A Cell Divided: Raw Regurgitated, 10/20

Dean brings tools, John Cena is one and Mick Foley shows up to play the role of crazy uncle. Raw, regurgitated just for you, on the internet.


*** WARNING: YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE *** PLEASE KEEP YOUR EYES AND EARS INSIDE OF KAYFABE AT ALL TIMES *** There were a lot of complaints in a certain segment of the wrestling internet regarding the (SPOILER) that the WWE had planned for Randy Orton and John Cena — easily the two most popular, and possibly best, performers on the roster — to end Sunday night’s Hell in a Cell PPV. The stream of complains was idiotic for any number of reasons, but two in particular stuck out:

1) The complete inability of adults, specifically people on the internet, to deal with spoilers and rumors about the things they love.

2) The complete inability of adults, specifically relatively young white men, to recognize that the world doesn’t revolve around their angst.

The former is a problem that extends way beyond wrestling — as The Dissolve’s Tasha Robinson points out in an editorial which reads like a haunting journey into the mind of a wrestling fan who reads the dirt screens — and is, on some level, ruining both the internet and the news. Our reaction to the reaction becomes the reaction, and the thing we are reacting to becomes secondary. We, as a culture, have always judged people by the company they keep, but we’ve started to judge people on how they feel about Ben Affleck and Jesse Eisenberg casting news.

And, because of this, unless we are completely shocked by something’s competence — see: The Lego Movie, and to a lesser extent, Guardians of the Galaxy — we can never appreciate anything on any level beyond a solipsistic “Well, here’s what I would have done”. Which brings us to the significantly more insidious part of the issue: the insane privilege and entitlement that a majority of wrestling fans carry around like a badge.

It comes in many different forms. There’s the world-famous “This used to be so much better”, which, of course, allows the commenter to emphasize that they’ve been a fan for a long time and therefore — despite not a minute of experience booking a match, planning an angle or taking a single bump — are smarter than the people who have all of that experience, and anyone else who challenges them. It also gives them a cocoon of nostalgia from which to view the world, not requiring them to ever stand out of their comfort zone and is essentially the definition of applying their own cultural norms to the world at large. By being so self-centered and self-aggrandizing of an era which is — at best — a little morally questionable and  — at worst — a cesspool of despair, misogyny, mild racism all spinning a drug cocktail that would essentially kill off anyone able to keep up with the insatiable needs of a bloodthirsty crowd, and to do so simply because “that’s what I grew up watching” has all the making of sociopathy without any of the charm.

But better than that, there is, of course, the “we would wait and see but it never turns out the way we want!” line of logic that comes up time and time again. It most often comes up when trying to discuss whether or not we should be complaining about things that A) haven’t happened yet, B) might not ever happen and C) haven’t been given the opportunity to be assessed properly simply because, well, that would involve a level of thoughtfulness and awareness that many wrestling “fans” lack.

Because instead of trying to appreciate the thing they are watching for what it is, they look at all the things it might be missing to them. They do so without either taking into account the feelings of others in the crowd or even acknowledging basic facts like popularity and the ability for stories to be told outside of the rules they’ve established in their head for what “works” and what doesn’t.

It’s time to push back against those people, to enjoy wrestling like you don’t know what’s going to happen next. *** WARNING: YOU ARE NOW EXITING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE *** PLEASE ENJOY YOUR COMPLIMENTARY SONIC CHILI CHEESE DOG MILKSHAKE ON THE WAY OUT ***

The beautiful meta-comedy between Damien MizDow, The Miz and everyone involved with this entire experience has reached an Arrested Development level of fun. We are about three weeks away from a match with a “NO TOUCHING!” stipulation.

And for anyone complaining about having Sheamus lose…. in the context of EVERYONE losing before the PPV, it’s probably problematic… but didyasee Miz’s face? It looked like he thought he had won the Oscar. Bless his heart.

