It's Still Real to Me, Dammit!


10/20/2014 Raw Thoughts: Overexposure

Before I go into complaining about how I don’t like certain aspects of WWE’s creative decisions, let me first get into the things that I do, in fact, like. First and foremost… they waited until the go home Raw to give us a moment where you think any number of scenarios can play out at Hell in a Cell. When Seth Rollins curbstomped Randy Orton, the first thing I thought was “they’re sowing seeds for Orton to turn face… so he can get beat the fuck up by Brock Lesnar.” My next thought was “Orton is going to start his turn by costing Rollins his match against Dean Ambrose.”

Now, to begin my complaining, for everything WWE is doing to try to sell Rollins/Ambrose and Cena/Orton as co-main events… the Orton match is STILL Cena’s consolation prize for losing the match against Ambrose to get his hands on Rollins. The number one contender stipulation pretty much guarantees Cena will win because WWE seems to love doing the same matches repeatedly. I want to see Orton get beat up by Brock Lesnar in his hometown. I never need to see Cena/Lesnar again, much the same way most people never want to see Cena/Orton again.

As I just alluded to, WWE is in this holding pattern of doing the same matches over and over again. We have already seen AJ wrestle Paige like four times already since Mania. Miz worked against Sheamus immediately upon his return right before SummerSlam, several times. Cesaro and Ziggler have worked against each other several times. There have been countless tag and six man tags involving any combination of The Usos, The Dust Brothers, Sheamus, Ziggler, Miz and Cesaro in the last couple months. When I think about it… there is no heat behind any of those feuds.

I watch wrasslin both to be entertained and because I appreciate the art of wrasslin. The superstars and divas go out to perform but the art is more watercolor than oil paint. I usually understand why things are done and I will bitch when I don’t get it. One thing I don’t get is why heels don’t often cheat to win, or intentionally get disqualified. I recently listened to Bill Watts on The Ross Report talk about how he watches guys now and if you knew nothing about the characters and stories you can’t tell by the work who the heel and the face are. He spoke of the psychology involved… where the face is the best wrestler and the heel can only beat him by gaining an unfair advantage. And we did watch John Cena beat Bray Wyatt clean with no real interference from the TWO large men who were ringside at Mania.

Damien Mizdow beat Sheamus clean last night and Lawler tried to say he grabbed the tights. I didn’t see any tights grabbing. He rolled him up clean. What about Miz and Mizdow makes them heels? They mostly work clean in the ring. They’re not putting their feet on the ropes or raking the eyes or utilizing the low blow or foreign objects. WWE is trying to push a different psychology on us where we like people for not being annoying and dislike others because they’re annoying. And in one special case, what is done to be annoying can catch fire and become an entire movement based on a unisyllabic word. (I don’t know if that’s a word, not looking it up… if it ain’t I just made it one.)

As I was saying… none of the feuds have heat to me because there is nothing going on to make it personal. I don’t feel that any of these people desperately want to leave HIAC as a champion. I get no feeling that these people are intense competitors in an affletic competition. (Yes I know how to spell athletic, I like my way better.) Wrasslin always was, is and will always BE predominantly a struggle between good and evil, and WWE is not selling the notion that any of these midcarders vying for motherfucking prestigious championships ARE good or evil. Again. What makes Cesaro, Miz, the Dust Brothers bad guys? What makes Ziggler, Sheamus or The Usos good? THAT is why I don’t give nary a fuck about any of those feuds.

AJ and Paige is overexposed as they keep trading title wins. I’m hoping they blow off this feud with a resounding win for the champion, AJ. But, in this case, I know who the good character is and who the bad one is. Paige has repeatedly attacked AJ from behind and caused distractions and AJ has distracted Paige in retaliation, which can blur the delineation somewhat. But Paige has mocked and imitated AJ, in shades of Mickie James vs Trish Stratus. She faked wanting to be friends and now enlisted another person as her friend (who I ain’t forgot was just feuding with her for the belt a few months ago). Again… this feud needs to go away for a good long while after a blow off.

Brie and Nikki Bella have not faced each other in a singles match yet to my knowledge. A slow burn. I’d like to see Nikki really get heat on her by cheating to win. Grab the ropes or sumn.  That’s all I got to say about that. Another clear case of who is the good and bad guy. Interesting how that works.

Rusev and Big Show… I’ve seen them fight. I’ve seen them touch outside of that confrontation. We know how this ends but I just wonder… down the line, what does creative have for him after this whole nationalism kick? They can’t just do “USA vs Russia” over and over forever.

My brain tells me Cena gonna beat Orton but I’d rather see Orton get the match against Lesnar. Rollins was pretty much always gonna lose to Ambrose so they can move on to something else. Roster so thin… I have no idea what that could be.

Alls I know is… I’m just hopeful we’re not building towards a Survivor Series full of the same old shit.

