Tag Archives: Fandango

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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?

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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.

WATCH, SKIM OR SKIP: SPOILER ALERT WITH “ANGRY” ANDY, 10/28-11/1

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There’s a lot of wrestling on TV every week, but only some of it is actually worth watching.  That’s where I come in: every week, I’ll break down the spoilers of all of WWE’s pre-taped shows to let you know what you should watch, and which segments and full shows you should skim or skip.  This week, there’s a lot to love… if you really love Ryback and/or using your remote to fast forward

MAIN EVENT

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(spoilers via PWInsider.com)

Main Event continues to be my favorite hour of “main roster” wrestling WWE produces, but I think this week’s show looks less than promising.  Let’s get right to it.

Ryback d Kofi Kingston

Ryback wins a match he really couldn’t afford to lose, against a guy who once showed a lot of promise, and is now forever stuck as a midcard babyface.  Oh, it’s also the guy he once destroyed so badly he had to have surgery a day before the attack.  And it’s the same guy who NEVER SOUGHT REVENGE.  I’m sure NONE of that is mentioned on commentary.  Anyway, Ryback hits all his spots, and at one point, uses a Jackhammer on our favorite former Jamaican.  This serves as nothing but a C-show squash, slowly building to Ryback vs Goldberg.

Santino d Heath Slater

The Cobra continues to single-handedly squash 3MB.  See what I did there?  It’s probably as good as this match.  At least these guys are entertaining.

Los Matadores d “Los Locales”

Los Matadores have already been cast aside in their ready-made feud with the All Americans.  Swagger and Cesaro are after the tag belts, and Los Matadores are squashing a tired gimmick on Ion Television.  Speaking of the tired gimmick, is there really no better way to utilize the talents of Ricardo Rodriguez and Tyson Kidd?  If you have nothing better for these guys than a mid-90s job-gimmick, wish them well in their future endeavors and let them try their luck elsewhere.  This match will be solid while it lasts, but a complete waste of time.

Fandango d Great Khali

Fandango could be gold.  He has a gimmick, is at-least decent in the ring, and is paired up with a woman who is both gorgeous and talented.  Pairing him up with NXT’s Tyler Breeze would be perfect.  Asking him to carry the Punjabi Playboy? Not so much.

SKIP this show… unless you really love Ryback.

SMACKDOWN

WWE-Smackdown

(spoilers via PWInsider.com)

Smackdown! continues its run as the blue version of Raw…

Michael Cole interviews HHH.

HHH says Big Show is “banned for life.”  Fans immediately expect a Big Show run-in.  Hopefully, this is kept short.

John Cena promo…

Is interrupted by the Real Americans, Damien Sandow, and the Rhodes Brothers.  Vickie Guerrero channels the spirit of Teddy Long and books a 6-man tag for later tonight.

The Shield promo…

They’re sick of the Usos.

The Usos d The Shield

Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins representing the Shield in this one.  4 talented guys.  Should be a good-to-great match, IF it’s given time.

The Wyatt Family d Prime Time Players

Bray Wyatt hits his finish after the match.  Most likely a filler match, to sell the Daniel Bryan/CM Punk attacks from Raw.  The five guys in this segment are all trying hard to establish themselves and move up.  Hopefully, it shows.

MizTV featuring Shawn Michaels

No Shawn Michaels.  Randy Orton comes out instead.  It ends with an RKO, so this may be the first MizTV that’s actually worth watching.

Natalya & The Bella Twins d Alicia Fox, Tamina & WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee

AJ taps to the Sharpshooter.  Depending who’s in the ring, this could be good, or it could be a nightmare.  The good news is it will probably be kept REALLY short.

John Cena, Cody Rhodes & Goldust d Damien Sandow & The Real Americans

Swagger eats an AA.  Sandow, Cesaro, and both Rhodes brothers main event – as they should.  If they look like they belong in their with Cena, then this match served its purpose.

SKIM this show.  The action sounds good and the matches logical, but lots of promos.  You can probably watch the whole show in 25 minutes, courtesy of your DVR.

Follow me on Twitter @AndyMillerJMS

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.

Punch Drunk Love: Raw Regurgitated, 10/8

Uh-oh! Somebody got in the spray tan again! When will she ever learn!

This wasn’t a particularly strong performance by either of the two principals, until, of course, Stephanie LOST IT and SLAPPED THE SHIT out of the Big Show. This is the type of emotion this storyline needs to keep interest up. Stephanie and H are fighting to the WWE built in their image, something that has a legacy within Stephanie’s family and will define not just Triple H’s career but his life in the entertainment industry. Also, watching Steph repeatedly hit someone in the face while they laugh at her because they are a giant is hilarious.

