The Martyrshow: Imagine (Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, CM Punk, Muh Boy D-Bry right here)
by Martin Shaw on May 29, 2012

*insert witty intro here*

Remember when I said WWE was doing slightly racist stuff and everyone went fucking nuts? Teddy Long is now the slave of a rich white man. Also, Fella’s new finisher is called “White Noise.”

I read a lot about the level of cheers Fella may or may not be getting, a little about his in-ring ability, very little about his character though. The “Celtic Warrior” gimmick was solid. It was something he was into and it was reasonably well thought out. Had they ran with that, rather than buggering about with him being anti-bully or whatever the fuck it was…  if he was The Celtic Warrior and his finisher was The Irish Curse, he’d make sense.

Imagine he won the Rumble because he’s a natural fighter and the warrior instinct took over, causing him to eliminate 7-13 people on the roster (i.e. not Foley or the fucking Road Dogg), including The Big Show and The Great Khali. Imagine he used the time in-between Rumble and Mania to go back to Ireland and study the techniques that helped his ancestors win their battles. Imagine Muh Boy D-Bry tried everything he knew against The Celtic Warrior, but Fella powered out of it all and laughed it off.

I’m not saying the above idea is the greatest thing ever, but I am saying that WWE’s writers are fucking morons. Even CM Punk would’ve looked like a bag of shit at WrestleMania if he’d spent the previous eight weeks doing nothing but clothesline Jinder Mahal.

Speaking of CM Punk, does anyone remember the promo last year where he said “Alberto Del Rio, you are a one-note character. You come out and talk about “destiny” while everyone goes to sleep, then you leave” or something like that? It was fucking terrible. Not only did it shit all over Del Rio (who I’m sure didn’t ask for a shitty gimmick), but it shat on the original Punk “shoot” as well. Every time Punk would came and “dropped a pipe-bomb” it diluted the message and weakened the character. Punk became a one-note character for a while, but almost everyone got behind it due to the shoot-based nature of the promos.

Alberto Del Rio has returned. Have the writers learned from the mistakes they seen fit to include in Punk’s promo? Have they fuck. Ricardo Rodriguez has received more character development.

Imagine if Punk v Ziggler happened the way it did at Royal Rumble, but Ziggler was the one who went on to do the “alcoholic” storyline with Punk. Ziggler would’ve broken away from Vickie in order to get inside Punk’s head, then done all the stuff you watched Jericho do.

Jericho is in the dog-house right now and he’ll probably leave before 2013. What happens then? They’ve spent the past 5 months maintaining or lessening the status of everyone on the roster, including super-Cena.

Orton isn’t the top face on Smackdown anymore, yet they refused to build Sheamus to that level before giving him another title run.

Punk was WWE Champion, yet they decided to give him “the rub” from an established name.

Muh Boy D-Bry right here was World Champion and getting a good reaction, yet they decided he should lose in 18 seconds.

Ziggler was getting over as a cocky heel while feuding with the WWE Champion, yet they decided he should be jobbing to Brodus clay.

Zack Ryder amassed a huge following via his youtube show, yet they decided to use him as a pawn to fuel the “Will he, wont he?” Cena storyline.

Cody Rhodes held the IC Title for 237 days, yet they decided to give it to a guy who’s wrestled for 237 years.

Yet some of our readers object to me saying that I won’t watch the next WresteMania if it includes a large ratio of older wrestlers…




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Martin Shaw

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  • Cristo

    I don’t know how many here follow it, but I wish WWE could learn a few things from Jedo & Gedo the bookers over at New Japan. They have been consistantly solid to great for at least the last 5 years when it comes to booking. Making their older stars look strong while building an increasing number of young stars that the company has relied on.

  • http://twitter.com/Kanta_Mizuno Ryan Alarie

    Ok, so you are talking about Wrestlemania [you just sort of changed from whatever you were talking about before that].

