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Are We Really Even Fans Anymore?

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WWE Raw Fans

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.

Sound familiar?




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.

FIN

@itsreycash




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


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Andrew’s G1 Climax 29 Ratings & Analysis: Night 5 A Block

KENTA, Lance Archer and Kazuchika Okada are setting the early A Block pace! Something’s gotta give. Who comes out undefeated?

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KENTA, Lance Archer and Kazuchika Okada are setting the early A Block pace! Something’s gotta give. Who comes out undefeated?

Shmoxley in the opening tag team match means we should start off fun. Tanahashi and Sabre are in the battle of, well, someone needs to get at least a point out of that.

Then we’ve got Ospreay and Ibushi who are banged up but most likely still going to be psychopaths in the ring. Let’s get ready for the carnage, I mean, no…I meant carnage.

Ratings:

  • Shota Umino & Jon Moxley vs Tomohiro Ishii & Yuya Uemura: Shooter wins via Fisherman Suplex Hold @5:45 – ***
  • Hirooki Goto, Jeff Cobb & YOSHI-HASHI vs Toa Henare, Yota Tsuji & Juice Robinson: YOSHI wins via Butterfly Lock @9:30 – ** 1/4
  • Tomoaki Honma, Ren Narita & Toru Yano vs Jay White, Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi: Owens wins via Package Piledriver @8:50 – ** 1/2
  • BUSHI, Tetsuya Naito & Shingo Takagi vs Taichi, Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru: Suzuki wins via Gotch Style Piledriver @8:35 – ** 1/2
  • A Block: KENTA vs Lance Archer: Kenta wins via Game Over @12:00 – *** 
  • A Block: SANADA vs EVIL: EVIL wins via Everything is Evil @18:10 – **** 1/4
  • A Block: Bad Luck Fale vs Kazuchika Okada: Okada wins via Double Legged Cradle @10:15 – ** 1/2
  • A Block: Zack Sabre Jr vs Hiroshi Tanahashi: Tanahashi wins via Triangle Counter Pin @13:55 – *** 3/4
  • A Block: Kota Ibushi vs Will Ospreay: Ibushi wins via Kamigoye Knee @27:15 – **** 3/4

 

Analysis:

Moxley and Ishii start off trying to kill one another. This is a great opener and the respective Young Lions have to pull their veteran off as to not incur a disqualification. The Young Lions then take the bulk of the match and Shota has definitely picked up a few mannerisms from Moxley that we slowly see him unlocking. This may be our evolution of Shooter, but for an opening match this was very fun and the fact Moxley and Ishii just want to fight added for a neat dynamic.

Juice and Cobb are both respectful Gaijin faces, so not a lot of heat for this match. Plus YOSHI-HASHI was in it, so I could’ve downed a few Valium and been more invested in staring at a wall. Pork Chop Sandwiches later, and YOSHI-HASHI wins with that awful Butterfly Lock. Great…I can now taste colors.

So Yano wanted to get him a piece of the Jay White on the down turn, but Jay tried to still play the calculating heel. Honma put in a bit of decent work but Narita was obviously the one sent out to eat the pin. Narita held his own against Yujiro and Chase, but Chase eventually stopped playing with his feud and hit the Package Piledriver to tie things up in a nice little bow.

Shingo took a hell of a beating in this match. Kanemaru played random interference and Taichi took Shingo to the woodshed. Naito also continued his distaste of Taichi and Suzuki while being a little protective of Shingo at points. Now being the unabashed fanboy of Shingo, yet also a subscriber to Holy Emperor weekly, I’m very torn about this whole thing. The match played up the G1 tensions and the LIJ vs Suzuki-Gun tensions very well, but my heart knows not which to root for.

Lance is a good foot taller than KENTA and that was the story of the first 75% of this match. Lance was shrugging off the strikes of our returning striker. KENTA was getting effectively crushed, until Lance pushed the anime comeback button and said “You’re fucking Hideo! That’s who you are! HIDEO!” – which prompted the anime comeback in KENTA. KENTA managed to even lift Lance for a few things, but relied heavily on the dropkicks and strikes. He couldn’t quite pull off the Go 2 Sleep, so he went to his Crossface submission, Game Over. And boy howdy, it was game over! (I will see myself out after that)

EVIL and SANADA have this brotherly rivalry in LIJ. Being former 2 time IWGP Heavyweight Tag Champions, familiarity is obvious. SANADA starts off the match quickly and this is definitely a match of quick bursts when the one gets an advantage. I guess they are transitioning SANADA away from the Paradise Lock since this is the second match where he had it mostly on, but “something happened” and the opponent gets out of the move. We get a bunch of great back and forth, but something that continues to plague SANADA is his limited moveset when it gets down to crunch time. EVIL pulled out a plethora of tricks, including using the referee as an anchor for the Magic Killer. Whereas, SANADA sticks to Dragon Sleeper variants, into Skull End attempt or a Moonsault. With how over SANADA is, I really expect him to start getting more crunch time maneuvers. EVIL wins and quickly wants to bury the hatchet by extending the LIJ fist bump. SANADA bumps fists, and all is fine in our ungovernable world.

