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  1. I mentioned it in my Mania review, but I'll repeat it here because I agree with SomethingSavage... I don't think you'd find many people who would argue Kofi Kingston is a better wrestler than Seth Rollins, but at WrestleMania, Kofi/Bryan wasn't the best match of the night because of any single move or sequence, it was the best match of the night because, for 15 minutes, people cared. You know what didn't happen during Kofi/Bryan? A "This is Awesome" chant. Not once. People were too busy booing Daniel Bryan and cheering on Kofi because they cared about who was going to win and who was going to lose. Now, obviously, Daniel Bryan is an amazing worker and put on a great performance. Kofi held his own too. But that match worked because of the emotion (as SomethingSavage said). Rollins has yet to have a singles match that good or even in the same zip code (hell, not even the same planet). And he's had chances - against Ambrose, against Reigns, against HHH - to tell emotion-driven stories. So I don't personally rate Seth Rollins very high no matter how many matches he's had where people chanted "This Is Awesome" a half-dozen times. Some of those matches were great fun, no doubt. But what's really awesome to me is a match like Kofi/Bryan or Bayley/Sasha or those Revival/#DIY matches or even the (admittedly maudlin) Flair/HBK Retirement match. Those matches were awesome because it mattered to me, and to the audience, who won and who lost. With Seth Rollins, the finish never matters, its always the same match with the same "spectacular moves" with interchangeable, meaningless endings that I'm never invested in.
  2. The reception to the new Bray Wyatt has been positive on every board/site I've visited. I think the introduction is the easy part of any character. Its the fish in their own water. Bray Wyatt hosting a bizarre, surreal 4-minute "children's show" with ugly puppets is great. The hard part is how this character works as a wrestling character. What would motivate this character to enter a wrestling ring and compete? Its been a long time since the days of wrestling dentists and wrestling clowns. Back then, I think the show was so clearly marketed to kids that they got away with everything just being exactly what it was at face value. TL Hopper was a wrestling plumber because...he was a plumber who wrestled. There was no backstory, no purpose, no motivation. For Bray Wyatt, a guy who I believe the company still wants us to regard as a big deal, putting this new character into a wrestling context is going to take work. Like most people, it seems, I'm intrigued.
  3. So, in my years-long quest to watch all the WCW PPVs I've finally reached Starrcade 2000 and Sin. I'm not sure when it started, but on these shows, as I was watching them this weekend, the level of "sweetening" of the crowd noise really, really stuck out to me. I'm not sure why I didn't catch it before. I mean, the crowds here are just visually dead. You can clearly see that nobody, not a single person any of the first few rows from any angle, is standing or screaming or shouting. And yet, the crowd noise for the duration of a 10+ minute Goldberg/Luger match is deafening. When Goldberg does hit a big move, you can hear a clear (and likely real) pop...but you're hearing it over a constant din of crowd noise that is coming from some mysterious portion of the audience that is, inexplicably, as excited and vocal for Goldberg's entrance as they are for both guys selling their exhaustion on the mat in minute 9. WCW was putting on these shows in arenas that held 15-20k fans but only filling a third of them. Obviously, 6000 fans can be plenty loud...but when you can visually see a majority of the audience is sitting completely still, yawning, and casually sipping sodas while the audio makes it seem like you're at WrestleMania III, there's a huge, huge disconnect and now that I've seen it/heard it, I can't unsee it. It makes me wonder how long the "sweetening" was going on and how much of it still goes on today with the WWE. And, if I'm wrong about this, and that was actual crowd noise, then WWE really dropped the ball because if you listen to just the audio of the Mike Sanders/Ernest Miller rematch at Sin, you'll think you're hearing a Road Warriors entrance that's been put on slow motion. Based on the audio, the Natural Born Thrillers were basically DX meets peak-era Horsemen.
