Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Is WWE Sobering Up to their Old Ways?

The following is a half-hazed account of the Post-SummerSlam RAW.

-Heyman and Lesnar come out. Heyman does a fair job at trying to explain what in the fuck happened in the finish of SummerSlam. Replay shows a definite tap out and the fans again are confused. Bad booking breeds bad business, could that be so this time? The reaction from Brooklyn just cements my feeling that this whole angle is making ‘Taker a heel when the positioning says otherwise. I have no idea what Vince and company are thinking here, especially since it is clear that there will be a third match. Heyman is a master though, and makes me want him to take over a full hour of RAW each week just to cut a long-winded promo on everything. Compassion by the timekeeper for the bell ringing early? Odd angle I guess. Lesnar corpses through the whole promo and it doesn't dilute a thing.

Out comes Bo Dallas to shit on Lesnar. This is funny on many levels because it’s a nice bait and switch with the fans expecting Undertaker and also we get to see Lesnar rag doll a grown man again. He made Dallas look like a child with suplex after suplex and capped it off with a F5. Lesnar is instantly top babyface after one segment, jesus christ.

-New Day come out and brag about winning the belts, complete with Frank Sinatra trombone solo and horrid singing.  These guys are so fantastic even if some of their segments are rotten in blueprint. They face Lucha Dragons whom while solid in the ring, has no direction. The match is pretty good which is to be expected. Prime Time Players are on commentary and not very good at it. Titus has just gotten to where he shits on JBL every time and doesn’t even care about matches while Darren Young is a wooden statue. New Day goes over and look good doing so.  THE FUCKING DUDLEY BOYZ COME OUT! They leave New Day laying and Brooklyn goes insane.

-We have the SummerSlam rematch tag with Ambrose and Reigns against The Wyatts next. Starts hot like the other match but I’m just not a fan of the rematch of a pay per view a night later, why not get what you want done in the first match? Anyways they do a crazy dive sequence which is fun at first, but I just feel like lately these four have been victims of lost-in-the-shuffle booking. All four guys vary from pretty good in Reigns’ case to exceptional in the case of the other three. This match makes me want a full time Wyatt and Harper tag team, they have great chemistry for tag wrestling while Ambrose is the star with exceptional selling. Harper steals the match mid-way with awesome super kicks to both men. It all looked in the bag until a new member of the Wyatts appeared! Donning a black sheep’s mask, he reveals himself but he’s no one I’ve ever seen and that is a good thing. He demolishes Ambrose and Reigns calling for a DQ and while he is clearly green, he’s a fresh character in a WWE “universe” that is wrought with stale acts.

-Miz TV was incredibly disappointing. Team PCB looked lost and way too nervous. The Bellas interrupt WITH MICS GOD NO! A We Want Sasha chant breaks huge and that my friends is when you know you’re over. Both the Bellas and PCB argue to no point. Nikki with the line of the night: “Wins, losses? WHO CARES?!” Wow, way to shit on yourself AND your Divas title all in one fell swoop. This should be a whole Botchamania episode. This segment is so bad that Miz is over. This leads into a match, I don’t give a fuck.

Six woman’s tag is the match and I miss a portion while trying to put my head in the oven because of the lead-in segment but it seems good when I come back after giving up. Team PCB is just solid as hell in the ring and they make you want more of their styles rather than the cookie-cutter “sports entertainment” of Team Bella. Nikki has improved greatly most recently but she’s still nothing like any of the girls in PCB and that can be said most definitely for her companions Brie and Alicia. While Alicia is decent for WWE standards, Brie is horrendous despite being married to perhaps the greatest wrestler my generation has ever known. I hate to say it but this segment and subsequent match may have been the start of the decline for this supposed “divas revolution” although the one over woman in this whole equation remains Sasha Banks even without her appearance. Bellas win with Alicia getting the fall on Paige. Perfect, let us give everyone a win and because of that give no one momentum.

-We get the announcement of an 8 man tag involving Ziggler, Ryback, Cesaro and Orton against Big Show, Rusev, Owens, and Sheamus. At least it is something but the presence of Big Show and Ryback concernsme. Sheamus is the dogshits but hey, he’s competent.

-Barrett and Stardust set up to face a tag team but Stardust turns on Barrett! This gets the fans up and I’m super happy because Stardust is tremendous. Neville comes out and we have a bit of a humdinger in potential. They trade shots and counters until Stardust hits the road. Neville stands triumphant and Barrett is out of view. Odd angle but it might lead to something new.

-On to Jon Stewart. He comes out to explain why he attacked John Cena at SummerSlam and man, he makes me want him weekly on the show. He cuts such good promos that mix humor and reality. Stewart claims he did it because he couldn't let Cena tie Flair’s record of World title wins. I love this angle because there is so much passion in that sentiment and while it is funny it is also awesome. Flair now comes out! This is awesome folks. Flair says he wanted Cena to win and the fans boo huge, he says it is because he respects Cena so much, He then tells the fans that they don’t have to like it, it is gospel because of him! Cena comes out and Brooklyn hates it.

