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RAW WARS – The Fellowship of the Briefcase

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Episode V

An old man hosting a summit. A threat to the realm. Eight young warriors who have answered the call. A lone authority figure guiding their way. A mystical artefact that has the power to bring doom. Bickering, screeching, until the group of nine arrives at an agreement. After watching the 11 June episode of RAW, I have the urge to re-watch Elrond’s council from The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring. This scene shares some eerie similarities with the opening segment of the RAW go home show for the Money in the Bank pay-per-view. So, let us take a closer look at that segment and find out how much Rivendell we can find in Little Rock, Arkansas.

One Two Briefcases to Rule Them All

Tonight’s episode started with all eight Money in the Bank Ladder Match competitors from RAW, all perched atop ladders. This brought GM Kurt Angle out, the old and somewhat wise man of the red show. Since he was not surprised to see the assembly of superstars in the ring and vice versa, I can only assume that Kurt was the host of this ladder summit. He then introduced us to the plot. This year, superstars from both RAW and SmackDownLive will compete at Money in the Bank, but it will be a gruelling fight, before one can win one of the two Briefcases of Power that guarantee a championship opportunity anyplace, anytime. The briefcases, sometimes golden, but always with letters engraved on the side, do not grant the power to become invisible, but they can transform a mid-card baddie to a main event villain as they did with Seth Rollins and Carmella. That is basically what the Ring did for Sauron as well. If you however lose the briefcase, you are bereft of that power. Speaking of which…

One Does Not Simply Win at Money in the Bank…

Constable Corbin then entered the stage. Last year he made something disappear in true wizard fashion. Unfortunately for him, it was his push and it has yet to appear again. Baron Corbin referred to Stephanie McMahon, who is RAW’s Galadriel. The Elven sorceress who says, “All shall love me and despair”, when offered the Ring of Power. Galadriel ultimately declines; if only Stephanie had that much self-control. Corbin then allowed Angle to continue and the latter claimed that nothing would make him happier than RAW defeating SmackDownLive, which is the Mordor to RAW’s Gondor (at least in Stephanie’s eyes). Constable Corbin reminded us of the consequences should that not happen on Sunday.

No One Trusts a Monster Among Men

This prompted the superstars in the ring to make use of their microphones as well. What ensued was bickering of the highest degree. Every superstar claimed that he or she would win the briefcase, talking down their rivals in the process. I especially liked Kevin Owens pointing out the height advantage that the Monster Among Men has. The vibe that I got from KO and Bobby Roode makes me hope we see a Gimli-Legolas friendship between them sometime in the future. Of course, we also had alliances, as the former mixed match challenge partners (Banks-Bálor, Bliss-Strowman) supported each other. When the bickering got too heated, Bliss interfered with a screech that would do the Nazgul proud. Much like the interference of Frodo, this led to the segment’s end, as the competitors agreed on someone getting these hands come Sunday. At least, it was Braun’s music that hit, which I take as a universal sign of agreement.

RAW Has No King. RAW Needs No King

At the end of The Lord of the Rings,  the fellowship achieves the goal and then some. The ring is destroyed, Aragorn is crowned king, and Sam marries Rosie. Of course, before that Gandalf dies and is reborn, Boromir is Sean Beaned, Gondor is basically in ruins, and Frodo never finds his happy ending. What does this mean for our fellowship of the briefcase? The Money in the Bank PPV will remain a focal point in the WWE calendar. A new queen might be crowned, if a female RAW superstar wins at Money in the Bank. It does not make sense to give the briefcase to a male RAW superstar, with the Universal king being absent and a known Kingslayer on the loose. WWE seems to continue the romantic angle between Alexa and Braun. And the others? Well, I do expect any potential alliances to break during the ladder match, steep falls from ladders for some of the superstars, and the death of any minor push most of the RAW superstars have had in recent weeks. I am looking at you, Bálor and Owens.

Does the build towards Money in the Bank increase my hype for the matches? It does not, but then again, neither did Elrond’s council meeting hype me up for the long journey to Mordor. Here is hope that we can agree on Monday that the PPV indeed passed the bridge of booking doom without incident. If not, we can only hope that Constable Corbin knows how to summon the eagles to salvage the expedition.

***

What do you think? Leave a comment below or message me on Twitter @KirstinHerzog1. Always #UseYourHead.

