Wrestlemania May Still Be Going On For All I Know, But The Wrestling Notepad Is Here

WWE’s beat the clock challenges are almost always kind of dumb. Who wants to watch a match that randomly ends with no resolution when somebody fails to beat the time? It’s just terrible, unentertaining television. What incentive is there for the opponent A.K.A. the one who isn’t being challenged to beat the clock to participate? They’re flat out being told you’re being trotted out to either lose quickly or beat yourself up for nothing. We never find out what they get if they happen to knock off one of the challengers. But I just now watched Becky, Ronda and Charlotte compete in one for literally no reason. No, “Wrestlemania momentum is on the line” does not count as a reason, announce team. That’s a completely nonsensical statement. Nobody gains a thing here because there are zero things to be gained. It wasn’t for a title match, because there’s already going to be one. It wasn’t determining a favourable entry number, because that doesn’t exist in a 3-way match. All you’ve done is make the Riott Squad who already aren’t over look like even bigger scrubs than before really, really fast and wasted a few minutes of my life. Go away.

I did like Ronda’s “that’s all I have to say” promos though, so at least it had that going for it.

I’ve seen some people upset that Charlotte beat Asuka for the women’s title on Smackdown. I get it. Asuka really didn’t get to do much of anything with her run and isn’t any better off for having had it. But if Charlotte carrying the belt into Mania means that we’re unifying the titles, I’m good. There aren’t enough women on the roster to carry two separate divisions, especially now that some of them are going to have to primarily focus on the tag team side. Besides, there’s only one set of tag titles, so it would make for a nice bit of consistency.

Wait…what…hold on. Did I just see babyfaces doing babyface things? On WWE? What is the world coming to! Dogs and cats living together! The Usos just forfeited their spot in a gauntlet match because they respect New Day and Kofi too much to take a cheap win. I can hardly believe my eyes.

I realize it’s sort of the man’s actual name, but I can’t hear Jax Dane without hearing “jack stain”. Is that the goal? If so, why is that the goal? “It’s funny to make everyone say jack stain” is a perfectly fine answer, by the way.

Oh cool, they are going to unify the women’s titles at Mania. Or at least they’re saying that the winner is going to get both of them.

Why is Beth Phoenix having her first match back after like six years on a random episode of Raw instead of on Mania, which we’re supposed to want to pay for?

Oh fun. WWE is doing its usual stupid tag partners that don’t get along match, but with a twist that is also stupid. Ronda, Becky and Charlotte have to team up against the poor Riott Squad, but “the first woman (Flair, Rousey or Lynch) to betray her team will forfeit her Wrestlemania opportunity.”

First of all, human beings do not speak like that. Please stop.

Secondly, you have to be totally incompetent to book a match wherein there exists the distinct possibility that you will irreparably fuck up the announced main event for by far your biggest show of the year. Even if we stretch logic to its absolute breaking point and say that the person responsible for this decision is hoping to get Charlotte out of the damn thing so it can be the singles match it should have been all along, it’s still a dumb plan because what if she ends up holding her temper?

And hey, what if two people or even all three punch each other simultaneously? Do you call off the entire match or does everything stay as it is? This seems important.

Now having said all of that, why wasn’t that match and especially what followed the last thing on Raw?

Why are we going from that to Braun Strowman beating up guys he’s pretending are from Saturday Night Live?

Why is Braun Strowman feuding with guys who are from Saturday Night Live?

If the story is that Finn Balor is unbeatable when he’s in the demon persona, why would he ever not be in it?

Why does Mustafa Ali have no first name anymore?

I need a keystroke that pastes “holy hell Takeover was awesome” anywhere I need it, because there’s usually not much else to be said after one of these things.

Why, aside from financial reasons, would anyone who became a wrestler because they like wrestling rather be on the main WWE roster than in NXT? It’s such a fun, fan friendly presentation, one where it seems like what you do in the ring actually counts for something as opposed to beating the hell out of yourself on just the longest, most boring, nothing happening messes.

If I were to offer one criticism of Takeover, it’s that we didn’t need a three man booth during the UK title match. Mauro Ranallo and Vic Joseph are both very good play by play guys, but it seemed like they weren’t sure who was supposed to be taking the lead and it made for a bit of a messy call. Add to that the need for Nigel McGuinness to find spots for his analysis and it was just too much. It never completely fell apart because all three are excellent at what they do, but they shouldn’t have been put in the position to all have to do it at once.

Wow, what a Universal title match. Seth gets his ass kicked for what feels like 100 years before he (the valiant babyface I should note) hits Brock in the nuts, curb stomps him a few times and wins. Sure got me excited for this show to go on for five more hours, let me tell you. This is one of those times when I hope they had to lay it out that way because somebody was hurt, because otherwise everyone involved can fuck right off.

Maybe it’s what I get for watching Takeover on the same day, maybe it’s the bad taste the last match just left in my mouth, maybe it’s WWE’s show pacing or maybe it’s my feelings on Randy Orton talking, but I did not enjoy the Styles Orton match much at all. There was nothing particularly wrong with it, I just found it quite slow and dull.

I’m tired of all the 3/4/5/27-way matches WWE insists on. If it’s me I’d rather leave some people off the show now and then for the sake of a more meaningful match rather than bog things down by cramming everyone into every story every time.

Is it me or did Miz beat on Shane McMahon so long that it almost felt like the guy who had been terrorizing a man’s father was supposed to be the babyface?

