Low Hanging Fruit
The WWE is on a bit of a roll right now. No two ways about it. The top two narratives in Cena’s absence are hitting on all cylinders. Daniel Bryan is emerging as a star, putting on a great show on a weekly basis while fighting against The Administration that thinks he shouldn’t be WWE Champion, and showing that he can be one of the top guys. CM Punk is doing the same with his rivalry with his former best friend Paul Heyman (both of whom are doing absolutely phenomenal work). I simply can’t remember a time where the top billed storylines were so damn engaging.
That being said, everything that the WWE is touching isn’t gold. In fact, aside from the two golden narratives I’ve mentioned, everything else is lucky to be compared to cubic zirconium, which is to say that those programs haven’t been quite up to snuff. Sure, The Usos are getting time to shine (finally!) and sure Cody Rhodes is getting over a bit, but I just feel like there is a lot of quality story that the WWE is either actively ignoring or not realizing.
I’ve lamented the way that WWE approaches the mid-card for a while now and after this week’s Raw I just feel there were a couple instances of lazy writing, moments that had me scratching my head in confusion. The first involved the brothers Rhodes, and the second involved The Miz. Cody is cubic zirconium, giving off the appearance of being a diamond, but upon further inspection is only a diamond simulant and The Miz if you ask me is a diamond in the rough. One thing that I know is that both their segments on Raw involved a whole heap of misdirected aggression.
When Cody Rhodes and his brother Goldust rushed the Shield just before their 11 0n 3 Handicap match against the WWE’s vanilla mid-card babyfaces and Daniel Bryan, my initial reaction was positive because it was just cool seeing Cody back on TV, and I’m partial to pull-apart brawls when used perfectly to show intense emotion (which Cody was certainly demonstrating). Then during the handicap match, I couldn’t help but realize how little sense the Rhodes brothers attacking The Shield made.
In the Administration vs. The Rhodes Family storyline, The Shield have literally done nothing to them. The Shield were not involved in Cody getting fired by Triple H after losing to Randy Orton. The Shield had nothing to do with Goldust losing to Randy Orton while attempting to win his brother’s job back or the subsequent dressing down he took at the hands of Stephanie McMahon. Sure the Shield threatened Dusty Rhodes with chairs, but at the end of the day, it was Big Show who struck the blow that sent their father to the hospital, by the orders of Stephanie McMahon. So Cody and Goldy attacking The Shield with so much fire and emotion simply didn’t make much sense because they have very little reason to harbor such intense resentment for three guys who have barely crossed your path.
Of course as a writer myself, I believe I can see what the thought process was for WWE Creative. The match they’re trying to set up is The Shield vs. The Rhodes Family, but they got lazy. Storyline would dictate that Cody and Goldy likely would have targeted Triple H or Randy Orton or even The Big Show as they are the source of their anguish. Good storytelling would have had them rush Triple H and get beat back by The Shield who would be acting to protect the COO. Then The Shield would present a problem for the brothers Rhodes, and a hard-hitting feud with them would make sense.
The WWE skipped this step out of laziness or ignorance (take your pick) and while it can be explained after the fact that Cody and Goldust attacked The Shield because they knew that they would protect COO if they tried going after him, the narrative is simply not as pleasing as it would have been if they hadn’t skipped over a section of the story that in my opinion needed to be told (I’m aware I’m kind of knit picking but as a screenwriter, things not making narrative sense REALLY bother me; for example, the Dexter Finale, REALLY bothered me). It’s been a theme with Cody where the idea isn’t bad, but the execution is far from ideal. It will most likely work out well for him, but it makes the narrative undeniably flatter.
