Category Archives: RAW Regurgitated

Hometown Hero: Raw Regurgitated … LIVE!, 12/09

 

I bought my tickets back on October 9th.  Daniel Bryan had just failed to capture the WWE title at Battleground, but I knew he’d have another shot at the upcoming Hell in a Cell PPV.  By the time Raw rolled up to Seattle on December 9th, I was confident we’d get a championship celebration for our home state wrestling god.  After all the screwjobs and false starts, surely we’d get to greet Aberdeen’s favorite son with championship gold around his waist?  Right?  Riiiiight?

Oh.

Well, since that happened, last night didn’t go down exactly like I envisioned.  What happened might have been even better.

I’m not going to sit here and claim that Seattle just willed Daniel Bryan back into the title picture.  WWE can go ahead and ignore all of this, pass it off as hometown cooking, and keep Bryan fighting the Wyatts until they need him somewhere else on the card.  They’ve done it before, they can do it again.

But if anything, just for one raucous evening, I got to be a part of something truly organic and special.  My ears are still ringing.  I’ve been to Seahawks home games, seen Metallica live in San Francisco at the Fillmore.  This absolutely destroyed any other live event I’ve ever been to.  It was another classic moment in the journey of Daniel Bryan, and I got to be a tiny part of it.

And that’s really the point right?  We can talk about bad booking, and burying and pushes and all that jazz.  We want it all to make sense and look great in a promo package and tie up nice and neatly.  Rarely does that happen  But if we get moments like this, where Daniel Bryan is the best in the world and we let him know as loud as we can go, it sure makes up for it.  If after months and months of wheel spinning, a 90 second all out brawl thrusts Bryan and CM Punk right back into an angle they never should’ve been left out of in the first place, and suddenly creative look like geniuses.  And when John Cena cuts a killer promo, destroying Randy Orton and making everyone else look great, well that completes a trifecta and everybody wins.  I don’t know how it played on television, but it was bliss in the arena.  I’m still a bit woozy.

Woozy, but not delusional.  I’m not confident that WWE can pull this off, or even that they want to.  We’ve been teased and kicked in the dick so many times.  But part of me wants to believe that this is all a wonderful grand plan, that they knew the Seattle crowd would give Bryan the ovation he needed to restart his Authority angle and planned it accordingly.  Daniel Bryan’s hero’s journey to the WWE Championship relaunches, and everyone is happy.

And the entire point of doing the hero’s journey is, well, the journey itself.  Making the man a legend.  I argued that it was the right call to keep Bryan away from the belt because it didn’t add up who he’d feud with.  He still needs a bit more seasoning before he can sell a title feud all by himself yet.  The journey wasn’t over.  The training, the stumbles, the discovery, all the bits and pieces that add up before the victory and resolution.  More to go.

I haven’t been super happy with how things have gone, despite agreeing that Bryan shouldn’t be champ.  The feud with the Wyatts has been great, but it doesn’t make any sense that after chasing the WWE title for months, suddenly Bryan wouldn’t mention a thing about it and just move on.  Cena acknowledging that he should be fighting Bryan instead, and Shawn Michaels getting a running knee both went a long way in erasing months of storyline frustration.  Maybe we’ll make to WrestleMania XXX and finish the journey after all.

And maybe we had a bit more road to travel because once it ends, it ends for good.  Once he’s the man, we don’t get to cheer him like we did tonight anymore.  Sure, he’ll get cheered, but it won’t be, “Daniel Bryan is a guy we love because wrestling is awesome and he’s awesome and why don’t you get it?!?”

Cheers like that come from a special place, a potent mixture of love, anger, spite, and, well, hope.  I have no idea if they’ll ever pull the trigger and acknowledge Bryan is the best wrestler in the WWE.  But while we wait, maybe forever in vain, there’s no harm in telling them what we already know – as loud as we can.  In this world of the scripted spectacle, that’s the realest thing we got.

Odds and Ends, Fits and Starts: Raw Regurgitated, 12/2

It’s hard to say if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that CM Punk was the person I least enjoyed listening to in a three-way conversation between himself, Kane and Stephanie. At the very least, Corporate Kane has very quickly become my new favorite gimmick remix, replacing long standing champion of my heart, Matt V1. That’s right, I’m a proud MFer.

Stephanie’s a pretty awful actress — which is more than okay considering that she still manages to be better than Dixie Carter and understands how to serve as corporate executive for a business that isn’t the professional wrestling equivalent of a sinking ship on fire — but she plays “awful/detached insanely rich person” like Meryl Streep.

The real problem with the WWE: They won’t let people get over by giving them nearly insurmountable odds against new stars so that they could get over with the crowd by doing the seemingly impossible. If they did that , they could use that narrative dynamic to sell one of the 6-8 PPVs — depending on how one feels about buying the Survivor Series and/or Extreme Rules every year– that don’t sell themselves, while making stars out of everyone involved. If only they did that, things would be so much better.