Never mind. After that finish and the realization that we’re going to have to see a rematch, everyone’s a heel.

Really not feeling this Mania, in case it isn’t obvious. I can’t imagine having to sit through all seven and a half hours of it in real time.

I have no problem with the IIconics winning the Women’s tag belts, but it would be nice if just once somebody could be elevated by holding a title. Are Sasha and Bayley any better off after their two month run? Sure they were the first champions, but what does that really mean when you go on to do next to nothing and then lose right away? It’s yet another example of everyone running in place.

Kofi winning was pretty cool. Great match followed up by maybe even a better celebration. I sure hope they don’t waste a moment like that.

I’m happy that Samoa Joe got to wrestle at Mania, but that was one goddamn pointless match. If Mysterio was hurt that badly going in and they knew it, why couldn’t they have sent any of the other 300 tomato cans on the roster out there for Joe to have that two minute squash with? It’s not as though Joe vs. Rey was built up in any sort of memorable way that made his presence necessary. If it was so important to get Rey a payday, stick his ass in the battle royal. Don’t waste my time with a match like that on a show this long. Save it for Smackdown.

Speaking of things that could have been on TV, there wasn’t much to Reigns vs. McIntyre. It was fine enough I guess, but the story was more about Roman getting back in the ring after his illness than the match itself, and I’ve already seen him in a match. I know it wasn’t one on one, but it never felt like he was ever in enough danger here for me to care about the difference.

It was fun to see him, but should my second favourite thing on the biggest wrestling show of the year be John Cena coming out in his 16-year-old Thuganomics gimmick to make fun of a guy?

HHH and Batista was perfectly acceptable old man violence, but it lost something because it was another case of nothing seeming to be either on the line or in doubt. Of course HHH was always going to win. But let’s say he didn’t and he had to end his in ring career. Who cares? The guy wrestles maybe twice a year, and the rest of the time he’s making far more money running the company. He’ll be fine. That’s not me being a smart ass. It’s the story we’ve been told.

This show is killing me, you guys. I started watching it yesterday. I’ve taken breaks because I had to go do other things. I’ve skipped over everything that isn’t either a match or something that might be important. I’ve had a full night of sleep. I’m still so tired. How do you live watchers do it? I love the WWE Network with all my heart for so many reasons, but one of the worst things ever to happen to WWE is the damn thing giving them the flexibility to run shows that never have to end.

Oh my god there’s still an hour and five minutes on the clock.

They’ve really set Corbin up well to do some fine heel work, but if that really was Kurt Angle’s last match, what a flat end to the career of one of the best wrestlers I’ve ever seen.

Demon Finn beats Lashley in a well worked TV match and is IC champ again. Cool. Can this show please die now?

Joan Jett still sounds pretty good.

So that was…wonky. Either they messed up the finish or they’re trying to set the stage for a Ronda Becky rematch. But if a Ronda’s shoulders weren’t down finish was the plan, why would you do it in your historic first ever women’s Wrestlemania main event? Even WWE couldn’t be that stupid…could they? Match was pretty good up to that point, but would have been so much better on a show half as long. Something honestly needs to be done about the length of these shows.

I am so done.

A Complete Guide To Just How Awful Crown Jewel Was

Induction: WWE Crown Jewel – The 2018 Gooker Award Winner
This right here is a goddamn work of art, by which I mean that it was written by a guy named Art. It’s also an amazing piece of writing, so good it makes me jealous. I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s a masterful history and dissection of the absolute stupidest stupid thing that WWE did last year, complete with about a million zingers. I’m not even sure I caught them all on first reading, to be honest. Go read it and then give WrestleCrap your money.

Simply put, WWE Crown Jewel was a bad idea from day one. The event, part of a 10-year, twenty-show deal with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was under fire from the get-go for serving as propaganda for the totalitarian state, its new crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), and his modernization campaign dubbed, “Saudi Vision 2030”. 
One can’t discuss Crown Jewel without first talking about May’s Greatest Royal Rumble. Like the Prime Minister of Lebanon, the WWE Network special would be held in Saudi Arabia, albeit it voluntarily this time.

Wrestling Notepad

Nice to see all these NXT guys on Raw I guess, but WWE doesn’t have a clue what to do with three quarters of the people on the main roster as it is so I’m not sure just bringing a bunch of dudes up for no reason and with seemingly no purpose is the best use of talent.

The most surprising part about the Balor and Ricochet tag team is that one babyface selflessly came out to save another one. Being a good friend is usually something reserved for bad people.

DIY and the Revival had a pretty good match. Shame nobody alerted the audience.

No better way to get a guy over than having one of your backstage interviewers refer to him as “…your friend right here.” Jesus. Thank goodness Ricochet is an extremely spectacular wrestler, because with a start like that he’s going to need all the help he can get.

Fantastic to hear that Roman Reigns is well enough to make a comeback. I honestly didn’t know if we’d ever see him again, let alone see him wrestle. But this does raise an important question. When is it ok to boo him again? I kid, I kid. Fighting off leukemia has made the dude a babyface for life, no matter how hard WWE is going to eventually try to turn him heel. Come on, you know they will.

Sometimes I really wish I could watch WWE shows on mute. Times like when Michael Cole says “Braun Strowman says #GetOffTheTracksTheMonsterTrainIsComin’Through”, for example. Christ, he’s so bad.

