Rey Ca$h looks to speak some truth into your life about your hatred of WWE Raw!
On April 3rd, 2016, The Walking Dead went from the biggest show on television to one riddled with controversy. This particular episode is the infamous one where Negan, the biggest of all the big bads, makes his debut and kills an unknown member of Rick’s crew with Lucille, his barbed wire bat. We don’t see who it is and we are forced to wait 6 months to find out who died and what all happened.
Why am I talking about The Walking Dead on a wrestling website? I bring up this show, and in particular this episode, for one major reason. The fan reaction to it was vitriolic. Some fans hated it. Some loved it. Everybody had an opinion. But for a large number of fans, that was where the show crossed the line. Funny thing is, if you read the comics that the show is largely pulled from, this was a paramount storyline that was always going to have to happen on the show. So essentially, fans were told EXACTLY what was going to happen, even down to the smallest details, and they revolted.
You Hate Raw.
The vitriol spewed at the WWE currently, particularly Monday Night Raw, is stronger than ever. The thing is, however, WWE has never lied about what type of show Raw is. It’s a variety entertainment hour featuring wrestling. And yes, ratings are down, but they’re consistently one of the top 5 shows watched every night on cable. So, do the ratings really matter when nobody’s watching anything else either?
I understand that we as fans have an intrinsic right to feel how we are led to about the product we are given. For many, Raw is sub-par to terrible. I get that and respect that. I even echo that to a small extent. But I’ve started to wonder one major question as of late – are we really even fans anymore?
I hate to go all literal on you guys, but Merriam-Webster defines fan in this particular respect as “an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) usually as a spectator; an ardent admirer or enthusiast (as of a celebrity or a pursuit).” We all know that the word fan is derived from the word fanatic, as these definitions allude to. Have we thought, however, about how that really affects us? Do we think about what type of fan we are? How our fandom affects that which we are said fans of???
The WWE needs no sympathy. They’re a billion-dollar company, thriving in a business sense that was never before thought possible. But these criticisms…if we think deeply into them, is it really because the show is that bad, or is it because we’re not fans of what the product is anymore? Let me give you an example.
Gregg Popovich, super successful and championship winning coach of the San Antonio Spurs, was in the news recently because he mentioned that he thinks the current NBA is not beautiful anymore. The game, which has progressed from slower, more stylistic and cerebral play to quicker, more skill laden play, isn’t what he’s used to anymore. Add to that the empowerment of the player in this generation and the rise of super-teams, and many fans tend to agree with Coach Pop. The NBA has jumped the shark for many. For others, however, it’s the best it’s ever been. It’s massively entertaining, it’s breeding more stars than ever, and the skill is at an all-time high.
This reminds me of wrestling, WWE in particular. This generation of fans seems to be primarily interested in in ring prowess and “workrate”, choosing to focus on sequences of moves and characters that only resonate with them. Older generations, however, were largely intrigued by the characters and the stories told, with promo ability being lauded even more than in ring ability. A great match was only great because the story allowed it to be. Neither side is wrong, but much like if you watch CZW, you can expect hardcore style wrestling, if you watch Monday Night Raw, you can expect story driven television.
But What Is Raw?
Let’s take a look at the show from an analytical perspective. We have to acknowledge, from the beginning, that 5 of the top 8 male stars on the brand are out for significant periods of time. Roman Reigns is facing the fight of his life with leukemia, Braun has had his second surgery in years on his elbow, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn will be out possibly past WrestleMania season because of major surgeries, and the Universal Champion Brock Lesnar is somewhere on his farm. All criticisms must acknowledge this.
So, the major stories for the guys on the show revolve around Baron Corbin as General Manager Elect, and Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose’s blood feud revisited. For the women, Ronda Rousey is locked in a heated feud with Nia Jax and her cousin Tamina, and Natalya is out for personal revenge against the dastardly Ruby Riott and her Riott Squad. I ask you to think seriously about this question I’m about to ask you guys. What do all four of those feuds have in common?