    Punk vs. Jericho wasn’t about giving Punk the rub, it was about trying to sell a PPV. It wasn’t about buildling to something, it was about having two guys that can put on a good match facing each other, not to mention it was sort of a ‘dream match’ in that Punk is seen to be very similar to Jericho. So it’s like two generations of wrestlers facing each other. It’s like if Hogan and Cena would wrestle, but Hogan was like 20 years younger. Not every Wrestlemania match has to be about booking towards the future … part of it has to be about making money that day. They are serving three different purposes. They are part of an ongoing story, the show itself is a self contained story, but the show ALSO has to entice you to watch it in the first place. Jericho vs. Punk doesn’t necessary improve Punks long term money making potential, but having him face Jericho was a good short term cash in. The people who may not really give a crap about Rock and Cena, or were skeptical about how Taker/HHH could do because of their age, could at least feel that Jericho and Punk are healthy enough to put on a hell of a show.

    D-Bry was crapped on for 18 seconds. However, he’s been in EITHER the World Title or WWE Title match on every PPV since then. He hasn’t won, but he’s been fighting for the title each PPV, and now he’s in a feud with Punk on Raw instead of fighting Sheamus for the Smackdown title. While Number One Contender of the Top Belt vs. Holder of the Other Belt is arguable, he’s at least in just as good of a position, if not a better one, than Wrestlemania.

    Ziggler has, sadly, been in a bit of a slump. However, they do seem to at least be doing the split between him and Swagger/Vickie. Considering that, going into Wrestlemania, he was repeatedly beaten by Punk in the same match, he would have needed time to recover. They COULD have kept him in the World Title/WWE Title picture, but having him lose their too much could make people associate Ziggler in the Title Picture as a choke artist and not buy him as champion. Also, he has to buy enough time for people to forget his ‘token’ title reign.

    While Cody did lose to the Big Show, that was again, a short term booking decision. The story leading into the PPV was that Big Show was repeatedly being embarassed. So, Cody being punished, and the Big Show getting his revenge was a logical end to that story. By the next PPV, Big Show lost the title back, and Cody moved on. Now, he’s no longer with the IC Title … but what exactly would have Cody gained from beating the Big Show? If there was ANY ‘rub’ for beating Big Show, doing so at Wrestlemania would have been negated, by the entire crux of Cody’s argument. Big Show was the anti-Taker, he ‘always’ lost at Wrestlemania, so Cody winning wouldn’t have proven anything (other than Cody’s argument that Big Show sucks at Wrestlemania). Beating him at Extreme Rules proves he can beat him any time, but that he had been TOO cocky at Wrestlemania, etc.

    He’s now onto a feud with Christian which, you may argue is also an ‘old’ guy. However, racking up wins against people like Big Show and Christian, who are both former Champions, can perhaps be the start of a sustained push to get into the main event. Especially if he’s unburdened by the IC title belt. Cody has been doing more help for the IC belt than it has been doing for him. Whether fighting the Big Show at Wrestlemania is a big deal or not … Cody beat the man that is currently feuding with (and ‘dominating’) Super-Cena. That might be enough for some people in the audience to ‘buy’ Rhodes as a potential contender in the future.

    Ultimately, as far as Wrestlemania is concerned, it sells better than any other PPV the WWE does. That means people who do NOT buy any other PPV in the year, buy Wrestlemania. So, if you only use new people on the card, the card will be filled with people that do not recognize. And therefore, they will not buy the show. While a match like Taker Vs. HHH or Cena Vs. Rock doesn’t really help anyone (well, it’s possible Rock fans haven’t seen Cena in action), it’s possible that old fans haven’t seen Punk yet. People buying for Taker/HHH or to see the Rock [or even Jericho] get a look at new talent. [Which, is why I do agree that Bryan losing in 18 seconds was ridiculous. It was a massive wasted opportunity to show off talent to a new audience].

