Saying Goodbye to The G.O.A.T.

Raw Regurgitated, 2/9
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It's unclear if it’s intentionally bad or if they misunderstand the dynamic between them, but the whole “seeds of dissension” storyline is never going to work with Roman and Dean. The idea that two best friends would turn on each other is intriguing, to be sure, but not with them, or at least not in the way we are used to. Will-they-or-won't-they storylines of any stripe require (at least) two things: a pair of people we like and a reason for them *not* being able to be together. But there’s literally nothing stopping these two from turning on each other, outside of their friendship. And unlike pretty much every friendship in the history of wrestling on television and possibly television, they talk to each other about their feelings. When Roman or Dean are upset, uneasy or in trouble, they work through it like reasonable adults (or at least as much as you can be when you pretend to beat half naked people up for a living.) Coupling that Dean’s weird genre awareness and Roman’s categorical distrust of the McMahons, the idea that either of them would be fooled or led astray by Steph using Wrestling Psych 101 is probably not going to be one of their best ones.

What is the best idea ever, however, is All Brock Everything. After spending the last few weeks/months powering him down after his feud with the Undertaker -- who turns Brock into Silver Age Superman, tiny Superman hand clones included (it was a weird time) -- him hurling a table at someone's head after throwing his best friend at him is why he's America’s favorite manbearpig.

Though, as we’d find out later in the night -- which we'll get to now, because what format, Daniel Bryan? -- Dean Ambrose is playing (almost perfectly) the one character that might actually be able to beat a fully powered Beast: a dude too stupid to stay down. And, ultimately, that's where the dissension and jealousy can/should come from, inasmuch as it should exist in the first place. Trying to get them mad each other over who’s more popular, successful or tougher seems completely unaware that neither of them care about those things, and even if they did, they'd have the confidence in themselves and each other to get over it. But Roman realizing that Dean is just dumb as enough to stumble into his spot, and hoping he's dumb enough to let Roman push he and Brock off the mountain, like so much WrestleMania Seth Rollins? That could get interesting.

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***WARNING: YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE *** PLEASE KEEP YOUR EYES AND EARS INSIDE OF KAYFABE AT ALL TIMES ***

Those familiar with the Palace of Wisdom will likely be aware of my distaste for one Dolph Ziggler. It's not that I’d call him bad, or that I'd ever use overrated to describe anything ever, because I'm not the worst. But, for pretty much his entire career -- outside, of course, Team Rocket -- he's always stood somewhere between blah and blah squared for me as a fan.

This has been exacerbated by his Cool Big Brother “renaissance” cosplaying the worst parts of the 80s, which has managed to make him feel both too old for a legitimate up-and-comer push and too immature to start on the wily veteran path. A man without a country, his general ennui turned into existential crisis with a loss to the #SocialOutcasts that even the announcers had trouble articulating as anything other than the inevitable outcome of his state of being.

So, needless to say, when he and Kevin Owens started up their own version of the Neverending Story, I was worried. I, like all warm-blooded wrestling fans, love not just Kevin Owens, but the weird reverence the company has for his big goofy ass. Did this mean, on top of not getting a match with Lesnar, the chance to continue to work with Dean Ambrose, or even get a cup of tea with the WWE title, he’d been relegated to hanging out with the also-rans of the Cena/Orton era?

But, since he’s able to sell shirts -- and workout shorts -- regardless of how children feel about him, feeling this way about Kevin Owens is usually unfounded, and can turn one borderline hysterical. Kevin Steen is allowed to make Kevin Owens Kevin Steen with some stank on it, and because of this, he is largely immune from the kind of constraints usually tied to guys with his look/background. Just as much as he shouldn’t feel concerns over his place on the card, he likely doesn’t worry about losing his spot in the company, because while the money is great in the big time, he’s one of the few performers who was able to be essentially themselves while making the transition: if he were let go tomorrow, he’d be back headlining shows as Kevin Steen the minute his no-compete clause had lapsed.

Because of this, he also jibes perfectly with Dolph’s very manufactured facade. The dichotomy works on both a performative level -- as Dolph can (and has) work(ed) in a way that is significantly more realistic than when he works someone with the typical WWE Shock and Awe storyetelling style -- and a narrative level. Because, as I’ve said before, moreso than even in comics, the lack of an inner life on display for the performers requires them to “leave it all out there” essentially whenever they appear on TV, whether it be in the ring or on the mic.

Kevin Owens, who beyond essentially playing himself, has made his intentions and goals very clear, -- to feed his family, and prove “why he’s the champ” -- forcing Dolph to just want to beat him, instead of -- you guessed it -- showing off. It gives Ziggler purpose, motivation and more than enough reason to change the way he’s been doing things, even if it means bending (or, as was the case last night, flat-out breaking) the rules when the time calls for it.

Now if we could just do something about that hair.

