Daniel Bryan Lost A Match. It’s Ok. Breathe. Plus An Amazing Song And Some Other Things

For some reason I have things to say about wrestling, so I shall say them now. As usual, inspiration comes from one of these.

Daniel Bryan losing to Rusev on Smackdown was the wrong call.

I have no idea why this is a thing, but yes, people are honest to Christ losing their shit about a guy everyone loves dropping one match to a guy everyone likes a lot. It’s completely dumb and is good for nothing but giving those who think the internet fans will never be happy no matter what more reason to ignore us.

Daniel Bryan will be fine. He’s always fine when he loses. That’s part of why he’s special. Plus the last thing we need is Daniel Bryan in a ladder match. Remember, he’s the guy who we all thought until a couple months ago would never wrestle again because of concussions that took him out of the ring for two years. Relax and enjoy Rusev Day. He needs the spot more than Bryan does anyway.

Kevin Owens signing a new 5-year deal with WWE is great news.

He’s easily my favourite full-timer in WWE, so yeah, I’m thrilled. He’s one of the few who can give a WWE style interview and have it not come off terribly. He always delivers in the ring. He can make you love him or hate him with the snap of a finger and make it seem effortless. He’s gold. Give him all the money.

If WWE runs a three MITB matches at this year’s MITB PPV they will run the risk of burning out the gimmick.

The gimmick? Nah. Money In The Bank as a concept has built-in intrigue that’s almost impossible to get tired of. But burning out crowds might be another matter. Three ladder matches in one night is a lot. They might be able to get away with it once similar to how they pulled off the men’s and women’s Royal Rumbles this year, but once that novelty is gone it could be a tough slog if they try to make it an annual thing. There’s only so many things you can do in a ladder match, and once you’ve seen them the first time, you don’t need to see them twice more on the same day.

WWE attempting to portray Roman Reigns as a “Daniel Bryan-like” figure is a poor plan.

Hilariously poor. Who could possibly have Daniel Bryan style sympathy for Roman Reigns, a giant, unlikable, good looking man from a generations deep wrestling family who has been given every chance to succeed but keeps losing big matches without really being screwed over all that much? Yeah there was that cage match at the Oil Rumble that he maybe should have won, but he lost at Mania simply because Brock Lesnar kicked his ass in a fair fight, which I would argue means he shouldn’t have been in that cage match to begin with.

The reason the Daniel Bryan thing worked with Daniel Bryan is because Daniel Bryan is everything Roman Reigns isn’t. He’s a small, odd looking indie guy who it sure seemed management wanted nothing to do with making anything out of until the cheering simply got too loud to ignore. Even then, they held off and held off, fucking the guy over at every turn. He would get beaten up by management or by managements lackeys on a weekly basis. Every time he lost, there was a legitimate fear that he might never get another chance. It was a weird mix of storyline and real life that was helped out by Bryan being an actual person. There’s a sense of honesty and authenticity to him that very few people in wrestling have now, and even people who didn’t know his whole story could relate to it. Roman Reigns is fine as a wrestler, but what is he, really? He’s a package of catch phrases and not a whole lot else in a character development sense.

And let’s not forget that the entire reason that Roman Reigns gets booed out of buildings to this day is that in 2015, he won the Royal Rumble that was designed (based on the story WWE was telling) to be Bryan’s big return from injury and road to getting back the belt he never lost. WWE puts out a lot of forgettable product, but people do remember that and poor Roman has been doomed ever since.

Wait, did somebody say poor Roman?

I’ve been waiting and waiting for a chance to use that. You have no idea how happy I am right now.

Anyway, I don’t know what the answer for WWE is here, but trying to make us see all of Roman’s advantages as his disadvantages almost certainly isn’t it.

The AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura feud has been completely under whelming so far.

It certainly hasn’t been New Japan, I’ll say that. But it’s had it’s moments. The matches have been fine other than the stupid No DQ finish referenced in the tweet above and I like that they’re finally giving Shinsuke something resembling a personality, so I’ll let it play out and see where it goes before I say it’s completely underwhelming.

I haven’t seen Smackdown yet, but I hear their next go round is going to be a Last Man Standing Match. You know, the kind of match where you have to put somebody down for a 10 count. Don’t even think about it, WWE. Don’t even think about it.

