A Song for Whoever: Claudio Castagnoli/Antonio Cesaro & WWE/TNA/World Peace etc Edition

RAE: Whatever their wrestling background, when performers get called up to the WWE, a certain amount of ‘bedding in’ takes place. And it’s not exclusively reserved for the kids cherry-picked out of the thousands waving their arms in the air screaming ‘choose me!’. Even big fish in smaller ponds are expected to transition into the WWE style. And why not? There’s no point in having a global brand if you’re going to say ‘hey, just do whatever you like.’ Easy, tigers. I’m not saying everyone has to look and wrestle the same way; just that there have to be recognisable notes that pull all the individuality together.

When Bryan Danielson morphed into a the initial Daniel Bryan character, he spent a short spell in developmental before playing out a season on NXT. Danielson had such a genuine, indie geek-boy persona that WWE played it up rather than trying to turn him into an out of place bronzed adonis. It was a smart move. Although, I’m pretty sure he’s been dabbling with the Garnier Summer Body Creme lately and he definitely seems less of a quirky novelty than when he first arrived. He’s put his roots down.

Aww, bless.

In Bryan’s case, the tactic worked. Alberto Del Rio also managed the transition from Mexican hero to smooth talking WWE main eventer pretty easily. But for every success there are countless guys and girls who haven’t gelled with the WWE house style. Sin Cara was the exciting signing who’s stalled time and time again. I worry for my beloved Mason Ryan/Barri Griffiths who, despite bypassing NXT and jumping straight to the big leagues, seems to have dropped back into developmental. Maybe he needs a little more time.

There is, however, someone who seems to have gone from FCW to Smackdown with such ease it appears he was made for it: Claudio Castagnoli or, as he’s now known, Antonio Cesaro. Impossible to mention either name without rapidly fluttering my hand against my chest and exclaiming that my beating heart should be still.  Girly crushes aside, it’s bizarre how quickly Claudio seems to have become part of the furniture. Even during his first fleeting Smackdown appearance as Aksana’s rugby playing old pal, he seemed a natural WWE fit. Ah yes. Switzerland. That noble rugby playing nation. Hah! Still, you can’t deny he looks beefy enough to have chased the egg.

Poor ole Teddy

Claudio/Antonio’s match participation has been minimal so far, but those of us who followed his career before the magic phone call know his in-ring skills more than match his physical stature. And we know he pulls off a mean promo. That’s what makes his steady ascent so finger-tremblingly exciting. It’s like feeling the low rumble of an earthquake waiting for the right time to let rip.

The only question mark over Claudio’s move to the big time was whether his unmistakable presence would transfer to the much bigger WWE arenas. Maybe it’s difficult to separate giddy fan from logical thinker, but he certainly fills my screen every time he appears on it. So if it’s all the same with you, I’ll keep holding on to the walls. This one’s for you, ‘former rugby play’…

ANDREW: I’ve no doubt that it’s been prompted by the Avengers film, but I’m going through a comic phase at the moment. I don’t know if it works the same way for everyone but each of my more geeky interests seems to come and go in waves. Whether it’s wrestling, video games, comics… I’ll go for months showing hardly any interest then binge for weeks on end; endlessly devouring DVDs of obscure indie promotions, forcing myself to collect that one last memory fragment in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations or (as was the case this month) ploughing through Marvel’s expansive Civil War and Fear Itself storylines.

People much more knowledgable, intelligent and talented than me have written before about the glaringly obvious parallels between wrestling and comic books. Both looked on as lesser forms of entertainment. Both focussing for the main on interweaving, overly wordy storylines punctuated by periods of graphic violence. The masks… the starkly drawn good guys and bad guys… the improbable physiques… oh, and the ridiculously sexist costumes of course.

Another common factor is the distribution of power in both fields. Both the wrestling and comic book industries are essentially ruled (in the west at least) by two major companies, WWE/TNA and Marvel/DC respectively. Below them there are a number of smaller companies carving out their own share of the market. In wrestling you have the larger independents such as ROH, CHIKARA and PWG, while in comics you have companies such as Image and Wildstorm selling an edgier product to a smaller audience.