They’re all story driven.
Corbin is drunk with power, abusing it to his whim. As such, he’s gained allies who want to be at the top, and are using Corbin’s power to hold their enemies down. Rollins and Ambrose have a near biblical feud, revolving around a very real and personal issue of betrayal. Ronda Rousey faced her toughest challenge recently against Becky Lynch and Charlotte, and Nia, who broke Becky’s face, wants to get back the title that she lost due to a cash in and beat the “Baddest Woman On The Planet” to prove her dominance. Ruby Riott broke Natalya’s late father, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart’s sunglasses, destroying a personal heirloom of Nattie’s. Natalya wants to get personal revenge for that and the multiple attacks that the Riott Squad have given her.
All four of those are Raw style stories. They are largely told through promos and backstage vignettes, they are riddled with drama, and they are building to a crescendo. The stories can always be told better, but are you sure you’re not against the stories before they’re even told to you because of your expectations?
Look at Dean Ambrose for example. We’ve long salivated at the thought of a truly unhinged, heel Ambrose. Instead, we get a germophobic, cerebral, emotional Dean. In a sense, the emotionless lunatic has turned into the over emotional thinker. And many fans are down on it. Why??? The promos have been fantastic. The cat and mouse game he’s played with “The Architect” have been wonderful.
But, it’s not what we expected. And to add to that fact, it’s not what we wanted.
That take is not only unfair, but it’s a hindrance to everybody involved in telling that story. The people with that take have essentially said that they refuse to let WWE tell them a story because it’s not what they want. That is MASSIVELY different than being told a story in full and not enjoying it.
I legitimately ask you all, which side are you on? Not liking things because it’s not what you wanted or expected, or reacting to what you’re being given. I’d bet good money it’s the former.
My goal in this column is not to tell any of you that you’re wrong in your opinions. I’m not even trying to advocate for Raw – if you listen to Chairshot Radio or The Outsider’s Edge, you’ll see that I criticize the show just as much as you guys. My point in this is simply to push you to step back and look at the big picture. Re-evaluate what you think you want. Ask yourself are you giving the show a legitimate chance, or are you already against the show before they get a chance to entertain you. Then, maybe you’ll realize that Raw doesn’t need to change when they’re being who they’ve always been. Maybe them not changing isn’t the problem. Maybe you’re the one who needs to change. Maybe we all are.
Steve Cook’s Top 5 Worst Tag Team Names
Truly inspired by The Viking Exprience, Steve Cook takes a look back at the Worst Tag Team Names in his latest Top 5!
The Superstar Shakeup brought some new faces to Monday Night Raw & SmackDown Live. In what was considered a bit of a surprise as they’re currently NXT Tag Team Champions, Hanson & Rowe made their debut on Raw. Only they weren’t Hanson & Rowe, they were Ivar & Erik. They also weren’t the War Raiders. Instead, they were The Viking Experience. A week later they’ve changed to the Viking Raiders, which is slightly less horrible but brings back memories of the NFL during World War II when we had the Phil-Pitt Steagles.
The only solace fans can take is that Ivar & Erik won’t be sunk on the main roster because they’re known as the Viking Experience or the Viking Raiders or whatever else. They’ll be sunk on the main roster because they’re a tag team. And hey, it’s not like they’re the only tag team ever to have a crappy name. Here’s five others!
5. Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan & Kane)
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the dynamic between Bryan & Kane. If there are two wrestlers I would like to see/hear do a talk show, it would be the newly Trumpian Glen Jacobs & The New Daniel Bryan. They have amazing chemistry as a unit, though they couldn’t be further apart as wrestlers or on the political spectrum.
The name though…the WWE Universe screwed this one up. Team Friendship was right there for the taking. It would have been the perfect name for Kane & Bryan based on the counseling they had gone through with Dr. Shelby. It was one of those names that would have been stupid and awesome at the same time. Instead, they went with the lazy mish-mash. Which made even less sense when they reunited years later with Bryan firmly in Yes Mode.
