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RAW Rambling 12/3/12: It’s Not A Lie If You Believe It

Welcome back to RAW Rambling, peeps. This is your weekly not-at-all-meant-to-be-taken-seriously look at the wacky wrestling sports entertainment circus that is WWE RAW. The real meat of this column are the stray observations to be found just beyond the first image below. Before that is a rundown of last week’s happenings and a quick ‘n’ dirty recap of this week’s show. Just in case you’re reading but not watching the episodes. Which is wise.

When we last saw our heroes: The Shield (not to be confused with S.H.I.E.L.D. but drawing from the same costuming department) made their interview debut. They’re here to forcefully eliminate injustices and dishonours, such as the same dudes getting title shots over and over for no reason… and rigged Twitter polls, apparently.

John Cena and AJ Lee continued their extremely awkward in-ring makeout sessions, which means that Dolph Ziggler has the honour of losing to Cena at the next pay-per-view. Because reasons. In less “High School Musical”-level romantic developments: Alberto Del Rio and Rosa Mendes exchanged a few subtle winks and nudges, like the grown adults they are.

Beyond the big-two angles: Big Show and Sheamus circled their calendars for a chairs match at TLC; Wade Barrett and Kofi Kingston will also meet in a title match; The Great Khali and Hornswoggle entered into a Cosmo Kramer/Mickey Abbott relationship.

This Week’s Quick ‘n’ Dirty Results: Team Hell No defeated the Prime Time Players in a match that only existed as a prelude to another Shield beatdown; AJ did a great job folding herself into origami shapes to sell Tamina’s offence and still won their match together anyway; The Miz solidified his face turn by jumping on CM Punk’s monologue, which resulted in a polygraph later on; John Cena/Sheamus were Teddy Long’d into a match against Dolph Ziggler/Big Show and won; Alberto Del Rio defeated Sin Cara just ’cause; Damien Sandow beat Santino just ’cause; Vince McMahon put the puzzle pieces together for Cena/Ziggler at TLC with Ziggler’s magic briefcase as collateral; Brad Maddox returned, lost to Randy Orton, who himself got jumped by Shield; US and Intercontinental title unification was teased with a great fatal four-way, but Antonio Cesaro prevented it for now; Shield reconvened to interrupt CM Punk’s polygraph session, but were routed by Hell No and Ryback.

…and now, the Rambling!

wwe kane daniel bryan hell no

• Unless he’s returning from a lengthy absence, what purpose does the huge delay between Kane’s pyro and his music still serve?

• The Shield’s calm and collected silent treatment is very effective, especially when looming over the arena from a skybox, not speaking or acting until necessary. Sometimes there’s only one of them in the skybox, sometimes they change positions while the camera is away, like house spiders or Weeping Angels. Even if the ultimate outcome is a foregone conclusion, there’s a chess match feel to it that I really enjoy. This is how you build suspense on a wrestling show and you don’t even need words to do it.

• Hey, remember the Kane who casually sauntered down to the ring and single-handedly annihilated the McMahon family, DX, and the Radicalz? Hard to believe that was almost fifteen years ago. These days, two Shield members are enough to take Kane apart. This really is the era of wrestlers who are just dudes, even the ones who were around back when wrestlers were supposed to be comic book characters. I wonder if the same thing would happen to Great Muta if he ever appears outside of Japan again.

• Thankfully, Kane and Daniel Bryan in deadly serious “let’s get shit done” mode could be the best they’ve ever been together and a totally necessary evolution of their team, since wacky Odd Couple hijinx can only last so long. Just ask Head Cheese or Booker T and Goldust.

wwe aj lee

• AJ is still extremely popular despite all the recent character assassination attempts made by the writers. She really doesn’t need John Cena. Putting her up against someone like Tamina Snuka for narrow squeaked-out victories by roll-up after getting tossed around like a rag doll may not be 100% ideal, but it’s certainly preferable to the alternative. There was hardly even a reference made to the “scandal” bullshit for the entire time that AJ was onscreen this week. Keep that up, please. Let Cena have his rivalry with Ziggler and AJ can have her thing with Tamina, and toss the root cause out the window for all I care. Some continuity should be ejected.

