The 10 Most Annoying Managers in Wrestling History

BRYANVICKIEDaniel Bryan looks so annoyed – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

This an article I wrote for What Culture. Unfortunately, it didn’t make the grade to be published on the site apparently. Nevertheless, I have decided to post it here. Let me know what you think. I hope you enjoy reading.

Managers have played an important part in the history of professional wrestling. Unfortunately, they seem to be approaching extinction in the modern day WWE. Nonetheless, the greats of the past will be remembered for decades to come.

To be a great manager, you need to be annoying. Nobody remembers the vanilla characters hanging out at ringside, banging on the apron and cheering for the hero. They remember the despicable men and women who do every single thing they can to secure the win for their client. Most of these managers take a little trip down Annoying Lane on the way to greatness

We’ve had screamers, whistle-blowers and megaphone fanatics. You love to hate them, and that’s what makes them so great. The most memorable managers stir up a frenzy in the crowd, pull off dastardly schemes and drive everybody crazy. They usually have a prop of some kind, or an annoying voice. The more you boo them, the better job they are doing.

I wonder if you can guess who is the number one.

10. Paul Bearer

I’ve included this man on the list to pay tribute, if nothing else, to his legacy. He could be annoying, but the reason he is so low down, is because he rarely overstepped the mark. You could say WWE did so when they used his death rather explicitly in the feud between CM Punk and Undertaker earlier this year, but by all accounts, it’s exactly what he would have wanted. He knew just how to get great heat, and had no qualms with going close to the grain to get it.

However, this list is about characters who make it hard to watch. He rarely did that, but he had his moments, as all managers do. His legendary catchphrase “Oh yes!” could be both amusing and infuriating. As a child growing up watching during the Attitude Era, I would often lament his presence on my TV screen, although probably not so eloquently. He would get right under my skin, particularly when he was put between Kane and Undertaker. He always seemed to be stirring things up between them both and doing something despicable to one of them. He comes in at Number 10, because most of the time, his antics attracted good heat, not annoying heat.

9. Hornswoggle

I feel sorry for Hornswoggle. It’s not his fault that he is on this list. It’s down to the powers-that-be at WWE. Personally, I feel above laughing at a guy because he is small, and let me tell you, that is the one solitary reason why he is on television: to be laughed at. When he appears at live events, even little kids don’t seem mesmerized by him anymore. Rey Mysterio is only a bit taller, and he can actually wrestle. Any adults that do enjoy his gimmick obviously enjoy laughing at midgets like they’re back in the circus tent.

When he would come out with Finlay or DX, he would just destroy any credibility they had. It’s like screening Shutter Island with a little Finding Nemo gif running in the middle of the screen throughout. His presence is distracting, in a bad way. If there was any money to be made from dressing up a small American guy in a leprechaun costume, it’s been exhausted now.

I can understand the sympathy that people have for the actual guy, and I feel that too. He should be given a job in the company because he clearly loves the business, but he does not need to be accompanying anyone to the ring or appearing in backstage segments. It’s cheap laughs, not good laughs.

8. AJ Lee

Firstly, I’m a big time AJ Lee fan. I love her for too many names to mention. I’ve been particularly pleased with her most recent run as Divas Champion. She has been competing well in the ring and cutting some great promos. Her “pipebomb” against the Total Divas cast was just beautiful to hear. Despite aligning herself with Tamina Snuka recently, she has looked good since vacating Dolph Ziggler’s side.

When she was following Dolph to the ring every week, her own career seemed to become more and more irrelevant. She understands the art of the manager and can draw good heat. She does however, have that tendency to annoy. When she joins the announce table, she can come across as too shrill for me at times. I know that she is supposed to make me hate her, but it can get too much. I must say I’m usually a big fan of the skipping, but I know a lot of people aren’t.

Nonetheless, as long as she stays within the ropes as much as possible and let’s her work do the talking, she won’t have to worry over this conundrum. As a manager, she can flirt with “the line”. Besides, she is far too talented a wrestler to be standing or skipping outside the ring all the time, even if she does look great in those short shorts.

jimcornetteOne of the best heatseekers in the business – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

7. Jim Cornette

Jim Cornette is widely recognised as one of the best managers in the history of professional wrestling. He wasn’t a bad promoter either, as his record shows. The man understands the business and knows exactly what heat is and how to get it. During his run managing The Midnight Express, he perfected the role of slimy, little rat faced manager and set the bar high for future generations. There aren’t too many like him, and that’s why he gets so much respect from his peers.

