It's Still Real to Me, Dammit!

Analysis

WWE Top to Bottom: Ballad of The Midcarders

I’m watching SmackDown when I learn The Miz lost to Sheamus on Main Event after I started feeling good about his winning on Monday. This that ole bullshit. Also on Monday, Paul Heyman is apparently no longer going to be working with Cesaro. You can TOTALLY see how much they want him to matter, after he’s lost twice in a row to Kofi Kingston… and he didn’t really go anywhere or do anything in a VERY short run as a ‘Heyman Guy’. I just read on WrassleZone that Alicia Fox’s new gimmick that got people talking about her… dropped. WHY DOES WWE JUST KEEP INEXPLICABLY DROPPING THINGS!?!

I’ve been arguing with my LEWD brethren, unsuccessfully I might add… that Cesaro is being Dolph Ziggler’d. Then, while saying Cesaro is the future, they’re saying Dolph Ziggler has done nothing to deserve a top spot except wrestle really well. Um… you niggas know that describes Cesaro, right? In WWE Cesaro has not had ONE defining gimmick or cut a memorable promo. All he has done is wrestle well. And every few months or so, they take whatever he WAS doing, from him.

* Debuts as a pimp playa woman slayer who took Teddy Long’s girl. Wins US title. Drops both. Becomes a yodeling jabroni.

* Joins The Real Americans. Inexplicably the WWE Universe starts chanting ‘We The People’ and popping for Cesaro and his swing. Mostly does jobs, though.

* Wins The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Sides with Paul Heyman, who mostly talks about Brock Lesnar, leaves because Lesnar is coming back to win the title. Loses twice in a row to Kofi Kingston.

Because I’m petty… let’s review Dolph Ziggler’s career as Dolph Ziggler.

* Debuts as a douche who constantly introduced himself to people. That was the most memorable thing about him.

* Starts being managed by Vickie Guerrero. Wins the WHC for 11 minutes before losing it back to Edge. Begins a long stretch of being a jabroni.

* Feuds with Jack Swagger over being a client of Vickie Guerrero, which is resolved by them forming a jobber tag team. SEE A PARALLEL HERE!?!

* Stops being managed by Vickie. Does nothing interesting until he feuded with John Cena over AJ and the MITB. Leaves with both.

* Cashes in MITB then they take AJ from him. Jack Swagger concusses him then he loses the WHC and hasn’t been anything to write home about SINCE.

Yeah. WWE really takes care of its midcard/upper midcard.

I’m watching Chris Jericho versus Luke Harper, which reminds me Y2J came back and did a finisher on The Miz and walked right into a high level midcard feud with Bray Wyatt. Are we gonna call Miz’s interactions with Sheamus a high level midcard feud? You could… Sheamus is US champion. Former WWE champ and WHC. If I had the book… I would have Miz beat Sheamus in the IC title battle royal then unite the titles at SummerSlam. This seems like something they might do. Irony of ironies… the way Miz has always been booked reminds me of Jericho back when he unified the WWE title and WHC.

Jericho was an annoying heel who no one expected to beat The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin in one night. In a parallel, no one expected Miz to beat Cena in a Mania main event, but he did because of The Rock. Listen. I get that heels cheat to win and take advantage of circumstances to get the upper hand. However… there is a difference between booking a heel as a dirty cheater and booking them as a pussy who only wins because he had help. Look at Randy Orton’s last title reign. The heat would have been on him if he low blows Bryan, pokes him in the eye, clocks him with the belt, etc. But all the heat was on The Authority, and Orton was nothing more than a puppet. Jericho only won the undisputed title because Booker T had issues with The Rock and Vince hated Stone Cold. Then Miz only beat Cena because The Rock had beef with him.

I would never ever ever under any circumstances say Y2J or Miz should ever be booked like a top superstar. Like a Cena or Hogan etc. What I am saying, is with certain guys you have little reason to believe in them as champion, and then they win the damn belt and never really look like a champion. Kind of like Daniel Bryan’s WHC reign. He spent that entire reign running from Big Show and Mark Henry. I don’t really know how he got over. He was jobbing like a motherfucker before he cashed in the MITB, then he never beat those grown men clean. Then he had to survive Santino in the Elimination Chamber. Then he dropped the title in 18 seconds. Fast forward to last year and he beat Cena the fuck up and pinned him clean. Stop right there and it’s night and day! He beat Orton… they booked him like Orton could do nothing about him. He beat HHH and Kane. Daniel Bryan is not 5’10 230, fam. He is booked like he is legit. And people still complained he was being buried when Orton was gifted the title all them times. LOL.

If somehow you lack reading comprehension skills, indubitably you aren’t reading this. If you is… then my point can be summed up with: I want to see guys get storylines and characters that make sense consistently. And when guys show potential to be upper midcard to main event, they should not lose to Kofi Kingston, trade wins all the time or only win by screwy finish.


Greatest WWE Champion Of All Time

I bet you MONEY John Cena wishes Vince McMahon would stop forcing Michael Cole to call him the greatest WWE champion of all time. I bet you he’d tell you it is Hulk Hogan, who many of us around our age, recognize as the real, true Mr. WrestleMania. Arguments could be made for the fake Mr. WrestleMania, Shawn Michaels. The Rock. Brock Lesnar. CM Punk. Ric Flair. Near countless others. I’m about to do something heretical on these here innernets: tell you why John Cena actually ISN’T that far off from being the greatest.

As much as inflation has lessened the value of being WWE Champion, it’s astonishing to note that less than fifty men have held that title in over 50 years of its existence. In the past decade or so, attaining double digit world title reigns became like nothing, as HHH, Randy Orton, Edge, John Cena and The Rock have done so. But, then… it’s not like jabronies are doing it. Let’s be honest here: not none of us are here for the 3 to 8 year title reigns of a Hulk Hogan or Bruno Sammartino. I believe if they existed in our social media age where anyone can create a blog, or YouTube channel, or Twitter etc… we would bitch endlessly about how many people they’ve buried to prop up a man, who in our uneducated opinion, is not that good.

Lots of people are caught believing in the concept of ‘deserving’ things. As in “John Cena doesn’t deserve 15 world championships”. I personally don’t care. I’ve been on record as saying I thought Bray Wyatt could have been a good choice. So, yes I was opposed to the idea of John Cena winning, as I am also opposed to Brock Lesnar beating John Cena at SummerSlam if he’s not going to make more appearances on TV. But… on paper, this matchup and the resultant rematch make sense.

The reason many of us are not running multimillion dollar corporations, is because we do not understand box office. We think guys like Daniel Bryan and CM Punk and Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart ‘deserve’ to be the champion because they’re great wrestlers. Guys like John Cena and Hulk Hogan and The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin may not have been Greco-Roman mat wrestling, throwing thousands of submission holds and high spots… but they lined Vince’s pocket with GOLD. And let’s not pretend they didn’t do it with their work in the ring. At the end of the day, you can have the look, you can be a good talker, but you need to back it up in the ring. Vince doesn’t push Cena solely because he sells merch… he sells merch because he sells in the ring.

Are you tired of John Cena getting beaten up for a 15-20 minute match then pulling out his ‘Five Moves of Doom’ and winning? Were you also offended when Hulk Hogan sold then ‘hulked up’, blocked a punch, wagged a finger, threw three punches, irish whip, big boot, legdrop? Maybe you ARE that wrestling fan who hates such finishes because ‘it’s so predictable’. That wrestling fan who so conveniently forgets every wrestler EVER has MAYBE five signature moves no one else in the promotion uses, and a certain sequence they use them in so the crowd can get hot in anticipation of the finish, or a false finish. I hate you motherfuckers.

I’ve never thought John Cena can’t wrestle. I’ve read that HHH didn’t believe in Cena until he fought him at WrassleMania 22 and then he got it. Next year they were sposed to have a rematch, but he beat Shawn Michaels instead. He beat Edge and The Big Show at 25 and Batista at 26. Beat The Rock at 29. I think Cena will mostly be ceding the main event spotlight to younger stars now, or even putting them over, just like the aforementioned stars did him. This is the nature of the business. If John Cena is the ‘greatest WWE Champion in history’ according to Michael Cole, and Brock Lesnar broke The Undertaker’s streak, that’s gonna be one hell of a big match. Then, when Brock Lesnar loses to whomever, that man will be the man that beat the man who broke The Streak and beat the so called greatest champion ever.

Last night on Raw we saw Roman Reigns cut a promo saying he can beat Cena. They had words backstage, then they raised each other’s hands as Raw went off the air. If the plan for THIS year’s Mania is Reigns/Lesnar… what if they’re planting seeds for a bigger confrontation at the next year’s Mania? We could see Cena get desperate to protect his legacy and finally turn heel and win his 16th title from Reigns with help from The Authority of all people… then build to Reigns taking it back at Mania. And it would really be best for business if they found a way to do the rematch a year later. Reigns. would. be. MADE. And then, in two years, we’d see blogs and videos about how Reigns ‘deserves’ none of this.


There’s Always A Plan B

So, we all know Battleground will look a lot like MITB’s main event. Cena will eat a chokeslam, a spear and a RKO. He’ll be laid out on the outside and juuuuuuust when everyone thinks Reigns is closing in on his first title reign, Orton will be there lurking. Then Cena will hit his finish and everyone will bitch about it. Seth Rollins will try to cash in again. Dean Ambrose won’t let him. Again. All the rumors are that Brock Lesnar is HHH’s plan b, at SummerSlam. I don’t like this, for reasons.

I’ve been on record that I think it’s goofy as shit to give Lesnar the title this early, if the plan is to have Reigns win the Rumble and the title at Mania. The first reason has nothing to do with Lesnar not making many appearances. It’s “How do you have Reigns not win two main event matches in a row and then logically have him not be in the main event for eight months?” I don’t have that big of an issue with Reigns being in main events and not winning if he’s still booked to look strong. I remember Michael Cole putting over that Reigns looked impressive at MITB. In a fatal four way, Reigns likely will not be pinned. I’m wondering what his creative will be assuming Lesnar gets the title. I do think if Lesnar were to win the title and hold it nearly a year, it’s an appropriate build to a huge match for a man who ended The Streak. I. do. NOT. want to see Lesnar win the belt then get cashed in on. I don’t want to see him lose one time before he drops the title to Lesnar.

Another interesting question is: Do you have Ambrose keep stopping Rollins from cashing in all the way to Mania, then have a stipulation match where they fight some type of No Holds Barred, Falls Count Anywhere (THAT ACTUALLY ENDS OUTSIDE OF THE RING) where Ambrose gets caged and or cuffed if he loses, so he cannot interfere. The next question is… do you want to have Rollins be the first to cash in at Mania and absorb that heat of ruining Reigns’ moment? Do you WANT him ending Reigns’ reign, immediately? My fantasy booking is too good to actually happen though. I think WWE might further water down the MITB by having Rollins fail at some point. I hope they don’t go that route, and I think he should wait until Extreme Rules so Reigns can get “Payback” amirite?

Next, I wonder… how many great matches are there for Lesnar as champion? Assuming he wins, he’d defend against Cena at Night of Champions. Daniel Bryan would take a shot upon his return. I’d be interested to see what he and Orton would put together. Sheamus would have a physical match. It’s inevitable that Cesaro will turn face and be all like “Paul Heyman is always talking about his other client when I’m the one who’s here all the time” and I’ve been on record that it’s too soon to give Cesaro the title. Bray Wyatt would be an interesting opponent just to hear him spar verbally with Heyman. After that… there are “meh” options such as Dolph Ziggler, Kane, Big Show and Mark Henry. Do the math and that’s enough to make it to Mania. Elimination Chamber could be Cena, Orton, Sheamus, Bryan, Lesnar and some random person to get eliminated first. Again. All of this assumes WWE does something I think they shouldn’t but still see how I can learn to love it.

Speaking of learning to love it, The Miz needs to matter in his return. Even though he’s a heel (and should never turn face again unless he actually changes his character) his words rang true in that he should be motivated to prove all his detractors wrong by returning to the main event level. WWE NEEDS more legit main eventers so they don’t need to keep returning to the Jericho well. Which is ironic, but I’ll get to that in my next paragraph. We all call bullshit on Miz claiming he’s this A list Hollywood star who Hollywood begged to stay. Nigga you was in two straight to DVD movies you got because Marines shitted on Orton getting the role because he went AWOL twice. Anywho… The Miz is real life annoying. His voice alone makes you want him to stop talking. Unfortunately, this means he doesn’t get cool heel heat or even regular heel heat, it’s go away again and don’t come back heat. So, he needs to have impressive wins and win titles and things to make us respect him and hate him because he is… awesome. It’s not looking good thus far.

Chris Jericho has this long history of doing different returns or debuts. He had the “Countdown to the New Millennium” where he interacted with The Rock. He had the “Break the Code” comeback where he went into a main event feud with Orton. He did the “End of the World as you know it” return where he trolled us all by acting crazy and not talking then feuding with Punk. He returned at the Rumble last year, shocking everyone. This time, the dirtsheets spoiled his return and I was on twitter when everyone seemed to think Jericho wasn’t coming back when it was The Miz. Then in sort of a reverse of his debut, he silenced the loudmouth with a Codebreaker. Then The Wyatt Family beat the brakes off of him. I really, really…. REALLY hope Miz doesn’t feud with Jericho and the Wyatts concurrently because he won’t come out of that looking good. There are three mouthpieces there, but again… I could see Miz going over on Jericho but not Wyatt. Jericho is really here at this point to win meaningless TV matches but mostly put guys over on PPV, and that’s alright with me.

When guys like RVD, Lesnar and Jericho aren’t there to come back… what’s Plan B?


WWE Future Endeavors Emma (UPDATED)

emma

UPDATE: 6:45 PM Central Standard Time

Apparently your voices were heard; mere moments after typing this, it was announced via WWE.com that Emma has been reinstated in the promotion.

Well damn…

For the sake of humoring us here at L.E.W.D., read the following because it’s still all relevant somewhere.
________________________________________________________________________

Just in case you haven’t heard the word, we have it on good authority (pun intended) that the WWE has come to terms with the release of notable Diva Emma.  Also known by her government approved name Tenille Dashwood, Emma was also recently arrested for allegedly stealing an iPod case from a Walmart in Connecticut.

Many wrestling fans have taken to the internet to voice their displeasure with the promotion’s decision to dismiss Emma over something that they (the fans) believe to have been an accident or a simple mistake on Emma’s part.  After all if one is working as an independent contractor for the world’s most prominent sports entertainment promotion, there would be no need to steal anything from anywhere when you could easily purchase it yourself or have the promotion purchase it for you.  This also falls square in line with the notion that all individuals placed under arrest are innocent until proven guilty, and clearly Emma can’t be guilty of stealing something worth $21.14.

Reports have it that Emma was sentenced to some community service and upon completion of said service, all charges against her would be dropped.  This form of “punishment,” apparently, isn’t enough for the WWE.

Immediately fans cite the blatant hypocrisy of the WWE’s policy towards the professionalism of its employees outside of the company by mentioning the repeated DUI arrests and Wellness Policy violations of several other superstars (Randy Orton, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Jack Swagger, Jimmy Uso).  There was even a comment that brought up superstars with legal issues prior to their joining the WWE family (Booker T), which was intended to make the point that the ‘E keeps superstars who committed far worse crimes on the roster than this, deeming their decision to release Emma over allegedly stealing an iPod case completely asinine and ridiculous.

Emma’s release also comes at a time when fans have been convinced that the multitude of recent releases within the company have everything to do with the perceived financial crisis the promotion is currently facing.  This leads fans to believe that Emma’s release was simply a cost-cutting measure and that her arrest was an excuse used to poorly justify her termination.

To say it plainly, fans are justifiably saddened at Emma’s release … even though five days ago they were complaining that she and her gimmick were failing to get over with fans … such is the befuddling and ever flexible opinion of pro wrestling fans.  Hakuna matata.

emma2The constant “thing” with each of the theories surrounding the logic behind Emma’s release is dualistic in that it is composed of an emotional response and a stone cold reality.  Deep down we fans actually like Emma the character and Tenille, the woman who portrays the character, and we all honestly have no idea why WWE released her.  

We fans can speculate all day and night, but as spectators hovering around the the situation with our faces firmly pressed against the glass separating us from the odds-and-ends of the business, we can only comment on what we think we know to the extent in which we understand it.  It makes more sense for us to blame the ‘E for responding to Emma’s arrest in the manner they did, and it makes little sense to us to try to understand why they responded they way they did.  We’ve reacted to our superficial knowledge of the situation at hand … nothing more, nothing less.

Very few people have mentioned that this situation may affect the visa that allows her, as an Australian citizen, to work here in the United States.  What would happen if she were still under contract with the ‘E and forced to return home for an indefinite amount of time?  But of course this isn’t sensational enough to consider or speculate on.

Even with discussing the financial issues plaguing the promotion at the time, very few people have talked about the budget cuts from the perspective rooted in the beginning of a new fiscal year (July 1st), where most businesses look to shave expenses from their budget lines.  Instead of looking at the situation as if the ‘E were trying to save money after losing so much, one could view it as if the ‘E were trying to save money by not spending as much as they did the last fiscal year.  There were reports that the WWE cut travel expenses for their superstars (paying for their tour buses), and if you’ve paid attention even the PPV sets aren’t as elaborate as they once were; these cost-cutting measures keep the promotion from spending more money and being as free with their revenue as they were before the massive loss of profits.  Unfortunately the money spent on employee contracts isn’t immune from these types of cost cutting measures.

From that perspective the promotion then becomes a place where superstars have no room or margin for error, especially superstars on the low end of the ladder in WWE.  Whatever Emma did or didn’t do, no matter how small an infraction we believe it to be, was a simple “f**k up” that might have cost her her WWE contract.  Then again, this isn’t sensational enough to consider or speculate on either.

Then there is our comparison of the punishment for Emma’s infraction compared to that of other superstars.  While fans have piled on the bandwagon advocating for Emma by citing the punishments received by other superstars for committing crimes deemed more “harsh” or “serious,” there haven’t been many fans that have spoken at length on the implied misogyny present within the company.  No one has noted how current TNA Knockout Taryn Terrell was released immediately from her contract after being arrested for an altercation with her then husband and former WWE superstar Drew McIntyre, while male superstars arrested for suspected domestic abuse (“Stone Cold” Steve Austin) were allowed to go about their business within the promotion after repaying their debt to society.  Perhaps the issue of discrimination against women would be more important to discuss whether or not a suspected thief should be given the same leniency as someone driving under the influence (which could be anybody over whatever the legal limit is in the state they’re driving in; one doesn’t necessarily have to be “drunk” and driving to be arrested for driving under the influence…).

