Today fans of sports entertainment are collectively basking in the afterglow of last night’s WWE Extreme Rules Pay-Per-View. As we regale one another with fond memories of the event, one of the best WWE produced events so far this year, we should take some time to discuss one match that has been grossly overlooked by at least ninety percent of the company’s supporters and detractors.
That match is the Divas Championship match between Nikki/Brie Bella and the returning Layla.
For years the WWE has seemingly ignored the obstreperous clamoring of certain fans that have taken the company to task for defaming the legacy of women’s wrestling in sports entertainment. The message board diatribes and blog worthy musings of such analysts have indeed become legendary in their own right, often resulting in numerous fans tacitly agreeing that Vince McMahon could care less about allowing women to shine just as much (if not brighter) than their male counterparts.
Unfortunately such logic, as observant and subjective as it may be, is not entirely true. The reception of Layla’s return last night and her subsequent win over Nikki/Brie Bella, if anything, have proven that those fans who point accusatory fingers at the WWE in regards to women’s wrestling are aiming three equally venomous and loathsome digits back at themselves.
While last night’s Divas match was far from a classic, five-star encounter between Ric Flair and Antonio Inoki, it was far from the fluff that the WWE typically offers fans on Monday and Friday nights. Four things made Layla’s match against the Bellas better than what we’ve been offered thus far:
- It lasted longer than sixty seconds or less…
- It did not end with a roll-up…
- There was a decisive pin-fall victory after the successful execution of a finishing maneuver…
- It didn’t involve Kelly Kelly.
Despite popular belief, the WWE landscape (and the pro wrestling landscape in general for that matter) is indeed changing, and the fresh winds of those changes are sweeping ever so softly through the company like a gentle summer breeze.
Human beings, however, like to complain. While some would say that humans like to complain for the sake of complaining, it could be argued that human beings simply prefer to be proven right. As such, complaining is a way of seeking approval, acceptance and validation from one’s peers or social group.
Therefore if one dislikes something, one will turn to their social group via social media and air his/her grievances in hopes that at least one other person feels the same way. Once a group has gathered to support a particular grievance, the “complaining” will continue because it is a method of feeling accepted for the person who started the whole thing in the first place.
Fans who have become disenfranchised by the WWE’s obvious disregard for women’s wrestling rally together to complain and piss on everything the company does related to women’s wrestling. The negative effect of this process is that these fans become too jaded after a certain point to either acknowledge or appreciate good women’s wrestling when they witness it.
When it comes to Divas matches, these same fans will pick and pull at anything they can in order to continue to wallow in the cesspool of their misappropriated hatred of the WWE’s treatment of women’s wrestling. Again, even if the WWE does something right by these women, someone somewhere will grab the slightest bit of nothing and politely poop over the entire athletic affair.
Back to last night’s match…
The first level of disappointment came for fans when Head Administrator (pun intended?) Eve Torres made it known that Beth Phoenix was not medically cleared to wrestle (something that our very own Mr. Quinn Gammon knew via text message from the WWE forty minutes prior to that actual conversation taking place).
When the Bellas foolishly reveled in a brief moment of relief, they also remembered that Kharma was a) at least physically able to return to the ring, and b) hungry for their blood. Poor way of foreshadowing her eventual return (which may happen tonight…fingers crossed…)…
Head Administrator Eve reassured the Bellas that Kharma would not be Nikki’s opponent, leaving us in the air as to who that opponent would actually be. Immediately fans buried the match before it even had a chance to take place.
Imagine this scenario if you will: you’ve paid Brock Lesnar $5 million (or more) to appear for a certain number of dates for the WWE for 1 year. You build a strong story line for him and John Cena, the company’s top star.
You have an excellent Pay-Per-View with excellent matches so far on the card, with one more before your main event. Your crowd is emotionally spent yet hot for the final match, and you must calm them down before giving them the last match of an awesome night.
Would you, the plucky, intelligent, and “smart” fan that actually cares about women’s wrestling, debut a Diva you plan on pushing to the moon right before an epic battle between Brock Lesnar and John Cena given the circumstances of the Pay-Per-View?
God help us all if you said yes. Moving right along…
The second level of disappointment came when Nikki and Brie entered the ring and grabbed the mic; most fans tuned out or took a bathroom break at that moment alone.
The third level of disappointment arrived when Michelle McCool’s music blast throughout the area. Fans were instantly surprised at the sound of her music and were potentially delighted to witness the return of The Undertaker’s wife…who, to my knowledge, has made no uncertain remarks about a return to pro wrestling.
This is considered a level of disappointment because these fans that were “happy” at the potential of McCool’s return were also the same fans who politely shat on McCool and her abilities prior to her departure from the WWE.
The fourth level of disappointment, the most disconcerting level at that, was Layla’s return.
WWE Diva Layla El, who suffered a knee injury one year ago at the May 1, 2011 Extreme Rules Pay-Per-View, returned last night to a largely lukewarm response from fans who were expecting Kharma and Michelle McCool in that order. To call it a letdown for those fans would be a huge understatement.
The fans that found themselves whelm-deficient by her return are also the same fans who criticize the WWE for being too predictable. Once again we’re subject to the hypocritical and moody musings of those who want to be “right” more than they want to be “entertained.” It’s unfathomable how one can logically rant about a company being predictable and then gets mad when something they didn’t or couldn’t have predicted happens.
The fifth level of disappointment happened during and throughout the entire match; we’ll come back to this level in one moment.
The sixth level of disappointment happened when Layla defeated Brie Bella to become the new Divas Champion, which automatically sets up a rematch tonight on RAW for the title. This can be considered a level of disappointment because all of the fans who were put off by the previous five levels now have one last cache of ammunition to fuel their vapid discourses.
Any fan that may have been slightly irked by any of the aforementioned levels of disappointment truly missed out on something special last night…
1. Nikki Bella wrestled her third straight match.
Nikki’s initial title victory over then-champion Beth Phoenix last week on RAW was an actual wrestling match, one where Beth was defeated with the dreaded roll-up but still managed to carry Nikki through a decent match that ended…wait for it…logically.
Nikki took advantage of a weakened champion whose abilities were compromised by an accidental injury. Her victory didn’t come after a botched move or after thirty-five seconds of flailing around the ring. In fact she did something that WWE superstar Edge would’ve done: she took advantage of an opportunity.
That match was followed up by non-title match against Alicia Fox on the April 27 episode of Smackdown. Definitely far from a barnburner, the affair was still a credible showing given the assumed wrestling acumen of both Divas. With a little twin magic, Brie Bella retained the title for her sister by utilizing a finishing maneuver, and not the dreaded roll-up.
These matches were capped off with a third actual wrestling match from Nikki Bella last night at Extreme Rules. Three straight wrestling matches from the Divas and fans are still unsatisfied? Inconceivable!
2. Layla returns and showed almost no sign of ring rust and virtually NOTHING of her former character traits.
Anyone who remembers Layla prior to her injury will recall that she played second fiddle to Michelle McCool. She was McCool’s yes-woman, a tool the former Divas champion used in her quest to belittle Mickie James and Kelly Kelly.
Layla, as McCool’s yes-woman, also spent a good amount of time selling the offense of her opponents while McCool would sporadically wrestle decent matches.
I’m positive no one remembered that last night as she moved exceptionally well in the ring, particularly after coming off of a yearlong absence due to a knee injury.
Doesn’t seem like a big deal? Take former WWE Diva Candace Michelle for example, the former Go Daddy dot com model-turned-wrestler who suffered a clavicle injury after a bad spill in the ring from the top rope.
Michelle returned to the WWE looking like a soccer mom, and her skills inside the ring were noticeably worse than before she left…which wasn’t anything to write home about in the first place.
Or take Kelly Kelly for example, who after wrestling in the WWE for going on six years now (starting from her ECW stint in Extreme Exposé) still can tell the difference between a wristlock and a shoelace.
So Layla returns after a major injury, works like thunder and lightning in a good match, and fans are still unsatisfied? Inconceivable!
3. The Bella Twins are leaving; Enter Kharma to escort them from the building.
Speculation has it that the Bellas’ WWE contract expires at the end of the month, which is ironically today.
Please recall that Kharma, who left the WWE after the May 30, 2011 episode of RAW, vowed to destroy the Bellas upon her return if they were still with the company…
What this means for Layla has yet to be determined, but the reality is that this appears to be a slow build to the growth and development of the division that we’ve all clamored for in one way or another.
Kharma gets a solid return to the company without overshadowing or being overshadowed by the big dogs (Cena and Lesnar). The Bellas get to leave the company by putting over a rising star. Layla gets an imminent threat to her championship; this is the stuff we’ve dreamed of and yearned for!
And fans are still unsatisfied? In-effin’-con-ceivable!
Bottom line is this, folks: last night’s Divas match between Nikki Bella and Layla was well done and executed by all parties involved, particularly the women who gave a good show in the ring.
With Kharma peeking over the horizon, AJ being deviously featured on Smackdown in the middle of the main event feud between Sheamus and Daniel Bryan, and at least a slew of Divas biting at the chomp to hit the main roster hard (Kaitlyn, Maxine, and FCW Diva Raquel Diaz), it is simply ridiculous for any fan to sit anyone and complain incessantly about the state of women’s wrestling in the WWE.
Constantly comparing the current crop of Divas to Trish Stratus and Lita will cause one’s heart to harden to the efforts put forth by the Divas today. None of them are anywhere near performing as these two women have, but they are all far from being useless in the ring.
With all that being said, the least we can do is stand and welcome Layla back to the WWE as we congratulate her on her championship win last night, and thank the Bellas for their work in the WWE and for looking so amazing for so many years.
Anything else than that simply proves that we don’t want women’s wrestling as bad as we think we do.
Disclaimer: an asterisk (*) indicates a bold faced lie.
If you can tell me what difference there is between the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship, kudos to you. If you can do it in less than ten words, excelsior. Looking at those strange, overindulgent hunks of gold and leather make me wonder exactly what they are supposed to be for, period.
Did you celebrate when CM Punk won the title from John Cena back in Chicago way back when? How about when Daniel Bryan pinned the Big Show? When Zack Ryder finally climbed the tower to achieve his first official championship, despite his custom made title carrying a lot more weight (no pun intended)? Let me make it perfectly clear: you can count on one hand how many titles in the big two companies of professional wrestling are worth even a fourth of a damn. Why, you may be asking? Because the titles are merely for show now.
As I’ve said in many of my previous pieces, I’m a storyteller. Whether telling the story of my musical journalist who might as well have been a spokesman for Trojan, or making kids smile with the misadventures of pseudo-philosopher Jeff (real name Andrew), I take into consideration the importance of symbolism and motif. “DiZ, you splendid sight of splendor, what are symbolism and motif?” you are no doubt asking. Well symbolism is, in plain terms, something that serves as a representation of something else. Examples include a wedding ring. That symbolizes marriage.
Take Cleveland. It represents failure.
And what about this fantastic, self-explanatory scene from a classic program:
Symbolism. And motif is a recurring element that has symbolic significance in a story. Don’t worry so much about motif, this is about symbolism. When it comes to the WWE, I hate two things more than anything: the draft concept and the belts. As a storyteller, you can’t have pointless elements unless it is used to a comedic effect. When it comes to both the draft and the belts, I’m not laughing. I’m not even cracking a grin.
I’m unimpressed, people. Having stories is great but when the object of your quest is stupid or horribly undefined, what’s the point? I’m already all over the place so let me put it into perspective and then I’ll go deeper into the meat.
Read the comments for Mr. Morris’ latest piece on, quote “Damien ‘effing’ Sandow” and he responds to my comment – where I politely suggest he let it go – by reminding me of my sheer hatred for actresses (and I use the terms loosely) Terri J. Vaughn and Tasha Smith. While I’m sure that these ladies are both fine people and capable of worthy performances* I can’t help but feel unjustified anger whenever they are on the screen. Maybe it is because they both seem to pull a Terrance Howard and portray themselves ten times out of nine, or maybe it’s because they both bask in the secondary role of wingwoman (wingman without the Y chromosome) to women who are infinitely their superior. As actresses, especially in this market, being typecast is commonplace but you never relish your role in being typecast. If you go into a company knowing you’re going to want to stay for a while, you never go in as a low-level intern and anticipate staying a low-level intern for years to come. If you work at Wal-Mart for ten years, then at the very least you need to aspire to a managerial status.
When I was a kid, I wanted the Intercontinental Belt. I wanted to wear it around my waist, go to school and exert dominance upon my international peers, claiming that I was better and America was number one because the champion of all continents was an American. To me that title meant something, more than just a heavy piece of metal with a fancy design on it. But the years have humbled me* and my patriotism has matured* and now I have an idea of what the belt would mean to me now. As irony would have it, it STILL represents that dominance in a way, but not in a smarmy “I’m better than you” but an inspiring “I’m better than you”.
I’m still tiptoeing around the issue: the belts don’t mean anything. There’s no difference between one belt or any other belt. Outside of a select few, putting the belt on someone does nothing but enhances their normal stance (faces are more heroic, heels are more dickheaded) and the surrounding nonsense is purely pomp and circumstance from everyone else.
I want to like this angle between CM Punk and Chris Jericho in the sense of the championship. I want to. But I can’t. Do I like the straight edge lifestyle of Punk being put on the chopping block? Yes. Does it do anything to distinguish either one of these highly talented athletes as the best wrestler in the world? No, not at all. If anything it does the unthinkable: puts it on the back burner and merely does the same thing I wanted to do in my earlier years. The belt is just a McGuffin used to push the story along.
There’s another word you may be unfamiliar with. McGuffin. In terms of a story, a McGuffin is a plot device that has no explanation but pushes the story along. Cite Pulp Fiction for example. That suitcase’s contents remained a mystery, and they remain a mystery to this day. Some say it was Mr. Wallace’s soul, some say money, some say a cornucopia of violent Russian pornographic magazines (I have some sick friends) but the fact was that no one in the film revealed what it was and no one watching knew what it was, but it pushed the film forward. And that meant it was important, right?