Cena says thanks for the song (referring to Brooklyn’s cheerful ode John Cena Sucks to his music) but he needs to talk to Stewart. He seems angry and does well to project that, whatever you say about Cena you can’t say he isn't a fantastic, emotive worker. He says Stewart ruined him making the US Title something that the younger fans could strive for.  The only knock for me is that Stewart continually interrupts Cena because he doesn’t understanding timing.  It all ends though when Cena snatches Stewart up and drops him with an AA. Much like Undertaker, this seems far too heelish to me when it is supposed to be packaged as a good guy.

- It’s 8 man tag Immediately, Owens gets the biggest reaction of anyone’s entrance. This man is money and I just hope Vince sees it like obviously Triple H did. It’s what would be expected with mostly limited workers but the highlights are not surprisingly Owens, Ziggler, and Cesaro for the majority. The heels dominate most of the match which is fine. Owens and Cesaro are money together and their exchanges are just pristine. Ryback and Owens stiff each other pretty good it seems, great stuff. The match ends when Big Show gets crossed up and nails Sheamus with his KO Punch into a RKO. Very good match that showcases the right guys. After the match Owens and Rusev double team Big Show and this gives me strange feels. THEN the babyfaces come back and slaughter Big Show? Strange booking is this Show’s final chapter? Let us fucking hope so.

-Now onto the “Brass Statue” segment. We get Triple H and Stephanie coming out and wishing Vince a happy birthday clearly off script. It was a nice gesture and they quickly change to heel mode putting Rollins over as a wrestling “god” sounds familiar. Rollins comes out and cuts practically the exact same promo. Then it comes to the big statue reveal except....it is Sting! Brooklyn loses their minds as Sting clears the ring. Rollins takes a nice Stinger Splash and a clothesline over the top leaving his titles behind. Sting picks up the WWE World title and holds it in the air as RAW goes off the air. Awesome angle and it makes me give a shit about where they are going.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

SummerSlam Weekend Nausea

If you’re a pro wrestling fan, you’re consistently living in a simulation mode. It seems like every single year, things reset back to what seems like a steam punk nightmare of logical fallacies.  In a world of perpetuals such as: LOLCENAWINS we are gun shy about anything that doesn’t involve evolution. All of us are almost like Kentuckian residents living outside the premises of the Creationism museum.

We have Seth Rollins and sure, he IS the WWE World Heavyweight Champion but a lame duck is what everyone can’t help but call him leading into the 2015 round of SummerSlam in Brooklyn. John Cena is the United States Champion and while that would be a great thing in any other context, he meets Rollins for a Title for Title unification bout and all of us that have lived all through and before this “Cenation” era are scowling prematurely. Rollins tapping out despite exploding Cena’s cranium a few weeks ago doesn’t indicate otherwise either but I’m still holding out on a fuck job. Please wrestling gods, let us see a fuck job.

We are all supposed to be stereo-orgasmic for the Lesnar/Undertaker super bout but it isn’t that. This main event isn’t worth much if one simply thinks backwards for a minute. Lesnar destroyed Undertaker when he broke the streak, leaving no doubt that he is the baddest man on the planet while Undertaker laid in wait for a year seemingly done with the business. When both men walked into the next year’s WrestleMania, things were solemn and strange for them. Lesnar was the WWE World Heavyweight Champion but a paper one because of his scarce appearances on television and mostly underwhelming title defenses aside from an awesome Royal Rumble three way, and his main event match with youngster Roman Reigns was cringe worthy at best in build.

Undertaker was a lost soul leading into this year’s WrestleMania and his match with Bray Wyatt felt like a rushed attempt at a legendary match that Bray hasn’t been built properly to deliver in. That was the case and the match wasn’t a classic like some expected, leaving Undertaker AND Bray lost for months. Until Battleground when all the branches of the main event story arch went viciously into self-destruct mode. Undertaker coming in and interfering with Lesnar’s title match with Rollins was a surprise but his attack felt wrong to me. Perhaps a babyface low blowing a monster that undoubtedly beat him was the biggest burn but it just all felt forced. A match that could have been massive with a logical story arch was rushed for Network numbers for a month and no long term advantages. If anyone thinks new fans are coming out of Lesnar vs Undertaker this weekend, they are sorely out of luck.

The undercard is an odd deal itself.Even if Rusev against Ziggler isn’t the greatest of stories, the match will most likely deliver. Ziggler has tons to prove but that’s almost his gimmick at this point after years of being lost in the shuffle while Rusev is a once-acclaimed rising star looking for a purpose and traction. The “Family” tag team match with Reigns and Ambrose against Wyatt and Harper will be good because it is always good but will it matter? Will there be a future? We shall see I guess, and if the rumors are true and Ambrose goes bad guy on his “brother” this thing might be big. Cesaro versus Owens might be the match of the night since both guys are hot as hell right now and not looking to slow down in the least. The Cesaro Section stuff as of late has made Cesaro seem truly superhuman and Owens is always a master at anything he does in the business.