WWE Backlash was a horrible PPV.

I didn’t hate this show the way most people seemed to hate it. There was only one truly worthwhile match on it (Seth and Miz) while the rest was rounded out by lots of questionable booking and complete wastes of my time, but that’s how it goes fairly often with WWE. Anyone who thinks it was legendarily bad needs to go back and watch Heroes of Wrestling or year 2000 WCW again and get back to me.

Something I Hate About Modern Wrestling Interviews

Yes, I know there are a lot of things to hate about many of them, but I’m going to keep it to just one thing that’s bugging me right now after having just watched Smackdown.

Please, wrestlers, stop talking about how good your matches are going to be. As a fan trying to suspend my disbelief and buy into the idea that your job and your ultimate goal in life is to compete in and win a contest, you’re killing it for me. AJ Styles telling Shinsuke Nakamura that at Wrestlemania they’re going to tear the house down together because that’s what they do is the kind of thing that ruins matches for me. I don’t read comics or watch superhero movies, but I doubt Superman ever got Lex Luthor face to face and told him that together they were going to give everyone at home the most action-packed, exciting film they had ever seen. Why? Because it would ruin the illusion, and ruining the illusion is dumb.

If you want to talk about how you’re going to beat a guy’s ass all over the arena, cool. How he’s going to be a tough opponent and you know you’re in for the fight of your life, great. How he’s good but you’re better and you’re going to prove it, fantastic. But for Christ’s sake, don’t make it sound like you’re cooperating to put on a stunt show. Saying that you have the best match on the card every night and that makes you great is fan talk. It’s reserved for guys like me who pay money to watch guys like you. When you’re off camera or doing a shoot interview, by all means, judge the shit out of everyone’s matches. But giving your matches star ratings in character is insulting to guys like me. You’re standing in front of me yelling “THIS IS FAKE!” at the top of your lungs, essentially. Nobody wants to hear that. Don’t do it.

You Have Got To Be Shitting Me

I just read this in the Observer and I could hardly believe my fucking eyes. I mean it shouldn’t surprise me because WWE is WWE and half the time it seems they just do not fucking get it like at all, but Jesus Christ! You sign Ronda Rousey, one of the biggest stars in combat sports today, with the ultimate goal of getting Stephanie motherfucking McMahon, who is the worst, over to a wider audience? Good lord do I ever hope somebody is feeding poor Dave a line here. Seriously, I’m so mad!

As far as Rousey goes, the key item not really talked about is the goals and a major reason why she is there from a company standpoint. All the different questions about her value to the company financially I’m told are secondary.
The key to Rousey is more about Stephanie McMahon, which is why they want that super high-profile match (and if they can get Johnson, it makes it even more high-profile). Stephanie McMahon is a big star in wrestling, but she is not a mainstream star at all. It was explained to me that the key in all this goes back to what made Vince McMahon a big star, which was the program with Steve Austin, and what made Steve Austin a breakthrough star past being a pro wrestling top guy, which was hardly an interview at King of the Ring or the WrestleMania match with Bret Hart, as legend has it, but the angle in Fresno with Mike Tyson.
Rousey is a major sports star. The idea that she was the single most searched female athlete in the U.S. on the Internet in 2017, a year she never competed and for the most part laid low in, speaks volumes. The idea for the program is to make Stephanie a star outside of just the pro wrestling world.

Serious question: Is Stephanie really a big star in the wrestling world? Yes she’s a McMahon and yes she’s all over every inch of the fucking programming, but is she really a star? Are people honest to god buying tickets to WWE events in the hopes that Stephanie McMahon will show up and drone on and on and on and on and goddam on, burying all of the wrestlers in her WWE speak robot voice? I have yet to meet that person, but should the day ever come that I do it’s going to take every single ounce of restraint I can muster not to punch him in the uvula.

If this is really a thing that’s actually happening I kind of hope this company dies, because there truly is no hope left.

Lazily Mashed Out Wrestling Opinions! Yay!

“Haven’t done one of these in a long ass time,” he said yet again.

