RAW Critique 12/14/15 – “Rise of the Roman Empire”

Roman-Reigns-roman-reigns-38604882-550-687It finally happened. The Roman Empire has begun.

Technically speaking, Roman Reigns’ win at Survivor Series 2015 counts as his first championship reign … all five minutes and fifteen seconds of it. So his victory over former champion and Money In the Bank contract holder Sheamus during Monday night’s episode of RAW is historic for all the wrong reasons.

For starters, Reigns’ true championship run (technically his second, keep in mind) feels no where near as organic as most fans would like it or as the suits in WWE believe it to be. The character of our current WWE World Heavyweight Champion went through such a swift and dramatic change that even the most astute of analysts could’ve missed it if they blinked. Reigns went from  always having his fingertips literally and figuratively graze the championship belt to being the underdog clawing his way to the top against the stifling machinations of the ever-present and always oppressive Authority. It’d be a different story and blog post if both facets of Reigns’ character fed off of one another, but they’re don’t; his inability to capture the top prize was due to the constant interference of others who were, in the grand scheme, just distractions to his superstar aspirations.

His WrestleMania championship match against Brock Lesnar was interrupted by then-Money In the Bank contract holder Seth Rollins, who would go on to enjoy a glorious reign as WWE World Heavyweight Champion up until a knee injury put him on the shelf. His Money In the Bank ladder match victory was interrupted by Bray Wyatt for no real reason other than the fact that “anyone but him” should’ve been in whatever position he was in at the time. Following Seth Rollins’ injury, Reigns would then participate in a tournament to crown a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion, a series that culminated with his victory against Dean Ambrose at the Survivor Series 2015 pay-per-view last month … a victory and championship reign interrupted by Sheamus who capitalized off of a distracted Roman Reigns and won the title in mere moments.

This turn of events, a decisive strike against The Authority – one that actually simmered for quite some time – happened immediately and abruptly within a little under a month. In this time, Reigns went from having leapfrogged by opponents to facing the wrath of the Authority simply because he refused to play ball or sell out like Seth Rollins.

But things got ridiculous rather quickly. Reigns temper tantrum following his loss at the TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs 2015 pay-per-view resulted in the “injuring” of WWE COO Triple H, a man whose accolades, accomplishments and abilities as a wrestler mean absolutely dingleberries as long as he wears a suit. Reigns actions (and declining ratings) forced Vince McMahon himself to make a brief appearance on television to play the Vince McMahon to his Stone Cold Steve Austin.

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Bet you forgot he was Dwayne Johnson’s cousin, righ?

What makes all of this absolutely hilarious is that the most vocal fans find it hard to believe that the star who has been featured prominently since January 2015 (at least since then) has had to face serious opposition from the ruling power in the WWE and not from the character’s own inflated sense of self. The bearded, diminutive goat-faced Daniel Bryan versus The Authority … that was adversity; the chaotic, hobo-esque lunatic Dean Ambrose versus The Authority … that was adversity …

The hand-picked, homegrown superstar born into pro wrestling royalty that represents everything anyone would want in a “face” of the company versus The Authority …

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Reigns’ true championship run is historic not because it’s the culmination of a long-running, well-executed plan that has organically elevated him from obscurity to prominence over a good stretch of time, but rather because it is viewed as the pedestal upon which Reigns was hastily placed as the heir apparent in an era of creative mediocrity. And much like we’ve seen, such things go over with wrestling fans about as well as a wet fart during a silent prayer in a packed church house.

We fans tend to know what we like although we struggle to figure out how to communicate what it is we actually want. The problem is that what we fans like may not necessarily make the promotion the money it needs to thrive. Roman Reigns, at this point in time, has more than enough qualities to make the money WWE needs to thrive, but that’s at the expense of alienating those vocal fans who can and will make far more noise  via social media than the satisfied ones; that’s not a good thing in today’s day in age. We can only congratulate Roman on his victory and wish him will in his second championship reign (Hi Dolph Ziggler!), but at the same time most of us are probably simply twiddling our thumbs until Seth Rollins or Brock Lesnar returns and we get that championship match we really want to pay cold, hard cash to see.

 

L.E.W.D. Update – “This Site Is Still A Thing?”

It’s been an incredibly long time since anything has been updated to this website … an incredibly … long … time …

And there are reasons for that, some of which we’ve already talked about in a previous post and others that mostly mirror the sad state of sports entertainment and professional wrestling at the moment. The post you are presently reading will focus more so on the latter of those reasons than the former.

Regardless of how we as individuals may personally feel about wrasslin’ right now, the truth to it all is that the profession we respect and support is at a low. While some analysts and insiders weigh-in with their pro wrestling palavering on a seemingly hourly basis, we still suffer from the disease of comparing today’s product with never before and never since seen explosion that came with the Attitude Era. Even with those unfair comparisons, however, is the reality that … well … pro wrestling is just blaaaaaahhhh right now.

Take Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment as an example; due to (perhaps) a lack of vision and foresight, an absence of a fresh and energized squad of writers with their finger on the pulse of what moves and motivates today’s audiences, and a dearth performers who are willing to push the envelope and risk their jobs for the sake of getting us fans to reach deeper into our pockets and completely invest in their characters, the product produced by the leader in the biz-i-ness is just flat-out boring and uninspired. To say it differently, as I commented to my L.E.W.D. brethren about a week ago, …

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We’ve played the blame game with the WWE for so many years now that it’s almost a fool’s errand at this point to even entertain a conversation about the state of the product beyond screaming out in frustration, “Oh brother, this stuff stinks!”