As I’ve mentioned, it’s incredibly easy to go from good annoying to bad annoying, but this man rarely went over to the dark side. He could work the fans into a frenzy, and get them to pay their hard earned money in the hope of seeing him get beat up. He would usually wriggle his way out of it, and when he didn’t manage that, it was so much more special a moment for the fans to savour.

In more recent times, his shoot promos which you can find all over the internet, have made him a polarizing figure. Many people would call him annoying now, for his time outside of the ring. I’m not one of those people. I’m a big believer in Jim’s ideals.

6. Jimmy Hart

Jimmy Hart was one of the most successful managers in pro wrestling history, but boy was he annoying! Having watched back so many hours of footage from the old days, I’m glad to say I didn’t grow up during his prime. That must have been hell! I do understand that he did a lot for the careers of a lot of guys (Hart Foundation, Greg Valentine, Honky Tonk Man, etc) and he did get a lot of good heat on each of those guys when they worked as heels.

However, there are times when it pains me to see him when I watch back those old pay-per-views. I guess that is the desired effect, so it’s hard to be to critical. Sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate between whether a manager is doing a good job or just trying my patience. Even his look is enough to evoke rage – so annoying. His trademark megaphone earned him the moniker the “Mouth of the South” which I guess is a compliment. That megaphone did nothing but annoy, but you can decide whether or not that’s a good thing.

5. Melina

Melina has been hated by people on the inside and outside of the business for a long time, for various reasons. She politicking and bitchiness have well documented, and only Mick Foley seems willing to see the good in her. I’d say his motives are questionable. As an on-screen personality, I think she has had her highs and lows. When she had her final run in WWE a couple of years ago, I was glad to see her back around and thought she could offer a lot to the roster. She has since departed, probably because of her real life persona.

Before she was contributing to the Divas division so well, she was managing MNM (John Morrison and Joey Mercury) through a successful and productive spell as a tag team. One thing that didn’t seem to do them any favours at all, was the fact that Melina often stood outside the ring screaming for no apparent reason. As unique and hilarious as that sounds, it did get old rather quickly and seemed to alienate many fans, rather than rile them up. I have reason to believe that her character was only saved by her extremely hot ring entrance, among males anyway.

4. Bill Alfonso

The Manager of Champions began his career in referee stripes and had spells working for both WCW and WWF. He returned to that organisation (then known as WWE) for the One Night Stand pay-per-views in 2005 and 2006, managing Sabu and celebrating with Rob Van Dam, after he won the WWE Championship. However, it was the half a decade and more he spent working for the legendary ECW promotion that made him famous among wrestling fans.

He is starting in that company working as a referee and went on to manage guys like Van Dam, Sabu and Taz. His penchant for associating himself with success earned him his aforementioned nickname. He wasn’t just known as the guy who walked them to the ring though. He was known and hated by fans for being the skinny little twerp jumping on the ring apron and blowing a stupid whistle all the time.

Alfonso would blow that whistle non-stop. It must be one of the only sounds that can rival Melina’s scream and Hart’s megaphone in the annoying stakes. He drew good heat for his heel associates, but sometimes when you’re trying to settle down with a nice cup of tea and watch yourself a Texas Deathmatch, the last thing you want to hear is some idiot blowing a whistle!

axelheymanAlways ready to speak on behalf of a client – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

3. Paul Heyman

He may be the genius who brought us ECW and the man who has made so many positive contributions to our business, but he is also known for his time managing various superstars. From WCW and the Dangerous Alliance, to his own promotion ECW, and his partnerships with Brock Lesnar, CM Punk and more in the WWE, Heyman has never had any trouble getting a few boos from the audience.

Paul E knows how to do the little things just right. His timing, his mannerisms, his tone. He has the power to pick up a microphone and speak to you, knowing that your blood will soon be boiling. I’m a Paul Heyman guy and a grown man. That didn’t stop me almost throwing my remote control through the television when he sat in his wheelchair and played wicked mind games with my hero CM Punk.

Heyman often aligns himself with big powerful guys who take care of business for him. This allows him to sink as low as he wants, and perform dastardly acts of evil against his enemies, without getting his comeuppance. When he does get it, it’s so rewarding. That’s what makes him one of the very best.

2. Michael Cole

Michael Cole can be annoying in at the announce desk, outside the ring or even inside it. We all know how wrong it can go when you take a non-athlete and put them in there hoping for entertainment. Sometimes it can draw great laughs. Sometimes it can be a good pay-off. The experience with Cole was neither. When aligning himself with Jack Swagger against veteran announcer Jerry Lawler, he just made himself so detestable that it genuinely made wrestling hard to watch.