No disrespect, but Torrie Wilson is in the WWE Hall of Fame and King Kong Bundy isn’t? That would be completely ridiculous even if Bundy was still alive.

I realize that some of the best characters start with a bit of the real person, but Vince McMahon’s new out of touch crazy old man who constantly changes his mind and fucks up planned matches gimmick may be a bridge too far.

Speaking of that, if Kevin Owens is supposed to be a babyface now, why did they bring him back in such a heelish manner? I mean nothing screams babyface like standing quietly by while the owner of the company robs a deserving coworker of a spot he earned and puts you in his place. And yes, this applies even if you say you feel bad about it, ask to team with him later and don’t screw him over.

Honky Tonk Man is also going into the Hall of Fame. That one I can get behind based on theme song alone.

Finally got around to watching the show from the Chris Jericho cruise. Man, that looked like fun. Good action, a match worked around a sunburn, a random bird swooping out of the sky…I’d love to go on one of those someday. The whole idea of a floating wrestling party sounds pretty cool to me.

WWE has missed the boat on a lot of talent over the years, but Juice Robinson really stands out. He’s seriously one of my favourite wrestlers right now. He’s got such an energy and charisma about him. If those were things he had while WWE had him playing CJ Parker the jobbing hippie, it’s criminal.

I think I might be more excited for Scarlett Bordeaux vs. Disco Inferno than I am for anything on Fastlane.

Disco has been super entertaining whenever he shows up on Impact. Some of it is inside stuff which I never quite know how to feel about, but we’re at a point with Impact right now where inside fans are pretty well all they have, so why not?

Impact has gotten a lot of things right since the management change, but one thing they still haven’t fixed is the term Knockouts. It’s so outdated. When even WWE is willing to get rid of bad old branding, it’s time for a change. For that matter, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if Ring of Honor dropped Women of Honor. Unless you’re going to call the guys Men of Honor, it’s silly. Just call them women and let them fight for a women’s title.

I’ve said this on Twitter a million times, but sitting here watching old episodes of Superstars on TV on a Saturday morning has me thinking again about how much WWE is misusing the live network channel. Yes, running the same episodes of NXT and 205 58 times in a row is easy, but it’s not the most consumer friendly especially in countries like Canada where online access to the Network is either secondary and tied to an online cable account or not available at all. I know they toss the occasional old thing on there (I am watching Superstars from 1992 after all), but there should be so much more of that stuff filling up the schedule. The library is huge and growing, but it’s mostly just sitting there. Running it wouldn’t only be a nice thing to do for those of us tethered to television. It would also be an easy reminder for everyone else that hey, all this stuff is on the website and you can watch as much of it as you want whenever you’d like.

Am I the only one who gets lost in something old on the network and then gets disappointed when it ends and a commercial for something current comes on and snaps me back to reality? I hate that feeling so much.

Really not liking this new trend of cutting away from kickoff matches to show interviews or people saying hello or anything else they could show at literally any other point during this near hour of wasted time. Please stop screwing up the one thing of value on these things.

Aside from the usual length and pacing issues, Fastlane was fine. Not spectacular, not horrific, just ok to pretty good.

I like that Shane turned on Miz instead of it being the other way around. What I do not like nearly as much is the thought of a Miz vs. Shane match. I’m sure Shane will fall off of something high and Miz is an entertaining character who isn’t completely terrible in the ring, but on paper that sounds hideous.

I thought they were setting up Mustafa Ali to be the next Roman Reigns once they threw him into the title match because he had the nerve not to be Kofi Kingston, but thankfully the booing never got quite that bad. They were even starting to get behind him a bit by the end, which speaks to how good he is.

By the way, in storyline, why does Kofi still want to work for Vince McMahon? They keep pushing that he’s been a loyal, hardworking independent contractor for over a decade, and now he’s getting fucked with for literally no good reason. Logically, after all this time he should have lots of money unless he’s yet another in the parade of dumb babyfaces, so why wouldn’t he just say fuck it, I hear AEW is hiring? I know they likely won’t bring that up, but it would be a good twist to the story.

But I should know better than to expect logic from these things. This whole thing started because Vince wanted a bigger draw than Kofi in a title match, completely ignoring that New Day has sold a shitload of merch.

With all those damn writers, why do we keep getting basically the same stories playing out on Raw and Smackdown? You guys realize that Becky and Kofi are almost identical, right? The only difference is that Becky is an executive hitting, suspension defying pain in the ass. Minus that, they’re both having to fight against the erratic boss to get a Mania match that everyone wants them to have.

Canada’s Greatest Cook

I had a fun few minutes just now watching this 1978 video of Gene Kiniski intimidating Peter Gzowski, giving us the secret of how to cook perfect pork sausages and telling a story about some crazy fans trying to set him on fire.

A Rather Uneventful Wrestling Notepad To Match The Road To Wrestlemania So Far

“You, me and everyone else here knows I have the ability to kill you with my bare hands without breaking a sweat, and the only thing stopping me is my decision not to.”

I don’t know who wrote a line that good, but I bet you honest to god cash money it wasn’t one of those 30 writers. It’s going to take me a while to get over that shit at the Royal Rumble, but at least for now I can be legitimately excited to see Becky and Ronda at Mania. Well, unless they decide to ram Charlotte in there and make it a 3-way. Nothing whatsoever against her, but if there’s one thing this match doesn’t need, it’s anyone else. The excitement and money is absolutely in a singles match. Anything else will only serve to water it down.