While these smaller companies are generally happy to share talent the big two in each field are usually more exclusive. Indie wrestlers are, for the most part, free to work in whichever promotion they like, and while they may change it slightly they are able to take their character with them. The same happens with smaller comic companies, where crossover events and guest stars from another companies line aren’t seen as a rarity. However, when it comes to Marvel (owner of the Avengers, Spider-Man and the X-Men to name a few) and DC (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman etc) this is a much less exected occurence, as indeed it is with the WWE and TNA…

Never say never…

…especially in wrestling

Yes, the big wrestling story this week was Christian’s appearance at TNA Slammiversary. Apparently a reciprocal deal for Ric Flair’s involvement in the 2012 Hall of Fame ceremony, the idea of a current WWE title holder being allowed to appear at a TNA PPV is quite amazing. As a fan it’s great to think that this is even possible, and the temptation is to wonder whether this could mean anything going forward? Will there be a new working relationship between the two companies? Will we see more TNA stars on WWE shows and vice versa? Will we finally see Sting recognised in the WWE Hall of Fame?

I know Dixie, they’re just “roomers” aren’t they?

Yep, that’s TNA’s official YouTube channel showing that they don’t listen to nasty roomers like that. In the long run this means nothing, but it happened, and we were there to see it. Well, when I say “we” I don’t mean Rae and myself. We’re not going to sit around watching TNA when there’s some paint drying in the south wing of the WrestleBunker. What do you think we are? Masochists?

Anyway, in the spirit of harmony and coexistence here’s to you TNA and WWE. It’s always nice (if disappointingly rare) to be surprised by wrestling, but the fact that the two of you could do something like this show’s a side of you that isn’t as petty and childish as we have come to expect. And that was a surprise…

A Song for Whoever: Rock Edition

We thought it might be time we resurrected A Song For Whoever, where we write a blurb on a wrestling biz happening from that week and dedicate a song to the person the story’s about. It was one of our favourite regular features, so we thought it deserved another airing. Enjoy!

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During Wrestlemania 28, I had a bit of a moment. It wasn’t the tender embrace exchanged between the three veterans marking the End of an Era. It wasn’t even Edge’s speech on being ushered into the Hall of Fame; mainly because I haven’t had the courage to let his carefully chosen and heartfelt words ruin my mascara yet. It was The Rock’s entrance.

It’s no secret that I often struggle to justify being a fan of professional wrestling. I regularly use these pages to work through my tortured thought process. But the fact remains, I never walk away. The well worn line I trot out every time someone asks me how I got into wrestling is ‘I came for Shawn Michaels, but I stayed for The Rock.’ I came to find out why my younger brother was shouting ‘Sweet Chin Music’ at me, and I stayed because I developed a swift and monumental crush on The Rock.

As a teenage girl, it was that gorgeous creature peacocking about in silk shirts, suggestively raising his eyebrow at me (just me), and who always knew exactly what to say that kept me from reaching for the remote. Basic, yes. But biology often is. It was a while before I really understood what wrestling was about. It was ages before I had a grip on long and complicated stories and the infinite joy of a well crafted, old fashioned grappling match.  The Rock was like that person who holds your hand while you tentatively wade into a freezing cold swimming pool. “Come on in! The water’s lovely!” It wasn’t. Not at first. I just stared at him long enough for the water to feel warm enough to dunk my head under.

Announcing the Rock/Cena match a year in advance was probably a mistake. If there’s one thing you should never do, it’s give wrestling fans time to ponder a story. They should know by now that we’ll club the life out of anything that isn’t a moving target. But I enjoyed those last few weeks leading up to Wrestlemania more than I cared to admit publicly. I didn’t get angry about the banality of kung pao chicken. I got that Rock was setting Cena up to look like the hero before eventually coming out on top. I wasn’t prepared to write the match off as a shambles before it happened, just because it was the most mainstream thing taking place on the planet that day. I was looking forward to it. There. I said it.

