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) ;)
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.
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.
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?
Let’s get this out of the way first: this guy is GOLD…
Give this man a contract. I don’t care what he does: just give him a WWE contract and get the rights to THAT face. Because it sums up virtually every feeling that went through the completely hushed crowd of 75,000 plus fans. For ten seconds I was even somewhat with them, but more so because I was shocked at how silent it was. The three count went down, and it was so quiet that I wasn’t even sure that the match was over. My first words were:
Wait... hold on...—
Codename: DiZ (@da_infamous_DiZ) April 07, 2014
Can we go back to black homeboy who looked like someone just told him Santa wasn't real? lmao—
Codename: DiZ (@da_infamous_DiZ) April 07, 2014
Safe to say that few people saw the Undertaker’s infamous Streak coming to an end last night, but what’s done is done. There will be eternal (hyperbole) debates between people over how it happened and who ended it, and many people have already “sworn off” the WWE because they feel like they lost their childhood or something, but the Streak is over, and frankly… it kind of works.
My opinion isn’t going to be the popular opinion, and I’m okay with that. This won’t even be a very long post, because despite how okay I am with the result I still have plenty of gripes. At the end of the day though:
You know what? I'm perfectly fine with that. 21 and 1, I'm good with that. Taker wanted Lesnar to end the streak years back anyway.—
Codename: DiZ (@da_infamous_DiZ) April 07, 2014
The Streak itself, barring any outside story or logic, was finite. I came to terms with this a few years back, seeing how wobbly Calloway was following a match with Triple H. Was it kayfabe? Probably, but the mythos we were given was always that the Undertaker was infallible. He was defeatable, but not by anyone short of another god, and when they came to HIS turf, he was the closest thing we humans could see to true, dark divinity. All the same, he’s human. I say all this now because one of the early complaints was that “UnderTAKer cant looose!! Hes the Undertakaer and this is Wrestemaina!” Yes, it is, and after twenty plus Mania’s he has lost, somewhat poetically to the man he originally wanted to end the Streak years back.
So from a nostalgic point of view, I dig it. I like how it played out, honest. Brock Lesnar is one of the few people in history that I can realistically have seen defeat the Streak and actually take up that very spot left unoccupied by the new vortex. That isn’t story so much as conclusion, however. While not undefeated at Mania himself, Brock Lesnar is a monster of a human being (or a human being of a monster, I forget which) and he represents another version of the frightening mystique that the Undertaker brought to his role as the protector of the Holy Grail, so to speak. The Undertaker’s undefeated reign mattered because he’s a boogeyman. He comes across as nearly impossible to topple, and COMPLETELY impossible – but more likely for years now – to unhinge at home. The WWE has never been shy of creating real monster characters, but even they stepped to the Phenom and fell at his feet. Think about it: Giant Gonzalez, King Kong Bundy, Diesel, Kane, Triple H, Big Show, A-Train, Mark Henry, Batista, they all have a big, intimidating presence that was ultimately left humbled by a man whose very character embodies death.
There are few reasons Lesnar’s win makes sense though, the biggest of which being his status in the company. He’s a part-timer, no matter how his contract plays out. Plenty of people are saying he should be around full-time now, as some kind of solace to those who are literally threatening self-harm after how things played out (it’s still real to us, yes, but it’s TOO real to y’all… dammit) but that would imply that the Undertaker was going out there every PPV or taking on somebody more than once a year, if that. It’s easy to forget that the Undertaker was in several Wrestlemanias, not ALL of them. He’s an old(er) man, he can’t keep this up, and retiring would have come a long time ago if the Streak was meant to be maintained.
Undertaker might very well be signed full-time to the company, but his appearances are far from that. Enter Lesnar, who is part-time, maintains a very impressive physique, and to date, even in his losses, he’s managed to SEVERELY beat his opponents senseless. Let’s not forget the applause worthy ass whupping he put on John Cena during Extreme Rules following Wrestlemania 28. And how he destroyed Triple H. And how the World’s Strongest Man proved to be one of the world’s most bull-headed when he went to challenge Brock Lesnar THRICE and got murdered each time Solomon Grundy style. It’s very easy to put Lesnar into the role of the resident undefeatable monster like the dog from The Sandlot. Even when he loses he scares (read: beats) you crapless, and that realization puts him in a position where a Three 6 Mafia theme song, or an impromptu theme by Pharoahe Monch and Buckshot, works more wonders for him than anyone else.
And at this point, where the goal in the WWE might be to put the younger talent to carry the banner, having one monster be the man who took the Streak and flipped it into a Curse that needs to be broken (thank Ashley Morris for that one), the new big dog (or Cerberus if you want to be fancy) could be the once-a-year Lesnar.
Of course, we also have to remember that a few years back Undertaker expressed how he wanted Lesnar to end the Streak then. It would have been good then, and there’s an argument that can be made that he would have been that had it taken place then, Lesnar WOULD be the Undertaker right now. Not in terms of persona but in terms of prestige.
Considering Lesnar's status now too, being part-time, he COULD take over Taker's spot as THE guy to beat at Mania.—
Codename: DiZ (@da_infamous_DiZ) April 07, 2014
But at the end of the day, there’s the concept of story. Nic Johnson, L.E.W.D. brother, pro wrestling aficionado and bon vivant, expressed distaste at the way the story played out. I throw my hands up here, he has a point, the story going into last night’s storied match lacked… story. What could have been a compelling quest for vengeance from Paul Heyman played out as a rushed fight between a man with no reason to wrestle and Brock Lesnar. The way I saw it, the set-up could have been perfect IF the match was about Heyman’s pain in the form of a six foot monster who votes Republican. It could have been perfect if the match was about Heyman again lamenting his “fallen son” CM Punk (sidenote: if you were wondering on his whereabouts last night, he was actually at a Blackhawks game) and how the WWE universe chased him away, and how the Undertaker embodied the pinnacle of that universe.
But no. No, it was about… I don’t know. Much like last year with CM Punk’s duel with Taker, the set-up was a question of chance – and fortunate (story wise) – circumstance, but they played it well last year. Had CM Punk defeated the Undertaker last year, in a match that I’m led to believe he didn’t even want, the story would have been this: the Undertaker could not avenge the memory of Paul Bearer or honor his memory in combat. The set-up was perfect for an Undertaker victory WITH the promise of an awesome showing by Punk; it was set to show us that it could have gone “either way” but in fact it was set in stone.
Besides that, Punk wouldn’t have been a viable person to inherit the Streak. What many fail to accept is that whoever ends the Streak inherits the Streak, and they make it their own. Lesnar now has the Streak, and it’s more valuable than any title. Heyman will be on fire tonight, Lesnar will be smug, and frankly it makes more sense than a lot of people want to admit. So please, stop being butthurt over it, and if you MUST be butthurt, at LEAST be as amusing at homeboy in the opening picture.
If anything, this is my greatest gripe with the match (aside from having little emotional content):
They could've put that Taker match at th end. WWE knew the reaction would be this drastic lol—
Codename: DiZ (@da_infamous_DiZ) April 07, 2014
The crowd DIED after it, and it was a shame that the Divas match had to follow it. They didn’t even get an intro, at a PAY PER VIEW I might add, and it was all so the crowd could recover:
Damn shame. Emma's first Wrestlemania and she's gotta deal with the crowd just NOT being the slightest bit involved in the match.—
Codename: DiZ (@da_infamous_DiZ) April 07, 2014
And that’s to say nothing about the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match. The crowd was slow to get into it. Thank God they did though, because despite the sorrow 99% of people felt at the end of the Dead Man’s Streak, there was nothing but triumph with the moment of seeing
Chris Benoit Daniel Bryan standing victorious after winning the title after a hard fought battle. If you want to really be suspicious, tell me why it isn’t the top story on WWE.com. Or rather, why it isn’t even a STORY up there.
A few months ago, every single episode or Raw and SmackDown furthered the storyline that The Shield was gonna break up. Now, they appear stronger than ever. They’re even being booked like babyfaces while being aligned with the heel Authority. While fighting ‘the director of operations’ and HHH’s old DX buddies. This… is retarded. Yes, I WILL find something to complain about if this is fixed, but… WWE has to stop pushing and depushing, turning guys face and heel every other week, and teasing breakups and groups forming, then doing nothing with it.
Recently I was thinking back to 2011, when R-Truth was the best heel in WWE. Not Miz and certainly not CM Punk, who had yet to cut his ‘pipebomb’ promo. I never thought I’d be here for R-Truth in a main event capacity, but he did it. I honestly wanted to see him win the belt, not even for ‘Cena-nough’ reasons. He main evented ‘Capitol Punishment’ for the belt and at Survivor Series against Cena and Rock, with Miz as his partner. WWE established he and Miz as a dangerous tag team, and I’ve written here before… the seeds were planted for a faction led by John Laryngitis, starring Alberto Del Rio, Kevin Nash, The Miz and R-Truth.
Go back to SummerSlam 2011. Kevin Nash jackknifed Punk half to death, allowing Alberto Del Rio to cash in MITB. At HIAC, ‘Awesome Truth’ helped Del Rio beat Cena and Punk to win the belt back. At Vengeance, ‘Awesome Truth’ hit Cena with the ‘Lil Jimmy Finale’ or whatever they called their tag team finisher to help Del Rio retain. And they dropped that shit simply because R-Truth failed a drug test for weed. It would have been WAY more interesting than everything that has happened since then.
I look at Ryback and remember just a year and a half ago he was unbeaten and looked unstoppable. Then they had him lose every PPV match for a good year, changed his gimmick like 36635324 times, made him a Paul Heyman guy for like two months and now he’s in a wack tag team with the other failed ‘Paul Heyman guy’, Curtis Axel. Who they gave up on after never making him legit by having him win like 10 matches by screwy finish. No one has ever been legitimized by winning by countout or DQ repeatedly. Then they threw him into a tv feud with CM Punk where he never won once and it was pretty much over from there.
WWE likes taking guys they’re ruining with lame gimmicks that don’t get over and slapping them together with other rejects to form jobber tag teams. Jack Swagger was with Ziggler last year, Cesaro this year. Now Cesaro is getting over inexplicably (fake smarks cheering heels whose ‘work’ they appreciate) and I have no faith that when they break up ‘The Real Americans’ he’ll be in a good way. The Usos were jobbers last year who started to get hot, but lost like 35232252 tag title matches before winning on Raw. Now they’re going to defend on the Mania pre-show. Yay.
Everything that’s happening to Daniel Bryan is REALLY a ‘fuck you’ to CM Punk, who walked out on a TV feud with Kane and a Mania match with HHH. Daniel Bryan was reportedly in line to face Sheamus. Again. And this is after he joined the Wyatt Family for two weeks. I’m still pissed about that and how much potential THAT had.
HHH came out with his golden shovel and buried Fandango. (Hi, Quinn!) There was no good reason to point out that this time last year, Fandango was in line to become IC champ after debuting at Mania with a win over Chris Jericho… but he got injured and they’ve jobbed him out since… and now ‘Fandangoing’ isn’t as popular. NIGGA THAT’S YOUR FAULT! Truth be told, the Yes Movement would die if Daniel Bryan got jobbed out every week and at every PPV. But, he is trolling. Quite successfully, I might add. People think Bryan is being buried in high profile matches and segments all designed to get you to feel sympathy for the underdog who has only lost clean once that I can remember, since SummerSlam.
Anyway… my point has been made. You can look at Randy Orton since SummerSlam and see how shitty the booking is. From week to week, IS Orton face of the company? IS The Authority behind him? ARE they unified? WILL Orton win a match on TV as champion? I have no clue but odds are… no. Batista has been booked weak as fuck too, which is how I KNOW he’s getting the belt. They gotta cut this bullshit out and come up with a plan to build stars and then stick to it, or they’ll keep having to pay old men to come back.
WrassleMania is a couple of weeks away. Next week the main event WWE wanted to put on will likely be in the middle of the card on Raw. I… don’t expect anything memorable to happen in the next week, so I’ll go on ahead and give my opinions of the build to the matches on the card and how I see the state of the WWE pre Mania.
Let me get my “Daniel Bryan ain’t top guy material” statement out the way. He has been the focal point of WWE booking since before SummerSlam. To the point where you people less intelligent than I, can foresee a future where Daniel Bryan is the headliner, the main event. And I say to that… WWE was giving refunds at house shows Bryan missed, something they only do when THE face of the WWE isn’t present. (I sure am glad they stopped insulting my intelligence by implying Orton is that) When Stephanie called for ‘the cops’ to ‘arrest’ Bryan I thought “Vintage Stone Cold Steve Austin!”… and I still just don’t see it. Good hand. Not going to move the needle and be remembered like Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold, The Rock or John Cena. Just another CM Punk, Bret Hart, HBK, Y2J, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio. Legends all of them. Just not on that same level. At all. (One more time: Hart and HBK were only on top at a time where roid monsters HAD to scatter like cockroaches and the biggest stars, literally and figuratively left to take Billonaire Ted’s money, and WWE came close to going out of business. They. Don’t. COUNT!) Now… that said: on to rating his build with HHH.
Daniel Bryan’s story over the last year is surreal. Surreal in the sense that HHH uses the real actual reasons why Bryan can’t be the top guy to explain why he doesn’t even want him to be champion. That realism gives weight to HHH declaring this “The Reality Era” and to the legitimate rage some fans feel about that little man not being fake fighting champion. This week WWE will surely do some dumb angle where Daniel Bryan stands over HHH as Raw goes off the air, which is horrible booking because you should save the babyface’s revenge… the payoff, if you will… for the pay per view. Which leads me to…
Undertaker versus Brock Lesnar has had THE shittiest build… given the pedigree of all involved. The shit began dumb as fuck. So… Brock Lesnar… who declared himself number one contender for the title, and never challenged for the title… is given an open contract to have ANY match he wants at Mania… and Paul Heyman… who is overrated as the best promo guy by many… I mean he’s good… but… yeeeeaaaaaaaaahhhhhh… he gets on the mic and says some dumb shit about being in the main event of Mania is an insult to his client. NIGGA. WHET!?! Moving on… the babyface with the long undefeated streak, then stabs the heel challenger in the hand and chokeslams him through a table. Brock fires back by beating up Mark Henry… again. Paul Heyman cuts a lot of long boring promos about how no one has come close to having a streak as long as Taker’s. To which I think: “Yeah. Everyone with a brain knows the streak ain’t gonna end, so put over the streak! NOT that when Brock was a young up and comer he beat Taker’s ass multiple times, and now he’s even MORE dangerous, having trained for MMA and won the UFC heavyweight championship. Noooooooooooo! Blab on about the STREAK!” Taker beat up Brock AGAIN on Raw and now at this point I’m not even looking forward to the match… one I HAD been looking forward to for YEARS… because of how shitty this build has been. Yawn.
If it weren’t for how personal on SO many levels… and how long… Daniel Bryan v HHH has been building, I’d say Bray Wyatt versus John Cena wins best build, EASY. The Wyatt Family cost Cena the title twice. They even dragged Hulk Hogan and the announcement of The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal into it, and Cena had Hulk in his corner for a match with the Wyatt Family member that isn’t Luke Harper. Luke Harper has had a memorable TV feud with Cena that has seen them throw back to back hurracanranas. On SmackDown, no less. The promos have been inspired. Yes, mostly from Mr. “If you look down at me you’ll see an enemy, if you look up at me, you’ll see a friend. If you look me in my eyes, you’ll see a god.”… look… you have to be a serious hater to not appreciate that since “The Road to WrassleMania” started, Cena has been putting over that there are some up and comers in the company, that need to go through him. Yeah… Cena says in almost every promo that he’s there for the fans that cheer and the ones that boo… and even says things about how he’s never beaten someone, or faced someone like his opponent, blah blah blah… He’s never said that he was scared of someone’s rhetoric. That he’s basically fighting so we can believe in heroes and happy endings, while Bray rambles about monsters. Again… you’re a dummy if you don’t think Cena’s going over. I’d like to see Bray go over but as he said “Time is on my side”… part of the build to this match is ‘legacy’ so it makes sense to give it to your true top guy. They’ll put Bray over by lying and saying they’ve never seen anyone beat Cena’s ass like that before the five moves of doom. Moving on…
AJ Lee should remain Divas champ. But she won’t, simply because she’s a heel facing the entire Divas division. They’ll probably give it to Naomi, who’s wrasslin in horrible eyepatches now. Or maybe not. Anyway, I thought the announcement of this match was awkward and a thinly veiled way to ‘heat check’ all the Divas… which really just proved most of the Divas get so little tv time they have no heat whatsoever. Only the ‘Total Divas’ get regular booking. Everyone else was like “Oh she’s still under contract? Cool.” Uh huh.