Pro tip: Never fire the guy you’ve been using as your assassin. Especially when you’ve been using “if you want to keep your job do what we tell you”. I’m not a logic doctor, but I’m pretty sure when you fire him, you’re saying “do whatever you want, guy”.

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For those without their WWE-to-English dictionaries: ” “Blah Blah has been very aggressive as of late” of “we might be pushing this guy, but we also like jobbing him out so let’s see if this gets over.”

Can’t they just give Dolph Ziggler  the superkick instead of trying to make chicken salad out of Billy Gunn’s finisher?

We had a request from one of our readers to talk about this Divas match and how bad it was. Unfortunately, we can’t do that. This match was what it was: an attempt to introduce to the Raw audience to people that have only really been seen in direct connection with “Total Divas”. Getting mad at Eva Marie for not being that great in the ring during (what I am assuming is) her debut match on Raw is like getting mad at a dog for meowing. It’s just going to frustrate you and make you question the meaning of life while blaming something that can’t help itself and clearly isn’t long for this world/is an abomination.

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The entrance had a little bit less oomph this time because we all knew the smoke was coming out of the nostrils, but getting to see Torito actually do some work was worth sitting through Drew McIntyre “Long Goodbye” tour.

I think at some point in here Bob Backlund spoke. I fast-forwarded, as I can’t watch crazy people talk with a live mic — nothing makes me more uncomfortable than people speaking when it’s clear they haven’t taken their pills — but from what I understand, it was rousing. And insane. Mostly insane.

This better not lead to CM Punk and R Truth taking the tag team titles away from the Shield because Punk wants to relive his glory days when he was best friends with a black guy and had long hair. Haven’t we seen enough of Punk throwing his weight around backstage?

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Where’s Kofi’s family? This doesn’t work unless you can see the exact moment Orton breaks Mama Kingston’s heart.

Any time that Kofi loses to Randy and Randy doesn’t tell him that no one will ever love him again has to feel good.

Daniel Bryan going H.A.M. on Randy is going to be important in the next two weeks, as having them be separated because DB is just too bloodthirsty and Randy is too crazy is  the only way anyone is going to pay to see them wrestle after the traveling Dusty Circus came to town.

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If Alberto and Vickie ever do get together, they better call their stable “The Family”.

It’s hard to say which was worse: that John is back already — I love Cena, but they need to give the Main Event some time to breathe — or that the announcement made people only half pay attention to Ricardo Rodriguez getting payback on Del Rio for putting his smoking buddy out of commission.

He’s had his heart broken, his neck broken and now his arm broken? How happy must Ricardo be now that the Affordable Care Act is being implemented?

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Zach Ryder is so low on the totem pole, they don’t even mention that he used to be US Champion. And I’m pretty they list Chris Benoit as a former US champion.

They need to put a belt on either Santino or Antonio, so that this amazing feud can have some stakes too it. Watching Marella try to hit Cesaro with the Cobra while simultaneously performing evasive maneuvers to avoid hitting Hornswoggle is why we get into the wrestling writing business in the first place. That and the chicks.

Considering that he booked himself as a guest, how did The Miz not see Bray Wyatt showing up on Miz TV? He must not recognize the level to which his career looks like a dead antelope on the Serengeti at this point. Poor guy.

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Goldust’s inevitable turn against Cody is going to make moments like this match — and Sunday night’s as well — be so much harder to look back on without it getting a little Dusty in JMS HQ.

***WARNING: YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE*** PLEASE KEEP EYES AND EARS INSIDE KAYFABE*** Mixing the Rhodes family struggles with Daniel Bryan’s, all while allowing for the Big Show to come back and get the most over out of anyone is the kind of layered booking/writing that separates good wrestling periods from great wrestling eras. Although it may not seem like it when you see Big Show knock out everyone involved in a match you may have paid to see a definitive ending to, wrestling exists in an entirely different narrative world than anything else. This doesn’t just extend to the WWE app, but exclusives on WWE.com — like Michael Cole’s weekly interviews with Triple H — and Twitter, where entire feuds can be build out for anyone that cares to watch. The WWE functions less like a scripted TV show and more like an augmented reality that the performers place on top of their normal lives to give some sort of meaning to the lives of people with nothing better to do. This may not feel like it, but this stuff is the beginning of a revolution, and while the results may not always be pretty, they will likely continue to be what’s “Best for Business”. ***YOU ARE NOW EXITING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE***ENJOY YOUR COMPLIMENTARY SONIC MILKSHAKE ON THE WAY OUT***

Did Show just kill Triple H?