    On the subject of Punk’s ‘pipe-bombs’ making his character one note. A few things: a) One note and boring is worse than one note and amusing. ADR was very ‘serious’, and was saying the SAME promo over and over again. Punk, at least, was doing different promos. It may have been the same general idea “this company sucks, but I’m awesome”, however, he was pointing out DIFFERENT things. Del Rio would say “It is my destiny to be World Champion”. That is basically every Del Rio promo since he started the company up until that point. When Punk is making fun of someone well, he has to tailor it to the person he is talking about. Del Rio’s promos didn’t care who it was refering to. At least when Del Rio was debut’ing, or flirting with the Bellas, he was showing things off. Heck, the whole Destiny thing doesn’t have to do with any of his other gimmicks. His character has multiple ‘layers’, as he has the “foreign heel” thing going for him and the “rich jerk” thing going for him, and the “annoying manservant” thing going for him. The Destiny stuff was just sort of tacked on without really tying into any of those things. It could have been spun to actually include his other character traits, instead of being a Rich Mexican who also believes he has been chosen by fate to win the title.

    I do agree that the ‘E didn’t really try very hard in terms of getting Sheamus over. They felt he was over enough in the summer, decided to wait to put the belt on him until Wrestlemania, and didn’t bother to do anything much with him, other than have him with the Rumble, to get him ready.

    It’s the same thing they did with basically EVERYONE that wins the MITB, outside of the people that immediately cash it in.

    Which is pretty much just “the ‘E is not good at long term booking”. Basically, they can only handle about 4 or 5 ‘big’ stories at a time, and everything else sort of gets forgotten about. It is why someone like the Miz, or Ziggler suddenly starts losing all the time. If they don’t have something for them to do, they becoming supporting characters in someone elses stories … and supporting characters have a tendency to lose. “We need someone for Bryan and Punk to use to hurt each other without giving away too many direct confrontations between the two on free TV. Who is a big guy without a story? Kane? Perfect!” It’s why the IC, US, Diva’s and Tag Titles get treated like crap … if they don’t have a story they want to tell that uses them, they just sort of exist, or they leave them off TV entirely.

    So if they decide “I want Sheamus to win the World Title at Wrestlemania” but they can’t think of a compelling story involving Sheamus for beforehand, they just didn’t have him do anything, or they had him beat up jobbers, talk nonsense, claim he’ll win the Rumble, win it, and go back to beating up jobbers until Wrestlemania. Of course, Del Rio was in a similar spot. He did have a bit of momentum after being up Rey and Christian, but then he sort of coasted. Then feuded with Kofi, who was IC champ, to kill time before Wrestlemania.

    With Sheamus, I think they were sort of counting on Mark Henry to be involved. It may have been long term booking screwed by injuries. Shaemus and Henry had a pair of count outs, basically tying each other with neither going over. Then Mark Henry won the World Title, and did his dominance thing until the quick title switch over to Big Show then DBry. The “Henry is unstoppable” thing seemed to be set to eventually pay off with Sheamus winning. So, either DBry was going to be unsuccesful and Sheamus/Henry would have been at Wrestlemania, or Daniel Bryan was going to win before Wrestlemania, and that would have allowed Sheamus to fight Henry at Elimination Chamber, and go over strong to ‘prove’ he could have beat Henry legit for the title (unlike the way that Bryan became champion), and then set up an interesting dynamic of facing the polar opposite of Mark Henry in Daniel Bryan.

    ‘Real’ TV shows don’t get written the way the ‘E does. They have a bunch of writers, and a head writer, but the head writer doesn’t write all the episodes. Vince basically has to approve everything. So he has a few storylines he keeps in the forefront of his mind as being important, and the rest of the stuff is probably something that can be cut, or forgotten about next week, or not important, etc. And some stuff is just unconcious. The people who, like Miz, end up in a continuous cycle of not doing anything probably doesn’t start out that way. They job to give them something to do between stories, and in the meantime, they keep losing, and eventually someone decides, probably as a rib, to make that his storyline.

  • flamingwombat

    In front of empty arenas…

  • flamingwombat

    This was my snarky response to someone saying they wouldn’t watch Wrestlemania if it had older wrestlers in the comments section of a previous column: “Using a wrestler’s age, rather than you know, how good a wrestler currently is, seems like a arbitrarily silly method for choosing whether to watch a card. Age 40 and over Jericho, Rock, HHH, and Taker put on the best 3 matches on the card (by far), all considered by those who rate such things in the **** or better range. Perhaps you should avoid next year’s Mania due to the number of wrestlers with brown eyes? Speech impediments? Ability to drive stick?”