The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal will be won by someone. That Rusev guy might actually compete. Someone will surprise us by coming back. Sgt Slaughter and Hacksaw Jim Duggan will surprise no one with their entrances and subsequent eliminations. Basically, it’ll be the Rumble minus the main event players at the moment.
The main event no one wanted to see but we’re getting it on Raw: Orton and Batista will be joined by Daniel Bryan. Who I know will lose this match because he has outshone the other two by a lot. In case you haven’t been paying attention… WWE likes to minimize its champion. See: how MITB winners tend to lose a lot before they cash it in, how Orton loses every week on TV only to barely retain due to some interference at the PPV, how CM Punk was the longest reigning champion in the modern era but never main evented unless he was against Cena, Cena was injured or he was facing The Rock. So… even though until a couple of weeks ago… Orton and Batista were the main event, Bryan was beating them in singles matches and tag matches. He’s literally being booked too good to win the belt, yall. WATCH. Oh. One thing I KNOW is Orton ain’t retaining under any circumstances. The defending champion is just kinda THERE. Poised to lose another Mania title match. Face of the WWE my ass. WWE might COULD do what the majority wants them to do and send Mania off the air with Bryan as champ… buuuuuut it’s far more likely Batista will prevail and yall will have to DEAL WITH IT. *drops mic and cues ‘I Walk Alone’*
Mania represents WWE’s New Year. So, that said… I kinda have the same complaints I did last year. Former world champions like The Miz, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, Christian and Alberto Del Rio are afterthoughts, victims of how WWE just puts the belt around guys with shitty booking and storytelling then blames THEM for us not caring. Oh and I still feel bad for Kofi Kingston, who was allegedly in line for a repackaging and push… but he’s just been jobbing as usual. WWE NXT is full of those undersized high workrate spot monkeys WWE hates pushing… but bringing back the cruiserweight/light heavyweight division is no bueno. That said, I think the writing and booking has improved, I see a lot of potential stars currently on the main roster and on NXT… I just want the world champion to be booked stronger. NO he doesn’t have to win all the time, but how is he your ‘best’ losing every week on TV? And I want a belt for the smaller guys, and the midcard belts to be unified. Then I’ll find something else to complain about. :D
Everything is set up for Daniel Bryan to win the world title at WrassleMania. I am still of the belief that it would be better for business for Batista to win. But, let’s take a look at what will happen if Daniel Bryan wins by looking back at WWE’s past.
You people believe that this will be like when HBK won at WrassleMania XII… Even though that won’t be Bryan’s first title, it’ll be his fourth. This isn’t when Stone Cold beat HBK at XIV or when Cena beat JBL at XXI. By the way, Batista beating HHH was the main event of that PPV. Anyway… the part of this I don’t get is people acting like winning the title at Mania will do more for making Daniel Bryan than losing to Sheamus in 18 seconds at XXVIII did. HE WAS WORLD CHAMP AT MANIA TWO MANIAS AGO! Also… some people will tell you that the belts don’t matter and they’re not real… they’re props. Buuuuuuut… WWE HAAAAAASSSSSSSS to do right by Daniel Bryan, right? I guess.
The other day I was talking to my best friend about how WWE blew it at XXV. Randy Orton should have beaten HHH clean, or HHH should have recieved an assist from his family that Orton terrorized leading into that match. Instead, Orton had HHH beaten, went for the sledgehammer and you can’t tell me HHH didn’t kick him in the dick before using the weapon and the Pedigree to miss that chance to pass the torch. HHH has always had to be above Orton, much like now where Orton’s title reign is reduced to “you can’t do anything without me”. The next year, HHH beat Sheamus in another match he should have put the younger talent over. Then HHH became a part timer at the SAME time Jericho left, HBK retired, Batista left and Edge would retire a year later. That SAME nigga, HHH runs shit now. And yall think he’s NOT going to try to milk this last run with Batista before he leaves again. Aight.
Let’s assume Bryan wins the belt. And next year Cena faces Undertaker. GUESS WHO’S NOT GOING TO MAIN EVENT MANIA AS CHAMPION!?! What if Rock comes back for another match, or CM Punk comes back and allllllllll these other names WWE can bring back. Almost all of them recieve priority over Bryan… just like telling the three Mania epic of Rock costing Cena the belt, beating Cena then Cena taking the belt from The Rock was more important that Punk’s 434 day run in between. Yes, I’m bitter that Punk never got to be the top guy while holding the belt that long. Yes, that’s why I insist Bryan ‘deserves’ no better. I just paid attention and learned my lesson from allowing myself to live in a fantasy world where an indie guy with a great workrate mattered more in ‘sports entertainment’ than a ripped guy with Hollywood ‘good looks’. Ugh.
Assuming Bryan wins the title, do you want to see him feud with Batista, Orton, Christian, Del Rio, Cesaro, Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt? I don’t. I would like to see Reigns win the belt on his first try. I think losing title matches would hurt Cesaro and Wyatt. And I’m definitely not here for “Bryan beats Orton part 3652425226″. So, I don’t think if Bryan wins the belt his reign will be anything to write home about. But, then… that IS how WWE books its champions, for them not to matter.
Bryan will win the belt sooner rather than later. I hope for later, just because I don’t think he’s worthy of being the top guy when CM Punk wasn’t. And I don’t think he raises the prestige of the title or the title raises his. And I don’t think there are any interesting feuds for him as champion. But, WWE listens, however begrudgingly, to its audience. So maybe.
It is a WrestleMania tradition around these parts for us keyboard warriors to engage in an occasional battle of wits and writing when it comes to the year’s biggest show in professional wrestling. Two years ago we sparred on varying opinions concerning John Cena and The Rock; the following year, we had mild discussions about the true relevancy of the “Once In A Lifetime” sequel. This year it seems we’re having a friendly disagreement on the outcome of what will more than likely be the main event: a Triple Threat Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship between Randy Orton, Batista, and Daniel Bryan.
The battle lines have been squarely drawn, the “marks” on one side loudly proclaiming the signature rallying cry of the #YesMovement with fervor and excitement. On the other side stands the “less markier,” triumphantly waving the banner of all that is right, probable and predictable given the WWE’s track record. I’ll be the first (and probably only) one to admit that I’m on the “mark” side, and as I respect all of my L.E.W.D. brethren I’ll restrain myself from outing the “less markier” of our group here; hashtag: Be A Star.
Since we’re all friends here we can be honest with one another; our less markier chums are absolutely right when it comes to the type of WWE independent contractor that gets the rub. Wrestling abilities often come as something tertiary to a person’s ability to be marketable to advertisers and the media and their propensity to entertain a wide variety of individuals at any given time. That special person also has to be “larger than life” physically and as far as their personality is concerned. There are varying opinions concerning exactly how a wrestler gets to that “larger than life” point, but the main thing that will get you over with the promotion’s top brass more than anything else is the fact that you’re physically intimidating. Where I’m from, we’d refer to that as being “big as f**k.”
Any fan with an elbow and an a**hole knows that WWE excels in keeping around and pushing these “big as f**k*” wrestlers, these “larger than life” superstars that can be pandered about to motion picture companies, morning talk shows, drive time radio programs and Make-A-Wish organizations in the hopes of making wrestling appear to be more than just a weekend fancy for toothless hillbillies or overweight millennials that love Cool Ranch Doritos and yelling at their moms from their basement man caves. This is a given, almost as much as it’s a given that the number three follows the number two and precedes the number four; it’s as obvious as the word obvious. D’uh, gahdammit.
In 2014, however, we’re all very aware that pro wrestling is a legit form of sports entertainment where the outcomes are predetermined. Unlike the fans of the highly lauded MMA or the much beloved NFL, there are very few folks over the age of ten (10) that watch wrestling because they’re looking to see a winner in a “real” wrestling match. Pro wrestling as entertainment is an art form where the winner of the match comes secondary to how the winner obtains his/her victory. The magic of pro wrestling happens in between the bells; the story told from the opening bell to the closing bell is what captures our imagination and energizes us to rally for or against a given superstar.
So for us “marks,” the story of Daniel Bryan’s ascent to the upper echelon of WWE is entertaining enough to give us good reason to believe he has the ability to break through the glass ceiling despite not being obnoxiously large and not found lacking the wrestling skills of Antonio Inoki or Jim Breaks. In many ways Bryan has already broken the glass ceiling much like his fellow wrestler CM Punk, difference being that as far as we know at this moment in time, people actually want Bryan in the company. I digress.
Then again there is pink elephant sitting comfortably in our easy chairs, the fat stinking reality that Dave Batista returned to the promotion to provide a significant financial boost to a WrestleMania XXX card that looks about as exciting as the WrestleMania XVII card that initially brought the L.E.W.D. Crew together three years ago. Hint: it wasn’t all that exciting.
Make no bones about it, we can all rest well knowing that the WWE Powers-That-Be expected Batista’s return to be the biggest and best thing for business at the moment. His return had everything to do with boosting revenue for the promotion’s marquee pay per view for the year and very little else. His win at the 2014 Royal Rumble only set in stone what we already knew …
Side Note: Returning superstars, whether it be from an injury or extended absence, ALWAYS get preferential treatment and main event matches. Sheamus, Edge, and John Cena all returned from “injuries” to win a Royal Rumble match; Brock Lesnar and The Rock returned to the company to face John Cena, the real “face” of the company. Christian returned from an injury to walk right into a championship feud. So this Batista 2014 Royal Rumble thing shouldn’t seem odd to anyone.
Unfortunately for the suits the fans buried Batista’s Royal Rumble win and turned on him with a ferociousness not seen since Vickie Guerrero started screaming “Excuse me!” To make matters slightly worse for the promotion, the primary reason fans turned on him—and continue to boo him at this current moment—is because he’s simply not Daniel Bryan. The “marks” don’t hate him because he walked into a main event pay per view spot; the marks dislike him because he’s not somebody else. Not being completely daft, the big wigs adjusted their creative direction and politely inserted Daniel Bryan into the WrestleMania XXX main event picture in order to keep things from being completely chaotic, because common sense only knows that the people paying to see the product can only take so much stuff before they start to tune completely out…and the WWE Network is too expensive for a decision like that to be casually dismissed by the Powers-That-Be.
Our “less markier” friend(s) contend that the promotion’s main idea still remains: Batista will win the WWE World Heavyweight Title and become the Face of the Company, while Daniel Bryan continues to chip away at that same glass ceiling we believed him to have broken through by virtue of being where he is now. Simply put, Batista will be the Man and Daniel Bryan will be Daniel Bryan.
Think about it: at forty-five (45) years old, Dave Batista is “everything WWE markets as a top superstar.” I’ll leave you that to think about for a few moments.
How anyone could say that with a self-respecting smile on their face is about as understandable to me as choosing Ben Affleck to portray Batman. Nevertheless it is a grim reality that we all have to acknowledge and respect; regardless of how fans reacted to his Royal Rumble win, Batista did not return to WWE to lose at a marquee pay per view; Batista did not return to WWE to be a bit player or second banana to anybody other than John Cena. Most importantly, WWE did not unload beaucoup bucks into Batista’s bank account to have him breathe new life into the mid-card division. Can we at least agree that by carting Batista’s forty-five (45) year old frame into the forefront of the promotion that there is something incredibly wrong with the archaic mentality permeating throughout all things produced by WWE? Or is it simply that we expect the promotion to fall back to the tried and true method of pushing guys that “look like wrestlers” more so than guys we respect as “wrestlers?”
Think back to a thought that I mentioned earlier: the magic of pro wrestling happens in between the bells; the story told from the opening bell to the closing bell is what captures our imagination and energizes us to rally for or against a given superstar. Whatever happens, be it Batista’s entire a** becoming the WWE Network’s official mascot or him holding the WWE World Heavyweight Title for an unprecedented 800 years, is it so wrong for a “mark” to at least hope that the exact opposite happens and can happen, especially after it has already happened?
Yes, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels received championship runs and were both considered to be the “Man” while holding the promotion’s top prize. Keeping in mind that the larger than life stars (Hogan, Hall and Nash) didn’t start kicking WWE’s fanny until 1997, and that Hart’s first title run was in 1992 and Michaels in 1995, and that Stone Cold Steve Austin (also a non-typical larger than life star with actual wrestling talent and ability that, while not on par with The Great Muta, was well advanced beyond the solid five maneuvers of Hogan, Andre the Giant and Big John Studd) was also deemed the “Man,” why are we coerced to accept the grimness of a Batista-led WWE?
What about the future? If we are supposed to believe in the harsh reality that guys like Batista are the only type of stars to be pushed by this promotion, then we cannot ignore the obvious reality that stars like Sheamus (really?), Cesaro (whom it took years for WWE to pick up in the first place and, despite being the typical superstar, has yet to be pushed to the moon like Sheamus because he has discernible wrestling talent), Big E (short and Black, given we haven’t had a “Black” WWE Champion since…never…and The Rock isn’t included because he rarely acknowledges his “Blackness” in public, opting to speak more of his Samoan heritage than anything else), Bray Wyatt (another non-typical WWE wrestler, sent back to developmental after being unable to capitalize off of a lackluster gimmick), and Roman Reigns (bright future but ain’t no way he’s getting a fast track to the “Man” status after similar jaunts failed miserably for Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio) are at least a calendar year away from being catapulted into the main event stratosphere. Real talk.
What’s left to do? We can begrudgingly accept Batista as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and as the larger than life superstar the promotion loves to flaunt to the public, but that reality is accompanied with the reality that his transitional reign will ultimately be a stepping stone for Daniel Bryan. When Batista disappears to promote Guardians of the Galaxy, Daniel Bryan will still be there. When Alexander Rusev continues to come out, stand on a pedestal, and talk about bread pudding in Russian, Daniel Bryan will still be there. When Mojo Rawley debuts and bores the crowd to literal tears, Daniel Bryan will still be there.
In that sense Daniel Bryan is already the “Man” in that someone his size shouldn’t have made it as far as he has in the promotion, a path that was ultimately paved by CM Punk who really just followed in the footsteps of the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mankind, and Macho Man Randy Savage. And those aren’t simply moral victories; they are actual triumphs in an industry that has thrived and failed with the big as f**k stars at the helm (Diesel? Diesel?).
That’s the end of that tale. The bus-i-ness may never evolve to a point where one’s work rate is perceived to be a more valuable commodity than one’s size and look, but to accept on it’s own merit is to also imply that the fans are just as incapable of evolving as the bus-i-ness is itself. After all, if a given promotion continues to push guys that “look” like wrestlers (and the ‘E isn’t the only one doing it) instead of guys that “are” wrestlers, and we continue to invest our time and money into them and write scathing blogs about it all…*ahem ahem*…what makes us more pure than the promotions we accuse of being evil?
Speaking of evolution, have we looked at the NXT roster lately? I do believe Mason Ryan to be one of a handful of stars on the roster that resembles The Ultimate Warrior…and this is the “future” of the company.
I want to start by pointing out that I called The Authority (Orton and The Shield under the umbrella) before the first time they beat the brakes off Daniel Bryan… long before they ruined it by loosening the affiliation and the support of HHH and Steph for Orton. Now… I see Batista beating Orton and Daniel Bryan at Mania, and Orton being left out in the cold when HHH forms a new Evolution, featuring himself, Batista, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins. Now… this might not happen because I realize booting out Ambrose and turning he and Orton face, and aligning them with Bryan against The Authority may not make the most sense, but ahhhhh this WRASSLIN!