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Odds that Dolph Ziggler would face Big E. this early in his IC championship reign for the belt at a PPV: 1,000 to 1. Odds that Damien Sandow beats Langston for the title at TLC: 1,000 to 1. Odds E. loses that belt to Dolph Ziggler at the end of his run: Pick ‘Em. Odds Ziggler faces E. for the Unified Undisputed World War Wrestling Championship Belt Title after Langston wins it: 1,000,000 to 1.

If they are doing “Summer Rae is a female version of Fandango in the ring” with this “dancing while wrestling” thing, it might be the best news in the history of wrestling, because Here Comes the Emmalution. But if they are just having her do this because that’s what they think ladywrestling should be, they might as well just keep the women of NXT down in Florida until they all retire.

Things that are beautiful, but not long for this world: sunsets, a refreshing breeze, #BadNewsBarrett

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*** WARNING: YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE! *** PLEASE KEEP EYES AND EARS INSIDE OF KAYFABE AT ALL TIMES *** Man, they should just give Daniel Bryan a shovel, so he can dig his own grave, amirite? Anyone who thinks this Wyatt storyline isn’t fantastic — even with the fits and starts with Daniel Bryan’s whereabouts that 8% of the crowd actually worries about — is a bummer on the level of people who that John Cena has been the most popular performer in the company for the last ten years because of politics. And those people are as depressing as Hulk Hogan being the most popular performer in the world for 20 years because of politics.

And in all this Bray Wyatt “join me” business, while it’s hard to say what’s going to happen, the real interesting dynamic is whether Wyatt is trying to con Bryan, or whether he just wants him to turn heel. The former screams “Hero’s Journey,” while the other leads to a feud with CM Punk — after he nobly dispatches the Shield by himself in a parallel storyline.

This is pretty much the perfect “midcard” feud: it has tons of intrigue and even more stakes, but doesn’t involve a major title, won’t be featured at the end of any show and never be truly resolved, and still serves major purposes in terms of narrative momentum for both characters, marks a fundamental shift in the direction of their careers and, most importantly, will lead to much better things in the future for everyone involved.

Like Andy said last week, this is all highly interesting stuff with huge stakes, and it should be clear that this would be bogged down if the WWE or WHC was involved, especially in the ramp up to the most important “WrestleMania season” ever. They’ve figured out a way, in a manner not unlike Community or Arrested Development, to not just mix meta-commentaries into the product as a nod to those “in on the joke”, but to debate the very notions that the commentaries are pointing at.

Wyatt talking about “taking down the system because they don’t know what they have in you” is the exact same idea as the Bluths complaining about cuts to housing orders that sounded suspiciously similar to the ones made by FOX regarding the number of episodes they wanted to produce.  By making this about existential ideas involved in the modern interpretation of wrestling by its most vocal fanbase — “us vs. them” and shadow politickings — it’s allowed the Reality Era-storytelling to be folded back into the standard tropes of the industry, something that the Attitude Era, like grunge, just never had in it.

What “happens” backstage become, more or less, a new wall of kayfabe, a new layer of storytelling, a new tool to be used to leverage butts into seats. And they are doing so by pushing the fourth wall against every screen they can get their hands on.

That this — the incorporation of formerly radical ideas by the “establishment” — is more often than not what happens after revolutions should not be missed. They — meaning the WWE — are finally calibrating the effect of the internet to a time before Cyber Sunday or even Taboo Tuesday, and that’s a good thing. It coming with more complaining than you can shake a stick at? Something we should be used to by now. *** WARNING: YOU ARE NOW EXITING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE! *** PLEASE ENJOY YOUR COMPLIMENTARY SONIC MILKSHAKE ON YOUR WAY OUT***

WOAH. You can bury Edge and Chris Jericho, hotshot story lines to the top of the card before quickly discarding them in favor of much shinier new toys, and compare yourself to Harley Race and Hulk Hogan, but having Kane be a dick to Daniel Bryan is a bridge too far, Hunter.

***

As someone who has spent an entire life neck deep in white privilege — ICYMI: it’s great, for me anyways, thanks cultural hegemony! — it feels weird to get mildly indignant that a young man working toward his Ph. D is being put into a storyline with two of the most racial caricature-y characters in recent memory in which he’s been accused of stealing the others’ dance routine and companions, seemingly simply because they all happen to share a preponderance of melanin in their skin. But, yeah, this just feels kind of gross, even if it is just entertainment, and the all seem to A) not care about whatever weird racism pangs happen in my head and B) be genuinely enjoying themselves. The only saving grace is the the other guy in the feud (Tensai) was treated just as one-dimensional in Japan, so at least the U.S. isn’t the only one in the “depressing racial stereotypes” game, just the leader in the clubhouse.