Before then, he was equally annoying without even being on camera. While sitting at the desk playing his heel commentator role, he regularly went too far and made himself the worst part of the show. His constant Twitter references (which have been toned down), constant use of the word “vintage” and annoying man-crush on The Miz, made Michael Cole one of the most high-profile heels on the roster. Again, not in a good way.

I know many fans who actually stopped watching when it got too much, which wasn’t after long. I being the beaten wife that I am, continued to stick with it, and somehow survived to tell the tale. He has since re-occupied the role of neutral play-by-play man who barely conjures up anything deeper than indifference from me and most other fans – that’s much more like it.

He may not have been a manager most of the time, but as a general kiss-ass sidekick, he was as annoying as can be.

1. Vickie Guerrero

Saving the best until last, Vickie Guerrero is the undisputed most annoying sidekick, appendage, manager, whatever you want to call her, in history. Her time spent by the side of Edge, while also in the General Manager role (something she has also consistently done with equal success) brought her to prominence. She was shown as shrill, callous and not at all appealing in any way. The fact that edge would suck up to someone so disgraceful drew major heat for him as a heel. That’s the power of Vickie.

While managing guys like Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger, she showed off her talent for annoying people while at ringside. But, that’s not her best position. She occupies the role as stooge with much more brilliance. As a General Manager, willing to do whatever it takes to keep her bosses happy and keep herself in power, she really shines.

Vickie is often given a huge amount of praise for her contributions to WWE and I think that’s just. For the most part, she gets genuine heat from a live crowd unlike anyone else on the roster, past or present. She does however have the ability to annoy you like nobody else could. Her now famous “Excuse me” catchphrase was entertaining a while ago. Now it’s just irritating. Luckily WWE don’t shove it down our throats quite as much as they used to these days, so I’m not about to stop watching.

When it comes to making fans of any age or description boo and shout, there aren’t many people better than Vickie Guerrero.

Thanks for reading,

Craig [Editor]

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The Wrestling Review Corner: The Rise and Fall of ECW [DOC]

funkbarbedTerry Funk meticulously checking the ropes – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

Thanks for checking out another wrestling review. We have another documentary, and another rise and fall. This is an absolute classic and probably the best of all time. I watched it again recently, for like the tenth time. It’s essential viewing for anyone who I used to love the old ECW, and for any wrestling fan in general really. Let’s take a look at a few key elements that set this apart from the rest.

The high quality level of filmmaking that you come to expect from WWE is once again present here. This was one of the first documentaries of it’s kind made by the company, and definitely set a high standard for those that followed. They typically utilize the vast video library at their disposal to chronicle the company’s greatest moments. The movie does of course show how the company came to an end, but it focuses heavily on the accomplishments and the high points, I think rightly so in this case. The downfall of WCW was a little sour and full of politics. That kind of sensation isn’t really prevalent here.

Like with most of these things, the film relies mostly on the comments of some excellent interviewees. They get the thoughts of everyone who was anyone in the company, or in the business, at that time. The likes of Paul Heyman, Tazz and Tommy Dreamer paint the picture perfectly. The snippets of classic matches, promos and moments help you see first hand what the evolution of hardcore really looked like. You see the brutal, the intense and the emotional. You see Mick Foley and Steve Austin come into their own and show off the skills that later took them to the main events in WWE, and you see Terry Funk give the fledgling company credibility. No major milestone is unturned.

Unlike films on other promotions, the company never comes across as a melting pot of egos and politics. It is always portrayed as humble in rebellion, and fearlessly alternative. Rather than try to destroy WWF by producing a very similar style of product and using backers money to poach most of their roster, ECW created a product unlike any other in the world, with a fanbase built on ferociously partisan support. This film really puts that across, while avoiding the temptation to become a sickly lovefest.

I don’t ever tire of watching this, and I don’t think this will be the last time. I love to relieve the history of ECW. It’s a product I loved and I know a lot of other people did. It had a huge impact on the business, and definitely deserves to be recognized.

Thanks for reading, and share with me some of your favourite ECW moments in the comment box below. If you’ve seen the film, let me know what you think of that too.