Not exactly. Getting it around was important, sure, but otherwise it was just a symbol (you’re catching the recurring motifs (you’re seeing how all the terms are coming together (sah da tay*))) of responsibility. At this point that’s what the titles are. They don’t really symbolize anything in and of themselves, and they should have the indoctrinating effect of the ring from Lord of the Rings or Pamela Anderson in Baywatch or, if you’re like me, Rosario Dawson if she had hardly anything on (and it is AWESOME to see that).
I don’t think I can properly talk about this so long as I don’t go into each tier of championship. For the WWE, you have the top tier (WWE, World Heavyweight), you have the secondary tier (United States, Intercontinental), the divisional/brand exclusive tier (Divas, Tag) and the discontinued tier (European, Hardcore, Light Heavyweight, Cruiserweight, etc.) and you may be surprised to find out* that the discontinued tier was the best defined championship branding.
Take the WWE Championship. Winner is supposed to be the best in the company I take it. He is at the top of the ladder, the summit, the mountain top, they are the best of the best of the best and they defend that title against only those who climb the mountain in an effort to actually challenge them. You know, back when being a number one contender meant something? You don’t remember those days? Well Pepperidge Farm does*, and dammit, so do I*! It really makes no sense to have challengers with no clear indication of number one contender status challenge the champion! I’m not talking about the Money in the Bank matches or the Royal Rumble, those are solid. Those are good. I’m talking about arbitrary six-man battle royals the week before a PPV to determine something as significant as the challenger to the top belt in your damn business!
Like I said, I WANT to like the belt’s role in the Punk/Jericho storyline*, but it doesn’t mean anything. It’s just there so Jericho will be more of a dickhead should he win it and Punk will be more of a hero if he retains. The bottle of Jack and wasted cans of beer are more important to me, and not just because I think the company wasted some quality libations.
But alas, the belt means nothing when it isn’t the focus. I’m going to harp on Daniel Bryan because with his title reign and his subsequent battle to reclaim it, the belt is the focus. When he first one the belt, he was elated. Slowly it began to turn his persona more and more evil, as he was constantly trying to keep the belt and you KNEW he was trying to keep the belt. Him screaming “YES!” was a testament to this desire and still is. He kissed the belt versus getting kissed by AJ, another small fact (I notice the small things). When he lost it, he dropped the girl (who suddenly got very VERY attractive) and began his reign as the new anti-hero: Yes! Man*. Yes! Man flies through the ring with his index fingers high and demolishes his opponents with his powerful attack renamed from martial arts: the Yes! Lock*. And with this powerful lock and tremendous determination he climbs the lonely mountain to reach the object of his desire, his precious World Heavyweight Championship*!
So no, the belt itself means little, but the person makes it worth something. Fact is this: if CM Punk loses that belt next Sunday, he will STILL call himself the best wrestler in the world. If Jericho loses, he will STILL call himself the best in the world at what he does (he’s no Wolverine…*) but when Daniel Bryan lost his belt, he said he would do whatever he had to do to become, once again, the WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP! YES! YES! YES! YES!
Okay, I think that’s a nice entry point into what I’m trying to get at. We can look at the secondary championships too, but for the love of all that is good and holy, what in the blue hell does that even mean? Secondary? I think it’s a nice term* but again, what does it mean? The two secondary titles in the WWE are the United States Championship and the Intercontinental Championship. As we all know, Santino Marella possesses the former, the Big Show possesses the latter. In a round about way, both of these reigns are significant, just for different reasons.
Take the Italian Stallion Marella (I would use my nickname for him but ethnic slurs are discouraged). Aside from being his fourth title reign, Santino’s character is supposed to be Italian, as stereotypical as you can make him without giving him overalls and incompetent royalty. I say that Marella’s holding the title was significant because he, along with Sheamus and Kingston, are among some non-Americans who have held the title as of late. Does this mean anything for the belt? Not unless you fear communism.
Then you have the Intercontinental Title, and again, the belt isn’t the significant part of this current reign so much as the person holding it. Paul Wright: the Big Show. Latest Grand Slam Champion. Why is this big? Not only because only a select few have been Grand Slam Champions, but because only a handful can be Grand Slam Champions in the WWE at this point, and the list may shock you*.
There are twelve people who have reached this goal: Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Kane, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, Jeff Hardy, John “Bradshaw” Layfield, Christian and the Big Show. The five that can get it now are: The Undertaker, William Regal, Goldust, Mark Henry and R-Truth. Go ahead and see if I missed an asterisk, I’m completely right. You have to have held the top title, a secondary title, the tag title and a tertiary title, and it made sense to me why the Big Show cried when he won the title at Wrestlemania. On one hand, he finally won solo at Wrestlemania. On another, he became a Grand Slam Champion. There were only six more that could do it before he accomplished the feat.
But being a Grand Slam Champion in and of itself carries no real value. To be frank, Chris Jericho is the only Grand Slam Champion who might be considered the Supreme Grand Slam Champion because he’s held every title necessary and applicable.
But back to the topic at hand. A secondary title, in my view, and my view is gospel*, is one that represents the top of that particular belt’s wording. The United States Champion should be the best in the United States. The Intercontinental should be the best amongst all continents. Both of those notions are negated when the WWE Championship represents the best in the company, which is based in the United States, and the World Heavyweight Championship encompasses the world, which continents are a part of. It’s comparing the president to the vice president. Kids aspire to be the President of the United States. NOBODY, I repeat NO-EFFING-BODY aspires to be the Vice President of the United States. Not a single person. Not one. It is merely a foothold to reach the level of president. Walter Mondale did NOT jump for joy and say, “Yay, I’m going to be vice president!” George H.W. Bush did not say, “I’m the vice president, hooray!” Joe Biden did not say… much of anything. Really, he hasn’t.
And before you mention Julia Louis-Dreyfus remember this: you don’t see the president ONCE in that show, okay? Effectively, in that world, she IS the president*.
Of course you have the tag titles – and whatever the (expletive) iteration they’re in now – and those titles go to a tag team. For what it’s worth, I respect that there is a sense of direction with these guys. Sadly that direction is based on circumstance. See, you can’t have one man with the tag team title belts. You can’t. I’m sure Mick Foley could have pulled it off at one point (him or DOOM, but Viktor Vaughn might have fondled AJ a little too much) but no one can. By default you automatically have a rationale for tag team champs, but the whole number one contender thing I mentioned before is screwy, at best. I’m still struggling to understand exactly where this invisible listing comes from. At least with TNA they do a “RECOUNT!” chant.
Oh, and just in case you’re wondering why I’m focusing on the WWE and not smacking my (expletive) on the crying, abused face of Dixie Carter, it’s because TNA is so mediocre and asinine that they aren’t worthy of my time. With that being said, Part 3 focuses on TNA’s championships.
Finally we come to the defunct championships, the tertiary gold bars that went between stupid and oddly entertaining. Let’s begin with my favorite* one, that one that I still feel like Christian made: the European Championship. Maybe back during the Attitude era, when the world made sense*, this was a big title to have. Not because of the title, however, but because of who had held it. Owen Hart (RIP), Shane McMahon (could’ve been great), William Regal (the best Grand Slam with no name you’ve never known), amongst others, but RVD did with it what should have been done from the very start: he merged it with the Intercontinental Championship. In this PC society it would be wrong of me to indicate how weird it is for the smallest and arguably only non-continent to have a belt while other continents are left without one, but this is a PC society and I don’t want to do that*. Honest*. I don’t want to do it at all*.
Again, and this is just for the sake of posterity: I think Christian made that title. I didn’t pay any real attention to who had the titles back when he first went out on his own as a singles competitor, but the man went on TV with that damn belt and had a crew of interns singing that he was the champion of Europe. I throw my hands up here, that’s true champion behavior. And his choir of interns singing his then entrance music was beyond dope. Hell, even his being a crybaby was great*.
We also have the Hardcore Championship. Okay, I put my hands up here: this title was great. A lot of people don’t like the Hardcore title because it put spectacle over skill, and the 24/7 rule wasn’t really to a lot of people’s liking, but guess what: that (expletive) was entertaining. Anyone could have the title and the concept of a number one contender was rendered pointless because it could be gained or lost at the drop of a dime, anywhere, at any time, by anyone. For my FPS fans, it was true King of the Hill. True King of the Hill. Everybody loves true King of the Hill. That and a good shotgun to obliterate your online enemies.
For the sake of time, let’s speed through the last ones. Cruiserweight and Light Heavyweight. Same difference, stupid name on the latter, glad they’re gone, still mad that the weight cap on it was 215-220 pounds and the heaviest champion was 260, but what’s done is done. The Women’s and Divas titles are exclusively for women, good job, get a decent roster and it’ll mean something. Technically it means little now because the second a man won the title of Miss Wrestlemania all logic went down the drain, no matter how entertaining the guy appeared to be. Question: who is the Divas champion right now? See, you don’t know, because it doesn’t matter. Or, as Elaine Stritch so beautifully puts it:
I guess I’ve spelled out something of a point that the biggest issues with the belts are lack of a purpose and no secure rationale behind the number one contenders. That’s a problem all around. You can’t do that in boxing. You have to work your way up the ranks and then you can challenge the guy in charge. You couldn’t do that in Afro Samurai, that awesome anime where Samuel L. Jackson portrayed both the protagonist and his sidekick. To challenge the person with the Number 1 Headband (a lot of holes present with Afro’s father being this guy) you had to have the Number 2 Headband (there are even more headbands than these but again, a LOT of holes present).
You couldn’t do this in Cleveland*. Well, maybe you could.
I say all this to say that WWE titles are pointless. Very pointless. They serve no goal, just shiny belts that can’t even hold up their pants (when they wear them). I understand and appreciate the joys of the story, but you have no reason to include the belt when it won’t serve a purpose. Look at the recent John Cena/The Rock battle. The belt had no place in it, and the match was all the better without it. Until then, the only belt without a proper stipulation is the World Heavyweight Title, and that’s because of Daniel Bryan. Maybe he’s a Martian though. That would complicate things*.
As the L.E.W.D. Crew prepares for World Domination, I find myself seated on a quiet couch, contemplating how I got to this moment. It started the night of WrestleMania XXVIII.
Fellow writer Joe Burgett and I both took to Twitter to voice our responses to John Cena’s somewhat surprising clean loss to The Rock in the “Once in a Lifetime” match that closed the show in Miami. What ensued was a nearly half hour of argument over what it meant for the loser of the match.
In Joe’s eyes, as he will eloquently attempt to argue, the loss was detrimental and devastating to John Cena. As much as that sounds like a kayfabe response, I can assure you. That’s what he actually thinks. But I digress.
To my opposition here today, John Cena’s status as “The Man” has been severely damaged by losing to the man who “…was a mid-carder for years too, then when he basically became a star, he left to be a movie star. ‘Nuff said” – @JoeBurgett_EGW
As much as I’d love to point out all the different ways that this statement makes little to no sense, I must remember to stay on point. After all, this is a contest. A one on one battle that I myself laid down the challenge to him for. So, before diving into my dissertation, I leave it to you the L.E.W.D. Crew and the readers of EGW to decide:
Was John Cena’s loss to The Rock at WrestleMania XXVIII the right call?
Keeping in mind that John Cena has enjoyed elite status as “The Man” for upwards of seven years, there can be no denying that Cena is what an educated wrestling fan would define as over.
Over – The extent to which a performer has been accepted by fans.
Follow me, true believer and/or reader, as I take you on a little journey. We’re going to play one of my favorite games: comprehend the mind of the DiZ. I’m going to present you with a brief, and detailed, scenario and you try and gauge where I’m going with things by the time it’s done. If you do, you win the grand prize. If you lose, you get to read what comes later, which in and of itself IS the grand prize. So yes, you’re screwed either way. Scenario begins now.
The crowd is at a fever pitch, still hyped off of the aftermath of the latest pay-per-view. Every match on the card had been a wonder to behold, from the customary tag match showcasing everyone who wasn’t important to the traditional woman’s match that nearly stole the show. Championships changed hands from the bottom of the totem pole to the highest, but no one could have prepared for the upset that was the main event. The fan favorite champion, the heel with a cause, came to the ring with his belt firmly wrapped around his waist, middle fingers pointed to the crowd that loved him as he approached the ring. And who was already in the ring but his opponent? Kind of short, slightly less athletic than the champ, hair looking as if the man’s barber had become a social pariah, the challenger stood in the ring. He was known, but people still questioned exactly why he was in the match at all. Sure, he’d won a few matches. He’d even claimed a non-title win over the champion. But what was he known for other than his promos featuring the consumption of chicken?
The voice of reason was in the crowd, holding a sign that said it plainly: CHICKEN BREAST-ES-SS! Poor spelling aside, the challenger looked at the sign in the crowd, curiously near the front and pointed to him, mouthing the words “I’m trying to fight the good fight”.
The champion stepped in and held up the belt. The crowd cheered. He called for a microphone. The challenger snatched it. Taking it to his lips he said with conviction, “I’m trying to fight the good fight!” He pointed to the crowd. “NC!”
“MAKE YA MONEY!” the crowd screamed back in reply.
He pointed to the opposite side of the crowd. “VA?!”
“MAKE YA MONEY!” they screamed even louder.
“Now when you woke up this morning,” he began, conversational in his tone, completely ignoring the legitimately upset champion and even more disturbed referee (and this is saying nothing about the commentators who were as confused as a beaver in a teacup), “did you go to the mirror like I said? Did you say screw you? Screw your hopes? Screw your dreams? Screw all the good you thought this life was gonna bring you? If you didn’t, do it now. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna get this match on and try to make you bitches happy.”
