The Common Denominator – What I Like About ‘E (CM Punk, John Cena, AJ, Vader, Brodus Clay, Paul Heyman, Brock Lesnar, Big Show)

Hello again. And again, I guess all I can do is apologize to anyone disappointed by my erratic posting in recent weeks. Hopefully I will be able to keep a more regular schedule starting next week. I hope to complete my “Superfly Effect” storyline I started some time back. But anyway…
I hope I haven’t given anyone the impression that I am stuck in the past and completely dissatisfied with today’s product. And while I do contend that there is a lot going on these days that I don’t care for, I do still enjoy what’s going on now (sometimes). Therefore, this week I’m going to chime in about what I do like with what I’m seeing.

CM Punk as WWE Champ – With the exception of the three-month Alberto Del Rio experiment, Punk has been champion for almost a year now. As much as I used to love to see title changes as a kid, I’m glad Punk has been able to hold on to the belt for what in modern terms is a very long time. The only negative I can really make here would be that Punk’s run “on top” has at times been relegated to the undercard in favor of John Cena’s storylines with Brock Lesnar, Big Show, and even John Laurainitis. Still, Punk has had the title long enough and is a high-profile enough guy that when he does drop the belt, it will be a big deal (I’m pulling for Cody Rhodes, personally).

Paul Heyman on my TV – There’s just no two ways about it. Heyman brings a certain level of excitement to whatever angle he’s a part of. How this guy is not currently in charge of the creative direction of some major wrestling promotion, WWE, TNA Ring of Honor, or some upstart organization, is beyond me. I remember when he first showed up in Memphis as Paul E. Dangerously with his yuppie gimmick and nearly caused a riot when he, Austin Idol and Tommy Rich conspired to hand Jerry Lawler his first loss in a “hair match” at the Mid-South Coliseum. Using Heyman as Lesnar’s spokesperson to fill the gaps in Brock’s appearances is great. I’d like to nominate him for the new GM as well.

AJ – I recently did a column referring to pro wrestling as “soap opera for guys,” and this is an example of exactly what I was talking about. First off, AJ has a certain something about her that I think Scott Keith absolutely nailed in a recent Raw recap, when he said, “It takes a special talent to walk the line between ‘annoying as hell’ and ‘supremely bangable’ and AJ is walking it, baby.” I have no idea where this thing with Punk, Daniel Bryan and Kane (Kane? Really?) is going, but AJ should come out of it as a top-level valet and part-time wrestler. She’s different from the other Divas on the scene. She could be the next Lita. She’s the anti-Vickie Guerrerro. I just hate Vickie. I mean, God bless her for losing Eddie and I’m glad she’s able to make a living and all, but I just do not ever want to see her on my TV ever again. And the fact that she’s attached to Ziggler, who I like a lot, just adds to my frustration. Which leads to…

The re-establishment of Dolph Ziggler – Dolph got back into the title picture, even if it was as fodder for the terrible-so-far Sheamus title run, but that at least lets me know the WWE still see him as a top-level guy. I really sort-of wish he had gotten at least a short run with the belt, maybe in the spot Del Rio had last year. I hope he can build some momentum, maybe take one of the briefcases at Money in the Bank, and stay on top. He’s doing great as Mr. Perfect 2.0, but I was hoping Swagger and not Dolph would get the “honor” of keeping Vickie. Ziggler needs more of a Bobby Heenan type of handler.

The goofy Ryback jobber promos – I have no idea what the point of this is, but my kids like it, and it can be kind-of funny, so hey, go for it. I don’t know if Ryback will ever get his not-Goldberg gimmick over, with the weird marching around the ring and “finish him!” line that the crowd hasn’t bought into. He’s been screaming “feed me three!” lately, so that’s probably next. I doubt he can muscle-buster three guys at once, but we’ll see what he does. I have no problem with the old-school “monster” build their doing here, and if they can give him someone of some quality to be his first real challenge, then they might have something. Is he a heel or a face, though. I’m not sure. How about have him face off against a pair (or trio) of masked jobbers only to have one of them show some surprising skill and then unmask as Chris Jericho. He could mock Ryback’s Goldberg-esque shtick and bring up how Goldberg dodged him back in the day. Just an idea.