In my not so humble opinion it doesn’t make much sense for the WWE WHC to play third fiddle behind Batista and Daniel Bryan, but if you’ve been paying attention, that’s exactly what’s been happening. Orton is losing clean every fucking week. Taking finishers all the time. He has to be the weakest champion since… Daniel Bryan’s WHC run. Batista has been cutting promos on Daniel Bryan every week and only LAST week did he say he was going to turn his focus to his opponent, Randy Orton. Smh. I’ve complained enough times on here about the idiocy of not having The Authority fully behind Orton that I won’t go into that. Now I’ll say it will make perfect sense for them to kick him to the curb and join forces with Batista.
My fellow LEWDites are markier than me, so they’ve forgotten that at WM 2000 HHH retained the title when Vince screwed The Rock. At WM X7 SCSA won the title when Vince screwed The Rock. At WM XXVII The Miz retained when The Rock screwed John Cena. And my mark friends think it is above WWE to screw Daniel Bryan because heels don’t go over at Mania. Excuse me.
There is a very plain, simple, discernible story being told here. I COULD be wrong but I very rarely am: Batista is everything WWE markets as a top superstar. Professional wrestling has never and will never be about your workrate. The top superstars EVER are: Hulk Hogan. Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Rock. John Cena. Not a technically proficient wrassler to be found there. None of them were the best wrestler in their era. I want you motherfuckers to realize fully what I’ve been laying down for you people for the last year: Guys that look like Daniel Bryan and CM Punk will win plenty of titles. But they will never be the man.
“But, Corbin… Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart were the man at WWE’s lowest point business wise…” AFTER HULK HOGAN, SCOTT HALL AND KEVIN NASH LEFT AND DAMN NEAR PUT WWE OUT OF BUSINESS, JABRONI!
So… allllllllll I’m saying here is… I could be wrong. But… WWE is only putting Bryan in the main event to not have it get crapped on. And then when Batista wins and everyone takes to the interwebs to moan and bitch about it, I’ll be here, saying ‘told you.’
What I find most perplexing is why everyone is acting like Daniel Bryan needs the belt. He is being booked as a top guy. He is RARELY losing clean on TV OR PPV. Whatever he has done since SummerSlam has been more important than whatever Randall has done. And I’ve made clear how I feel about that. When Daniel Bryan wins the belt again, and jerks the curtain on TV and PPV… you marks will cry that he’s being disrespected like CM Punk was when he wasn’t main eventing as champion. And I’ll smile because it’s just not that munchkin’s fate to be THE top guy in professional wrasslin. I like Daniel Bryan. Great worker. But… between Cena, Orton, Batista and Sheamus NOW and Cesaro, Big E, Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns in the FUTURE… IT’S NOT HAPPENING, MARKS!
One last time, I might could be wrong… but… I’m not. Wrasslin will never evolve into an animal where size and look matter less than workrate. Sorry. DEAL WITH IT. *drops mic and cues Saliva’s “I Walk Alone”*
John Cena is really the only true MADE wrassler in WWE. By that, I mean he’s so big he transcends the sport of professional wrasslin. THIS is why WWE brought back The Rock and Batista and Brock Lesnar. Those guys have done movies or, won a legitimate fighting championship. I have my theories as to why this is.
Only a moron has paid attention to the last good decade of wrasslin and not noticed that WWE was ill prepared for all of the deaths, defections and retirements of top talents. Go back to WrassleMania XX. Since then… Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit died. Edge retired. The Rock left for a good seven years and techically never came back. Same for Brrrrrrrrrrrock Lesnar who tried football before becoming UFC WHC. Chris Jericho has come back and left repeatedly. Kurt Angle, and Jeff Hardy are languishing in some unknown promotion. Batista and Bobby Lashley left to try MMA.
At this point fans would both welcome the intrigue of these guys coming back part time and cry “the young guys are being buried”
Randall Keith Orton is the very picture of what that transition did to WWE. He came in at the same time as Cena, but did not have the character and personality of Cena to stay off drugs and not catch an attitude when he’s trapped in the midcard for protacted periods. Orton has spent most of his career getting beat the fuck up by The Undertaker, HHH and John Cena. Those losses cannot be unseen. SO… now Taker only wrassles at Mania and makes an odd appearance… HHH goes maybe two three times a year. Cena is that guy so entrenched as “The Man” it’s too much for him to put over the FACT that Orton beat him clean for the WHC at TLC… then ‘bury’ him in a promo declaring their rivalry over once he won a good yet forgettable match on Raw. Orton has never at ANY point been ‘the man’. When HHH roamed the Earth, Orton was his footstool. Now, even when he’s touted BY HHH as the ‘face of the company’ it’s just empty words because they refuse to book him like he can hold his own against ANYONE. Counting XXX, Orton will have been in four WrassleMania title matches. He. Won. One.
The point of that last paragraph: Randy Orton has arguably everything but the comportment to be a TRUE superstar… and WWE has consistently treated him as second rate. And that’s why bringing back old guys is necessary, because Orton fatigue is as real as Cena fatigue. But, beating Orton just isn’t WORTH as much as beating Cena WOULD be, if they had him ACT like the class act he allegedly is. Honestly… my worst fear is that hypothetically speaking, Cena will drop the title to Roman Reigns next year… and WWE will do everything in its power to make it more about Cena losing than Reigns winning. Listen… I’m not a Cena hater at all. I just wish they’d fucking use him right to build new stars.
There’s this short guy who is very popular amongst all demographics, although he reportedly does not draw money or ratings yet. They let him beat Cena clean… and ever since then he’s just been a guy hovering between midcard and main event status. Fans aren’t dumb… they won’t put money into a guy they know the promotion won’t put the machine behind. Ratings and tshirt sales and network subscriptions would probably go up if they booked him right. As it is… people are just watching and waiting… HOPING they do the right thing, fearing that if and when they do… noooooooo one will care by then.
There was this guy that used to work for WWE that cut a scathing promo that made him very popular amongst the fake ass smarks. They did NOT allow him to beat Cena clean… he won because of outside interference and then because the special guest referee didn’t see Cena’s foot on the rope. They still sold a shit ton of “Best in the World” tshirts. At one point… this man’s merch was outselling Cena’s. WWE then showed its faith in him by having him drop the belt, and as I’ll never get tired of writing… he won it back three months later after losing much of that momentum losing to HHH for no apparent reason and held the belt over a year. A year that saw him still take a backseat to whatever Cena was doing. And he was promised ANOTHER match with HHH… and he left. Cuz fuck it. The ‘glass ceiling’ he referenced in that promo is still intact.
So. I look at Big E and see a guy devoid of personality. Nothing about him is marketable except that he LOOKS like an action figure. Everytime he speaks he SOUNDS like he was fed scripted material, and makes him plain like vanilla ice cream. I look at Cesaro and see a guy who’s had dumb gimmick after dumb gimmick slapped on him. Right now, ‘The Swiss Superman’… is a ‘Real American’. They’re gonna end that soon… but I’m scared they’ll have him yodeling again. I’m fearful Bray Wyatt will be another offering on the altar of the Temple of Cena. Roman Reigns… can do no wrong… but I have little hope they won’t do him wrong.
Cena is approaching 40. It’s time to START putting the machine behind Roman Reigns. They’re off to a decent start… but we’ll see. I get that in pro wrasslin… Hogan did the nWo thing in his 40s and damn near put WWE out of business and he and Ric Flair would STILL wrassle if they let them. Facts are, only so long you can hitch your cart to old men like Batista. I’m just saying…
Just Listen and Learn.
There exists a minor debate between me and those who will remain unnamed (not due to disrespect or anything; they’re just numerous) regarding Bryan Danielson’s role in the current storyline, in regards to his winning the championship. I’m in the camp that says he should get it at Wrestlemania and others say it should wait until Extreme Rules. After minutes of exhausting back and forth, coupled with valid points on each side, we all came to a conclusion that satisfied all our minds: Bryan’s story was all kinds of screwed up.
If anything, you can almost exclusively pin that very blame on Bryan himself: he simply became TOO popular and the company didn’t see it coming. That’s to say, they knew he’d be popular but at no point – I reckon – did they anticipate that he’d be THIS popular. They could not have anticipated that he’d have entire arenas chanting “YES!”; they could not have imagined that college teams would be chanting “YES!” to hype themselves up or celebrate victory; they could never have fathomed that the state of Washington would have such an amazing year that only served to make Daniel Bryan’s career all the more potent, and yet it all happened, through fate, divine intervention, chance circumstance or the dumbest of dumb luck. Bryan Danielson, for better or worse, is the most popular man in the WWE, and with great popularity comes great divisiveness; this may or may not manifest as supporters and detractors though.
When it comes to Bryan, it comes down to the opening paragraph’s conflict. With Bryan’s popularity came confusion amongst the writers of the WWE product (I assume). For a company accused of catering to a casual crowd and fumbling any long-term storylines, the fault can’t really be pinned on them as much as we want to pin it on them; we CAN pin a lot of blame on them, mind you. Writers – and we at L.E.W.D. being writers – aren’t always able to anticipate when something takes off. Look at South Park for example: Eric Cartman was always a character Trey Parker and Matt Stone could fall back on for humor, but it wasn’t until the infamous episode “Scott Tenorman Must Die” that – and excuse my French – shit hit the fan. It established Eric Cartman as unspeakably evil and took an already clever show and moved it into a frighteningly dark direction that in my opinion wasn’t replicated until the season two finale of Morel Orel. Parker and Stone may have had an idea, but to have Eric Cartman compared to Archie Bunker and Tony Soprano was surely appreciated.
So let’s look at it. First Bryan is chosen by Cena to take him on at Summerslam. Bryan wins. Then Triple H and Orton conspire to take the belt from him and succeed. The storyline begins: Daniel Bryan versus the Authority. It continued in a somewhat broken pattern, having him directly confront them, then not, then moving him on, then taking on someone else, and perhaps that’s why I’m in the camp that wants him to take the belt at Mania, pulling double duty like they’ve been doing with him pretty frequently. While it might make more sense for Bryan to win the title against Orton in a third climactic battle come Extreme Rules, my point of view has another battle between the two as fruitless, Bryan having proven that he can defeat the man with and without interference already.
Along that same line of thinking, with Orton being the “face” of the Authority (I hesitate to say the Face of the WWE because I fail to see how anyone can dictate who is and isn’t such a thing), I see the upcoming (still unofficial but watch) match between Bryan and Triple H to be the epitome of physical conflict that could occur in the disjointed battle between the former and the authoritative assembly that has, much to the fan’s hypocrisy, kept people watching. A win for Bryan over Triple H at Wrestlemania would solidify his stock, a stock which really hasn’t been tested. Bryan defeated Cena; he defeated Orton; the proof of his relative ease in taking on opponents lies in that he likely would have won that very elimination chamber battle had he NOT let his gripes with Kane push him to attacking the man. Remember: Kane came out there to berate the Wyatt Family, not to interfere in the match.
All the same, I’ve long since contended that the real mastermind of the Authority isn’t Orton or Triple H but Stephanie McMahon herself, and a match between her and Daniel Bryan would be both questionable and rude. At the same time, it would be a subtle nod to what Orton had to do to really get Triple H’s respect (and hatred): beat her and molest her, in that order. As I write this I wonder if Stephanie is in the back, plotting to throw every possible roadblock in Bryan’s path before he gains what he really wants from them: a moment’s reprieve.
I’m not speaking on his habit of two matches a night either: I mean he probably just wants them to leave him alone. Who wouldn’t? He’s had everybody and their mothers thrown at him from a psychological perspective, straight up bullying from the authority who for all intents and purposes should follow the anti-bullying campaign more than anybody else. As a short guy myself, I found it particularly heartbreaking that they called Bryan out on his height; he’s only a couple of inches taller than me really. I found it even more unsettling that they referred to him as a “B” player, only upgrading to “B+” after a look of sheer disbelief on that man’s face (I can’t find it but if I do I’ll share it on another day).
There are also the promos. In the latest, Daniel Bryan bumrushed Mr. and Mrs. Pedigree, and it wasn’t Triple H who stepped in front of Stephanie to keep Bryan further away, but Stephanie who stepped in front of Trips and told the bearded submission master off. Eventually all of that will pay off, but I’ll be damned if I know when. Maybe it WILL end with Bryan vs. Orton one last time, and like I said: I don’t care to see it, not really. Triple H is above Orton on that brand of hierarchy and taking him on is like taking on Stephen Colbert in a big time event of cataclysmic proportions, and you get the actual physical proof of such a thing a month later when you take on Jim. Orton is Jim: he’s a tool for Triple H (Colbert) to use to advance a story.
Of course, it could also be in part due to CM Punk’s departure. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: his leaving screwed EVERYHING up; everything that was in place or set to be in place was thrown into disarray when he pulled an Eric Cartman and took off. If nothing else it shows just how much impact one man has, and while he wasn’t set to win the Royal Rumble (or was he and something had them do otherwise… no, he wasn’t) his continued presence in the main event scenes meant that he was to play some role, and his continued popularity says that it was to be a larger role than many of us can imagine. Main event? Doubtful. Major? Most likely.
I won’t go into the implications and new lore of Phil Brooks because frankly another L.E.W.D. writer has done a greater job at it than I thought possible from anybody, so kudos to Corbin Macklin. You can find those pieces here and here. My questions go as follows: the match, the implications and the history. In regards to the match, what would have happened had Punk maintained that match with Triple H and Bryan didn’t inherit it? Where would Bryan be right now? I assume he’d be fighting a high profile match that would lead to a title shot at Extreme Rules, to be honest. But we’ll never know. Two, the implications, which play more into the depth of the first question. We’ll leave those implications to wiser men than I. I apologize for the lack of wiser men than I.
But then we get the history. Regular conversations with the likes of Mr. Morris, Mr. Banks and Mr. Gammon keep them privy to my thoughts regarding stuff, and one of the things in the category in “stuff” is age. Not long ago, as I was rummaging through old stuff, I found a few things that brought back some fun memories from high school and college. Found an old fan I used to keep cool in my smoldering dorm room, a still wrapped pair of CDs I bought from a local artist in the middle of No-Coloreds-In-Sight, Georgia, an earring I thought a friend of mine lost around the time I discovered my second semester of my second year of college would have me in a solo dorm… er… uh… but most importantly I found an old mixtape I put together, one of the two major ones I made back in 2005. “Da Life and Times of C. Eazy Loot” was one of them and believe me when I say I was in a questionable place when I thought the world wanted to hear me rap; luckily that’s not the mixtape I found. The other was a playlist I threw together of some of the most hype songs I was hearing at the time, notably Lil Scrappy’s “Head Bussa” and Crime Mob’s “If You Got Ana”, both of which will, if played in public, cause me to go wild.
What got to me was how old this mixtape was. 2005; I have vivid memories of the year, even the slow creation of the playlist, down to where I was sitting and how I was scratching my then-puppy’s belly while I did it, but it was nearly ten years ago. Ten years. I felt old.
No, really, I felt like a fossil. But I was on the phone at the time too, speaking to friends about decades. Ten years, twenty years (two decades, also known as a score), and with Wrestlemania XXX this year it stood to reason that we spoke on Wrestlemania XX. That PPV, for me, is one of the standout events in the WWE’s history. Why? Not because the event was all that great; it was good but not nearly great. It was mostly forgettable in fact, at least in my opinion, but it had this moment:
It was glorious: this was a time where I was just starting to consistently buy PPVs, and dealing with folk growing out of watching the product whereas I was getting deeper into it, and looking back on it now I can say that while the Triple H-Shawn Michaels-Chris Benoit match was terrific the moment Benoit stood with that belt, triumphant after a long, long, LONG road, alongside his friend who had faced a similar road. It was Guerrero and Benoit’s night, and when I look at that match I said, “Oh crap, they can do it again…”
The circumstances for Benoit were different, mind you. For one, it was Benoit’s first world title. For two, he was taking on Degeneration-X, officially or otherwise. They hyped the man up though: they made you a Benoit fan, down to him entering the 2004 Royal Rumble at number one and winning the whole damn thing. He DECLARED that he would be the World Heavyweight Champion, and proceeded to do it in the main event in the biggest event in years.
