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CheapShots: Predictability Can Still Be Fun

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Cheap Shots are unfiltered, uncensored opinions, and those opinions reflect only the author!

Mad Man at the controls as the number of runways on The Road to WrestleMania begins to shrink. The cheese starts to bind as a smooth intensity picks up beneath my flight path over Milwaukee. Prior to this week’s RAW, most smart marks became aware that The “Second Generation” Rowdy one had her itinerary approved for regular appearances leading to Mania. If you weren’t, thank those at Air Traffic Control in Jersey and Phoenix, among others. Quoting Sandow, “YOU’RE WELCOME!”

The fondue party starts with GM Kurt Angle comes to the ring in attempt to rectify the embarrassment of a sucker punch from The COO last week. “Come out and fight me like a man!” Cue Steph’s music. The Assistant Principal comes out to say her husband is not at the arena yet. Daddy’s Little Girl starts cutting one of her textbook promos made of half-truths and half BS. Fourth Wall Alert. Hey, Dr. Strange; if you really wanna fire the dude, look at his rap sheet. Otherwise, stay in your office. Try not to get hurt on the walk back.

Too late! Joan Jett cuts through the crowd. Guess who came to dinner? Ms. Rousey is here! She comes to the ring old-school baby face. Slapping hands with EVERYBODY on the aisle. COOL! Stephanie’s condescendence didn’t stop. Ronda asked for clarification regarding a clause in her contract stating she could choose her Mania opponent. Steph said yes, but they had to be on the active roster as an athlete. Ronda steps up weigh-in style: “Okay, I choose you!”

My money says Paul was standing in Gorilla because Triple H’s music hits. “…That’s not happening.” Kurt muses about Trips being there. The Frenchman tells him not to keep score. Steph goes Mommy Dearest on Kurt without the mic. However, Ronda insists on wire hangers, and intercepts the incoming slap. We have reached Critical Mass. Triple H fanes leaving the ring. After that, I’m pretty sure the power couple wished they were back in Stamford. Nice to see them take a squash for once.

Funniest part was watching Steph bounce MMA style after cheap-shotting Rousey. In case we forgot. Ronda Rousey is a badass. She grabs Steph by the head, pulls her into the ring FROM THE FLOOR and gives her A Samoan Drop! Hubby already took an Ankle Lock from Angle. I don’t have to tell you our Main Event for Mania is set. Best opening segment in years!

Back to our regularly scheduled Monday Night Raw. Asuka and Nia had to follow that. Have fun ladies! Neither one did. Any Nia match is incredibly physical, and The Japanese Ace is afraid of nothing. This is an explosive combination that usually ends badly for someone. This encounter was no different. Jax used her power to rag doll The Rising Sun Mystic early, including multiple near falls.

Rarely do I complain about pure physics of the art form. Here we go. Nia is roughly twice Asuka’s size and six feet tall. Yes, she has Nia’s arm constricted, but that much power and leverage should spike anyone into the mat hard enough to break any hold? No? Fine, The Immovable Object gets up again, and walks Asuka against the ropes? BREAK THE HOLD! Welcome to the friggin’ circus! Nia rolls back onto the mat and taps out. Great story-telling, as Jax may have a kayfabe broken arm. Horrible way to get there. PS: I doubt Little Miss Math Class is capable of authentic compassion. She was sympathetic to Nia only to cover her ass. “You have friends.” Fabulous sell from The Big Girl, tears included!

Something had to bring us back to Earth after such a nuclear start. Bring out The Bar. Storyline says The Celtic Warrior and Swiss Mister have no opposition for The Tag Team Gold at Mania. Enter The Revival. Dash and Dawson have a great old-school gimmick. “We’ll beat you with toughness, double-teaming and wrestling.” Sad that’s a gimmick now, but marks are sheep. Revival beat The Bar, they have a shot at Mania Gold. Except, they didn’t. What’s this? Proper stringing out of a WWE storyline? Yay, someone can think!

It’s the fourth segment, and no John Cena? Scratch that. The best promo in the modern art form comes out and tells his Fastlane opponents he was winning Gold for a 17th time at The SmackDown PPV. If he did, BMJ told AJ Styles to invoke his rematch clause at Mania, making his match with Nakamura an instant Triple-Threat. For those who say Cena is prone to heel tendencies, here is another checkmark.

