Stylin? and Profilin? ? The good, bad, and fake good of 2009
I?ve come to the conclusion that most things in life are either good or bad. There is a very vague middle ground. Now to be fair, that doesn?t mean that things are destined to stay good, or destined to stay bad. They can change. This also, obviously applies to wrestling. For example, right now I would say that Chris Jericho’s character is good. That doesn?t mean it always will be good, but right now it is. Eric Escobar on the other hand is someone I would classify as bad. That doesn?t mean he will always be bad, but for right now he’s bad. There is one final category that things fall under if they aren?t good or bad, and that’s fake good. So you might ask why there’s only a fake good category and not a fake bad category. Well, when people think of something as bad (again, using Eric Escobar as an example), there usually aren?t many people clamoring that that person or thing is better than advertised. If anything they over exaggerate how bad someone like Escobar is. Therefore it’s still quantified as bad. But fake good on the other hand comes into play when something or someone is talented, or good, but not nearly as good as advertised. I consider John Morrison fake good. He’s had a long run as Intercontinental Champion, has a lot of potential and shows a lot of flash. Internet fanboys love him. But he has yet to really do anything of consequence that validates any sort of fanboy love or hype that he gets. Therefore, he’s fake good. I would also classify as guy like Shelton Benjamin as fake good. He has loads of potential, can pull of some amazing athletic feats, and fanboys still clamor that he should be World Champion, despite the fact he hasn?t shown anything in a span of five years that warrants being at that level.
So now that I?ve rambled a bit about what exactly fake good is, what’s the point? Well, seeing as it’s year end, I want to take a look back at what has happened over the past year or so in the WWE and give things as good, bad or fake good. So without further ado, 2009, year in review, Klubnik style:
RAW Guest Hosts ? Fake Good
I?ve lamented on RAW guest hosts in a prior column, and I?m not going to do that again here. The idea has been an overall success for the company, and I admit that it has hit a groove over the past two or three months. This has definitely been a positive as we?ve had fewer disappointments like the ZZ Top or Jeremy Piven episodes. Even the lackluster guest hosts over the past few months haven?t been bad at all. But as a whole, this whole concept still leaves a little something to be desired. There’s a carnival element to this that just doesn?t sit well with me. I don?t want to come off as that guy who thinks that the WWE should be all uber serious and that if they?re not taking themselves seriously they?re an epic fail and ?itz steel Realz 2 me! Lololz!!?, but I just feel that by having someone new in charge every week, you lose an element to the show that adds some depth over time.
I guess when I look at this, my opinion comes from thinking back to the days when Eric Bischoff ran RAW and we had Vickie Guerrero running Smackdown. There was more stability, and you basically had rivalries that developed around the GM on those shows. We?re not getting that now. It’s not a make or break element, but I feel that over the long-term it damages the show. I?d like to see that stability return in 2010. Now granted this may just be one of those situations where the WWE needs to change with the times, and this change is for the better. But I don?t think that is the case.
CM Punk ? Good
CM Punk has been one of my favorite wrestler’s since his days with Ring of Honor. I never had the opportunity to watch Punk when his ROH run was actually going on, but I have caught a lot of it on DVD since then. Either way, Punk has always struck me as a guy who was able to have competent matches and really get over on his ability to work a crowd on the mic and with some of the things that go largely unnoticed and ignored by fans such as his facial expressions.
That aside, his booking over this past year was phenomenal as the WWE decided that they had a guy they believed in, wanted as a top guy in the company, and ran with his character against arguably the most over babyface the company has had in years ? Jeff Hardy. In a lot of ways I felt this became a risky move. Punk had been consistently over during his time with the company, but as Jeff Hardy’s intentions to take time off after his contract expired became apparent, the Hardy/Punk feud became one where if Punk didn?t get over at the end of it, the WWE was going to be left with a lot of nothing with Hardy taking time off. Thankfully, it worked out for the better.
Jeff Hardy ? Bad
In jest, I said he wanted to take time off in order to go smoke some dope and do drugs. Turns out I was right! He decided that was more important than being handed everything a professional wrestler could want on a plate. Now I know I?m going to get the ?he’s not guilty, you?re dumb? emails from the Jeff Hardy lovers. I really don?t care. Hardy’s a bad dude with a problem. People don?t get themselves in the situations he’s in if they aren?t bad dudes. Here was a guy who has had multiple opportunities to be the face of the WWE, the pinnacle of professional wrestling, for a long time to come. And he just doesn?t care at all. Jeff Hardy. Bad.