  4. DMJ

    All Elite Wrestling

    I'm one of the few people who liked their match from a few years ago. Here's what I wrote about it at the time from my blog (some edits): The history of the Goldust vs. Stardust feud was replayed before we got Dusty Rhodes in the back with Goldust, the two discussing how this match is about reuniting the family more than it is about wins or losses. From his gait down the aisle, Goldust came into this match with psychology, moving with apprehension, looking not too eager to fight, only taking the offense to seemingly slap some sense into his brother. I like Stardust’s reactions to the crowd chanting "Cody"...while some of the audience seemed bored with the pacing, I found it to be fitting to the story being told. Anyone expecting a vicious, fast-paced brawl was looking in the wrong place as Goldust's hesitation in hurting his brother was the crux of the match and Stardust, weaseling his way to the outside and cheapshotting his opponent at every opportunity, showed arrogance and a willingness to hurt his older brother that came across as personal. Then, you get to the finish - a flash pin that advanced the story and helped define the Stardust/Cody character... Forget the loud, ignorant fan who was chanting "boring" throughout, this match hit the right notes to me. Throw in Stardust's post-match promo, which I found to be well-delivered, purposeful, and captivating, and I'm totally down with this angle, even if I’m in the minority. (3.5/5)
  5. Agreed. I was as critical and down on Carmella as anyone when she first got pushed, but she's clearly come a long way in the past two years. And I think its also to her benefit that her progression has been somewhat tied to her character's development. Like, she started off as an inept heel who targeted a much bigger name to make her own (the Nikki Bella feud), when that didn't work she hired/seduced/manipulated Ellsworth to help her and wins the MITB - the ultimate shortcut to a championship. As she improved, though, she became a babyface and now that she's actually competent, she no longer has to cheat because she's finally been accepted by the fans, blah blah blah. To me, that shows the kinda range where, sure, her current gimmikc is fun dancer/rapper, but I could easily see her becoming a more serious challenger with the kind of storyline you described above. And, because she has range, even if she were to lose that feud to Charlotte, she could go back to being that fun dancer/rapper or they could always turn her again and she'd be a bigger threat because she's not the inept rookie anymore.
  6. Yea. I was a couple beers deep when I wrote that rant. I think what I was trying (but failed) to convey was that, if you look at the female roster, you have a bunch of colorful, interesting characters (moreso than the men). While not every one is a great worker, I'd rather watch Alicia Fox feud with Nikki Cross in a battle of the crazies over just about any Seth Rollins or Dolph Ziggler or Kevin Owens match you could think of. That, at her most heel, Alexa Bliss was one of the best all-around characters on the whole roster - and ran circles around certain guys with more experience and indie cred (*cough* Bobby Roode *cough*) in terms of making me care about their matches. That I think there are interesting stories to tell with Naomi practically living under the glass ceiling, Carmella being a 2nd generation performer, etc.
  7. I always looked at it like this: - 97' - 01' Attitude Era. This era ends with the WCW buyout. - 02'-05' Ruthless Aggression. HHH, Lesnar, and Angle on top. Storylines are generally tasteless. Matches are even more violent than in Attitude Era, but garner less response. Mainstream culture moves on. WWE becomes last bastion for Nu Metal. Envelopes being pushed just to push them (HLA, for example). Ratings plummet as teen boys learn that they can go to internet for this. - 06' - 14' The Cena/PG Era. Less violent, less overtly sexist, way more meta. Sadly, same level of Nu Metal for some reason. Sure, there are flickers of indie wrestling influence seeping in, but by this point, the WWE is so big that the content - good or bad - takes a back seat to the global expansion. - 2014 - Present: The Network Era. Really just a natural continuation of the decade before it. Again, as fans, we care about content, but the WWE is more successful than ever before because of expanding markets. Plus, thanks to the Network, its not just a "PG" brand anymore - its an "everything for everyone" one-stop shop where you can go back and watch old ECW, old WWE, old territory shows, etc.
