As anybody who knows me on a personal level and probably most people who only know me as ‘that guy on Twitter who’s display pic is a black and white image of a European kid in a cheap jacket standing in a crack den’ will know I am a wrestling fanatic. When I say ‘fanatic’ I truly mean it. I have the T-shirts, the DVD’s, the Video Games and I’ve even stood in the fourth row of the Motor point Arena chanting ‘The Cena Sucks’ segment of Cena’s famous chant, that’s right I’m a Paul Heyman guy.
With the year of 2012 drawing to a close I feel it only right to praise and dishonour the best and worst parts of WWE programming in the last year. Whether or not you have enjoyed the year of programming you cannot deny that it has been eventful. So here we have it in a two part series I proudly present; the three best and three worst events of WWE programming in the last twelve months. I will begin with the worst, please feel free to comment with your own opinions on my decisions and I would love to hear what yours are.
The Burial of Zack Ryder
Hard to believe as this may be but at the beginning of 2012 the Ryder Revolution was in full effect and Zack Ryder was fast becoming the fastest rising star on the WWE roster. Although his actual wrestling ability along with his mic skills were a little to vanilla for some the fact remains that at the last major PPV of 2011 Ryder received a bigger pop off the crowd than The Rock and won fans hearts the world over when he captured the United States Championship from Dolph Ziggler at the ‘Tables, Ladders and Chairs’ PPV at the end of that year.
Going into 2012 Ryder had a title around his waist, a hit Internet show and for the first time in his career was getting regular TV time on the company’s flagship show, Monday Night Raw but here is where the problems began. Zack Ryder was a hero to the fans because he was an underdog, an underdog who never got any opportunities and was relegated to the lower card in favour of the likes of John Cena. As the victories piled up the pops got lighter and Ryder became almost a caricature of his former self. Similar to that god awful Souljah Boy record of a few years ago and that even worse K-Pop record of this winter, fans just got bored of Ryder’s samey antics and the fact that he wasn’t exactly a thespian on the microphone or a technician of the ring didn’t help his waning course either.
Clearly unfavourable of Ryder’s self-made success the company’s creative team inserted him into a ridiculous storyline involving veteran wrestler Kane breaking his back. The angle was ridiculous as despite possessing crutches and a wheel chair to keep up appearances Ryder clearly had full mobility and would even break kayfabe on certain occasions. Add an overly complex and inconsistent love affair with Eve Torres and before long Ryder was a blithering sissy who cried on camera and dropped his title in a three minute match with enough botches to fill a three hour broadcast.
Despite remaining a fan favourite the Ryder character was buried and before long he was losing on undercard shows again and being put into pointless tag teams with fellow jobbers to fill airtime. Perhaps it was due to over exposure, reported fall outs with the creative team over his hit internet reality show or a combination of the two but Ryder’s character never fully recovered.
The Return of Matt Bloom
Any WWE fan of the last year will likely understand that I can’t mention the word ‘worst’ in relation to the WWE without bringing up the return of veteran and former talent Matt Bloom aka Tensai.
Throughout the late 90’s and the early 00’s Bloom wrestled in the WWE under a number of aliases and characters including Albert and the A-Train. Most would agree that Blooms career had been note-worthy but ultimately unspectacular and at the end of 2004 he left for Japan.
In March of 2012 video packages began to air signifying Bloom’s return under the name of Lord Tensai. This name in Japanese translates to ‘Natural Disaster’; well they got it half right. To put it bluntly the character made absolutely no sense. Although it’s never been clearly explained one can only assume the character is supposed to be an American who lived in Japan and embraced Japanese culture. All while wearing body armour, Hiring a ‘worshiper’ named Sakamoto who has since disappeared from television with no explanation at all and kitting himself out with facial hair and tattoo’s that mysteriously wash off whenever he’s in the ring for more than two minutes. My head aches just explaining the character and despite a few early victories over the likes of John Cena and CM Punk Lord Tensai had as much chance of getting over as an anti-gay parade in Brighton during Mardi Gras.
Shorting the character’s name to simply Tensai didn’t help Blooms attempt at one last shot at the big leagues either. He recently began losing matches to the likes of Justin Gabriel, Tyson Kidd and most recently even the company’s resident jester Santino Marella. The crowd either respond to his matches with bored silence or with derogatory chants of his former ring name ‘Albert’, neither of which was the writer’s intention I’m sure. It’s a shame because in the ring Bloom can still impress but in all honesty the character was doomed from the start and is certainly worthy of a place among the worst events in WWE of the last year.
The Revealing of the Anonymous Raw GM
The story of the Anonymous Raw GM dates all the way back to 2010 when a mysterious and unseen figure began booking the broadcasts through a computer that was placed at ringside. Speculation began over who the man behind the emails was and the angle actually stirred up quite a bit of interest as hints of the person’s identity began to appear in the emails via catchphrases and the treatment of certain wrestlers.
Things seemed to be building quite nicely until with all the subtlety of a fart at a funeral the angle was dropped. That’s right, literally dropped. The computer was taken away from ringside, new authority figures were bought in and the angle wasn’t even mentioned. This raised even more speculation into the accusation that the WWE writing team were taking the route of the minds behind Lost in that they were literally making it up as they went along. Or perhaps the figure had become so menacing in their opinion that revealing him would be nothing but an anti-climax, like how Sauron was basically a walking piece of body armour in the Lord of the Rings films.
The angle was all but dead for much of 2011 and was set to stay that away until the July 9th edition of Monday Night Raw. The computer was mysteriously back at ringside and during a ridiculous segment that nobody was particularly interested in involving commentators Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole fighting each other, the computer piped up and reversed the decision of the match in Cole’s favour. Moments later Santino Marella would appear saying that the anonymous GM was in fact hiding under the ring. At this point we all knew we were in for disappointment but even I didn’t know how bad it could get. Both Santino and Lawler proceed to reveal the man behind some of the biggest and most important storylines of 2010 and part of 2011 as being none other than Hornswoggle. For those of you who don’t know, Hornswoggle is an Irish Leprechaun character played by a Dwarf who until around a year ago couldn’t even speak. The crowd watched in the sort of negative amazement that is often reserved for ‘live’ Cheryl Cole performances and the Eurovision Song Contest. As the cast of characters tried to make light of the angle it became clear that even they thought it was ridiculous.
The handling of this angle perfectly illustrates the flaws in the logic of the WWE creative team and their inability to take a good thing and consistently deliver with it. The story of the anonymous GM was, at one point, the biggest angle in the company but it was carelessly pushed aside due to a lack of vision and the climax was a joke. It is for this reason that I bestow upon it the title of worst WWE moment of 2012.