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WRITING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
By Drew Kannegiesser

2008: The Year of the Grabass

Well folks, it's certainly been awhile. Long story short, I had some issues to work out, and finally did, so here I am. If real life is anything like the Dub, I'll be rewarded with a monster push, a title shot, and then I'll get pushed down the stairs by an unknown assailant. At least my apartment hasn't burned down...yet.

With just a few days left in the year, I'd like to take a look back at the moments that made us laugh, cry, and throw whiskey bottles at the television in blind fury. On the whole, I don't think I'm alone in declaring 2008 as the year of the grabass - all tease, no payoff.

On the awesome list, Punk wins the belt. Totally righteous, despite the fact that his win was a clone of Edge's previous two title victories. Money in the Bank is definitely forming a pattern: win the shot, forget about the shot for eight months, then cash in when the champ is too weak to stand up. Odd: most people with money in the bank don't make a habit out of robbing guys who just got the shit kicked out of them. If that's the case, I recommend bringing Booker T back for this year. At least he's got the experience for it.

On the shit list is Punk's reign, getting jobbed out for the first couple weeks, pushed for another few, then lost the belt without even being in the match that decided it. It's weird, he has a fan base, he's a pretty solid worker, though he's forced to work the WWE style, not the ROH one. Look at Jamie Noble, another talented guy wasted because of having to work a dub style match. I guess Punk isn't totally wasted; he's straight edge after all. It's pretty cool that Punk can live straight edge in the world of wrestling. Guerrero, Benoit, Dynamite Kid; a lot of guys have ended their careers or lives due to getting fucked up on something. Of course, when BG James talks about it, it's fucking hilarious to hear about. If his matches were as awesome as his mouth, he'd be the greatest wrestler of all time, and would kick Mickey Rourke's ass any day of the week.

On the awesome list is Joey Styles, who really became the David that fought Goliath; it makes sense too because he always screams "Oh My God!" at anything awesome that happens. Wouldn't it be weird if it was because of a brain tumour or something and he couldn't control it? Like, he'd get paid or have really good sex or buy a new car, and every time he'd scream "Oh My God!" over and over. I feel bad for his friends and family, especially of this shit I made up turns out to be true. Anyway, Joey had enough of JBL's bullying (or maybe he just wanted to make the motherfucker wear a shirt. For a guy who markets an energy drink, you'd expect him to be a bit more athletic. His face on the product is like, "Drink this if you want to resemble this big fat asshole." And it works because then JBL would fuck said asshole in the showers. I mean, he helped edge Adam Copeland in the creepiest sexual scene imaginable, I'm sure he'd do it again. This is a really long bracket) and punched the BFA in the eye and knocked him right the fuck out, and it was supposedly the greatest thing on Earth. Kudos to the little guy, and the fact that he hasn't even been reprimanded shows that despite JBL's position in the company and backstage, not a lot of people are willing to go any lengths for him. He's outlived most of the old gang, but at least they died with respect, and Joey Fucking Styles of all people was the one who exposed that. Oh My God indeed.

On the shit list is Edge. Can this guy win a title any other way except running in and beating the shit out of half dead guys? He loses his belt every other weekend, and his last two successful defenses were against Funaki. You know, that ex-Yakuza, ex-announcing, currently known as Kung Fu Naki, the worst gimmick since Spear chucker era Tony Atlas. This is the best guy they can use to put him over. I don't know what the bookers or H have against him, but nobody seems to trust him for too long either.

On the awesome list is Jeff Hardy and R-Truth. Yeah, these guys are spot artists; Jeff's blown more spots than Ted Kaczinski, and R-Truth, the former K-Kwik, is no better. At least he's not K-Kwik any more. That made him K-Kwik Killings, and I'm sure if he stayed employed, they would have given him a tastefully ironic gimmick of a black Klansman, and Vince would be totally behind it. That said, they are both extremely over with the crowd. The pop when Jeff won the belt was amazing, and it echoed twicefold through the IWC. Who was the last guy to do that? Nigel McGuinness? Samoa Joe? Jericho? Cena? I'd say it's a pretty impressive feat, and despite his fuckups, he can be a really solid worker when he's given the chance. He pulled out a huge match against Taker, of all people, who buried him a few years back. Kudos. R-Truth, on the other hand, merely has to step on the ramp and begin rapping for the audience to explode. The crowd shots from this week's Smackdown showed that; EVERYBODY was into it. That's like a Rock pop, which is weird, because other than that, he hasn't been given much mic time. Given some polish he could be pretty big in the future. Look at Santino. He's gotten over much more on the mic than he ever will in the ring. Some guys just have a knack for it.