Crude, rude, vulgar without crossing into true PG-13 territory, that was the only reason people figured this chicken eating promo junkie was in this high profile match. They compared it to Santino Marella being in the Elimination Chamber from the start: sure, the kid had talent, but he wasn’t supposed to have the top title. That would be weird. Instead they saw it as such: standard back and forth, champion gets upper hand, challenger has brief comeback, champion gets upper hand, challenger has motivated and lengthy comeback and finally the champion hits his snooze worthy finisher and delivers a big F.U. to the fans that expected something outside of the routine. That was the fate of Mr. Chicken Promo. That was that fate of Chicken Breast-es-ss.
The match went as many figured. The two had a back and forth, then the champion gained the upper hand, then the challenger had a brief comeback; the champion got the upper hand, the challenger had a bigger comeback and then, in a move that surprised the most hardcore of wrestling purists… the challenger pulled a dirty move that no one but him, the champion and the unholy eye of the devil himself saw. The crowd, stunned by the actions of the poultry promo man, grew silent as the challenger executed his tried, true and – to date – undefeated finishing maneuver. He laughed amidst a new round of boos and hisses, and climbed to the top rope. He made an obscene gesture to the crowd and flipped backwards in a sloppy but effective moonsault that flowed right into a pinfall.
1! The crowd begged for the champion to rise. The first finishing maneuver had actually knocked him out, however. He was far from faking.
2! Two! He has to get up! The referee has his eyes on the challenger; he broke the script…
Ding-ding-ding! The theme music of the challenger hit, the fanfare of the 9th Wonder track One Night, such a song being so foreign to the annals of professional wrestling. The challenger did his victory lap around the ring, dancing to the beat (he was always something of a showman) as the reluctant referee handed him the belt. The one-time challenger took the belt with a look of reverence. He suddenly understood why Paul Wright shed tears when he was handed the Intercontinental Title for the first time. The new champion didn’t cry, but he climbed the turnbuckle and held the belt as high as his short frame could, screaming to the crowd, “NAH, HOMEBOY, LISTEN, I’MA MAKE IT BIG!”
It never left their minds. They’re still mad from the occasion, and at the start of the flagship show a lone woman stands in the ring, a spicy redhead that causes even more confusion than the aforementioned beaver. She is dressed to kill, just enough to inspire a hint of lust but not enough to invoke the more misogynistic chants and catcalls the sport has become known for in some circles. This is fine, but she works for another company entirely. The rumor is that someone has pulled some strings, or grown so temperamental, so he managed to get her contract with that company destroyed (“It wasn’t hard; the company ain’t shit so why would their contracts be?” he famously says in a controversial interview) and get her to his company (always “his” company, not the company he worked for) all on the basis of his love for her. No one really questions it; the champion has those perks… evidentially.
Microphone in hand, the woman smiles and says in her booming voice, “Ladies and gentlemen, the NEW “New Tigallo” Champion!”
She doesn’t even get the name out before the crowd descends into the most hate-filled, family unfriendly chant known to mainstream professional wrestling. Loud, despite the more mellow feel of the song, A Star U R from the same producer as above begins to play loudly. The video graphics on the possibly stolen Titantron above the ramp show the challenger from the night before dancing and… preaching? Yes, possibly preaching to the masses of the world, as he stands on the world with a gun on his back and a beautiful woman on either side of him in clothing that extenuates their ample cleavage. It’s a terrible sight. And it only gets worse.
From the ramp, from backstage, walks out the new champion, belt around his waist, suit on his body, fedora tilted slightly on his head. On his left arm a British beauty. On his right a Virginia beauty, one who claims to be from the more country aspects of the commonwealth. They’re both dressed in the same vein as the announcer, but their tops are showing that very cleavage as in the video. All he’s missing is a pimp cane.
“Ladies and gentlemen, approaching the ring, from P-Town, VA, Da Infamous DiZ!”
The boos increase. Da Infamous DiZ never rids himself of his stupid grin and winks at the beauty in the ring. She waves back, attracted to the new champion as her slight blush displays but not starstruck like the women on his arms. As they reach the ring the ladies get off of his arms and he enters the ring. He steps in and kisses the announcer on the cheek. She whispers something in his ear and walks out, next to the women Da Infamous DiZ came out with. They exchange grins that disguise hateful feelings of jealousy. Maybe this is in the DiZ’s mind. He doesn’t worry about it. He takes off his belt and holds it up as a lackey from the outside hands him a mic.
“Well, well, well,” he begins, invoking crowd hatred. “Look who’s on top of the heap now. And I’m not just talking about your fat mommas!”
It’s not funny, but he laughs. He’s the champion, he thinks he’s funny. Even if he doesn’t really think it, he’s the champion. Being champion means he can do anything; there’s a reason he didn’t do this with the harem outside his ring before he stole the belt. Now he can do anything though, because he’s the champion. The belt around his waist is his throne. No one can occupy his throne without permission (he will turn this metaphor into a number of crude, sexual jokes) or earning it from him, which he won’t let anyone do. He understands now why people hate to lose the belt because it is pledging loyalty to a false idol, and he loves to do it.
“Your ugly, fat mothers aside,” he continues, winking at the commentators, “I must say, being the ‘New Tigallo’ champion means the world to me. It means that I best exemplify the elements of the mantra! It means I bested the man who once best exemplified the elements of the mantra! And yes, I’ve been preparing for this for years. It may surprise some of you that ‘New Tigallo’ is INDEED a mantra. So when I come out here and say, ‘New Tigallo, New Tigallo, New Tigallo’ I am invoking greatness that you, the witless morons that are my stupid fans, can never reach. You still don’t understand that I’m greatness and you all still aspire to mediocrity.”
He looks sincere, and possibly is. The crowd knows this. They hate him. Drinks fly into the ring, as do rolls of toilet paper and the occasional t-shirt that shows Da Infamous DiZ in his pure face mode. There are curious chocolate-colored stains on the shirts.
They’re not chocolate. Just chocolate-colored.
“Please, ignorant peons, listen to your new king,” he pleads, ducking drinks and a pair of panties he is sure he wants to avoid. “I’m here to save you! Here’s how we start. Everyone hold hands, close your eyes and begin a light hum.”
BOO, YOU STINK!
“I said do it!” DiZ belts. No one does. He shrugs. “Fine. Be that way. I’ll bask in the glory of ‘New Tigallo’ as I am the new ‘New Tigallo’ champion. And as the new, and how do I say, official face of this company of mine, I plan to bring back the essence of the mantra that Phonte blessed us with before his… well, the city ain’t the same without him. But if I follow the mantra, then dammit, you all, being pathetic and lost, must too, so says your new and everlasting king.
“Repeating ‘New Tigallo’ is a mantra for three things. Fried chicken is the first.”
The Titantron shows DiZ eating chicken and dancing lazily, all to the theme of Guile of Street Fighter fame. “I like chicken. It’s delicious. Any vegetarians are now banned. The second part of the mantra is big breast-es-ss.”
The only cheers from the crowd come up now, as the Titantron shows a camera that is zoomed up on the well endowed ladies that showed Da Infamous DiZ love when he walked out or came to the ring. He gives the ladies a thumb up. The English born beauty blows him a kiss.
“And finally, world peace. And the world will be at peace the sooner you accept me as your ruler. Now, who is ready to pledge loyalty and/or their youngest legal daughter to me?”
The boos return. Da Infamous DiZ frowns and drops the mic. He holds the belt up again, and the boos… lower. The fans quiet down a bit. As much as they want to hate him – and they do – they have to acknowledge something: that IS what the belt represents. The “New Tigallo” champion, the top champion of the company, represents “New Tigallo” and “New Tigallo” is a mantra for “fried chicken, big titties and world peace”.
And then a new realization crosses the faces of the purist fans: he’s a champion that represents his belt. He represents what he says he’s supposed to represent. His belt has a purpose because it is supposed to; it’s not just a fancy paper weight that distinguishes one talented kicker with another. Da Infamous DiZ, new “New Tigallo” champion IS the mantra. He has a purpose.
And no one would ever admit it, but Adrian did not…
The Pro-Wrestling Commentary is up!
The L.E.W.D. crew is back with installment two of the Pro Wrestling Commentary! Hear Nic Johnson, along with this week’s guests – Mr. Ashley Morris and Quinn Gammon discuss all that’s happening, good and bad, in the world of pro-wrestling this week!
Mr. Ashley Morris – Twitter: @Money2183
Quinn Gammon – Twitter: @Sir_Quinn
Nic Johnson – Twitter: @thenicjohnson
Episode 2 – Hour 1: The crew digs in on Monday Night Raw (4/16/12) from London, England including the CM Punk/Chris Jericho feud, how relevant is Lord Tensai, and the continuation of the John Cena/Brock Lesnar program. Also, Daniel Bryan: Heel or Tweener?
Episode 2 – Hour 2: Discussion on the Brock Lesnar promo from Raw, and his place in the company. Lord Tensai’s relevance after beating John Cena. *SMACKDOWN* Highlights from the show including Daniel Bryan getting more heat, the debut of several new stars including heated remarks on “Damien ‘Effin’ Sandow”, and Alberto Del Rio’s lackluster performances/Ideas for future pushes.
Episode 2 – Hour 3: Conversation turns to TNA as we discuss the Lockdown pay-per-view, the continued bad decision making regarding the company, and their latest gimmick “Fight Night”. Also, this week’s “Highspot of the Week” and “Low Spot of the Week” for each of us.
RATE, COMMENT, LEAVE FEEDBACK!
We here at L.E.W.D. discussed earlier today the intent of crafting pieces that celebrated 4/20. While I myself do not partake in said “sticky-icky,” and while I’m not entirely sure that my fellow L.E.W.D. brethren avoid the cannabis as well, who are we to deprive you, our loyal reader, of some lighthearted celebratory hijinks involving our wit and the long list of pro wrestling’s most popular potheads?
Seeing as it’s currently nine minutes until Smackdown and said article(s) haven’t seen the light of day on this site, I guess that would make us a bunch of jerks…so be it.
But while we’re on the subject of Smackdown, and I have a few minutes to murder before moving on to my next duty of the day, please allow me the time to release a poignant, well-constructed, and hallucinogenic free rant against one of the WWE’s newest superstars…
…Damien effing Sandow…
Let the ellipses show that yours truly has not the first positive or supportive thing to say about Damien effing Sandow. I dislike Damien effing Sandow and highly doubt that he’ll add anything to Smackdown or the WWE.
*Disclaimer: The following is a tirade against the character Damien effing Sandow and not the man portraying that character, Aaron Stevens. Mr. Morris is sure that Mr. Aaron Stevens is a fine, law-abiding citizen, a doting husband, father, and son, and an organ donor. But the reality is that he’s boring as goose-s**t and so too will Damien effing Sandow be.
Those of you that visit this site routinely know that I will often watch and comment on two of the WWE’s lesser known and viewed shows: NXT and Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW).
For our two readers that just realized there were WWE shows outside of RAW and Smackdown, FCW is a developmental territory for the WWE. Simply put, it’s where new hires receive their standard WWE training before being brought up to the main roster (i.e. RAW or Smackdown). FCW is also the nether-realm main roster stars get sent back to if they can’t cut the mustard on the main roster.
This is where Damien effing Sandow comes from, and this is where he should stay in my humble-yet-vociferous opinion.
My opinion of effing Sandow is based on what I’ve seen of him through the YouTubed episodes of FCW that I watch routinely. From what I’ve seen and heard, there’s nothing about this character that is invigorating, energizing, entertaining, depressing, or noteworthy of any response outside of what happens whenever the Divas appear on television.
There is very little from this character that warrants or elicits any type of emotional response on either end of the spectrum. He’s about as bland as plain ice cream (not Vanilla…plain), and eight times less likely to be screamed for that America’s least favorite flavor of the tastiest frozen treat known to anyone except me.
Stop; I know what you’re thinking or probably saying: “But Mr. Morris, CLEARLY effing Sandow is good at what he’s doing because he’s made you hate him…which is on the end of the supposed spectrum you mentioned before badmouthing ice cream. You, sir, are a liar and a hypocrite.”
If you actually thought or said this, then much like John Cena, you’re only half-right. “Hating” Damien effing Sandow is indeed on one end of the spectrum, but that’s an entirely different spectrum than the one I mentioned above. I don’t “hate” Damien effing Sandow because of his heel character; I “hate” Damien effing Sandow because he made it to the main roster!!!
A lot of my friends/followers and some fans on the world wide internets actually like the character. He’s appeared on our TVs twice, spouting off this or that about how he’s going to essentially bring class back to the WWE. Think of him as an unmasked Matt Classic from Wrestling Society X, but less entertaining and way more yawn-inducing:
In reality, Damien effing Sandow is more of an unholy hybrid of Lanny Poffo’s “The Genius” character and Bob Backlund. Even still those two were at least mildly entertaining…unlike effing Sandow…
Here…watch one of his matches. He’s wrestling Richie Steamboat, son of WWE Legend Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. Effing Sandow doesn’t even have an elbow strike that looks intimidating…and he’s wrestling against a Steamboat!
Sad thing is, this isn’t effing Sandow’s first run in the WWE! He wrestled as Idol Stevens alongside KC James as Michelle McCool’s “Teacher’s Pets.” This worked well for Stevens, so well that they sent him back to developmental and he was released from the WWE in 2007.
Everyone deserves a second chance, however, and Stevens was given one when the WWE hired him back three years later in 2010. Effing Sandow was born and now we get to be bored to tears again. Lucky us.
But this post is Booking 101, and I’d be a super jackass if I didn’t suggest something that would make effing Sandow less hated from my own perspective. In his defense I will say that wrestling in front of 7,000+ people on Smackdown is very different than wrestling in front of 100 people in the FCW arena. Perhaps effing Sandow will rise to the occasion and cause me to rethink my whole stance here.
I sincerely doubt it. To be very sincere with you, I think he’s the second coming of Eric Escobar.
What would I do if I had to book effing Sandow? I’d leave him in FCW and bring up Richie Steamboat, Seth Rollins, or Xavier Woods until I figured out what to do with him besides release him again. That’s all I got.
