WWE Raw: July 21, 2014 (Post-Battleground)
July 23, 2014 12:54 PM - Season 22, Episode 29 - Subscribe

Triple H announces who will face John Cena at SummerSlam.
posted by Etrigan (44 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
AAAH! You got this to go through! Thanks for your persistence, Etrigan! So I guess we can use this one weekly Raw thread to discuss Raw, Smackdown, and associated PPVs?


I'm glad Paige turned heel, as I think this will really up her game and finally get the feud with AJ going. The frenemy thing was getting boring, and I'm excited to see a Divas feud that doesn't tie into the reality show somehow.

Steph being arrested was an interesting twist. I derived more entertainment from it than I should have. HHH's muttering to the cops about their cars "Hybrids? You probably feel real proud of yourselves.." was gold.

Could we possibly have a second incarnation of the Nation of Domination? If so, Rusev needs to be their first target.

Lesnar's appearance was unsurprising, but it seemed to me that (most of) the audience didn't know what to do...root for Lesnar or Cena. How will that affect the SummerSlam match?

My beloved Alberto Del Rio didn't appear, so that's an automatic deduction in my book.
posted by kimberussell at 6:36 PM on July 23, 2014

I think our best bet is to have either a monthly post-PPV Raw FanFare thread or a monthly go-home Raw FanFare thread and use it for all things WWE until the next one.


I'm probably going to link every Masked Man column from Grantland at some point, because he's fucking awesome, and here's his take on why Paul Heyman is wrestling's biggest heel -- and possibly its biggest star, featuring a breakdown of why his monologue deserved to be the end of Raw. In particular, he points out how Heyman uses Lesnar's defeat of the Undertaker (the Grand Old Man of WWE for a decade) making him a true heel rather than just a dude that the smarks like to boo.

And as I said in the other thread, "I can only hope that they do some kind of insane Boondock Saints thing where Triple H comes to rue letting Lesnar loose on the title scene." Use Lesnar's limited schedule as a feature rather than a bug -- he shows up only on PPVs to defend his belt and refuses to participate on Raw or Smackdown, leaving Heyman to talk about how HIS CLIENT BRRROCK LLLESNARRR will dominate [insert name here], and uses his contractual acumen to brush off The Authority's insistence that more title defenses would be Best For Business.

Ambrose is getting awesomer and awesomer, but I'm upset that he had to bury Cesaro, who could have easily used Lesnar to make a face turn and get some heat, but instead appears to have just been cut loose to go be a midcard heel.

Steph's arrest and Triple H's "It's FAMILY... oh, wait, there's business to be done..." shtick was well done, and I'm glad they didn't go too broad-comedy with it.

I think a full-on Paige heel turn is what will make me finally buy into her. The doe-eyed ingenue just wasn't working for me.
posted by Etrigan at 7:26 PM on July 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed this episode. there was so much. And I thank you Etrigan for getting this all through.

A few thoughts:
I wish Cesaro could be the affable Swiss dude he really is. I think he makes a terrible heel. Like wouldn't it be nice to have him be a good guy who is there for his friends, etc. I don't mean to make him a caricature, like Seamus, but I just don't think this heel stuff suits him. He seems phony to me.

AJ/Paige. I thought it was great. They gave it enough time, I like AJ and Paige, and think it will be easier for Paige to be a heel. Like face goth girl is too many layers to really work.

Dolph Ziggler & Zack Ryder! that was so awesome - to have them both victorious. Like why not let Zack Ryder and Fandango have a feud over a girl (or two)? Since they have 3 hours to fill, you would think more mid card stories would make sense. I hope this happens.

I actually hate all this police and arrest stuff, but I think thats just me.

I thought it was a great episode. RE one post a month/a week. I would imagine that 1 post a week would be more in keeping with how fanfare works. But I guess we should ask the mods which they would prefer or see what someone does.
posted by goneill at 9:02 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I wish Cesaro could be the affable Swiss dude he really is.