Oh yeah… and why do they keep butchering stipulations? Why were they working a 3 on 2 STREET FIGHT like a regular tag handicap match? I get that they wanted to have some order to the madness… but that’s the thing. No street fight should BE orderly. That should have been a brawl all over the arena. Instead Lawler is hollering about how it can go anywhere… as they worked in and around the ring. For this reason, I never want to see any kind of falls count anywhere or street fight type stipulations until they stop pulling this ole bullshit.

TNA In 2015: What Should We Expect?

The question has to be asked, considering everything that’s happened with “The Little Engine That Wanted To But Kept Driving In Reverse For 12 Years”.

What’s going to happen to TNA Wrestling in 2015? Will TNA even exist in 2015? Let’s hope not. Let’s all pray to the wrestling GODS that it isn’t.

Let’s get the ballyhoo out now, so I can continue:

“You want wrestlers to lose their jobs?!?!? You want WWE to have a monopoly??!?!?” “YOU WANT THERE TO BE NO ALTERNATIVE?!?!?!?”

No, I want their company to be put down like the dying dog that it is.

No, I want their company to be put down like the dying dog that it is.

Let me dispel that right away. I don’t want ANYONE to lose their job. I live in America. This is a tough time to be an American. Jobs are scarce. In the wrestling industry, very few people have any sort of job security, and that’s during a boom period, which this is definitely NOT.

But I’m also far past the point of supporting something like TNA. TNA Wrestling is the scourge of the pro wrestling industry. Many years ago, they operated under the self-appointed brand of being the “WWE alternative”. That was (very slightly) true a long time ago. If nothing else, TNA was where you could go to see some dudes you weren’t familiar with do stuff the WWE wasn’t showcasing.

Then Dixie Carter (being the enormous mark that she is) allowed some of her wrestlers to get in her ear and tell her they could rise up and defeat the WWE machine, or at the very least scuff their shoes enough to get them pissed off.

Anyone who watched the extraordinarily short-lived “New Monday Night Wars” between RAW and Impact can tell you, that didn’t happen. The consistent one million fans who can’t be counted on to buy TNA PPVs, follow them to different timeslots or tune in when ratings data is most crucial didn’t disappoint.

Now, TNA is a ghost. The “brand”, if TNA ever had one, is damaged so far beyond repair that it’s not even funny. If the wrestling equivalent of Jesus turning water into wine happened and TNA got ahold of Jim Ross or Paul Heyman, the only way to do ANYTHING with the brand would be to start over anyways. The letters “TNA” evoke sadness, pity and disappointment.

My L.E.W.D. Brother Rev. Showtime called them “Total Nonstop Anticipation”. I once said “There’s No Audience”. Both are equally more fitting monikers at this point than “Total Nonstop Action”.

TNA finds themselves sans TV deal at the end of the year. No network of any substance wants anything to do with them. Pro wrestling is a dirty genre in the world of television and entertainment right now, but that’s an entirely different rant.

Dixie Carter is busy promising more “major announcements” and another “shocking surprise”. It’s astonishing the level she has diluted those already overused phrases. Even the most ardent TNA fans (i.e not apologists) pay no attention to it anymore. A “major announcement” from Dixie Carter would be that Julio the Janitor has just received a pay increase. A “shocking surprise” would be the signing and push of Eric Escobar.

Dixie and TNA have failed to deliver so many times, for so many years, and it ceased to be funny years ago. I don’t support anyone losing their job but nay will I support a company so hellbent on its own destruction.

I’ve long since moved past the point of being able to tally all of the colossal mistakes they’ve made. For someone who apparently has a “degree” in business, Dixie Carter doesn’t known beans from bullshit about doing business.

TNA still clings to life, being funded by Daddy Warbucks Carter, who, as far as we know, hasn’t completely gotten tired of pumping his hard-earned corporate dollars into funding his daughter’s vanity project.

I hope TNA in 2015 doesn’t exist. Any other business in any other entertainment medium would have been six feet under years ago if they’d made 1/16th of the mistakes TNA has. Put it down. Get it out of the way and let a company that wants to succeed take the spot. If you want proof of how damaged the TNA brand is, look no further than their last few business partnerships.

They teamed up with Bellator to plug Bellator fights and names and to be the lead-in to the show. Bellator responded by occasionally running an (1) ad for Impact.

They teamed up with OVW in order to say they were working with a former WWE developmental territory. They then chose to feature unsigned indy talents and ex-WWE guys and occasionally using OVW as a bookshelf to put their dusty, injured or otherwise unwanted wrestlers before dropping the deal altogether.

They teamed up with the blacksheep of Japanese wrestling in Wrestle-1, which is more or less The Great Muta’s ego stroking machine, to put on “their” biggest PPV of the year in Japan, which involved none of their major Champions, a crap ton of Wrestle-1 performers and Muta himself in the Main Event (MAJOR SHOCKING CONSISTENT SOLID ASTOUNDING MONUMENTAL).

Notice how in every one of these scenarios, every party benefitted EXCEPT for TNA? That’s not going to change.

As long as Bob Carter wants to funnel money into the degrading disease that is TNA, they’ll continue to limp by on life support with about 12 IVs sticking out of their arms. TNA is hoping to get picked up by WGN America or Velocity in 2015 so there’s that.

