I may have discovered the secret to fully enjoying wrestling again. . .
Well, I can’t say that. I didn’t discover it. In fact, the idea has existed for ages. It’s only been recently that we’ve lost it.
This morning I sat down and watched RAW. . . And did nothing else.
No Twitter. No Facebook. No email or other Internet distractions. Just me, a looseleaf notebook and a pen. It was a delightful time.
We’ve got a lot of hashtags going these days. #GiveDivasAChance. . . #PromotingPositivity. . . #CallTheMatch (This is the new one - More on it later.) Perhaps, when the dust from Mania settles, we’ll come up with one about Social Media free wrestling. Send your ideas to me in a self-addressed stamped envelope.
Let’s do a little running diary of last night’s show, now that I managed to find time to finish it.
Opening promos aren’t bad when the right guys are in the ring.
No Triple H. (in fact, was he on the show at all? Crazy!) No Stephanie. No Cena. Yeah, Big Show and Kane were there, but honestly, they weren’t that bad! Everyone involved did well in this segment, though the two show-stealers were, as expected, the two most vertically challenged.
If not for Paul Heyman, J & J Security would be in the MVP conversation for WWE.
These two are tremendous. I was an avid WWF watcher during the Attitude Era, and while I enjoyed Patterson and Brisco, these two have the comedy and the commitment down to a science. Seriously, why have they not had a tag team title run?
That Daniel Bryan guy. . . He’s pretty good.
This was the first match I’ve seen since DB has been back that really caught my eye. He seemed to be operating at a different level last night. Maybe it was having a guy like Barrett to work against instead of Kane or Big Show all the time, but I dug his style.
It’s a shame he really looks like he’s heading for the ATG Battle Royal.
Transitions, transitions, transitions
One of the biggest takeaways from this entire show was how. . .Well. . .utter “NXT-ian” it was in terms of its transitions. Matches flowed into each other, the combatants interacted during entrances and exits, and while no match was a 15 minute classic, they definitely seemed to fill their time with more action. I know some people were complaining, but people are going to do that. It’s the new hip thing to do to trash pro wrestling. We’ve come a long way with #PromotingPositivity, but as we get closer to Mania, we need to kick it into another gear.
Speaking of hashtags - #CallTheMatch
As I was wrapping up the show an hour or so ago, I tweeted out that someone should sit down and watch a WWE show, keeping track of the number of moves they actually name. Within minutes, two or three of my favorite NAIbors (and fellow amateur statisticians) had jumped on this idea. I look forward to seeing the results, but we all know its going to be sad.
I don’t know when the job description of a wrestling announcer changed from talking about the action in the ring to talking about the stories that may or may not (usually not) involve the actual competitors on screen. Perhaps it was when social media started to take over and WWE realized most people were looking at Twitter and not the television. . . It certainly had something to do with why JR is now hosting a podcast and not RAW. But Michael Cole, Booker T and JBL aren’t doing what they should be doing.
Announcers should be calling the match - They should be indicating holds, moves, describing the in-ring action. I should be informed that Daniel Bryan is targeting Bad News Barrett’s arm likely to wear him down for an eventual Yes Lock. Let me know that when Luke Harper spins for his discus lariat, he is generating much more power and momentum through the move than he would be if he just stood still for it.
You can still tell the story in the ring while addressing the ones taking place outside of it - announcers were doing it for decades before WWE decided to flip the script. It’s time for that to stop.
Most of the first hour of RAW was devoted to the IC title picture.
I know this series of storylines is starting to wear on people - I get it. A Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler 20 minute classic would have made a lot of fans, including this one, very happy, but let’s look at the facts. This is what the storyline leading up to the ladder match has done:
-R-Truth went from an afterthought to one of the most entertaining talents on the roster.
-Dean Ambrose has shown that he can lead a division if you let him.
-Stardust, even with the paint, is a midcard singles player to be reckoned with.
-Despite the losing streak, when Barrett retains the title at Mania (which I’m more and more convinced he will), he’ll have a ton of credibility from beating such “top” talents.
-The IC title matters. If wrestlers are vying for it, that makes it more important, even if some of this is a little corny.
-Plus, look at the matches. Bryan vs. Barrett, Ambrose vs. Stardust, Dean vs. BNB, Daniel vs. Harper - Some of the best wrestling in WWE is taking place over this title.
For a long time, we’ve talked about this “next tier” of talents, the one who will main event matches well into the next decade. Well, this is them, folks, and while they’re not on top of the card, they’re not too far off. Would we be seeing all this if Lesnar was on TV each week? Doubt it. That’s something to definitely be positive about.
The induction of Connor to the Hall of Fame shows that WWE is a classy organization.