Speaking of depressing racial stereotypes, if the WWE believes we are going to be fooled by this Sin Cara/Hunico switch just because it assumes we think all masked wrestler look alike, well … they are probably right.

***

And, finally, we’ve reached an impasse with the Shield six-man tags, as this was one of the first that felt “stale”. While it was a very good match with one or two spectacular moments, watching three guys work over one in the corner makes a lot more sense when it feels like they almost need to do it, not when it’s clear that one of them has beaten entire teams of other people by himself. Roman Reigns’ ascension seems like it will pretty much force the Shield to change how their matches are structured in order to keep the heat as the crowd builds anticipation for Reigns to go into full-blown destroyer mode after well-timed hot tags. Or, they could just keep running train.

The most important part of this match was not the re-dissolution of Kofi and Miz’s team or the solidification Ryback-Axel tag team, but the moment of self-actualization the two man achieved after they, as Jerry Lawler put it, “realized that maybe they weren’t Paul Heyman guys, but Ryback and Curtis Angl-Axel guys”. Namaste, Big Guys.

Ole!

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Please don’t bring back Sexual Chocolate. Please don’t bring back Sexual Chocolate. Please don’t bring back Sexual Chocolate. Please don’t bring back Sexual Chocolate. Please don’t bring back Sexual Chocolate. Please don’t bring back Sexual Chocolate. Please don’t bring back Sexual Chocolate.

It’s so much fun to watch Antonio Cesaro to get moments of awesomeness like ending a “house of fire” hot tag with the sweet smell of Swiss Death.

***

I’m one of “those” people. I enjoy silly promos from Randy Orton about being people’s nightmares, I like when John Cena says “yadda yadda yadda, jack”, I even enjoy when he uses that silly finisher of his to put people through the table. And I’ve realized why: I like when the crowd reacts to things. And, when they are on, and put together in the right storyline, there is nothing on earth that the crowd reacts more to than Randy Orton and John Cena.

HAVING SAID THAT, if they do not end this thing with an undisputed champion, or at least one title — and it does not matter how they get there, even if it involves the return of the Yeti — they will have lost sight of what they are, and become what they hate. They’ll be WCW.

12 Monkey Tag Match in a Barrel: Raw Regurgitated, 11/18

12Monkeys

MR. Brandon Stroud has been on this much longer, but they’ve clearly started to lay the major groundwork for “Randy Orton is not putting up with shit from ‘The Authority’ anymore” storyline. If they can manage to do that and still allow Orton to be a crazy person, I’ll enjoy it. If this means a reversion to “What’s my line, Sheamus?”, I’m going to be PISSED.

Vickie Guerrero’s crowning achievement in her career is either “WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU, VICKIE?!” or her sheepish “excuse me” from the opening segment of Raw. It’s six of one, half-a-dozen of another.

Brad Maddox can’t do much in the ring, but he sells like the World Champion of getting his ass kicked. It’s different that Dolph Ziggler’s “Rubberman” selling or Seth Rollins’ stuntman bumps, but it’s just as valid and wonderful. Remember, nobody took a shit kicking like Bret Hart. And nobody takes getting thrown over the top rope to the outside like Brad Maddox.

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Either everyone who didn’t see Big E. Langston winning the IC Title after immediately after they realized the E had remixed his entrance music is a dirty mark; or, I watch way too much professional wrestling. I don’t want to think about the latter, so I’ll just assume it’s the former.

And, seriously, if he’s not the next John Cena, I’ll eat whatever stupid trucker hat they make for him.

If this were Spoiler Alert, that music chairs segment would read:

SKIP this segment because … listen, abortion jokes are never funny, so I’m not going to make one here. But, man, was that an abortion.

***

Big Show isn’t the presence that Andre was, but he’s still on the Great side of the ledger as a “wrestler you pay to see”. That’s not to say he’s a great technician, but that there is more to being worthy of paying to see for a sizable portion of the audience than that. Those people are kind of silly for the most part, but, in matches like this, where he gets himself and Ryback over as serious contenders not to be trifled with — a week after The Ryback lost to The R. Truth via rollup — is something that not many people can do, and almost no one has ever been as good at while also being that size.

This felt oddly predictable, not just because whatever the heck it was they were alluding to during commentary, but because this seemed like the worst possible scenario for both Kofi Kingston and The Miz. As a heel, The Miz is a non-Cena WHC-contender (emphasis on the contender part). As a face, he is Kofi Kingston.

This AJ Lee – Vickie “match” just seemed weird, and oddly reminiscent of the type of inside stuff that doesn’t play with the live crowd, especially when that can’t bump like Bobby Heenan. This may have been her worst showing ever in a ring, but at least she took the Black Widow like a champ. Also, Tamina is all of the bad parts of Diesel and like one of the good parts: she has interesting hair.

