30 Thoughts with Al Laiman - 4-7-14
By Al Laiman
Apr 8, 2014 - 6:09:36 PM
credit Tom Jenner
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30 Thoughts with Al Laiman - 4-7-14
Thank you for all the wonderful comments on my post-WrestleMania piece. If you haven't seen it yet, check in the upper right corner and let me know what you think. I never expected such an amazing response.
1. After an amazing and quite-shocking WrestleMania, I'm really expecting this RAW to deliver. In the past few years, it's become quite the accessory to WrestleMania week. We start off with the recap we saw before Daniel Bryan's first match Sunday night, which is another amazing credit to the video production team. I still cannot believe watching this that we're witnessing Bryan Danielson's rise to winning the main event at WrestleMania. This year's Mania wasn't just the rise of the Reality Era, but many guys we've seen on the Indies are now some of the best in the business. Danielson, Tyler Black, Brodie Lee, Claudio Castagnoli... Who would've thunk it, even a few years ago? I'm not afraid to say that the transition into the live reaction from the New Orleans crowd not only gave me goosebumps, but made me a bit teary. I know it's acoustics, but somehow this smaller arena sounds even louder. I'd love to know from people who were there just how amazing that moment was in the not-Silverdome, Hoak Hogan. Bryan gets an ROH-style chant, soaking it in as it surrounds him, and good on him for it. Remember when we heard that chant as Fatal Four Way faded out after he was fired for Tiegate?
2. Wow, this is gonna be another fun post-WrestleMania crowd. Holy shit, everyone. This is just amazing. I'm watching it on DVR and I'm reveling in it.Now a "You Deserve It!" chant breaks out. I love these crowds, they know more than three chants. He summarizes the YES! Movement as the power to make a difference. They're really running with this idea, and it's effective.
3. The Authority cuts off the celebration, likely about to incur even more crowd reactions for whatever crabby face is about to say. A chant that I haven't heard since the Attitude Era breaks out, referring to a part of the anatomy that is synonymous with a not-nice person. Bryan taunts Triple H with the belts, throwing down that punk card in style. Triple H announces that he's gonna put an end to the YES! Movement... again, by saying that he's taking the title. H turns up the angry HAM, and given all the Tweets I got last night, I have a feeling we're in store for Monday Night HAM! Speaking of which, one of my readers emailed me and said that anytime someone makes a HAM sign, they should win part of the weekly HAM. Works for me. I've seen several in the last few months. Maybe at the end of the year, I'll send one of the HAM winners a HAMMY.
4. The Authority backstage continue talking about choking on it, which I assume doesn't mean what they're talking about, and Big Dave and Ranny Ahtan complain even more about getting a rematch. Steph decides to make them tag up against the Usos... So I guess Evolution is coming back? H is the new flair? Who's the new guy? H even makes reference to all of them being on the same page. Yep, time for another Motorhead theme to return. Could we see Bryan teaming up with the Shield to combat them?
5. Bray Wyatt shows up to another amazing reaction, and let's see if the new crowd trend continues. Wyatt can't even help smiling as the crowd claps along to his theme. At least their momentum wasn't killed by Cena ZOMGZOVERCOMETEHODDZ yet again. They'll be facing Cena, Lobsterhead, and LeBig E. Wow, we're not messing around tonight, eh?
6. Cena comes out to the only full face entrance, so no Lobsterhead rant today, and the crowd is chanting something, but I can't figure it out. Cena charges the ring and a brawl immediately begins. The crowd is heavily in favor of the Wyatts, which is great considering they're facing three of the favorites WWE wants you to love. Sheamus gets booed even heavier than Cena, wow. It's also amazing to see how comparatively big Rowan and Harper are when standing up with a guy the size of Lobsterhead. This is a blast, regardless of what's happening. Big E lifts Rowan several times, and actually gets cheers on the face side. Impressive. The match goes into a commercial (sorry guys, it's not changing) as the crowd is fully behind Harper beating up Cena.
