Tag Archives: Believe in the Shield

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.

***

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

***

*** 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!

***

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.

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#4HorsemenWeek: Difference of Opinion

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It’s the Final Day of #4HorsemenWeek. In celebration of this month’s Survivor Series, we’re taking a look at famous stables from the wonderful world of wrestling. This is the thirteenth installment in our patent-pending Juice Make Sugar Wrestler of the Week series. As always we started by making The Horsemen a Stable You (Should) Probably Know Better. Tuesday, we gave you the finer points of their oeuvre with some Essential Viewing. Today, in addition to filling in the blanks from the past two days (Happy Thanksgiving!) we have an actual Difference of Opinion (and not, as suspected, a celebration of the Horsemen’s specific brand of awesome.) 

Dave: Hey, Bray. *Brah Damn you autocorrect.

Nick: Bray is fine. My nickname in high school (not the one I gave myself, The Nickster) was Dr. Cornelius. So being called a fat guy from Florida isn’t that bad.

Dave: Wow. That’s a cross-generational burn right there. I’m impressed anybody we went to high school with was even aware of Planet of the Apes. (Outside of the Simpsons Dr. Zaius joke)

Nick: Charlton Heston is an American icon. And people love talking animals.

Dave: Truth.

Nick: And there are no greater American icons than the Four Horsemen.

Dave: If you’re talking 1980s wrestling, are The Horsemen collectively as big as Hogan?

Nick: I think in the wrestling fan zeitgeist, yes. In the zeitgeist zeitgeist? Not so much. I blame Notre Dame more for that, though. Or God.

Dave: I think in terms of being an act on top of a promotion, they were better than Hogan, but as you say, in terms of empire-building cultural icons, they’re not close to him. It’s a funny comparison to start making (which is why I made it right away).

Nick: Well, when you have something like the Horsemen, you don’t compare it to Oregon or LSU, you compare it to Bear Bryant. They are oddly timeless in a way because they are just hyper indicative of a specific era in time. They weirdly remind me of the Road Warriors in that way.

Dave: Oh yeah, nothing’s more 80s than The Horsemen. Private jets? Check. Conspicuous consumption? Check. Cocaine. Check.

Nick: I actually don’t think they checked the cocaine, David. I think they brought that directly on the private jet.

Dave: *Rimshot*

Nick: But when talking about their greatness, are we talking about the original team (give or take an Anderson) or the entire “franchise”?

Dave: It’s funny you bring that up because it’s a dilemma I was having all week. I think when you say “The Four Horsemen,” people think of Arn, Ole, Tully, Flair, and J.J. Dillon. And that lineup was undeniably great. But, honestly, it’s not even fun to talk about Lex Luger or Barry Windham or Steve freaking McMichael being Horsemen. The second the group stopped being something organically awesome and started being a brand to get over guys and angles, it lost a lot of its mystique.

Nick: To the level that the nWo did? Or was this more of a Corporate Ministry “this is a little contrived” situation?

Dave: If anything, I’d compare it to The Corporation, in that today’s “The Authority” is still basically The Corporation in it’s 10th incarnation.Some incarnations have been very good (The original, The “McMahon-Helmsley Regime”) and others have been bad (Austin Loves Vince, Anything involving Linda)…

Nick: Ignoring the heights, then, is there any “franchise” that is on the Four Horsemen’s level?

Dave: No, I don’t think anything’s even close. Look at Arn Anderson, he’s an awesome tough guy midcard wrestler, but because he was a member of The Four Horsemen, he’s this pantheon star. Even failed Horsemen like Paul Roma’s names will be remembered forever because they were Horsemen.

Nick: And you’re saying people don’t say the same things about The Mean Street Posse?

Dave: I’ll say this: Pete Gas sounds like something you get after eating spoiled vegetarian food.

Nick: *Rimshot* I know we talked about this “off air”, but what about The Shield?

Dave: If I could groan through the computer screen here, I would. Look, The Shield are talented guys, and they are over, but they are not even on the same planet as The Four Horsemen.

Nick: How so?

Dave: Well, for one, The Shield are lackeys. They do other people’s dirty work. Not only were The Horsemen not lackeys, they didn’t want lackeys of their own. They were all about handling business “like men,” to use the jargon of the time. Also, and I touched on this in Monday’s A Stable You Should Probably Know Better, The Four Horsemen brought prestige and a “must-see” feel to all the titles they held. And, honestly, I’m digging down deep to find more forgettable title reigns than The Shield have had.

