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CheapShots: Any Cash Laying Around For Mania?

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

Mad Man in the shadow of the youngest dead Professional Wrestling Territory in The United States. Proof that even a genius of the art form left to his own devices can make mistakes. Somewhere in the foothills of The Smoky Mountains, there is a polyester tennis racket, a pair of expensive sunglasses, and a guitar string from The Man in Black. I must confess, my knowledge of Smoky Mountain Wrestling was non-existent until I started listening to Jim Cornette’s podcasts on MLW Radio. The most notable information surrounding SMW was: it’s Angel Investor: veteran music producer Rick Rubin, it was Tammy Sytch’s break into the art form. Name sound familiar? WWE marks would remember this troubled soul as Sunny. I certainly do. It’s main geographical loop was approximately 350 miles between Tennessee and North Carolina. Finally, marks nationwide can blame SMW and the loudmouth from Louisville for the invention of The Triple Threat Match. Mr. Cornette, thanks for giving Vince and others something else to f*** with! Smoky Mountain Wrestling ceased operations around Christmas time, 1995. It was just four years old.

As we glide into Music City for the final SmackDown Live before WrestleMania, Daniel Bryan’s music greets us and a typical “YES” chant breaks out. He reinforces the parameters of the match pitting him and Shane McMahon against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Win, and The Canadians are reinstated to SmackDown Live. Lose, and the duo remains fired. He calls Shane out. Given his very recent medical concerns, it’s a small miracle The Son of An Idiot is even walking, let alone going to compete in New Orleans. In my opinion, this is the most yawn-inducing match on The Mania Card. Blame my decades of experience watching and thinking about the art form. All parties involved in this storyline have acted heelish at times. Why set the match up in this vein? If the match is eventually Shane vs. Daniel, aren’t you wasting this match? To Bryan, Shane hasn’t been a baby face long enough to be in this match. Other than a vehicle for Daniel’s return, this match feels pointless to me. That is a rather sad indictment of the current product.

Charlotte’s music hits with The SmackDown Brass still in the ring. The boys leave so we get an early recess. The Queen of Hearts comes out to give Second Nature a second shot after their match two weeks ago. After 15 minutes of another good match that included a failed run-in from Carmella and a stupid ref, Charlotte got the win with The Figure Eight. Vince, are you using this mechanism to teach your grandkids to count?  The Champion can’t lose heading into this epic WrestleMania showdown with Asuka, and she doesn’t. Bell rings and The Female Muta’s music hits. Charlotte allows her full entrance, standing mid-ring. The Japanese Ace has a mic to deliver her line. Charlotte rips it from her hand mid-sentence. “I’m ready, and you’ll know at WrestleMania…” A warning to The Untouchable Mystic. Sasha Banks said the same thing, and my girl was seconds away from putting your heart in your throat the night after The Rumble. It shouldn’t be tougher, but it will be because of the stage.

Opposing stand up promos for AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura followed the ladies. The interviews were sandwiched around a match highlighting the four-way dance for US Gold at Mania. Both talking segments were typical for the men involved. The Phenomenal One was up first, and did say that he is an emotional performer, but it’s a strength, not a weakness. I’m sure smart marks worldwide freaked out when Stamford allowed a mention of The Tokyo Dome. I was glad they acknowledged the previous encounter as well. The Artist got his turn, saying he came to The United States for his WrestleMania Moment. Yes, he is playing with Styles’ head, and he takes the game very seriously. The contest between Rusev and Jinder Mahal was noteworthy because WWE actually gave The Bulgarian Brute a singles win, yay! Fans are hopeful for him going into Mania. However, WWE’s booking history tells them not to hold their breath. The material surrounding the contest was basic fluff. Bobby Roode was trying to sound like a baby face on commentary. Bell rang after things had concluded and we found Randy Orton ready to strike with a pair of RKOs, the latter was assisted by Roode shoving Aiden English off the second rope or direct fire. Mr. Glorious and The Viper then faced off in the center of the ring.

Cut to backstage, and the only act in WWE that can make comedy work in the current art form. The New Day were shilling The WWE Network and WrestleMania as only they can. Electronic devices were being pulled out of places the never should‘ve been to help illustrate the network’s mobility. The Usos walk up to normalize things: Welcome to The Uso Penitentiary!” The Bludgeon Brothers ratchet it up further, walking through a steel door between teams. Staring in intense silence, they slowly walk to the camera and destroy it with simultaneous hammer blows. This segment was very well put together. Most marks would be floored if Harper & Rowan didn’t leave Mania with Tag Team Gold.