7. I really hope someday I can be a part of a crowd like this. The closest thing I've had is being in Philadelphia for the RVD vs. Edge vs. Cena match where the crowd was heavily split between WWE faithful and the ECW-loyal. JBL just said, "Can we take this crowd with us everywhere?" Don't we wish! It'd be hard to keep Cena as a face though. The crowd has started singing and swaying their arms to the hymn. What will they call this trend? We've had YESsing, Fandangoing, and now... Braying? Hymning? Cena comes back with a hope spot and meets heavy heat for it. Now they're singing something else, but I'm not sure what it is.
8. Another thing that's here to stay is the cameraman being in the corner of the face team and getting that angle, even if it does look ridiculous. Sheamus does a great job of taking the temporary heel role by doing a Wyatt pose. Whoever is choosing what camera is on does a terrible job here, as they cut to Wyatt in the middle of a clothesline from Rowan. LeBig E goes for his finisher, but gets floored. Harper does a dive to the outside, and Bray shows us how a crab walks. He hits Sister Abigail on Big E and gets the huge win, showing us that the Wyatt Family isn't going anywhere. Those three just destroyed three of WWE's top faces in relatively easy fashion, and the crowd sways along. This show is freaking awesome so far.
9. Bo Dallas gets a teaser, so it looks like he's coming up soon. Last year's WrestleMania short-lived trend gets a brief revival here in New Orleans. Good JBL, that outfit should gets its own wardrobe HAM. Santino's music hits, letting us know that yet again, we're seeing this feud. Should've come out to Emma's theme. Santino hits his trademark hip toss and immediately goes for the Cobra, so, yeah... This match is gonna be quick. Emma is already infinitely more interesting than anyone on that other show. She wins very quickly with her submission, and they play up being awkward. Well, at least it was brief.
10. Cole announces Lesnar as the most-despised man in sports entertainment. Good, they might as well play that up as long as they can milk it. Lesnar's pyro goes off about ten seconds late. My opinions on Lesnar being the chosen one to end the streak are well tweeted and documented, so I won't go into it any more. Heyman is on his knees bowing, so this could be HAMtacular right here. Heyman is back to introducing himself... Ugh. Lesnar is doing what he should be doing in this situation: Being silent and standing there like Ivan Drago. The "bullshit" chants perfectly sum up how most of us feel about Lesnar being the one to do it. Oh dear JBL, Heyman is turning it up the 11, wow. If any of you wonder why I created the HAM award or what it means... Just watch this segment. He's so over-the-top that it's ridiculously entertaining.
11. Heyman says that Lesnar is to shock the Universe and put tears in the eyes of children. Brilliant. Heyman tells the story about Mr. McMahon traveling with the Undertaker to the hospital. Heyman is truly in top form, just pushing every button possible. Heyman then trashes the commentary team to a nice little cheer, and then makes a Silverdome joke, getting him yet another pop. Heyman calls the Undertaker a LOSER, putting him in Ace Ventura-HAM categories, and just keeps getting more silly. Heyman goes through Lesnar's resume, comparing him to the current stars and the legends, calling them all wannabes and naming Lesnar "The One." Hey Heyman, I think Billy Gunn already used that moniker, and it didn't work too well. "The One" in "21-1." Nice. Heyman turns it up even more by going through it in slow-broiled HAM fashion. This is gonna be tough to top, but who will it be next? Or, "Who's Next?," if you will.
12. Adam Rose is also coming up to the roster? This really is an influx of new stars, isn't it? Well I guess it should be... Several stars went from being lower-to-midcard to upper-midcard/main-eventers. The spots are open now.
13. Brock Lesnar guy got himself on TV doing the Orton pose again. I envy that guy's checkbook, seeing as he can keep getting seats like that to all the big events. Being in this match with the two former Evolution-mates really speaks to how far the Usos have come as well. It's hard to fathom, but less than year ago, they were jobbing on Superstars, or whatever C-show they were booked on. I really need to get to next year's WrestleMania... Everyone looks like they're having such a good time. The "CM Punk" chants return, but who knows if that's ever gonna happen? Tito may have been right that it may happen tonight, but right now, I just don't see it. Evolution is dominating, but they got counted out. Well, so much for making the tag team champions look strong.
