The Wrestling Notepad Experience

Is Mania over yet?

Seriously, it took me almost a full week to want to watch any wrestling again after that fucking show, even stuff I knew would be good. And when I do, I’m immediately slapped in the face by how awful WWE is at writing babyfaces.

First Seth explains that hitting Brock in the beans was ok because he didn’t do anything Brock wouldn’t have. Way to take the high road, dude.

Then Curt Hawkins tries to fake an injury to win a title match even though he’s supposed to be cheered.

After that, Curt Angle, virtuous Olympic hero, comes out to insult and attack the guy who beat him fair and square the night before. Would it have been that hard for Curt to have been sincere even though they don’t like each other only to have Corbin go after him first? Then he could have retaliated and everything would have made sense.

All of that and we’re only like an hour into Raw.

Ok, so maybe they just don’t know how to write anybody. After what feels like months, Lacey Evans finally decides to do something other than interrupt a segment and leave. She comes out and hits Becky with her big finishing move. Cool, new challenger for the new champ. But wait. Becky just pops right back up and starts fighting with her. Hell of a first impression there.

I’m getting closer and closer to taking the advice I often give to other people. Forget Raw and Smackdown, just watch NXT. The shows are shorter and you’ll actually come away happy and rewarded.

Did they lie about Mania being Angle’s last match? If not, why was it him that Lars Sullivan had to show up and kill instead of almost anyone else?

Was Sami Zayn’s return promo supposed to be the voice of Vince McMahon telling us all to get off his lawn, sit down, shut up, watch the show and like it? Because that’s how I heard it.

Is it too much to ask that my wrestling announcers speak like human beings instead of like they’re reading corporate memos out loud? WWE is by far the worst offender here, but they’re not alone. Josh Mathews on Impact has this thing lately about saying that so and so is “trending in a positive direction.” If somebody said that to you in real life outside of your work hours it would take every ounce of restraint you have not to slap the face off his head. Hell, nobody wants to listen to that guy *during* work hours, so why would we want him in our entertainment unless somebody is killing him?

These poor saps. They go from being War Machine which is a pretty cool name for a tag team, to the War Raiders which took a little getting used to but is perfectly fine, to…The Viking Experience? Lol! Are they going to beat me up or are they going to teach me history while I’m visiting a museum?

And what in the fuck are these stupid announcers talking about? Do they know how dumb the name is? Someone must. Why else would they be tripping over themselves to tell us that it’s actually a very fitting name for them because they live the viking lifestyle and it’s not just a character they play a couple days a week? Nobody is supposed to feel like a throw away character, you god damn nitwits. Jesus christ. Sometimes I wish my eyes worked so I could mute these idiots.

Just had it hammered home once again that WWE really has no idea what they’re going to do from day to day. On Monday they moved Andrade from Smackdown to Raw, where he proceeded to have a good match with and then pin Finn Balor, the IC champ. Foolishly, I thought to myself ok, this must be the start of a new feud. Could be a fun one if they let it. But now here we are the next night on Smackdown and out trots Finn fucking Balor. Why? Who even knows? But at least he got to have a good match and win this time, for whatever that’s worth in this stupid company.

For the first time I can remember, the New Day’s pancakes were remotely entertaining. Nice work, Big O.

How is Becky getting away with calling herself Becky Two Belts? Shouldn’t she have to be Becky Multiple Championships?

Jesus. They finally did it. Bayley got booed. Bayley! They weren’t trying to get her booed, of course. But there’s only so long you can treat the most natural babyface to come along in decades like a complete loser geek before people will take no more.

Between Becky and the IIconics I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the word belt more in this one segment than I have in the last 15 years of television.

Has anyone pointed out how silly the Superstar Shakeup is now that in storyline the same four people are in charge of all the shows? Major “acquisitions” don’t feel nearly so major when you’re only negotiating with yourself.