Craig [Editor]

The Wrestling Review Corner: Best in the World

punkmaniaPunk before having the match of the night at Wrestlemania 29 – Source: WWE

So this is a new feature I’m going to be doing every week here on The Real Mid Card, to freshen things up a bit. There is nothing I love more than wrestling documentaries, books and pay-per-views. I’ve already reviewed a few classic PPVs, but now I want to take a look at some other stuff. I’d say watching the cutting edge documentaries that are out these days is probably my favourite thing to do as far as wrestling goes, as bad as that is. WWE in particular have done a great job putting out some slick, in-depth movies on superstars and promotions over the last few years. I always love to get that insider perspective and see the guys shoot and tell the facts. There are also a lot of great independent filmmakers out there putting a lens on the business, and they do a great job too.

I’ll be looking at some books and shows in the future, but for today I’d like to open up The Wrestling Review Corner with a few words on Best in the World, the WWE made documentary about the career of CM Punk. I, like many of you I’m sure, am a huge mark for Punk. I’ve loved his whole run in WWE, and since the legendary promo in 2011, he has always remained in the top three for me. I’ve learned a lot about his journey to the top, and all the shit he had to go through to get there, but what I thought I knew, wasn’t the half of it. Watching this movie opened my eyes to a lot of stuff I had no idea about. Similarly to For All Mankind, the Mick Foley movie, it’s an excellent summary of a great career.

The movie is candid and truthful, yet not bitter or too dark. It shows the highs and the lows, but most importantly it’s gives us the hard hitting, real opinions of Punk himself (if we hadn’t heard them all already on Raw every week) – The man makes the open, kayfabe breaking character we know and love seem like a question ducking US president. He shoots on being held back, the moronic ignorance of many of the top executive decision makers in the business, and serves up a refreshing dose of reality to anyone who thinks that the WWE is a place where people are fairly judged and pushed on their talent and commitment. He also heaps praise where it’s due, on people who helped influence and encourage his career (especially one Paul Heyman)

I’ve since come to know that Punk actually had a lot of creative control over the production of the film, something which isn’t afforded to many people with these films. No doubt that has had a great impact on it’s content, delivery and all round end product entertainment value. It looks at his time in backyard wrestling, working his ass off through the independents and climbing the steep and slippery mountain that is the WWE. It paints a picture of a worker who dedicated his life to owning and developing his craft, refused to pander to top brass fans of the generic model wrestler, and cut his own path, both as a performer and a human being.

We get an insight into the man’s personal life, his core values and beliefs (the straight edge movement in particular), and his hardships. We learn about his upbringing and family, and see just how closely they blurred the lines with the whole Chris Jericho feud. It touches on great matches with guys all across the country and even the world, and leaves you feeling emotionally invested in the character and the human being portraying him. The DVD is also jam-packed with excellent bouts, but I’d like to just focus on the documentary side of things.

I recommend it highly. It’s essential viewing for any true CM Punk fan, and especially anyone who was with him on his journey from companies like IWA Mid South and Ring of Honor to the WWE. For those people (which I am not one of) it must be an even better thrill ride. Check it out!

Craig

My Fave 5 from Friday Night Smackdown!

bryansuicideThe Flying Goat – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

This week’s episode of Previously recorded Friday Night Smackdown was quite solid. I wouldn’t say it was spectacular but it did the basics very well and continued this puzzling trend of actually having good, honest wrestling in WWE. Thumbs up from me! Here are the five guys and gals that caught my attention the most this week. I hope you enjoy. Feel free to send in your Fave 5 in a comment below this post!

Sheamus: It’s surprisingly to see this name on the list I’m sure, but it’s true. I enjoyed the Irishman’s work for the first time in several months. I’m bored of this whole feud with Sandow and Cody, but then again I’ve been bored with everything they’ve put him in for around a year now. However, this match with Cody Rhodes was very good. He came out looking great. The match contained some exciting and unique exchanges. It wasn’t just all of his generic power moves. Something seemed different. I know Cody is a great athlete and can have a great match with anyone, but I feel Sheamus actually deserves some credit for once. Rhodes tapped out to the Texas Cloverleaf after a particularly fluid interchange. You don’t see that match ending from the Celtic Warrior every week!

AJ Lee: AJ was part of another very solid Divas match with Natalya. It seems WWE are actually on a good wrestling hype lately, and Steph’s influence on the Divas Division is becoming more evident with each show. Amazing submission and striking work from both athletes. AJ got the win with that crazy Black Widow submission thing again. More great ring work from both of these ladies, followed by a hot cat fight backstage between Aksana and Kaitlyn.

