You Know, I’m Not Mad That He Won…

Before we go any further, let me reiterate something very, VERY clearly: I have no inherent problem with Roman Reigns winning the Royal Rumble match.  None.  I don’t like that he won, as I don’t see any reason for him winning, but I didn’t see any reason for him winning last year either; we have to finally all admit – willingly or otherwise – that the reason he was cheered last year in Pittsburgh was because it was either him or Batista. 

No, I have no problem with Reigns winning the Rumble, even if I don’t like the call.  The world of professional wrestling is littered with decisions I don’t agree with, but that can hardly stand as a crutch towards my viewing pleasures.  There are storylines, matches, feuds, jokes and decisions up and down WWE, TNA, ROH, Dragon Gate, NJPW and TNA that have no reason, but dammit: TNA can make these mistakes all they want. 

Thus we complain.  We boycott.  We march up and down the street and we vote.  We boo the outcomes and say we’ll never watch the product again.  We’re lying of course: we tune back in to the product the next day.  See, I’m upset about the Rumble match even more than those who probably threatened to riot last night (and if the rumors are true those that didn’t let the Rumble winner leave the arena).  I was fuming at the mouth, throwing empty bottles of NyQuil across the room, praising the careers of Ryan Reynolds and Ashton Kutcher, I was completely livid.  But not because Reigns won.

Let’s face facts: they had hinted at Reigns being the winner for the longest.  We didn’t like it but that was the case.  The hope was that his mic skills and charisma would match up with the reception he was getting from the crowd.  In my case, I was hoping he would switch up his move set a little, gain his own attire, get his own theme music, stop coming out through the crowd, adopt a manager, stop trying to be funny, etc.  He was always the silent weak link of the Shield: both Ambrose and Rollins are money.  They went in opposite directions and thrived.  Ambrose is a lunatic fan favorite who bares no allegiance while Rollins is a calculating mega heel who… I mean, the man brought the Phoenix Splash back to the rotation.  The Phoenix freaking Splash. 

And still Reigns has one thing in his column that his former teammates don’t: he’s a WWE original.  Ambrose is an indie star, Rollins comes from the same camp as Bryan, Punk or Cesaro (it should be noted that Rollins is a former NXT Champ, so they knew he had something about him) and he’s one of the most accomplished guys to ever come into the E championship wise. 

Despite what we think, despite who we praise or love, the WWE will ALWAYS push their own first.  Corbin made a salient point many moons ago that Punk was a transitional champion despite his impossibly long WWE Championship run, and he’s right.  CM Punk is also not a WWE original.  John Cena is, and it shows.

John Cena, Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, Batista, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, these are all originals.  Big Show is not an original.  Chris Jericho is not an original.  If anything, it’s a bit funny that Jericho was the first Undisputed Champion and his world title runs are more or less distant memories, like Ziggler’s world title run.  He’s a WWE Original though.  There’s a reason he’s still there.  Same with Zack Ryder.  And The Ryback, as Daniel Bryan calls him.

Reigns winning the Rumble was expected, and the crowd response was appropriate.  Philly fans are a serious breed: they weed through the BS with fine toothed combs.  That’s why they cheered for Rollins: he’s a ridiculously talented wrestler.  That’s why they booed Cena: he’s rather mediocre.  That’s why they cheered for Mizdow: he’s very entertaining.  That’s why they booed the Miz: he’s a douche.

No: I’m not mad that Reigns won the Rumble because it makes sense in terms of the development of Reigns as the top babyface in the company one day.  That day is more than likely not March 29, 2015, but one day he will be the face of the WWE, and the company is still in a tailspin due to Punk’s departure, Bryan’s initial injury and the fall of Russia.  Maybe one of those things didn’t happen but its just as valid as anything else.

So we’ll likely have Reigns vs. Lesnar at Mania.  That’s dumb, but if we’re going to be honest: Bryan vs. Lesnar makes no storyline sense right now either.  It’s nice as a David and Goliath narrative, and it’s nice for Bryan and his rise back to the top after never officially losing his title, but does it make sense?  Not entirely.  Difference is: we don’t care about sense so much when Bryan takes on Lesnar.  We like Bryan.  He’s a short athletic goat with a sexy Mexican girlfriend that… wait, am I talking about Bryan or JoMo…?

In any case: Bryan going to Mania is a feel good story straight out of Feel Good Inc, but I don’t think people would be so mad if he lost so long as he lost later in the match.  If he didn’t lose so inconsequentially, people would still hate that Reigns won, but they wouldn’t have been so upset.  The fans weren’t even given the illusion that Bryan could have won. 

Bryan is a fan favorite and one of the most over Superstars in modern history.  Period.  Reigns will be one those kinds of guys eventually.  But not right now.  And the WWE is trying to make him the face sooner rather than later.  The fault isn’t with Reigns: it’s with lazy booking and mistakes that couldn’t be rectified.  Maybe the E has leaned on Cena and the like for so long that there was no legit gameplan for when the Cena was too unhealthy for prolonged work.

I don’t know, but the point remains: I’m not mad at Reigns won.  It happened.  I can accept it, whether I like it or not.  But the Rumble still pissed me off.  Why?

