Tag Archives: Kofi Kingston

Random Thought

When it was rumored that The Miz, Dolph Ziggler, and Zack Ryder would be forming as a group of disgruntled Superstars frustrated with their position in WWE, everyone was fine with it.

When Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, and Big E did the exact same thing, they were immediately labeled as angry Black men and compared to The Nation of Domination.

What was the difference, and does it matter?

L.E.W.D. Booking 101: “A.F.R.O. is in business.”

I’m not one to talk about race or racial relations very often (unless I’m talking about police brutality, Hollywood or the unintended consequence of the concept of Pokemon) but when it comes to the WWE, I’m the first to say it: they don’t give a brotha a chance.  When R-Truth came into the fray and introduced Almost Dr. Xavier Woods and the Funkadactyls, he pleaded with the crowd to give a brotha (read: brotha) a chance, and I shook my head and said, “Man, they ain’t trynna give a brotha a chance…”

But that’s just my perception.  Most prominent black Superstars are relegated to background roles or unmemorable personas, such as Mr. Shuck-and-Jive R-Truth or Kofi “Always Making This Face” Kingston.   Sure, there’s Mark Henry, but even he functions as a massive, powerful continent of a man who goes in, wrecks shop, dances a bit, wrecks more shop, and leaves.  Is it awesome?  Very, but I’m greedy: I want more for my brethren in color.  I want more for the human embodiment of Torterra and his would-be protégé, the Intercontinental Champion and candidate for Venusaur, Big E. Langston.  I want to see Xavier Woods as more than just Lamont Sanford, finding himself in violent situations with his partner in crime Rollo Lawson, er… I mean Ron Killings.  What can I say: they’re both felons.

But how awkward would it be for an angle or a storyline that pushed some level of prominence on these particular Superstars just based on the shade of their skin?  The Nation of Domination worked because of what it was and when it was.  In a time of PG-13 rated angles, stories, content and foolishness, the Nation was acceptable.  This was a time where a group such as the Nation could thrive and just be seen as business as usual; it helped that it became a platform for Dwayne Johnson to grow as well. 

Doing something like that now, an angle such as the Nation, and the gods of political correctness would swoop on the world of professional wrestling faster than Kevin Nash at the Fingerpoke of Doom. 

And swooping is bad. 

As are fingerpokes. 

Unlike the world of “We are the World-ness”, I am NOT politically correct, so don’t expect me to shy away from anything.  Say an angle that DID focus on the shade of the skin existed, but at the same time, it DIDN’T exist.  Say there was a blatant idea that the black Superstars were coming together to compete with what they see as an… let’s say “unfair” system, but it wasn’t about them being “unfair” to “them”.  Would a professional wrestling company be capable of something so reasonably complex?

Over the past few months we’ve seen some more-than-simple stories, long-form exploits that have garnered just as much hate as they have praise; some might say significantly more hate than praise.  The “Best for Business” storyline has many yawning and complaining, often to their own hypocrisy considering that despite their “boredom” they watch every week (your views mean ratings).  Daniel Bryan’s rise and background battle with that same Authority is another testament to that long-form talent, but without being in the limelight the casual viewer concludes that the story is over and “burial” begins. 

Forgive me: that “burial” (hi Quinn!) begins.  The unwritten rule is that we always say… never mind.

I want to go into the concept of A.F.R.O. but it’s important to remember that the casual fan doesn’t care about long term storytelling so much a dedicated viewer such as us fine people here at L.E.W.D.  If anything, we’re even MORE critical about the long term because we have more time to critique and dismantle.  There’s a reason we spit on the Aces and Eights and Claire Lynch and anonymous Raw GM storylines so much; part of it is longevity. 

That’s the issue with a long story: you run the risk of getting boring or repetitive.  Loyal fans will stick by it, but after a while even they will turn their nose up at it.  With that in mind, you HAVE to stay entertaining.  You HAVE to stay relevant.  You HAVE to keep their attention, and as much as Ashley and Quinn may disagree with me, maybe because it’s a copied storyline or maybe because it’s of the “enemy” (my words, no one else’s) company, but I think the Magnus/AJ Styles thing still has a chance to be reasonably compelling.

It’s been done, but what hasn’t?  AJ Styles should’ve just LEFT and said “Screw you, Dixie, I’m going home!” and Magnus should just take the World Heavyweight belt he possesses that he gets on TV in about two weeks (the beauty of taped shows), but the dynamic of a king versus an uncrowned king is always something fun.  Usually.  I haven’t read the spoilers yet, outside of the fact that Magnus is the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion.  Oops.  Spoiler.

Whatever you do, if it takes a while, keep it amusing. 

Exposition out of the way, let’s talk A.F.R.O.  Imagine a nation (no pun intended whatsoever) where people who get fed up with the higher ups of their society stop and leave.  They don’t leave forever, just for a while, and in that while there’s a notable absence.  Where went the massive pair of Mark Henry and Big E. Langston (who still has his title and just hasn’t been around)?  Where went the high flying yet massively pointless Kofi Kingston?  Where went the rapping Truth?  Where went the almost doctor Woods?  And you don’t ask about Ezekiel Jackson because he was gone already. 

Yes, he’s still employed in the WWE. 

You DO ask about the Funkadactyls though.  You do ask about Alicia Fox.  You might ask about Brodus Clay and Layla, but one is still in hot water with me because he dared use the phrase “main event player” to describe himself and the other… the other can do no wrong in my book.

Where did they go?  For at least a month they’re all gone.  It’s business as usual and, as usual, people are bitching and moaning about every little thing.  It’s professional wrestling and sports entertainment, that’s what you expect, but slowly and surely even the people behind the scenes, the talent and the staff, are grumbling.  The company is not doing well in their eyes, the operations are shoddy and more and more the people are saying that the company is more reckless than it’s ever been. 

Enter a business card, one with nothing more than the name Mr. H, the profession “fixer” and a phone number.  The GM sees it and, out of sheer desperation, dials, and the voice on the other end, a familiar, gruff voice, merely says, “See you in a week.”

So Brad Maddox paces in his office at the beginning of the show, blowing off any nonsense from Guerrero, trying to hurry any words from the authority, and the door to his office slowly opens.  He looks frightened, then happy, then scared.  Why?