Speaking of great lines, Samoa Joe telling Jeff Hardy to treat this like an AA meeting and keep your mouth shut while I’m sharing with the group might have been the highlight of Smackdown.

Did I literally just watch the Usos cut a promo about being on Miz TV, a place where they will be going to cut another promo? Yes, yes I did.

Why are we doing the everyone in the multi-man match suddenly needs to get involved in a random singles match all at once so that they can fight each other for reasons unknown gimmick several weeks out from Elimination Chamber? Now there’s nothing left for the go home show unless they just do it again. Ok, never mind. They’re probably just gonna do it again. But maybe next time it’ll be everyone getting involved in a tag match, which is completely different, obviously.

I don’t know what an Eric Bugenhagen is, but I think I enjoyed watching it.

My first thought is that I hope he never gets called up to the main roster, because the moment he does, he’s done. He strikes me as someone like an Adam Rose or a No Way Jose. Over and fun in NXT, wasted and ruined in WWE proper.

Stick around for the Drew Gulak vs. Matt Riddle match that comes after young Bugenhagen on that episode of NXT, because it was also great in a completely different way.

I’ve asked this before, but how can WWE and NXT be under the same corporate umbrella? It seems impossible. One has fun characters, great storytelling and excellent wrestling, while the other is WWE. It’s so maddening because it shows that if they wanted it to, WWE’s programming could be so much better than it is so much more of the time.

I do have to give them credit for getting something right on Raw. They’ve been telling the story that Becky Lynch has an injured knee after the Royal Rumble. She refused to let the doctors look at her, because she doesn’t trust the McMahon’s and thinks they’ll pressure the medical folks not to clear her so they can give her match at Wrestlemania against Ronda Rousey to someone else. Why? Well, they haven’t exactly filled in all of those blanks yet, but they did at least bring up that in general, there is decades of evidence suggesting that you shouldn’t trust a McMahon. Anyway, Becky mistrusts them so much that she attacks Stephanie and slaps Triple H on back to back nights for suspending her. Then, on Raw this week, they announce that Becky did see a doctor. I’d be mad about that, but in a far too rare instance of attention to detail they were sure to point out that she saw *her* doctor. Nice work. Glad at least one pushed babyface isn’t a moron. Now why, you may ask, aren’t I upset about the part where Hunter and Steph said that their doctors agreed with Becky’s doctors that she’d be ok in a couple of weeks? That’s because we’re not supposed to see any of the McMahon’s as 100 percent heel or face. I don’t really like that they’re being both or even that they’re around in the first place, but if they are and if that’s the line they’re going to walk, this was done about as well as it could have been done.

And of course, as I’m typing that last bit, they go and announce something silly. A 2-on-1 handicap match for the intercontinental title? What even is that? If you don’t want Finn Balor pinning Bobby Lashley, don’t book the match. The only possible saving grace here is that maybe it works out that Finn pins Lio Rush, Lashley kills him for costing him the belt and then I never have to see the hype man version of Lio Rush ever again. I think I could live with that.

If they can restart a random ass 6-man tag that ended due to a bad call, why aren’t they doing it at important times like title matches?

For history’s sake, I was wrong. They did not do a partners that don’t get along tag match to build to the chamber. They did a gauntlet where the winner gets to go in last. It was rather enjoyable. I don’t know if there are any big plans for Kofi Kingston, but it was nice to watch him be a very good wrestler for a while. Orton ended up winning. Good choice. The last thing I need to see is a Randy Rest Hold marathon.

Oh bugger off, Elimination Chamber Kickoff show! You have a fucking hour to kill and you’re telling me that the only time you can cut backstage for a dumb New Day segment is in the middle of the Cruiserweight Title match? We’d all be fine not hearing the wisdom of Jonathan Coachman and Stan Rogers or Sol Rosenberg or whatever that other interchangeable geek’s name is for a few minutes.

I’m not quite sure I understand these Kevin Owens videos where he’s bowling and picking up pizza and generally being a good old hard workin’ family man. When you hear his out of character interviews it sounds like that’s who he really is, but as a storyline it’s kind of weird and I’m not sure where you go with it. But he doesn’t like pineapple on pizza, so whatever this is has that going for it, at least.

WWE is short on genuine feeling moments these days, which made everyone’s emotion after Sasha and Bayley won the Womens Tag belts come off super awesome and like something people will remember for a while. It felt like an honest to god history making accomplishment instead of just another segment.

I know I said I have nothing against Charlotte, but I really don’t like her promos. Sometimes the words are there, but she has such a forced, rehearsed delivery that I just can’t take her seriously.

Man, the last several minutes of the Elimination Chamber with Bryan and Kofi were great. I don’t know how much mileage there is in Kofi as a top singles star, but there certainly seems to be some. I’m definitely here for them wanting to find out, that much I know.

If you’re short on time, just watch the two Chamber matches. If you’re really short on time, watch both from the point where it comes down to the last two teams/dudes on through the aftermath. You’ll miss practically nothing by skipping the rest of the show unless you need to see Braun Strowman getting beaten up or Becky Lynch hitting people with crutches.

Well, Suppose I Can Forget About That

Looks like I won’t be getting the Hideo Itami vs. Buddy Murphy match I was hoping for.