  8. Also, on the list of people who Becky could feud with: Ruby Riot. I know she just got squashed by Rousey, but y'know, WWE is a TV show. In Game of Thrones, The Wire, and Breaking Bad and etc. etc., there are always characters who get shown to be small, ineffective, "jobbers." And then those characters pull some chicanery and are a threat again. That's what you hire creative writers for - to come up with ways for Wrestler A to be a threat to Wrestler B. Spitballing here but what if Riot came out and challenged The Man? Lynch responds with, "You tapped to Ronda in what? 3 minutes?" And Riot is embarrassed, angry, pissed off - and now, her mean streak has got meaner, she's going to make life hell for Becky Lynch, she's going to make life hell for every other woman on the roster, and she gets vicious and goes super-heel, cheating and kicking people when they're down, and relishing in the pain of her opponents. And, here's the cherry on the sundae: she's a good worker. She can pull this off. Her promos are good. Her in-ring work is good. If we're ranking women wrestlers on the main roster - where is she? 5? 6? She had us caring about a Nattie Neidhart feud, people! She. Had. Us. Caring. About. A. Nattie. Feud. I agree that there is a wide gulf between the top women and everyone else in terms of "star power" and even in-ring skill. It was made very apparent at Elimination Chamber, in my opinion. But, and I will gladly admit I'm wrong if I am, the WWE does have the best female roster in the US, right? I mean, Riot's real good. I think Charlotte/Naomi would be interesting. Alicia Fox is a great character, if not a great worker. Carmella might be one of the most improved wrestlers, male or female, on the roster over the past 18-24 months. Ember Moon got called up and forgotten immediately despite some good NXT outings and plenty of interesting main roster foils in Alexa Bliss, Mandy Rose, and the aforementioned Alicia Fox. Nikki Cross is another great character that is always fun in multi-man matches and could be spotlighted more. And that's before we get to Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan, and Mandy Rose, who might all be "works in progress" still, but their progress won't go anywhere without more time in front of the TV crowds and in relevant stories. Oh, and Mickie James is around too and seemingly eager to tear it up with all of these women. We talk about how much talent the WWE is wasting on the male side of things, but jesus, I'm ALL IN on a WWE show built around Becky, Asuka, Charlotte, Nikki Cross, Alicia Fox, Ruby Riot, Alexa, Bayley, Ember, and Liv Morgan. And Kairi and Shayna too? Characters fucking welcome.
  9. The Viking Experience is a woeful name. I remember watching Raymond Rowe come up in the Cleveland indies, so I also dislike his name change to "Erik." I get that its a Viking name, but Rowe, being his real name, was better and less generic. If you're going to be a "one name guy," something as vanilla as Erik (is it more eXtreMe because it ends with a k?) is a dead end. The name Ivar sounds like someone backstage thought, "Well, we can always slide him over to The Ascension if for whatever reason Erik dies." Hanson wasn't a great name either, but Ivar? I wasn't dying to pick up War Raiders merch, but whenever they do make Viking Experience shirts, expect to find them in two places almost immediately - the clearance page on Shopzone and a couple slots below the "APA Always Pounding Ass Bar & Grille" shirt on the list of all-time worst WWE tees. I understand why the WWE wouldn't want a team named "War Raiders" (even though its the same line of logic that would've prevented the phrases "Hulkamania" or "Macho Madness" from existing out of fear that these terms made light of mental illness), but The Viking Experience couldn't have been their best option. I'm not a fan of the Viking gimmick to begin with but if you'd have just kept them as The Raiders, Hanson and Rowe, and allowed them to maintain the Viking-inspired dress and war paint (whoops, there's that offensive word again), you could scale it back and forth as needed. The more they make this team about them being literal Vikings, the more I'm getting a Highlanders vibe. The call-up also seems a bit premature to me. Aren't they still NXT Tag Champs? The Authors of Pain, despite their comparative inexperience, felt like a finished product ready for the main roster when they came up and they fizzled out almost immediately (due to injury but it wasn't going great before that either, IIRC). I don't see bright things for The Viking Experience.
  10. For sure Bray has time. He's 31 and, I could be way wrong (probably am), but hasn't his time off-screen had more to do with "creative re-tinkering" than injuries? I know nothing in wrestling feels good or is 100% safe, but its not like he wrestled a thousand death matches before coming to WWE. In a nutshell, he's young, his style is more character-based than "movez" and crazy spots, and, like Kane, it might boggle your mind and mine, but for some reason, there is a segment of the fan base who thinks he'd be a huge star "if they let him" (read: treat him like a real cult leader out of a Rob Zombie movie). There's also the added thing where, the more wrestling I watch, the more I've come around to the idea that the "sweet spot" for a wrestler is closer to 35 than 25. There are always prodigies who were great in their 20s and kept getting better (Rey, Daniel Bryan), but then I look at guys like Mark Henry (his bad years were bad) and Christian (a good wrestler in his 20s, a top 10 worker in the company when he came back at age 35) and even Austin (a solid technical wrestler when he was 28, but the biggest wrestling star on the planet at 34). I'm sure others can point out even better examples. Plus Bray being off/on TV has shown us that some way, some how someone knows what "restraint" means when it comes to exposing him on TV. Wyatt would've needed repackaging years ago if they hadn't given him as many hiatuses (hiati?). The gimmick is obviously in need of repair, but it could be far, far worse. I was at the Money in the Bank PPV in Columbus some years back and Bray made one of his many (ultimately failed) returns there and the crowd desperately wanted to see him steal the briefcase. I'm not even sure why he didn't. The entrance is still over too. A babyface should be a no-brainer at this point.