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If they make Dolph Ziggler start acting like Jeff Jarrett, we’re going to re-run #JeffJarrettWeek, but add early-to-mid 90’s catchphrases to the article and make the pictures look they were postcards sent from Bayside High so our beloved readers better understand what they have in front of them.

Everyone understands that John Cena didn’t actually need his arm in a sling, right? Is his arm “hurt”? Sure. But it more than seems like the whole point was that the sling was a ruse. One can argue that’s not a particularly good thing for a face to do, but to say that he beat Alberto del Rio “with one arm” means you should pay more attention to the story. This is Inception, folks: they are literally explaining every single part as they go along so no one gets lost.

Serious Question: Will @XavierWoodsPHD cause the E to downplay Damien Sandow’s intelligence or will they just start a feud with the two immediately about “Who’s the smartest man in the WWE?”. Gross either way.

I didn’t mind the Florida Georgia Line performance. I’ve heard the song a bunch of times before, and I don’t mind giving the WWE an occasional variety show vibe every couple of months. Especially for the go-home show before a “Big Four” PPV. Just don’t make a habit of … really? Michael Strahan? Goddamnit.

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***WARNING YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE***PLEASE KEEP YOUR EYES AND EARS INSIDE OF KAYFABE AT ALL TIMES*** If you are trying to construct a go-home show, this is a pretty perfect way to do it, especially for Survivor Series. Most of the questions coming into the show — like who was going to be the mystery partner in the “Traditional Survivor Series” match — were answered by the end of this match. And more importantly, they finished it in the hottest way possible, with one of the new rising stars of the company having a extremely hot crowd chanting along with him and seven of his friends. A lot of the things that happened on this show seemed important, and nothing felt more important than the main event. That match, a 12-man tag affair, was something that would have felt impossible a year ago. But in the last year, we’ve seen a revitalized tag team division, the re-introduction of stables of factions, the Wyatt Family, the Authority, two (very short) Daniel Bryan WWE title reigns (and more importantly WWE title match victories), the rise of the Rhodes family & the Usos,  and most importantly, the Shield. There are definitely going to be people out there who didn’t enjoy this show, and I understand why, but I found myself cheering and clapping at all of the odds and ends that helped create the whirlwind ended that you bet sent the crowd home happy, both in the arena and on television. Which is the whole point. ***WARNING YOU ARE NOW EXITING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE***PLEASE ENJOY YOUR SONIC MILKSHAKE ON YOUR WAY OUT***

When The Shield Met The Wyatts: Raw Regurgitated, 11/11

With Total Divas being an unmitigated success that goes out of its way to mess with the permeable membrane between reality, “reality” and kayfabe, is there any reason on God’s green earth we can’t get a couple of cameras to follow around Kane, Vickie and Brad Maddox for a season or two?

This crowd was shite. Like an Iowa crowd with an accent, they seemed to be trying to recreate the “magic” of that infamous (and infamously British) post-WrestleMania crowd, while completely missing that the “magic” was mostly that viewers had never seen a crowd be acknowledged for trying so hard to get itself over. And it worked, because it was organic. This crowd tried to artificially create that same feeling, and ended up coming across like all the things they say they hate about the WWE: manufactured, contrived and boring.

There’s been a very subtle transformation to the vanilla version of Goldust for Cody Rhodes. Vanilla in this case doesn’t mean “bad”, however, just “more palatable to a larger number of people”. He’s managed to incorporate bits of his brother’s work without it turning into a “Miz trying to put the figure four on people”. And that’s best for business.

Not only does this feel like the most over the Big Show has ever been, it’s one of the few times that a feud has made sense for him with a “normal” person. As a larger than life figure, outside of programs with other larger than life figures (like Mark Henry), most of stories over the years have revolved around things like “getting dosed with laxative” or “people laughing at him”. So it’s nice to see “got bullied by him and his cohorts to the point that he decided to destroy everyone” as a reason for  him to want to fight someone.

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Nothing on earth would make me happier if 3MB’s gimmick has changed from “Shitty rock band” to “shitty rock band who they are turning into faces by having them be a gimmick that makes sense for whichever town they are in”. Though, it feels like that would be way harder to put on a business card.

Kane’s presence as a new (pardon the pun) “Authority” figure puts an interesting twist on one of the most tired tropes in professional wrestling. Instead of just being the heavy, there’s a sense of actual stakes to pissing off Kane that goes beyond professional inconvenience, like him breaking your face.

Juice Make Sugar’s Raw Regurgitated Reader challenge: during the next Damien Sandow match you see, drink every time the announcers make reference to Sandow’s “new attitude” or the reasons behind it AND try to not die of alcohol poisoning.