I wish the announcers would start making a bigger deal out of his strength. Mark Henry has said that Cesaro is the legit strongest worker in WWE right now, and he has at least one move that is just fucking astonishing in every long match he's been in this year (this one's old, but good gods just imagine how fucking strong that is; he pulled a deadlift superplex at one of the recent PPVs where the other guy was doing nothing to assist). I guess the problem is that similar moves happen all the time with the other wrestler helping, so when the one guy is just legit manhandling the other, it doesn't look as powerful as it is.
posted by Etrigan at 9:26 AM on July 24, 2014

I feel like everyone is ALWAYS talking about how strong Cesaro is, but wrestling is a ballet - not a weight lifting contest. Your partner is supposed to help. I would never notice how much stronger he is than anyone else - it is just not part of what I see when I watch wrestling, and for me the point is the story and the drama and the ballet. I think being a very small person all of these moves, except the diving ones, seem unfathomable and so I can't really see or imagine the differences that other people see.

I really like Cesaro, but his character right now seems like a square peg in a round hole.
posted by goneill at 1:11 PM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

(i'm just really excited to be typing here about wrestling!)
posted by goneill at 1:12 PM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I thought hyping Cesaro's pure strength was the whole point of his winning the Andre The Giant rumble a few months ago.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:22 AM on July 25, 2014

Yeah it sucks that Cesaro was pretty much the only guy they could put with Heyman for the last couple of months, but I'm cautiously optimistic about where he could be going. I would love to see him supplant Kane as the Authority's muscle/enforcer which I think would be a good for him right now plus give him a natural feud when they decide to turn him face.

Barring that, though, I think it might make sense for him to feud with the new Nation given his recent history with Kofi. An extended program with Big E or even Mark Henry could be really awesome.
posted by sporkwort at 12:34 PM on July 26, 2014

My Smackdown thoughts:

Del Rio/Reigns was a great bout. I know, I'm biased. I knew Reigns would go over, but I liked the pacing. Unfortunately, Alberto looks like he's going to be a jobber to the A-list stars now.

Gold/Stardust promo: Cody Rhodes' head "appearing" where the plasma ball was on the table scared the bejeezus out of me for some reason. Those promos are getting better and better and I'm starting to care about whatever key they're looking for.

I was waiting for Xavier to come out and recruit R-Truth for the new faction.

I'd LOVE for them to put Paige with Heyman and make her the first Heyman gal. (The pictures he posts on the HeymanHustle twitter account notwithstanding.) That would add even more heat to her feud with AJ.
posted by kimberussell at 9:57 AM on July 28, 2014

Raw last night... (This is supposed to go here, right? Because we're tiptoeing around trying not to bother people with wrestling posts even though every other episodic TV show has weekly posts?)

...was better than I expected. A few things happened that I didn't quite get, but I'm willing to wait and see where the storylines go.

I knew it would open with Cena's rebuttal to Heyman. What I didn't know was that his rebuttal would be decent! Don't get me wrong, I still hate Cena with the fire of a thousand hi-vis green suns, but those lines he delivered with a cracking voice about Lesnar not having passion and that being the difference were actually pretty good.

I was and still am a little confused about Cesaro getting involved, but I love watching him wrestle so I'm willing to wait and see where this goes. Also, why don't more wrestlers talk shit about their opponents by dissing their ability to actually wrestle? I like the idea of calling out your opponent for sucking at the thing you're there to do.

Paige and AJ were the second segment of the night! Between this and Steph- Brie, two Divas angles are getting significant TV time and they aren't stupid and sexist for the most part and I loooooove it. I can't quite figure out Paige's angle, but it's another case where I'm interested to see how it plays out.

I love Dolph Ziggler so much.

I know I am supposed to hate the Miz but the Moneymaker bit cracks me up. I am a sucker for egotistical heels.

Bo Dallas' character got another layer last night and I am excite.

Zeb is terrible as a face and I hate everything about this blind patriotism angle.

Stephanie is the best actor in WWE, bar none.
posted by misskaz at 8:11 AM on July 29, 2014

(This is supposed to go here, right? Because we're tiptoeing around trying not to bother people with wrestling posts even though every other episodic TV show has weekly posts?)

I share your frustration, but no other episodic TV show does 52 shows a year, and there's really only a couple dozen people who typically will comment over the course of a month on a wrestling-related FPP. I personally don't see the point of weekly posts unless we're hitting triple digits of comments on the monthly versions.

Cena takes yet another page out of the Hulkbook by wrestling above his station when it's called for -- Hogan wrestled entirely differently whenever he was in Japan, even during his Hulkamania days.

I was and still am a little confused about Cesaro getting involved, but I love watching him wrestle so I'm willing to wait and see where this goes.