    I could understand it if WWE was solely using older wrestlers to squash younger wrestlers on the show, but since that’s not the case (and since the older wrestlers have mostly earned their spot on the card AND sell more tickets/buys AND have put on the best matches at the past 6 or 7 Manias), I have a hard time agreeing with this ageist viewpoint. That being said, to each his own, but this fan hopes to hell that Undertaker has a match on next year’s card.

    Wrestling shouldn’t just be about making stars to put over new stars. Sometimes, and especially at Mania, you need to have some of those well-established stars facing each other in money matches.

  • James A

    Wrestling is weird, isn’t it? I can’t think of any other form of entertainment where the “age” thing is used as a valid argument. Imagine if movies sparked the same outrage whenever anyone over the age of 40 starred in the latest Hollywood blockbuster…

  • CB40

    Big difference James: Movie stars aren’t playing the same part for 300 days per year, including every week, one or two nights per week. Also, they aren’t “doing their own stunts” during that elongated time period either, which is why age isn’t as important.

    Imagine if Mandy Patinkin, now age 59, was touring the country, working 300 days per year as Inigo Montoya from 1984′s The Princess Bride, doing sword fights and simply repeating “You killed my father, prepare to die,” over and over and over again, with no progression or even with regression.

    That’s the problem with your analogy, brother.

  • flamingwombat

    That Jack Nicholson is so friggin’ old! Scorcese better not put HIM in The Departed!

  • CB40

    Awesome in-depth reply Ryan, think it was longer than the column itself!

  • flamingwombat

    That’s a pretty bad analogy, CB, second only to your greatest mistake: fearing THE COBRA. Imagine if Mandy Patinkin was still a better actor than someone only 10 years younger than he, yet some cinephile was making the argument that he had no interest in seeing a movie with Mandy just because he was “old”, and therefore (despite that fact that Mandy still puts on amazing performances and millions of others with differing opinions from that cinefile want to pay to see him work) he should retire.

  • James A

    I don’t disagree with you, although I wasn’t strictly speaking forming an analogy… mine was more a comment on the unique position that professional wrestling seems to occupy in the realm of entertainment.

    With that said, though (and I’m merely playing devil’s advocate here), aren’t certain movie stars famous for playing the same sort of character in film after film, either through preference or due to typecasting? I’m talking about your Depps, your Neesons, your Sean Beans, your Bonham Carters, Jolies (four of those names are over 40, by the way). Many seem to have made a success of it. As for the “doing your own stunts” thing, I see your point. That’s why Edge stopped, that’s why Nash and Hogan should have stopped… But equally, if a guy’s over 40 and he can still “go”, who are we to argue? Jericho’s been doing what he does for twenty years now, and he’s only got better and better. The exception which proves the rule, perhaps…? I couldn’t say,

    Perhaps a more apt comparison would have been with soap operas, in which actors do indeed play the same character week in, week out, for multiple years without enduring anywhere near the level of bile directed at guys like Cena, Hogan, Nash etc. But you hit the nail on the head: that’s why “progression” and character development are so important. There has to be direction and a sense of forward momentum in how more established characters are portrayed. And if the parts are well-written, over-exposure shouldn’t be an issue.

    In theory, anyway.

  • CB40

    I think the soap opera star is a more viable comparison, and I agree with you that character progression is important regardless if someone is 25 or 45. Your biggest argument should be Batista, who was doing AMAZING character work before he left that was a far cry from what he was doing when he first started.

    My problem is that for every Batista, there’s four or five others that just never progress because either they get lazy with that part of their development or they are handcuffed by the system they are working in. To me, Cena has been the least progressive of them all, along with Mysterio. But at least with Rey it makes sense because you can always do the underdog thing with him and people like to rally around that. Super TV-PG Cena, not so much.

  • CB40

    My point Wombat isn’t about not wanting to see Mandy Patinkin being cast in a movie right now. It’s about not wanting to see Mandy Patinkin cast in the same movie over and over and over again, for 28 years while promoting it all over the country for 300 days each year, without any progression whatsoever.

