The year was 2001.  This future teacher was 2+ months away from graduating high school, and for some reason, he has no earthly recollection of any of the events from this Smackdown.  Should be a good time.

Opening Recap

Highlight:  Realizing I have no earthly recollection of this show.  I don’t remember the “Two Man Power Trip”, their feud with the Hardy’s, and I certainlyI don’t remember Linda demanding a divorce from Vince.  All of this is new to me.  Looking back, this is the time of my life when I had finally figured out how to talk to girls, so perhaps that’s why this time in wrestling is so hazy.

So What:  This is obviously back when top talents elevated younger talents on a regular basis.  Hint hint, WWE.

Opening Promo

Following Wrestlemania 17, where Austin turns heel, he and Triple H open the show.

Highlight:  Chuckling as Trips pokes fun at the Internet, even way back then.

Lowlight:  Attitude Era or not, promoting male on female violence is never OK in my book.

So What:  To paraphrase the Joker, “We’re going to do this dance forever, Triple H.”  10, 15, 20 years from now, he’ll still be poking fun at the Internet wrestling fan, and we’ll still be giggling along, even as we post our complaints on. . . well, whatever the Internet becomes in 10, 15 or 20 years.

Spike Dudley vs. Albert

Highlight:  Entertaining match all around, but at one point Albert lifts poor Spike up by his belt and just tosses him back down.  Looked like a Wedgie-Bomb.

Lowlight:  I’m sick to death of the double-foot stomp, even though Spike’s 125 pound frame justifies it as an offensive move.

So What:  We need the Dudley’s back in a WWE ring.  The crowd will still go nuts for tables, if not the “Whazzuppppp”

 So What #2 : I originally wrote this a week or two ago, but with all the Mighty Mouse talk, is Adrian Neville going to wind up as a more muscular, more talented Lil' Spike?

Promos Promos Promos

Highlight:  Rhyno nearly killing Crash Holly by spearing him into the sliding metal doors.

Lowlight:  Oh, the acting. . .The terrible acting!

So What:  Vince McMahon, you bring the XFL back right this second!

Chyna (c) vs. Ivory for the Women’s Championship

Highlight:  Watching a time when you had an incredibly dominant women’s champion and a deep division of challengers.

Lowlight:  That Right to Censor music was just awful.

So What:  Charlotte might not be the ninth wonder of the world, but she’s going to be this kind of dominant champion when she makes it to WWE.  This I promise you.

Edge, Christian, Kurt Angle and William Regal vs. Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho

Highlight:  Just read the competitors names again.  That’s the highlight.

Lowlight:  Over far too quickly.

So What: I hope we’ll look back in 15 years and say  “That Rollins, Balor and Ziggler vs. Owens and Zayn match was pretty phenomenal” in the same way people today feel about the Ruthless Aggression era.

Hardcore Holly vs. Rhyno

Highlight:  Bob Holly, consummate professional, makes everything look good.

Lowlight / So What:  Cringing as I realize how accurate the Bull Dempsey (aka Goon McGoof) / Rhyno comparisons are.

Big Show and Kai En Tai vs. Brothers of Destruction

Highlight:  Storytelling at its best.  From Big Show trying to find partners all night to the hilarious freak out Taka and Funaki have when they realize who their opponents are to ‘Taker trying to teach his little brother how to do The Last Ride properly.   It wasn’t a great match and it didn’t have to be.

Lowlight:  Realizing I’m enjoying this Smackdown from 13 years ago far more than any RAW I’ve seen in 2014.

So What:  I might just live in WWE Network land now.

Test vs. Val Venis

Highlight:  Seeing Right to Censor beat each other up after the match.  Always good to see a faction disband (I assume they did).

Lowlight:  Honestly, not much.  This is how good these cards were - even the toss-in matches were decent or better.

So What:  Today’s WWE is too timid to respond to mainstream issues like they did with RTC.  If the 2001 Vince had today’s attitude, we’d see Godfather, Venis and Bull Buchanan as the “New Day”.

Triple H (c) vs. Jeff Hardy for the IC title

Highlight:  This is what you want from a wrestling TV show main event.  Trips is on the top of his game here and Hardy isn’t far behind.  Good match, surprise ending (should have seen it coming with all the “Matt Hardy is home resting” hints), title change.  What more can you ask for?

