Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Monday Night Raw - 3/24/14

We're coming up on five years of doing this blog thing. My interest in wrestling goes through peaks and valleys, let alone my interest in writing about wrestling, but the staple of this blog has always been the Raw reviews... and I hate them. I've always hated the format I use, I don't think they ever amount to much more "that was a good match, this wasn't a good match." But Raw is the centerpiece of wrestling, so if you're going to write about wrestling, you kinda have to write about Raw, but I want to break up the monotony a bit.

I'm toying with some new format ideas, including bringing back the Fair to Flair Woo/Boo format, DVRaw, where I tell you what to watch or what to fast-forward through, or one really crazy idea where I review Raw as if it were any other television show - where I would review it like it were real. Well, not real, but when we talk about Breaking Bad, we don't talk about the behind-the-scenes activity, we just discuss what's put in front of us. Performances can be appreciated, but you're really there for the characters and the story, but I feel like that's going to be tough to detach myself enough to pull it off.

But this week, we're going to go in list format, because you're on the internet and you love a good list, right?! We'll do the Top 5 moments from Raw because 5 is an emotionally satisfying number. What should we call it? The Five Count? I Got 5 On It? Raw ain't enough man, I need 5? We'll figure that out later.

5. Funny, she doesn't look Druish.
Brock Lesnar is one of my favorite things going in wrestling right now, because he makes me think everything he does is real. Not because he's particularly great on the microphone or even that spectacular in the ring anymore, but I'm convinced he thinks it's real. I feel like Lesnar is this big dumb oaf they found dragging an old Buick in a cornfield in the middle of Smallville to win a bet with a steer and told him "go fight this zombie" and his response was "RAWWAERRRWRG!"

I mean, how many times has Taker done this whole Druids wheel the casket down and Taker's not in it, but then he's in it and kicks your ass? But Brock Lesnar fell for it, because he's fucking dumb. Although Heyman shitting his pants and screaming "OH MY GOD!" when Taker popped out of the casket was pure gold and reason #297284289485958 why Paul Heyman is the best talker in professional wrestling today, if not ever.

This segment was fun, but it would've been a lot more fun if it were 5 minutes shorter. There was a lot of time dicking around with Lesnar tapping on the casket and the Druids backing away like he was asking them to make a payment on their fog machine. On a Raw that had two matches under a minute long, then padded out with Brock Lesnar nudging a casket like my dog trying to get a treat out of her Kong toy, we might need to have a talk with whoever's plotting out these shows.

4. The Shield vs. The Real Americans
Huh. The Shield work as good guys, who knew?  They're clearly shifting the dynamic a bit with Ambrose and Rollins teaming up while Reigns continues to slowly boil as the big breakout star, but for a group they've been teasing splitting up for months, I have to give kudos to WWE for backpedaling and adjusting. Usually when WWE has their mind set on a split, it's time for a split, but they seem sold on The Shield as a unit, which they should. These guys don't always have to wrestle six-man tags or even regular tag matches, let them do their own thing, but keep them always within arms reach of each other, like The Avengers.

Why does every group have to have a violent split? We don't always have to explode, collide, or put our partner through a window, let's just let The Shield be The Shield. Sometimes they're together, sometimes they're not, but when they are, they'll fuck you up, like they did to Cesaro and Swagger here.

Nice touch on the New Age Outlaws coming out in suits with Kane too. I didn't have to see Billy Gunn without a shirt on and he got that Crypt Keeper hair under control. It's also a sad commentary on the reality of Gen-X, oh sure, you could be edgy in the 90s, but you have to put on suit and go to work in the 2010s.

3. The Reulity Urruh!
Triple H continued his trolling of the internet by formally acknowledging "The Reality Era," a phrase that's been making the rounds on social media, and now taken by Triple H faster than Daryl Dixon could say "claimed" for half a rabbit.

The idea of the Reality Era is that we're now in a period of professional wrestling where the lines between the fiction of wrestling, or ugh, "kayfabe," and the reality of what happens behind the scenes are blurring together. Never mind WWE's pretty much been playing this game for the last 25 years, they just up the ante a bit each time technology improves, but what we've been seeing since at least SummerSlam, if not going back to the Summer of Punk in 2011, has been pretty unprecedented.

