Archive for November, 2010

McMahon’s latest Mizstake? Mike “the Miz” Mizanin wins WWE championship

November 24th, 2010 2 comments

Mizery loves company: This little girl in Orlando was but one fan in the WWE Universe shooting daggers at the new champion Monday night. (Kevin Nash also pouted.)

Almost immediately after the Miz defeated Randy Orton for his first WWE championship during Monday’s RAW, Twitter nearly imploded, with fan reactions ranging from outraged to euphoric.

Former WWE title-holder Kevin Nash tweeted that Vince McMahon further exposed the business as being a work (like that’s even possible) for crowning the undersized Miz his new champion. (Nash, who has been angling for a mystery slot in the 2011 Royal Rumble, has since removed this tweet–what a pussy. Initial reports indicate that the ever-fragile Nash fractured his wrist while typing his original tweet.) Hours after his man-crush won the strap, Michael Cole was attempting a tweet but instead jerked off on his keyboard.

Despite the fact that every Money In the Bank winner had successfully cashed in the briefcase to become champion, most fans were surprised by the win (most notably a visibly upset demonic young girl in the audience who would spook Wednesday Addams). The Miz comes off as such a whiny prick, I believe most fans were convinced he’d be the first to fail when cashing in the contract.  (I’ve said this before, but they really need to change up the contract-cashing formula. Have the contract winner say he doesn’t want the unfair advantage–he wants to win the title upfront in the ring so the champ has no excuses when he loses. In Miz’s case, he could have challenged Randy Orton upfront for a bout the Rumble, saying he wants to do it on his own and that he doesn’t want a cheap victory after the champ has already competed. Then he and Alex Riley attack Orton the night of the Rumble in the parking lot, giving the Miz an unfair advantage and the win. Miz, of course, then crows about being a true champion who cashed in his contract ahead of time, giving Orton adequate time to prepare–no fluke, no excuses!)

Clearly, the Miz title win reflects the company’s commitment to focusing on youth (Mizanin just turned 30) and creating new main-eventers who fans will buy as being on the same level as established stars like Randy Orton, Triple H, John Cena, Edge and the Undertaker. Wade Barrett seemed poised to break through and clearly has the size that Vince McMahon loves (you know what I mean) but they are apparently hesitant to make him champion so soon. If Barrett keeps improving in the ring and on the mic (he’s already fantastic delivering a heel promo), he’ll be a top main-event star a year from now. It’s been a tough clique to crack in recent years, with the company constantly recycling matches on top, most notably the tired, boring feud between ‘Taker and Kane, a rivalry that seemingly will last until the end of eternity.

The ascension of the Mizanin from “Tough Enough” contestant to WWE champion seemed unlikely five years ago, as the Miz character was relegated to mostly comedy relief in the mode of Santino, seemingly destined to remain a career midcarder at best. Viewed as a reality-star outsider by most in the locker room despite his training and work in OVW, he was supposedly bullied unmercifully by guys like Bradshaw and Bob Holly, making his odds of ever breaking through the backstage politics to succeed even longer. But his drive, creativity and quick wit got him noticed, as he hit his stride teaming with John Morrison and producing their comedic Dirt Sheet report. Vince McMahon, who is frighteningly ignorant of pop culture nowadays, most likely loves the Miz’s promos, which are usually riddled with references to Hollywood stars, professional athletes, and the latest trends and fads. The Miz is a pop-culture creation itself, as the character was developed by Mizanin during filming of MTV’s “The Real World. ” When it comes to pop culture, nobody beats the Miz. Nobody.

