Smart Marks 8.17.03: Summerfest Extravaganza!
Posted by Dino Zucconi on 08.17.2013
That reference is still funny, right? No? Well, come on in, and let's talk some TNA, some character developing, and some SummerSlam! This is the one place where you're ALL the target audience!
Hello one and all, welcome back to another edition of Smart Marks. I'm Dino, we're only a couple days away from SummerSlam, and we're coming off the heels of TNA's Hardcore Justice! Lots of stuff to discuss this week, but before we get to that- reader StrawberrySwing noted the following last week: Wait, this isn't a list-based column!!! I'm confused and frightened :'(. Fantastic. As reader Jimbob Jones then noted, it may help if you consider this "The Top 3 Things on the Poster's Mind." It's true, though- not big on the lists around here. I really want this column to remain free themed. Sure, I may bust out a "Five things I liked about ____" featurette every so often, but more or less, this column is just gonna be "things I feel like talking about." Even the Three Marks per Week format I've used thus far isn't set in stone. If there's a big event I want to talk about, it may just be one long Mark for the week. Conversely, I may hit on 4 or 5 topics in another.
Regardless of the formatting, I just hope you all continue to enjoy one man's thoughts on his favorite sideshow
Just last night, TNA gave us their Hardcore Justice event, which was basically hyped as a free pay per view.
There were quite a few matches, and quite a few Appletini inspired finishes. We even got Tito Ortiz joining up with the Aces and 8's. However, what stood out to me on this show, even more than Bully Ray getting his belt back, was the way TNA handled Kurt Angle's recent situation.
It's no secret that Angle was recently busted with another DUI and has checked into rehab. I had figured that meant he would be the one eating the pinfall in the big Main Event Mafia vs. Aces and 8's tag match where the loser leaves. That would also mean delaying his entrance to rehab, but what's one more match, right?
Instead, we got a return from commercial, with Dixie Carter standing in the ring with Sting, Samoe Joe, Magnus, and Rampage Jackson. Dixie came right out with it, informing anyone who wasn't aware the status of Angle. He's in rehab. He's not wrestling tonight. He won't be wrestling next week, either. He's getting the help he needs, and we're here to support him. The match will still happen, but the Mafia needs to find a new fifth man.
What I liked so much about this is that it kept everything simple. With TNA, that's not always the road that they want to travel. They didn't have Angle get assaulted and taken away a bloody mess in an ambulance. They didn't have him wrestle, and lose the fall, only to have to figure out a way in a couple months to bring him back from his "forever" exile. He didn't even turn his back on his friends and walk out.
Instead, we got transparent honesty from a company that, while they can definitely be honest, usually love to try to swerve the fans fifteen different times before a half truth emerges. They basically took the sports entertainment out of their biggest feud for a brief moment, and told their audience what is happening with one of their top guys. I enjoyed it. It felt good to be treated seriously by the program I'm watching, even if others want to yell about "target audiences" and all that stupid crap. It's nice to be treated seriously in a serious time, instead of having some idiot ruin everything with hyperbole.
Here's hoping Angle gets the help he needs, and can come back soon. He's great for wrestling, and while many others like to get on soapboxes and act like he's the worst person in the world, I remain a fan, always looking forward to the next 50 million finishers match he provides. Oddly enough, I mean that with zero snark. Get well, Kurt!
Follow the Buzzards
Heading into SummerSlam, there are a few matches to look forward to. Brock and Punk, Cena and Bryan, Rhodes and Sandow… there's also the Ring of Fire match between Bray Wyatt and Kane.
The Wyatt Family as a whole came in with a whole lot of buzz, and their appearances on WWE Programming are usually must watch events. You know someone's getting beat down. You know it might be a little creepy to watch.
More than that, though, I've really enjoyed watching Bray Wyatt work. And by work, I simply mean perfect his craft. Bray Wyatt may very well be the most intriguing guy on WWE Programming at the moment, and I almost want to say it's not even close. Please, don't confuse this with me saying he's as popular as someone like Daniel Bryan, or as polished as a CM Punk, nor am I saying that he should be given all sorts of titles immediately.
What I'm saying is that there is no one in WWE that does what Bray Wyatt does. Specifically, no one talks the way Bray Wyatt does. There's something great about hearing a guy that sounds like he's actually saying the words that come to his head, instead of robotically rehearsing the script he was handed. Bray Wyatt makes me believe that he's crazy. He sounds crazy. His voice trails off, he gets excited, and then calms right back down. He's not CONSTANTLY ANGRY like some current heels like to do, and he's not afraid to smile. Bray Wyatt may be the most complete character WWE has put on television in quite some time. He's not a CM Punk/Daniel Bryan "I'm a wrestler, screw everything else!" type. He's not a superman, or a supervillain. He's just a twisted, twisted man with the appropriate combination of muscle and bloodlust that's looking to eat him some worlds.