Also awesome is the return of Hurricane Helms, who has been really impressive and pushed hard since his return. They also don't seem to have a finisher for him yet. Maybe the bookers forgot they were going to push him. Glad they did though, which segues into the shit list: bad title reigns. Punk punked out, Matt Hardy jobbing, Benjamin floundering with little screen time, Carlito and Primo getting no screen time at all, and Rhodes getting booed and Dibiase, the better worker and the one with charisma, getting written off to make a movie. Sweet Jesus...your birthday is coming up. Why put belts on them if you're not going to push them? And why bother having non-title matches at all? Isn't the point of a title to defend it?

On the mixed list is the weird shift in dynamic in two of the three major feds. WWE is becoming stiffer; either that or the boys just fuck up a bit more. Did you see Punk's GTS on Mysterio at the last PPV? He looked like he shattered Rey's nose, just like Rey's run after winning the title shattered Rey's cred completely. Look it up, it's a book called How Not To Book A Champion. But between Punk and Regal's knees, Helms and Kofi's feet, and this general shift to adapting MMA feel (spurred on by the Undertaker, of all people. You know, that undead biker dude who's like forty five. Is he the guy you want to push as a legit fighter? That said, if the stories are true, Mark lives the part), the Dub has become stiffer and cooler, just like me with my shorts down. However, ROH is shifting, and its more distressing. Gabe left as the head booker after God knows how many years, and they seem to be shifting more to a sports entertainment vibe, with Sweet and Sour, Age of the Fall, and signing schmucks like Brodie Lee. Some of these guys are solid workers, namely Black and Jacobs, and Necro Butcher has always been awesome. But the storylines stemming from their characters are so dumb, and the amount of showtime given to them is ridiculous. I mean, at one point, Jacobs was going to "murder" Austin Aries in front of a live audience. Isn't crap like this why Aries left TNA? Besides, like the Undertaker, Jimmy was going to adopt the character of a man who literally gets away with murder despite the fact that hundreds of people witness it. Adios, Paul Bearer. But this is sort of cutting into why ROH is cool, because next to Puro, it's pretty much the most widely available fed focused solely on wrestling itself. Let's hope it stays so. And finally there's TNA, which is pretty much the same as it always is. Ridiculous spots, ridiculous stories, ridiculous booking, and ridiculous botches. I mean, it's like the circus, and this weird mish mash of topical and old booking, and recycled WCW storylines. That said, one bright spot is The Dudleyz/Team 3D's revival. Just when most people thought they had disappeared and lost their appeal, they come back with some solid matches and some of Bubba's best mic work in ages. His promo on the MEM running down the fed was killer. Push them hard, they've earned it simply through their longevity. To think of such a ridiculous gimmick going through pretty much every fed on Earth and still getting over is a pretty solid testament to their abilities. Kudos to them.

On the shit list are the big guys who get pushed by virtue of their size, and nothing else. Mark Henry held the ECW belt this year, and has never been consistently good at working anything but pancake stacks. I remember seeing his entrance at Royal Rumble three years ago at the movie theatre, and my friends and I noticed how ungodly large his bulge in his singlet was. Point is, I remember that more than any of his matches, and that's never a positive sign. (Well, It's the) Big Show, despite a big push, has been a big bust. It's like they forgot to drop his boxer gimmick after his match with Mayweather. Maybe he doesn't chokeslam because his contract specifically states no heavy lifting. Odd, despite losing a good deal of weight, and for such a talented big man, he's been wrestling some of the worst matches of his career lately. When Taker putting you over doesn't GET you over, you know there's a problem. But worst of all, the man that anyone who's seen the show in the last six months will have already guessed, Vladmir Kozlov. The guy has been pushed to the moon and has perhaps the worst workrate in the company. Yet it lead to a great moment, during the supposed triple threat with H and Hardy (another grabass), when the fans absolutely shit on the match. Not since Khali vs. Hornswoggle did the fans so violently reject a match, and considering Vlad's push, it just made the moment even sweeter: the outright refusal to accept a performer with absolutely no talent. For all the talk about H's jealousy of Lesnar, at least the two have something in common: a match that the fans absolutely trashed. To give credit, he tried to get Vlad over, but when the King of Kings can't make you look like a tough guy, then a pink slip is (hopefully) soon to follow. Kudos to the fans for letting the fed know that sometimes, enough is simply enough.