14. Rob Van Dam makes his return, in much better shape than most of his Attitude Era cohorts. He's facing Damien Sandow, so... Yeah, RVD wins. Wrestling's favorite stoner looks to be in great shape still, but gets pulled off the ropes in a dangerous move. Remember when Sandow won Money in the Bank? RVD does the spinning leg drop with Sandow on the security barrier, and he's still ridiculously over. To the surprise of absolutely no one, Rob Van Dam wins after a Five-Star Frog Splash. The summer nostalgia run will continue for a little while longer, but don't expect to see him main-eventing next year's WrestleMania or anything.
15. You know, it's been like eight years, and Rey Mysterio has never told me what the hell "Booyaka" means. He's facing... Bad News Barrett? He's actually getting a match? Has he wrestled one since adopting this gimmick? And holy shit, that reaction! I love this gimmick! He's just being a giant troll, and he's finally found something that works for him. After being the leader of the Nexus, to say he's floundered would be an understatement. Barrett is visibly flattered by the reaction, and Mysterio gets heat for cutting off Barrett's promo. Mysterio does what ends up being a really cool move, diving through the bottom rope into a splash on the outside. The commentators can of course think of nothing but trying to get shit trending.
16. Barrett hits a Black Hole Slam and gets a near-fall out of it while the crowd enjoys the hell out of themselves. Barrett HAMs it up in his own right, just enjoying the moment, and that's what I love to see: Wrestlers clearly just having the time of their lives out there. All the haters of crowds like this, just watch the performers and their reactions to it. The ones getting cheered soak it in, the ones getting booed get a chance to heel it up, whether or not they're faces. It just makes the show more interesting. I'd rather see that than 20,000 people sitting on their hands and only chanting "You Suck!" and "Let's Go Cena/Cena sucks!" any day. JBL is doing his best to ruin the Bad News catchphrase by repeating it 64 times during the match, and Barrett wins with the Bull Hammer elbow. Let's hope this finally means he'll be doing something other than aside promos. The crowd does a slow overhead clap into a BOOM! because... Why the fuck not?
17. FOR JBL'S SAKE, WE DON'T NEED AN UPDATE EVERY TIME SOMETHING'S FUCKING TRENDING!
18. Cole talks about a big-time debut, and they then hold on him way too long. I guess it's finally time for Rusev, the first of many new NXT stars to debut after WrestleMania XXX. Adam Rose looks like he could be a future HAM contender. The female Bridgette Nielsen introduces Rusev, finally debuting after weeks of promos, and ohai Zack Ryder. How long will it be before you have your Broski Boot hope spot to only lose within 30 seconds? Dat red lipstick though. Rusev looks similar to Samoa Joe in style and body type, and that could bode well for him. Rusev wins in relatively no time with a not-Camel Clutch. They pretend like beating Zack Ryder means something, but it was an appropriate debut for him.
19. The Ultimate Warrior is gonna be on RAW?! YES! YES! YES! I've been told I need to transcribe his promo for everyone, so I'll do my best. You have no idea how long I've been waiting for this music to hit on RAW. He comes out in a suit, sans-face paint unfortunately, but who cares, he's here! Cole again plugs Twitter, showing just how desperate they are to make people talk about it on social media. It was nice of Warrior to rent a tux from our store for the occasion.
20. I will now translate the Ultimate Warrior into something coherent for everyone. WARRIOR: SKKRRRRRRRONK! Ever since I was conceived by a bad acid trip somewhere in Berkeley, I accepted my destiny to one day create a comic book so terrible that Tommy Wiseau would make fun of me. As I put on a facemask that used to be body paint, I'm forced to recall the time where I had my way with Santa Claus on the North Pole, and I truly understand how many made their way to the top. As the valedictorian of Warrior University, class of 1982, I realized my destiny to inform the world of destrucity came in the form of becoming a professional wrestler. A purveyor of batshit, I defeated the legendary HOAK HOGAN at WrestleMania VI, and I sincerely hope that all of you fans cheering me right now will visit me on the Terrain of Testament. Please bring cookies to help the legend live on. Chocolate chip or peanut butter though. If you bring macadamia nut, I will snort your ashes and spit them in the faces of the dead elves I left on the North Pole. SKRRRRRRRONK! Now where's that Sheamus fellow? He owes me some money for his entrance theme lyrics.
