The Jive Soul Blog
Extreme Rules: Cena’s Proving Ground

I wasn’t sure what just what to expect going into last nights Pay-Per-View. I wanted to see Lensar/Cena that was pretty much all I could have told you twenty four hours ago. I didn’t really know or expect much from the undercard. I was very pleasantly surprised. I haven’t enjoyed a Pay-Per-View that much in… I really don’t know how long, honestly. Maybe WrestleMania 24? It was a great example of how great wrestling can be when all the factors come together. When there is a main event people are interested or at least intrigued by, a crowd that is into it and an undercard that actually delivers solid entertainment for two hours. I never planned to do recaps of shows on The Jive Soul Blog but I feel like I have to. I want to take some time to gush over aspects of the show I loved.

I’m going to skip the Santino/Miz pre-show match because I didn’t really watch it. I came into it a bit late on and didn’t see the whole thing. But of the pre-show I saw (which wasn’t much of anything to be honest, just video packages, a match and the set up for Show/Rhodes). I loved Teddy Long’s big name tag. That whole humiliation of Teddy Long deal has been wonderful fun and I hope he eventually does snap, recruits someone to manage and we get some kind of return match from WrestleMania. Also theExtreme Wheel was a silly name for the wheel, but in a good way. 

Kane vs. Randy Orton: I was not holding out much hope that this not very interesting storyline, that resulted in a forgettable match at WrestleMania, but this not only set the tone for the show (as a good opener should) but it really went beyond my expectations. It had a very Attitude Era feel with the lingering smoke from the Kane pyro, the brawling in the crowd, the use of the announce table. It had everything a fun late-90s brawl would have had, it was over done back then but in 2012 it’s a rare thing and it made the match stand out. It helped that the crowd just got really into it toward the end, it was nice that Ryder got a cameo attack on Kane and it was also good that Orton won, because I kind of hope that that match book ends this feud. It was more than worthy of doing so.

Brodus Clay (with his entourage) vs. Dolph Ziggler (with his):I got to give it to The Funkasaurus. I was ready to get sick of him when it seemed like he wasn’t actually going to be doing anything, but this is kind of a storyline for him isn’t it? Or did I make up that he has previous with Vickie and her boys? I’m a sucker for Hornswaggle and adding as much stuff to Brodus to hide his lack of dancing talent (I can say as someone who isn’t a very comfortable dancer, yet has previous dancing in front of people in chorus lines that as long as Brodus can do the simple things with a smile on his face then he’ll do fine at that). Ziggler took the fall after a killer headbutt from Clay, Dolph is really great at making people’s big moves look like death. It might be stopping him from doing anything but being a high profile job-guy but if he is ever to get his day, nobody is going to care that he lost matches like this.

Big Show vs. Cody Rhodes: The best thing about this match was Show’s face when he realized that he’d broken the table in the most unexpected of ways (the camera did catch referees setting up a table right next to the apron in nice foreshadowing). I wasn’t so much a fan of angry Show kills Cody, but man, that Military Press was just, I’m glad Cody walked out of it. I’d rather have seen sad puppy Big Show having his championship taken away through something as simple as getting kicked, and stumbling back through a table. I’m not sure if we got a double turn or if it was just the crowd (as good as they were they were prone to smarky chanting like cheering Ziggler and later booing Sheamus but more on that one).

Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan:Two out of three falls doesn’t sound very “Extreme” when I think about it, it’s rather orthodox. But this match was amazing. I was slightly bored or just tired because it was after 2am until I realized just what the whole first fall was about. It was Bryan kicking the hell out of Sheamus’ arm just to get him in the LeBell Lock/Yes Lock (LeBell lock is a cooler name though, sorry!). The conceding of a fall just to hurt the other guy and then getting him to submit was neat (and nice foreshadowing for later with the medics in the ring). I don’t much love the ‘Yes’ chant like everyone else seems to but the ‘Yes/No’ dueling chant was fun especially when Bryan seemed to be dictating it. Sheamus pulling the win out of the bag was awesome. They had the great match that we were expecting a month ago and then some!

Ryback vs. Math and Mime: The job guy promo schtick is really interesting and these guys who I have dubbed Math and Mime were fun. I didn’t much care for the crowd chanting ‘Goldberg’ at Ryback (he’s not the first hoss to get this kind of build guys! This was a good crowd overall but they had dumb tenancies, not as dumb as King/Cole trying to put over the clearly Pro-Bryan crowd as being anti-Bryan though). When he’d demolished the guys, Ryback chanted ‘Feed me more!’ and I hope they do! I want Ryback facing entire rosters of local talent and winning.

CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho: This had it’s weak points, it dragged in the middle for example. But the actual street clothes for a street fight was a nice touch you don’t see much. They had a good brawl, but something about Punk/Jericho just doesn’t work for me. I feel like it should but it isn’t. Punk winning was nailed on. Had Jericho won the crowd would’ve been gone for the main event.

John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar:Oh my, this did exceed all expectations and anyone who thinks John Cena is just a muscle head with Five Moves of Doom that doesn’t sell is proven wrong by this. Cena wasonhere. He showed just why he is the top guy in the WWE and did it by spending almost the whole match getting the crap kicked out of him by a marauding Brock Lesnar. He bled, got the crap punched out of him, he got hung by his feet, ate steel steps and seemingly nearly got his arm ripped off. He sold Lesnar as a killer, as did the referees and officials who got caught in Lesnar’s way did. The fact Cena came back, managed to lift Lesnar off his feet and actually won was a legitimate shocker. He even managed to win over the Chicago crowd that had been leaning into smarkish territory all night.

This match was helped in a way by the Sheamus/Bryan feud and match. Not only had Sheamus been fined for attacking referees and Brock been given the okay to do so, which showed Lesnar is outside the constraints of normal WWE guys - because he’s Johnny’s boy. But also the medics coming into the ring had been foreshadowed in Sheamus/Bryan and it had been re-enforced there that this was a thing the WWE does.

There has been some ballyhoo about Cena winning and Lesnar losing, but it was the absolute right thing to do. Lesnar was shown to be a monster, he destroyed Cena and it took weapons and Cena digging down deep to get the win. However, in spite of the win Cena has come off worse physically and Lesnar has maybe learned not to be so casual next time. The purpose of the match was character development. There is more to come and I am looking forward to it a hell of a lot more than I was anything involving The Rock from last year.

Brock Lesnar: Silence is Golden

Last night Brock Lesnar cut a short promo about how he was a former UFC champion and John Cena could not hold his jock strap. It was good heel schtick “I am successful outside of wrestling, you number one star of wrestling are not as good as I am!”. However, Lesnar is nota good promo guy. He never has been either.

Lesnar looks awesome, imposing, dangerous, like he could kill you with one hand or less. Plus, by all accounts he can. He makes more impact by punching, clothes-lining, F-5ing someone or generally being a big violent block of muscle than he does using his words. I’d be happy for him to rarely speak only more than a couple of words and let his actions or at the very most the words of John Laurinatis speak for him (also I’d like to be able to call Laurinatis Johnny Ace because that is FAR easier to spell). It is a sad fact that mute characters are rare in the WWE, even Hornswaggle talks now! It was once common to have non-speaking wrestlers like Kamala, The Shiek, Abdullah the Butcher, The Missing Link and Sabu, of course during those times there were manager to talk for them. But I guess that at one time many years ago it was felt that wrestlers, who can, needed to do all the talking themselves - even if they’re not very good at it. Not only does this remove managers from the picture (although the manager has become replaced by the heel authority figure for the most part) it probably kyboshed a lot of really interesting characters who could probably have gotten by on looks alone. 

My favorite examples of this are Abyss and Bobby Lashley. When Abyss was managed by James Mitchell, he never spoke. He might shriek, yell, growl or make any other number of guttural noises but never uttered a word. It was far more intimidating for Abyss to shriek and scream than it ever was for Abyss to talk like everybody else. When you humanize a ‘monster’ character like that by giving him a voice you lose the mystique, you make him less abnormal and a lot of the times reveal that it was a good reason he never spoke in the first place.

Bobby Lashley looked pretty good when he was managed by Donald Trump for the Battle of the Billionaires. Then he lost Donald Trump and had to speak for himself… And Bobby Lashley, bless his cotton socks, does not have a voice to match that massive physique of his. He sounded like Mickey Mouse and it made it hard to take him seriously. If he’d had the voice of Bob Sapp then maybe things would’ve been different.

I’m sure the WWE know Brock’s strengths and weaknesses, they should do, he came out of their system and owing to the fact he’s a returning star with some cross over appeal, they might just handle him with a bit more care than wanting to expose his biggest flaw, from memory he spent his first WWE run on Smackdown, where that flaw could be hidden behind editing rather than on RAW. His stumbling over his words in a backstage interview did not hurt the fact I have enjoyed this Cena/Brock story so far and hope Brock does not get handed a live microphone for too long too often.