When I was challenged by Hustle and Crow to follow in their footsteps and take on thirty daily columns, I looked over the topics and there were several who I instantly knew would be my answer. For example, when I chose Zack Ryder as my favourite male wrestler a few weeks ago, that shocked absolutely no one. When I named Kelly Kelly my least favourite female wrestler, even more people saw that coming a mile away. But today's topic - favourite bromance - was just as easy of a selection as the aforementioned categories.
During these two guys' rise to 'brodom', I wasn't writing columns for LOP. If I was, then I was just starting off as a newbie columnist in the LOP development league, the Column Forums. Therefore, I never really got a chance to write about my adoration for this duo and how I think they are one of the best tag teams of the 21st century. I am NOT talking about any of the duos from "the golden age of tag teams" such as The Dudley Boyz, Edge & Christian, or The Hardy Boyz (shudders at the last one). Rather, I'm referring to the pure definition of a thrown-together tag team, one that nobody saw making it far in the tag division, let alone teaming together for over a year. One of the members would go on to be a WWE Champion while the other would become the 'Marty Jannetty' of their team, but mainly because he left the company rather than stick around and wait for his opportunity to shine.
My favourite bromance is none other than the hosts of the retired wwe.com webshow The Dirt Sheet and the former longest-reigning WWE tag team champions in recent history,
The Miz & John Morrison
These two were just so entertaining together, I don't know where to begin. After each man failed to dethrone CM Punk of the ECW Championship, and WWE decided to give Kane and Big Daddy V 'main-event' pushes, these two midcarders were lost in limbo. They decided to form a tag team and start hosting a weekly webisode known as The Dirt Sheet. On the show, Miz & Morrison would poke fun at their colleagues, make you laugh with their over-the-topness, and better yet, use the show to start or continue rivalries. Imagine that, using social media to not only entertain, but to get an angle over! It's too bad WWE has gone the wrong way about promoting social media in recent months, but that's a story for another day.
Miz & Morrison were a thrown-together team, but they complimented each other brilliantly. By teaming, wrestling, and travelling with Morrison, Miz got a chance to brush up on his in-ring skills, something he was severely lacking a few years ago. At the same time, Morrison was able to develop more of a distinct personality and improve his mic skills, something he was lacking. Basically, each guy had his own share of strengths and weaknesses, and their year-plus partnership was the best thing that could have ever happened to them.
But what makes Miz & Morrison so special? Why did I choose their act over more popular bromances like Edge & Christian, Billy & Chuck, or Chris Jericho & Christian? I guess it's because the two just seemed to gel so well together. In addition to hosting The Dirt Sheet every single week for over a year, they were constantly appearing on SmackDown and/or ECW, occasionally appearing on RAW as well, and saved the tag team division from falling off the map. Miz & Morrison lived in an era when there were TWO sets of tag team titles, and they kept the belts for so long and carried them everywhere they went, so it was hard to care about their RAW counteracts. Furthermore, the way they split - with Miz being drafted to RAW and laying his former friend out - was not only shocking, but it resulted in a rivalry that produced several MOTY candidates AND was never truly resolved. They had such a strong bromance that their feud became personal and got over without any real effort.
So while Miz & Morrison may not be my favourite tag team of all-time, they are my favourite bromance. Everytime they appeared on-screen together, you were 100% guaranteed entertainment would soon follow. Despite being heels that no one really liked at first (Miz because of his suckiness in the ring and cockiness; Morrison because of his lack of emotion and character), they became one of the most popular pairings in the late-2000s. The day they broke up was a sad one, and although not as epic as Shawn Michaels putting Marty Jannetty face-first through a barbershop window, it is still a moment that will not be soon forgotten. Miz & Morrison definitely had "it" as a tag team. It's a shame we might not ever see them re-unite, at least not for a long time.
What do you think? Were you a fan of Miz & Morrison? Did you like The Dirt Sheet? If not, who/what is your favourite bromance in wrestling history?
2. Day 22
My pick for favourite era in professional wrestling probably won't be too popular among the masses, but I don't have too many to choose from. I could go the easy route and pick The Attitude Era as my favourite era because of the awesome characters, storylines, and ascension of main-eventers like The Rock, Stone Cold, and Triple H, but I sadly missed out on it. Everything I know, everything I've seen from The Attitude Era has been from a WWE-released DVD or YouTube. Since I didn't live through it, it's not fair for me to call it my favourite era.