Fale tends to have Okada’s number in tournaments, and he starts off by attacking him in the back and dragging him out. So we get a typical Bullet Club brawl with heel tactics and ref bumps, but Okada perseveres. Okada is able to lift Fale a few times, but can’t hit the Rainmaker, and wins via the wrestling move he tends to fall back on, the Double Legged Cradle.

Well both Tanahashi and Sabre come into this match 0-2, so there’s a level of desperation that both bring to the table. Sabre wrestled circles around Tanahashi, and Tanahashi just tried to keep up for most of the match. After countering the High Fly Flow, Sabre locks in a Triangle Arm Bar, but Tanahashi floats over for the bridging pin counter. The Ace finally has 2 points!

There have been well known injuries for both of these men, and they played into the story of the match well. Focusing on each other’s injuries, calling back to their Wrestle Kingdom match and just a generally high energy and high impact match. Watching this match, you have to assume one of them will die with their style, but it is damn entertaining. Everyone expected this to be a great match and it delivered.

Overall Score: 8/10

Well we had a lot of good storylines and matches that mostly paid off. Lance Archer has been doing great work, Fale and Okada was at least somewhat entertaining and the cripple fight in the main event was fantastic. The inner faction turmoil was now squashed, so we can have a nice tournament while The Ace gets a few points over the petulant British child.

So great show, great entertainment, and generally a good time. I can only hope the B Block carries equal weight.

Block A Standings:

  • Kazuchika Okada: 3-0 (6 Points)
  • KENTA: 3-0 (6 Points)
  • Lance Archer: 2-1 (4 Points)
  • EVIL: 2-1 (4 Points)
  • SANADA: 1-2 (2 Points)
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi: 1-2 (2 Points)
  • Will Ospreay: 1-2 (2 Points)
  • Bad Luck Fale: 1-2 (2 Points)
  • Kota Ibushi: 1-2 (2 Points)
  • Zack Sabre Jr: 0-3 (0 Points)


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Tiffany: New Japan Pro Wrestling: An Introduction From a Newbie

Tiffany decides to check out New Japan! Let’s see how it comes across to a puroresu rookie!

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Tiffany decides to check out New Japan! Let’s see how it comes across to a puroresu rookie!

I’m going to be upfront, I’ve been a fan of WWE my whole life, I NEVER thought I’d get fully into another wrestling promotion, let alone a Japanese one, and my initial interest in New Japan Pro-Wrestling was simply because Jon Moxley, aka Dean Ambrose, had signed with NJPW and I wanted to watch him, however I’ve found myself very intrigued with NJPW as a company the more I watch it and thought that if there was anyone who was wanting to check it out, it would be nice to get some tips from someone also new to the promotion.

TV: The first thing to know about NJPW is that they don’t have a weekly television show like RAW or SmackDown. They do have a weekly show for their Mexican…affiliate, called CMLL, but that show features more Latino wrestlers. They do have ‘Road to-‘ which is a build to their next big show, but it’s more of a series of house show matches to build the actual show than a TV show. CMLL is offered on NJPW and on Fite TV, but neither of them have English Commentary, which makes it a little hard to follow if you don’t understand Japanese or Spanish that well.

The Schedule: NJPW’s schedule is really odd if you’re only used to USA wrestling and seems more like UFC or boxing than the 52 week schedule US fans are used to. NJPW’s schedule seems to consist of building and putting on a show, then taking a break and then starting all over again and their shows seem to consist of a lot of tournaments with a few one day shows, rather than one show running into another. The logic seems to be to give the wrestlers time to rest and recover before starting a new circuit, which seems to work considering that several of their top guys are in their late 30s and move around like guys in their 20s.

The Matches: If you’ve never seen a NJPW match before, it’ll definitely be a shock. NJPW’s matches are a lot more physical than WWE matches and the competitors have more leeway than WWE superstars do. There’s a standing 20 count on the floor and using weapons outside the ring doesn’t create a disqualification and the refs give even more leeway in big match situations.