There’s the oddities also, the things on the card that either have no direction or a lopsided one.  A strange 4 way tag team title match will be filler but the rest seems promising.  As much as I love this recent resurgence of the Divas division, I wonder what will come of the big 9 woman tag elimination match. Yes you read that right, there will be a triple threat, six woman elimination tag team match. While I do like the novelty idea of this, I worry it could devolve into a clusterfuck so easily considering there are some major red flag workers in the match. This will be a story of Charlotte, Paige, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks carrying the entire division and it’s going to be sink or swim for the division I feel like. The Intercontinental Championship has been an area of concern for WWE and fans since Daniel Bryan’s emotional vacancy back in the spring. When Ryback rose to the occasion back at Elimination Chamber, at least there was a feeling of stability. Then Ryback got sick with staph and shit hit the fan. Now for weeks and weeks there has been no mention of the title, and just sporadic updates on his condition while a flat Miz/Big Show angle seemed to be an attempt at some kind of stop-gap. Ryback is now back, he has the belt and instead of warming him up with something fresh, WWE has decided to go back to the well and book this cursed three-way! I hope Ryback doesn’t fail but I also don’t see this working out for anyone except Miz who is just glad to get TV time anymore.

Dusty Rhodes may have been the single biggest influence on the entirety of the business in the last 30 years. You can’t move around the wrestling universe an inch without seeing Dusty’s fingerprints on something whether it was ECW under Paul Heyman whom learned from Dusty’s ideals, or Ring of Honor with Gabe Sapolsky, or his final masterpiece helping Triple H with the NXT brand. Losing him has been hard for many in wrestling, but not as hard as it was to Cody Rhodes better known as Stardust. When a letter to the fans and mostly to Dusty was posted on his wife’s blog, it explained one last piece of Dusty’s genius. Stardust spoke of finishing what he started, and how one of the indelible images that he saw was the lock screen on Dusty’s phone being a face off between himself and Stephen Amell. That he had to finish the job that he began before Dusty passed, and since then the man has been at a different level. His promos feel much more coherent and passionate, his work has seemed more inspired and crisp. His work with Neville has been a treat to watch and his build against Amell in this odd tag team match including Neville and “King” Barrett has been masterful. I can’t believe I’m excited about a celebrity wrestling in a match but Stardust got me.

Oh fuck, then there’s Sheamus against Randy Orton. Again. For the 939303rd time. I swear, I’ve seen this match in my nightmares and real life for years now in various forms, few of which are inspiring to me. I heard their match at Battleground was good, I never watched it so I can’t say and while that might be true I don’t give a fuck. Sheamus is old hat, the reality is that when he was given the John Cena Lite act back in 2012 it killed him before he even had a chance. Daniel Bryan’s 18 Second job to him at WrestleMania 28 didn’t help matters either and when they finally made him the heel he always should have been earlier this year, it felt way overdue. Orton on the other hand continues to be the most under appreciated worker in wrestling in my eyes. The man is so good so often and can mask someone’s weaknesses like a doctor. The fact that he doesn’t have the same image to the public as John Cena these days is a travesty but it’s also a byproduct of his turbulent past in the company. Either way both men seem as though they’re on an island completely benign to anything else going on in the WWE saga. Since Sheamus is the Money in the Bank winner, and by default a guaranteed future WWE World Heavyweight Champion, this paragraph shows you how horribly fucked up WWE creative is.

All that and I’ve not even said a word about the NXT Takeover the night before SummerSlam. My good friend PJ said it best the other day: “Fuck it, Takeover is my SummerSlam”. I couldn’t agree more with matches that make a “smart mart” salivate like some puppy in front of a sirloin. The main event is easy money; Finn Balor defending his new NXT title in a Ladder Match against former champion Kevin Owens. This match is highly interesting for several reasons one being that this is Balor’s first big title defense since he won the title last month. He’s seen as an heir to the WWE main event throne already and that isn’t a crazy statement with his performances as of late. For Kevin Owens, this weekend will be a test of his will. If Owens can hit it out of the park in two straight nights in two massive events for WWE it will cement him as a true player in the business. I believe he’ll do so and this match will be incredible. Add to that the first ever appearance of Jushin “Thunder” Liger in a WWE ring against Tyler Breeze, a clash of the big brutes Samoa Joe vs Baron Corbin, a 4 women’s match for the NXT Women’s title that many can’t wait for, and much more you’ve got a can’t miss show on your hands. AND YOU CAN SEE IT FOR JUST A MEAL EVERY MONTH!