Cena was pretty cool. Cedric, on the other hand, had absolutely no redeeming quality to him.

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  5. Piven's diving crossbody was pretty awesome.

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  6. I have to agree if not for the flying crossbody and turning on Cena then the Piven RAW would have been one of the worst!

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