Lowlight:  Putting on my snarky logic hat, Trips should have been DQ’ed a couple times for abusing the referee.  Come on Tim White, you hung out with Andre, stand up for yourself!

So What:  When was the last time you had a main event guy hold the “mid-card” title?  Perhaps its hindsight talking, but Triple H seemed to be one of the BIG heels in the company and he made the IC title bigger for it.  This is why we need a Ziggler / Rollins program for the belt.

Match of the Night

:  A lot to choose from here.  I’d go with the big handicap match of wrestling excellence, but it was too short.  Honestly, my favorite was Big Show and Kai En Tai vs. Kane / Taker.  A bit comedic, but wholly entertaining.

Discussion Questions:

What were you doing in 2001?
When does the Attitude Era end and the Ruthless Aggression Era begin?
What do you think the name of our current era in WWE will be called?  The PG Era?  The Cena Era?

Gather ‘round, children.  I want to tell you a story.

You see, back in my day, which was called “the early 90’s” by us crazy chilluns, things were different.  I’m not saying they were better. . . I’m just saying they were different.  It was a time before you had all these new-fangled “smart phones”, back when a “tweet” was only a sound that a bird made, you see?

This was a time where you could buy a gallon of gas for less than two dollars and could go to the movies for $4 or $5, and I’m talking about an evening show!  These were the days when Family Matters, you walked Step by Step to a Full House, and other random 90’s television show references as well!

This was a time when you knew the difference between a face and a heel.

And here you thought we weren’t going to be talking about wrestling.

When I began watching the then-WWF in 1993, you could draw a definite line between the good guys and the bad guys.  It was plain as day.  Bret Hart? The ultimate good guy, always battling the odds and fighting for what was right.  Jerry Lawler?  Totally a villain, what with his insults to the crowd and his demeaning looks.   Now, maybe it was because I was a kid and believe what my elders told me (even if my elders were Bobby Heenan and Randy Savage), but I never had a question in my mind as to who the faces and the heels were.

Flash forward to today.  Look around the WWE - can you really tell the difference anymore?
Perhaps I just grew older and became able to delineate all the shades of grey; the ones I was unable to see as a youngster.  Or perhaps it was The Attitude Era that blurred things so much - when the most popular wrestler in the world is the one flipping off authority and guzzling beers atop a pilfered vehicle, there are definitely some questions raised.

No matter what the cause, it is very difficult in 2014 to distinguish between faces and heels.  Thankfully, folks, I’m here to help.

So let’s play a game, shall we?  I call it  “Heel or Not Heel?”  We’ll look around the WWE locker room and see if we can figure out what in the blue hell is going on around here.

Let’s begin with an easy one.

Stephanie McMahon IS a heel.

To be fair, it is exceedingly difficult to be a McMahon and NOT be a heel - they never seem to be able to pull of a face run for long, can they?

Stephanie is a bad character, always trying to cause rifts between talents or work the situation to the best corporate advantage.  Most importantly, she seemed to be behind the break-up of the Bellas, so she is personally responsible for the ungodly number of bad segments between the two sisters over the last few months.  Complete heel move.

Now her husband, on the other hand?  That’s a different story.

Triple H is NOT a heel.

As much as he would like to be, Triple H can’t pull off the ‘hated’ schtick as much as his better half.  Try as he might, Trips can’t help himself when it comes to making jokes, poking at the Twitterverse or giving his trademark looks of disdain at some of the other heels and pseudo heels that make our list.  We have to admit that he is quite witty, which makes us like him, and let’s face it - the IWC is a puppy; pay us any bit of attention at all and we will love you forever.

Plus, Triple H is responsible for NXT, the best wrestling program WWE has to offer right now.  He seems to be the one who brought us KenTami, Balor (I’ve decided I like the name enough that I’ll go with it for now) and the as-yet unnamed Kevin Steen.

To paraphrase NXT’s favorite goombas, “You can’t. . . Hate. . . That”

Randy Orton and Kane ARE heels.

