Monday, July 16, 2012

Bank Error

I haven't watched a PPV since Extreme Rules and I had every intention of watching Money in the Bank, but I totally forgot last night was the season premiere of Breaking Bad. Sorry, WWE, you just can't compete with Walter White's final season.

It doesn't sound like I missed much though, everything sounds perfectly acceptable, but there's absolutely nothing here that sounds must-see like last year's MITB. Last year we had Punk's glorious character shift and the future of WWE hanging in the balance, Daniel Bryan's shocking win in the Smackdown MITB and Del Rio fulfilling his destiny (again) on Raw.

While all of those things wound up being disappointing - I suppose you could make the case for Bryan, although I'd say he became way more interesting when he lost the title - it made for a fantastic PPV. Here we get Ziggler fulfilling his destiny (again, again, again, again, again), Punk staying on top and Cena winning the briefcase. There's nothing wrong with Ziggler winning MITB, he's certainly earned it and should make a great foil for Sheamus and there's nothing wrong with Punk staying on top, just 41 more days and he'll have the longest non-Cena reign since Diesel, but there's no buzz like there was last year. Can't buzz all the time, I suppose.

But Cena winning the briefcase is massively stupid. I like Cena, I've never seriously used the phrase "Super Cena" in my life, and I'm more than okay with him reentering the title picture after almost a year out of it. But the MITB briefcase? Dumb. And pointless. And dumb.

The only cool thing that will come out of Cena's time as Mr. Money in the Bank is that we'll most likely see it cashed in for a proper match. Cena's not going to cash-in when someone's at their most vulnerable, so we'll probably see him pull an RVD at SummerSlam and give us a rematch of last year's main event. But even that's pointless, Cena doesn't need a briefcase to make that happen, he could walk up to Punk tonight and say "hey man, let's fight," the match would be set and it would be totally acceptable.

The WWE Title MITB would've been better off with any other guy in that match... okay, except Kane, no one wants to see that. But Big Show's doing some of the best work of his career, Jericho invented the concept and could have so much fun with it and The Miz could've got a MUCH needed boost after a year of decline.

My only thought on how this works is if The Rock does in fact win the WWE Championship. That would be interesting and The Rock would be the only person Cena would screw over if he was in a vulnerable position since they have this whole Borden vs. Angier rivalry going on anyway.

Still, all this would mean CM Punk has to lose the WWE Title, and I'm not ready for that to happen yet.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

WWE's All-Star Game

I'm just sitting down to watch the MLB All-Star Game and when I watch anything sports related, my mind tends to drift toward wrestling.

Survivor Series should be WWE's All-Star Game, right? It certainly used to be, it was the only time you could see Hulk Hogan, Jake Roberts and Demolition team up. And while Bobby Heenan managed a ton of guys, you rarely would see Andre the Giant, Mr. Perfect and Rick Rude all together, but you would at Survivor Series.

That's kinda fallen by the wayside as the industry has changed since the Monday Night War. You didn't see Hogan and Jake Roberts team up in 89 because Hogan wasn't on TV every week and Jake Roberts was probably squashing a jobber or maybe wrestling The Genius on Superstars.

Today, their equivalents are wrestling on Raw every Monday and to avoid giving away every potential big match they have, guys like Cena and Punk are teaming up. It's certainly not uncommon to see a six or even ten-man tag in the Raw main event, especially if any basketball team owners have recently pissed off Vince McMahon. And that business model isn't going to change, the audience has become too conditioned and shareholders won't go for it if it means stocks drop, so how do you make Survivor Series special again?

Do what the MLB did with the All-Star Game - make it mean something. Now, I know the home-field advantage addition to the All-Star Game is controversial, but the beauty of wrestling is it's fake, so who cares?

Give it consequences - wrestling's always about the next show, so maybe something like the survivors from each team get to pick their entry # in the Royal Rumble? That might not exactly be dramatic and it would kill the possibility for a surprise #30 entrant, but something along those lines.

Maybe bring back the Ultimate Survival Match that they only did in 1990? Granted, it was only an excuse to get Hogan and The Warrior on a team together and they probably never did it again for a reason, but give it some drama. The survivor(s) of that match get a title shot at the Rumble? Even if it winds up being a triple-threat, fatal four-way or six-pack challenge, have some fun with it.

