Monday, May 19, 2014

Instant Feedback: King Midas

The Golden Touch
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A story running smoothly on RAW tends to happen when harmonic convergence of transcendental character work by the performer coincides with the rare moment of clarity when the writer's room gets Vince McMahon to stay the fuck out of its way. Well, the latter part of that sentence is an assumption, but given how much reductive, recursive, recycled storytelling WWE has produced over the years and how the one common denominator happens to be the guy who runs the show, I'm sure it's a safe one to make. Anyway, most stories in WWE tend to feature great output from the wrestlers anyway; the roster may not be as charismatic as it was in the Rock 'n Wrestling Era, but the individual wrestlers have more than enough personality to complement the superior in-ring ability. Yet, most of them cannot save completely a poorly-written angle.

Big Show's maudlin man with no place to turn to in the fall as a supplement to the excellent Shield/Rhodes Family feud didn't fail because of anything he did wrong, nor was it a seeming dud because his opposition from Stephanie McMahon was flat. They held up their end of the bargain. The continuity errors, the recycled segment tropes, and utterly awful premises are what made that splinter feel out of place. This malaise has stricken the gamut of wrestlers, announcers, and managers alike. Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, John Cena, the Shield... they have all tried their best to rescue bad writing into something that didn't feel fatally flawed, and despite their best efforts, they have not been able to completely save poor source material.

Bray Wyatt, however, seems to have the golden touch. This feud with Cena has dipped to depths that even I can't defend. Winners of battles escalating like they have further scores to settle. Match narratives not matching up with the builds. Cena going from shook to happy-go-lucky like he was bipolar and not in a war for his soul. Even though I've found both their pay-per-view matches to be enjoyable on some level, they have left me wanting something else.

Yet, I hesitate to call this feud a failure or a disappointment, because every time Wyatt picks up a microphone, he saves the day. He makes the war seem like it was launched for a reason other than "We've got nothing better for Cena or Wyatt to do, so let's feud them because ¯\_(ツ)_/¯." He led off RAW and held me rapt. The man smiths his words so artfully, but the beauty isn't in his vocabulary, but in the incendiary way he is able to deliver them. He is a dragon, the only way I can explain how he is able to burn scripts and breathe life into the cold, flaccid ideas set forth by the source.

His actions speak nearly as loud as his words as well. When Cena and Luke Harper partook in an uncharacteristically janky match to close RAW, he breathed fiery life into the proceedings with his skid-stop execution of the Sister Abigail's Kiss on the first Uso brother he bombed with it. Closing the show with singing "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" over a felled Cena on top of the stage with Harper counting ten was the mind-eraser. I don't care how limp the feud has gotten between Extreme Rules and now; I only care that I want to see Wyatt flay Cena like he was a member of House Bolton.

Any performer can ham it up in spite of bad writing, but it takes someone special to be able to mask its inadequacy or make one forget it was bad to begin with. In many respects, Bray Wyatt is a veritable King Midas, a man whose touch can make his trappings feel right, no matter how poorly they were laid out in the first place.