I was a fan in the dark days of the internet, back when you'd go to AOL Keyword: WWF and sit in WWF Chat Room 18 (because 1-17 were full with maybe 20 users in each) and watch as neon green comic sans flew at you in rapid fire. Here's an example:

DXFaN696969: SUX ITTT!!!!!!!1111!!
HBK4ever34: When is Shawn Michaels coming back? Did he find his smile?
XdXxxnWoXX: 4-lyfe
IHaveCandy96: a/s/l?
WannaLick1978: Press 9 for Sunny nudez!
IWanna1989: 999999999999999999999999999999999999999
Joe77Schmo: {S dgenerationx.wav
RATM1998: BREAK IT DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now imagine that every second. And I sense I've gone off on a tangent. My point being that we've come a long way in how we discuss wrestling on the internet. While that was the height of wrestling discussion in 1998, you'd have to go to message boards with 12 members to find people who could speak in complete sentences, Twitter has made us all "internet fans." The demographic that was derided by JBL in 2004 as virgins in mom's basement is exactly who WWE panders to now and not because everyone is a "smark," we're just all participating in one giant discussion.

You don't have to go to ewrestlingewz.angelfire.net to read about why Cesaro is WWE's hidden gem or why Daniel Bryan is the best wrestler in the world, we're all talking about it using hashtag #Raw. So there is no more "IWC," every fan with a smartphone is a "smart" fan and WWE is adapting to cater to that. Fine, cool, it has worked well these last few months even if they're using it to cover their tracks on how badly they fucked up at the Royal Rumble, but can we just not call it "The Reality Era?" Please. I know, I know, it's already been used on TV so it's as unchanging as scripture, but just once, can we not use the stupid phrase?

But I guess if it gets people to stop saying "Pee-Gee Urruh," I'll allow it.

2. The Fatal Four Way
Hey, give four floundering guys something to do with a clear goal and actual stakes and watch as people magically start to care about them. It's just for an IC Title match, but people were genuinely interested and it's the most exciting thing Christian has had happen to him since those five seconds he got to be World Champion.

And while I really want them to have Big E defend the title at WrestleMania, I do enjoy the attention given to Main Event since it has become a live show on the Network. Very rare for WWE to take a throwaway show and turn it into something after it's already been written off, but I appreciate it and hope they keep it going. Since going live, Main Event is now the #2 show on the company's schedule and hell, Smackdown might actually be #4 behind NXT.

1. John Cena vs. Luke Harper
While all the attention has been given to Bryan's rise in the lead-up to Mania, I think Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena is quietly casting the biggest shadow over WWE. It might actually be the most important WrestleMania match since Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair, but we also might not know the severity of it until a few years down the road. It could wind up being one of those moments that didn't seem like a huge deal at the time, but is something they point to years down the line and say that's when everything changed.

Or John Cena could hit him with the Attitude Adjustment and wipe his feet as he leaves the ring.

Either way, the build-up has been fantastic and this match last night gave me a little tingle. Harper might be the most underrated wrestler in WWE today and Cena was working his ass off like WrestleMania came early. The visual at the end with them putting Rowan's sheep mask on Cena and tying him up in the ropes made me wonder if WWE had bought the rights to make The Devil's Rejects 2.

And now, one sentence thoughts on the rest of Raw!
  • Razor Ramon is the inspiration for my name and it's about damn time he got his Hall of Fame ring.
  • The Vickie Guerrero Divas Invitational can't be worse than that WM25 battle royal, right?
  • Titus O'Neil ain't half bad, but picked the worst time to go solo. 
  • Joe Maglioli is great on OHB's Tur Blurd.
  • It's bullshit how badly WWE's dropped the ball on the Rhodes Bros.
  • Ryback... buddy... what happened?
  • Damien Sandow... buddy... what happened?
  • For a guy who makes fun of nerds, Batista's had more flubs and bloopers in one segment than I did in my entire high school career.
Only one more Raw until WrestleMania... what does WWE have left to do? Leave a comment or find me @kickoutblog.

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