    Lol re: The Cobra. Just doesn’t do it for me!

  • flamingwombat

    I feel that same way as you do about the need for progression, but that’s an issue unrelated to the age of the performer.

    Keep bad mouthing the Cobra, and one day it will do it TO you. You’ve been warned!

  • http://twitter.com/BlairADouglas Blair A. Douglas

    “D-Bry was crapped on for 18 seconds. However, he’s been in EITHER the World Title or WWE Title match on every PPV since then. He hasn’t won, but he’s been fighting for the title each PPV, and now he’s in a feud with Punk on Raw instead of fighting Sheamus for the Smackdown title. While Number One Contender of the Top Belt vs. Holder of the Other Belt is arguable, he’s at least in just as good of a position, if not a better one, than Wrestlemania.”

    … and you think this was WWE’s intention?

  • CB40

    Ah, but in WWE, the age of the performer is tied to their lack of progression in many cases, because the WWE system isn’t set up for progression. It’s set up so Kane can do the same thing over and over again for 18 years, or so Cena can crack the same lame jokes for 10 years. Yes, WWE happens to get lucky sometimes and employ folks who force them to progress, but that’s accidental more than it is their intent.

    As for Flair, sure I enjoy a space mountain reference, but at the same time it’s pathetic that he’s still resorting to using those lines. I doubt Mandy Patinkin is saying “You killed my father, prepare to die” all year long. Or maybe he is, just not on TV.

  • http://twitter.com/Kanta_Mizuno Ryan Alarie

    I don’t think it was their intent. However, they are smart enough to (eventually) take advantage of something when it’s obvious that it’s a good thing. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was supposed to “Imagine”, but complaining about Wrestlemania at the end of May seems a bit late. Since then, things have improved for Bryan. Heck, while the ‘E is horrible at long term booking, it can sometimes do very well at improvisation. When HHH was nixed as King of the Ring, they ended up with Austin instead. When Shawn lost his smile, sure they had a crappy main event (pun slightly intended) with Sid vs. Taker, but they also got Austin vs. Bret out of it. I’m not sure if that can be credited to anything but sure luck, but many of good things have come out of scrapping the original plan.

    Partly, I guess I’m also saying that the ‘E can’t just bury someone because they ‘want to’. If they did want to, it would take a hell of a lot more than a single match. DBry, or Ziggler, or Rhodes are not going to be ruined by a single match, even at Wrestlemania. Similarly, a single match wasn’t going to make Sheamus. Winning the Rumble and winning at Wrestlemania are big deals. But doing NOTHING but those two things means no one really cares. Just like winning the King of the Ring was something a lot of guys that went on to do great did, doesn’t mean winning the King of the Ring will make someone into one of those guys. It’s like watching Star Wars A New Hope, seeing it make a ton of money, and then deciding to set your movie in space, assuming that is the ONLY thing you need to make your movie a success. Or a guy reading Watchmen, and thinks “I need to make my book violent and sexy and not for kids!” Winning the Rumble, or winning the title is not something you just need to check off on the way to getting over. It’s a continuous process. However with Sheamus, they did nothing in the intervening time to get him over, assuming that hitting the milestones was good enough.

    The same is true with burying someone. It can’t just be a bad outcome. Some guys can lose all the time and stay over. It has to be a continuous process. So of the people mentioned, Rhodes and Daniel Bryan have recovered from their loses. They bounced back, and continued to be treated as stars. Ziggler had been in a bad spot for a while, as he was mostly being used to put over first Brodus than the new tag champs, but it seems they’ve decided to try and turn things around. It may not have been planned out, but they probably assumed that they could salvage Ziggler whenever they wanted to pull the trigger. He was able to come back from being on the Spirit Squad, he should be able to come back from being Brodus Clay’s bitch.

  • Cristo

    They don’t do WWE numbers certainly, but then WWE don’t do WWE numbers in Japan either.

  • Cristo

    I wouldn’t call 43,000 at the tokyo dome “empty” either.

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