The Promos: There aren’t a lot of promo spots in a NJPW show, there are some, but they don’t take up tons of time with them. Most promos are done at the post match press conferences, which are literally done right after the matches. Jon Moxley even commented during his first one that they ‘weren’t even going to let him catch his breath’. The fun part about it is that you get their real-time reactions. Yes, it’s still in kayfabe, but it’s definitely not scripted and they can say what they want. Also, there is a LOT of swearing, which is fun and makes things seem more…real. Also, even though most of the promos are in Japanese, save for non-Japanese wrestlers, there is a translator who translates the promos into English and if you watch the promos on YouTube, the Closed Captioning button will translate the Japanese into English you can read.

Women: NJPW does NOT have a Women’s Division and it’s becoming quite the controversy. There are women’s wrestling promotions in Japan like Stardom, but they don’t have a relationship with NJPW and it doesn’t seem like NJPW is interested in changing that. So far, I’ve seen ONE woman in NJPW and it’s Miho Abe, who is the valet of Taichi, a heel with a weird J-Pop gimmick.

The Young Lions: The Young Lions, which is a term you hear a LOT in NJPW, are one of the coolest parts of the promotion. In essences, the Young Lions are the rookies of NJPW, coming up through their dojo system, but they are so much more. The Young Lions train and learn in the NJPW dojos either in Japan, LA, Mexico, or Europe, but they are also the ring crew, part of the security team during matches, the first aid guys after the match, the gophers for the older wrestlers, and the job guys. Young Lions are also fillers in tag matches and don’t really have gimmicks outside of being a Young Lion until they are sent on ‘Learning Excursions’ to another dojo. They aren’t hard to miss and it’s a very cool part of watching NJPW.

Tag Matches: If you are someone who complains about WWE putting on a lot of tag matches, NJPW is NOT for you because that’s a large part of their shows. Seriously, almost anyone who doesn’t have a singles match on a show is usually in a tag match. My understanding is that it’s partly to help build future feuds, but also to keep the wrestlers from getting too much wear and tear on their bodies. The downside is that there’s usually at least three tag matches back to back during a show, which can get tiring.

Titles: Of all the differences between NJPW and US Wrestling, the way the titles are treated is the biggest surprise. NJPW’s titles don’t carry the promotion’s name, they are almost all IWGP __, which is the Japanese equivalent to the old NWA,  and title defenses are few. In fact, the commentators can tell you how many times a particular champion has defended their title and it’s usually in the single digits and champions hold their titles for a LONG time. Current IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Okada, held the title for two years and defended the championship 12 times back in 2014-16, which would never fly in the US. That said, the champions usually get spots in any tournament they qualify for, which gives opportunities to build future feuds, but it’s very strange to see a full card and NO title defenses. Also, NJPW does not give their champions an advantage over their opponents. Titles DO change hands if the champion gets DQ’d or counted out, which is actually really fun because it means the champ has to beat the challenger, not the other way around and the champion’s long reign seems more justified because they seem to earn it.

Video OnDemand: Like WWE, NJPW has its own video subscription service called NJPW World, which offers their shows with Japanese or English commentary, an archive of shows, which is admittedly very incomplete, but one thing they offer that WWE could learn from is how they offer PPVs once the show is over. About a week or so after a show is done, NJPW will let the view pick a series and they have the option of watching the whole show, start to finish, or they will be offered the option of picking from, and watching, individual matches. Example: If I want to watch the Jon Moxley’s debut match at the Super Jr. Final, I have the option of watching the whole show, prelim tag matches and all, OR I can scroll down the list, click on Jon Moxley vs Juice Robinson, and not have to sit through a bunch of matches I’m not interested in. WWE sort of offers this with the search option and the dots that show when a match starts and stops, but NJPW’s way of doing it is more efficient, IMO, and more user friendly. Also, one very funny thing that almost always pops up at the start of the PPV is a PSA about how to behave properly in the arena. The video is always full of really ham acting, but the fact that it’s shown even to people watching at home makes me laugh.

So, I hope that this list gives anyone who is thinking about checking out NJPW some information that will help them enjoy the shows. There also a lot of people in the US who enjoy NJPW and are always happy to explain things, or try to. It is quite easy to get the hang of and a lot of fun to watch because you learn a lot about the difference in wrestling culture between Japan and the US. In Japan, professional wrestling is still treated and respected as a sport, while in the US, professional wrestling is often dismissed as ‘fake’ or ‘kids’ stuff’. So, check it out and broaden your wrestling horizons from the comfort of your couch, you won’t regret it.


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