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WWE’s Latest Bailout

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Bailout

Vince’s crew will be doing an old school loop in Florida through at least next Monday. One need only look at this year’s insane first half travel schedule for justification of this territorial time warp. Last night’s SmackDown Live was in Graham’s flagship city of Tampa. Readers who may know my style by now might think I would give a thumbnail of The Golden Goose of the modern art form. Since said Goose only crossed into one territory South of The Mason-Dixon Line just long enough to blink; and he was a better technical wrestler in The Rising Sun the he ever was in the US, those sheep would be wrong. Goose only needs Vince’s cash and your adoration because he made bad decisions and couldn’t keep his mouth shut. Wish we all had the McMahon wallet as a fallback plan once we got to our sixth decade.

Most fans tend to think Tuesday Night houses the more consistent show for both performance and storylines. Outside of one glaring mistake that makes a regular appearance because she is holding Championship Gold there is not much one can use to counter this argument. In my opinion, it starts with Paige. Even though she is scripted like all performers, her authenticity in wanting a good product comes across thanks to her experience in the industry. She knows how the art form is supposed to be portrayed; and does a much better job with this than Kurt Angle.

When something screwy happens on SmackDown Live, it doesn’t take a month to resolve. Attempts are made to advance issues quickly. Sometimes, within the same show. Want proof? This week’s episode was recess heavy. Outcomes aside, this is never a bad thing. Ladies bookended festivities, starting with Renee Young conducting an in-ring interview with Becky Lynch. The Lass Kicker has been excessively hot recently, including a clean tap out win over Charlotte. The redhead reinforced her long road back to challenging for and winning SmackDown Women’s Gold.

Full disclosure here. The Aliens sent me home last month, so I could see The Blue Brand in person. Staying in character, I walked my mechanical ass out of one televised match in Omaha. Yes Carmella; I would rather risk falling down a flight of stairs with heavy equipment on my back in the dark, than watch you be a fake champion in a work. Blondie Circus, there’s your heat! Listening to her is impossible. I can’t tell you a word she said in the ring. All I know is Ellsworth has a Titantron, and Becky got jumped by someone who can’t wrestle. This prompted a returning Charlotte to run in and save her best friend. What was she returning from again? Never mind that Second Nature did An Exploder Suplex in some serious heels. That’s hard enough in wrestling boots!

Just because a result moves a storyline along does not mean it was a good thought. Case and point: in the first hour, Carmella went looking for The Sexy Goth Chick to remedy the fact she had been punked. In the process, she may have wormed her way out of losing Gold at SummerSlam. The Belt Holder was heeling up on Paige, reminding her that she will never be champion again. All the promos were extremely personal and vicious. Creative was in rare form last night. More on that later. Back to Carmella. Our GM wasn’t gonna be insulted. She set up the main event with a stipulation that virtually guarantees Carmella will escape SummerSlam with Gold.

Quick, anyone remember the last time a champion lost two straight matches clean on TV and kept the strap? I know bookers and insiders think of titles as props, but must they slap us in the face so obviously? I hate Triple-Threat Matches, and Vince is beating me over the head with one. Why even have it? We know who’s walking out of there. We can see it weeks out. Why? Because the champion lost ANOTHER match where her challenger had fake rust in order to win a “coin flip.” HERE’S AN IDEA! Becky already beat Charlotte. GIVE HER THE SINGLES MATCH!

I am an unabashed Super Mark for the ladies art form, but what the Hell was Stamford’s other offering last night. The storyline surrounding it was understandable if not unnecessary right now. Not the first time. Won’t be the last. Why is WWE breaking up Rusev Day when fans LIKE THEM? If anyone has an answer other than: “Because Vince wants to,” I can walk! As strange as it is, at least marks can see that WTF moment coming. As for the Lana/Zelina Vega match we saw? I’ve got nothin’ for anybody except: Cover your ears. What the f*** was THAT? I have been watching various incarnations of the art form for over 30 years. That may have been the strangest worked match I have ever seen. Ms. Vega, Lana is a virtual rookie. You are not. If I’m not mistaken, you have years of professional experience around the globe. The Ravishing Russian does not.