Whatever the case may be and whatever we choose to believe, it truly stinks that Emma had only scratched the surface of her potential on the main roster before her release.  Only she, her attorney and the prosecutor, and the WWE truly know what happened; as much as we desire to crucify the ‘E for choosing to release her from the promotion, we’re doing so as an immediate, ill-informed response and reaction to the news.  We shouldn’t expect that Emma won’t ever work for the company again, nor should we expect that we won’t see her wrestle again in some form or capacity.  At this point, all we can do as fans is make a loud enough noise supporting her if her arrest was the result of a careless action she unintentionally made when checking out at Walmart.  Until all the facts come out, if they ever come out, we’ll have to find some way to grapple with not seeing her meander through a gimmick that we said wasn’t working for us.

 

 

 

 


Another Paige in the Book of Underrated Brilliance

Paige3_crop_exact

I was going to do a review of the PPV last night, but I think I’ll hold off on it.  Short form: I enjoyed it.  I thought the Wyatt Family would win the tag titles, but I was also of the mindset that if they won then Bray would win later as well, and I knew Bray wasn’t going to reign victorious.  It was a terrific match all the same: the Usos and the Wyatt Family have some good chemistry.

The briefcase ladder match was excellent, arguably the highlight of the evening, and it did the impossible in letting us think for ONE moment that Kofi Kingston was actually going to succeed, and the crowd was behind him too, which was even more incredible.  Did I get mad at the interference by Kane to help Seth Rollins win?  No.  Because “Plan B” is a terrific scapegoat, and while I didn’t care who won this match I was big on how it all played out.

Big E took on Rusev, and lost.  Again.  Proving that America is weak compared to the almighty force that is a Bulgarian with an American manager praising Russia (Reverend Father Pastor Uncle Sam Big E Langston the Third must not be preaching right).  I anticipate he’ll want a rematch soon.  And he’ll lose again.  Because… he does that.

Layla fought Summer Rae.  Layla beat Summer Rae.  But the focus wasn’t on those two but Fandango, who is likely grinning like Ludacris in a Ciara video anytime someone brings up this storyline.  Even so, he did deliver the line of the night when he said, “Fandango loves triangles.”  Me too, Dango.  Me too.  A lot of us do.

The brothers Rhodes took on Ryback and Axel, and for the life of me I wonder if Dusty was around them when they were children.  The gimmick is one thing.  The way Goldust was feeling up his brother upon their victory made me raise an eyebrow.  I mean, I can only look at Dusty here: the two are half-brothers, SOMETHING has to be in Dusty’s genes.

And of course, our main event pitted eight superstars against each other for the coveted dual belts of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship title, and while it wasn’t as exciting as the briefcase battle, it was more intense.  We were dealing with more grounded superstars, not flyers who leap from ladders and to ropes and then to the floor (another highlight, and a rather impressive one due to its flow).  Cena won, and that was no surprise.  Like I said, he and Orton were the safe choices, and perhaps that exactly what we need right now.  I assumed Orton would win, but I just wanted the tension that would come from Orton and Rollins being potential enemies so suddenly after they came together.  That can fester for a bit though.  More interesting to have a potential little feud between Rollins and Cena, but since it’s going to be Cena vs. the Authority… at least until they bring Lesnar back to the fray.  It’s all a web, but it’s easy to navigate.

Oh, and Adam Rose fought Damian “Paul Revere” Sandow.  Sandow is forever underrated and this match proved it yet again.  Here’s hoping they do him right in the future.

I think that’s it.  Uh… oh, wait, I forgot one match.  It was the second one, and it was for the Divas Championship.  Paige, the champ, took on Naomi, and it was the best match on the card.  Now what does that mean?  It means that as far as a wrestling match goes, no gimmicks, no fanfare, no bullshit, it was far and away the finest match in Boston that evening.

Imagine that?  In fact, it was a good night for Divas wrestling both qualitatively and quantitatively.  From the perspective of quantity, there were two.  One focused on Fandango’s love for triangles (it still cracks me up) and thus NOT the actual Divas, and the other focused on two athletes who can actually wrestle.  Quality wise, both matches were pretty good.

Eh.

Well, the title match was terrific, the other was okay.  Layla kicking Summer Rae will always be worth watching.  In any case, the awesome match put on by Paige and Naomi was met by the crowd with a lack of enthusiasm.  Shameful.  I can assume that this is partially because it was a Divas match, and that doesn’t sit right with me.  At what point do we turn our nose up at something the second we hear what it is?  Who does that?  Maybe it’s just me, but we should never judge a book by its cover (the cover this time is a Divas match).  To know a book’s worth, you have to read it through and through, page by page, resisting the urge to add an “I” to those words when they come up.

But let’s talk about the match and some of the build up.  It started with Paige fighting other Divas, because that’s what you do in the WWE: you fight people.  Eventually it came to Naomi, because Alicia Fox isn’t so much a thing anymore.  While the athletics of Naomi and Paige were never in question, it did come down to the possible feud.  The showings between the two have always seemed tense, even a bit aggressive, but respectful.  Enter Cameron, who is there because… I don’t know: let’s say because she’s light-skinned.  She comes through as “My time is now!” and whatnot, and even when Naomi was taking on Fox the other day, the focus of the commentary was on Paige and Cameron, who were arguing over something or the other, it doesn’t matter.

This is a glaring issue with this is how it seems like the Divas aren’t a priority in the company, and this dialogue and commentary doesn’t help.  I spent a minute tweeting about the match and the nonsense surrounding it, nearly exacerbated because I was actually pretty excited to see Paige vs. Naomi.  Sadly, as I’ve been saying:

https://twitter.com/da_infamous_DiZ/status/481235514096631808

https://twitter.com/da_infamous_DiZ/status/481235797442842624

https://twitter.com/da_infamous_DiZ/status/481236030897799168

https://twitter.com/da_infamous_DiZ/status/481236489062604800

Paige has been misused so far, and I don’t often say that anything has been misused.  Dolph Ziggler?  Possibly.  Zack Ryder?  Most definitely.  Kofi Kingston?  Perhaps.  And I’m sure they all have a story to tell, but Paige herself was doomed from the start by the virtue of her being brought in as a replacement for AJ.  You can try and convince me otherwise all you want, but from how she just won the title off of her to how at one point they had her dressing like her, Paige was brought in not because she’s arguably the best female wrestler alive (citation needed) but because AJ was going on sabbatical.  And it shows.  And it fucks with me because she deserves much better.

More than that: they just aren’t developing her character.  Like I fear Prince Devitt and KENTA might be in their WWE matriculations, she might be best served as a trainer or one who puts others over.  We know all three of the aforementioned can wrestle: KENTA could come into the company as a mid-card powerhouse with the sole intent to get revenge on the Second City Saint and the American Dragon for stealing his maneuvers (GTS and Busaiku Knee Kick respectively), but he could also be in the training facilities acclimatizing indie cats to the WWE style, or playing with the WWE style of wrestling himself.

But when it comes to developing character, especially with the Divas Champion, we’ve gotten little to nothing.  We know she was the NXT Women’s Champion, the FIRST NXT Women’s Champion, and we know that she’s one of the youngest champions in the WWE’s history.  We know she won it off of AJ in an impromptu match, but that’s all we’ve gotten from the whole of character arc.  Otherwise she’s your stereotypical babyface: she goes in, gets beat up, hulks up, straps on an impressive submission and wins.  That’s all fine and good, but it’s not great, and we know Paige is great.

Say what you will about Alicia Fox and the mess she was doing (might still be doing): they gave her character.  They let her develop that character. I remember Space Jam and how much I never really liked Lola Bunny.  She was okay I suppose, but she wasn’t a character so much as a caricature, a female counterpart to Bugs with breasts.  Fast forward a few years and you get The Loony Tunes Show.  Lola is in this too, but she’s a ditzy, well-meaning bunny obsessed with Bugs and from a rich family.  You know what that is?  Character.  And over the seasons, that character actually developed.  It’s the same with Alicia Fox.  At one point the only thing that defined her was how she kind of looked like Rihanna when she dyed her hair (and before that an “affair” with Edge (yeah, that’s right, I remember that!)).  Now she’s a spoiled brat who throws a tantrum anytime she wins OR loses.  She steals hats and paraphernalia, and yells at the crowd.  It’s not a perfect character but it is character.

When she and Paige were going to blows, it was one of my greatest complaints: she had character and Paige was merely the champion.  And after the little feud faded, Paige is still merely champion and Fox is somewhere or the other.  People were booing Fox and cheering Paige, somewhat, but I’m pretty sure they were booing Fox because she had personality, and kind of cheering Paige because she wasn’t Fox.  Personality and character go a long way: it’s hard to root for a character when you don’t know why  you should cheer for them.

https://twitter.com/da_infamous_DiZ/status/481234713495887874

https://twitter.com/da_infamous_DiZ/status/481234863589429249

I sit back and ponder on how big Paige could be if she wasn’t there to make the other Divas look better.  Corbin once alluded to how Paige might be greater than AJ because she can bring championship level material out of her opponents, and sure enough that’s a prerequisite for being a great worker in the business, but what else?  AJ had character, arcs, storylines and something (don’t ask me what that something is, it’s just a something) that other Divas, hell, other superstars period didn’t have, and she used it.  It was one thing that she could beat you in the ring: it was another that she could navigate between insanity and calm collectedness, face tactic and heel tactic; it was almost as if she was absorbing the mic work of Punk and improved ring work of Bryan (or maybe all Punk, I don’t know).  But she was given time and arcs to deal with, from jilted girlfriend, to abusive relationship girlfriend, to GM, to Best Diva in the World.  And Paige, so far, has none of that.  Just tremendous talent and hopefully time.

I hate to beat a dead horse, but AJ’s absence is Paige’s open door, and she hasn’t been given much to work with.  Maybe she can do something more with it, maybe she’s literally working with everything she has, it’s hard to say, but until they actually invest something in her more than just slapping the belt on her, she’s not going to be the breath of fresh air the Divas division needs.  It says something when the fans are more into (for better or worse) the grudge match between two women who want a guy who can’t say triangles without making someone laugh.  Much like the game Catherine or anything involving a twisted romantic triangle, it’s one of those scenarios that could have easily be solved had Fandango just stopped one of them and said, “I have a girlfriend”.  But that’s not compelling TV, is it?  Neither is Summer Rae implying she’s a natural blonde (oh my god, who the hell cares?!), and Layla pointing out her wonderful chest is something of an acquired taste.  One I acquired a long time ago but that’s neither here nor there; I just keep abreast of those kinds of things.  I mean, I’ve noticed them, I always have, I’d have to be knockers to not!  I mean bonkers.  It’s bust who I am.  Just.

Boobs.

It comes down to how unfortunate it is that someone who is blatantly talented can’t so much as get a response when she and another great talent put on the best match of a terrific evening of wrestling.  It’s terrible that the match two women have over a man who doesn’t care about either one of them garners more of a reaction than the quality that came on an hour before, even if the funbags were in full gear in the Layla/Rae match.  As I always say, praise and hatred are good: that shows that people are responding, even if they don’t appreciate you.  But apathy is death.  Apathy is worse.  Praise will bring someone to your funeral to mourn you.  Hatred will bring someone to your funeral to make sure you’re dead.  Apathy will keep someone at home watching Scooby-Doo and eating stale Pop Tarts, because somehow they let Pop Tarts get stale.

Now, everything above this paragraph was written before RAW, and now watching it we have the return of AJ.  She came back and promptly won the Divas Championship from Paige.  On one hand, it just goes on to confirm what I’ve been saying, and that’s disgusting.  On the other, it opens up the possibility that AJ and Paige can go on to feud and make even last night’s exquisite match seem tame in comparison.  Only time will tell, but for the love of God: can we PLEASE not just toss Paige aside?  She’s an awesome talent: she does not need to just fall to the wayside and simply be another page in the history of the Divas.  She can take the place that AJ occupied/occupies.

She can.

If that’s a tale they think deserves to be written.


Old Money In The Bank: Same Old Shit

John Cena is one world heavyweight championship reign away from tying Ric Flair. Michael Cole said he is the greatest champion in the history of the business. I… am not happy about this and will be LESS enthused at the prospect of Cena losing to Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam so we can not have a champion competing on TV or PPV for months. Some say since WWE made that poster that, in retrospect DID spoil the MITB main event, WWE will swerve us and NOT have Cena face Lesnar in the biggest match they could possibly do at their second biggest show of the year. Right.

Listen. I do not dislike John Cena. I do not think he cannot wrestle. I do not think he has buried other stars. I DO think WWE should have made some new money. I’ve been on record as saying: “Cena is the safe choice to win, which is why he’s the WRONG choice.” Not that it means anything… but who the fuck gets booed in their hometown? Not even a polite applause. Bray Wyatt and Cesaro… both heels… got better reactions than Cena tonight. Enough about that. The very definition of stale… is standing pat with the same thing and letting it sit there until the freshness is gone. Have you considered the following nightmare scenario (which is plausible as FUCK)? Randy Orton gets his third wellness strike and they have to fire him. Cena gets injured and not one of those “out for 4-6 months but back in two” injuries that have contributed to his Super Cena rep. NOW what does WWE do? Exactly what they should have done tonight and put the belt on Bray Wyatt.

I was miffed that The Usos retained. I think they’ve done as much as they’re gonna do as tag champs and… in the theme of this piece… it was time for a change. But, WWE kept the belts around the incumbent champions.

I think it’s retarded to have a babyface represent America as your base is America and have him repeatedly lose to the foreigner asserting his dominance, cutting promos talking about ‘rising up as a nation’. The match between Rusev and Big E was argubly both of their best on the main roster, but from a psychology standpoint… you just don’t have your babyface stand for something bigger than him and lose. Also… how pissed will we all collectively be… when John Cena defends America from Rusev?

Didn’t like booking Kane to help Seth Rollins AND Randy Orton. You have to be a wrasslin neophyte to expect… wait for it… the same old shit… to work twice in one night. So I went into the main event knowing Orton wasn’t winning. Bad break for Bad News Barrett. I truly believe if he wasn’t hurt he wins the MITB. For real. Cuz Seth Rollins ain’t ready yet.

Weird booking of the Layla/Summer Rae tilt, where Fandango appeared to lust for Summer Rae and let her choke Layla in the corner. He called the match down the middle. As a heel. With his heel love interest in the match. So Summer Rae cried… and. I. felt. NOTHIIIIIIIIIIIIING. I don’t feel bad for her, because it’s dumb to try to make her a face… trying to steal a heel’s man… that dumped her on Twitter.

This gonna be one of the most controversial things I’ve ever said: Paige and Naomi wrestled the best match on the card. And as usual, all the psychology and story was her opponent, with Cameron teasing a heel turn and betraying her dance partner. Naomi has all the #affleticism in the world. And dat ass. Paige is a submission wrassler and Naomi threw all kinds of counters. I think Paige might be the best women’s wrestler we’ve seen since Trish Stratus/Lita… and if/when AJ comes back… WOOOOOOOOO. All that match needs is Paige actually getting some character development… and Vince giving a damn that good wrestlers work for his wrestling company. Dope match.

Have I said that despite these logic holes and things I wasn’t here for… I was entertained by MITB and I’d rate it as a solid B-? I wouldn’t say it was bad at all. Just change a few things and this was an A+ show.


Bray Wyatt Smells Like Money… And Luke Harper’s Wifebeater

I’ve been having a disagreement with my LEWD brethren, who think it’s #BestForBusiness to give John Cena or Randy Orton the title. Again. Because I’m smarter than them, I’m drinking the Kool-Aid and think everyone is best served with Bray Wyatt climbing the literal ladder of success and getting that short transitional title reign. My wrasslin thoughts are never short-term. Always thinking ahead. Allow me to elucidate for your edification. Follow the buzzards nshit.

Let’s go through the title contenders, and how much I’d like to see them face Daniel Bryan upon his return, and most likely drop the title to him.

Randy Orton – His last title reign was trash because he was booked as little more than the puppet of The Authority who can’t beat Daniel Bryan clean. I would rather see Alberto Del Rio win than see “Randy Orton can’t beat Daniel Bryan clean part 463252213422″.

Alberto Del Rio – This nigga is literally in this match because they are that hurt for seven world title contenders. You can easily forget this guy is a five time world champion, and the guy Cena took the WHC from last HIAC. Now, if he won, which he won’t, he would put on great WORK with Daniel Bryan… and no one would care because he has the charisma of a frog and can’t cut a decent promo to save his damn life.

John Cena – He is the safest choice. Which is why he sucks as a choice. WWE is suffering some hard times and it makes all the sense in the world to put the title on the TRUE face of WWE <cringes at Orton saying still claiming that BOOLSHEET> who is the most marketable. It makes even more sense than that to put the title on the last person to feud with him and look good doing so. As for him winning and facing Bryan again… I don’t like it because Cena lost to Bryan LAST year. If they fought again, I think it’s reasonable to have Cena go over. So… no. 

Sheamus – Listen. I don’t NOT like Sheamus… but just no. 

Cesaro – I most assiduously assert, Cesaro is NOT ready for prime-time. He looked great in beating Orton and losing to Cena in the build to last year’s Elimination Chamber, but he needs to do more to prove he is worthy of the main event spotlight then just wrestle. Daniel Bryan got over with fans NOT because he could wrestle, but he got over as a character. He could be annoying, crazy, paranoid, or everyman. Cesaro has shown us nothing but he speaks 5 languages. He and Bryan would put on great WORK, but it wouldn’t be AS great as if we had more on Cesaro the character. His spokesman barely puts him over because he has to spend most of his time keeping the “My client Brock Lesnar conquered The Undertaker’s Streak” heat alive.

Roman Reigns – Future face of the company. He is the picture of minimalism. He doesn’t say or do anything more than what he HAS to, and this has gotten him over as SHIT. Shoutout to all the people who don’t like him because he isn’t CM Punk on the mic or CM Punk in the ring. Newsflash: CM Punk ain’t CM Punk anymore. And at his peak, he mattered less than the three year story of Reigns’ cousin versus Super Cena. Reigns needs to win his first title at Mania. Then he can begin beating up Daniel Bryan and everyone else.

Which brings me TO….

Bray Wyatt – Fake smarks think Cena buried this guy by winning a couple of matches out of their three PPV feud. What REALLY happened is it showed ME that anything but winning the title soon is a step down. He’s ready. He gets ALL the heat, which is to say, he can get cheers and boos. Remind you of anyone? Remember the last person to beat Daniel Bryan clean? It was this guy. He has pinned Roman Reigns. No one except maybe Roman Reigns comes into MITB with more momentum. Whenever Daniel Bryan comes back, we can continue their feud from last year and have Bryan getting screwed by a combination of The Authority and Rowan and Harper. Wyatt represents a heel for face Bryan to chase. Yes. Yes. Yes.