Nick: The Shield definitely did that with the Tag Team belts.

Dave: See, I completely disagree. They dropped them to the right team (The Rhodeses), but I thought their title reign was boring. There’s a difference to being serious title holders and just standing there with the belts on your shoulder to “raise your profile.” To me, it felt like they were just standing there with the belts.

Nick: The crowd seemed to vehemently disagree.

Dave: Right, but as I said before, their heat has largely been an extension of being lackeys for people like Heyman and the Authority, so it wasn’t really even all their heat.

Nick: Isn’t that, as you’ll touch on today, a function of the era, though? They had to bring in them as Heyman’s mercenaries (which is what they’ve been “branded” as, at the very least) and the reason the belt profile wasn’t raised is because no one raises the belt’s profile no one can raise a belt’s profile anymore.

Dave: Well, I think there are “generational differences” as you point out (such as the prestige/portrayal of all non-top champions), but if we were doing the “lick your finger and stick it in the air” test, I think it would be pretty foolhardy to say The Shield were nearly as over as The Horsemen. Could The Shield carry the WWE for three years?

Nick: Well, they’ve only been around for a year, and there’s acceleration now because of the amount of content that comes out, but they’ve been the “Big Dogs in the Yard” for nearly entirety of the last year.

Dave: See, I think we’re hitting on a major problem that emerges when you’re talking about wrestling. They’re *booked* to be the “Big Dogs in the Yard,” but do they actually cause you to suspend disbelief and buy into that? In spite of their great matches with Daniel Bryan, did they ever seen like a threat to him? Would you be scared for John Cena if he crossed paths with them? I think they’re booked to feel like The Four Horsemen, but I think the final presentation falls well short of Horsemen-calibur.

Nick: Yes? I mean, I do. Reigns just destroyed the guy who they call The Best in the World. And won a Survivor Series match by himself. I think what I am saying is that if you don’t think the Shield are on the same planet as The Horsemen. Then you’d pretty much have to believe that nothing will ever be. Is that how you feel?

Dave: I think the original line-up of the nWo (Hall, Nash, Syxx, and Hogan) was close… I think the Triple H, Road Dogg, X-Pac, Billy Gunn version of DX was sort of close also… But in the final analysis, I think The Four Horsemen are just their own deal. Everything that came afterwards is inherently a cheap imitation.

Nick: Even the other Horsemen.

Dave: Exactly.

Bang for Your Buck PPV Review: Survivor Series 2013

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The WWE celebrated the 27th edition of the Survivor Series  in Boston last night, and well, at least nobody got screwed?

For those who missed the Hell in a Cell review, the criteria for these reviews is simple: “Did I get my money’s worth?” in terms of the individual matches and the PPV as a whole, using the tried and true “what was this trying to do, and how well did it succeed” test of “quality”.

Each match is rated plus or minus on a sliding scale between 1 and -1, with matches worth multiple rewatches being +1, a just-quite-PPV quality match +/- 0,  and things that make me reevaluate being a fan earning up to a -1 score. The higher the number, the better Bang For Your Buck on the PPV. We’ll (eventually) keep a running tally for each PPV, and a handy list of PPVs we review to give you (and us) a better idea of what we thought was worth the time to check out in terms of matches and PPVs. As for the scale, it’s not particularly complicated but here are the basic levels (on a per-match basis):

Review Guide

As always, we’re going to be using what I said during the What’s the Worst That Could Happen preview to see how close I was to “predicting” what unfolded, and how it stacked up to my beliefs of what they were “trying” to do. Enjoy!

The Miz vs. Kofi Kingston (Kickoff Match)

Best Case Scenario: The inevitable “You Wanna Know Why?” promo is short, the match is long enough to make both guys not look like, well, themselves. Miz  fakes an injury, then leaves  for six months to go shoot the direct-to-video sequel to the ABC Family Original movie The Christmas Bounty.

Although this doesn’t count for the PPV’s overall Buck Bang (I guess?), I’d be remiss to not mention how very solid this match was. Both competitors looked, especially before the commercial break  — yes, I know, but at least it was doing the free part — like the best possible version of himself. That they teased a Kofi heel turn was actually exciting, even if it didn’t make a ton of sense.