Despite being a wrestling fan for 10+ years, I've only been around for two eras - the Post-Attitude/"John Cena" era and the PG era. I don't think you need to be reminded how awful WWE programming was between 2003-2008, with the loss of so many huge stars, a rival company, and the failure of brand-exclusive shows/Pay-Per-Views. Therefore, almost by default, I am forced to choose The PG era as my favourite wrestling era.
That being said, it's not a bad choice. To this day, many fans complain about how crappy the current WWE product is, but what most of those people don't realize is that PG has NOTHING to do with it. While I would love to see wrestlers bleed more often and hear more vulgar language used on television, the PG law is not what's making the product suffer. Crappy writers and horrible booking has been plaguing the WWE for years; it's a miracle we've been able to not give up on wrestling and move onto other sources of entertainment after all the crap we've endured.
So how does me shitting on the current product translate into the PG era being named my favourite era? Simple - match quality. Years ago, during the Attitude and Post-Attitude Eras, the majority of PPVs weren't that great. From 1998-2001, most PPVs were about entertainment and pushing angles than actual wrestling. Obviously, that doesn't apply to every single WWE show during that time frame, but it's hard to name some solid, overall WRESTLING PPVs. The brand split at the start of the century only made matters worse, especially on the SmackDown side, as were forced to witness the likes of Kenzo Suzuki, Mordecai, Jesus, and other failed experiments wrestle in a top match at PPVs. Six years ago, WWE would gladly headline No Mercy with The Undertaker vs. Heidenrich. Nowadays, they wouldn't dare schedule a CM Punk vs. Tensai match for Hell in a Cell (at least I hope not).
My point is, even though storylines and the midcard were better and more relevant years ago, the quality of wrestling has greatly improved. The quantity might not be there, but I'll take quality over quantity any day, a formula past eras never seemed to get right. 2012, for example, has produced only one bad PPV (No Way Out) and two "meh" PPVs (Royal Rumble, Money in the Bank). The rest have been either good, great or fantastic. Compared to other years, I feel more confident ordering a PPV now, knowing there's a good chance I'll get my money's worth, than I did five-ten years ago. Three-hour RAWs and JBL-less SmackDowns might be hard to get through, but the PPVs are almost guaranteed to be worth the wait.
Again, I am not a big fan of the current product, as I feel three-hour RAWs had so much potential but have become a train-wreck (a column about that another day), while SmackDown is struggling as RAW's recap show more than ever, but I think we're in for some good times ahead. WWE might be low in main-eventers and top stars - due to their terrible booking and putting the roster through an even more grueling schedule than before - but the future looks bright. It won't be long before Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes, Kofi Kingston, The Miz, and many others are THE guys, not the future. Tag teams appear to be on the verge of regaining their past glory, and commentary seems to be on the right track, with JBL back, Jim Ross back, Michael Cole no longer heel, and guys like Josh Mathews and Scott Stanford ready for their big break. Right now, the only thing holding WWE back is the writers, and that's the truth.
I don't want the PG era to be remembered for Hornswoggle, no blood, and Honey Boo Boo appearing at Wrestlemania 29 (God forbid). I want people to look back at this era years from now and remember all the great matches that took place, how guys like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and even Sheamus were able to succeed and get over without being able to swear, bleed, or (legally) hit fans on live television. I want the PG era to be remembered as a good time to be a wrestling fan, not a bad time.
But unless WWE gets their shit together, that's probably not going to happen.
3. Day 23
This is actually a tricky question. Being the "most improved" can have several different meanings. Most improved in the ring? Most improved on the mic? Most improved in status on the card? All of the above? Since I'm assuming it's the latter, there are several people who come to mind.
-Ryback would fit into this category, especially with the biggest match of his career less than six days away. As much as I enjoyed his care-free, "Yip Yip Yip, What It Do?" character on NXT, he wasn't going to main-event a Pay-Per-View with that persona. The injury he sustained while a part of Nexus was the best thing that could have happened to him, as he avoided being pushed down the card like David Otunga, Heath Slater, Darren Young, etc. and was away long enough for many people to forget he was once a cowboy. His in-ring work has improved, and you don't need me to tell you how over he has got in recent months. That being said, Ryback didn't make a HUGE improvement in his overall abilities.
-It's hard to believe that Damien Sandow and Idol Stevens are the same person. Our intellectual saviour of the masses was once a flat, no personality member of a forgettable tag team. Now, he is becoming one of the top heels on the roster and has a chance of winning the tag team championship at Hell In A Cell this Sunday. However, prior to his main roster re-debut earlier this year, Sandow was off WWE television quite a long time, and spent many years in WWE developmental, as well as other indy promotions, mastering his craft. It resulted in a successful character change, but he did have plenty of time to improve.
