Survivor Series Thoughts

Survivor Series

To say the least, there’s been mixed things said about Survivor Series.  Some people say it’s the best ppv in several years.  Other people said it was a stain.  Here’s my quick thoughts. Quick because I have been watching wrestling since I woke up at 6 this morning and I’m still not done:

Preshow

Gulak, Nese, Daivari vs Swann, TJP, Dar:  Really loved this match.  They let them off their leash a little bit and got to show a TON of personality, especially TJP.  I already liked him but his facial expressions and body language were amazing in this one.  I wish the “heel/face” lines weren’t so stark though.  Nese and Gulak are just as good as anyone out there and they need to give them that chance.

Harper vs Kane: I really didn’t care about this whatsoever.  Put Harper not with other big dudes so he can show out.

Main Show

Women’s Survivor Series Match: Holy shit they’re finally taking the women seriously. That double suplex spot with Nia was awesome to see in a women’s match.  I feel like they were running out of time and Alexa (your #1 contender on SD) shouldn’t have been so easy to pin with a big boot. Otherwise ecstatic with how this went.  Also the idea that Charlotte “paid” Nattie to take out Nikki could set up an awesome feud shades of Rikishi and Stone Cold!

 

Sami vs Miz: While Sami Zayn is my favorite and I love Miz, this one didn’t invest me like I had hoped.  It was well done and the finish was pretty brilliant to piss off the hometown crowd but I was really hoping Sami would take it home to RAW

 

Kendrick vs Kalisto: There was a time I thought Kalisto was the next big thing.  Luckily he got to show that side of him again which was nice.  But interfering with this match by bringing in Baron Corbin for a feud no one wanted to see continue takes away from the meaningfulness of this Cruiserweight match.  I want the cruiserweights to tie in to the main story lines, but it’s not quite ready for that yet.  Also, it just makes more sense to have the Cruiserweights on Smackdown for 205 Live.  You’re telling me you’re going to take the youngest and smallest guys and make them travel the most and work them into the ground? Seems like a recipe for disaster.

 

Tag Survivor Series Match: Cesaro finally got some love and Breezango’s reaction to being eliminated was fantastic. I’m glad they made this a showcase for everyone else and not just New Day’s antics.

 

Men’s Survivor Series Match: Even though it was longer than some network specials, I really liked this.  The continuity of storylines (You still owe me 15000 dollars!), Kev’s bromance with y2j, Dean hating AJ, Shane almost killing himself (and Roman), and the Shield reunion. It all worked.  It fit together. And it made sense for the guy with his own faction to win.  Now, I never pick Bray for anything, but I get what they were doing.  Randy Orton is also a god.  He’s so freaking smooth at EVERYTHING.  2 of the best RKO’s of all time=Seth and Randy.

 

Goldberg vs Lesnar: OK, this is the one most people either loved or hated.  I’m just going to say I was surprised.  Word in the news circles is that Brock asked for a longer program and requested they have a blowoff match at Mania.  It also gives Goldberg time to actually train so he won’t be winded in 20 seconds.  Is it ridiculous that Goldberg beat Lesnar in 2 minutes? Fuck yes it is.  But remember Vince McMahons favorite thing is to shove people in a pool.  Isn’t that how you felt at the end of this?  I’d like to see where this goes before I judge if this match was terrible. 

 

Why NXT Takeover Toronto is Proof NXT isn't Dead

I’m going to admit something: I was not excited for this Takeover.  Weekly NXT hadn’t been holding my attention whatsoever the past month or so.  I don’t know if it was just the loss of literally everyone I loved in NXT going to the main roster, the injuries plaguing the tag team classic, or if I’m just burnt out with 2 pay-per-views a month, the CWC, and all the indie stuff I’ve been trying to watch.  Not to mention, I spent the weekend attending an amazing X16 tournament and had 0 time to watch any WWE stuff (PS: If you want our thoughts on the tournament, listen to the last three episodes of Stupid and Delicious found on the episode tab above!).  I have the day off from work and have 1 major mission before holiday insanity starts: catch up on WWE.  I begrudgingly woke up this morning, caught up on the weekly episodes and started NXT: Takeover Toronto.