Chris Jericho: Instead of facing Heath Slater, Jericho was utilized appropriately this week when he was placed in the ring with Alberto Del Rio. Neither of these guys are spring chickens, but boy can they move! When you have two guys of their calibre in there, you know you could be in for a terrific match, and that’s what this was. Dolph Ziggler came down and attacked Del Rio midway through the bout, meaning he got the DQ win. Jericho then hit Dolph with the Codebreaker, and came out looking great. The match itself was very high paced and entertaining. There was lots of high flying. Alberto was bleeding when he hit Ziggler with another punt to the head. Very viper like! He is so much more effective as a heel! But my point is, as always Chris Jericho was the ever reliable man to have a good match. Still going strong after all these years! Long live Jericho!

Christian: Now for Chris’ former tag-team partner, Christian. It’s so great to see this guy back on Smackdown. However, it was his turn to face a 3MB jobber. He made the best of a very lame situation when he was put in there with Drew McIntyre. He got the win with the Killswitch. He then got on the mic and seemed that he was half way through announcing his desires to go for the World Heavyweight Championship in “one more match” – at least that’s how I interpreted it. However, he was interrupted by The Shield. They ran down the ramp, instead of coming from the crowd, which was weird. The three of them beat down Christian. The reason he is in my Fave 5 is because of this attack. It hints at a feud between him and Ambrose for the US title, which would be amazing. I can’t wait to see this gather pace. The two of them are certain to have some great matches!

shieldchristianThe Shield deliver a beatdown to Christian – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

Daniel Bryan: As expected, Goatface and Orton had a great wrestling match. All the dropkicks, frenzied offense and even a Shawn Michaels nip-up! I knew this guy was guaranteed to be on the list before the show even started. He is such a consistently good performer. Orton did a great job too, it has to be said. He delivered an emphatic superplex from the top rope, which was a main event highlight. The crowd were so hot for this match, but it’s hard to know when that’s been piped in or not. Bryan connected with a diving front kick off of the apron while Orton who was standing on the outside. Then the “flying goat” (in JBL’s words) hit his trademark suicide dive. Orton didn’t make it up and Bryan got the count out win. Bryan was pissed and got on the mic demanding that the referee re-start the match because he wouldn’t take a count-out win. The match went off the air and I guess the crowd got a dark match. Pretty good way to continue building this storyline. I just wish I knew if the crowd reactions were genuine or not.

[HONORARY MENTION: PAUL HEYMAN]: Despite not being a performer, Paul deserves a mention for his memorable interview with Rene. She was keen to pry about the whole Punk business, when he turned the questions around on her. He asked about her family, her exes and all of her personal business, proving the point that talking about personal issues on national television isn’t fun. He demanded she only ask about Curtis Axel from now on. Great, great work from Heyman as always!

So as I said before, a good show. Not incredible, but good. Pretty much zero complaints in my mind. Thanks a lot for checking out the weekly look at Smackdown. If you like to read about wrestling, hit Follow. If you liked this article, hit Like. If you want to talk, hit Comment.

Peace.

Daniel Bryan breaks the Smackdown sound barrier

maxresdefaultDaniel Bryan’s new aggressive streak – Source: guttwrenchpowerblog.com

I watched Smackdown last night and made some notes. Here are my thoughts. But first. I’m only 10 views away from my target of 2,000 views before the end of June 1st(which is today, in four hours). Give this post a share on Facebook or Twitter if you like it, or even a reblog. Thanks a lot for reading. Here goes.

Kane v Seth Rollins So the show opened up with a good but short match between Kane and Rollins. You can put any combination of Shield/Hell No together and it’s always gonna be at least a decent match. Rollins was selling like a master as always, but Kane got the win this time.

Roman Reigns v Daniel Bryan The other two guys got in there for the better match of the two, in my opinion. Unfortunately for D-Bry, Kane was spotted by the referee attacking Reigns, costing him the match by disqualification. The two of them argued again in the ring after the match, as they teased more dissension between the two. A solid first two matches and a good way to start the show.

Damien Sandow was up to his usual antics with Sheamus in the ring. The man is an icon on the mic and an absolute master of playing with the crowd and getting good heat. It’s not ferocious heat, but it’s good. He is a funny guy. I don’t really recall how this played out, because I wasn’t paying much attention (I’m great, aren’t I?) but I know Sandow was cool, and Sheamus was boring. I always know those facts.

Sin Cara v Curtis Axel Mr. Botchamania made a rare appearance against the man of the moment, Mr. Perfect’s son. I wonder who won. Before the match, Heyman and Axel walked down the ramp and Heyman gave the mic to the rookie, saying that he could talk for himself. He paid another homage to his father with the “perfect” reference and beat Sin Cara with the fisherman hook suplex (the perfectplex) – More than a solid match in all fairness.