But alas, this rant isn’t all about me. I’m intrigued by what YOU would do with him. Let me know, and try not to be offended if I laugh in your face.
My name is Ashley. I am a wrestling fan and I am bothered.
There are a lot of things in life that “bother” me.
Driving home on the freeway in second gear because we all have to slow down to watch a dude in a glittery gold dress do the barefoot, heels in hand “walk of shame” down the highway bothers me (that is a true story, by the way).
That dude having killer shoes and better hair than me REALLY bothers me.
The person that called me at 4 am, asking for Julius, bothers me. That person calling back five more times before realizing I wasn’t Julius, had never heard of Julius, and there was never going to be a Julius at 619-***-****, really bothers me.
By now, you might be asking yourself what any of this has to do with wrestling.
Don’t fret, you bother me too. As much as I love wrestling and my fellow wrestling fans, sometimes ya’ll get on my nerves. So here it is, the inaugural “Things That Bother Me” post.
1. Fans that “know it all”
“Santino made me laugh but seriously? Why is he getting a push when _____ (insert no name person half of the population has not even heard of) is stuck at the bottom. Man, if I ran WWE, I’d have _____ (no name) fight CM Punk in a Falls Count Anywhere match for the belt. It would be so awesome. Man, WWE doesn’t know what they are doing. If _____ (no name) wrestled in TNA or ROH this wouldn’t be happening. He should go back to TNA”
Well, Steve (we will just roll with that name) I am sure you would find that match to be epic. I am sure you have played that match out in your head, on your Xbox, and tweeted about 30-40 or so times. Perhaps you have even blogged about it, drew a picture, wrote a haiku… but facts are facts.
You don’t work for WWE. In fact, you may not even be old enough to work at all. More than likely, the only promotion you are in charge of is “SBCW-Steve’s Backyard Championship Wrestling.” Despite gaining Matt and Jeff Hardy-like respect from your trampoline wrestling prowess, my suggestion is that you stick to the dirty pool-side grappling and leave the real stuff to the professionals.
Last but not least, you bother me.
2. The “I Just Marked Out” fan.
“Man, John Cena is like my favorite wrestler ever. I rise above the hate just like Cena, all day, every…. OH MY GOD… OH MY GOD…Yoshi Tatsu! He is so underutilized. He is my fav—OH MY GOD, I just marked out hard for Yoshi Tatsu. He doesn’t get enough cre–OMG! Is that Hacksaw!? He should still be wrestling. Wait! Wow, my favorite referee, Scott Armstrong is right there!”
That is a tad exaggerated but you get the gist. You “mark out” for EVERYONE and then tell EVERYONE about it.
“Man, I marked out big time for Booker T at Mania.”
Five minutes later…”I marked out hard when I heard Lesnar’s music hit.”
Wait for it…”Oh man, A-train!?! Man, I marked out so hard! Where has that guy been!?”
If you used the phrase “marked out” 5 times in one night, hell if you use that phrase around me at all… you bother me.
3. Brock Lesnar.
Brock “Here Comes The Pain” Lesnar.
Two weeks ago, I was having a bad day. I had to work on my day off, had a million errands to run, a cranky baby on my hip and had missed most of RAW. I stumbled in the house, set down some bags, and quickly turned on my television.
Cena is in the ring. Okay, I start putting things away and set my son down and all of a sudden music hits.
*A quick rewind, I don’t follow spoiler sites and I try to stay away from them in general because I like to be surprised. There were rumors that Brock would be back…hell the bootleg shirt I bought my son in February in the parking lot has Lesnar on it amongst other WWE superstars but I hadn’t seen much by way of confirmation.*
Brock Lesnar’s music hits and I got mad.
I got mad because I didn’t ask for Lesnar to return. I haven’t missed Brock Lesnar, at all. I didn’t really care for him when he had his initial run and I certainly didn’t follow him in UFC. Once he was gone, he could stay gone for all I cared.
He couldn’t hack it in the NFL or UFC, so now he wants to grace us with his presence? and I am supposed to jump for joy like everyone else? I was mad.
Then, the following week on RAW, we get Lauranitis talking him up, him standing there with his watermelon head, crappy haircut, and lack of neck staring at me. I was happy when Cena slapped him.
A brawl ensues, the entire locker room breaks it up; Cena is bleeding.
*Sidenote, in my head all I could hear was Ben Stiller’s character from Dodgeball “Nobody makes me bleed my own blood” when Cena started bleeding.*
Meanwhile everyone is speculating about Lesnar and this pissed me off too. Fans calling the storyline an epic failure even though it just started. The same fans that pee’d their pants when he came back already saying it’s over, go home.
Then, last night, Lesnar sits down and shares with us his thoughts on his return and John Cena. How special, excuse me while I throw up.
“I’m not a superstar” No shit. In my opinion you were a blip on the WWE radar and boil on the side of UFC.
“I’m an ass-kicker” That’s debatable, especially since your last UFC fight was a joke.
“I’m Brock Lesnar”… alright I will give ya that one.
Brock Lesnar you bother me. Your attitude bothers me. Your lack of a neck really bothers me, and for the love of cheese and rice, could you try not to look so constipated while you shoot your promos!?
Fans may be cheering you because, let’s face it, anyone who lays Cena out gets a huge pop, but this fan is counting down til you earn enough money to disappear back into obscurity.
3 1 is up!
The L.E.W.D. (League of Extraordinary Wrestling Devotees) Crew comes together to discuss the week in wrestling including highlights from Brock Lesnar’s first official night on Monday Night Raw, Smackdown’s “Blast From the Past” episode, we talk TNA and Evolve, give our “Highspots of the Week” and a solid preview of the upcoming TNA Lockdown PPV.
Questions, Comments, Praise, and Complaints are always welcome – let us know what you think of the show!
(A.K.A. — Yes. Yes! YES!)
(A.K.A. — Bryan vs… the Hype)
If you had told me at his WWE NXT debut that the now-Superstar we call Daniel Bryan would be the fan favorite, arguably the biggest one in a long time, I would have said “I can see that” with a minor bit of apprehension. If you (talking about you, Adrian) had said that he would be so popular that non-fans, casual fans and “I know more than major promotions” fans alike would be chanting his curiously simple catchphrase no matter how far down the road to Heel Nirvana he went, I would have said, “No, you’re a damn liar” with great gusto.
So brace yourselves for something I’ve grown accustomed to never doing: I’m going to admit that I’m happy to have been wrong. I thought Daniel Bryan, as he’s called now, would be nothing more than a mid-card darling on his best days and now he’s reminding me of a white Eddie Guerrero.
When he first hit the ropes of NXT, people were mad. They weren’t quite as vocal as the recent Wrestlemania 28 controversy, but they were mad nonetheless. Why the hell would the
idiotic fine people at WWE Creative debut this wrestling living legend of sorts as a rookie under the tutelage of Mike Mizanin, the man who can STILL make the claim for changing the face of the WWE and ushering in the new era? We can, of course, attribute this to the role of the WWE in crafting Superstars.
Having established wrestlers just come in and wrestle is a no-no for Vince McMahon and, maybe, Paul Levesque, though I might be one of the people to contend that our favorite COO meant for Daniel Bryan to be the first of his wave of new talents. It’s exceptionally rare for anyone with an established background to come into the WWE as they are. They are taken in, revamped, repackaged and returned to the world of active pro wrestling as a new character entirely.
Look at Chris Hero. Now he’s Kassius Ohno. Screw the fact that he was an independent promotion mainstay (like Bryan Danielson); he’s the new guy in FCW with a funny name. Look at Jon Moxley. Now he’s Dean Ambrose, and after this I have hope in the direction of things in the WWE. Never mind the fact, mind you, that Moxley was with CHIKARA and Dragon Gate amongst other promotions.
On the same coin (just the other side), take the also curious case of Sin Cara. To say he was entertaining is an understatement, and everything surrounding his pomp and circumstance was well deserved, even if he was stereotypically another face Hispanic in a mask. A lucha libre to the core, his only true crime was being foreign to the style of the WWE. So yes, putting him in matches with people he can shine against (Daniel Bryan, Chavo Guerrero, further Hispanic stereotype Sincara who is now full Hispanic stereotype Hunico) was a plus, but the fact that he was still wrestling LIKE a lucha libre to the core meant that he wasn’t fully translating to the WWE. Yes, there’s a reason that he’s MIA and Hunico is still riding out on a lowrider bike.
At the same token, we have to remember that the WWE is marketing to an audience that doesn’t necessarily look beyond what they can already see. TNA means tits and ass, ROH is a poor way of imitating a dinosaur’s stereotypical call and Dragon Gate is either a sparsely-remembered concept of Dragonball Z or a Yu-Gi-Oh! card that accompanied the Blue-Eyes White Dragon. In that respect, the revamp/repackage/return method is, at one level, a concession for the WWE fans as a whole. Simplicity is good for kids and the mentality of the myopic. It becomes something entirely different when the person came up through the WWE (look at recent comeback kid Lord Tensai).
But Bryan Danielson was, from jump, given the treatment of “Why the hell is he here?!” from the very start. He was on NXT, feuded with his own “mentor”, and was subsequently “fired” from the company for no apparent reason. A lot of people, myself included at the time, figured that this was the less-than-impressive rise and fall of this guy that everyone continually referred to as the American Dragon and/or he who wrestled one of the greatest matches in the history of pro wrestling. With a shrug and a nod I washed my hands, ate a cheeseburger and went to bed. Oh well, easy come, easy go.
As we all remember, the first season of NXT produced one of the biggest angles in years: the birth of the Nexus. It was a good act: unity through brotherhood, the leader being the winner of the show, an indestructible force that could call Chris Jericho something of an intellectual godfather a la Ron Paul, and as the weeks went through they showed themselves to be truly unstoppable. Alone they were formidable but combined they were like a pack of hungry piranha. Honestly, the only thing they were missing were a crew of Divas to manage the more uncharismatic of the collective (i.e. – most of them…).
Eventually they pissed people off enough to get a “Team WWE” to come up and do battle against the seven-man crew at Summerslam. But lo and behold, Team WWE was only at six people even as the event was seconds from starting. Who was this mysterious seventh man? Who, I ask you, who? WHO?!
His name was Bryan Danielson. Some people maintain that Daniel Bryan’s return to the WWE was all part of a long, technically still ongoing storyline to build him up; I can understand this and even somewhat support this because:
- A) I swear that Daniel Bryan is the leading flag bearer to Triple H’s newest position, and
- B) Look at where he is now. That’s long-form storytelling at its finest.
Daniel Bryan and Team WWE won, and Daniel Bryan began his wavy ride as a true member of the roster. He feuded with the Miz, allied himself with the Miz’s latest protege Alex Riley (oh, what a sad story that is now…), won the United States Championship, played the part of the international playboy (AJ is the first American one, quote me), and we can say that Daniel Bryan had began a more or less average run as an average Superstar. He was a terrific wrestler, one hell of a technician, even managed to make us all do a few double-takes with how deserving he was of a title such as one of ROH’s “Founding Fathers”. After his feud with Cody Rhodes and a management position on NXT Season 4, the first sign of the future WWE greatness of Daniel Bryan came with his inclusion into the Money in the Bank ladder match at the pay-per-view of the same name. He won.
I throw my hands up here: I honestly didn’t see that coming.
He won, and he pledged to cash in that briefcase at Wrestlemania 28, and was a bigger face as a result, even partly due to having the new girlfriend who looked barely legal. He was included somewhat into the storyline between Bald Mountain and Dark Mountain (both real mountains from what I understand) and became the sneaky little son of a bitch that tried to cash in his briefcase on whichever giant was felled at the time. He failed a few times, leading to plenty of minor mark out moments for us, but what sealed the deal was his “victory” at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs, where he finally cashed in his briefcase to win the World Heavyweight Championship from Big Show, who just a few seconds before won it from Mark Henry. Hope you caught that:
…who just a few seconds before won it from…
Less than sixty seconds. The Big Show held the World Heavyweight Championship for all of less than sixty seconds and Daniel Bryan was the newly crowned World Heavyweight Champion, and dammit, the downward spiral to heel territory and awesomeness that eclipses that of the Miz began.
I’m going to pause for a second to bring up one of my favorite things: the art of storytelling. One of the finest tools of a good storyteller is recall. This is a simple concept: bringing back to the light something that had happened before. This isn’t necessarily the exact same thing, but it can be similar to the point of irony. That’s all; I was just bringing it up.
Daniel Bryan. The new World Heavyweight Champion was a humble young man with a chip on his shoulder, a woman on his arm and a target around his waist. Big Show was mad because he felt slighted, despite trying to get Daniel Bryan to do the exact same thing to Mark Henry. Mark Henry was mad because he’s always mad. Daniel Bryan began to kick ass, take the coward’s way out, take advantage of people and chant “YES!” at his entrance. He wasn’t quite a heel but he was far from a face too. I hesitate to call him a tweener because he was still pretty undefinable. A lot of people were happy to see him as the champion but he wasn’t necessarily the fan favorite.
Then AJ got involved. Manipulative Daniel Bryan (slow corruption; it was pleasing to see) planted AJ to get run over by the big man, and suddenly Daniel Bryan became the loving protector. The vegan lifestyle was pushed HEAVILY, and still is now kind of, and now he was generating a lot of heat, as both an asshole, a possible poster boy for domestic abuse and the recipient of unrequited love.
From this point we have four major title defenses from Daniel Bryan, only one of them actually relating to his skill as a wrestler in terms of victory. He defeated the Big Show by getting Mark Henry to hit him and cause a disqualification (or as I like to call it one of the finest guest commentator spots in a long time). He defeated Big Show in a No DQ match that, as far as I know, has yet to truly end by running over AJ (see the above paragraph), and he won the triple threat cage match at Royal Rumble by escaping the clutches of the Big Show.
Prior to Wrestlemania 28, the American Dragon successfully retained his title in the elimination chamber, to the excitement of many, the disappointment of others (Santino Marella stole the show) and the supreme disappointment of the people that wanted him to go on super submission mode and leave everyone a managed mess. Whatever, who cares, he won.