To put that into perspective, that’s a network that roughly 40-50% of the country doesn’t receive that couldn’t hold onto WWE Superstars vs a network that features cars and shows about cars. Great potential homes for pro wrestling.

Of course, they could always make a play at Country Music Television. That’s long been a suggestion from the pro wrestling “experts”.

Unless we all get lucky and they die and someone else comes along to raise the bar (ROH, DGUSA, GFW, CZW, pretty much anyone at this point), you can expect much of the same in 2015 from TNA. More anticipation, more “major announcements”, more “shocking surprises”, more “good” wrestling, more “solid” Impacts, more “consistent” PPVs and the same 500,000 (one million if they ask their parents and friends really nicely) unreliable, finicky, WWE hating, spot loving fans.


Dean Ambrose Rises

Dean Ambrose is WWE’s dark knight. He is not the wrestler WWE wants, but he is the one WWE needs. I recently had a convo with my best friend about Roman Reigns and Ambrose, re: their characters and if you had to pick one to build your promotion around, which one do you pick? We both chose Ambrose. Because his character is so pronounced, you’d have to go out of your WAY to damage him. In that way, he reminds me of The Rock. He’s going to lose to John Cena at HIAC and “we” will complain, but then we’ll be entertained by him basically being involved in the Cena/Rollins match and costing Cena that match.

I have been very vocal about Seth Rollins not winning all his big matches because of interference, or it will make him look weak. It has been noticeable, how he has taken the high spots out of his work. He has been displaying little of the athleticism that made him stand out as the so-called architect of The Shield. His promo is ok. He can deliver the message but not necessarily heat. Which is why I feel he needs to be protected somewhat. Not so much that he doesn’t lose… heels lose most of the time, and even when they’re winning battles it’s just building towards them losing the war. I mean that the Seth Rollins character isn’t gonna be bulletproof like Dean Ambrose. No one CARES that he has lost all the matches they’ve had. Same way no one cares that The Rock lost often to Stone Cold, HHH and the Undertaker in main events on PPV and on TV. Character resonance.

The breakup of The Shield has been the kindest to Ambrose, as Rollins stood out as the high flyer and Reigns was the muscle and often, the finisher of their matches. You could tell, Reigns was future WWE champ and Rollins was maybe a great technician who would steal the show from the middle of the card more often than not. Ambrose was the talker of the group. His work is unspectacular as shit. Watch Reigns and how he has like three moves, but those three moves are over as shit. See crowd pop when Rollins flips over the top rope and lands on his feet. And there’s Ambrose… making weird facial expressions and doing odd gesticulations with his hands. Towards the end of their run together, I was starting to feel the hype that preceded him was overhype. I was wrong. That kid is special.

Wrestling has always needed a sense of “where are they going with this/where are they taking us next?” because of the nature of the business. Smart fans are well aware of the fact that what they are seeing is scripted as fuck. What keeps our interest is the moments where you feel like “That wasn’t supposed to happen!” or even better “That was a shoot!” aka “That was real!” The best way I can describe Dean Ambrose is “predictably unpredictable”. As in “we knew he was in that present to Hulk Hogan on his birthday” and “we knew he would get out of that room The Authority locked him in” and so on and so forth. In that way, he reminds me of Stone Cold Steve Austin. Wow. I have compared this guy to two of the biggest superstars in the history of the business.

I have often compared Reigns to Cena… in that I see him quickly becoming stale as WWE forces him down our throats and he doesn’t do things to keep himself fresh and interesting… Ambrose really is like Rock and Austin in that you really don’t know what he’s going to say or do. But you know it will be entertaining. And so, as an aside, I know WWE is going to go with Reigns for his looks and lineage as their top hand. I just hope they make us CARE about him. Why we care about Ambrose will be on display at the PPV when he does the job for Cena and then breaks into the Cell later that night to mess with both Cena and Rollins. As another aside I REALLY hope the rumor that the loser of that match btw Cena and Ambrose faces Orton is false because 1) no one needs see Cena/Orton even being potentially a thing any time soon and 2) Just NO.

This ‘storyline’ is a shining example of how NOT creative WWE Creative is. First… you gave us an inconclusive ending to the rematch to the biggest fight of the summer. Then… I’m tired of creative having nothing for Cena so they just feed him someone else’s story. I’m STILL pissed CM Punk never had a match with Johnny Ace, but Cena did. (As yet another aside hmmmmmmmm Nikki Bella weirdly got thrown in AJ and Paige’s match like she didn’t have a natural feud of her own) I can write a whole ass piece on how A) what was the point of the finish at NOC if you WEREN’T gonna blow it off at HIAC? and B) Brock Lesnar can’t be bothered to show up to your alleged fourth biggest show of the year, the week of Thanksgiving… called Survivor Series? …but I won’t. I said enough just in saying those two things. So… Cena has no feud… so just have him horn in on a lesser babyface’s feud. Smh.

Again… the saving grace is that losing to Cena and possibly Orton in one night can’t hurt the wrestler WWE doesn’t necessarily want, but needs.

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