I’m glad WWE didn’t waste their time before making Cedric Alexander into just another geek on Raw. Means I won’t have to waste any of mine pulling for him.

That didn’t take long. The Viking Experience are now the Viking Raiders. That’s much less awful. But the name isn’t totally dead. They’ve renamed their finisher the Viking Experience. You know what? I’m ok with that. It sounds much better as the name of a move than the name of a team.

Ever the masters of subtlety, WWE has added a silly ass cartoon spring noise to the beginning of Ricochet’s entrance music. You know, because his name is Ricochet. Get it? Get it?

I know I should be excited for Seth and A.J., but I have so little faith in WWE right now that I can’t trust them not to ruin it. You just know there’s going to be some sort of stupid storyline or bad promo or needless stipulation or dumb finish because god forbid we build a wrestling match around two guys who are very good at wrestling having to wrestle each other with a title on the line.

Let me tell you what I can’t even try to get excited for. A Roman Reigns vs. Elias feud based around McMahons. Jesus. Are they trying to run people off?

Oh hey, Andrade is back on Smackdown after one week on Raw. Hell of a shake up, fellas. Christ, this company is such a fucking mess. But at least they remembered that he and Balor are supposed to be feuding, so they’ve got that going for them.

You knew Owens was going to turn on New Day at some point, but I would have liked what they did a whole lot better had they stretched it out for more than one week. It would have been much more impactful that way, I think. It’s hard to be shocked, surprised, angry or even emotionally invested in something that’s hardly had a chance to exist.

I keep harping on this, but man could WWE ever learn a few things from New Japan about how to pace a show. I just finished Wrestle Kingdom (I know I know), and even though it was well over four hours long, it never felt that way. I watched it the same way I watched Mania. Same ability to fast forward, same need to stop a few times. But never did I feel like I was watching the fucking thing for 37 straight years. In fact I was surprised how quickly I got through it. It helps a lot when the show is great, but even the best WWE shows feel like they go on too long. I can’t remember the last time WWE left me wanting more, but after WK ended, I found myself thinking that I’d start on New Year Dash if I had time.

Jesus. WWE is lucky that it was them who helped me discover wrestling 30 some odd years ago and that I’ve stuck with them through thick and so much goddamned thin. Were it not, I’d have shut this fucking Raw off as soon as they set up a wrestling match between two of the best tag teams in the entire company by having the babyfaces secretly videotape and then publicly make fun of one guy helping another guy shave his back.

No, I have no idea why ratings and attendance might be tanking. Total mystery.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I really want Sami Zayn to stop talking. I don’t even want anyone to beat him up because booooooo, the mean man isn’t being nice. I just want him to stop talking here, right now, in real life.

Speaking of not wanting to hear talking, it has begun. The Seth vs. A.J. contract signing bored me to tears. Almost 10 minutes of prattling on and on about arson and carpentry and whatever the hell and then a forced fight at the end. I already care less than I did a few days ago, and there are weeks before the match actually happens.

So Roman Reigns finally gets a chance to explain why he punched Vince McMahon and his answer is that it didn’t have to be Vince, it could have been anybody because he just wanted to remind all of us that he’s the big dog and that this is his yard? Hooooookay. So the company’s number one babyface is an insecure asshole with a temper problem. Good to know. Last time I asked when he’d get booed again I was kidding, but now I’m expecting it to start back up any day now. These people truly amaze me sometimes.

Because apparently a three person announce booth isn’t overcrowded enough, they’ve shoehorned a fourth guy into 205 Live this week. I hope this isn’t a permanent part of WWE’s let’s do too much of everything strategy.

Lol. Not sure if it was intentional, but Daniel Bryan just dropped the line of the night. “There is nothing about Monday Night Raw that is fun.” Preach, my dude.