Seriously, they break up Cesaro and Heyman off-screen for no reason last week, and then he comes back to defend him this week, and they acknowledge the break-up anyway? WTF, WWE? What happened to the historical revisionism of years past, when we could just ignore stuff like that?

Paige and AJ are selling me, I admit. But I'm a sucker for tweener-on-tweener violence.

The one thing I hate about Chris Jericho is the consistently gendered attacks on Stephanie. I get it, he's riding that gimmick. But the "trashbag ho" catchphrase could be forgotten without anyone really missing it. Just bring him out and harp on the jailbird stuff without making it a commentary on her looks and her sex. There is, at least, some karmic justice to his getting wiped out with the MITB briefcase. Also, I love that everyone gives him shit for being a part-timer.

I love Dolph Ziggler so much.

He is so fucking over. The front office apparently thinks he's too much of an injury risk to really push. Apparently, the idea that you can push a guy and then not work him so hard he gets hurt is totally fucking beyond them.

You know what drives me nuts at this point? "When I say Ooh, y'all say So!" We know your call-and-response, Jimmy and/or Jey. The prompt is unnecessary and desperate.

I am in favor of beatdowns like Orton dealt on Reigns, but I dislike when they clearly have one line written for them and repeat it ad nauseam, and that's why Orton will always be a second-tier heel.

They're going to show an entire WrestleMania on network TV? That is not a thing I ever thought I would see.

You know how I know that Dean Ambrose is hella over? They knew that they actually had to say why he wasn't there.
posted by Etrigan at 11:25 AM on July 29, 2014

The one thing I hate about Chris Jericho is the consistently gendered attacks on Stephanie. I get it, he's riding that gimmick. But the "trashbag ho" catchphrase could be forgotten without anyone really missing it. Just bring him out and harp on the jailbird stuff without making it a commentary on her looks and her sex.

Ugh, yes. I know relatively little about Jericho's past. When he came out, my SO marked the FUCK out (he's a big Y2J fan) and was excitedly telling me that Jericho always hated Stephanie and 'this is gonna be good.' And it started out good, but then he said this catchphrase and I was pretty bummed. I'm hoping that was just a single shoutout for all the Jericho marks and they'll step back from that.
posted by misskaz at 12:31 PM on July 29, 2014

Etrigan did they tell you they'd rather 1 a month? Because I think they want to make fanfare a place for people to talk about specific shows - a place where you can go back and see what people wrote about specific episodes of television shows. I know that you think that it is more helpful for wrestling on fanfare that we do one post a month, and that you have shepherded us this far, but the one per month is really not in keeping with the mission of the site, and I think that unless a moderator has asked us to do it this way we really shouldn't deviate from the format that they have set up.
posted by goneill at 1:43 PM on July 29, 2014

Steph really inherited her old man's growl, didn't she? I stopped watching WWE years ago because I got tired of all McMahon, all the time. But now that it's just Steph I'm okay with it. She plays that role well, and I am a sucker for seeing the tiny married-life PDAs between her and HHH.

I want to know why they decided to end Bo's streak on a regular ol' Monday night against a C-lister. I wanted it to go 21-0 and have Lesnar come out and just whomp him in 30 seconds. R-Truth?

I loved the trashbag ho line years ago. Last night I smiled when he said it, but then it made me really uncomfortable. Maturity, I guess.

For a few moments I thought Xavier & Co were scouting Ryback and/or Axel for their team of underdogs. I have an irrational dislike for Axel because he makes me feel so old. Funny enough, I don't feel old when I see Bray, Bo, Orton or Natalya. Maybe it's because Curt Hennig is gone and in my head he's immortalized as a youngish Mr. Perfect, but I've seen the others' fathers age.

Misskaz: I, too, am reluctantly falling for the Moneymaker gimmick. Maybe it's because I "grew up" with Shawn Michaels and his similar arrogance.

Did they book a Reigns/Orton a SummerSlam match or did I mishear?

Finally, I liked the vintage movie poster theme for the SummerSlam promos.
posted by kimberussell at 4:32 PM on July 29, 2014

Etrigan did they tell you they'd rather 1 a month?

