Mostly, I’m amazed that movies like Bending the Rules are still made. That its cop is so obviously shady and its lawyer is so annoying and its end boss so predictable—even if the movie tries to surprise you by proffering almost zero clues—is a marvel of cinematic ignorance. Sure, buddy cop movies are still made and renegade cops continue to be a favorite protagonist of the Hollywood machine, but rarely are the nuts and bolts of the genre so evident. That our corrupt police officers are routinely Bostonian with an unbreakable code of honor merely shows the progression we’ve made from the time when our hero was distinguishable from all the other men and women in blue by his wacky floral shirt and the way he waggled his eyebrows at the end of every sentence. It’s so bad that, at one point, the lawyer tells the cop—who is eating a doughnut, of course—that he’s a walking cliche. Read more
This here’s a pretty good Object on a Pole match between the recently retired Edge and the always watchable William Regal. The reason that it’s so good is because the object on the pole barely factors in, and when it does, it’s usually in a creative, fresh way that, unlike most Object on a Pole matches, didn’t suggest two dumpy dudes trying to shimmy up a pole for something to make their dull match more exciting. See, William Regal around this time had the Power of the Punch, which was a brass knuckle aided left hand. You put those knux on a pole and say that they’re legal once brought down, and you’ve got yourself a decent little grudge match.
At this point in time, Edge was kind of spinning his heels as a singles wrestler, and wound up wrestling Booker T at WrestleMania X8 over a spot in a Japanese shampoo commercial. But this, in addition to his solid work in the undercard over the course of the previous year (including a ladder match with Christian that I ordered a Pay Per View for), were indicative of his future success. I really, really like his counter of Regal’s attempted powerbomb off the ring apron, which looks like the two screwed up something bad until the replay shows Edge grabbing the ropes and kind of throwing Regal to the ground with his hips. Also, I think he might be the first guy to drag himself to the ropes while suffering the Regal Stretch, and he doesn’t look ridiculous doing it.
I hear that Regal’s move to the announce position on NXT is basically the end of his in-ring career. This saddens me a great deal. Without trying to sound cool (hard to do on a wrestling blog, anyhow), I’ve been a fan of Regal’s since 1996. That was back in his Lord Steven Regal days in WCW, when he was the TV Champion and, on a weekly basis, one of the few good wrestlers to appear on WCW Saturday Night, which I might have watched more regularly than Raw or Nitro. Not only was I a regular PhD in the exploits of Disorderly Conduct, “Hole in One” Barry Darsow and Los Villanos IV and V, but every week, there was Regal with his TV Title, getting 10 minute matches in against everybody from Dean Malenko to Rey Mysterio. He never won any of those matches (TV Title bouts were 10 minutes long, so the champion really only had to outlast the challenger), but the way he made his opponents grind out those ten minutes, combined with his facial expressions and his funky chicken strut, were truly magnificent. At times, he was the only non-nWo guy on the roster with a title, and he was one of the WCW wrestlers that I really bought into. His WWE work, like the match above, is also just incredibly smart, with the exception of his brief stint as the Real Man’s Man, which is at least good for comedy’s sake. I’ll always be a little off-put by the fact that Regal never held the WWE Title, though for a good portion of his run as Raw GM/King of the Ring, he was the company’s biggest heel. He’s just such a smart worker–who else but Regal would go over to the corner where the brass knux are and step on a downed Edge before ascending the turnbuckles? Brilliant man, that Regal, and it’ll be a shame if his last match was on an episode of Superstars against an NXT refugee.
Raw 16/01/06 TLC Match: Edge vs Ric Flair
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But it’s not really that simple. Edge had already been feuding with Flair, including Edge losing to Flair by disqualification on the show he’d take John Cena out at, New Year’s Revolution. 2006 was Edge’s year, as far as promos go. He savaged Ric Flair and Mick Foley throughout the beginning of 2006 for being old, washed up, and useless, for being Muppets and shadows of their former selves. And then he went out and had great matches with them on huge stages. Here, Flair is wrestling his first ladder match in a crowd that includes his daughter. Wrestling history has it that Ric Flair + Family Members in Audience = Big Disaster for Flair, but the allure of a 17th title reign is too much for Flair to pass up, so he gives Edge everything he’s got in an effort to bring home the gold. He bleeds like a madman and he takes a few spectacular falls throughout the match, but he keeps getting up and winds up a fingertip from the gold. Edge is too young and too fresh to be overcome, and it helps that Lita is at ringside and is willing to do anything to stop Flair from climbing that ladder, even something like taking Flair’s vaunted figure four leglock.
This was a last gasp for Flair’s career, though he had an intense feud with Mick Foley later in the year over statements the two made about each other in their respective biographies. The matches never quite paid off the same way the promos did, and Flair wound up being forgotten about for awhile, but until his Wrestlemania swan song with Shawn Michaels, this is as good as his 2nd WWE tenure got.
Smackdown 25/04/08 CM Punk vs Edge
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After three and a half “seasons” of NXT, I think it’s time to realize that ECW was probably the better star-building platform. NXT has given us Wade Barrett and Daniel Bryan, a bunch of flunkies, a released Kaval, and a disappeared Season 3 winner. Big whoop. ECW? Sheamus, CM Punk, Jack Swagger and The Miz have gone on from ECW to win either the WWE or World Heavyweight titles, and the show gave new life to guys like Goldust, Chavo Guerrero, Christian, Matt Hardy, Tommy Dreamer, Stevie Richards and William Regal. John Morrison, Evan Bourne, Kofi Kingston, Tyson Kidd and Ezekiel Jackson also got their start on the show, giving Raw and SmackDown! a backbone that NXT (and likely the new Tough Enough) hasn’t been able to match. While the show had its share of facepalm moments, the positives of ECW far outweighed the negatives, even if one of those negatives was screwing with the legacy of the original ECW. This match is proof-positive. By the time Punk graduated from ECW, he was ready for Raw and SmackDown!, knew how to intelligently work a WWE match, and had fans clamoring for his debut. I’d take that over a buffet of awkward promos and horrible skits, any day of the week.