Because who walks in by Mark Henry, dark shades on, CLEAN three-piece suit, and he’s on his phone, talking business.  Mark Henry is scary enough.  New agile Mark Henry is even scarier.  New agile Mark Henry rocking a suit and talking on a phone, demanding the attention of the person he’s standing before even as he’s on the phone is enough to make you crap a brick.  He ends his phone call and says happily, “Johnny!  Good to see you again!”

Brad: “It’s, uh… it’s BRAD, sir, my name is—”

Mark waves him off.  “Sorry, I gave you the wrong impression; you think I care.  You called me and you called the right one.  My team and I, we’ll get this company in ship shape in no time.”  He smiles.  “Ah, Franklin, it’s great to be back!”

Brad: “Uh, it’s Bra—”

Mark: “Still don’t care, Alice!  I need to look around again: my team will be taking notes throughout the show too.  Now, get out of my office.  I have musing to do.”

Brad: “I—”

Mark grabs Maddox and literally throws him out of the office.  He closes the door and sits at Maddox’s desk.  “Lashawnda better not try and correct me again.”  Then he goes to the phone.  Henry is in charge now, and slowly but surely his “team” is going to come out. 

It starts off swimmingly.  A throwaway match takes place between random mid-card number one and random mid-card number two.  Who do we see at the entrance ramp, taking notes on his tablet, speaking on his bluetooth?  Big E. Langston, not in a suit but certainly business attire, belt over his shoulder, glasses on, scoping potential competition?  Perhaps. 

The tag champions win their match later on and Woods and Truth come out, one in a suit, the other like Langston, conversing amongst each other, circling the ring but engaging in no action. 

A Divas segment backstage shows Fox, not amused, on her bluetooth, and walking on her way.  The Divas match has Layla sitting ringside, silent and watching. 

Towards the end of the show, the Unified Champion (assuming of course they refer to them as the Unified Champion) is walking backstage, pleased with his victory, smiling, already tired, and in the hallway he encounters Mark Henry.  He doesn’t look amused either; don’t let Aaron McGruder’s satire fool you: black people are NOT a jovial people.  The champion stares down Henry, Henry stares him down, and out of the blue, BAM!  A kick right in the temple, leveling the champion, and Kingston, in his suit and tie, rises from his violent strike.  Henry nods.

Henry: “Assessment?”

Kingston: “Weak.  You’d think a real champion would be ready for anything.”  He grabs the belt, shrugs and drops it right back on the champion.  “Even the belt is garbage.  We’ll have to design a new one.”

Henry: “We’ll need a new champion too.  Can’t have the face of this company smiling and looking weak.”

Kingston grimaces.  “I’m done with that smiling BS.  We done here?”

Everyone mentioned before comes up, clean, dressed to kill, not rallying behind Kingston so much as standing beside him.  Henry pulls a cigar from his jacket (I’m assuming he would smoke a cigar; he IS from Texas) and lights it.  “We have enough data to get it started then?  It was pretty easy going today but orientation is over.  Next week we hit the ground running.”  He kicks dust on the champion.  “A.F.R.O. is in business.”

——————————————————————————————

Now admit it: THAT would kick ass.  It would be great to see and it would be compelling, and the scenarios that would come from it (and believe me, I have dozens upon dozens, including having Ron Simmons as A.F.R.O.’s director of Human Resources and Wade Barrett being the “affirmative action” employee). 

But that’s just how I think.  What do YOU think?

RAW Review 5-6-13, a.k.a. “Are You Not Entertained?!?!”

I would like to apologize in advance if this post sounds like I’m only repeating stuff I’ve said before; the sad part is that usually when I repeat myself, it’s because I’ve found validation in remarks I’ve already made.  Essentially I’m giving myself a congratulatory pat on the back, a lá Barry Horowitz.

As I’ve stated before here, particularly on my last RAW review, WWE creative seems to be spinning its wheels when it comes to crafting provocative storylines and characters for fans to invest in and get behind.  They seem to be suffering from the exact same problem that plagues other sports entertainment companies: subjecting fans to seeing the same stars face each other in the same matches each and every week, with the needle of progression stabilized in a comfortably stagnant area.  The writing and wrestling in WWE right now just feels like one excruciatingly lingering and cumbersome expression of mediocrity.

It’s not just that the creative writing and execution is terrible, but it’s also the feeling that everything seems uninspired and bland.  Feuds and rivalries are rehashed, recycled and reused.  Characters feel forced and far from organic.  We’re shown wrestlers each week who bust their humps wrestling, and we have no earthly reason or urge to support their cause or wage verbal war against them.

This isn’t complaining at all, but rather an honest critique of one person’s experience watching Monday night’s episode of RAW.  In the three hours I spent watching the show I eventually became more enthralled with being on Twitter than I did with paying attention to what was going on in the ring.

Perhaps WWE could benefit from shaking up the creative teams or introducing new characters to the product while phasing out older ones, or give the secondary titles real and authentic value as well as become the means through which superstars can transition to the heavyweight championship and main event scene.  In the meantime the company could stand to at least pretend as if they have enough writers and wrestlers to have a vibrant mid-card rife with a mixture of tag team and Diva action involved in captivating stories that entertain instead of lull fans to sleep or coerce us to change the channel.

On the other hand as proactive fans perhaps it’s also wise to walk away from WWE programming for a bit to give our brains a chance to rest from mundane nature of the product.  The company is motivated by money, and if any of us truly want them to do better we have to speak with our wallets and not our internet browsing speeds.

But alas, here’s what stood out for me during the show:

  • The Awakening of Antonio Cesaro
  • Foreshadowing, Dean Ambrose Style
  • Mark Henry: The Greatest Man Who Ever Kicked Somebody’s Ass
  • Brock Mad, Brock Smash
  • John Cena versus Ryback: A Tale of How the Mighty Have Fallen
"Screw you guys, I'm going H.A.M.!" | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
“Screw you guys, I’m going H.A.M.!” | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

It wasn’t very long ago that fans began to sour on the prospect of Antonio Cesaro’s run as a WWE superstar.  After inexplicably losing several matches as the United States Champion, Cesaro’s run was unceremoniously ended by the foots of “Double K” Kofi Kingston, also known in some parts as the Crown Prince of Mid-Card Excellency (Jeff Jarrett is still the reigning monarch in that kingdom of inadequacy).  In a lot of ways Kofi reminds me of Jeff Hardy, but that’s another blog for another day.

