WWE stepped in it
January 28, 2015 3:06 PM   Subscribe

WWE, the Royal Rumble, Corporate Entertainment Culture, And When It All Goes Wrong.
posted by josher71 (108 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
Gonna have to give this PPV a watch. Haven't been spoiled but I have heard more of a buzz about it online than any WWE event in years.

/removes from activity, will not be spoiled.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:13 PM on January 28, 2015


I said this Sunday night and I will say it again: Had Roman won last year, the clamor of joy would have woken Vincent J. McMahon from his slumber in his casket. So Roman got another year better in the ring, we find out how his promos really sound, and now we hate him because that's who Vince wants us to love.

Fickle. Terrible and fickle you fans are.
posted by deezil at 3:23 PM on January 28, 2015


So this was my first ever Sports Entertainment event! I watched it with some friends who are super into wrestling, with a big projector, booze, gambling, snacks, pizza...

The evening was funereal.

I stopped asking questions after half an hour.

Then I won the sweepstake, and felt awful.

Is this stuff usually more... Fun?
posted by ominous_paws at 3:25 PM on January 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


I don't know from pro wrestling, having tuned out right around the time the Junkyard Dog hung up his chain, but I happened to be bringing in the garbage can when my neighbor got home from a Royal Rumble viewing party and BOY was he pissed. Angry, cheated, betrayed by a thing he loved. He collared me for a good five minutes and gave me an earful on how awful and soulless and contrary to every thinking wrestling fan's desires the whole debacle was. And this is a guy I usually only hear "mornin'" and "sure is a nice day out" from. Fury moved him to eloquence. I couldn't really understand what the kerfuffle was all about, but I nodded enthusiastically, fearful that he would hit me, or worse, hug me and burst into sobs.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:44 PM on January 28, 2015 [44 favorites]


From MeFi's own mightygodking.
posted by Caduceus at 3:45 PM on January 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


I never really got into wrestling, but it's come to my attention that WWE has a films division, and that it made Jingle All the Way II, staring Larry the Cable Guy.

This seems wrong. They should go the BBC route and do Shakespeare adaptations along with the more marketable stuff. As You Like It has wrestling in it. And the play within a play in Hamlet could be a great commentary on kayfabe. Follow it up with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead to get even more philosophical on that point.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:52 PM on January 28, 2015 [17 favorites]


Uproxx has "With Spandex", a regularly updated pro-wrestling column written by Brandon Stroud and others. As someone who gave up watching around 1999, and only came back in 2008ish because things were looking exciting again, his take on it resonates pretty well with me:

"Watching Kane and Big Show nonchalantly eliminate Dolph Ziggler, Bray Wyatt and Dean Ambrose — three of the most important characters in the match, all with great motivations — was the most obvious, heavy-handed f*ck you I think I’ve ever seen. It was the past calmly and defiantly shit-canning the future, because they can do it.

They’re eliminated with ZERO fanfare. Bryan’s elimination was similar, but at least he looked like he put up a fight... So not only do you have WWE’s chosen guy winning the match against the very-easy-to-observe will of the people, you’re making sure to tell those people their favorites don’t matter. There’s no struggle. No drama. Just two old guys from 20 years ago saying 'this is how it is.'"
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 3:52 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


FanFare discussion.
posted by Etrigan at 3:53 PM on January 28, 2015


The WWE just needs better writers, with more imagination. Like the ones who run the NFL. New England Patriots, now THERE'S a well-written bad guy.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:04 PM on January 28, 2015 [41 favorites]


I drive by the WWE headquarters every morning and admire their large flag. And I wonder what it would be like to work there, not as an entertainer but just an IT staffer or something.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 4:07 PM on January 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


TIL Roman Reigns is Sika's son, which means that the Rock is somehow related to The Wild Samoans. Magnificent. When I was a kid, my brother and I were at GenCon and we had pins made that said "I'm not Afa" and "I'm not Sika". We thought it was hilarious. We were nerds. We were nerds who watched wrestling and played AD&D. No wonder I didn't have many friends.
posted by The Bellman at 4:15 PM on January 28, 2015 [11 favorites]


Second cousins with the Rock.
posted by josher71 at 4:18 PM on January 28, 2015


That's cool.
posted by clavdivs at 4:22 PM on January 28, 2015


And I wonder what it would be like to work there, not as an entertainer but just an IT staffer or something.

Anytime someone forgets their password you get to suplex them.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:33 PM on January 28, 2015 [17 favorites]


"Have you tried turning it off and on and then elbow dropping it?"
posted by mannequito at 4:37 PM on January 28, 2015 [37 favorites]


Someone get Ted Turner on the phone, ask if he wants to have another go at making WCW a thing. Or hell, maybe see if Mark Cuban wants to run a Wrestling league.
posted by Grimgrin at 4:44 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


From the WWE's perspective, having the fans mad at them means having them talk about them, which means ratings.

Look, the fans don't really know what they want, and nobody who is creative can do what the fans want all the time.
posted by empath at 4:50 PM on January 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wrestling has had such a weird fandom cross-section over the years. When I was a little kid it was basically watched by the kids who would beat me up, and now seemingly every even slightly nerdy person has an interest in it. (except for me apparently!)

While I don't know much about wrestling, I wonder if that's the issue. If I don't know why people watch wrestling, maybe the WWE doesn't either?
posted by selfnoise at 4:58 PM on January 28, 2015


Or hell, maybe see if Mark Cuban wants to run a Wrestling league.

There can be absolutely no doubt that of course he does.
posted by graphnerd at 4:59 PM on January 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well, if we're going to talk about celebrity-endorsed wrestling promotions, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention "Lucha Underground", the Los Angeles-based promotion that's produced by Robert Rodriguez's El Rey network. Good match storylines, excellent wrestling and a championship title strap made out of melted Aztec gold, supposedly.

Las personas que hablan español pueden encontrar repeticiones de la serie con el comentario español por Univision Más todos los sábados.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 5:11 PM on January 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


Don't worry, selfnoise, you're not alone. Every time wrestling comes up on the Giant Bombcast I remain utterly mystified.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:18 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


in the interim since Daniel Bryan got injured and had to vacate the WWE title, Brock Lesnar won it. And nobody can beat Brock Lesnar. So you have the unstoppable monster who’s beat everybody – except the one guy who never lost the title in the first place. On top of that, Brock Lesnar is very likely leaving the WWE after WrestleMania because he’s only in wrestling for the money and he might be able to make more money elsewhere, so you’ve got the storyline that not only can nobody beat Brock, he’s going to take the WWE title with him when he leaves – forcing the evil corporate overlords to have to rely on Daniel Bryan in order to keep the title where it belongs. It practically writes itself.

Man, stories like this make me wish i could stand that much muscle! What a story! Greatly enjoying this article so far.
posted by rebent at 5:26 PM on January 28, 2015


So here's how much the crowd hated Reigns winning: just before the Rock comes out, the crowd starts chanting "WE WANT RUSEV," who was playing possum outside the ring.

Let me offer a little more background. Here is a picture of Rusev, complete with Russian flag and "Russian Gold Star" medal, supposedly awarded to him personally by Vladimir Putin. You might be able to guess that his gimmick is to berate the crowds (via his leggy blonde manager Lana) for being fat, dumb, lazy Americans.

And the Philly crowd wanted him to win just to save them from having to cheer Roman Reigns.
posted by Etrigan at 5:31 PM on January 28, 2015 [8 favorites]


Can someone give me a tl;dr on why it is that the "wrong guy" won? Why does everyone feel so cheated? The link in the post is too long to read.
posted by xmutex at 5:45 PM on January 28, 2015


Can someone give me a tl;dr on why it is that the "wrong guy" won?

Crowd expected really popular underdog guy to win.

Instead, corporate sellout guy won.

Corporate sellout guys are usually depicted as 'bad' in the wrestling universe.

So, not only did popular guy not win, a 'bad guy' won.

Crowd was not having it, so much so that they booed The Rock, who bad guy is related to.
posted by madajb at 5:52 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I find it interesting that wrestling seems to have completely given up on the pretense that it's "real".

When I was kid, the WWF went through one of it's periodic popularity booms (Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, etc) and no one would have admitted it was fake, not for love or money.

