Best: The Backstage Part Should’ve Been The Entire Opening Segment
As longtime readers know, the scientifically-proven worst way to start a Raw is with a wide shot of the audience and the BROWWWWWWWWWWW intro of “The Game”. Seriously, the show could start with Vince McMahon wearing a WBF muscle-tank, literally pissing down the neckhole of a decapitated Bryan Danielson and I would’ve nudged Destiny and said, “heh, at least it didn’t start with Triple H’s music”.
That said, I really appreciated the brief bumper between Nickelback and Motorhead wherein John Laurinaitis insincerely (or sincerely, if you watch the show like I do) explained himself to Triple H. He didn’t know Brock Lesnar was going to attack! He got right out of the ring as soon as he could! That’s the kind of sniveling boss heel you want, not necessarily the guy who’s gonna bash John Cena in the back of the head with a microphone. It’s the difference between what ‘The Office’ used to be and what it is now. Before, the awkward humor was built around people you might know in real-life situations. Now, Dwight rolls up in a Trans Am full of beets just in time to see Robert California dunking over Meredith and naming a housecat the new branch manager for Dunder Mifflin Scranton.
Even Triple H’s reaction was solid, even if it ended with another one of his weird “I can’t tell my second-in-command anything, I need to stand in a wrestling ring in a suit and explain myself to a bunch of hooting strangers”.
Worst: Triple H Isn’t Telling The Truth
That’s what I didn’t like about last night’s Triple H manifesto … not that it lasted a quarter-hour or that it was Nerd Rage Lighting Rod Triple H talking, that he just wasn’t telling the truth.
This is nothing new for wrestling. In the 80s, Hulk Hogan acted like an asshole to everybody and Heenan and Ventura constantly pointed it out, but you liked Hogan more than them so you pretended like they weren’t telling the truth. Some combination of ages going up and available talent going down has left us here, listening to Triple H say that Brock Lesnar left WWE for UFC and came sniveling back when things didn’t go his way.
Lesnar lost his first UFC fight to Frank Mir. After that he more or less got his shit together and (debatably) worked on some of his weaknesses and ended up as UFC Heavyweight Champion. If he’d “quit at the first sign of losing” he would’ve bailed after Mir, right? And if we want to pretend Mir didn’t exist, Lesnar f**ked with the wrong Mexican and got spanked by Cain Velasquez and got his spleen kicked out by a drugged-out-of-his-mind-on-Bane-Venom Alistair Overeem before he returned to wrestling, and the two important things to remember here are
1. Lesnar was, as Tom Holzerman puts it, “in the throes of a massively protracted battle with diverticulitis”, and
2. Velasquez and Overeem would end Triple H’s actual life within 10 seconds of a real fight.
So why not go with the REAL story? Brock didn’t quit WWE for UFC, he quit to try to make it in the NFL and failed miserably. So he went to Japan and tried to make it big, but it was all based on his previous WWE fame and he was never anything but a novelty attraction. So he got into mixed martial arts and had some iffy successes before getting Super Diarrhea Disease and coming back to scrape the last bit of money he can out of a combat sport where closed-fist punches are illegal. He’s a borderline-retarded albino farmhand who’d have been shot by now if he was a horse, you don’t have to try and make us boo him for being a “flip-flopper”.
Worst: The Problem With Multiple Authority Figures
One of the major problems with pro wrestling in the 2000s is that the big successes of the 1990s were based on three characters:
1. The bad guy who occasionally does good and becomes an anti-hero
2. The evil authority figure who wants to make things terrible for the good guys and anti-heroes
3. The group of bad guys who show up all the time and beat everybody up as a gang because they aren’t tough enough to fight individually.
The 2000s (and now the 2010s) have been built around constructing and reconstructing these characters ad nauseum to try to recreate that success. What made those things a success in the 90s was how different they were from the stuff that worked in the 80s, but that’s another, much longer story.
What happens during the creation of these characters is that they rarely “hit” right away, so wrestling companies create several of them at once and run them alongside one another until one catches on. It’s why we have Brodus Clay, Lord Tensai and Ryback all doing the Goldberg thing side-by-side right now, and why at one point TNA had Dixie Carter, The Board Of Directors, Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Mick Foley, Jeff Jarrett, Sting and Traci Brooks in “authority figure” roles. Anti-heroes don’t work unless they’re up against authority figures, so every anti-hero you create needs their own authority. And if you’ve got 15 anti-heroes, you have to create 15 f**king authority figures. So Traci Brooks is in charge of the Knockouts and Sting can make matches and Dixie Carter is the owner and Jarrett is the founder and they are all governed by the Board of Directors but some of them can overrule them but not in certain situations and it all jumbles up into a big pile of tangled up sh*t and nothing makes sense and everything is meaningless.
That’s what WWE is setting about to accomplish right now. They’ve worried too much about General Managers for years, and while Vince -> General Manager -> wrestlers was occasionally confusing enough, they added second general managers and looped back in the Board of Directors. Now they’ve got a Board of Directors, a CEO, a COO, two General Manager positions and a Vice President of Talent Relations all interacting with and overruling and undermining each other. The Board can remove the CEO from COO duties and appoint a replacement, but the Executive VP of Talent Relations can go to the board and have the COO removed from General Manager duties. The General Managers have wrestling matches to decide who the MOST general manager will be, and Vince gets relieved for making things too personal after 15 years of nothing but making it personal, Brock Lesnar can break the COO’s arm and quit and be entitled to tons of money with no consequences (except a match at No Way Out, or whatever) because the Board has to review it, but John Laurinaitis can fire guys for making fun of his voice and make things personal but nobody can review it and he’ll only be punished if he loses a match he made himself.
What I’m saying is that this is all extremely f**king stupid and somebody needs to come up with a fourth character.
Best: And Now Some Positive Things About Our First 14 Minutes Of Triple H
- Paul Heyman is fun to listen to, even when he’s not saying much.
- Triple H’s robot arm is still funny.
- Brock versus Triple H could be great, because Triple H’s limbs are made out of bone fragments and sticky tape and Lesnar don’t play.
- The over/under was set at 19.5 minutes, and we came in well under that.
- The opportunity to continue with my Hayley gifs gimmick.