As I was working on this column, I had a thought so funny it has to be have done 1,000 times already, but here goes:  How come nobody has ever, either in jest or in sad seriousness, tried to book these two as the epic team of RandyKane?  The holidays are coming up, WWE - dress them in red and white and have some fun!

Ok, back to business.  Orton and Kane are most definitely heels, and it grows stronger with each week they are continually put into the main events of RAW.  Go ahead and take a look at the Twitterverse when their match is announced - in fact, don’t even bother.  You’ll be able to hear the boos from where you stand.

We feel badly for Kane, though.  This guy just wanted to go home and run his insurance agency, but the absences of Punk and Bryan likely caused him to stay for another 6-9 months and help out.   As for Orton. . . Well, nobody REALLY likes Orton, though we all can admit he’s one of the best workers WWE has right now.  And, to be fair, if Randy had given the RKO to Rollins some weeks back, people would have been cheering him pretty damn quick.

Randy Orton is a heel.  The Viper, though?  Total face.

Speaking of Mr. Money In the Bank. . .

Seth Rollins is NOT a heel.

Oh, sure, there are those out there who despise what he did to Ambrose and Reigns and look down their noses at him for taking the easy way out and joining The Authority.  But, for the most part, everyone knows how good Rollins can be and will be, especially if he and Ambrose can continue their run for a while longer.  Rollins is setting himself up to be this next decade’s Triple H, and right now, we’re OK with that, since this next Triple H walks around airports in nerd glasses and superhero T-shirts.

Now, we won’t bother with Dean Ambrose, since he’s obviously not a heel, even if (I think) he really wants to be.  Now, the other third of The Shield?

Roman Reigns IS a heel, though if he acts like one, he won’t be anymore.

Weird paradox, isn’t it?  While I will certainly get heat from my female friends who believe Roman can do no wrong. . . (Hi Shannon!  Hi Hope!), for everybody else, we got tired of the Reigns Express (much like the Lex Express of ‘93, fueled entirely by the desperation of losing your top star and needing to scramble to fill his spot) about 5 minutes after it left the station in Stamford.  Few people felt Roman was ready to become THE guy in WWE, and with each week he was shoved down our throats, our irritation and anger grew.

Then he got hurt, and so long as they keep him off of our TV for a while (did we really learn anything from his promo on RAW last week?  Seriously, I’m curious - My DVR had a sudden case of the “Frantic Fast Forward” when that segment started.), absence will make the heart grow fonder?  Though, what would be even better is if. . .

Reigns comes back from his injury with a huge chip on his shoulder, angry at Ambrose for stealing his spotlight and at Rollins for “causing” it in the first place.  

A darker side of Reigns, plus 2 or 3 months with no Superman punches, instantly endears him to a good portion of the fans who were sick of him in the first place.  Thus, the heel is no longer hated.  God, I love wrestling.

Plus, Reigns doing that sets up my prediction of a Shield Triple Threat at ‘Mania. . . The first of many, I believe.

---

Alright, in the effort of saving space and time, I’ll skip the images for my mid-card. . . It’s the Lightning Round!

Cesaro is NOT a heel and likely never will be until he gets the main event push he so richly deserves.

Sheamus IS a heel because people are tired of his stagnancy and “Fella” IS the dumbest excuse for a gimmick I’ve ever seen.

Bray Wyatt is NOT a heel, but as of right now, he’s also NOT an active wrestle either.

Luke Harper is NOT a heel, though he does have to battle the heel that IS extremely high expectations for whatever his character evolves into over the next few months.

Dolph Ziggler is NOT a heel, though he should play one on TV.

The Miz, outside of our final contestant, likely IS the biggest heel mentioned in this column.  Seriously, people just can’t stand this guy, and as I’ve mentioned multiple times here at Number Two Contenders, I don’t think it’s fair.  Luckily for me…

Damien Mizdow Sandow is sooooo NOT a heel that he’s actually turning (slightly) Miz into NOT a heel as well.  If there’s a reason to give Damien a megapush, getting Miz over just might be it.

Rusev IS a heel, but as long as he continues to stand next to Lana each week, nobody is going to mind all that much.  Call it the Chris Candido Corollary - it is possible to get over just by having a beautiful woman at your side.