A non-descript 8-Man Tag was used to prop up The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal on The SmackDown side. Baron Corbin pinned Fandango with an End of Days. At the moment, the only memorable thing about both of these gentlemen is that they each won their debut contests at WrestleMania. At least Fandango beat a future Hall of Famer in Chris Jericho. In the case of The Heel With No Pulse: Hey Baron, no one cares that you won a throw away match on TV, and no one cares that you won the first Andre Trophy.

Speaking of things marks don’t care about. Here I am, dealing with semantics again. Although, this example was far less egregious than Roman Reigns’ “suspension.” Why do talking heads in Connecticut even use the word “fired” on the air? Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn attempted to hold the show hostage by coming through the crowd and cutting a promo on the announce table. The promo itself was fantastic. Zayn was a hot mess, apologizing to Brie and her baby daughter for the fact that daddy won’t be coming back to them in good shape. Owens followed suit, mocking Daniel’s “follow your dreams” line: “It’s our dream to destroy you at WrestleMania!” The Bosses came out to respond. The Canadians walked through the crowd. Bryan asked them to stop and told the sheep to take their cell phones out and get pictures of the last appearance of both dudes in WWE, yeah right! LET’S GO!

Before the Obnoxious Twins spouted off, Shelton Benjamin an Chad Gable did a promo in Bright Letter Format. They don’t care about The Dream Match at WrestleMania and they are going to wreck it. Sorry boys, no one believes you. Neither one of you are Carmella. A very even, physical match ended with Styles hitting The Phenomenal Forearm while giving Nakamura a front row seat. Afterward, Benjamin attacked the top striker in WWE. Shinsuke fought him off while Styles was on the apron. AJ may have the best balance in the business. He executed the jump to his finish to land perfectly on his feet in front of his rival. A ducking Nakamura came up slowly to receive a pat on his head, mirroring his taunt of Styles last week. Next stop for me and my passengers is the best Monday Night Raw of the year. To my friends and colleagues spending the week in The Big Easy, I am extremely jealous. Be safe: If you recall it all before leaving, you didn’t do it right. Just remember, New Orleans is a very sacred place with vibes not found anywhere else.


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It’s Not As Easy as ‘Change the Channel’ or ‘Find Another Wrestling Show’

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Roman Reigns Tapout Wrestling

If you’re someone who is happy with the product WWE is putting out these days, the wrestling world is a beautiful place. If you’re not happy with the product, or just aren’t thrilled with some of it, it can be a very aggravating and frustrating world. Your frustration probably isn’t being relieved by the comments of well-meaning fans to your complaints: ‘No one’s making you watch it’, ‘Change the channel’ ‘Be happy that they’re on the card’, ‘Be happy they go X, Y, or Z’, ‘There’s tons of other promotions out there, find something you do like’. This advise sounds very fair and reasonable, and I know that most of the people saying it mean well, but basically telling someone to take their ball and go home when they aren’t happy, rather than listening to what they’re trying to say, comes across as condescending.

It’s not as simple as changing the channel or finding something else. If you’ve loved a promotion all of your life and find yourself not happy with the current product, being told to change the channel or find another promotion to watch is like being told to change jobs because you’re frustrated with management or finding another place to live because you don’t like the landlord. It’s not helpful and just adds to the frustration. Let’s look at some of the most common things frustrated fans hear.

Change The Channel. This is the most common one I see and it’s one of the most tone deaf. It assumes that you’re going to find something else to watch and that’s not always the case. If you can’t afford to have hundreds of channels on your cable or satellite dish, or afford a streaming site, your choices are pretty limited.

Find Another Promotion: This one is the one I find most irritating, because it assumes that 1. You haven’t checked out other promotions 2. That you can afford to pay to see smaller promotions or know that they’re going to be in your area, and 3. That you can find a way to watch another promotion. I can’t tell you how many times I see people asking where they can find a way to watch NJPW or some other non-WWE promotion. Overseas promotions are not always easy to get access to or fit into everyone’s schedule.

Be Happy Your Fave Is on the Card/Just Be Happy They Got X, Y, or Z. I sort of get the logic behind this one, it doesn’t make it any less insulting or make me any less furious. Yes, I realize that a promotion with a deep a talent pool as WWE doesn’t have to give opportunities to everyone, but telling someone who is expressing frustration that someone they view as talented isn’t being given a bigger opportunity, or didn’t get the recognition for a big accomplishment when someone else did, that they should just be happy with what the person did get is very insulting and condescending.


