Cautious Optimism

Okay, so I’m not pissed off.

I think the appropriate term for how I’m feeling right now would be “cautiously optimistic.” Last night’s TLC PPV was surprisingly entertaining. Watching it with someone who has only ever seen one wrestling program before (last Monday’s episode of RAW, at that) meant I got to talk over the parts that didn’t interest me in the slightest, filling her in on the information I thought was important for her to have in order to enjoy it. (P.S. Yes, this is the same person whose quote appears at the end of this post. Looks like she changed her mind!)

I was wrong in three of my eight predictions yesterday. I am sorry to say that Becky Lynch did not triumph over Sasha Banks, but at least she lost to legitimate heel tactics. Though, I am not enjoying the New Day-type of antics that Team B.A.D. are getting up to. I like them as strong, sassy, arrogant women – not as caricatures. I was also sorry to see that the Lucha Dragons did not triumph during the opening ladder match for the tag team titles, but the match itself was so damn good, it almost doesn’t matter. The Salida Del Sol over the top of one ladder onto another has to be the craziest spot I’ve seen in a long time. In fact, after that match I showed my companion Edge speaking Jeff Hardy in mid-air and it didn’t seem quite as gnarly as a move whose landing was on a ladder. Ouch. But it certainly did cement, for me at least, the necessity for WWE to find a place further up the card for Kalisto – he works hard, he’s entertaining as hell, and he clearly wants it badly (or he wouldn’t be putting his body on the line like that.)

Obviously, my other prediction was for Kevin Owens to retain the title, and I was wrong. I WAS WRONG. Dean Ambrose is currently the Intercontinental champion. I actually watched almost all of TLC twice last night because I felt I missed some things. Re-watching the IC title match, it really was well done. But I still couldn’t believe my eyes when the ref counted three. To the great dismay of my companion (and the utter delight of my dog) I knocked over a half glass of eggnog jumping up on the couch in excitement during the first viewing. I’m not going to lie – I am very happy as an Ambrose fan. But I’m not entirely sure what you do with an Ambrose champion going forward. Owens will assuredly get a rematch and I hope he doesn’t just take the title back (have they done something like that in a while? Might be overdue. Oh lord, my little icy heart…) I know some of you are also concerned that Ambrose will have an IC title run similar to his run as US champ, but that seems unfounded. When he was US champion, he was also a part of the Shield. There was a lot of things he was involved in at that time. Right now, he has nothing going on (though I wouldn’t be surprised if he was going to receive punishment for what Reigns did after the main event. Poor Ambrose. I’m just breaking my own heart now.)

In the matches I did accurately predict, I wasn’t really disappointed by anything. The Rusev/Ryback match was short enough that I didn’t feel like I was suffering through it. Hopefully that feud is now over. The US championship chairs match was also just about as long as it needed to be, and I had no real complaints about it at all. What I thought was so interesting was the fact that Zeb Colter didn’t appear at all during the match – I don’t even remember if they mentioned him on commentary. Even if he’s not “gone,” hopefully he’ll just return as Jack Swagger’s manager and leave Alberto Del Rio to move on to a more interesting (and less potentially inappropriate) opponent. I do want to take a second to give ADR props on selling his leg injury. As someone who spent four years of college studying performance, you’d think I can tell when someone’s faking an injury. He really had me there when the match was over and he couldn’t climb the turnbuckle. But then again, with all the injuries WWE has seen recently, it might also have been fear that made me worry.

Speaking of selling, somebody needs to sit Charlotte down (preferably NOT her father) and explain to her how selling works in the ring, because the concept seems to have eluded her completely. I know we all make fun of people like Dolph Ziggler all the time for overselling, but there is an actual difference between taking your bumps to the next level and just looking like you’re faking it. And Charlotte looks like she’s faking it. I don’t know why she doesn’t understand how ridiculous that makes both her and her opponent look. When she is on the receiving end of something, she screams as loud as she can, regardless of what it is that’s happening to her. When she’s got someone locked into a submission maneuver, she yells almost as loud! It must be pretty hard to sell for her when she’s drowning you out with her own mindless shrieking. Seeing as how I don’t like her promos either, it might be best if Charlotte just stop making sounds altogether. I think at this point I’d prefer Becky Lynch end up in a feud with Paige than Charlotte. Oh, and get rid of Naitch, he’s grating on my nerves.

When I watch a TLC match, I expect a few things from the participants. I expect them to utilize all of the props in ways that make sense for them as individual performers. This means I don’t want people who aren’t high flyers suddenly jumping off of ladders when they clearly have no idea what they’re doing. I expect them to not to forget to wrestle. This shouldn’t be something I need to say, but some people are bothered when TLC matches don’t go straight into the crazy stunts and that is just silly – it’s still a wrestling match! Wrestle! I also expect the stakes to be super high – as high as they can be. We all knows as fans that these are the matches where people can (and do) get badly hurt. Knowing not only that the WWE World Heavyweight championship is dangling above the ring, but also no matter what the guys in the ring do they WILL leave in pain sets lofty stakes. Roman Reigns and Sheamus gave us a match that nestled so perfectly into these parameters: they didn’t forget what they do best, they didn’t forget to actually wrestle each other, and they knew they had to basically kill each other in order to win.

What more do you want from them?

A better storyline leading to the match. Different people being in the feud. This guy being pushed less, that guy being better on the mic. You know what? This isn’t perfect. In fact, this entire show – not just the match – could have been a slow and painful death for everyone involved. Instead, it peaked nicely in the appropriate places, kept you on your toes, and the main event paid off better than I could have hoped for under the circumstances. Yes, a League of Nations run-in was predictable. Yes, Sheamus retaining was predictable. You know what wasn’t? Roman Reigns going apeshit and beating the crap out of Sheamus with a chair. Then he turns on Triple H and quite literally leaves him lying in a puddle on the floor. I was satisfied. I was more than satisfied, I was shrieking with glee, totally beside myself.

It’s entirely possible that tonight’s RAW could undo everything that was good about last night. If you remember, dear reader, I was super stoked on Sheamus successfully cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase at the end of Survivor Series – and I wasn’t wrong to feel that way. Even though the RAW the next night (and all subsequent nights) was trash, it paid off last night. I also did a whole post about how Roman Reigns is an underdog because we won’t cheer for him, and I wasn’t wrong about that either. He wasn’t a Daniel Bryan underdog, he was hated by the fans more than he was hated by The Authority, and he knew he could never get over with the way he was being booked. And unlike John Cena, who was once begged by Paul Heyman to give him a solid beating and let all that aggression against his oppressors and an unforgiving crowd out, Roman Reigns took matters into his own hands. He went into business for himself, which is exactly what we always wanted. It’s satisfying, it’s cathartic.

Stay tuned. I know I will.

The Lady J Says

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