Those are the moments that make Wrestlemania the spectacle is (usually) is. And the match itself could easily be recreated with Daniel Bryan if they throw him into the main event at WM XXX, but I’m more impressed by how similar it would be. It wouldn’t be Bryan’s first world title in the WWE, but it would be his first WWE WHC title, for whatever that’s worth. Bryan also didn’t win the Rumble; as a legion of booing fans will remind you, Bryan wasn’t even in the Rumble itself. The psychology behind the fans who wanted to see Bryan win the Rumble (not only was he not scheduled to be in it: we KNEW Rey Mysterio was!) and who fell silent and took on “Angry Miz Girl” faces after the Chamber is a 400 level college course in and of itself.
But were Bryan thrown into the match, he WOULD be taking on Evolution, and considering the role Triple H held ten years ago (seriously, TEN YEARS!) as the champion, it isn’t hard to look at the same kind of thing happening were a triple threat to take place as the main event between Batista, Daniel Bryan and the champion Randy Orton. Even the dynamics are the same damn near.
Triple H is the powerhouse. He’s big, he’s strong, he’ll rollout and roll over you like Whitney’s motherfucking Miltank in the Pokémon games. His strength is undeniable, as are his many title reigns. Batista fills this role, being a big, strong Miltank that nobody likes; also like a Miltank he is a one-trick pony that can be blown away the second you knock out his momentum and taunt the woman behind him. Or in Bootista’s (as this guy might call him) case, the woman that he’s in. You know, because he’s known for doing illicit things to women. Rather disrespectfully, I might add.
Shawn Michaels is the leaner, swifter pseudo-technician. He’s big but lanky, strong but wiry; he’ll kick you in the face like Hitmonlee in the Pokémon franchise. His talent is undeniable, as are his many title reigns. Orton fills this role, being a lean, tactical Hitmonlee that people underappreciate and, in this case, underestimate; also like Hitmonlee he’s seen as predictable. Hitmonlee is, as fans of the franchise know, restricted to kicks, and people tend to think they can telegraph Orton’s move set, but examining his little gauntlet let us know that he’s a lot more aware than we give him credit. Just ask Mr. Morris, who brilliantly laid it out here and here. If anything, much like Michaels, Orton is the most interesting of the match, the one who can really stop the show, the one who basks in the hate he receives and delivers tremendous quality, even in the midst of people not realizing it.
And that leaves Benoit. Benoit was THE technician. He was that man who could outwrestle anybody; competition meant either wrestling himself (insert masturbation joke here) or shadowboxing. He could work the ring, work the opponent’s body and made it a habit to tell stories in the ring, showing us that the biggest guy didn’t necessarily have to be the most impressive one. Sometimes the greatest surprises came in the smaller packages.
This is Daniel Bryan. He doesn’t fill the role: he IS that role. I may not have said it very often up here, but Daniel Bryan is everything Chris Benoit was, down to his finisher which is only a stone throw away from being the Crippler Crossface. Much like CM Punk adopted the flying elbow, Daniel Bryan adopted the diving headbutt. Bryan is more versatile in the sense that he has a more strike oriented move set right now though, such as his aggressive kicks and Busaiku Knee Kick that they refuse to give a name to. Ignoring the Pokémon metaphor (thinking about Whitney made me mad) the reason his moment would be grand at this year’s Wrestlemania if he won the title would be because it pleased the fans; it isn’t even about the title so much anymore as seeing the man succeed.
As I write this piece, I ask myself if I really want to see him acquire the title right now, but like I said before it was because of how oddly his story has been handled. Frankly I don’t think it much matters when he wins at this point: it’ll feel anticlimactic because there’s no real path they’ve followed outside of Bryan complaining about the Authority screwing him over. Without a logical A to Z, Bryan’s road will feel awkward, period. So sure, he can win at Mania, or Rules, or even the third Main Event of the month of July, but unless the road makes more sense, it’ll feel weird.
Maybe if they didn’t rush his Wyatt storyline it would make more sense, but even that felt like a detour BECAUSE it was cut so short. Bryan won at Night of Champions (or was it Vengeance? (same difference)) and the title was ripped from his hands, and from then on it became disjointed.
That’s another thing that made Benoit’s win so special: it was completely and utterly earned. Everyone is given a chance to be in the Rumble, but then you’re on your own. He started from the number one spot and defeated everyone he had to in order to win. He EARNED that spot; at no point was he given a handout because the people in creative didn’t know of a more substantial entry point. The fact is that Daniel Bryan’s world title run began when someone said, “I’ll give him a chance”. Literally. The set up was John Cena was told to pick his own opponent, and the only consistency of this whole story is that the Authority wasn’t big on him from the beginning.
That isn’t a “taint” so much as an asterisk. Everything may be an intricate plot to make Daniel Bryan the truest example of an underdog who made the most of his opportunities and got screwed over because the people who gave him those opportunities did not expect him to capitalize on them.
But that’s the gist of the “Yes! Movement”. I pondered on Bryan being the second coming of Benoit, and that has been more or less founded. I pondered on him having a similar moment at Wrestlemania XXX, but I don’t even think it’s quite possible anymore. The reception would be just as massive, and maybe that’s the thing that determines the moment. Either way we’re getting Daniel Bryan versus Triple H at the grandest stage of them all, and regardless of my feelings towards the possibility of Bryan headlining the program or getting the title, I’m sure Danielson and Hunter will make their conflict a good one.
I keep tellin yall niggas: WWE fans nowadays want to be the show and could give a damn less about the show itself. This Monday the fans plan on ‘hijacking’ Raw, which ostensibly portends copious “CM Punk” chants. And those fans will be wronger than 2+2 = 46636436353. CM Punk was not forced out or fired, he quit. He left with half a year left on his contract. If you want to hijack the show, you REALLY need to hijack yourself!
The dirtsheets have spread the impression that CM Punk left because he didn’t like how Daniel Bryan was being booked. You are goofier than a pet coon if you believe that shit. As I have ranted over the last year, it was because Punk wanted to be the main event. “Deserved” to be the main event. And over the last few years, everyone but him is in that main event spot. This year Batista came back and took the main event from him. Seriously. I’ve written ALL YEAR the most logical main event booking was Orton vs Punk. And there’s Batista coming out of nowhere. I’ve never been upset with CM Punk’s decision to leave. I completely understand it.
What I don’t understand (beyond you people that think Daniel Bryan either needs to be champion or he’s being buried) is why fans take the side of CM Punk when good sense should tell you he’s the one you need to be mad at. For real… as a WWE fan you should feel betrayed. This guy was given almost everything and he just left. I don’t feel this way, but I’m playing Devil’s Advocate. People troll WWE for Punk leaving… why don’t you blow up @CMPunk on twitter? Tell him he needs to suck it up and come back and remember he once said “I can only change this company from the inside”?
All that said… I watch Raw and SmackDown and I can’t help but be excited for the future. Roman Reigns, Cesaro, Bray Wyatt and Big E are interesting building blocks. In a year or two WWE won’t need to bring anyone back for Mania because they are finally making stars. I hope they don’t jump the gun and throw them into main event matches and kill their forward momentum. See Swagger, Jack and Del Rio, Alberto for examples of guys who arrived, got pushed to the moon, and plummeted back to terra firma.
Re: Daniel Bryan… why are people acting like the world title makes a difference as though he isn’t a three time world champion? People clamor for him to win liike he’s never won before. What people blind themselves to… is Rey Mysterio and Daniel Bryan’s first title reigns. Mysterio getting beat the fuck up by Mark Henry, Great Khali and Kane, Bryan running from Big Show and Mark Henry. Because realistically… NONE OF US WANT TO SEE LITTLE MEN BEATING UP GIANTS! Anyway, I’ve written a lot about how he DOES deserve a long title reign. Just not to be the ‘face’ of the company. To be that champion who never main events. Just like CM Punk.
And if he were to quit, that’d be WWE’s fault, right? Just like CM Punk.
On Sunday, February 23, 2014, Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards defeated Robbie E and Jessie Godderz at a TNA Live Event to become the new TNA World Tag Team Champions. Congratulations to Richards and Edwards on their title victory, their first title run in the company after debuting five weeks ago on IMPACT Wrestling.
I only have one question, an honest question that has very little to do with The Wolves’ victory or the numerous explanations that “justify” why they were thrust in the spotlight so soon in their stint in TNA Entertainment, LLC…
What the *&#! is up with the BroMans???
From our L.E.W.D. offices it seemed as if very few fans gave a good damn about the BroMans losing their titles during a live event match. To be a bit more accurate, it seemed as if fans were thrilled that the Wolves—a supposedly more marketable and beloved team—knocked off the BroMans at a non-televised event. Any chase or hunt (pun intended) that could have happened, and the tons of money that could have been made from it, all gone in the blink of an eye in Morgantown, West Virginia.
We get it; the BroMans are already two dance contests deep in being just another set of jobbers used in between thrilling matches on IMPACT Wrestling. We’ve been given very few reasons to take them seriously as tag team champions, let alone as a tag team in the first place, and at best their 126-day reign was transitional, something to keep the tag team division relevant until a far more qualified tag team
that wasn’t Bad Influence showed up.
Over time the pairing of Jessie “Mr. Pectacular” Godderz and Robbie E showed signs of growth, development and maturation that spoke highly of their depth as wrestlers and performers. It also gave fans a reason to believe that TNA was truly beginning to develop a new era of TNA Wrestlers. No one will ever…and I mean ever… speak of the BroMans in the same sentence as The Midnight Express, The Rockers, The Road Warriors, Demolition or the Four Horsemen (except for this one instance here), but they grew to be way more competent in the ring than anyone would’ve ever guessed.
To say it differently, these two as a tag team deserve way more credit than what they’re given.
This is why I’m particularly confused and slightly concerned about our reaction to the Wolves’ title victory this past Sunday. There was so much talk and focus on the guys who won the match more so than the guys who lost, even though the guys that lost the titles put in their fair share of work when it came to adding prestige and value to the titles and the tag team division.
Say what we will about the BroMans, but they held the titles and defended them often in a division that only had enough tag teams to fit into a Geo Metro. If TNA’s Tag Team Division could be personified as the Land of the Blind, the BroMans were effectively the cycloptic monarchs of all they surveyed, and it says something about the promotion and the division when challengers for the tag titles have to be imported to be competition for your champions.
All that being said, TNA is once again placed in the unenviable “damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t” position. The BroMans had a terribly cheesy chickens**t gimmick that they turned into chicken salad, and just when the opportunity for fans to take them seriously popped up, they’re unceremoniously defeated for their titles and fans are instantly more interested in the two new non-TNA guys than the homegrown stars. Lord knows that if a certain other promotion did something similar half the doggone IWC would be brandishing their torches and pitchforks before the end of this sentence.
I guess that’s the crux of my problem; despite having the titles for four months, despite growing to be a solid in-ring tag team, despite making the media rounds for the promotion, the BroMans get the bum’s rush for a five week old tag team. The same thing happened during AJ Styles’ first run as TNA World Heavyweight Champion when he was defeated easily by Rob Van Dam, who had only been in the promotion for six weeks at the time.
If a conclusion must be drawn from these two instances, it could be that the promotion stays true to what has been the case for sports entertainment ever since the very first WrestleMania: a promotion will do what’s necessary in order to make money. When thinking of it all from that perspective, it’s mere elementary to see and know that Rob Van Dam stood to get more revenue for the promotion than did AJ Styles, just as The Wolves stand to make a bigger splash for TNA than the BroMans. That, regardless of whether we want to admit it or not, is truly depressing; it’s depressing because even when fans think we’re getting what we want, the bottom line always revolves around money.
It’s at times like these, particularly during TNA’s self-proclaimed #RealNewEra, that fans get to witness the rise of the next big thing in “the business.” As easy as it is to blame the promotion for the title change, we also have to wonder whether or not Robbie and Jessie truly capitalized on the precious opportunity awarded them. Taking all of their development into consideration, it’s pretty crappy that they weren’t even given the chance to lose the titles after a lengthy and fabulously constructed feud.
Not only that, but they were also defeated for their titles with two more taped episodes of IMPACT Wrestling from the UK ready to be aired on television, meaning that these two taped episodes will show us whether or not this title change was predetermined well before the Wolves were even introduced to fans in proper fashion. And if that’s the case, the whole element of surprise that’s coupled with the “anything can happen at a TNA Live Event” chatter is riddled with duplicitous half-truths…but I digress.
The focus of this piece revolves around Robbie E and Jessie Godderz, a tag team given a priceless opportunity to raise the stock of TNA’s tag team division and how they capitalized off of that opportunity. We can only assume at this point that the spotlight pointed in their direction has slowly dimmed leaving them barely visible in the grand scheme of things; if there is any truth to the speculation surrounding their loss (I heard that the Wolves were more popular in Japan, and seeing as the big Wrestle-1 crossover is looming on the horizon, it would make sense for the more popular team—as opposed to the already established one—to defend the titles against one of Japan’s finest tag teams), these assumptions are generalizations sturdy enough to build a two story house on. With James Storm currently in the beginning stages of a heel turn while holding a Feast or Fired briefcase for a future tag team title shot (which will inevitably be accompanied by a reconciliation with former tag team partner Robert Roode), there’s no reason in the wide World According to Garp for us to believe a program between the BroMans and the Wolves will grace our screens anytime after Lockdown in two weeks. And let’s just be honest with one another…do any of you reaaallly want to see a month long feud between the BroMans and the Wolves? Didn’t think so.
Mr. Christopher Lamb coined a phrase that succinctly describes my perception of the greatest asset of the Attitude Era: “professional competition.” The Attitude Era wasn’t great because of the rampant nudity, vulgar language and extremely violent matches. On the contrary, the Attitude Era was great (in part) due to rosters loaded with athletes who were not only passionate about their craft but also determined to be the best in their promotion and in the business. These wrestlers would approach 9 out of 10 of their matches desiring to not only make their opponent look good, but also raise the bar to show the suits that they should be highly considered among their peers to be the one and only top dog in the promotion. Very few of the stars were complacent and most of them made great use of the time they were given in the ring, be it forty-five seconds or forty-five minutes. If there’s anything “wrong” with the current era of the business, it’s that too many stars show that fire inside of the ring and opt to use Twitter to vent their frustrations; that’s honestly just wasted energy.
In regards to the BroMans, and with no malice or ill-intent towards their work and work ethic, it’s questionable whether they or their tag team cohorts have that same level of professional competition to give the TNA suits a valid reason to have their title change televised instead of taking place at a live event. It’s one thing to want to give the fans a great show; it’s another thing to want to make TNA the best sports entertainment promotion in the world. It’s a completely different thing to want to be the best at what you bring to the table and to empower those around you to want to do the same. The difference between Grade A work and Grade C work can’t be found in terms of what was done correctly or incorrectly; the difference is found in how well one does what one does and then exceeds that level to an unfathomable degree. The recent and “surprising” turn of events suggests that TNA felt very comfortable with passing the torch to the Wolves as a reward for the BroMans’ average work with the titles.
All of this could change in the upcoming weeks; I’ve read the spoilers and I’m aware of the unique situation both teams are placed in heading into Lockdown. That being said, the BroMans are trekking to Miami as the former champions, and as of right now they are not slated for a rematch until after the show…unless the titles change hands again at another live event.
At this point the only thing any fan can do is trust that the promotion knows what it’s doing and wait to see where the ride takes us. For what its worth, I do still feel as if the BroMans got the raw end of the deal and hope that in the upcoming weeks their foppish chicanery turns into a serious quest to prove their mettle as one of TNA’s #RealNewEra home grown tag teams.
I have a problem with everyone’s “perception” of the WWE Network. For starters, the damn thing isn’t even out yet.
You can trash-talk a brand new sports-car all you want and base it on a bunch of pre-conceived notions (i.e doors are slanted funny, no convertible top, lacks a built-in toaster oven) but until you invest in one and drive it, or at least test-drive someone else’s (because this is the era of mooching) all of those aforementioned pre-conceived notions mean precisely dick.
Like everything else in wrestling, would-be analysts and “fans” are rushing to wherever they see other “fans” like a bunch of Pygmy Sasquatches ready to follow the herd off a cliff.