That's why the only Survivor Series match that anyone's cared about since 1996 was the 2004 main event where Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit and freakin' Maven got to be in charge of Raw when Eric Bischoff went on vacation. And yes, I am counting "Winner Takes All" in 2001... that match was a "let's get the hell out of this mess we made" if there ever was one.

Survivor Series is a WWE tradition and it's clear they're hanging onto it for that reason alone, but when every week is an "All-Star Game" for WWE, they gotta do something to make it matter.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

WWE Raw - July 2, 2012

I'm trying to get back into wrasslin' as we approach the 1000th episode of Raw and get into SummerSlam buildup. I've caught the cool stuff on YouTube, like Vader and Sid, but for the most part, I'm out of the loop on what WWE's been up to. Luckily, it's always easy to just dive right back in.

This week's review will be in the Fair to Flair WOO!/BOO! format.

WOO!


Alberto Del Rio vs. Sin Cara was a great hat tip to the Laredo, TX crowd and it should set up a future rivalry nicely once Del Rio moves on from Sheamus. I would wager WWE could do BIG business with Del Rio defending the World Title against Sin Cara during their next Latin American tour.

Paul Heyman, as usual, was marvelous. Few people can play the lovable rebel so well, then turn around and play the most disgusting, unlikable scumbag you've ever seen. Heyman turning the Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar narrative into HHH's secret way to be forced into retirement was a nice touch as well. I didn't really like the "Brock will give his answer in three weeks" stuff, it's good heat, but they just dragged out the "will he accept!?" stuff with HHH and The Undertaker at WrestleMania.

Heath Slater finally getting a win in the Raw 1000 buildup, defeating Doink, was a nice redirection for a DDP cameo! Even if DDP did have to return with his terrible WWE theme and without his rib tape, it was great to see him. Although it is weird that most of these returns center around guys who might be considered more WCW guys than WWE guys.

CM Punk & John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan & Chris Jericho was a fun main event, but the match itself was largely irrelevant. While it was refreshing to see Cena in a main event tag match where someone else got the hot tag, the big story was AJ snapping and shoving CM Punk off the top rope, onto Daniel Bryan and through a table outside. It was an odd ending, how often does Raw end with a female wrestler standing tall over two top male competitors? But it was cool, as silly as this AJ stuff has been, I like the idea that a woman - even if she's basically playing Overly Attached Girlfriend - can get one over on the boys. And not just like Beth Phoenix occasionally eliminating a guy from the Royal Rumble or Chyna beating up midcarders, AJ outsmarted - and frankly, dominated - two of the top guys in WWE.

BOO!


I didn't really dig the opening segment. Jericho whipping out the old catchphrases was a nice touch, but for the most part, it was the worst of what we come to expect in the opening "Hey I don't like you"/"Well I don't like you either!" promo.

Santino Marella, Christian, R-Truth & Kofi Kingston vs. David Otunga, Cody Rhodes, Titus O'Neil & Darren Young started off fine, and I didn't even mind Abraham Washington's guys hightailing it (they have a guaranteed title match, after all), but once it devolved to "All the good guys (and the addition of Brodus Clay) gang up on the most unlikable bad guy" bit, which is so stale, I soured on it. It also showed the very wide gap between WWE's main event scene and everyone else. All these guys are or could be strong utility players, but they just feel "lesser," which is unfortunate.

Dolph Ziggler & Vickie Guerrero vs. Sheamus & AJ didn't seem to serve any purpose other than to get AJ mad at CM Punk for not watching her match. Although that did lead to the cool finish of the main event.

I fast-forwarded through Kane vs. Big Show, don't judge me. Big Show's been great lately, but no one wants to see that match.

Tyson Kidd vs. Tensai... WTF?

OVERALL

I enjoyed this show. Nothing must-see (except DDP), but it was refreshing to see Raw end with something other than a ho-hum promo with Johnny Ace and John Cena trading insults. Even though the match didn't get a proper ending, the story tied into the PPV and provided a unique finish, so I'm gonna give it the thumbs up.