I can’t remember the last time I paid for a WWE pay-per-view like I did for tonight’s edition of “No Way Out”. It has to be going back at least six years. So, for the most part, the experience is virtually as new for me as it is for a lot of WWE’s target audience, since they probably weren’t alive the last time I did so. And I gotta be honest, I forgot the WWE superstars actually wrestle on the pay-per-view, and don’t just talk for twenty minutes and then have a bunch of matches end with outside interference. You know the ones I’m talking about, the matches where the creative team doesn’t have any idea on how the story should continue, so they just kind of end abruptly?

Oh. Wait. That’s like all of them.

But here’s the thing, for the matches where there DOES seem to be an actual plan in place each week? They’re great. I really mean that. Even when John Cena wins (like, almost all the f-ing time), it doesn’t matter that he wins. You know why? Because there’s a plot and it makes sense for him to win. And when it comes to prowrestling? I don’t ask for much. The only thing I want as a viewer, seeing as how we all know wins and losses don’t matter (unless you’re the Undertaker), and neither do the belts really, is that the plot for each week’s show be coherent.

Sometimes, it’s not. Like when Vince McMahon suddenly shows up on television after being relieved of his powers in the story, to … make use of those same powers he was supposedly relieved of. Now, that could be an important story point later on, and I think (and hope) that it is, because technically Vince McMahon CAN’T fire John Laurinaitis, as he did tonight at “No Way Out”. This is because Vince McMahon has no (storyline) authority to do so. It might just be a glaring plot hole, but that plot hole could also serve as a nice, logical plan that can be utilized by a creative team of writers to drive the story forward and keep Big Johnny around. And I hope they do, because Laurinaitis is one of the more fresh and compelling characters that the WWE has. We’ll just have to see what happens.

I rather see more of Laurinaitis and less of McMahon, Triple H, and any of the other authority figures. You know why? Because he’s new and interesting. What was the last interesting thing Triple H has done, excluding his match and re-match with the Undertaker at the last two Wrestlemanias? Oh, right. Last year when he totally derailed CM Punk and turned CM Punk’s mass media exposure into an excuse for Triple H to wrestle his best friend in a storyline that went nowhere, and now while he's interjecting himself into a feud with the WWE’s new big attraction, Brock Lesnar.

The main events tonight involving people not named Triple H were really good though. The triple threat match was entertaining and successfully made you want to see more of that story at the next event, no matter what form it takes. And although I just pointed out that the story behind the John Cena / Big Show feud is still kind of up in the air as to how it’ll play out, the match itself between the two was entertaining. Especially as it again made use of logic and even featured some of the wrestlers Big Show had gone after since becoming a bad guy. That’s the kind of plot you love to see because the involvement of Brodus Clay, Kofi Kingston, Zach Ryder, and Alex Riley made sense and was compelling.

However, other than those two matches, the show felt like a longer episode of Raw, complete with a match involving Sin Cara and Hunico that made most people demand their money back.

I’m only slightly kidding.

Personally, I was really bummed that the crowd was dead silent for the rematch between Layla and Beth Phoenix, especially given how well I thought their match came across on television. But like I said, when the WWE is fully behind something creatively, it’s fun, compelling, and they know how to keep you watching. But when it comes to everything else? It’s a toss-up, and most of the time people don’t have any real reason to care, which is why you heard chants of “boring” during the Santino / Ricardo Rodriguez Tuxedo Match and the silence during the Divas match.

As it's true for Willy Loman as it is for professional wrestling storylines: Attention must be paid.

5 Thoughts On Tonight’s “No Way Out” WWE Pay-Per-View

1. I like that the WWE is doing a pre-show with a free match on YouTube. It’s a nice concept, and something the UFC has taken advantage of over the past year or so. What I don’t like is paying $44.95 for the pay-per-view and not being able to see the same pre-show people on YouTube are seeing for free. I know, just with my own experience dealing with YouTube that if they give you money, you gotta give them stuff exclusively. I have no idea if the WWE has taken any money from YouTube, but I don’t doubt it. But. To give the people who are ultimately buying your pay-per-view a pre-recorded countdown show, and not a live event occurring from the arena with a match, especially one involving the hottest women on television in Naomi and Cameron, that’s just bullshit. Given the negotiating power of the WWE, they should have asked for an exception to be made that if you pay for the damn show, you should get the cool countdown show and not the pre-recorded one with Scott Stanford doing his best impression of Tom Brokaw.

2. The New York crowd (and let’s be clear, having grown up near the Brendan Byrne / Meadowlands / Continental Airlines / Izod Center, thus making me a Nets fan until the team was bought for the sole purpose of gentrifying Brooklyn), I can personally vouch for the fact that most of the people in the arena came from NYC and Long Island. And much like the Chicago crowd, the NYC crowd is always red hot when it comes to these shows, which makes the silence during the Divas match all the more disturbing. But there’s a few other things about the crowd I also wanted to touch on:

A. Did anyone else see the dude standing up on camera, turning from one opponent to the next in a martial arts stance before the bell rung to start each match? I want to say it's a "Bloodsport" reference, but that guy successfully trolled the audience at home for most of the evening, and it was a thing of beauty.