What I wasn’t expecting was to feel emotional. Yes, it was 3:21am and I had consumed enough MSG laced cheese puffs that I may have been in a slightly vulnerable state. But once the wonderfully awful and awfully wonderful musical introductions had passed, I was floored by a practical freight train of sentimentality. It suddenly struck me that without that one man sending Miami into a frenzy on my telly, I wouldn’t be sat here over a decade later, still staying up all night for wrestling, still not put off by the ridicule of people who just don’t get it.

I realised that, without him, I’d be bereft of the countless happy and stupidly exciting hours of fun wrestling has given me. There are immeasurably important people I’d never have met. There are parts of the world I’d never have seen. I may even be on an entirely different career path. It might all sound rather dramatic, and at 4am it felt even more profound, but it’s no less true. When Rock went on to win, a double air punch and a YEAAAAAAAAAAH didn’t quite seem to mark what felt like coming full circle.

It didn’t even end there. Finally watching his victory speech on Raw this morning, I might as well have skipped back in time. Alone, in my pyjamas, with a big mug of tea, when Rock invited the audience to jump into his sentence with “…and millions” three times with gradually ascending volume, I absolutely played along out loud. I can pretend to be cool and grown-up and aloof, but had he hugged me instead of the blonde girl with the sign asking for a hug, I’d have had the same dumbstruck expression. And then I’d have burst into tears.

So thanks, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Thanks for making my adolescent loins burn. Thank you for holding my attention while delivering all those promos so brilliantly some 14 years ago. I still smell what you’re cooking, you big superstar you.

Song for Whoever: The Boss Lady Rae edition

Sidekick Andrew: There won’t be a “normal” Song for Whoever post this week. It’s no secret that Rae has had some health issues over the last year or so, and today she’s in hospital having an operation that should make a massive difference to her life. It’s OK though, she’s doing us all proud on the sartorial front as usual…

So this week I’d like to take the opportunity to dedicate my Song For Whoever to Rae. She won’t be happy about this, but hey… what’s she going to do about it?

When I first found the blog I instantly loved it. Rae has a way with words that I will never be able to compete with, and her articles have never failed to make me laugh or (in her more serious moments) think harder about this ridiculous sport. After the first article I read (the one with the amazing Summerslam cake, I went back and read every single post and loved them all. I might be biased due to association, but Rae genuinely did stand out to me as having a unique voice among wrestling bloggers. First by being female (rare enough in this community) and secondly by being British and using pop culture reference points that immediately resonated with me.

Since we then got in touch over twitter, and later as I was invited to recap the much missed ECW, I’ve got to know Rae pretty well. Strange as it might seem for someone I’ve never actually met (the Wrestle Bunker is, after all, a significantly sprawling spread) she quickly became someone I consider to be my best friend. Someone I can share this wonderfully embarrassing geeky obsession with. She’s constantly encouraged my writing, and even more so my graphic design work. Without her I wouldn’t have got to work with Pro Wrestling EVE, and from there I wouldn’t have had the confidence to approach any of the other promotions or wrestlers I’ve designed for. I owe her a lot, and I only hope that one day she realises just how much.

So, Boss Lady Rae, this one’s for you. Diolch yn fawr…

PS. Sori (I know you’ll hate this article, but that’s the advantage of the Boss being away)

A Song for Whoever: CHIKARA High Noon Special Edition

Boss Lady Rae: CHIKARA fans generally fall into two camps – those who can go to the shows, and those who clamour for DVDs the second they’re released. We all love each other dearly, but the envy generated by the DVD dwellers gives off enough heat to melt an ice rink. Trust me. I’m one of them. My King of Trios envy might just be what’s responsible for the whole polar ice cap situation. When Andrew gave me a sampler DVD a couple of years ago and suggested I watch it, I never thought I would love it like I do. Actually, what he really said was “No pressure, but if you don’t like this I may sob like a baby!” I didn’t make him cry.

