And the Crowd Goes “Yes!”: Raw Regurgitated, 10/14

Next week will be #ShawnMichaelsWeek (spoiler alert), so I’m not going to get too in-depth with how I feel about him right now, but I will say one thing: out of the all-time greats, HBK is probably the worst talker. It’s not that he’s a bad talker, per se, and he’s cut good promos, but of the guys in the pantheon of professional wrestling, HBK is the worst to listen to from promo-to-promo and even for special occasions. It’s as if the bad parts of Y2J, HHH and Kevin Nash had an unfunny love child who couldn’t put anyone over other than himself.

And this may be something that is mentioned every week, but Randy Orton should never be anything other than one of the top heels on the show for the next 10 years. Unless you really want to sell t-shirts based entirely on someone playing every role Josh Hartnett has ever “performed”.

How you know Randy Orton hasn’t reached Super Saiyan: not only has the Miz come back less than a month after being killed dead in front of his family members, but he didn’t come back as Mordecai.

Speak of the Devil:

***

Summer Rae selling the Cobra not as something she’s afraid of because it will hurt her, but because it’s a snake is a bit of business that makes them getting rid of Ann Dango less painful. It doesn’t make it okay, it just makes it hurt less.

Every time Los Matadores defeats 3MB a tiny angel gets its wings.

It’s wrong, I know, but when El Torito calls out spots or talks to Primo/Epico, it makes me like him a little less. Can’t he just speak entirely through bull noises? Would that be so much to ask from a grown man trying to make a living to feed his family?

***

***WARNING: YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE*** PLEASE KEEP YOUR EYES AND EARS INSIDE OF KAYFABE*** This was the promo of Stephanie and H’s lifetimes. Watching with my wonderfully patient girlfriend and my best friend (both proudly non-fans), not only did they seem like they didn’t totally hate it, but they almost seemed to enjoy it. This may be insanely anecdotal, but it highlights a very specific and important part of this entire “The Authority”/”Best for Business Bureau” storytelling: it’s resonating with non-fans. That’s largely a function of the work they’ve — meaning Triple H and Stephanie — done with the ridiculous amount of exposition required while maintaining their basic emotions. It’s also a function of how complicated and “meta” the permeable layer between kayfabe/real life is in this storyline, but how simple the actual storyline in-and-of-itself is on its face– Stephanie/Triple H have taken over control of the future of the company (both on screen and in real-life) and used their power and influence to put people they want in positions of power (both on screen and in real-life), that’s pretty much it. This layering works in much the same way a good comedy show does, using the entire WWE Universe to everyone that needs to get over (Big Show, the Rhodes, Daniel Bryan, the Shield and Randy Orton) to get over, but in a way that appeals to “smart” fans and people who not either don’t know or don’t care about what’s really going on and only take in everything on the surface. Like a really good episode of 30 Rock, this manages to tell two engaging storylines while serving two masters without making one feel like it cares about the other more. ***WARNING: YOU ARE NOW EXITING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE*** PLEASE ENJOY YOUR COMPLIMENTARY SONIC MILKSHAKE ON THE WAY OUT***

Is Daniel Bryan stroking his beard his “tell” in poker the same way it’s his tell in “about to say something obnoxiously sarcastic”?

Everyone knows Alberto Del Rio is my favorite, but I don’t know if I am going to be able to handle him as “evil shark monster for the Man”. My head might explode from how hard I would mark out.

If nothing else comes out of this Daniel Bryan run, chanting “Yes!” for faces and “No!” for heels has really streamlined crowd alignments going into the future, which is nice.

***

Beat the Clock matches to determine a No.1 Contender are among the laziest ways to do anything on television. You literally don’t even need to build an actual feud, just have someone beat someone else surprising very fast to then face a third guy at the PPV. But, using it for something like “determining a stipulation in a match” is the best example of recycling since Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton attached repurposed soda cans to those little balls in order to get the readings inside of the F-5 in Twister.

Building (for the first time ever) on the previous paragraph, having R. Truth run around the ring in order to prevent Ryback from getting a quick pin is EXACTLY the type of stuff you can’t do when everyone is fighting for the same thing.

They better learn to only let Cesaro do the Giant Swing when he isn’t about to fall down from exhaustion, because the first time he isn’t able to do it, The Internet will make sure he never lives it down.

***

I’m not usually one who asks “what does this do for _____”, but what exactly does Tamina beating Brie do for anyone? It makes the champion — AJ — look like her muscle is better than she is (which is a feud we DO NOT need to see), makes Brie looks like she can’t handle someone with significantly less in-ring ability than her (which isn’t saying a whole lot for Tamina) and makes Tamina look like an idiot for joining forces with AJ (have they told us WHY she’s working with her yet?).

Along the same lines as Ryback’s match, having Curtis Axel piss everyone — the commentators, Paul Heyman and Ryback — off by actually trying to beat Punk is a brilliant bit of character work that will clearly lead to dissension in the Heyman family.

This has to be the match where CM Punk finally gets his hands on Heyman, right? This part of the show can’t turn into The Land of the Lost, where they keep just missing their chance to go home. And if they do decide to turn this into that and DON’T invite Timothy Bottoms to guest host, well, I just give up on wrestling.

***

There was no other way to finish this match than a distraction that required Daniel Bryan to leave. It doesn’t exist. You can’t have either guy look like he isn’t the best in the world — it’s the World Heavyweight Champion and a former two-time/currently uncrowned WWE champion in a match together — and you can’t have John Cena appear to distract Del Rio because they want to make you pay to see John Cena AND that would involve him in The Authority story line, which is something NOBODY wants. Booking yourself into a corner, then using pre-established traits of the principals to push the story forward may feel icky, but it’s about as necessary as it gets from a narrative perspective.

How TNA not only couldn’t do anything with Dustin Rhodes and didn’t try to pick him up as just “Dustin” during his time away from the E is one of the great mysteries in wrestling (to me). Dustin Rhodes is one of the ten most talented workers ever, and is — like most guys with his skill set — at least close to his prime in the ring. Anyone who watched him during his last time with the company knew he could work, and this run he’s been on is the type of stuff that makes me cry into my pillow at the idea that he was never given a major title run.

Not only was this a match people pay to see, this was one they tell their friends to go out of their way to watch. The idea that they gave us a title change like this for free tells you all you need to know about whether we are in a golden era of wrestling. This was as engaging, entertaining and well-worked a match as you will ever see, and even had a beautiful “second to last episode of a Venture Bros. season” vibe, where the boys/the Guild and Brock/Sphinx are on their way to the same place to try make something magical to happen. That the place where something magical might happen is Miami for a PPV shouldn’t take away from the in-the-moment excitement that this match gave you. Matches like this one, and moments like Big Show in the crowd doing the “Yes!” chant while the entire arena LOSES THEIR SHIT are why I watch wrestling and why I plan on spending most of my life trying to get other people to watch it. So, as always, thanks for this, WWE. And especially the Rhodes Boys and the guys in the Shield. Roman Reigns is The Hammer, and everyone else is just a nail.

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