A Team Building Exercise

HHH and Stephanie continue to be somewhere between transcendent and “this is awesome”, but it’s clear that they are less without Daniel Bryan to poke and prod than they’d probably like to be. For the first time, it seemed like they were genuinely hedging their bets on the crowd reaction, using Daniel Bryan’s actual doctor as a human shield instead of simply saying “we are taking the belt, because we can.” In doing so, they showed the first ding in the carefully maintained membrane between “reality” and reality that has made this past year of storylines between the three so enjoyable.

By taking the decision out of their hands, it allows them to genuinely not be the bad guys and genuinely be right about Bryan’s fit for the position of “star of the company.” And while it’s okay for heels to be “right”, but wrong in how they are going about it, the Authority has done everything right regarding this decision, even giving Bryan the benefit of the doubt. It’s likely just a bump in the road, but the crowd reaction to the decision wasn’t an accident, and given how good the crowd was for the rest of the night, bringing in elements from the real world to prove that the bad guys are right is probably the wrong way to build heat for this feud.

And, seriously, why is his actual doctor on TV? HOW DOES THIS MAKE ANY SENSE? Was McDreamy busy or too expensive? There’s no reason for a non-actor to be playing the part  of Daniel Bryan’s doctor, particularly when you take into account that — as MR. Brandon Stroud pointed out — that what he’s doing is a massive violation of the laws surrounding your medical information, ESPECIALLY considering he’s telling that information to his patient’s employers. There’s “suspension of disbelief” and then there’s “seriously, guys, this is straight up illegal,  you can’t be doing this”.

Which, of course, leads your correspondent to wonder precisely how much of this is “reality”. Without getting too nitpicky or spending too much time in the world of conspiracy theories, given everything involved — from the timing to the bet hedging to the blatant disregard for the plausibility of certain aspects of the story in hopes of pushing others — it seems like the storytelling capabilities of the company has regressed or, while Daniel Bryan’s injury is entirely legitimate, there’s an effort being made by the company to furthers blur the lines between “reality” and reality.


For those who are going to complain about Sheamus winning another match with the Brogue Kick, and doing so over Bad News Barrett again, it’s important to remember a couple of things

  • Whether YOU (and you know who YOU are) like it or not, the Brogue Kick has essentially become Sweet Chin Music: an instant critical and something that can be pulled out of nowhere. It’s his FINISH HIM finisher and, all things considered, should probably be treated that way. Losing all of a sudden to the Brogue Kick is not a normal loss, and losing to Sheamus isn’t a normal loss
  • No matter how good Bad News Barrett has been recently, it’s very important to remember that Sheamus is a multi-time World’s Champion, has beaten John Cena clean several times and is the biggest mid-card draw in the entire company. The idea that Bad News should be able to beat him just because he’s on a hot streak (which puts him at basically the same “temperature” as Sheamus is always all of the time) is something an idiot would think. Don’t be an idiot.
  • There’s nothing good that can come out of Bad News Barrett being in the Money in the Bank WWEWHC match. He’s not a big enough star to win the match, and he’s already got something that helped him build value in his brand, the Intercontinental championship. Sheamus is building value back into the brand of the United States championship. Him being in the match is prestigious for the belt, even if he doesn’t have a chance because, well, he’s the United States champion. Bad News Barrett, with very little main event experience, is being buoyed by the Intercontinental title as he learns to navigate the waters of the upper mid-card. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship between the two — meaning Barrett and the IC title — which will eventually being a net positive for the title and a stepping stone for someone who seems destined to be a superstar. Just give it a little time. The LA Kings didn’t turn into world beaters overnight, and no one thinks they are any worse for having made it through three tough rounds in the playoffs to the Stanley Cup Final, only winning three more games than they had lost entering into the final round. They just care about how thoroughly they are crushing the Rangers. The journey isn’t the destination in sports. Instead, the journey is what determines your destination.

The requisite Lana promo has turned into a weird weekly segment where the WWE Creative staff, presumably Vince McMahon — whose wife ran twice for the United States Senate as a Republican — talking about all the reasons that they don’t like President Obama. And while they probably hate Obama as a president first and a minority 157th, considering the almost explicitly racist choices that Rusev has made in terms of people he wants to beat the shit out of, they should probably tread lightly for the time being.

OR, continue the “pictures of shirtless Putin on a horse vs. hilarious video of president working out” type of stuff that allows this to be both “funny and allegorical” as opposed to “funny and racist”.