Well done, WWE. Wrestlemania might not have a lot of mainstream appeal with the card, but this gesture will get you some play in the media.
The Roman Reigns video featured more NXT hype than WWE has given them in weeks.
This is very sad. I don’t know why WWE seems to be going out of its way to hide their diamond in the rough (perhaps because people would see its a diamond and skip the rough altogether?). It’s not like NXT is a competing organization that is going to steal your money. You’re all on the same team. Do the Boston Red Sox try to keep fans from watching the Portland Sea Dogs? Don’t you want your fans to be invested in the future?
Brock Lesnar is a special talent - even more so because he appears so rarely.
This goes along with my next point.
Wrestling is best when art imitates life.
Paul Heyman, he of the unbelievably good promos, outdid himself yet again, especially by mentioning all the rumors and speculation surrounding Lesnar’s eventual departure. I imagine the Twitter-verse was exploding with glee during this speech, which is exactly what WWE should be hoping for.
Having Brock there is just icing… Crew-cut, muscled, smirky icing… on the proverbial cake. He adds quite a bit to the overall flavor, but it’s still pretty damn good even when he’s not there.
Where would WWE be without Paul Heyman?
There’s your hypothetical question for the day.
Damien San / Miz / Wizdow is the master. . . and ruler. . .of the world.
Forgive me Sid for stealing your line there, but its true. Seeing Miz and Wiz together was enjoyable for a moment, but I kept watching because I knew Sandow was going to do something, and he did not disappoint. In fact, I would argue that he’s giving Heyman a run for his money as MVP. It’s Heyman and Sandow battling for the top spot, with J&J Security holding firmly to third place.
If Curtis Axel is going to run with this Axelmania thing, Real American needs to be his theme.
Or some parody of it. “I am a real Axel-ian. Fight for the rights of Curtis Axel!” . . . Ok, I’m not a songwriter, leave me alone!
Why did anyone think Axel was going to win the US belt?
My one time a column for self-horn-tooting, but I told you. . . I TOLD YOU. . .that this would be a squash.
WWE, when it wants to, can still spin a nice bit of booking.
The Rusev / Cena / Lana story was done very well here. You see the first glimpses of potential strife with Lana and the Bulgarian, Cena got mean and nasty (and with Cena, anything different is good), Rusev looked mortal, Lana acted like a human. This also leaves a door open for Lana’s eventual departure to go make a movie post-Mania.
I like New Day. I can’t help it.
Even if Michael Cole can’t tell one member from another, I still think they’re entertaining. I like the color, I like the enthusiasm, I like the talents of all 3 men, and mostly, I like how excellent this will all be when they turn heel this summer.
Bray Wyatt is. . . Damn, I need to rework my MVP ballot again.
If this was for 2015 only, Bray Wyatt would be fighting Heyman for the top spot. Wyatt has been at his best since the Royal Rumble, and win or lose, this program is going to be what makes him the next main event star in WWE.
Last night proved that near-perfection is still possible.
If you have a problem with the Wyatt / Taker segment, you’re obviously just looking for nits to pick. Bray was excellent, the effects were great, and just the presence. . . the aura of Undertaker was enough to take me back to my childhood.
I became that 11 year old kid who watched Taker get shoved into the casket by Yokozuna and his posse, cut a promo (seemingly) from inside the casket, then ascend through the not-yet-Titan tron and up to the heavens. It was an amazing moment then, and it was an amazing moment last night.
In case you missed the moment from 21 years ago. . .
The problem with the PG era.
Orton gives the double bird, yet it isn’t shown on camera. What was the point? Did Orton do it himself, just to mess with people? Were people supposed to just know what he did and be like “Oh no he didn’t!”
If you’re going to have Cena apply multiple STF’s to Rusev, basically performing an aggravated assault, can’t you show a middle finger for a few seconds?
Orton and Rollins are a great pair.
The chemistry is good. In fact, outside of probably Trips himself, I don’t know if Orton works as well with anyone else as he does with Seth. Certainly not with Cena.
These two were excellent all night long, and everyone seemed to enjoy Randy exacting his revenge. My DVR decided to cut out before the RKO on the table, but I liked what I saw up to that point.
Though I do have to wonder why the rest of the Authority didn’t come out to the ring to save Rollins.
Could it be that HHH and Steph are losing faith in their golden boy? Or am I just drinking the #ConspiracyKoolAid. . .
Ok, so maybe that’s not the best hashtag ever.
Overall, it was an excellent RAW, the kind you need to see before a Wrestlemania.
Don’t believe the haters, friends. Sure, its not a perfect set-up, but nothing would be. I’ve come to the realization that on Twitter, just like life, the whiners and complainers aren’t going anywhere. Might as well get used to it.