-Looking at the TNA roster, it's hard to deny the progress Magnus has made since his days with The British Invasion came to an end. I remember hearing the IWC groan unanimously a few years back when it was reported that Dixie Carter wanted the writers to "push Magnus, no matter what," (likely because of his ties with Gladiators. However, Magnus has become an internet favourite by working hard in every possible aspect. He's no longer a member of a stable, but has carved his own persona, and just recently had one of the better matches of the night at Bound For Glory against Samoa Joe. Many people feel he's on the verge of being TNA's next breakout star, and while I agree, Magnus is not quite there yet.
Instead, my pick for most improved wrestler is someone who has spent the majority of 2012 on the sidelines. I was really disappointed when he got injured, because he was in the middle of the best run of his fifteen-year career. He went from being somebody no one liked - not the casual fans, not the IWC - to a real treat to watch. He arguably carried SmackDown on his back the final few months of 2011, and I can only imagine what kind of role he would have played at Wrestlemania 28 if he was healthy. In my mind, the most improved wrestler - in promos, between the ropes, and in importance to the company - is
2011 was, without doubt, a career year for The World's Strongest Man. Before 2011, Henry never had a 'great match' before, and usually bored most people to tears. He was kind of like the current Big Show - a boring wrestler who slowed down any match he was in and cut awful, terrible promos. That all changed when Henry turned heel the night of the 2011 draft and was suddenly pushed as SmackDown's top heel. A fire was lit under Henry, and he set out trying to be the best he could be. He succeeded. In one year, Henry had a series of great matches with The Big Show, Randy Orton, and Daniel Bryan. His feud with Show was surprisingly good, as was his world title reign. The "Hall of Pain" gimmick worked; for the first time in years, people cared about Henry and wanted to see more of him. I was one of those people.
Unfortunately, injuries halted Henry's momentum, and he was basically forced to drop the title at TLC last December. He would struggle to compete despite being far from 100%, but eventually, his body could take no more. Henry has spent the majority of 2012 recovering, and it's not certain he will even return full-time. If we get the same Mark Henry from last year, I cannot wait to be graced by his presence once again. But if we get a slower, unmotivated World's Strongest Man, then I don't want to see him back. It might be better to leave the memories alone.
That being said, based on his work in 2011 alone, Henry is my undisputed pick for most improved wrestler, and it's not even close.
4. Day 24
One of the best things about professional wrestling is no matter how long you watch it for, no matter how much you think you know what's going on, and no matter how obvious it appears, you can always be caught off-guard. WWE, WCW, and even TNA have managed to surprise both newer and older fans over the years seemingly effortlessly. Personally, I love being swerved, but I do get annoyed when there is a "swerve for being a swerve" (see: Matt Hardy being revealed as Jeff Hardy's mysterious assailant, rather than Christian). I don't have the time to explain each one of these shocking moments in detail, but here's a list of several events I never saw coming:
-Eric Bischoff being revealed as the RAW General Manager, and then hugging Vince McMahon on live television.
-Brock Lesnar's failed Shooting Star Press at Wrestlemania XIX.
-Triple H turning heel on Shawn Michaels.
-Trish Stratus betraying Chris Jericho at Wrestlemania XX.
-Edge cashing in his MitB briefcase on John Cena at New Year's Revolution.
-The debut of The Nexus.
-Bret Hart returning on RAW and "burying the hatchet" with HBK.
-Daniel Bryan returning at SummerSlam 2010.
-CM Punk's pre-Money in the Bank 2011 Pipe-Bomb.
-Brock Lesnar's post-Wrestlemania 28 return.
-The formation of Immortal at Bound For Glory 2010.
-Sheamus defeating John Cena at TLC to become WWE Champion.
-Christian's return to ECW (and WWE) after a TNA run.
-Team 3D breaking up and Bubba Ray turning into Bully Ray.
-The Rock returning to RAW (and WWE) to host Wrestlemania 27.
-Paul Heyman being revealed as CM Punk's associate earlier this year.
I know I left out many, MANY moments, but that will have to do. The moment I believe to be the most shocking is fairly recent (less than five years ago, if you consider that 'recent'), but unforgettable. It took place in 2008, when the IWC was surging, and many people felt they knew the business inside out. Anytime WWE were in negotiations with a superstar or legend to come back early from injury or make a one-time appearance, the dirt sheets reported it days in advance, sometimes weeks in advance. Yet, WWE was able to keep this one a surprise by reportedly keeping the returning superstar locked in a car backstage so no one - not even the locker room - could find out about it. The result? Arguably the biggest mark-out moment of my life, which nearly gave me a heart attack. The event?