***WARNING: YOU ARE NOW EXITING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE *** PLEASE ENJOY YOUR CHILI CHEESE PRETZEL DOG MILKSHAKE FROM SONIC ON THE WAY OUT ***

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While most of the match was fine, the “Spear” by Charlotte which set up its end game was indicative of exactly the kind of thing that Charlotte needs to avoid at all costs going forward: the feeling that she’s just going through the motions while waiting for THE NEXT CHALLENGER TO ARRIVE (or whatever they say in Street Fighter). It wasn’t catastrophic, but it was detrimental enough to notice, even in a match that never quite got to where it wanted to go in the first place. The kind of physical commitment to your signature moves to which I am referring is, of course, hard during normal circumstances. But it’s nigh impossible when at least half of your gimmick is centered around a kind of aristocratic aloofness which can lead to you to have to believably lose to and beat every performer in your division. It’s a difficult character, perhaps the hardest to consistently pull off, especially without coming off as either uninterestingly dominant or too weak for anyone to muster much feeling over getting your comeuppance when things that matter are at stake. But the ability to discern between being able to “turn it on” -- and make the Spear look as good as it can, to build towards the Figure-8 finish -- and “get by” -- by kind of arm tackling/gently cuddling Alicia on the way to the mat -- is something Charlotte’s going to need to learn better if she’s going to reach her remarkable potential, and making one of wrestling’s simplest to execute (and most difficult to master) moves look good. Or, just get rid of the stupid, awful, no good, horrible thing in the first place. Roman Reigns has already ruined it for everyone else, so why continue to spear a dead horse?

Your correspondent is no fan of this iteration of Jericho. But he’s starting to incorporate just enough of his Best in the World at What I Do run to counteract the Cool Dad Jericho infestation. That, along with the white-hot streak of AWESOMEness that the Miz is currently riding and the silent-but-deadly (LULZ) presence of AJ Styles made this into easily the best thing that any of these three have done on American television since before Hillary declared for the 2016 presidential campaign.

While it would be unfair for me to speculate on what happens on last week’s Smackdown, as I have not watched it, the Raw introduction of strapless Ryback has almost instantly made him into someone more interesting visually, if not necessarily any better. Instead of looking like the long-lost Steiner brother in his Day-Glo singlet, he can now accentuate his considerable physique without requiring fans to wear sunglasses to look at him. And beyond the color scheme, he just looks *bigger* -- if that were even possible -- without looking looking like The Thing. For the first time in his career, Ryback looks like he’s going somewhere other than the van in the parking lot where he and RVD’s “airbrush guy” keeps his home office.

It’s been said a thousand times in a thousand different places -- including here on Raw Regurgitated -- but Titus O’Neill needs to figure out how to build a time machine, so he can bring he and his family back to the 80s and achieve his alternate-timeline destiny of becoming a millionaire World’s Champion. Unless he’s okay with “lost to Adam Rose” on his resume for the rest of his natural life.

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If you could bottle whatever Kalisto does to a crowd when he gets the hot tag, you’d probably be able to take over the world. If you bottled whatever Sin Cara does to a crowd before Kalisto gets the hot tag, you’d probably have people looking at you weird for bottling so much boring shit. God, it’s like watching boring paint dry. Just bring in the tiny man, so he can get his face (double) kicked in by the Mexico’s greatest export and the children can dance to their heart’s song.

There’s always a price to pay, but “being forced to watch Charlotte hold Brie’s hand through a meaningless title match” is TOTALLY WORTH getting to see Naomi cold cock Sasha so hard it almost knocked me out of my shoes. Naomi has been somewhere between middle step child and fourth outfielder on the relevance scale since Charlotte, Becky and Sasha found their way to the main roster. This, despite being really the only performer on the main roster with a motivation that matches theirs in terms of both urgency and legitimacy: Nikki was a champ trying to protect her turf, while Brie and Alicia, both relatively talented performers, were never on her level/trajectory, and, just being honest, people like Nattie and Tamina have long ago moved past the point where they can truthfully say that they’re being held back from the full potential. Being the most obvious casualty of the “Divas’ Revolution” means she’s still a casualty, however. But it’s also now provided her -- presuming this isn’t some long-way-around-to-a-swerve -- with an angle to elevate herself from the almost-there’s to a have-a-chancer. Which, at this point, is all she can ask for, outside of maybe not having to use her butt as a fist.

Good God, Mark Henry joining the New Day is pretty much everything I could have ever wanted out of a wrestling match. That this then ended with the Dudley Boys re-upping their heel memberships was just me dying and going to wrestling fan heaven. Thankfully, nothing bad or sad would happen for the rest of the night to make me not as happy as I was.

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Oh. Oh god:

There are certainly things that could be said about this speech, and how we've seen a few too many over the years. But, in an industry that some of us only know by the trail of the dead, watching a guy walk out of the ring for the last time with his own two feet, to embrace his family , friends and the people he works with, while his hometown fills the arena with all of bits of him that he gave to become transcendently famous seems like it speaks for itself.

Thanks, Mr. Danielson. 


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