This is one of the more serious problems with the internet-era of pro wrestling. Everyone thinks they’re an analyst. Considering that half the idiots I see trolling dirt sheet message boards can’t even spell the word “analyst”, I’ll explain.
an·a·lyst noun \ˈa-nə-ləst\
: a person who studies or analyzes something
See that up there? That’s the definition of analyst. In order to analyze it, you have to study it. In order to study it, you need to have access to it. In order to access it, it has to be made available to you.
Everyone who supports TNA took half a listen to a few sentences about TNA’s decision to cut back from 12 PPVs a year to 4 and called it revolutionary. That’s because the majority of pro-wrestling “analysts” are just jaded fans who will blindly accept anything given to them if it sounds like what they want.
We’ve had long discussions about the difference between giving fans what they want and giving them what they like. Thing is, how did that PPV thing turn out for TNA? Horribly.
We went from gawdawful storylines and really crappy booking decisions that went month to month to gawdawful storylines and really crappy booking decisions that had to be stretched over three month periods because suddenly, there were no events to make major story developments at.
Case in point, TNA “fans”, who are really just TN-Ablers, heard the words “PPV” and “format change” and immediately lauded it as the best thing in pro wrestling, something that would assuredly take TNA to the top where they’ve been denied their glory for so long.
Here’s where I hit you with some truth, and this is why folks don’t always like my writing; because I have this tendency to be right before the question is even asked.
The cream rises to the top.
Yeah, it’s a cliché but it’s the truth. If a promotion or wrestler is talented enough, works hard enough and gets the right break at the right time, they rise to the top. That’s why, in hindsight, everyone needs to chill the hell out about Daniel Bryan. WWE makes questionable decisions all the time.
Pro wrestling is about egos and those get in the way of plans all the time but the WWE is not stupid.
They were making plenty of bad booking decisions in 2004 but they were still smart enough to know solid gold when they saw it and in 2004, that was John Cena. In 2014, a decade later, that solid gold is Daniel Bryan.
Bryan will get where he needs to go. Whether it happens at this year’s WrestleMania is another story but we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it. I digress.
If TNA really wanted to be at the top, they’d be there. Or as close as they could reasonably get. Honestly, TNA could produce the best wrestling and stories in the world (and no, despite the good they achieved during their best years, it still wasn’t the best in the world) and they’d still lose to WWE. That’s just straight facts.
TNA doesn’t have the resources or the brand awareness or the business acumen to even shine WWE’s crappiest pair of worn out high school prom shoes. But in a perfect world, with a better TV deal, smarter folks at the helm and a helluva lot more resources, TNA would exist as a legit number two promotion.
If they wanted to.
The thing is, they seem to know that they won’t ever get near the number two spot. So they gradually stopped trying. Now, it’s just sad to watch them sputter along, wasting a perfectly good TV spot.
I say all this because my above analysis of TNA isn’t based on pre-conceived notions or jumping to early conclusions. It’s based on studying and watching this promotion and following their decisions over a span of years.
Don’t make the mistake of jumping all over the WWE for the Network and assuming they’ll start slacking on PPV quality because they have guaranteed subscribers watching (the most popular argument currently).
It may sound counter-intuitive but WWE actually has more pressure on them with guaranteed viewers than they did when they were earning PPV buys. The people who had the choice to buy the PPVs were going to buy them or not regardless. A lot of them would base their decisions on, you guessed it, pre-conceived notions.
Still, look at Netflix. They make questionable decisions all the time but when your customers are subscribers who are now actively paying a monthly fee for your stuff, you HAVE to deliver the goods. Netflix delivers the goods. Don’t believe me? Go ask the former CEO of Blockbuster why that chain no longer exists.
Now that WWE has guaranteed PPV viewers and content subscribers, the pressure is on more than ever before to pick up the steam and deliver top-notch programming. Because WWE Network can’t survive on just old school viewers who buy it to re-live the glory days.
WWE Network will be supported by people who want the best wrestling in the world.
This company will continue making questionable decisions but in order to keep subscribers and attract new ones, they’ll have to deliver. But if you don’t believe me, it’s no worry to me.
Just don’t base that opinion off of pre-conceived notions.
First and foremost I wish for a world where WWE knows we will not find a dance off entertaining. LOL. No. No LOL cuz I’m serious but LOL cuz first and foremost I should thank The Great Quinn Gammon for disagreeing with damn near everything I say and still letting me post my ramblings on here. The Christopher also disagrees with my awesomeness regularly but he’s the one who approached me to write on here and I’ll always appreciate him for that. The Ashley T. is my nigga cuz she always hits me up to say she likes my shit and I give her shit for not writing more often. LOL. The Ashley M. is my nigga FO LIFE cuz we like the contrast between our styles. He’s analytical and covers every aspect of whatever he’s trying to disseminate. I just kinda curse and complain about what I don’t like about WWE and occasionally talk about what I do like.
Anyway… I’m sitting here watching SmackDown and honestly thinking about how I don’t even miss CM Punk. I’ll mark out if and when he comes back, but dammit I could actually care less that he left right now.
Batista was said to be working a full schedule including house shows. He has not wrassled on TV or appeared on SmackDown yet. I read he wrassles at a house show soon, so hopefully in the build to Mania we can see some Batista Bombs to make us forget he’s another guy like The Rock just coming back to get a month with the world title.
I honestly would want to see Brock Lesnar get a title reign, if it coincided with more tv appearances.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how Daniel Bryan hasn’t been buried like a lot of morons claim. By not being in the Rumble and not winning it, he was actually protected and look! He’s getting a title shot in the Elimination Chamber. Where he has defended a world title.
Still hate how Orton is being booked. Losing often but retaining at the PPVs just ensures this will be one of those forgettable world title reigns where the holder never did anything significant as champion. See The Miz, Del Rio, Jack Swagger, Ziggler, etc.
Speaking of The Miz, Alberto Del Rio, Jack Swagger, and Dolph Ziggler, them niggas not even getting in no good storylines. Del Rio getting fed into the Batista Bomb. The Miz is disgruntled and rumored to form a wack tag team with Dolph Ziggler that will be dismantled not long after its creation like Awesome Truth and Ziggler and Swagger, and Swagger was just a name out a hat to put over Big E.
Speaking of Big E I liked when he attacked Swagger backstage earlier. WWE should do well to not rush him into the Main Event level because you gotta get some good heat behind you to even make it to that level. Big E and Roman Reigns are destined to main event WrassleMania one day.
Same thing with Roman Reigns. He and Big E should feud over the IC title and then he should take the US title from Dean Ambrose and let him run roughshod over the midcard. EVERYONE can see this is potentially the next top guy in the company. Allllllll they gotta do is not slap a dumbass gimmick on him, just let him BE Roman Reigns and I can easily see him winning next year’s Rumble and main eventing Mania next year, hopefully against Cena.
I still want them to bring back the light heavyweight championship. King of the Ring. MORE cage matches and more violence. There shouldn’t be cage matches with no getting run into and thrown into the cage. No raking the face on the cage. And it’s because they don’t want the blood. Bitch, this is WRASSLIN.
Almost forgot, I’m really high on Cesaro and Bray Wyatt and Titus O’Neil and Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. Luke Harper needs to show me more of what I’ve heard about his talents in the ring. I feel like HHH and them are doing a great job of cultivating talent, the one weakness is that no one is at that Cena level right now, not even close.
Speaking of Cena, I listened to his appearance on The Steve Austin Show. Where they talked about how because of booking and guys being scared of being fired and as all my TNA hating brethren mockingly point out: not once bringing TNA up as an option. It was like ROH, the indies, or WWE. LOL.
Cena has had some good matches recently, against Orton and Cesaro in particular. Gotta give him his due. Then say he still needs to change his character. I’d say Orton’s Viper thing is played, especially his promos. But bet neither Cena or Orton change. :(
It is anybody’s guess as to what will happen next for WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton. Although he successfully survived the series of matches over the last three weeks imposed upon him by The Authority, the Apex Predator did not escape their machinations without succumbing in some way to the toll inflicted on his psyche by the gauntlet.
Orton only won one of the five matches in the gauntlet, which surely will fuel the ever growing sense of insecurity festering within him. This type of momentum or negative energy surging within Orton could be extremely bad for him as he prepares to defend his title during this Sunday’s Elimination Chamber pay per view. With it being difficult for Orton to gain even one victory in singles matches against his Elimination Chamber opponents, one can only imagine how much more difficult it will be for the champion to survive in a match pitting him against all five opponents at once.
The prospect of a far more dangerous and vicious Randy Orton makes us eagerly anticipate his actions during the bout; the odds are seemingly stacked against him, placing Orton with his back against the wall and desperate to hold on to the only thing bringing him significance and relevance in this age dominated by “Yes!” chants and speculation on Roman Reigns’ future in the company. A cornered Randy Orton could potentially unleash a violent and vicious skull-punting Randy Orton, one who’s fire and passion stand to cause havoc and chaos for the five men locked in the chamber structure with him.
Only time will tell whether or not this will be the Randy Orton we’ll see, as it would be slightly disappointing to see any other iteration of Randy Orton traverse the remaining peaks and valleys on the “Road to WrestleMania” assuming he retains his title this Sunday.
The following synopses covers the final matches in Orton’s gauntlet:
Cesaro versus Randy Orton
February 14, 2014 | Smackdown | Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, CA
Result: Cesaro defeats Randy Orton via pinfall with the Neutralizer
WWE Superstar Cesaro has done nothing but impress fans since his arrival in the promotion. Cesaro, who is also occasionally referred to as “The Swiss Superman,” has consistently wowed audiences with his incredible feats of strength and has introduced several different maneuvers from his arsenal throughout his brief tenure thus far in WWE. Cesaro took fans by surprise when he gained his coveted spot in the Elimination Chamber match, and although many consider him to be a dark horse in the match, he could very well be the biggest threat facing Randy Orton this Sunday. It’s very hard to make a solid argument against his bright future in the promotion, as his entry into the main event of the last pay per view prior to WrestleMania XXX has led to speculation that a face turn is in his near future. All speculation, however, should be taken with a grain of salt even though all signs point towards to the great possibility of a face turn for him:
Orton definitely approached the match with his two defeats firmly planted in the forefront of his mind; nevertheless, Orton did not seem phased or intimidated about facing Cesaro and assuredly underestimated his opponent before even stepping in the ring with him. This misguided perception of Cesaro would return to bite Orton on the backside by the end of their match.
The story of the bout was all about Cesaro’s sheer power and strength versus Orton’s underhanded and tactical prowess. Having underestimated his opponent early own, Orton was effectively blindsided by Cesaro’s offense and unique skill set. Cesaro’s offense was similar to that of John Cena, an arsenal consisting mostly of upper body blows and maneuvers that worked at Orton’s torso and his core. Unlike Cena’s offense, however, Cesaro’s body blows flow naturally from his technically charged and deliberate offense; Cena is more of a brawler while Cesaro wails on his opponent’s body with intention and not reckless abandon. It must also be mentioned that Cesaro’s offense was so effective that Orton looked visibly exhausted halfway through their match (major kudos to Orton if he was selling Cesaro’s offense and if he was truly tired halfway through and fought to finish the match).
In response to Cesaro’s attacks, Orton took his assault outside of the ring and used every tactic he could to wear down his opponent using everything he could outside of the ring without getting disqualified. To be honest, Orton’s offense looked a lot like something a fan would do in the “Defeat the Streak” story mode on WWE 2K14.
When Orton finally tossed Cesaro back into the ring, there was a bit of back and forth action before the two. One notable moment in the match was Cesaro’s reversal of the RKO into an European uppercut to the back of Orton’s head. The finish of the match came when Cesaro reversed an attempted superplex from Orton into a sunset flip powerbomb, followed up by a discus European uppercut. Without wasting a moment, Cesaro applied and executed the Neutralizer, giving him the pinfall victory over the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
It would be in Orton’s best interest to avoid Cesaro altogether during the Elimination Chamber match if possible. Survival is a key factor in winning the match, and if Orton cannot be labeled or characterized by his stamina and resiliency, any interaction with Cesaro would essentially shorten the amount of time he would be able to avoid elimination at someone’s hands.
Orton’s best offense against Cesaro would be to not only let superstars like Sheamus and John Cena work him over, but to also utilize as much of the steel structure as he can to weaken Cesaro up for elimination by either of the two other aforementioned superstars.
Cesaro, on the other hand, will set out to prove Sunday that he can hang with the big dogs in the WWE’s main event scene. We shouldn’t expect Cesaro to win the match, but we can expect him to put on one hell of an impressive show as he literally stands toe to toe with four former WWE and World Heavyweight Champions and the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Cesaro typically has great matches in WWE, but we should especially look forward to him exchanging blows with Sheamus and Daniel Bryan.
Sheamus versus Randy Orton
February 17, 2014 | Monday Night RAW | Pepsi Center in Denver, CO
Result: Sheamus defeats Randy Orton via disqualification after The Shield attacked Sheamus
Facing quite the opponent in the final match of the gauntlet, Randy Orton seemed more focused to assert himself as the “Face of the WWE” heading into the Elimination Chamber pay per view. The WWE World Heavyweight Champion made it crystal clear that he relied on The Authority to continue supporting him despite his inability to dominate his opponents throughout the gauntlet. Sheamus, on the other hand, simply wanted to fight.
The match between Sheamus and Orton started off slowly as the champ slithered out of the ring a few times to get his bearings against another powerhouse of an opponent. The Celtic Warrior’s offense differs from that of Cesaro and John Cena in that it’s more of “beat you silly” approach than anything else. Sheamus is a powerhouse who simply fights, looking to score his victory by using a debilitating kick to his opponent’s head; he enjoys beating up his opponents as he honestly only needs to kick his opponent’s head off. Simply put, Sheamus is a sadist.
Orton seemingly learned his lesson from his defeat against Cesaro and once again took the fight to outside of the ring. The champ was most effective in stalling Sheamus’ momentum while confining his onslaught to the ringside area. Orton’s most devastating offensive maneuver was undoubtedly suplexing Sheamus through the announcer’s table:
Once the fighting returned to the ring, Orton failed to capitalize off of putting Sheamus through the announcer’s table, giving Sheamus the precious opportunity to get back into the match. The action went back and forth from that point as Orton attempted to counter Sheamus’ attempts to wail on him. Sheamus eventually gained the upper hand and after landing two Irish Curse backbreakers, the Celtic Warrior mustered up enough gumption to set Orton up for his Brogue Kick finishing maneuver. As Sheamus rallied the crowd behind him, the Shield stormed the ring and the match was immediately thrown out by the referee, giving Sheamus the win and Orton his final defeat in the gauntlet.
The prospect of winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is important to Sheamus, but it cannot be ignored or denied that the Celtic Warrior would leave the chamber just as happy in defeat if he’s only able to unmercifully throttle an opponent into submission or defeat. This perhaps makes Sheamus the second dangerous man in the Chamber match next to Randy Orton; armed only with the desire to beat a man senseless, Sheamus will be relentless in his attacks against his opponents.
This pits three men seeking championship gold (Bryan, Christian and Cesaro), one man seeking to retain his position (Orton), and one man seeking to make a point to the rising class of WWE Superstars (Cena) against a man who just wants to kick people’s heads clean off of their shoulders.
All things considered, one could easily see that by the time he was ready to face Sheamus, Orton had all but completely dismissed his embarrassing performance throughout the gauntlet. By the time the main event rolled around on RAW, Orton cared very little about his wins and losses heading into the pay per view and relied more on the hope that The Authority would continue to protect him and his position within the promotion. Midway through the gauntlet series Orton switched tactics and his approach on his matches; he transformed from a whiny and insatiable brat into an overly appreciative brown nosing yes man, opting to weasel his way back into the good graces of The Authority instead of actually putting forth an effort to prove to his opponents that he’s not a champion to be reckoned with.
The subtle change in Orton’s demeanor leads me to believe that he will retain his title at Elimination Chamber. For the duration of the gauntlet fans have been led to believe that Orton doesn’t stand a chance at retaining his title. Even the way the gauntlet was constructed, including how Orton fared as far as wins and losses are concerned, suggests that Orton will have one difficult time retaining his title.
