Planned Work on the Q Train

While no one would say that the last month or so of Raws have been anything above “begrudgingly watchable”, the idea that trying to make stars is something that’s going to go entirely smoothly makes about as much sense as expecting a rookie QB to win the Super Bowl: it almost impossible and probably will never happen. When Stone Cold “became” a “star”, it still took him a full year reach the top of his profession. and that was several years after being fired by Fed-Ex.

Our expectation go past impatience and an almost insatiable need for instant gratification, though. It’s a matter of selection bias: we only remember the big moments from the stars we love, and not all the other crap they’ve done and/or the people that have failed miserably trying to get there. So, as Louis C.K. would say, “Could you give it a fucking second?”

There are two magical powers that Dean Ambrose has: 1) He exists somewhat outside of kayfabe, or more accurately, has awareness of the world he inhabits and is able to play with it in the same way Bruce Willis did in Die Hard. 2) He can appear from anywhere, and at any time, like Raymond Reddington in The Blacklist. As dear friend of the site Daron “Action” Jackson put it, “Dean is already being allowed the awareness that H and Cena spent many years earning”. What’s odd about this is that those in both cases, those two characters couldn’t be more different beyond sharing a deep well of ingenuity. And that’s, ultimately what makes his character so interesting: he’s heroic without being a hero. He’s not an anti-hero, nor is he the audience surrogate in the way that Stone Cold was. He’s an agent of chaos by choice, just as much a strategy as a state of being.

Speaking of which, I was in the state of “I’m going to watch my DVR’d Gotham instead” when I heard that Teddy Long main event.  While there is always a concern of diluting the strength of a stable’s #Brand by expanding too rapidly, one or two more goons thrown in the mix would do the Authority a great deal of good for pretty much everyone.

The gold standard for these six-man tag matches, as is the case with most things in entertainment, will likely always be the ones that made the form popular.  But, man, are these matches almost custom-built for Cesaro and Ziggler. Cesaro’s versatility allows him to work both ends of the bargain — meaning selling and working — with literally anyone they throw at him, and Ziggler’s show/salesmanship allows him to make anyone he’s in the ring with look good without hurting his own stock too much. Throw in four other, highly-skilled workers, and it’s a match made in heaven… which goes on second during a random episode of Raw.

Ugh. Just, ugh. I didn’t hate the Guest Host Era, but they are trying their darnedest to retroactively make me.
Bo Dallas winning this match was fine, maybe kind of great. Bo Dallas winning this match on that awful, just terrible countout  — where Mark Henry was on the FUCKING APRON when the 10 came down — was not.

WARNING: YOU’VE ENTERED A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONEPLEASE KEEP EYES AND EARS INSIDE OF KAYFABE AT ALL TIMES***  As mentioned above, Dean Ambrose is essentially Bruce Willis in Die Hard right now. This is pretty obvious to most people watching, and even if it wasn’t, they have him wearing John McClane’s signature outfit for posterity. What’s odd is how we missed that John Cena and Randy Orton were Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone this whole time. Complaining about not liking them, or not liking the Rock — and not just because he was mean to you on Twitter — is complaining about not liking the people: it has really nothing to do with any tangible idea of “quality”. It’s a matter of personal preference whether or not you like action movies, prefer comedies over dramas or think reality television is fun.

Tangentially, we often forget this important part of wrestling fandom: People who watch wrestling are, for the most part, not particularly smart people. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of very intelligent people who adore professional wrestling, but that people in general are not all that intelligent and the ones that go to wrestling shows aren’t a special subset of highly intelligent pod people. Which is why John Cena’s changes over the last month or two haven’t quite registered with everyone.  But, and here’s something that is often missed by people who write and talk about wrestling, and to go back to Gotham, people who watch TV in general: it’s okay when a story works on a number of different levels for a number of different people.

To wit: in the pilot episode of Gotham, one of the last few scenes involves Jim Gordon taking Fish Mooney’s henchman Oswald Cobblepot to the end of a pier to shoot him, on the instruction/death threat of his partner of Harvey Bullock, by order of Carmine Falcone. Now, if you know the Jim Gordon character you know he’s not going to kill anyone in cold blood and if you know that Oswald Cobblepot is who most fans know to be the Penguin you know he’s not going to die. So, going in, instead of worrying about “what’s going to happen”, you get to see how they go about faking it — in this case, Gordon shoots past Cobblepot’s ear and pushes him in the water simultaneously — and focus instead on what the consequences of these actions will be. And, on the flip side, if you’ve never seen a minute of Batman-based programming or read a single Batman comic, you can still enjoy the anticipation of seeing what happens with these characters in this exciting new challenge.

The same is the case with the John Cena “turn”. There are any number of people, like David Shoemaker, who have long argued that the John Cena character is a heel. And there are people who, regardless of what he does in the ring, view him as a heel both in/real/life and on the show because they were stuffed into lockers when they were in high school. But, for the people who just enjoy the show at face value, they get to be slightly confused until someone pushed him off the edge and sees if he can swim. WARNING: YOU’VE NO ENTERED A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONEPLEASE KEEP EYES AND EARS INSIDE OF KAYFABE AT ALL TIMES***

Brie Bella being built into a mega-babyface is something that should have happened weeks ago, instead of Jerry Springer showing up and her sister being a meaningless toss-in for a Divas title three-way match. Brie has the crowd support, she can actually work, and she’s very famous (relatively speaking). If she was injured after her match with Stephanie, then holding all these things off makes sense, but if they were just doing a slow burn, that probably wasn’t #BestForBusiness.

Tyson Kidd is an incredible worker who could be very over as a heel, and Jack Swagger is incredibly over and a very good worker. This match was fun, but it could have been anywhere between 10-15 minutes longer.
In fact, they could totally have cut Roman Reigns’ “live interview” to, I don’t know, SmackDown!.

Or gotten rid of “El Torito vs. ‘Mini-Gator'” completely.

Wow, so, I may not like the Rock, but it is clear I am in a very non-vocal minority because that pop was like what would happen if CM Punk came back in Chicago and beat John Cena for the title.

And while I’m an unabashed Rusev mark, this was a wonderful experience for me for two reasons: this is a HUGE rub for him, even if it ended up with him showing ass. And two, him speaking English warms my heart in ways I can fully articulate.

Good to see Emma back on television?

If they decided to turn Miz face, I will be the absolute saddest. If they decided to turn Mizdow face, I might actually cry.
This stunt double deal IS the modern equivalent of the Mr. Perfect-Ric Flair relationship: Mizdow gets himself over separate from the Miz, while getting to “ride his coattails” at the same time. All while plotting his eventual revenge. As long as it doesn’t end with Ric Flair The Miz getting sent back to WCW, it should be exciting to see the Miza-Powers EXPLODE!.

Another sign of WWE budget cuts: instead of bringing the Q-train into the building, Dean Ambrose could only muster a hotdog cart.

And, seriously, I’m not the only one that has asked this: HOW THE FUCK IS THAT A DQ? CAN WE HAVE A LITTLE CIVILIZATION?

Things people who hate wrestling say: John Cena is going to bury two of the biggest young stars in the company. Things that people who aren’t total marks say: Cool, a John Cena-Dean Ambrose match! And maybe a John Cena-Seth Rollins or Dean Ambrose-Seth Rollins match!

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