The Little Things 05.09.03: Spanky, Vince, Cena & More


Let’s Do This.

My Mondays and Thursdays are as uncertain as ever. This week, I thought I would not be able to watch wrestling on either night, but instead managed to find my way to the television to watch both shows. Judging from the recaps, this is not a good thing, but we’ll have a closer look and see if all the fuss is warranted. It usually isn’t, but the Little Five will help us decide. Let’s start off with the usual:

Readers’ Picks: Gruntin’ and Groanin’

As any regular reader of mine knows, I fall into the camp that is quicker to defend WWe than bash it. That is not to say that I do not have my criticisms of how the company could make its product better (and I have made my points on this in the past), but at the end of the day I’m not going to overreact as strongly as some of IWC colleagues have a tendency to do.

The best thing about my approach though, is that I don’t necessarily have to disagree with them on certain matters. I can savor little bits of entertainment that make otherwise “bad” angles tolerable, but I can also enjoy the mat-based aspects of the sport that they tend to trumpet. When it comes to their standard-bearer, Chris Benoit, reader Brad M. picks up on one thing that I’ve always loved about the Crippler:

One little thing I like about Benoit: His grunting any time he unloads on a guy. It makes it seem like he’s really just trying to beat the living shit out of them

This is noticable because, for whatever reasons, be it training, personal intensity or what have you, other wrestlers don’t put the same level of work into their ring-based craft that Mr. Benoit does. It adds so much realism to his matches and makes his work stand out as demonstrated by his cult following on the web. I too share these sentiments and have always enjoyed his work. I’d also note that a couple of little things, namely the throat slash before the diving head-butt, the rolling germans and the snot rockets he used to blow, are mark-out moments for me as a fan.

Another comment about Benoit that seemingly never comes up. So, he never has had a major title run (and by that I mean, one where he is the running focus of a major promotion) and at the current rate, may never get one in WWe. It took me awhile to grasp and overcome the tendency for certain fans to crave some kind of confirmation of their exalted one’s greatness from the powers that be. My favorite comparison concerning this phenomenon and one that personally hits home for me is the fact that Black Sabbath is not in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. Now, any true fan of rock music will tell you that Sabbath is one of the most influential hard rock acts of all time. They have inspired bands from a wide variety of genres (acts from indy stars Sleater-Kinney to anything Billy Corgan to Metallica have listed Sabbath as an influence) and have written several songs (War Pigs, Iron Man, and Paranoid just for starters) that are timeless, readily recognizable rock classics. Yet, they are NOT in the Hall. Yet, Isaac Hayes, whose major credits are the theme from Shaft and the voice of Chef on South Park, is. Is this just? Probably not and dwelling upon it CAN drive you mad if you let it get to you. But in the end, what is the f*cking point? Do you, personally, need someone to confirm to you that a wrestler or rock band or whatever is great? Isn’t it enough just to know it yourself and enjoy what they do, when they do it and be able to point it out to anyone who isn’t in on it (without being an asshole, of course)? More importantly, if the act itself doesn’t give a shit (as Sabbath has stated on many occasions), why should you? I’d put Benoit in the same camp, because despite the shitty hand Vince has dealt him, despite the fact that the man was in a halo for a long period of time due to surgery, the man is still in the ring doing what he loves.

It took me awhile to grasp this as I consider Sabbath to be the best rock band of all time (my apologies to Led Zeppelin), but once you do your life is that much easier.

Now that we are all feeling better about our lives, let’s look at the Little Five for the 5.8.2003 edition of SmackDown!:

1. Disc Change, Please

I will get into this more in the fifth item, but I’ll kick off the running theme of the Little Five this week by saying that the opening theme music for the show has got to go. Manson has a new disc coming out, the song is not currently popular and doesn’t have the same oomph that RAW’s theme music possesses.

2. RazzamaTAZZ

I am beginning to understand fully why the IWC has so unanimously jumped on the Cole/Tazz bandwagon. I don’t even believe that they are so much more engaging than Ross/Lawler, but every week they seem well prepared and able to make the occasional keen observation or even witty joke. Tazz hit the ball out of the park on Thursday by noting that Hulk was amazingly “Americaning Up”. Excellent stuff. I would still like to see Tazz be more of a heel (which we know he can do and would play so well off of a patsy like Cole) but I takes what I can get. They certainly don’t harm the overall product like I believe Lawler does.

3. Hot Tap Water Could Help

The Little Things approach apparently would help a lot of IWC members digest the Mr. America angle better. Well, it doesn’t seem so hard to me. It has its funny points, including the opportunity for Vince to make some of those trademark over-the-top facial expressions. I swear I thought that he was prying open a pickle jar as his face reddened and his eyes bulged while trying to unmask Mr. America.

The other thing I liked about Vince this week, which unfortunately is probably more of an accurate reflection of his character than the facial expressions, was the “Stiree Stiree” comment to Funaki. It was funny, I felt ashamed to laugh, but stuff like that which is grounded in some degree of truth tends to amuse me. Somehow, I can find Vince coming off as quite condescending towards foreign wrestlers. Call it a hunch.

4. Flower Power

I have not read this anywhere, but it was the funniest thing I’ve seen on WWe television in a long time. Wasn’t that Sunflower shirt that Spanky had on during his color commentary absolutely priceless? Something cute and nonsensical like that is a perfect touch to get his personality across to the audience. I still can’t stop laughing about it. His feud with Cena alone makes the whole 2 hour show worth the view in my opinion.

5. Droppin’ Beats

I will use this space this week to point out one little thing that is helping to earn John Cena a growing following in the sport (and yes those were loud face pops you heard for him on Thursday). It’s called being current. This is what kinda took the luster off of Wrestlemania for me – the fact that the always-anticipated celebrity cameos this year were Limp Bizkit and the Miller Lite Catfight Girls. One, a band that is years past being relevant and another a Super Bowl ad with a very limited shelf life. In the past, WM always hit the nail on the head with its celebrities, be they Gennifer Flowers, Pete Rose, LT or Mike Tyson. This year, though, I felt like I was watching old news.

Which brings us to Mr. Cena and his wardrobe. The retro jersey craze is NOW. It is a current fashion trend and Cena has astutely picked it up to add some pizzazz to his character. Hell, he even uses it to gain heel heat in certain markets as demonstrated by his Mets jersey last week. Brilliant. I can’t tell you why or how, but it helps me enjoy the character so much more when I feel that he is aware of what is going on around him. It is this exact same thinking that makes me think the FBI missed the boat in ECW and WWe because it was not aligned exactly with when the Sopranos were huge TV.

His rap this week was on point, as always. The man is so golden that only a fool could mess this up


Keep the feedback coming in and I’ll see you next week.