1. Rusev is the most underutilized man on the WWE roster.

No. A pretty hard no, actually. Picking the most underutilized person on the roster is basically impossible, because there are so many of them. He’s not winning all of his matches on his way to a years long title run, but at least he’s on tv and the crowds, whether they’re supposed to or not, love the hell out of him. Plus he’s going to sell a shitload of Rusev Day merch. Talk to me when he becomes Heath Slater, who the crowd was getting behind but is now back to being a punching bag and not even an amusing one most weeks.

2. The Smackdown top 10 list is a silly idea, that will lead to nothing and will soon be gone.

Yes. A pretty hard yes, actually. Top whatever lists in wrestling rarely ever work anyway, and how do you expect WWE, who can’t keep their logic straight from show to show or sometimes even segment to segment, to keep track of it? Plus the whole thing is confusing. We don’t even know what the point is. If it’s to rank contenders for the WWE Title, why are there tag teams and women on it? For that matter, why is the champion on it? And what’s the reward for being number one or number two. Right now the whole thing seems to have been designed as a lazy way for Randy Orton to act like a fucking baby about being ranked ninth. I hope it dies.

3. Dolph Ziggler could leave wrestling tomorrow and it wouldn’t bother you one bit.

I could do without this incarnation of him where he drops the U.S. belt, says he’s not appreciated, disappears for a month and a half only to return as the same geek he was when he left like none of that happened, but I would certainly be disappointed if the real person left wrestling on anything other than his own terms. Same goes for anyone else in that situation. He’s a definite talent, he’s just been a victim of WWE not knowing what they’re doing. He’s hardly alone there.

By the way, am I the only one who was hoping that the Ziggler gives up the title storyline would consist of him coming back, winning it again and then dropping it repeatedly until management tells him that if he doesn’t actually defend it this time he’s fired or that he’ll never get to wrestle for any belt ever again? That would have been so much more interesting.

4. It’s taken almost a year in a half, but WWE 205 Live is becoming must see TV.

Oh my jesus no. I’ve been giving it another chance the last few weeks because I’ve been hearing good things about it, but while it’s certainly gotten better, it’s nothing I would order you to drop everything and watch. The wrestling has been good, they’re trying to scale back on the awful backstage segments and who doesn’t like a good tournament, but it’s still basically the same WWE presentation in front of the deadest of dead ass crowds that made it feel like the third hour of Smackdown that nobody asked for that it’s been since the beginning. I’m not telling you not to watch it because you maybe should if you need a few more decent wrestling matches in your life, but if you don’t watch it, that’s ok. Life will go on and you won’t have missed much.

Oh, and why is Cedric Alexander being forced to go through a tournament to earn his shot at the Cruiserweight Title? The poor bastard has been fucked out of two or three chances already through no fault of his own. Shouldn’t the winner of the tournament have to face him at Mania to crown the new champion? For all this talk about new bookers and a new philosophy, this seems like more of the same old all of the babyfaces in WWE are dicks mentality that’s one of the biggest turnoffs about Raw and Smackdown. Old habits die hard, I suppose.

5. Elias will win the 2018 Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.

Who cares? That’s a serious question. WWE has done exactly zero with anyone else who’s won it. It’s just a way to get a bunch of bodies onto Mania that would otherwise have nothing to do. Whoever wins will get a couple weeks worth of promos and some camera time with the trophy out of it and then it’ll be forgotten.

6. Following the departure of Jeremy Borash, Impact Wrestling should bring in Kevin Kelly to do commentary with Don Callis.

Impact has far bigger things to worry about than who’s calling the action. For instance, how do we tape 37 million shows in a week and then stretch them out over months of tv time and keep them feeling fresh? Do we really need to pad them with matches from random indie shows and make it look like we don’t have enough material? How do we make literally anything that happens on our program feel in any way important? How do we not screw up this latest reset? Kelly and Callis are as good as it gets as far as announce teams go. They’re an absolute joy to listen to, but they’re also calling one of the best wrestling products in the world. As it is right now, I don’t know how much of a difference they would make on Impact even though Callis is partly in charge of the place. I’m sure it would be cool to hear them there one day, but first I’d like for Impact to feel like more than a thing that exists simply because nobody’s been able to kill it. Announcers are a big part of the presentation, but you could have put Jim Ross, Mauro Ranallo and Gordon Solie on last year’s 205 Live and I still would have stopped watching it.