I am a rarity for a Super Mark. I hear NXT rumors and respect opinions of those who know the product. However, I take pride in not watching talent before they come up to the main roster. Vega was no different. She had a great reputation as Almas’ mouthpiece. I wanted to see what she could do in the ring. The answer I got last night was stunning. She can do nothing?? Vega went over, and I couldn’t care less. Let me get this straight? She gets in the ring, and Creative tells her to FLAT OUT COPY her dude? Excuse me? Here’s the thing; not only did it look very weird, but she couldn’t do it without Lana running circles around her professionally. I didn’t stutter.

Lana should have won the match. She was kicking her ass and handing her most of her offense. Zelina, if you are going to do nothing yourself other than talk, stay out of the ring. Maybe the Puerto Rican art form is just perpetually f***ed up?

Unfortunately, the gentlemen were the only representation left. There was just one additional contest Tuesday. The semi-finals of a tag tournament to determine The Bludgeon Brothers’ opponents for Gold at SummerSlam. Participants: The Usos and The Bar, who have recently returned to television after completing other obligations for the company. The standard WWE formula of “returning performers win” held up here. The trick is to help sheep suspend disbelief long enough to think it won’t. Mission accomplished, fabulous match.

This was a very strange episode. I can’t remember the last time I closed a piece breaking down promos. They were all great. First, Jeff Hardy called out Randy Orton. The Charismatic Enigma was pissed after a torturous attack last week. He’s still gonna be pissed next week. When he wants to be, there is no better heel on either main roster than The Viper. Jake would be proud. Hardy mentioned his connection with the fans, and his pride when holding United States Gold. Orton came down the ramp only to swerve us with help from Shinsuke Nakamura after a brief stare down between heels. Finishers and vintage moves everywhere eventually found Hardy laid out on the announce table with Randy wiping off his customary war paint. This was fun.

Next, we have Daniel Bryan calling Mike out. Naturally, Mike showed up on The Titantron rather than in person. He was pretending to be shooting his reality show. I doubt it. Daniel was running down his in-ring skills and fake movie career. Mike countered with: “This is an old argument. Fans are sheep. Let your contract expire. I see you as nothing more than a baby.” This was glorified high school and it was great! Leading to something at SummerSlam. Though none of us are quite sure of the outcome yet, given the shoot aspect of Bryan’s contract.
Time for the best talker in the game right now. Hopefully, that’s not all Samoa Joe will be known for in Stamford. He has earned his history. We are well aware of what he can do. So is AJ Styles. This got personal in a hurry!

After praising his accomplishments and physical ability, Joe questioned Styles’ skillset and heart in terms of fatherhood. Going so far as to say that his family would be rooting for Joe to send him home after SummerSlam. What an odd, intense night. After that, I could use a shot of whiskey with a coffee chaser. Eventually, I will sober up, jump in the Cessna, and catch everyone up The Gulf Coast in Jacksonville next week.


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Cheap Shots: Mad Man’s Testing Cheese in The Mouse’s House

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Gliding over The World’s Largest Golf Ball for SmackDown Live this week. I believe Orlando was nothing more than a spot show for Graham. In his infinite wisdom, Eric Bischoff used Universal Studios for WCW TV Tapings. What’s he getting paid for now? Doing a podcast? Big deal, a ton of my colleagues have podcasts, and they’re smarter than him. Dixie Carter’s TNA Wrestling reminds us that a talented roster cannot overcome a lack of inside knowledge. Impact Wrestling currently resides in the mouse’s zip code today. The latest effort from The New York Big Top wasn’t on a cheap PPV level. I have praised SmackDown Live as the better show for months. Others have done so for much longer. Instead, WWE hands us something between a glorified house show and a week early go home show for SummerSlam?