I see a lot of rumors on the dirtsheets that WWE wants to have Brock Lesnar win the title at SummerSlam. Lemme tell you why that’s dumb. First off… he won’t be around much, so after a good two months of us not seeing a champion, you’d have a champion who’s chilling on a farm somewhere. No. Second, The Rock showed the smart time to have a part timer go over is Royal Rumble, the kickoff to The Road To WrassleMania. Then you can have him make a few appearances in between the PPVs. Have him defend in the Chamber and show his dominance against the top stars on the roster. Then, when he loses to, say Roman Reigns, he can go away again, and whenever he decides to return he can say he deserves a title shot. Then you can have another big match at one of the big PPVs.

I see people complaining that Seth Rollins isn’t in the WWE WHC ladder match. Well, he’s in the MITB ladder match. And he’s not the smart pick to win that. Bad News Barrett is getting shafted AGAIN if he doesn’t enter and win that match. Lemme run a scenario past you. Star gets put into a match just because the boss likes him. He wins the match with or without help from the boss. Everyone cuts promos on him about how he’s handed everything and is nothing without his powerful friends. Not the best way to create or put over a new star, ain’t that right Randy Orton? Randy knows this story does Rollins no favors. Plus… Seth Rollins is the guy who you can read MUCH from the IWC, myself included, that everyone knew Ambrose and Reigns were future world champions, but his heel turn is the first step to seeing he might be as well. Worst thing WWE can do is throw another fringe main eventer into the spotlight too soon so we can see all too clearly how ready he isn’t. In my opinion, Wade Barrett should have beaten Cena and Orton in WWE title matches before the Nexus broke up, and now he’s FINALLY gotten over individually. HE is more than ready.

A bunch of people got fired last week. Not nary a fuck was given.

WWE doesn’t want to push Dolph Ziggler as a main eventer because he’s injury prone. <looks at Randy Orton and John Cena with their 26 combined world championships> Look, I can understand that Ziggler IS a tad bit overrated. But, he is a good worker, can cut a promo. He should at least get more midcard pushes. Maybe WWE IS positioning him to be the guy to divest Barrett of his IC title before he cashes in MITB. We’ll see. Right now, they mostly job him out and have him win a lot of matches that don’t matter.

You can SEE how badly WWE doesn’t want Paige and Adam Rose to get over. I saw a ‘rumor’ that Vince and the producers don’t like them, and I look at a roster FULL of people they tease putting the machine behind, but don’t… and LOOK! They’re not over. Forcing people down our throats isn’t the way either… but to give your Divas champ no vignettes, no promos JUST wrasslin as if ANYONE watches Divas matches to appreciate workrate REEKS of sabotage. They DID put vignettes behind Rose and had him interact with Kevin Hart, but they don’t let him WRASSLE. On SmackDown they had him beat Titus O’Neil twice with a rollup. <rolls eyes>

The most important thing is… The Wyatt Family needs to leave MITB with four championship belts.


The 6-Sided Ring Debate, Pt. 1 – Fans vs. Wrestlers

Photo courtesy of wrestlingrumors.net

Photo courtesy of wrestlingrumors.net

TNA Entertainment, Inc. recently released a poll asking fans to decide whether or not their flagship program, IMPACT Wrestling, will use a 4 or 6-sided ring moving forward, beginning at the scheduled set of TV tapings. Fans are asked to visit the IMPACT Wrestling website to cast their vote, where we’re also told that “this is not a one-off event,” and that “the future of IMPACT Wrestling’s ring is in [our] hands.” For all intents and purposes and according to their website, TNA is allowing us fans to choose the ring “we” want to see their wrestlers perform in as the promotion moves forward. This is a hallmark moment for the promotion and for wrestling fans, as we’re once again expecting this promotion to deliver on a promise to “listen to its fans,” giving us some power to dictate how we want to see what happens in the ring.

TNA’s iconic 6-sided ring was used from the promotion’s inception in 2002 all the way up to 2010, where it was put out of commission at the beginning of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff’s TNA tenure. While the reasoning for axing it varied, the most popular rationale focused on the hexagonal ring making the promotion appear amateurish when compared to other promotions dominating the sports entertainment genre. With a growing and more pressing need to appeal to investors and advertisers, the company opted to bring in a traditional 4-sided ring, a move that received mixed responses from fans but was eventually accepted by and large. Appreciation and fondness for the 6-sided ring hasn’t dissipated completely, as fans have occasionally reminisced on the days of its use and have petitioned to have it make a return at least once a year (primarily during the Destination X pay per view event).

As it turns out, not everyone is keen on returning to action within the confines of the 6-sided ring. Two IMPACT Wrestling athletes, Ethan Carter III and Austin Aries, have taken to social media to express their thoughts on ring’s potential return:

6Side_016Side_036Side_046Side_05 6Side_06

The most interesting thing about their comments is how they disagree with giving fans the power to determine something that has an immediate effect on their safety and well-being. The implication from their comments is clear: people who can’t and don’t wrestle, particularly the fans, should not have the right or choice to dictate the conditions in which wrestlers wrestle. To quote Austin Aries directly, “What’s wrong with wrestling? Letting people who’ve never done it, and never put their bodies on the line, run the show.”

The current generation of pro wrestling fans is entrenched in an Era of Entitlement, where we all feel that our opinions are gospel and that what we say or believe “should be” what’s given to us by promotions. We write blogs and tape video segments that analyze and scrutinize a promotion’s willingness to “listen to the fans,” and any promotion that fails to do so is immediately demonized and characterized as a “failure” or “failing” because it refuses to kowtow to the demands of its fans.

A harsh reality that most fans don’t consider is that our demands at times can be irrational and borderline insane, especially if we’ve grown accustomed to consuming a particular type of pro wrestling product. Our demands don’t seem irrational if we’ve become desensitized to seeing wrestlers grapple in thumbtacks and shards of glass, or if we’re used to seeing athletes jump off of ladders or structures that are 20+ feet in the air. Such activity becomes normal for us, and the moment we stop receiving such action we begin to grouse about how promotions don’t care about what fans want to see (i.e. the bloodless PG Era), never minding at all the fact that the wrestlers no longer have to damage their bodies beyond what’s necessary in order to entertain us.

This is what makes this debate so pertinent; as promotions continue to fight for revenue and fan appeal, the lines that once kept us behind a particular veil of ignorance are being blurred slowly, giving us new and unparalleled access to the inner workings and politics of the business. When we begin to believe we know and understand how the business works, we offer our critiques as dictum or mandates that must be followed lest the business as we know it comes to an end. Promotions that fall victim to this logic assume that mildly entertaining these dictum or mandates will endear them to fans looking to have their “voices” heard.

Our dictum and mandates are varied and often come from a subjective, single-minded perspective devoid of any in-ring experience; we present what we believe to be the best for our entertainment without any acknowledgement of what wrestlers endure for that same entertainment. We disregard the fact that being a fan is about enjoying what’s presented to us, and in the event that things change, we’re still invested some way in what happens because we’re fans. If any promotion has to entice fans to stick around by giving us the “authority” to make pivotal decisions that affects a wrestler’s ability to do his or her job or that could potentially make what they do more dangerous than necessary, then the state of the business is in far more dire straits than meets the eye.

So yes; TNA’s 6-sided ring comes with a flood of beloved memories and exciting expectations that could invigorate the promotion’s fans and inject some much needed energy into the IMPACT Wrestling product. But if all of that comes at the expense of the wrestlers’ health and longevity in the business, and the decision to bring the ring back rests in the hands of fans and not the men and women who must perform inside the ring, then we should have the chutzpah to turn down anything that could potentially make wrestling more dangerous than it already is.

jamesstormbloodyWhether it be a 6-sided ring, bloodletting, thumbtacks and kendo sticks, chair shots to the back, death-defying falls from 16-foot ladders, such things should only be used sporadically at most to enhance a feud or storyline. Such things should also be decided upon by the men and women who have to wrestle under those conditions and their employers. It’s one thing to ask fans if we’d like to see, in this instance, a brief or extended return to the 6-sided ring; it’s another to ask us to do the job of making that decision when we’ll never really get the opportunity to consult the wrestlers for their perspectives on the matter.

As fans of pro wrestling, we constantly offer our respect to those who put their bodies through pure hell to make us laugh, cry, cheer and boo. These men and women work hard for our enjoyment, and if the comments made by Aries and Carter are truly sincere and honest off-the-cuff remarks, we know exactly how we should vote when we visit IMPACTWrestling.com. On the other hand, if we truly enjoy the 6-sided ring and expect it to have a beneficial impact on TNA’s product, then by all means we should prepare ourselves for the return of the hexagonal circle.

*Edit: Wrestler Sean “X-Pac” Waltman has also added his thoughts on the potential return of the 6-sided ring:

6Side_086Side_09
Tweet Credits: Wrestlezone.com


Why So Serious: Watching Sandow Burn

I remember being pissed that Damien Sandow won the MITB then lost nearly every match before losing to John Cena. And he’s done mostly jobs since. I will say the one thing that doesn’t make sense to me, is that Sandow is cutting promos about being this disgruntled misused talent, while going out and making an ass of himself and putting his everything into it. You and I are not the same if you were not entertained by his dancing and prancing around last Monday night as Fandango’s tag team partner. I bet you HHH and Vince and everyone else important saw that and knew: This guy will do business. I don’t think these silly week to week gimmicks mean we will never be able to take Sandow serious again.

WWE made R-Truth look like a semi-credible main eventer three years ago. Mostly because the roster was thinner than one ply. My point for saying this is simple: WWE can take almost anybody and put them in a spot where it’s up to them to get over. R-Truth got talking to an imaginary friend over. After YEARS of jobbing. You can name a star wrestler. At SOME point they were doing jobs or had a fucking retarded gimmick. I admit. WWE is overdoing comedy at the moment. Entertainment. And at the moment, Sandow is proving he will do anything to entertain us. Fans that cry burial and he can’t be taken seriously now don’t remember The Ringmaster losing to Savio Vega and Hunter Hearst Helmsley losing a pig slop match. That shit didn’t stop them from becoming Stone Cold Steve Austin and, well, HHH. I disagree when some people say that wins and losses don’t matter. Because Goldberg and Ryback happened.

Goldberg was never the same after he lost for the first time. Ryback could not weather a protracted losing streak in big matches and stay as over as he had gotten by being unbeaten. Some guys have no ability to sell a match through their words and facial expressions. They aren’t putting on wrestling clinics. Literally everything hinges solely on how dominant they are in the ring. Another couple of examples are The Great Khali and in the future, Rusev. Before there was a Khali Kiss Cam, before he was trying to sing and dance, it was a punishment to be booked against Khali. He was beating the brakes off The Undertaker upon his debut. By the time he moved to Raw and feuded with Cena he was seen as a threat. Cena beat him, but no harm there as Cena was and is THE man. Then he lost to Batista. Cool. Batista was number two. Not long after that he was a damn joke. You don’t turn a monster into a joke. I see Rusev as a guy who will only be as relevant as his win loss record in big matches and whether or not they put a dumber gimmick on him than the one he has now. This pro-Mother Russia thing would have went over HUGE say 20-30 years ago. And then there is Mark Henry.

Mark Henry debuted as a very green monster type. Became the heavy for the Nation of Domination. And then he was Sexual Chocolate and he fathered a hand with an elderly woman. Nearly a decade after this, he won the world heavyweight championship. As a monster heel. He is the ultimate proof you CAN be serious, a joke and then eventually deadly serious. A few years ago he was dressed as the Kool Aid man kicking terribly off beat freestyles. Do you think he becomes world champion whining on twitter and in interviews about how miscast he is? (looks at Dolph Ziggler)

Dolph Ziggler was in the fucking Spirit Squad. And I learned from my LEWD brothers that he was ‘caddy’ for when Chavo Guerrero was playing a white golfer. Whatever. He is now a two time world champion, who I believe would win more and be a bigger deal if he’d just shut the fuck up. Damien Sandow would do well to learn from Ziggler being ultimate proof you can have all the ‘work’ in the world, the fans can love you, and if you don’t just shut the fuck up and do what you’re called to, you can go from upper to lower midcard faster than you can say “Show… OFF!”

Anyway, I think it’s kind of a mistake to keep Bray Wyatt, Cesaro, and Wade Barrett as heels as over as they are and with Bryan injured. If you say “WWE doesn’t listen to their audience” you can point to them and the aforementioned Ziggler as examples of “Yop.” Also… if I had the book, Wyatt is the next WWE WHC and Wade Barrett wins MITB.

I can’t say enough how stupid and inconsistent it is that WWE waited to learn Bryan would be unable to defend his title for TWO PPVs instead of just stripping him before the first one. It’s not logical in kayfabe to have people who wanted to keep a man from winning the title, then leaving it up to him for a month once given a perfectly reasonable reason to take it from him. I’m glad that’s over.

I hope WWE doesn’t put the belt on Cesaro. He’s not ready. He’s over for work and one gimmicky move that he recently lost to Sheamus directly after. Work does not a world champion make. Ask Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger.

I’m disappointed that Alicia Fox is getting real reaction from people and WWE is forcing Paige on us. Again. Work does not a world champion make. No one cares about Paige, except that she and Sheamus need to get together and make pale babies. Who will then be forced on us even though they have no personality. Like their parents.

Full circle: in all this losing… Damien Sandow is proving he has personality and range. Which proves to me he can and should BE somebody.


The (Not So) Curious Circumstances of Salvatore Tessio

“Tom Hagen: You know how they’re gonna come at you?

Michael Corleone: They’re arranging a meeting in Brooklyn.  Tessio’s ground.  Where I’ll be safe.

Tom: I always thought it would have been Clemenza, not Tessio.

Michael: It’s the smart move.  Tessio was always smarter.”

Tom Hagen and Michael Corleone, discussing Tessio’s assassination plot; The Godfather (1972)

Above virtually all American movies, I hold the first Godfather film as the pinnacle.  It stands as a masterpiece in cinema, a near flawless accomplishment in nearly every facet, and there are more quotable moments within it than a Will Ferrell movie.  I’m talking about classic lines and monologs, picture perfect deliveries and dialogue, from the first spoken sentence (“I believe in America.”) to the final line where Michael is confirmed as the most evil human being you had ever seen in a movie (until that point).

But that opening sequence I quoted always stuck out to me, partly because I made it a habit to know about The Godfather lore.  Vito, Peter and Salvatore were friends coming up, but it was Corleone who held the reins and became the leader amongst leaders.  Tessio (because I guess 20th century Italian-Americans spoke to each other using last names) was smarter, and Clemenza was more loyal, as well as the more hot-headed of the two.  But as the years went by and Michael Corleone took over the business that Vito once held, Tessio grew suspicious.  At no point did he ever really trust the future Don (somewhat reasonable, considering how his two best friendships were built over decades) and he was doubly weary of the young man due to Corleone’s insistence that there be no vengeance about Barzini for his mess.  All the same, that was still MORE trust and respect for Michael than Clemenza himself had for Michael, or even Tom Hagen for that matter.

Loyalty is an interesting concept because it has a nasty habit of playing with another significant “L” word: logic.  The two don’t always go hand in hand, and sometimes the extremes can appear to be dangerously outlandish.  For example, a logical friend will bail you out of holding after a night of drinking.  A loyal friend is likely sitting next to you in jail because he couldn’t bare to see you drink alone.  A logical person saves his money and buys a car for his child when it is wholly affordable.  A loyal person might purchase the car the second the child turns 16, even if the cost is unnecessary.

What was it about Tessio that had him so loyal to Michael Corleone, second only to Vito Corleone himself?  That’s irrelevant, honestly, but likely his relationship with Vito.  The real question: what led to Tessio arraigning Michael Corleone’s assassination?  Loyalty will have you step back and heed the advice of your friend, especially if he tells you to heed the advice of his son.  But logic will make you remove your emotions from the equation entirely.  It would be very easy for me to turn this into a mild dissertation on The Godfather versus a piece about how logical it was for Seth Rollins (Tyler Black (Colby Lopez)) to turn on the Shield, because the film – hell, the FRANCHISE – toys with that age old debate like an actress in San Fernando Valley, and while Tessio always liked Michael as a person, he was logically concerned with Michael the organized crime leader.  And that’s when loyalty took a back seat to doing what was logical.

You still with me?  Good.  It was long since time for me to throw my hat into the fray with this whole Seth Rollins business, and after the shock value of it wore off (estimate time: forty seconds) I could step back and appreciate it for what it was.  Let’s throw a third “L” word into it: legacy.  The conflict between the Shield and Evolution has been a little foray into the grand existential romp that is building a legacy.  The Shield has been compared to, and in some cases hailed as the new standard for, the professional wrestling stable.  With this mercenary group we have a trio of young men who meld well together, fight well together and sway a crowd like few groups can, or have.  You have the cerebral loose cannon in Dean Ambrose (Jon Moxley (Jonathan Good)), a man who invokes the spirit and agility of Brian Pillman.  You have the tactical, logical architect in Seth Rollins (Tyler Black (Colby Lopez)), a high-flier who, by all standards, could be the most talented man on the roster.  And you have Roman Reigns (Leati Joseph Anoa’i), an agile powerhouse who is probably going to take the crown Cena wears in a few years. 

Never mind the fact that all three of these guys can work a ring: instead focus on how much you love the Shield.  They’re a great faction.  And now they aren’t.  Because Seth Rollins betrayed them and sided with Triple H and Randy Orton.  You know what Evolution represented as they stood over the fallen members of the Shield on Monday?  The essence of legacy.  Not the other stable Orton was in (though keep that in mind; it might come up later) but the overarching idea of having something that exists in the hearts and minds of people long after it has gone away.  Evolution’s return was probably requested by a whopping two and a half people, but the Shield needed a logical opponent to match them three on three; for all the conflicts they had with the Wyatt Family there was rarely any reason for it outside of “They got three guys, we got three guys, let’s have six guys beat each other, I don’t know, shit”.  And with the cerebral-tactical-powerhouse combination being in full effect on both squads, it was truly like watching something akin to a changing of the guard.

And that’s what most issues and feuds of any significance come down to within the confines of professional wrestling and sports entertainment.  No wrestler goes into any company with the intent of simply going in and doing a job.  Everyone is concerned with the type of legacy, what kind of everlasting impact they leave.  Those like John Cena can say they’ve left a lasting legacy in the ring and beyond.  Those like Hulk Hogan can say they left an imprint on the world as a whole.  Even after all the crap I give TNA, someone like AJ Styles can be mentioned to most wrestling fans and be adored, thus solidifying a legacy.  Storylines are built around such a construct.