Not at all. I have no objection to anyone making a weekly Raw post. I don't consider myself the arbiter of MeFi wrestling coverage at all. My proposing a one-post-per-month model was just to make it more obvious where to discuss PPVs, other shows (including WWE Network stuff), and off-screen developments (e.g., CM Punk officially retired stories). If popular opinion is more to a weekly post, go for it.
posted by Etrigan at 5:19 PM on July 29, 2014

I don't have a strong preference between weekly versus monthly posts, as long as everybody is one the same page and the discussion doesn't get too fragmented to follow, but I do think PPVs should get their own posts. It makes sense from a discussion perspective. I don't think WrestleMania/SummerSlam/Royal Rumble discussions should be folded into either weekly or monthly Raw-centric threads. If it occurs to me to make a SummerSlam post, I will. I definitely would (and will) come looking for a preexisting one.

And partly that's because some of us are PPV watchers primarily. I love wrestling but I'm not giving it three hours a week, let alone all the other shows. I record Raw, read the recaps, decide which segments to watch, and fast forward. This week's episode was a good example. I turned on the television when I got home and saw Damien Sandow walking to the ring in a cheap astronaut costume. That nonsense is why my television has a fast forward button.

As for weighing the intended format of FanFare...? I don't see a lot of consistency being exercised on that front, so I could care less. When FanFare is less of a Wild West maybe it will make sense to reassess, but until then let's just do whatever works for us.
posted by cribcage at 7:38 PM on July 30, 2014

I just watched the new episode last night. I loved the really weird and awkward Cesaro that hugged Heyman. That is the character I want, slightly goofy, and kind of awww shucks. I am sure I am giving everyone (except Heyman and Cesaro) too much credit, but I thought it was kind of thoughtful in that in this strange world he still considers Heyman a 'friend' a concept that doesn't have any weight these days in wrestling. I miss people having buddies who helped them out! Obviously this type of character, an awkward but cool friend to everyman, has to be a face, but I think there is a place for it, and I think Cesaro is the person for it.

I can't really remember any other thougths I had - maybe I should have paid more attention to the tv and less to my kitten...

Hugs all around no matter what system we use!
posted by goneill at 5:11 AM on July 31, 2014

Found this through the recent Paul Heyman post on the blue. Despite saying that I dislike the current Cena character in that thread, I was very impressed by him on RAW this week. Even more-so in his match than his promo, which was fine and full of passion, but I struggle to believe the "John Cena is an underdog who will get his ass kicked but out of sheer will can come out on top" schtick after all these years (not to mention 15 titles).

On one hand, it's obnoxious that Cole has to point out "Cena's really pulling out the whole playbook against Cesaro to prove he can wrestle." It would be great if Cena pulled out the whole playbook, and even added new plays, more regularly so that this was the norm and not a sign that for once he was really trying.

On the other hand, it was one of the better Cena matches I can remember seeing in a while, so I want to give him credit that he actually has it in him.


I liked Paige more on NXT than I have on RAW, though this is becoming a trend for basically everyone who moves from NXT to the big time aside from Rusev. Did everyone here see Paige v Natalya on NXT earlier this year? Absolutely one of my favorite matches of the year. It's a shame that so much of (all of) the Divas' time on RAW is spent talking/skipping/slapping/kissing when many of them have really quality wrestling ability. I guess the WWE is giving the fans what they want? Not sure anymore if I'm way far out in left field in terms of what I'd rather see, or if the WWE is missing their fans' desires.


I feel like this post is already super long, so I'll wait till after next RAW or something before I go on any further.
posted by jermsplan at 12:05 PM on July 31, 2014

I turned on the television when I got home and saw Damien Sandow walking to the ring in a cheap astronaut costume. That nonsense is why my television has a fast forward button.

What? Noooooo I love Sandow! I mean, sometimes I wish they were giving him more to work with but talk about doing a bad job (comic relief non-matches) well. I actually look forward to seeing what gimmick he's gonna come out with each week. As long as it's not related to those awkward Twisted Tea or Sonic product placement spots they've been doing.