On Sunday night, something shifted. CHIKARA’s first live iPPV, High Noon, brought us all together. I don’t know how it felt at the venue, but it felt pretty special to those of us watching online. Everyone in the arena in Philadelphia watched the same show at the same time as fans around the world. It made a difference I wasn’t expecting. I was definitely excited at the prospect of watching CHIKARA live, but what I hadn’t anticipated was the sense of community that permeated my laptop screen. If being a wrestling fan means being part of one big dysfunctional family, being a CHIKARA fan is like joining a special sub-division of cousins with a secret key to the entrance. Except, all you need to do to get a copy of that key is ask someone for it. They’ll share it with you and welcome you into the fold.

On top of the fact that High Noon made me ultimate totes emosh (I’ve been dying to type that somewhere), how wonderful it was to be able to watch a pay-per-view live and at a sensible time of the day. North Americans won’t understand why this is so important at all, but High Noon started at 9pm (UK time) and I was in bed before midnight. Admittedly, I spent an hour staring at the ceiling trying to absorb the main event and wondering how long my hair would have to grow before I could execute Jacob Hammermeier’s bitchin’ side-pony. But I was asleep before the time I’m usually getting up from a pre-show nap for a WWE PPV and I didn’t have to book a day off work to recover from the up-all-night hangover. Everyone’s a winner! Well, apart from Australians, who had to get up a few hours earlier. They’ll manage.

In honour of this lovely group people I’m proud to be associated with, here’s my carefully selected tune. (I’m definitely going soft in my old age!)

Sidekick Andrew: Last Sunday marked the 6 year anniversary of the death of Eddie Guerrero. Rather fittingly, it was also the date that Eddie Kingston became the first CHIKARA grand champion. Rae has already written how great an experience it was for us in the UK to be able to join in and watch live, and I echo her sentiments exactly. Hell, Rae will tell you I’m a flint-hearted northerner who doesn’t do emotion, but even I had something in my throat during the main event. I don’t think I’ve seen a more emotional title match aftermath since Wrestlemania XX. OK, it might be soured slightly by the Benoit connection in retrospect, but seeing two friends that happy in the ring showing true emotion is pretty rare in wrestling

Or at least it is unless you watch Eddie Kingston’s work. Like Guerrero, Kingston has fought through personal demons throughout his life. Like Guerrero, Kingston has never hidden his faults and flaws. Most importantly, like Guerrero, Kingston has never lost his love and passion for wrestling. I’ve spoken before of how much I love Kingston’s promos. The way he can make you believe every word he says. The way he can mix real life and the “fake” world of wrestling with such skill and passion. Every single time… I know for a fact that this promo in particular sold a number of High Noon purchases…

Now I am admittedly biased as Eddie Kingston is one of my favourite wrestlers. Yes I love his promos, but I also love his brawling wrestling style and the way he sells moves like they actually hurt rather than “wrestling hurt”. Kingston has been a mainstay of CHIKARA (which just happens to be my favourite promotion) and was part of one of my favourite matches ever. All in all, I’m pretty much an unabashed Eddie Kingston fan and as such I love the fact that he was the winner in the biggest match in CHIKARA history, and the fact that I got to see it live means a lot to me. Thank you CHIKARA, and thank you Eddie. This one’s for you…

A Song for Whoever: Beth Phoenix and Triple H Edition

Boss Lady Rae: Has there ever been a character shift more disappointing than Beth Phoenix’s fall from grace last week? Who would have thought that two little words would upset so many people, including myself? As select members of the WWE roster gathered around the ring to collectively express their dissent at HHH’s leadership, Beth demanded that the ladies of the company have more protection because “We’re girls!” Like a dagger through my heart.

A few weeks ago, Beth and Natalya proclaimed that they – The Divas of Doom – were here to save us from the Barbie doll Divas and kickstart a new era for the women’s Division. Such wonderful feist! On last week’s Raw, Beth washed it all away with a namby-pamby declaration of inferiority. I heard about it before I saw it. I resolved to make my own judgement after I’d seen it. I looked for some kind of humour, sarcasm, irony or tiny inkling that this was all just a rouse. I hoped some twist would make me feel silly for not seeing what they were up to from the beginning. I’m still hoping for that.