Which takes us right back around to Seth Rollins.  What would compel a man to turn on his team and join with the people he and his now former team have defeated in two PPVs now?  The only thing I can think of right now, having not seen SmackDown yet, is because it was the smart move.  And Seth Rollins has always shown himself to be smarter.

Much like with Cesaro and Heyman, logic wins over loyalty in the pursuit of legacy.  Everyone knows Heyman is a heel manager, and Cesaro, prior to joining him, was a face, so why did he side with our favorite walrus?  Because Heyman guys go to the top, and outside of perhaps Jack Swagger you can say with confidence that you remember most world champions.  Cesaro isn’t concerned with fan approval or whether people like him: he wants to be at the top of the pyramid, and Paul Heyman takes people there, period. 

Legacy.

Seth Rollins jumped ship to the side of Triple H, standing triumphant with him and Randy Orton, looking over his fallen ex-compatriots.  That was interesting to me for another reason but I’ll get into that in another piece.  When it comes to creating something that people never forget, who better to side with than Triple H?  Who better to ally yourself with than the man who came into the company and can now boast that he damn near runs it?  It isn’t often that we debate the genius behind Paul Levesque, but suffice to say that he’s where he is for a good reason, and not just for the sake of storyline.  Frankly, he reminds me a bit of Little Finger from Game of Thrones.  Just a little bit.

But back to Rollins.  It was the smart move.  Of the members of the Shield he hasn’t just shown himself to be the smartest but also the most logical; no, the ONLY logical one.  He is portrayed as the architect, the glue that held them together (in retrospect the summit he held way back when could be seen as a foreshadowing), the man with the brains who constantly defies death.  You know: Jeff Hardy if Jeff Hardy gave a damn.  His movements and actions always walked the line of logic.  How to best defeat and opponent, how to best take apart a challenger, etc.  Contrast that with the insanity-laced Dean Ambrose and the loyalty-based Roman Reigns.  The former is too much of a wildcat to truly maintain ANY allegiance, so I hesitate to think he could truly “defect” so much as find a new shiny bauble to entertain him.  If Rollins and Reigns weren’t wearing military fatigues I don’t even think he’d know he was supposed to be with them.  The latter is all about loyalty, so it doesn’t matter what happens: it’s about the team.  He stands with the team above all things, and this was best evidenced with the earliest appearances of the Hounds of Justice, where he was the silent powerhouse that went along with what the mouthpiece Ambrose said.  That’s not to say anything bad about him, not in the slightest, but he has grown from the muscular follower to the possible leader when it was a role that seemed to be poised for Ambrose and Ambrose alone to hold.

Some might say that jealousy is the rationale.  I say, “Nah.”  If this were, again, the early goings of the group then yeah, I would see that as a viable option, but at this point all three of the Shield’s members have a lot of momentum and respect.  Rollins is arguably the most exciting to watch of the three, and that’s saying something.  It’s more than just how he jumps around and off of high objects: he’s just masterful in the ring.  Part of my saying that is bias: I’ve been a fan of Tyler Black since his days in the indies, and I know what kind of greatness he’s capable of pulling off, especially with capable opponents.  The only thing he has to be jealous about, if jealousy is a factor (which I don’t think it is) is how Roman Reigns is on the rise. If that is true, I’m reminded of the Nation of Domination and how the Rock just took over after a while.  Not ironic at all, nope. 

At the end of the day, more people seem mad about the break up of the Shield than anything, but as the old saying goes: “End it on a high note”.  Much like D-X or, now Evolution, I can see the Shield as something that comes together after so many years in reunion form.  They are literally at their peak right now, so yeah: break it down on a high note.  Let the legacy last.  This opens up some spectacular singles runs for all three of them.

I contend that Seth Rollins was poised to be a star from the beginning.  Championship wise, at least.  Like Big E and Bo Dallas, he came to the main roster following his run at NXT Champion, so I think there has been some star potential seen in him from an early time, but the question was how.  Why not like this?  He becomes a heel because of betrayal, ascends because of affiliations, and even with Reigns on track to being the company’s top star, how great would it be if his long standing opponent was Seth Rollins?  Who under the faux-tutelage of the Game hasn’t gone on to superstardom?  World championship runs?  Let it be known that I’m not saying that this is going to lead to Rollins being world champ anytime soon, but it will lead to an emotional storyline that might put him into the main event fold.  Let’s not forget: Money in the Bank is just around the corner and Daniel Bryan may or may not be cleared in time.

But that’s just my two cents on it.  Legacy.  Seth Rollins has all the tools to be a successful single star, and this betrayal is a great way to start it, as is affiliating one’s self with Triple H.  Where will it lead though?  Who knows?  With Cesaro and Heyman I think a moment of clarity is on the horizon for the former.  With Rollins, a lot of people think his turn is going to lead to a double cross in the same vein as Daniel Bryan did with the Wyatt Family.  To that, I say, “Possibly, but I hope not”.  It’s been done, and it would do little more than appease a few butthurt people who can’t deal with change.  Not just that, but it would be twice as confusing as any storyline in recent memory.  Bryan was getting beat up by the Wyatts like his name was Rey Mysterio and the Wyatts were the demon spawn of Mike Knox (it does explain the beards).  He joined because he felt like he didn’t have a choice, and the double cross was taking them out from the inside.  Rollins and the Shield proved dominance over their opponents, emphatically.  What purpose would Rollins have to jump ship unless it was a selfish move, and frankly that’s all you need.  Selfishness is a classic motive.

But so is logic.  Because logic is smart.  And appealing to your legacy is a smart move. 

And Seth Rollins has always been smarter.

P.S.: speaking of smarter, this old picture of Colby Lopez with his girlfriend… she kind of resembles Sasha Grey.  There’s absolutely, positively NOTHING wrong with that.


“I’ll Give You What For!” – Gather ‘Round, Children…

IGYWFIf you had the opportunity to write the perfect storyline for two wrestlers in a pro wrestling promotion, what would that story be?  That is a real question, and I’d like some honest answers from you … our faithful L.E.W.D. readership.

We’ve all filled our fair share of message boards with fantasy storylines, and even here in the L.E.W.D.iverse we’ll engage is some knee slappin’ fantasy booking just to pass the time.  What’s interesting, however, is that no matter who you place into a situation the storytelling is what grabs someone’s attention and keeps them invested in your booking.  As much as we complain all the time about how a star is booked or how awful a storyline is, very few individuals can come up with an authentic and gripping story that captures the imagination of a vast swath of people.

I suppose that’s what makes creative writing for pro wrestling so difficult; it’s easy to pop a copy of WWE 2K14 into an XBox 360 or PS3, lock ourselves in a room for six hours, and come up with something that makes us laugh and is eventually downloaded by a few hundred people here or there when we upload it to the WWE Creative Communities.  But imagine having to that on a nightly basis with a team of people, scratching your heads and planning out dialogue and actions for several stars at once, all of whom are important and must appear to the audience a certain number of times to guarantee a particular demographic’s response and financial investment.  Imagine having to rewrite a script at the last minute when a wrestler is injured or has been arrested; imagine having to figure out how to get a Lucha Libre star over with American fans, or having to come up with something to justify a new Diva’s presence in the promotion.  Imagine writing something that works among a small number of fans in one part of the country, but “fails” in front of thousands of fans everywhere else.

We can’t imagine that, because we get to sit in the comfort of our own homes and craft quaint little storylines that make sense to us and only us, and parade them around to our like-minded friends who’ll eagerly tell us, “You should write for [insert promotion here]!”  A few thousand downloads or several hundred “likes” and positive comments, and all of a sudden we’re next in line to get a sitcom picked up by FOX.

That’s all well and good, but our tastes are not necessarily on the pulse of society as much as we’d like them to be.  What looks great to us on paper may come off as absolute trash when executed, and I say that knowing good and well the reason why my WWE 2K14  story editors never make it past my L.E.W.D. brethren and a few obsessively compulsive driven MS Word documents.  To say it as I was told the great Vince McMahon said it, we fans “know what we like, but don’t know what we want,” and Baal save our poor souls, we actually think the two are synonymous.  Good storylines … scratch that; good storytelling isn’t a matter of crafting a questionably epic piece of prose that contains everything we like with everybody we’d like to see doing everything we’d like do if we were in a particular situation.  On the contrary, good storytelling is being able to create characters that resonate with groups of people and individuals in some way, and watching them react to circumstances beyond their immediate control.  Good storytelling, and a good story, is not a matter of whether we like it or not; a good story and good storytelling is good because it simply is, and how it’s executed is what really seals the deal on our investment in it.

We want good storytelling because good storytelling and good stories keep us entertained and invested in the product.  Being entertained and invested is all about the execution of a story: the way it’s told and how it unfolds.  We don’t have to “like” that story for it to be good.  What we “like” isn’t always equivalent to what’s “good” or “entertaining,” and there aren’t enough adjectives of angry tweets in the world that can justify the perception that we have to “like” something for it to be good.

Two examples:

MayorofCasterbridgeThe Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy was a piece of assigned reading I was expected to tackle heading into my sophomore year in high school.  I don’t think I made it past the second chapter before tossing this piece of literary genius to the wayside and opting instead to immerse myself completely in the gripping and utterly fascinating world of doing jack s**t.

For the longest I held quite the grudge against this story and Thomas Hardy, who conveniently succumbed to the unrelenting demands of death some 11 years after my maternal grandfather was born thus avoiding a stern talking to and severe finger-wagging thrashing at the hands of one extremely disgruntled fourteen year old student from the one of the states that almost ceded from the Union.  Needless to say, but important to mention, is the fact that I haaaated this book; in particular the language was difficult for me to read or understand at the time, due to me being largely uncultured and far too impatient to read that book.

So instead of simply trying harder to understand the language, taking a little more time to read and process what I read, I did what every0ne else in my particular section of English that year did … labeled the book as “stupid” and “bad,” and begged the teacher not to test us on it once school began.

It wasn’t until some time later, and I mean much later, that I picked up the book and tried reading it again.  To its credit, the magnificence that is Wikipedia had a lot to do with me picking the book back up again; the brilliant web editors that succinctly described the story in terms that I could actually understand caused my interest in the story to pique.  It also helped that I was slightly more patient in my adult years than I was when I was fourteen, which enabled me to really process what the hell was going on in the story.  With this new perspective on The Mayor of Casterbridge, I was able to see that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the story or the book; it was all in me, I wasn’t entertained or invested in the story because I didn’t take the time to be entertained or invested in it.  In hindsight, the story was a damn good one regardless of how “bad” we all said it was.  After all, if it were that terrible it (a) wouldn’t have been on our reading list and (b) wouldn’t have the word “classic” on the front cover.

Peeples3-585x438Then there’s the sad story of the Tyler Perry supported film Peeples.  I had the extreme fortune of sitting through this entire film as an adult, an adult with an incredibly low amount of tolerance for anything with Tyler Perry’s name attached to it after Diary of a Mad Black Woman.  I won’t go through the synopsis of Peeples here; the point is that the story of Peeples, a story that was done by Ashton Kutcher in 2005 and Ben Stiller in 2004, was executed in a way that didn’t entertain me completely.  That doesn’t make the movie or the story told within it bad, but it did make it uninteresting to me for tons of reasons.

And guess what … that’s okay.  I’m sure plenty of people experienced great joy and comfort in the heartwarming moments and zany situations the lead character Wade Walker found himself navigating throughout the course of the film.  But I didn’t, and if there’s a Peeples 2 in the works, you can rest assured and bet your bottom dollar that at least ONE man in the continental United States will revisit the days of his youth doing jack s**t well before he even thinks about giving THAT film one single solitary chance.

This is all to say that when it comes to pro wrestling, we armchair quarterbacks love to stand on our soap boxes and proclaim loudly and proudly that this story is bad or that story is great, knowing good and well those perceptions are our subjective expressions of how the execution of the stories entertained us.  Lost in translation is that oh so important fact of whether or not we were entertained by the story and if it was entertaining enough to keep us invested.  The gauge of whether a story is good or bad has to do with how its executed and not with the story itself.  Presentation is everything, and if we find ourselves frustrated over stories within a specific promotion, we’re honestly confused and pissed off at how the story is presented, point blank.  A story isn’t really good or bad, but rather, it’s presented well or poorly.  That’s what has us ticked off, and that’s what we really should be discussing here.

Come on, everybody; let’s use our words here: why is the show boring?  Why is a pay per view “terrible” after only one match?  Why is “logical” (as opposed to “understandable”) a prerequisite for “good” storytelling?   WHY don’t we find any of this entertaining???

Case in point: a little person in a bull costume fighting another little person in an imaginary rock band is highly illogical.  But the story surrounding their feud is a classic tale (no pun intended) of one character being wronged by another and seeking to correct the injustice done to him.  That story continues to be played out because kids, believe or not, find it entertaining and are invested in it one way or another.  That story continues to be played out because not ever segment in a wrestling show can be (or should be, for that matter) as serious as a blood feud between Lance Storm and Dean Malenko.  The story of a character seeking revenge for an injustice done at the hands of another character is a good story; it’s logical, it’s understandable, and it’s actually good.  It just so happens that this iteration of the story, complete with wacky hijinks and slapstick shenanigans, isn’t that entertaining to people who would actually pay hard earned cash to see Lance Storm and Dean Malenko wrestle each other for a year.  The story itself is fine; the execution of it is highly questionable.

On the other hand, a few misfits from a traveling carnival “wrestling” to raise money to save their beloved family owned roadside attraction is not only illogical but also highly absurd, even by carny and pro wrestling standards (and oddly enough, pro wrestling got its start as a carnival side show attraction).  The story of a man facing financial hardships and opting to enlist the help of his friends to wrestle his way back into the game, however, is a good story that can entertain fans of all walks of life.  When you throw men walking on stilts, endless carny music, a bipolar clown with balloons and a bike horn, and a sultry vixen who has trouble doing splits on the ring ropes (as anyone would) … all of a sudden we’re back in that highly questionable execution zone.

What does all of this mean to you, dear reader?  We stay invested in pro wrestling because it entertains us, and each promotion under the sun works to entertain more than just one type of person or one demographic of people.  All of the stories crafted for our entertainment may not strike us the same way, and I do think we’re allowed to have and share our opinions no matter how we feel.  But for the love of JBL and Bray Wyatt, we should try our best to avoid using superficial words or superfluous exclamations to express our truly profound feelings for the product.  The writers, producers and wrestlers go through a lot to entertain us, but there is a difference between saying a story or storyline is “bad” and that it’s execution was “bad.”  The moment we can express our dislike for the execution of a story is the moment we can begin to look at pro wrestling again as an established form of entertainment for folks all around the world.

After all, the whole world contains stories waiting to be told … including yours.  How would it make YOU feel if somebody else told you the story of your life was “awful?”

Yep … that’s what I thought.

 


You Need Better Architects, WWE

Forget any kind of form… I’m gonna get right to the point: I don’t like Seth Rollins turning on The Shield. Logically I like it a lot less after Rollins was part of Shield beating Evolution TWICE. See, you can do “if you can’t beat em, join em” ad nauseum. How do you make “I beat em twice and joined em afterwards” make a lick of sense?

I was eavesdropping on WWE creative writing Raw.* (*No I wasn’t but follow me)

“Aye I got this idea that will REALLY get people talking!” 

“Speak on it!”

“Aight so… you know how Seth Rollins is called “The Architect of The Shield” and he has a flashy moveset that lends itself to him being a babyface? Let’s have THAT guy turn on the other two.”

“But what about Ambrose’s look and promos lending themselves better to him being a heel?”

“Nah my nigga. And we can’t turn Roman cuz he’s the future of the company as a face. We’ll just say HHH decided to offer him a truck full of money to turn on his cohorts he was keeping together not three months ago.”

I can’t wrap my head around how it makes any sense to fight someone one night after you’ve spent a month beating them up and getting beaten up by them… then join them.

If you read my shit, I been saying the last two months that Evolution was going to eventually add a member or two and I’ve said there are a few people I think would fit. I also said I’m tired of the tired notion that a babyface turns heel to join the heels. The Ashley Morris didn’t see the turn coming like me. I tried to told my nigga. I knew it was coming the SECOND Roman Reigns said they were brothers.

I’m not angered by this heel turn. I only feel like it was done for the sake of shock value. Everyone who gets legit angry at booking decisions kind of misses the point that sometimes your favorite wrasslin promotion WANTS to piss you off. Also, there was nowhere to go but down for the collective known as The Shield. They debuted by beating up every top star in wrasslin but Brock Lesnar. They won the midcard titles and that was a step down for them! It’s too soon for them to fight over the WWE WHC, so the only solution is dissolution. They gave us many great matches and moments.

When I look at The Shield, I thought Ambrose was going to be the biggest star until Reigns started taking the reins. Rollins was going to be a spot monkey who was IC caliber at best. This development is great for him because Evolution represents champions and future champions. If this is booked right, which we have no reasonable expectation that it will be, Seth Rollins will be a world champion, multiple times. Like everyone who was part of Evolution. This feud can continue for another month or two. Orton and Rollins vs Reigns and Ambrose. It might be overkill if Ambrose joins Evolution too. Which means it may well happen.


Raw Review 5/26/2014

First things first, WWE is making a mistake by caring so much what trends on Twitter and what the fans say on there. The customer is NOT always right and never is this more clear than the overanalysis and criticism of programming I watch people force themselves to watch. Tonight, there was a playoff basketball game on. People still watched Raw and said the show was terrible. I didn’t see a terrible show. I thought it was solid with one glaring booking error I will bitch about in detail later. WWE is trying to put together a mass market product that appeals to a wide swath of the populace, not realizing it is a niche thing at best. People talk about how wrasslin at its height had 12 million viewers a week and now that’s down to either a quarter or third of that. What percentage of 7 billion is 12 million? I could google this… but nah. Anyway, I DO think WWE should focus on appealing to hardcore fans. Getting back the idiots who suffer through things like TNA Impact swearing they’re better than all us WWE marks.