Heath Slater and Titus O’Neill are NOT heels, though if they keep wasting time with mascot wrestling, they might be.

Adam Rose IS a heel, though oddly enough, The Bunny is NOT.  As with most things, blame Kathie Lee and Hoda.

Bo Dallas IS a heel as long as he continues to have no general direction for a storyline, though if he gets taken off the leash, I truly believe he will NOT be a heel anymore.

Paige and AJ are NOT heels.  The Bella Twins ARE.

Big Show was NOT a heel when he pulled down the Russian Flag, but he WAS a heel when he had to apologize for it.

Mark Henry IS acting like a heel, but he’s NOT.

---

Which brings us to our final contestant on “Heel or Not Heel”, and really, was there ever any doubt?

Once more, Enzo and Big Cass, I got to borrow from you, because I need to spell this one out.

cenaheel

Brock Lesnar is most likely not going to wrestle again until January’s Royal Rumble. In fact, from all reports, he and his advocate Paul Heyman might not even appear on WWE programming until around the holiday season.  Now, depending on who you ask and what time you ask them, this is viewed as both a positive and a negative for the company.  I can see both sides of the argument here, but I lean more towards the Barrett side (Bad News, get it?), though it’s not for the same reason everyone else does.

Truth be told, I don’t think Brock Lesnar is as big of a sales pitch as many other people do.  I don’t think people are tuning into RAW or watching PPV’s to see Lesnar compete.  Right now there are only two reasons people are really watching WWE these days.

Dean Ambrose

But that’s another column.


So it’s not the Heyman promos, as good as they are, or the Lesnar vignettes, as unintentionally funny as they can be, that I’m going to miss.  It’s this. . .

Shelton Benjamin lets Triple H know he was THIS close from defeating him.

On a random Monday Night RAW back in the early 2000’s, we saw Triple H, who was almost always the champion back then, take on Shelton Benjamin.  To the best of my knowledge, there was no major build-up to the match at all.  Just a random appearance by the champion against a possibly worthy challenger.  And as you can see by the image, at one point, Shelton was “this close” from defeating the champion.

This moment sticks out so clearly in my mind because, at the time, I was convinced that this was going to be the springboard that propelled Benjamin to WWE superstardom.  Here he is, a midcarder at best, giving the World Champion a run for his money.  It was an amazing feeling, although Shelton never did seem to do anything with it except bleach his hair and call his Mamma.

Let’s use a better example.

Undertaker, in his Big Evil persona, raises the hand of Jeff Hardy after a hard-fought match.

Undisputed champion and biggest dog in the yard, The Undertaker took on Jeff Hardy in a ladder match.  As one would have expected back in the day, ‘Taker was dominant for much of the bout, but Hardy’s “never say die” spirit brought him closer to the title than anyone imagined possible.  At the end of the match, Hardy had earned the respect of the Deadman, and in this instance, that match did propel him to greater heights than he had achieved before.

This is what the World Champion is supposed to do.  It’s not just about defending the title on PPV against your storyline opponent.  The champion can elevate lower level talents just by being in the ring with them.  That was what the territory era was all about.  When Ric Flair came to town, you were almost positive that he wasn’t going to lose his Big Gold Belt to your local hero.  But over the course of the match, you started to believe it was possible, and by the time the match ended, said local hero was an even huger star in your eyes.

Flair vs. Road Warrior Hawk.  This match, from 1988’s Bunkhouse Stampede, is paused on my television as we speak.  I can’t wait to finish it.  Is Hawk going to win the title?  Of course not. Does he look like a future World Champion as he throws the Nature Boy around the ring?  Hell yes, he does!

When I started hearing that Brock Lesnar was going to be the “part time champion”, I had no major issues with it, since his absence does allow other stars to develop with the extra screen time.  However, I didn’t want it to just be this PPV business.  Once every 6-8 weeks or so (likely on a month when there’s a “mid-major” event like this upcoming Hell in a Cell), the champ would appear on a RAW (or, dare I even dream, an NXT) and take on a rising star.  Here’s how I saw it going.

A random RAW at a random time.  Sheamus has just bested Damien Mizdow in a competitive match, since as we all know, Sandow is amazing.  