Wild card rule? More like the lazy booking rule, or the we can’t remember anything from show to show anyway so fuck it rule, or even the sneaky way to get rid of the brand split rule. Sure right now the idea is that three people from one show can appear on the other each episode, but you know soon enough they’ll forget about the cap and it’s just going to be dudes floating everywhere until we’re back to the days of the same few people and stories being over exposed on every show.

Aaaaaaaand…that didn’t take long. They didn’t even get through one show before deciding hell with it. Bryan, Roman and Kofi had already come from Smackdown. That, you do not need to be a super math genius to figure out, is three. But now here comes Elias out to attack Roman during his match with McIntyre. Seriously, why do I bother with Raw and Smackdown or anything to do with WWE proper anymore? It’s just so much garbage. And it’s not even hilarious garbage like a lot of the stuff Vince Russo did. Sure his booking was terrible, but it had a certain holy Christ quality to it where you could look back on it and have a laugh once you were done being irritated. This shit I just get annoyed by and then forget. It makes me feel unhappy and like I’m wasting my life in a way that I thought wrestling never could.

Speaking of garbage…

Remember, the ones putting the Icy Hot in the trunks of people who have never done anything to them are the ones you’re supposed to like.

Wait, isn’t Lars Sullivan a Smackdown guy? I swear I just saw him on Smackdown feuding with Truth and beating up Hardys. That’s five.

I feel like this backstage segment where Vince is explaining the wild card rule to somebody on the phone, making sure that person thinks he’s a genius, being sure to add that Elias doesn’t count because he was with Shane, threatening to fire people and then ultimately changing his mind and making it four instead of three is kind of how some of the writers meetings go minus the part where Lars intimidated him.

I like Bryan and Rowan as Smackdown tag champs. When they said Shane McMahon would be crowning new champions I was worried that he’d either give them to himself and Elias or the B-Team. Their match with the Usos, who remembered they were supposed to be babyfaces tonight, was quite good. But now that they’ve beaten them, who’s next? Does Smackdown even have tag teams?

They just announced Goldberg vs. Undertaker for the next Saudi Arabia show. That’s going to be an awesome match 20 years ago.

It’s been weeks, and Elias as running buddy/favourite/heavy of the McMahons is still just weird. It doesn’t feel like they’re playing to his strengths at all. I know the idea is to put the guy in a more prominent role, but in the process they’re starting to take away everything that’s ever made him stand out.

These are some useless ass Money In the Bank go home shows. Literally one notable thing has happened in this five hours of television. Sami Zayn is replacing Braun Strowman in the ladder match. That’s it. A match or two has been ok, but nobody needs to watch any of this programming.

There isn’t a lot I don’t like about NXT, but one thing I could do without is the tendency to have people give up titles when they get called up to the main roster. Yes it’s developmental, I know that. but if you expect me to watch and care about a show, it needs to feel like it’s important to the people involved. I’d much rather see the War Raiders defend and drop the belts than have them just say we’re leaving now, buh bye. You can argue that it’s predictable, but it’s only as predictable as you make it. Why do they have to lose on television every time? Why not make the switch at one of the Florida house shows now and then? You do away with the issue of spoilers and you give people a reason to buy tickets. What’s not to like? Maybe logistics make it hard to do things like that especially with WWE not knowing how to plan long-term, but it shouldn’t be too much to ask that a single company be able to work with itself.

Well hey. I get to at least end this thing on a positive note. Just watched MITB, and I liked it. WWE hasn’t given me much to enjoy since Mania, but this was a good show. It never really dragged, there was lots of good action (Seth and A.J., the ladder matches, Kofi and Owens), everything felt like it either settled something or was leading somewhere (Miz and Shane have to be heading for a Hell In A Cell match since Shane escaped with a cheap win in the cage, right?), there was some unpredictability (did not see Brock showing up to win the briefcase coming), and even the stuff that wasn’t so great (the two women’s title matches) lead to something cool (Bayley cashing in on Charlotte). I don’t have faith that it won’t all get messed up quicker than you can say nice job, but for now, nice job.

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