Tag Team Wrestling ? Fake Good
I almost gave this a ?good?, but I feel there are just a few too many question marks surrounding it, so I backed off and stuck this with ?fake good?.
I am a huge fan of the return of tag team wrestling that we?ve seen this year. Jerishow has been one of the most entertaining segments every week on RAW since their formation. Legacy and DX had a decent tag team feud. Mark Henry and MVP stayed relevant in the second half of the year because of tag team wrestling. We?ve seen Festus become relevant because of tag team wrestling in the past month or so. The Hart Dynasty could actually have a chance to prove they are worth something because of tag team wrestling. The tag team titles actually seem important again. All of this is due to the emphasis put on tag team wrestling this past year.
Despite all of this, there is still one catch ? how long will it last? The way Mr. McMahon has been at times (according to the rumors), I wonder if we will see this continue. Will he get bored with tag teams and kick them to the curb? I hope this isn?t the case. Tag team wrestling has proven it still has a place in the WWE, and professional wrestling in general this year. It’s a place where you can showcase two mid-card talents on a weekly basis. It’s a place you can use upper card talent when they need a break from the title scene if need be. I hope we see this trend continue, but I offer one caveat: Do not revert back to where we were in 2003-2004. I don?t want to see teams magically form like Rhyno and Tajiri circa 2004ish. Let’s keep guys like MVP and Mark Henry paired together. Six months down the road let’s revisit these teams. Let’s keep guys like Jericho and Big Show together eight months down the road and not forget about this pairing when Jericho needs a tag team partner one night on Smackdown. Let’s keep a few stable tag teams that we can come back to when need be. Let’s not just randomly pair people here and there. I?ve enjoyed the run. I hope it’s here to last. It adds another element to professional wrestling that is just that much more fun.
Drew McIntyre ? Bad
A month ago I said Drew McIntyre was an up and comer. In fact, here’s exactly what I wrote:
?This is a guy that I find very intriguing. It’s been well documented that he is well liked by Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and Vince McMahon. Those three endorsements alone should theoretically be enough to push anyone to the top of the card. But truth be told, I like what I have seen from the guy in the ring. He hasn?t blown me away with anything in particular, but he’s working simple matches, staying within himself, and being booked in a capacity that makes him look strong. Do I think that he’s a future World Champion? I don?t know. But I do think he’s shown me that he has the tools to be successful. He’s raw and hasn?t quite figured out how best to harness and manage the emotions of a live crowd, but that all comes with time. I think McIntyre could end up at the top of the card in a Booker T type role one day based on what I?ve seen of him so far, but again it is far too early to tell with him.?
I was wrong. He’s bad. In fact, he’s so bad that I would really prefer that I don?t see him on my TV anymore. Clearly I had no idea what I was talking about when I wrote the above. There is not one thing remotely exciting about Drew, and he reminds me of a more boring version of Curt Hawkins and/or Rob Conway. I didn?t think that was even possible until now. But like I said, I was wrong. Drew McIntyre is bad.
Umaga’s passing ? Bad
While I have little sympathy for professional wrestler’s whose lives end early due to drug abuse, I still find the passing of someone like Umaga (Eddie Fatu) to be tragic. While Fatu’s cause of death may or may not be drug related it doesn?t matter. He was a father and a husband. He passed away before the age of 40. His children are deprived of the opportunity to get to know their father as a man. I truly hope something is done in our lifetime to stop the deaths in professional wrestling. Much of it comes down to personal responsibility of the individual wrestler’s to make good choices and to get help if it is needed. I just truly hope that we see a change so death’s like those of Fatu’s can be avoided.