Now, the audience seems to be completely in on the gag, and they still watch.
It's like a giant, crowd-participation reality show.
posted by madajb at 5:57 PM on January 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry, but isn't this stuff bog standard wrestling trope? "Bad Guy" wins through underhanded means when the ref is distracted resulting in an unjust defeat of the "Good Guy". Then next season the "Good Guys" have to take him down against all odds? I'm pretty sure the booing is *exactly* what was planned.
posted by j03 at 6:08 PM on January 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wow. It's been a while since I followed wrestling, but looking at that "Monster" video package...(and granted, WWE's people could make an epic journey of success out of me doing my laundry)...yeah, I can't remember seeing a crowd show that kind of energy, buy-in and unity for anything.

They need to turn everything from now 'til Mania into the Daniel Bryan comeback story, or they're complete fools.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 6:31 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


As You Like It has wrestling in it.

I would watch the living hell out of that.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 6:34 PM on January 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


No, see, Roman Reigns is, in kayfabe (i.e. wrestling storyline land) a Good Guy. The Authority are the bad guys, and Roman is against the Authority.

The problem is that in real life, WWE wants Reigns to be the One. So the real life WWE writers wrote the storyline so the ostensibly good guy but actually shoved down our throats too quickly so now we resent him guy wins. They expected us to cheer. This is different than if they wrote a kayfabe Bad Guy to win - in that case boos ("heat") would be a good thing.

I really liked this article because it brought a level of bigger picture corporate decision making to the whole discussion of what's wrong with WWE right now. But I won't be the first to say that another part of the problem with the current storylines is they mix up kayfabe and real life too much (a little is okay, this is the "Reality Era") and in ways that confuse the audience. In fact, this was pointed out in the FanFare post Etrigan posted upthread.
posted by misskaz at 6:42 PM on January 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


j03: “I'm sorry, but isn't this stuff bog standard wrestling trope?”
Yes and no. The scenario you describe is precisely what you say, a bog-standard wrasslin' storyline.

What happened here is that instead of it being part of the story — the bad guy has a chair in the ring while his comely manager distracts the ref, for example — the corporate brass screwed over the good guy twice in the last couple of years. They disappeared the guy many fans wanted to win. Purely because that's what they thought would maximize shareholder value. Wrasslin' fans are not having it. They booed one of the most popular wrasslers of all time at one of the biggest events of the year.

I haven't cared about who's won a wrasslin' match since Andre the Giant retired, but the larger point in this piece is more interesting anyway. WWE was trying to replace their current "franchise" star, and they've screwed up massively. In part this is because they're thinking about it in the same way that Hollywood thinks about their "tentpole franchise" movies.
posted by ob1quixote at 6:43 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


the larger point in this piece is more interesting anyway. WWE was trying to replace their current "franchise" star, and they've screwed up massively. In part this is because they're thinking about it in the same way that Hollywood thinks about their "tentpole franchise" movies.

Yeah, I've been reading analysis all over the internet over the last few days about what went wrong on Sunday (and, frankly, for the last 6 months), but this article was the first to do a good job of tying it all into the attempt at financial planning and decision making of a public corporation.
posted by misskaz at 6:46 PM on January 28, 2015


This is just The Very Long Con setting up a CM Punk return at Wrestlemania, right? I haven't watched WWE in at least ten years, but I like hearing about these stories.

And it sounds like Punk's semi-kayfabe moment on Raw might have actually just destroyed their ability to control storylines at all.
posted by graphnerd at 6:55 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Okay, someone who understands wrestling, help me figure this bit out (regarding last year's Royal Rumble):

Anyway, fans booing the WWE constantly at every arena in the country managed to get them to realize – after only two months! – that MAYBE Daniel Bryan should have been the guy all along

The Royal Rumble was a one-time event at a single arena, right? How can booing be constant and at multiple arenas?
posted by Bugbread at 7:00 PM on January 28, 2015


WWE fans that go to shows are often very, very dedicated and talk to each via social media, so lots of different arenas will continue reactions considered popular/good. In this case, every time the WWE did a show the fans at that show would chant and boo in very similar ways to fans at other shows all trying to accomplish the same goal.
posted by humans are superior! at 7:13 PM on January 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Bugbread: “The Royal Rumble was a one-time event at a single arena, right?”
In addition to whatever weekly televised shows they have, WWE has a big pay-per-view event roughly once a month. They've had a "Royal Rumble" in January for the last seven years.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:18 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


j03: "I'm sorry, but isn't this stuff bog standard wrestling trope? "Bad Guy" wins through underhanded means when the ref is distracted resulting in an unjust defeat of the "Good Guy". Then next season the "Good Guys" have to take him down against all odds? I'm pretty sure the booing is *exactly* what was planned."

I dunno shit about wrasslin', so someone, tell me if I'm understanding this right: It seems to me, based on MightyGodKing's article, that the important distinction is between bad guys and "bad guys".

Like, if a wrestler's persona is that he kicks puppies, then he's a "bad guy". And when the "bad guy" wins and people boo, that's according to plan.

But if a wrestler's persona is that he is a "good guy", but he actually kicks puppies in real life, then he's an actual bad guy. Since his persona is a "good guy", people are supposed to cheer when he wins. But since people actually dislike him, they boo. That's not according to plan.

In this case, substitute "kicks puppies" with "is a corporate pawn". Characters portraying corporate pawns are "bad guys", and if they win, people are supposed to boo.

Last year, Batista was supposed to be a "good guy". But he was just thrown in as a Guardians-of-the-Galaxy corporate profit decision — that is, he was an actual corporate pawn. So according to WWE, fans should love him, but instead people booed him, and cheered for Roman, who they were supposed to be cheering against (from WWE's perspective), not because they actually liked him, but because they disliked Batista.

Then, this year, a similar flipped situation. Since people cheered Roman last time WWE made him into a "good guy", and are trying to build a franchise. But it's the same exact problem. People didn't like Roman, they were cheering him against the corporate pawn of Batista. In reality, people wanted Daniel Bryan to win. But WWE, just like last year, had a "good guy" who was actually a corporate pawn win the Rumble. So, again, people booed the person they were supposed to cheer for. So, again, going exactly *opposite* the WWE's plans.

I'm not saying that it's hurting their bottom line or anything. Just that this wasn't exactly (or even slightly) what was planned.

ob1quixote: "In addition to whatever weekly televised shows they have, WWE has a big pay-per-view event roughly once a month. They've had a "Royal Rumble" in January for the last seven years."

Yeah, sorry, I meant "once-a-year event", not "one-time-ever" event. So when people chanted and booed at the events after the Royal Rumble last year (not this year), I take it that the issue was that they were cheering for Reigns (who was still supposed to be a bad guy), and they were still booing Batista (who was supposed to be the hot property)? Or were they doing the total flip they did at the 2014 Royal Rumble itself, booing Rey Mysterio and just pretty much everyone?
posted by Bugbread at 7:46 PM on January 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah, sorry, I meant "once-a-year event", not "one-time-ever" event. So when people chanted and booed at the events after the Royal Rumble last year (not this year), I take it that the issue was that they were cheering for Reigns (who was still supposed to be a bad guy), and they were still booing Batista (who was supposed to be the hot property)?

Yep.

Or were they doing the total flip they did at the 2014 Royal Rumble itself, booing Rey Mysterio and just pretty much everyone?

Not so much. And thanks to SNOWMAGEDDON 2015, they didn't have a live event on Monday (as they typically do) to expose themselves to more crowds. It'll be interesting to see what the Thursday crowd (Smackdown taping) has to say about things.
posted by Etrigan at 8:12 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


On top of the well-discussed issues with Roman Reigns as an over-pushed good guy, he's also been exposed as a less talented worker in the last year. This time last year he was part of the Shield, a team that had a series of absolutely awesome tag matches. They split up several months ago, and it turns out that Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins (the other two members of the Shield) were the guys who made that team good. Roman Reigns was important, but he is a relatively weak talker and has a repetitive, less convincing set of moves in the ring.
posted by Bryant at 8:26 PM on January 28, 2015


Hey, everybody. To answer questions as they have popped up:

Is this stuff usually more... Fun?

Yes. GOD yes. Right now top-level WWE is pretty bad - an amazingly talented roster of performers that's being wasted on some of the worst wrestling writing I can ever remember seeing and I've been a serious wrestling fan for over three decades - but wrestling itself remains un-duplicable fun when it's done properly. Somebody else has already mentioned Lucha Underground, which is spectacularly good wrestling television; I'll add WWE's internet-only "minor leagues" program. NXT, which is excellently written and has performers who "aren't ready for the big leagues" only because of internal politics rather than massive ability (over the last two years NXT has snapped up virtually every hot name from the independent wrestling circuit and thrown them all together and the results have been glorious).