• Not only does Suited-Up Miz work surprisingly well as a babyface, he’s playing the good guy role better than any of the supposed “pure” babyfaces on the show. I actually kind of want to cheer for this guy rather than rolling my eyes and muting the TV whenever his music hits, which has been the case with both John Cena and Sheamus since I started watching this stuff again at Wrestlemania. He even wears pants!

• That said, the “walrus” insult against Paul Heyman is dumb (Be A Star!) and it’s entirely possible that I’m only giving Miz the thumbs-up because who the hell knows when Chris Jericho’s coming back.

• If the WWE insists on continuing their Teddy Long tag match routine with pairs of faces and heels in separate angles, at least make sure there’s an extra dimension to it somewhere, as was the case this time with Big Show (World Champion) and Ziggler (his eventual rival just waiting to cash-in). Not that anything was going to happen with that on free television, but still. Baby steps.

wwe brad maddox
Once again: Brad Maddox is the future.

• Brad Maddox returned to make sure that history never forgets the name Enterprise. I mean, Brad Maddox. And there’s my throwaway geek culture reference for the week. Maddox plays an amazing Hollywood-style sleazeball and even if all he ever does is talk and get fed to guys who don’t need minor victories like Randy Orton, I still consider that a win. Team Maddox!

• There’s an opportunity for an awesome outcome to this Cena/Ziggler Money in the Bank defence at TLC, and that would be to put Ziggler over Cena, thus reassuring everyone that they haven’t completely lost faith in the guy. That said, giving the magic briefcase to Cena might not be a total loss if it gets Hulk Hogan 2012 chasing the World Title instead of the WWE Title, even for just one PPV cycle. If he ultimately wins the World Title, great; it’s a secondary belt that could actually use a slight uplift, though the usual talk of a title unification is probably a pipe dream and I’d rather see someone other than Cena pull that off, obviously. If he loses, also great; Cena doesn’t really need it anyway and might be best used as a fall guy for someone who does, whether that’s Big Show or anyone else. As usual, the only loser is Ziggler.

• Free idea: if the WWE has their own iOS/Android app thing, then what the hell do they need Tout for? They could do all of that themselves through their own app with just a few nips/tucks. All they’d really need would be a profile system and camera functionality, which should be babytown frolics for any professional smartphone developer in 2012.

wwe wade barrett

• Now that I’ve raised the spectre of title unification (and not for the last time; I really want to see that happen someday) I wonder if that’s the plan for the United States and Intercontinental titles. Do we really need both of them now that the brand extension has all-but disappeared? Unification would be a nice short-term boost for whoever gets that push and the current roster isn’t quite large enough to require both.

• Kofi Kingston and R-Truth had a brief RVD/Tajiri moment there. I’ve missed that.

• Missed opportunity: have CM Punk pass the polygraph test, but reveal later on that it was a set up, with Miz and the random non-cop being just another cog in Paul Heyman’s machine. At the rate that The Shield makes new enemies, it can’t remain a three- or four-man crew forever unless the WWE truly plans on pushing the current members to the moon, plus a fake-out like that with Miz would be pretty cool, not to mention rare in an age when wrestling characters can remain stuck on one end of the Paragon/Renegade scale for years at a time. The finish we got was serviceable, with Punk’s exact involvement still a (rather shallow) mystery, but there’s always room for improvement.

wwe miz meme
Hiimdaisy really is everywhere these days.

Of course, it’s always possible that The Shield was never intended to be limited to just those three guys, regardless of what happens with Punk and Heyman. Maybe there are other folks down in NXT about to be called-up and mixed into it. Arguably, Kassius Ohno probably should’ve been slotted into Roman Reigns’ position right from the start, and other dudes like Big E. Langston or Leo Kruger could also work pretty well.

That’s all for this week. Stoke the flames of my ego with a comment below, or perhaps a Like or a Tweet if you truly care about my mental well-being. Until next time, I’m Del, and this is all my fault.

This week’s imagery courtesy of The Great Barrett Uprising, elpatronlordcris, wrestlingshowon, and rawsmackdownnxtdivas. Go give them a follow… and us, too!