On the road to the grandest stage, a few great matches between Daniel Bryan and CM Punk took place, no doubt another treat for fans of the man prior to his time in the WWE. They were great, all 486,747,674,856 of them. During this time, Daniel Bryan had all but converted into his asshole self. Sheamus, winner of the Rumble, had begun to say that the championship had corrupted the wearer (that whole angle is mysteriously gone…) and fast forward to Wrestlemania and… Bryan loses in 19.3 seconds.
Oh wait, sorry, that’s inaccurate. Bryan lost in 18 seconds.
While everyone began to bitch and moan, they were blind to the fact that his story is really just beginning. The next night the crowd was livid, a word you rarely hear in improper pro wrestling writing such as my own, and chanting “Yes!” or “Daniel Bryan” with the customary series of five claps. When Sheamus and Del Rio were in the ring, the crowd was chanting for Daniel Bryan. When John Cena came out, they were chanting for Daniel Bryan. This was quickly put down with the return of Dolph Lundgren fanboy Brock Lesnar, but it was still something to behold.
Now we have Daniel Bryan chants, talks of the “Yes! YES! YES!!!” shirts finally being put into development, and our favorite submission specialist short of Dean Malenko and Chris Jericho’s loaded list (I think he listed the Boston Crab more than once…) is suddenly staying after the show is over to address the crowd. Imagine that, a heel that the fans love…
How does something like this happen? Essentially we’re seeing a few elements of storytelling manifest; there’s been a LOT of payoff in the curious case of Bryan Danielson. A pure wrestler, a terrific technician, he was considered something of a bore in the early goings by some for that, and upon winning the World Heavyweight Title because of treachery (I use that term loosely) he used his “skill” less and less to maintain his heel status and play the part of the coward who loves his belt. Putting him up against CM Punk and other wrestlers who can actually wrestle kept the fact that he was a ring magician fresh in our minds.
The freshest bit of recall came with Wrestlemania 28, and I’ll admit that I am the farthest thing from mad with how that “match” turned out. The outcome was unexpected – pleasing but unexpected – with Sheamus becoming the source of tremendous boos, and Del Rio didn’t help that, though as a heel he really should have used that better. In any case, Daniel Bryan had to lose that belt to attract this new level of height. I honestly doubt he could go into this super submission mode that a lot of people are clamoring for unless he has the incentive to win something back.
I’m slowly (emphasis on the “slow” part) crafting a piece on the role of champions, and that’s one of Bryan’s Achilles Heels. I say this in terms of his character: the gold. Whenever gold is around his waist, he gets a new degree of cockiness. Same thing happens to me when I wear a suit. You can’t tell me nothing and there’s a 60% chance that I’ll steal your girl every time. A belt does the same. When Daniel Bryan had the United States Championship, he was surrounded by women, even indulged in light infidelity. He also lost this title to Sheamus in a dark match before Wrestlemania 27 that was supposed to be on the main card (but shit happens). That’s significant, don’t you think? First match of Wrestlemania 27 is the same as the first match of Wrestlemania 28 with a different title. Of course the former became a lumberjack match because people don’t know how to act but what does it matter that a successful rivalry is remembered?
But I’m talking about the belt, and what Sheamus briefly mentioned about the almost Lord of the Rings quality of one of those things. For the overconfident and overzealous and average arrogant, the belt does have that quality. A title isn’t meant for those who can’t control the power of the precious. Weak hearts cannot be involved and other such terms. The once pure man had been turned jerky by the belt he was pushed into trying to obtain. Rather appropriate for the first world title run, longest run since Kane before him (it was longer than Mark Henry’s run but it didn’t feel that way did it?).
In a way, I suppose I’m saying that Daniel Bryan, or Bryan Daniels, or Mr. I’m-Going-To-Kick-Your-Fucking-Head-In is an unexpected folk hero in the WWE now. No one could have predicted that he would be as big as he is now, outside of maybe whoever hired him (I still think Levesque had a hand in it). No one could have predicted that he’d literally pull the Jesus move and go in, get fired and come back at these heights. What Bryan represents is more than just the zenith (and he’s not even there yet) of how far a wrestler’s charisma and talent can take them. He represents the genius of long form storytelling and the ever present possibilities of taking an indie god and translating them into the mainstream.
I could easily draw comparisons with this to music, video game companies, Star Wars, apples and oranges, bodyspray deodorant, even dead languages, but let’s just keep it simple and say it plainly: an indie star can thrive in the WWE if the right time and investment in them is given. We’ve had two years of WWE Daniel Bryan to watch his slow but powerful growth, and now with three years only a few months away, he’s advertising his own shirt. Can we say the touch? Because Bryan Danielson has the touch. Can you say the touch? I can.
Now, if we can just get those ice cream bars already…
Women’s wrestling is probably one of the most fiercely debated topics among pro wrestling fans today. In a hilarious twist of irony, it’s also one of the least respected “divisions” among pro wrestling fans today.
That observation was made with all sincerity and a healthy serving of truth. The reality is that while fans defend women’s wrestling with an unrivaled passion, they also tend to speak of it as if the WWE and TNA are the only notable expressions of this sub-genre in sports entertainment.
TNA’s Knockouts division is routinely regarded as having the “best women’s division in pro wrestling,” while the WWE is roasted regularly for its farcical Divas division. Rarely will one hear about SHIMMER, Women Superstars Uncensored (WSU), or even Wrestlicious for that matter.
There within lies the problem of discussion women’s wrestling; our viewpoints are corrupted by our own ignorance of the subject matter. Since we only view women’s wrestling as told by two American wrestling companies, our expectations and desires are slightly biased and very much uninformed.
Believe it or not, that myopic view is stretched even thinner by our unrealistic expectations of the product.
Fans often compare the WWE’s current batch of Divas to Trish Stratus and Lita, two former WWE Divas that literally revolutionized women’s wrestling during their time under Vince McMahon (in the case of Trish’ on-screen character, pun intended).
Very few fans acknowledge or even realize that both Trish and Lita were living, breathing, human perfect storms. What they provided for the WWE and for us fans was one of those “once in a lifetime” things we hear about every now and then.
Even more distressing is that the sheer magnitude of what both women represented in the annals of women’s wrestling completely overshadowed the pure talent and skill of the other women wrestlers that assisted in the cementing of their legacies.
Trish and Lita were good, but no one will fondly recall anything Debra Miceli (Madusa), Lisa Moretti (Ivory), Nora Greenwald (Molly Holly/Mighty Molly), Tammy Lynn Sytch (Sunny), Jacqueline Moore, Lisa Marie Varon (Victoria/Tara), and even Mickie James added to the WWE women’s division.
Just when you think the perception couldn’t get any worse, it takes a sharp turn towards the seventh circle of Hell.
Any business that does not meet the needs of the people they serve will suffer from decline. In light of our discussion about women’s wrestling, companies are only providing fans with what they’re asking for or expecting by and large. To be frank about it, we get what we ask for.
Organizations such as SHIMMER and WSU provide exceptional matches with outstanding female athletes, yet they have no major television deal for various reasons. Visit Twitter sometime today; how many people in your timeline are talking about these organizations at length?
Shane Howard (shameless plug) was the only person in my timeline that would ever mention either of these organizations or the wrestlers in them. He had quite the exciting “friendship” with wrestler Marti Belle, but I digress.
Is anyone in your timeline ranting incessantly about the awesomeness of Marti Belle, Mia Yim, or Mercedes Martinez? What’s Sara Del Rey’s main focus in 2012? Why didn’t TNA keep Christina Von Eerie on their payroll? Do you even know who the f**k half of these people are???
I’m sure you don’t, and that’s because most Bleacher Report articles or timeline rants are focused on…you guessed it…the terribleness of the Divas division and the greatness of the Knockouts division. I’m also guessing that a bunch of us don’t even visit Diva-Dirt.com regularly…
However there is an obvious reason why there is a Divas division in the WWE and why the Women’s Championship was retired. The company has given us models-turned-wrestlers because of their need to infiltrate the entertainment industry.
Thin, statuesque, strikingly beautiful and model-esque women look great on the red carpet; burly shouldered athletic women look good on the cover of Muscle and Fitness. WWE “Divas” have to be able to do both despite our insisting that they pigeonhole themselves into being “wrestlers” and “wrestlers” only.
Why are we just now acting surprised? The WWE has always done this; Rena “Sable” Mero, Tammy Lynn “Sunny” Sytch, Stacy Keibler (George Clooney’s girlfriend) and Torrie Wilson (Alex Rodriguez’s girlfriend) were all given major roles in the women’s division while being pimped all around Hollywood and New York City.
What about TNA? They have sexy women wrestlers who aren’t models and still manage to get magazine covers and TV show spots. If they’re able to do it, why can’t the WWE?
I’ll allow Mr. Quinn Gammon to speak more on the intricacies of the Knockouts division, but here’s a point to think about: the Knockouts division – which consistently receives high segment ratings and lengthy TV time – still plays second banana to everything else on the show.
What is being said when the highest rated division still receives less time, focus, and attention (*ahem* KO’s tag titles and division) than everything else?
And while the Knockouts have graced the cover of several Mexican and Canadian magazines, where else have you really seen them outside of pro wrestling circles? Mickie James’ first album and it’s single, “Hardcore Country” brought TNA tons of attention; but they REALLY went out of the way to promote James Storms’ “Longnecks and Rednecks” theme song.
Storm got a music video, a chance to hit the red carpet with Jeff Hardy at the American Country Music Awards, and a plug from Cowboy Troy and some other country music big wig.
In all fairness they gave James the opportunity to perform her hit single on an episode of Impact Wrestling. That same lip-synced segment also saw a chaps-wearing Eric Young dance on stage and Tara interrupting the segment by attacking James.
Remember: TNA is the company that appreciates women’s wrestling, which would explain why the segment served to further James’ feud with Tara while her commercial success outside of wrestling was as important as keeping Jesse Neal on the payroll.
But Storm’s theme song on the other hand…THAT’S the next “U Can’t See Me!”
Here’s the brass tax: women’s wrestling suffers because it only appeals to a small demographic just as wrestling does in our society on the whole. Only a minority of fans is truly upset or appreciative of women’s wrestling, and that’s painfully obvious after reading everything I’ve written here.
Daniel Bryan got a petition when he was “fired” from the WWE; Beth Phoenix’s pin fall loss to Maria Menounos gets a bunch of angry articles (and scores of media attention…which most fans refuse to acknowledge for some odd reason).
TNA’s Knockouts get tons of in-ring time and main event spots, but suffers from a lack of talent and still remains slightly more important than the X-Division at this point.
My suggestion is that if women’s wrestling is important to us, we need to make it known much better than we’re doing now.
In the WWE, we should rally behind Beth Phoenix, Natalya, Tamina Snuka, Kaitlyn, Maxine, AJ and Eve, and even the Divas in FCW. We should sign petitions to get Sara Del Rey a WWE contract. We should send them our blog posts and articles about the necessity to bring back valets and female managers if they are insistent on having models trounce around the company.
We can’t sit on our hands or take pee breaks during live shows when the women perform for longer than 38 seconds or win with something other than a roll-up. We can’t feign interest when Divas like Phoenix and Tamina put on a GREAT match during a pay per view.
We have to educate ourselves about women wrestlers, stay up to date on news about organizations focused on providing us with action showcasing the best women wrestlers today. We should support their shows, order their DVDs, share them with our friends and make their work a part of our regular conversation.
We should follow women wrestlers and stay up-to-date on their bookings and their championship matches.
As for TNA, we should not only continue to support their women’s division but should also urge them to do more instead of offering the bare minimum. Their roster should be large enough to sustain a tag title without having a man hold one of the titles for the sake of entertainment because it’s worthless.
Their roster should be deeper than Gail Kim, Madison Rayne, and Velvet Sky, the three women who seem to be the flavor of the last few months. We should bug them to re-hire Scott D’Amore or hire David “Fit” Finlay, two men who have both done exceptionally well working with the development and showcasing of women’s divisions.
The reality of it is that it’s not the WWE’s fault the Divas division is God awful or that TNA’s Knockouts division is spectacular. It’s us, the fans, who make those divisions as good or bad as they’re presented.
But the more we sit and “wait” for a given company to do this and that for us, and our response is as lackluster and whiny as it has been for the past few years, then things will continue to happen as they are now.
Take a cue from the highly praised Attitude Era from the WWE, the time period in which Trish and Lita thrived. Think of all the actual women wrestlers that surrounded them and that I named earlier. Think about what people were paying for as far as pro wrestling is concerned.
Now compare those two women to today’s female stars and the era that they’re working in. Think about the female stars that surround them and what we’re paying for now.
I guess we really don’t want women’s wrestling today as bad as we think we do.
“The Monday after WrestleMania has always been interesting to me…”
Those semi-prophetic words were typed by yours truly yesterday. I say that they’re semi-prophetic because the original statement was based on WrestleMania XVIII, the subject matter of the actual piece. What wasn’t made crystal clear was another belief that I subscribe wholeheartedly to.
WrestleMania usually serves as the end of a year’s worth of story lines and the beginning of an entire new set of characters, stories, and dramatic in-ring action. The Monday following the pay per view, therefore, becomes the unofficial beginning of a new season of angles and action packed drama.
Yesterday’s episode of RAW did more than enough to give my crackpot theory some legs. So much happened on the show, as a matter of fact, that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where to begin. It’s also hard to figure out where to begin when both the Rt. Rev. Showtime and DiZ beat me to the punch with their stellar pieces…the bastards.
So let’s cut the crap and get down to the nitty gritty that impressed me thoroughly with last night’s offering of Monday Night RAW.
- Miami, Florida Receives the Best Live Crowd Ever Award
- Brodus Clay Gets An Actual Story Line, BLEE!
- Like, 8 Different People Debuted/Returned Last Night, Mega BLEE!