All that said… RIP Brad Maddox. I think the GM position is completely unnecessary with The Authority being a thing and a regular presence on Raw if not SmackDown. Speaking of SmackDown, I was pleased to see WWE recap things that happened on the B show after I bitched in the LEWD facebook group about it. Anyway… I was glad to see Maddox go, even though recent WWE history says we can be subject to Maddox forcing his way back into a job by suing for wrongful termination and being physically abused by his boss as HHH slugged him one before The Demon/Director of Operations chokeslammed and tombstoned him. Please, Based WWE Creative Gods… do better…

Stephanie McMahon is the best heel in the business. Her presence on Raw nerfs all heel heat HHH gets which by proxy, minimizes the heeldom of everyone else. (As an aside, you can hear Daniel Bryan say out his own mouth that his feud with Orton helped no one on part two of his guest spot on Talk is Jericho) I WISH I was trolling. Stephanie’s evil smile is everything. I never hear her cut a promo and think “ugh someone go take her mic”, to the contrary, the opening segment went down when HHH started repeating stuff about “adapt or perish”.

I think WWE kind of made it obvious John Cena is going over at Payback with their segment where the Wyatt Family attacked JBL and Jerry Lawler. I knew he was going over when they made this a “Last Man Standing” match. Super Cena next to never loses those. Right behind “I Quit” as stips where you’re NOT going to see “Mr. Never Give Up” go down quietly. But he all but guarandamnteed a win, which… Booking 101… you don’t make the babyface, much less the top talent… look bad by making him a liar. My nigga more or less said “Yall outchea attacking innocent people now? You GOTTA be stopped now!” I was wrong about Taker going 22-0, so… they might be misleading us again.

WWE appears to be teasing a conflict between Big E and Rusev. Big E waved Old Glory after Lana did her usual pro-Russia rhetoric and Rusev squashed yet another jabroni. Poor Big E. From IC champ to putting over the new monster heel.

The Divas are getting more storyline and build to their matches in a sense. What I mean, specifically, is as I have pointed out, the reality show is being used to book personal issues between the competitors. Now, if all the ladies could wrassle as good as they look… Anyway… Eva Marie picked up a cheap roll up win over Summer Rae when she was distracted by Layla tonguing down Fandango on the stage. I honestly don’t know what a good payoff to this ‘feud’ would be.

About 6-7 years ago, Drew McIntyre was personally signed by Vince McMahon and designated “The Chosen One”. On this episode… he lost to Torito. A midget luchador dressed as a bull. I’m not mad, just saying.

Daniel Bryan was told to come out and give back the WWE WHC. Then he didn’t. And Stephanie talked about how she COULD strip him of the title but didn’t. But… she could fire his wife for pushing her back when he was loaded into the ambulance. So choose… give up the title or your wife’s job! I feel like this is stupid. Logic black hole. Plus Daniel Bryan essentially said two things that don’t vibe with each other: 1) I’m hurt worse than we thought, I should give up the title because the fans DO deserve an active champ. I’ll be back to win it again! 2) I’m not going to give it up because it spits in the face of the fans that wanted to see me win it. Man, whatever. For the second time in less than six months we don’t have an active champion. Not here for it.

I do like the Paul Heyman influence on Cesaro that I’m seeing. But… they call him “The King of Swing” and he hasn’t swung anybody… because he’s a heel and they don’t want him getting pops from the move that got him a name other than “The Swiss Superman”. Sheamus Brogue Kicked him and shook his hand after he German suflexed (I know how to spell suplex, real niggas say ‘suflex’) RVD with a bridge. Blah.

The horrible booking mistake, in my opinion, is having Alicia Fox lose to fucking Emma going into a title match. I do not want to see Paige retain. I think she needs to fail, and then build back up to properly tell the story of “the girl that won the title on her first night and all the other Divas hate her” because if, and when AJ returns to feud with her, I don’t want her to have kind of sort of buried the division and have the returning heel get a face reaction as sort of a savior from this newbie heffa we barely know anything about. I’m already seeing threads on WrassleZone asking the question “Is Paige the new John Cena?” YOU DO NOT WANT THAT CORRELATION APPLIED TO A FACE YOU WANT OVER. Hell, even Cena has had some booking over the years that was like “I couldn’t win the title for a year or two” and he’s had rivalries with guys like Edge and Randy Orton that have defined his career. Losing to The Rock was like the impetus to tell the “worst year of my life” story. I think Paige could benefit from putting Miss Foxy over and having to overcome her crazy to ultimately be ready for the crazy AJ will bring upon her return.

There was a contract signing between The Shield and Evolution. Of course there was a brawl afterwards. There is never NOT a brawl or at least a finisher or two after one of these otherwise pointless segments. Roman Reigns got triple powerbombed through a table. I feel like Evolution is ripping off The Shield too much with that move and the group fist bump thing. Anyway, I look forward to their match, which no matter how good it is, in and of itself, I think most of us smart marks see this as the perfect opportunity to introduce a new member or two to the group. 

That’s all I got to say about that, and that’s the bottom line… because a real nigga said so!


RAW Review 5-26-14, a.k.a. “When Life Gives You Lemons…”

"Woo Woo Woo," said very few about Episode 1096 of WWE Monday Night RAW. | Photo © 2014 WWE Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“Woo Woo Woo,” said very few about Episode 1096 of WWE Monday Night RAW. | Photo © 2014 WWE Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Episode 1096 of Monday Night RAW is in the bag and the stage has been set for Payback, this Sunday’s appropriately themed WWE “special event.”  Normally the go-home show for any wrestling sports entertainment pay per view “special event” would create intrigue and excitement among fans in a way that cajoles us to drop the necessary $60 to order the event from our local cable or satellite service provider.  Unfortunately times have changed since the 80s and much like Zack Ryder’s Last ReZort, interest has waned severely in “ordering” special events and in the WWE’s product.

It’s easy for us to place the blame solely on WWE for producing a lifeless, lackluster product that resembles a post-recognizable-name episode of Saturday Night Live than a pro wrestling broadcast.  Truth be told the promotion has seen better days; the problem is that a lot of us “fans” think of “better days” as being that Attitude Era-ish time period where pro wrestling was on fire for more than the sole reason that it was “great”  There were some great things that happened in that era that showcased the skill of some phenomenal superstars, but it was also during a time period where the concept of an iPod would’ve gotten you sentenced to death by firing squad.  In effect, the Attitude Era drastically altered our expectations as pro wrestling “fans,” and has transformed us into the insatiable brats we are today.

And yes, I used the word “WE” because WE are all “fans.”

Let’s just be real with one another: yes, RAW for the last few weeks has been slightly underwhelming, something that most diehard fans wouldn’t rush home to see.  Then again with the invention of DVR-ing, is there really ever a need to “rush home” to watch anything nowadays?  For yours truly, however, RAW has remained a staple on Monday nights since the very first episode in January 1994.  YES, I am one of those guys who will watch RAW regardless of how the supposed masses review the “quality” of the show.  Some would say fans like myself are mindless and dumb, which seems absolutely ridiculous seeing as the average reading ability of folks living in the United States is at the fourth grade level and strong segment of the population has at least made it to the tenth grade … but I digress.

So yes, RAW has been underwhelming for some time but it is a far cry from being bad or terrible as some have claimed it to be.  The problem is that our expectations of what the show should be don’t necessarily match what’s actually produced on the show.  We still want Attitude Era-ish shenanigans and when we don’t get them, we immediately pan everything they throw at us and label the product as something horrible.  It’s really the equivalent of a temper tantrum from a small league of grown ass fans.

I contend that our expectations are all over the place, relying on our desire to see what we like instead of being specific about what we want, which are two very different things in and of themselves.  We want to see more attention given to the Divas Division and its superstars, but we like seeing scantily clad Divas with big boobs parading around the area.  We want to see compelling and action-packed storylines with drama, twists and turns, but we like seeing simplified conflicts with certain superstars dominating the main event and three hour broadcasts. We want to see new wrestlers and characters, but we like seeing the same old guys doing the same old stuff.  The gray area for pleasing all fans is quite small and tumultuous, and I do not envy those tasked with making RAW or Smackdown or NXT or Main Event or Superstars happen each and every week from a creative direction, because they have to put on a show whether or not we fickle fans like it.

The cool thing about WWE in particular and all promotions in general is that they always provide us with entertainment even as we pick apart the most miniscule of details in the product, and a lot of times they provide us fans with the very thing we want andlike, and we willingly choose to ignore it just to focus on highlighting our opinions and point of views.  We can’t truly enjoy the product because we’re too busy enjoying picking it apart; I’ll be the first to admit here that I’ve been guilty of that often and even wrote to defend such a perspective.  However, it’s one thing to be a “fan” that turns a blind eye to haphazard writing and terrible booking and it’s a completely different thing to trade in one’s perspective as a “fan” for the false glamor that comes with the emptiness of complaining about a lack of substance without offering an alternative solution.

With these things in mind, here’s what stood out to me during Episode 1096 of Monday Night RAW:

  • Wyatt vs. Cena: Missing the Picture
  • Adam Rose and Alicia Fox: Missing the Picture
  • Payback “special event;” Missing the Picture
After months of taunting and battles, Bray Wyatt FINALLY gets the chance to show John Cena how to properly stretch his leg muscles. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

After months of taunting and battles, Bray Wyatt FINALLY gets the chance to show John Cena how to properly stretch his leg muscles. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The ideological feud between Bray Wyatt and John Cena is one of the three top feuds in the promotion at the moment.  I would bet stone cold cash on the fact that most fans have completely missed the fact that John Cena has taken a less prominent roll in the promotion for some time now and has used his energy and charisma to build up younger stars.  In this case, his protege Bray Wyatt has benefited greatly from the rub.

Here’s a tweet that I put out earlier which expresses a part of the confusion surrounding the Wyatt/Cena feud:

5-27-14Tweet_RAWIt wasn’t that long ago when Vince McMahon shocked the pro wrestling world by reportedly stating that there were no more “faces or heels” in his promotion’s product, effectively saying what Vince Russo had been saying all along: there are no good guys or bad guys, just characters who will fluctuate between the moral and immoral depending on the circumstances they are in.  The Wyatt/Cena feud showcases that blurred line of logic to a tee, but its approach seems to be somewhat more cerebral than most can handle.

While it has become slightly inorganic for Wyatt to include his youth-friendly gospel song into each promo or talking segment, his verbal sparring with Cena centers around the notion of one cult of personality battling another.  Bray Wyatt is forthright in saying that the Cult of HLR is filled with empty promises and false hope, while John Cena spends more time defaming the Wyatt Family’s system of belief while once again ignoring anyone who supports or opposes his own tried and true beliefs.  Both men believe in their own ideals, and yet Wyatt is the one saying “join me” while Cena says “eff all y’all, I’m a bawse!”  And somehow, somewhere … we’re being told to believe that Wyatt is the bad guy … at least he has some interest in people believing in him.

All this is to say that the crux of this feud is lost in translation, mired down by the weight of cryptic promos and lofty dialogue.  But this is what we fans wanted, right?  We want those deep, introspective storylines that push the boundaries of what we’re use to seeing, right?  This whole storyline is much more than being about Guy A hating Guy B and wanting to fight; the Wyatt Family has lost a good number of matches against Cena and yet they don’t seem to be bothered with that inasmuch as they are with the fact that they haven’t completely decimated the Cult of HLR …

Look for their match this Sunday to be “bowling shoe ugly” as Jim Ross has said.  After years of listening to John Cena’s spiel and praying feverishly to the wrestling gods for his demise, I can only be baffled as to why someone would not want to purchase the special even to see how this turns out.  If that isn’t your cup of tea, there’s always Matt Hardy and his ICONIC Championship.

Come come now, people! Don't be a lemon ... #BeAStar | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Come come now, people! Don’t be a lemon … #BeAStar | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Pro wresting is based on characters, point blank.  Characters dominate sports entertainment and sports so much that you’d be hard-pressed nowadays to find athletes in the public square that are just as well-rounded and normal as you or I.  Think about it: Tim Tebow made waves not just because he was a standout college athlete but also because his deeply rooted Christian beliefs made him a target of mockery by football fans in our supposed “Christian” nation.  All these behind the scenes shows were created for boxers which show the personality of these “characters” outside of two dudes who are punching the hell out of each other for money and a championship.  Each UFC fighter is a “character,” NASCAR drivers are “characters;” it just is what it is.

When it comes to pro wrestling, however, there is a need for characters that aren’t necessarily your straight forward, “I’m going to wrestle you to death” types of superstars.  This is where Adam Rose comes in to play, a wrestler with a colorful entrance and a wacky entourage that makes you pay attention.  The issue is, however, that this campy gimmick doesn’t sit well with those stoic, emotionless fans who watch Frank Gotch matches all day long.  The same thing applies to Alicia Fox’s character direction, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

For those of you that don’t know, Ray Leppan South African wrestler that portrays Adam Rose, and prior to receiving this Aldous Snow reminiscent gimmick he successfully brought life and meaning to Leo Kruger, his FCW and NXT persona that went from simply boring (along with Damien Sandow, point of fact) to simply intense and intriguing.  The Leo Kruger of NXT is the Kruger I preferred, a creepy South African poacher/big game hunter with a seriously bitchin’ theme song:

When I first heard that Kruger was getting a makeover, the only thing I knew very little about Russell Brand other than the notion that I despised the idea of Kruger being neutered just when he was getting over (with me) as a character.  After seeing Adam Rose debut on NXT, my mind was changed when I realized why this character development happened.  Leppan began his stint in WWE’s FCW developmental promotion in 2010 and stayed during the promotion’s shift to NXT and Full Sail University.  Between 2010 and 2014, the Kruger character was the primary character portrayed by Ray Leppan, which implies that despite development and growth, Leppan had only portrayed one type of character  in four years while signed with WWE.  The Adam Rose experiment, in my mind, was a way to see if Leppan could do more and be more than just an multifaceted yet one dimensional character.

Lo and behold, Adam Rose makes it to the main roster (after 4 years in developmental when tons of stars are lucky to make it to or past two years) after his gimmick does well on house shows and at Full Sail University (*cough cough Hi Emma cough cough*).  With barely a full month in on the main roster, why have fans panned the character as “not working” when he hasn’t even seen a real strong feud yet?  Worst of all, are you seriously telling me we’d opt to see the wrestling poacher than this quirky character and his cast of crazy cohorts?  Seriously, where in the twenty-first century wrestling world is it “okay” for wrestling carnies and not for Adam Rose?

TNA's The Menagerie: (from L to R) The Freak, Knux, Rebel, and Crazzy Steve.

TNA’s The Menagerie: (from L to R) The Freak, Knux, Rebel, and Crazzy Steve.

Also of concern is the direction for Alicia Fox, who has taken to post-match fits of confusion to express her happiness or frustration with a win or loss.  From Diet Coke soda baths to giving members of the ring crew wedgies, fans have voiced their displeasure with Ms. Foxy’s development as a character because it … well I don’t know exactly why they don’t like the direction she’s headed in.

As one wrestling pundit put it online, it does make you pay attention to the Divas and their division.  For years fans have clamored for the division to be paid attention to, and even with the success of the E Network’s Total Divas show, fans still screamed for the division to be more than just a reason to acquire B-Roll for the WWE’s reality show.  Alicia Fox gives you just that with the newly crowned and very young Divas Champion Paige … and that’s a bad thing?

Pro wrestling has always had characters; from Ric Flair to the Macho King, Mr. Perfect to Roddy Piper, Sting to Kerry Von Erich, there’s no escaping the necessity of a persona to add flavor to a fight between two individuals.  There’s a place for the Daniel Bryans and Gail Kims just as there is a place for the Bad Influences and RD Evans.  Everybody can’t be straight forward like Lance Storm and Dean Malenko, and the more we try to pigeonhole our stars into being the next iterations of Stone Cold and Trish Stratus, the more of a disservice we do the superstars who bust their butts to be the first versions of themselves.  Just think about it: everybody is nuts about the way Dolph Ziggler is being treated currently, but how many of those same fans talked down about the name “Dolph Ziggler” when he disappeared from The Spirit Squad as Nicky and as Kerwin White’s caddy, Nick Nemeth?  Exactly.

The Shield vs. Evolution in a No DQ Match at this Sunday's special event, Payback. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Shield vs. Evolution in a No DQ Match at this Sunday’s special event, Payback. | Photo © 2014 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I wouldn’t rate the build up to this year’s Payback as something spectacular and worth writing home about, but we must acknowledge that by its name this special event is directly related to the special event that preceded it … in this case, WrestleMania XXX.  If it seems like a lot of the matches are simply rematches from the last special event, then hey … maybe that’s by design.

We can’t neglect to consider that most promotions seemed hell bent on pushing their television deals, which is something that even TNA really began doing four years ago when Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan joined the company.  If this is true by any stretch of the imagination, it then makes sense for these special events to look and feel like special television broadcasts.  Fans and pundits hate this because we’re accustomed to pay per views being climaxes or blow offs to feuds, or at least explosive continuations of on-going storylines and creative directions.  From that perspective, the TV shows should drive viewers to order the pay per views, and the pay per views should segue in some form back to the television shows.  Such is rarely the case nowadays, as the pay per views (or special events) usually drive people back to the television shows, while the television shows do almost little to hype or push the pay per views (or special events).

The question remains: what is pro wrestling pay per view supposed to be?  Four years ago the suits at TNA tried to convince us that the twelve pay per view per year model was asinine and that promoting four major shows while having seven monthly “special events” (because that’s really what the One Night Only pay per views are if you want to be technical about it) was the wave of the future.  Hell, they even went as far as to promote pay per view themed episodes of Impact.  Other wrestling promotions went the iPPV route, and others are just now walking into the pay per view fray just as WWE settles into its special event format on the WWE Network.  With all of these options and changes to the way pro wrestling is presented, what do we expect a pay per view or special even to be?

If you’re paying $9.99 per month for the WWE Network, what should a special event be to be worth your $9.99 that month?  If you’re paying $60 a month to watch a special event, what should that special event be to be worth your money?  If you’re pirating the special event, what should it be to be worth your time and pirating efforts?  If you’re attending a live show and you paid in advance for your tickets, purchased tons of merchandise at the tables and waited in the special VIP lines to get a picture with your favorite superstar or Diva, what would that special event be to be worth all of your efforts?

The best and only answer is … entertaining.  How that special event is entertaining will depend on the person you’re talking to, but we all have our own reasons for wanting to watch the show even as we move heaven and earth to try to convince other people not to watch it.  If we really thought and believed the special event wasn’t worth our time and money, would I be sitting here writing this post and would you be reading it?  Absolutely not.

Get over it; watch the special event and enjoy the spectacle as it directs our attention back to next Monday night and the road to July’s Money In the Bank special event.

But those are just my thoughts; what do YOU think?