Look, the fans don't really know what they want

This is bullshit and it's what a lot of wrestlers are telling themselves in order to reject the realization that they no longer know or understand a key aspect of their core business.

The fans know exactly what they want: they want their favorite wrestles to matter in the ongoing story. That's it. "Matter" can take on different aspects - it can be competing for the World title (and at some point any wrestler who's really significantly popular, I mean moreso than average, should be competing for the World title at some point, and probably winning it at least once) or it can be involvement in a gripping storyline. But there have to be stakes beyond the wins and losses of matches which are, in and of themselves, meaningless without the story behind them. Making these stakes exist is not dramatically difficult, which is why the WWE's current writing is so pathetic when they can barely be bothered to do it.

I'm pretty sure the booing is *exactly* what was planned.

No, it wasn't.

Writing for wrestling is, as I said, not that difficult - the plots don't have to be byzantine and they generally work best when they're simplest, because when "good guy smacks bad guy in the face a lot" is your dramatic climax you can't be too elaborate with the story. But, because people want to assume that a billion-dollar company that is the most successful at what it does in the world is not run by total idiots, they often default to "it was all on purpose" whenever something inexplicable happens in wrestling. This in fact happened last year when Batista won the Royal Rumble and they had to shuffle the deck chairs at the absolute last minute to work Daniel Bryan into the main event; afterwards, even though numerous wrestlers (including Bryan himself) had confirmed in interviews that, no, there wasn't any plan from the beginning for D-Bry to win the title at WrestleMania, people with some level of familiarity but not enough started saying "well it was all part of the plan."

But if you were watching it closely, you knew it wasn't a plan right from the get-go, because last year, the confirmation that Daniel Bryan wasn't going to be part of the Royal Rumble was when Rey Mysterio came out at #30 as the final entrant, and that was when the crowd last year started shitting on the match. And if you know wrestling, that was the confirmation that WWE didn't plan anything with D-Bry for WrestleMania in advance, because Rey Mysterio is a lifelong good guy, a tiny luchador underdog who the fans love and who kids especially love - and he was getting booed to death when he came out last year. If the WWE expected the fans to turn on whoever came out #30, if they had planned it, it would have been a bad guy, because that way they kill two birds with one stone: they get to advance the D-Bry angle and they make a bad guy - who they want to be hated - more hated. And that's how you know last year wasn't planned.

This year? There's a lot of reasons everybody there could tell there was no plan for anything other than "have Roman Reigns be the good guy":

- Daniel Bryan gets eliminated almost as an afterthought.
- This happens about halfway through the match, rather than right at the end.
- He is not mentioned again during the match.
- The Big Show and Kane clobber all of the remaining wrestlers the fans really like - Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose, even Bray Wyatt - and toss them out like afterthoughts. Only Roman Reigns remains.
- Roman Reigns eliminates both of them, and then The Rock shows up to give Roman some help when they cheat and come back in the ring to beat Roman up - and, more importantly, they were hoping that Rock's popularity would rub off on Roman and cheers for Rock would transfer to Roman.
- The commentators do not stop giving Roman Reigns credit and applause for being awesome and amazing all through the match.

Like I said: WWE is not terribly subtle most of the time, especially not when it comes to the commentary (which Vince McMahon micromanages). The Daniel Bryan treatment in particular lends itself to one conclusion: they anticipated that when D-Bry was eliminated, the fans would be upset, and so they did it early in the hopes that fans would get over it during the match and get excited again at the end for Roman Reigns. Except that it didn't work.

This is just The Very Long Con setting up a CM Punk return at Wrestlemania, right?

CM Punk and WWE right now are probably more distant than Bret Hart ever got from the WWF/E back in the day following the Montreal Screwjob and Owen Hart's untimely death. Punk went on his friend Colt Cabana's wrestling podcast and went on a tear about how he had been treated by WWE, including accusing them of gross medical negligence, called the WWE's independent-contractor system a joke (which is certainly is), and closing with how he had to sue the company to get his licensing fees after they fired him on his wedding day. And now Punk has signed with UFC, whom Vince McMahon considers the WWE's biggest competition.

CM Punk is my favorite wrestler and I would mark out harder than anybody ever if he made a dramatic return. But it's not happening.

---

Finally, I'd suggest for people who want to see some video of the crowd booing and such that they go check out this post at Kotaku.
posted by mightygodking at 8:51 PM on January 28, 2015 [25 favorites]


Reading this led me eventually to a Top 20 Moves of Daniel Bryan, where I see that "his patented finisher, the Lebell Lock" (how could it be patented to him if its name is Lebell?) is what used to be Chris Benoit's Crippler Crossface. A bit eerie to see them allowing that move back in the repertoire, especially given that Bryan's "too small, doesn't fit the Corporate Champion mold" storyline & real life are similar to Benoit's. But of course all I know is the 15 minutes of him I've seen tonight.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:42 PM on January 28, 2015


mightygodking: "Finally, I'd suggest for people who want to see some video of the crowd booing and such that they go check out this post at Kotaku."

Oh, man, it's crazy clear that the audience reaction was not planned when people are shouting "BULLSHIT" when the "bad guys" are beating up the "good guy", but when the "good guy" starts beating up the "bad guys", it just switches to "BOOOO". You've got a problem in your match where your audience isn't rooting for anybody.

Yes, I know the terms are "babyface" and "heel", but I know so little about wrestling I'd feel like a poser using them
posted by Bugbread at 9:50 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


From the Kotaku post:

"Batista, the guy who WWE picked to win the 2014 Royal Rumble before fans revolted, was literally Drax the Destroyer in last Summer's Guardians of the Galaxy movie."

Why the need to say he was "literally" Drax the Destroyer? Might we be confused and think that he was only figuratively Drax the Destroyer? Is that like a common saying or something?
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:52 PM on January 28, 2015


I never really got into wrestling, but it's come to my attention that WWE has a films division, and that it made Jingle All the Way II, staring Larry the Cable Guy.

It's also made some terrible horror movies but on the subject of JATW2... Griffin McElroy (of MBMBAM ) has some thoughts about Jingle All the Way 2. But JATW2 has the last laugh.

And I wonder what it would be like to work there, not as an entertainer but just an IT staffer or something.

Randomly, apparently Freddie Prinze Jr was a writer for them for a little while.

Every time wrestling comes up on the Giant Bombcast I remain utterly mystified.

Ha, I actually listened to a few Power Bombcasts so I know a bit of the lingo now though I'm still mostly mystified about who everybody is. I hope they record a new one soon to get the full effect of everybody's anger. People think Jeff doesn't like video games anymore but hoo boy he really hates current WWE.
posted by kmz at 9:56 PM on January 28, 2015


Saxon Kane: "Why the need to say he was "literally" Drax the Destroyer?"

I'm guessing to keep people from thinking it's a metaphor, like he was as big as Drax the Destroyer, or he played the same role in WWE as Drax the Destroyer? I would've dropped the word "literally" and changed "was" to "played", but the "literal" doesn't jump out at me as wrong, just a bit awkward.
posted by Bugbread at 9:57 PM on January 28, 2015


Bugbread: Yeah, that was the joke ;)

I just watched the last video in the Kotaku link. Some things stand out:

1) Hoo boy, it is a beautiful thing to watch Paul Heyman at work. That man knows how to sell a match. That story about Roman Reigns' family almost brought a tear to my eye.

2) Reigns is out of his depth and knows it.

3) Brock Lesnar is a legitimately terrifying individual. I think I would shit my pants just being in the same room as that guy.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:05 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


mightygodking: “Finally, I'd suggest for people who want to see some video of the crowd booing and such that they go check out this post at Kotaku.”
That article really conveys the magnitude of how badly WWE has screwed up. I can't help but feel like McMahon who, despite being an egomaniac and raving asshole, always seemed like he understood that it was a show and kept the character of "Vince McMahon" separate, has started believing his own press releases.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:52 PM on January 28, 2015


As I've said over the years when it comes to copyright.

Copyright, certainly, in the modern interpretation and corporate system it creates, ends up subverting the original intent and purpose of copyright.

Franchises are the prime example.

"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8, (the Copyright Clause)"


Many times, the stated "progress" when described by people talking neutrally about this clause refers (in copyright) to "creativity" and fostering novel things.

The idea being that to help people incentivize newly created things, they would get a limited right. Otherwise, why create something if Joe Blow can go ahead and take the right to make an exact copy?

So, give a limited term copyright, and that way people will say that Joe Blow can't copy it and I retain a special right for a period, which, in theory, will help inspire me to create something that I might not make (cuz, almighty dollar, or whatever -- and let's not even get into absurd patent trolling, etc...)