- The WWE Owes Mr. Morris Back Payment in Consultant Fees (i.e. Poor Cena)
- Daniel Bryan: #WINNING!
I’m not sure if you noticed or not but last night’s crowd in Miami was absolutely electric! It was very appropriate that the show began with a brief promo from The Rock, who pawned the Canadian Football League and a whistling weirdo in the audience in one breath. From then on, the crowd popped and chanted for any and everything under the sun, it was amazing.
Fans watching at home take for granted the importance of the audience. Unlike some wrestling promotions that view their live fans as “cast members,” the people attending a live event want to be entertained and will voice their opinions if the show is engaging enough.
At that point an event almost turns into an ideal church service, where the gathered people are actively participating in what they witness just as much as the men and women that are in the forefront of the action. These fans are engaged, and that’s the energy the superstars feed off of.
Miami fans last night chanted and popped and booed for everything. They chanted “YES!” for their support of Daniel Bryan (I’ll get into that later) and chanted “¡Si!” when Alberto Del Rio returned (I’ll get into that later, too). They chanted “JHC!” when The Rock said “Jesus H. Christ” (we can’t say Christ on the air anymore?). They even chanted for most of the new faces of RAW (I’ll get to that next).
While some believe that chanting random things does not make for an electric crowd, it cannot be denied that these fans were having fun and it showed. I’d take random chants from a crowd over dead silence any day of the week (see: Orlando fans).
Earlier in the night, General Manager Extraordinaire Johnny Ace booked a Triple Threat match between Santino Marella, Dolph Ziggler, and Jack Swagger for the United States Championship. The match was decent enough, but the post-match beat down is where business began to pick up.
As it turns out, “The Funkasaurus” Brodus Clay came to the aid of Santino when it appeared ZiggleSwag (© 2012, Mr. Ashley Morris, All Rights Reserved) planned to leave our current U.S. Champion black, blue, and red all over. This unholy alliance between Santino and Brodus got a huge reaction from the crowd.
It was only a matter of time before Brodus received a story line and it’s actually more interesting than one would think. Prior to debuting on WWE television, Brodus wreaked havoc in Florida Championship Wrestling as a “suplex machine.”
When you consider the athletic prowess of Jack Swagger against the monstrous power of Brodus Clay, it’s almost a naughty dream to imagine the type of matches they could put on. That remains to be seen but I look at the situation from the glass-half-full perspective. I expect nothing but good stuff from these four men.
Speaking of men, a slew of new superstars made quite the impact last night on the show. It’s always awesome to see new faces on a brand, particularly the faces of people who haven’t wrestled in a while or for a brand at all. These new bodies bring new energy and life to the story lines and creative direction of the show, and I can’t wait to see what happens with these characters next.
Lord Tensai (Matt Bloom, a.k.a. Prince Albert/A-Train) had the most impressive debut last night with his quick victory over his opponent. It’s also noteworthy to mention that Alex Riley made his return to the RAW last night…as Lord Tensai’s opponent; so much for that comeback.
Abraham Washington returned to our television sets last night as well and looks to be a manager of sorts for Mark Henry. A few fans on Twitter last night were moaning about missing WWE Legend Tony Atlas as Henry’s manager. It seems that they forgot, however, that Tony Atlas became popular with fans as Abraham Washington’s co-host, not as Mark Henry’s manager.
At any rate Washington definitely has the gift of gab and a physique reminiscent of The Rock. I think this move is good for him, especially seeing as he’s avoided the dreaded “future endeavored” club for two years.
Alberto Del Rio and his man servant Ricardo Rodriguez made their triumphant returns to WWE television amidst the boisterous cheers from the Miami crowd. It was incredible to cheer for him during the show and to see other fans do the same seeing as he’s universally panned by…well, most fans; as the saying goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
I loved Del Rio’s return to RAW, but I was bothered by two things: his inability to connect with and feed off of the crowd and Sheamus’ return to the WWE Universe’s bad side.
Be it far from me to judge Del Rio’s work ethic as a performer, but one could easily see his weaknesses last night during his exchange with the World Heavyweight Champion. The crowd was ripe for the picking and he virtually ignored them, something a great heel OR face would have never done.
The fans continued to chant during his conversation with Sheamus, and as the heel of the angle Del Rio should have at least paused to tell them to shut up or something; that never happened. He glanced at them and continued through his spiel as if his contract depended on him finishing his sentences to a tee.
Now I understand why fans say that Del Rio can’t connect with them; going forward we can only hope and pray that someone is mentoring him on how to work the crowd with his words and his actions. It’s the little things like that which could propel Del Rio to the top if he’s really trying to climb that ladder.
The other half of my problem is Sheamus’ quick regression back to the s**t list of WWE fans. Sheamus was berated by fans at the beginning of his stint in the WWE for his nitrous-fueled rise to the top. Someone in the WWE had to realize that shoving him down the throats of fans wasn’t working, so they pulled the reigns and slowed down his momentum just a tad.
In that time Sheamus was gradually built up into the face the WWE needed him to be, and his path to the World Heavyweight Championship was pretty docile and agreeable. Even his 19.3 18 second victory over Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania XVIII seemed to give him a good amount of support from the fans.
That dream turned into a nightmare rather quickly; Sheamus was booed when he came out, booed while he talked, and booed when he delivered the Brogue Kick to the much disliked Del Rio.
I don’t know exactly why fans don’t care for Sheamus; be it his bromance with Paul Levesque or his Cena-like stature, there is something that is keeping Sheamus from really getting over with the fans. We’ll just have to keep watching for more development on this story and these characters.
The biggest most bad ass return last night belonged to Brock “Here Comes the Pain” Lesnar, who slid into the ring and delivered a crushing F5 to John Cena.
It’s time to be honesty, folks; the two wrestlers that irk my nerves are Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley. I tend to talk unfavorably about them for the same reason CeNation members dislike The Rock.
These two men were both “recruited” by the WWE to be standard bearers for the company, and turned down their prominent places to venture out into other forms of expressing their alpha-maleness. Since joining various MMA ranks, neither star looked back at pro wrestling unless it was financially beneficial to them.
That left a bad taste in my mouth towards both stars simply because they were being primed to lead the company and dropped it like a bad habit for whatever reason. At least Lesnar had the respect to totally ignore pro wrestling; Lashley and his half-hearted and lackluster stint in TNA was insulting.
All of that dislike quietly disappeared last night when Lesnar’s music hit; yeah, how very hypocritical of me.
Believe it or not Lesnar’s return is more exciting because of the ramifications it has for the development of John Cena’s character.
I love the Story Editor feature in the WWE video games. For the last three years I’ve always pitted The Rock against John Cena in the story lines for Smackdown. Each year The Rock attempts to break John Cena by throwing everything he can at him; one year I even had Vince McMahon try it.
My vision for WWE ’12 was to continue that same trend but also use Brock Lesnar in the story line. Lo’ and behold, he appears on our television screens last night and my fabricated story line sees the light of day around the world. If we get Zombie Eddie Guerrero next week then I’ll know for a fact the WWE has our game consoles tapped.
As I stated in my last piece, Cena’s loss to The Rock at WrestleMania XVIII was necessary for Cena’s development. The man has practically defeated everyone on the roster, so what else is there for him to accomplish or do? Lesnar represents another challenge for Cena to rise above. His loss to The Rock due mostly to his cockiness dealt a crippling blow to his seemingly invincible character.
Think about The Mummy staring Brendan Fraser; towards the end of the movie, the Jonathan Carnahan character reads aloud an ancient Sanskrit text from the Book of Amun-Ra. The incantation makes the Mummy mortal, allowing for Fraser’s character to “kill” him at the climax of the action.
The Rock was the incantation to John Cena’s “Mummy.” The man that has managed to survive everything thrown at him in 10 years has now been weakened. Enter Brock Lesnar for the eventual kill.
I personally don’t look for the Cena character to turn heel, but he will need some level of edginess and some maturity in order to outlast Lesnar’s onslaught. The irony of it all is this: NOW I want to see how our hero, John Cena, manages to escape this perilous situation.
Congratulations, WWE; you’ve snookered us all again.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the tremendous amount of love Daniel Bryan received from the Miami crowd last night. It appears that “Yes!” has replaced (at least temporarily) the despised “What!” chants.
Who would’ve ever guessed that Daniel Bryan, even as a heel, would be as popular as he is now?
So many detractors assumed that he’d be buried by McMahon because he wasn’t a “WWE original.” So many disenfranchised fans figured that he’d be a watered down shell of the man that ripped the independent wrestling scene to shreds. Tons of people “knew for a fact” that Bryan was being buried after losing Sunday night to Sheamus.
Look at where we are today; fans chanted for Bryan in one way or another during the entire RAW broadcast. That’s a RIDICULOUS amount of power for Daniel Bryan to have, and the WWE has to be reviling in all of it.
It’s anybody’s guess as to how far Bryan will go in the WWE, but at this moment in time it looks like he’s on the right path to superstardom. It’s amazing that so much has come together for him in the perfect storm of events. Say what you will, but the man has officially carved out his spot in the WWE and is slowly building his legacy. I’m all in on riding that wave of emotion.
But those are just my thoughts on the show…what are yours?
First, let me just say that I thoroughly enjoyed WrestleMania XXVIII! I found myself mostly entertained by the Pay-Per-View. Definitely a step up from last year!
One thing that I pulled from the Taker/HHH match is that the WWE planned the results of WM 28 before WM 27!
The storytelling in the WWE is seemingly taking the (what I like to call) “big picture” or “full circle” method of writing. They are writing stories that take yearly quarters to live out, as well as some storylines that take years to be realized.
Also, the WWE has tapped into the minds of their fans through social media, and internet communication. They are using it to their full advantage!
I categorized this as a Backlash in part because this is a little bit of a response to some of the IWC that are writing about how WrestleMania sucked, and the Rock/Cena match didn’t live up to expectations, and that the WWE should turn John Cena heel.
One article in particular is written by Donald Wood (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1128056-wrestlemania-28-results-john-cenas-loss-to-the-rock-will-spark-heel-turn) of Bleacher Report. He writes,
“After one of the biggest builds in the history of the wrestling business, the main event of WrestleMania 28 between John Cena and The Rock did not live up to the expectations. On top of the weak match, the WWE made the wrong choice by allowing The Rock to go over.”
First off, you already have exposed yourself as just a sore Cena smark (Note: I didn’t say member of the CeNation for a reason) that is mad because WM 28 didn’t get booked/go the way you wanted it!
The IWC needs to learn to differentiate series of events that they don’t like from a poor presentation. Just because YOU didn’t like what happened, doesn’t mean it was bad.
He goes on to say,
“By letting Cena lose, they make it even harder on the fans that try to support the leader of CeNation. Another loss at WrestleMania shows that WWE is trying to set the stage for something huge.
A John Cena heel turn, to be specific.”
He surmises that Cena will be driven mad by the loss to the Rock, and will become one of the most dominant heels in the business. Wood also suggests the idea of a Cena led nWo stable…OK?…
Let me take a page from my dear friend Mr. Ashley Morris, and ask you Mr. Wood, how would the match between Cena and Rock been better? How would you book Cena and Rock at WrestleMania?
If many members of the always disgruntled IWC would stop whining long enough to open their eyes, look around, and think a little critically, they may see a little into the WWE’s thinking.
Now let’s try this “full circle” thing out. This is strictly my opinion, so I may be very wrong at this, but this is what I think.
Earlier, I mentioned that the WWE is taking full advantage of the social media world and is getting into the minds of their fans.
We as fans don’t recognize it because we have never seen it before! There has never been a social media era in the world before the past decade.
So for all those waiting and wanting a Cena heel turn…What Are You Waiting For? He is already there!!!
Welcome to the Reality Era of the WWE!
How is John Cena a heel? I’ll explain.
The classic heel is defined as a wrestler that may exhibit immoral behavior, wrestle a face, and/or exhibits unlikable personality traits.
During his feud with Kane, he was supposed to ‘embrace the hate’, and he refused to. Kane stated that they only way that Cena would beat him, is if he embraced the hate. Some will say that Cena never did, but I remember one incident with Jack Swagger where he just brutalized him for no obviously apparent reason. He found joy in his pain…
Also, Cena is married and Zack Ryder was his “broski”, yet when he and Eve made-out, not only did he NOT push Eve away, he put his arm around the back of her head. Even worse, when they were done, he didn’t exhibit any form of regret or discomfort, he asked, “What was that for?”
When Eve is caught in her plan, Cena calls her a “Skank” a “Hoski” and insinuated that she had a STD when she never even kissed Zack Ryder, let alone slept with anyone. Isn’t that slander?
Wrestling a Babyface Adversary:
First, The Rock, and now Brock Lesnar? Unless they plan on Brock cutting an awesome rant against the fans of the WWE, he is going to be cheered against Cena by the vast majority.
Exhibiting Unlikeable Traits:
Regardless of how seemingly tired the fans are of him, he refuses to change! Just this past Monday, he made a point to say that even though he lost at Mania, that when he should lash out at the fans and make a “Heel Turn”, as if he was in an “I Quit” match, he said “No!”
How is that a Heel move? He refuses to do for the fans, and continues to do for himself. He will do what it takes to win for himself.
When he and The Rock were verbally going at it, The Rock exclaimed that all that he does is for the entertainment of “The People”. Cena’s response was that he was doing it for all the guys in the back, or the guys that were like him.
Not to mention, that Cena is not relatable. He never backed up against the wall, and has become admittingly cocky. “I never thought about losing,” he proclaimed in response to losing to The Rock at WM 28. Is that not cocky?
The WWE is a business. How do you make Cena a heel while maintaining his image that allows him to do great things for the community, keep a celebrity status, and sell his merchandise? Don’t change Cena, change the audience.
The largest demographic that seems to not like John Cena are Males aged 15 and up, which is also the leading demographic of fans from the “Attitude Era”.