Well, that sure was nice and glum. Hopefully things will be better when we do this again…whenever that is.

Dear Impact Wrestling:

I’m going to be as nice about this as I can, because in spite of everything you’ve done in the last 15 years to ensure that you don’t, I’ve always wanted you to do well. I’m a strong proponent of competition in every industry, and for that reason alone I’d prefer that you survive and thrive.

But lately you’ve really started testing that viewpoint.

All these years, you’ve always been something. Whether it was hope for an alternative to WWE, a platform for talented people who would never get a chance anywhere else to have great matches that might actually be seen by somebody, some of the worst television to which I have ever subjected myself, the little engine that could if only a few chips would fall just right, a place where guys could go for a second chance or to learn or to prolong their careers because the schedule was easier, for better or worse, there was a reason to pay attention to you. That reason too often tended to be the same one that makes us unable to look away from violent accidents, but it was still a reason.

But now? You’re just boring. No, I don’t mean behind the scenes. You’ve never been dull in that department, though I confess even that’s starting to grow tiresome. I’m talking about the product. Yes, you have an enjoyable roster (at least what’s left of it). Yes, sometimes your shows aren’t bad. but every week, even after the decent ones, I find myself asking what’s the point of this? Why am I watching it? And increasingly I have no good answers to those questions other than because it’s wrestling. When I watch Impact, I feel like I’m watching people put on a wrestling show because they have to instead of because they want to. Nothing feels inspired. Nothing ever really leads anywhere. Nothing feels fresh or exciting or must see. You just exist out of a sense of contractual obligation and because you refuse to die.

But maybe you should die. Yes,I said it. Maybe before you get the chance to cost anyone else multiple millions more dollars and completely ruin the Fight Network in the process, perhaps it’s time to book your ticket to the big ring in the sky.

I understand this isn’t easy to process. The world needs TNA, after all. And you know what? Maybe it does. But it sure as shit doesn’t need this boring ass middle of the road no reason to pay attention to it version of TNA that still acts like it’s a major national promotion even though it routinely gets out-drawn and out-qualitied by companies that have a 10th the budget if they’re lucky. I know Anthem wants to fix you, but I fear it’s too late. You’ve finally hit that point, Impact. You’ve done too much damage to yourself. No rebranding is going to turn this thing around (not that you could pull one off even if it could). It’s time to give up.

You might be wondering what the last straw was. Why have I, one of your last friends in the world, forsaken you?

Well, You saw your last couple months of shows, didn’t you? Of course you did, you’re Impact. You cobbled them together from other people’s old footage, amounts of filler that would almost make WWE jealous and a few segments taped in front of some seriously dead crowds in your own building and still had the nerve to charge $50 Canadian for Bound For Glory. The moment I saw that, I knew. You’ve never done well at accepting reality. You’ve never been content being what you are. You always wanted to be something more, but rather than figuring out how to become that you just covered your ears and pretended you were already there. And I realize now that it doesn’t matter who’s in charge. You’re never going to change, because you’ve never had to. If there’s one thing you are good at it’s making smart people do stupid things seemingly without limit or exception so that for you, change is unnecessary. And yes, I put myself in that category. There’s no way in hell I’m paying that price for your damn PPV, but I’m not going to abandon you outright even though I should. How can I? We’ve been through a lot. It’s hard to just let go. Plus I’m not giving up the Fight Network, so I’ll always be supporting you by default until they pass you on to the next poor sap who thinks he can make a go of it or you kill them.

I know you’re not going to listen to me. You’re Impact. You don’t listen to anyone unless they’re saying nice things or look gullible and are carrying a big cheque. But I really do want what’s best for you and for everyone around you and I hope that you’ll at least think about it. Then again if you were much better at thinking than you are at listening we’d likely not be having this conversation, so maybe I’m just wasting my time. But at least I’ve still got that 50 bucks in my pocket, so I guess there’s that.

Good talk,
Steve

So Long, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. You Were The Best


As a tiny, wrestling watching kid, Bobby Heenan was a hard guy for me to wrap my head around. On one hand he was this terrible man who kept getting other terrible men to attack all my heroes, but as somebody who was also drawn to comedy and broadcasting from a very early age, I couldn’t take my eyes off of him because he was an absolutely hilarious guy who could talk like nobody’s business. It didn’t help that one of the terrible men he managed was Big John Studd, who I got to meet when I was seven years old and who to this day is still way up there at the top of the list of the nicest famous people I’ve ever met, even though he wasn’t supposed to be because wrestling was real.