As Sheamus is celebrating, we hear the dulcet tones of…

“Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Paul Heyman,” as Heyman walks onto the entrance ramp, “and I am the advocate for BROCKKKK LESSNARRRRR!  My client has authorized me to inform you, Mr. Sheamus, that he has been relatively impressed by your performance these last few weeks as United States Champion.  So much so, in fact, that my client feels you are a worthy opponent. . . Worthy of being conquered.

See you next week.”

That’s all we would need.  That 60 seconds sets up a “special appearance” by the World Heavyweight Champion against one who is deemed to be a worthy opponent.  That next week, Sheamus doesn’t win, of course, but for just that fraction of a second, you believe it possible.  Paul Heyman does his Oscar-worthy performance as usual, living and dying by every 2 count, nearly going apoplectic when Brock just barely dodges a Brogue kick.  At the end of the match, as Brock walks away with his title over his shoulder, just the slightest look back from him, just a single nod from Heyman, and suddenly Sheamus is back to being considered a main event player in the WWE.

Now stretch that over the course of 9 months to a year and replace Sheamus’ name with guys like Cesaro, Ziggler, Harper, Wyatt and the like, and suddenly that group of guys who, despite the IWC’s screaming, just haven’t seemed to make the leap into the top tier are now poised to main event PPV’s for the next 5-10 years.  All of that can happen when you have a fighting champion, even if those fights only happen every so often.

So I hope the rumors and reports I’ve been seeing are wrong about Lesnar, especially if the reason behind his absence is a serious heart issue.  He doesn’t need to be back in 2014 so we can see another Brock / Cena debacle.  He needs to be back so he can do his job as champion and help make the next generation of main eventers.

Oh, alright. . . He can suplex Cena out of his sneakers while he’s at it, too.

In yesterday’s Teacher’s Lounge, I tried to answer the question “Why do we hate John Cena?”  Today, I have a little fun playing fantasy booker and I come up with a way that instantly makes John Cena more popular with the older WWE crowd, or at the very least, more interesting.

Summer Slam

John Cena and Brock Lesnar are in the middle of an epic battle for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.  Triple H is, as usual, seated at ringside.  Paul Heyman stalks around outside, making faces that rival only William Regal and Vince McMahon for their storytelling ability.

As the match reaches its climax, we see Lesnar kick out of the Attitude Adjustment, while Cena barely manages to escape the F-5.  Michael Cole has let us know we have seen “the turning point” in the match 319 times, JBL continues to laud the skills of these athletes, while Lawler says this is the best match he’s ever seen over and over again.

After many, MANY close counts, Cena locks Brock in the STF, right in the middle of the ring.  Triple H screams for Heyman to do something, so uncharacteristically for The One Behind The One, Paul climbs up onto the apron, distracting the referee.  Cena breaks the hold, rising to grab Heyman by his jacket, fully intent on making him pay for his vicious words with a massive right hand.  The referee, while trying to restore order, gets in the way of the blow, knocking him to the ground and Heyman to the arena floor.

The COO springs into action, reaching underneath the ring and pulling out his trusty sledgehammer.  Cena turns to Hunter, beckoning him into the ring, the champion not backing down from anybody or anything.  Triple H slowly makes his way up the stairs, but hesitates.  You can tell by the fire in Cena’s eyes that there’s no stopping him. Except he’s forgotten about his opponent.

Brock spins him around, kicks him in the mid-section and Cena is once again hoisted in the air for an F-5.  Michael Cole reminds us that this is the move that broke the Streak; this is the move that possibly ended The Undertaker’s career.

Triple H, who has entered the ring by this point, roots on The Beast, telling him to put the champion out of his and everybody else’s misery.  Brock turns to the camera, smiling as he is seconds away from conquering yet another mountain. . .

And Triple H nails him in the kidneys with the hammer.  Brock staggers, but amazingly, is not felled.  He turns, Cena still on his shoulders.  Triple H hits him again, this time right in the head.  Brock crumples to the ground, Cena landing on his feet.  The champion, dazed, looks at HHH in confused wonder.  Both men face off with one another, everyone completely stunned.