21. I hope I got that right. I'm conversational in Warriorese, I wouldn't say I'm fluent. AJ Lee is out next, and reminds us that there was a moment where she had her own pipe bomb. Unfortunately, nothing much came of that. Sure, she's been champion, but she's been in the shadow of some reality stars ever since. She calls herself the "Best Diva in the World." Gee, I wonder what that's a reference to...
22. And, finally, the moment NXT fans have been waiting for, Paige arrives! Damn. The beginning of her entrance music sounds like someone stepped on a robotic cat, but I'll take it. The New Orleans crowd sure knows who she is, making her debut a helluva lot less awkward than Emma's. She congratulates AJ, but I imagine that's not the point of this debut. AJ challenges her to a match, but Paige insists she isn't ready. She puts the Diva's title on the line. Naturally Paige wasn't expecting a match, since she came out in her wrestling gear.
23. Finally, a Diva's match that has nothing to do with That Show. AJ immediately tries for the Black Widow, but it's awkward as hell. Paige counters... And wins? What in the actual fuck? I don't mind that Paige won, but already? With no build-up? On her debut? With one move? AJ's beaten the entire division multiple times, and Paige wins with one move in her debut? Where does she go from here? The rest of the division had 295 days to beat her for the title and couldn't, but a debuting rookie could with one move in her first match? Tito talks a lot about hotshotting NXT stars, but you can't hotshot someone much more than having them win the top title for which they're eligible in literally the first move they hit on television. Wow.
24. How appropriate. Hulk Hogan, the man who slammed Andre the Giant 27 years ago, is going to present the Andre the Giant trophy to the man who stunned everyone by slamming the modern day equivalent in the Big Show. I've been raving about Cesaro's deceptive strength, but even I didn't know he could do that. "Real American" hits, and hopefully he remembers what city he's in this time. What a great moment it was, having Hogan, Austin, and the Rock in the ring, and thankfully it was not at the expense of making a younger star look stupid. As I said on Twitter at that moment, "If you're not marking out right now, check your pulse." Bonus crowd HAM to the Hulk Hogan cue card for what building he's in.
25. Cesaro gets a huge chant almost immediately, proving that they waited until the right moment to make the transition. The crowd sings the Real Americans theme... Just realizing now that the guy from the Real Americans is meeting the guy who comes out to "Real American." He's still got Zeb, so... Curious to see how this turns out. Another surreal moment with Hulk Hogan giving Claudio Castagnoli the floor. Zeb takes the mic and starts taking credit for all of Cesaro's success. All right, the rest of this is being set up.
26. Cesaro immediately says that he's not a Zeb Colter guy, but he's the new Paul Heyman guy. That gets the guy who was getting booed out of the building a huge YES! chant. So... Cesaro's face with a heel manager now? And oh dear JBL, Heyman and Zeb in the same ring? There's a HAM sandwich if I've ever seen one. Cesaro becomes the latest ROH grad to become a Paul Heyman guy, and Zeb is less than thrilled. It's a helluva lot better than Goofus or Ryback, that's for sure. Heyman gives Cesaro the moniker "King of Swing" and man is there some potential for a Big Bad Voodoo Daddy theme right there.
27. Biff Swagger suddenly runs in and attacks Cesaro and destroys the trophy. We've got a built-in feud ready to begin here, with Paul Heyman managing the face against Biff and Zeb. I like it, though how do we have Heyman as a heel for Lesnar and a face for Cesaro? Or is Cesaro really face? I don't know, but he's getting the response of one. We come back in the middle of the match... sigh... and the crowd is still singing the Real Americans theme. Destroying that trophy really does make Biff look like a total bastard, so maybe he'll finally do something relevant with it. The announcers are so invested in the match that they're talking about nothing but the Undertaker. Way to put over what's going on, guys. Cesaro gets on the second turnbuckle and freaking SUPLEXES SWAGGER FROM THE OUTSIDE INTO THE RING! Amazing! Cesaro finally has a setup for the Big Swing, but Biff bails. The crowd makes reference to him as a morphological part of the anatomy that shares a name with a feline.