It's hard to fully describe this without coming off like a total fanboy, but, well, screw it. It's been a long time since there was someone fully committed to the character they're supposed to play. I've long swam in an ocean of Matt Morgans, guys who have all the physical tools that they need, but also want to be perceived as "cool" no matter what, so instead of being some crazy asshole that smashes people, we get some half glammed out bro. Matt Morgan is one of the most disappointing people in pro wrestling for me because of this. He could have been the next step in the Sid Vicious frame- big, powerful, intense, and crazy. Instead, he was bro'ing it up with Crimson, dressing like John Morrison, and doing cut rate car insurance commercials. Everyone has sort of fallen in love with the Kevin Nash model of "cool big guy that can beat your ass" and while that works for some people, it absolutely does not work with others. Not every single guy needs to be cool. It's okay to be weird. It's okay to be crazy. It's okay to be a complete asshole. The wrestler's goal should always be to make us believe in their character, and that's hard to do when it's obvious that the wrestler does not believe in his character.
The moment I knew Bray Wyatt would be okay was actually on his debut, as all the super cool fans serenaded him with chants of "HUSKY-HARRIS!" Now, other guys? Other guys probably would've broken character for just a second, and smirked at the fans, or nodded his head, or something like that. We all love breaking that fourth wall, right? Well, not Bray. He didn't change his expression at all. He didn't react to the chants. Not with anger, not with a smile, not with a "hey, cool, they remember me!" look. And that's because as long as Bray Wyatt is the character, there's no such thing as Husky Harris.
I'm looking forward to the Ring of Fire match just to see where Bray's taking us next, because one thing's for sure, he's taking Kane out. It's kind of fitting, too, seeing as how Kane appears to me as the last great character WWE has thrown our way, and now he's about to be devoured by the new lion. At least for a little while.
To finish it up, I wanted to wax a little nostalgic about SummerSlam, my second favorite event of the year. I was but a little six year old that summer of 1988 when the first was announced, and I've been there every year since. I've had the big matches I knew I had to watch- MegaPowers vs MegaBucks, Warrior/Rude, Bret/Owen, Vader/HBK- and I've struggled through some unreal crap as well- Koko/Bossman, Jannetty/Borga, and Duggan and Volkoff against the Orient Express. Huge feuds have started there, ended there, and been reignited there. Bret Hart going ballistic on Jerry Lawler is still one of my all time favorite moments. John Cena and Batista first met in a big match at the show. The Ultimate Warrior arrived. Jeff Hardy left.
SummerSlam has always had a nice feel to it, because after WrestleMania, it takes a while to get the machine cranking with good storylines again. By the time SummerSlam rolls around, you've got them. They're not rematches from the last two shows, and it's not the time when some random midcarder gets a quick main event program just to have a new face in a title match. SummerSlam is where big things happen. Two Undertakers. Steve Austin almost losing his career. Shane McMahon falling 578 feet.
My first pay per view that I attended live was SummerSlam 2001 in San Jose, California. The Alliance vs. The WWF. Angle/Austin. Booker/Rock. Edge/Storm. Even my two unfavorites in Jeff Hardy and RVD had a fun little match with each other. It was a fun time, and I've always enjoyed that I made it to SummerSlam before WrestleMania.
This year, we're on what feels like the brink. Brock Lesnar and John Cena represent an established era, and an era whose time has nearly come to an end. We can argue actual ages of these guys all day, but as far as the WWE Universe is concerned, John Cena is old, and Daniel Bryan is new. John Cena represents a PG Era that he (unfairly) takes the entire fall for, while Daniel Bryan represents the hope of wrestling fans that maybe he can make all the poopy jokes go away.
Regardless, I'm looking forward to a fun card, I have full faith in the top two matches to deliver, and I'm calling Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow successfully stealing the show.
A bit short and sweet this week, but I'm just ready for Sunday. Can't wait!
Hope you all have a good weekend, enjoy the show if you're watching it, and until next week…
Enjoy your WWE. Enjoy your TNA. Enjoy your Lucha. Enjoy your Puro. Enjoy your Indies.
It's All Wrestling. It's All Stupid. We All Love It.