I think it would be a good idea to do the PPVs in separate threads. Despite my snark, I don't actually care too much about whether we do a new Raw thread (with space to also talk about Main Event and Smackdown should people care to) each week or not. I could be convinced either way - on one hand, 52 episodes is a lot; on the other hand, it does make it hard for people to find the proper thread to post in and goes against the established pattern of use. And look at us! We've got 18 comments and counting here, while there are PLENTY of TV shows in FanFare with, like, 2.
posted by misskaz at 1:55 PM on July 31, 2014

I dunno, I don't mind comic relief. One of my all-time favorite matches was just a random match from one of the weekend syndicated shows: Earthquake versus Tugboat. It was awesome. But that was back in the day when the whole card was comic relief to some extent. The Ultimate Warrior held the title, IRS was a tag champion, etc. When the show transitioned over the course of an hour from Repo Man to Hulk Hogan, you didn't feel like it was shifting gears so jarringly.

That changed when kayfabe broke down. Now you have serious themes, but you still have the Gobbledy Gooker. It doesn't always work for me. I have trouble switching from Paul Heyman shouting at John Cena, to Damien Sandow or the Great Khali kissing people or whatever, back to the Shield storming in to close the show on a beatdown. I get that it's a variety show, the transitions just seem too far-swung for me. Plus, now they're producing so many hours a week. Pixar does a great job of producing singular works for varied audiences, but they're not cranking out as much product.
posted by cribcage at 2:31 PM on July 31, 2014

That's what keeps me from watching Raw and just reading the recaps instead. With three hours, and so many people on the roster, there's just so much filler and wasted time instead of decent storylines and compelling motivation. Having one team writing the whole show, week in and out, is just not working, resulting in tired situations and over-reliance on the same gimmick.* Obviously, in the midst of budget cuts and all, they aren't going to suddenly hire more writers, but I feel that's honestly what they should do. Have a group of writers, with each writer in charge of a couple characters, and they work with the wrestlers to develop a solid character book. For matches, they work with the writer for the other character, and come up with something decent.

While that might be too unwieldy, I'd also be up for something like comic book writing, where one team takes on a set of characters for a limited time and writes their stories. Obviously, it would be much more short term than someone writing a comic book, but if there were a couple people who could focus their time on *just* the apparently reforming NoD, and not having to figure out what to do with Adam Rose and Fandango (the answer to that being, nothing, seriously, repackage both of them, because Fandango is tired, and Adam Rose's character is too heelish to be a fun party guy), we'd get better stories. Obviously, things still have to run through McMahon, but it would be nice if, when the scripts come in, they have someone who says, wait, no, we've got a surprise roll-up between Del Rio and Seamus, please change the ending for Rollins-Ambrose.

So much time, so many decent characters, but the last month or so, it's just been treading water. The Shield breakup should have been the defining storyline of the summer, with the various members slowly figuring out how to win, then dominate, even without that damned numbers game. Instead, they're locked into feuds that have just gotten repetitive.

*Another distraction/roll-up ending? Must be the second week of the month.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:32 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have a group of writers, with each writer in charge of a couple characters

What's interesting about this idea, problems aside, is that if writers were given more direct means to compete for screen time, it could inspire better use for the half of the roster that's basically just overpaid jobbers. What could happen with Dolph Ziggler or Kofi Kingston if you actually made some writer responsible for them and said, "Here's your guy. He is how you'll get screen time."

repackage both of them

For a company being (onscreen) led by the former "Connecticut Blueblood," it's astounding how much WWE seems to resist repackaging characters. Dolph Ziggler is an amazing talent. He also premiered eleven fucking years after Boogie Nights hit theaters—way to strike while the iron's hot, Vince—and the gimmick, inasmuch as it exists, has gone precisely nowhere. Yet he has gotten over hugely despite it. Has truly no one in Stamford ever suggested solving that issue?
posted by cribcage at 10:49 PM on July 31, 2014

Ziggler is a "known injury risk," is the problem. The writers are perfectly willing to let him go out there and do his thing and get some cheers, but they're skittish about long-term plotlines. You can't repackage away a concussion.
posted by Etrigan at 5:06 AM on August 1, 2014

I'm not convinced the writers are unwilling to repackage unsuccessful gimmicks. In not too distant memory we got repackaged Bray Wyatt, Curtis Axel, Bad News Barrett, Los Matadores, Stardust, Zack Ryder (sort of? I guess? Is deciding to have no gimmick still a gimmick?)...

