Smart Marks 1.4.14: Silly Wrestling, Tricks are for Kids
Posted by Dino Zucconi on 01.04.2014
If you don't read this, I'll spray you with lighter fluid and menacingly hold a Bic in your face.
A new year, another week, another edition of Smart Marks. Welcome one and all, and thank you for taking time out of your day to sit and read. Last week we talked about my pick for Match of the Year (CM Punk vs Brock Lesnar at Summerslam), Bully Ray's recent turn to the darkness, as well as breaking down the current direction of CMLL superstar Rush.
Not everyone agrees with picks for ____ of the Year, and this was no exception. Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena at the same Summerslam event got a mention, while I was also simply told "Punk vs Lesnar was good but not MOTY" by reader Berlyn. I like responses like this, because I'm always tempted to just go "Yes, it was Match of the Year" and just leave it at that. They're opinions, they're not facts, and in my opinion, Punk/Brock was fantastic, and surprisingly so. If you disagree, that's awesome. Just don't pretend like you're handing out facts.
There was nothing earth shaking in the news department, and I was only able to watch Raw and Impact at the time of this writing (will be catching my Lucha tonight), so let's just get to the Marks for the week!
Return of the Monster
Sitting through another uninspired 3 hour Raw on Monday, we were blessed when our signal started to peter out. Apparently this was an issue with many viewers across the country. I thought DirecTV was going on the fritz, but decided to just sit through and watch anyways. I mean, hell, I used to watch pay per views on ScrambleVision back in the 90's (primitive streaming?), and this was just about the same, with slightly better video and much better audio.
So we're watching, making jokes, and all of a sudden, BROCK LESNAR RETURNS!
If you hate Brock, you might want to skip to the next Mark. I have a mancrush on Brock, and I make no bones about it.
Like I said, we were dealing with picture issues, but here's the segment if you missed it:
Yes!!! Whenever Brock is on screen, everything just feels so real to me. Having him come out, seeing Triple H offer a handshake with no snarky comments added in... it's so right. Brock Lesnar should be treated as the single most devastating person on the roster. I don't mean to say that everyone should tremble in his face, but he certainly shouldn't just be another heel like a Damien Sandow or a Seth Rollins. Seeing someone like a Mark Henry or a John Cena refuse to back down to him is fine with me. Luckily, seeing them get dominated in the first face to face confrontation usually follows.
However, what I really liked about this segment, is that we finally, after nearly two years, have a REASON for Brock to actively give a crap about being in WWE. When he first returned after WrestleMania 28, we were basically led to believe he simply wanted a piece of John Cena. But really, why? Why would he care about the guy who rose to the top after he left? Why would he care about John Cena's accomplishments while he was busy winning the UFC Heavyweight Championship? Why was Paul Heyman so intent on sending his charge at Cena? Maybe I've just forgotten the details, but Brock's return was just sort of done because they could.
This continued after the Cena match, as he went on to feud with Triple H. Again, this was more of a rally against the authority figure at the time, and those of us who were watching back in 2002 absolutely remember Triple H basically ducking Brock and having a new belt made for him, so there *was* some backstory to it, though it was barely paid lip service. The one match manifested itself into a full feud, one that carried to and through WrestleMania 29. Still, why did Brock even bother coming back in the first place?
On Monday night, we were finally given a goal for Brock. He wants to be the champion again. He wants to challenge the winner of the Randy Orton and John Cena championship match at the Royal Rumble. He wants to be the number one guy in the place again, and anyone who wants to stop him from that is going to have a big world of trouble.
Enter Mark Henry. He's no stranger to Brock, having eaten his fair share of F5s while in his Blue Mark phase. He's also a bad ass who doesn't scare easily. Having him come out got me excited, and the ensuing brawl was enough to get me to want to see Brock vs. Henry. Will it be a five asterisk match? Of course not. Will it be an awesome power display between two guys who pack loads of it? Absolutely.
After treating Brock Lesnar as nothing more than a set of jingly keys to shake at fans whenever they get bored, we're now given a motivation for Brock. We're given a reason to boo or cheer him, outside of "It's Brock!"
When you're given nearly 3 hours of dreck week in and week out, you learn to really enjoy the good parts. To me, Brock's return, Heyman's announcing of Brock's championship aspirations, and the attack on Mark Henry were good, storyline moving pieces to an overall enjoyable segment. When you consider that I got all of that from a horrible picture, that's even more amazing.
