Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - Celebrating 10 years of "The OC" with some apt wrestling comparisons, Punk and Lesnar brawl again, Daniel Bryan gets a corporate makeover, and more!
By Will Pruett
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I was going to write a little blog on the resurrection of Randy Orton's career, but then I realized this week is the tenth anniversary of The OC. Needless to say, sometimes we must ignore current storylines for more important conversations. Thus, here is a comparison between wrestling characters and The OC.
Seth Cohen: Seth was easily the best character on the show and he created a cultural force when the show broke out. He created a new brand of unashamed nerd. He also pioneered the sub-sect of nerd cool. Basically, Seth Cohen is my hero. How does this equate to wrestling? Seth Cohen is best represented by C.M. Punk. You see, Cohen was never supposed to be the star of the show. He was a sidekick originally, but people fell in love with him. This is comparable to Punk's trajectory. He was ever supposed to be a lead star, but even on Raw as he stood up to Brock Lesnar, he was a star. Hopefully Punk never gives up his straight edge life to follow in the footsteps of marijuana-loving season three Seth.
Ryan Atwood: Ryan, in all of his brooding glory, was supposed to be the lead protagonist on The OC. He was the street smart kid from Chino (outside Orange County for those not educated about Southern California geography) taken in by the Cohen family. Ryan was destined to be the star. John Cena is the wrestling comparison easiest to make. Cena has the pedigree of a major star and many love him. Much like Ryan's stories all broke down to punching and stupidity, Cena often relies on being a generic hero. This makes many fans dislike him, much like I began disliking Ryan. We get it, Kid Chino, you're sad. You're brooding. You wear wife-beaters. Evolve as a character and get past Marissa if you want me to care.
Sandy Cohen: Sandy Cohen and his majestic eyebrows were the heart and soul of The OC. While everyone else hung out in emotional and moral grey areas, Sandy was constantly in the right. Sandy is the conscience of all of Newport Beach. This is the role I see Triple H maturing into. Triple H has righteous anger when he feels a superstar is wronged. He is fighting to make things fair against his evil father-in-law (OC fans must see where this is going) who wants to tilt the system for his benefit.
Caleb Nichol: This one should be easy. Caleb was money grubbing, powerful, and not afraid to commit a few minor felonies in order to get his way. He was he antagonist of the show right up until he became so evil you kind of cheered for him. This is Vince McMahon, who waivers between benevolent boss and the evil Mr. McMahon without consideration for consistency. As the overlord of wrestling he rules the way Caleb ruled Newport. McMahon even secured a lead job for his daughter, who he constantly is looking over the shoulder of.
Kirsten Cohen: On one hand, she is much like her father and lacks conscience. On the other, she married Sandy against the wishes of her father and has a mind of her own. This, if you couldn't figure it out, is Stephanie McMahon. Kirsten's stories often bordered on over dramatic and odd, but there was some heart to them. Stephanie, especially on this show, was very over dramatic. She cried when Vince yelled at her, enraging her husband to fight on her behalf. I'm pretty sure I saw the exact same thing right up until Caleb died in season two.
Summer Roberts: In the same way Seth was supposed to be a side character, Summer was supposed to be a guest star. She started off as a one note ridiculous character portraying an ideal, but eventually became one of the most endearing parts of the show. This quickly became a little too much, as Summer grew into a character with a new ideal and pursued it too hard in season three. This is a perfect allegory for A.J. Lee. She never seemed meant for stardom, but eventually became the best part of Raw. This then lead to overexposure and eventual rebuilding. A.J. is currently in this rebuilding. I doubt she'll end up married to the wrestling world's Seth, but anything is possible.
Marissa Cooper: Marissa is my least favorite of The OC's characters. She, like Ryan, was supposed to be the relatable star, but somewhere between having the sex with too many people and over-dosing on pills in Mexico (and let's not even get into the whole Oliver debacle that almost ruined New Years Eve in season one) she was the least exciting character to watch. It was almost a relief when she died in season three (leaving room for the amazing Taylor Townsend to steal our hearts). I'm not wishing death on her, but Kaitlyn is my chosen Diva to represent Marissa. Her character is supposed to inspire admiration, but it now causes anger. She's been through everyone turning on her and a great deal of hate. This was shown with the Layla turn. Maybe if all of your friends dislike you, it's time to look in the mirror. Kaitlyn could learn a lot by not repeating the mistakes of Marissa.
Luke Ward: Luke is the classic jock who uttered the immortal words "Welcome to the OC, bitch" and worked his way into our hearts. It was easy to hate him at first as he stood between Ryan and Marissa's destiny, but then he turned into a nice sentimental character (the device used to do this was his father's gay affair, which worked better than one would think). The deepening of a jock-ish character reminds me of the journey of Dolph Ziggler. Sure, Ziggler was a cheerleader, not a water polo player, but it works. He went from arrogant jerk to fan favorite through traumatic (well, head traumatic) situations. Ziggler would do well to follow Luke's trajectory and give C.M. Punk a place to stay when he sails up to Portland while depressed.
