Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Wrestlers You Love to Hate"

I saw this column on 411mania where columnists wrote about their top five wrestlers that they "love to hate." Unfortunately, when I read the column, it was clear that several writers misunderstood the meaning of the term "love to hate."

For purposes of this post, I will only focus on current WWE performers (not as much time to do research or expand to include TNA or other promotions). I'm also not ranking these in any order.

My Top Five (in no particular order):
Vickie Guerrero: For someone who kept out of the TV picture until her husband Eddie passed away, Vickie Guerrero has made amazing strides (both in her on-screen character and her physical appearance) over the years. She's slimmed down and has really gotten comfortable in her role as business partner and manager for guys like Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger. The "Excuse Me!" catchphrase reportedly started when she legitimately forgot her lines (a stall tactic to remember them), and it transitioned into part of her "annoying" character. Her tantrums are entertaining to the point where you want something to go wrong -- or someone to offend her. At least it's that way for me. Outside the ring, she's well-respected and one of the friendliest people. Can't go wrong with this pick.

The Miz: Mike Mizanin, to me, is a natural heel. His swagger and "I told you so" attitude are...awesome (pun intended) and only when he broke from tagging with Morrison was Miz able to really shine. I was one of the many who thought Morrison would be the big star when those two broke up, but unfortunately, JoMo soured on people backstage, killing off any chance of a sustained push. Miz not only zoomed past Morrison, but also became WWE champion. He's also one of the only people I know who would win Most Improved Wrestler more than once -- and I'd give it to him in each of the last 2-3 years.

John Cena: Again, I really like John Cena as a person. He's one of the hardest workers I've ever seen and he does countless events for Make-a-Wish. I have issues with how WWE built Cena into the modern-day Hulk Hogan...the goody-two-shoes individual who the kids look up to. Sorry Cena fans, I'm an Attitude Era guy all the way, and it's the edgy faces like today's Randy Orton and CM Punk that make me smile and laugh. I really can't remember the last time the guy lost clean. I woulda fit right at home the night Cena and Punk tore the house down in Chicago (where Punk captured the gold). Cena doesn't have to go back to his rapper gimmick full-time. I just want to see more rage from Cena, a way more aggressive individual. With Randy Orton way over with the crowd and Zack Ryder's big push, this may be a good time to slowly turn Cena heel. We saw glimpses of the pressure Roddy Piper put on John during the Piper's Pit segment. It's clear that Cena would be the "heel" against Rock anyway. Will it lead to a full-time heel turn? Probably not, with all the merchandise sold. But Cena will continue to get that mixed reaction until he changes his character up.

R-Truth: When he came back to WWE and did his jingly rap down to the ring, I liked it at first because it was quite fresh and a way to get the fans more involved. Then, of course, it got old. Finally, when R-Truth turned heel (at JoMo's expense), I actually think Ron Killings improved on the mic. The whole "Little Jimmy" deal, which I thought was completely stupid at first, turned to gold with the fans. R-Truth has had countless hilarious segments, none better in my book than the "Randy! Riley! Jimmy!" skit on RAW. While Truth is currently on suspension, he'll be back and hopefully won't "get got" again.

Christian: During Christian's first run in WWE, it was mainly stuff with the Brood and a very successful tag run with his real-life best friend, Edge. He had a singles career, but it never completely took off. Christian then went to TNA, perhaps the best move of his career. He got his big push and got major experience on the main event scene. He returned to WWE and did the "Christian's peeps" thing all over again. But it took Edge's retirement to give Christian his big WWE break. It opened up a void on the Smackdown roster, so Vince McMahon finally pulled the trigger to get Christian a world title win -- which lasted all of two days. The whole deal with "one more match for the World Heavyweight Championship" against Randy Orton became Captain Charisma's catchphrase, leading to a marvelous slow heel turn. He's a natural on the mic, which is probably why he's still made appearances to end the year despite not being medically cleared to compete. He'll be back to go 100 percent in 2012.

Honorable Mention:
Cody Rhodes: Some of my first memories seeing Cody Rhodes on WWE TV featured an innocent young man standing up for his Hall of Fame father. I liked that Cody kept the Rhodes name because I felt it would help him get started on his WWE career (look what happened to Michael McGillicutty and Husky Harris, folks). Of course, I was also skeptical if he could even break out of the huge shadow Dusty Rhodes left behind. It's not easy to follow in your dad's footsteps in the same business, especially when the elder Rhodes had such a legendary career. Cody basically tagged with Ted DiBiase (Jr.) for a while as "Priceless" before venturing on his own (yup, Randy Orton basically took them both out). His narcissist gimmick with the cheesy "Smoke and Mirrors" theme took some time to get used to. I won't lie, I really hated it at the start. In a nice twist of events, it was Rey's 619 to the face busting Rhodes' nose that turned out to be the best thing to happen to Cody. The "disfigured" Cody Rhodes character really took on a life of its own, and he got more comfortable on the mic. Then he ditched the protective mask and brought back the vintage IC title, which I think is one of the coolest belts ever. He has outstanding potential, and his career is still in its infancy. Cody's been praised for getting in amazing shape. Can't wait to see what the future holds for him.

Dolph Ziggler: Echoing what I've said about Cena, Dolph has become a workhorse. He's done double duty for a show on more than one occasion. Dolph also seems to be a natural heel. But oh man, I cringed at those Spirit Squad moments. At that time, it looked like Ken Doane would be the breakout star of that group. Then the squad disbanded and Nick Nemeth ("Nicky") got one of the most random names in WWE history. Seriously...they went with Dolph Ziggler?! I thought the odd name would basically be a career killer, banishing him to lifetime midcard purgatory. When Ziggler first used the sleeper to subdue big men like Kane, I thought..."A sleeper?! Really?!" The sleeper as a submission move sounds so last generation -- and the explosion of UFC has exacerbated how prehistoric the "traditional sleeper hold" really is nowadays. However, Ziggler flourished with the new move and developed an impressive moveset. He's delivered countless main-event caliber matches, developed an even more athletic physique, and is now on the cusp of main event status (yes, he does have a World Heavyweight Title win, but I don't really count it because it was so short). Aligning with Vickie Guerrero really sent Ziggler's stock soaring. I'm thinking 2012 will be the year he breaks through the glass ceiling permanently.

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