Again, I realize that when fans say this to one another, they mean well…usually. Yes, some of the complaints do get tiring, like the ones about how Vince/Triple H/WWE/whomever is ruining the business/company/world, Roman Reigns is overrated/can’t talk/can’t wrestle/shouldn’t be pushed because of Wellness Policy violation/he’s too good looking to be relatable (yes, seriously). However, there is a lot of understandable frustration with how things are going that should not be dismissed or poo-pooed away with well-meaning comments that just add to the frustration. If we want to make the online wrestling fandom the inclusive place we claim it is, we need to be more willing to actually listen to the concerns and frustrations of each other and realize that for many people, giving up on something you love is not as easy as it sounds, especially when it’s something you’ve devoted a lot of time,money, and emotion into. Being frustrated with WWE doesn’t mean they don’t still love the company, and we shouldn’t be outright dismissing them.


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The Worm Hole Diary

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Alexa Bliss

Right now, I feel a bit like Stewie Griffin in one of his time traveling escapades on “Family Guy.” I can’t tell you anything. Don’t know where I am. Last thing I remember, I was headed to an episode of SmackDown Live somewhere in Mid-South Territory. I woke from a bad dream of Bill Watts fining me two months pay for missing shows, only to find myself stuck somewhere between Area 51 and The Bermuda Triangle. Wait, is that JBL’s beach house?

Never mind. Legitimate Alien Technology is centered around mental telepathy. As a result, there are no computers as we know them here. Everything is hard wired into each organism’s brain. Even the brains of those that have been abducted. As you read this, understand that it was converted from high consciousness and sent down to a computer in New Jersey for decoding. Drawbacks to communication at this level include the fact that details are sparsely memorable and big chunks of time are missing. This is a very strange wavelength, even for me. Let’s see what we come across in this dimension.

It seems my captors have condensed my mental capacity, allowing me to cover only “one thing” in the art form. Timing and circumstances bring one topic to the front of my modified mind. Others among my colleagues are generally better at covering single topics. I do not mean to step on any toes, though that is physically impossible. Those who know my wrestling heart are well aware of where my passion for the current art form lies. Given marks of all forms just came off Money in The Bank; not to mention the interesting feel surrounding Knockouts Gold, now might be the only time I can do this. It could be an abject disaster or a complete blast. Please stand by and be patient.

Vinnie’s circus is first up. Naturally, we left Chicago with a New Raw Women’s Champion; and of course, she was not in the original contest for The Gold. We should know by now that a briefcase is WWE’s equivalent to LSD. Logic should have also told us that Carmella is too protected to be threatened seriously right now. With that gap filled in and borderline irrelevant in my head, Monday’s Title would be making The Kessel Run, but under who’s ownership? Enter Alexa Bliss after a fabulous spot fest of a Ladies Money in The Bank Match.

With Braun Strowman being the obvious exception, when is the last time a baby face held a briefcase? Anyway, where would Little Miss Math Class cash in? How long would we have to wait? Going into Chicago, some of us felt like something funky was on deck. Ms. Rousey was being hot-shotted. Even in smarkish logic, this was excessively fast. Baddest Woman on The Planet needs an authentic feud. Feed her The Champion. Wait, what? Ronda was seconds away from making Nia Jax tap out. Except, Stamford hasn’t made big angles predictable in 20 years.

I know I overthink things and want rules in my wrestling that make most of you roll your eyes. Laughing can begin upon the conclusion of reading this paragraph. In my opinion, there are two sizeable flaws in Vinnie’s conceptual execution. First, cashing in the contract on the same night it is won is a band-aid that allows creative to coast. No other sport allows something like this. Save the: ”It’s not a sport” argument for someone who would actually let you win it. I know it’s a work. Professional Wrestling CAN AND SHOULD be presented more like a sport. What does this mean in this case? Simple, have the briefcase itself be defended like Championship Gold.

Vince refers to his product as “Sports Entertainment.” Fine moron, “entertain” us by requiring that the contract holder must WRESTLE to keep it. Sorry Sir, I know booking logically makes your head explode.

