By Jeffrey Lutz
My name is Jeff Lutz (rhymes with boots) and as if turning 30 weren't ominous enough, my milestone birthday happens to fall on the last day of the Mayan Calendar. I now have a ready-made retort for those who tell me that turning 30 isn't the end of the world.
What does that have to do with wrestling? Nothing. But that joke has fallen flat in my public circles so I'm giving it a try with a worldwide audience. Hello, Uzbekistan!
My earliest wrestling memory is watching WrestleMania VI at the home of an elderly woman to whom my dad delivered Meals on Wheels. She showed me that passion for wrestling knows no age boundaries, and I'm on my way to living her legacy as some of my friends outgrow the sport.
In the first 29 years, 293 days of my life I was most dedicated to two things: the Cleveland Indians and the Eagles (the band, not the Philadelphia football team). As many of you can attest, being the fan of a long-suffering sports team has more downs than ups, but I love the Indians and look forward to cellar-dwelling smack talk with Jason and other Twins fans this spring and summer. I've been to 20 Eagles concerts and view Don Henley as a religious figure.
On Oct. 20, I added a third item to that list - my new family. I married the best woman in the world, Shannon, and became a step-father to an amazing six-year-old girl. I knew Shannon was perfect for me when she pointed out all the flaws in Antonio Cesaro's character.
I have written for the Wichita Eagle (Kansas) since May of 2001, the last month of my high school life. I was born and have lived in Wichita for all but one of my 29-plus years, and I cover Wichita's four professional sports (baseball, hockey, soccer and football) along with high school and college sports. But I've always wanted to cover wrestling; I sent monthly articles to WWE Headquarters several years ago, but, sadly, they sent them back.
I'm thrilled to finally have the opportunity to write about wrestling for an audience of more than one. I hope to frequently offer a fresh perspective while providing a voice of commiseration when Raw is as poor as it has been lately. Thanks for reading.
I was initially encouraged by the storyline involving A.J., John Cena and Vickie Guerrero. I was relieved to see Cena temporarily escape the WWE title picture and, with a little foreshadowing, I recognized that it offered a chance for Dolph Ziggler, someone who needs the nudge, to elevate.
As my feelings evolved, and as the followup to A.J. losing her job played out this past Monday on Raw, I realized I was watching one of the most pointless WWE storylines in recent memory.
Bad writing is one thing, and this angle is certainly tinged with it. But the primary problem is that fans are supposed to believe in ramifications that either don’t exist or have no real bearing on the characters involved.
The ending of the storyline was the beginning – A.J. lost her job as general manager for allegedly fraternizing with Cena. Instead of proof being offered on the way to A.J. being ousted, we’re getting evidence of the alleged affair now, after A.J. has been removed thanks to accusations brought forth by Vickie. I’m not sure how we’re supposed to feel about A.J. or Cena other than, I suppose, hope that they’ll eventually give Vickie her comeuppance.
Plausible destinations for this storyline offer no significant promise for increased emotional involvement. If Cena is revealed to have had a social relationship with A.J., so what? They’re two single adults who can date whomever they please. If A.J. was willing to put her job in jeopardy in favor of love, that seems more noble than villainous. Who would have been suspicious if A.J. remained in power and Cena received preferential treatment? He receives it no matter who’s in power.
If the allegations prove false, Guerrero looks bad but it will probably come with no consequences. The board of directors involved in replacing A.J. with Vickie obviously had no interest in whether an affair actually took place, because they removed A.J. before anything close to proof of the affair existed. The board has already ignored Vickie’s fraternization with Ziggler, and others, while she served as general manager.
The only hope for this becoming an interesting storyline comes in the possibility of a heel turn from either A.J. or Cena. I don’t believe WWE would waste a Cena turn on a mid-card, soap-opera angle, and a relationship with A.J., even if it reached the proverbial next level, doesn’t appear to be based in malice or other heel tendencies. A.J. could turn heel and align with Ziggler, but then Guerrero would come across as sympathetic because she was spurned romantically.
The prospect of a Cena-Ziggler fued is looming, but the female involvement is unnecessary. The Ziggler-Vickie partnership grows more incomprehensible by the week. I don’t remember the last memorable interaction between the two, and I have no idea what Vickie is adding to Ziggler’s act other than keeping him heel while his in-ring performances earn him increased popularity.
Even a Cena-Ziggler rivalry loses luster with the knowledge that these are characters headed in opposite directions. Cena’s WrestleMania path begins in January and likely will culminate with a second match against The Rock. Ziggler owns the Money in the Bank briefcase and could cash it in soon for what many expect to be a run with the World Heavyweight Championship. The time owed to a Ziggler-Cena feud that ends with both characters (or Ziggler, at least) emerging stronger cannot presently be dedicated.
This isn’t the worst storyline WWE has produced. Far from it. It gets Cena away from the WWE title picture briefly, it shines a brighter spotlight on Ziggler and it features the rare involvement of females in a major angle. But those positives are washed away by the negatives that are reflective of what plagues the overall product. WWE continues its poor planning from a booking standpoint, a failure to utilize performers in ways that enhance their strengths, and a transparency that indicates a fear of or a refusal to change.
Send feedback to Jeff Lutz at email@example.com.
Lutz's Debut Blog: John Cena, A.J., Dolph Ziggler, and Vickie Guerrero storyline take, plus an introduction to Dot Net's newest blogger
Nov 5, 2012 - 12:30 PM
Nov 5, 2012 - 12:30 PM
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