Hideo Itami has asked for his WWE release.
In weeks following Mike and Maria Kanellis, The Revival, and Dean Ambrose all informing WWE of their desires to leave the company, FightfulWrestling.com has learned that Hideo Itami asked for his WWE release this week. He finished up on Tuesday night’s episode of 205 Live in a losing effort to Akira Tozawa. The talk backstage was that Itami will actually be granted his release, pending a 90-day no compete clause.

Fightful was told that Itami, much like the other wrestlers who had asked for a release was unsatisfied creatively.
Itami changed his twitter handle back to KENTA in recent days and sent out the following tweet late Tuesday night:

I was surprised but not surprised by this news. After all of the injuries (to himself and others) and false starts, he seemed to finally be gaining some traction on 205 Live, but it’s 205 Live. It’s a show that, while much better than it used to be, is likely never going to be what it could have been because of the poor decisions and worse execution that plagued it from 2016 when it began until WWE finally started figuring things out in 2018.

With the independents doing well and companies like ROH, NJPW, MLW, AEW and even Impact rushing to lock up talent and apparently throwing around solid money to do so, now is the best time arguably since WCW died to be unsatisfied creatively with WWE and actually do something about it. If you have a name and the will to put the work in on the open market, why not take your chances?

And this is another reason to get so upset about WWE’s piss poor writing. I know in many ways now it doesn’t matter what they do thanks to the billions of dollars in television deals that should carry them through the next few years and then some, but what good is all the money in the world if people are so upset with their positions that they’re turning it down? Watching the product as a consumer and long time fan can be tough, but think about how terrible things must be for guys being offered six or seven figures to say no thanks, you can keep that. It’s easy to say WWE doesn’t have to care, but they should care. Things look great now, but eventually those rights deals are going to come up for negotiations again, and it’s not entirely unthinkable that we could get to a point where nobody is going to want to pay big money for something that nobody is watching.

I Say Nice Things About WWE And Immediately Regret Them. It’s The Wrestling Notepad

Buddy Murphy and Humberto Carrillo had a pretty good match on 205 Live. I especially like that the old fake an injury spot didn’t lead directly to the finish like it usually does. It makes sense that it wouldn’t since Carrillo comes from a wrestling family and the announcers mentioned it, but sometimes attention to detail like that is a lot to ask for.

I’ll always have a soft spot for Lanny Poffo, but he’s not making for a very good colour commentator on this New Japan I’m watching. It would be charitable to say he’s adding about as much to the show as most third wheels in a WWE booth, but that’s even worse than usual because there are only two announcers.

I figured the reason Strowman was out of the title match at the Rumble was that his elbow was still messed up, but here he is on Raw having a match with Finn Balor. So I guess he’s out of the match just because of the classic Vince changed his mind? So much for shaking things up and doing things differently.

Speaking of that match, why wasn’t Braun disqualified when Brock caught Finn outside the ring and suplexed him? Does the word interference not mean what I think it means?

Ok, so suplexing a guy on the floor, not a DQ. Coming into the ring and F-5-ing him as he’s about to maybe win the match, DQ. Got it. Until they do something different possibly on this very same show, at least.

Pretty sure Curt Hawkins is the only competent referee in WWE.

If the goal of the build to Rousey vs. Banks is to make me not be able to wait for Ronda to twist Sasha’s arms and legs off and beat the rest of her to death with them, mission accomplished. She’s surpassed Lio Rush as Bobby Lashley’s cheerleader levels of hate with me. She’s so much worse because Lio is supposed to be annoying. I’m pretty sure they think Sasha is a babyface.

WWE has done a good job with Mustafa Ali since they moved him from 205 Live to Smackdown. Promos like this certainly aren’t going to hurt.

Why do the announcers keep saying “the Royal Rumble event” instead of just “the Royal Rumble”? Are we going to forget that it’s an event if they don’t keep reminding us? WWE’s obsession with wording is so weird.

Has anybody else noticed that Bobby Fish and Dolph Ziggler have exactly the same voice?

Given the issues with crowd reactions, I’m not sure Cricket is the best choice to sponsor 205 Live.

Can’t say I understand Buddy Murphy’s strategy here. All of your Rumble opponents are in a 3-way match beating the heck out of each other. Why would you randomly jump in and interfere in it? What if they all gang up on you? Wouldn’t you be smarter to stay as far away as possible so that you go into the 4-way fresh instead of injured?

Watching more NJPW, and I can no longer be charitable about poor Lanny Poffo. He’s fucking hideous. He’s adding literally nothing to this broadcast. In fact, he’s detracting from it. It’s disappointing that such a well spoken, intelligent, veteran wrestler can be this bad. I don’t expect him to know everything there is to know about the goings on in New Japan Pro Wrestling, but I don’t think being able to answer basic questions about pro wrestling generally should be too much to ask. You can just hear the other announcers (there are three on this show) doing their best to work around him. I feel for whoever decided to give him the tryout. I hope he didn’t get too much abuse over it, because I can see myself making the same mistake.

It took me 49 minutes to watch everything that could have possibly been worthwhile on WWE’s 120 minute Royal Rumble Kickoff show. I could have done it slightly faster, but I had to pause so I could answer the door for Federal Express. My point is that nobody needs a two hour pregame show, especially if you’re then going to insist on a four or five hour main card padded with overly long entrances and video packages. More for the sake of more is not better. People have lives to live, and none of us really cares how much you’re boosting the number of minutes viewed on the Network in order to look good for shareholders.

