Monday, April 30, 2012

WWE Extreme Rules Review

I originally meant to post about the new miniatures I painted for my Tomb Kings, but I enjoyed last night's Pay Per View so much that I just had to write about it.

I've been down on the WWE lately. The months leading up to Wrestlemania were a big waste of time and Wrestlemania itself was rather upsettingly mediocre. Since then we've had a lot of spinning wheels, badly booked matches, and so many video packages that it has become difficult to care. The worst part of all this is that I'm starting to become that obnoxious TNA fan who will say things like, "Well, if you wanted to watch a wrestling show you'd watch TNA." I blame the WWE for making me say those things and mean them. Thanks, guys.

Last night, however, was really good. It's amazing what can happen when a show gets back to basics and just puts on a wrestling show. I've been saying this for months now but their roster is just so good and all they have to do is let those guys wrestle and the audience will be happy. I hate to keep repeating how easy this is, but it's really easy.

Miz v Santino
I was a little excited for this match. I thought they might get a full half hour to have an actual match, and I was really hoping that the Miz would get some good time to impress. I like The Miz and I appreciate how a lot of people like Santino so I expected something. Instead we just got a 4 minute match.

If the WWE is going to stream their pre-shows on YouTube (which is a great idea) then they should make those pre-shows good enough to get people who are on the fence about paying for the PPV a reason to actually pay for the PPV. This didn't do that, but it could have. Maybe use the pre-show as a chance to showcase some NXT guys? Seriously, give Tyson Kidd and Michael McGillicutty a chance to put on a solid 15 minute match and it'll make literally everyone happy.

Kane v Randy Orton
I keep talking about how there's lots of audiences that watch, but I can't help but feel that people who like Randy Orton also like Kane so I'm not opposed to them being in a match together, because I'd rather they were together than with someone I actually like. The only upside to this match was more of Zack Ryder being an impotent child. That was funny.

Brodus Clay v Dolph Ziggler
I was on board for Funkasaurus longer than most. This gimmick has overstayed its welcome and it's just making me cringe. I also really love Dolph Ziggler (seriously, if I was a 12 year old girl I would have Dolph Ziggler and Cody Rhodes posters on every wall in my bedroom) but he really needs to do something more than what he's doing now. I hate being Mr Internet Wrestling Fan but just because Ziggler is the best seller in the WWE doesn't mean he should be a jobber.

If Ziggler is to be taken seriously he needs to at least win a match once in a while. Mr Perfect was believable because he'd Perfectplex your ass and he'd win matches. Ziggler just bounces around when he gets hit. It's fun and he's good at making people look dangerous, but it's time for him to do something else. He's one ICP tattoo away from losing to Ryback.

Cody Rhodes v Big Show
This match really surprised me. I could go on and on about how awful Big Show is (he's slow, racist, boring, stupid, and slow)(oh, and fat) and how awesome Cody Rhodes is and how he should be a Big Deal, but instead I'll just reflect upon how happy this match made me feel.

Cody Rhodes won a match he shouldn't have won because Big Show is a fat dude who can't stop embarrassing himself. Cody Rhodes gets all the +Rhodes.

Sheamus v Daniel Bryan
Yes, Sheamus won. Yes, I wanted Daniel Bryan to win, murder Sheamus, rip his entrails out and spell out "Bryan Danielson" with them on the mat as he ditches his slave name. Instead we got the best match I've seen in a long time. No, it wasn't the most technical match but it told a story and was exciting. Having a 2 out of 3 falls match where the first fall happens well past halfway in was brilliant as it made me excited for each pinfall attempt.

This match, more than any other, goes to show how great wrestling can be when it just features a simple storyline (jerk guy versus guy who is not as much as a jerk) and how just letting them out to wrestle can make everyone happy.

I'm a Daniel Bryan fan and he lost. He lost a match. That doesn't matter in wrestling. What matters is that he was allowed to succeed and put on a great show. That's why I was so angry at Wrestlemania. Winning and losing doesn't matter (if it did Funkasaurus would be in the title hunt!) but what matters is what we saw last night between these two guys. These two guys stole the show and really did something great.