Personally, I like the Miz. He’s the ultimate hipster-poseur-doofus between the age of 18 and 34–a desired target demographic of the WWE machine. He doesn’t fit the mold of past WWE champions–but with a company that’s desperately stale right now, that works in his favor. Nash knocked Miz, saying he looked more like a guy out of the audience rather than champion–fitting in a way, because Miz was indeed a longtime wrestling fan. As the ref raised his hand Monday, Miz closed his eyes in disbelief, achieving the dream every mark who ever cut a heel promo in his bathroom mirror. His promos are entertaining though often bordering on cheap, worthless heat like berating the local sports team. When he’s inspired, he’s one of the company’s most charismatic performers and clearly is tough as nails mentally to carry the load as champion short term. Still, I question if fans will buy him as, say, a WrestleMania main eventer. (Not that he’ll still be champion by then.) It all depends on how he’s booked from here. Recent booking history doomed Jack Swagger, who did several televised jobs right after cashing in his MIB contract to win the World title. Combined with his lisp,which was singled out during every televised exchange with a would-be challenger, Swagger never had a chance to get over as champion.

Miz has grown into a capable worker and his runs as tag and U.S. champion gave him some semblance of credibility heading into last Monday night. By all accounts, Miz shines at public appearances representing the company, which definitely escalated his push to the top. If he tweaks his promo style a bit and gets some solid wins under his pimpish-looking WWE bling belt, the Miz could be breath of fresh air on top. (At least until Triple H returns to knock him off.) Besides, chicken-shit, physically undersized heels  who can run their mouths have long been a successful staple of the industry.

As Jim Ross writes in his latest blog, “As for Miz being WWE Champion and specifically for all the naysayers, I suggest that you allow this matter to evolve more than just a few hours before damning it. Antagonist champions who are physically beatable on any given night and who have talented albeit annoying verbal skills are a nice persona traits for a successful champion to have.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

YouTube Finds: Harley Race has a proposition for you

November 22nd, 2010 No comments

Harley Race ended Ric Flair’s first NWA World title run with a victory in a best-of-three falls bout in St. Louis on June 10, 1983, for a record-breaking seventh championship reign, eclipsing the legendary Lou Thesz, who had six runs with the most prestigious belt in the business. Race had pushed hard for one last run as champion to boost attendance for his struggling Heart of America Wrestling territory, in which he had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars.  (Race would get an eighth NWA title win the next year, trading the belt with Flair in New Zealand.) Over the next few months in a series of rematches between Race and Flair, the heat was turned up Mid-Atlantic style, as Jim Crockett Promotions built up a return cage match for Thanksgiving night in Greensboro as part of the biggest card in the history of the territory, Starrcade ’83.

There was the incredible drama of the “local boy” going for the strap in his backyard, which was enhanced by fact that the Nature Boy had won the NWA belt the first time away from his home territory. To make matters more personal, Race put on a bounty on Flair’s bleached-blonde head, offering $25,000 to anyone who would eliminate his most persistent challenger. Race closed the offer growling, “Someone take the damn money!”  (Later, Race had to stress that he meant the offer was only open to wrestlers–not just any redneck in the Carolinas with an itchy trigger finger and bills to pay.) Years later, Triple H would cut a very similar promo, offering a bounty on Goldberg–presumably fearing that the former WCW champion wouldn’t be able to keep up with him in the ring.

YouTube Finds: Koko B. Worthy?

November 19th, 2010 No comments

Ah, silly me. When discussing the Hall of Fame credentials of Koko Ware, I overlooked his 1993 World heavyweight championship run in Memphis. Then again, the so-called “Unified” title changed hands more times than the Southern title, so I suppose it was easy to overlook this career-changing title victory. (Say what you want about Jerry Lawler’s attire in this clip, but the man looks comfortable  in his color-coordinated Browns gear/Zubaz.) For the record, I don’t believe there was a single main event in Memphis post-1989 that didn’t end with a ref bump. (I should know–I was bumped during plenty of ’em.) Frank Morrell has already been rendered unconscious in this clip, but I’d bet my old “candy-apple red Mitsubishi Eclipse sports car” (which I used to brag about on the air after I turned heel–ridiculous) that Lawler had Ware in a standing side headlock when he was thrown into the official. Just a hunch.