I stopped watching WWE right around the time Vince McMahon bought World Championship Wrestling (WCW). I was in high school, had other priorities, only a few friends that watched and wrestling fell by the wayside. I would pick up a WWE video game every now and then but that was the extent of my fandom.
I missed a lot, obviously. I missed Randy Orton and Edge's rises to the top. I remember thinking, "Wow, Edge got popular!" And I missed Chris Jericho being the best in the world. I guess, most importantly to the history of the WWE, I missed John Cena becoming John Cena. For some reason, and I really can't recall why, I decided to watch WWE again. I'd just switched to a fantastic new career and found myself with lots of free time, so I thought it might be fun to do.
So I started watching the month before Money in the Bank 2011. It was a good time to start - my second episode of Raw after nearly a decade away was CM Punk's infamous shoot promo. I remember thinking "This guy is really entertaining." I had no clue who Punk was, remember. For the first time in my life, I ordered a pay-per-view.
I was hooked again.
We ordered SummerSlam and even had a WrestleMania party. My wife bought us tickets to Raw in Portland, and Smackdown the next night in Seattle. Awesome.
So with Money in the Bank 2012 in the rearview mirror, here's a few thoughts from a guy who spent nearly a decade away from professional wrestling - and came back to it in the past year.
I can't stand John Cena: Can. Not. What's worse is my wife has been somewhat watching with me, and she of course LOVES John Cena. I guess what bothers me the most is that the WWE title should be the most important and prized possesion in the company. I don't need to see Cena's goofy ass smile at the end of every PPV when he's not the champion.
Heel CM Punk is awesome: Cena's little buddy CM Punk is not. I thought Punk was the coolest thing I'd seen since "Stone Cold" Steve Austin but then they turned him into this weird ... thing where he was like John Cena Lite. I liked the Punk that did what he wanted and had great talking points. Not the one that calls Daniel Bryan goat face. So I'm happy to see this latest development, with Punk finally fighting back, saying "Hey, I'm the champion! I'm the big deal!"
Daniel Bryan is the man, and here's why: When he won Money in the Bank, I'd never really seen Bryan before so I didn't really care much. But the man made me care; his character development over the past year hooked me. He is amazing. Also, great theme song.
Mark Henry: I last spotted "The World's Strongest Man" fathering a hand. All these years later, he's my favorite heel. Pretty damn cool to see him get his shot and make the most of it. His mic skills, when given the chance, were awesome.
There are a few guys that just do nothing for me: Sheamus and Randy Orton both fall into this category for me. Same with Sin Cara. I'm not really sure why, I guess they just bore me.
Dolph Ziggler: I really hope this is his time to shine. He's amazing. Jericho's mission this time around seems to be putting people over so I really hope this is where his program with Ziggler is going.
*Sadly, the United States and Intercontinetal Championships mean nothing. I would love to see, you know, actual storytelling. Not random pairings of guys week to week wrestling for no particular reason; wrestlers getting title shots for no reason. I would love, love, someone like Tyson Kidd, or Antonio Cesario, or anyone, to come out and say "when I was growing up, the Intercontinental Championship meant something. It meant you were next, and I want the title." then started a feud (I vaguely remember Cody Rhodes saying something to the effect, then it just tapered off). I want actually fueds with actually meaning. I actually forgot who the US Champion was the other day until Santino came out wearing it. As a side note, if Santino is going to get destoryed by Alberto del Rio on Raw, wouldn't we accept ADR as a threat to Sheamus more if he was putting the beating on the US Champion, if that belt actually meant something?Ta
Tag teams: I sure miss the days of established tag teams. Hopefully with the focus the Prime Time Players have been getting lately, this could go somewhere.
Heath Slater is a donk but the legend segments were gold.
The Big Show is awesome on the mic as a heel. Last week when he said "Yeah, go ahead, boo boooo" he cracked me up.
Brock Lesnar: They have really made me not care about the former UFC champion. I was stoked when he came back and F5'd Cena, only to lose for no reason whatsoever at Extreme Rules. And while I'm on that point, Executive Triple H is one of the most annoying characters ever.
The Rock: I love him but him getting a title shot at the Royal Rumble, out of nowhere, is ridiculous.
Live shows are awesome: Raw was a 100% better experience than Smackdown, which was still fun. But with NXT and Superstars both filming that night, it seemed like a long drag for the wife as she had no idea who most the NXT or Superstars guys were. I can't wait to go to another one.
Hoping this next year is as fun as this last was.