Along with his loses Cesaro was also conspicuously left out of WrestleMania XXIX despite having a lengthy and historic run as the United States Champion.  It wasn’t long after that fans began to naturally assume that Vince McMahon “hated” him and he was essentially being buried for the unknown and unnamed personal grudge the Irish-blooded McMahon secretly harbored against the Swiss.

On an unrelated note this idea absolutely infuriated me because fans became super vocal about this the night after Cesaro was named the WWE’s Swiss Ambassador for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  That makes perfect sense; send the guy you “hate” to be the official international ambassador for a foundation that brings joy to dying kids.  If that’s the case then McMahon must really hate the s**t out of John Cena…but I digress again.

Oddly enough all of the anti-Vince McMahon pundits were nowhere to be seen when Cesaro cut a pipe bomb-esque promo last night after defeating the modern day Brooklyn Brawler, Zack Ryder, in short fashion.  Simply put, Cesaro said he’s a beast and there’s no one on the entire roster that can walk a mile with his jock strap…because Swiss jock straps are nothing to yodel at.

All jokes aside Cesaro made his intentions as loud and clear as a clarion call from the top of the Matterhorn.  In fact his promo was one of the few moments during the show that piqued my interest and sent chills up my spine.  We all know that Cesaro is a beast and the more prescient fans (i.e. everybody at L.E.W.D.) knew that his losses were only a red herring to his eventual rise to prominence.

Simply put if Vince McMahon didn’t think he was worth a damn he would’ve simply released him (Braden Walker) or taken him off of TV completely (John Morrison) and used him once a month to do the job for someone else (Zack Ryder).

Stay tuned to see where Cesaro’s new found awesomeness will take him; if his promo last night wasn’t proof enough, check out this video done for him prior to this year’s WrestleMania:

Since we were almost on the subject of Kofi Kingston, the current United States Champion teamed with the Uso Brothers on Monday’s show to face The Shield in 6-man tag team action.  Kofi ate the pin for his team after dining on Dean Ambrose’s unnamed finishing maneuver.  While the WWE’s self-proclaimed arm of justice remains undefeated as a trio, the more interesting event occurred after the pinfall.

For some odd reason the referee thought it necessary to hand Kofi his United States title during the most inconvenient time after a match.  For starters Kofi was still slightly incapacitated, lying almost lifeless on the mat while attempting to recover from Ambrose’s maneuver.  Secondly the referee held the belt in the middle of the ring right next to Dean Ambrose as he celebrated the victory with his Shield brethren.  It was at that time Ambrose gave the title this lingering and desiring glance, long enough for anyone to justifiably insinuate that the man is going to destroy Kofi in the near future.

Dean Ambrose suspiciously eyes the United States Championship after leaving Kofi Kingston staring at the ceiling lights. | Photo © 2013 WWe, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Dean Ambrose suspiciously eyes the United States Championship after leaving Kofi Kingston staring at the ceiling lights. | Photo © 2013 WWe, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The slow burn that has occurred with The Shield has apparently arrived at a point where it would make sense that the trio would start to consider chasing after championship gold.  Most fans will easily agree that Ambrose stands out the most in the group; I believe it’s his charisma, matched with his body language/facial expressions and ability to work the mic that makes him pop more so than the amazingly athletic Seth Rollins and devastatingly intense Roman Reigns.

While I’m not too sold on an Ambrose/Shield and Kofi Kingston rivalry, I do appreciate the hint at this development for all men involved.  The Shield has wreaked havoc in WWE for some time and creative has nothing substantial at the moment for Kingston. Pairing the four men or at least Ambrose and Kingston together gives fans the new feud and mid-card energy we’re craving for.  The main problem is waiting for this whole thing to come to fruition if it indeed is meant to be.

Mark Henry deserves to be a WWE Hall of Famer and has most assuredly earned that honor after his 17 years of dutiful service in the WWE.  I don’t recall Henry ever working for any other company other than WWE, and at 41 years of age he is one of the last Attitude Era wrestlers still on the active roster (along with notable stars such as Triple H and The Undertaker).

It says a lot about Henry in real life that he’s worked for the company for this long and they’ve made sure to keep him around after a series of injuries have stalled his character’s development at various points of his career.  You have to respect the man and I’d be highly upset if some sort of WWE book or DVD wasn’t made highlighting his career and his life.

The Henry accolades don’t stop there, however; Monday night’s episode of RAW didn’t really seem to pick up steam until Henry beat Sheamus silly with a leather belt.  Prior to that Henry held the audience in the palm of his hands during an in-ring promo and then, after a verbal exchange with Sheamus, delighted us with his commentary and his verbal abuse of Michael Cole.  Everything surrounding Mark Henry last night was pure gold and even got the man trending on Twitter.

"Sheamus, if you got any pride in that pasty body of yours..." *officially done* | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
“Sheamus, if you got any pride in that pasty body of yours…” *officially done* | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

This rivalry with Henry is the same exact program they had during their first skirmish.  While the program worked well the first time it is disappointing that the writers have returned to the well to give us the same thing over again.  There is a saying that goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but I wonder if there’s more they could do with Henry and Sheamus other than having them crash into each other like two rams butting heads in a fine china shop.

“The Celtic Cena” Sheamus is serviceable in this rivalry, but it’s Mark Henry who’s making it sizzle and pop.  Their outing at the upcoming Extreme Rules pay per view will be good to watch, but I’m still hoping the company can do right by both men in giving them (and us) this Hulk versus The Thing bout for the second time.

The biggest “shock” of the night came when exclusive footage was aired of Brock Lesnar destroying Triple H’s office at WWE headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut.  Lesnar’s legal aid and handler Paul Heyman documented their entire mythical journey all on his iPhone.

The whole thing was designed to further their program with Triple H who, after arriving to RAW, didn’t seem pissed at all that Lesnar destroyed his “office” and was allowed to do so by the years’ worth of staff that allowed Heyman and Lesnar to trash said office.

I joked with fellow wrestling fan Tom Bobbitt the entire night about possible storylines that could come from the segment.  One included Triple H having Lesnar arrested for vandalism, destruction of property, unlawful seizure and abduction of an individual, trespassing, and reckless behavior and endangerment.  Heyman, of course, would be sent up the river for aiding and abetting criminal activity.