So - here, franchise... 6 fucking Marvel movies for characters that have been around 40+ years. You've got the whole Mickey Mouse faffery and all the other various "franchises" that cause sequel after sequel. You get fucking Madden NFL XXXX, you get fucking CoD: Extended Retro Future II Black Sniper Ops IV Ultra Ultimate.

How the fucking SHIT is this encouraging novelty, creativity? I mean, there's a new feature here and there, I guess. But seriously?

And look - I loves me some X-Men. I do. And I thought the first Avengers movie was a blast. And I'll probably see the others (still have to see GotG), but can you seriously tell me that if you didn't have the right to these characters that no movies would get made? That no new concepts or ideas could be had? That we have to see the same old rehash over and over of the same old characters? How the fuck is that anything but NOT novel?

But perpetual copyright makes it thus, and therefore is contradictory in its stated goals and what results it actually achieves. But all power to Disney and the might dollar. Praise the dead corpse of Sonny Bono! Hallelujah Corporate Overlords forevermore.
posted by symbioid at 10:58 PM on January 28, 2015


check out this post at Kotaku.

I haven't watched wrestling, really, since I was in 3rd or 4th grade and know most of what I know about it via osmosis (MGK posts, random Giant Bomb stuff, misskaz). For totally random reasons (the power of reaction GIFs on tumblr) I've known who Daniel Bryan was for a while and... That clip of the Seattle crowd cheering for him. The look on his face is just the most adorable/heart-warming thing. He's just, like, "Awwwwww, you guys...."
posted by sparkletone at 11:39 PM on January 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


OK, after reading the thread and some of the linked articles, damn.

It's almost a shame that it's *not* a big gimmick, because, they could totally piss off the fans for a "crash" of emotion and rage. Then after a ... season(?)/year? Whatever... it's obviously been 2 now. maybe another 1 or 2, make it a long con, then BAM, give them exactly what they want.

But it seems like, fans are so cynical at this point that if they're given what they want, they'll think it's just more corporate bullshit (as the Roman Reigns case seems to be?) Would the fans really be happy if Daniel Bryan won, now? Or would they see that as corporate just trying to gain favor again.

And yeah, ok - you can't make wrestling lines too complex, but it's not as if it isn't screaming for some really intricate shit. It's clear that there's a complexity there, but I suppose part of that is that feedback. To do it well, you need spontaneity to ... well, it's like DJs ... I think the article said "work" (fake)... It's like "working the crowd". Instead of technoshamanism getting people into a crescendo of energy with DJing a set, but then using that feedback loop of energy from the crowd to determine HOW the set is gonna play and react accordingly, you write accordingly and have to modify so you can't/shouldn't etch in stone... But it seems that etching in stone (i.e. forcing something into a concrete reality that won't be changed, because the WWE is the dictator, damnit) is precisely what their current approach is.

They're taking a less Taoist approach - they are not being the bendable, flexible willow branch that blows in the wind, but the stiff, dry and dead twig that will snap in half if too much wind blows.

...

I'd love to see a comic book about the whole thing. The corporation who runs the shit (maybe even 2 leagues or corps with their own setup like WWE vs WCW). Then writers/producers and then the wrestlers/actors then the glamour/stageshow. And of course fans, personal stories of fans and their own experiences. Wrapping it all up into this tremendous fictional storyline, and then have the writers really craft a complex storyline that in the real world wouldn't be used (according to comments in this thread) but make shit so fucking meta and turn the corporations into "heels" and play with that aspect. Maybe have a wrestler be the incarnation of the corporation itself (I mean, isn't that sorta what "The Authority" and Ted DiBiasi is/were, etc...)

That'd be cool.

Also - can someone make a "History of (modern American) Wrestling" comic, like the "History of Hip Hop" from Ed Piskor? That would be fucking EPIC!

Also - I just saw that the most recent show was supposed to be hosted in the Northeast but cancelled cuz of the blizzard, and we got the superbowl coming up with Pats vs Seahawks and Bryan is from Aberdeen, so that adds an interesting element/twist to the timing of all this.

Secondly, though... After, say... 85-86... about 87 when Big Boss Man became a thing, I stopped watching. And Hart and all those guys seemed to be just around the time I stopped giving a shit, but I never liked them, but even if they were small scrawny dudes (compared to The Hulkster, etc...), they still seem bigger than Bryan. But I think the thing with Bryan is precisely that scrappy get up and go street-fighter feel/look. Like, the ultimate underdog feeling. He represents that upstart nature, that young, vibrant, look. I saw him without the beard and at first thought, eh? Kinda looks boring. But you could see he had a charm, personality. Then now, with the beard he's got that thing going for him, a real look. So maybe McMahon needs to stop forcing a particular fetish of his on the wrestling world and let the fans decide what they want, ferrealz.

Also - what was that one crazy wrestling shit? It was sorta like Lucha Libre + Kaiju battling? It was mostly amateur? I don't know if it still exists. I think they did wacky shit like... disco dancing in the ring and shit? Like just having fun as hell. It was posted on the blue at one point, I think. Anyways, I think we need more of that. Get the fuck outta the WWE and get MORE storyline, more WACKY, more fun and just let wrestling be fun again.
posted by symbioid at 11:53 PM on January 28, 2015


I have worked for WWE, and WWF, in the past...and I worked on the XFL for its single season. Easily one of the highlights of my professional career- a great rate, great people, and great fun. Watching Sergeant Slaughter walk around backstage and smoke cigarettes in front of "No Smoking" signs.....also: GOLDBERG!!!!!
posted by ergomatic at 12:09 AM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also - what was that one crazy wrestling shit? It was sorta like Lucha Libre + Kaiju battling? It was mostly amateur? I don't know if it still exists. I think they did wacky shit like... disco dancing in the ring and shit? Like just having fun as hell.

I suspect you're thinking of Chikara (previously). When they're on top form it's about the most entertaining thing ever. Such joy. It's painful to watch the turgidity of WWE once the indies get you used to how much fun wrestling can be. (Alternatively, you also may be thinking of Kaiju Big Battel - on which I can't comment as I've not seen any actual shows)
posted by coleboptera at 2:24 AM on January 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wrestling threads on MeFi put any soap opera fan board to shame, just in terms of sheer GRAR-ness.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:51 AM on January 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


The fans know exactly what they want: they want their favorite wrestles to matter in the ongoing story

I've been watching wrestling on and off since I came across NWA shows on TBS in the mid 80s. I've had peaks and troughs (I missed all of the Attitude Era / Monday Night Wars because I was in college and our TV got three channels), but I started watching again in earnest about seven or eight years ago. I generally take a breather to reset between SummerSlam and Royal Rumble. I really enjoyed SummerSlam this year, and I thought that I might keep watching for a change.

But... there was nothing to care about. Nobody who I was interested in was doing anything interesting on a continuing basis. There have been good matches here and there, but I can't even remember the last time I watched Raw because there just hasn't been anything to care about. They were treading water, dishing out the same thing week after week, and nobody's story was progressing. So I bailed.

The completely tone-deaf Rumble booking actually makes me a little glad that I've got a prior engagement during Wrestlemania this year.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:11 AM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


What's old is new again. After the fall of Hulk Hogan's popularity in the mid-90's, Vince McMahon tried to clone his success with a wrestler named Lex Luger. Luger had a similar look to Hogan. He was over 6 feet tall, muscular, and had an even fuller mane than Hogan had in his prime. The problem was that where Hogan could tell a story both on a microphone and physically in the ring, Luger just didn't quite have the same charisma or "ring saavy" to pull it off.

The Royal Rumble is a modified battle royal in which the winner is the last one remaining in the ring. It's also where you essentially learn who the WWE is going to promote as the year's top good guy or bad guy. In 1995, they had Lex Luger win the event. Actually, co-win the event as the match ended with Lex Luger and fan favorite Bret Hart, eliminating each other. Luger was everything that you picture when you envision a professional wrestler, but Bret Hart was a smaller guy who won the hearts of the audience and could tell a story. And the crowd reaction was night and day when they announced each as the winner of the event.

Flash forward to 2014. The Royal Rumble ends with the fan favorite (Daniel Bryan) never even being involved. (Participants enter the event intermittently and only a selection of participants are known ahead of time.) The winner instead is again a guy that fits the mold of what Vince McMahon sees as the kind of wrestler that fits that Hogan template. And the crowd reaction over the following weeks is so strong that they have to go in and change the main event of their biggest show of the year, Wrestlemania, to fit Daniel Bryan into the picture.