Because #6 never made it to the ring.  I don’t know what PPV y’all were watching, but Reigns outlasted 28 others, not 29.  Rowan did NOT replace Axel: I don’t know WHAT he was doing.  If there is truly a victim from last night’s travesty, it is Curtis Axel.

I Dig Ascension

First things first, my title is a spin on how many people bitched last night that The Ascension got buried on Raw Reunion. Truth is, I came away from Raw an Ascension fan for the first time. I don’t like their physical workstyle, it kind of bores me. But on Raw, they interacted with seven WWE Legends. WWE had them cut promos comparing themselves favorably to these old timer tag teams, then had seven of them in the ring and three beat the two of them up. You can never be hurt as a young wrestler getting to interact with LEGENDS.

When I first started writing here, I liked CM Punk and Alberto Del Rio. I felt WWE was making a mistake by emphasizing their older part time talent over the younger talent. I still feel the mistake was made when The Rock was brought in to trade wins with Cena and essentially make CM Punk’s 434 day title reign a long transitional title reign used to keep the belt away from Cena until he’d drop it to Rock, who’d transition it to Cena. I will, however admit in retrospect, that was the right decision. BUT… if WWE let Punk beat Rock at the Rumble, then had Cena/Rock II, and let Punk break the streak against Taker in the true main event of Mania? CM Punk is still there right now. And if he was healthy? I’d still have him as champion today. And Roman Reigns would be getting absolutely DESTROYED if he ended that title reign, especially since Punk is a internet favorite.

Alberto Del Rio is one of my favorite wrestlers going right now today. He was top five to me, at the time he left. I feel two things kept him from getting over: one, he lost to Edge at Mania, lost to Christian at Extreme Rules… then cashed in MITB on CM Punk at Summer Slam, lost the title to Cena at Night of Champions, won it back at Hell in a Cell, then lost it to Punk at Survivor Series. That’s from August to November. It was like he got two month reigns in there. Two, I think his accent made him sound annoying, so for many fans he got “Fuck this guy” heat as opposed to heel heat. I thought two solutions for him would have been to have him speak slower and lower, to make him sound cooler. The other is to always have him speak in Spanish, and have Ricardo translate for him. I feel WWE diluted its main event picture by having either the same guys in all the title matches, or just letting guys who would have never won the world title back in the day get short to the point of being irrelevant title reigns. I think Del Rio and Ziggler combined may have like 6-7 title reigns and they may not be 6 or 7 months long because Ziggler’s first reign was 11 minutes and the second was a month, before he lost to… Del Rio, who’d lose to Cena. Again. Unlike in the Ascension’s case, where they will be going over against old Legendary talent, CM Punk lost to The Rock, Brock Lesnar and Undertaker in roughly a year, Del Rio would lose any match he had against Punk, Cena, Orton or Sheamus.

I am a passionate man. If I like you, I will go to war for you. I cried on here monthly that Del Rio was being buried because he’d lose big matches with regularity. No one gets over by losing a lot then winning a big one every now and again. I want very badly for WWE to create new stars and not need to rely so much on Brock and other part timers to create interest. Reigns could fail as what WWE wants him to be if Rollins still has that briefcase and uses it on him at Mania or shortly thereafter. People like winners. John Cena is the man because he almost never loses. Reigns needs to be that kind of bulletproof. Ironically, Cena has had MITB cashed in on him a few times. Rollins will be Reigns’ Edge. Cena had the title from Mania to January, damn near a year. It was clear at that point Cena was the man. Winning the title doesn’t make you the man if your matches aren’t the main event (CM Punk) or you don’t hold the title over a month or two (Del Rio).

I feel like people overreact to wins and losses in wrasslin all the time. I once overreacted to a match this time two years ago so hard this site is most likely not viewable at your job. So I understand. It is from this experience, I implore all of you people crying burial right now: relax. I feel like between, Ambrose, Wyatt, Rollins, Reigns and Rusev, WWE has a nice nucleus of young talent that will be the top guys in a few years. Everyone else is just satellites in their orbit. I think that WWE has been doing a good job making its main events meaningful, but maybe their midcard is weak because of a lack of consistent creative attention. But then, the main event matches SHOULD be more important. That’s why it’s important for WWE to emphasize these young talents like they have been, in letting them main event. It’s just as important for fans to grasp that if you are not WWE’s upper crust, you’re just going to be the guy built up to put THOSE guys over. It’s just the way it is.

Just A Thought … (Jan. 14, 2015)

This Friday, IMPACT Wrestling on Destination America “debuts” on it’s new day and time at 9/8c. At the same time on AXS-TV, New Japan Pro Wrestling will debut on prime time television in the United States with the first installment of its 13-show series .

Here’s the conundrum: what will happen? On one hand, US fans universally agreed that the Wrestle Kingdom 9 PPV was the greatest thing on earth, trumping everything the ‘E has ever done. Imagine how fans should react for a prime time New Japan television show …

On the other hand, IMPACT Wrestling – a program which a healthy number of fans claim is also better than the ‘E – will run head-to-head with arguably the second largest pro wrestling promotion in the world. Effectively you’ve got two “better-than-the-E” promotions airing their product at the same time … both with a rightful claim to the same cadre of rabid fans who passionately support pro wrestling and detest sports entertainment.

