If not for John Laurinaitis – Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and the General Manager of both RAW and Smackdown — I’d be scared to know the current state of the WWE.
They dropped the ball with John Cena vs. The Rock, by.. announcing the match a year in advance. They dropped the ball with Lord Tensai, by.. even thinking that a “Shogun’d” Prince Albert would or even could be interesting. And, worst of all, they dropped the ball with Brock Lesnar, by.. making the “Unstoppable Force” and “Immovable Object” cannon fodder for superface Cena.
But, thankfully, World Wrestling Entertainment didn’t drop the ball with “Mr. Excitement.”
Laurinaitis has been network ratings bliss, using his own mundane and monotone persona as a nifty alternative to Vince McMahon’s more boisterous alpha villain. Because, let’s face it: when has wrestling ever used dry humor as a ratings tool?
Take this Monday for example. When coddling to his coffee-drinking cronies about not holding up their own ends of the bargain, Laurinaitis pointed out that he “won’t be doing this job forever. In 10 or 20 years from now, I may want to retire!” And, shit, Laurinaitis didn’t even use the term “embodies” correctly when addressing the new audience about his latest endeavor:
Just look at what Big Johnny’s done in his brief run as GM. He’s turned CM Punk’s mundane mat wrestling war with Dolph Ziggler into something more churning, be it Chris Jericho’s alcohol abuse-accusing scandals, ol’ buddy Daniel Bryan’s ex-girlfriend creeping out the friend-zone, or even, recently, with the ridiculously droll video game cover constest (haven’t they heard of the Madden curse?). Mr. Laurinaitis has even calmed down a good portion of the “Cena Sucks” chants in the past few weeks, turning one of the federation’s biggest – literally – fan favorites into a far more comfortable role as the spit-n-scowl choke-slamming machine.
Yes. Someone’s made The Big Show semi-interesting, and that’s speaking volumes.
This current GM-focused brand of wrestling mimics shades of the late-90s when bosses were in the squared-circle spotlight: Mr. McMahon (vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin), Eric Bischoff (“Monday Night Wars”), and Paul Heyman (“ECW Invasion”). And, that’s also when stables were formed. For the terribly uninformed, stables (a.k.a. factions) are groups of wrestlers with common elements who make up a unit. That is until, not surprisingly, one or more of them turn on each other for a new angle. Stables do rate higher on most wrasslin’ fans lists than “Bra & Panties” matches.
Hey, I never said these people were normal.
More importantly to the matter, it’s Laurinaitis’s coy, yet proud, political authority that now replaces the tag-team main event loving Teddy Long on the little-seen Smackdown. The new GM’s presence has even lead to a heated Sheamus/Randy Orton feud, perhaps nudging fans to change over their friday night DVR from “The Vampire Diaries.”
At worst, most fans will just agree that Long is far more interesting in the role of Johnny’s bitch:
Preach on, playa.
As we prepare for E3, here’s a quick look into THQ’s forthcoming WWE ‘13 video game:
• WWE ’13 will implement some of the crazier, hair-raising moments of the fed’s past – Spectacular Moments, if you will — into the ring with an “OMG” icon when it’s time to execute the unthinkable:
• The game also has several new match adjustment options, including how many finishers (like Brian Adams’ “Heart Punch”…uh..) can be used in a match, as well as Match Experience, a new mode that will determine the match’s pacing, regardless of AI difficulty. So, if you want an epic Daniel Bryan/CM Punk match – as witnessed at last week’s Over the Limit PPV – you’d set it to, well, “Epic.” If it’s a RAW match you want to get through quickly so you have time to say all your prayers and eat all your vitamins, you’d select, well, “Quick.” It’s all elementary.
• Best of all, THQ woke up, smelled the roses, and realized just how much last year’s single player mode (The Road to Wrestlemania) SUCKED, and implemented The Attitude Era. So, even if you quit watching wrestling at the time Vince screwed Bret, or Shawn screwed Bret, or Bret screwed himself, whatever, this new mode will take fans back to wrestling heights without just the mere use of retro significance. And, yo, WWE ’13’s got Mike Tyson. He wasn’t even in his own Punch Out!!! game the second time around.
To find our Comics of the Week for May 30, check out the Parish Picks slideshow on the front pages bottom right. And, tomorrow, GHG also promises to have the strangest E3 Preview ever, courtesy of Marli & Me – without the sufficient need for Kleenex. Stay seated.