Ideally Trips would have his lawyer request that bail be denied for both men, citing their danger to society on the whole.  The legal process behind that would be far more interesting and would coincide perfectly with these long drawn out yearlong storylines everyone seems intent on writing today.

The bottom line is that Brock smashed Triple H’s corporate office and the Game wasn’t even phased by his shenanigans.  If he doesn’t give a damn, neither do I…moving right along…

This image looks very familiar... | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
This image looks very familiar… | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

WWE Champion John Cena is still set to face Ryback at Extreme Rule in a Last Man Standing Match despite having a bad ankle.  Considering the players involved it’s astonishing that we really could not care any less.

Cena’s championship reigns at this point of his career are about as predictable as the likelihood of water being wet.  It’s almost moot to nuance or argue about his character right now, mostly because no one will listen and we’re slowly realizing that the man will retire in 40 years the same way he’s wrestling now.

Ryback, on the other hand, has slowly earned our angst due to WWE’s insistence to force him to become the heel in this feud.  Ryback went from having a solid core of fans behind him to having fans against him, only to find a resting spot in a place where fans are largely indifferent about him.  There was almost no reaction for him when he wrestled in Monday night’s main event, and the crowd didn’t really pop for him during his post-match attack on John Cena.

We’ve all seen this song and dance from Cena and a monstrous opponent before; it’s extremely laughable and disheartening at the same time for Ryback’s character to be pompous enough to believe he can defeat Cena on his own in a Last Man Standing Match given the man’s track record with never giving up.  This isn’t to say Cena hasn’t lost a LMS match before, but the odds are definitely in his favor on this one.

Ahh, that's right.  This is how it all started...| Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Ahh, that’s right. This is how it all started…| Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

There’s only one more episode of RAW between now and the pay per view, so it will be mildly interesting to see what WWE does to add fuel to the fire burning between Cena and Ryback.  With The Shield, Daniel Bryan and Kane involved, however, this whole mess looks and feels more convoluted than necessary.  Unfortunately I just cannot shake the feeling that when it’s all said and done, this feud will just be business as usual for John Cena; such is life.

But those are just my thoughts on the show…what did YOU think about it?

RAW Review 12-10-12, a.k.a. “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Sho’…”

This isn't pro wrestling!! I KEEL YEW!!!
This isn’t pro wrestling!! I KEEL YEW!!!

As it currently stands the most popular thing to do is bash any and everything produced by WWE regardless of what the end product looks like.  Makes me reminisce about the days when it wasn’t popular to speak ill of TNA and their pre-Bruce Prichard booking.  Nevertheless Monday’s episode of RAW provided the haters with all the ammunition they needed to have a spectacular time.

On the other side of the coin, it’s funny that for once in a long time I was actually entertained by what has been (for me at least) a typically dull three hour sports entertainment cavalcade.  No matter how you look at it, however, this show contained something for everyone; whether you bashed the show, complained about not watching it while watching it, or remained engaged from 8 – 11:03 PM, you were talking or tweeting or texting about the show.  That, much to the chagrin of the company’s detractors, is a good thing.

For what it’s worth RAW was made all the more interesting by two things: the wrestling and the live crowd.  Everything in between, ranging from the mundane or nonexistent storyline progression to the highly entertaining segments, pointed back to the strength of the in-ring action and riding the momentum from an energetic crowd.

We shouldn’t be so quick to shake a stick at those two factors, one of which has been a major criticism of the WWE’s product for sometime now.  Fans clamoring for more “wrestling” in WWE matches have quietly ignored the reality that the three hour format lends itself to allowing for longer, more in-depth wrestling and psychology in matches of some importance to the bigger picture.  Longer matches then give way to building solid feuds and rivalries (a point that Mr. Gammon brought up), as opposed to having two guys face each other randomly because they haven’t done so before and for the sake of it being “different” with no rhyme or reason other than being “different.”

An immature fan, hell bent on being angry for the sake of being angry, would argue that seeing the same match-ups over and over again are pointless and boring.  It could be argued that Sunday night’s 4,000th match between AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels at TNA’s Final Resolution proves that immature perspective to be a) silly and b) chock full of bias.  I highly doubt that most fans yearned to see John Cena and Brodus Clay tear it up in the main event match, so what’s the real reason behind disliking recycled matches?

That stuff aside, this go-home episode of RAW did very little for me to build excitement for this Sunday’s TLC pay per view; but on the flip side it didn’t dilute my interest in watching the pay per view, especially my desire to see The Shield’s official wrestling debut against Team Hell No and Ryback.  I’m sure there are thousands of fans who disagree with that perspective.

Here’s what stood out in the show for me:

  • No Muppets were filmed in the making of this show.  Are you frickin’ happy now?
  • Cody’s Mustache + The Miz’s Face Turn = Unintentional Gold
  • Antonio Cesaro continues to impress
  • Colt Cabana was backstage
  • The Shield finally attacks John Cena…THANK. YOU. JBL.
Hey...where erybody go?
Hey…where erybody go?

Yesterday before the show I crafted a lengthy piece about the Muppets serving as Social Ambassadors for RAW.  I must begrudgingly admit that I didn’t consider the fact that the fuzzy and fun-loving creatures from Jim Henson’s Monster Workshop wouldn’t actually be featured on the show as Social Ambassadors; rather they’d simply tweet here and there about the show, perhaps even be mentioned here and there on the live broadcast.

If you watched the show you could’ve probably counted on one hand the number of times the Muppets were mentioned by Jerry Lawler and Mike Cole.  So in the long run it was hilarious to have wasted an entire blog post on defending stars that didn’t even appear on the show.  What’s even more tickling is the fact that some fans were pissed off at something that never manifested on the show.  As fans we really have to start picking and choosing our battles.

Now the Muppets will be featured on the Tribute to the Troops show coming up in a few days, but it’d be way more ridiculous to see people get pissed off at a variety show done for those brave men and women who serve our country in the armed forces.  If you don’t like Flo Rida, Kid Rock, the Muppets or matches that have very little to do with current storylines, then piss off because the show wasn’t designed for you anyway.

