A host of things have been whirling around, creating something like a tornado of both pleasant and not in my personal life. I got to spend the weekend finding places for all of the random items strewn around my room, and in the process helped to find homes for all the random thoughts floating around inside my head. One of those thoughts was about this blog, and about wrestling in general. I was thinking about how much I look forward to Lucha Wednesdays (as I’ve taken to calling them) and not just because I get to spend my evening hanging out with the hilarious and lovely Sarah Slam. I actually enjoy the Lucha Underground product. For one hour every week, I’m just a fan, getting sucked into an entertaining program. How Sarah and I discuss the show afterwards on our podcast, The Facelock Feministas, is more analytical, but we work within the limitations of our knowledge. We speak as wrestling fans, not as bookers, and we also speak as women. Our opinions are colored by the experiences we have had in life.
This week, I tried (once again) to go into watching of Monday Night RAW with a new attitude. If you follow me on Twitter (which you should, as I am wont to do silly things like recording videos of myself lip-syncing to oldies music) you know that when I get excited about something, I cannot be stopped. I am likely to tweet curse words (sorry children, please unfollow Auntie J) and things in all-caps. But in those moments, you can be certain I am a happy wrestling fan. Whether or I am angry or thrilled, anything that instills that kind of extreme emotion in me as a fan is good.
The emotion I experienced most watching the opening segment between Shane McMahon and his father was nostalgia. I remember watching the younger McMahon when I was in middle school – doing crazy stunts and fighting with his dear old dad. I am not opposed to the story line currently running between them because I like Shane. I like his promos and he works well with Vince. I don’t imagine his match against The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 32 will be bad. Whatever the prodigal son and The Deadman cook up will be exciting to watch. As I’ve mentioned before, the real issue for me with this feud is the use of ‘Taker as The Chairman’s minion, fighting someone else’s fight. It makes no sense and has yet to be satisfactorily explained. Also, it has been years since we’ve seen Mr. McMahon and The Phenom interact, making it impossible to infer motives based on characterization. While this is a glaring issue (one that is epidemic throughout the WWE as a whole) it is not enough of a deterrent to keep me from smiling when Shane-O-Mac’s music hits, or when his promo is interrupted by the ominous sound of a gong.
Another thing that broke out a tremendous grin on my face was a ring occupied by former NXT champions Neville, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn. There is no combination of participants in this trio that creates a bad match – ever. Owens and The Man Gravity Forgot put on a clinic last night (complete with a phoenix splash off the second rope executed with ease and a moonsault off the top rope that stopped my heart) and after the Intercontinental Champion picked up the win in typical heel fashion, the UK high-flyer was saved from a nasty beating by none other than Shinsuke Nakamura’s NXT Dallas opponent, Sami Zayn. Seeing the potential of these three being on the main roster could make any dedicated fan proud. We have been waiting for a long time to see the next generation of top-tier talent, and this is it. Three different styles, all of them at the top of their game. My hope is that, as a unit, they can get themselves over in a big way, and then move on to elevating some other NXT talent, or people further down the card on the main roster. A feud between Neville and fellow-high flyer/current US Champion Kalisto could be a stunning program, though potentially dangerous. What I did take away from this match (and the aftermath) was that the “newer” guys are choosing to push the envelope by expanding their move set, and working in different styles. While I had been feeling lately that the WWE was shorter on high-flyers than they had been in the past, I forget that big guys like Kevin Owens, Luke Harper, and Ryback have been experimenting lately with more aerial moves. Assuming they are being trained safely and only attempting moves they have become comfortable with, it will certainly make for an exciting future!