Here's my perfect plotline for Ziggler: so he's too big an injury risk for the WWE Championship, but he's over as hell? Give him the Intercontinental Championship and see if he can legitimately break the Honkey Tonk Man's streak before he succumbs to injury. Tell him he's getting stripped if he's hurt, and let him thrill the fans for as long as he can, against top flight talent.
posted by jermsplan at 8:20 AM on August 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

I love that, but I would also add "give him another finisher." The Zig Zag looks like it hurts Ziggler more than the opponent more often than not, especially given his concussion history. Even just making him fall forward rather than backward (a la Billy Gunn's old sleeper drop) would make me cringe less.
posted by Etrigan at 8:29 AM on August 1, 2014

Maybe I'm being dodgy but I don't consider quick rebrands of the guys relatively fresh out of Florida to be along the same "repackaging" lines as longer characters like Triple H, John Cena, Barry Darsow, etc. I also don't blame the writers for Zack Ryder. Fella went out and earned himself some attention on YouTube, and that initiative was impressive, but he neglected to take some acting classes and so when he got the push he'd earned, he was unprepared. His promos were as bad as Kizarny's cross-body. When Vince gives you your opportunity, you can't flub.
posted by cribcage at 11:58 AM on August 1, 2014

You're not being dodgy, cribcage. It seems like we all basically agree that Dolph (Nick whatever his name is) is a talented person that they could do more with, and I'll just keep my fingers crossed that the writers and injuries are kind to him in the future.
posted by jermsplan at 1:48 PM on August 1, 2014

His promos were as bad as Kizarny's cross-body.

posted by Etrigan at 2:14 PM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Somehow this ended up in a meta about MeFi music. That'll learn me to check tabs...

I love Ziggler the performer, the character, the seller, everything, except his offense. Both he, and to some extent, Cody Rhodes (another masterful seller) to have pretty vanilla offenses with remarkably small move sets. Rhodes has greatly improved, but both guys seem to rely on dropkicks as mainstays of their arsenals, which is like saying a bar has beer. Everyone does dropkicks, or can. I'd love to see Ziggler take some time and really develop a solid offense to pair with how awesomely he sells being beaten down.

To some extent, I wonder if part of his position (mid-card jobber) and Heath Slater's is the same: they're just so good at selling being hit that people have decided it's more important for them to make other wrestlers look good (which definitely seems to be what's happening with Slater) than for them to win matches and get pushes. To some extent, I would worry that Seth Rollins might end up in that sort of pigeonhole, except that his offense is pretty well developed. I can see him ending up, though, as the upper card jobber, which would be a shame.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:56 PM on August 1, 2014

Last night's episode is exactly what I mean about changing gears. They do a serious, UFC-style promo segment to hype the SummerSlam main event, then we get a commercial break and immediately Damien Sandow is doing "Boomer Sooner" like the show is happening inside some VFW hall. That was where I tuned out. A couple minutes later, Adam Rose was where I changed the channel.

I liked Cena's promo. Lesnar was okay, although my preference would be for him not to speak. He looks every bit the monster that Goldberg or Sid Vicious did, but then he opens his mouth and he sounds like a hockey dad. If you're going to use Heyman, use Heyman.

I was gone before the ending segment, but I'm surprised they closed the show promoting a women's match, notwithstanding Stephanie. You can put Triple H and Vince and Daniel Bryan all at ringside and it would still be the fourth or fifth draw on the card after Ambrose vs Rollins and Reigns vs Orton.
posted by cribcage at 9:25 AM on August 5, 2014

The thing that frustrates me so much about Sandow being used as Comedy Jobber is that he's Comedy Megajobber. Have him get stupid cheap heat and then lose, fine. Have him get stupid cheap heat and then get KOd by one chop from Khali or one punch from Bret Hart? Why bother?

(Plus, all that anti-Okie stuff just came off as a cheap shot at Jim Ross, which... no.)
posted by Etrigan at 5:49 PM on August 5, 2014

As someone who attended school at UT, the anti-Okie stuff is prevalent throughout Austin due to UT and Oklahoma's athletic rivalry. It's distasteful, but Texas fans absolutely go there. (And OU fans call Austinites a bunch of gay liberal hippies. College sports fans are gross.) I don't think it had anything to do with JR at all.