Let’s find out if Vince left Mickey ANYTHING interesting. Randy Orton has been on The Main Roster for a generation now. He does psychopath extremely well. Not all psychopaths talk though. Creative should be more careful with Randy. He needs a very focused promo, and reason to talk. They should’ve kept him on a singular path here, Jeff Hardy. A tunnel-visioned Viper is a more dangerous Viper. Randall Keith Orton is neither one of The Authors of Pain. Don’t give him a generic heel promo. We know he’s capable. Let Jeff Hardy continue to twist in agony. If you must give Orton a verbal point, do a better job writing it, and save it for after SummerSlam.

Recess started with a backstage promo which would be unnecessary if Vince didn’t book Triple Threats. The fracturing friendship angle is fine, if not required in the art form. However, can anyone pull it off without it feeling forced? Stamford sure can’t. Why were Charlotte and Becky apologizing like it was Middle School? Vinnie put both of you in the match. Break the fourth wall and get mad at him. The Lass Kicker struggled to hide building frustration. Anybody surprised with this? She’s Irish. They teased a possible tag match with The Dragon Huggers at Evolution? I EFFING HOPE NOT! Vince, get your head out of your ass. Unless it results in Sasha Banks being traded, put this mirrored storyline possibility on ice, since you can’t get it right on Monday! Sorry for the tangent. The Tuesday Besties went over The IIconics, who have hit a wall recently.

Here’s a crazy thought, WWE has approximately 14 ladies on The SmackDown Roster. What’s wrong with holding a storyline off TV for a week instead of repeating it? Give us the illusion that friends took a week to work things out without telling Aiden English he’ll be Ron Killings in a month or two. Lana is getting better in the ring, Let’s find another way to stunt her. Put Almas’ Mini Me over again and break up one of our most popular factions. My apologies, I must have hacked into Vince’s email.

Creative got too many compliments on proms last week. Dammit boys and girls, y’all can only rope the moon once every six months. They tried again anyway, bad move! Outside of The New Day; who can read Facebook and make it good. everything else was yawn inducing. Later, WWEs modern answer to The Free Birds went on to beat The Bar in another great TV Main Event.

Random Observation: if smart marks need proof promoters and bookers view Championship Gold as nothing more than a prop, look at R-Truth. Never mind New York’s original name for him. He was respected during his previous run in Orlando for Dixie Carter and TNA. He held Top Gold and was prominent there for a while. Why not? Dude is a fantastic athlete with good mic skills. Back in WWE, he is a glorified carpenter who cuts nonsense promos. I hope the paycheck is worth it, Sir? After setting up a match no one wanted, Truth lost to Shinsuke Nakamura in under ten minutes.

Sometimes, WWE looks dumber than usual in the age of social media. Can anyone tell me why they broke Mike’s match signing with Daniel Brian on Twitter? Did they have a reason? Does anybody really think Mike was on set? Vinnie, suspension of disbelief? Where is it? They could’ve rebooted Cena/Taker from Mania. They reboot storylines far less personal and more pointless. Yes, Daniel got to wail on Mike for a minute. Can’t we do better than to jump the gun so poorly on both fronts?

If Vince wants us to take one thing away from the Styles/Samoa Joe Angle, it is that Joe clearly has both the physical and psychological advantage heading into SummerSlam. Why does everything appear so lopsided though? Not saying The WWE Gold doesn’t fit Joe. If he can stay healthy, it most certainly does. Yes, Joe is a badass, but AJ Styles is capable of rock-solid heel work too. Ask The Con Artist and Big Match John. Hell, Samoa Joe himself knows Styles’ heel talent from elsewhere. It is disappointing the WWE might make fans wait months to see these two work up to their ability, if the trigger ever gets pulled correctly. Maybe by Hell in A Cell or Survivor Series? Given New York’s reputation among smart marks, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Speaking of which, if anyone did so on Tuesday waiting for a typical good show, I apologize. They got a glorified house show. Mickey Mouse deserves better cheese.


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CheapShots: Mad Man’s Panhandle Rush (WWE Raw)

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The penultimate stop on the Florida loop found the Cessna in the panhandle. One of the good things about the territory back in the day was proximity for travel. According to Kevin Sullivan and Austin Idol; Google them millennial nerds, it was common to work close enough to home that performers could sleep in their own beds most nights. If I am not mistaken, the original Free Bird nest of Jacksonville (music), was a regular weekend stop for Eddie Graham.