It didn’t just stop at those two loaded words though. The Superstars and Divas have clearly been instructed to ramp up the walk-out storyline on Twitter, and so my confused disillusion continued:

At home doing the dishes? Really, Beth?

Even during its most bleak days, I always held hope for the Divas division because there were women like Beth and Natalya desperate to build a stronger stream of women’s wrestling in the WWE. Whether she believes her statements personally or not is irrelevant. (I’m guessing she doesn’t.) If what they’re presenting on screen are weak, helpless little girls, that’s all anyone will give them credit for being. Beth’s breaking my heart and giving me the blues. There were so many angles they could have taken with this ‘poor working conditions’ storyline, and yet again they took the easiest, least creative, low road, taking Beth Phoenix down with them. So much for empowering young women to stand up for themselves. Drop the helpless maiden act. It’s pathetic.

The only thing that can save this for me now, is another character shift as abrupt as this one. We’ll pretend it was part of the plan all along and make like this was all just a strange dream sequence. Go on, make me feel silly.

Sidekick Andrew:There are many reasons to doubt this current walk-out storyline, not least of which is the Beth Phoenix comments mentioned above. There is only so far the WWE can go with “industrial action”, a fact displayed on Friday when the wrestlers were seemingly happy to appear on Smackdown, despite having “no confidence” in HHH, the COO of the entire WWE, not just Raw.

Obviously I don’t know exactly what will happen tonight on Raw, but it seems pretty obvious that they’re moving towards a split between the strikers and the scabs (think of the bits of Billy Elliott that didn’t involve dancing) but who knows. All I know for sure is that I really enjoyed the ending of Raw last week, everyone walking out leaving HHH alone in the ring was a pretty stark visual. OK, he no-sold the entire thing after the cameras had stopped running on Zack Ryder’s video with a massive goofy smile and pedigree determined to make internet fans hate him even more, but the overall effect of the walk out was quite impressive. And, also, strangely reminiscent of a naked 4th grader…

So HHH, this one’s for you. I’m sure you’ll turn me against you again soon, but for now I’m enjoying having you back. Sorry everyoe seems to hate you at the moment, but then they hated Margaret Thatcher during the Miner’s Strike and look how popular she is now! Oh…

A Song for Whoever: Sheamus & the dreaded “IWC” Edition

Boss Lady Rae: Do you know what a girl can never have enough of? Red lipstick, tea and crushes. I’m currently madly in love with a fictional character in a novel I’m reading. Yeah. Really. It’s becoming a problem. And I, my friends, am the queen of wrestling crushes. They come and go like the tide, but while they last they’re magnificent and delicious. Some, once fully bedded in, never really leave. This blog has been nothing if not an ode to my unflinching love for CM Punk and Matt Striker. Other crushes fluctuate depending on what their character’s doing. See the various posts in which I fall in and out of love with Mr. Cena..

This latest one is a biggie though. I’ve been rather fond of this person for some time, even when he was severely out of favour and his broken friendship with old-school crush HHH was on the rocks. The moment that took it from passing, inappropriate staring to “Oh my God, you’re making my heart ache” was at Night of Champions. There I was commenting to Andrew about how smart Christian always looks in ‘people clothes’ when the room started spinning and………….

To quote Andrew, “Sheamus is a man who suits wearing clothes,” which would sound ludicrous in every other form of entertainment. To wrestling fans, it makes perfect sense. It also helps than in real life he’s a thoroughly nice chap.  My heart is aflutter. This one’s for you, Sheamus. Let’s talk Celtic heritage some time.

Sidekick Andrew: One thing that we have noticed more and more here in the Wrestlegasm Bunker as we monitor internet communiques from throughout the world is that you lot don’t half like a moan. Seriously, after every episode of Smackdown, Raw (especially Raw!) or WWE PPV Twitter and Tumblr explode with impotent rage.

“Gah! I can’t BELIEVE Christian lost the title this soon! I’m never watching again!”