 


Nothing Personal: The Ballad of Muhammad Hassan

I’m listening to the Steve Austin Show. I love the business of professional wrestling more than any other form of entertainment. I inundate myself with horrible writing on the dirtsheets, lies that sound true nshit. I listen to all these wrassler podcasts on Podcast One. I’m watching all the documentaries and DVDs. Anyway… immersing yourself in something to this degree, smartens you up. When I first started writing on this site, I was closer to being the morons in the IWC I claimed to detest. The Quinn Gammon was right. I wanted everyone to turn heel or face and half the roster to win all the time. I realize now what I always craved was compelling personal issues. And unfortunately, there is a certain limit WWE has. Ask Muhammad Hassan.

After 9/11, some genius working for WWE thought… “What could be more perfect to draw heat, than to play on the sensitivities of the main audience, America… than to have an arrogant Arab Muslim and his homies, beat down The Undertaker of all people, and make it look like a terrorist attack, as their faces are covered and they even kneel to pray to Allah?” And then UPN bitched about all the negative attention it drew. WWE is a publicly traded company and a slave to corporate sponsorship. Compare this to how when Jerry Lawler had Andy Kaufman in his territory, the tv station called him to say they couldn’t show Kaufman’s promos anymore because people were threatening to burn the tv station down. The business is on such a higher level and profile now, that it kind of cannibalizes itself. I see so many people say things now like “WWE won’t do another Nation of Domination because they don’t want to offend anyone.” I remember CNN or someone talked about Zeb Colter’s thinly veiled racist promos building to a match with a Mexican. And you can clearly see that over time, they watered down The Real Americans. The last angle I can think of that really pissed people off, was when CM Punk was the straight-edge savior. Claiming that his lifestyle made him better than everyone. The most fucked up thing about this, is it all built to him fighting a fan favorite who was known to have drug problems! When I watch Bray Wyatt ranting and raving, sometimes incoherently, and the parts that make sense are true… How am I supposed to hate someone that’s telling the truth? CM Punk was mostly a cool heel because he told the truth. When he feuded with Randy Orton, I rooted for Orton despite the fact that when Punk was WHC, Orton and Legacy took him out. At the time Punk helmed the New Nexus and could exact revenge. I feel like there isn’t much money in grey. We need clear black and white.

When HHH was cutting promos building to his match with Bryan at Mania, he said we were in the ‘Reality Era’. I thought that was brilliant because there was such surrealism in the words he used to run down Daniel. My problem with that is… I’m not supposed to fucking agree with the heel. I’m not supposed to go into a big show hoping the heel succeeds at suppressing the upward mobility of a babyface. And there I was, feeling like “HHH is RIGHT. Daniel Bryan is a hell of a talent. But top guy? Naaaaaahhhhhhh.” It worked because, going in, I watched my twitter feed seriously doubt Bryan would even go over on HHH, much less win the main event. Sometimes predictable is good, because wrasslin as a business can only succeed if it makes the fans want to see something and deliver. That doubt that existed was perfect. I saw people @ the WWE twitter account to say they were going to stop watching and not buy the network if Bryan didn’t win. HHH’s heel heat was great. I just wonder if there was a way to sell the match without a part of me hoping either he’d win, or one of his friends would finish the babyface in the main event. Going back five years… Orton terrorized HHH’s family. But I hated HHH for holding Orton back in Evolution. So, similar to his feud with Punk, Orton did dastardly things… but at the same time, you felt like he deserved to get his revenge. And… as I recall, no one enjoyed their matches at that time. There may or may not be a correlation.

These days I think you have to go beyond where WWE is willing to go to really make you want to see someone get their ass beat. No one wants to see Bad News Barrett or Bray Wyatt or Evolution get beat the fuck up. I think more people talk about and want to see wrasslin if you give them a reason to want to see the bad guys lose. If WWE followed through with the Muhammad Hassan thing… not many people were going to hope he went over one on one. And if there was a stip that allowed the terrorists to whip Taker’s ass the show doesn’t go off the air with people singing or chanting or cheering.


Beyond Good and Evil: Titan Towers Tumbling Down

I’ve been going through some things lately, but to quote the great Scott Hall: “Bad times don’t last, but bad guys DO!” I ain’t shit, so I’m going to be alright. I’ve been immersing myself in the world of professional wrestling. My best friend let me borrow the Raw After the Show discs. Entertaining stuff. Some would say, more entertaining than the current product. I hate THOSE fans. The ones that paid for the Network, watch every show and claim it’s all bad. I can get lost in the universe that is the WWE because I love it. I don’t get the people that watch and you can tell they hate it. I love/hate Mark Madden. Love and hate defines wrasslin.

I respect people who are opinionated and stand behind the shit they say. Their ramblings tend to be entertaining at the very least. I won’t talk about how Madden was a trash announcer for a trash wrasslin product, so he thinks he knows everything about how and why EVERYTHING is trash now. (Oops.) I literally read everything he writes on WrassleZone looking forward to reading about how more people used to be wrestling fans than are currently watching. How pretty much every talent in WWE won’t draw a dime, ANNNNNNNND WWE should stop bringing back past stars. Adam Rose has appeared on Raw like three times and I read Madden’s piece saying the gimmick is terrible and he’s another Fandango in the making.

Wrasslin fans have to stop judging talents ceilings based on their current gimmicks. Who the FUCK saw record breaking buyrates, attendance and merch sales when The Ringmaster debuted? Were you electrified by the high flying smiling Rocky Maivia? Did you think the current Dolph Ziggler would be a two time champion when he was in Spirit Squad? So. Many. Examples. I believe I have made my point. Rusev could be a future top guy. He could become the next Great Khali or Ryback too. We don’t know at the moment. (I think, at the moment, he reminds me of Great Khali in that he has a menacing presence but one dumb ass gimmick later and now he’s just that limited guy who debuted strong.) To be perfectly honest, I think WWE has too much talent. If everybody is somebody then really everybody is nobody. In a short period of time, we’ve been introduced to Emma, Paige, Rusev, Adam Rose and Bo Dallas is re-debuting. Guys who were JUST getting pushed or at least booked somewhat strong will be fed to the new guys. It’s an interesting time to be a wrasslin fan.

I believe gimmicks are important to the success of the wrasslers, but if you’ve been reading my shit, you know that I think writing/booking is the most important ingredient. When I look back at Fandango, he was given a debut at the biggest show there is in the sport of professional wrestling. He beat a highly decorated and regarded superstar in Chris Jericho. He danced to the ring with Summer Rae (and that brunette chick The Christopher resents her for replacing). His entrance theme was over. They were going to put the IC title on him. He got concussed. WWE decided to put the title on Curtis Axel. A guy who is average to mediocre at everything. So they slapped the ‘Paul Heyman guy’ label on him and had him lose several times to CM Punk. Then he dropped the IC title to Big E, a guy who literally has had NO storylines. PERIOD. He went from Ziggler and AJ’s heavy… to the black guy whose theme was better before they remixed it. Who needs new ring gear. Bad. He rarely gets to talk, so the most interesting thing about him is that he claps powder upon hitting the stage. He dropped the IC title recently… and is just THERE. See how I tied that all together? Let me advance my point further.

Emotion is everything in wrasslin. The moments we remember… we either remember them for how fucking horrible they were… or because they made us FEEL something. People in the IWC use the words ‘connect with the fans’ a lot. Most WWE superstars don’t make any connection whatsoever. (Hi, Dolph Ziggler!) You can have all the workrate and mic skills in the fucking world… if I have no reason to care about you, one way or the other… you’re just a guy. Personal issues make feuds. Only so far you can go with “I want to be the best, I want to be the champion!” Last summer, there were three major feuds going into SummerSlam. Daniel Bryan versus Cena. Brock Lesnar versus CM Punk. AJ versus Kaitlyn. The only one I remember favorably was AJ versus Kaitlyn.

In case you don’t remember: AJ and Kaitlyn had nearly a year of build. Kaitlyn was the friend that tried to help AJ get over Daniel Bryan dumping her. AJ slapped her on multiple occasions for trying to help. I believe Kaitlyn took the Divas title from Eve Torres before she left, and AJ knew she could get in Kaitlyn’s head and take her title. She had Big E be her fake secret admirer. You really wanted to see Kaitlyn beat the brakes off that girl, even if you were a fan of hers. You would recoil every time AJ sold that spear like she was SHOT. Personal issues. The Divas division, lowest of keys, tells the best stories in the fucking company. THE FUCKING DIVAS DIVISION IS A JOKE AND AN AFTERTHOUGHT AND ALMOST EVERY MATCH HAS MORE BUILD IF NOT MORE IMPORTANCE THAN ALMOST EVERY OTHER MATCH ON THE CARD!!!!!

No one watches wrasslin because these are the best actors or actresses in the world. If you tell a compelling enough story where we have a real reason to feel bad for someone or hate someone, all is forgiven. Kaitlyn is a horrible actress and it did not detract from that story one iota. Fans defecated on the Daniel Bryan and Kane feud because they felt Bryan should not fear for his wife’s safety, he should just beat up ‘the monster’. So the PPV they were building to would have no payoff. You niggas is stoopidt. I don’t watch TNA but the stink of TNA is all over the idea that Roman Reigns should join Evolution. The Shield have been faces for five minutes and you want to turn the potentially biggest star of the group heel. I DID see a good idea that centered around Reigns eventually turning on HHH and winning the gold… just not a fan of that sort of booking. Speaking of booking, The Shield are getting booked too strongly at the moment. Getting a push is one thing, getting pushed off a cliff is another. How are we supposed to believe in The Shield getting beaten down by three men when we’ve seen them beat up half the locker room? HHH actually uttered the words “we accept your rematch to the match you already won” BECAUSE THERE’S NOWHERE TO FUCKING GO WHEN THE BABYFACE DRAWS FIRST BLOOD! The heels are supposed to make you think the face is down and out so you can get into it when they show some fire and ultimately overcome. We kinda just went through a successful version of this, actually. Yes. Yes, we did. ;) ;) Contrary to everything I just said, everything about Cena’s feud with the Wyatts has been compelling to me but the matches themselves. They’ve ‘protected’ Cena too much as he nearly won a 3 on 1 CLEAN. Then lost the cage match because of all the interference in the world. WWE… no… WRASSLIN… has always hyped a cage match as the ultimate in “There will be no outside interference cuz the cage will keep them out” matches. There is no reason to hope that all three Wyatts can possibly keep Cena down for a ten count. I honestly can’t summarize why Evolution and Shield are fighting. The shit seems SO thrown together. The matches are great though. Cena versus Bray Wyatt is all about how Wyatt is a cult leader and Cena doesn’t want us to drink the kool aid, but the matches themselves could use tightening up. Interesting.

I didn’t like how The Shield nullified Evolution’s attempt to stack the deck last week. HHH is COO, so it makes sense that he could make himself guest ring announcer and Orton guest time keeper. Shield’s explanation of “Oh we made Brad Maddox make us guest commentators before we beat his ass” is pure trash. The Shield are over because wrasslin fans are stupid. They could be MORE over if WWE let them get beat the fuck up often so we can feel sympathy. More reason to WANT them to overcome the odds, to use an expression so overused in WWE programming I heard Michael Cole scream that in my mind as I typed it. I want to see more matches between these factions so I hope Evolution gets “Payback” ;) ;) … even though according to logic that’s supposed to be the other way around.

For whatever reason WWE is doing brilliant things to get Divas heat. Alicia Fox is one of the most interesting things going in the company and WWE is doing it wrong if she doesn’t take the belt off Paige just to drop it back to her and then lose the rubber match. It will be a heat killer if she draws all this attention to herself and there is NO payoff, she just loses at the PPV. Ho hum. I think that I know that’s coming. Total Divas is being used to tell simple grudge match stories leading into what is otherwise random pairings on tv. Again… the throwaway division of the show is telling the best good versus evil stories. Raw was in London. Layla is a Brit. The pop for Summer Rae kissing Fandango and taking Layla down was great. Simple story. Layla took her man, who is douchey enough that he dumped her on TWITTER. Fans have a reason to want to see Summer Rae get over on them.

So… why should I care about Dolph Ziggler again?

I can’t write a piece about WWE without saying some words about the WWE stock losing over half its value in like two months because people aren’t subscribing to a service that will let you see every PPV and several shows. Kinda like we’re not given a reason to care, eh? Then, while having the leverage of having their own streaming service, WWE negotiated a new TV deal worth 75% less than what they promised shareholders. WWE lost $340,000,000 in one day. I’ve been arguing a lot lately that it’s killing the business that Bad News Barrett and The Wyatt Family are heels getting cheered for doing heel things. You can like a guy because he’s a good worker… but is it good for business if I don’t cry when the hero dies trying to save me?

RVD is a fan favorite. He got one of the biggest pops of the night on Raw. Barrett cracked him in the back of the head with the belt and got a bigger pop only partially because he’s a Brit. He’s gotten over with a gimmick that condescends on the marks. I listened to fans cheer Bray Wyatt saying he is evil. Cesaro and Paul Heyman got cheered as Heyman laid on his back talking about the death of the Queen and the end of The Streak, then Heyman distracted Sheamus so Cesaro could pick up the win. Applause. These developments MIGHT COULD be why it is nearly impossible for WWE to write compelling stories for the superstars…


A Case for The Briscoes

the-briscoes-are-coming-to-dayto-620x350

Pro wrestling in the 21st Century most assuredly falls under the “entertainment” genre, and while this particular categorization of  “the business” by no means negates or diminishes the athleticism, sacrifices, and dedication of the wrestlers, it does create a certain atmosphere that determines by and large how the business functions.

Despite our insistence that pro wrestling is solely about athleticism and abilities, the business as a form of entertainment is also about presentation.  The way in which the product is presented in this day in age can make or break a promotion rather easily and quickly.

If the way the product is presented has an important and specific effect on the business, then the actual product being presented has to look and feel a certain way as well.  Imagine a roster filled with Bastion Boogers or Rosie Lottaloves invading your airwaves five nights a week …

The entertainment business, therefore, is dominated by image; how someone or something looks is important, and consumers are conditioned to buy into those things they find visually and aesthetically pleasing.  In many ways consumers can’t help being vain or superficial, as most things that dominate our lives appeal to our sight first and everything else afterwards.  Pro wrestling is a form of entertainment, and its fans are consumers; even though we consistently pay a promotion to entertain us in many different ways we also subconsciously pay them to see a product that features talent that looks and performs in a way that is visually pleasing to us on the whole, and fans (consumers) on the whole want to see wrestlers that look good while exhibiting their in-ring talents and skills.

This is the reason why WWE continues to hire males that “look” like wrestlers (because there is a specific image that comes to mind when one thinks of a pro wrestler) and women that are/were models or have model-esque looks as a professional athlete.  This is the reason why some TNA fans make casual references to how “hot” a Knockout looks while detailing their pro wrestling curriculum vitae.  This is the reason why some fans can’t be bothered to discuss Jeff Jarrett’s GFW promotion until they first see the promotion in action. The harsh reality of life in these United States, and perhaps in other parts of the world as well, is that we are completely obsessed with looks.

The problem with being so obsessed with looks, particularly in the pro wrestling industry, is that it limits the possibilities of having greatness displayed on a much larger level.  There are endless stories of great wrestlers—women and men—who have had their abilities and potential dismissed because they didn’t have a certain “look.”  Fans will often rally behind the women and men, making video blogs and creating message board discussions about a promotion’s misguided direction for not hiring or pushing a wrestler because they don’t have that “look.”  Within that fervor, however, there still exists some subjectivity as fans will throw their support behind some of these neglected and denied stars and not others.

Hence building a case for Jay and Mark Briscoe, two twenty-something brothers currently wrestling as a tag team in Ring of Honor Wrestling.  The Briscoes are exceptional athletes and wrestlers, gaining kudos for their work in ROH from several pundits and analysts including Jim Ross.  Why is it, then, that the Briscoes have yet to be picked up by WWE or TNA?

briscoes-return-tag-team-action-tomorrow-night-620x350There could be all sorts of reasons as to why neither promotion has bothered to extend a contract to the Briscoe brothers, but a YouTube video posted in 2011 on the Ring of Honor Wrestling YouTube account shows the Briscoes recalling a story from 2009 of their experience with a WWE tryout.  Long story short, the Briscoes were not offered a developmental contract with the promotion because they were not “cosmetically pleasing to suit the WWE’s programming.”  One can only imagine how disrespected and insulted the brothers must have felt to be essentially told that they weren’t “cosmetically pleasing” for WWE’s fans.

As much as such an occurrence serves as fodder for those who despise all things WWE, it remains to be seen why TNA—the unofficial “alternative” to WWE programming—has yet to offer a contract to the brothers or why TNA fans have decided against rallying for the signing of this team to help boost the promotions lackluster tag team division.  Could it be possible that even TNA and its fans find a team such as The Wolves more “cosmetically pleasing” than the Briscoes while some of the best tag team matches in ROH took place between the American Wolves and the Briscoe Brothers?  It’s very possible that the Briscoes were offered a TNA contract and turned it down (and they had at least one match in TNA’s early days), but news of such an occurrence is scarce on the internet and (to my recollection) received no where near the same amount of press as the reports of tryouts and (re-)signings of other stars.

The Briscoes obviously don’t fit the stereotypical mold of what we envision of pro wrestlers; they do, however, have a unique and intentionally different persona that, coupled with their abilities, would make them immediately stand out in the tag division of any promotion they work for.  With tons of model-esque and “polished” wrestlers dominating the industry at this point, it would be more refreshing to see an upstart tag team rampaging through the system as something very different from the norm.  In this sense, hiring the Briscoes would mean much more than meets the eye (pun intended).

It is quite possible that the top two promotions are intimidated by what the Briscoes represent: an obvious and deliberate departure from the established standard in the entertainment business and pro wrestling industry.  This established standard, a crippling adherence to looks and style over substance, makes the industry slaves to a consumerist’s illogical perception of beauty and looks.  The business as a form of entertainment, ruled by finances and revenue, will only present those things consumers are willing to pay to see.  Fans will not pay to see anything that isn’t “cosmetically pleasing,” and the desire to deviate from that standard is about as enthralling as a prostate exam from an agitated Wolverine …

"Now now now...this is for YOUR benefit..." | Photo: eatsleeppro.wordpress.com

“Now now now…this is for YOUR benefit…” | Photo: eatsleeppro.wordpress.com

In the end (pun intended), the Briscoes and us fans lose out on so much simply because major promotions aren’t ballsy enough to buck the system, a system that depends our our dollars; unfortunately, when it comes to the entertainment industry, we will notpay for anything we don’t like … and people in this country do not likethings that aren’t deemed pretty.

There is nothing “pretty” about what the Briscoes do in the squared circle.

