The Sunday SharpshooterJohn Laurinaitis is Awesome, and You Know It.By Thomas Avb Briggs
A couple of months ago, I defended a particularly maligned episode of Monday Night Raw
. The show centered around Triple H stepping down from his position as Raw GM due to a vote of no confidence by WWE superstars. In the episode, the General Manager position was transferred to John Laurinaitis, a man almost universally hated by wrestling fans. Most thought Raw was awful, I argued that it did a good job of moving the story forward, and presented fans with a new, better antagonist in Laurinaitis. Some readers agreed with me, some called me an idiot. Regardless of whether or not that Raw was “awful”, I was right about one thing: John Laurinaitis is the right man for the General Manager job.<!--more-->Simply put, John Laurinaitis is doing a fantastic job as an on screen character, and he should be commended for his work. He has succeeded in generating top-heel heat, he’s the perfect foil for CM Punk, and he’s legitimately funny in subtle ways. Last week I talked about how CM Punk has contributed to a streak of quality Raws, but honestly, I think Laurinaitis deserves his fair share of the credit. Are people ever going to purchase tickets or pay-per-views to see what Laurinaitis is going to pull? Of course not. But as the heir apparent to Vince McMahon’s evil boss character, Laurinaitis has delivered. He isn’t derivative of McMahon (possibly because he doesn’t have the mic skills), but rather a unique and entertaining character of his own making.
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I praise Laurinaitis. Let’s take a look at some of his successes as an on-screen character:He’s succeeded where Triple H could not.
Triple H taking over for Vince McMahon should have been a slam-dunk storyline. At first glance, it seemed like an ideal way of having a modern McMahon/Austin feud, this time with Triple H and CM Punk playing the primary roles. Unfortunately, the WWE never fully committed to the story, and Triple H failed to go into full heel mode. Why they failed to pull the trigger I’ll never know. Triple H has always been a better villain than babyface, people wanted to get behind Punk but had trouble rooting against an old favorite, and Triple H’s primary role at this point in his career should be to put over young talent. But logic be damned! Triple H and the WWE weren’t going to give fans what they wanted!John Laurinaitis is the opposite of Triple H. He’s fully committed as a heel, and he’s the perfect counter-point to CM Punk. During Triple H’s tenure as Raw GM, it almost seemed like he was trying prove that CM Punk was a fraud. Each promo between the two included unnecessary interruptions, underhanded insults, and awkward moments. There was a real sense that Triple H looks down on Punk. This would’ve been fine had Triple H been portrayed as a heel, but of course he wasn’t. It was a terrible way of “getting over” a new top superstar. Laurinaitis’ character may also hold disdain for CM Punk, but it’s done in a way that makes Punk look better because of it. When the two are in the ring together, Laurinaitis gets out of Punk’s way, and allows himself to be the Second City Saint’s fodder. In other words, he isn’t concerned with his image, all of his effort goes towards putting Punk over.He isn’t an overtly evil character.
The WWE tends to be a little too cartoon-ish at times. Case in point, every time John Laurinaitis breaks out his cell phone to text somebody in a nefarious manner. The evil boss character in particular has been historically cartoon-ish. McMahon, Bichoff, etc..., they all are pure evil at times, and always do everything in their power to prevent the primary babyface from achieving his goals. It’s a formula that has worked in the past, but it can become tiresome quickly. Characters who see grey rather than only black and white are more realistic, and believability is so important in wrestling. Fortunately, Laurinaitis hasn’t been portrayed overtly evil, and therefore seems to have lasting power.Just consider the past two months of Raw, since Laurinaitis has taken over as Interim Raw GM. Notice how Laurinaitis has rarely acted in an evil, vindictive, or unreasonable way. He’s still a heel, but in a more subtle (except for the goofy backstage/ringside texting, of course) way than those that have come before him. He’s not an evil mastermind, just a douche-bag yes-man. Again, he’s a different character than Vince McMahon, and that’s a very good thing.He knows how to laugh at himself.
Even if you find Laurinaitis to be unbearably boring, or ineffective as a heel, it’s impossible to not find him entertaining every once in a while. He’s genuinely funny. Whether it’s intentional or unintentional doesn’t really matter, he has a way of getting laughs. How can you hear lines like “Don’t make me take off my jacket!” or “I’m Mr. Excitement” and not find yourself laughing? His dry delivery is perfectly suited to his character. His group photo moment during this week’s Raw was just another example of his ability to laugh at himself.Not to harp on Triple H again, but this is another huge difference between the two most recent Raw GMs. Triple H takes himself and his reputation far too seriously. Sure, he has a sense of humor, but it’s primarily at other peoples expense. Because he can be lighthearted, it’s fun to hate Laurinaitis. He may have come across as simply annoying back in August, but he’s come a long way since then. His promos are something to look forward to, if not for the simple fact that something hilarious might be said.He uses his deficiencies to his advantage.
Laurinaitis isn’t good on the mic. I have no doubt that he recognizes that fact. But instead of allowing that deficiency to hurt his character, he’s turned it into a way of getting over. His monotone voice and boring delivery (oftentimes it sounds as if he’s reading a script in his mind) irks fans. If you haven’t yet familiarized yourself with the comparison to the “Funk-man”, do yourself a favor now and search “Marty Funkhouser” on YouTube. His mere voice bugs the hell out of people, and he’s taking advantage of that fact, similar to the way Vicki Guerrero has gotten over.That’s not the only way Laurinaitis has turned a deficiency into a strength. His real-life position as Executive Vice President of Talent Relations has made him more of a heel than anything he has done on television. He’s had to release numerous WWE superstars over his tenure, many of whom fans feel weren’t given a fair shake. Again, Laurinaitis has used this as a way to get legitimate heat. Recently the WWE released a t-shirt for Laurinaitis fans, with the phrase “Future Endeavored”. It’s something you shouldn’t think is funny, as it’s insanely insensitive, but it works.
I guess what I’m truly getting at here is that John Laurinaitis is cool. Cool in the same way that Chuck Norris is. He isn’t hip, he’s awkward and seemingly out-of-touch. He’s exactly who should be playing opposite of CM Punk in today’s WWE. He’s also funny and entertaining. Regardless of your original opinion of the man, based on his excellent two months as Raw’s primary antagonist, Johnny Ace deserves your respect.Thoughts and opinions? Share them with me!Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: @thjbriggs
I’m an unabashed fan of John Laurinaitis’ work as Raw GM. Though there are times when I cringe at his promos, on the whole, I find him to be far more entertaining than Triple H in the same role. And that blows my mind. I’m interested in knowing your feelings towards Laurinaitis. When he first took over, it seemed as if he was universally hated, but have things changed? Let me know in the comments. Or message me on twitter. Or email me. This could and should be a really fun conversation.