Where will Brock go after assaulting Mark Henry? Can he get the belt back? Will everyone be a stickler on his "part time status" and pretend that means he can't possibly get that belt again? Lemme know what you think down in the comments!
Don't Flick My Bic
Sorry, Defenders... you're not gonna like this. So, let me start off by saying that overall, I enjoyed Impact. Last night I actually watched the One Night Only Tournament of Champions event from a few months back, and then followed that up with Impact. A solid 5 hours of TNA!
If you haven't seen it, I'd track down the One Night Only card. Featuring Jeff Hardy, Samoe Joe, Bully Ray, James Storm, Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, Ken Anderson, Sting and others, it's a simple tournament built around bragging rights for being the "Champion of Champions." I won't give results just in case you DO want to check it out, but it was a fun little event of wrestling action. My friend and I enjoyed it because the results of the matches were basically a bizarro version of what TNA normally does. The guys you'd expect to win - do! The guys who nearly always win - don't! There wasn't one match that stood out as super exceptional, but the card from top to bottom was solid, and I can certainly think of worse ways of spending 15 bucks than on a TNA pay per view. If you haven't checked out any of the One Night Only offerings, go hunt them down.
As for Impact itself, again, I found the show to be enjoyable. I'm only adding in all this buttering up because I know how speaking honestly on a TNA segment one didn't enjoy can so easily be wrapped up as "hate" or whatever. So again, overall, I LIKED Impact. The once only reformation of Beer Money was a nice twist, AJ Styles returned to call out Magnus, and Sting continues to try to get him some of Ethan Carter. Sure, Dixie Carter still gets entirely too much mic time, but I actually enjoy her segments, too. It's more in the "So bad it's good" category, but I don't get angry when Dixie's on my screen.
What did get me angry, however, was the absolute stupid garbage that Bully Ray was up to.
And make no mistake, it was stupid. I'm not even going to bother with some comparison to WWE stuff that was also stupid, because it doesn't deserve it. In fact, I'm going to get all uppity: If you actually enjoyed the Bully Ray / Joe Park / Ken Anderson segment on Impact, you are ridiculous. I don't mean enjoyed it the way I enjoy a Dixie interview, either. I mean that if you felt that the segment was good writing, or that the guys played their parts well, or anything like that... if there's no irony in your enjoyment of what went down, then you have a big problem.
For me, that was an instant Top Ten Dumbest Thing I've ever seen induction. Not the dumbest. Not even top 5. But top 10? Yeah, without actually thinking it through and making a list, I'd say that's fair.
Bully Ray is first seen backstage with Joe Park, who he has a match with shortly after commercial. He warns Park, eventually telling him that he is going "to set (him) on fire." Great. So we go to commercial, return, and here comes Bully for the match. He immediately kicks Park in the junk, getting a DQ. Awesome. He then busts out a jar of (presumably) lighter fluid, which he begins to spray Park with. Remember now, Park isn't out cold during this. He's just been kicked in the junk, which completely incapacitates him to the point of not being able to roll out of the way, or leave the ring in any manner as Bully continues dousing him with fluid. Finally, Bully pulls out a... Bic lighter? Wow, really? Okay then. So he pulls out the Bic, and holds it threateningly above Park. Meanwhile, NO ONE comes out to help, not even Eric Young, who we thought was Park's friend. Sure, he had told Park before the match that he was on his own, but you'd think that proclamation ends when the match does, and doesn't include when your life is being threatened.
With all this going on, Ken Anderson's music hits (because wrestling can't shake the notion that entrance music for run-ins is super awesome and not dumb at all!), and he speedwalks to the ring. Ready to exact revenge on the man who has viciously assaulted him twice now, Anderson enters the ring, stares at Bully, and... and just stands there, as Bully turns the lighter fluid bottle on Anderson. Anderson continues to stand there, instead of getting out of the way of the lighter fluid, and eventually gets a look on his face like "Man, screw this lighter fluid. I'ma beat your ass!" Only at that very moment, Bully flicks the Bic! Oh no! Anderson is paralyzed with fear, as he realizes that now HIS life is on the line. Bully then slowly backs out, having made his vicious point.
Good God. First off, I don't know if anyone has ever used a lighter, but they're very easy to put out. You just have the guy holding it move his finger. Or you blow on the flame. Or wave your hands fast to create wind. Or look at it funny. Basically what I'm saying is that it's very easy to put a Bic lighter out. Secondly, the idea that lighter fluid somehow paralyzes you is absurd. Both Park AND Anderson stopped in their tracks the second Bully began squirting them. Anderson's, however, was way more ridiculous; he'd taken no damage at all. While Bully was squirting him, he could have just dove at him, knocked the bottle out of his hands, and started throwing punches.
