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The Irresistible Force
Bob Schrader is a long-time WWE fan who has attended 11 WrestleManias. Bob grew up in the New York area and became fascinated with WWE in the mid-'80s. From the brutality of Roddy Piper smashing a coconut on Jimmy Snuka's head, to the train wreck beauty of the "Land of 1000 Dances" music video off the Wrestling Album, Schrader has witnessed many moments in the history of WWE. After getting hundreds of submissions, Bob was chosen by WWE.com Senior Managing Editor Michael Cole to become the first-ever "WWE.com -- Fan Columnist". Check back every Thursday for a new column from Bob.
It's not often I associate an episode of Raw with a Paul Thomas Anderson film, but there it was last Monday night. Anderson, the director of multi-layered dramas such as Boogie Nights and Magnolia, specializes in characters dealing with severe, crippling disappointment. What was the main theme of Raw? Severe, crippling disappointment. I half expected everyone to randomly break out into an Aimee Mann song. Consider the following:
Randy Orton desperately wants to beat John Cena to get his life and career back on track. The match ends with The Great Khali coming down and making off with Cena's championship, leaving Orton's wish unfulfilled and extremely disappointed. And speaking of Khali…
Shawn Michaels, who was taken out by Khali last week before he could face Cena for a title opportunity, valiantly challenges Khali for the right to be the No. 1 contender. End result? Khali slams Shawn through the announce table leaving HBK unable to continue and extremely disappointed.
Torrie Wilson comes to Raw hoping for Carlito to apologize to Ric Flair. Instead, Carlito shows nothing but bitter resentment to Flair, implies Torrie is a piece of garbage, and ends up dumping her. Torrie is no doubt disappointed, but despite being publicly humiliated in both English and Spanish, this is actually one of Torrie's more successful relationships in WWE.
Then there's the case of Viscera, who might be the most fascinating character in the history of WWE, if not human civilization. Hear me out. Viscera used to be known as Mabel. Like many WWE Superstars, he has had his ups and downs. He started as a friendly rapping giant in Men on a Mission. ("We're Men on a Mission… the Quebecers we be dissin…." -- Top THAT, Ludacris.) Then Mabel shocks everyone by winning King of the Ring, loses the rapping and becomes KING Mabel. (With his former tag partner Mo becoming… wait for it… Sir Mo.) Then for a while, nothing happens until…Undertaker while forming his Ministry of Darkness kidnaps and "sacrifices" Mabel. Sacrifices were pretty big back in ‘99 with Undertaker abducting various people, brainwashing them, changing their identities and turning them into his zombified disciples. That's right, before there was Lost and The Others, there was Undertaker and Mabel.
So Mabel turns into Viscera -- the demonic crazy-eyed, latex-wearing minion of Undertaker. The only problem is the Ministry of Darkness disbanded eight years ago and Mabel is STILL Viscera. Everyone else in the Ministry moved on, but NOBODY bothered to fix Viscera. Say what you will, but that's fascinating. And I haven't even gotten to the part where Viscera, after not talking for years, decides to become a "500-pound love machine" and starts a bizarre love/hate relationship with Lilian Garcia. The point is, does this man know of his former life? Do his parents still try to contact him? Siblings? What does Sir Mo think of all this? You mean to tell me if you gathered the nation's top psycho-therapists, Mo and Oscar from Men on a Mission, and various members of Mabel's family, put them in a room for an intervention, set up a bunch of cameras and called it Deprogramming Viscera, America wouldn't be sucked in? These are the things I think about.
So with that backstory in mind, here's where things get weird -- Viscera arrives to Raw with apparently one purpose -- to eat a fat, juicy steak. Seriously, that's it. He doesn't have a match. No interview. He presumably flew to State College, Pa., checked out of his hotel, got into his rental car, and came to the arena with one goal in mind -- eat dinner. And what happens? Right as he's about to pour steak sauce over his meal, he lifts the tray to reveal his steak has been STOLEN. Stolen by what turns out to be two petty criminals looking to sell the steak to a worldwide television audience for Mother's Day, of all things! If Viscera isn't on the cover when People does their "Most Fascinating People" issue, then something is wrong.
With that said, Viscera still wasn't the most disappointed person coming out of Raw last Monday. Because more than Viscera's steak, Torrie's boyfriend, Orton's psyche and Michaels' title aspirations, one person lost something even more valuable.