Damien Sandow (left) flanks the right side of Channel 5's Action News Team Anchor Guy Tannen. | Photo © 2012 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Damien Sandow (left) flanks the right side of Channel 5’s Action News Team Anchor Guy Tannen. | Photo © 2012 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Cody Rhodes returned to action last night after suffering an injury one month ago prior to the Survivor Series pay per view.  Unfortunately Cody’s return to action was dwarfed by the debut of his new mustache, a debut that garnered at least two boisterous chants from the New Jersey crowd and a Twitter hashtag.  To make matters even more awesome, the Rhodes Scholars (tag team consisting of Rhodes and Damien Sandow) were subjected to an interview with The Miz on MizTV.

The unintentional hilariousness that ensued was enough to at least give the dissenters and advocates a moment of tranquility.

The whole segment easily reminded us of what makes being a wrestling fan fun.  It’s understandable to want solid wrestling matches, but the segments that take place in between those matches are important for a number of reasons; wrestlers prepare for matches, get time to recuperate, get last minute instructions, get checked out by physicians, etc.  Most important the segment served as a buffer in between matches so the fans get a moment to breathe; seriously think about watching two hours of straight wrestling with nothing in between…

This particular set-up not only did a lot to reintroduce Rhodes to the fans that may have easily forgotten about him in his month long absence (in comparison, does anyone miss Mr. Anderson in TNA?), but it also furthered some sort of rivalry between Miz and Sandow, an exchange that initially began some weeks ago.  There may be nothing that comes from it, but it would be peculiar to have Miz constantly egg Sandow without some sort of payoff in sight.

And Cody’s mustache…priceless.

Champion versus Champion exhibition...there's a nifty word...exhibition... | Photo © 2012 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Champion versus Champion exhibition…there’s a nifty word…exhibition… | Photo © 2012 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

United States Champion Antonio Cesaro defeated Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston in a long and extremely athletic match.  The highlight of the match was Cesaro reversal of Kofi’s top rope cross body splash into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker.  To say that reversal was glorious would be an understatement.

When speaking of making a mid-level championship relevant one would be remiss by not mentioning Cesaro’s name somewhere at the top of that conversation.  Cesaro has come quite a way since his WWE debut as a defrocked rugby star turned wrestler and consistently shows the top brass in WWE that he’s a worthwhile investment and a future main event superstar.

Kofi Kingston as of late has settled quite nicely into his mid-level role as Intercontinental Champion.  While he doesn’t bring the same flair or notoriety to the belt as former champion Cody Rhodes did during his reign, Kingston seems comfortable in a position that feels to be a grooming session for a main event spot.  What should concern us is that this isn’t the first time Kingston has flirted with the proverbial main event mistress, and there’s much to be said about his appeal to those fans who expect their champions to be “wrestlers” in the Antonio Inoki/Great Muta sense of the term.

I will say this: if there was any chance that Kingston would become a major champion sometime prior to 2014, he’d remind me a lot of TNA’s current World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Hardy…minus the drugs and D.I.L.L.I.G.A.F. attitude.

Everyone’s favorite wrestler, Colt Cabana, was apparently backstage at last night’s show.  Wrestlers always find their way backstage to shows so it’s not all that big of a deal really.  In Colt Cabana’s case, it was interesting to find out that he was backstage at RAW a mere four days after the WWE posted that video on their website.

Colt recently “ended” his tenure with NWA after defeating former NWA World Heavyweight Champion in a series of matches known as the 7 Levels of Hate.  This series, culminating with a steel cage match in Australia, saw Cabana defeat Pierce but not for the NWA Title due to some b.s. that’s too complicated to delve into at this moment in time.  Point being Cabana may be free to do something with the WWE if he and the company choose to enter into some sort of agreement.

Cabana is funny as hell and also one unique athlete that really didn’t get a solid opportunity to do what he does best in a WWE ring.  With stars like Brodie Lee, PAC, Chris Hero and Martin Stone currently making waves in NXT, Cabana could fit in quite nicely with the vast number of “wrestlers” being developed for the WWE.  We can’t jump to conclusions because of a WWE.com video and backstage sighting, but it is interesting that the WWE referenced a former wrestler out of the blue for seeming no reason other than to reference him.  Let’s just hope he’s at least brought in as a trainer (a la Sara Del Ray).

All I could say was...it's about damn time! | Photo © 2012 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All I could say was…it’s about damn time! | Photo © 2012 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

And finally, the WWE once again ripped off TNA by ending the show with a pier 6 brawl initiated by the hijinks of The Shield.  Luckily for us the initial attack was aimed at John Cena, an attack that was long overdue.

It was only a matter of time before The Shield directed their swords of justice towards John Cena.  Some fans questioned the group’s motives for attacking Cena, motives that were literally laid out by Dolph Ziggler at the beginning of the show.  The simple version is this: Cena, despite having had one terrible 2012, still managed to get opportunity after opportunity to wrestle for the WWE Title.  We fans even criticized this for years, so is it really any question as to why The Shield would go after Cena at this point?  Hell, my question is “why’d it take them so long to do it?”

What makes The Shield compelling to watch is their calculated and slightly vicious campaign against injustice in the WWE.  They attack at random and at will, and it still remains to be seen if they’re indeed working for someone or for themselves.  As Mr. Lamb stated in a conversation, they’re like a special ops force within the WWE, striking with intention that’s confusing to anyone outside of the master plan.  The attacks can only go on for so long, but at the least we get to see them perform in an actual match in less than a week from now.

Those are just my thoughts on the subject; what did YOU think of the show?

 

Da Infamous DiZ talks about Summerslam 2012

*All moving gifs courtesy of ilovewrestlinggifs*

Hello again, dear friends and enemies. Welcome back to the site. If you’re like me (and you’re not, because I’m the incarnation of perfection) then you come here for pro wrestling and/or sports entertainment commentary, insight, witty banter and, of course, the occasional bit of hardcore animal porn. But since the nation of Kickassia has passed the Protection of Oriental Pigeons Act (aka the P.O.O.P. Act) we’ve had to fall back on pure analysis.

But not me, true believers! Never a fan of the status quo or hot bird-on-bear action, I, the Infamous One himself, is proud to bring you ranting! Yes, ranting, pure unadulterated ranting on something we all love to hate: the WWE! As we all know, last night was Summerslam 2012, one of the big four PPVs the company puts out, and the question is simple: “DiZ, you clandestine paragon of forthrightness, what did YOU, in all your greatness and humility that I can never hope to achieve, think of the PPV?”

