the opening Main Event match last night between Damien Sandow and Christian kicked quite a bit of ass. it’s exactly why i love Main Event and its formula, sometimes more than RAW’s. Main Event almost always starts with a fast-paced 15-20 minute match, while RAW almost always starts out with about that much talking. granted, the shows serve 2 very different purposes, but it’s interesting that the measly 1-hour show on an obscure cable channel gets consistent match quality and the stalwart 3-hour flagship doesn’t. now, i know RAW is about a lot more than wrestling. it’s a weekly PPV-proportion show that is burdened by every angle in the company, while Main Event is a little less relevant and a little more pure. Main Event allows for those occasional matches that have nothing to do with an angle or ongoing feud, and it’s refreshing. it’s nice to see wrestling for wrestling’s sake sometimes.
and it’s also interesting that RAW doesn’t get that old-school flavor that’s so prevalent in Main Event, specifically its opening matches. or maybe it’s just been all the Damien Sandow lately, but Main Event has felt decidedly old-school with longer matches, slower crescendo, bigger move sets. Damien Sandow and Christian went at it for 20+ minutes last night! other than Daniel Bryan’s exhilarating efforts these past weeks, when does RAW or Smackdown! have that kind of sustained energy? and RAW’s the show we all grew up on. shouldn’t it be injected with a little of that old-school? granted, Main Event’s original incarnation predates RAW about 8 years, but RAW has been on the air uninterrupted (except for those goddamn US Open games in the late 90s) for 20 years now, and it’s the show responsible for most of our being WWE fans. i sometimes think Main Event might be a bit of a testing ground for material/superstars before a push on RAW or Smackdown!, since it’s where The Usos, PTP, Justin Gabriel, etc. had been hovering until showing up on RAW for bigger things, so my hope is that the catch-as-catch-can, old-school elements from Main Event will worm there way in front of a bigger audience.
but the wrestling isn’t the only thing that makes Main Event feel old-school. these past 2 weeks have been helped greatly by Cody Rhodes, a much underused asset by the WWE. as my friend said the other day, “Cody Rhodes doesn’t put on a bad match,” (as is evident by the Y2J v. Rhodes matchup from last week’s Main Event opener), but Main Event has had him in a color-commentator capacity, and it’s been awesome. it’s novel, i know, but it’s been fun to watch a match while someone actually fucking calls it. Rhodes, like guest commentator Y2J on RAW(?) last week, ends up just filling in for the present but unequipped play-by-play man. they both, but especially Rhodes, were the first guys to call a match with actual wrestling vocabulary in who knows how long. during Christian v. Sandow last night, Rhodes called Sandow’s Edgecution to the bewilderment of Josh Mathews. we need announcers like that, with a wrestling data bank for a memory, and an understanding that it’s largely the responsibility of the commentators to translate what happens in the ring into a kind of narrative action. JR was so good at that, at convincing you of the pain or motivation of a wrestler in action, and it’s something at which Michael Cole and Josh Mathews fail. Rhodes does something else at which JR excelled, and that’s stay focused on the match. even when Mathews distracts Rhodes by asking him about Money in the Bank or something, Rhodes can give a satisfactory answer, true to his character, while still maintaining focus on the match and ignoring or cutting off Mathews if something exciting happens in the ring.
finally, my favorite thing about Main Event is it feels less app-oriented. i’m so sick of hearing about the WWE app. Main Event isn’t cluttered with all the app business, and it makes for a lighter-feeling show. it’s like watching an old-school tape, it’s free of so much verbal advertising. d’you ever think what it’s going to be like in 10 years, when we’re watching Best of 2013 dvds, and every match we watch is littered with app endorsements and Sonic slogans? i was watching some Attitude era tapes recently (and believe me, there were plenty of endorsements and sponsorships for the WWE back then, too.), and it just felt so pure. no distraction with that app. if they wanted us to see something, it was on tv. if it wasn’t on tv, well, i guess, it wasn’t good enough so who cares.
i should probably leave it at that. it’s bad enough i’m one of those “there’s no more rasslin on rasslin anymore” guys, and i don’t need to be a “damn kids and their technology” guy, too. not yet, at least.
sooo… shit got real on RAW, huh?
i mean, good goddamn, Mark Henry must be the best talker in the WWE. i knew he was underrated, but Christ. whatta swerve. i never saw it coming.
i’d read the tweets from the day before, so i kinda saw the retirement thing coming. i love Mark Henry, so when he came out carrying his boots, i was bummed. but we don’t usually get to hear more than a few—usually very effective—words from Henry, so i was looking forward to the speech. and it hit home. between Henry’s sincerity and the crowd’s HENRY and SEXUAL CHOCOLATE and ONE MORE MATCH chants, i was pretty torn up. it was emotional. i was a Henry fan as a kid, over 10 years ago. i didn’t wanna lose him.
what a roller coaster. even after the World’s Strongest Slam, i was just like, “yes, Mark Henry. whatta way to go out. that’s what you do.” and then the jacket (and oh, whatta jacket) comes off, the tie’s tossed aside, shirt’s loosened and i’m thinking, “do it again, Mark. it’s what you do. you’re goin out big.” and he says, “i still gotta lot left in the tank”—an example of a great Henry line; he has a way with cliches.
but then he tosses the belt onto Cena and says it’ll be his soon, and i’m immediately thinking, “WHAT in the fuck just happened?” i felt manipulated, but that gradually developed into a feeling of even deeper admiration of Mark Henry, maybe my new favorite heel*, as he walked back up the aisle with the biggest, dirtiest smirk on his face and picked his boots back up.
*more on who my favorite heel might be when i get around to writing about Daniel Bryan and can sort all that out.