Big E. Langston v Alberto Del Rio again. Before Del Rio made his entrance, Lilian and Ricardo switched languages, which was really awesome! These two had what feels like their 20th TV match of the last month. AJ actually successfully helped Langston pick up the cheap win this time, perhaps getting back into his good books. It seems like they are doing a slow burn to a face turn for him though, so I expect another slip up by AJ on Raw.

There was some Raw Rebound bullshit. I wish I could have skipped but sadly I was watching live TV, not catch up. I just stared at my laptop for ten minutes, and didn’t pay attention.

Ryback came out again in an ambulance. Is he driving this thing himself, climbing into the back and coming out of the back door? I don’t see a driver. He seems to be on a real paramedic hype lately. Maybe he has an internship? At least there was an ambulance there for whatever poor soul he was going to bury. And who was that you ask?

ambulanceRyback’s new ambulance fetish (Raw) – Source: pl.wwe.com

Kofi Kingston v Ryback Kofi mounted some spirited but slight offense, before being quickly squashed by the Shell Shocked finisher. Ryback then proceeded to bring a table in from under the ring and powerbomb Kofi through it. Great stuff! The crowd raucously chanted “One more time” – Oh yes! He went and got another, and did the same thing again…. and AGAIN. Three powerbombs, three tables. This was the perfect way to put Ryback over the top, make the match with Cena at Payback seem more appealing and it was just flat out cool to see this carnage on Smackdown. For Kofi however, it’s not so good. He seems to have firmly re-established himself as the King of the Jobbers. To quote my pal who was watching the show on the sofa next to me, Steve (ROH Correspondent for this page – check out his work here) “Kofi got fucked up!”

Another Raw Rebound. I paid more attention this time because at least it was the Heyman and Jericho Highlight Reel segment.

Speaking of Chris Jericho, he gave a typically out-there, Y2J style backstage interview listing all of the various diseases you are likely to catch from Paul Heyman.

Cody Rhodes v Chris Jericho My boy Cody paid some awesome homages in this match. He hit the Alabama Slam (in honour of the man he won the Tag Team Championships with in the early stages of his career Hardcore Holly) and a modified version of his brother Goldust’s Shattered Dreams finisher using the ropes. But Jericho picked up the win in another short but good match with the Walls of Jericho.

Cody_Rhodes_Et_Hardcore_Holly_05Cody Rhodes & Hardcore Holly as Tag Champs – Source: ecwfrenchtribute.free.fr

The Wyatt Family promo was even cooler to watch the second time. I could watch it ten times. It’s intriguing, unlike any Great Khali match.

Dean Ambrose v Randy Orton A fairly solid match between these two was interrupted by outside interference from The Shield. Team Hell No came out and made it an all out brawl. Daniel Bryan single handedly destroyed every member with his ridiculously impressive trademark flurried attacks. This was one of the coolest outbursts I’ve ever seen from the guy. He wiped out everyone inside and outside the ring, over the top rope, you name it. He started furiously chanting “Yes” and the entire arena joined him. This has to be one of the loudest crowd reactions I’ve seen on Smackdown all year. He is amazingly over right now. I can’t believe I thought they were gonna turn him heel a couple of weeks ago. That actually seems pretty much impossible at this point. I’m really interested to see where things go with him and Kane now.

A very solid show which featured some great matches. Not all of them were the longest, but they were all solid and entertaining. There wasn’t too much concrete storyline development, but they did so much of that on Raw that it’s understandable. A thumbs up from me! So that’s what I thought of it. What are your thoughts on the show? Give me a holla holla!

8/10

The Value of CM Punk

cm_punk_drawing_by_redchaos187-d5tgu73Incredible sketch of CM Punk – Source: redchaos187.deviantart.com

It’s time for another lunch break masterpiece. Today I will attempt to stay under 500 words while discussing the importance and value of one CM Punk. It is now pretty much official that he will be in Chi-Town for the next pay-per-view Payback, after Paul Heyman accepted the match with Chris Jericho on his behalf. He is going to get one hell of a pop. Whether he is a face or a heel is irrelevant. He has been away for what feels like forever, he will be in front of his home town crowd and I fully expect him to perform in another great match with Jericho.