What we mustn’t forget is that the Elimination Chamber match operates much like the Royal Rumble, where superstars join the fracas at timed intervals until all the participants have entered the steel structure or have been eliminated from it. Because of his schmoozing and brown nosing, Orton may very well be the last participant to enter the match, which means that at least one of his opponents could very well be eliminated before he even steps into the ring.
The other concept to remember is that out of all the participants in the match, Orton has the most to lose and the luxury of having to offer the least amount of offense in the match. The Elimination Chamber match participants will claw tooth and nail at each other, and as long as Randy can survive until he is one of the final two participants in the match, the only offense he’ll need to offer will be to keep from being eliminated.
The gauntlet then becomes important because it tells this exact story; if Orton had trouble beating his opponents in singles matches, he also stands very little chance of defeating anyone of them at Elimination Chamber. However, if Orton’s opponents defeat each other, if he manages to get The Authority to make sure he’s the last man to enter the match (or conveniently place him in a Chamber pod that “malfunctions”), he will have the opportunity to plan his attack accordingly to pick off his opponents one-by-one after they’ve brutalized each other.
With his back against the wall and his conniving ways as a primary weapon, Orton looks to be in a prime position to maintain his spot in a main event (as opposed to “the” main event) at WrestleMania XXX. Orton survived the gauntlet, and the Viper will survive the Elimination Chamber match.
The only question left is what will happen to the champ during this week’s episode of Smackdown? We look forward to the show in eager anticipation, with just as much zeal and enthusiasm as we have for the Elimination Chamber pay per view this Sunday.
To read the first part of the Gauntlet of the Predator, click here!
If you don’t like it, then don’t watch it.
If promotions gained one nickel for every time this phrase was uttered by a disgruntled pro wrestling fan, the industry could survive for years without seeing any increase in viewership, buyrates, advertising revenue or merchandise/ticket sales.
The more you think about that phrase and reflect on it, the more it sounds like a banal ultimatum dished out from the frustration that comes with relentlessly defending a given promotion’s product. Depending on how it’s said, it can even come off as a threat … if you don’t like it, then don’t watch it … OR ELSE …
One of the cool things about being a pro wrestling fan is that our little community is far more diverse and divided than any other group of individuals supporting a sport or form of entertainment. Our diversity is what makes our conversations, debates, video blogs and scathing editorials so fun; we can agree to disagree on a lot of things, but very few can deny our (misguided?) passion and love of this form of sports entertainment.
This being said, it is improbable that the breadth and width of sports entertainment fandom will ever be uniform in its thoughts or expressions of such. However, because we’re conditioned from birth to believe one particular way is THE “right” way, here we are faced with a baseless and futile warning disguised as a declaration of intense and passionate conviction.
The “either-or” debate amongst wrestling fans is old, tired and quite frankly very pointless in this twenty-first century. It’s foundation is comprised of antiquated notions that assume “hatred” or “dislike” of a product is synonymous with constructive or unfavorable criticism. The deliciously ironic point of it all is that the more sophisticated a fan we imagine ourselves to be, the more we rely on schoolyard tactics and prepubescent defense mechanisms to support our diverse and subjective opinions. It’s almost as if we’re constantly teetering over the precipice of ending our diatribes with “Nanny nanny boo boo.”
We Americans living in the United States tend to take our constitutional right of free speech very seriously, so much so that we spend an ample amount of time
forcing coercing folks to keep their opinions to themselves and adopt the status quo’s perception of life and all things around it. When it comes to pro wrestling and/or sports entertainment, we’d rather surround ourselves with like minded individuals and, when in times of assault from non-like minded individuals, we circle the wagons and shoo the naysayers away instead of inviting them in for tea, biscuits, and a rousing discussion on our likes and dislikes.
Then again, who has time nowadays to engage anyone in lighthearted palavering to discover the root of our consternation? I’m right, you’re wrong, now go away!
We all would love for the world to be more simple than it is, but the reality is that the complexities that dominate life require more than 140 characters or the length of a sitcom to fix. It’s easy to dismiss someone’s ramblings as “hate,” because one won’t have to confront the truth embedded deep within someone’s criticism of the product or even acknowledge that the “other” has a valid point buried underneath a sea of harsh words and unflattering commentary. The only logical next step is to dismiss the “hater” by telling them to take their opinions elsewhere, leaving everyone else resting comfortably in the tranquil seas of their own encouraging thoughts.
Here’s the deal: who’s to say one “hates” a product when they speak unfavorably about it (unless they say for themselves that they “hate” it; that’s a different story altogether), and who are we to dictate what they
should can or cannot watch? And get this: the same people we encourage to stop watching a given promotion’s product are also the same people we also claim aren’t watching the product to begin with! Such is the hypocrisy of being a pro wrestling fan, and the situation is far more intricate than our feeble attempts to nudge a few naysayers out of the building.
Contrary to popular belief, television ratings matter a big deal to wrestling promotions and it all goes back to something I’ve talked about incessantly on this website. Wrestling promotions are BUSINESSES, and businesses in these capitalist consumer driven United States are in business to make MONEY. A given promotion convinces a major network or one of its affiliates to give them money to air their product, and in return the network can charge other companies to air commercials for products during the time slots in which these wrestling promotions air their product.
The ratings are a way that networks can gauge how many people are watching a given show at a given time; the networks use those ratings to base how much they charge advertisers off of the type and number of people watching a show at a given time. The more and more the audience for a particular show grows, the more networks can charge advertisers to air their commercials. In turn, the wrestling promotions charge the networks more money to air their particular show on that particular network.
All this is to say that it seems ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS TO ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO STOP WATCHING A GIVEN PROMOTION’S PRODUCT FOR ANY REASON UNDER THE SUN. If anything, and I mean anything, we’d want MORE PEOPLE TO WATCH A GIVEN SHOW seeing as so many entities (including the promotion) place goo-gobs of money on the number of people watching the show. I like the way MVP put it recently:
Then there’s this notion of how we understand the phrase “don’t like.” What does it exactly mean when someone “doesn’t like” something? How do we quantify our “dislike” for a given product, especially when a presumed offender never comments on whether or not they actually “dislike” the product in discussion?
If a fan truly hates or dislikes a particular product, that fan won’t need to be told to “not watch it” because they’re not watching it to begin with. Clearly the phrase “if you don’t like it, then don’t watch it” can’t be directed at that particular demographic.
What about the fans who watch the product just to criticize, the fans MVP mentioned in his tweets? Despite the criticism a naysayer must like the product enough to be bothered to watch it, even if it is just to complain. If a naysayer’s criticism about the product is without merit (and ONLY if it’s without merit), then what constructive use of time is it to complain or go in on unfounded remarks or unnecessarily skewed opinions? I just feel like yelling at mice would yield a more fruitful return than huffing and puffing about someone who doesn’t like a show simply because it exists.
Here’s a suggestion, and it’s only one suggestion: let fans watch what they want to watch and let fans criticize what they want to criticize. As long as the sun shines, people will always have something to say about something and people are going to do whatever the hell they want to do. But, as intelligent pro wrestling fans, let’s save ourselves some trouble by focusing our time on getting to the substance of criticism instead of dismissing it altogether in order to keep ourselves coddled in the warmth of an idealized storybook version of pro wrestling fandom.
Instead of encouraging naysayers to disappear, why not encourage them to actually tune in to the product and view it from a different perspective than once before? If a particular fan finds a given product atrocious and refuses to watch it, why not have a productive discussion about why they hate the product and choose not to watch it? These things, to me, seem to be a lot more beneficial to our conversations and debates than pouting, frowning, and resorting to the lowest common denominator of being cocooned in our fluffy plush happy feelings.
Then again, what the hell do I know? I’m just a pro wrestling/sports entertainment fan who’s at least willing to invest in a product enough to speak highly for it or against it; that’s really what it’s all about, right?
Happy Valentines Day, from Ashley Morris ^_^
When I was 14-years-old, I felt like no one understood me. I went to an inner-city middle school where I, hot pink hair and all, stood out like sore thumb. I wore Doc Martens, a necklace of soda can tabs, and carried a backpack riddled with music quotes written in White-Out. My teachers all thought I was smart but an underachiever, and could not fathom what kind of parents let their child walk around with crazy hair and a bad attitude.
My home life had been a tad chaotic as of late and my mom had just moved to help my sister with her growing family. My dad knew as much about raising a teenage girl as I did about growing a mustache and his idea of handling my budding hormones and dealing with emotional outbursts was a pat on the head (literally, we are not a hugging bunch) and a bag of Hot Cheetos.
I ended up living with my best friend’s family before starting my freshman year of high school. In times of change or turmoil, watching wrestling with my dad remained my constant. As a kid, I had high dreams and aspirations of becoming a wrestler someday but, much like how I stood out at school, I did not look like any of the women wrestlers I watched on television. I didn’t want to wear a dress and escort people to the ring and be eye candy; I wanted to wrestle.
That all changed the night I saw Amy Dumas, AKA Lita, nail a male wrestler with a moonsault. I was mesmerized and I just kind of sat there with my mouth hanging open. Not only did this woman not look like the other women wrestlers, she was bad ass.
It’s an almost indescribable feeling when something finally clicks within yourself and you can feel an old passion being reignited. As a young girl, I never resonated with the female wrestlers I saw on television because they did not wrestle. I imitated Shawn Michael’s moves, The Undertaker’s moves, etc. The wrestlers I wanted to be like were all male because that is all there was to look up to wrestling wise.
Lita was like a breath of fresh air in a stale period for women’s wrestling. Her passion and fearlessness inspired me and I finally felt like there was a strong female wrestler who was easy on the eyes, but came out with a purpose and looked like she could actually fight and might just be crazy enough to do so. She was believable.
To me, Lita will always be the best Women’s Champion, followed by Trish as a close second and honestly, both those women really did something special. They fed off of each other and they both just went for it. To this day I have never seen/heard a crowd so into a Diva’s match since they headlined Monday Night Raw on December 6, 2004. When is the last time a crowd, positively, chanted a Diva’s name as loudly and excitedly as they would John Cena or CM Punk?
I instantly became a fan of hers and have remained one to this day. It was announced last night on Monday Night Raw that she will be inducted into the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame and it’s about damn time. I felt like her exit with the WWE was handled poorly (they did her dirty) and I feel like this was a step in the right direction towards making things right. As a fan, I was disgusted with how they let her go out, and to be honest that whole “Diva’s Division” has not been right since.
So congratulations Amy Dumas, and congratulations to WWE for finally getting something right as it pertains to women’s wrestling.
During the opening segment of the February 3, 2014 edition of Monday Night RAW, Stephanie McMahon announced that WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton would face all five of his Elimination Chamber opponents in singles matches in the weeks leading up to the pay per view. So far Orton has scored one victory and two losses against three of those five opponents, and looks to face Antonio Cesaro this Friday on Smackdown.
Most may not realize that this particular gauntlet is a very important stop on the “Road to WrestleMania.” With the PG Era essentially neutering the fruition of Eric Bischoff’s sadistic desires, the actual Elimination Chamber match has effectively become just another prop in a glorified cage match. However, by placing Randy Orton in a series of singles matches against his EC opponents prior to the pay per view, the focus shifts a bit and places the focus of the match on the opponents rather than the structure itself. There is a huge paradigm change in how we view the match and its significance as the last main event of a pay per view before WrestleMania.
In effect, the wrestlers in the match become the subject of the match instead of accessories susceptible to the whims of an unrelenting and demonic enclosure. Instead of six wrestlers utilizing the structure to maim and brutalize one another, we’re now lead to witness six distinct wrestling styles clash with each other until there is only one man standing. With the men unable to escape the chamber, the strategy of each wrestler is essential to their survival and overall victory. The gauntlet, therefore, gives fans the opportunity to buy into each characters strengths and weaknesses heading into the pay per view, enabling us to see not only what the champion has to overcome, but what each superstar brings to the brouhaha.
We should consider each of Orton’s matches in context of the entire gauntlet in light of his title defense in a little under two weeks. The gauntlet has given all six men an opportunity to shine, to expose and express those qualities and characteristics that make them worthy of being top stars in WWE. It also gives us to see the true depth of the Randy Orton character, the way Orton adapts his style to each of his opponents and proves that he’s capable of being the World Heavyweight Champion through his domination over any competitor that dares face him in the ring.
The following synopses of Orton’s first three matches look to give more insight on the gauntlet’s importance as well as to hype the importance of the Elimination Chamber pay per view in two weeks.
Daniel Bryan versus Randy Orton
February 3, 2014 | Monday Night RAW | CenturyLink Center in Omaha, NE
Result: Daniel Bryan defeats Randy Orton via pinfall after the Running Knee finishing maneuver
The rivalry between Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan has quickly shaped up to be one of the most storied rivals in recent WWE history. The two have faced each other countless numbers of times since Orton cashed in his Money In the Bank briefcase on Bryan at last year’s SummerSlam pay per view, and every single one of their encounters have been incredibly enjoyable. Serving as the opening bout in Orton’s gauntlet, their match last week set an extremely high bar for the rest of the bouts in the series.
As the master technician in the match, Bryan began a relentless assault early on the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and spent an ample amount of time working over Orton’s left knee. Bryan’s attack was slow, focused and methodical, each maneuver literally whittling away at the sinews, ligaments and soft tissue in Orton’s knee. Such a devious and calculated attack was surely necessary to debilitate Orton as well as keep him from utilizing both of his signature finishing maneuvers. With one severely damaged leg, Orton would have found it somewhat difficult to leap for his RKO finisher as well as run for his patented Punt.
Once Orton gained an opening in the match, he began to work on Daniel Bryan’s right arm in the same way his left leg was worked over. With an injured arm this would obviously have made it hard for Bryan to apply the Yes Lock for an easy submission victory. Orton’s signature moves (drop kick, Garvin Stomp, DDT from the second rope) were also sprinkled liberally throughout the match, but very noticeable was Orton’s concentrated efforts on hurting and incapacitating Bryan. Orton spent very little time taunting Daniel Bryan although he did manage to sneak a few smirks and self-congratulatory arm raises into the match.
Both men seemed to seethe with hatred for one another, making all of their movements and maneuvers tug at the fans’ heart strings and emotions. You could feel the hatred they had for one another with each stomp, kick and punch; the atmosphere simply reeked of their intentions to hurt one another, giving fans the feeling that this fight had less to do with the title and more to do with proving a point: I want to destroy you.
An interruption from Kane, the Director of Operations (or, as I call him, the DOOP) slowed down Bryan’s momentum, but allowed him to capitalize off of a distracted Orton with his running knee finisher, something Orton didn’t count on while working over Bryan’s arm. Bryan scores a clean victory and receives a chokeslam from Kane as a parting gift while Orton stewed in his first loss of the gauntlet.
Daniel Bryan has been a thorn in Orton’s side ever since August 2013. With a rivalry and feud that has spanned almost six years, it has been one hell of a fight for Orton to prove his mettle against Bryan without some sort of outside help or interference. It would seem, in a lot of ways, that Orton physically can’t beat Daniel Bryan without someone giving him the edge. To make a long story short, Daniel Bryan will be the single biggest threat to Orton retaining his championship come the Elimination Chamber pay per view.
We cannot forget that there will be four other competitors in the ring; Orton stands a solid chance against Daniel Bryan if he or one of his fellow competitors can neutralize Bryan whenever he enters the match. With resiliency and stamina on his side, however, Bryan will be a formidable opponent to conquer and could easily eliminate his opponents with his ground submission game or a striking blow to the face with his running knee. It would be best for the champion to make sure Bryan is indisposed or eliminated quickly from the match.
Christian versus Randy Orton
February 7, 2014 | Smackdown | Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA
Result: Randy Orton defeats Christian via pinfall with the RKO
After suffering his loss to Daniel Bryan earlier in the week, Orton marched into Smackdown looking to validate his reign as WWE World Heavyweight Champion by making a statement with a decisive victory over Christian.
