Wandering through the interwebs this morning, I came across the Scottish Sun article on Jim Ross likely having called his last WWE match
, something he's addressed on his blog
, as well (a blog I recommend as highly as any other pro wrestling resource out there, by the way).
It's a little saddening, but not unexpected. The WWE seems to be in the "make new starts and new stars" phase of the cycle (wherein I have started cussing that I don't need Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger or Sheamus shoved down my throat, already having accepted John Cena, Dave Batista and Randy Orton being shoved down my throat five or six years hence....).
Saddening from the sense that as a creature of habit and routine, certain things ring true to my ear as synonymous. Jim Ross just has one of those voices that for a couple and a half decades I've associated with pro wrestling. I have a small suspicion that if I were to find a copy of Good Ol' J.R. reading the Norman, Oklahoma, phone book I'd find some degree of comfort in it.
I had the same thing a couple of years ago, when I wandered across a baseball game on ESPN that Steve Stone was providing color commentary. It didn't matter that it was a meaningless spring training game between the A's and Brewers (if I remember correctly). Just hearing that voice took me to a place I didn't realize I'd go. For a couple of hours, I was right there watching the Cubs on a summer afternoon, again.
Like I said, creature of routine, I guess. Nostalgic. It happens. I'm not the only one. It's why John Madden had such a long career, I believe. He was fair, at best to my mind, as a football commentator, but he had a style and cadence that bred familiarity. He became one of those voices forever associated with football, I think, because he touched something in a lot of people that they came to appreciate. He was comfortable.
It's the same bit why Scooby-Doo, or A-Team or Dukes of Hazzard stay popular...there's a formula there, and you know things are gonna turn out okay. There's a routine there, a constant. And in a turbulent world, sometimes you need that.
Anyway, I'm no different. I hope it's not complete true. There's nothing a wrasslin' fan seems to love more than a nostalgic grab at the past (hence Bret Hart's Store Of Ultimate Revenge at this past Wrestlemania, or Hulk Hogan's 27th comeback, most recently with TNA Wrestling).
Let me take a minute here to take a look at Wrestlemania 26, which wandered onto the calendar last Sunday. Wandered to the Buffalo Wild Wings (where we never want the games to end) to watch the show. On the whole, I enjoyed the show, but it didn't blow me away. It's pretty much par for the course for the WWE for...well...I don't know how long, now.
Like most Wrestlemanias, time is spend more for grand entrances than actual substance of matches. Yet, I'm stupid. I find myself hoping that a CM Punk/Rey Misterio match might get 20 minutes, and gets maybe 9. (13, if you count their entrances). Such is the way of things.
I should note that, by and large, the followup Pay-Per-View to Wrestlemania, formerly Backlash, and called something new that escapes me this year, contains a better quality of match. Largely re-match oriented, there are fewer grand, time consuming entrances to deal with. Plus, there have actually been a couple months' worth of buildup for the matches, by that point. If I ran the WWE, I'd get rid of the February PPV, and allow a full 8-10 weeks to actually build toward Wrestlemania.
Anyway, matches of note? I liked Punk/Misterio, despite its shortness. I read online later, that they had a match on Smackdown (which I don't watch), that actually went longer. That seems quizzical to me, but then my rules of logic don't apply to the storytelling in the world of wrestling, I think. CM Punk's the horse the WWE needs to put their cart behind. I hope they realize that.
I liked Money-in-the-Bank, for the clusterfuck that it was. I was surprised when Swagger won, though not in the good way. I've never been impressed with Jack Swagger. Fair in the ring, he's shit on the mike. Go back to Raw a couple weeks before Wrestlemania, and listen to his guest commentary of Kofi Kingston's qualifying match. The man has no ability to go off the cuff, and to my mind is indicative of the WWE product of late. Where CM Punk is the guy to put the saddle on now, it might be possible that Swagger would be the one to follow later, just not now. One last note on the MITB match...I've wandered off Kofi Kingston...that dude's going to hurt himself or somebody, I think.
The Bret Hart Revenge match, I enjoyed for what it was. It is the part of me that enjoys revenge stories that makes me like wrestling, and in that respect, I dug it. Were it me? I'd have brought the Hart family out onto Raw last week, to build that aspect of the story, rather than have them as surprise screwjob lumberjacks. At the very least, have the new Hart Foundation turn on Bret early in the goings, but have them turn back for Wrestlemania. But, all that aside, there's something satisfying to me to watching Vince McMahon getting pummeled with a chair 13 of 15 times....
The Money in the Bank match was a clusterfuck
The Championship matches? I enjoyed the swerve of Jericho winning (though the shit where he loses the Title Belt to Jack Swagger on tonight's Smackdown is frustrating). And the Cena/Batista match is what it is. Cena wins. He's his generation's Superman.
Lastly? Shawn and Undertaker? I dug it. Good way for Shawn to go out, if he indeed stays out. I say that, because putting the cart behind guys like Jack Swagger or Sheamus means you're going to have to keep relying on the Undertakers and Triple H's of the world that much longer....