These two blue-collar brothers hail from Laurel, Delaware and are billed as being from Sandy Fork, both of which are located in Sussex County.  According to the Sussex County website, Western Sussex County (in which Laurel is located) is notable for being “the backbone of Delaware’s agriculture industry with more acres of arable land under cultivation than anywhere else in the state.” Both Jay and Mark make no bones about growing up and living on a farm (a chicken farm at that, of which Sussex County is also known for being “the birthplace of the broiler chicken industry”), and the promos from these two tattooed, Confederate flag waving rebels are often laced with profanity and the type of drawl you’d expect from two country boys that grew up in the pre-integrated South:

 

What’s most refreshing about the Briscoes is that they are authentically being themselves; the “characters” they portray as wrestlers are not drastically different from who they are in real life … which could potentially be a PR nightmare for any promotion dealing with family-friendly investors.  While their rough-around-the-edges persona could be “difficult” for business, their work ethic and in-ring abilities speak for themselves and the possibilities for fresh match-ups against other teams in TNA and WWE warrant some consideration of investment from both promotions.  Their no-frills, get-er-done mentality, coupled with their surprisingly finessed and incredibly crisp ring work, could easily remind fans of the Dudley Boyz from ECW, two also not-ready-for-prime-time wrestlers who prior to their time in the WWE were also far from being “cosmetically pleasing.” It also doesn’t hurt that both of the brothers are only peeking at 30 years old.

The issue is whether or not there’s anyone in either promotion that is willing to invest on a long shot in the way they did with other stars (CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Orlando Jordan … ).  A bigger issue is whether or not we fans can collectively stand behind and support the signing of two wrestlers who’ve earned the opportunity to showcase their skills on a bigger stage.  Fans proudly fancy themselves as being decidedly against the superficial politics of pro wrestling (such as in the case of WWE’s alleged issue with Mickie James’ “weight gain” five years ago); we must be aware that we feed into that same superficiality  when our support for wrestlers is unequally yoked from our own superficial subjectivity.

The entertainment business and much of our U.S. society focuses too much on looking good, often times at the expense of substance and quality.  Our spending power and dollars feed the machines that promote the importance of how something looks over how it functions.  If we ever desire for real change to occur in pro wrestling, we have got to have change our priorities which will significantly change how and where we spend our money.  The moment that change occurs, the promotions will see and acknowledge that the quality of the product and the athletes who sacrifice their lives to entertain us are far more important than whether or not they are “cosmetically pleasing.”  That change, however, has to happen inside of us fans … and unfortunately it’s a change that will take some time to happen, unless the promotions themselves choose to buck the system and truly be different in what they do and offer us for entertainment.  Hiring the Briscoes, be it in WWE or TNA, would be one huge step in that direction.

To quote Jay and Mark Briscoe, perhaps is far past time for these major promotions and us fans to “Man Up” and truly clamor for something different than the cookie cutter standard that’s loosing viewers and revenue as we speak.

 

 

 


The Mortality of The Immortals

I’m up late, watching back WrassleMania XXX. I nearly cried seeing Ultimate Warrior come out, weeks after his untimely passing. Then I notice that he clutched his chest several times just waving to the audience. Shit. Brock Lesnar and Undertaker come out to do battle. I’m still somewhat in disbelief that The Streak is over. Remembering that after this match, Vince McMahon rode with Taker to the hosp… medical facility. As I write this sentence I remember how Daniel Bryan was Batista Bombed and RKOed through the Spanish announce table and just a few days ago had neck surgery. Our heroes don’t outlive us because they shorten their lives for our entertainment.

So many necks have been broken. Edge. Kurt Angle. Lita. Chris Benoit. Droz. Stone Cold Steve Austin. These are just names I know off the top of my head. There are so many names that I’ll never hear because they got hurt in training or something. We fans bitch about Hell in a Cell being watered down, as if we didn’t see Mick Foley’s tooth in his fucking nostril. We don’t really give a fuck about the lifespan or quality of life of these performers. I include myself in that. I’m thankful that Hulk Hogan tore up his tailbone and shortened himself three inches doing the leg drop for my entertainment. We don’t care if guys are shortening their lives with PEDs or with high spots. I think it’s interesting that WWE superstars can be broken down to one of those two categories.

One of the criticisms of Batista upon his return is that he looks much smaller. I think that’s smart on his part, to be leaner. Because he’s knocking on 50, it doesn’t help his cause of being able to bump and have a half decent workrate to be 300 plus. The prototypical WWE superstar is over six feet tall and 250. Hulk Hogan was 6’7 300ish and the greatest to ever do it, if you ask me. There wouldn’t BE XXX WrassleManias without him. And now he can’t work a match if he wanted because his knees are bad.

The last two indy darlings to hold the WWE title, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan… CM Punk missed a PPV because he hurt his knee. Daniel Bryan will be out a month or two because he hurt his neck. High spots are a part of their repertoires. The elbow off the top rope, the flying headbutt, missile dropkicks, springboard lariats, suicide dives etc. That shit tears the body up. WWE fans nowadays don’t want to see plodding brawls between behemoths. They like the flying Usos. Seth Rollins. Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler. These guys won’t have longevity. Look at Rey Mysterio. His knees are GONE. He is sad for me to watch. I’ve seen him come BACK from being hurt… limping around. That’s what’s going to happen to all these guys who like flying around, bumping like there’s no tomorrow. Considering the lifespan of wrasslers… there might not be.

Eddie Guerrero ODed on painkillers. My nigga was doing frog splashes every night. Chris Benoit killed himself and his family after years of doing flying headbutts. He was said to have the brain of a man two or three times his age. It’s something seriously wrong with you if you don’t feel some kind of guilt about being entertained by these guys killing themselves on tv and PPV and at house shows. RIP Owen Hart. Your sacrifice will not be forgotten.


Time For Real Talk

I disappeared off the ratchet wrasslin writing planet simply because things I’m seeing in WWE’s product and rumors on the dirtsheets are pissing me off. After a couple of weeks or so of just watching as a fan and not critically I’m ready to get back to complaining about every damn thing WWE does.

Shoutout to The Ashley Morris for his last piece, which I unofficially contributed to. Yes, I’m a egomaniac. Anyway… yeah. Yall gotta stfu crying about Daniel Bryan being scared of Kane as though the feud has been mostly about Kane trying to rape his wife. Crying like Bryan didn’t beat him clean at Extreme Rules. I knew you marks would start turning on Bryan first chance you got. When Bryan loses the belt, you’ll complain no matter who he loses it to, or how. Then want him to win it again. Just to start the cycle of complaining about his booking again. WWE is actually booking him as THE guy, and you’re complaining. You marks don’t understand what a ‘work’ is eh? Lemme hip you to a fact. Kane… has a horror movie coming out soon. What BETTER way to promote a horror flick… than to have a monster chase a pretty white girl, and her man has to save her from him? Bryan has simply been a good hand and helping sell the fact that Kane is a monster. Stay woke, niggas.

The thing that has pissed me off the most? Cesaro’s new theme is complete trash! WWE books him as a heel while wanting to put him over as a face! His manager trolls the fans about Brock Lesnar breaking the streak and NEVER extolls his virtues. All HE gets is “The King of Swing, Cesaro” All of which, predictably, sets up Paul Heyman guy vs Angry Former Paul Heyman Guy Part 2. Look here. I been saying since last year I see future world champion all over Cesaro. He is getting over. He has no merch. (vis a vis a tshirt or something he actually wears) Not one catchphrase. Just a great worker. So, basically, you have a short, muscular bald guy with 1/3 of Daniel Bryan’s tools. And yall know I don’t think that highly of HIM. So… what this stinks of to me, is WWE is going to force Cesaro on us before he is ready for his close up. Then, he will be his old tag team partner, Jack Swagger. Who has no merch, no catchphrase of his own, and can wrestle a broom. WE THE PEOPLE… deserve (a word I hate) to have our superstars built organically. I see that WWE plans to have Cesaro go over on Brock Lesnar, probably as soon as SummerSlam, and I think that is fucking retarded. Let me count the reasons.

- The Undertaker’s Streak, was an attraction in and of itself. Every year at WrassleMania, there were gonna be three or four matches that sell the show. His was one. So you will piss on that legacy by having the guy who ended it… lose immediately?

- Cesaro is not yet at top attraction level yet. Brock Lesnar is top five in the company. Having him do a job to a guy not on the level of Cena or HHH, who he has lost to in his return, diminishes him as a part-time attraction.

- As I type this, Brock Lesnar is 4-2 since his return. Two wins over HHH, one filthy win over CM Punk, broke Taker’s Streak. Lost to Cena and HHH, as forementioned. So. You want to make him a mediocre 4-3?

If you give me the book, I’d have Brock Lesnar beat whomever at the Rumble. Defend the belt in the Elimination Chamber. Drop the belt to the Royal Rumble winner, Roman Reigns at Mania. Then I’d break up The Shield because jealousy and whatnot. Green though Reigns may be, The Shield collectively have feuded with every major star in WWE and not looked the least bit out of place. Reigns is slated to have a match with HHH at SummerSlam. Cesaro is, as I write this, feuding with Jack Swagger and RVD, and though he looks good, he looks at home in that midcard right now. It will piss me off majorly if WWE rushes him from midcarder to main eventer, when Roman Reigns has speared and/or powerbombed every main eventer in the company.

Now, to the hottest topic in WWE at the moment: Evolution. First off, besides Roman Reigns pinning 6-time world champion Batista in the middle of that ring(!)… I’m not a fan of giving the babyfaces the first win in a multi-match feud. Logically speaking, the good guy wins… what does he get from fighting again? If the good guy loses, well, now you can sell that he knows he’s really more skilled than the bad guy and he. WON’T. stop. until he can prove it by pinfall or submission. The story we’re being sold right now is “You got lucky” (not the best way to build your future top star even IF we know you’re lying through your teeth) and “This isn’t over until I’m done with you” which means, logically speaking, either Evolution or The Shield will have to have multiple members shelved. So, when that shit doesn’t happen… now your booking doesn’t make a lick of sense. Here’s your story, beginning middle end: Good guy keeps bad guy from winning the title, bad guy decides to get help to eliminate good guy. Good guy wins. Bad guy says “fuck that shit, son, rematch!” They fight however many times, before the bad guy returns to the original agenda of screwing Daniel Bryan out of the belt, whole time the good guy, with all the reason in the world now to not let it happen… lets it happen. K. Moving on, Batista… has been lied to from the word go. He, and not Bryan, should be world champion right now. AND he says the money is looking funny. Roll that shit up in a ball and I’d say chances are good Batista doesn’t return after he’s done promoting ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’. There is absolutely no reason for the Evolution/Shield feud to end soon. So Evolution will replace him.

Dope thing about Evolution was always the “wrestling’s past, present and future” aspect of the faction. At this moment Evolution is one full time 30 something one wellness strike away from unemployment, and two part-time 40 somethings. Wrestling present and past. I’ve previously written that Big E is on his way down because he’s just not over. So, just plug him in to Big Dave’s spot as the heavy. I’d add another guy just because. Look. No one cares about Fandango’s whole gimmick. I’d like to see him repackaged and he and Layla join as a package deal. Futurewise, you can book it like this: Shield and Evolution are fighting bitterly at Payback. Batista gets hurt and carted off. The match continues. The lights go off, and when they come back on, Big E, Fandango, Orton and HHH are putting the boots to The Shield. Oh. Btw… those new Evolution shirts are HORRIBLE. Whose idea was it to dress a group of old dudes in shirts with fossils posing like douchebags on em? So… yeah. I think it would be symmetrical as fuck to have HHH rob Bryan of the belt at SummerSlam again. I want to see Evolution with every belt. So… fuck Paige, Sheamus, notsomuch BNB, and The Usos. I don’t think this will happen. But. my. GOD. would it be dope if it did. Perfect end to the faction: Orton overhears HHH and Steph talking about how they didn’t really see him as the guy, HHH just didn’t want to have to go for the gold himself, but Orton was so weak, blah blah blah and there goes a short feud there.

I’ll be back when I have more pipedream booking and shit to complain about!


“I’ll Give You What For!” – Daniel Bryan and the Ryder Revolution

IGYWF

There are some pundits in the wide world of pro wrestling commentary that feel as if the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan is on the fast track to obscurity.  These pundits have cited that Bryan’s feud with Kane is eerily reminiscent of the same feud that derailed Zack Ryder’s momentum some years ago.  Most fans can remember fondly how Ryder only served as the pawn in Kane’s twisted desire to force John Cena to turn to “the dark side,” and how the leader of the Ryder Revolution was essentially demoted back to his obscure position on the main roster.

Truthfully speaking, Daniel Bryan is no where near being in the same position as Zack Ryder was during the Kane/Cena/Eve Torres storyline.  At that time, Zack Ryder was not the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, the WWE Champion or the World Heavyweight Champion; at that time, Zack Ryder was not dating or married to Eve Torres or one of the Bella Twins.  Most assuredly, Zack Ryder was not the focus of the feud or storyline that was essentially designed to benefit John Cena and Eve Torres.  Needless to say but very important to mention is the fact that any similarities between Zack Ryder then and Daniel Bryan now are figurative at worst and superficial at best.

There is one small thing, however, that Bryan shares with Zack Ryder in his current feud … something that the pundits are indeed saying but are quite judicious in mentioning while in the presence of polite company.  To say it frankly, Daniel Bryan (the character) is simply b*tchmade.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, please allow the good folks at Urban Dictionary to provide us with a more than appropriate explanation of this term:

bitchmade

One would be hard-pressed to deny the fact that Bryan isn’t displaying some b*tchmade qualities as he attempts to evade the evil machinations of Kane, but to compare him to Zack Ryder is just plain disrespectful on so many levels.  By doing so, wrestling fans and pundits are once again proving how poorly the educational system in this country is, and that our level of fair-weather fandom does more damage to a wrestler’s credibility and the stability business than any ill-conceived storyline or plot device ever could.

For starters, Daniel Bryan IS NOT Zack Ryder.

Zack Ryder is practically the crown prince of the mid-card, second only to the promotion’s most dominating secondary title holder Kofi Kingston.  No one in their right or wrong mind can regale anyone with tales of Ryder’s superb athleticism subduing the likes of Triple H, Randy Orton, Batista and John Cena in main event and pay per view matches.  Zack Ryder never had the smoking hot girlfriend and never had the chance to wife her down, was never best friends (or even a potential brother-in-law for that matter) with the promotion’s top star, and to this day we can rest assured that if Kane ran across Zack Ryder he’d successfully toss him into a lake of molten lava for no reason other than it being a day of the week that started with a consonant.

20120106_kane_c

Zack Ryder’s b*tchmadeness was epic in a classy way that made you not only feel sorry for him, but also made you not particularly give a damn about him after seeing him constantly owned by everyone around him.  Eve Torres used him to get to Cena and used Cena to get to the top of the Divas division.  Kane used him in order to play at Cena’s heartstrings as a means to manipulate him towards accepting a lifestyle that was not conducive to his beliefs and ethics.  John Cena was the only person to own Ryder by not using him, because he never cared about Ryder enough to use him in the first place; and even Cena had to physically tell Ryder to “sit his @$$ back down” when he began to get out of pocket.

We must give Matthew Cardona and his acting skills due respect for taking Ryder’s “punk @SS simp” to a whole new level.  No matter how terrible things got for Ryder, he continued to show moxie and trudged forward each and every time he was knocked backwards … and I personally began to tune in each week looking forward to seeing just how Kane intended to toss Ryder from here to there just because.  Ryder was a tool; the more he tried not to be a tool, the more of a tool he became.  Despite how many people cheered for him, rallied behind him, he was still a prop in the three way battle between Eve, John Cena, and Kane.

That type of b*tchmade is completely different from what is being displayed by Daniel Bryan.

Kane was essentially the pawn of The Authority, coerced into suppressing the dark part of himself to fit in with the devious and corporate structure he felt could advance his agenda … whatever that agenda was.  When Kane found it difficult to suppress the antics and meteoric rise of Daniel Bryan, he began to incur the wrath of Stephanie McMahon and Triple H, both of whom soured on his presence similar to the way they did with former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton.  Kane began to lose control, began to feel the pressure of his responsibilities press upon him from all sides.  When The Shield turned against him and The Authority, and Daniel Bryan made it to the top of the mountain, Kane was left wallowing in near squalor and definitely a shell of his former self.

It was through Stephanie McMahon’s continued manipulation that led Kane to return to his dark side, embracing the fire and hatred inside of him as a means of controlling what he thought could not be contained.  He tapped into his anger, his frustration and rage, and was led to direct all of his maniacal energy towards the bane of The Authority’s existence … Daniel Bryan.

In response, Daniel Bryan has become fearful of this monster that is way more sinister than the guy he hugged it out with some time ago.  It’s not that Daniel Bryan is afraid of Kane, but rather is afraid of what Kane can and will do to his new wife.  This has caused Bryan to act out of character, almost irrationally given what we know of him, because his primary concern is that of his wife.  When it comes to someone you love, you’ll think of their protection and safety first before you think of anything else (See: Zack Ryder).

Deja vu...

Deja vu…

Bryan’s actions come off as something odd to fans and pundits that have grown accustomed to seeing him rise above all challenges and challengers.  The difference between pre-and-post marriage Daniel Bryan is his wife, Brie Bella-Bryan.  Prior to any of this, no one actually physically threatened his wife or did so with the exact same intent and malice as Kane.  Daniel Bryan has resorted to the better part of valor for the most part, choosing to retreat with his wife intact than leave her to her own devices as Kane wanders the WWE Universe seeking to eviscerate her.

By retreating from Kane’s ominous advances, fans and pundits immediately label Bryan as “weak,” a b*tchmade character that has been emasculated by the system whom we all truly want to believe wants to keep him under thumb because of his looks.  One long glance around the landscape gives us a different picture; John Cena is masterfully putting over Bray Wyatt, while Evolution (Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista) are giving main event credibility to all three members of The Shield with a keen laser-like focus on Roman Reigns.  Even Sheamus and Wade Barrett are doubly busy making the mid-card division worth a damn.  Which top-tier talent is available at the moment to give Daniel Bryan more credibility and attention at the moment?