There are so many reasons to complain, whine and moan about the WWE product we’re slavishly devoted to, and we’ll do that here in another post to increase visits to our site. Hey … at least we’re honest about it.

Next up on the plate is Dixie Carter’s IMPACT Wrestling product under the Total Non-stop Action Wrestling Entertainment umbrella …

… geez … where to begin …

In the spirit of fairness, TNA’s biggest and most persistent problem has to deal with management and the evidence of their work (or lack thereof). The product is what it is and the athletes are what they are given the circumstances the entire brand currently faces. Those circumstances, which always seem to be shrouded in secrecy and deniability, are a part and parcel of the largest, stinkiest and most disgustingly obnoxious albatross that hangs around their neck like a bedazzled Jesus piece, limiting the growth and potential this company once embodied for the sake of surviving rather than thriving. At one point people would fight you in the middle of the street if you dared to deny that TNA was indeed valued and valid competition in the world of pro wrestling. Nowadays it seems like folks are just content with saying, “Screw it, it’s wrestling.”

To that extent, it’s honestly difficult to pay attention to the product long enough to give a hoot when your focus is consistently drawn to all of the mess going on outside of their six-sided ring. Again, we’ll save those rants for later posts; what’s important to take away from this particular post is that ever since 2002, the most exciting thing about TNA has been the back and forth bantering on whether or not they’ll actually be in existence by the end of the year. Note: that’s not something to be proud of. It’s one thing to champion the fact that you’ve proved people wrong for 13 years, but if you had to keep doing so after the first few times … we’re just sayin’.

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We know, we know, Just let it all out and you’ll feel better soon.

Then there’s Joe Koff and David Smith’s Ring Of Honor Wrestling Entertainment, a promotion that excels at what it does and appeals to the a certain type of die-hard wrestling fan. There are two things affecting this promotion: WWE’s talent raid and their limited  reach as far as fandom is concerned. ROH has been rolling strong for as long as (and perhaps even longer than) TNA, and their appeal as pure pro wrestling fan’s oasis in the massive desert of sports entertainment makes them valued among a small contingent of fiercely loyal followers. Their reach outside of that contingent has grown slowly, large enough for the larger promotions (NJPW, WWE) to scoop up well-known and established talent, making it opportune for rising stars to step up to the plate and solidify their place in the pantheon of greats while at the same time being a revolving door for up-and-comers wanting to make it to the big leagues.

The product pushed by ROH isn’t bad, but again as we’re saying, it’s not something that makes you want to jump up and run tell the neighbors about it. It just is what it is.

And that’s where we’ve been as a site since the last post published here in July; our fandom has been zapped and the zest to write – be it a positive post or negative tirade – has just not been there. We still watch, we still comment occasionally, but to spend more than a moment pouring over the product like we did so many years ago … meh. Sure you have smaller organizations and new pro wrestling projects popping up all over the place, but if the big three giants suffer under the weight of the times and their own mediocrity, the smaller companies cannot and will not fair any better.

So what’s to be done? What’s the challenge for us here and for any other fan that feels as if the sign of the times serves as the herald of pro wrestling Armageddon? Who knows … maybe there isn’t a clear cut, one-size-fits-all answer. It’s life and stuff happens.

What is clear is that with each passing moment, life goes on and continues. We can only take joy and solace in experiencing each second to the fullest. Regarding our conversation here, we can only truly enjoy the wrestling as it comes with each and every moment. As fun as it is to pick apart a company, to analyze each and every creative decision and scrutinize what a performer is doing, isn’t doing or has been told to do to their benefit/detriment, we can only do so with what we’re provided with when we’re provided with it. When what we’re provided with is blaaaaaahhhh, then we’re left with stretching ourselves to be able to comment on what we perceive to be mediocre and boring without making our own work seem as blaaaaaahhhh as what we’re talking about.

And that, my friends, is the difficult part of it all. Happy hunting, and here’s to more wrasslin’ writing from your good friends at L.E.W.D.

A Personal Opinion on the Hulk Hogan Incident

Tell me he just didn't say that ...?
Tell me he just didn’t say that …?

Once every year a debate among wrestling fans takes place, and for a few months the internet remains abuzz until the conversation’s new car smell wears off and we all move on to something completely different.

On Friday, July 24, 2015, the release of Hulk Hogan from his WWE contract reignited that yearly debate.

Continue reading A Personal Opinion on the Hulk Hogan Incident

Really Quick Thoughts on GFW-TNA – July 9, 2015

"I claim this GFW ... in the name of ... GFW!"
“I claim this GFW … in the name of … GFW!”

Given all that has occurred for L.E.W.D.’s favorite pro wrestling promotion, I can’t help but feel agitated whenever I hear or read that the ambiguously vague, cross-promotional relationship between TNA Entertainment, LLC and Global Force Wrestling involves some sort of “invasion” angle … and I just can’t place my finger on why this bothers me so. Continue reading Really Quick Thoughts on GFW-TNA – July 9, 2015

What We Know About: Slammiversary XIII

themoreyouknownJust when you thought it was safe to peruse the internet for the latest up-to-date information on all things related to pro wrestling and sports entertainment, L.E.W.D. is back to be the ol’ kick in your pants! And you’re in luck because we’re coming at you with a few things we all learned after watching tonight’s PPV offering from TNA Entertainment, LLC. Keep reading to see what we know (and can validate) after watching Slammiversary XIII! Continue reading What We Know About: Slammiversary XIII

It's Still Real to Me, Dammit!

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