Speaking of flat, is there a character on the roster flatter than The Miz? The truth is, we should all like The Miz a lot more than we do, but the WWE goes out of their way to hide what should be his most endearing quality. I’ve been familiar with The Miz long before he was a WWE Superstar, when he was on The Real World, and a contestant in several seasons and iterations of MTV’s The Challenge. During that time, it was abundantly clear that this guy was just like me when I was growing up: a hardcore wrestling fan. He was even pretty dorky about it, but he was unapologetically a fan of pro wrestling. I felt I could relate to him in that way during his appearances on MTV, but if you ask me, the WWE has done everything they can to eliminate that aspect of who he is. The fact is that The Miz is a lifelong member of the WWE Universe that actually became a wrestler under the most unique circumstances you could imagine and is living what so many fans have dreamed. He has the potential to be the WWE’s version of Rudy. If that was the focal point of his character, there is no doubt in my mind that his character could work as a babyface. Unfortunately it hasn’t been.
Just over a week ago he was fed to Randy Orton in front of his family an friends in Cleveland, and this week he hosted Miz TV and expressed his frustration with Randy, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon to his guest The Big Show, before Steph made her presence felt, tearing down The Miz verbally before having Big Show KO The Miz. To be quite honest, there is nothing inherently awful about how this played out, other than the fact that this course of action was the lowest hanging fruit as far as storytelling is concerned, and did nothing for any of the characters involved. No one’s character is advancing or improving based on this paint by numbers segment.
The WWE left a play on the field with The Miz if you ask me, and his ire while perfectly acceptable, is misdirected. If I’m The Miz, yes I’m pissed at The Administration, but I’m even angrier with Kofi Kingston, Justin Gabriel, Zack Ryder, The Usos, The Prime Time Players, Dolph Ziggler, R-Truth, and Rob Van Dam. Those ten superstars stood idly by while The Miz was decimated and maimed in his hometown, but when Daniel Bryan was in trouble, they all make the save. I’d be furious with my supposed friends if they did that.
In fact, if I was The Miz, I’d be mad at everyone. Wrestling, the business he loves has been a source of anguish for him. On The Real World and subsequent challenges, he was mocked by his roommates for his love of Wrasslin’. Then he gets to the WWE and where he’ll get to train and perform amongst the superstars he idolized, and is immediately treated like garbage by his peers because of his Reality TV past. The WWE Universe, in which he was firmly entrenched his entire life also hated him, even as he tries his best to please them and earn their respect. He’s no favorite of his peers, the fans hate him, and now he can’t even hang his hat on the corporate wing of the WWE being behind him. Nothing he does, not winning multiple titles, not procuring Ric Flair’s endorsement, not main eventing Wrestlemania changes anyone’s mind. He has no home within the WWE and is truly a misfit (Mizfit if you will).
How much better would it have been for the character if he cut a promo where he said everything I just detailed? He should have come out and vented his frustration and anger with everyone and everything. Talk about how the WWE Superstars were his heroes, and just being in the WWE was his dream, but the reality is that this business is a nightmare. His heroes are nothing more than selfish egomaniacs, and the wrestling business he dreamed of was a façade. He could have then said that he was going to save the WWE Universe from making the same mistakes he made, and that he was going to destroy the business, before it destroyed him and any other hapless fans who think they can make their dreams come true. This kind of bitter and angry character with an edge has dimension and is far from the flat, boring character The Miz is currently portraying. This promo is the PG era’s version of having a bloody brawl with Mick Foley (who launched many a career) to prove that you’re more than just a pretty boy and are for real (i.e. Randy Orton, Edge, Triple H). This promo, with a shade of reality that fits what’s happening in the narrative would have helped The Miz feel more real.
There you have it, but as always I want to know what you think. Are Cody and The Miz’s efforts and anger misdirected? Does anyone else feel that the writing of anything not involving CM Punk and Daniel Bryan is substantially flatter and far less engaging? Is Cody Rhodes the most irrational character ever (his betrayal of Sandow and targeting of The Shield do suggest the absence of rational thought)? Could you get behind an anarchist version of The Miz trying to save the WWE Universe from the WWE that has made his life a nightmare?
Until next time folks, I’m Matty J. Douglas saluting my 3-0 Miami Dolphins. I expect the fun to end this week in New Orleans, but my Dolphins and Ryan Tannehill have far exceeded my expectations thus far. Have a great weekend everybody!