 

 


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Becky, Ronda, or Charlotte: Who Should Win?

Ok, we assume the match. But who wins?

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Ronda Rousey Becky Lynch Charlotte Flair

There’s a historic women’s main event coming to WrestleMania, and it’s time to start considering who comes out on top.

We’re now one week closer to WrestleMania, and while we’re still not officially in the know about who’s going to be in the big match I think it’s a pretty safe bet that we’re going to end up with a triple threat between Becky Lynch, Ronda Rousey, and Charlotte Flair.  So the real question is: who wins?  Is there a case for anyone other than Becky winning or is it Becky or Bust?  I thought I’d take a look at it now.

Becky Lynch

Why:  It’s the easy, feel good, no brainer call.  There hasn’t been a feel good ending since WrestleMania 30 (32 was supposed to be one, but the whining crybabies in the crowd couldn’t stand to see the Prince of Darkness Roman Reigns win in the main event ruined that one).  Becky winning won’t piss many people off in the building and would make a lot of people happy.  After last year’s frustrating finish and the sad one from a year earlier, just do the simple thing and don’t try to get too clever or outsmart yourself, Vince.

Why Not:  What comes next?  Becky chasing the champion > Becky as champion, we’ve already seen that.  Assuming Ronda takes a break after WrestleMania, then unless Charlotte comes to RAW with her then she’s going to be in the position of having to work as champion against a roster of opponents that either don’t appear to be on her level or could outshine her in a one on one setting, and that could make things difficult after the post-Mania glow starts to fade (I talked about this more here).  Us as fans don’t have to worry about that but when you’re booking things, you do.  Her character is going to hit a crossroads soon after and if they feel that the long term investment with her at the top will not pay off then taking the hit now and moving forward may be what they want to do.

Ronda Rousey

Why:  First up if she is going to take a break right afterwards then there is no why.  She’s gotta drop the tile.  But if she isn’t then you gotta look at the headlines.  The biggest mainstream coverage afterwards would come with her winning.  ‘MMA Champion conquers WWE at WrestleMania’ will get a lot more play then anything about her losing.  To the casual observers, people who don’t watch at all, or people who only pay attention on a surface level she’s the name that draws the attention and there’s more momentum to be gained with them by still having her on top than taking a loss.  For them, once she loses the story is over and it’s time to find something else to do so better to have something to keep their attention.  As well as the women have performed the driving force behind the interest in their side has been Ronda being there and you want to keep that going as long as you can.

Why not:  Your hardcore audience has talked themselves into believing that Ronda losing is a foregone conclusion.  If it doesn’t happen a lot of them are going to be pissed.  That’s pretty much it.  If she’s not taking a break then it’s perfectly logical for her to win and keep the title.

Charlotte Flair

Why not:  I’m flipping things around here on purpose.  Charlotte winning neither pays off the heroes journey story Becky is on or maximizes media coverage like Ronda winning could.  To the people who have fallen hard for Becky, this would literally be the evil prevailing and would feed the narrative of Vince giving Charlotte everything because of her last name (and that is beyond tired by the way).  It would be a crushing blow and might make some of them want to quit entirely.  The only people who would be happy are the Charlotte fans like myself, and there would be a deluge of dirty diaper podcasts going on and on about the old man losing it again.  Wrestling twitter would be ablaze about it, too.  And in a world where a lot of fans take out their anger with a finish not by booing the heel but ranting about Vince, it really may not be worth the headache no matter what you planned.

Why:  She’s the safest bet long term.  Ronda is not going to be around 10 more years and there’s no real certainty to how long Becky’s run can maintain it’s momentum win or lose.  Charlotte may never be as popular with hardcore fans as Becky is now but she is the best performer on the Women’s side and projects greatness in a way that is always going to draw attention and make her matches feel like a big deal.  We know that she can perform at a high and compelling level as champion, which matters. And we’ve seen she can maintain some level of interest even without the full weight of the machine behind her like Becky is getting now.  In two years Ronda may be gone for good and Becky cooled off, but Charlotte will probably be where she is now.  If they think that taking this heel thing up a notch and really riding with it is the way to go then they may want to go with it now instead of waiting a few months to put a title back on her anyway.  Also, the backlash may not be as big as wrestling twitter would have you believe.  If the plan was always for her to win, and they have a map going forward with it after the show then my own fan bias notwithstanding I think they should stick with the plan.

