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There’s Always A Plan B

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WWE Future Endeavors Emma (UPDATED)

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UPDATE: 6:45 PM Central Standard Time

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

Well damn…

For the sake of humoring us here at L.E.W.D., read the following because it’s still all relevant somewhere.
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Just in case you haven’t heard the word, we have it on good authority (pun intended) that the WWE has come to terms with the release of notable Diva Emma.  Also known by her government approved name Tenille Dashwood, Emma was also recently arrested for allegedly stealing an iPod case from a Walmart in Connecticut.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Another Paige in the Book of Underrated Brilliance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boobs.

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

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

She can.

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

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