The two highlights from the preshow were the kid who kept yelling “You’re cheating!” at Shinsuke Nakamura when he was messing with the turnbuckle and the Cruiserweight 4-way. I thought for sure that Itami was going to walk out new champ, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Murphy retain. WWE and wrestling as a whole needs more champions that seem unbeatable. Hopefully Murphy pinning Itami somehow leads to a singles match between the two. I bet that would be pretty good.

When I fired up the Rumble proper and saw 4 hours and 53 minutes, I literally screamed out loud to no one but me, the computer, the walls of my living room and whatever hate-filled, vengeful gods made this possible. All these poor saps watching live had to sit there for seven fucking hours. That’s not something you do to people that you aren’t trying to get to confess to something.

I’ve been staying away from websites to avoid spoilers as best I can, but I bet when I go back I’ll find complaining about Becky Lynch tapping clean to Asuka. And I bet a lot of it will be from the same people who complained when WWE was ruining Asuka. But you’ll get no complaining from me. It was a good match between two popular wrestlers that somebody had to win. Besides, I’m pretty sure Becky is winning the Rumble later anyway. It’s either her or Charlotte.

Jesus Christ, Shane McMahon just hit a shooting star press. I’m not his biggest fan, but credit where it’s due. Most legitimate athletes can’t do that.

Garbage announcing moment of the night so far goes to Tom Phillips trying to argue that Becky Lynch is the freshest person in the Royal Rumble, completely forgetting that she wrestled a long title match in the fucking opener. A long title match that he called, no less.

Yup, Becky wins. And thank god she did, because something had to save this match. There’s always a default level of enjoyment to a Royal Rumble because you never know who might be coming out next, but god almighty this dragged like hell until the last few minutes. There were some nice elimination saves, but not much else.

Let me tell you how boring that women’s Rumble was. It was so boring that it made it very hard for me to enjoy Daniel Bryan and A.J. Styles. WWE would have been wise to put the Cruiserweights in that spot, because the last thing this show needed right now was a slow, methodical match. It especially didn’t need a slow, methodical match with a bad finish.

On that subject, why is Erick Rowan with Daniel Bryan? And does it mean the Bludgeon Brothers aren’t coming back as a team? The thought of that makes me very sad, because they were kind of my favourite.

I enjoyed the Balor Lesnar match, even though I was right about them doing the wrong thing and leaving the belt on Brock. What I could have absolutely done without is Brock going back twice to throw Finn around like a complete nothing afterwards. If there’s going to be a rematch maybe that’s ok, but otherwise you’re taking a guy you want people to get behind not to mention one that we’re more than ready to see at a main event level and giving us no reason to do so because he’s never getting his revenge. It’s the sort of thing that makes you wonder if this company is actually interested in creating stars.

Elias and Jeff Jarrett starting out the Rumble together was a fun surprise. I just wish they’d sung some of With My Baby Tonight before Elias attacked him.

Why did Elias attack him, anyway? I thought he was a face now.

What in the absolute fuck? I was thinking to myself that this men’s Rumble had been somewhat better than the women’s, and then Nia Jax appeared, beat up R-Truth, took his spot and then eliminated, of all possible people, Mustafa Ali. The same Mustafa Ali that pinned the world champion and went toe to toe with Samoa Joe. Are you shitting me right now? Go to hell, WWE. Like I seriously can’t get through one post without you idiots fucking something up. That may be the new stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. Ok so it’s not because I lived through Vince Russo, but you know what I mean. Holy fucking fuck on a stack of fucks.

Seth wins. Cool. I don’t care. I’m more impressed with myself for showing enough restraint to not shut the damn show off. Thank god for Impact, New Japan and ROH. And please let All Elite Wrestling become an actual thing. I’m leaving. I hate wrestling a lot right now.

Return Of The Wrestling Notepad

So with the McMahons running both Raw and Smackdown together now, where does that leave the brand split? If the same people are in charge of everything it seems a little weird to keep it separated. But still, I hope they do. It may not make perfect sense, but I’d prefer that to watching the same few people and stories on every single show.

Oh shit, I just had a thought. What if the brands stay split so that we can lead to a storyline where there is conflict in the McMahon family and two of them end up running each show instead of the four as a group like it is now? God, please let me be wrong.

Speaking of McMahons, I’m not sure how I feel about Vince taking Strowman out of the title match at the Rumble. At least he didn’t cower in fear at the feet of the almighty McMahons and ended up finishing the job of destroying Vince’s car in response, but I’m already seeing way too much McMahon involvement on the shows. They have their hands in just about everything on some level, which is what I was afraid of. I wish they could run things Jack Tunney style. Show up now and then when something truly calls for them, but be otherwise invisible aside from occasional references to matches they’ve made. Why do we need Triple H motivating Seth Rollins? Why do we need Vince unleashing A.J. Styles’ “inner animal”? Why do we need Shane teaming with Miz even if that one is half way interesting at least up to the point where Shane has to wrestle and they’re probably going to be tag champs in a couple of weeks? We don’t. And whatever they’re going to shoehorn Stephanie into, we aren’t going to need that either, I’m guessing.

But all that said, I suppose what they did here with Braun was probably better than having him get attacked and injured for the second time in two months. Nobody wants to cheer for a fragile, injury prone superhuman monster.