Their match paled in comparison to Orton’s match against Bryan, but told an interesting story nevertheless. Christian, a former 2-time World Heavyweight Champion, looks forward to Elimination Chamber to establish a credible, long-lasting legacy as a main event player in WWE. While he didn’t approach his match with Orton using a strategy in the same sense as Bryan, he simply wrestled Orton with the class of a cagey veteran. Christian opted to simply give Orton a taste of his nineteen years in the business, choosing to use his wits and wily maneuvers to wear away at Orton’s stamina and to discombobulate him in only the way a storied veteran could.
On the other hand Orton matched Christian’s veteran skills with his own signature wrestling style, also choosing to not overly complicate the match by focusing on a specific body part or area of the body. Unlike his previous battle with Daniel Bryan, Orton’s trademark cockiness and bravado made its way into the match as it was clearly evident Orton thought little of his opponent.
Orton headed into his match against Christian with more to lose than Christian had to gain, thus making him more of a threat than his opponent would’ve guessed or assumed. In what was a good and solid match, Orton capitalized off of a high-risk top rope maneuver landing an RKO on Christian in mid-air … ironically the same move that gave Orton the victory during Christian’s very first World Heavyweight Champion title defense. Smackdown goes off the air with Orton standing triumphantly over Christian after a well-fought and clean victory.
While Orton and Christian are no strangers to each other, it would seem that Orton’s rise to prominence and Christian’s inactivity due to injuries created a huge gap in between the way the stars related to one another and the WWE Universe. Christian remained humble and patient, waiting diligently for one more chance to become a major WWE champion, Orton’s ego grew exponentially as his career advanced like a bullet train. This confidence boost surely added to Orton’s lethality as a defending champion, which arguably made him hungrier to keep his title than Christian’s diffident desire to win another big one.
Unfortunately, Christian is placed in an unenviable position of proving his worth in the match. Orton has less to fear from Christian than he does any of his other competitors, and Christian has to dig extremely deep to unearth the grit to outlast four other devastating competitors just to get his hands on Orton. One can only guess that Christian also has to prove something to himself by defeating Orton specifically at the pay per view, but I doubt seriously that the former World Heavyweight Champ will have the opportunity to make it out of the blocks before that could even be a possibility.
John Cena versus Randy Orton
February 10, 2014 | Monday Night RAW | Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA
Result: John Cena defeats Randy Orton via pinfall with the Attitude Adjustment
The history of John Cena and Randy Orton’s rivalry has already reached mythic proportions. After last month’s Royal Rumble rematch between the two was universally panned by fans, a suspicion that the two would deliver their typical match crept into our collective consciousness. That suspicion was quickly allayed as both men delivered a high quality match that, despite its repetitiveness, supplied fans with fresh action and energy.
Heading into the match Orton desired to make amends with The Authority by once again proving his rightful place as the face of the company. By vowing to do so with a victory against John Cena, Orton looked to cement not only his place but also his legacy, as it has been said that one could not be “anything” unless they defeated John Cena.
Earlier in the day, John Cena tweeted the following:
During the Monday Night RAW broadcast, Cena cut a promo regarding his longstanding rivalry with Randy Orton and the new wave of stars rising within the ranks of WWE. He spoke of the promotion being in the midst of great change, commenting on how his match with Orton was a defining moment for the future of the company. Cena then promised to defeat Orton and end their storied feud and make the statement that any new star—be it the Wyatts, the Shield, Antonio Cesaro or Daniel Bryan (who, ironically enough has already defeated John Cena clean in the ring)—that desired to carry the company would have to “go through him first.”
Bravado and pride were most assuredly on the line as Cena looked to square off against Orton. As the match commenced Orton seemed to have applied all he’s learned from past matches in his assault on Cena. As the two jockeyed for position, Orton escaped from the ring a few times early to stall Cena’s momentum. Cena’s typical smash mouth, brawler offense is fueled off of momentum; very similar to the Juggernaut, Cena often waylays opponents with a series of body blows and maneuvers that strikes opponents like a wrecking ball. To counter this assault throughout the match, Orton ducked and dodged each of Cena’s big moments.
When Orton went on the offensive he tended to focus on Cena’s midsection, landing strikes and blows to weaken Cena’s ability to breathe while unleashing his big body busting arsenal. The caveat to Orton’s offense was, and has always been, Cena’s resiliency and will to never give up. Nevertheless Orton maintained his strategy and even countered every single thing thrown at him. Meanwhile the champ oozed confidence and taunted Cena and the live audience constantly.
In one especially poignant moment, Orton delivered a hangman rope DDT from the top turnbuckle, to which he quickly stood up and antagonized the crowd by yelling, and I quote,
“Same old what?! Same old … I’ve never done that before! So I’ve never done that! It’s not the same old sh…!” *evil smirk*
As Orton attempted to whittle away at Cena’s stamina, the former WWE Champ’s die hard will grew and grew, eventually giving Cena the momentum needed to begin a few sets of his Five Moves of Doom. Orton miraculously countered all of Cena’s offense until the closing moments of the match, where Cena delivered two Attitude Adjustments to gain the pinfall over the champion.
The past few years have seen John Cena take a slightly less important role than ever before. His involvement in the Elimination Chamber match is noteworthy in that one shouldn’t expect him to win the match and rush to WrestleMania as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. What should be of concern to his opponents, and Randy Orton in particular, is John Cena’s will to remain the bar for future superstars to climb, something that Cena (the character) feels will be much more potent if he also happens to be the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
The hype that surrounds Cena is more intimidating than his actual presence in the match; his opponents are more likely to be thrown off by his resilience than they are his offense, which will make it extremely difficult for everyone else to actually out last him. This is and should rightfully so be a concern for Orton, but with heavy hitters such as Sheamus and Antonio Cesaro also present in the match, Cena will more than likely be distracted by an opponent looking to prove himself against “The Champ” first, and walking away as the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion second. While this does take attention away from Orton and the title, it also gives the champ an opportunity to sit back and watch as the lions fight over eliminating the alpha male from the pride.
With two more matches left in the gauntlet, we still have a couple of golden opportunities to get ready for the Elimination Chamber on the “Road to WrestleMania.” Randy Orton is slated to face Antonio Cesaro this Friday on Smackdown in what will surely be an excellent match. We look forward to covering the odds and ends of that match and Orton’s eventual match against Sheamus.
I almost cried the day Kassius Ohno was released from his WWE developmental contract in November of last year.
My frustration and disappointment at Ohno’s release wasn’t due to my feeling that he “deserved” to be on the main roster, and it wasn’t due to despising the promotion for “holding down” another talented wrestler in order to push someone they deemed more marketable and “controllable,” if you will.
My frustration and disappointment was a result of my feeling that I’d never get to see Chris Spradlin, also more popularly known as Chris Hero, showcase his skills and talents under the bright lights on the WWE’s main roster; and despite his highly positive attitude regarding his release and his optimism towards returning to the company in the future, I could not shake the sneaking suspicion that I’d never ever see him in a WWE ring again.
I relayed these feelings in brief to members of our L.E.W.D. Crew during one of our regular daily conversations. In so many words Mr. Gammon was the first to offer some profound advice that, although intended to paint the picture in a more positive light, enabled me to explain in more definitive terms the very feelings I expressed about my frustration and disappointment a few moments ago.
To paraphrase Mr. Gammon’s comments, he stated what should have been the obvious … “Life will go on; it isn’t the end of the world or WWE.”
As much as tore at my insides to admit it, Mr. Gammon was right. The entertainment business is known for cute, pithy statements such as, “The show must go on,” and “One monkey don’t stop no show.” These phrases tell those in the entertainment business that no matter what happens—when lights cut off, when fans start to boo, and in some cases when the actors and actresses are injured—the production must continue at all costs. It takes millions of dollars to produce a show and a flub, no matter how large or how small, cannot stop a multimillion dollar project from concluding. Chris Spradlin’s release from the WWE was a road bump that could not stop or hinder the massive and monstrous sports entertainment machine from barreling down the highway of financial success and popular prominence.
It was astute observation within Spradlin’s comments that gave me comfort and solace as I mourned his release. Spradlin stated the following, “When things happen that we don’t like, it’s our instinct look for answers. We get sad. We get mad. In this situation, there’s nothing to be sad about! And rather than being angry about what has happened, I want you all to be happy about what’s going to happen! I’ll be back with a vengeance, I assure you. The best way to support me is with positive energy.” To this very day I still feel especially moved and inspired by Spradlin’s words; in the midst of feeling down and out regarding the situation, here he was—released from his opportunity to wow the world as a WWE Superstar—giving me hope that his best was still yet to come. I respected Spradlin as a performer and a person before he arrived in the WWE, and had even more respect for him after reading those words.
Spradlin’s words helped me realize that his wrestling career couldn’t be solely defined by a stint in World Wrestling Entertainment, Incorporated. Just because Spradlin walked away from the ‘E, be it by his own choice or the decision of someone else above his pay grade, didn’t necessarily mean that he wouldn’t be able to entertain wrestling fans all around the globe. He wouldn’t have the WWE’s marketing machine or stamp of authenticity on his career, but Spradlin chose to face the opportunity with dignity and poise, opting to remain positive about his situation and pushing forward with his career rather than languishing in the hatred and bile that often follows disgruntled ex-employees and pissed off fans.
Much like WWE, Chris Spradlin was determined to let his fans and all of us know that a kink in the plans wouldn’t stop him from being the awesome wrestler and entertainer that he is and will be. If he remained positive about his situation, who was I to throw pity parties for him when even he desired in some way for me to look on the bright side of it all?
It goes without saying that we fans have a profound respect for the men and women who bust their asses performing for us non-stop almost every day of the calendar year. We treasure them, look up to them as role models, and aspire to have the same discipline, drive and focus that they exhibit when making their media rounds or even working out at gyms across the country and the world. Because we hold them in such high regard, it becomes easy for us to feel for them one way or another when something good or bad happens to them in their careers. We feel connected to them so much that their triumphs and setbacks belong just as much to us as they do to them. They are our heroes and heroines, and we live vicariously through all they accomplish and all they experience.
It’s a very curious thing; we feel nothing for the single parent that needs government assistance to raise a child or the restaurant workers who make less than minimum wage and get fired because we complained about the temperature of our mashed potatoes. When our favorite wrestler(s) get released, however, it’s a completely different story …
This is the very phenomenon that is occurring with CM Punk as we speak. With rampant speculation regarding his departure from WWE spreading like wildfires in the west, fans have taken to the internet to voice their opinions on the state of affairs within the promotion more so than anything Phil Brooks has had to say about the release himself. To say it plainly, it appears Phil Brooks’ departure from the promotion is largely due to him being unsatisfied with the company he works for. Our very own Corbin Macklin (also a native of Chicago, by the way) did an excellent job of showing us why Brooks’ may have been completely and utterly frustrated with working for WWE.
As bystanders on the outside looking in, we can understand why Brooks threw up his hands and walked away from the promotion. Phil Brooks didn’t need the WWE paycheck as he reportedly saved his money wisely. Phil Brooks doesn’t really need the WWE machine to push or promote him at this point if he desires to continue wrestling. Phil Brooks, like several wrestlers before him, had accrued enough sway and respect during his time in the promotion to afford him the extremely rare option to simply walk away when he had become bored with the way his CM Punk character was being utilized; that is a privilege and gift that is not afforded to all superstars or divas.
At the heart of it all, Phil Brooks’ chose to do what was good for Phil Brooks, because “one monkey don’t stop no show.” It was Brooks’ opinion that the dog-and-pony escapades of WWE were too much for him to tow any longer, so instead of wasting the promotion’s time and money he opted to step away while he still had the opportunity to do so. While it is questionable whether or not his actions were professional or appropriate, we fans cannot forget that Brooks’ sanity and physical well-being are the most important factors to consider. Brooks also mentioned that he was suffering from a yet to be diagnosed illness that has plagued him for some time, noting that the hectic WWE schedule did not allow time for him or doctors to even figure out what he’s afflicted with.
All of these important factors are at play, but as impassioned fans living in the 21st Century we find comfort in imposing our experiences on others or situations outside of our own reality. We see the world in a particular way and expect everyone else to see it as we do. Very few will express their own thoughts as such, and will acquiesce to popular notions that have validity but are strewn about without context or constructive criticism. So while Phil Brooks talks about his health, about how he’s good friends with Dave Batista, about how Daniel Bryan is a top talent and how he’s faring financially, the only thing we fans have focused on is CM Punk’s opinion of the direction of the company. It’s CM Punk’s opinion that validates our opinions about the company, justifies our hatred for the company, and feeds into our insatiable need and desire to rage against the WWE machine.
People in general have always had a problem with being told or directed to do something, feel something, or be something they don’t desire to do or be of their own will. It’s almost as if humans are rebellious by nature; even speaking in biblical terms, the first humans created disobeyed one simple instruction for seemingly no other reason than the notion that they were convinced they knew better than the omnipotent being that created them.
Teenagers disobey their parents, employees disobey their employers, and consumers disregard the piracy warnings issued by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). This reality of life is seen more clearly in our relationship today with the federal government of the United States, particularly the President Obama Administration. People truly feel as if the government under the current administration is creeping more and more into the private lives of citizens and civilians, even though this process in numerous ways started well before the current presidential administration (*cough couch PATRIOT ACT*).
It is often said that art imitates life; if this is true, and entertainment is a form of art, the there’s no wonder why the current storyline of choice for the top two wrestling promotions in the country deals heavily with corrupt authority figures and the “victims” of such cruel regimes fighting against the grain that is attempting to hold them down and force them to do things they don’t want to do. In an extreme case of blurring the lines between the real and scripted, Phil Brooks’ sudden departure from the company, along with the current Authority storyline and the exclusion of Daniel Bryan from the actual Royal Rumble match, feeds into our already deeply rooted suspicions that the company is simply out to control its workers and hold back (or down) certain workers that “deserve” better than what they’re currently receiving. Brooks’ departure gives us one more reason to despise the machine, to protest violently with ultimatums and coarse language we believe will force the machine to change its ways.
Even Brooks’ admitted in his “Pipe Bomb” promo three years ago that the machine would continue its forward locomotion without him, one spoke on one wheel of a massive contraption equipped with many spare wheels and spokes. With this one spoke currently gone from the WWE, not much will change especially since it seems as if the fans (and perhaps Vince McMahon) were the only ones who recognized just how important that spoke was in the grand scheme of things.
What we can appreciate about Brooks’ departure is the fact that it calls us fans to task for contributing to the machine, which places us in the all too familiar spot of hypocrisy that wrestling fans vacation in as much as newlyweds visit the Bahamas on their honeymoons. We hate the machine for what it did to CM Punk and justify the ludicrously high advertising rates paid to the promotion by watching their shows almost every day of the week. We despise the machine for not catering to our passing fancies and squeal with girlish glee as we wait for the launch of the WWE Network. We messed ourselves silly when we found out Dave Batista was returning to the company and messed ourselves angrily when he won the Royal Rumble. We wrestling fans, collectively speaking, are just big ass buckets of contradictions.
By choosing to walk out of the WWE, Phil Brooks sent a sobering message straight to the hearts of WWE fans worldwide that should be more important than any shoot promo he delivered during a televised WWE broadcast. The business is not immune from the same politics and bulls**t that we encounter on a regular basis, even to the extent where we know that real change may be impossible to achieve due to the massive nature of the institutions we operate in. But the thing that defines who we are and where we stand is our activity or inactivity when facing opposition.
If we don’t like being told to cheer for Batista’s main event match at WrestleMania 30, then all of us should make sure that the promotion’s biggest and most important pay per view of the year gets the lowest buyrate and turnout in the history of WWE. If we don’t like the fact that wrestlers like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler are being “underutilized or buried,” then we should all head over to Shop.WWE.com and purchase as much of their apparel as we possibly can. If we don’t like the fact that the muscle-bound Greek god-like wrestlers are pushed and promoted more so than the true workers, we should invest more of our time in watching shows like NXT to see how the next crop of wrestlers are actually very far from being the larger-than-life stars that dominated the promotion’s product in the past.
If we truly want to support bonafide wrestlers and superstars like Phil Brooks and Chris Spradlin, we’ll follow their careers outside of the WWE with the same fervor and passion we did when they while they showcased their finely honed skills within the confines of Vince McMahon’s squared circle.