Vince’s latest offer started as 90% of them do. Someone is headed to the ring to cut a promo. This time it was RAW GM Kurt Angle and Stephanie McMahon’s watch dog, Constable Corbin. Angle proudly reminded us that one UFC Fighter would be making her TV Match Debut Monday night while openly taking shots at the other on the roster. Corbin’s prompted retort was met by Kurt saying he had to get this off his chest. Half-way through, Roman Reigns comes out because he can.

Eventually testosterone related to last week starts flowing between opposing forces. This leads Angle to make an opening match featuring Reigns vs. Corbin. In my opinion, the crowd was odd during this encounter. It felt like they needed 15 minutes to wake up. Strange when an audience doesn’t have a pulse, even a negative one. The match was physical and decent, though we have seen it before. Experienced watchers could tell Corbin was looking for an escape. He thought he found one, only to have Finn Balor cut him off. Corbin was forced back to the ring, where he took A Spear for the clean loss. After the bell, The 8-Pack Irishman took his turn; delivering a dropkick and Coup de Gras.
As a younger fan Vinnie’s circus did a much better job of keeping athletes apart unless it served as fuel for an angle. The locker room dustup between Bobby Roode and Mojo Rawley three weeks before a PPV would have led to squash matches featuring the two, or a tag match where they barely touched. He used to admonish agents and bookers: “Get the match in the ring.” Thanks to six hours of programming a week, now he says: “Get the match in the ring now. The PPVs are so cheap, they hardly matter.” This angle is the latest victim of that drug-induced logic. WWE will do their best to say it’s different in two weeks, even though Roode went over clean Monday night. Why does Stamford think smarks are clueless?

The very next segment saw our latest example of poor execution. I actually wanna see Elias take on Lashley. Vinnie forgot the Novocain to get me there. Heels don’t even worry about suspension of disbelief anymore. There is no album, Elias. Four tracks are barely a demo. WWE shot that ”documentary” to fill time on the network. No other reason. You don’t like the way it made you look? It’s scripted, talk to management. I don’t like you as a heel when the crowd wants to cheer you. I can’t do a damn thing about it. Speaking of “I can’t do anything about this:” Bobby Lashley was not brought back to New York because he could talk. Take the microphone OUT of his hand. Crickets come out whenever the man opens his mouth. The ending was plausible. Find a better way to get there. Proof WWE doesn’t care if I’m in pain watching; and, Sports Entertainment is total bulls***!

In another case of coin flip booking, Razar destroyed Titus because Apollo Crews beat Akam last week. Vince can’t get out of his own way. We saw this around a month ago. Even Less sheep wanted to watch this than hear Lashley cut a promo. We were stuck with both. Sorry folks, this was your weekly piss break

Back from the restroom. Smarks who hate Reigns, and their insider cousins are freaking out. It’s “The Kevin Owens Show.” Give The Fat Canadian a mic, and he can run down anyone in the art form. Like him or not, Owens is such a good heel that he manipulates other heels regularly. His latest pawn was Jinder Mahal. The Indian Brooklyn Brawler was his guest, but Owens wouldn’t let him speak. Eventually, the host mentioned Braun Strowman, and their contest for The MITB Briefcase at SummerSlam. Reminding us that if The Big Man loses, it doesn’t matter how. He loses his guaranteed shot at Gold. Mahal was roped into another match with The Monster Among Men just before the stage was flipped over! Why not? Unfortunately for the big man, he has been turned from human being to pit bull in an obnoxious game of fetch. Owens has stolen the briefcase twice. Forcing a count out last week and a DQ Monday. Anybody wanna punch Creative?

Cue the calliope. Earlier in the night, Seth Rollins went to GM Kurt Angle saying he was sick of being jumped by Ziggler & Galloway. Angle told him to find a partner. At this point, I could feel a colleague hoping like a Super Mark. Must wait again, sorry Brickyard. Though, even I thought they might set up an Ambrose swerve because they said he wouldn’t show up. Of course, Roman Reigns offered to help his brother out. However, Stephanie called Constable Corbin threatening to pull The Samoan Hype Machine from his showdown with The Beast at SummerSlam. SHUT UP VINCE! You have been shoving this match down our throats for years. Even after this, global smart marks fear you aren’t done with it. As for the match Monday, Rollins couldn’t find a partner. He fought hard but took the pin from Ziggler.