  11. DMJ

    Post-Mania TV 2019

    Yeah, just to piggy-back, I'm not going to claim Sasha Banks is the most professional person. I don't know about that. I have listened to many podcasts with her and will say that she does take wrestling seriously and might be a bit of a "mark" for herself. To me, though, its not too dissimilar to what Bret Hart has been accused of over the years. She strongly believes that she is talented enough to be on top, that nobody is going to outwork her, and that the company undermines her potential and progress. In Bret's own book, its clear he had the same level of confidence and was frustrated watching Hogan and Nash and Shawn get the spotlight over him at various times. An even more apt comparison might be Neville. He was booked as The King of the Cruiserweights. He had dynamite matches. He wasn't exactly given many stories to build those around, but he at least cred with his winning streak. Then, he's booked to drop the title to a comedy character (Enzo) and, moving forward, it looks like he's just going to be lost in the shuffle (again) despite his work being strong, getting over in NXT (and Banks was way, way more over in NXT than Neville was), etc. When Neville left, I don't remember so many people calling him a crybaby and a quitter. But with Sasha? Oh, she's unprofessional and a mark. If you're going to criticize Sasha, that has to carry over to others in similar positions.
  12. Whatever match that followed Kofi/Bryan was going to be the yearly sub-2 minute squash match. Joe/Mysterio wouldn't have been my pick, it was the "path of least resistance" (kinda like the Bludgeon Brothers match last year, where they won the titles real quickly but nobody remembers/cares/shit on it). I don't think the crowd would've complained about Corbin/Angle being the squash with Angle maybe getting a surprise assist from Cena or Jason Jordan or, in a real throwback, his brother Eric. I get that Angle had to do the honors or whatever but who cares? I'm not even the biggest Corbin hater, but he's got no cred, he's been treated like a comedy character, and this match was all about Angle getting a send-off from the crowd. I don't think the Kofi win would've prevented that from happening. Personally, I think you could've also had Reigns embarrass Drew in that slot and it would've given some heat to that feud and the crowd would've popped at the shock of it if it was done in a real flash pin style. Online and portions of the live crowd would've called it a "burial" and booed, but I dunno, you put McIntyre over at the next PPV and you've got a feud going. I'm not sure why I should care about this rivalry now that we've seen Reigns win in a straight-up, back-and-forth match. Plus, the Mania match, despite being solid IMO, didn't get any reaction as it was.
  13. Haha! Never! I liked the Shane/Miz match plenty. The right guy didn't win there...but it was a clever enough way around that as, clearly, Miz beat Shane's ass up and down the arena and then "lost" because Shane landed on him when they were both out cold. It worked for me. The inclusion of Miz's dad was the right level of hokey. I liked that, from what I recall, Shane didn't attempt any of that MMA-inspired submission crap (which I was worried he would after that ultra-dumb submission he put on Miz's dad at Fastlane). Wisely, they kept it as just a brawl with spots that did seem to escalate in violence without becoming so ridiculously staged/convoluted that it took me out of the action (like, say, one of my least favorite matches ever - Shane vs. Taker from a few Manias ago). Also, god bless whatever agent or producer (or Shane himself) for Shane actually being a heel and not having a moment with his wife and kids on camera.* * If he did, I missed it.
  14. I don't think I agree. I don't think the issue is when the show starts. I'm in Cleveland, so I could easily watch it from 6 to 12:30 and still get up for work the next day. My feeling is that, as a fan, I would enjoy the shows more if they weren't 6-and-half hours and I think, ultimately, overexposure and giving away too much and having so much filler is part of what has watered down and hurt their TV and house show business. Instead, like many fans, I watch these shows in pieces and parts over a half-dozen sittings and the idea of any of this being "event viewing" is laughable. It used to be that every Monday Night was "event viewing," that if you missed it, you were kind of stuck never seeing it or hoping a buddy had taped it. Technology changed that...but the WWE has also actively made it so that even WrestleMania isn't "event viewing" anymore. EDIT - Whoops! In my original post, I also forgot to note in my lengthy post above how the worst part of the Batista/HHH match, which I thought was actually kinda fun at first, then slow, then good again by the end, was Shawn Michaels on commentary. You know how some all-time great players don't make great coaches? And some coaches started out as just average or below-average players? Shawn Michaels was once an entertaining, energetic promo, but boy, he was AWFUL on commentary. I liked how they had guest commentators all over the show, but he was easily the worst (and its not like Paige had a stellar night herself).