My pondering is how WWE has been affected by his absence since the night after Wrestlemania when he walked out on Raw. I think they have suffered in several ways. There is a distinct lack of star power on the roster right now. They are trying to build new guys like Langston, Ryback and now Curtis Axel. Bray Wyatt is also on the way. I applaud them for pushing young guys with great potential, I do. But when Lesnar and Triple H are off TV, Raw lacks that umph. Cena is the only major draw at that point, and no matter how you see it, CM Punk has become pretty much as important to WWE programming, hence them rushing him back as soon as possible.

It could be argued that he deserves a few more months to heal his collection of niggling injuries and recover from the pain he must be in, but he will be back after less than two months. As a fan, I’m jumping for joy. His doctors probably aren’t. He obviously isn’t at the level of Cena, who needs to be on Raw every week, even if he breaks both legs. Nonetheless, he is a “top guy” and if he wasn’t he’d be allowed to lay on the sofa a little longer. WWE have missed his presence on the mic and in the ring.

The widely reported ratings slide is more evidence of this. The show has lacked a certain character and edge that Punk brought to proceedings. It’s also lacked his name appeal. Most of all, his actual matches are missed greatly. The ratings tell that story. They have been slowly declining (as they often do after Wrestlemania) and in May, they reached some new lows. The May 13th edition of Raw drew a 2.91 cable rating, the second lowest rating for the show in 2013 so far. Smackdown actually hit it’s lowest rating of the entire year on May 17th with a 1.78 rating, but even Punk couldn’t turn that show around.

So all of this means that Punk’s return will be more anticipated than ever before, for fans and WWE executives alike. He is sure to give the ratings a huge boost, and cause pure hysteria in the stands come Payback. I’m excited to see what comes of his character. I’m expecting dissension with Paul Heyman and an impending face turn. Thanks for reading.

Curtis Axel continues to grow momentum on Raw

axelThe future of Raw: Curtis Axel – Source: http://www.youtube.com

Let’s make it snappy. I watched an hour of Raw last night before I fell asleep. I caught up with the rest when I woke up this morning. I took notes while I did. Here are my thoughts:

The show opened up with a silly vignette about Memorial Day. It’s that time of year again. The patriotism was a little sickening, but it wasn’t as short as usual, which was good.

After the formalities of the troop worship, we moved on to the opening segment. John Cena gave an excellent promo in the ring. The crowd were hating on him at first, which is commonplace anywhere where educated fans can be found. In Montreal, he isn’t that loved. However, he turned the crowd with a classic cheap pop for Bret Hart. No matter what people say, he knows what he is doing when working with the fans. There was some great improvisation throughout and it set up a match for Payback between him and Ryback: Three Stages of Hell.

The first fall will be a lumberjack match, the second will be a tables match and the third an ambulance match. So Ryback will get his wish, if he can win one of those first two falls. Now that’s an effective promo! It ticks all necessary boxes. Ryback then came out and interrupted for a generic heel response from the top of the ramp. It was short and not very impressive. The next man out was Paul Heyman, to a surprisingly big pop. He put over Curtis Axel as expected and suggested a match between him and Cena at the end of the show. Cena accepted. Axel will now face another thirteen time World Champion for the second straight week since joining the Raw roster. One hell of a push.

Big E. Langston v Alberto Del Rio

A rematch between these two from last week. AJ accidentally costs her henchman the match on this occasion, when trying to screw Del Rio. There seems to be a bit of tension between these two.

Kane tried to reassure Daniel Bryan in the locker room and stop him obsessing over the whole ‘weak link’ thing, but to no avail. Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart stepped in and delivered an inspirational speech which was greeted more than warmly by the Canadian crowd. Kane was sad that his reassuring didn’t work, but at least Bryan had calmed down. Of course he will listen to Bret Hart!

Dean Ambrose (c) v Kofi Kingston (for the United States Championship)

Ambrose picked up the clean win over Kofi in this very solid rematch. Kofi’s clause must not have been used up by that DQ finish last time, but his chances are certainly up now.

The Shield (c) v Team Hell No (for the WWE Tag-Team Championships)

In part two of Extreme Repeat, Bryan and Kane also got a shot at retaining their tag titles in probably the best match of the night. Some absolutely incredible wrestling was delivered as expected by these four. Bryan’s typical flurries of outlandish offense were interspersed with surfboards, superplexes and spin kicks. Spectacular athleticism all round. A load of near falls and an abundance of passion made this match very enthralling. Rollins got the pin on Kane after Bryan had given up a perfect opportunity to double team by diving to the outside toward Reigns, only to be speared. Outstanding match!