After that loss to Curtis Axel, Dolph Ziggler has to be thinking about joining Chris Hero on a couple of independent bookings, right?

***

It’s hard to say what’s weirder: Brad Maddox directly challenging Kane or the fact that Kane’s eyes are both the same color.

The day that this Tamina/AJ – Brie/Nikki storyline ends will be a good day. Until then, every day will be the worst day of our lives.

The motivation of the Shield continues to be “we go where the money is and we do what the money says”. It’s almost like they are an allegory for professional wrestling storytelling. Weird. Also, it’s kind of wonderful to see them working together like a sketch troupe. Makes you wonder how good Dean Ambrose is at “Yes, and…”

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Her “Queen Farts-a-lot” gimmick was well, farts, but at least it seemed like Nattie’s storylines had hit rockbottom in terms of how pathetic a storyline involving her could be. But, her bickering with her obnoxious (and OBNOXIOUSLY Canadian) husband about her training with Fandango is the definition of the dribbling shits.

***WARNING YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE***PLEASE KEEP EYES AND EARS INSIDE OF KAYFABE AT ALL TIMES*** It was nice to see how excited Cena seemed to be when Cesaro and he had a chance to work together. You’ll find no bigger defender of the John Cena brand than me, so take what I say with a grain of very biased salt. But considering the rub that Cena has given to guys like Big E. Langston and Antonio Cesaro, of the legitimate “faces of the WWE” —  your Rocks, Stone Colds, Hulk Hogans — he’s unequivocally the most giving. Part of that is that he’s not, no matter how hard he tries, a movie star in the way that the Rock is and Hogan/Austin tried to be. But it would be wrong to say that’s the only reason he is so giving. It feels largely that Cena knows precisely how lucky he is to be in the position he’s in. And yes, it seems silly to talk about how generous a guy is after he just beat the presumed No.1 contenders for the tag team titles by himself, but if you just acknowledge that he’s never going to “lose” in the grand scheme of things to anyone who isn’t CM Punk or Daniel Bryan or Randy Orton or Edge (or Tensai) (or The Miz) (or Dolph) and acknowledge that he does the best he can trying to make it so that everyone makes money within that context, his career is pretty remarkable in that respect. ***WARNING YOU ARE NOW EXITING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE***PLEASE ENJOY YOUR COMPLIMENTARY SONIC MILKSHAKE ON THE WAY OUT***

Sometimes, you see rumors on the internet and hope they aren’t true. Then, you watch R Truth win cleanly on a roll up, and you know that whatever Ryback did to anger whoever he angered in the back was way worse than you thought.

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As a John Cena-Alberto del Rio fan, it’s hard to articulate how excited I am for their Survivor Series match, but I’m not sure if it’s because they are two of my favorite performers in the company, or because it’ll be one of five times all year athat the crowd gave a shit about an Alberto del Rio match.

If you don’t think that the storyline for Lesnar-Taker at WrestleMania is “I’m going to make CM Punk watch the Beast do what the ‘Best in the World’ couldn’t”, you are a dirty mark.

For  those who think that Daniel Bryan is going to sink down to the “mid-card” because SummerSlam buyrates were down (which you may blame on Triple H if you didn’t understand how the time-space continuum works), he and CM Punk essentially beating the Shield in a handicap match before getting the upper hand on them AND the Wyatt Family (after some friends stop by to lend a hand) should tell you everything you know about how much the company Respects the Beard.

A 3-Hour Casual Male XL Commercial: Raw Regurgitated, 11/4

***WARNING YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE*** PLEASE KEEP YOUR EYES AND EARS INSIDE OF KAYFABE*** When we look back at the career of CM Punk, this Wyatt Family feud will likely be seen as a stopgap unless the “The Devil Made Me Do It” payoff propels either he or Daniel Bryan back to the very top of the main event. But, even with that, this is precisely the type of adventure these two should be going on now that The Dragon has joined the upper middle class of the WWE: tangentially tied to the major storyline in the company without forcing either to get on the Treadmill of Disappointment that is going to be the life of any face trying to take the belt off of “The Authority” until WrestleMania. If they insist on making us wait for the payoff, this is the “trials and tribulations of being a hero” that they should be focusing on instead of giving the Yes Lock to Unabomber look-a-likes with itchy Superkickin’ feet. That Brodie Lee and the rest of the Family might get even more over because it is just icing on delicious cake. ***WARNING YOU ARE NOW EXITING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE*** PLEASE ENJOY YOUR COMPLIMENTARY SONIC MILKSHAKE ON THE WAY OUT***

Given Cena’s key demographics: an inherently transient audience — children — and people who like the role of the valiant hero/prince charming trope it seems that a lengthy absence by the very handsome (according to my girlfriend/the entirety of wrestling Tumblr) and engaging Punk would hurt the company a lot more than The Franchise’s. Which is weird to think about.

