Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Best Coast Bias: Seeing Red Again

The WWE's Honey Badger had a red letter Tuesday
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For the past few years, given the galactic polarity that'll orbit John Cena well after he goes into the ground (assuming he's not immortal), WWE's always had a frisson that has come to bear and even been woven into the storyline when it needs to be.  Of course Cena is the company's top babyface but to a lot of people that descriptor fails; what they see him as is The Company's top babyface.  It's a veritable Deux Ex Macena.  Don't like what goes on both in and off screen?  Cena won't give up his spot, he's been doing the same stuff for a decade and there's naturally burnout at that rate, and all the stuff Cesaro said Monday night if you want to get hyperreductive. There's the other side of the argument where Cena is nearly Swiss clock reliable, never phones in a big match (seriously, once the Best of Cena DVD set comes out it's going to be gargantuan and full of great moments and matches), and the mere fact of looking competitive against him is enough since the protection he's afforded makes tight matches virtual wins and the small handful of actual wins against him shine brighter than the Championships he wears as a neckband.  But this also allows a gap in the lacunae of the minds of a lot of fans, who adopt their own babyface. Cena will always garner the biggest reaction on a show, but that's obviously not necessarily equating to the most over babyface on the programs. And following in the proud tradition of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan is now...Dean Ambrose., seriously.  That Ambrose.

 When the bad guys like Seth Rollins call him a lunatic or in Alberto del Rio's case in the opening segment (in order) a rat, a hobo, or something that looked like it crawled out of a dumpster, they're right.  When the announcers note that he fights as if he doesn't have a plan or with complete disregard for his body, they're right.  Dean Ambrose, the Groundskeeper Willie of the WWE, hears you, and Dean-O don't care; if elected Mayor his first act will be to kill Seth Rollins and burn the Authority to cinders.  (Not literally.)  (Well, probably.)  The night for Ambrose started off belittling his bosses for sending him away for the Monday night on a promotional tour to save their new golden boy and ended with him laying out del Rio with Dirty Deeds for trying to sneak attack him post-match.  In the middle?  He actually got his hands on Rollins for an all too fleeting couple of moments that were amongst the ones that got the best crowd response in Main Event history, and he and Del Rio put on a great match that even with the SHENANIGANS non-finish seemed on several occasions to look more like a legitimate fight and not two guys going through a well-choreographed ballet routine.

What makes Ambrose so highly compelling for the Network Era is the sense of cultivated erraticness mixed with his refusal to tamp down his offense now that he's the most unlikely of white hats.  Literally at the beginning of the match after Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton noting del Rio had to get seven stitches in his left eye area off of RAW's events and seeing it look like a minigolf golf ball lodged in there Ambrose got del Rio in the corner and started whaling on him before face raking him against the top rope and doing his forearm facerake, let alone the 10-punch in the corner.  And this all went down right in the opening minute and a half.  Small wonder that Del Rio's stitches would be giving by the end of the match and he'd give Dean back just as good as he got, too.  Watching two guys throw bombs on Tuesday night was as compelling as it was jarring; you almost wanted to ask them if they knew this program was in second place tied with Every Other Show That Isn't RAW in the WWE hierarchy. Before the second chunk of the match had occurred, in addition to the opening shenanigans Dean had busted out a modified straightjacket Regal Stretch (oh, the warm fuzzies that gave somebody who watched FCW) and bowling ball gouged his way out of a del Rio reverse superplex attempt while del Rio had double stomped him off the top, landed two sweet step up Owenzuigiris and superkicked Ambrose's head into the post.  Who cares about a non-clean ending when two guys are Fat Man and Little Boying each other for 15 beforehand?

On the back end, del Rio would give a lariat almost as if he knew he'd get the Jawbreaker later in return as quid pro quo.  A crazy-ass tope would see del Rio literally land in the front row with a fan snarking he wanted to see the former WWE and World Champion's ticket.  Actually, the whole thing down the stretch was a fine work of escalating signatures on both ends, including possibly the best basement superkick that del Rio's hit that didn't legitimately injure the victim.  But when Seth Rollins appeared...well, you can guess what happened next.  To the delight of the crowd the former Shielders spent a couple minutes tussling all over ringside, with both men earing the barricade before Ambrose cleared the ring and dropped del Rio like so much third period French.  Somehow Rollins didn't want to get in the ring with him, even with Ambrose sitting on the middle rope offering him entry.  Hard to suss out why, isn't it?

If that didn't make it enough of a memorable Main Event it also featured the first win of SlaterGator, who overcame Zack Ryder and... Tyson Kidd?  Jarring as it was for a long-time NXT supporter to see Kidd seamlessly revert back to being a babyface more than ready to take a hot tag as if his ears had never heard a Nattie's Husband chant was watching the odd couple of Heath and Titus work out by not working out.  Titus got in some good moments by powering Ryder around the ring and Slater's top rope powerslam (!) tp Kidd delivered a win that allowed both of them to get in the way of the other to celebrate in front of the hard camera.  And while the Prime Time Band isn't quite ready for the Usos, it's possible Kofi Kingston and Big E. are.  They watched while Dr. X Woods was on commentary while the Champions took out RyBaxel, in a match perfectly designed to not draw attention to itself and let Woods carry the broadcast for a bit while talking about the formation of this new group and yeah this is going to turn into a column of its own.  No matter how few minds it may change, some things need to be said.

Dean Ambrose may personify the online buzzphrase "Your fave is problematic", but that's nothing compared to this iteration of Jack Swagger's America or what it looks like they're going to do with Not Langston, Kingston, and the Doc.  Watch this space.