While the Mizzes do the Lord’s work, this A.J. Lee-Paige/Alicia situation has totally turned into season two of Homeland: a testament to the complete inability of men to write for women.

Yes, they spent a lot of time talking about the World Series, but the goal of this entire exchange was to get/keep the heat up on this feud. They “microwaved” this, zapping Randy Orton — who it must be said did a FANTASTIC job with decidedly un-fantastic material to start the fire — then actually giving him something to work with as he and John Cena got the crowd legitimately excited about something they’ve legitimately seen eight million times. That it also helped reinforce the “John Cena thinks he’s The Man at such a level it’s starting to make him a bad guy” undercurrent they’ve been riding.

Adding Paul Heyman — and more importantly, the spectre of Brock Lesnar and the shadow of his legacy that hangs over both of them — to the mix was a nice touch, and just by virtue of his position as the advocate/surrogate/proxy of Lesnar, it palpably raises the stakes of their confrontation. And, for those who are complaining about how illogical it is for John Cena and Randy Orton to be challenging for the title, it’s as though they ignore the parts of the storylines that would explain their problems with whatever inconsistencies they find. It’s clear to anyone who has been paying attention that Orton or Cena being put in this match, in terms of the storyline, is a small part of Seth Rollins larger plan to you know, not have to deal with Brock Lesnar’s shit when it comes to cashing in the Money in the Bank contract. There’s very little else that needs to be understood, and as a way to further the issues between Rollins and Orton, it’s borderline genius.

Finally, the RKO on Heyman was perfectly executed, perfectly timed, perfectly sold and more importantly, a perfect way to begin Orton’s trip back to that weird place where the fans love him like they love when a handsome quarterback — no matter what kind of terrible person that QB may be — winks at them.

Big E.’s on TV! [Insert “Heart Exploding with Joy” emoji] … without his Smart Athletic Friends [Insert “Sad Face” emoji] … in a match against Rusev [Insert “Cannon Fodder” emoji]

Though, after the initial disappointment of realizing Big E. was playing the role of sacrificial American lamb in this match, it was exactly what you expect/hope from these two: a good match between two potential future SUPERduperstars that gives us the sweet hossy goodness with half the calories of Rusev-Show.

Speaking of the devil: this segment was “falling off the roof after a monster truck sumo match” levels of unbelievable. There’s “suspending your disbelief” and then there’s “having to pretend a real soldier really tried to attack Rusev and was stopped by what appeared to be Howard Finkel”. And the Show promo after this debacle didn’t help much, but, I suppose, they have — at the very least  — given this feud the type of attention it deserves, even if their execution is somewhere between “jingoism” and “scary nationalism”.

SAY WHAT YOU WILL about the Bellas, it’s clear that — either through association with their significant others and/or Total Divas — they are over, as Aubrey would say, like rover.

This went from incredibly, unwatchably dumb to incredibly, watchably dumb the second that Mick Foley’s music hit. And, again, SAY WHAT YOU WILL about “9.99” as a catchphrase: It. Is. Working.

Again, considering EVERYONE with a title not named Brock Lesnar lost a non-title match, this was probably not the best booking idea. But, like giving MizDow his moment in the sun to allow the seeds of discontent between he and Miz to grow, establishing the European Uppercut officially as one of Cesaro’s murder-death-kill moves was well worth what was awkward booking for the mid-card champions of the WWE Universe. And, not surprisingly, Dolph Ziggler sold that like a junkie with a Blu-ray at  a pawn shop.

John Cena’s towel thing will eventually make my blood boil, but for now, it does a beautiful job of differentiating between what John Cena represents  — t-shirts, corporations, the chitlins — and what Dean Ambrose is symbolic of — wrestling as a world of characters, some nebulous but entirely legitimate concept of “edginess” and the weird power/revenge fantasies of post-adolescent manchildren — which is pretty good for a piece of cloth.

And, finally, give us what we want: Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton for control of HHH’s jockstrap! The lord has truly blessed this day.