Rhodes Brothers, Usos and Rey vs. The Real Shield Americans in a Traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series Match

What Nick Wants to Happen: A match half as good as the main event from this week’s Raw.

What Will Happen: The heels win, because of dissension from the face team. Rey Mysterio gets speared in half.

While dissension from the face team is always fun, I should have predicted “The heels win, because Roman Reigns” because “future megastar destroys entire group of people” is definitely better than the already super great “The Usos are feuding with the Rhodes boys”. This entire thing was beautiful, and while “the story” itself for the match wasn’t quite to the level of the main event from this week’s Raw, the execution of last night’s story — Roman Reigns is a grown ass man —  was as close to perfect as possible. Everyone got a proper spotlight, and while Reigns finished the match (and maybe the night) looking like the best man, everyone looked good to great, and that’s all you can ask for from anything, and especially a match like this. That it was in-and-of-itself an insanely enjoyable a-move-a-minute-without-being-a-spot fest  for a full 20 minutes before that almost seems unfair.

These are things that only the traditional Survivor Series matches can do, and why, for all the wandering away from the original conceit, they try to come back to it at least once every year and treat it like it’s one their most important shows.

Match +1.0

Big E. Langston (C) vs. Curtis Axel for the Intercontinental Championship

Best Case Scenario: Curtis Axel actually looks like he deserved to be Intercontinental Champion for the past few months, but the rising star of Big  E. burns just a little too brightly for Curtis to overcome. Also, Big E. makes the ref count to five. That would be awesome.

Although the crowd was the dribbling shits for this match, the performances were every bit as good as I had hoped. Big E. is a super duper star in the making, even if his post-match “I’m pandering to you” pander promo fell a little flat. Curtis Axel never really looked like he had a chance in this match, but he looked as good — if not better — than he looked the entire time he held the belt. Just being able to stay in the ring with someone like Big E. and not look like a scared little boy as 290 pounds flies all around the ring at you is an underrated skill, one that Curtis Axel did a yeoman’s job of projecting. That he got in most of his offense, and even a Perfectplex, means while they may not think he’s Intercontinental Title material, they definitely think he has a future. Not a masterpiece, but everything it needed to be and a little more.

Match +.4 | PPV 1.4

Total Divas vs. The Non-Total Divas in a “Traditional” 7-on-7 Survivor Series Match

What Nick Wants to Happen: Anything interesting at all the entire match.

This was not a “good” match, but it definitely wasn’t bad, and the “story” of the match was well told/mildly interesting. Which is nice. That they are turning Summer Rae into “girl who just dances”? Not so much. But pick your battles, and all that.

Match +/-0 | PPV 1.4

Ryback v. Mark Henry

My love for both of these performers is well-documented and knows no bounds. As Andy, who I watched the show with, put it: this works way better with Henry as the face. Now, Mark Henry could wrestle Khali and I think I would find it enjoyable, but him getting a solid 10-minute match with a guy that can do things like actually suplex him is pretty much what you want from a return match with him. This isn’t the type of match you show people who don’t like wrestling why it’s so awesome (see: the first match on the card), but as someone who paid for the PPV, it’s still nice to watch two guys Hoss it Out.

Match +.4 | PPV 1.8

 John Cena (C) vs. Alberto del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship

What Will Happen: Cena will overcome impossible odds and beat Alberto del Rio with one arm. The injured one.

There’s a difference between being “predictable” and “easy to predict”. The result of John Cena matches are “predictable”, in the sense that it’s almost always clear when he goes to lose a match, which is almost never. Given the binary option of “win” or “lose”, “predicting” what’s going to happen in a John Cena match is simple. Being “predictable” is fine: Batman and Superman are predictable. But, being “easy to predict” means “I know what’s going to happen in the match, and more importantly, at the end” and that’s where the problems happen. John Cena is a superhero and we should not expect him to shockingly lose, pretty much ever. Him winning the match after power bombing Albert del Rio with his bad arm is not something we should expect to see. When it happens, it should be magical and inspiring, not “oh, of course.” “Oh, of course” is kryptonite for performers on Cena’s level, and it’s something he’s done a very good job of staying away from since he feuded with Punk two years ago. And while this match was totally enjoyable, it had potential to be really great, and more importantly, much less easy to predict.

Match +.4 | PPV 2.2

CM Punk & Daniel Bryan vs. Luke Harper & Erick Rowan

What Nick Wants to Happen: The Beard and the Best to take an epic shitkicking, but like Bret Hart and Timex before them, manage to take a licking and keep on ticking.