4. The Gangstanators (New Jack & John Kronus)
I am kinder to mish-mash names than most. I see a lot of hate out there for names like Jeri-Show, Jeri-Miz, Rated-RKO, Rybaxel and other names that wrestling writers obsessed with Brangelina gave tag teams. For me, the best part of Ryback & Curtis Axel as a tag team was their name.
A team that came along before Brangelina was a much worse example of this fad than anybody that came along after. Kronus was part of the Eliminators, and his partner Perry Saturn decided to get some work with WCW. New Jack was part of the Gangstas. I don’t know what happened to his partner Mustafa, but nobody else seemed to care.
So New Jack & Kronus decided to team based off of mutual respect. Nothing wrong with that. The name was terrible though. If they had plans for this duo, they really should have come up with something new, instead of something that reminded us of two tag teams that we liked more.
Elisa looks great in her Chairshot gear.
You can, too!
Be like Elisa and get yours at:
3. TM-61 (Nick Miller & Shane Thorne)
Miller & Thorne were known as The Mighty Don’t Kneel, or TMDK for short, during their run throughout Australia, Japan & the American independent scene. WWE likes to change these things up, for obvious reason. So Shane Thorne got to keep his name, but Mikey Nicholls became Nick Miller, which gives us the TM part. 61 is the dialing code for Australia. So it’s kind of clever.
Here’s the hitch in the getty-up: No good tag team name needs this much of an explanation. You see Ax & Smash, and you understand why they’re called Demolition. Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart walk out accompanied by Jimmy Hart, and The Hart Foundation sounds apt. Heck, Honky Tonk Man comes down with black-haired Greg Valentine and you get Rhythm & Blues right away. This thing…well, there’s a reason they changed it to The Mighty once they turned heel.
2. The New (fill in the blank)
New anything is bad news. Especially in pro wrestling, with the exception of the original New World Order. Remember the New Blackjacks? The New Rockers? The New Midnight Express? If you’re my age, you’re probably trying to forget these teams, as they were nothing but a pale imitation of the original teams.
The New Blackjacks were Blackjack Bradshaw & Blackjack Windham. Marty Jannetty brought along his buddy Leif Cassidy to form the New Rockers. The New Midnight Express were Bodacious Bob & Bombastic Bart. I might be mixing those up, but I don’t care enough to look it up. It was that bad. I’m pretty sure Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson have never retired because they’re afraid somebody will try to make a New Rock N Roll Express.
People are learning, though. When Konnan put Santana & Ortiz together as a new tag team for him to manage in Impact Wrestling, he was smart enough not to call them The New LAX. They got to be LAX while Homicide & Hernandez had to be The OGz during their feud.
1. Air Devils (Fast Eddie & Matt Sydal)
This may require some explanation. Matt Sydal was a young up & comer in the Midwest indies back in 2005. The boy had all the high-flying moves you could ask for, and a look that any babyface would love to have. He was ready to take ROH by storm, but he needed a partner! It seemed like it would be Joey Matthews for a minute, but Matthews had other business at hand with Johnny Nitro & Melina. Hardly an opportunity a wrestler would turn down. So Fast Eddie got the nod, as he’d had some ROH appearances in the past.
The ROH message board got the opportunity to vote on a name for Matt & Eddie, and I can’t tell you what the other options were, but I can tell you what won. The Air Devils. See, daredevils, air devils, haw haw. A name so bad that the ROH commentators crapped on it during their debut match in Dayton, Ohio, which happened to be the very first ROH show I saw live. It was the Air Devils’ first & last match together, as Fast Eddie turned on Matt Sydal and joined Prince Nana’s Embassy.
Just a terrible piece of business, though it worked out in the long run for Sydal. He got over with ROH fans and had a pretty good run there. Fast Eddie…well, I’d be lying if I said I remembered a thing he did with the Embassy. When that faction won a Trios Tournament at another Dayton show I attended, they were represented by Alex Shelley, Jimmy Rave & Abyss. No Fast Eddie. He never saw his dismissal coming.