NXT Scouting Report 10/2: It’s BO Time!

NXT is often the second (and sometimes THE) best show WWE produces. But its primary goal is to make future superstars who will one day grace our televisions on Raw. Each week we’ll scout the “minor league” talent in each segment and decide if they’re ready for the big leagues. This week: Who will enter the first ever Bo Dallas Invitational?

Fandango & Summer Rae vs. Santino & Emma

One thing that really bummed me out about the final episodes of Breaking Bad was all the chatter about “good fans” and “watching the show the right way.” Anytime anyone tries to tell fans how they should enjoy or perceive any kind of art is just plain wrong and reeks of elitism. There’s no right or wrong way to enjoy or despise any kind of consumable product. That of course goes for wrestling as well, and maybe it’s even more crucial when storylines and characters can become so divisive.

So when I say I feel bad for people that don’t enjoy matches like this one, I don’t mean it in any sort of “you’re watching wrestling wrong” kind of way. If one wants all hardcore ECW matches because that’s what they like about the medium, then more power to ’em. There’s enough variety that something should work for just about everyone.

I feel bad because it’s so much fun, and I want everyone to enjoy this as much as I do. Good lord was this segment magical and I’m still smiling just thinking about it. Santino and Emma combining their entrances, the tag in hi-five gaffes, and all the ridiculous Cobra swapping was as fun as anything I’ve seen in NXT. They had great natural chemistry together and I’ll be sad every time Santino pops up on Raw without Emma close behind. A big reason why this worked is they let the segment breathe – on Raw this would have been three minutes and each spot rushed through. Also huge props to Fandango for his amazing sell of the Cobra Strike – I think his gum flew about 50 ft in the air.

Verdict: Raw worthy. 

Ascension Promo

Okay, I know this was just a quick promo to give The Ascension some sinister vibes heading into their huge tag-team championship matchup, but I got ask: where is this “home” O’Brian and Victor grunt about? Is it some sort of alternate time or dimension? What are these dudes? Are they futuristic? Ancient? Highlander dudes without sweet swords? Until they get some direction beyond mysterious and growly, the main roster has no place for these weirdos. I’d also recommend canning the “hero” talk – too close to the Wyatt Family and Shield action plans. Get a distinct agenda and maybe we’ll talk.

Verdict: TNA worthy.

Kassius Ohno vs. Luke Harper

Promised myself this wouldn’t be a breakdown of the returning Kassius Ohno’s physique because I try my damnedest to stay away from the dirt sheets. But Ohno’s extended absence probably has roots in some sort of backstage shenanigans, considering he was gone for “four months” with no reported injury – so I can’t help but let it color my thinking heading into this matchup. Quick take: he looks fine, so hopefully if that was a problem it’s in the past. Now, as far as Ohno’s journey to the main roster, not sure what this match tells us. Luke Harper dominated the proceedings, which he should have as a conquering beast returning to NXT.

I was surprised, however, by the shortness, and — outside of a few flurries — how little Ohno got to do. For his big return to the ring, Ohno not only didn’t get to win, he didn’t even get something akin to Sami Zayn’s matches with Cesaro/Swagger – a loss that feels like a win because of the awesome. This didn’t feel like a new chapter in a storied rivalry – no after match kerfuffles to keep the narrative going – just a decisive, impressive victory for Harper. I don’t think this means that ‘management’ is still down on Ohno. There is no reason to bring him back if they didn’t think he had it. My guess is this was a way to ease him back into action, give him some frustrating losses, and push forward a storyline where Ohno can turn heel again and start an epic feud with Zayn.

Verdict: Smackdown! worthy.

Enzo Amore y Big Cass Promo

Just do yourself a favor and watch it, it’s pure gold.

TROAT. BIG MUSH. NO SHOES. SAWWWWWFT TACOS.

Verdict: Raw worthy.

Mojo Rawley Vignette

Ummmm… So this cat’s entire gimmick is he’s super hyped all day every day? I have no idea if this could work, but if we can somehow get a recreation of this scene with Rawley and Enzo Amore I’ll be a happy camper.

Verdict: Superstars worthy.

The Ascension vs. Corey Graves & Adrian Neville

I’m not into three out of four wrestlers involved in this match, and I’m afraid it’s leading me to incorrectly evaluate Adrian Neville. I get so jazzed when gets the hot tag I’m not sure if it’s because he’s performing great or I’m shell-shocked after another installment Rick Victor/Corey Graves rest-hold theatre.