John Cena's surprise return at the 2008 Royal Rumble.
I cannot stress enough the fact that nobody saw this coming. N-O-B-O-D-Y. As shocking as some of the events I listed above were, a few people expected them to happen. For example, when Team WWE was short one member prior to SummerSlam 2010, I saw a few people correctly predict Bryan would return that night. It was rumoured that Brock Lesnar had signed a new WWE contract the weekend of Wrestlemania 28, so when he showed up on RAW the next week, not everybody was surprised.
This was different. You could have asked the entire IWC who would have won the 2008 Royal Rumble and no one would have answered with, "John Cena". WWE could have run a poll on it's mark-heavy Facebook page asking the 'WWE Universe' who would win the 2008 Royal Rumble, and no one over the age of 7 or with half a brain would have commented with, "John Cena". That's because Cena was out with an injury, and wasn't even expected back until March 2008 at the very earliest. The return at #30 was so epic that even the smarky Madison Square Garden crowd marked the fuck out. That's right, the same crowd who had turned their backs on Cena since 2005/2006 forgot that it wasn't 'cool' to cheer for Cena and reacted like the rest of the little kids in attendance. Of course, that only lasted about ten seconds, but it shows how crazy and shocking Cena's return was.
It's debatable that something like The Nexus' debut or The 1997 Montreal Screwjob were just as shocking or even more surprising than Cena's Rumble return, but to me, those were more "What the hell is going on?" moments than a "HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!!!" moment like Cena's return. Almost five years later, I still get goosebumps watching that now famous entrance/return. Simply an epic moment...
How about you? What do you consider the most shocking moment in wrestling history?
5. Day 25
When it comes to picking my favourite commentator of all-time, it's basically a no-contest. I know most people would go with Jim Ross for obvious reasons, or if they're more old-school, they might choose Gordon Solie as their favourite commentator. I'm not going to compare them with my choice, as Ross and Solie are completely different announcers than my pick, both behind and away from the commentating table. Instead, I'm going to tell you why I went with this man instead of two of the greatest announcers of all-time. Fair enough?
Therefore, without further ado, I give you my favourite announcer/commentator both presently and of all-time: the undisputed Wrestling Gawd himself,
Words cannot describe how awesome of a commentator John Bradshaw Layfield really is. When he was forced to retire from active competition due to issues with his back, many fans were sad to see one of the most entertaining WWE Champions in history take his leave. However, JBL's retirement was a blessing in disguise, as WWE wisely put JBL behind the commentating booth and formed a great team with Michael Cole. JBL, in full heel mode, would rip into Cole every chance he got, but most importantly, got the wrestlers over. Unlike Michael Cole circa 2010-a few months ago, JBL made fun of the faces but did not bury them. He was entertaining, filled with knowledge, and was a welcome relief after years of enduring Cole and Tazz on commentary.
I don't know why I keep referring to JBL in the past tense as his recent return to the announce table has been nothing short of a success. When word hit the street that Bradshaw would be returning to commentate at Night of Champions, many people were excited, but worried JBL would be rusty after a lengthy hiatus from his commentary duties. Fortunately, we had nothing to worry about, as JBL returned in top form and has continued to improve since last September. WWE took notice of the former APA member's awesomeness and has made the new - although possibly temporary - SmackDown announce team of JBL & Josh Mathews. I've always preferred Mathews to Cole, and with JBL helping him up his game, Mathews could be the one to replace Cole as the "voice of the WWE" years from now.
But one thing I've always admired about JBL is his ability to adapt to any situation. He can play the intimidating, heel announcer to a tee, but he can easily play a sympathetic voice. He also has a great sense of improvisation, as demonstrated earlier this week when he decided to verbally talk smack to the referees while changing the ring ropes at Tuesday's SmackDown tapings. Did JBL have to pick up the mic and cut a promo? No, but he decided to go beyond his duties and entertain the fans. JBL has always been so versatile it's hard not to admire a man who has been a pleasure to listen to on commentary for nearly a decade.
With that, i leave you with a short clip of what I consider one of JBL & Cole's funnier moments. Not as epic as JBL chasing out some 'illegal immigrants', but it's damn close. Enjoy:
What about you? Who is YOUR favourite commentator/announcer of all-time?
It's hard to believe that only five days remain of the challenge and then I'll be back to writing regular columns. It almost seems like a foreign concept. Which reminds me, Skitz won't be joining me to preview Hell In A Cell this weekend, so look out for my solo predictions either tomorrow or Saturday.
In the words of my broski and former colleague Ro, I totally have social media!