So, the reaction this year isn't so much, "We don't like this story line," so much as it is, "Oh geez, this s--- again?"
posted by dances with hamsters at 5:23 AM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Or to put it another way: You're 8 years old and your mom tells you before school that you're having a special treat for dinner and all day you're thinking it's going to be pizza or lasagna but it's probably pizza and when you get home she serves you a spinach casserole. But she sees how disappointed you are so she orders a pizza. Then the next week she says there's going to be another special dinner and it's another goddamn spinach casserole.
posted by dances with hamsters at 5:24 AM on January 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


Batista, the guy who WWE picked to win the 2014 Royal Rumble before fans revolted, was literally Drax the Destroyer

This is literally wrong.

Bautista *portrayed* Drax the Destroyer. If he was literally Drax the Destroyer, he'd have superhuman strength, knives, the ability to fly and a bad case of nonexistence because Drax is a fictional character. I'm pretty sure Dave Bautista has a bad case of existing, much like the rest of us.

Yes I know I've lost the war on both "literally" and "momentarily". I will not stop fighting.
posted by eriko at 5:34 AM on January 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Is John Cena flashing gang signs at me in that all-the-colours-of-Cena wallpaper?
posted by clawsoon at 5:46 AM on January 29, 2015


Reading this led me eventually to a Top 20 Moves of Daniel Bryan, where I see that "his patented finisher, the Lebell Lock" (how could it be patented to him if its name is Lebell?) is what used to be Chris Benoit's Crippler Crossface.

It's actually not the same move, although they're similar. The crossface is supposed to stretch the opponent's neck out of place, whereas the Lebell Lock (named after long-retired pro wrestler Gene Lebell) is intended to stretch the opponent's back like a camel clutch.

But most of Benoit's moves have come back into wrestling vocabulary anyway: the multiple rolling German suplexes, the flying headbutt, and yes, the crossface (Triple H uses it sometimes). They're just moves; they're the wrestling equivalent of words in a novel.
posted by mightygodking at 5:48 AM on January 29, 2015


The sad thing is that, as undeniably talented and oddly charismatic as Daniel Bryan is, and as strong a connection as he has to the "smart" fans, there are reasons why he _shouldn't_ be the long-term Face of the Company.

His fearless style does lend itself to injuries -- like concussions, a detached retina, torn tendons, and nerve injuries like the neck issue that had him out of action through most of 2014, and from which many wondered if he would return at all. His use of the flying headbutt rings some warning bells after the nightmarish end of Chris Benoit. His lack of bulk, laid-back personality and king-of-the-indies reputation are all anathema to McMahon's love for homegrown Adonises.

But the WWE's booking has left them in a tough spot -- they need younger stars but they book potential stars into the ground repeatedly, leaving them with the same people running the same treadmills at the top of the card. If John Cena got hit by a truck tomorrow they would have no idea what to do next. Hence shoving Reigns at the fans in a hamfisted manner. Reigns isn't terrible, though he is very green; he's being mishandled. Time will tell if he can do what his cousin did (turn terrible crowd reactions around and become a favorite) or if he'll just flounder.

Fans who like the style of wrestling Bryan represents (smaller, agile, athletic) are encouraged to check out NXT, the WWE's "minor league" promotion which features exactly that. There are a number of extremely talented indie types there who are getting showcased in ways they'll never be if they get called up, and in many ways it's a superior product to the main show.
posted by delfin at 6:30 AM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


The sad thing is that, as undeniably talented and oddly charismatic as Daniel Bryan is, and as strong a connection as he has to the "smart" fans, there are reasons why he _shouldn't_ be the long-term Face of the Company.

Certainly this is worth considering, but the issue then becomes: what's wrong with Bryan being the transitional face of the company? Most fans don't have a deep hatred of Roman Reigns himself: they just think he's not ready, hasn't earned his spot. What's the problem with going one or two years with Bryan as your top guy to give Reigns the time to mature into the star role (or to let someone else usurp the role)?
posted by mightygodking at 6:44 AM on January 29, 2015


What's the problem with going one or two years with Bryan as your top guy to give Reigns the time to mature into the star role (or to let someone else usurp the role)?

They tried, and then Bryan got hurt.
posted by Etrigan at 6:53 AM on January 29, 2015


Is this stuff usually more... Fun?

Last year's Royal Rumble was the first wrestling PPV I ever saw. A few weeks prior I had been flipping through the channels on a Monday night, and came across Monday Night Raw. I paused for a bit, and watched a bearded dude get pressured into chanting "No!" by an even more bearded dude. I had literally never watched a second of wrestling before in my life, but I could immediately tell that a good guy was being turned by a bad guy. It was weird, and interesting, and I watched for a little while.

I got to work the next day and mentioned to my work friends what I had seen. They FLIPPED OUT. Turns out they are big wrestling fans, and I had happened to catch a major moment in Daniel Bryan's storyline at the time (joining, albeit temporarily, the Wyatt Family). They got all excited and it was super infectious. And then the next weekend my boyfriend dug out of the closet a stack of old wrestling DVDs and we spent like 5 hours watching the Shawn Michaels Mr. Wrestlemania documentary. I had no idea until then he was a wrestling fan either.

Sometimes I think it's sad and funny how people feel like they have to hide their wrestling fandom, and then other times they make women performers literally mud-wrestle or kiss and I hate myself for even liking it, let alone wanting to encourage others to watch.

Anyway, so I illegally streamed last year's Royal Rumble and started watching every week and buying PPVs and my boyfriend signed up for the WWE Network basically the minute it was launched and as sparkletone attests, I talk about it a lot now on twitter and such.

Part of this is just me - I tend to jump in feet first when I find something new I like - but part of it is that wrestling really is or can be that fun. It's silly, but it also can have really emotionally affecting storylines. When Seth Rollins betrayed Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, whom he called BROTHERS, I cried. And then I spent weeks spewing hate at my TV every time Rollins was on screen. (But this was the good kind of hate - I was supposed to hate him.) He is still Traitorface to me, even as I appreciate how much he's grown as a performer this year and love seeing him on screen now.

Anyway, since Summerslam the product has gone downhill a lot, to the point where Mondays are now for either hate-watching, or flipping over to football, or falling asleep on the couch. I still have hope it can be good again - it was good as recently as a year ago! - but I'm starting to question spending several hours a week watching and reading wrestling sites and whatnot. For now I can't seem to quit, but I'm getting close.

Part of what's keeping me around is NXT. If I were to encourage anyone reading this thread to start watching wrestling, I sure as hell wouldn't suggest WWE's main products right now, save for maybe going to a PPV party. But if you have the Hulu you can catch NXT and it really is terrific. [I almost recapped the Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens storyline as an example here but this comment is too long as it is. Trust me, it's good.]
posted by misskaz at 7:07 AM on January 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


What's the problem with going one or two years with Bryan as your top guy to give Reigns the time to mature into the star role (or to let someone else usurp the role)?

Nothing wrong at all, but yes, Bryan got hurt, and there are question marks around whether he really needed the second surgery and whether the muscle therapy techniques he received are legit or chiropractic voodoo. There is always going to be the fear whispered into the right ear (Vince's) that Bryan'll go flying out of the ring or fall funny and whammo, he's done and there goes their investment.

The way the Rumble's end sequence was booked _really_ did them no favors, as well. Kane and Big Show are cartoon villains at this stage of their careers -- all they need is the Snidely Whiplash curled-up mustaches -- and the Authority Murders All The Faces And Only Roman Can Save Us show would've been corny back in the Hulkamania era.

Also the concept of "waiting" isn't one of McMahon's trademarks.
posted by delfin at 7:13 AM on January 29, 2015


Ziggler could have been a perfectly fine interim champ, if there really are questions about Bryan's durability.

This post may be influenced by my love for Dolph Ziggler, despite his shortcomings.
posted by misskaz at 7:16 AM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Part of what's keeping me around is NXT. If I were to encourage anyone reading this thread to start watching wrestling, I sure as hell wouldn't suggest WWE's main products right now, save for maybe going to a PPV party. But if you have the Hulu you can catch NXT and it really is terrific.