The WWE has marketed many “Attitude Era” fans back into the fold, while sustaining the “PG Era” fans by having this ethical battle between Cena and The Rock. Not to mention their use of the term “Era” with WrestleMania.
Triple H and The Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell Match with Shawn Michaels as the Guest Referee?!? (Michaels gets two points for both being Shawn Michaels, and Shawn Michaels being the Guest Referee) There’s more Attitude in that match than a national PMS convention.
Also, did anyone else notice that The Rock, Big Show, and Kane were all victorious at WM 28? In fact, the only Attitude Alumnae in singles competition that wasn’t victorious was Chris Jericho.
Point being, the WWE lured many older males back to the regular fanbase in order to achieve the “Heel” status for Cena without risking him lose fans, or the WWE lose money.
Donald Wood did make one very good point in his piece.
“Rock didn’t need to win at WrestleMania, but the fact that he did proves that there is something much bigger brewing below the surface.”
With that being said, how about you start digging deeper in thought and try to see the bigger picture instead of trying to paint your own. (Lesson I learned from The Scholar)
Thanks for reading
The Right Reverend Showtime
For all the Smark IWC Conservationalists out there that are screaming, “SEE! I TOLD YOU THE ATTITUDE ERA NEEDED TO COME BACK!” You are very WRONG! The Attitude Era doesn’t need to come back, and it isn’t back, but it does help to have some of the talent from that era return to both educate and entertain. #TeamBroughtIt
Well, well, well, look where we are now. The day after Wrestlemania and people are still clamoring about the event’s highs and lows before our favorite weekly episodic show hits the airwaves. Daniel Bryan is no longer chanting “Yes!” with the enthusiasm of a pre-teen who just watched Milk Money, Big Show became the newest Grand Slam champion (betcha didn’t know that), our resident zombie is undefeated at Wrestlemania still, the Real World jerk-off nearly single handedly (I can’t say the same for Eve *insert
rimjob rimshot [Stop that! Bad DiZ!]*) changed the face of the power structure of the WWE as it is and, perhaps scariest of all, John Cena lost to the Rock… John Cena lost CLEANLY to the Rock.
All of this is overwhelming enough, but on April 2, 2012, the bar wasn’t just raised: it was taken, tossed aside and the people who had it said “fuck it” and moved on to a new arena entirely. And we can all say it’s under the watchful eye of Mr. Excitement himself: John “Johnny Ace” Laurinaitis. So… is it safe to say that we are officially in a new era? Maybe…
It would be pointless for me to properly review Wrestlemania now. I think my brother-in-arms Ashley Morris did it just fine, and I have no doubt that my fellow siblings-in-arms (is that a real term? Screw it, it is now) have their two cents to add as well, so I’ll leave official stuff to y’all. I want to talk about epochs.
Epoch. Pronounced “ee-pahc”. A particular period of time marked by distinctive features, events, etc. Isn’t it interesting that Wrestlemania featured a number of matches between old and new or expelling one old for good? Kane vs. Randy Orton, to an extent. CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho. The Undertaker and Triple H. The Rock and John Cena. With the phrase End of an Era being tossed around like a rag doll for months now, how appropriate is it that we began RAW this evening with Johnny Ace looking out upon his
slaves indentured servants people paid labor fellow employees spare organs and welcoming in the People’s Power. Stupid name aside, not only is it a lie but it points to the true birth of a Christopher Walken-esque villain, whose deadpan delivery and crispy (old school slang), white suits paint him as Gideon in a way (Scott Pilgrim’s main foe; Ramona’s most significant evil ex; had a way of killing with kindness; no, Scott should NOT have stayed with Knives) and, even more, as a true heel. What was he before but a lazy mouthpiece with one job already set in stone and a few people who loved working under him like Eve on an early Thursday afternoon [NO! BAD DIZ!] because he was Superstar-centric (playing to the people and playing to the Superstars are two different things)? Even his color scheme is brighter now, but the red tie remains. Purity with a streak of evil. I love it.
So it’s no surprise that Santino was punished with a triple threat match. It’s no surprise that CM Punk was put into a match with Mark Henry with that belt on the line. Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler will benefit from a divide and they can wreck havoc on the rosters as solo stars. The ever-controversial feud between Chris “I wish I was Wolverine” Jericho and CM Punk has been taken to a new level with the destruction of a bottle and the pouring of what was most certainly not alcohol. Johnny Ace even warned the champ about the coming of a “natural disaster”. I like foreshadowing. Kind of like a tornado. A very powerful one…
Tonight we were gifted with the return of old punchline and pro wrestling footnote Matt Bloom, once Albert, once A-Train, once Mr. I-Do-Not-Know-How-To-Shave-My-Back, once Mr. Test-Had-Stacy-Keibler-And-I-Should-Have-Tapped-That, as the not-so culturally insensitive Lord Tensai, a Japanese non-sumo with great size, many tattoos, little if any body hair and a bad ass attitude. While I regret seeing the death of Alex Riley *sarcasm* I do enjoy seeing the pop that this man who inspired effective and consistent melancholy before received. It’s actually pretty refreshing to see another monster character return, and the fact that he’s pushed as both a monster AND a man who was in the WWE before and came back after a run in Japan strikes me as terrific.
Look at some of the (new) people we have now: Lord Tensai, Sin Cara, Kharma, Chris Hero, someone else who I can’t think of right now (it’s a small list, leave me alone) and the constant is wrestlers who have a base elsewhere, and Japan, as Wannabe Wolverine has said, is a proving ground above all proving grounds.
And even Matt Bloom’s return was overshadowed, as it was destined to be. Aside from Kofi Kingston pulling a classic John Cena, aside from Big Show flaunting his new Grand Slam status, aside from Eve talking about how a big ego is impossible to manipulate (but boy does she try! [Dammit, DiZ, stop doi... well, that doesn't necessarily denote sexual content... meh, carrying on...]), aside from the return of Alberto Del Rio and his little friend, the biggest three things of the night were:
- The chants and cheers (1)
- The role of the Miz, and without a doubt… (3)
- The return of Brock “I’m Bringing the Pain… AND NACHOS!” Lesnar (2)
I LOVED the chants. We all expressed orgasmic joy when Daniel Bryan (yeah, I’ve avoided talking about it for a reason) ran down the ramp with his girlfriend and belt, screaming “YES!” like he was… hell, like he was expressing orgasmic joy, and when that honor was ripped from the stunned fanbase last Sunday evening in a mere 19.3 seconds (yes, I counted; we ALL counted) a lot of people were mad. So mad that “Daniel Bryan” chants were used throughout the damn show. It’s one thing to hear it when Sheamus and Del Rio were conversing, but there were other times it made no sense. Sure, hearing “Si!” at Del Rio’s return was fun. Hearing the cheers when they showed the future organic beer guzzler was better, as was his I-lack-angry face. Who knows what’s next for him and his future? I say a true feud with CM Punk and possibly an orgy to show which healthy lifestyle is better.
Hmm? Oh, no, I don’t have an Eve joke for that, it wasn’t meant to be sexual, intentionally or otherwise.
Without a doubt, the greatest chant was “We want Lesnar” clap-clap-clap-clap-clap. When John Cena came out to (not) call out the Rock and take his defeat like a man, he talked in circles, constantly turning his defeat into a learning experience/motivational speech that slowly – and I must admit, a bit slyly – turned into a blame game. He blamed… everyone and no one, that was an interesting thing, but he didn’t blame himself. He continually said that he was congratulating the Rock, but glazed over the fact that he himself said that the match was the most important match in his life, that everything rode on it and that he was nothing without it (addiction…) but kept going back to the simple phrase: I want to congratulate the Rock on a great match.
In the immortal scripted words of Mel Brooks…
Brock Lesnar. The rumors had been flying around for weeks, and his mere appearance amongst the chants calling for him since the beginning of the show were as prophetic as a… um… saying “natural disaster” when Lesnar’s finisher is called the F5; I know I could have used a better pun but I’m sleepy, dammit! While it was enough that he was in similar clothing to the Rock, and the fact that his music hit caused me and Money to jump and cheer, the kicker came when he did what everyone wanted him to do: beat Cena’s ass.
The F5 just looks devastating coming from Brock Lesnar. Look at him. He’s as big as Godzilla and I wouldn’t be surprised if his morning warm-up regimen resembled the Hearts on Fire montage from Rocky IV. He walked to the ring (oh so menacing) put his hand out to shake John Cena’s and suddenly… life had new meaning to me…
That’s excessive and a lie: it had the same meaning, but it was reinvigorated. Here’s my thought process: the fall of Super Cena is destined to be a product of returning monsters with a grudge against the colors of the rainbow. They can sing the rainbow too…
Needless to say, the return of Brock Lesnar will bring in ratings AND have us all creaming our pans/skirts for a long time.
Yes, it’s a big however. I contend that Brock Lesnar’s return was the SECOND biggest issue with RAW. Yes, I think one thing speaks of more importance as of now, and I think it’s the biggest deal in the WWE right now. I mentioned it earlier but I’m not sure if you actually caught it. I’m going to be a dick and quote myself:
…The Real World jerk-off nearly single-handedly (I can’t say the same for Eve *insert
rimjobrimshot [Stop that! Bad DiZ!]*) changed the face of the power structure of the WWE as it is and…
Remember how we were all talking about how the Miz seemed to get the short end of the stick after headlining Wrestlemania last year? I think being the man who officially ushered in the new era counts for SOMETHING. Maybe not much, but something.
There’s a fundamental difference in how we’re going to view this, loyal readers and Adrian enthusiasts, so let’s deal with the facts.
FACT: The Miz pinned John Cena at Wrestlemania last year to retain the WWE title.
FACT: until no more than two weeks before Wrestlemania 28 the Miz was absent from the grand stage.
FACT: EVERYBODY on Team Johnny ignored the Miz throughout the pre-match festivities, even though he was the rallying cry.
FACT: The Miz, with the “help” of Eve Torres, won the match that put a man out of work and gave a certain former skateboarder with the Touch one and a half more jobs.
FACT: Johnny Ace’s new reign as
overseer supreme overlord general manager is the result of the Miz.
FACT: Eve solidified her Wrestlemania legacy by taking away Zack Ryder’s ability to have any legacy. Not directly Miz related, but interesting to note nonetheless.
For a man who appeared to be slighted from even going back to the grandest stage of them all, he managed to change the face of the company and usher in a new era. I don’t think more needs to be said on that matter really; I just hope they do something special with him. My money is on a main event role in the near future, and possibly the World Heavyweight Title. Right now he can flaunt the “Introduced the New Era” role. Sure, people might say that that honor goes to Undertaker/HHH or Cena/Rock, but like the Miz said once when referring to Shawn Michaels’ retirement: “I was the heart attack that put HBK in the hospital, Undertaker just pulled the plug“.
I contend that he can make the same claim right now. In the words of Batista (*crosses fingers*): done.
The Monday after WrestleMania has always been interesting to me. I find it interesting because the focus of conversation about the pay per view spectacular is always focused on whether or not the show was “good.”
Regardless of how any fan may feel about the event, the bottom line is this: with over 78,000 fans in attendance and millions more watching at home via cable, satellite television or streaming over the internet (legally or *cough cough*), WrestleMania XVIII appears to have been an overall success.
While definitely a far cry from WrestleMania III and WrestleMania X-7, the pay per view was far from being as bad as some fans made it out to be.
I personally enjoyed WrestleMania XVIII from beginning to end. This isn’t to say that the show was without its low points, but the overall experience was worth the money I shelled out to watch it. I will not rate the show on a scale of one to ten, as I’m learning that a simple “like – meh – dislike” tends to work better for me when describing these types of things.
I also won’t rate the show on a scale because it’s easy for us fans to nitpick and moan about every single thing that rubbed us the wrong way about a show…and I’m speaking from experience here; we do it all the time on L.E.W.D. (especially when it deals with TNA).
Two things occur when fans tear apart and super analyze a show: we never mention in glowing terms the stuff we actually liked, and we never provide an alternative to what we saw that would instantly garner better results.
In the middle of so many Twitter followers complaining about the pay per view, I asked one simple question last night at the conclusion of the show: “how would YOU have booked Mania?”
My good friend RiZE and my dear brother Mr. Quinn Gammon (shameless plugs) were the only people to answer the question, and they both actually enjoyed the pay per view. Other than that, there seemed to be a lot of haters flapping their lips but not saying much at the same time.
Instead of going on and on about the positives of the show, let’s look at the things that pissed people off and see if there’s any silver lining to the dark clouds hovering around last night’s WrestleMania pay per view.
Sheamus Defeats Daniel Bryan in 19.3 18 Seconds for the WHC
Arguably the biggest upset/surprise of the night was Sheamus’ “blink and you’ll miss it” victory over former World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan. Sheamus won clean after a Brogue Kick to Bryan, who was distracted after smooching with A.J. on the apron.
The odd part of this match was the fact that people were pissed at the idea that the title was devalued and that Bryan was “buried” because of the quick loss. Please allow me to broaden that perspective ever so slightly…
Question 1: How did Bryan win his title in the first place?
Question 2: How has Bryan retained his championship in the past three months?
Question 3: From a story line and character development perspective, how logical would it have been for Bryan to go the distance with Sheamus in this match?
If you can answer any and all of those questions, then you can also understand that this wasn’t a WWE illogical decision. Bryan has always weaseled his way out of matches and was finally caught off guard by one of Sheamus’ finishing maneuvers.
I believe we all had high expectations for this match, and I will be the first to admit it seeing as I wrote a nice little preview for their bout. However I was not disappointed at the outcome because I felt like there was more to the story.
That quick victory made the rest of the card seem unpredictable, and in true Eric Bischoff fashion, it will drive fans to tune into the televised product (in this case Smackdown) to see what happens next. The feud is far from over and Bryan’s heel character gets an opportunity to evolve while Sheamus begins his slow rise to Super Cena-dom.
