Dust(s) in the Wind: Raw Regurgitated, 9/2

Although it’s been a while — almost two months, to be exact — it feels like a particularly epic bummer to return to Raw Regurgitated after an episode like last night’s. Between obnoxious cursing to seem edgy, the Bellas somehow (as if “somehow” doesn’t really mean “are slightly more famous because of a terrible reality show”) shoehorning themselves into five different segments and the complete lack of Brock Lesnar, Dean Ambrose, Daniel Bryan, Bad News Barrett, Big E. or Ryback. That’s right, I said Ryback.

This almost-comically-if-it-weren’t-so-depressingly long opening talkie segment somehow managed to solidify two main event matches at what is *usually* one of the better PPVs of the year and actually address questions regarding whether or not John Cena is “best for business” going forward without ever being interesting or fun. Literally the only thing worse than this would be if they brought out all of the performers involved in the Divas title scene. Oh… fuck.

Though there is one interest piece of information that still needs to be processed: when will Seth Rollins cash in his Money int he Bank contract. Even before answering the question of “will it be” Seth Rollins, there are so many different things that will go into when the contract will be cashed in that, outside of perhaps an Edge cash-in, this may end up being storyline of its type since the idea came into being. Which isn’t bad.

***

*** WARNING: YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE *** PLEASE KEEP YOUR EYES AND EARS INSIDE OF KAYFABE AT ALL TIMES *** I’m one of the few, the proud, the fans of Miz. Ever since the Palace of Wisdom became the home studio for the Dirt Sheet, I’ve found Miz’s brand of obnoxious to pull all the necessary heartstrings to make me love hating him. And that’s an important distinction.

We can debate for days whether or not Miz worked on any level as a face, but his difficulties in getting over in that role are less a function of his talent than the nature of our perception of him. We, as a wrestling fan culture, don’t want to like The Miz, at least not when he’s trying to be likable. Instead of seeing him as we probably should — a lifelong fan whose overall career arc to the very top of his profession is one of the most remarkable in the history of entertainment — we see him as an “other”, an intruder on The Bubble of wrestling fandom.

Which is why while Hollywood Hogan and Hollywood Rock are the more popular versions of the character, the best and most sustainable version of the trope is The Miz. Deep down, we want to love Hogan and Rock. There’s no such affection for Miz, obviously, but it goes deeper than that. When Miz is attempting to be a face, he’s inverting the audience’s desires. And while there are similarities between this and the best work that Batista, Miz has never worked as a face because he’s never had the crowd’s support for any consistent length of time.

But, if he keeps doing the type of semi-brilliant medium bending set pieces that he and America’s finest character actor, Damien SanMizDow, did last night, he’ll eventually earn their respect.  *** WARNING: YOU ARE NOW EXITING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE *** PLEASE ENJOY YOUR COMPLIMENTARY SONIC CHILI PRETZEL DOG MILKSHAKE ON THE WAY OUT***

***

While the execution was somewhere between terrible and “preview of Season 3 of Total Divas” bad, the concept of something like “Growing Up Bella” is precisely the type of pre-taped/slickly produced pieces that help expand the size of the stage performers can work on while still maintaining the idea that everything is happening under one roof for a single, impossibly long, variety show.

If the crowd sits completely still, can they be seen by the performers? Or has is every match involving the Total Divas like the scene in Jurassic Park immediately before the T-Rex goes through the glass roof of the truck: something terrible is about to occur and we’re supposed to just enjoy the silence that exists right before it happens.

While we’ve already made it through the Wrestling Nerd Discussion zone this week, there will be an extensive discussion on Rusev’s almost historic rise as a competent hoss. And exactly how close to Jesus Lana has become while doing the Lord’s work.

***

Starting next week, we’ll be starting a column called “How Dumb is Your Rumor?” where we compare the sheer uselessness and/or stupidity of rumors to work our way through the muck of the dirt screens. But for those who missed it, within the last few weeks, it was reported heavily that the WWE had “given up” on Bo Dallas and another performer. So, if “hiring actors so that Bo can give Jack Swagger a hard time as they build towards a PPV match” is “giving up”, I can’t even imagine what a “push” for him would look like. Would they just give him wings and a Hall of Fame ring right now?

The other performer, as most of you know, was Adam Rose. And while Adam Rose’s gimmick — especially his crowd reaction — has its issues, the idea that a Aldous Snow-eque raver with a mean streak couldn’t get over is nearly as dumb as half of the terrible terrible gimmicks that got over during the Attitude era. HAVING SAID THAT, Adam Rose’s character being given any kind of edge — including, but not limited to a bunny that will punch you in the face — is a move in an even more positive direction.

I really can’t articulate how much I love Mark Henry, I never have been able to. And I feel the exact same way about Rusev. I’m honestly not sure who I am going to be root for in all of this.

***

My thoughts on this segment: [17-minute long fart noise punctuated by “NIKKI, NOOOO!]

There are two ways to look at Stardust, and, to a lesser extent, Goldust. One is that the true legacy of the Rhodes name will always be tied to Dusty so overwhelmingly level that it quickly became impossible for either of his incredibly talented sons to ever follow in his father’s footsteps. The other, more positive point of view, and one that seems to coming to fruition, is that breaking away from their father has allowed them to go far beyond what they would have been able to otherwise. And not simply because of his enormous shadow, but the nature of the business. It’s not that Dustin and Cody *couldn’t* be father, it’s that they had significantly different strengths from him. They are thoroughbred athletes — Dustin, all 6’6″ of him, in particular — who didn’t want to be restrained by the things their father did. And they found a way out with one of the best characters ever in Goldust and one of the most interesting and dynamic teams to arrive on the scene since, well, the Rhodes brothers. Now if they can just find those cosmic keys.

It looks like they may have them hiding in Jey Uso’s knee. I’m sure that’s why they used that chair to try to get it out of there.

***

Meta storylines in wrestling are tricky. They either resonate immediately on a visceral level — the #YesMovement, the pipebomb promo — or crash and burn, taking parts of the company with them — Vince Russo at Bash at the Beach, pretty much everything that happened in WCW for the last three years of existence — and completely derail momentum as they try to appeal too much to too many people. But the idea of John Cena reaching the end of the line, juxtaposed with the rise of Roman Reigns has begun to plant the seeds of not just a future storyline between the two, but an outright replacement of one by the other. And, with one of those fellows being John Cena, it’s seems unlikely it will happen without some sort of epic storyline where John Cena turns his back not just on “Cenation” or the “WWE Universe”, but wrestling general. So we have that to look forward to, which is nice. It just hopefully doesn’t have to involve another show like this for a long, long, long time.