In my notes it says that this was the best I’ve seen Neville since he’s teamed up with Hot Topic. His hot-tag offense late in the match was glorious, dare I say even D. Bry-eque. He mixed even more back-flip evasive maneuvers, and his offense seemed crisper, quicker, and a bit stronger. Hopefully this improvement wasn’t comparison camouflage and Neville is ready to fly high on Raw.

Putting the tag-team titles on The Ascension means somebody in NXT-land thinks these guys are ready to rule over Orlando. This is not necessarily a bad thing, regardless of how I feel. I’m reviewing based on what I think will play on Raw or Smackdown – and clearly I don’t think this team is ready. But I am interested in seeing what they can do now that they’re clearly positioned as the big bads of NXT. Hopefully that’ll jump start some interesting character development from these guys that makes them work.

Corey Graves still sucks.

Verdict: NXT worthy.

The Bo Dallas Invitational

In the normal heel handbook, this type of segment usually consists of the conceited bad guy cutting a promo about how unstoppable he’s become and there’s no one in the locker room that measures up. It’s a classic trope and works well to incite some serious babyface heat for anyone who takes on the challenge.

This could have been the moment this iteration of Bo Dallas’ amazing character starting slipping into traditional heel type stuff, but once again Dallas pulled off an amazing performance, twisting this segment into something that let him shine in his oblivious dick role. His genuine excitement giving some fresh-faced scrub a shot at the champ was adorable, and I loved how he showed concern for his random jobber opponent after the match. He could have easily acted cruel and dismissive, but he stayed true to the narrative and I love him for it. Almost as much as I loved his bizarre line-reading of “NXT CHAMPIONSHIP!!!” I have no clue what that was all about, but it made me laugh every time he did it.

The Leo Kruger and Antonio Cesaro part was clearly done just to set up a match/feud with each other, and it’s a great idea. Cesaro is a de facto wrestling instructor out there – clearly WWE brass like him in NXT for his ability to generate great matches out of anyone. Kruger intrigues me, I like his overall vibe but I’m not super sold on his ring work just yet. A few matches with Cesaro should tell us a lot.

Okay, I know I’m burying the lede with this almost-El Generico business at the end of The Bo Dallas Invitational, but I wasn’t ready to talk about it until now. This is something I knew WWE would always have in their back pocket, but deploying it so half-assed I’m just kinda stumped why they bothered. Storyline wise it makes sense, as Dallas decreed that Zayn was banned from his Invitational despite being a strong contender for the NXT championship. Zayn needed a way in, and donning a mask is a great tradition in wrestling when you need to get around the rules.

But with so much weight behind this particular wrestler wearing a mask, it just left me emotionally bent. I’m sure the fans who know nothing of Generico enjoyed the segment, but I can’t help but wonder if they blew a real opportunity to resurrect the legend of The Generic One down the road. Overall the segment was awesome and Zayn played it great, so I’m not going to downgrade it just because I couldn’t help but engage in some fantasy booking.

Verdict: Raw worthy. 

Matthew Timmons runs the stat-centric WWE website Kayfabermetrics, and can be harassed on Twitter @matthewtimmons.

Pretty in Pink (and Black & Blue): Raw Regurgitated, 9/30

He’s among the best in the business on the mic, but man does CM Punk forget his lines a lot.

It’s easy to forget that part of paying for a ticket to Monday Night Raw is paying to see certain people wrestle. Then, they have Big E. Langston come out and wrestle CM Punk for no real reason and you remember: Oh, right, people are really just here to see him and (maybe) Daniel Bryan.

There’s been serious rumors of a Big E. face turn. Taking the audible N-word out of his entrance music would probably be a good start in that direction.

***

I say this as someone whose grandmother died of breast cancer: everybody does (and should) hate breast cancer and want it to end, but, if its means we get these beautiful shirts every October, then that might just be something we have to deal with.

In case you were wondering, getting your name mentioned during last week’s first segment was them telling you who is going to get fed to stars they actually for the next couple of weeks.

Speaking of which, is it just me or does Bray Wyatt feel like he’s starting off in WWE 2K14 story mode and Kofi Kingston is the first guy he has to beat in order to move on to a meaningless  IC title feud.

***

This is something that’ll get the Cageside Seats treatment from me, but that Los Matadores managed to be pretty much everything I love about wrestling with a lovely red bow on top. From the call-and-response entrance music, to the INSANE El Torito introduction (replete with smoke coming out of the nostrils of a seemingly magical bull) these two are going to be HUGE stars. You know, if the adults in the audience can understand that not only are they for kids, but Spanish/Mexican kids.

