Raw 01/27: The day the heels got screwed

After the Royal Rumble, many fans were incensed. They felt screwed out of either their ticket, their pay-per-view order or their hard-earned free-streaming time because this happened:

Batista meme

Well, the people who had a right to be mad one night later were these men:

The Shield

The gist of it: Daniel Bryan interrupted The Authority to air his grievances over not being in the Royal Rumble match. He’s done multiple matches plenty of times before, the fans wanted it, etc. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon respond with a hollow excuse of protecting him. Bryan demands he gets what he wants. Triple H sends The Shield down. Sheamus tries to make the save on Bryan, then John Cena evens the odds. The result is a six-man TAG MATCH, PLAYAS! at the end of the night for three spots in the Elimination Chamber main event.

The match was great; I was engaged and didn’t take many half-witted snarky notes. Then The Wyatt Family continued its new angle with Cena by beating him down, drawing a disqualification. Since Cena’s team was attacked, Cena’s team is in the main event. On one hand, this means the #YESMovement people can rejoice a bit, since their man will battle for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in four weeks.

On the other hand, the heels were the ones who got screwed.

Granted, it was another heel group that yielded the result, but it’s not something you see often. The Shield responded by hurling inanimate objects outside the ring, and even the announcers said they had a right to gripe (or break stuff). It’s a bit of outside-the-box booking, and it’s brilliant in this case. People enjoy watching The Shield, and Bray Wyatt is a character that would be right at home in any era since The New Generation (for newbies: back when they had cartoonish-type dudes in the early to mid ’90s). There are so many different directions they could go with this:

• The Shield and Wyatts square off. It could be a six-man tag. It could be a War Games-style match in the chamber. They could just generally make each other’s lives miserable for a few weeks.

• There are two spots left in the chamber. Maybe Bray or a Shield member go in; you have a six-man match where whoever gets the pin gets the spot. Maybe Bray *and* a Shield member go in. Then which Shield member gets in? Do the other two screw the one who’s in the match, a la The Legacy on Randy Orton in 2010, creating a blow-off at WrestleMania?

• Or you save it for a while, keep them interacting intermittently, and it all blows up later.

Either way they go, it doesn’t seem like they could really screw it up.

Other random thoughts from the night

• I want two Elimination Chamber matches. Make the Intercontinental and/or U.S. title worth something again. Or, hell, unify them in the chamber. There’s no reason to have a pay-per-view called Elimination Chamber if there’s only one such match on the card. Also, we need to change the name back to No Way Out. It sounded so much cooler.

• I fundamentally disagree with the concepts The Real Americans portray as xenophobic, racist, stereotypical, fear-mongering, tea-party dimwits. But as a heel tag team? Brilliant. Zeb Colter plays the crazy uncle who spouts offensive rants perfectly. The signs provide enough “Oh my!” value that they’re a nice touch. Antonio Cesaro is a great worker who brings a level of legitimacy to any match — you believe it’s an athletic competition instead of showmanship, Giant Swing notwithstanding. Jack Swagger‘s meh. But the whole thing works, because it just makes me angry.

• You could ask any 8-year-old in the arena, and he/she will know Rey Mysterio‘s complete moveset. Since they like him, they’ll probably even know when he’s using them. I understand he’s a 25-year veteran with far-too-many knee surgeries who’s just trying hard to entertain the crowd. But mix it up every once in a while!

• My wife to Orton, before he even made it on stage for his first appearance: “Take off your shirt!” That, my friends, is why he’s the champ. Ladies Love RKO.

• The Middle Age Outlaws‘ run is up. Already. I’d believe Road Dogg as a manager, but he never could work to begin with, and he has to take a breather after about two moves. Just boring to watch. I’ve probably said it before, but at least 50-year-old Billy Gunn can still work a little bit and at least tried to get in cardio shape. If you have to spend an entire match trying to put over your tag team champions … that’s not good.

• Every once in a while, you’ll see chair shots. What Brock Lesnar has unloaded on three victims over the past two nights are CHAIR SHOTS. Apparently he still thinks it’s 2003, when Ruthless Aggression meant actually beating the hell out of people. I miss the old days.