So what’s the Final Verdict?

Man, I don’t know.  On the one hand there is the emotional payoff with Becky and then on the other hand there are what may be the better structural decisions with either long term with Charlotte or short term with Ronda.  My preference as a fan is for Charlotte, my gut says just give the loudest voices what they want with Becky, and what little business acumen I have says go with Ronda assuming she’s not going for a break.  Decisions, decisions…….

Aw screw it.  Ronda’s going on a break, Charlotte’s the best woman on the roster, she’s been having kick ass matches for the past year, she’s put Becky over a million times and has been as much a part of her rise as Becky herself.  It’s about time excellence got properly rewarded and pushed like it should be.  Enough with the damn underdogs, you don’t really like them as much as you think anyway.  Give her the dam victory, she’s earned it.  Suck it, haters.

And next year, we do the same for the Big Dog!!


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Opinion

Comics & Wrestling: More In Common Than You Thought?

Do comics and wrestling have more in common than we think?

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WWE Wrestling Comics John Cena Super Man

Guest column from Chad Aaron shows the relation between comics and wrestling–even more than you think?

I was in a waiting room not too long ago and happened to be wearing a wrestling t-shirt, featuring The Shield. An older woman asked me if those were comic book characters on my shirt, and not being in the mood for a discussion at the time, I simply told her yes. As I sat and waited. I started thinking about it. Wrestlers are very much like live-action comic book characters. There is a lot of crossover between the respective fanbases. Here are some examples.

NOTE: The following are generalizations. I’m not a comic book reader, so coming at me with “Well, so-and-so does/doesn’t do this thing you said” misses the entire point of this discussion.

Wrestlers Have A Superpower: Their Finisher

Comic book heroes and villains generally have a defined superpower, some multiple ones. Most wrestles have a finishing move, something they do better than anyone else. Top stars may have more than one. Superman can fly and has x-ray vision. The Undertaker is known for the Tombstone & Last Ride, among others.

Most Wrestlers Have An Alter Ego: Them In Real Life

Most wrestlers use a different name than they have in real life. Same thing in the comic book universe(s) And then they will change names as situations and stories evolve. Dick Grayson was Robin, then Nightwing. Steve Austin was Stunning before he was Stone Cold, and his given last name is actually Williams.

Wrestlers, Like Superheroes, Have A Backstory

Most superheroes and villains have a detailed backstory that makes them who they are. Most wrestlers who stay with a company for any significant length of time will have their own collection of stories, this team, that heel/face turn, this title chase, etc…

Superheroes And Wrestlers Both Tend To Form Groups

There are alliances and groups formed for varying reasons. The nWo, DX, Four Horsemen, even The New Day. Comics have X-Men, Avengers, Justice League, Suicide Squad, among many others.

Hero/Villian Alignment Changes

You will see wrestlers turn heel/face, and heroes who become villains. This happens more often in Wrestling but is not unheard of in comic books.

Storylines Involve Real Life Situations

Storylines go beyond fighting crimes and/or fighting in the ring. Both deal with relationships, love, broken trust, enemies-becoming-allies, you name it. Family dynamics make up a significant portion of stories in each universe.

Someone Real Is Putting This On

Comic books will have a variety of writers and artists handling them, each with their own take and spin on the character. Wrestling has a never-ending series of bookers and creative teams and match agents and producers, all of whom have varying ideas what a wrestler will do or say.

Both Have Large Companies And Independents

Comics are dominated by a couple of large companies and a myriad of smaller ones. Wrestling has had a similar dynamic since the mid-80’s. In both realms, the various companies often have similar characters and occasionally, ones with the same names.

Comics And Wrestling Each Have The Most Passionate Fanbase

And the fanbases of each are very, very passionate. When a wrestler does something out of character, the reaction is swift and immediate. When a movie strays from the comic cannon, the reaction is equally heated.

Of course, there have been a few examples of crossover between the two. Stephen Amell, the actor behind the Green Arrow, has wrestled a number of matches with several companies, including a WWE Pay-per-view. Rey Mysterio Jr. and Finn Balor (as Prince Devitt) have been known to incorporate superhero designs into their wrestling attire.

 


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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