NXT is so good it's amazing; all the excitement WWE can muster at the best of times except everything is better. The wrestling is better, the writing is better, the women's wrestling is genuinely great and avoids almost all of the horrible sexist tropes that pervade women's wrestling in the "big leagues," the fans are terrific (the funniest chants ever) and even the themes are top-notch: here's Sami Zayn's insanely catchy ska theme, or Tyler Breeze's hilarious theme about being a model.
posted by mightygodking at 7:24 AM on January 29, 2015


Okay, question for all you experts then: if you could recommend one single show to someone who has never watched wrestling, what would it be? Not something that's important because it's historical, but doesn't really stand up well now. Not a whole year of fights. Not an event that was really important if you knew the back story, but not particularly interesting if you didn't know what was going on. Instead, just one "You've never watched wrestling, Bugbread? Watch this two hour (or whatever) event, and you will be hooked".
posted by Bugbread at 7:38 AM on January 29, 2015


Ziggler could have been a perfectly fine interim champ, if there really are questions about Bryan's durability.

Ziggler has concussion issues of his own. The arc of winning the belt, getting hurt, dropping the belt, staying on the shelf for a while and coming back to a permanent midcard slot despite your popularity could easily be called "Dolphing."
posted by Etrigan at 7:55 AM on January 29, 2015


Thank you for introducing me to Kaiju Big Battel.
posted by josher71 at 7:58 AM on January 29, 2015


Bugbread, the most recent NXT event is exactly what you're looking for. Takeover R-Evolution, I believe it was called. It's got everything: high quality women's matches (plural!), comedy tag team stuff, deadly serious (and awesome) and awesome tag team stuff, and a championship match that's a valid and well done payoff to a nearly year long story.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:02 AM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


if you could recommend one single show to someone who has never watched wrestling, what would it be?

One of the good Royal Rumbles: 1998, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2006. The Rumble match itself is the most fun hour of wrestling in most years, and those all have pretty good support cards as well.

Or what Ghidorah said, but really any of the NXT "PPVs": Arrival, Takeover, Takeover: Fatal 4-Way, or Takeover: R-Evolution. R-Evolution was particularly good and well-rounded.
posted by Etrigan at 8:08 AM on January 29, 2015


By the way, Ghidorah, remember this?

Poor Sandow. I can't imagine any kind of push that would make people forget the last year.

I will note for the record that I agreed with you -- he was done.
posted by Etrigan at 8:09 AM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


As for the Rumble, the damn shame of it is how they obliterated any goodwill from the amazing three way championship match before it. Seth Rollins might as well have been wearing a "looking for your next star, give me a call" sign. It was fantastic, and Brock was just as terrifying as ever.

In the rumble, they wasted the Dust brothers split, the independence of Mizdow, the possible (but evidently unlikely) return of the Dudleys, Bray Wyatt returning to his EATER OF WORLDS status, hell, even a possible team up between Wyatt and Rusev. They wasted Ziggler. They wasted Bryan, Cesaro, Ambrose, and even Reigns. After all this time making sure every show ends with Reigns "looking strong," he only managed to win because Kane and Show started fighting each other. Having him sneak up from behind to push them out isn't strong. It's not dominant. Cesaro lifting Show up and throwing him out of the ring in last year's Wrestlemania battle royals should have been the template there, but they botched even that.

Of course, it gets worse. Evidently, HHH and Vince have essentially told the writers to but out, and are instead booking everything themselves, even though they plainly disagree on the direction of the company. Worse, much worse before it gets better.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:14 AM on January 29, 2015


Touché, Etrigan, touché.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:15 AM on January 29, 2015


In the rumble, they wasted... [everything]

On the Cheap Heat podcast, the hosts agreed that one of the biggest problems with the Rumble (aside from, obviously, the booking) was the abysmal commentary. I mentioned over in FanFare that I liked all the stat-head stuff ("Two people have won from this starting number" or "Wrestler X has never eliminated anyone in #Y appearances"), but they did that at the expense of calling virtually any of the storylines. After a long spell of complaints about how the commentary is micromanaged (Vince is literally talking to them on their headsets throughout, particularly Cole, telling them what to plug), I wonder whether that got stopped this time, leaving them hung out to dry.
posted by Etrigan at 8:25 AM on January 29, 2015


R-Evolution is about as good as mainstream wrestling has been in the last few years, thirded. It's a nice self-contained show that shows off talent, tells stories and does it well.

If that manages to suck you in, it's a matter of deciding which flavor of pro wrestling suits your tastes. The WWE is big, cartoony and formulaic but an undeniable spectacle and the easiest to find on your TV. Impact Wrestling (nee TNA) wants to be their main competition and does so by hiring the WWE's castoffs, but is held together with duct tape and string and is not a good introduction to the concept. The indies vary wildly, from technical proficiency-based groups (Ring of Honor) to cranking up the fun factor (Chikara) to the deliciously sleazy (Hoodslam) to the patently ridiculous (Kaiju Big Battel). There are also hardcore groups like CZW that specialize in bloodletting, but I wouldn't start there.

On American TV, there are a couple of other programs of note -- Lucha Underground on El Rey Network (which you don't get unless you're on DirecTV), which is a pretty slick production of Mexican lucha libre -- think a gymnastics meet on Halloween night gone dangerously wrong, soaked in tradition. Worth checking out. The AXS TV network has just started airing New Japan Pro Wrestling as a 13-episode series, which is English-dubbed commentary over fucking great NJPW matches from 2013 or so. (New Japan also has an online network similar to the WWE Network, which runs about eight bucks a month and is reportedly very good.)

Japan has its diversity as well; the big promotions like NJPW, All Japan Pro Wrestling and Dragon Gate are presented seriously for the most part, while Dramatic Dream Team (DDT) is a delightfully goofy indie of note. I haven't kept up with them in a while so others might make recommendations as to what besides NJPW is solid these days.

If you're into women's wrestling, SHIMMER is the group of choice stateside. It draws talent from all over and is very specifically wrestling-first rather than a GLOW-style cute-girls-rolling-around-in-small-outfits fest. Women's wrestling was huge in Japan for many years and still has several groups dedicated to it, Ice Ribbon and JWP being among the foremost.
posted by delfin at 8:38 AM on January 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ziggler has concussion issues of his own.

Ok well wrestling is a dangerous sport. Perhaps WWE should 1. have better doctors and 2. have better contingency plans in place for when (not if) a major star does get injured. (And 3. maybe get rid of notorious injury-causers like Swagger?)
posted by misskaz at 8:55 AM on January 29, 2015


Also, nthing that it's worth watching NXT R-Evolution; and if nothing else check out my new favorite Finn Bálor's entrance from that event because OMG goosebumps.
posted by misskaz at 8:57 AM on January 29, 2015


In light of the trending #CancelWWENetwork:

WWE announced yesterday that the struggling WWE Network had surpassed 1 million subscribers for the first time (almost certainly a Royal Rumble bump). Stock value, which had been sliding or neutral for a while now, rose nearly 20% on the news.

Today, WWE announced that the WWE Network will be FREE to new subscribers for February. Nervous much, considering you just hit an all time high?

Though it would never happen outside of the WWE IT staff and upper managment, I would LOVE to see actual subscription numbers on an hour by hour graph, with notes of "pre Rumble Match", "#CancelWWENetwork", "Free February", and such, for the last week.
posted by jermsplan at 9:15 AM on January 29, 2015


R-Evolution is pretty good, but what really got me into wrestling was heading to a small indie show. There's nothing quite like being there in person and cheering and booing and shouting at the wrestlers. I like to think of it as interactive theatre.
posted by Apoch at 9:17 AM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Like music and sex, wrestling is so much more fun when it's local, no-budget, and sleazy." —Jello Biafra, singer, spoken word flamethrower, and former wrestling manager.
posted by delfin at 9:45 AM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Crowd expected really popular underdog guy to win.

Instead, corporate sellout guy won.

Corporate sellout guys are usually depicted as 'bad' in the wrestling universe.


Sounds like a catch-22 for the promoter, since anyone who agrees to be written into a winning storyline is, almost by definition, a corporate sellout.
posted by clawsoon at 10:13 AM on January 29, 2015


R-Evolution is pretty good, but what really got me into wrestling was heading to a small indie show. There's nothing quite like being there in person and cheering and booing and shouting at the wrestlers

Yes and no. I've been to an AAW show. It was lots of fun (and WOW the noise of bodies hitting the mat is way louder and more impressive in person.) But the treatment of women in the show by the fans was... not enjoyable and came close to making me feel unsafe, except that I was there with other people including knowing a performer (manager). Also all the women performers were valets/managers, not wrestlers.

Yes WWE mostly treats its women talent like shit but at least I know there are security that will kick out someone who gets grabby with performers or other fans, whereas at an indie show I have no way of knowing if that's the case.