What happens if the briefcase is used like this? Ronda Rousey is a huge name in sports. However, she is not placed in the title match of this PPV because there is no need to put her in the picture yet. You have her for multiple years Vince, not five minutes. She is not a prostitute. Someone else is in the contest for Nia’s Gold. Little Miss Math Class can then sit on the briefcase or Ronda can challenge her for it the next night. Alexa then tells her to get in line because someone else beat her to it. Ronda can spend months chasing Bliss, the briefcase, or both. Maybe all the way through the Royal Rumble. I’m just a smart mark. What do I know? How’s this? One of the core complaints of fans like me is that heels get handed Gold too much. This stops if they work beyond one match for it. Instead of stretching this out and drawing money, all Vince McMahon did last Monday was devalue a division, a champion, her Gold, and her “Pink-Haired Ass” by letting Ronda Rousey destroy Alexa Bliss so quickly.

Speaking of devaluing a Championship. We come to SmackDown Live and my favorite dartboard, Carmella. Move Shuck & Jive all you want honey. I’ll still cut promos on you every time I look at you. Not because anybody in New York wants me to, but because you are perfectly content portraying someone who doesn’t belong in a wrestling ring athletically. Fans are stupid enough to boo you as opposed to walking out on a promo or a match of yours. As much as Vince makes me hurl, fans can be worse and completely oblivious. Fifty percent or more of the sheep who boo you have the requisite hormones to buy your gear, so Vince keeps you around. Nothing personal, Wayne Farris made me cringe with a lot less than you have.

Called this after The Go Home SmackDown. Blondie Circus was going over in Chicago. The questions were how and why? How was simple enough. Let’s bring Carmella’s lap dog back to New York and put him in drag because the rest of her East Coast work friends got shoot fired. Can someone say bad investments? Back to the current debacle. Not only is James Ellsworth back under The Big Top. Barry Horiowitz Jr. was Asuka’s doppelganger to thwart The Japanese Ace’s attempt to gain SmackDown Women’s Gold. What is it with Vince McMahon and guys in drag? Don’t forget, The Human Ankle Biter got the s*** kicked out of him at Indie Shows all over Texas by The General and Leader of The Thunder Army, Thunder Rosa.
We’re supposed to take HIM seriously? Asuka came in with a two-year streak that would make Goldberg proud. She has to forget her whole aura and put a six-year-old with boobs over because of HIM?? Her NXT self would’ve chewed them up and spit them out. Now, a baby face Asuka can’t think like a badass or an athlete because we must put Carmella over until at least Survivor Series. SummerSlam has had screwy finishes dating back to 1993. Calling it now. Everybody should be prepped.

Blondie Circus will have SmackDown Gold coming out of there. Never mind what we do with the strap. What happens to Asuka? She looks clueless right now.

Vince will probably start to fix it Tuesday. Sheep will probably forget it by October. I DON’T CARE! Why did it happen in the first place? I could see a heel turn. What happens to the belt at that point? Charlotte? Maybe, love her ability. Becky’s getting a decent push. Want a dark horse? Keep an eye on Sonya Deville. Why? Just a vibe. She has tweeted: “Put your hair up and square up” as a motto. We all know Carmella’s in serious need of a fight.

A recent subtle wardrobe change could put millions more fans behind her if a baby face turn is done correctly. If The LGBT Community wants a badass to look up to; why not Sonya Deville? It’s already there, and very little would feel like a work if Stamford pulls the trigger the right way.
My captors have enabled one change of brain waves and I still can’t go home.

Let’s go to Orlando instead. The Knockouts Division feels very weird right now. Mainly due to Su Yung and her “Undead Bride” gimmick being pushed so hard on top. I must be more respectful of her then I have in the past because performers who I know and like on social media respect her game. It’s tough though. My eyes and brain have been connected to the art form for decades. Only two workers have successfully pulled this level of this gimmick off without it feeling like bulls***. They were both dudes and unquestioned legends. Impact had to be careful with her if they were going to bring her in. In my opinion, they have failed in that task.

How does an organization take Gold from a character like this? Without serious help, which is yet unseen, it won’t be Madison Rayne. Wrestling doesn’t do obvious anymore, and sheep want complicated now. Except, there aren’t enough Knockouts to do complicated. Let me try anyway. Madison was brought back to put Tessa Blanchard in her place. Blanchard herself is nowhere near a baby face right now. Kiera Hogan is too young and may not actually be on the roster presently. Unless they bring back Taya Valkyrie from Hawaii and turn her, there is only one practical answer right now. She is in an impractical situation though. I wanna see if Diamante can work, but she is tied up and being wasted with a distracted LAX.

