Category Archives: Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

… geez … where to begin …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What We Know About: Slammiversary XIII

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

You Know, I’m Not Mad That He Won…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TLC 2014 Sucked and You Know It: A DiZ Review

It’s no secret that I can’t stand Cleveland.  I can’t stand Cleveland as a city, as a concept; the sports teams there make me vomit, the local politics are mad corrupt, the police force is more corrupt than other places in the United States; I actively fear for the souls of my family and friends in and near the city.  To this day I say that only four good things can be associated with Cleveland:

  1. Drew Carey
  2. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  3. Halle Berry
  4. The ability to leave

So in that regard, maybe, JUST MAYBE, I’m sadistically pleased that such a crap PPV took place in Cleveland.  It’s exactly what the crap city deserves, and this is incredible because it was working in the shadow of the mindblowingly wonderful NXT event on Thursday.  Rumors were that the Raw and Smackdown talent were looking to step up after that brilliance that was REvolution, but I’m somewhat torn to say that I can count on one hand the guys that actually did, and to be fair, they were the cats that came from NXT anyway.

But this isn’t about me just up and bashing the PPV in a long post.  That’s what pages are for!  Let’s get started, because today I utilize a new system of grading: the Jermaine-o-meter!

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the rise of ryback… redux

I remember when Ryback was getting his original push way back when, where no less than a dozen people were telling me that he had the potential to be the biggest thing in recent memory.  They told me that people would get over their Goldberg chants and stand behind him with the “FEED ME MORE!” chants.  They informed me that the people would fall in love with his character, that sheer power and love for destruction, and that he would one day be a worthy world championship contender.

Continue reading the rise of ryback… redux