Triple H begins to slowly smile.  Amazingly enough, Cena smiles back.  The crowd comes alive as they realize what has transpired.  Michael Cole sums it up best.

“Oh.  Oh my God.  It can’t be.  Plan C is. . . Plan Cena?”

Triple H gestures to the fallen conqueror before exiting the ring, leaving Cena there, still smiling at the crowd, which has begun booing in earnest.  The champ gets ready for another 5-Knuckle Shuffle, only this time, rather than telling Brock that he can’t be seen, he gives it to the crowd instead.  He drops the fist, covering the already unconscious Lesnar, and the referee comes to his senses just in time to administer the 3-count.

Triple H snatches the belt from the ringside official and enters the ring, while Heyman, still seated on the floor, looks on in horror.  Cena and HHH embrance in the center of the ring before Trips raises Cena’s hand in victory, both of them sneering at the crowd.  Summer Slam ends with this image, while Cole says “What will happen to the WWE now that John Cena. . . Has joined The Authority?”

RAW, the next night

Triple H and Stephanie are in the ring as the show opens the ring laid out in red carpet, the brand new WWE title on a pedestal in the middle of the ring. The announcers still in complete shock at what happened the previous night.

Triple H:  Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great honor and deep personal pleasure that I present the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, our champion, a champion the WWE Universe can be proud of, John Cena!

Cena’s music hits, and the crowd goes nuts.  The kids boo him mercilessly, but even louder are the older fans, so grateful for something new and different in Cena’s character that they’ll jeer him now and cheer him later.

Cena enters the ring, hugs Stephanie, shakes Triple H’s hand, and then does his signature pose to the crowd, soaking in the negative reaction with a giant smile on his face.  He is presented the new title by The Authority, who then exit the ring, giving Cena the floor to address his fans, who are all wondering (likely thanks to pumped in audio), “Why, Cena, Why?”

Cena:  (after milking the reaction for a while):

I hear you.  I have always heard you.

You all want to know Why I did what I did last night.  You want to know Why I shook hands with the devil, why I joined the Authority.  You want to know WHY. . . The Champ.  Is.  Here.

(Cena holds up the belt, posing in front of the growing jeers)

Why?

That’s the same question I’ve been asking myself for the better part of the last decade.

Why?

You know, I take pride in the fact that what you see is what you get.  I am, and have always been, me.  I don’t pretend to be something that I’m not.  I don’t tilt at the windmills of the WWE Universe.  I won’t back down from a challenge, I won’t be afraid to speak my mind and I never. Give.  Up.

(Pause, focus on Cena’s emotional eyes as he looks out at the fans)

So why don’t you like me?

Ever since I won this title for the first time back in 2005, there has always been a group of fans who has cheered for anybody but me.  At first, I didn’t mind; you are free to cheer for who you want to cheer for and I understood that I wasn’t going to be everybody’s cup of tea.  That was OK by me.

Then the boos got louder.  More and more people seemed to take great pleasure in knocking me down, no matter how many battles I fought, no matter how many championships I won, no matter how many obstacles I overcame.  All of which, I might add, I did. . .For you.

Still, I tried not to let it get to me.  Many of you rooted against me because it was the “cool” thing to do, it’s what everybody on social media told you to do.  No big deal.  I’d just keep going, offering up hustle, loyalty and respect.  You’d come around.

But you didn’t come around, did you?  No, whether it was Ryback, The Shield, Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, any opponent I faced, you wanted to see me get my ass kicked, didn’t you?

See, for you, it’s not about working hard every day.

It’s not about granting over 450 wishes for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the number one individual in history.

It wasn’t about being a 15 time World Heavyweight Champion and the best wrestler in the world!

(Cena smiles)

It was to The Authority, though.  The Authority, they know the truth.

The truth is that I’m the one selling the merchandise you’re buying, that I’m the one who’s making all those movies you’re watching, that I’m the one you’re paying your hard earned money to see.

I am what is best for business.  The Authority appreciates me for who I am, which is not something I can say about most of you.

So you can keep asking why, Cena, why?  But that’s not the question you should be asking.  What you should be doing, WWE Universe, is standing up right now, going to the nearest mirror, looking yourself in the eye and asking yourself, “Why?”