Since you are so kind to acknowledge my greatness, I’ll tell you. I’ve picked up a bad habit, I’m sorry to say, one that compels me to actually buy the PPVs, fry up some chicken wings, drink Yuengling and Sam Adams and occasionally endure a random appearance by a long-lost friend. The last element within that circle did not occur last night, but just as well. Those long-lost friends are usually casual fans and at a certain point last night they would have felt cheated out of the $0.00 they paid to watch it.

Not that they matter. What did I think? Well we start with the pre-show match between Antonio Cesaro, the man of five languages (and six words) versus the United States Champion (and I use that term loosely) Santino Marella. Just for you, reader, I’ll treat you to highlights from the match via moving gifs which highlight the best parts of the matches. So let us begin.

The Book of Man Logic says: applying teeth to clothing that may touch another man’s crotch is ill advised.

We all know the reign of Santino Marella as the United States Champion has been stupidly underwhelming.  His high point came in the Elimination Chamber match when he was literally the cock of the walk.  His inclusion into the PPV, even in the pre-show, is fulfillment of the role of the champion who puts others over.  Enter Antonio Cesaro, master of one-word phrases and questionably attractive European women.  He’s quickly risen from being Teddy Long’s pseudo-adversary to PPV pre-show talent, and why not?  He’s a big Swede who beats people up, kind of like this guy here (only he’s Spanish).

Besides that, with patriotism very high right now (election years will do that to you) a good international heel is needed, and Cesaro fits that bill to a Rocky IV kind of perfection.  The match was entertaining, far more than Marella has been in a long time, and his loss came as a sigh of relief to us, the masses.  Frankly I think Cesaro can enact a respectable and entertaining run as the United States Champion, and maybe he’ll even bring a little validity back to the title.  The big question now is who he feuds with next.  I’m hoping for a low-to-mid carder who hasn’t exactly had a chance to shine or, hypothetically, gets thrown into walls by giants.

Aksana, when we return to hotel, I must break you…

Match one (two if you want to speak in technicalities) was between the Show Off Dolph Ziggler and Y2J Chris Jericho.  I don’t know who said it, but a very wise person said that this match had the potential to be the best PPV opener in the history of the WWE.

I agreed.  Jericho versus Ziggler, old versus new, unofficial mentor versus unofficial mentee, Yomi versus Shura (Yu Yu Hakusho fans might get that one), and sure enough it was all that and more.  The in-ring psychology of the match suggested to me that Ziggler was like a younger brother to Jericho, desperately trying to earn his elder sibling’s respect through ability, skill and imitation.  That, as well as the fact that Jericho’s role in the WWE right now is to put over the next generation of stars, fueled this great match.

You got a degree and you know sign language, but do you have a heavy metal band? HUH!?!

We were treated to just over 13 minutes of smooth ring work and flashy bravado that ended, surprisingly, with a Jericho win.  The crowd was enthused and, even better, we were treated to the Lion Tamer.  Not the Walls of Jericho as many figured, but the Lion Tamer.  I explained to one person, “The Walls of Jericho is a renamed Boston Crab.  The Lion Tamer is there to crush your skill and snap your back in two.”  Big brother wasn’t amused.

But I’m looking past that and to what this match might mean for this feud between Jericho and Ziggler.  It seems like many a Superstar right now are playing the shadow game to a wrestler they emulate or idolize, and this is the first time I’m seeing how blatantly this is being shown.  I don’t see Jericho doing anything big for a bit and Ziggler may not cash in that briefcase in the near future (or maybe he will; get the belt of Sheamus; oops, spoiler) but we may finally see that almost Rule of Two Sith thing I was hinting at so long enough back when Cena was supposed to join the dark side.

Maybe.  I hope so.

It’s “No! No! No!” because typing “Yes! Yes! Yes!” into Google is X rated.

Match three was between Daniel Bryan and Kane, more in-ring story for the long (and compelling) arc between AJ, Punk, Bryan and Kane.  While the “anger management” angle has seemed to fade a little bit, the sun that is Bryan’s career hasn’t subsided in the least.  Easily one of the finest workers in the WWE in a long time, he makes the ring work look good and he plays the crowd to perfection, whether friendly or jerky, aggressive or downright psychotic.  Pair him with Kane, another of the great workers in the WWE, and we have a great match.

It is interesting, I think, that this angle has lasted as long as it has, and it all revolves around a Diva, the most powerful Diva on the program, the Diva that did what Eve couldn’t do and did it without any sexual innuendo (the mantra is “I will resist Eve breast, mouth or sex jokes.  I will resist…”) and now it seems like she punishing every man that had any relation with her along the way.  Look at Punk and his triple threat.  Look at Bryan and his psychological evaluations.  Look at Kane and his relative third wheel status.  Look at Josh Matthews and…

The moral of the story, kids, is that just doing your job is hazardous to your health.

Well to be fair, he was just doing his job.  But really, when’s the last time that paid off?  That’s not very “Be A Star”-ish, WWE.  What does it say when a man who is just trying to do his job gets manhandled and may just suffer from some anal bleeding?

But Bryan won the match via a Small Package (ironic, I know) and AJ has promised retribution and consequences for Kane’s attack.  A great match, great work from both Superstars, great tolerance for Josh Matthews.  I don’t know WHO he pissed off to get thrown around and beat up as of late but he’s taking it all in stride.

Our fourth match was for the Intercontinental Championship, a real barn burner between token talking Mexican good guy Rey Mysterio and (not a) movie star Mike Mizanin, aka the Miz.  I didn’t know what to expect or think of this match but I have to admit: I hate Batman and Bruce Wayne just a little bit more now that we have this image:

Insert generic Adam West Batman quote here.

Personally I think he’d have been better off coming out as the Riddler, being “Mysterio” and all, or even Bane, because of the similar Mexican heritage, but hey, when you need to impersonate a hero, you impersonate everyone’s favorite psychologically damaged, sexually repressed/confused, forever lonely billionaire!  Trust me, I know Batman lore, I’m being VERY nice just saying that.