Jake “The Snake” Roberts in the WWE Hall of Fame. About damn time. Also, still mad he wasn’t in the Rumble.

Christian returning on SmackDown this week. About damn time. Also, still kinda mad he wasn’t in the Rumble.

• Cena should really learn how to take Reigns’ spear. After all, it’s only a matter of time before Roman’s coming for his spot. Roman’s fun to watch, and he’ll be around long enough for people to get sick of him, too.

Batista won the Royal Rumble, and I’m OK with it.

This was the Sunday I expected: Free breakfast, check out of the hotel, drive home from a week-long vacation, catch the Royal Rumble match a few minutes late, be somewhat disappointed with the surprises, watch Dave Bautista point at the WrestleMania 30 sign as the winner. This is perfectly fine with me.

Every person who considers him/herself a “true” wrestling fan is absolutely shitting on the result, because none of them can get off Daniel Bryan’s jock.

Bryan’s a great story — the geeky, undersized one-time vegan who trained under legends and spent 10 years in lower-level promotions before getting a break on the first season of NXT. Then he was fired for using the ring announcer’s own attire in a stranglehold on him, since that wasn’t TV-PG. Then he came back, won the U.S. title, won Money in the Bank, became a heel world champion for a few months … then lost it to Sheamus in 18 seconds to open WrestleMania 28.

Since then, he’s built himself into a white-hot character, based on his wrestling acumen and the “YES!” and “NO!” chants that have started to trickle into actual sporting events. He pinned John Cena clean. He has been WWE champion twice — his first reign lasted a few minutes before Randy Orton cashed in his MITB title shot with some help; the second about a day before being stripped due to a ref’s fast count. He ultimately lost the battle to Orton and The Authority, then was shuffled into a feud with Bray Wyatt that resulted in him “joining” the Wyatt Family for about 10 minutes (OK, two weeks) before a quick turn that the fans ate up. Fans clamor for him pretty much during every live moment on WWE TV, because he’s the anti-establishment hero whose popularity can’t be questioned (but can be exaggerated), and whose character can’t be buried (though many fans will tell you he is).

Bryan lost to Wyatt to open Sunday’s pay-per-view, a match that, in rapid-fire reaction, is universally considered the best of the show. People figured, since he lost early, he would be one of the surprise entrants in the main event (maybe at No. 30) and win. When No. 30 came out and was Rey Mysterio, the fans managed to instantly turn on one of the goodiest of good guys because he wasn’t Daniel Bryan. There was a bit of cheering when Roman Reigns was one of the last two standing, but the boos were so prevalent when Batista won, “I Walk Alone” may have been played at its highest volume yet.

The problem with many smarks (“smart marks”, or “smart” wrestling fans) is they think it’s all about their people’s champion, and everyone else is a bum trying to bury their man or keep him down. Their yearning for Bryan to be the face of the WWE (as opposed to the corporate storyline “Face of the WWE”) literally is insatiable. They wouldn’t be happy unless he won the Royal Rumble, won the WWE title at WrestleMania, then took the Intercontinental and U.S. titles, won a handicap match for the tag titles, went down to NXT and won their title, then invaded TNA and beat everyone at once for all their belts, too.

Well, I have great news, smarks: There’s a way for that to happen. It’s called WWE 2K14.

Other quick thoughts

• Roman Reigns best be a made man after tonight. He broke Kane‘s 2001 record with 12 eliminations, and he was there until the bell rang. This appears to be the next step in the inevitable Shield breakup, of which Reigns will ultimately triumph. The question is: How do they make Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins work independently from each other? The answer, obviously, is by actually caring about the midcard, but we’ll see if that ever happens.

• Two good Kofi spots to avoid elimination — one involving Alexander Rusev, a barricade, tiptoeing and a long jump; and the other resulting in the confiscation of Jack Swagger’s boot. It’s why Kofi Kingston is in the Royal Rumble, and he’ll probably go back to somewhat interchangeable midcard babyface Monday night.

• Good to see Kevin Nash back, and JBL’s quick spot was entertaining. Sheamus was due to return, and it made sense to do it here. But El Torito? Gimme a break. We can’t get Chris Jericho, Rob Van Dam or JAKE “THE SNAKE” ROBERTS for a quick one-off, but we can get a pint-sized mascot from a low-card tag team?