As for Bryan being “buried,” I feel that term is one of those overused wrestling terms that fans latch onto when their favorite star isn’t getting a Goldberg-like win streak. Please keep in mind that Bryan’s one three-month championship reign has already placed him in an elite league that Roddy Piper, Curt Hennig, Jake Roberts, and Rick Rude aren’t even in.
Also, the argument that the WHC has been “devalued” is almost as pointless as complaining about the Divas champion being pinned by a non-wrestler.
Brodus Clay, Momma Clay, and the Momma Clay Bridge Club
A lot of fans were highly upset that this segment received more time and attention than the Sheamus/Bryan match.
Here’s the thing: all WWE pay per views have a great mix of in-ring action and backstage segments. The company is constantly working on pleasing its entire fan base in several different ways.
For example: Smackdown is known for having the better wrestling on its show, while RAW tends to have more big name stars and better story lines. By this point fans have adapted to this fact and tune in to their favorite show based on what they like.
Having said that, while the Brodus Clay segment may have felt out of place and unnecessary to those fans that crave Smackdown-like wrestling at all times, it served its purpose of being a carefree intermission segment for folks to go pee or buy food or visit the concession stands. It was needed and it honestly didn’t detract from the show.
The other side of it is that, as we now realize, there are tons of things that are not cross-cultural; not everyone finds it funny to see overweight Black women dancing and “getting it.”
Everyone at the particular L.E.W.D. party I threw thought it was HILARIOUS. Even my girlfriend, who is a casual wrestling fan at best, thought the segment was fine and that nothing was wrong with it. Is it really a bad thing for a casual wrestling fan to be entertained by the product?
I do not speak for the entire African American culture or all African American people, but I highly doubt this set us back 50 years and it was not offensive in the least. It was a bit stereotypical but not insulting at all. Besides, didn’t you know that all mommas wear moo-moos and have big booties?
MGK and Flo Rida’s Unnecessarily Long and Useless Performances/Intros
When has a WrestleMania main event NOT had an elaborate entrance for both stars?
This also goes back to that cross-cultural thing I mentioned earlier. It’d be better for a fan to say, “I hate rap music,” rather than sit and complain about how stupid it was to have the two music superstars perform for their respective wrestlers.
SummerSlam 1998 featured Chris Warren and the DX Band performing Degeneration X’s theme song, “Break It Down,” live. I thought the performance was horrible, particularly because the sound was just awful. It was even more ridiculous when Triple H put Warren on his shoulders at the end of the performance.
Did that ruin the pay per view for me? No! It was just a weird and terrible performance that I didn’t particularly care for, especially since the studio version of the song was light years ahead of the live version.
Fans are in the market to be entertained, but to allow a standard performance from two music stars in a genre we’re lukewarm about to sully the entire event is just silly. Again, grow up.
Maria Menounos Pins Beth Phoenix…and the Poo Stain
Here’s an easy remedy to this complaint: there is ALWAYS a celebrity involved in a match at WrestleMania in some physical altercation in the ring. Some years it was Pete Rose, one year it was Mickey Rourke, last year it was Snooki, and this year it was Maria Menounos. Get over it.
Two birds (no pun intended) were killed with this match; the WWE got their celebrity involvement and the obligatory Divas match was included on the card. What more do you want, a meaningful Divas match? We had one two months ago and nobody cared!
“Well why not just have Kharma face Beth Phoenix?”
For starters we can only assume that Kharma is ready to return to action full time based off of her one time appearance at the Royal Rumble. She’s not back yet so either the WWE is saving her for something much more thought out than a WrestleMania match, or she’s not ready to return to the ring.
“They could’ve let Natalya face Beth Phoenix for the title instead then.”
Please see the first two paragraphs of this section.
The WWE continues to give us Diva fluff because by and large we could not collectively care any less about their matches. That’s not just the WWE’s fault, but it’s also our fault because we’re not running to women’s wrestling in droves.
Do you think I’m lying? Then please explain to me why the most talked about thing of that match was the spray tan stain on Menounos’ booty that folks said was a poo stain; my point exactly.
John Cena Loses CLEAN to Dwayne Johnson
Very few people saw that finish coming a mile away…
John Cena did the unthinkable last night and actually put over his opponent clean in the middle of the ring. The man, the myth, and the legend that we thought was invincible actually showed a weakness last night and loss the match because of it.
For that I will gladly give John Cena credit; he took the pinfall for the fans, not for The Rock.
One Cena fan actually made that argument last night and I figured it would come. I won’t sit here and make excuses for The Rock, because he did appear winded and tired for much of the match. The beautiful part of it all is that despite how they may/may not feel about each other in real life, this match had plenty of give and take.
Dwayne Johnson and John Cena may hate each other’s guts, but at least they both respect the business and the fans. That was proven last night and in my opinion is not open for much debate.
I think both men sold each other’s offense fairly well, particularly Rock regarding his cardio. The crowning moment for me was after Rock gained the pinfall; that’s when I realized that Cena’s cockiness cost him the match.
John Cena was his own worst enemy in the end. In what can be only seen as poetic justice, Cena tried to mock The Rock and ended up staring at the lights for his troubles.
Some fans are disgruntled because this victory for The Rock makes no sense to them. Why would the WWE plan for him to defeat John Cena clean then walk away from the company? There are several theories out there as to why this happened including one that sets last night’s match up as the first in a best of three series that will end at next year’s WrestleMania.
Mr. Quinn Gammon has an idea about it that he will share with us here on the site later, but I would have to say that I agree with what he’s told me about his idea. Essentially Cena is the one who benefits from the Rock’s victory. While Dwayne Johnson trounces off to film his next blockbuster movie, Cena is the one who has to sulk around RAW knowing that for once in 10 years he just couldn’t get the job done.
This allows Cena’s character room to evolve, to become more aggressive and feisty. Dare I say it, Rock was the Bret Hart to John Cena’s Steve Austin; we could finally get a tweener John Cena that isn’t as stale as day old cookies.
For that we don’t need to see The Rock wrestle tonight or again for another year or however long. This match was from the very beginning all about John Cena. What started a year ago on April 4, 2011 in Phillips Arena here in Atlanta will come to its boiling point tonight as soon as John Cena picks up a mic and tells his side of the story.
This is the man who for weeks told us that he could not and would not lose to Dwayne Johnson. This is the man whom fans rallied around and constantly cheered the fact that he owned Dwayne Johnson for weeks. This is the man who said “nobody remembers second place.”
He lost the match. What’s next?
When Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson returns to Hollywood, no one will even remember the match he had last night. We won’t remember it because on the next night – this very evening – we will see a new John Cena that will really get the opportunity to show us that he’s more than just a corporate creation.
Cena may have lost the battle, but he damn sure didn’t lose the war.
With all that literally at our fingertips, how can anyone in their right mind say that 1) the match was boring and 2) the wrong man won?
One fan commented that the cheering fans made the Rock/Cena match while Taker/Trips made the fans cheer.
How the f**k can you compare Taker and Trips’ 39 combined years in the industry (not adding Shawn Michaels’ 24 years) to Rock and Cena’s 17?
How can you compare the first meeting between Rock and Cena to the fifth meeting between Taker, Trips and Shawn?
Exactly; we’re always restricted by our expectations.
The match was fine and set up everything tonight for JOHN CENA and JOHN CENA only. He still comes out on top despite losing to Dwayne Johnson and still has an opportunity to cement his OWN legacy in the annals of WWE history. He still remains at the top of the hill with a good chance of being more than just a stock character.
That’s what we were all asking for, right?
In conclusion, I felt that WrestleMania XVIII delivered. Think back to my first post: this spectacle was not just about WrestleMania, but also about all the other events and opportunities surrounding it. The few rough spots mentioned here were as awful as some claim they were. The real beauty will be seen tonight on RAW and will continue Friday night on Smackdown.
I was thoroughly entertained and I hope you were too. If you weren’t, there’s always TNA Lockdown in two weeks; you have fun with that.
Well, we have arrived.
For the past year, we have waited anxiously for tonight.
It truly is remarkable to see how far WrestleMania has come. Though we’re often quick to criticize WWE for their frequent lapses in logic and continuity, there is no denying the impact they’ve had on professional wrestling.
Something that started out in 1984 as a risky experiment has evolved into one of the most frenzied and exciting events in the world.
Reflecting back for the last week counting down to ‘Mania, I’ve gone for a trip down memory lane and mused over my time as an analyst of this magical form of performance art.
I have been a fan of this sport (and yes, I’m gonna call it a sport, damn it) for 15 years and I’ve been analyzing and educating myself on it for at least half of that.
Achieving the honor of appearing on the debut L.E.W.D. podcast alongside THE Nic Johnson, I figured it only fair that I add to the firestorm of amazing pieces that the L.E.W.D. Crew has contributed to WrestleMania weekend.
Tonight, we will bear witness to the crossroads of a wrestling analyst. The end of an era label that has been stamped to the Hell in a Cell match is more fitting for the entire show than anyone could possibly imagine.
With Sheamus, Daniel Bryan and CM Punk leading the charge into the future and Chris Jericho giving back to the business as he always has in tonight’s title matches, we can look ahead to the match that we’ve seemingly waited forever for. (I’ll leave the viewpoint on the other matches to my dear colleagues, all of whom can do them much better justice than I could.)
John Cena vs The Rock. Once in a lifetime, or so it’s been hyped. What more can be said that hasn’t already been said?
Let’s just get the prediction out of the way early. I’m going to go against the grain and call The Rock as the winner. Yes, this has a bit to do with my preference of the People’s Champion over the Corporate Champion but for those who listen to the Pro Wrestling Commentary Podcast this afternoon (shameless plug), I came up with a way for them to address 5 different stories at once, provided that Cena either loses or turns heel.
The Hell In A Cell match may be the end of an era amongst the wrestlers but The Rock vs John Cena is seemingly the end of an era for us. It’s the ultimate clash of a man who made himself vs a man who was made by the writers.
Don’t get me wrong. Never will I ever be one to say that John Cena has no talent. He’s very talented and very hard working. He has a tremendous heart and is a wonderful human being. It’s impossible to dispute that.
I will dispute his path to success however. When I look at John Cena, I see the same thing I saw with Hulk Hogan. Complacency.
In an age where WWE is afraid to trust anyone with wearing the company flag as a cape (thanks in no small part to the wham bam thank you ma’am careers of Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley), John Cena proved himself to be a company man and a class act. Someone who could be trusted with that. And that’s just it.
Would John Cena be where he is today if Lesnar or Lashley had stuck around and maintained their positions? Perhaps WWE should just stop hiring people whose last name begins with “L”.
Would John Cena be where he is today if more Superstars were allowed to take risks and break out of their shells? The fact remains that if you strip away all the gimmicks and everything else, John Cena is a man made by creative writers, who is where he is because he was placed there.
Does his work ethic not qualify him enough? That’s just silly. I have no doubt in my mind that John would have become a huge star on his own. He’s just a naturally polarizing figure with charisma and a scrap iron mentality who is proud of his work.
But how much of the real John Cena have we seen over the past 7 years? 98% of it has been the simmered down superhero character created and pushed by Vince McMahon and the writers and like a loyal company man, Cena does what he’s told to do.
Last year, we got to see (for one night only) a glimpse of the real John Cena. I’m not saying he needs to be a rapper. But let him go out and be John Cena. That one night where he busted out a rap (not one that was probably co-written by the company stooges) and tore apart The Rock, that was John Cena.
Unfortunately, John Cena finds himself the Corporate Champion. Though not by his own volition, he is definitely the company golden boy. Like Hogan, he is where he is because he’s a hard working guy who has the never-ending endorsement of management.
Though I respect him as a human and I respect his tenacity, I’m simply too traditional.
I gravitate to someone like The Rock who not only entertains me much more, but is a man who made himself. Someone who debuted as Rocky Maivia, with a gimmick not too far removed from the roots of Cena’s and the crowd threw up all over it. So what did Rocky do? He reinvented himself, creative let him go out and see what he could do and he made himself into one of the biggest Superstars in the history of wrestling.
Rock is the consummate professional. He gets EVERYONE over. Himself, the show, the match, the company, his opponent, the title.
John Cena, though its only partially his fault, doesn’t get ANYONE over. Name someone or something that gets over by association with John Cena. The writers bury anyone who competes or engages in storyline with John. The titles are made to look less important than he is.
Matches he’s in are more often than not formulaic and uninspired and given the blindingly bright glow he’s been given, there is ZERO point in putting him over any more.
In the end, the time for talk is over and it really doesn’t matter what I say. (Ironic, ain’t it?)
As far as the end of our era, tonight is it. Should John Cena win in the same fashion that he always does, the entire build to Mania will have been for naught and we’ll have incontrovertible proof that John Cena is the end all/ be all, only option we’ll receive for the duration of his era.
Should The Rock win, outside of the personal gratification it would give a rusted old traditionalist like me, it would allow us to hang on to a shred of hope that Vince McMahon hasn’t completely disregarded fan feedback. Thus far, Vinnie Mac has pushed John Cena with less than zero regard for whether the fans like it or not.
The winner of tonight’s match determines our fate as analysts. As educated writers and commentators of our respected sport, we’re tasked with providing feedback and looking beyond the borders of screen and storyline.
Should Vince McMahon stick it to us tonight and make it clear that Cena is the God of WWE’s Mount Olympus, there will be little point in us continuing to analyze John’s role in the company or hoping for a heel turn.
Should Cena turn heel or (gasp!) lose to The Rock and achieve a little ADVERSITY to overcome, perhaps all hope is not lost.
Either way, we’ve reached a crossroads my L.E.W.D. brothers and sisters. I hope you’ll each take the time to reflect on your journey through this magical athletic theater that has brought us all here, to L.E.W.D. Headquarters. God bless you all and I’ll be back after our fate has been decided.
Godspeed to WrestleMania and all those who make it what it is today,
~Mr. Quinn Gammon
These polls will be the way we will do predictions here at L.E.W.D. Headquaters. So let’s see what you think. (This is a test run to see how we will do things in the future)