Did anybody else notice that fans chose two of these names? It goes to show that even if “The Viking Experience” is a terrible name, there’s no guarantee that we would have done better.
Joe’s Lucha Libre Weekly: News & Analysis (4/22/19)
The world of Lucha Libre can be insane and overwhelming–but you have Joe Dinan here to help you make sense of it all!
The world of Lucha Libre can be insane and overwhelming–but you have Joe Dinan here to help you make sense of it all!
Arena Puebla and Arena Mexico Tuesday
I did not watch either of these shows, truth be told on weeks that I’m too busy I’ll probably skip Tuesday at least. Not that I plan on always skipping them but sometimes duty calls in life and Friday is really the only televised show CMLL cares about. CMLL current has what I call WWE syndrome, in the sense that they have a comfortable business right now. They were struggling a little last year until LA Park and the Lucha Brothers came in for a summer tour basically. Cibernetico, El Zorro, and Charley Manson coming in helped to an extent too but not the same. So ever since then CMLL has enjoyed very nice attendance so they don’t feel the need to put in a desperate effort. Which is what happens sometimes. Wrestling companies all go through that period once in a while so I’m sure they’ll eventually be back to high quality things. But right now it’s AAA giving high quality. So on the Monday Puebla show they set up a Police Man vs King Jaguar hair vs hair match which will be this Monday. I can’t imagine most are interested but these guys probably wanna do something. And nothing of significance happened on Tuesday. Nothing usually ever does.
Arena Mexico Friday
Volador and Ultimo Guerrero successfully won Block B and will face Titan and Cavernario next week. Or this week. Depends when this drops. It will be a good match. Block B was definitely a step down from Block A as far as quality wrestling goes. There was a lot of brawling and similar finishes here in Block B. That’s really all that’s going on.
So some of this AAA news involves MLW and Impact so I’m going to put it all here because there’s no point of typing it twice.
AAA has two shows this week, one on 4/26 and 4/28. I won’t be watching the one on 4/26 live because Avengers Endgame is calling. But the line ups look like this for 4/26, Psycho Clown, La Parka, and Puma King vs Rey Escorpion, Texano jr, and Chessman. Laredo Kid and Brian Cage vs Taurus and Daga. Poder de Norte vs Sammy Guevara, Jack Evans, and Australian Suicide. 4 way match with Golden Magic vs Hijo Del Vikingo vs Villano III Jr vs Flamita. Taya and Faby Apache vs Chik Tormenta and Luchadora surprise. Lady Maravilla and Black Danger vs Big Mami and Nino Hamburguesa.
For the 4/28 show it looks like, Psycho Clown, Laredo Kid, and Puma King v Rey Escorpion, Texano Jr, and Taurus. La Parka, Golden Magic, and Nino Hamburguesa vs Chessman, Averno, and Dave the Clown. Hijo Del Vikingo, Flamita, and Villano III Jr vs Poder de Norte. Sammy Guevara vs Jack Evans vs Australian Suicide. Faby Apache and La Hiedra vs Lady Maravilla and Chik Tormenta.
So AAA also has shows coming up on May 3rd and May 5th, Cinco de Mayo. But they also have some joint show which I’m not sure if it’s going to be on just TV Azteca or on Twitch too. There’s no way of knowing until the day approaches cause it’s AAA but it’s some tournament gimmick between 5 “companies”. I use quotes because Konnan is quite literally on creative for all the companies. One company isn’t technically even a company anymore. Lucha Libre Elite is a defunct company propped up by AAA to do invasion angles. The other is Aro Lucha which isn’t even like, it’s own company. The Harris brothers run it with Konnan and they basically use AAA talent and Mexican independent talent. So it’s again, basically AAA. Then we have AAA proper, whatever that entails. Then we have Impact and MLW. So at least in theory those two will use their own talent. It’s some tournament format supposed to happen on May 2nd. I’ll see if I have more information next week before it all happens. Maybe Konnan will reveal more on Keeping it 100 this week.
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