A tag team match was next. Participants: The Revival & our Tag Champs, The B-Team. Of course, Vince has an aversion to wrestling. “We MUST ‘entertain’ them, they’re sheep!” Match started off solid. Five minutes in; lights go out. Opposing partners have been torn off the apron and replaced by The Deleters of Worlds. Match got thrown out. Two reasons I despise Triple Threat Matches. First, wrestling companies have forgotten how to book longer programs and draw money. Second, the overwhelming majority of Triple Threats allow for weird finishes. Especially the way WWE books them. “Never mind we have 5 hours of TV to fill. Let’s throw everybody in and finish this in five minutes. Building to an outcome used to matter.

A double shot of recess to close Monday Night Raw this week. First up: The Dragon Huggers had to deal with The Riott Squad for consecutive weeks. Something had to be up, and it was. Despite Sasha & Bailey looking very good again, including a modified Power & Glory spot. Youtube it sheep, the heels went over when Ruby Riott did her best CM Punk impression. Go ahead weirdoes, freak out because I mentioned him. The Squad Leader dawned a gray hoodie long enough to slip through the audience. She got physical with The Human Elmo, and distracted Lady Banks so she would take the pin. Welcome back Ruby. Your girls haven’t mattered since February.

Whenever Hayes & Gordy’s Jacksonville namesake would close a Skynyrd concert, Ronnie and the boys would always ask: “What is it you wanna hear?” prior to hitting their opus’ first chord. Right now, Vinnie’s answer to “Free Bird” is Ronda Rousey. Rather appropriate then that The Baddest Woman on The Planet’s TV wrestling debut was in Skynyrd’s House. I think Michael would agree. Ronda’s first competition came in the form of Alicia Fox. She had length, experience, and zero chance Monday. Fox got some offense in, but Rousey overcame the distractions from Little Miss Math Class, got pissed, and tapped her opponent out in less than ten minutes. The champ tried to jump her afterward, epic fail! Ronda took the mic and cut a very solid promo. Has there ever been a long-term champion who looks more scared than Alexa Bliss? Good music in this show. We’re gonna find out if Mickey Mouse can Rock’N’Roll like that!


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WWE EVOLUTION Is The Double Edged Sword

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Last week, Stephanie McMahon announced that the past, present and future of women’s wrestling would come together and create the first ever all women’s PPV called Evolution. To say that women’s wrestling has made strides from what were once called “toilet break” matches to women’s Royal Rumbles, Ladder Matches, and now their own PPV is something to be said about how women are being taken seriously in a sport that is based on machismo. 

Yet, while it shows that women wrestlers are now seen as equals to their male counter part, it also shows that the WWE is dividing women. Think of it this way, its just like the cruiser weights having 205 Live. Yes, it is great that the talented high flyers can show off their skills in their own show, but 205 has not made the impact that everyone thought it would after the Cruiserweight  Classic. They are never in matches with the rest are the main roster on Raw and Smackdown Live and are segregated. 

While the indie scene has done mixed matches (Candice LaRae being a prime example of this) . The WWE almost make it seem that they have rewritten history with Evolution, but women’s wrestlers were ahead of their times in the indies, it has been the WWE that has been playing “catch up” all these years. 

WWE Evolution isn’t a bad thing, it’s a great example of how far the WWE have come, but it also puts a syntax on the PPV. By creating a women’s only PPV it shows that women’s wrestling is being showcased, but it creates this undertone of questioning to fans and pro wrestling critics that women cannot stand out the way men do in wrestling so here is their own PPV to show case that. 

The PPVs announcement and lead up will be debated till October when all eyes are set on the production of what is to come. And while as a fan I am excited to see what the past, present and future, have to offer, there is also some dread as to what this really says about what the WWE thinks of women’s wrestling as a whole. 


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


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