But all of that said, any bit of internal conflict that may have existed in my brain didn’t matter, because Bobby Heenan was special. He was so fantastic at his job that it was easy to laugh at all of his jokes but still hate him at the same time. His lines about the Big Boss Man’s mother often had me rolling, for instance, but I still kind of hoped Boss Man would slap the piss out of him one day.

Everybody has their favourite Bobby moment. Yours might even be in that tribute video up there. As for me, there are two that come to mind immediately.

First, there’s the Barbershop window.

Yes, this was mainly about the Rockers splitting up and was a pretty heavy angle by WWF standards, but I’ll never forget Bobby’s commentary. “Jannetty tried to dive through the window to escape!” is one of my favourite lines ever. But even as ridiculous as it was, it somehow fit perfectly. It takes talent to pull something like that off, and nobody could do that sort of thing quite like The Brain.

And then there’s the 1992 Royal Rumble match. If you have the Network, go back and listen to Bobby. The way he lives and dies with everything Ric Flair does is incredible, and it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that it required almost as much energy as actually being in the ring.

Whatever your best memory is I hope you treasure it, because I doubt we’ll ever see anyone else like Bobby Heenan. People say it all the time, but he really was one of a kind. I don’t know if heaven is a real place, but if it is, any minute now I expect to hear Gorilla Monsoon yelling “Will you stop!” from all the way there.

Rest well, Brain.

I’ve Given Up On 205 Live. Maybe I’ll Watch Smash Wrestling On The Fight Network Instead

Aside from this Sunday’s ridiculously named Great Balls of Fire PPV which has been built fairly well and actually looks pretty good on paper, I’m getting pretty goddamn sick of WWE these days. I’ve gone over the reasons why more times than I can count here, so I won’t bother doing it again. I will say though that a couple weeks ago I decided to give up on 205 Live.

When they announced it, I was excited. The Cruiserweight Classic was so fantastic and so fun that a weekly version sounded like a great idea even though it meant yet another hour of WWE to add to the schedule. Unfortunately, what we ended up getting is everything that the Cruiserweight Classic wasn’t, which is to say another hour of the same old WWE style programming just with nothing but small dudes. The wrestling isn’t different, the storylines are boring, it’s just not worth watching. I feel bad because the roster is made up of a lot of guys I enjoy, but when it comes right down to it, I don’t need a third hour of Smackdown after 3 hours of Raw I didn’t really need the night before.

None of this is me saying that I suddenly hate wrestling or don’t want to watch more of it. Far from it. A lot of it exists on a much smaller scale than it did back in the day, but there’s more decent to excellent wrestling out there now than anyone could possibly watch. That’s one of the reasons I appreciate the Fight Network. If you want to, you can get a taste of all sorts of alternatives. Stuff from Mexico, stuff from Japan, Ring of Honor, TNA…Er…Impact Wrestling…er…Global Force Wrestling which is actually worth your time after a rocky start for the new owners (A.K.A. the Fight Network itself) and the new creative people, stuff from the UK, the various American indies that come and go from the schedule and now Smash Wrestling, a Canadian company I’ve heard a lot about but never had a chance to see. Who knows, maybe it’ll become my 205 Live replacement.