I have one more ET Based Theory. Fight fire with fire. Sometimes zombies tangle with each other. There are two very good ones on the indies. The Twisted Sisters: Thunder Rosa & Holidead. How does a “Bride” deal with her own “kind?” I WISH we could find out. Bless The Dead Angel & The General. Their time is coming! Sadly, those in Orlando will probably kill my stream of consciousness buzz and bring back Allie and Rosemary to take her out. This is not a bad thing, just less fun to spit ball about.

I am not an insider people, just a Super Mark with a passion and unique thoughts about the art form and the way it’s presented. Unfortunately, those in captivity are about to have their thought processes overridden for tonight. The Aliens have informed me that they will grant me temporary release to attend SmackDown Live in MY HOUSE next week. No planes necessary, thanks Falcon! As for writing, this was a well-timed one-off to let The Internet Wrestling Community know I still have a pulse. I will let those swinging chairs know when The Aliens allow my full-time return. Thanks everyone, I hope you had a good time with this article. Been wanting to do something spotlighting recess for a while now.


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CheapShots: WWE Is Suffocating the RAW Women’s Division

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Alexa Bliss

 

Let me say this upfront: I have nothing against Alexa Bliss either in the ring or in real life. She’s got a great look and a lot of talent and in real life, she seems like a very nice person. However, WWE is running the risk of suffocating the Women’s Division on RAW by constantly putting the belt on her.

Bliss won the Women’s Championship in a rematch against Sasha Banks in August and has basically been champion for a year. There was no reason for her to be in Money in the Bank, never mind winning it or cashing in. If this keeps up, WWE runs the risk of smothering the RAW Women’s Division by having a champion that keeps getting the title back instead of pushing the other women.

WWE’s made this mistake before with Charlotte Flair. Charlotte won every PPV she had a match on for over a year and anytime she lost the title on TV, she got it back at the next PPV. By the time she finally lost a PPV match to Bayley in 2017, the RAW Women’s Division had stagnated because fans were getting tired of constantly seeing Charlotte win.

When Charlotte was traded to SmackDown and was kept out of the title picture for awhile, it turned out to be a godsend for her and the SmackDown Women’s Division because it gave women like Naomi time to shine. By the time Charlotte took the title off Natalya in November, the fans were excited and ready for her to be champion again. WWE needs to do this with Bliss.

What WWE is doing with Alexa and what they did with Charlotte isn’t unusual if you look at the Men’s Division, the problem is that the Women’s Division is much smaller and so it is much more noticeable that only one person is getting the title runs and there are no secondary titles or tag titles to give the rest of the roster something to work with.

No, I’m not saying Alexa can’t get a shot at the title, but she shouldn’t be champion for awhile. Put her in non-title feuds and put over people like Ember Moon or someone from Riott Squad for six months or so and give her, the division, and the fans a breather.

Who could Alexa feud with? Well, let’s take a look!

Ember Moon: This could be a really great feud. Ember is a great athlete, but she’s barely been seen on RAW since her debut after WrestleMania. A feud between these two is a win-win on paper, Ember gets a top talent feud, Alexa gets someone new to work off of and they can take each other to the next level.

Sarah Logan: Logan is rough around the edges, but she could be a breakout star if given the right feud and Alexa could be that feud.

Liv Morgan: I’m very fond of Liv Morgan and would love to see her get some more time in the spotlight, something she doesn’t get a lot of in the Riott Squad. Like Logan and Riott, Liv has the potential to be a major star in WWE, and a feud with someone like Alexa would definitely help.

Dana Brooke: Dana Brooke is someone who has suffered from bad luck and minimal direction during her time on the main roster, having a feud with Alexa might not be ideal for Alexa fans, but it would give Dana something more to do than be the numbers cruncher for Titus Worldwide.

Sasha Banks: I hesitated to include Sasha in this since she’s supposed to be in a feud with Bayley, but since that feud seems to be moving at a snail’s pace, I might as well include her. Plus, I prefer that Sasha be in the Women’s Division title picture, but she and Alexa had a great feud last summer and made history in December by being the first women allowed to compete in the Middle East, so a return of this feud wouldn’t be a horrible idea.

Bayley: No. Just…NO!

Again, I’m not bashing Alexa or her talent by saying that she needs to be taken out of the title picture and put in a feud with any of the women mentioned above, but WWE is risking the same situation that they had with Charlotte before Charlotte went to SmackDown, and having the Women’s Division being smothered and stagnate because one woman kept getting title runs. There’s other women in this division who are equally talented and sell merchandise and could be getting a push. If Alexa is as over as her fans believe, not being in the title picture won’t hurt her standing. Let the RAW Women’s roster breathe.

 


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