RAW Rambling 11/26/12: Not Quite The Avengers Initiative

Welcome back to RAW Rambling, brothers. This week I’m going to try something a little different in the interest of context. If you’re not a regular follower of this wacky wrestling thing that I’m ranting about here every week, check out the new Quick ‘n’ Dirty paragraph situated right below last week’s recap. There I’ll provide a basic rundown of the show’s developments so that when you make your way down to the meat of the column, it might make a little more sense – as if wrestling was ever sensical to begin with.

When we last saw our heroes: The squick quotient was upped into the stratosphere by John Cena and AJ Lee with an extended in-ring slobbering session. Dolph Ziggler, perhaps on behalf of the audience, took that moment to pounce, which led to Cena reinjuring himself in the ensuing chase. That’s what happens when you try to run with a boner; the low-top sneakers probably didn’t help either.

Meanwhile! CM Punk and Paul Heyman celebrated Punk’s 365th day as WWE champion. A wild Ryback appeared, but so did the uplifted NXT trio of Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and ALL-CAPS DEAN AMBROSE, allowing the beatdown finish from Survivor Series to be repeated for the benefit of those smart enough not to spend money on pay-per-view events. It was super effective.

The Quick ‘n’ Dirty: This week, the aforementioned trio was packaged as The Shield and their goals established as “correcting injustices” and “fighting dishonours”. I guess my next Klingon character in Star Trek Online will have to be named Dean Ambrose now. They took out Daniel Bryan, Kane, and Ryback (again) to close the show, much to the bewilderment of onlooking CM Punk. The John Cena/AJ Lee “scandal” storyline also continued to sputter along. No closure there. In romantic angles that haven’t been ruined yet, Rosa Mendes and Alberto Del Rio are still chasing each other. Elsewhere, Big Show and Seamus are set to beat each other silly with chairs at TLC; Tamina Snuka knocked Alicia Fox down a peg (so that’s -1 pegs, if you’re counting); Damien Sandow killed a little time taking Zack Ryder apart; Khali and Hornswoggle are a wacky pair, but can they get along in the suburbs?!

wwe cm punk twitter
There’s a Pulp Fiction joke here somewhere.

• Ryback functions pretty well as a curtain-jerker, but he might be even better as a Mortal Kombat-style overseer who just sits at ringside and randomly yells slogans at people. “Wake up” and “finish it” just need a bonus stage quote to complete the triad. This would be preferable to letting him shout/pant into a live microphone. Very few people here would benefit from a manager more than Ryback. Apparently, chanting three words over and over throughout a commercial break exerts him enough to start sweating all over the place.

• Vickie Guerrero’s title of “managing supervisor” is the new “assistant to the regional manager”. Dwight Shrute would own this place.

• Memo to Michael Cole: “swoggled” is not a thing, so please stop trying to make it a thing. Bonus drinking game rule: drink whenever the WWE tries too hard to force a talking point into popular usage. “Wildcat Kofi Kingston” alone could put you in a coma these past few weeks. A nice, comfortable, warm little coma.

• Rosa Mendes swaps between languages so frequently she could be a character in a bad episode of Firefly. If there were bad episodes of Firefly. Does “Safe” count? That one had by far the thickest and most awkward uses of bilingualism on that show.

barney stinson headshot

• While I’m dropping old TV references all over the place: The Great Khali is Kramer and Hornswoggle is Mickey. That’s the only way I can accept this pairing. Have Hornswoggle start flying off the handle at people for no reason, it might work. Anyway, keeping Khali around only makes sense if he’s used to make Alberto Del Rio and others look good, so all’s well tolerable at the moment. Anything more than that and I’ll just let Barney Stinson here explain my feelings for me.

• Paul Heyman’s “innocent until proven guilty” was perfect. This cat could act circles around a lot of people in Hollywood if he weren’t so firmly entrenched in the wrestling world. Is it too much to hope for that he’ll be around in a highly visible, dialogue-heavy role until the end of time, and somehow not get himself on the wrong side of management like he usually does? Watching this guy chew scenery is one of my only reliable excuses to keep tuning in every week.

• The interview with Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose accomplished exactly what it needed to: they exposed Ambrose’s speaking abilities to that 95% of the audience who never watched FCW; Rollins as the vaguely CM Punk-ish figure (some very similar inflections and mannerisms there; hopefully the Jeff Hardy prediction doesn’t come true); and Reigns was very wisely reserved, which I suppose makes him the Batista of the group. Bonus points for referencing Nexus and shooting down the annoying NWO meme that’s been going around.