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Roman Reigns towering over Daniel Bryan – Source: pl.wwe.com

Cole and Co gave us an update on Triple H. Neurological tests have come back normal. He was advised not to appear at Raw, but he is expected to be back next week. Good news! Is he gonna be wrestling at every pay-per-view now? I don’t have a problem with that.

Fandango v Wade Barrett

The voters on the WWE app (I miss the app so much) made The Miz the Special Guest Referee for the match. Not surprisingly, since the other options were Announcer and Commentator. Fandango won this short match. It was short, but developed their little triangle some more. Barrett pushed The Miz when he had tried to get between the two of them, so Miz hit him with the Skullcrushing Finale. After counting the win for Fandango, he kicked him in the head and counted his shoulders down as Summer Rae fell on top of him. This was entertaining, and I’m excited to see where all of this will go.

Short Michaels gave John Cena a short pep talk backstage. I guess he was there for the Bret Hart Appreciation Night. It would have been cool to see those two together.

The Great Khali & Tons of Funk v 3MB

This match didn’t make me angry because it was so short, so it didn’t really cost any good wrestlers a spot. This match-up was just so shit that it can’t be bad, it’s just funny. After the Match Khali tried to sing Happy Birthday to Canada’s own Natalya. Wouldn’t this have been a better job for Bret?

Chris Jericho invited Paul Heyman onto his Highlight Reel. Heyman took credit for handing Chris his first big break in the business, cutting him off before he had the chance to try and par him off. Y2J just responded with “You still owe me money” – Nice. Heyman just proceeded to put over Curtis Axel again, before Jericho brought him back to the topic of his other client CM Punk. Paul said there will be an announcement within the next few weeks on Raw involving Punk and himself. Jericho suggested that he and Punk face each other at Payback and Heyman accepted on Punk’s behalf. This was a great promo all round and set up another match for the next show. Heyman’s work was as consistently great as ever. The crowd didn’t seem that into this segment, and I have no idea why. Great work!

Kaitlin & Natalya v The Bella Twins

I skipped this match because even the thought of it bored me, sorry. I did pause half way through just because Kaitlin’s outfit caught my eye, but I quickly continued skipping. Very nice outfit though, very nice.

Bret Hart tried to give another motivational speech, this time to Curtis Axel. He told him not to trust Paul Heyman, just like everyone else does. He jumps to Heyman’s defence and tells Bret not to think he knows him, just because he knew his father Mr. Perfect.

There was a great promo vignette played for the Wyatt Family from NXT. They will soon be joining the Raw roster, which is amazing news. They are a fantastic stable and should make brilliant additions to the show. Now Husky Harris can join Ryback and Curtis Axel on the list of repackaged Nexus stars at the top on Raw.

Celtic Vipers v Rhodes Scholars

I skipped the Divas match, but not this one. Where is the logic in that? This match could have been a classic, but I’d never have known. I barely paid attention, and this wasn’t at 3am, this was at around 3pm today when I caught up on the show. Everything involving Orton and Sheamus just makes me want to turn off immediately. There was an awesome sign in the crowd which caught my attention far more than the action in the ring. It said “You are a heel. Boo!’ Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick on Sandow for the win, in what was a decent enough match from what I noticed.

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Cena hitting one of few moves on Curtis Axel – Source: http://www.wwe.fr

John Cena v Curtis Axel

The guy with the awesome sign from before must have been a bit of a maverick because he broke out an equally awesome one to greet Cena after his entrance. It said “You are a face. Yay!” Curtis Axel came to the ring and dominated most of the offense of this match. I guess we were all waiting for the classic Super-Cena comeback. The crowd were looking away from the ring behind them for half of the match. I have no idea what they were looking at, but that didn’t help things at all. I thought it was The Shield at first, but they just carried on and they were cheering at something – but it wasn’t this match. The cameraman kept switching to close-up angles so we wouldn’t notice – lame.

Axel shone throughout the match, hitting some great moves. He was even rocking the old school Fist Drop, which was crazy. Shades of Jerry Lawler. Cena could learn a thing or two from this rookie. He could certainly learn how to properly execute a fisherman hook suplex from him. I learned that much from this match. The ambulance then came out and Cena approached it, only to be attacked by Ryback from behind, like an idiot. After the little almost-fracas from those two, Curtis Axel celebrated his second straight win against a 13 time World Champion, in the ring.

What a solid edition of Raw. Two great title matches. Two excellent matches booked for Payback. Lots of development, lots of great wrestling and lots of brilliant promos. Even a couple of surprise appearances. What more could you really ask for? It wasn’t the best episode I’ve ever seen, but it was very, very good.