28. Recaps, skip. Kane and the Shield are backstage, and Stephanie even makes reference to Kane's brother. Is it like I said earlier, that the Shield would be set up against Evolution? Kane even goes HAM crazy, making Stephanie match his level to get him to shut up. Steph then yells at the Shield about Daniel Bryan while Roman Reigns is clearly not impressed. Reigns closes it with his best John Bender impression, and the pieces are in place for a huge multi-man match. War Games, finally? Maybe? Please?
29. Daniel Bryan, the champion, comes out first? Kay. Bryan's title reign has already been allowed to at least reach Kane's 1998 reign, so... Longer than his last two. It's also starting at the top of the hour, so I'm definitely not expecting much in the way of their classic on Sunday night. Big Dave and Ranny Ahtan walk out, surrounding the ring first, and immediately attack two-on-one. Yep, I think it's safe to say Evolution is back. Ahtan its an AhKO, and Big Dave hits the Skinny Jeans Splitter to follow it up. Citizen Kane's pyro then goes off, and he backs them off. But nope, Kane chokeslams Bryan, and the crowd is chanting "Hounds of Justice!" Nice. Now they're chanting for "3MB!" Sure, why not?
30. Triple H comes out to his older theme, and dare I say the better one. No matter what his status was, that entrance always got a huge pop when I've been there live. H steps in the ring with a smug look on his face, and a ref gets in the ring. Steph demands he ring the bell or he'll lose his job. The Shield theme hits before H can pick up Bryan, and they come out with their new mafia masks on. We've wondered how they could make the Shield more badass instead of breaking them up? Well, they're about to do it here. The Shield step across the ring from Evolution, and the crowd is chanting that it's awesome before it even happens. They get in the ring and H demands they stand down. Evolution comes in on the other side while H tries to be peacekeeper. H says they're not breaking it down into a war... Please, War Games... Then Reigns spears the shit out of Triple H. They attack, Reigns Superman-punches Kane, and H is surrounded. Bryan finally gets back in the ring, and H eats Bryan's knee. Did you hear that place come unglued when Reigns attacked, and when Bryan hit the knee? This is the crowd that doesn't cheer for faces, but they were all marks for this one. Brilliant ending, brilliant show, after a brilliant WrestleMania. This is further solidifying that a new era has begun. We have a new four-on-four feud, old vs. new, with four of the biggest new stars about to square off with the past's biggest remaining names. I can't imagine going out on my bi-yearly break on a better note.
Yes, unfortunately, it is that time of year. Finals are coming, and like last year, I need to focus on school during this month. Unlike last year, I'm not burnt out on the product; quite the opposite, I'm invigorated. But I have to be responsible with this time. Can't fuck around in the Ivy League, ya know? I've got one more column to post on Friday, and those of you who've followed me know what that is. So, I'll see you then, but this will be the last 30 Thoughts until mid-to-late May. Thanks for the amazing support, and especially the heartfelt comments on last night's column. You guys are awesome.
I'll be honest, I have to give it to two people. Paul Heyman clearly went even more over-the-top than usual, but I may never again get the chance to give the HAM to the ULTIMATE WARRIOR! So, I'll give a rare split, but the POWER OF THE WARRIOR HAS FINALLY REACHED IT'S GREATEST LEVELS OF HAM, HOAK HOGAN!
EDIT: When I said "I may never again get the chance to give the HAM to the ULTIMATE WARRIOR!" I had no idea how true that would be. It's been an awful day, with that being the icing on the cake. I've changed this to give the HAM solely to the Warrior. Heyman will have another day. April is a terrible month for me.
2012 - Daniel Bryan
2013 - Paul Heyman
1-6-14 - Dean Ambrose
1-13-14 - Big Show
1-20-14 - Big Show
2-3-14 - Bray Wyatt
2-17-14 - Titus O'Neil
2-24-14 - The Undertaker
3-3-14 - Paul Heyman
3-10-14 - Stephanie
3-17-14 - Randy Orton
3-24-14 - Dean Ambrose
3-31-14 - Bray Wyatt
4-6-14 - Roddy Piper
4-7-14 - THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR, HOAK HOGAN!