• Did anybody really expect anyone else to win? Really? You bring in a former multi-time champion after 4 years off, and he’s supposed to job? Please. This is The Rock’s return last year, except Batista’s only promoting Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy”, while Dwayne Johnson basically had the entire multiplex on lock. It’s predictable wrestler/actor cross-promotion. The right thing to do for wrestling? Probably not, but it’s doubtful this will be the actual main event. Here’s hoping Dave doesn’t phone it in like Dwayne seemed to for the 2-plus years of his part-time gig.

SmackDown 01/17: State of the tag team union

Watched SmackDown over two sittings Saturday, and, well, it was SmackDown. Basically RAW without many of the top stars. Daniel Bryan‘s absence (concussion) makes sense, and, as has been for a while, the big guns are saved for Monday night.

I thought for a bit we’d be discussing the special roll-up episode, since that’s how the first two matches were decided, and the third used one for a close nearfall. There were some other interesting elements (Paul Heyman semi-breaking kayfabe by saying The Big Show was about 430 pounds instead of FIVE HUNDRED, Naomi nearly breaking her face because she doesn’t know how to take a bump, trying to remember when Fandango had momentum before WWE killed it by forcing it, etc.). But one theme that stood out was tag-team wrestling.

There are quality tag teams in the WWE, and apparently they’re at least being used on the B show. There was good wrestling, good storytelling … and then there were the Middle New Age Outlaws. Four teams were in action (five were around if you count The Shield), and by the end, CM Punk had problems with a couple of them.

Rhodes-Outlaws

Rhodes Brothers vs. New Age Outlaws

The Outlaws are, well, not-so New Age anymore, and it shows in many ways. For starters, they’re a bit on the washed-up side. Second, they still used the tired-old intro from 1998 … even though they’re heels at this point (which yielded boos on their way to the ring, and nostalgic cheers for the ring introduction). Third, Road Dogg can do *less* in the ring than before; Billy Gunn can still do a little bit at age 50. Also, if you have to go the Sting route (also utilized by Rey Mysterio) and keep the T-shirt on to wrestle, that’s not a good sign. Also also, if you can’t even get a “You Still Got It!” chant? Just go home. Because, well, EVERYBODY gets that chant, even if they don’t “still got it”.

You know who still has it, and is in better shape every time I see him? Dustin Rhodes. This man seriously is a (subtle) walking endorsement for DDP Yoga, and Page (for the idea) and many other wrestlers (for extending their longevity if they use it) stand to make a whole lot of money as a result. The Goldust character is whatever … it’s how WWE fans know him. But the man is 44 (same age as Road Dogg), and he looks better than he did when he was US champion at 24. He can still utilize the full arsenal, and he’s one of the old hands who knows how to entertain by telling a story *and* being an athlete. After all, this *is* staged athletic competition. Let the man work as long as he wants.

The other impressive part about Goldust: He was the worker in the match, and Cody Rhodes was the hot-tag guy. It seems like Rhodes has been around forever … because he has. But he’s only 28 years old, he’s a former (long-running) Intercontinental champion, and he’s a reigning tag-team champion in what could be a resurgent era for the discipline. He may be in his 30s before he gets a true main-event run, but that’s kind of how it should be. Patience is paying off here. He’ll have a great body of work when he’s elevated and, most importantly, he’ll be fully prepared and ready for the push. (For the opposite of this, see Randy Orton at really any point in the 2000s.) He’s a great wrestler with a great look, and the crowd loves him. His time will come.

Anyway, pretty damn good match before Vickie Guerrero interrupts, basically repeats the Royal Rumble slogan from about 1989 (Friend vs. Friend. Foe vs. Foe. Etc.) and allows the heels to get the roll-up win. Frankly, it’s the only way the Outlaws winning would be believable at this point. I’m just glad they didn’t have the whole drawn-out convo before Billy’s one line.

usos-vs-real-americans-smackdown-jan-17-2014-620x350

The Usos vs. The Real Americans

Speaking of patience, we have The Usos. Being two of the latest in the Anoa’i line and the twin sons of Rikishi likely got their foot in the door at a young age. But they’ve been on the main roster for nearly four years now, they’re also 28, and they’ve developed their skills to the level of a legitimately entertaining group. It’s more or less the same as Cody Rhodes, only on a slightly smaller scale. The company was patient with them, let them do the Superstars/Main Event circuit to gain traction, and now they’re the most cohesive team in the promotion.