Sasha Banks has got to be the most unlikable babyface on Raw. Why is she a babyface at all? She’s so egotistical that she can’t get along with anyone, she’s been known to attack her friends for no good reason and just generally carries herself like a total heel. I just watched Ronda Rousey put her over after they won a tag match on Raw and Sasha had to go and turn it into a bitch please, there’s no way you’re beating me at the Rumble situation. Why create that conflict? The conflict is already there. Ronda has a belt that you want and you’re going to wrestle for it. In fact, she chose to challenge you because she thinks you’re one of the best around. Be nice.

Before these new superstars are assigned to either Raw or Smackdown, we’ll be seeing them on both shows so we can really see what they’re all about. Translation: We have 30 writers and 0 plans.

What in the hell is Otis Dozovic doing here? More importantly, why is he doing it? Yes he has that weird side to him, but you can’t force it like this. It takes away everything that makes it great.

I love the idea of Finn Balor taking Braun’s place in the title match. It’s a great story. First ever Universal Champion. Never lost because he had to give up the belt when he got hurt. Never got his 1-on-1 rematch. Now he finally fights his way into getting it, but it’s against Brock friggin Lesnar who nobody can beat. If Finn wins, he’s made. The fans already love him and they even went as far as having John Cena endorse him at the end of Raw. It all seems so perfect. So perfect that there’s no way they’ll do it.

I’m so behind on watching New Japan it isn’t funny. How behind? I’m still working my way through the Junior Tag League leading up to Power Struggle. That was October. It is now January. But I don’t plan to jump ahead, because I’m enjoying it. Obviously I haven’t been able to avoid every single spoiler, but I’ve done well enough that plenty of things are still exciting and surprising when they happen. Besides, it’s super refreshing to watch a product with stories that largely make sense and where the worst thing I can say about like 90 percent of the matches is well, nothing wrong with that.

Since NJPW often puts champions in their tournaments, why don’t they give you an extra point if you beat one? I’m ok if they don’t do this because beating a champ usually leads to something down the road, but it would add another small layer of interest and suspense.

Really enjoyed Keith Lee vs. Kassius Ohno from NXT. It was athletic, it was hard hitting, it was just about anything you’d want from a big dude match. It was also the best I’ve seen Lee look since he started showing up on NXT TV. I had a pretty strong feeling going in that he was losing because it made the most sense, so I’m glad he put in a good showing and that the loss was done in such a way that it won’t really hurt him and will only help establish Ohno as a heel.

Is the best way to build up a match between Becky Lynch and Asuka seriously to put Becky, a total badass, in an overly long, back and forth match with one of the IIconics, who are constantly portrayed as irritating geeks? At least Asuka killed the other one, but even that makes Becky look somewhat ineffective and over matched for not being able to do the same thing.

Boy did they ever just make Jimmy Uso sound like an idiot. You’ve got Mandy Rose feuding with Naomi, his real life wife. To get to her, she keeps coming on to Jimmy. So she sends him a note and a gift. The gift turns out to be a hotel room key.

“What are you going to do,” brother Jey asks.

“I don’t know,” is the reply.

Maybe send your brother in your place? He’s single and you’re twins, numbnuts.

Why is Andrade Cien Almas just Andrade all of a sudden? Is he joining the women’s division?

Samoa Joe and Mustafa Ali is a feud I can definitely get behind. Only problem is that somebody is going to have to lose in the end. I suppose that person should be Joe since he’ll have a much easier time rebuilding after the loss than Ali would. Joe has years of credibility and more than enough presence to recover and move on. If Ali loses he’s just another small dude and you can forget about him being taken seriously as the heart of anything.

Miz is throwing a birthday party for Shane McMahon. I hope he gets him some wrestling training so he can learn how to throw punches and how not to smash his head on the ground so often.

Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio. What a great match! Easily could have been the best match on some PPVs. I’d love to see them have another one. Maybe at Mania with masks or hair on the line?

This is not, as the video says, the full match. But it does it far more justice than the one minute WWE uploaded.

Wrestling Notepad

A few random thoughts as I catch up on some shows I’m behind on. I’m trying to get back into the habit of leaving a Notepad file open and writing down whatever pops into my head in it the way I’d gotten sucked into doing on Twitter and then putting it up here when it feels like I’ve said enough. It’s been pretty enjoyable treating Twitter as if it hardly exists, by the way. I encourage you all to give it a go if you find yourself annoyed by the people on and/or the companies that run social media.

I don’t have much to say about the so-called WWE shakeup yet. My gut reaction is that going back to the same well you’ve been drinking from for two decades and putting more McMahons on TV isn’t the answer, but I’m willing to wait and see. If things get more exciting, more logical and start feeling fresher, it doesn’t really matter to me how we get there. And that’s going to be hard to judge until we get back to live shows, start building towards the Rumble and Mania and then see what happens beyond that point when things traditionally start slowing down some. For now the shows have been largely enjoyable, so I’ll take it.

Speaking of getting back to live shows, watching Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is reminding me how much I appreciate them. The fake crowd noise on everything WWE tapes in advance is fucking egregious. Impact has been guilty of this lately too, especially during some of the backstage interview segments. The noise of the crowd for any segment should not sound three times larger than the crowd that’s actually in your building. Everyone please stop. You’re not fooling anyone.

New Daniel Bryan is the best, but if he’s a completely new man and the old Daniel Bryan is dead, why is he still using the same music?