With so much going on, Daniel Bryan remains the focus of the feud he’s in.  His reluctance and back-peddling only occurs when he’s attempting to protect his wife, and the writers are doing an okay job of at least trying to explain why a contracted talent (Brie Bella-Bryan)  is forced to stick around in such hazardous and life-threatening work conditions.  All this is to say that apparently, for some, Daniel Bryan is b*tchmade because he can’t (or chooses not to) neutralize the threat of Kane … or hasn’t had the opportunity to do so just yet … Or is that Daniel Bryan is b*tchmade because he wants to protect his wife, and that’s apparently a bad thing in the eyes of fans and pundits …

Please remind us again why Bryan’s storyline is similar to Zack Ryder’s …

One glaringly garish fact is that no matter how much we fancy ourselves as being progressive thinkers, we’re all conditioned in one way or another to accept mediocrity as the standard.  This is to say that when a promotion gives us something slightly different than what we’re accustomed to, we immediately dismiss it and pitch a fit; such is the business of pro wrestling writing/ranting.  What’s curious in this instance is our insistence to witness a one dimensional Daniel Bryan run rampant through the roster with no rhyme or reason.  We complain about his weak mic skills but balk at the storyline that will give him a chance to develop this weakness into a strength.  We scoff at his wife’s terrible acting but turn a blind eye to the character development that will happen by her being placed in a prominent role along with one of the company’s top stars (for the record, has anybody seen Trinity “Naomi” Fatu recently …?).

As the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Daniel Bryan is expected to represent the promotion as it’s top talent.  He is expected to be able to defend his title against all competitors and to do so in a way that does not detract from the dynamic character that is the Daniel Bryan brand.  However, when that same dynamic character is placed in a situation that in all of its simplicity exposes a character flaw in Bryan that suggests a depth we’ve yet to really see from him, the worst that can happen is for us to cast him aside because we’re not willing to follow him along this portion of the ride.  Abandoning Bryan by comparing him to Ryder only succeeds in creating a self-fulfilling prophecy, and the Bryan character will fail much like Ryder because fans stopped giving a damn long before the feud had a real chance to develop.

I think a quote from the song “We Made It” by Drake is very appropriate right now:

“Kinda makes me wonder why the hell so many people are trying to tell me to slow down; seems like [expletive] should be shuttin’ the hell up and enjoying the show.”

IWasRight

 


Believe In Evolution(?)

I’ll get right into it… I’m scared of what Evolution being back means going forward, for a multitude of reasons.

1) HHH will ONCE AGAIN use the group to put himself over

I remember Evolution primarily for two major booking fuck ups in my nowhere near humble opinion: they castrated Goldberg and Randy Orton. Don’t get me wrong… I will argue vociferously that Evolution is the greatest faction in the history of factions. They are what WWE hopes The Shield can be one day. Combined, the four members of Evolution have 48 world championships. The nWo, DX, the Horsemen… no one can claim this. How. Ever. the majority of Evolution’s time was spent keeping HHH as champion. HHH put a quarter million dollar hit out on Goldberg that Batista collected. Goldberg came to WWE by beating up The Rock. They had an Elimination Chamber match that seemed like a coronation for Goldberg. And he was VERY impressive beating up EVERYone… until he got hit with a sledgehammer. Then they handcuffed him nothing was the same. Goldberg would eventually win the title… but he was never anywhere near as dominant as his WCW days. No, I’m not saying he should have gone undefeated for a couple of years or so. I AM saying he shouldn’t have won the damn belt… just to get ‘injured’ and lose it to… HHH. This history repeated itself when ‘the lump of coal who will become the next diamond’ won the title (or did he find it in the middle of the ring?) and then held it for 28 days… before losing it to… HHH. Then… getting booked into a scenario in which he could never challenge HHH for the title. All that said… the reformation of Evolution will be a monumental waste of time unless someone (most likely HHH) divests Daniel Bryan of all that gold.

2) They’ll choose the wrong talents to join the group… or utilize them incorrectly

I’ve written here before, I think Roman Reigns would be perfect as the fourth man in Evolution. Then they went and had him and The Shield turn babyface. Honestly… not here for a predictable doublecross storyline like when Cody Rhodes turned on Bob Holly to win the tag titles with Ted DiBiase, or when Ted DiBiase turned on the Legacy rejects to help Cody and Orton… etc. It’s overdone. The Shield should stay together at this point… even though they were teasing a breakup just weeks ago. Cesaro would be good even though he’s a guy getting face reactions with his heel manager. I… don’t like this about pro wrestling these days, how fans are cheering heels doing heel things (even as I openly write about rooting for heels… don’t judge me) I said a week or so ago my pick would be to turn Big E, as he’s the latest guy they slapped a meaningless midcard belt on and then done NOTHING interesting with him. My dark horse? Bad News Barrett could use the big-time rub of being in Evolution. He has a pretty good history of being in factions but never getting to the Promised Land.

3) They’ll bury Daniel Bryan and The Shield (Hi, Quinn!)

This is TOTALLY not serious, but I will once again, bring up that while Evolution was around… no one else MATTERED. At one point the group held every title on Raw. And the titles mattered a hell of a lot more back then. Fans only get behind faces getting beat down SO much before they assume the face will NEVER get put over. See: how HHH trolled the IWC with Daniel Bryan since last August. If Monday is the last time we see The Shield in an impossible handicap match… HHH’s daughters booked this shit.

4) Different era, different result

Randy Orton got over as ‘The Legend Killer’ because he feuded with Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, etc. There AREN’T any legends really on the roster now. There’s really John Cena working full-time. HHH, Taker, Jericho, Lesnar, RVD and Batista part-time… and then it’s Orton and some dudes. Part of putting younger talent over… is having them compete with old hands the fans know and love. THEN… you go… “This guy is legit!” Orton and Cena are really the last guys who were going to war with legends every week on Raw or SmackDown. So… one of my fears is: Is it too soon to push the younger talent to the moon? When Evolution was done… Orton wouldn’t win another world title for a good three years. They don’t have the main event talent to DO that now. I feel like whoever they add to the group must leave it ready for prime time, and the guys they feuded with too. A lot of moving parts there.

5) History will repeat

Evolution broke up last time because HHH had to be the man. They beat up Orton for winning the gold… then the group was done once Batista won the Rumble and took the title at Mania 21. Right this second, HHH, Orton, and Batista all want to be champion. How long will it even make logical sense for them to work together? It won’t make ANY sense for them to be together if Bryan is to have any semblance of a ‘long’ title reign. And long these days is three or four pay per… I mean… special events. It WILL be a good sign if it ends with three of them having held the gold… and like I said before… they will have elevated the Bray Wyatts and Roman Reigns etc of the world.

A couple of weeks ago I was stunned to see the streak end… and I’ll always remember I was in the kitchen with my girlfriend upon learning Warrior died and how surreal his last words on Raw were, for him to die. the. next. day. Before I could afford cable, I used to repeatedly watch tapes someone had given me. Hogan vs Warrior and Warrior vs Rude in a steel cage are matches I might not fully remember but will never be fully forgotten. I had two WWE toys that I remember… Hogan and Warrior. Maaaaaaaaybe I had Macho Man, Million Dollar Man and Jake The Snake. I KNOW I stayed having WrassleManias in my living room with Hogan and Warrior. It’s safe to say: I grew up a Warrior mark. Thanks to WWE Network… if I am so blessed to have progeny… they. WILL. be WARRIORS! RIP, my nigga.

I don’t believe I’ve written here yet about how depressing Jake the Snake’s HOF speech was to me, or how funny it was that DDP inducted him… by mostly talking about himself and his yoga. That about sums that up. I enjoyed Lita’s speech, with the alcohol consumption in front of those recovering addicts, Jake and Scott Hall. The Bad Guy looked good. Dripping greasy machismo. I wanna flick a toothpick at a nigga. right. NOW. His speech was short and tooooooo sweeeeeeeeeet. “Bad times don’t last, but bad buys DO!” Last… lemme give a shoutout to my mother. I appreciate her giving up her figure to have me and I love her on every day on the calendar, especially pagan and government holidays. Mr. T’s speech was funny. Everything else… I WANNA say meh. But. Yeah. I enjoyed the HOF speeches overall.

I leave you with: If you ain’t GOT WWE Network… you need to get WWE Network! (or a really good friend to give you their password) ;)


Undertaker is a Mark

No disrespect to The Undertaker. My title is true. His real actual government name is Mark.

Shoutout to The Nic Johnson for his well thought out piece on The Streak ending, without being a MARK crying “Oh he’s a part-timer”.

Lastly, Mike Killam of Wrestlezone made a great point that I had… and hadn’t thought of.

Cesaro has been over as a face, inexplicably ever since he joined a racist heel group led by Zeb Colter. “We The People” is one of the reasons The Usos tag title reign hasn’t seemed to matter. But… now Cesaro isn’t a Zeb Colter guy… no. He is a Paul Heyman guy. One night after another Paul Heyman guy ended The Streak MANY marks who aren’t Mark Calaway, thought should never be broken. And the Raw after Mania crowd popped hard as FUCK. AFTER the SAME Paul Heyman dropped a pipebomb heel promo about being the strategist who helped end the streak.

Cesaro’s problem his entire career has been that he’s not a mic guy. He’s a solid worker, but… if you have no catchphrases people can give less than a damn about your work. You are Alberto Del Rio, or Kofi Kingston, or Dolph Ziggler… or… Jack Swagger. So they put him with Zeb and let him do all the talking. Then all of a sudden he got over with the “Cesaro Swing”. So now…they put him with another heel manager. I will be shocked if Cesaro doesn’t come out to crickets in arenas around the world. Kinda like how people didn’t care for Del Rio, they turned him face, then people really liked Ricardo Rodriguez… so they turned him back heel and had him beat up Ricardo. *deep sigh*

This may not really be an issue. CM Punk is the first guy to SAY he’s a Paul Heyman guy and he was a face for much of the time since he said it. I’m foggy on this but I believe he’d accompany face Punk to the ring same as he would heel Lesnar. So maybe they’ve just replaced Punk with Cesaro. We’ll see.

I respect Undertaker for being a Brock Lesnar mark. I’ve read countless times over the past few days that he wanted Lesnar to be the guy years ago. I’m just slightly concerned about the ripple effects of that decision. How it will affect Cesaro being a babyface managed by the guy who managed the guy that broke The Streak. How fans will take Lesnar wrestling four or five times a year, only on PPV… and him being used to put guys over in the future. See… that’s what most of us thought The Streak could do. “Beating the guy who broke The Streak” < "Breaking The Streak". I would have picked Roman Reigns, personally. Nigga woulda been made for life.

Speaking of Reigns, I gotta give WWE credit. The Shield is here to stay, for the foreseeable future and the split between them and The Authority is permanent. The Shield are full-on babyfaces now and I liked the way it was done. It almost felt like this was planned and they've stopped rewriting Raw during the show. I may be wrong. WWE is lacking strong faces at the moment. There's Cena, Bryan… maybe Cesaro… and now The Shield.

Big E is kinda just there at the moment. He's my new favorite to be the fourth man in the new Evolution. I think at some point, they're gonna have Orton and Batista actually take the tag belts from the Usos, Big E is the IC champ, and HHH is determined to personally take the WWE WHC from Bryan. I'm here for it. The breakup of the group will be the same as the last time: everyone in the group wants to be champion, and there can only be One. Big E has to be allowed to show personality. He seems so blah to me at the moment. He may need to go back to being a heel behind some bigger heels.

Speaking of heels… one of my major gripes at the moment is that when I watch Raw, I see all the over guys are heels. Cena, Sheamus and Big E got booed heavily against the heel Wyatt Family. I call this 'the nWo effect', which I can broaden into 'the Stone Cold Steve Austin effect'. The nWo was a heel faction that got cheered for ganging up on babyfaces and Hollywood Hogan was the chickenshittiest of chickenshit heels. You will still see nWo shirts on WWE programming. Ziggler wore one last weekend. SCSA was a tweener… a babyface that cursed more than I do, defied authority and overindulged on alcoholic beverages while doing so. Ever since their era, John Cena can't get a true babyface reaction without cutting those vulgar freestyles and tossing bags of nuts at people. I will remind you people, Daniel Bryan got over as a heel. If CM Punk was an afterthought as WWE champ at WM 28, Bryan was the thought AFTER the afterthought, jerking the curtain and losing the WHC in 18 seconds. Try to convince me all of that was done to intentionally get Bryan over so I can bitch slap you.

I've read so many things that have pissed me off in the last half year about "WWE burying Bryan" LAWD. Gotta take my hat off to WWE trolling the IWC. Once they realized Bryan was an actual thing (and CM Punk left like a bitch) they firmly entrenched him in the role of the anti-authority character Punk's character is even more well-suited to playing. Yes, I'm still waiting for HHH to screw him out of the belt again. No, I don't care that you believe Bryan should get a long run as champion. Although… I'd like to see Lesnar versus Bryan at SummerSlam. So the Beast can break The Flying Goat. Just like he broke The Streak.


A brief word on “The Streak” ending…

Like the majority of the wrestling world, I was stunned, bitter and angry about the end of the Undertaker’s Streak. I should clarify, I wasn’t bothered by the Streak ending – it was created to be ended. That’s my entire problem with the ending – the Streak was literally MEANT to be broken, and when it came to be ended, it felt so clumsy, rushed, mishandled.

I spent the whole day thinking through the possible reasoning WWE could have had for ending the Streak. Was it called on the fly, in the ring by Undertaker? Was it known ahead of time? If so, why do you not put it on last knowing the impact it would have on the crowd? If it was going to end – why not play safer than sorry and let Triple H or Punk end it last year?

Fast forward to RAW tonight – when Brock’s music hit it all suddenly made sense to me. There weren’t boo’s, there weren’t cheers, there wasn’t celebration – there was just nothing. THIS is why Brock Lesnar was CHOSEN to end the Streak.

The Streak was built to be broken in order to put over whoever breaks it. To establish them as a powerhouse. The problem is, unless the audience WANTS that person to win, they will forever be doomed to insignificance. They won’t be hated, they won’t be a heel, they will simply be insignificant. They will be deemed as unworthy of having broken the Streak and what more legitimizing act can one do than end the longest running, most heralded Streak in any sport, entertainment otherwise? You will always be the second most significant part of THAT match, much less any other match in your future.

The argument was brought up that a “part timer” ended the Streak, and this just isn’t acceptable. You’re right. It sucks. But doesn’t it ultimately make the most sense? It was clear that the Streak needed to be ended. Whether it was the concussion, neck injury, or just plain old age on his wheels – Taker was a noticeably lesser performer last night than in recent years. It was time for the Streak to end.

WWE was in a lose/lose situation and had to turn it into a win/win…because that’s how you make money and save face in pro wrestling. WWE had no one in line, with Punk out of the picture, that could get the babyface rub of ending the Streak gracefully and earning Taker’s respect. At this point – you need to cut your losses. If you can rule someone basically insignificant (albeit with Paul Heyman, that’s never entirely the case) and end the Streak, send the offending party off for 6 or 8 months before they come back and the wound has healed – why not do it? Enter Brock Lesnar.

GRANTED, in my fantasy booking world – I don’t see why you don’t let Heyman get involved in the finish. If you’re clearly not worried about the sanctity of the Streak and it’s legacy, why do you not at least establish a MEGA HEEL, by building the story around Heyman’s unquenchable thirst for revenge and have him cheat to go over ‘Taker at ‘Mania. Lesnar is safe, the Streak is ended, and you have a long term MEGA HEEL manager. Makes more sense to me.

All being said – I see why WWE did what they did. I don’t like it. I think there were other options if the decision had been made earlier… but if the Streak HAD to be ended this year, you arguably couldn’t have had the curse of ending it fall it any better of a persons lap than Brock Lesnar w/ Paul Heyman at his side. That’s what ending the Streak means, with the rare exception of maybe 3 Superstars…. It’s a curse. A burden you will never be able to shake. A weight you will never come out from under.

EDIT: For what it’s worth, if WWE has any marketing brainpower left… there would be “Brock Lesnar – The One” t-shirts being made hand over fist… at least you gave the man a legit tagline.


Are You Happy Now? (I’m Not.)

I have made no secret that, though I like Daniel Bryan, I do not think he is a TOP guy. Top five, sure. I do not think Bryan is the main event. High midcard, yeah. In the old days, he’d hold the IC title forever but get few shots at Hogan or whoever. But, here we sit today, and Michael Cole said “Daniel Bryan is the face of WWE!” I REALLY want that expression to go away. Enjoy it marks, it won’t last long.

I’ve also gone on record as saying “Daniel Bryan is a guy who’s going to win around 10 world championships… and he might have around a year as champion total with those reigns.” I’d argue Bryan only fought HHH because Punk left, and only won the belt A) because Punk left, and WWE (read: HHH) wanted to send the “this would have been you” message and B) Because Brock Lesnar ended the streak.

Before I get back to talking about how I was wrong but I’m still right about Daniel Bryan, let me talk about how mad I am I was wrong that Lesnar beat Taker. I was laying on my girlfriend’s tit, licking and sucking her pierced nipple when the three count happened. I’ll never forget the stunned silence. My girl asked “What happened?” I sat up, incredulous. Laughing out of sheer amazement. Seeing how so many faces looked exactly like mine. Michael Cole said “The Streak is over” with a mixture of disbelief and surprise. They sold the shit out of that moment, so much so I am prone to believe The Nic Johnson was right last night when he said that Taker made the call to put Lesnar over on the spot. Again. I’ll never forget the last day of just sitting around doing random things then thinking: “Yoooooooo… The Streak is over!”

I’m not mad Brock won as a part-timer. I’ll only be mad if he loses a match in the next year plus and doesn’t get a title reign. Since they let him end the streak, they need to get everything they can out of him before he leaves again. Same for Batista, who I think WILL get the straps soon. Maybe even tonight. The Nic Johnson was peeved that there was no mention of Bryan’s title win on WWE.com. I had to remind him .com is a kayfabe site. The owners of the company and HHH do not want Bryan as champion, and I expect every second of him being champion to be fraught with peril.

I’m surprised Bryan won simply because of how strongly he is booked. Only Cena wins as much, as cleanly as Bryan does. They’re booking Bryan like he’s Stone Cold. I’ve been on record as saying Bryan is no Stone Cold. Only thing they got in common is popularity and the machine raging against them. It wouldn’t surprise me if all of a sudden Bryan starts dropping matches on TV on par with how non-Cena stars are booked. Because part of the reason marks hate Cena… is that Cena so soundly, resoundingly beats their favorite workers. If Bryan is a dominant champion, then that means he’s gonna keep beating Orton and Batista, Cena, Wyatt, Roman Reigns, et al. Marks will start to feel like he’s being forced down our throats.

That’s inevitable in this day and age of wrasslin. You’re lucky if you can hold the belt for a year now and the fans aren’t tired of you. There can be no Hulk Hogan or Bruno Sammartino title reigns now. If Bryan held the belt for 3-8 years his own friends and family would resent his monkey ass. Which is why all his title reigns are going to be short and sweet. Bryan can’t be the sympathetic figure held down by the man if he’s always holding the gold and winning all the time, right?

Which brings me to my last point: How can a man who won two matches in one night with one arm against Evolution… ever be considered an underdog again?


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,961 other followers