“FFS Why would you bring Punk back this early! Just so he can job to HHH no doubt! I hate this company!”

“2 Sin Caras! How stupid do they think we are? FIRE RUSSO LOL!”

Look, to paraphrase Bill Hicks: I’m not here to tell you how to live your lives. You’re grown men and women with a pretty solid grasp on logic (for the most part anyway). I would like to make a suggestion if possible. It’s a pretty radical solution that doesn’t seem to have occurred to a lot of people so I think it bears printing here. Ready?

IF YOU DON’T ENJOY THE WWE OUTPUT THEN DON’T WATCH IT

I know… I know. It sounds crazy but bear with me. The WWE isn’t going to change its product just because a bunch of people on the internet complain about it every week in tweets, blogs and podcasts. You know why? Because to complain about it you must have watched it already, and that’s all they want. I’m sure they’d prefer you enjoyed their shows but I can guarantee they’d be more devastated if you watched illegally and loved it than paid and hated it.

There are so many alternatives out there to the WWE if you still need a wrestling fix, although sometimes a clean break can be a good idea too. There’s a mass of Indie companies putting out great quality wrestling with storylines far less insulting than most the WWE trot out. Yes, there’s a bit more effort involved in seeking out these companies, but I personally think it’s worth it.

Now, I’m also aware we’re in a recession and that’s why Rae doesn’t pay (or feed) me anymore. Luckily I’m content to survive eating the lichen growing in my small, windowless cell in a far corner of the Bunker, nose in the air like a Bisto kid sighing everytime Rae orders a kebab from KoVan. However, the beauty of living in the digital age is the ready availability of free content we can all instantly access from our desks, laps and phones. Pop over to YouTube, search for CHIKARA, SHIMMER, PWG, ABSOLUTE INTENSE WRESTLING, ANARCHY CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING, NJPW, SMASH or any number of wrestling promotions and you find a plethora of free matches, highlight videos and promos to introduce you… for FREE!

Discover the thrill of watching matches with wrestlers before they reach FCW and the WWE! (Evan Bourne, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and that new Swiss/Italian fella in FCW are all good examples of this) Marvel at women’s matches with women who can wrestle, and are given more than a perfunctory 5 minute time slot to do so! (Keep this to yourself, but some promotions don’t even segregate the male and female members of the roster, leaving the women to be treated as they should be: as just another wrestler)

For the record, I should point out that neither Rae or myself hate the WWE or it’s current programming, although we’ll happily admit there are some things we don’t like. I don’t get round to watching Raw as often as I could which might explain it, but Smackdown is still pretty consistent, and Superstars provides a fun hour of “wrestling” every week. I’ve no idea what TNA is like nowadays because I don’t like it and therefore don’t watch it (see? The system works!)

I don’t expect many to take me up on this, there’s a familiarity and comfort in watching the same shows each week. And as I said earlier, people do take a quite perverse enjoyment in watching something they will be able to complain about. But as long as you know there is an alternative, then at least you have a choice…

So this week’s Song For Whoever is dedicated to everyone who has flooded my timeline with the same complaints week after week after week while still tuning in and contributing to the viewing figures.

Only kidding, you knows I loves you really.

A Song for Whoever: Matt Striker & HHH/Cena Edition

Boss Lady Ray: I often wander around our humble Wrestle Bunker professing about how lucky I am to have (fake) Matt Striker as my mentor. “Aren’t I lucky?” I would say. “Matt Striker and I are just sooooo alike. I see him in my dreams and somehow they come true. It’s like we’re, you know, connected or something.” Then I hold two fingers to my eyes to show Andrew how Matt and I are ‘connected’. At this juncture he usually smiles and nods politely before tutting and rolling his eyes the second my back is turned. He thinks I can’t see him doing this. He has no idea this is why I make him wash all the dishes.