I fell asleep and missed the last hour because this episode was mostly bad. Yawn. Went back and watched Dean be awesome with the briefcase and all, but otherwise this was a snoozer.
posted by misskaz at 7:11 PM on August 5, 2014

So, I only get to watch RAW via HULU, which means I get "A Special, 90 Minute Edition" of RAW. I've always been worried I'm missing interesting bits (assume something like 40 minutes of commercials, I'm still out nearly an hour of showtime), but you guys are making me think it's not so bad. For reference (in case you're curious), here was my show this week:

(times approx)
0-13: Authority in ring promo
13-24: Kane v Reigns
24-31: Cena/Lesnar video package
31-43: Ambrose v Del Rio
43-47: Stephanie/Brie recap video
47-57: Russians/Real Americans bit
57-58: Kane gives his mask to the Authority for some reason
58-65: Y2J v Harper and Bray beatdown
65-68: Orton v Reigns through table replay plus Orton interview
68-78: Rollins match and everything surrounding it
78-79: Bray promo
79-90: Stephanie/Brie contract signing.

I didn't mention the sub 60 second spots where the three talking heads pitched coming matches, Fozzy albums, SummerSlam, or anything else, but there's some of that in there too.

Looking back on that now, it looks like I get a very streamlined, major story-line focused RAW. Maybe that's what you're looking for, cribcage. I actually miss seeing some of the jokers like Adam Rose or Sandow, but I usually get them on one of the other 400 shows the WWE puts out every week, so it's ok. My friend tells me that lately Rose has been doing really awful obvious product placement on RAW, so all in all I guess I'd rather not see that anyway.

And my favorite part of the contract signing was the guy who, in one camera angle, was holding up a sign that just said "WHO CARES?" right behind HHH.
posted by jermsplan at 8:49 AM on August 6, 2014

In either the Cageside Seats or Best and Worst of Raw, there was a beautiful fan version of what Rose should have seen in the mirror, and it was essentially a Leo Kruger promo. The Rose character is just painful at this point. All of the fun that could have been had (fleshing out the Rosebuds, f'r instance, trying to maintain a set character for each member, glossing over the fact that they're played by different people at every stop) is just gone. I feel like Ralph Wiggum crying at saying "stop, he's already dead" at this point. So much time is wasted on him, and for the last several weeks, it's been shilling (twisted lemonade, Sonic, bad wwe movies) rather than doing anything in the ring.

This is where I lay out my dream of a better wwe (which I've likely already done elsewhere). Imagine. If you will, a place where story lines exist, where people have sensible motivations, things that people actually have. Imagine rankings and divisions. Places where different belts mean something, and all matches are important. Imagine four divisions, the WWE champion division, the heavyweight division, the intercontinental division, and the US title division, ranked from top to bottom. Put the top workers in the top division (Cena, Lesnar, Orton, Bryan, meh, Batista) fighting over the WWE championship. The next tier (Cesaro, Wyatt, Del Rio, Seamus, Rollins, Reigns because he's not there yet, Ambrose) are aiming for the heavyweight. Below that (Miz, Dolph, Fandango, Big E, Rusev CRUSH, Swagger, Mark Henry) revolve around the intercontinental belt. Finally you have the lower division (Rose, Bo Dallas because he should start there, then quickly move up, R Truth, Khali, Xavier Woods, Sandow, Sin Cara, Heath Slater) fighting over the US belt. The holder of the belt can wrestle anyone in a higher division, but to challenge for promotion to a higher division, a wrestle would need to call out a wrestler above them, then beat them in three straight matches, at which point, they would switch places (relegation, if you will). These would even work with the various shows, where Main Event focuses on the US and lower tier Intercontinental division wrestlers. Smackdown is about the IC champ and the Heavyweight mid card. Raw has championship matches for the US and IC belt in the first hour advances the heavyweight stories in the second hour, and we get the big guns in the last hour.

Same thing works for the divas (up and comers on SD, big names on Raw) and tag teams (SlaterGator, Matadors, meh on Main Event, Rybaxel, Brhodes, new NoD on SD, Usos, Wyatts on Raw).

The key point is that anyone fighting someone more than one division below them should absolutely destroy them. AJ fights, say, Sasha Banks, and it should be an outright squash. Randy Orton shouldn't have to break a sweat against Fandango. Giving the added possibility of tension of promotion/relegation, feuds in division, developing long term character issues, it could be gold. Gold. I says.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:40 AM on August 6, 2014

There are all kinds of rumors floating around this week, my favorite being the apparent news that WWE has decided to move Smackdown to Thursday nights right as the NFL is launching Thursday Night Football on a major network...but the bigger news is WWE announcing the release of Alberto Del Rio "due to unprofessional conduct and an altercation with an employee." Maybe kayfabe, but doing it this way seems more TNA's style than WWE's.
posted by cribcage at 3:56 PM on August 7, 2014

the bigger news is WWE announcing the release of Alberto Del Rio

Someone needs to make sure kimberussel isn't heading to Stamford with a shotgun.