And the biggest thumbs down goes to the bizarre category I hoped I'd never write on: "Retarded Title Changes." This year, the logic, rules and booking of some title bouts have been pretty lousy lately. At least Hardy pinned Edge, the title holder, in the triple threat, and was pushed steadily as a title contender. Compare that to Punk, who totally got Mysterioed with his reign, which finished with Punk losing the belt in a kayfabe injury, despite not participating in the match that decided who held it. Worse still, the guy who put him out was Randy, "I Shit in Duffel Bags" Orton. Why this guy has been pushed so long is absolutely indecipherable. Boring on the mic, lousy attempts at psychology, and a vanilla moveset do not a superstar make, unless you think like Vince himself. But seriously, did he piss of Ricky Steamboat again? Lame, considering how over he was. This was the best way they could repay him, having a dude famous for hospitalizing Dusty Rhodes go over the popular champion is just dumb. Next is Triple H winning a 13th belt by RETAINING it in a scramble match. I know he wants to beat Flair's 17 and he has enough pull to do it, but this was just dumb too. Then, Mickie James and Kofi Kingston both lost their singles titles in an intergender tag match to Beth and Santino. Remember that clusterfuck match a few years ago, where it was a three on two handicap tornado tag match between RVD and Cena against Masters, Benjamin and Triple H, in which a Cena/RVD pinfall loss would result in the pinned man losing his belt? That took way long to explain, so they decided to make losing the belts a team effort, I guess. But that's like losing your Grand Slam championship because you lost an exhibition doubles match. This was just dumb. And finally, the last TNA eight-man tag, the Front Line vs. Main Event Mafia, where if a Front Line team member pinned any member of the Mafia, then A.J. Styles would win the world championship from Sting. What? First off, why would that motivate any member of the Front Line to win, other than Styles? It's like a lottery where whoever has the winning lottery ticket gives his prize to somebody richer. Second, why would Sting have to lose the belt because a blown out Steiner forgot to raise his shoulder? This was just dumb. I offer a moratorium on any multiple man matches (with the main event mafia, and always avoid alliteration) where singles titles are decided, barring an explanation on why this could possibly make any sense in a logical universe.

Anywho, that's the kind of year this has been. I'm strangely decided. What do you guys and gals think? Better, worse, or stuck worse in the middle than Charlie Haas? Not to say it was awful, though it was at times, but like the Mets, they piss you off but make you keep cheering anyway. And they also all used to do a shitload of drugs too. Just like Hardy, who is equally over. Maybe that's why Punk didn't work out as champion; he was over without being stoned to his eyeballs. I guess drugs are just like the last twelve months of pro wrestling: you can take it or leave it.

 

Andrew Kannegiesser is the eight hundred and forty fourth Green Lantern. He plays a lot of instruments and sucks at most of them. He knows all the words to "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)" and will shout them at will. He also cured gout but didn't tell anyone. He can be reached at thedocta_@hotmail.com

 

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TWF FLASHBACK

November 2006

SATIRE: DISCONTINUED WWE XMAS PRODUCTS!

by Sean Carless

With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to spend your few remaining dollars (left over after the seemingly infinite line-up of fucking pay-per-views ) then on the following "quality WWE merchandise!" After all, if they don't move this stuff, and fast, stockholders just might get time to figure out what "plummeting domestic buyrates" means!... and well, I don't think they need to tell you what that means! (Seriously. They're not telling you. Everything is fine! Ahem.).