I want to see a SHIMMER event but unfortunately the next time they're in town I'll be out of town for work.
posted by misskaz at 10:43 AM on January 29, 2015


The irony is that the top bad guy in the company right now has the gimmick of being precisely that, a corporate sell out. We're supposed to hate him because "The Authority", ie the company, has anointed him.

Everyone loves him. He's the best heel theyve had for some time and is exceptionally skilled. We play along and boo, but we love the amazing job he's doing.

Meanwhile they think it's a good idea to do it for real in the most obvious way and expect us to cheer.

It's really weird.
posted by vbfg at 10:47 AM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


The irony is that the top bad guy in the company right now has the gimmick of being precisely that, a corporate sell out. We're supposed to hate him because "The Authority", ie the company, has anointed him.

Everyone loves him. He's the best heel they've had for some time and is exceptionally skilled. We play along and boo, but we love the amazing job he's doing.


This needs to be emphasized. Seth Rollins (the wrestler in question) is playing the most wonderful dickbag character in ages, AND he's amazing in the ring. Like: look at this. Or this. Or this.

He's so good. It's amazing.
posted by mightygodking at 11:02 AM on January 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Add one more to the chorus of people suggesting NXT: R-Evoluion as a good 'starting point' for someone who wants to see what this wrestling thing is all about without needing to deal with the muck that is the WWE main event right now. When watching it, it's important to have some understanding of Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville's story arc, though.

In short: both are likeable guys, but Zayn is the perpetually cheery, good natured, lovable type who always ends up finishing second. He and Neville have a good friendship and lots of mutual respect (both kayfabe and in reality... IIRC these guys have worked with each other in the indies for years), but Neville was the NXT champion for a long time. They had several previous bouts which Neville won each time, including one in which Neville had to use some legal but slightly underhanded tactics. This put a serious strain on their friendship, which ended up with Zayn declaring that he wanted one more chance at the title, and that if he lost he was going to retire. There was a very emotional moment at the go-home show (the last show prior to the big event) where Neville tried to convince Zayn not to leave on a loss, because he still had a lot to be proud of; Sami remained passionately determined, stating that if he couldn't be the best at what he did, he would rather stop on his own terms.

That set up the fight, which was a masterwork of both the physical and story-telling arts in the ring. I won't spoil the end, or the gut punch afterwards, but it's good to know that back story going in to get the full emotional impact.

I was out of wrestling for years after being in to it as a kid, but I got sucked back in around the time of Wrestlemania last year. There were a lot of interesting stories being set up at that time which had me intrigued, and I dove in head-first getting caught up on all the recent major storylines. Then I watched month after month as the 'E chose the worst possible route for each narrative and wasted all the promising young talent they'd been building up in favor of corporate blandness and VKM's ideal of a wrestler.

(It's probably worth noting that NXT is considered to be the baby of Triple H, a mostly-retired wrestler who is the real-life COO of WWE and husband of McMahon's daughter. He has a lot more interest in the modern indie style of small, athletic wrestlers and sensible story lines, whereas VKM is always looking for the next Hogan and enjoys covering women in pretend shit. It is believed that they fued a lot over WWE story lines, with most of the good stuff being supported by HHH and most of the bad by VKM. There's also a wide suspicion, although completely unsubstantiated, that McMahon intentionally sabotages the acts who come up from NXT as a way of showing HHH "who's boss". It's an interesting dynamic that spans the real world, kayfabe, and two different promotions run by the same company.)

Anyway, I've become a lot more interested in NXT than the main WWE product for the reasons listed above, and have most recently began getting in to Ring of Honor. ROH's end of year PPV was the first one since R-Evolution that had me in total suspended-disbelief engagement from start to finish; I'm working on catching up on the shows since then. Getting my toe wet with Lucha Underground is also on the agenda.

It's weird being a "smart mark", I've discovered. It's kind of a secret shame in some ways; you recognize the amazing story telling and physical feats that go on, and want to share it as much as you can. Then you get past people's immediate "what, you know that's all fake, right?" and start trying to engage them... and WWE goes and does something incredibly racist, sexist, or immature and you can say is "well.... it's not all like that.... really."

Oh well. This is rambling. I guess it can all be summed up in this quote from Dean Ambrose: "Wrestling is stupid, but it's fun, so we love it."
posted by jammer at 12:59 PM on January 29, 2015 [8 favorites]


FWIW I've been missing for ten years. A mate asked me to a house show in the UK last year and I went along. Adrian Neville was there and I was blown away. I asked about him during a break, found out about NXT (at the time on TV here, network only now) and it's that which got me hooked back in. i love it.
posted by vbfg at 1:12 PM on January 29, 2015


Adrian Neville was there and I was blown away.

"The Man That Gravity Forgot" is one of the all-time great nicknames.
posted by Etrigan at 1:30 PM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


"The Man That Gravity Forgot" is one of the all-time great nicknames.

Agreed, and it's so very apropos. Anyone who hasn't seen him perform owes it to themselves to check out this video of his "red arrow" finisher for visual evidence.

(I've not watched that with sound on, so I don't know if it has the annoying shitty backing music that is so common to youtube sports montages; if so, sorry.)
posted by jammer at 1:50 PM on January 29, 2015


The amazing thing about the WWE right now is that they _have_ been going out of their way to sign significant indie talents who don't fit the prototypical Ham In Speedo WWE mold.

If you'd told me a few years ago that McMahon would have El Generico, Kevin Steen, Prince Devitt, KENTA, Pac, Brodie Lee, Jon Moxley, Tyler Black, Claudio Castagnoli, Chris Hero and Sara Del Rey working for them, that CM Punk would've had a year-long title run and Bryan Danielson would headline a Wrestlemania, I would've laughed my ass off. Hero didn't pan out but everyone else on that list have been great in their WWE/NXT roles so far.

And then you get the Rumble where 47-year-old Kane and 42-year-old buffalo-in-spandex Big Show had the entire end segment revolve around them, both with one eye over their shoulders in case a 55-year-old Sting might show up and interfere. (Little did they know, it was a 42-year-old actor who'd retired from full-time wrestling over a decade ago that they actually had to worry about.)

Baby steps.
posted by delfin at 1:55 PM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Before watching NXT R-Evolution, I'd also recommend watching the Vaudevillains in one of their amazing silent short films leading up to their match with the Lucha Dragons.
posted by frogstar42 at 2:22 PM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


frogstar42: "Before watching NXT R-Evolution, I'd also recommend watching the Vaudevillains in one of their amazing silent short films leading up to their match with the Lucha Dragons."

Okay, something totally unrelated about that clip is blowing my mind: Go to about the one minute mark and start playing the video. Take your hand off your mouse, so the red playback bar disappears from the bottom of your screen. At 1:11, the camera dips slightly, and you see...a red playback bar. Which means that the person who put that video on YouTube did it by pointing their camera at someone else's YouTube video, recording it, and then uploading that to YouTube.

...wha?
posted by Bugbread at 3:24 PM on January 29, 2015


If you'd told me a few years ago that McMahon would have El Generico, Kevin Steen, Prince Devitt, KENTA, Pac, Brodie Lee, Jon Moxley, Tyler Black, Claudio Castagnoli, Chris Hero and Sara Del Rey working for them, that CM Punk would've had a year-long title run and Bryan Danielson would headline a Wrestlemania, I would've laughed my ass off.

If you'd then gone on to explain that all of them were hired by someone else and were misused as soon as Actual McMahon got his hands on them, though...

Heyman has spoken at length about begging McMahon to give Punk a chance and getting brushed off until Punk grabbed the audience with both hands and forced McMahon to put him in main events. Bryan was fired after his first appearance on Raw.
posted by Etrigan at 4:33 PM on January 29, 2015


Looking over the Royal Rumble this year, I realised that it feels to me like jumping back 10 or 15 years, the rumble would have been more diverse. That, if this is to some extent, the WWE showcasing the breadth of their roster, there seem to be fewer wrestlers this year who aren't some variant on "white guy" than before.

Is the WWE locker room actually that monochrome? Am I just remembering previous eras as having any diversity when that wasn't the case at all?
posted by frimble at 10:46 PM on January 29, 2015


A Samoan won without having to head butt and they let the dancing black man go out first to be a substitute black man for the missing Dudley.