Julie Cooper: While evil was often the driving force for Caleb Nichol, it was most prevalent in the character of Julie Cooper (who eventually became Julie Cooper-Nichol). No matter how often it seemed like Julie would be redeemed, her motivations where always dominated by greed. Julie was the best villain on The OC and because of this, Paul Heyman is the perfect Julie Cooper. Heyman is a bad person who needs to get what's coming to him. He constantly invents new ways to be evil. Heyman and Cooper have constant scheming in common and they are both excellent at it.
Taylor Townsend: This was another one dimensional character we saw develop into a fully realized force of nature. She went from oddly evil to the most friendly and dynamic person on the show. If one is going to watch season four of The OC and I recommend you do so, watch it for Taylor. Her transition into a favorite of many fans and people reminds me of the amazing journey of Daniel Bryan. Bryan went from a wrestler inspiring silence from all but ten percent of fans to a true main event talent. As he readies himself for his WWE Championship match with John Cena, I'm reminded of the fun of Taylor's relationship with Ryan as season four went on.
Anna Stern: I don't have a parallel for Anna, but I love her. Try not crying when she leaves in season one and Seth chases after her. Confidence, Cohen.
And now for some random thoughts...
- Bryan's corporate makeover segment could have been much worse than it was. I was entertained by the reluctant Bryan in the videos. Add into it the impassioned verbal defense of what he stands for and Bryan was better off for this entire ordeal.
- Bryan and Vince McMahon have an odd chemistry. Many will hate how Vince makes Bryan look, but Bryan is going to look this way no matter what. Bryan is who he is because he looks the way he does.
- Wade Barrett should just be Wade "The Barber" Barrett. It's way cooler than "The Bullhammer" thing he's doing now.
- The beard is here. At least this t-shirt has proper grammar.
- I was ready to criticize Alberto Del Rio's loss to Rob Van Dam, but his turn on Ricardo Rodriguez made it work. Rodriguez needed to be taken away from the new intense Del Rio act. This made Del Rio look like a truly awful person, which makes him quite easy to boo. It's funny how easy this is.
- What was the end result of Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes' segment supposed to be? Nothing was achieved other than an expertly distressed briefcase being introduced. Hopefully Rhodes and Sandow can go beyond the silliness and produce something more compelling than what we're seeing now.
- Count out finishes involving one guy walking out are a weekly occurrence in WWE. They need to be retired for seven years.
- Total Divas is a pretty fun show to watch, but the segments involving it on Raw are painful.
- John Cena matched Bryan's passion and intensity in his promo response to Bryan. I loved what Cena said as he presented a counterpoint to Bryan's threat to wrestle in a high school gym. This was preacher-man Cena at his best and it sold me more on the SummerSlam match.
- This show had the best build for Bryan vs. Cena we've seen yet.
- Randy Orton's threat to cash in at any moment needed to be reemphasized to fans. Orton did really well here causing Cena to be suspicious. This was the first adversarial Cena and Orton interaction we've seen in the ring since around 2009 and I was actually excited by it.
- The Shield had a good night on this show, despite their hard to figure out motivations. Maybe we're all looking for too much in wrestling. The Shield is essentially comprised of one dimensional characters with clouded motivations. Alas, they're also played by amazingly talented wrestlers who are great at being one dimensional characters. It's an odd mix of the dynamic and stagnant.
- Is the Ring of Fire match going to be an Inferno Match? If so, I'm a little excited by it. I've never seen one live and seeing the in-ring WWE debut of Bray Wyatt and an Inferno Match on one show will be fun.
- Christian beat Heath Slater. I would have enjoyed a little more from Christian, including a promo about the World Heavyweight Championship.
- Curtis Axel vs. C.M. Punk turned out to be exactly what I expected. It was a decent match and then Paul Heyman got involved. This lead to Brock Lesnar and we saw Punk take the fight to Lesnar. This was important because fans need to believe Punk can get it done against Lesnar at SummerSlam. This showed us how possible it is. This was Punk's hope spot in the feud.
- "Paul, say something stupid" is my new favorite Brock Lesnar quote.
- Kofi Kingston returned from injury with new pants. I hope more is done with Kofi, but he may be destined for a Tito Santana-esque role. Is that the worst thing?
- Zeb Colter has never caused me to hate him more than when insulting the amazing Green Bay Packers. Colter needs to watch himself.
- Big E Langston and Dolph Ziggler's potentially great feud is being clouded by a bad Diva's storyline. This depresses me.
- The post-finish action of the main event was much more compelling than the main event itself. Orton's RKO's on Cena and Bryan were great. The tease for his cash in took a little too long. The Shield's convenient interference to close Raw was perfect. This has me buying more and more into Orton winning the WWE Championship in a major turn very soon.
This show dragged and was a little boring in moments. Maybe it's just the three hours taking too much of my time. I'm not sure what it is, but it gave me an excuse to write about The OC, which is what really matters.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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