Oh whatever will fans watch?

WRESTLING: Then, Now and Forever

You know what’s funny to me on two different levels? Neither Vince McMahon nor wrestling fans seem to grasp that WWE, for better or worse, IS wrestling. When you think “wrestling” you do not think MMA, amateur, Greco-Roman or any other wrestling promotion. WWE. Vince wants WWE to be everything BUT a wrestling show. He has deluded himself to believe he is above a word he encapsulates and transcends. Wrestling fans are so dumb they don’t realize they can’t watch Low Impact or some show in Japan without bringing up WWE.

I am biased. I literally exclusively watch WWE. I will be honest: I’m lazy. I do not want to have to seek your product out, I want to flip through channels and stumble upon your product. On TV. Because that was how I followed WWF, WCW and ECW growing up. Just flipping through channels and WHAM just like that you’re hooked on watching men and women destroy their bodies your entertainment. Speaking of entertainment…

Vince DOES need to let this sports entertainment thing go. As has been said repeatedly on these internets and on every wrestling podcast, NO ONE says sports entertainment or sports entertainer. Vince has made WWE lame by always talking about “the WWE Universe” and these other things he wants to own and be able to say he made up… when at the end of the day he has monopolized professional wrestling and made it mainstream. Wrestlers get to be on TV shows and do movies and make all kinds of appearances and do interviews on all kinds of mediums because these people ARE Superstars. Just call it WRESTLING, Vince.

So many people hate WWE so much they follow what WWE is doing one way or another and bring WWE up everytime they enjoy a wrestling show. They like watching a whole hour of NXT a week more than three hours of Raw. They think Low Impact Wrestling is the business. They watch ROH, Lucha Underground, New Japan, AAA… whoever… and every other comment they make compares the company, workrate, commentary, everything… to WWE. Because WWE IS wrestling to a lot of us. We can think a lot of the current day product SUCKS, but we will watch every week hoping to be entertained… by WRESTLING. We do not want to listen to 20 minute promos. We do not want to see a bunch of backstage segments trying and failing to be funny.

I’ve been reading that Vince is writing Roman Reigns’ wack promos. That makes sense that you have an old man writing for a young man in a century Vince may not really be living in yet. That WILL get Roman Reigns turned on by the audience. You can totally understand his lack of comfort with exuding so much quiet rage and laid back cool… and being told to say lame, corny things on TV before being given a push MANY people do not think he is ready for.

I think they HAVE to put the rocket on someone’s back soon because the reality is, they haven’t made any stars in a long time. The top of WWE’s card is all in their 30s and 40s. The guys they’re always bringing back for WrestleMania are in their late 30s to 50 something. We need Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt main eventing SOON. They’ve been given more opportunity since Lesnar takes a good quarter off between title matches.

It really does reinforce that the guys on your roster ain’t shit when at your biggest show you always bring in HHH, Brock Lesnar, Undertaker and this year, Sting, to take away spots from the younger talents you market as Superstars year round. If Bray Wyatt loses to The Undertaker, Undertaker leaves and Bray Wyatt is a “top heel” that just lost to a guy that works one match a year and lost to the top guy at Mania the year before. I have zero hope that they’ll have Taker lose two in a row.

WWE is doing Ascension no favors by having them bring up comparisons between them and the Road Warriors and other talents of the past. I’ve honestly never been impressed with them because they bore me. But I want to see them do well, because again, the roster needs as many new stars as they can make.

They stopped telling interesting stories in the Divas Division, now I don’t care about any of the Divas.

Cesaro is still unmemorable as shit on WWE programming.

I’ll be back soon with more.

Quick Thoughts on #DestinationIMPACT

A few of us here at L.E.W.D. were watching the replay of tonight’s “live”* broadcast of Impact Wrestling’s debut on Destination America. It seems like only yesterday when it was widely considered to be a rumor that TNA’s longstanding relationship with Viacom was coming to an end … and here we are, fresh into the new year, witnessing a moment that some fans were sure wasn’t going to happen.

Snarky remarks aside, I found myself joining countless others watching the first run of the show hoping that promises would be fulfilled, and unlike the pairing of three Black men with matching ring gear, this new day for a wrestling promotion would actually be worth a hoot. Continue reading Quick Thoughts on #DestinationIMPACT

Last night’s episode of RAW (the first episode of 2015) was … awkward. This episode showcased perfectly how the heavy emphasis on the story and drama can easily turn away fans.  I wouldn’t go as far as to say the episode was bad, but the thing as a whole was bogged down with the weight of the beef between the Authority and John Cena. In-ring action took a huge back seat to the story, which is one reason why (in my opinion) the accolades for Wrestle Kingdom 9 continue to roll in. Great action in the ring accentuated by a simple story tends to make fans happy … but the on-going, convoluted drama between superstars makes sponsors and advertisers happy … where’s the happy medium?

It's Still Real to Me, Dammit!

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