Two teenagers are listening to their high school principal give a school-wide speech on ignorance and apathy. One kid turns to the other and asks “wait, what are ignorance and apathy?” The other responds, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”
I went to the bar next to my job one day last week to get a beer with a co-worker. We ended up sitting with two other friends who randomly popped in and the discussion turned to WWE. My co-worker and I are fans. Our friends are not. They let me talk at great length about the product and all the things I enjoy about it – the things that made me a fan in the first place. After a while, one of our companions said, “but aren’t you a feminist?” Yes, of course I’m a feminist. In fact, I may have been wearing a t-shirt that says “feminism – the radical notion that women are people” at the time. So then she asked me this:
“How can you be a feminist and be a WWE fan?”
I get this question a lot and I absolutely do not understand it. I love pro-wrestling. That fact doesn’t have anything to do with my politics, the same as being a fan of classical music or hockey has nothing to do with one’s politics. I believe, however, as a female feminist WWE fan it is my job to continue voicing my outrage over the way women are treated within the company (and the industry in general). And I’m not going to stop until they do something about it, or I die. To give up under any other circumstances would be to admit that pro-wrestling is a lost cause. I don’t believe that’s true, so I keep shouting and refuse complacency. I demand excellence.
Tonight’s episode of RAW (which will be airing shortly for those of us in the western hemisphere) was step one in damage control after a freak injury has sidelined Seth Rollins and thus created a vacancy in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Not too long after the title vacancy was announced, so was a tournament – culminating at Survivor Series – to crown a new champion. The tournament itself was broken down into brackets that look like this:
“And they all went to sleep for a thousand years.”
I had an acting teacher in college who used to say that whenever someone in rehearsal forgot a line and took to long to pick it up. That just about sums up exactly how I feel looking at this bracket. It is boring. I might as well take the next two weeks off, because we all know what it going to happen, right up until the final match. I am still hopeful that WWE might pull one out of their sleeve and give us something worth watching on a PPV (though Hell in a Cell was a prime example that isn’t always true either.)
“Lady J, if you think this is such god-awful drivel, why not just give it up?”
You must have missed the beginning of this post – I’m not giving up on WWE. I am going to keep poking it with a stick until it gets better. But first, I’m going to get stung a bunch. This tournament is a prime example. I knew, same as anyone else with a decent internet connection or a smartphone, that they were going to do a tournament. They announced it. but I had hope that the way they designed it would make it exciting! There would be matches with no clear winner before it started! There would be matches where people would be disqualified to continue already existing storylines! There might even be a surprise entrant!
Instead, we got a tournament that any great fool should be able to predict, at least through the second round. Five of the first round matches have clear winners. Roman Reigns wins over Big Show – he did win the last tournament (you know, the one from TWO WEEKS AGO, and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!) to become the number one contender, so maybe push him through to at least round two. Who else was in that final four match with him two weeks ago? Dolph Ziggler (who will win over Miz), Kevin Owens (who will win over Titus O’Neill), and Alberto Del Rio (who will win over Stardust). Also surreptisuously lurking around the title storyline was my favorite heel-in-waiting Dean Ambrose (who will win over Tyler Breeze).
That leaves us with three matches: a babyface vs babyface match-up of Kalisto and Ryback, the battle of the UK in King Barrett and Neville, and the match to determine Reigns’ next opponent in Sheamus and Cesaro. The babyface match winner will be fed to Del Rio, so it doesn’t matter too much who it is. Same with the UK battle, as the winner gets to lie down for Kevin Owens. Both of these facts are infuriating, as three out of four of these men could really use a good push. And don’t catch yourself being foolish – being “the guy who isn’t going to win” is not a push – it’s filler. How many times have we been stoked to see guys we love in a position like this but it doesn’t result in anything? They go back to mid-card purgatory and we don’t even notice when they spend the next two weeks off TV and get pushed out of the pre-show of a PPV. The only first round match that could go either way is the Sheamus vs. Cesaro match up. If it’s Sheamus and he loses, he has a good excuse to cash in his MITB briefcase on the champ at Survivor Series. If it’s Cesaro, Sheamus can still carry that anger to the PPV, but Cesaro gets to force Roman Reigns to have a good match (so far, this is the only plus side of this tournament).
Now go ahead and grab your kayfabe glasses and slip those suckers on and take another look at this bracket. How did these goons end up in this thing anyway? What did Kalisto do to deserve a shot that Sin Cara didn’t also do? Tyler Breeze’s first match on RAW is going to in a tournament for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship? Hasn’t Stardust spent every RAW since SummerSlam sitting on an Ascension-built fleshbench in the Cesaro section? Who put this list together? On what planet does WWE think they’re elevating their title by booking a tournament where anyone can end up with the belt? Shouldn’t you have to earn it? How about Triple H comes out on TV and lines up anyone Seth Rollins beat one-on-one between Wrestlemania Play Button and Hell in a Cell and says “sorry, suckers, you don’t meet the criteria”. I think you’d still end up with the same four guys we’re expecting to be in the final four of the tournament.
So why should I (or anyone) get excited about tonight’s Monday Night Raw? Should we all tune in to see if they’re actually going to let Big E have a mic after his recent (truly uncomfortable) twitter rampage? Should we see what new depths they have decided to drag the Diva’s division to? No, I think not. Instead, I read the spoilers. I know what happens. I’ve voiced my disgust. And I’m going to read a book or maybe watch a movie between 8pm EST and 11pm EST. Because they didn’t take an opportunity to think outside the box. They didn’t create an exciting landscape so that when they actually DO crown someone (*coughREIGNScough*) the new champion, it will be to the delight of the crowd instead of to a resounding raspberry being blown from living rooms all over the world. Instead, they have yet again rested on their laurels – they don’t know what might be interesting to their audience and they don’t care enough to figure it out. And we all know what to call that.