Shit, even when the lighter was out, he could have still attacked. Knock the lighter out of his hand. Shit, risk that the flame will catch you - it's not like you're going to go up in complete flames immediately. There's plenty of time to drop and roll if that happens.
TNA sometimes strikes me as having these amazing ideas, but when they're written out, they just fall flat. Add to this the fact that this episode was taped weeks ago, and you'd hope maybe they try again, or edit it a bit to make it look good. Nah, let's just leave it as is - ridiculous, uncomfortable, and horribly bush league.
Bully Ray as a man who has lost his mind is fine. A vicious man looking for revenge makes absolute sense. And there are plenty of weapons to do this with. Chairs. Chains. Dumpsters. Boots. We don't need some false sense of danger with a fire stunt that isn't gonna happen. This was Hulk Hogan at Halloween Havoc '98 levels of bad. Get back on track with Bully, and leave the cheap tricks at home, please.
Anyone with the guts to say that they enjoyed this bit of Impact? I dare you - in the comments!
Goats and Buzzards
But fear not, TNA Defenders, for Monday Night Raw managed to end in a manner that also had me pretty freaking pissed off.
Daniel Bryan joined the Wyatt Family. This is where some contrarian will hit me with "Or did he?!" like he's some sort of genius. Yes, he did. If he reveals it to be a swerve in a few weeks, then fine, but as of right now, Daniel Bryan is a member of the Wyatt Family.
Do I complain because my personal favorite has turned heel? Of course not. This is wrestling. I stay with my guys whether they are heel or face, as long as they don't completely betray the character I dug in the first place.
Daniel Bryan basically giving up, however, and joining up as a last resort? This IS the same dude who called out Kane and Randy Orton repeatedly over the late spring and early summer of 2013 to prove he wasn't the weakest link, right? This IS the same guy who went toe to toe with John Cena at SummerSlam and WON the match clean, right?
Yes, the Wyatts have been trying to get Bryan into the group for a while. And yes, Bryan has been battling them with seemingly no real returns. But that's the point! He's the underdog! He fights and fights, and never gives up, even when he loses!
Seeing Bryan just sulk and walk off a defeated man was ridiculous. It feels like it's the final point of WWE's goal of seeing just how much they can screw with his character while still maintaining his connection with the audience. It's like they just want to see how much they can mess with a sure thing. And really, where does this go? "I was just pretending all along!"? I sure hope not. Will some big face grandstand and fight to free Bryan from the Wyatts?
I read something recently where someone stated their opinion that Triple H loves to test the push of everyone because of his having to take the fall for the Curtain Call incident in 1996. After jobbing a year and then finally getting his push and still having his career work out, Triple H likes to give everyone else that sort of treatment, to see if they can maintain the heat/buzz.
You know, because there's just no money in treating an act that is white hot as if they're AN ACT THAT IS WHITE HOT. Without comparing them as physical specimens, what would be so wrong with giving Bryan a Goldberg push? Not that he's indestructible, but what if he just keeps doing what he's doing, no matter what everyone else tries? He can still lose, he can still be vulnerable, but there's no need to just pull the rug out from hot acts just to see if they can "survive it".
Make no mistake, I am STILL sticking with "Daniel Bryan wins the Royal Rumble and then wins the belt at Mania" even with this storyline development AND the rumor that Undertaker wants Bryan to count the lights for him at Mania (oh, joy). That's what really drives me crazy about this - it reeks of a red herring meant to make us think that Bryan's going one way, but he's not. This is a switch just for the sake of a switch, and it's stupid. Just like when CM Punk went "heel" by correctly calling out Jerry Lawler on biased commentary. It's just as resounding, too. By that, I mean that no one really cares. Maybe the little kids. Maybe.
Regardless, here's proof that at least ONE guy here at 411 (I believe there are more, personally) is fully capable of LOVING things from both WWE and TNA, as well as HATING things from both. Especially when they're ridiculously executed segments of total garbage.
Still, though... at least we got Brock, and Beer Money, and Magnus vs. AJ set up for next week. Plus, that's the last episode of Impact that's on tape delay from the December tapings! Yes!
I think that will do it for me this week. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, make sure to check out the 411 2013 Awards, and as always, enjoy your WWE, your TNA, your Lucha, your Puro, and your Indies.
It's All Wrestling. It's All Stupid. We All Love It.