The running corner hip attack, yes, does have “shades of Rikishi”. But only if you put the tape on fast-forward. Jimmy and Jey have the perfect balance of power and speed. They’re both in that average size range (Jimmy is billed at 6-foot-3, 251 pounds; Jey 6-2/228), but they’re both believable executing power moves with high impact. Plus, they’re effective in the air. These guys can work, and the crowd has had enough time to get behind them.

I don’t think they would work individually, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They’re just that good together. If they split, it would probably come off like the Dudleys in WWE — it works OK, but it’s just not the same. Then again, maybe it turns out like the Dudleys’ split it TNA, where Bully Ray pretty much fucking rules.

Anyway, on to the Oklahoman and the Swiss guy. I don’t think the Real Americans work, and they’ve tested my patience on this one. Zeb Colter draws emotion from the crowd like a great manager should, and he had a wonderful wheelchair-bound spot where he was Cesaro’s human shield, then shortly thereafter was pushed into Cesaro and the guardrail. Antonio Cesaro is a great worker and in impeccable shape. He’s a heel with a face spot in the Giant Swing … and an excuse to post a (hopefully viewable) GIF of this move being executed on a 350-pound man.

Cesaro swing

He has the physique my wife calls the best in the company, as well as the physique I would love to have … as someone else with not as much hair as he once had, Cesaro really is the closest example of, “Well, if I put on about 50 pounds of muscle and gave up carbs forever …” This man needs something better to do. Also, he’s Swiss. I get that he’s the traditional immigrant tale, which makes him a “Real American”. But still.

Anyway, all of that was a roundabout way of saying nobody cares about Jack Swagger anymore, and they need to break up the group. Let Cesaro be the upper-midcard mechanic he was destined to be.

There are good tag teams, and there are “meh” tag teams. We have the brothers who fit the mold of “stars aligning” because they did operate in a separate universe for so long, and the brothers who have literally been together since Day 1, as The Miz and JBL so eloquently pointed out Friday. Then we have the slapped-together group that just doesn’t work, and the other that’s more than a decade past its expiration date. Will WWE tag-team wrestling reach the Edge & Christian/Hardy/Dudley level again? Maybe not. But there are signs of life, and with some time, energy and patience, it could at least carry a main event every once in a while once again.

Superstars 01/16: More random thoughts

OK, so the third portion of the WWE midweek trifecta is great … if you didn’t watch RAW. If you did, you can skip about half of Superstars. There were two matches that, well, filled air time.

Xavier Woods vs. Brodus Clay

• Hey, that’s Brodus Clay’s music! But that’s not Brodus Clay. Or Ernest “The Cat” Miller. Somebody call their mommas!

• Brodus Clay’s gimmick-stealer’s opponent? Brodus Clay. I’m confused. Is he an angry heel because he doesn’t have The Funkadactyls anymore?

• Speaking of stealing gimmicks, D’Angelo Dinero should have something to say about R-Truth‘s attire at the moment. All Truth needs is some money raining from the ceiling. I almost miss watching TNA now.

• How much water or product or whatever is in Woods’ hair? Also, can we PLEASE discuss how Consequences Creed gets a WWE shot, but Jay Lethal isn’t around? I mean, the man can out-Flair Ric Flair!

• Brodus Clay would be a great big man … in about 1990. Just slow, plodding and boring. The man’s really lost, even though this was the gimmick he should’ve had all along.

• Lost In The Woods (Woods’ finisher) looks stolen from Gail Kim. OK, enough TNA references for the night. I think.

• On a better note, at least the Hall of Fame induction was replayed. That wasn’t in my non-cable version of RAW. The Ultimate Warrior may have had the best music and best gimmick, but he had to have been the worst worker of all time. Full points, however, for constantly referring to Parts Unknown as an actual place.

3MB (or most of it) vs. PTP

• More from these guys, but at least it’s not a handicap match this time. And this meeting at least has some energy to it. Not bad.