But we really are connected. Oh yes. I’m not just some loony fangirl pretending. Oh no. If you follow our Tumblr, and quite frankly why wouldn’t you be, you might have spotted the post where I explained my recent run of Matt Striker dreams. They were largely interesting to me and me alone, but during the last one he was in a lot of pain. Doubled over in pain, even. This made no sense. Why would Matt Striker be doubled over in pain in my dream? He’s a host and a ‘backstage broadcast colleague’ these days. All was revealed on last week’s NXT.

Titus O’Neil was chatting to Striker about something or other and doing his strange sea lion bark. Derrick Bateman and Darren Young turned up. There was all kinds of “I’m better than you.” “No, I’m better than you.” “Shutup, I’m better…..” You get the idea. By the way, how many weeks has this series been running? Is the end even in sight? Anyway, the bad guys seemed to be ganging up on Titus, so Striker stepped in to reset the balance. Titus O’Neil suggested they have a tag match and Striker encouraged the crowd to get behind this idea with their cheers, always the gameshow host. Bateman and Young were furious with this idea. They agreed, but only if they could choose their opponent’s partner. They chose…….MATT STRIKER! AAAAH!

Striker was all….

And they were all…

And Striker was all….

And I was all….

So other stuff happened. No idea what. I was just waiting for the main event. The bad dudes came out, AJ, Hornswoggle and Titus came out, (get on with it, NXT) “Aaaaaand his partner from Bayvieeeew, New York, weighing in at 230 pouuunds, MATT STRI-KERRRRR!” EEEEEEEEEP!

Look at him there. Long shorts, beaten up boots and with a look of complete fear on his face. Bless. He needed a hug. They could have left this whole thing to Titus. Striker really hasn’t wrestled a match in four years. He looks like he’s in great shape but he’s nowhere near as muscular as he used to be. In William Regal’s words, he’s definitely a little “ring rusty”. But Striker did surprisingly well. No really, he jumped back in and executed the moves with such ease I’d want him back in the ring every week if I didn’t miss his commentary so much and worry about him getting hurt. I realise I’m not exactly impartial. He could flap his hands like a birdie and run around in circles and I’d still think he had a good go. But I was suitably impressed.

Towards the end of the match he started huffing and puffing. He couldn’t quite keep up with the youngsters and at one point he was DOUBLED OVER IN PAIN! Ah-ha! Didn’t I tell you? Didn’t I say that my dream would come true? In your face, doubters. I foresaw this event, I just hope that when he went out to the back afterwards, there wasn’t too much vomiting, as per the dream. Oh, and of course he won:

Striker seemed to be holding his shoulder down and grimacing pretty convincingly at the end. He may have been selling it really well, but it looked genuine to me. Nevertheless, he looked happy(ish), if a little tousled, by the time they sent him back out to call his Superstars matches.

Tousled is good

In honour of my mentor’s short-lived return to the ring, I am dedicating this tune to him because “we tease him a lot, ‘cause we got him on the spot, but welcome back, welcome back, welcome back, wel-come baaaack.”

Sidekick Andrew: This might be the most controversial thing I’ve ever written on this site. More than the time I wrote an article incessantly insulting Matt Hardy until people complained. More than the time that I had a go at Tommy Dreamer’s ingratitude resulting in a number of Direct Messages from him on Twitter. Even more than that time I wrote an NXT recap from the perspective of an imaginary asylum inmate and “THE MAN” decided it wasn’t acceptable. Well, I say “THE MAN”, it was of course the ever fragrant and wise “BOSS LADY RAY”

Anyway, this CM Punk storyline. Great isn’t it? Nobody could deny that Punk has single-handedly made Raw watchable again. Even I, long and staunch opposition to the dreary dreadful dirge that is Raw, now watch every week to see where this show is going. Punk’s mixture of powerful political polemic and quasi-shoot revelations are thrilling internet “smarks” and regular fans alike. Who would have thought that the little blonde guy with a couple of tattoos hurling invective and insults at rednecks down an invisible microphone would become the sole saviour of a multi-million dollar industry giant?