I want to make sure I talk a bit about the women’s matches we seem to be setting up for ‘Mania. We already know for sure that Diva’s Champion Charlotte will be defending her title in a triple threat match again Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks. As a whole, this has been set up well. WWE successfully “broke up” the friendship of Charlotte and Becky (not without its misogynist shortcomings, of course AND I AM LOOKING AT YOU RIC FLAIR) over the past few months, and when Becky lost her title match against Charlotte at Royal Rumble back in January, Sasha injected herself into their story in a natural way. The Boss had her sights set on the title, and knew how to get an opportunity at it. When The Boss and The Irish Lasskicker ended their number one contender’s match last Monday with a double count-out, we all knew they were setting us up for a triple threat that would likely bring Dallas to its knees. Regardless of the outcome, these three women are going to set the bar for Wrestlemania 32. I can’t imagine them being out-done by anything else currently on the card in terms of sheer ability. They are elevating not only the level of match everyone should be having in WWE, they are also raising the profile of women’s wrestling for the masses. I am very proud of them.
On the other hand, there appears to be another women’s feud heading into the Showcase of the Immortals – something is brewing between Brie Bella and Lana. Last night, Lana made her way down to the ring after Brie lost to Summer Rae and hit the Total Divas star with one of her own finishers, a sitout face-buster. But why? Even the commentary team seems mystified, continually reminding the audience we have been given no reason for this feud whatsoever. There is no motivation, and (to my knowledge) Brie and Lana have never crossed paths in character before. Typically, I would take a moment to lament that WWE seems capable of only creating ONE fully-developed story for women, but they don’t seem to actually fully-develop ANY of their stories anymore, so maybe the fact that we got one whole women’s feud is a Mania Miracle.
In terms of wrestling that really had me enthralled, I would have to say I found myself mostly glued to the fight for the Tag Team Championship – that is, right up until the end. I thought the match itself was exciting and fun, and made me cheer Chris Jericho for once (amazing, really.) But it also seemed natural that The New Day, who have been a tag team for well over a year, would triumph over Y2AJ who have only been together for a half of a second. I am not such a fan of Jericho’s turn on AJ Styles after they lost the match, though. I’m tired of Y2J – I have been for a while. And to think that The Phenomenal One seems trapped in some sort of never-ending program with him is infuriating. Unlike Shane McMahon, Jericho does not bring me warm, fuzzy waves of nostalgia. He has shown up too often on WWE programming to ever really make me miss him. On his regular stops back in WWE from playing rockstar with his band, Fozzy, Jericho inevitably overstays his welcome. I cannot wait for him to leave us again, and for Styles to move on to what is my dream feud for him: Styles/Owens.
Someone on Twitter asked me my thoughts on the fact that WWE seems to be keeping Roman Reigns off of TV lately. The truth is, I didn’t notice. Two weeks in a row, the guy who Triple H is wrestling in the Mania main event – the last guy to hold the title – wasn’t on TV. And I forgot. I forgot I was supposed to care, or be worried, or tweet about it. Instead, I was focused on the beautiful promo work happening between Trips and my boy Dean Ambrose. Granted, I feel sure The Lunatic Fringe (who lost at Fastlane) is doomed to lose both this Saturday on the WWE Network’s program Fastlane against The Game for the title and in his No Holds Barred Street Fight against Brock Lesnar in Dallas. But watching him kill himself trying to so much damn fun. Before he gets his ass beat, he is surely going to be a massive thorn in the side of both Triple H and The Beast, and we are sure to see him verbally spar against Paul Heyman (which, lets face it, is a dream The Lady J has had before.) Is Ambrose’s feud with these men doing anything for his Shield brother? No. Is it possible that keeping Reigns off TV and giving the audience a chance to fall in love with Ambrose going to keep them from booing Reigns when he returns? Absolutely not. If anything, the fire against him will be hotter. If WWE has any sense they’ll either turn him heel, or at the very list, let Shane bury him when the brand (hopefully) splits. Roman Reigns is pretty, and arguably better in the ring than my Explicitly Violent favorite, but he’s no John Cena. He’s not even polarizing the way Cena is – the vast majority of the people showing up for RAW hate him. Vince can push back against the WWE Universe all he wants, we’re just too loud.
All told, I enjoyed my three hours of RAW last night. Would I rather it be shorter? Yes. Would I rather never have to look at Chris Jericho (or listen to a promo from Ryback) ever again? Yes. Was it fun? Absolutely.
Is it Lucha Underground level awesome?