At least trying with the tag division – Yeah, it’s still got a ways to go, but there are some signs of life in the tag division with the Prime Time Players, Truth/Kofi, the Usos, Primo and Epico. Put some more together. Tyson Kidd, Heath Slater, Tyler Reks, Hunico, Camacho, and some of the developmental guys could easily build up a solid tag divison. Here you go, WWE, Jack Swagger and Heath Slater with Oksana as their manager. Call them SOS and just go with it. It has worked before. I like tag-team wrestling when it’s done right. And there have been some pretty good tag matches lately, so I hope it continues.

Brodus Clay being (sort of) elevated – I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for The Funkasaurus. My kids love him, his theme music and his goofy dance, so I’m glad he’s still going strong. He’s gotten some wins over guys like The Miz and the potential for a feud with Big Show which could go a long way toward giving him a chance to develop his character outside of the dancing and squashing of jobbers. If there’s any plan at all to have Clay taken seriously, he needs to beat Big Show. He could also have a run in the Money in the Bank match. Not necessarily winning the match, but getting a chance to cut loose and show us if he’s got any “agile big man” skills. You know, seeing Vader on Raw a couple of weeks ago made me remember how effective a big guy who can really move can be. I’m not saying Clay is the second coming of Vader, but if they decide the Funkasaurus gimmick isn’t working, they could certainly go that route as an out.

The demise of Big Johnny – I hope I’m not being premature here, but I think that Laurainitis’ run as an on-screen character is over. And I hope it is, and not because I dislike the character. As derivative as it is of every other “evil boss” character that wrestling has seen over the past 15 years or so, there was a certain subtlety John brought to the role and I don’t think he overstayed his welcome. If it is indeed the end for Laurainitis, then this is the rare example of such a storyline having a definite beginning, lengthy run, and conclusive ending with the final beatdown from Cena as the conquering hero vanquishes the villain. Which leads to…

John Cena being cheered again – Kudos to the WWE for not pulling the trigger on a Cena heel turn. I know they get blasted a lot for a perceived lack of catering to the fans. And, yes, there were times when turning Cena might have made sense, but they (and Cena) held the course and now John is more or less the babyface they want and need, drawing pretty much a full house of cheers wherever he goes. Now, granted it took some doing. As my 14-year-old put it, “It only took Zack Ryder, Kane, The Rock, Brock Lesnar, Big Show, John Laurainitis and Lord Tensai to get people to cheer for him again.” That’s insight right there. And really, Cena’s a hard guy not to like. I just wonder what his plans are for the next few months? Is he taking time off or not? Maybe he can go after one of the MITB briefcases. That would elevate the prestige of that match for sure.

The run to Raw #1000 – Whatever ridiculous longevity claims they want to make, hitting 1,000 episodes is still a really nice achievement. Anything they want to do to recognize that is fine with me. I love seeing the old guys who can still go show up, including the aforementioned Vader appearance and the Piper appearance with Cindy Lauper last week. It works to both allow fans who grew up before and during the Attitude Era to see their old favorites again and give new fans a chance to see what all the fuss was about back then. Mick Foley serving as GM, even if it’s just for the week, is also probably a part of that. I’m all for a Vader revival though.

If you’ve never seen it, here’s a crazy match between Vader and Stan Hansen where Vader’s eye actually comes out of its socket…and Vader finishes the match! If that were to happen today, you’d see the ref flash the “X” sign quicker than the Sheamus/Bryan match at Wrestlemania. Well, it was in Japan, so maybe not.

And because, why the hell not, here’s a tag-team match where Vader and Hansen teamed up against Kenta Kobashi and none other than “Big Johnny” himself (post Dynamic Dudes era of course).

Anyway, thanks for reading.

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