Mr. Kennedy is no longer Mr. Money in the Bank. Perhaps no one in WWE history has taken such a precipitous fall in such a short amount of time. The common belief would be that Kennedy is an idiot. Why would he put something so valuable on the line with nothing to gain? There's nothing wrong with thinking this, but it's not the case. Kennedy didn't get to where he is by being dumb. Simply putting up his briefcase because Edge told him to wouldn't be consistent with anything Kennedy's done before. He's been calculating, cunning and often underhanded. That's why what happened on Monday, while shocking, in my opinion was no accident. And it can only fall into one of two categories -- extremely brave or extremely cowardly.
Extremely Brave Theory -- The signs of an Edge and Kennedy confrontation had been brewing for weeks, and probably even longer than that. Keep in mind, Edge was taken out of the Money in the Bank Match at WrestleMania by a spectacular, death-defying move by Jeff Hardy. The fact that Edge even showed up on Raw the next night was remarkable. Kennedy, on the other hand, won the match by slamming a leprechaun off a ladder. Yes, his win was impressive, but at the end of the night, people were talking about the Jeff Hardy/Edge moment just as much, if not more, than Kennedy's win. This clearly bothered Kennedy. The week after WrestleMania, Kennedy makes an open challenge on SmackDown and it's answered by… Jeff Hardy who just happened to be there in his wrestling gear in the locker room. (Was Jeff just hanging out, or did Kennedy send some kind of challenge his way?) Kennedy beat Jeff (who clearly shouldn't have been wrestling), and suddenly it's one down one to go as far as exorcising his WrestleMania demons. Next, it's Edge's turn. Kennedy interrupts an Edge interview at Backlash playing mind games with Edge, threatening to cash in after Edge's Fatal Four Way Match. Next Kennedy goes on Raw, Edge's show, and announces to the world that he's NOT going to be like Edge and win the title in a cowardly way; he's going to wait until WrestleMania. So now, Kennedy has gone out of his way to embarrass Edge twice. But the kicker was when Kennedy showed up THIS week on Raw and announced to the world how much time was remaining until WrestleMania. Unless he was looking to buy a steak for his mother, there was no real reason for Kennedy to do this. I think the real reason Kennedy was there was to face Edge, beat him and prove to the world that he was superior. Edge complained that he was taken out at WrestleMania, and that made Kennedy's victory incomplete. By beating Edge, Kennedy would've left no doubt who was the true winner at WrestleMania was. Beating Edge was important to Kennedy. This is a guy with a MASSIVE ego. And if you don't think ego is important to a guy who insists on announcing his name TWICE before every match he competes in, then you obviously don't know Mr. Kennedy. That's why Kennedy had to wrestle Edge. He couldn't back down from a challenge, and backing out after already being in the ring would've looked even worse. And whether you agree with his decision or not, goading Edge into a fight and putting his Money in the Bank on the line took guts. It might've been the bravest thing Kennedy ever did in his life.
Unless of course it wasn't.
Extremely Cowardly Theory -- This theory works under the same premise -- that Kennedy putting his MIB on the line was no accident. The difference here is Kennedy secretly WANTED to lose. Let's face it, there is a LOT of pressure associated with being Mr. Money in the Bank. Both the previous winners, Edge and Rob Van Dam, cashed in and won. Whoever is the first man to win that briefcase and NOT be successful is going to be a sorry footnote in WWE history. Kennedy does NOT want to be that man. That's why he didn't cash in at Backlash (in the Fatal Four Way Match and the Last Man Standing Match). If you cash in and still somehow lose, you go from golden boy to laughingstock. By losing to Edge, under the circumstances he did, Kennedy doesn't have to worry about that. He was attacked before the match. He apparently (according to this Web site), was nursing an injury that was exacerbated in the match, and will now keep him out of action. Kennedy can win the Money in the Bank at WrestleMania and not have to deal with any of the pressure of actually delivering a title win. That isn't to say Kennedy doesn't WANT the title. Just not as Mr. Money in the Bank. Hence, he might be the biggest coward in WWE history.
I personally don't subscribe to the "Cowardly" theory. I think Kennedy's ego did him in here. Kennedy's MIB loss is kind of like Paris Hilton being arrested for DUI. Both Kennedy and Paris are young, brash and thought they could get away with anything. Both have been slapped with a bitter dose of reality. How Kennedy responds to this will be crucial. He can do what Paris SHOULD be doing — admit he made a mistake, grow as a person and vow to make things right. Or he could do what Paris is ACTUALLY doing -- bitching and moaning to anyone who'll listen, and taking NO responsibility for her actions. My hope is the former. Mr. Kennedy can rebound from this. If he comes back from his injury headstrong and determined, he can turn this into a positive. Now that Edge is apparently World Champion, Kennedy can make a new goal for himself -- challenging Edge to win the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 24. At this point, anything less would be a disappointment.