Winners & Losers Of 2011 (Part Four)

Winner:  Mark Henry & R-Truth

Sometimes, being a traditional good guy in professional wrestling is boring.  You can’t say anything too controversial, you can’t cheat in your matches and it’s difficult to move up the ranks when John Cena is the ‘face of your company.  So, what do you do?

Well, in the cases of Mark Henry and R-Truth, you turn heel.  In other words, you become a bad guy.  After years of being stuck in the mid-card as lacklustre babyfaces, both men enjoyed the kind of high-profile resurgence that had long eluded them.

Let’s start with Henry.  Near the end of a six-man tag match on Raw back in April, The World’s Strongest Man suddenly turned on his teammates.  He clotheslined Cena and then dropped Christian from a guerrila press position on some steel steps.  Needless to say, they lost the match.  The character change literally came out of nowhere which made it all the more compelling and convincing.

Shortly thereafter, Henry moved over to Smackdown where he started wreaking havoc on guys like Kane, The Great Khali, Sheamus, Vladimir Kozlov and The Big Show, the latter of whom he’s been feuding with since the summer.  Even members of the TV crew weren’t safe from his wrath including commentator Jerry Lawler who he put through the announce table with The World’s Strongest Slam.  (Lawler was Henry’s first rival way back when he started wrestling in 1996.)

At Night Of Champions, Henry got pushed as a singles champion for the first time in three years defeating perennial titleholder Randy Orton for the World Heavyweight belt.  He remained champion for three months until Big Show beat him in a chairs match at TLC.  (His own reign was as short as Jeff Hardy’s at Extreme Rules 2009.  Smackdown Money In The Bank 2011 winner Daniel Bryan immediately cashed in his briefcase to become the new champion.)

Meanwhile, R-Truth, the rapping, dancing tag team partner of John Morrison was stuck in his own rut.  Despite being in the Raw Elimination Chamber match in February, he was eliminated so quickly as to be a non-factor in the finish of that match.  Like Henry, he wasn’t even booked for WrestleMania 27.  After qualifying for a chance at The Miz’ WWE title at Extreme Rules in the spring, Morrison somehow convinced him to put that title shot on the line in an impromptu match on Raw.  After losing to the Shaman Of Sexy, Truth flipped out and attacked him.  During the triple threat cage match between Miz, Cena and Morrison at Extreme Rules, Truth interjected himself into the action to the detriment of his former tag team partner who spent much of the next several months recovering from a legitimate neck injury (when he wasn’t being attacked by his new rival).

Meanwhile, Truth was put over by Rey Mysterio in a decent match at Over The Limit and he finally got his chance at the WWE title when he faced new champion John Cena in the main event at Capitol Punishment.  Unfortunately, the title didn’t change hands.  But the next night on Raw Roulette, thanks to outside assistance from CM Punk, Truth got his revenge in a non-title tables match.  All the while, he started acting crazy, hilariously calling the fans “little Jimmies”, complaining that being one of their faves got him nowhere (he’s right) and crying foul about conspiracies and phobias keeping him from being champion.  His mic work had dramatically improved even if he didn’t always make sense (which was pretty much the point).

With Morrison unable to work a consistent program, Truth aligned himself with The Miz, another former partner of the Monday Night Delight.  Christening themselves Awesome Truth, it looked like they were being groomed for a tag team championship run after running ramshod on the main eventers at Hell In A Cell (which followed their brief “firing” in September after causing mayhem at Night Of Champions before they were brought back “officially” in October) and defeating Triple H and CM Punk at Vengeance, among other successes.  But after losing to The Rock and Cena in the final match of the 25th Survivor Series, the team was split up the next night on Raw thanks to not so helpful comments from Cena.  After briefly battling in the ring, Miz tricked Truth into going after the former WWE Champion and gave him a Skull-Crushing Finale on the steel rampway.  (This really happened because Truth violated the WWE’s Wellness Policy which means a 30-day suspension.  He was caught smoking synthetic weed with Evan Bourne who was also suspended.)

I hope this doesn’t mean a feud between the two.  They were better as a team.  And I also hope Truth doesn’t turn ‘face, which, according to the internet dirt sheets, is the actual plan.  (Apparently, there’s a demand for “little Jimmy” memorabilia.)  Despite not getting a title run, the new character change is working so why make him a good guy again?  It’s working for Mark Henry, as well.

The more important question is what’s next for these two in 2012?  Hopefully, even better things are in store for them.

Loser:  Charlie Sheen

He may now have nearly six million Twitter followers.  He may now have a new TV-show lined up next year.  And he may now have a better relationship with ex-wife number two these days.  But look at what this once brilliant actor sacrificed in the process.