TORONTO – Fight Network, the world’s premier 24/7 multi-platform channel dedicated to complete coverage of combat sports, today announced a broadcast partnership with leading Canadian professional wrestling promotion Smash Wrestling.
Beginning on July 20, Fight Network will televise a weekly one-hour series from Smash Wrestling on Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET, which follows the weekly premiere of IMPACT Wrestling at 8 p.m. ET. Smash Wrestling episodes will be broadcast on Fight Network in Canada, the U.S. and globally in over 30 countries across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
The Smash Wrestling roster features premier Canadian talent such as Tyson Dux, Michael Elgin and Mike Bailey, plus regular appearances from IMPACT Wrestling stars Rosemary, Allie and Braxton Sutter, as well as highly regarded international performers such as Zack Sabre Jr., Kyle O’Reilly and Sami Callihan.
“Fight Network was established in Canada, so we’re thrilled to add a distinguished Canadian organization such as Smash Wrestling to our extensive slate of professional wrestling programming, which also includes IMPACT Wrestling, New-Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor Wrestling,” said Ariel Shnerer, Director of Programming & Communications for Anthem Sports & Entertainment Corp., the parent company of Fight Network. “Smash Wrestling has a reputation on the Canadian wrestling circuit for its high-quality matchups, talented performers and fast-paced production, so we’re confident the weekly series will be a hit with our viewers.”
“We have always had key long-term goals and one of them wasn’t just to land a television deal, but to land it with Fight Network,” said Sebastian Dastranj, founder and promoter of Smash Wrestling. “We are a Canadian pro wrestling brand airing on a network passionate about its professional wrestling content, so this is icing on the cake and a perfect fit for our product. We are exactly where we wanted to be and couldn’t be happier.”
The inaugural episode on July 20 at 10 p.m. ET will feature Lio Rush vs. Tarik and “The Demon Assassin” Rosemary vs. “The Endorsement” Sebastian Suave.
For a full listing of Fight Network’s broadcast schedule, please visit www.fightnetwork.com, follow us on Twitter @fightnet, become a fan on Facebook and visit us on Instagram @fightnet.

Does Anyone Remember Reo’s Roundup?

I’ve watched a lot of wrestling in my lifetime. I’ve forgotten the details of quite a bit of it especially in more recent times since there’s just so damn much content thrown at you so quickly now compared to the old days, but generally speaking I have quite a good memory for the stuff.

But that said, what in the hell is this?

Ok, so I know what it is. It’s Bruce Prichard doing a poor Dusty Rhodes impression, calling himself Reo Rogers and pretending to go to Calgary to visit a fake Stu and Helen Hart with Shawn Michaels before the Survivor Series in 1993. But what the hell is it? I have literally no memory whatsoever of this segment, of Reo Rogers or Reo’s Roundup.

Perhaps I repressed the memory because let’s face it, the thing is pretty fucking embarrassingly bad. But that’s precisely why I should remember it, especially since it doesn’t appear to have been a one time thing on a week I missed.

How did poor Shawn Michaels keep getting stuck on these things? Maybe it was his punishment for not dropping titles.

Did we not get this in Canada? I can’t speak for the entire country, but where I lived at the time we got pretty much all of our televised wrestling on either CHCH Hamilton or CFPL London, and those shows were often edited slightly differently from the American versions or created entirely for international markets. Was the WWF nice enough to leave these segments off? And considering some of the stuff they left in, if they did cut them, why?

Somebody please help me get to the bottom of this.

What In The Hell Is This Wrestling Match?

I haven’t watched any Dragon Gate in years, so maybe there’s a completely logical explanation for this match being the way it is and I’m just unaware of it. But seriously, get a load of this title match concept as described by Dave Meltzer in a recent edition of the Observer. It sounds like the Dragon Gate bookers got high with Vince Russo one night and decided shit man, we can totally make something more confusing than those Fight for the Right Tournaments.

They are doing a unique match in May called Dead or Alive, which is the name of their annual May PPV show. But the Dead or Alive cage match features Open the Dream Gate champion Yamato defending against Shingo Takagi, Cyber Kong, BxB Hulk and Naruki Doi. There will be flags at the top of the cage in all four corners. The Dream Gate belt will be placed on a pole. Takagi, Kong, Hulk and Doi must all capture a flag. If they capture a flag, they can move onto the match. If any of them are pinned or submitted before they capture a flag, they can’t move on to the title match. Yamato will also be in the match and they can beat him up and work him over, but he can’t be pinned or can’t submit in the match. That makes absolutely no sense if you think about it. If he’s in a submission, he can’t submit? Since Yamato can’t be eliminated, but does have to wrestle, the match continues until Yamato and one other wrestler are left, as the others can be eliminated by pin or submission. When Yamato and the other guy are left, it turns into a ladder match with the belt on the ladder, but the loser, whether Yamato or the other guy, will lose their hair, or if it’s Kong against Yamato and Kong loses, he loses his mask.

Got all that? I hope so, because I sure don’t.