Why do you hate somebody just for being themselves?  Why would you rather be a sheep than an individual?  Why do you admire those who have such a low regard for you?

Why, fans, why?

(Cena pauses for a few beats)

For those of you who have always stood by me, who recognize and respect the code I have been and always will live by, then we’re good.  I’m still me.  The Champ is Here, and he always will be.

As for the rest of you?

(Cena holds his hand out)

You can’t see me.  And I’m done caring about you.

(Cena drops the mic)

Triple H was in rare form last night.

The COO of WWE and leader of The Authority reminded us all why, when he wants to be, he can be one of the more entertaining promo-men in the business.  Last night’s RAW opened with a heavily sarcastic shot at the WWE’s Internet community, specifically the multitude of fans on Twitter.

Now, as someone who has spent far more time than is healthy on Twitter in the last week (the benefits of an actual teacher’s schedule), I can say he was right on the money.  While there are some absolutely stellar wrestling fans out there dedicated to intelligent conversation and articulate, respectful debate, the vast majority of Internet wrestling fans do nothing but whine, complain, and threaten to take their friend Mark and stop watching if WWE doesn’t listen to their demands.

So Triple H started out the show by giving us “smart” fans a verbal shellacking, condemning us for our constant complaining.

The next 3 hours showed that they were listening, however, as last night’s RAW could have been subtitled “A Love Letter to our Twitter fans”.


Dolph Ziggler, who most Internet fans feel is ‘the best wrestler on the roster who never seems to get the push he deserves and should have totally won that Battle Royal instead of stupid dopey Miz’, (not saying they’re totally wrong in bemoaning Ziggler’s push, but as I said last week, he is the Miz and he is AWESOME!) picked up the victory over the IC champ.

We finally got the Paige heel turn fans have been screaming about online for weeks now.

Zack Ryder, with his 1.5 million Twitter followers and, on average, 1.5 minutes of weekly RAW screen time, defeated Fandango.  Read that last sentence again.  Zack Ryder picked up a singles victory!  As @WWEStats (another absolute must-follow)informed us, that’s the first RAW win in over a year and a half for Mr. #WWWYKI.

It wasn’t even just the social media aspect of the Internet that WWE played to.  Over the last few weeks, the issue of race has been all over wrestling websites, podcasts and blogs.  WWE seems to be addressing that mainstream issue on screen (as well as satisfying those ardent Kofi fans who, like me, think he’s got major potential as a heel), as Xavier Woods looks poised to start a Nation of Domination-esque stable.

Not to toot my own horn, but I totally called it, though I didn’t think Woods would take the lead.

Then we have our main event.  Cesaro, Internet golden boy and seemingly the soon-to-be the enforcer of The Authority, taking on Dean Ambrose, another Twitter darling, in singles competition.  Now, it helps that John Cena was off being a movie star, but last night’s main event featured the two wrestlers who, if the average Twitter fan or my partner Doc Manson was booking, would be World Champions 20 times over before their careers were done.

(Note: Since this is a family blog, I will refrain from speaking too much about the wardrobe malfunction or the boss’ daughter in handcuffs.  Needless to say, both were highly popular topics for online discussion.)

By the time we got to our final segment and Brock Lesnar made his inevitable return, the Twitter-verse had stopped its moaning and groaning for the most part.  Sated by seeing their favorite wrestlers pick up victories and storylines heading in what they deemed to be a positive direction, the predictability of Lesnar’s appearance was welcomed by the Internet community. Buoyed by Paul Heyman’s absolutely gleeful performance and the fact that everyone wants to see Cena completely destroyed at SummerSlam, Lesnar is poised to ride a wave of popularity into “The Biggest Party of the Summer”.

While last night proved that Triple H would really, REALLY like to take his sledgehammer to the keyboards (and in some cases, the craniums) of the wrestling world’s rabid Twitter following, our lesson is that the powers that be in the WWE do hear your concerns and will, from time to time, address them.

So, as @NewAgeInsiders is fond of saying, be heard, fans.  For my sake, though, would it kill you to use a little proper spelling and sentence structure?  I am The Teacher, after all.

Class dismissed.

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