How much diversity do you actually want?
posted by vbfg at 1:55 AM on January 30, 2015


I kid. But I don't recall them being any better than they are now.
posted by vbfg at 1:56 AM on January 30, 2015


I tried really hard to think of some reason having R Truth as a sub for the missing Dudley be anything other than 'black.' I guess, if you dig down, there's some indie cred he might have had, something that might have connected him to the Dudleys, but all I can see is Vince saying "well, he's black, he's not busy, surely that'll be good enough!"
posted by Ghidorah at 10:31 AM on January 30, 2015


Wow, there's a bunch of informed opinion about wrestling here! It's probably worth mentioning that mightygodking took over running the venerable and long-running (20+ years!) rec.sport.pro-wrestling Awards. Voting is free and open to the public for the next week.

Disclosure: I run the technical side of the RSPW / Theszie Awards, & I ran this link past the mods.
posted by Pronoiac at 8:37 PM on January 31, 2015


Wrestling has had such a weird fandom cross-section over the years. When I was a little kid it was basically watched by the kids who would beat me up, and now seemingly every even slightly nerdy person has an interest in it. (except for me apparently!)

I've been an avowed wrestling fan since 1991 (and watched it occasionally for a couple of years before that) and am still pretty much the only fan among the friends I grew up with, etc. My interest in it has always been two-fold: the spectacle of it, at first, then the whole production and craft of it all, the backstage politics and more.

When I got 'smart' to the business – partly my own reasoning, partly reading the likes of Power Slam magazine (RIP) – it made it so much more interesting to me! Reading how a match flows in the ring, seeing how the wrestlers and other characters drive the drama of the angles and storylines, and that's just what you see on the surface.

It's a manifold thing, which is probably why it's so difficult for geeky fans of wrestling such as myself to articulate why we love it - or worse, to rebut the old 'But it's all fake, isn't it?' dismissal.

While I don't know much about wrestling, I wonder if that's the issue. If I don't know why people watch wrestling, maybe the WWE doesn't either?

They don't really need to know, because if they sell enough John Cena merch they're covered; that stuff is worth way more to their bottom line than PPV buy rates. Young kids don't care about politics or workrate or any of that geeky smart fan stuff - and if I was their age, I'd probably think Roman Reigns was the coolest dude in the world right now.

I feel like a lot of older fans need to get over themselves when it comes to this stuff. It didn't come out of nowhere. The McMahon disdain for 'indie' guys is legendary, and Roman Reigns has been tapped for the main event for months, regardless of whether he's ready or not. It always feels like a vindication when someone like Daniel Bryan, or CM Punk before him, gets anointed by the powers that be in the big leagues. But it's always been in spite of Vince's vision for 'sports entertainment'.

For me, the bigger problem with the Rumble this year is the same problem it's had for the last few years - they don't know how to book it. Much is made of Pat Patterson and the legend of his intricate booking of spots in Rumbles of yore - who enters when, who eliminates who and how, what angles get developed or furthered along the way. I don't know if he's involved in booking it any more, but it doesn't seem like it - the last one, like the few before it, had no flow, it was full of jobbers, and advanced zero storylines other than 'chosen guy wins then points at WrestleMania sign for photo op'. I think that last trope in particular is awful for the Rumble, as it's killed off any notion of having a swerve or surprise winner (who could lose his title shot at any point between now and Mania to get things back on track story-wise). Even for kids, that must get boring.

I find it interesting that wrestling seems to have completely given up on the pretense that it's "real".

Yes, and no. That pretence, kayfabe, is very much still a part of the product - suspension of disbelief is absolutely necessary to get into the storylines. It's true that rigid adherence to kayfabe at pain of expulsion from the business vanished in the early '90s with the WWF steroid trial, but even ECW, a company often touted as breaking all the rules of how wrestling should be done, kayfabed the shit out of stuff to heighten the drama (such as an angle where a supposedly severely injured Sandman basically hid in his house for a month to sell it).

But even decades before then, as David Shoemaker writes in his book The Squared Circle, the notion that wrestling is 'real' was publicly dispelled by some wrestling promoters themselves (if it meant they could save a buck or whatever). It's not really a new phenomenon, but it feels like it is because wrestling is such a subculture, that only bubbles up to the mainstream every now and then.

Sometimes I think it's sad and funny how people feel like they have to hide their wrestling fandom, and then other times they make women performers literally mud-wrestle or kiss and I hate myself for even liking it, let alone wanting to encourage others to watch.

Yeah, this is a problem (racism, too). On a related note: there seems very little context to anything happening in women's matches in WWE right now, though I get the feeling there's a story being told behind the scenes that we won't find out for another six to nine months, when it's shown on an episode of Total Divas.
posted by macdara at 5:16 AM on February 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm not the weekly follower of RAW that I used to be. But I saw this thread last week and have been following it. It makes the opening of tonight's RAW much more interesting. Starting with the clips they showed of the end of the Royal Rumble where no boo-ing could be heard. And now they're trying to find a reason to say Reigns's victory may not actually lead to the headline match at Wrestlemania like it was supposed to. Gee, why the change of plan, Authority? Heh.
posted by dnash at 5:18 PM on February 2, 2015


Wrestling is in the same category these days as Eve Online for me - something that I don't enjoy watching/playing, but I love reading about. This thread has been fantastic, i'd love more in this vein.

(And i'm going to go track down R-Evolution and see if maybe that takes my fancy where watching original recipe WWE doesn't.)
posted by pseudonymph at 9:13 PM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Okay, I finally watched R-evolution last night and it was, indeed, so much fun. I've returned with a huge thumping crush on Charlotte and only a slightly smaller ones on Sasha Banks and Finn Balor.

Look at this entrance! Just casually moseying along and then bam, totally effortless cartwheel/splits/backflip ring entry. Then she stands up and I realise she is the 8 feet tall bemuscled, athletic Amazon Queen of my heart.

(I realise this is likely because Sasha is probably short, but let me have this.)

So, if this has re-enchanted me with wrestling and i've enjoyed the hell out of this thread, where would you guys recommend as similar places to read about it? mightygodking is obviously the bee's knees, is there anywhere else that's consistently smart/entertaining/fun?
posted by pseudonymph at 5:05 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


is there anywhere else that's consistently smart/entertaining/fun?

Well, staying close to home we do post a WWE Raw thread about once a month or so in FanFare (and use it to talk about NXT and pay-per-views as well).

I'm a little hesitant to suggest Cageside Seats and With Spandex, only because you can kind of tell that because they are required by their jobs to slog through even the terrible and/or boring episodes of Raw, they get pretty snarky and bitter. There's a lot of UGH, REALLY? and you can't blame them. But they're still entertaining and are at least weekly visits for me.

The Masked Man (David Shoemaker) writes longer form stuff and podcasts over at Grantland, and wrote a book called Squared Circle about the history of wrestling.
posted by misskaz at 5:47 PM on February 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


As misskaz points out, there is a lot of eyerolling at With Spandex, but the main writer, Brandon Stroud, I think he's earned his cynicism about the current product. He's a lifelong fan of wrestling, and he has seen the absolute best wrestling has to offer. He's totally up for the absurdity that abounds, and will mark, hard, for wrestlers doing their best to make their characters believable. The problem is that he knows what wrestling is capable of being, and especially in since wrestle mania last year, it's hard to watch constant mediocrity on display, or the intentional middle fingers to the fans. His columns covering NXT are almost always much more positive in tone, though he doesn't hesitate to point out crap when he sees it.

I guess, to me, it's definitely been negative recently, but only because he truly believes wrestling could be great again.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:03 AM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


The grumpiness is most definitely there, for example, from this week's Best and Worst of RAW:

And what’s the result? UNEASY TAG TEAM PARTNERS against Kane and Big Show. Daniel Bryan against Kane and Roman Reigns vs. Big Show, aka the same two boring matches we’ve seen for a month crammed into one. Sorry, crammed into TWO, because the first match is just a red herring to set up the second. A HANDICAP MATCH. This takes 15 minutes. Literally any person who has watched more than two episodes of Raw in the past year could say “Reigns and Bryan handicap match and they don’t get along” as their first f*cking draft prediction for Raw in two f*cking seconds. It’s not “bad” necessarily, it’s just maddening. Nobody’s paying attention and nobody’s changing and nobody’s making it better.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:28 PM on February 10, 2015


If you're liking Finn Balor you might like to track down the recent RTE (Irish TV station) documentary called "Smack 'Em Up: Reality Bites" about his last months before moving to the WWE, when he was still Prince Devitt. It's a great documentary - he's totally charming and a fantastic wrestler.
posted by coleboptera at 12:11 AM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


An example of the excellent writing at With Spandex, just posted today. Stroud isn't the only good writer there.
posted by misskaz at 12:19 PM on February 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


That was a fantastic article. Thanks for pointing it out.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:33 PM on February 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


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