Sunday 11 December 2011

A Return So Bad it's... Bad

When Mick Foley left TNA over the summer everybody expected him to resurface in WWE. It took a little longer than expected (Foley was free to join WWE in September but didn’t reappear on television until November) but return he did. What nobody expected was that he’d be returning to satisfy his own whims.

Foley has long been known as a guy who doesn’t really care about wins and losses and is always ready to work a program with somebody lower down the pecking order than himself. Such attributes are commendable. If more established stars followed his lead WWE, and the wrestling business in general, may not be in the position it’s currently in with regards to star power.

Sadly, ‘Mr Bang Bang’ has yet to display any sign of that trait since he returned. Instead he has appeared in two appalling TV segments that did little more than eat up air time. The first was a This Is Your Life segment for John Cena. Foley has stated he wanted this to be “so bad it was good.”

Films and TV shows that are given that questionable distinction were almost always made with the best of intentions. Nobody set out to create something that would become known for being dire. That Foley is wasting twenty minutes of time on WWE’s flagship show when there are guys on the roster who never get to appear is disappointing. What’s even more disappointing is that he admitted on a recent edition of the Art of Wrestling (a podcast hosted by Colt Cabana) that he had very little planned for this segment and intended to improvise most of his material, but he was still allowed to go out there. Surely twenty minutes of RAW needs more than some loose ideas and good intentions to succeed?

Things could have been saved if a heel had been booked to put a stop to Foley’s nonsense. Granted it would have been similar to the SmackDown segment you’ll read about below but it still would have been preferable to The Rock giving Foley a Rock Bottom. A young heel such as Dolph Ziggler or Miz would have benefitted from that spot far more.

The second questionable segment was his introduction to the SmackDown Holiday Special on Tuesday 29th November. This at least had some redeeming features such as Michael Cole’s comical introduction (it was exactly how a heel commentator should be used) and some work being done on the Booker T v Cody Rhodes feud. Foley himself was skating dangerously close to being a disaster: his jokes didn’t go down well and there was a lot of rambling. Still, it was better than RAW’s This Is Your Life.

Star-making is the one thing Foley can offer WWE in 2011 but it looks as if he’s either unwilling to do that anymore or has forgotten how. If his only interest is making bad television (again, that comes from Foley himself) there’s very little point to him being used by the company. New stars need to be created quickly, there’s no room for a 40-something cracking poor jokes in segments with the company’s top star. He either needs to rediscover his old form or begin working backstage.

There’s still plenty of time for WWE to turn the Foley return into a positive. John Laurinaitis is still being billed as acting RAW General Manager, meaning the option to give that role to Foley and make him a regular on Monday nights again is still there. It’s a role he’s proven effective in in the past and Laurinaitis could still appear as the Executive Vice President of Talent Relations so his push wouldn’t necessarily have to be curtailed. There are plenty of guys who could work enjoyable hardcore matches with Foley and benefit from the exposure that would come with that. Ziggler and Miz spring to mind again.

‘The Hardcore Legend’ can still be a valuable asset to the WWE product. He just needs to drop this fetish for bad television he seems to have acquired before it starts ruining careers. And his reputation.

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