Bad News, Bryan: Raw Regurgitated, 5/19

Stephanie is the best, RVD is the worst and Adam Rose is something else. Raw regurgitated, on the internet, just for you!

Obviously, there’s always been a separate bit of marketing between adult fans and the “target audience” — read: children — but this Bray Wyatt-John Cena program is one of the very few storylines ever actually about that. It doesn’t just hint at it, or imply it, in the way that Daniel Bryan’s story line has the past year or so. This isn’t a “Reality Era” story line, this is “the ‘Idiots are People Two!’ episode of 30 Rock” story line:  it’s not metaphorically dealing with the consequences of the “reality” of the situation, but directly commenting on them as an existential point of contention. This feud isn’t a “means to a narrative end”, it’s a discussion of “what makes a hero.” And if the WWE isn’t careful, it’s going to end up being Bray.

This was everything a match between Sheamus and Cesaro should be: hard hitting, dynamic and with an ending that makes both performers look good. Why the crowd felt the need to chant for JBL and Jerry Lawler during it is beyond your correspondent’s comprehension, but it highlights that very worst of what “smart” crowds do. Which is, of course, that “smart” crowds never seem to get that they aren’t any smarter than the other people there, just better at remembering chants.

How many matches will Ryback have to work where he does more than three moves before they stop chanting “Goldberg” at him? And yes, it’s the crowd’s prerogative to chant whatever they damn well please, and yes, Mr. The Ryback is supposed to be the “bad” guy. But things like “Goldberg” chants are perhaps the most self-serving of all of the incredibly obnoxious (and obnoxiously long-standing) cliches of “the crowd deciding they dislike the performer” that are now rearing their ugly heads on WWE TV after years of festering on the independent scene. Things like “disrespectful” and “embarrassing” are relative and exceedingly personal terms, but hasn’t Ryback reached the point that we can all derisively calling him Goldberg is stupid?

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Layla is so much better at dancing than Summer Rae, it could actually help turn Fandango into a face. And he’s the one who broke up with Summer on Twitter.

*** WARNING!!! YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE *** PLEASE KEEP EYES AND EARS INSIDE OF KAYFABE AT ALL TIMES *** The wrestling nerd discussion zone may end up just becoming “Nick talks about Stephanie McMahon while pretending like he doesn’t have a huge crush on her”, but for now, it’s just important to discuss how incredibly important both she and HHH are to the present and future of the WWE in the wake of investors calling for the head of Vince McMahon following the crash of WWE’s stock.

They are developing the type of characters that can be used as foils for the rest of time: articulate and somewhat reasonable evil. Everything that Stephanie is doing is “right”, as any time a champion can’t defend their title, they should be stripped or at the very least, be forced to defend the title against an interim champion when they come back. But since she’s doing it for shady — and more importantly, self-serving — reasons which allows us to hate it in the same visceral way that we react when people question our politics or religion . We believe in Daniel Bryan, and we are significantly less worried that he’s not the hero we deserve than we are that the WWE will look for an excuse to take away what we deserve.

There’s a panic that it not unlike what happens to New York Rangers fans when they make the playoffs: they are waiting for the other shoe to drop, looking for the moment when what they believe is going to happen actually does. It’s the type of self-fulfilling prophecy that allows people to feel both persecuted and smarter than everyone else, all while preventing them for either actually engaging in the product or the reasons they feel the way they do about the product. It allows spectators to be “fans” and not “appreciators”, which is significantly easier.

It’s why Vince McMahon was such an effective character for so long. By giving those watching something to rail against, it allowed them to live vicariously through the product, to treat it like they do a sport — rooting for specific “teams”, buying their merchandise and irrationally reacting to anything that happens to them — while also giving them what they look for in entertainment — “happy” endings,  intentionally engaging narrative with “heroes” and “villains”.

Stephanie and HHH may never find someone who captures the imagination and plays the part as well as Stone Cold Steve Austin did — Daniel Bryan captured the imagination, but whether or not he plays the part of eternally burdened hero remains to be seen. But it’s nice to see that they have at least half the equation set. ***WARNING!!! YOU ARE NOW EXITING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE *** PLEASE ENJOY YOUR COMPLIMENTARY SONIC CHILI CHEESE MILKSHAKE ON THE WAY OUT***

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Lana needs to do less talking. She doesn’t really seem to believe what she’s saying, and it comes across on television. So why not just get to the thing are really there to boo: how handsome Vladimir Putin is.

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There’s literally nothing good about Rob Van Dam at this point. Not even jokes about how shitty he is.

I WAS SAYING BATISTA THE ENTIRE TIME! Though, seriously, the amount of time that fans — especially idiots on the internet — give people to be EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT THEM TO BE OR ELSE is getting shorter and shorter. And that’s worse and worse for the product. Patience is one of life’s great virtues.  Matches like Raw’s barnburner between Batista and Seth Rollins ARE EXACTLY WHAT WE KNEW BATISTA COULD DO WHEN HE FIRST CAME BACK. It’s borderline insane and absolutely idiotic the way that people reacted to Batista when he came back, and it’s something wrestling fans should constantly feel shame about: you can’t do anything these people are doing, so judging them — especially with the way that fans treat women who they believe can’t wrestle — is borderline disgusting and at the very least, insanely annoying. Wait and see doesn’t mean “don’t be engaged with the product at all” it means, “you have no clue what you are talking about, so just shut up and give it a chance.”

Alicia Fox as John Morrison is great, but it would be a lot better if they didn’t insist on her dumping liquids on herself like it was a wet t-shirt contest. And, if it seems that may be a bit of hypersensitivity, considering that the WWE said essentially the same thing while linking to a gallery of Divas in bikinis, it makes the whole thing feel a bit icky.

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Dolph Ziggler will likely never be a world champion again, but if he does end up making it back to the top of the mountain, it will be almost exclusively because he finally figured out how to make the Zig Zag not look like a pile of bleached blond dog turds. Having an “instant kill” finisher, along with some minor tweaks like “stop shaking his ass at the top of the ramp” and “use the phrase ‘JK’ on Twitter less” may just be enough to make Ziggler the type of guy that transitions the belt to a more deserving candidate.

HEY, ROB VAN DAMN, I’M AFRAID I’VE GOT SOME GOOD NEWS! We finally found something you can do:

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As someone who has liked the Adam Rose character the entire time, the “rockstar who could also kick your ass if you mess with his friends” element that was added makes it something that can actually, you know, work.

Bray Wyatt’s going to be WWE World Heavyweight Champion some day, isn’t he?