What Will Happen: Probably something close to what I want to happen. I’m special and Vince McMahon loves me.

Like the 5-on-5 match, this was exactly what it needed to be, and maybe a little more. Erick Rowan, and especially Luke Harper, are special talents and this match was a showcase for that. All four men looked as good as was humanly possible and even the pre-match vignette/Bray Wyatt promo was the type of stuff that makes him one of the most talked about superstars in years despite wrestling only sporadically since his debut/injury. There are teams that can stay together  forever, and while I would love to see Luke or Erick make it to the next level as a singles competitor, the Wyatt boys are definitely a pairing that I would not mind working together for a long long time. And while I’d prefer both of them to get back to singles  competition as soon as possible, this detour through the swamp is exactly what they needed in order to refresh themselves for the ramp up to WrestleMania season.

Match +.7 | PPV 2.9

Randy Orton (C) vs. Big Show for the WWE Title

Best Case Scenario: Randy Orton pulls out all the sto(m)ps as he reverts completely back into his serial killer/Legacy period. Triple H doesn’t come down to ringside, and nobody cheats.

There’s definitely something to be said for what they are doing with Randy Orton right now that I actually like more than almost anything on the show right now: they are making him crazy. Some of it is subtle, like the incompetence of Brad Maddox, Vickie Guerrero and Kane getting Randy Orton into all different types of fights, and some of it is glaringly overt, like the constant challenges from H and Stephanie for Randy to pick his game up.

With the way this match was booked, and the way that Orton played it, they are really building up the “heavy is the head that wears the crown” aspect of his title reign, which is wonderful, at least in the sense that it gives him a purpose beyond “thing the Authority uses to shank you in the prison cafeteria”. It also creates tension between Triple H, Stephanie and all of the members of the administration, including the Shield. But it begs a serious question: Why?

Why aren’t they just having Randy Orton be Murder Death Killer? This isn’t a rhetorical question, either. If the goal of this match/end of PPV angle with Cena was to get us to ask confused questions AND make sure we tune into Raw tonight, they did a GREAT job. But, if the goal was to create excitement beyond confused curiosity? Not so much.

Match +.6

Your Mileage May Vary on the Divas match, but for the most part, this was a very good card that did a lot to move a number of story lines/characters forward, helped establish a few performers — — Big E. and the Wyatts — as formidable competitors, while planting the seeds for Roman Reigns to be made king of the world. If the main event finish didn’t feel so wonky, this could have been the best PPV we reviewed, but because of what could most generously described as an “meh” finish, it’s toward the back of the middle of the pack for  the full card, even if it finds itself much closer to the top of what we’ve reviewed when it comes to a per match basis. While the matches on an individual level were  all PPV-quality, considering the PPV ended essentially 20  minutes short makes me feel like — and I can’t believe I’m saying this — having the Miz vs. Kofi on the actual card would have made me feel like I’d paid for a steal of a card, as opposed to one I just simply wasn’t disappointed in.

PPV 3.5 | Match Avg. .5

What’s the Worst That Could Happen?: Survivor Series 2013

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It’s Survivor Series Sunday, which means it’s time for us to ask: “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?”.  And, because we love you, you’ll also be getting a PPV Predictions episode of Headlock’d fresh from the oven this afternoon. All of this (for free!) before we drop our world famous Bang for Your Buck PPV review in your lap on Monday morning.

To make sure you don’t miss anything, follow us (or me) on Twitter and like us on Facebook. Now that we’ve gotten the shameless plugs out of the way, let’s figure out What’s the Worst That Could Happen tonight in Boston:

The Miz vs. Kofi Kingston (Kickoff Match)

Best Case Scenario: The inevitable “You Wanna Know Why?” promo is short, the match is long enough to make both guys not look like, well, themselves. Miz  fakes an injury, then leaves  for six months to go shoot the direct-to-video sequel to the ABC Family Original movie The Christmas Bounty.

Worst Case Scenario: The E uses the Miz’s heel turn as an excuse to show literally dozens of clips from the ABC Family Original movie The Christmas Bounty during Miz TV, with a victory in this match as the starting off point of the “push”.

What Nick Wants to Happen: Not to be impossibly bored/angry I spent time watching something I didn’t pay  for that’s supposed  to be an advertisement for the something I did pay  for.