• Oh, and those three collectively are now called The Shield, and their philosophy is somewhat Lawful Evil. As usual, the supposed bad guys on this show make a lot more sense than the good guys. That tends to happen when you write actual characters as opposed to walking merch tables.

wwe tamina snuka alicia fox

• I was hoping that Tamina Snuka would keep her Turks bodyguard suit as ring attire. Her old music also doesn’t mesh terribly well with this new twist on her character, so why not go all-out with it? Even just the theme from Reservoir Dogs would be an improvement. I guess what I’m saying here is that she rocked that suit.

• This week in appropriate “what?” chants: any usage during the “scandal” segment of the show. It’s normally one notch below Smackdown’s canned heat on the scale of shit I hate about wrestling, but if they were used as a barometer for crowd opinion (which they aren’t, obviously) I could tolerate the chant’s continued existence. But only because the far more direct “this is boring” fell out of common usage years ago. Too many syllables in “boring”, I suppose.

• Daniel Bryan making fun of CNN’s magical map graphics may be a few weeks too late, but it’s still damn funny anyway. He and Kane should do that every time “the universe” is tasked with a Twitter poll, because it’s an impossible gimmick to take seriously so they may as well have fun with it. Also, I love how Bryan somehow has the ability to manipulate random backstage TV monitors with hand motions. It’s just as ridiculous as Kane’s “fire powers” but far more mundane. That tickles me a bit.

• Memo: any future matches between Daniel Bryan and Rey Mysterio need to be at least twice as long as this one. These two work well with just about everyone, so of course they’re great against each other. Put ’em in there for an hour, I’d watch that.

• Seeing John Cena go into Hulk Hogan mode while trapped in Dolph Ziggler’s sleeper hold, then immediately segue into an STF like nothing happened, makes me more of a Ziggler fan than ever. Cena’s superhuman act is annoying enough under normal circumstances; watching him pull that while he’s also supposed to be selling an injury just makes my brain hurt.

wwe cm punk talking dead
Also, CM Punk + Community’s Yvette Nicole Brown + Walking Dead, that happened too.

• If you didn’t watch The Soup’s little WWE crossover episode, it was worth 30 minutes of your time, so go find it. Go figure, it was was much less PG than anything the WWE has produced on their own in the last few years, so that novelty alone was pretty fun. Joel McHale and Daniel Bryan in one room was almost too much hilarity for me to handle. Combinations like these almost make up for McHale’s tiny and overhyped role on Sons of Anarchy this season.

• Seamus the character continues to make no damn sense at all, but Seamus the fighter is getting more and more fun to watch, especially pitted against Antonio Cesaro. That said, Cesaro’s style has already begun to eclipse anything Seamus is doing based on those uppercuts alone. I have to wonder if Cesaro has something on his gloves that go *clack* whenever he punches the air, like the stories I used to hear about Tajiri’s boots, or if he’s really working that stiff. Whatever the case, there are very few spots in the WWE that look better than Cesaro’s badass uppercut counter on a flying opponent, or the one he does while he’s flying.

• Best moment of unintentional comedy: watching Big Show awkwardly rip apart a chair as a show of strength – shades of TNA-era Ric Flair – followed by Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler bending over backwards for the next two segments trying to sell it.

wwe damien sandow
Oh, Tumblr. Follow @themelter for more. You’re welcome.

• Damien Sandow is still awesome. Until Cody Rhodes recovers and they can get back to whatever was planned for them originally, that’s all that needs to be said. Each and every week.

• I like how they’re keeping CM Punk on the periphery of The Shield’s antics for now. While there’s obviously an expiration date attached to that holding pattern, it does allow two story branches to be considered: first, they could align The Shield with Punk and Heyman as most are predicting, thus forming the next big heel stable the internet is always clamouring for, which is the most likely choice.

Alternatively, they could use The Shield as a mechanism to turn Punk face again, since his heel turn obviously isn’t working too well and no amount of Jerry Lawler heart attack jokes seem to be helping.

That’s all for this week. Tune in next time for another round of tweaks and tucks, if need be.