Then I was reminded why NXT is so great.  I was blown away yet again.  The opener Bobby Roode vs Tye Dillinger was the match I had the least interest in.  By the end of their entrances, I was intrigued. By the end of the match, I was sold. This was a great story told in a ring by two hometown boys in front of a rowdy crowd.  1 match was all it took.  Bobby Roode might quickly be becoming the best thing in NXT.  Between the choir, the attitude, and the in ring performance (he isn’t using the pump handle slam anymore so quit bitching), he’s a total package heel like Kevin Owens.    Tye Dillinger finally showed why he hasn’t been released yet.  I was pulling for a guy I have actively wished was off my television.  The perfect 10 gimmick bled onward throughout the night every time a ref counted.  The only word I can use to describe this match properly: Glorious!

The next match, despite being marred by a lifesize version of a toy that I’m not sure why exists, was the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. I’ve found myself really liking TM61 since their debut, and not really caring about the Authors of Pain.  But I have to say, another great match.  A story was told to lead to the Authors of Pain winning and the evil coaching ways of Paul Ellering are adding to the mystique rather than taking away from it.  TM61 goes hard.  They’re a wonderful blend of technical and high flying and are a blast to watch.  I also loved a few weeks ago they got to slip in their old tag name in a promo.  Anyway, with some shenanigans, the Authors of Pain come up with the win, pretty deservedly so. I could see them becoming something of a powerhouse team to build the story of any up and coming tag team.  TM61 is proof that tag team divisions aren’t a thing of the past.  The only thing I can even slightly complain about is Cody not being present to present the trophy. However, maybe he didn’t wish to be.

Now, that leads us to the match that stole the show.  The Revival vs DIY two out of three falls match was an absolute clinic on how to construct a match.  It was proof of wrestling as an artful form of drama. It was a refreshing reminder that yes: WWE can still suck you in and make you emotionally and viscerally feel with a proper match.  Gargano Ciampa have been killing it since going to the “big leagues” and this match cemented them as in the conversation for best tag team going on TV right now.  I don’t want to do super crazy details, but if you skip this Takeover at least watch this match.

Next we had Asuka vs Mickie and to my surprise: It went better than expected.  I’m not sure why Mickie had a you still got it chant from a smarky crowd (anyone who has seen her at an indie show knows she could still go) but other than that the match was great. Asuka and Mickie had a playfulness I didn’t expect and it really helped the match feel important even though Asuka retained.

Finally we get to Samoa Joe vs Shinsuke Nakamura.  This match led me to 1 question and 1 question alone: Why the hell are these guys not on the main roster?  I’ll admit, during the Joe Balor feud: I got tired of it. As amazing as both these guys were, It just felt like a holding pattern.  Nakamura and Joe from the build up to the matches has felt…bigger. More Epic. A true clash of countries.  And it’s all happening on a big stage.  From the entrance (joe’s solitary march with one spotlight, shinsuke’s concert with an army of violinsts) to every big spot in the match: it felt like the world was actually on the line. When’s the last time you felt that on main roster?

It’s not just the talent and the matches though, it’s a thought process. Let’s compare the two main heel announcers in WWE.

Corey Graves: Pokes fun at tom, references popular culture, bridges shows for jokes, makes it feel like 1 universe, self deprecating humor, pulls for the heels but never weakens the face after the match, always still putting them over while wishing it had gone the other way.

JBL: Yells in a texas accent, references historical events, only picks on the people sitting next to him, inconsistent with who he likes (i.e.: That’s why they call him big match john!), repetitive.

When a match is announced, it’s not awkward. The general manager comes out either in a live setting or films a promo in his office.  He always has a reason and it never seems like “eh we have nothing to do with you guys tonight. Why don’t you fight?” (I love Mick Foley, but he’s done this since starting on RAW). 

So basically this blog is an apology.  NXT, unless you change your method of telling a story or how you run things, I’ll never doubt you again.

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Rock and Roll Tim."

 

Tl;dr version:

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Cruiserweight Classic might just be...well..classic.