What Will Happen: Impossible boredom and anger.

Big E. Langston (C) vs. Curtis Axel for the Intercontinental Championship

Best Case Scenario: Curtis Axel actually looks like he deserved to be Intercontinental Champion for the past few months, but the rising star of Big  E. burns just a little too brightly for Curtis to overcome. Also, Big E. makes the ref count to five. That would be awesome.

Worst Case Scenario: Big E. or Curtis Axel get hurt. Any other scenario is fundamentally okay. Even Curtis getting the belt back.

What Nick Wants to Happen: Less Ultimate Warrior vs. Honky Tonk Man, more Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage.

What Will Happen: Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude

Total Divas vs. The Non-Total Divas in a “Traditional” 7-on-7 Survivor Series Match

Best Case Scenario: The heels sweep, Kaitlyn stabs AJ. All of this happens in under five minutes. 

Worst Case Scenario: The faces win decisively in a half-hour match consisting entirely of butts-to-the-face and poorly executed snapmares.

What Nick Wants to Happen: Anything interesting at all the entire match.

What Will Happen: Nothing interesting. At all. The entire match.

Rhodes Brothers, Usos and Rey vs. The Real Shield Americans in a Traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series Match

Best Case Scenario: All the members of both teams each get a spotlight in the match, which eats up the middle hour of the show, Usos turn heel on Rhodes Brothers, starting the second best feud ever. The Real Americans  turn on the Shield, starting the best feud ever.

Worst Case Scenario: Rey Mysterio wrestles the entire match, not tagging anyone in the entire time, 619’s the entire heel team at once before pinning them all simultaneously.

What Nick Wants to Happen: A match half as good as the main event from this week’s Raw.

What Will Happen: The heels win, because of dissension from the face team. Rey Mysterio gets speared in half.

 John Cena (C) vs. Alberto del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship

Best Case Scenario: The crowd  in Boston actually gets into a match with their “hometown” hero, John Cena. Alberto del Rio cleanly beats Cena, but after knocking out the referee as part of getting Cena in the position to lose, is then given an AA so powerful it A) looks like it might actually hurt instead of feeling like your being thrown around in a pool and B) allows Ricardo to come out and “take advantage” of del Rio, setting up an AWESOME match next month at TLC.

Worst Case Scenario: Del Rio is given an AA so powerful it A) looks like it might actually hurt and B) finishes the match in five minutes, followed by John Cena giving a 20-minute speech to the crowd where he changes his voice to sound like he’s from Southie.

What Nick Wants to Happen: A main event quality match, even if it’s going to be a Raw-quality finish.

What Will Happen: Cena will overcome impossible odds and beat Alberto del Rio with one arm. The injured one.

CM Punk & Daniel Bryan vs. Luke Harper & Erick Rowan

Best Case Scenario: Mega Power seeds are planted between Bryan and Punk, who narrowly defeat the Dueling Banjos Band after a miscommunication nearly costs them the match.

Worst Case Scenario: This match gets shortened because the Diva’s Match ran long.

What Nick Wants to Happen: The Beard and the Best to take an epic shitkicking, but like Bret Hart and Timex before them, manage to take a licking and keep on ticking.

What Will Happen: Probably something close to what I want to happen. I’m special and Vince McMahon loves me.

Randy Orton (C) vs. Big Show for the WWE Title

Best Case Scenario: Randy Orton pulls out all the sto(m)ps as he reverts completely back into his serial killer/Legacy period. Triple H doesn’t come down to ringside, and nobody cheats.

Worst Case Scenario: Everyone cheats.

What Nick Wants to Happen: A match with a clean finish where Randy Orton wins, since the storyline implications in this match otherwise are either silly or super depressing, depending on how you look at it.

What Will Happen: Orton retains. Probably with help from Kane and Brad Maddox.

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.

***

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.

***

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.

***

***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.

***

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…”

***

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.