For those wondering: RybAxel doesn’t need to have a reason to continue to facing off against Goldust and “partner of Cody’s choosing”, they are just who keeps getting booked against him. There doesn’t need to be a “reason”, other than “they are on approximately the same level, with RybAxel on the way up and G&PoC’sc (that doesn’t sound as good as RybAxel) decidedly not”. They are in a program together, and it is what it is. Sometimes, it’s just that simple.


*** WARNING: YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE *** PLEASE KEEP EYES AND EARS INSIDE OF KAYFABE AT ALL TIMES *** It’s easy to guess why the WWE chose to break off Seth Rollins. The assumption is, for most people, that Seth was the “Least Likely to Succeed” out of the three members of the group. Smaller, and with a less defined archetype, it seemed as though when the WWE started referring to him as “The Architect of the Shield” it was less an attempt to differentiate him as some sort of mastermind than allow him to not just be the other two guys’ “little buddy”. It made him the third wheel on a tricycle, not in a relationship, something with actual function and purpose.

And it’s that persona that should have probably helped us see that it was going to end up being Seth that turned against the group, with Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose having far too much potential to simply hand over to another group when they’d defined themselves so well in their current one. They obscured this by having the “CRACKS IN THE SHIELD”  storyline focus around Reigns and Ambrose, with Rollins smoothing out the issues between the two. This, looking back, was clearly intentional, and like randomly mentioning a villain in the first book of a series before having to deal with them in the fifth, helped build out the world without doing anything other than giving another dimensional to a character that had been, to that point, known more his blond streak than his mean streak.

But last week changed all that. Instead of being boy princes able to make their own way, Seth Rollins has done what anyone in his situation would have done: leveraged when his value was at its highest, cashing out on his Shield stocks and earned a better position at the new company. The Shield was a start-up, and like Mark Zuckerberg, Seth pushed the others out of the thing he thought he had created.

Dean Ambrose’s response was this promo:

Oh, sorry, this promo:

One of the all-time star making promos in wrestling history.

He articulated, along with Roman Reigns, that while Seth Rollins was an important member of the Shield, the legacy of the group he helped found would live on without him. They explained why they survived even when Seth moved on, and they did so in a way that it didn’t devalue any of them, and made the stakes between them even higher. It’s hard to say whether the same thing would have happened if any other member of the Shield had left. Thankfully, they’ve given us something we can believe in.*** WARNING: YOU ARE NOW EXITING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE *** PLEASE ENJOY YOUR COMPLIMENTARY SONIC CHILI CHEESE DOG MILKSHAKE ON THE WAY OUT ***


As a wrestling fan who also enjoys interpretative dance considerably more than he expected he would, Damien Sandow’s performance during this  match with the Usos was perhaps my favorite random moment in the WWE in the last ten years. To your correspondent, it was an extraordinary look directly into the fourth wall, the permeable membrane, the innerworkings of professional wrestling. For most other people, this was a weird excuse to have Damien Sandow’s bulge on television for an inordinate amount of time. Different strokes.

There’s nothing that would make me happier than Bo Dallas slowly but surely becoming friends with all the jobbers he’s been beating in the company and starting a new JOB squad built entirely on self-actualization and the power of positive thinking.


Seth Rollins, like his former brothers — or “business partners”, as he put it — showed why the company felt they could break Rollins off from the rest of the group. Rollins’ essence seems measured and entirely self-contained, putting him on a different magnetic pole than Ambrose and Reigns. And the fact that he was able to say all of that without repeating himself 10 times in a five minute promo was nice.

They’ve slowly built up Paige as someone who somehow manages to win nearly every time, and with almost complete certainty when the stakes get higher, but they’ve never really properly explained why until now. Every face needs a super power. For someone like John Cena, it’s that he’s superstrong and super resilient. For Daniel Bryan, it’s his incredible wrestling ability and willingness to sacrifice his body. It appears that they’ve went with “limit break” for Paige, something she apparently picked up after this awesome if slightly interminable feud with Alicia Fox. And while it’s less than ideal, it’s definitely better than “makes her friends eat wet popcorn while pretending to be bipolar and wearing a funny hat” thing they’ve now given to Alicia Fox. RIP FOXY-AKS DIVAS.

If Jack and Zeb keep this up, we may have to start considering them to be national treasures. I’m not any more comfortable with than you are. But rules are rules, and those guys are a special kind of wonderful.

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