God Bless Texas…It’s The Son of a Son of a Plumber, quoting a 1950s Classic?? Why the Hell not? Goldust said he would like nothing more than to steal Johnny Goodguy’s Mania spotlight. Believe it or not, the first match ever between these legends was made on the spot. Cena won in less than ten minutes. It is truly unfortunate that a long-term program was not discussed over 15 years. Would’ve been very interesting.

Lunch time recess! The Human Elmo came out to cut an in-ring promo related to her actions and the non-tag with Lady Banks last week. Promos are not Bayley’s strong suit. Cue Absolute Yawn interrupting and teasing The Hugger possibly joining the group. Save it Scream Queen, nobody would believe it. A match between Bayley and Mandy Rose began with the remaining members of Absolute Yawn at ringside. The Walking Crayola showed toughness and a tiny mean streak to beat The Pound-For-Pound Pin-Up clean. Afterward, the threesome jumped Bayley. Sasha ran down for the save, which she made. The Legit Boss then motioned for a hug, but Bayley would not oblige.

Cut to backstage, and Braun Strowman and a bright-lettered, eighties-style promo about the Symphony of Destruction Match with Elias. I can’t be the only one digging these promos? Instruments line the stage as Elias does a brilliant tweener promo. Before hitting the ring, The Guitar Man asks for the house lights to be lowered. This swerve to run to a waiting car in the parking lot ended in failure as Braun picked up the back of the car. Sometimes WWE camera work for storyline purposes is very good. All we could see at first was the driver’s seat. Back inside the building, Elias got some offense in but was overwhelmed by an upright bass and a baby grand piano. Both were gimmicked of course, but don’t poke the bear, Elias.

Hey flock, LOOK! It’s your half-assed cult leader; with no cult, beating the same enhancement talent he destroyed last week. Another art form physics observation: Bray Wyatt stares at me upside-down, I grab his beard and pull until I rip it off his face! The Rambler gets through half a promo before being cut off by the leader of The Woken Warriors. Matt Hardy challenged Wyatt to a match at The Hardy Compound. I Hope he has enough stamina to do justice to this gimmick, and Stanford isn’t biting off more than they can chew. Wouldn’t be the first time.

 

Speaking of 90% of a segment I could’ve slept through: It’s the visual Nyquil known as MIZ TV. This Oscars rip-off mocked Kurt Angle’s lack of a Mania decision surrounding The IC Gold. Can I wake up yet? Miz’s back up was in the ring as Seth Rollins and his twin with the cooler entrance came out to disrupt proceedings. The Miz was granted a 3-on-2 Handicap Match; which The Move-Set Twins won when Finn Balor hit The Coups de Gras and Rollins get the pin with a Frog Splash. The match’s conclusion saw GM Angle come out and make the obvious Triple Threat for IC Gold at Mania.

Happy Heyman ended the night of quality cheese by attempting to prop up Brock Lesnar and The WWE Universal Gold. It was a miserable failure, and dude had to know that before he went out there. Steph, don’t ash him to say The Gold is 24/7/365 if YOUR Champion is rarely on Television or Part-Time on PPV. Roman finally came out: “All the fans want is A WWE Universal Champion to show up. Tell Brock to be ready for a fight next week.” As I land this plane in fly-over country I must say RAW was a good show. At times predictability can be electric. I hope my passengers enjoyed this trip and will join me for our next departure very soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cheap Shots

Dear Smarks: WWE Does Listen To Fans

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Stephanie McMahon WWE

Either last week or earlier this week (my days are running together so I don’t remember), Stephanie McMahon was at a summit called ‘Game Changer’ and she made the following comment: ‘We’re successful for one reason only – we listen to our fans.’

The internet smarks ROASTED Stephanie over this comment, mocking her for claiming that WWE listens to their fans when, in their minds, that is clearly not the case. Why? Because Roman Reigns, not Braun Strowman is champion, among other things. Clearly, any company that makes Roman Reigns champion over Braun Strowman isn’t listening to their fans, or at least, their REAL fans. You know, the all-knowing, smark community who know how to run a multi-billion dollar business better than the people who work there do.

I’ve tackled this ‘Real fan’ nonsense in the past and I’m really not in the mood to do it now and the issue of Braun Strowman being champion is an article unto itself. However, let’s be clear here: WWE DOES listen to their fans and the fans they listen to are the fans that buy stuff.