I'm happy for Daniel Bryan and I'm happy for the people out there who love Sheamus. If I was a Sheamus fan, and I am when he's not fighting Mah Boy DBry, I would have been ecstatic with last night. Sheamus was losing the entire match but came out the winner by sticking it out and winning.

I can't find anything to complain about with this match. We would be very lucky if the WWE gave us a better match this year, but with Daniel Bryan around I think it's possible.

Ryback versus Juggalos
I love this gimmick. Skip Sheffield's new gimmick is kind of boring (Terminator? Really?) but I do like the idea of the WWE traveling from town to town having this guy just kill local Juggalos. I got nothing else to say except, "ICP sucks lol."

CM Punk v Jericho
Ehhhhh, yeah, this match. It was okay. I don't know, I never got excited about this match and there never seemed to be any sort of rhythm. I know lots of people that said there were three great matches last night, but I wouldn't call this a "great" match and that is especially true when one of those matches was Daniel Bryan v Sheamus. I'm not trying to be a jerk, but who can watch Daniel Bryan v Sheamus and then Jericho v Punk and think that they are anywhere close to each other in quality?

It wasn't a bad match or anything. It was fine, but these two guys should have an awesome feud. They should have killer promos against each other. They should have great matches against each other. Instead it just feels like a bad episode of Degrassi High and it's just making me hate CM Punk for his new schtick where he's the coolest and smartest wrestler ever.

Also, what's the point of Jericho being back if he's just going to do nothing? The only thing I can think of is that he just wants to troll his past fanbase and kill off any notion of him as a wrestler once and for all. When he first came back he said nothing for weeks and got lots of cheers for it. He showed the audience how shallow and stupid they were for liking a guy for doing nothing. Maybe he came back to bumble around with awful promos, mediocre matches, and to just lose as a way of really telling his fans to screw off? I don't know, but even worse I'm starting to not care.

Layla v Nikki Bella
Well, okay. Whatever.
That's not Kharma!

John Cena v Brock Lesnar
This match was something else. I think it was both exciting and the absolute worst thing the WWE could do.

For the first five to ten minutes I had thought that Lesnar just cold wanted to murder Cena to prove some point. I always figured that Lesnar is a legit asshole (he's against universal healthcare and all) and it wouldn't surprise me if he just wanted to come back to the WWE and prove some point about his being a warrior or something. I thought it was real.

It wasn't real, it was wrestling. That's great, too, because I don't want to watch two skinny white guys with tribal tats beat each other up for money. The problem is that it felt legitimate. They keep talking about how Lesnar is bringing back legitimacy and how he's an asskicker and everything else. All this talk of legitimacy and reality, especially with how much the lines blurred last night, doesn't make the Cena v Lesnar match feel more real: it makes everything else feel fake.

Last night we saw a really fantastic match with Daniel Bryan and Sheamus. That's everything I want out of wrestling. It told a story, was exciting, and just made me feel like a little kid again. That's what professional wrestling is and does best. The Lesnar v Cena match from last night makes it feel fake. In trying to push Lesnar as a legitimate threat they are delegitimizing everyone else. By trying to emulate MMA they are ceding ground and calling attention to how it is fake.

How can Lesnar have another match without similarly beating the blood out of his opponent? We'll look at that match and think about how fake it is. I'm afraid that this won't be about Lesnar alone and we'll be acutely aware of all the other matches where no blood is shed and wrestlers are able to pull of their staged moves. Rey Mysterio's 619 is one of the stupidest moves ever, but when he did it to Kurt Angle it made me excited. I knew it was stupid and staged but it felt real. How can something like that feel real now when we all know that a real fight should just be two grown mean grappling each other as they lacerate one another with their fists?

There's no a very firm demarcation between the WWE and reality. Pointing out where that line is makes it difficult to become invested in the story that they are trying to sell. When you're not invested in the story you are just watching some grown men pretend to fight each other, and who wants to do that?

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