Is the ponytail Daniel Bryan’s version of the “serious” haircut so that we know he means business?

***

Santino Marella might be a future Hall of Famer, and when people look back to wonder how/why, bits like this with Ryback will go a long way to explaining it: he manages to stick up for a friend, comes off as real — for his character anyways — by reacting to the situation the way someone like him (at heart, a goofball) would by using a bit of humor to try to diffuse the situation, before handing the problem off to a guy who makes more sense in the ring against The Big Guy. This is storytelling, not rocket science, and Santino does everything one could ask of a character — entertains, moves the narrative along in an efficient way, and helps make other people more profitable — and he’s been doing it for the better part of the last decade. We will see a dozen Rybacks and Randy Ortons before we see another Santino.

How is it possible that Kofi Kingston is the only person in wrestling history to get his “big boy pants” moment, but manage to come out of it worse? … oh, right. Because he’s Kofi Kingston.

Alberto del Rio losing the WHC title may end up being a godsend for him. Like Serial Killer Randy Orton before him, the obsession over getting the belt is more compelling than the obsession over keeping the belt. When you are chasing, cheating or being dastardly is a manifestation of “how bad you want it”, and the crowd reaction comes from how badly they “don’t want you to get it”. When you have the title, cheating or being dastardly to keep the belt is a means to an end, and the crowd ends up just being pissed you get to keep it.

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Speaking of contradicting myself in ensuing paragraphs, if Face of the WWE Randy Orton turns into a mix between the Rock and “Ravishing” Rick Rude, he can keep that belt as long as he wants.

Maybe it’s the ESPN watcher in me, but the result of that poll begs a serious question: is Big E. Langston really THAT over or are The Miz and Dolph Ziggler that lame? If he is, they need to make him the new Daniel Bryan yesterday.

Watch out, Big E., Jerry Lawler’s pretty serious about nailing people. With gimmick infringement lawsuits for pre-finisher strap removal, I mean. Also, NEVER TURN AROUND after Randy Orton has reversed your finisher. You will get RKO’d.

Did The Great Khali have to take some Alice in Wonderland potion to turn into Tyson Kidd or is that how good the WWE marketing machine is?

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The “breast cancer is terrible” promo before this match was both oddly real and impossibly contrived. As mentioned last week, the level to which John Cena exists outside of the basic goings-on of the WWE Universe is remarkable, but you have to wonder if someone else couldn’t have done that and made it seem less like they were trying to shoehorn a t-shirt commercial into Raw.

Having both del Rio and Zeb Colter on commentary seems like an idea surely to go wrong, but with both having a “legit” beef with Cena/each other and JBL pushing the numbers in their favor ideologically, this managed to be a relatively enjoyable match from the booth that actually served a narrative purpose. And to think, they said it couldn’t be done.

Of all the things to love about Goldust, Cody, and even John Cena in the match, the jump hug after they won might be my favorite. All three, along with at least Antonio Cesaro, and possibly Damien Sandow, have managed to reach the level of in-ring work that not only do fans love their matches because of they are involved, but the very matches themselves as stand-alone stories. When you have that, that’s all you need.

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If Big E. gets a non-title match against WWE champion Randy Orton and Dolph Ziggler gets a non-title match against IC champion Curtis Axel, does this mean The Miz gets a non-title shot against Internet champion Zach Ryder?

Were the Los Matadores busy sewing new costumes to face 3MB? Leaving guys hanging like that. Just not right.

Eva Marie wins. Oof. Ba-boof.

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The Big Show is so happy he found a suit that fits. You have to hope that it makes it through this next segment. Otherwise that’s like three fields worth of cotton wasted.

People are going to make jokes about Corporate Kane. To those people I say: please send your photoshops to juicemakesugar at gmail dot com. Thanks.

Sometimes entire segments are set ups for one single picture. This is that picture:

Gods, Kings, and Monsters: Raw Regurgitated, 10/28

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***WARNING: YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE*** PLEASE KEEP YOUR EYES AND EARS INSIDE OF KAYFABE***John Cena I’m sure “dark social” exploded during this opening segment. Everyone’s mentioned the “Insert [THE CHAMP IS HERE] Here” promo John Cena did at the beginning of the show, what could have been poor poor Damien Sandow’s Bill Buckner moment, and the first legitimate Money in the Bank briefcase cash-in failure, but what I haven’t seen mentioned is that Cena — for better or worse — exists largely outside of what’s going on with the rest of the show. Like CM Punk (especially in Cena’s absence), Brock Lesnar or The Rock, he is a walking main event storyline, something you can put at the top of the marquee and almost instantly get people interested. His brand, in the same way — and if I’m committing wrestling blasphemy, bless me Father Vince, for I have sinned — Harley Race’s or Ric Flair’s did, get people into the arena. He is known for a few things: insane crowd reactions, selling merchandise, working hard every night and, for lack of a better term, drawing eyeballs — which is different than drawing butts in seats. CM Punk may not “draw” in a tradition sense — though I get the feeling metrics are saying he does — he is a star outside of wrestling. He’s famous famous. John Cena just made Damien Sandow wrestling famous, which is a start, and I think Thomas Holzerman at The Wrestling Blog put it best: “While the future may prove this failed cash-in as WWE business as usual, I can’t say that the decision was a bad thing in and of itself.”There is something good that can come out of this for both of them. Cena needed to get Sandow’s cash-in out of the way as quickly as possible. It’s important that he could go instantly to making the WHC back into a World Heavyweight Championship and not the definitive “Thing we put on our best guy we absolutely can’t give the top-of-the-card title” like so much 1980s IC Title. They need you to think it’s important so the build towards the triple threat match Unification match between WWE Champion Randy Orton, World Heavyweight Champion John Cena and Royal Rumble winner Daniel Bryan doesn’t seem so convoluted. ***WARNING: YOU ARE NOW EXITING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE*** PLEASE ENJOY YOUR FREE MILKSHAKE ON THE WAY OUT***

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Chances of Seth Rollins turning on Dean Ambrose or Ambrose turning on Rollins: 5 to 1. Chances of Ambrose turning on Roman Reigns: 2.5 to 1. Chances of Reigns turning on Ambrose: 1 to 2. Chances of Reigns’s version of “Superkick through Barber Shop window” being “Spear through Barber Shop window”: Off the Board.

There are times when it’s not okay for Ambrose or Roman and Reigns to interfere in their respective matches, but title matches against formidable opponents are not those times.

Brad Maddox has to book the match in front of people — the people in the arena need to know what’s going on — but why does he have to run to the ring? Can’t they just bring him up on the Titantron? That seems like it would be easier. If Big Show can show up in front of the backdrop from Abed’s comedy special at a moment’s notice, why don’t they have a backstage area set up to remotely communicate with the people in the ring when things start getting squirrelly in the ring? Even ignoring problems like “running in dress shoes and a 3-piece suit”, it seems like a lot of serious injuries could happen pretty quickly in an unsanctioned 6-man brawl.

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If Roman can also pull off a Hollywood Reigns gimmick like the Rock or Batista, he would become my new favorite non-Randy Orton-as-serial-killer related version of a gimmick..

Shawn Michaels calling Daniel Bryan “a little puke” was a bit of magic from the 90s, when Southern guys like Cornette, Michaels and Bob Holly used to use the word puke to describe people in interviews.

The Sister Abigail that Bray Wyatt gave Bryan into the fence will be the first in a long line of SA’s that will rain down from the internet heavens in a wintry mix with Rollins sells of Cross Rhodes.

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Are we supposed to assume that Los Matadores are saving their proper green outfits for WrestleMania?

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What’s more irritating: that the best competition for AJ is someone fresh from development or that the commentators acts like that’s in any way a surprise?

Kane seemed like he was aware it was #KaneWeek, and as you’ll see why today in Essential Viewings: that guy ALWAYS does what’s Best for Business. Also, does this now make the Authority the The Authority X Ministry like a Street Fighter-Tekken game?

Thanks for ruining kayfabe by not doing the raised fist in the air thing like your “brother” The Undertaker after handing your mask to Stephanie, one of your real life bosses. You’re the worst, Glen.

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CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Big E. Langston, the Usos and Mystery Partner vs. the Shield and the Wyatts should be a pretty good Survivor Series match.

Shameless plug of a potential upcoming column, feel free to divert your eyes: The WWE has finally done all of the things right to create a real working tag team division.  Credible champions –which they’ve mostly had with the Shield, Team Hell No and now Dem Rhodes boys —  can now have feuds with specific teams who they are trying to get someone or both over in (like Cesaro in The Real Americans), while another team or two can feud for the number one spot. What that means is really interesting, and I can’t wait to see where it’s going. (HERE)

Summer Rae is so much better than any  woman on the main roster that it’s hard to judge her relative to the people on NXT. You do get the feeling Paige is just as good — if not better — than Summer, but it’s hard to tell when Summer comes up to the WWE and immediately looks like Mike Vick that year me and my friends had to ban him in Madden.

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It’s clear at this point that Big Show has some sort of force behind him right now, though only saying it through JBL screaming “How does he keep getting in the building?!” is probably the best course of action. Being them, though, they’ll tease Vince coming back next week in the commercials. You know, the ones where John Cena ends it by being menacing in an alley or a room or the characters wanted room at the USA Network, in slow motion?

The crowd really seems to love that the Big Show has NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE. It’s probably because they know that is basically code for “I’m going to punch someone and they are going to sell it like it was a cannonball to their face”.