Except of course, Punk isn’t “single-handedly” the “sole saviour” at all. Punk is amazing, I’m never going to deny that. He was a great promo in his indie days (the afore-mentioned invisible microphone in IWA: Mid-South, the WWE contract signing on the ROH belt) and he’s a great promo in WWE. Look at the Jeff Hardy storyline or the SES evangelical sermons he was throwing out week after week for examples. But any storyline involving rebellion needs something or someone to rebel against. Punk has been great in this storyline, but he’s not the only one.

Yep, sorry internet but HHH is right, I do mean them. I know, I know… HHH and John Cena are evil incarnate… everything that is wrong with the WWE and the professional wrestling industry as a whole… one an opportunistic 13 time world champion through backstage politics and nepotism, the other an industry yes-man, constantly being put over despite only knowing five wrestling moves. Everyone hates HHH & Cena…

BOSS LADY RAY: This wasn't me. I swear.

Well OK, maybe this random lady from Facebook likes them a bit but everyone else hates them right? The trouble with that is that we as internet wrestling fans aren’t supposed to like Cena, and we’re not supposed to like HHH. Cena is the company yes-man, this is true. But he’s also the role model for thousands of kids across the world thanks to his Never Give Up attitude, whether we like it or not. The very fact that he is the company’s chosen one (sorry Drew, you should have known Vince would never respect a man who got beaten up by a girl) made him the perfect foil for Punk’s anti-establishment rhetoric. Cena played his role to perfection, being the good guy caught in an awkward position. He (as in his character) never asked to be the company’s go-to champion, the man to right all wrongs; but goddammit he loves this business and goddammit he loves that bloody ugly belt.

Punk needed someone like Cena to work against, in the same way that Punk’s idol Stone Cold Steve Austin needed The Rock or Bret Hart to work against. Punk and Austin have so much in common that the obvious glaring difference doesn’t seem to be important. Both were amazing speakers… both excelled in anti-establishment roles… both got their big breaks thanks to Paul Heyman and ECW… both are not afraid to mix truth and storyline in a promo… There’s a reason that this excellent video from the WWE All Stars video game works so well.

And once Punk had managed to get rid of Cena, who did he move on to? After a brief dalliance with McMahon (Austin’s old nemesis of course) he moved onto the his replacement. From the Rock’s modern day replacement to Vince’s, Punk is now going up against HHH. And I know that “Punk came back too soon” and “HHH is just going to bury Punk” but frankly I don’t believe that. Punk coming back was a surprise, and we’ve said before on this site how much we love it when wrestling surprises us. As for HHH burying Punk, the fact that Punk got to say the things he did last Monday leaves with more hope than fear that this storyline will continue for a while yet.

So, this weeks Song for Whoever is dedicated to two men. Two men I never, ever, thought I would dedicate a song to. Two men that I think should get some credit for helping to sell the most exciting storyline since the Nexus invasion over a year ago. Every great rebel needs an establishment to rail against, a windmill to charge, and in this case Cena and HHH are doing a great job of being that establishment… Cena, HHH & Punk: an unlikely triumvirate but one that goes together like… well… like ham, cheese & pickle. Like pie, chips & gravy. Like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong…

A Song for Whoever: Mr. McMahon Edition

BOSS LADY RAY: Sometimes when we write these posts I have plenty to say about a particular happening, but it takes ages to find a song that fits as well as I want it to. Other times, a perfect song jumps to the front of my internal jukebox within just a few seconds of thought and I don’t need to give it too much introduction.

When Triple H relieved Mr. McMahon of his duties on last week’s Raw, it was surprisingly touching. Well, apart from the whole “I love you, Pop.” thing. That was freakin’ hilarious. But do you know what tugs on my heartstrings more than grown men crying? OLD men crying. It’s killer. Somehow, this once immortal powerhouse of a man, a captain of industry no less, looked terribly small and insignificant standing in the ring having just lost his empire.

So for HHH (not Paul) and Mr. McMahon (not Vince) here’s a crushingly apt song to sum up that awkward moment when your son-in-law fires you. “The show is over. Say goodbye.” Ouch! Here comes the Triple H Era…..