I get it.  You’re a wrestling fan.  Maybe you’re new to the Universe, maybe you remember the days of Bruno Sammartino.  Maybe you’re someone who watched in the Monday Night Wars and Attitude Era.  Maybe you’re just someone who is cautiously amused by this athletic soap opera that entertains the world.  Each week, there seems to be a whirlwind of things to watch.  Even if you just partake in WWE programming, you have NXT (1 hour), RAW (3 hours), Smackdown (2 hours), sometimes a pay-per-view (3+ hours), and any other miscellaneous content you want to watch from the network.  For some of you more hardcore folks, throw in a live show (8 hours counting travel for me this past weekend), a PWG or two (3 hours), a NJPW show (4 hours +), that’s not even to mention all the local indie matches you could check out, Lucha Underground, AAA, or even the dumpster fire of TNA.  To be honest, there’s a ton of choices! It’s established, it has high quality standards, and it is easily accessible.  Flip on your cable box, or use a website and you can watch all the things I listed and more.  So with so much time needed to just consume the wrestling that is already being produced, why should you be excited about this Cruiserweight Classic thing?  Isn’t it just guys who didn’t make the cut in WWE vying for attention?  Aren’t they all just going to be Daniel Bryan or Rey Mysterio ripoffs?  Won’t I have to go out of my way to get the network for this?  From the way things are looking, the CWC is about to be the most interesting thing WWE has been a part of since, well, ever.  Let look at some reasons shall we?

1.       It all starts with the talent.  The list of 30 competitors is varied in style and training from all over the world.  Whatever style you like: Japanese, American, Lucha, or European they all have several representatives.  Not 1 guy just to represent, but several.  You have grapplers, high flyers, brawlers, comedy, and just straight up ass kickers.  You have guys who have been on the indie scene for years, and guys who are a little bit fresher.  There is literally something for everyone between these 30 guys.  

2.       The potential for all-time great matches. There are guys who have never faced each other in this tournament. There are guys who have gone toe to toe in the squared circle who knows how many times.  But if you put guys of this caliber together, magic happens.  For example, let’s look at my two favorite competitors in this: Zack Sabre Jr and Cedric Alexander.  They went up against each other in a National Guard Armory in Hickory NC (courtesy of PWX, thanks Brian).  I was lucky enough to be there live and words can’t describe how good it was.  There wasn’t a crazy spot off a ladder, it wasn’t a hardcore match, it wasn’t some crazy refreshing ending to a story.  It was two of the best in the world in the same place and putting on a show.  The possibility is there for them to meet again in this tournament.  I’m already fantasy booking this tournament in my head.

3.       WWE isn’t afraid of discussing the indies on the network.  Some of these guys have long histories with pre-established stories.   Many of them qualified at indie events.  Let me repeat that: WWE allowed people to qualify for an event of theirs at 4 separate indie shows.  This is revolutionary.  Imagine if you will a world where WWE and the indies aren’t totally separate universes.  Where they facilitate and assist one another with one solitary idea in mind: entertain the fans.  I know some purists will say WWE was the death of the territories and they’ll never forgive them but look: Vince will be gone someday.  They have the biggest budget and highest production value.  If a mutually beneficial relationship can be acquired, all that will mean is more great matches for us to watch.

4.       The announced commentary team is Daniel Bryan and Mauro Ranallo.  In the past few months, Mauro Ranallo has become a refreshing commentary alternative on Smackdown.  Even through usually worse matches (which will have to change after the draft), Mauro’s delivery just raises the in-ring work to an excitement level that hasn’t really been around since the days of JR in WWE.  Then, add in you have not only a former WWE champion, but a guy who travelled the indies for 10 years, being THE draw.  Being THE guy people came to see based solely on his ring work.  He knows what these guys go through, he knows the work inside and out, and I personally can’t wait to see how great this commentary team can be.

5.       The stories that could be told.  Tournaments are natural story vehicles.  It’s part of why my podcast mates and I enjoy them so much.  Think about March Madness every year.  Basketball is completely unscripted but how many stories weave its way naturally into the commentary of NCAA basketball each and every year?  WWE knows ahead of time what is going to happen and can prepare.  I expect the video package team to be heavily involved and when have they ever done a bad job? 

6.       To see where it all leads.  I want to see if this tournament reaches casual fans or just hardcore smarks.  I want to see if the exposure for some of these guys leads to bigger and better things (I’d love to see Cedric Alexander vs. Sami Zayn).  I want to see if this can revolutionize the way things are done in the world of professional wrestling.  I think it just might.

Those are my 6 main reasons.  What are your reasons to be excited about the CWC?  Let us know on Twitter or anywhere else you can find us!

-Oz

GUMMY BEARS ARE STUPID AND DELICIOUS

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