B. People still wearing NWO shirts: What the hell guys? Its been twenty years. It’s time to move on. You’re like an obsessed ex-girlfriend who can’t deal with the fact that the relationship is over.

C. I wrote a book about, basically, how nothing you say on the Internet matters, and the game is pretty much rigged to continue only rewarding the rich and famous at the expense of everyone else. If you have any doubt that this is true, look no further than how EVERY DAMN CROWD, regardless of city, goes crazy for Triple H when he comes out, despite all of the horrible, horrible stuff he’s done. I know that what I do for a living has no meaning, and that those of you reading a coherent and thoughtful column on prowrestling are very much in the minority, and I’m totally cool with that. But. A lot of people fool themselves into thinking the Internet audience and what they have to say matters, and in most cases? No. It doesn’t. So from here on out, I'm just going to ignore Triple H altogether.

3. There was a Ryback and Sin Cara match on this pay-per-view. I don’t understand why. The WWE seems to be into this thing now where they want to cram everyone on to one show, and I get that because it means a nice bonus for the wrestlers who appear. But you know what? There’s so many guys phoning it in and producing boring, crappy matches where they just do the same damn thing (see: Sin Cara and Ryback), that I rather there be fewer matches and more time to build up those matches and let them happen. There could have been some great features that could have been used to build up the John Cena and Big Show match, but instead we just got a recap of what happened on last week’s Raw. Why? Because Sin Cara had to have a boring match where, instead of molesting people under his creepy mood lighting, he just did the same five boring moves of his against a guy nobody cares about and never will.

4. The fatal four-way tag team match, which was previously unannounced for the show, featured the holy trinity of everything that’s wrong (and also, hilarious) about prowrestling. There was the not so subtle line from Booker T where he implied that the Prime Time Players were gay, Jerry Lawler told us all about a sex dream he had involving Rosa Mendes, and Epico and Primo came to the ring in ponchos.

Then the match had a stupid swerve involving Abraham Washington turning on Epico and Primo and offering up his services to the Prime Time Players. This is the kind of thing I started the column talking about. It made absolutely no sense, there was no build up, and the crowd really didn’t care because there was no reason to care. The only hint of a possible swerve came from the free YouTube show, which again, you didn’t see if you actually ordered the damn pay-per-view, and even then, it was happening literally the night of the show and involved characters that have barely been seen on television since the whole storyline with Abraham Washington got started.

Now, there IS something to be said by the fact that only two of the eight contestants in the Fatal Four Way, as well as Rosa Mendes and Abraham Washington, weren’t white. I thought that was pretty cool because if you haven’t noticed, the last black guy WWE had headline a pay-per-view was the very awesome (when he’s crazy) R-Truth, and that was last year in his much too short feud with John Cena. Ok, there was The Rock, but you really can’t count The Rock anymore because he’s not a regular, so while I was watching this match, I said “F-yeah racial diversity in wrestling!” It’s about damn time. Sexism, homophobia, and racism aside, that was a the kind of thing you wish got as much thought and attention as the show’s two main storylines.

It's kind of embarrassing that you can probably count on one hand the number of black WWE champions, you know?

5. And finally, CM Punk has a shirt now that says “I dig crazy chicks." Congratulations CM Punk, you’re now the kind of person you used to make fun of.


WWE No Way Out Match Recap

1. Brodus Clay won by count-out over David Otunga in match you didn't see if you actually paid for the pay-per-view.

2. Sheamus pinned Dolph Ziggler in a decent match.

3. Santino Marella beat Ricardo Rodriguez in a Tuxedo Match that the New York crowd quickly turned on.

4. Cody Rhodes lost to Christian after Christian utilized the world's worst looking spear. Christian does the worst version of like every prowrestling move. He's the little brother of professional wrestling.

5. The Prime Time Players won the Fatal Four Way tag team match after Book T said they were gay.

6. Layla beat Beth Phoenix surprisingly to retain the Divas title.

7. Sin Cara beat who cares.

8. CM  Punk retained his title after AJ (intentionally?) got ran into by Kane to distract him long enough for Punk to hit his stupid looking finisher.

9. Ryback beat ... seriously. Ryback was on the pay-per-view. Do you even need to ask?

10. John Cena defeated the Big Show after Brodus Clay and a bunch of other wrestlers no one cares about kept Big Show from leaving the ring.

Brandon Mendelson is the resident WWE expert. He’ll be giving his opinions on Raw, Smackdown and the entire WWE Universe. Get used to it.