Like I said, I didn’t have much of an opinion for this match because my only thought was that I wanted the Miz to win.  I’m in the minority here but I’m not big on Rey Mysterio for the same reason I’m not big on Sin Cara: I don’t see their styles soar because they rarely face other luchas.  When the eventual (and inevitable) battle between him and Sin Cara becomes a reality (not that tag team mess where they look like Double Dragon) I’ll probably enjoy it more.  After all, what is Sin Cara in the WWE but in the shadow… of… Rey… Mysterio… do I hear the sweet bells of validation?!

The actual match was surprisingly good.  The back-and-forth was clever and enjoyable, and the end of the match actually did feature some serious edge-of-your-seat(-with-a-beer-in-hand) moments.  The Miz’s victory pleased me even more because it looked like a hard fought victory, which is the best kind of victory.

Match five was the rather noteworthy Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio 463 (I don’t think the number is that high, but it might as well be).  We’ve seen this match plenty of times but despite Del Rio’s in-ring skill he’s just not that fun to watch overall.  He’s rather dull on the mic and he’s grown stale.  Someone’s left the cap off of the bottle of Senzao if you catch my drift.

Therein lies the issue: the actual match was solid.  It was clean.  But like the Primetime Players vs. Kofi Kingston and R-Truth 353 (again, not that many, but might as well be) back when A.W. was their manager, the crowd wasn’t into it.  A.W. brought energy to that match, and Ricardo Rodriguez couldn’t do the same for this match.

There was a certain time when the crowd popped though that caught my attention, as shown here:

The crowd popped at the armlock. Otherwise, they said, “We are not amused!”

But that pop actually came BEFORE Sheamus displayed his strength, when Del Rio locked in his finisher.  That was curious, but even when Ricardo threw his shoe (you’re missed, A.W.) the crowd just wasn’t into this otherwise solid match.  Sheamus retained, but it’s about time we had something new.  Sheamus vs. Del Rio has long since overstayed its welcome, and I wouldn’t mind seeing Orton in the WHC title hunt again.  Speaking of Orton… no, nothing.  I just wanted to get your hopes up.  Like I said to Quinn before: he dismantles with arguments and logic.  I just hurt people’s feelings.  Deal with it!

The next match was the Primetime Players against Kofi Kingston and R-Truth, who seemed to be dressed in Superman attire for some reason or the other.  You’ll notice the lack of moving gifs for this one.  That’s because there are none (or at least I don’t feel like looking).  It was a standard match, and the consistent chant of “Kobe” throughout (or maybe “Kofi”, it was hard to tell) was the highlight.

My biggest thing was finally acknowledging that one of the biggest African-American wrestlers in the WWE right now is a Que.  That’s gotta be an interesting article in the Oracle I reckon.  Kofi and R-Truth (I call them “Good Times” because I think of this song when they come out) retain their titles, but honestly I don’t feel too strongly either way about them right now.

The WWE Championship match followed this tag team encounter, and the first thing that caught my attention was the order of appearance.  John Cena was first, then the Big Show, and finally the CHAMPION CM Punk.  That’s good.  It’s progress.  Punk wasn’t in the main event but that’s a gripe for another post.

There’s no more animal porn, but this… is our loophole.

I’ll say this: that match was as good as it could have possibly been.  There was a consistent attempt to keep it a one-on-one bout and the double tap out was, predictably I’ll admit, interesting if not a little cliché.  Punk’s victory was the icing on the cake because it was both so like him and so unlike him at the same time, which only makes his tweener status (HE’S NOT A HEEL!) all the better.

But you have to wonder: is this part of a grand months long arc like that of Daniel Bryan?  We know the Rock is waiting at the Royal Rumble for his match (with no reasonable explanation as to why this match CAN even go down) but what until then?  Minor sidestories within?  Gaiden?  Cheese?  The Tahj Mahal?  Hammer?  I’m actually voting for Hammer.  Otherwise, CM Punk is a terrific tweener, in the same vein of Stone Cold himself (SHADOWS!  SHADOWS!  SHADOWS!) and I like that.

He’s walking around in this dress that she wore, she is gone, but the joke’s the same… pretty in pink… isn’t she? (I had to do it)

What the people (i.e. – many of thee) don’t understand is that there’s a lot more to the characters you love and hate in the ring.  There’s more than just black and white; there is gray, several shades of it, about fifty to be exact.  That’s where CM Punk is.  That’s actually where a LOT of wrestlers are, but people don’t like to think.  There’s black and white, but no gray.  Gray SUCKS!  So people just think, “Oh, he hit the Rock so he’s a heel!”  Shut up, fool, he’s a tweener, between face and heel, adept in both, master of none!

I’m sorry, I got angry because I envisioned your (ADRIAN!) face and just screamed at the computer screen.  Let me sum up my feelings on those that feel like CM Punk is a heel with this:

The fine for this little infraction gonna be rollin, rollin, rollin, rollin, rollin…

Next we had our Cash Money performance, and being an ardent hater of anything post-2003 from the Cash Money camp that was NOT Teena Marie let’s just apply the above moving gif to my feelings for the performance.  There wasn’t enough dancing Layla but there was enough trying to sing Spanish announcers.  That made the overall performance about a C+.  It would have been a B-, but like I said: not enough dancing Layla.

Finally, my legion of followers, we come to the main event.  Brock Lesnar versus Triple H.  I’ll offer this disclaimer now: if you’re a casual fan of pro wrestling/sports entertainment, this match sucked.  If you’re a deep thinking pro wrestling/sports entertainment fan, this match was intriguing.

Lesnar: Hey Trips! Jimmie John’s profits are up! This ass-whuppin is on me!

It was like a game of chess, that’s the only way I can describe it.  And chess, while interesting, isn’t always something that has your eyes shifting like a game of ping pong.  It was like a ballet almost, a psychological struggle between a man with no morals and a man who still thinks he has something to prove after losing a record third time to the Undertaker at Wrestlemania.

Lesnar: Oh yeah, I’m a major cinephile. Check this out! JUDOOOOO CHOP!

No tables were destroyed, no weapons utilized, just some retrospectively brutal attacks by both combatants.  Looking at what this match is truly here to symbolize, you have to wonder if this is all part of the long road (or an extended storyline) leading to the end of Triple H’s in-ring work.  He’s been around for a while, staked his claim, and now he’s been emasculated and defeated, both as an athlete (Lesnar’s repeatedly beat him senseless) and professionally (Lesnar didn’t get his way, but he left the scars).  Is it time to see the end of Triple H, the wrestler?