Nice that they put the US title on Rusev, but why they didn’t do something with him months and months ago when he was up there with the most popular acts in the company by crowd response I don’t know. I hope they’re not too late to truly capitalize on it.

Unless end of year awards mean a lot to you or you enjoy watching recaps, you only need to bother with about the last 12 minutes of January 2nd’s two hour NXT. Seriously, if it’s a best of show, just say so. If this were the old days and I was forced to stick around that long for one original thing I’d be pissed. At least Matt Riddle Vs. Kassius Ohno was an enjoyable original thing, and one that has me intrigued since it looks based on the post match stuff like the feud will continue. Not sure how that’s exactly going to work come match time since Ohno was knocked out in six seconds in the first one and tapped out in the second, but NXT generally has a plan so I’ll go with it.

I know a lot of people really don’t like Josh Mathews, but he’s not that bad. Give him a decent partner and a good product to call and he’s perfectly fine. He’s no Jim Ross, but who is?

On the subject of things people really don’t seem to like, this undead realm storyline with Allie and Su Yung. Is it kind of silly? Yes. Does it make wrestling look like a cartoon? Yes. But you can say the same things about the Undertaker, and he’s only one of the most successful and beloved wrestling characters of all time. This stuff isn’t always my cup of tea either, but everyone involved is playing their parts well, it gets Jim Mitchell back on TV (how that guy hasn’t been steadily employed in wrestling is a mystery to me), and you can’t fault Impact or really anyone else for trying something different. That’s the beauty of wrestling. It can be just about anything you want it to be. On the creative end you can experiment, and on the fan end if you don’t like one thing, there’s always a next thing. And before anyone says anything, there’s a big difference between not liking a logical story because it’s just not your jam and tearing apart an illogical one because it’s nonsensical.

Matt Sydal is one of my favourite wrestlers to watch. He’s maybe not as complete an all around package as a Daniel Bryan or an A.J. Styles, but his name on a card pretty well guarantees at least a good match no matter whose it’s next to. Impact is lucky to have him, especially now with such a range of proven stars and guys nobody really knows coming in and out. You could do a lot worse than having a guy around who can work with pretty well anybody.

At first I thought Braun Strowman was a dumb sounding name for a pro wrestler, but I think I’m mostly ok with it now. Dolph Ziggler, on the other hand, still sounds goofy as hell after all these years.

Credit where it’s due to WWE. Their matches are often so patterned that when Drew McIntyre was spending what seemed like four to six months beating on and jawing at Dolph during the cage match, I was sure Dolph was winning because Drew would slip on a banana peel or get distracted by songs. Nope. Poor Dolph. Always such a geek. Speaking of which, I’m sure the idea was that we’d be impressed when Dolph wouldn’t stay down after the match, but because of how we’ve been taught to view him, he came off like a dumbshit that didn’t know when to leave well enough alone and got his ass kicked twice more for it.

I didn’t expect Apollo Crews to win the IC title, but I hope that the last few weeks of featuring him more aren’t a blip and that they do decide to do something with him. I don’t know what his ceiling is, but it’s definitely higher than random punching bag that does a few cool moves.

Ember Moon. Cool name, cool gimmick, cool music. But Shenom? What is that? I get the wordplay, but seriously, what is that? Rhetorical question, obviously. Clearly it’s yet another WWE attempt at branding gone awry.

I’m not up on my WWE merch, but are the New Day actually selling these fucking pancakes or are they just annoying me with them for no reason? I have not understood one second of this.

How is it fair that Samoa Joe and Jeff Hardy have to wrestle a match to get into a 5-way later on in the same night but none of the other guys in it have matches beforehand? It’s especially weird since Joe won the match, so now the heel is the one trying to overcome the odds.

Who’d have thought that after all these years somebody would finally get the better of John Cena in a promo battle and that that person would be Becky Lynch? That was great.

Not sure why after that they ended up being partners in a mixed tag, but hey, it was fun enough for a phoned in New Year’s show, I suppose.

For the record, Joe did not overcome the odds. Styles won, which means we’re getting him and Bryan for the belt again. That’ll work.

A Miserable Day For Childhood Steve

2019 seems to be getting off to a rather 2016-like start on the celebrity death front.

Mean Gene Okerlund and Super Dave Osborne both died today. Both were 76 and awesome in their own ways.

Mean Gene is the best wrestling interviewer I’ve ever seen. He had a way of making bad promos decent and good ones better that we could really use in wrestling today. Even in the era of big personalities that he worked in, he always seemed to know how to react and stand out just right and just enough to be useful and memorable. He could also be pretty subtly funny for a guy whose job it was to be a straight man. I feel bad for all the kids today cutting promos to themselves and their friends. They don’t have an easy starting point like “Well ya know somethin’ Mean Gene!” to fall back on the way we did.

Also, have this video of him interviewing The Crusher, because it’s hilarious. Wrestling today needs more Crushers and more Mean Genes.

Speaking of hilarious, even though it was kind of a one note joke, I can’t think of too many times when Super Dave Osborne didn’t make me laugh. Everything from “Saskatchewan seal skin bindings” to him cursing out Mike Walden and the assistants after he’d been maimed always brings back happy family memories for me.

That last one isn’t great quality, but I’m glad I found it because it used to be my sister’s favourite when she was little. I’m pretty sure somewhere my mom still has an old VHS tape of her dancing along to it on TV.