• How old would Titus O’Neil have to be to play for Steve Spurrier at Florida, as Alex Riley said? I’m concerned he’s already past his prime. (Just looked it up. Holy shit, he’s 36.)

Heath Slater would be one HELL of a manager. Like a ginger Jimmy Hart. “C’mon, bay-bay!!!”

• Now the announce team is discussing the better Afro: Woods or Darren Young. It’s Woods, and it’s not even close. Though it looked like he used too much Soul-Glo.

• Kind of a sloppy powerslam from Titus, but Darren’s and Titus’ final couple moves were well-executed.

Main Event 01/15: Random thoughts

I pulled a dubious WWE viewing trifecta on my day off: NXT (read here), Main Event and Superstars (coming soon). Why? Because it was a day off and all three were in the Hulu Plus queue. NXT was simple enough to write about, because there was a theme. The last two? Well, if you’re into multiple 3MB vs. Primetime Players tag matches, you’re in luck!

The following are random, bullet-pointed notes taken during last night’s viewing:

MAIN EVENT

• So let me get this straight: The intro shows some actual main-event guys, including The Undertaker. (Superstars does the same). Then they open with a Kofi Kingston match. We’ll see how many actual main-event guys are in, well, Main Event. I’m guessing zero.

• Look, it’s Alex Riley! I saw him destroy The Miz in Portland 3 years ago, but the push basically ended right there.

Kofi Kingston vs. Curtis Axel

• Oh, and thank my lucky stars, it’s former Intercontinental and tag-team champion Curtis Axel! That’s right, Joe Hennig has only one leg of the Triple Crown to go. He’s just … boring. I don’t think the beard helps him. It would if he just sold out and received sponsorship from the Portland Timbers. Get it…Timbers? Ax? Beard? Some craft beer on his breath? … too far? OK.

• So to perpetuate this Main Event thing, A-Ry and sidekick are putting Kofi in the thick of the title hunt. You know … since that went so well last time.

BTW, that was 5 years ago. Kofi’s last sniff of the main event was with Randy Orton and The Legacy a few months to a year later, before he forgot how to stay down and take a finisher.

• Clearly, WWE is using canned crowd reaction. Because NOBODY should care that much about a running, leaping elbow. The only elbow that should get a huge pop is this (OHHHHHH YEAHHHHH! Dig it!):

randy-savage-flying-elbow-o

• Moving right along … I’m oddly hoping Kofi pulls the midweek trifecta and shows up on Superstars. (He does, but as one of three highlight replays from RAW).

• OK, cool counter from Axel. Kofi goes for the slip-the-corner-attack/kick-over-the-ropes thing, and Axel stops him and drops the elbow.

• Good thing Axel is one of A-Ry’s favorites. Is that exactly a ringing endorsement? Also, Riley’s going into distributive property mode: What if Axel beats the guy who beat the world champ? Uh-huh … right …

• My wife, unsolicited: “Curtis Axel is stupid!” Well, there you have it.

• Axel: “Look at Kofi Kingston! He’s nothing!” Comeback in 3 … 2 …

• OK, that dropkick was an actual impact move. Kofi wastes his movements SO much. We have to belief the airtime actually helps make the move devastating. He needs to sit down and watch an A.J. Styles match. Especially since shortly thereafter, he breaks out a flying crossbody in which he landed light as a feather onto Axel. More stiff as a board there, kid.

• Hold up, hold up, hold up. Kofi hits his finisher into the post, but is able to (1) roll up Axel for the win about 15 seconds later, and (2) react to throw him over the top rope? Cool story, guys. Guess Kofi’s sneak-winning his way to the strap. I’ll wait about 5 years for that.

• Oh my God, that’s Ryback‘s music!!! And he’s gone after taking a lap. That’s kind of awesome. (The first time it actually was. He did it three more times. If he actually mattered, he at least would’ve pulled this shit on SmackDown.)

“Sin Cara” vs. Damien Sandow

• ¡Hola, Hunico! Is Mistico ever coming back in all his botched glory? Are you as mad as I am he’ll never touch this level in WWE?