Lesnar: I love John Briley too! CRY FREEDOM!

Maybe.  I have a scenario in mind actually that would be a perfect way for Triple H to leave the ring, but it would need to happen at Wrestlemania.  In any case, it was a gentleman’s match, not full of spotfest excitement or bloody indulgence but true, technical, specified brutality.  Watching from both a casual and deep thinking pro wrestling/sports entertainment state of mind, I was equally bored/angered and amazed/melancholy, because with the abundance of shadows I’ve spoken of earlier, who exactly is the shadow for Triple H?  Stone Cold’s legacy is in the spirit of CM Punk right now.  Hogan’s is in Cena.  Rey Mysterio’s is in Sin Cara.  Jericho’s is in Ziggler, maybe even a few others.  Could perhaps Sheamus…

Well, it was a deep match, with Triple H tapping out to Lesnar.  He left the ring like a king who had finally taken too many wounds.  Classy.  Very cool, very classy.

That sums up the PPV for me.  Because I’m in the weird habit of paying for these and essentially hosting little private parties for them now, I hold the PPVs, especially the big four, in a higher regard now, and I can say that Summerslam didn’t disappoint.  The crowd wasn’t as enthused at all times as they could have been, and the main event is going to be a polarizing thing for many, but by and by I liked it, money well spent, a nice compliment to my many, many beers.

The DiZ gives this PPV a B for a grade.  That’s about all I have to say today.  You stay classy, San Diego.  I’m Ron Burgandy…?

Opportunity Knocks: 60-Days of Sobriety, Randy Orton, and YOU!

News broke late yesterday afternoon that WWE Superstar Randy “Please Accept Me” Orton was suspended by the WWE for his second violation of the dreaded Wellness Policy.

Wrestling forums, message boards, blogs and websites were flooded yesterday with articles and posts about yet another dark turn in the career of “The Viper.”  Meanwhile an entirely new river was created on the planet from the tears shed by Ortonites the world over.

*Note: Mr. Morris would like to take the opportunity to express his deepest sympathy to @RKOsNumba1Fan and @VipersOracle (shameless plug).  He would also like to say hello to Shane H. and the Hit the Ropes Radio crew (shameless plug).  Please visit The Color Commentator, because it’s still real to them too, dammit!

This type of opportunity doesn’t come often in the realm of pro wrestling.  Superstars take time off for various reasons, but the perfect storm where a major star involved in a major storyline is forced to take time off only comes every so often.

Orton’s suspension, initially seeming like a huge blow to the WWE, is actually an opportunity for the next top star to figuratively and literally take the ball he dropped and run with it.

Fans of sports entertainment should spend the next 60 days hopeful that several of their favorite “under-pushed” and “ill-utilized” superstars step up to the plate, grab the bull by the horns, and strike while the iron is hot.

In other words, somebody should take Orton’s time off to prove that they’re more capable and trustworthy of being Smackdown’s most recognizable face (sorry Sheamus).

The next 60 days should be sobering for Randy Orton and the superstars on the Smackdown roster.

One can imagine that a superstar’s second violation of the Wellness Policy is harrowing by itself.  We’ve yet to see any athlete score the infamous third strike which would see them released from the company for at least one year.

Much like former superstar Jeff Hardy and the recently suspended Rey Mysterio, Randy is staring into the abyss of a yearlong exile from the WWE.  If the company or the business means anything to him, he will more than likely spend this time to heal injuries and think of ways to avoid getting that third strike.

There is of course another option that would be interesting for the business on the whole…

Feel free to share this hashtag with anyone who won’t stone you to death for making such a suggestion.

The dark clouds created by Orton’s suspension also come with at least one silver lining.  His two month absence from the WWE gives the rest of the roster the golden opportunity to fill the void that has been created by his temporary and involuntary departure.

Some fans make it a weekly habit to accuse the WWE of holding back certain stars for a myriad of reasons.  It is not very often, however, that fans aim their venomous barbs at the athletes who, growing comfortable in the position in the company, tend to coast through matches and high profile feuds.

Despite the best wishes and well-intentioned desires of the fans, wrestlers are utilized to be and do certain things on a given roster.  The superstars who look to break out of those restrictive walls created by the “system” MUST prove to Vince McMahon, the booking team and the creative writers that they have earned the opportunity to occupy a major spot in the company.

CM Punk has notoriously spent most of his WWE career fighting individuals who expected him to be another wrestler in the company long enough for a cup of coffee.  Many years later he’s not only gracing the cover of the WWE ’13 video game, but he’s also getting his first WWE produced DVD (think of how many outstanding superstars that DON’T have one…Kurt Angle…).

Chris Jericho is another superstar that had a lot to prove in the WWE to naysayers inside and outside of the company.  His popularity and intellect have made him one of THE most preeminent athletes and entertainers in professional wrestling today.

Most fans can easily agree that Kofi Kingston is a superstar that deserves some time in the sun, and while he’s currently enjoying success as a tag team champion with R-Truth, now would be an excellent opportunity for him to show the suits that he can shoulder the weight of being a top star in the WWE.

Can Kofi actually do that?

Ironically enough his last taste of the main event spotlight was opposite Randy Orton in October 2009.  Between that time and now Kofi has been an Intercontinental Champion, U.S. Champion, and Tag Team Champion.  What he’s most remembered for is the tag team he formed with Evan Bourne, who is also currently serving out a 60 day suspension for violating the Wellness Policy.

Even though Kofi is still fairly young in his career with many more opportunities ahead of him, he still has to prove to higher ups in the company that he’s worth the money it would take to make him one of the major players in the WWE.  Despite his athletic abilities and his rapport with the younger fans, what logical reason exists that would justify placing him in the main event picture over someone like Cody Rhodes?

We’ve got two months to find out the answer to that question.

Let’s view Orton’s suspension as the perfect time for the product to be refreshed and revitalized with a new face or faces.  Whether we see Orton return with a new focus and determination, or we witness the rise of the newest superstar that captures our attention and hearts (and dollars), we’re in for one hell of a ride no matter how we look at it.