For all I know, they could have been using that finisher for years, but if that doesn’t make them the biggest stars in the tag team division for the next year, I’m quitting the writing about wrestling racket. I am all in with Los Matadores.

***

Based on how many times she insists on bringing it up, the smart money is on Stephanie having written that “give Cody a Bed, Bath and Beyond gift certificate” joke.

Eternal questions: Did they have Dustin wear to a tan suit so that he would look different from Dusty and Cody  or because they wanted to match his Goldust make up.

Good to see the Shield (and the WWE finally figured out that people were finding it more and more implausible that wrestlers would actually wait to get their asses kicked by the Shield as they made their way through the crowd after their music hit and just had them appear out of thin air.

***

If R Truth ever run out of breath while trying to rap to the beat for his song, you have to wonder if he’d still just hum along to keep it going. .

HASN’T CURTIS AXEL EVER SEEN WRESTLING? HOW DOES HE NOT KNOW TO NOT PAY ATTENTION TO ENTRANCE MUSIC? WHY IS THERE SO MUCH ENTRANCE MUSIC RELATED TRIVIA TONIGHT? IS IT JIM JOHNSON’S LAST DAY?

Truth dancing in the middle of the ring after beating Axel is great, but in the way that celebrating after tackling someone for a short gain early in the game is: it’s relatively meaningless and will more than likely come to bite Truth in the ass at some point.

***

And Brie Bella, with the Michelle McCool “I’m in a relationship with a top guy” Memorial title shot. Does , explaining that they’ve been together for almost two year negate any chance at a “he was mine first” angle to this Brie-AJ match? I sure hope it does, because that would be just awful.

There’s a lot to be said about Zach Ryder getting this much offense against Alberto Del Rio on the go-home show for a PPV. Most of it involves me cursing and saying Long Island sucks.

Thank God for the Cross-armbreaker. ADR has turned that into the submission version of Sweet Chin Music and I couldn’t be prouder.

***

This managed to be both beautifully done and mildly repulsive (well, mostly Jerry Lawler’s reactions were repulsive). One on hand, it’s a lot of “look at how creepy Ryback and Heyman are with each other, because GAY LOLZ”, but on the other hand, it’s Paul Heyman saying “HEY, EVERYONE, I’M IN LOVE WITH RYBACK AND I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS,” which is good for everyone involved. Including the fans.

***WARNING YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE*** PLEASE KEEP YOUR EYES AND EARS INSIDE OF KAYFABE*** This was not good. At no point did Heyman really seem like he thought Punk was injured, and him moving towards Punk seemed more to do with being aware the spot wasn’t working the way it should have than a narrative reason. The idea that they know each other so well that they can get each other to fall into ridiculous traps only really  works in retrospect — like Punk saying “I knew it was a trap but I didn’t care”. When you do it in real time, and without a believable injury (everyone knew Punk was faking), you are is basing the entire segment on the reaction of the crowd and how badly they want CM Punk to get Paul Heyman. It should be the other way around. This was a very bad night for Punk and a very good night for Paul Heyman and definitely not for the reasons it was supposed to. ***WARNING YOU ARE NOW EXITING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE*** PLEASE ENJOY YOUR COMPLIMENTARY SONIC MILKSHAKE ON THE WAY OUT***

For a dude that can’t take a bump with a roadmap and a spotter, thanks for taking that Kendo stick like a champ, Paul.

***

Someone wrote in the comments of the Best and Worst of Smackdown that despite watching nearly every single one of their matches, he is still surprised by the ways in which the Shield manages to win nearly every single one of their matches. If you don’t think that’s the best part of this run by the Shield, you are watching wrong.

The crowd’s reaction to Big Show finally losing their shit is why you spend a month having him punk old people and douche bags that they tell people they should kind of like.

Wow, Stephanie continues her MVP season with an ED joke about Big Show to knock it out of the park. You can have Cabrera,Trout, Kershaw and McCutchen. I’m taking the classy broad from Stamford, CT.

***

WOW, those We, The People shirts are sharp. Would recommend. Relevant to my interests.

***

Either Daniel Bryan’s notes for his promo in his beard or he thinks that stroking his beard is somehow more interest than him saying something of value. I never thought Danielson would make me miss John Cena, but if you insist on doing a screamy-face promo for screamy-face promo sake, then we are going to have to re-evaluate this entire thing, Mr. Bryan.

Hey, Randy! That’s not right! Mentioning that Brie and Bryan share a bed is absolutely NOT PG. They aren’t even married!