WWE first, last, always, and forever, is a business. They need money to survive and being a publicly traded company, they need money to keep the shareholders happy, that means they have to know who and what makes the money to keep the shareholders happy and keep the company afloat and who is making them the most money is Roman Reigns.

Don’t give me that look. Don’t roll your eyes at me and grumble about him being over pushed and/or shoved down your throat. I can name several people in WWE not named Roman Reigns that are over pushed. The bottom line is that Reigns moves merchandise, his stuff sells and sells really well. Having been to a few WWE TV/PPV tapings, I can tell you that Reigns’ stuff can get a little tough to find and is usually the most requested item.

Now before any of you make snide comments about Reigns having more stuff to sell, I checked WWE’s shop are and compared the number of Roman Reigns shirts to the number of shirts for AJ Styles, in terms of shirts including: T-shirts, tank tops, hoodies and what’s available for both genders, Roman Reigns had thirteen shirts available while Styles had twenty. Thirteen different shirt designs to twenty and that doesn’t include hats, gloves, or the non-wearable stuff available.

Oh, Reigns’ stuff is bought by women and kids, so it shouldn’t count? Here’s my question: So what? It’s still money that SOMEONE is spending on merchandise. If WWE didn’t want women and kids to buy their stuff, they wouldn’t be marketing stuff for women and kids. Why? Because women and kids are FANS!

For those of you still grumbling, here’s some food for your thoughts: Why should WWE listen to their ‘real’ fans? No, I’m serious. Why should they listen to fans who cheer something one week, boo it the next, demand that indy darlings get pushed despite getting mediocre pops from Main Roster audiences, and pay more attention to beach balls and time clocks than the matches? Why should they listen to people who BRAG about spending a lot of money on tickets just to boo one person they don’t like?

WWE is like any company, they listen with their bottom line, and what they’re hearing from fans is that the fans like Reign because that’s the stuff that sells the best. And before you say one thing about about Reigns’ stuff being more available at TV tapings and Live Events, I’ve been to a RAW taping, a RAW PPV, and a SmackDown/205 taping and while Reigns stuff was at SmackDown, there was also a lot of Styles and Cena stuff available at RAW events and I’m not hearing any complaining about that.

Maybe the problem isn’t that WWE isn’t listening, it’s just that your views aren’t the what the majority paying fans think or want. WWE is catering to what most of their fans want, not just the small minority that can’t seem to make up their minds about what they want.

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Cheap Shots: Should Finn Balor Quit WWE?

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Why Finn Balor should “Quit” The WWE

After seeing KO burst into tears on Monday night RAW two weeks ago and “quit” there were a slew of videos about why KO “quit”. The biggest one was to revitalize his character. So in playing the devils advocate why not have the first Universal Champion quit? Here’s why!

After Balor won and “lost” the title after 2016 SummerSlam he’s had and up and down career in the main roster. The once longest reigning NXT champion was a phenomenon when he joined the NXT, but once he hit the main roster, while fan support is still there it is fleeting. He had a brief reunion with Gallows and Anderson which might’ve singled a heel turn to fans, a feud with Rollins for the IC title and has had back to back to back matches against Baron Corbin. None of which have done anything for the superstars character. A heel turn might have helped a few months ago, but the repetitive booking has kind of killed that momentum. 

With Finn away from the scene for a while it might help the WWE reevaluate the talent that is Finn Balor, it might also give Finn time to figure himself out too. With a WIN to his name against Elias, it seems like the co-founder of the Bullet Club may either turn to his alter ego The Demon, or perhaps a superstar shakeup is in order and he should be in place to get Balor back in the limelight. Right now, Raw seems packed full of main card talent that is either starting a faction of sorts I.E. Braun, Drew and Dolph or is turning on The Shield. 

Listen, while SmackDown Live is producing the better show, it is not like the talent on there is being utilized any better. Nakamura is in limbo with the U.S. title, Aj and Joe are having a great feud in terms of promos, but not in the squared circle. The only thing that brings SmackDown Live as the A show is really their tag division and the Charlotte Flair/Becky Lynch feud. 

So maybe a frustrated Finn goes away, and comes back as The Demon on SmackDown Live and interjects himself in the feud between AJ and Joe, maybe he causes friction between The Club and AJ and they “screw over” AJ during a title match, the possibilities are endless moving Balor to team blue, but what this boils down to is WWE needs to make this move while Balor is still a fan favourite and what I mean by that is that he will always have the crowd behind him, but even the loyalist fans can get bored. 

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