Up and coming stars ? Fake Good
This gets fake good in name only. There’s more good than bad here, but I?m generalizing the whole crop of pushes we?ve seen this year. Individual guys on this list are good (Sheamus, Miz, Zack Ryder), while others are bad (MVP), and yet others are fake good (John Morrison, Dolph Ziggler) Let’s look at the new guys we?ve seen pushed this year:
Christian (I still count him since he is returning to the company)
The list goes on, but all of these guys have been major parts of the WWE’s plans for the future at some point this year. Some have done well, while others have fizzled out over time. Guys who were thought to have it all like John Morrison can?t be classified as good, but they aren?t bad, so they end up fake good. Same goes for a guy like Dolph Ziggler. They haven?t done anything to be bad per sae, but you can?t say they?re good either. They?ve shown some flashes here and there, but lack consistency. I will say this though, if a handful of the guys on the above list end up end up main eventing Pay Per View’s or filling in key spots on the roster’s over the next five to ten years, then fake good becomes good real fast.
Mid-Card Titles – Good
I?ve been very impressed and pleased with the way mid-card titles have been used this past year. We saw a great feud between Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio for the Intercontintental Championship earlier this year that had some of the best matches of the year. Kofi Kingston and The Miz have done a great job making the US title relevant on the RAW side of things. Dolph Ziggler stepped in and put together a nice feud with Rey Mysterio for the Intercontinental Title over on the Smackdown brand.
Everything we?ve seen with these title’s this year makes them seem important. Title defenses are common. The fans are into the champions at least moderately (with the exception of the current Intercontinental Champion, Drew ?I?m really Curt Hawkins in disguise? McIntrye). That’s something that has sorely been lacking in years prior. All in all another step forward that I hope continues.
Vickie Guerrero’s return to the WWE ? Good
When Vickie Guerrero decided to take time away from the WWE earlier this year I thought that we were going to be losing one of the best on air personalities in recent WWE history in her prime. Thankfully, she clearly could not stay away for long. Her return to Smackdown really came across as a shocker to me. When she said she wanted to spend more time with her family I thought we?d see her off air for over a year. She had been working as a regular TV personality for close to two years (maybe even longer) when she was written off TV. I would assume based on the travel, and the fact that she’s the mother of three children she would want to make the most of the money she had made from the WWE and enjoy the time with her family. Her return makes me wonder if she simply didn?t want to deal with the traveling associated with the RAW brand (remember she was GM of RAW when she resigned), and maybe just never adjusted to being on a live TV show. Maybe Smackdown was where she felt she needed to be, and all along knew she could use her heel heat as leverage to come back as a Smackdown only personality. Either way, I?m glad she’s back. The hatred that flows through the wrestleview forums for her shows that she’s doing her job right.
Women’s wrestling ? Bad
I don?t know how women’s wrestling got so embarrassingly bad in the WWE, but it has been horrid for about six months. It isn?t just the fact that all the diva’s are interchangeable, or that there aren?t compelling storylines. We?ve started to see this bad habit of some (i.e. Mickie James as the biggest offender) diva’s just simply throwing moves together for the sake of throwing them together. The result is the girls are trying to do things they aren?t capable of doing. We see botched executions, and just lots of flippy floppy crap for three minutes in the ring. It’s bad. Take some time with the division and give the girl’s some personality. Turn Melina heel. Her character actually matters when she’s heel. Do something. Anything.
Bret Hart’s return ? Good
While this doesn?t officially happen until 2010, it was finalized in 2009. I think Hart’s return symbolizes the burying off the hatchet between Bret and all involved with the screw job. While I?m fully convinced Bret Hart is not nearly as relevant as the WWE wishes he were, it’s good for the company nonetheless. No one can deny he carried the company in the early to mid-90’s and the screwjob is one of, if not the most, controversial event in the history of professional wrestling. Regardless of one’s view on the screwjob, Hart is a vital piece in the history of the WWE, and it’s a shame that he’s spent so much time on the sidelines the past 12 years. He belongs in the business in some capacity whether it’s a backstage role, an on-screen presence, or some type of corporate position with the WWE. While it may sound clich? to say this, I actually agree with Shawn Michaels statement on RAW this past Monday regarding Bret’s return: ?Only good things can happen.?
So that’s 2009 in a nutshell. Some good. Some bad. Some fake good. I know there’s a lot I didn?t get to, but I tried to hit the things that stuck out to me as a whole this year. Hopefully 2010 brings a lot more to the table, and more good then bad! I am anxious to see where guys like Sheamus, The Miz, and Kofi Kingston go in 2010. I?m curious how long the guest hosting of RAW can possibly last. But most importantly, I?m looking forward to good wrestling, and a new year of surprises from the WWE. Until next time, see you next year!