(Don’t) Meet Me In St. Louis: Raw Regurgitated, 4/28

St. Louis's crowd was terrible, Cesaro was awesome and Hugh Jackman was ... Hugh Jackman? Raw Regurgitated, on the internet, just for you!

Although some fans may have thought that last week’s opening segment was detrimental to Daniel Bryan’s status — that those fans are the dumbest people on earth is obvious, but still feels as though it bears repeating — this segment was beyond reproach by even the most narrow-minded of fans. Just don’t, you know, tell the people in St. Louis that. They mostly just seemed confused, which is something that would remain a problem for much of the night — especially during the night’s anti  climatic segment involving the Shield and Evolution. But none of this was Bray or John’s fault. And such is the increasing problem with touring much of the midwest: horrific crowds, seemingly uninterested in the show and completely oblivious to many of the characters that have been introduced. From Iowa to Illinois, the WWE has been plagued over the past year by people in what are derisively called  flyover states, and it’s something that needs to be addressed soon. While it may seem extreme to say that buildings that get reactions like this to segments like the beginning of this show shouldn’t be allowed to have episodes of Raw, even crowds that hijack the show are less detrimental to the overall presentation of the company than crowds were no one cares. Especially when considering how many  judge the quality of things based almost entirely on crowd reaction. This is bad news for the WWE and something they should be genuinely worried about going

While Cena is being taken to task for not sticking to the tone of the story better by nearly every single commentator outside of your correspondent, nary a mention was made of the half dozen or so future superstars that he made into “names people have heard of” just by virtues of letting the proper syllables come out of his mouth. He’s not ever going to be everyone’s favorite, and while he’s character has arguably (okay, definitely) gotten stale — if not quite rotten — this all seems to be playing into the larger story idea of John Cena’s role in the company and its future. No one has ever really said anything “bad” about him as a person, of course, but it’s clear that on some level he wants to be remembered for being the anti-Hogan when it comes to building up the stars of the future.  And while it may seem like the rampant Cena fanboyism that you’ve come to know and love, we should probably at the very least appreciate that aspect of this stage of his career.

And, if nothing else, this’ll look good as part of the video package:

vlcsnap-2014-04-29-17h24m46s37

***

While your correspondent is deeply saddened — and mildly confused — about RybAxel not getting a chance to work at the PPV special event against the Usos, it’s nice to see two clearly talented performers in Ryback and Curtis Axel be given a proper showcase on the company’s flagship show. And, at his point, it seems as though Ryback has mostly managed to escape the Goldberg chants, which is always nice.

There’s something strange that happens in wrestling that doesn’t seem to exist in any other sport, but is entirely a function of it not being a sportMatches like the one between Sheamus and Titus O’Neil are the equivalent of cupcake college football games: anything type of momentum or serious offense O’Neil gets in should be considered a miracle. Sheamus is a former multi-time world champion, Royal Rumble winner and King of the Ring. Titus O’Neil is a former … tag team wrestler. The quicker people realize this, the less their head will hurt when they think about things too hard.

It’s hard to say whether the ability of almost anyone, even someone as seemingly athletic as Hugh Jackman, to throw a hip toss — because it requires almost no physical ability or training, and puts nearly all of the onus on the tossee and not the tosser to make it look good — shows the majesty of professional wrestling or how completely and totally fake the entire enterprise is. Because, that’s what was the weirdest part of this whole segment, right?

***

This, forever:

e1ieayj

Albert del Rio’s slow slide into oblivion begs the question: has he been replaced by El Torito as Mexico’s greatest export?

R Truth remains the only person on the roster that makes yr correspondent contemplate changing the channel. So, he has that going for him, which is nice?

***

I’ll be over on Twitter, planning a #FreeHeathSlater rally, if you need me.

As long as this “my wife” stuff doesn’t turn into a weird Borat impression if Daniel Bryan turns heel, Brie playing the modern/empowered version of Elizabeth to Bryan’s Savage. Hopefully this doesn’t end with Hogan/Cena stealing her  away from him, but considering the dragging  ratings for Total Divas, it’s not something we can rule out exactly.

Two things: haven’t we learned our lesson from the dangers of people performing in rings with trapdoors, or does no one remember/care what happened to the British Bulldog? And, when you can set things on fire with your hands, why on God’s green earth, wouldn’t you just use that instead of trying to scare your opponent in a wrestling match by appearing out of nowhere? Sure, the element of surprise is important, and sometimes scary. But pillars of fire are, well, PILLARS OF F*CKING FIRE.

***

*** WARNING! YOU’RE NOW ENTERING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE *** PLEASE KEEP ALL EYES AND EARS INSIDE OF KAYFABE AT ALL TIMES *** Wade Barrett’s resurgence is one of the very best things going in the WWE right now, not just because he’s a skilled worker with the type of charisma that puts butts in seats, but what it means for the future of the company. Every truly transcendent era of the company has not just been defined by those at the top, but those in the areas just below the very cream of the crop. For every Steve Austin, there needs to be a Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero and while Barrett more readily fits the mold of “world champion” than those other performers — at least in terms of size/work style — having him in feuds with people like Big E. is a strong indicator of positive growth and stable future in the WWE.

More importantly than filling that role is crucial to a successful company, however, is that this character change and reintroduction shows that the WWE is finally starting to figure out how to connect with their audiences again. Much like Paul Heyman realized that fans were looking for something approaching contemporary pop culture in their professional wrestling, the build for Bad News Barrett — along with storyline movement for performers like Fandango/Summer Rae and Damien Sandow/Dolph Ziggler — has been one which has leaned heavily on the multi-platform reach of the WWE as it enters the “Reality Era”. The WWE is beginning to look at feedback from their fans as a way to both manipulate the crowd to get the reaction they want and provide an almost constant stream of market research to determine not just what the fans want to see but how they want to see it’s represented. This, more than anything else, has been behind the company’s recent rise in critical and commercial acclaim, which in turn as lifted all ships along with it.

So while it may seem that Barrett’s hurrying up to wait by entering into another feud for the Intercontinental title, that  — like the man himself — has undergone a major remodeling with this tournament, and with a rising tide, it seems like the SS BAD NEWS will avoid being capsized this time. *** WARNING! YOU’RE NOW EXITING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE *** PLEASE ENJOY YOUR COMPLIMENTARY SONIC CHILI CHEESE PRETZEL DOG MILKSHAKE ON THE WAY OUT ***

I’d like to personally thank Brandon Stroud on the off chance that he’s reading this for me being completely unable to watch Bad News Barrett matches without screaming DOG BONER loudly enough that people are starting to wonder about me on a level I’m not comfortable with.

The less said about this entire ending segment and DISMAL crowd reaction the better. Thank God this wasn’t building to a PPV, or the WWE would be in real trouble.