At Extreme Rules 2019, The Undertaker and fellow Big Dog Roman Reigns teamed up to defeat Drew McIntyre and Shane McMahon. If you don’t remember this match, you can be forgiven – it was the opening match, and it was thrown together rather hastily to wash out the bad taste of Taker’s recent Goldberg match.
For the go-home show of Extreme Rules, Shane McMahon cooked up a devious plan to take out Roman Reigns – McMahon and Drew McIntyre would wrestle Reigns in an ostensible tag team match. But instead of a WWE Superstar as his partner, Roman would tag with some work-a-day schlub from the arena.
First, Shane and Drew approached Tony the garbage man.
Later on, they were seen backstage offering the coveted spot to Louie the beer guy. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Finally, Shane and Drew found their man in Gary the janitor. Despite having a bad leg, the janitor accepted the main event spot after Shane offered him a $5000 cash bonus. All Gary had to do was stand on the apron, and he’d earn enough money to buy 333 beers from the Prudential Center.
But before Gary could wrestle, Drew said he’d need a mask. What an odd thing to say. Supposedly, this was one of Paul Heyman’s first nights writing Raw, but you’d be forgiven for thinking that whoever wrote this segment didn’t actually watch wrestling.
If you’d never actually seen WWE, I guess it would make sense that along with boots and tights, Gary would need a mask – you know, standard wrestling gear that everybody wears. Maybe a cape, too.
But Shane agreed with Drew about the mask. His reasoning? If Gary actually showed his face, he’d become so famous that he’d be mobbed by the 2.3 Raw million viewers who lasted into the third hour.
So just as Shane and Drew insisted (for some reason), Gary “The GOAT” Garbutt walked out in front of the crowd wearing a luchador mask (and not a moment too soon, as Raw immediately cut to its final commercial break, returning with only four minutes left in the show).
“It’s a good thing Gary’s wearing a mask,” remarked Cole, without following this comment up or explaining it in any way. I still don’t know what this was supposed to mean.
Roman and Drew exchanged moves for about a minute until Roman accidentally knocked into his “partner”. The referee ruled this a legal tag, so Drew flung the poor janitor into the ring. And here I thought that the point of teaming Roman with a nobody was so that Drew and Shane could pound on Roman, two-on-one, the entire match.
But no – the heels were so consumed by meanness that, instead of softening up Roman for their upcoming pay-per-view match, they decided to use the last three minutes of TV time to beat up a custodian.
Gary surprised Shane with a kick…
…followed by this messed up top-rope dive that, all things considered, was very impressive for a janitor.
McMahon was in disbelief.
“Look at this guy go!” yelled Michael Cole.
Garbutt then leveled Drew with a dive reminiscent of Cedric Alexander, who coincidentally was Raw’s only Black cruiserweight.
I should point out that, normally, when a masked wrestler starts using another wrestler’s moves, at least one announcer calls it out. Either that, or the announcers wink at the audience and call the action in such a way as to let the viewers in on the joke. Not so here – Graves, Cole, and Young were all astounded that a mere janitor could pull off such amazing moves, without even hinting that not everything was on the level.
I should also point out that there was a camera cut in the middle of this dive, as Kevin Dunn instinctively cut from one cameraman to another cameraman standing right next him.
“This is amazing!” said Renee Young.
Garbutt took down Shane with yet another top rope move…
…before getting knocked out with a Claymore Kick from Drew…
…and pinned 1-2-3 by Shane McMahon.
Post-match, the idiot announcers gushed without irony about the courageous efforts of Gary Garbutt who, although he got pinned after taking just one move, did an incredible job (for a janitor).
“Who knew a janitor had such high-flying capabilities?” wondered Corey Graves.
But then “Gary” took off his mask to reveal his true identity.
Look, I know this is an old gag in pro wrestling: a heel wrestler takes on a lesser, masked opponent who turns out to be his arch-enemy in disguise. The masked man beats the heel, then unmasks to humiliate the bad guy, who realizes he has been had.
Savio Vega did it to Steve Austin as The Caribbean Kid.
DDP did it to Randy Savage as La Parka.
The Hardy Boyz did it to Edge & Christian as Los Conquistadores.
Eddie Guerrero did it to JBL as El Gran Luchador.
Becky Lynch did it to Alexa Bliss as La Luchadora.
I know it’s silly and often unrealistic, but it works because every single time, it’s the babyface in disguise who wins, and it’s the arrogant heel who gets fooled and loses.
For the first time in history, WWE changed the formula up. Was it a last-minute decision to keep Shane “strong” heading in to Extreme Rules? One can only guess.
So instead of Shane McMahon thinking he had pinned a janitor, it turned out that he had actually pinned a former WWE Cruiserweight Champion.
Shane McMahon’s face was red, alright – but only because his face is red after every match.
Cedric Alexander, on the other hand, closed out Raw looking like he thought he was really clever. After all, he’d revealed that it was he was who had just lost to a 49-year-old executive – but lost with style.
Besides the obvious question of “What were they thinking?”, another, admittedly less pressing question remained:
If Cedric Alexander was out there dressed as a janitor, was Gary Garbutt sitting backstage naked, or was he wearing Cedric’s clothes?
Fortunately, the following year Cedric would trade in the janitor outfit for a tailored suit when he joined The Hurt Business. As of this writing, he is one half of the Raw Tag Team Champions with Shelton Benjamin.
And what was Shelton doing at this time over on Smackdown?
He was thinking, that’s what! Thinking and wondering.
In a series of bizarre (read: dumb) sketches, a backstage interviewer would ask the returning Shelton Benjamin for his thoughts on some matter in WWE, usually something totally irrelevant:
“Shelton, Benjamin, who do you think will win the WWE Championship at Extreme Rules?”
“Shelton Benjamin, with the opportunity to defeat Roman Reigns, do you think Dolph Ziggler will finally prove it should be him?”
“Shelton Benjamin, do you ever see yourself competing for the 24/7 Championship?”
Shelton would shift and dart his eyes around, say “Well…”, then smirk and walk off.
Were these actually meaningful promos, designed to lead to brilliant storyline? Or were they just a bad attempt at starting a new meme?
You’re free to guess, but they stopped after three weeks.
Shelton was seen the following month sneaking around backstage to mock Chad Gable for his height…
…before losing to him in the first round of the King of the Ring tournament.
So in a way, the very dumb but very brief Wandering Eyes Shelton character led to Chad Gable’s dumber, much longer-lived Short G character.
See, there’s always a plan in WWE.