• (During the New Age Outlaws vs. Rhodes Brothers plug): The Outlaws are old. Also, when your main event is three-fourths made up of mid-carders from the Attitude Era and before, it looks very mid-to-late ’90s WCW. But hey, Legends!!! NOSTALGIA!!!!!1!

• Stoner lighting for this match. Also, I want Sandow’s “I > U” T-shirt. Also also, I want this lighting in my bedroom. For, you know, naps and stuff.

• Now Sandow’s apparently in the world title hunt. Who isn’t on this show?

• I want Camacho to roll out on the low-rider bike in a glittery mask and shit. THAT would make the Hunico-Camacho thing work.

• I like Sandow’s “You’re Welcome” finisher. Kind of a Full Nelson into Rock Bottom thing. Thank you indeed.

• 3MB! 3MB! 3MB! Brad Maddox said their handicap match against PTP tonight is so the people in the back can have a break from them. Too bad we can’t get a break from Maddox.

• And now my intro to Bad News Barrett. The whole yelling thing doesn’t work. He sounds like an angry old Brit instead of the authoritative Wade Barrett from The Nexus. (Remember them?) But hey, nice cheap heat by comparting the crowd to barnyard animals. Twice.

3MB vs. PTP

• 3MB is such a terrible gimmick. Heath Slater makes sense. But Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal? Give these men something to do! But hey, at least they and PTP actually were in the intro.

• What the hell happened to McIntyre? This guy has talent! And, as I jot that down, he jobs out when Darren Young gets the roll-up while he’s complaining to the ref. There was zero point to this match.

3MB vs. Los Matadores (con El Torito)

• And there’s no point to this Maddox-inspired-on-the-fly contest, either. If El Torito magically morphs into Carlito to complete the Colon family trio, I might be intrigued. Or if El Matador joined Los Matadores. I miss Tito Santana. (Obligatory “¡Arriba!” reference)

• The bull has the biggest pop of the night. Well, since Kofi’s elbow thing. Something’s wrong here. Also, it’s clear WWE gives exactly zero shits about the low and midcard. I’m done here.

 

NXT 01/15: Cool characters, boring wrestling

I’ve been a casual fan of WWE NXT in its current format, watching every once in a while and usually enjoying what I see. It’s an interesting show to check in on occasion, because it kinda-sorta tells you who kinda-maybe could be on the main roster soon, as well as who on the main roster is probably in the doghouse. With the exception of the potential doghouse member, we’re talking completely different people … and completely different characters.

With that, it’s time to present Exhibit A (watch from :20-1:50):

TYLER BREEZE

The first things that came to mind were Johnny Nitro circa 2006, Dolph Ziggler anytime and “The Model” Rick Martel circa 1991. It’s a narcissistic male-model gimmick with a lot of selfies and ever-changing seasonal residencies (he “lived” in Milan during his debut in the above video; this week it was somewhere in Brazil). The look is a bit fabulous: On this episode, he had glossy lime-green trunks, boots with a few flocks worth of feathers and, of course, the bleach-blond/tan combination. Also, he REALLY doesn’t like it if you hit him in the face … the crowd gets behind him in that regard with a boisterous “NOT THE FACE! NOT THE FACE!” chant. His finisher, when he gets to hit it, is called the Beauty Shot, since he’s perfectly fine with kicking others in the face. Besides that, the only real wrestling that stood out on Wednesday’s show was on the defensive side, a fantastic dropkick to counter a springboard attack from Adrian Neville.

Breeze recently had a rivalry with another, well, interesting character:

C.J. PARKER

“The Moonchild” is, clearly, a hippie gimmick. Kind of like if TNA took Kofi Kingston‘s character, slathered him in patchouli oil and force-fed him special brownies for a week straight. The best part? He faced some guy named Jason Jordan, whose personality is best described as WWE Performance Center Template #437. Quick match with nothing of note except for The Third Eye, Parker’s finisher that looks a lot like Julian Baker’s high five on One Tree Hill.

Now for Exhibit C (via his pre-debut vignette)…

MOJO RAWLEY

A former University of Virginia defensive lineman, Rawley calls to mind an early-to-mid-30s former frat boy who yells a lot, has a huge, smoky entrance, acts a bit douchey and decides, “Hey, I’m gonna wrestle!” All that’s well and good, except right now he’s a 27-year-old babyface (good guy for you newbies), though that does prevent us from about a dozen “COME AT ME BRO!!!1!”s over the course of the match. He’s all about hype, specifically staying hyped.