It’s perfectly fine for us to be frustrated and pissed off about the current direction of the product and the release of our favorite superstars. The bottom line is that if we stay too focused and mired in the mess of what has happened, we are not empowered and inspired to do what we can as fans to look toward the future of the business and the WWE’s product.
Take the following closing thought as you go about your day: while most fans were extremely upset about Daniel Bryan’s exclusion from the Royal Rumble match, they completely ignored the fact that both Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns had very impressive showings during the pay per view. The departure of CM Punk from the company leaves one hell of a spot open for either Reigns or Wyatt to assume and make the most of …
… but we’d never know, because we’re too busy being pissed off that the machine keeps holding people down … even if the show must truly roll on …
For what it’s worth, Thursday’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling wasn’t as disastrous as it has been or could have been. Sure we here at L.E.W.D. give TNA more hell than what seems necessary, but as it was mentioned to me by a dear friend on Twitter, a broken clock is right two times a day. Backhanded compliments aside, there’s no real reason to be crass when all is right in Dixieland. The show was aight, as the young people say.
To say the show was “aight,” however, is not to excuse it from critique or constructive criticism. While one can always nitpick and find reasons to be upset, there’s still the prevalence of unanswerable questions that can plague a product easily, hovering over the landscape like vultures waiting to feast on the carrion decaying below. And believe you me there’s plenty of dead flesh to go around.
For starters, TNA has chosen to begin its #RealNewEra with a familiar face in pro wrestling history. As we’re all well aware Montel Vontavius Porter—also known as MVP—was revealed as the company’s new investor. We can all expect the “TNA is hiring former WWE wrestlers” accusation to follow, but there’s no siding with TNA when they continue to … well … hire former WWE wrestlers. And here’s where the gift and curse of WWE steps into the arena.
A good number of fans hate the fact that the WWE machine takes indy wrestlers, strips them of the identities they crafted prior to joining the company, and gives them completely different (and sometimes terrible) gimmicks that change the character the diehard fans came to know and love. Over a period of time, these gifted athletes athletes take these gimmicks and actually make them work. Unfortunately for fans a wrestler becomes known for his or her most popular gimmick, the gimmick they crafted and honed, becomes just as much a part of them as their very own face; for fans it’s difficult and impossible to separate the character from the real person and their most popular gimmick from the company they utilized it in.
While it’s very true that MVP actually began his nationally televised wrestling career in TNA as Antonio Banks, his rise to notoriety happened as MVP in the WWE’s massive shadow; and even though MVP owns the rights to the name he used in WWE (hence why he can be referred to as MVP in TNA), and even though he’s spent a significant amount of time wrestling and making a name for himself in Japan, most fans will only remember him for the time he spent in World Wrestling Entertainment as Montel Vontavius Porter. That’s a stigma that can’t be removed easily from a former WWE Superstar/Diva that has spent more than a cup of coffee on one of the main rosters.
On the flip side is the fact that there was no way TNA could’ve filled the new investor’s position with a name that fans weren’t familiar with. MVP is a great choice, especially given his notoriety in Japan and TNA’s growing relationship with Japan’s Wrestle-1 promotion. But what we’re seeing, what we’re getting is yet another power struggle storyline that is as intricately woven into the very fabric of the company as the “pro wrestling” they showcase regularly.
So once again the promotion is in a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation; fans are told that there’s a #RealNewEra that arrived with the two-part Genesis free pay-per-view, but here we are with a familiar face locked in another power struggle storyline with the company’s president while the asylum’s inmates meander through overbooked dusty finishes and gimmick matches. It seems that only the players have changed and the game is still very much the same. All things being equal, TNA is still in its #ReconstructionEra more so than anything else, still working feverishly to fine tune its identity as they lurch forward into 2014; one month down, eleven more to go.
Here’s what stuck out to me while watching the show:
- The Glasgow Crowd and Taking the Show On the Road
- Samoa Joe Out for Blood
- Samuel Shaw …
- We’ve Got the Wrong Idea About Magnus
The first stop on TNA’s UK tour was Glasgow, Scotland. The annual UK tour is typically the highlight of the promotion’s year, as the UK fans tend to be more … shall we say excited … about TNA and its product than North American fans.
We all know why TNA was forced to bring IMPACT Wrestling back to Orlando, but that doesn’t negate the fact that the product comes off far more entertaining and exciting when the promotion visits its fans instead of having make merry jaunts down to Orlando. It also helped them to have filmed the show in an arena that was larger than somebody’s backyard …
Kudos and thanks to the fans who gathered in the SSE Hydro in Glasgow for the first pro wrestling event in the arena since its completion in September 2013. You guys were a welcome breath of fresh air from the tourists in Orlando who’d sit on their hands even if Jesus Christ returned in the middle of a Dixie Carter in-ring segment.
With Jeff Hardy, AJ Styles, and Sting reportedly “gone” from TNA and IMPACT Wrestling, a void has been created for wrestlers eager to grasp the elusive brass ring of main event. In some ways TNA has also suffered from the same problem that plagues other wrestling promotions, taking far too few steps in cultivating main event talent as time passes on.
Enter Samoa Joe.
Joe’s utilization as of late has been mostly underwhelming, but the absence of hard-hitting heavyweight star power has created a perfect situation for Joe to rise to the occasion, bringing a different type of intensity and seriousness to TNA’s main event scene.
The Samoa Joe character creates an intrigue for me that could not be seen with Magnus’ other opponents on his road to glory. Magnus versus Jeff Hardy seemed flat, while Magnus versus AJ Styles seemed forced; Magnus versus Sting just honestly felt unnecessary.
But Magnus versus Samoa Joe—a pissed off and relentlessly vicious Samoa Joe at that—forces me to sit on the edge of my couch to watch how violent things could get. Given how Magnus’ character is being defined (poorly in my estimation, but we’ll get to that later), I find myself wanting to see him escape the seemingly inevitable onslaught of kicks, body blows and submissions that Joe unmercifully barrages his opponents with. To say it differently, it was easy to believe that Magnus could overcome anything thrown at him by Hardy, Styles and Sting. Can Magnus overcome an onslaught from Samoa Joe … I want to see him accomplish this even though I have no doubt that he will eventually come out on top of this feud.
That’s the thing that makes pro wrestling and sports entertainment exciting for fans. While MMA fans often go in on how “fake” pro wrestling is and how much more “real” MMA is, wrestling fans are less concerned with who wins the match and tend to be more concerned with how a particular athlete wins a match. I’d compare the art of pro wrestling to the “sweet science” of boxing. Any yahoo can throw a punch, but it takes an artist to know when to throw a particular punch with a certain amount of power and speed that creates those classic KOs or scorecard decisions that give us reason to cheer.
This isn’t to say the same art or science isn’t present or prevalent in MMA, I just personally get the feeling that MMA fights are simply two guys or gals trying to beat each other up. It’s hard work, it’s taxing on the body and requires years of training and discipline that the rest of us cream puffs can’t even think about doing without having an asthma attack; the same is true for pro wrestling, and one doesn’t have to lust for blood in order to understand that the hows of a pinfall or submission are just as important, if not more, than the pinfall or submission itself.
I think about all of this when I imagine Joe being the man threatening Magnus’ reign as TNA World Heavyweight Champion. The Samoa Joe character has been stale for some time and hasn’t been involved in too many noteworthy feuds or matches, but taking the character back to basics and unleashing that fury on Magnus is must-see TV for TNA and its fans. I have to give them kudos and credit for that.
I have very specific feelings about the Samuel Shaw character, feelings and thoughts that aren’t shared by most fans who enjoy the character and feel as if this type of character is great and refreshing in “the business” altogether. The Shaw character is different and unique, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying his development is akin to winning $7,000 in a scratch off.
Most fans are all excited that Samuel Shaw is a take off from Patrick Bateman, the character made famous by Christian Bale’s stunning performance in the motion picture American Psycho, and not by Bret Easton Ellis’ classic and controversial 1991 novel. After seeing the very first video introducing the repackaged Shaw character, I felt that the comparisons to American Psycho, particularly the Christian Bale depiction of Patrick Bateman in the movie, were superficial at best.
To begin, we can’t ignore the fact that with his hair slicked back and to the side, Samuel Shaw kinda resembles Bale’s Patrick Bateman:
Other than that … the buck pretty much stops there.
Patrick Bateman, as depicted by Christian Bale in the film adaptation of American Psycho, was a wealthy yuppie investment banker living in 1980′s New York who, after engaging fellow yuppies in conversation about high fashion, business, and elitism, would exact his psychopathic fantasies on unsuspecting colleagues and hookers. He was obsessed with his looks and his physique, he had a eerily vast knowledge of ’80s pop music and icons, and either wore expensive three piece business suits or trounced around naked as he killed his victims. Not to mention that often times when he killed people he was loud and made quite a mess.
Excuse the following language, but how the f**k did Samuel Shaw exhibit any of that during his repackaged video???
If anything, and the word anything is highly stressed at this point, the Samuel Shaw character is a hybrid of Christian Bale’s depiction of Patrick Bateman and the Dexter Morgan character made extremely popular by Michael C. Hall’s performances in the Showtime TV series Dexter, which is also based off a series of novels by author Jeff Lindsay.
If you’ve seen the Dexter series, you’d immediately recognize some of Samuel Shaw’s traits and characteristics. Blood splatter analyst by day and serial killer by night, Dexter Morgan has a dark history that gave birth to his insatiable desire to kill.
Taught at an early age to channel that thirst in a way beneficial to both him and society at large, Dexter uses investigative techniques and stealth to locate his targets (usually criminals who evaded the long arm of the law), kidnap them, and execute them all while making sure to cover all tracks that could lead to his own eventual arrest and execution.
The way Dexter incapacitates his targets is pretty awesome; after confirming that his intended target is truly guilty of committing an unsolved crime or was not truly brought to justice for committing a particularly gruesome crime, Dexter will make physical contact with the person under an alias in order to learn their habits and scope out a way to kidnap and murder them undetected.
Once he’s completed his reconnaissance, he infiltrates their location and puts them to sleep by using a specific drug delivered to their body using a hypodermic needle …
Yes … Dexter puts his victims to sleep before kidnapping them. Oh, and he does so by wearing the nifty little outfit you see in the picture to the right of this paragraph … the outfit that looks oddly similar to the get up Samuel Shaw wears during his matches:
It is also worth noting that Dexter is typically calm, cool, and collected when making his kills. Although prone to sudden outbursts of anger, Dexter typically keeps himself under control when out on a kill or even living his life as a father, widower, brother, and Miami Police Department consultant.
All this is to say that the Shaw character was probably inspired by several different sources, most of which have little to do with American Psycho. It still remains to be seen if the Shaw character will make highly anticipated waves in TNA expected by some, but at least the promotion is stretching and flexing its creative juices by capitalizing on the creepy and unnerving characters that are more cerebral and calculated in their actions and demeanor. I’d love to see more of the character, especially in the mid-card division which seems to be lacking direction and attention (hi, X-Division and TV Championship!), but right now the focus is squarely on the main event scene and ending the Hogan/Bischoff/Prichard Era storylines.
I really despise the fact that Magnus is constantly referred to as the “paper champion.” Logically, I also realize it is a way (as far as the “storyline” is concerned) for characters to taunt and get under the champion’s skin, a method in which they can psych out the champion and force him to make rash and foolish decisions as he attempts to legitimize his championship reign.
If we briefly recall the aforementioned thoughts on how a scripted match is won as opposed to whether or not a win is scripted, it’s the little things in a pro wrestling bout that can make or break an intended storyline or character’s development. In regards to a “paper” champion, there’s a stark difference between Magnus being given his championship reign and Magnus being protected during his championship reign. Magnus, for all intents and purposes, is being protected during his championship reign which calls for an entirely different type of heat than what he’s receiving as we’re conditioned to believe he never deserved the top spot at all.
It cannot be denied that Magnus’ climb up the TNA World Heavyweight Title Tournament ladder was riddled with suspicious fluke victories. It cannot be denied that interference from Rockstar Spud lead to Magnus’ victory over Jeff Hardy to win the TNA World Heavyweight Title. It can’t be denied that tons of wrestlers helped him defeat both AJ Styles and Sting, enabling him to retain his title and usher both men out of the company
for the time being.
The interesting thing about pro wrestling is how we perceive a match or storyline, taking what we hear and see as the end all be all without attempting to understand what we know about what we have heard and seen. For example: Ladder Matches and Steel Cage Matches are also No Disqualification Matches because authorities acknowledge the fact that wrestlers can use the same tool they need to win the match (the ladder and the cage) as a weapon. If the combatants in a No DQ match cannot be disqualified, they are extremely susceptible to outside interference, which is exactly what happened in Magnus’ match against Jeff Hardy for the World Heavyweight Championship. Hell, Magnus was also attacked in that same match!
When Rockstar Spud pushed Jeff Hardy off of the ladder on the ramp, his actions had more to do with not wanting Jeff Hardy to win more than their desire to see Magnus as the champ. In the end, Magnus was able to climb the ladder and grasp the title when Jeff Hardy was not; as much as we can say that Magnus would’ve never won the title without their help, we have to remember that “anything goes” in a No DQ Match. Utilizing help in a No DQ Match is just as “unethical” as smashing a man’s face against a steal cage or smacking him with a ladder.
When Magnus faced AJ Styles it was unbearable to see the Styles character portrayed as the face while Magnus was placed to be the heel defending his rightly earned title. The AJ Styles character is the one that abdicated his position as champion by leaving the company; the AJ Styles character was the former champion stripped of his title, thus vacating the championship and legitimizing the tournament for that championship. Yet here Styles is, goading the champion into a match that he (Styles) honestly didn’t deserve and shouldn’t have received by preying on Magnus’ inferiority complex as a competitor and a champion. Once again, Styles accepts fighting the real champion in a No DQ Match, and fans are “furious” when outside interference occurs. Exact same situation when Magnus faced and defeated Sting.
Let it be known that I may be one of the few people that like Magnus as champ, as he’s been hailed as the future of TNA since his debut some odd six years ago. What I find peculiar about his reign is the underlying notion that he hasn’t truly earned his spot or the championship, that he was handed all of his opportunities while the other “hard-working, more deserving” wrestlers fell victim to Dixie Carter’s reign of terror that only manifested as such since she received more on-screen time. He’s being depicted as a weak champion for sure, leading some of us fans to question whether or not this is good for the character and Nick Aldis’ TNA career. One can only hope that this direction won’t damage Magnus’ credibility as a main event start.
Take WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan as an example. A large contingent of fans would and could successfully argue that the way Bryan is being booked now is atrocious, particularly in light of Batista’s Royal Rumble win one week ago. Many pundits have argued that Bryan is booked as being weak and his character is being buried or misused by WWE top brass and creative. These accusations have led many to comment that if Bryan doesn’t headline WrestleMania 30 or fails to become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion before WrestleMania 30, then all is lost for any hope in the character, the person Bryan Danielson, and the WWE for being something different than what his has historically been for over five decades.
Magnus is in a similar situation. After cutting his teeth and paying his dues in TNA for some years, the way the character is now portrayed as champion is simply ridiculous. The Dixieland/New Investor storyline has more weight and prominence than Magnus’ reign as champion, both AJ Styles and Sting were booked as super huge babyfaces on their way out of the company while Magnus was booked as a weak champion, and the magnitude of Magnus’ reign as champion has been dwarfed by the news of people leaving the company, the speculation of where they’ll end up next, and the importance and weight of a name well-known outside of TNA coming into TNA to “set things straight with such a crooked company.” How does any of this make Magnus look like he deserves to be in the spot that he’s in, and what does it all say about this #RealNewEra where the younger stars are being primed to lead the company into the future?
Again, we can only wait and see how things unfold for Magnus and Nick Aldis. I just feel like we’re getting a substandard push for Magnus, a push that could’ve started as something far more exciting and jaw-dropping than what it has been so far. Seriously: Magnus was the first ever British World Heavyweight Champion in 100 years, and people were more flabbergasted about the two falls Jeff Hardy took in their Dixieland Match than they were about him winning the championship.
But alas, those are just my thoughts. What are yours?