***

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 Stable You Should Probably Know Better: The Shield

The Shield

It’s the First Day of #TheShieldWeek, the eleventh installment of our (patent-pending) Juice Make Sugar Wrestler of the Week series. In celebration of this month’s Survivor Series, we’re taking a look at famous stables from the wonderful world of wrestling. As always we’ll start by making The Hounds of Justice a Wrestler Stable You (Should) Probably Know Better, then give you the finer points of their oeuvre tomorrow with some Essential Viewing. But then we’re going to do something different with #TheShieldWeek and give each member their own day. Wednesday will be Seth Rollins’ — and we’ll Watch and Learn him but good, and give him his own GIF parade after —  with Roman and Dean coming after him to finish out the week.  And, don’t worry, we will still be making our “Amazon.com on steroids” dreams come true with “Juice Make Sugar Recommends…” on Thursday before finishing everything off on Friday with a Difference of Opinion (where JMS HQ erupts in a Triple Powerbomb-fueled civil war.) 

I actually missed their arrival. This was before Juice Make Sugar started in earnest, and I was broke, so the chances of me spending any type of money for anything was non-existent. I had known from watching a lot of wrestling — or, you know, at least more than two shows consecutively — that CM Punk was leaving Survivor Series with the WWE Championship. How they were going to do it was the confusing bit.

So, when I heard what happened I was VERY ready to call “Shenanigans”. I understood why they were doing what they were doing: having these three quasi-mystery men — Cole identified them from NXT almost immediately on air — destroy Ryback paved the way for Punk to pin Cena and give Ryback an out by allowing Cena to take a loss that wouldn’t affect his standing in the least. However, unless the “mystery” is The Big Show, and it’s a match between Stone Cold and Vince McMahon, the use of human deus ex machina in wrestling — especially at a PPV — is not a good idea.

This is partially because the crowd reaction is almost never big enough to justify the “damage” done to the promise of a clean ending (however much there is one) on a PPV. But it’s more than that. Bringing someone out this way automatically puts an expectation on their future prospects, and it’s very hard to live up to the anticipation of what comes next when someone makes a splash in a title match. Especially when the inevitable “I’m here to explain why I did what I did” promo comes in.

That’s when the wheels fall off, as not only is the crowd reaction never big enough, but the reasons behind the betrayal or ambush are usually so weird, convoluted or just downright idiotic that whatever heat they managed to get is quickly extinguished.

But then, The Shield explained themselves and set the world on fire.

All of the ideas we had, all of the reasons we could come up with evaporated in a mushroom cloud the first time Dean Ambrose opened his mouth. Ambrose, who had made his way up through the independent scene as Jon Moxley, was the perfect choice as the de facto mouthpiece of the group.

Ambrose’s speech pattern and mannerisms give off an immediate sense of agency: the Shield was doing this because they chose to. They were the ones moving things forward, they were the ones deciding when and where to dole out “justice” and it was up to everyone else to stop them.

And they still haven’t.

In the last year, they’ve moved from a narrative device to legitimate superstars, and have done so as rapidly as anything not named “Brock Lesnar” in the history of wrestling. Which, in a weird way, is their best comparison: a destructive force that exists largely outside of the tropes and rules of the program, creating a destroying convention through sheer force of will. Instead of becoming repetitive or complacent, the group has moved from paramilitary revolutionaries to the gatekeepers to the corporate throne while their message of “stopping injustice” has rang as beautifully hollow as it did when they first said it.

They are mercenaries and always have been, that they were willing to lie to our faces about it has been a bit of genius storytelling that manages to feel fresh — because it’s essentially new to WWE programming — and classic — because it’s been an essential component to basically every action movie worth its salt ever — without also feeling like a typical WWE matter of telling you something is the truth. No one ever “really” believed they were working for justice, but had no proof otherwise until poor Brad Maddox made one mistake too many.

And the entire time, as the group’s profile has evolved and elevated, they’ve changed the nature of the business, pumped new blood into stagnant belts and set themselves up for what seems to be long and illustrious careers.

Rollins and Reigns’ run as tag team champions — and their work alongside Ambrose in six-man tags — has been a sea change for the Tag Team division, creating actual intrigue around the titles that had been missing since the TLC-era. For the first time in a generation, the WWE has begun growing tag teams from the ground up instead of pushing together stars with nothing better to do, and nearly all of it is because of the performances of the Shield on the heels of Team Hell No’s reestablishment of the genre as a viable part of the show. And they’ve done it without having to “Hug It Out” a single time.

And while the Shield are DEFINITELY the youngest performers we’ve profiled for Wrestler of the Week, the amount they’ve done in the last year has made them a necessity to talk about. While it’s hard to say who will or won’t make it in a business as unpredictable as professional wrestling, it’s probably safe to say that these three have some of the brightest futures in the business right now and that we should all believe. Believe in The Shield.