Maybe kayfabe, but doing it this way seems more TNA's style than WWE's.

I feel like if it were kayfabe, he would have done something on Raw or Smackdown (no indication he was even on SD from the spoilers on the net).

His contract was up this year anyway, and the dirt sheets seem pretty unanimous that he wasn't going to get re-upped, so this might just be WWE deciding to let him go for a relatively minor thing ("altercations" happen all the time) rather than bury him on his way out the door.

Even worse, they let go Mark Yeaton. How will we know when the matches have begun or ended without a timekeeper?
posted by Etrigan at 5:09 PM on August 7, 2014

Someone needs to make sure kimberussel isn't heading to Stamford with a shotgun.

Ha! My brother texted me the news while I was watching TNA. I'm very very very sad, but if he did really assault someone I can understand. But at least his last televised match against Ambrose was a great one, even though we all knew he was going to lose from the moment it was announced.

I'll have to rework my "fave current WWE superstar" spreadsheet and see who moves up.

Also, the only other thing I have to say about RAW is that Brock Lesnar sounds like a middle school gym teacher.
posted by kimberussell at 5:59 AM on August 8, 2014

Wrestling AskMe could use some answers so we don't have to send the poor soul to Reddit.
posted by misskaz at 7:52 AM on August 8, 2014

I can't find it on Figure Four, but SEScoops is attributing them:
According to f4wonline.com, the story going around this morning is that the whole thing started when somebody in catering (a staff member) asked WWE’s Social Media Manager to clean off his plate. The social media manager allegedly responded, “That’s Del Rio’s job.”

Word got back to Del Rio, who confronted the WWE employee. The Social Media Manager refused to apologize and smirked at Del Rio, which led to him getting slapped across the face like a filthy perro.
That's a double-bad as far as I'm concerned. The Social Media Manager needs to get a severe talking-to; the last thing WWE needs right now is someone with a legitimate complaint about racist bullshit. On the other hand, Del Rio should have kept his cool.
posted by Etrigan at 6:04 AM on August 9, 2014

It's a little bizarre that WWE has grown to its current worth without Vince ever having to experience the negatives of being publicly traded. They get away with a lot of shit—and some of it you can brush off and say that investors should know they're investing in a company that produces entertainment by being entertainment...but some of it, like the continuous complaints about racism, sexism, harassment, etc, is really not stuff the company should be getting away with.

I'm not a shareholder and I don't practice securities law, but I feel like WWE could easily be a fact pattern on a securities law exam. WWE is well past the point where they can hide behind wrestling being a rough-and-tumble business.
posted by cribcage at 9:26 AM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Kevin Eck was released this week. His Ring Posts blog was my favorite writing about wrestling, before he was hired by WWE's creative department. I thought I'd mention it here in case anyone is unfamiliar with him, and in case he turns up as a columnist somewhere in the next few months. He's worth reading.
posted by cribcage at 9:51 PM on August 12, 2014

Kevin Eck was released this week.

He does not appear to be the only one:
Depending on who you ask, three or five writers were let go from the creative team.

Also gone from the company is Edward Feldmann, who held the position of Senior Vice President of Creative.... He had worked right under Triple H.
At the same time, they signed Kevin Steen. I really don't feel like WWE needs more in-ring talent right now if it's coming at the expense of creative staff.

Maybe there's a strict rule about how many Kevins are allowed at one time.
posted by Etrigan at 8:13 AM on August 13, 2014

Eck's Ring Posts was my gateway drug to getting back into wrestling. When he got hired, I figured good things were going to happen, but really, most things have been the same old crap. I imagine it's one of those situations where people get hired, then get ignored while the entrenched team just keeps doing the same old thing.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:54 PM on August 13, 2014

New FanFare post up now. My personal plan is to post a new one for the "go home" Raw for each PPV, to give us a reasonably fresh place to discuss the PPV live. If anyone else wants to do weekly Raw posts, go for it.
posted by Etrigan at 6:16 AM on August 14, 2014

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