Putting unfair expectations on storylines is bad, but it’s totally fair to say that if this doesn’t end with Mark Henry being The Authority’s answer to Big Show before he gets to Triple H, it’s fair to be at least a little disappointed for what could have been.

D.B. and The Bear: Raw Regurgitated, 10/21

Sitting through a Big Show talk segment is an exercise in discipline. You really want to hit fast forward on the remote, but since it’s live you can’t. And since you are undoubtedly also recording How I Met Your Mother at the exact same time, it’s impossible to switch to a third show (thanks, Verizon) until after the first 8 minutes. Wait… what? I’m the only person on earth with that problem? Weird.

So, it’s probably blasphemy to say this given the quality of the work, but maybe Daniel Bryan/Dean Ambrose matches aren’t the best things to be on the go-home show for a PPV that Bryan is main-eventing. While all three have compelling matches with Bryan, unlike the other two members of The Shield — who were unavailable, of course — Ambrose’s style doesn’t make Bryan look good in and of itself. Reigns and Rollins both give Bryan a specific story to tell. Ambrose just looks cool, mostly.

Saving the running knee as a match finisher for PPVs is one of the more subtle type of things that the WWE has done to make PPVs seem more special. Maybe they should try having clean finishes? (I kid, mostly.)

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I love Elvis, a lot. But why dress as the King of Rock n’ Roll when The King of Memphis is right there the entire time? As much as I dislike him and his casual misogyny, Jerry Lawler is a wrestling god (especially there), and having him pretend to be Elvis seems to be a waste of how over he is.

As Dolph Ziggler tried desperately to Show the World (how to job), Randy Orton continued his unbelievable hot streak of good matches. Talking about how Randy Orton has “actually been better” than Daniel Bryan during this run has become such a trope for internet wrestling writers that it ignores how good a heel Orton has ALWAYS been. We have short memories in the WWE Universe, but Heel Orton has always been this  — whether that’s “better” than Bryan is an individual taste thing, to be sure — I promise.

How does Dolph feel about Big E. getting a bigger push than him? Can they reform a tag team just to break it up dramatically so they can both benefit from this?

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Brie Bella continues to be the Most Improved Performer through the past quarter of this year. I sure hope that Nikki has some sort of contingency plan that doesn’t involve “being John Cena’s common law wife”.

Kofi Kingston has never made me feel anything other than “Wow, this is pretty meh”, but The Miz deserves a fate better than cannon fodder for Bray Wyatt. He should be immediately turned heel so that he can be cannon fodder for Langston.

“What”-ing is to wrestling what cheering a hurt player is to football. It’s symptomatic of a larger problem: most people are idiots.

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Man, those reports about only taking “essential” personnel to TV tapings might have been underselling how tight money is at the E right now. There’s just no other explanation for not bringing Teddy Long out just to book this match.

When Big E. Langston is headlining WrestleMania someday, I just hope he remembers how hard I pushed for people to follow his twitter.

There are a lot of things to love about the Los Matadores/Real Americans feud, but No.1 on my list is how much Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro genuinely seem to enjoy one another’s company. That and Zeb Colter’s “Do they give Torito half a paycheck?” joke, because things that ignore tall privilege is always hilarious.

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***WARNING: YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE***PLEASE KEEP YOUR EYES AND EARS INSIDE OF KAYFABE*** The Usos, The Shield and Cody Rhodes/Goldust could just wrestle for 3 hours straight every week and most of us would still watch. For those able to afford it, that 3-way tag match while almost definitely be worth the price of the PPV. And out of the bunch, we should probably be most excited for the Usos and their meteoric rise. They are not where they are because of their father, but because they have stepped up and hit at least a double every time they’ve ever been up to bat. I wrote in this very column a few months ago, that if their entrance ever got over, they’d be one of the biggest tag teams in the company. It did, and they have. They — and their entrance — weren’t force fed to the fans, and that has made all the difference. They were “put in a position to succeed on their own” and they did. While they may never get higher than WWE Tag Team champions, their rise to the top has been nearly as impressive as Daniel Bryan’s and it’s really wonderful see to them be rewarded accordingly. That it also means that WWE might just be able to make “organic” stars in the tag team ranks is gravy. ***WARNING: YOU ARE NOW EXITING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE*** PLEASE ENJOY YOUR COMPLIMENTARY SONIC MILKSHAKE ON THE WAY OUT***

Nothing good can come from contract signings. Not even the people on the show think they are a good idea, so why do they keep happening? Why not, instead of having convoluted and contrived reasons for the two principals at your next PPV to be in the same room at the same time, don’t you, I don’t know, just interview them at the same time? That seems like a good way to save paper, at least.

When the book of this storyline is written, they call this chapter “D.B. and the Bear”.