2011 picked up right where 2010 left off.  In January, production of his longtime sitcom, Two And A Half Men, was momentarily stopped so he could finally check himself into a proper rehab facility.  (Previously, he had tried kicking coke and alcohol at home on his own.  Yeah, that was a good idea.)  According to reports, it was his third attempt to clean up in just a single year.

Then, he felt the need to vent.  The following month he called into discredited conspiracy theorist Alex Jones radio show and unleashed a torrent of criticism against his boss, Chuck Lorre, the creator of Two And A Half Men.  For some unknown reason, he referred to him by his given Jewish name which some felt was slightly anti-Semitic.  (Sheen maintained that he did that to expose him as a phony.  Whatever you say, Carlos Estevez.)

In March, authorities took away the two kids he has with his equally troubled third ex-wife, Brooke Mueller, from his home.  At the time, he was living with porn star Bree Olson and a graphic designer named Natalie Kenaly.  He referred to them as his “goddesses”, forever tarnishing the word.  The live-in relationships didn’t last although Olson did briefly return before ultimately leaving him for good.  (Curiously, long before hooking up with Sheen, she once told Howard Stern she wasn’t interested in him.  Ahem.)

Then, thanks to his foolish radio rant, he was fired from his cush gig on Two And A Half Men which stopped filming episodes for its eighth season.  (Lorre later told TV Guide that he offered to resign from the show so no one would lose their job.)  Furious, he sued CBS for 100 million.  (The suit was settled out of court in late September.)

During this whole period, Sheen made a number of bizarre media appearances where he started espousing instantly memorable catchphrases like “Winning!” and “rock star from Mars”.  The manic star looked like he hadn’t slept in a while as he rambled on about tiger blood, adonis DNA and being radical among numerous other topics.

At first, it was pretty funny and late night comedians (not to mention Stern) didn’t have to strain too hard for decent material.  But over time, it became very annoying as you realized just how far this second generation actor had fallen.  It was more sad and pathetic than anything else.  If that wasn’t clear enough, a sympathetic Alec Baldwin tried talking sense to him.  (Alec Baldwin!)  Sheen wasn’t paying any attention at the time and ignored all his public advice.  Ditto Professional busybody Dr. Drew Pinsky who hosted a VH1 special about his addictions.

Around this time, he started posting a series of online videos under the name, Sheen’s Korner.  Critically panned, they reinforced what many were already believing about him, that he was completely out of control and making his difficult situation that much worse.

Then came The My Violent Torpedo Of Truth/Death Is Not An Option tour.  A bad idea from the start, Sheen and a number of cohorts toured several cities in Canada and the U.S. to get some kind of message across.  Reportedly, all the tickets were snapped up in less than 20 minutes.  But other reports noted that thousands of those tickets were being re-sold at heavily discounted prices.

The first stop in Detroit in April was a disaster.  There were boos and a number of reported walk-outs.  And while the Chicago show was somewhat better received, by the time the tour hit New York, Entertainment Weekly film critic Owen Gleiberman reported that “[i]t was Detroit all over again.”.  Despite netting a reported seven million smackers, the tour didn’t exactly help Sheen’s increasingly tarnished personal and professional reputations.

In August, for some unknown reason, the actor made an appearance at the Gathering Of The Juggalos festival put on by the controversial rap duo, Insane Clown Posse.  It didn’t go so well.  And at the Emmy Awards, a resigned Sheen, invited to present an award, publicly wished everybody on Two And A Half Men “nothing but the best”.  (Yeah, that was sincere.  And a little late.)  When the show returned for its ninth season in September, 32 million tuned in as Sheen’s character was killed off.  Interestingly, the show’s ratings are now higher with Ashton Kutcher on-board than they ever with Sheen.  And then there was his Comedy Central Roast which was seen by more than 6 million viewers.  (Well, at least, he has a sense of humour about his dumbness and lifelong awful behaviour.  On second thought, should he?)

In recent months, Sheen has thankfully calmed the fuck down (he eventually admitted he deserved to lose his job) and is actually making a movie as well as preparing for his return to TV.  For his sake, they both better be incredibly brilliant.  How else to make everyone forget the insanity he unleashed in 2011.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, December 19, 2011
3:25 p.m.

CORRECTION: The Miz and R-Truth were actually “fired” after their actions at Night Of Champions, not Hell In A Cell.  My apologies for the error.  The correction has been inserted into the text.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, December 19, 2011
3:55 p.m.

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Published in: on December 19, 2011 at 3:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

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