His opponent, NXT champion Bo Dallas, would be an interesting character if anyone else were playing him. He’s a heel (bad guy) by being an over-the-top face. The good news is, unlike his brother/other son of I.R.S., Bray Wyatt, I’m pretty sure Bo pays his taxes. He wore all-white attire to symbolize being “Pure as the driven Bo.” Or some bullshit like that. Anyway, he’s only 23, so there’s time. But he doesn’t really draw any emotion other than the X-Pac memorial “go away” heat. I don’t think they’re chanting “NO MORE BO!” because he’s a heel. They seem to be chanting it because they want him out of the ring.

Our final example…

ALEXANDER RUSEV

Big, angry Bulgarian dude whose blonde arm-candy “social ambassador” (that’s Lana, by the way), speaks to him and the crowd in Russian. It’s all Greek to me anyway. Anyway, this man has been in the developmental ranks for a while, mostly due to injuries (a torn ACL and a broken arm), but I would imagine he gets the call up from Connecticut once he proves he can do something in the ring and maybe takes some Hydroxycut. That’s the advantage of being 305 pounds in Vincent Kennedy McMahon‘s territory Universe: You’ll always get a look. Right now, dude’s kind of slow and plodding in the ring. If he can either (a) pick up the pace, or (b) find a way to engage the crowd in the storytelling of his slow, powerful approach, he’ll do well.

As we’ve already proven with too many words, the characters are quality. Well, except Bo Dallas, Performance Center Template guy and Adrian Neville, who appears he is supposed to be the token mechanic who doesn’t really need a character right now. There’s just one problem.

The wrestling was boring.

Breeze was engaging, but the Breeze-Neville match was a waste of time … a 15-or-so-minute match that could’ve taken 5. Set up a spot, counter it, both men down, take a minute to reset, lather, rinse, repeat. This would NOT fly as a RAW or SmackDown match. On the bright side, Neville’s Red Arrow finisher (a corkscrew Shooting Star press) was well-executed, though the Russian judge probably only gave him an 8.5.

EVERYBODY was bored during the Rusev-Kofi Kingston match (the real one, not the hippified knockoff). There were Ryback and Goldberg chants, and even a wave, which the announce team tried to play off as the crowd getting behind Kofi. Nope. Pacing was an issue for the first and last matches … I could’ve taken a quick bathroom break and maybe missed a move or two. During the first match, I could’ve gone No. 2 during the first segment and missed absolutely nothing.

Then there was the sloppy-ass finish of the main event. Kofi escaped Rusev’s grasp shortly before the closing moments, and that was clunky as hell. He went to the corner and was distracted by Lana, prompting Rusev to charge him. Kofi saw it and moved out the way super early, but Rusev kept running into the corner. Kofi hits his finisher, covers and actually lets go and celebrates at about 2 1/2. At least he hooked the leg, I guess, but it just came off as unrealistic and shoddy. Maybe he needs this to happen when he botches a finish:

“STUPID! STUPID!”

 

The least anticipated return since …

… (Prince) Albert/A-Train/(Lord) Tensai/Sweet T? Probably. But, hey, the Internet Wrestling Community needs a guy with a decent workrate and proper ring psychology.

(If you know nothing of professional wrestling sports entertainment, that means nobody cares if this blog is back, but the Internet could use another guy who can write and knows the subject matter to provide completely unsolicited, sometimes unprovoked opinion.)

So why return after a 3-year absence? Is some groundbreaking moment in the ring changing the landscape of wrestling? Is some shocking return worth dusting off the worst blog in wrestling and immediately typing whatever comes to mind? Or is it because my wife is making me write to justify subscribing to the WWE Network?

To be honest, it’s kind of the last one. Though I *did* mark the fuck out for this:

There will be thoughts. There will be opinions, likely formed a day after air because I’m on that Hulu Plus tip until the Network launches. There will be nostalgic YouTube links. There will be geeking out to the max. There will be … The Real World Champion.