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The Idiot King

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  1. I was thinking about this just the other day (Claudio, not Battlebowl). I think you're mostly right. Claudio exists in a similar place in AEW as he did in WWE at the end of his run -- steady hand, always over (more or less), usually in the upper-midcard, not quite in the title picture but you can put him there if you need to. I think the main difference is that in AEW he is treated as a star, no matter who he's working. His presentation (and reception!) is that of a main eventer, even if he is just out there holding high quality matches with whoever until the sun collapses in on itself. It's the same tired truism that there's just a ton of people on the roster and only one of them can be champ. I'm sure he'll get into the mix at some point and maybe even win it someday, and it will be a seamless transition from where he is now because of how he's been positioned. In WWE, I mean...for as fun as his brief moments of "What a workhorse/he's so strong/he's never been world champ but the people love him!" there was also just an endless amount of bad to nothing. Tossed around in the lower mid-card, meaningless title reigns, bad gimmicks, nothing sustained for very long. His best run in WWE, I think, has got to be his tag team with Sheamus. Outside of that, until very recently, it's hard to point to a period where he was treated like much of anything other than just some guy who's around. In AEW, he certainly feels IMPORTANT, even if he's not the focus. We'll see how that looks over the next, year, though.
  2. At the risk of naively sounding like a "wrestling was tougher back in my day" kind of guy, outside of AEW, have there been any other historically important suspensions in wrestling for fighting backstage that didn't involve, like, stabbing someone with a pair of scissors? I feel like there's been a litany of backstage fights in pro wrestling and I am not entirely sure how many of those, if any, resulted in people being suspended. I feel like it was almost always drugs or missed shows.
  3. I don’t think any of this is a work, for the record (all the Cody drama has disabused me of any belief other than the dumbest answer is usually the right one), BUT IF IT WERE I don’t buy the knock that “it doesn’t make any sense because it doesn’t further the story of MJF - Punk and instead functions as a distraction.” IF IT WERE A WORK (which, as just a lowly fan over here, I think would be a bad idea), a “backstage altercation” between MJF and Punk would be too obvious. Instead, you further the already bubbling tension around Punk and Hangman/The Elite which already exists in a mostly online rumor space. You keep your MJF/Punk story on TV and then have an increasingly heelish Punk working all the backstage stuff to eventually set up a payoff with Kenny or Page down the road with added heat because “we all know how much they hate each other” and “CM Punk is a locker room cancer and a selfish prick.” Essentially, you’re running two parallel stories for everyone at all times. The backstage stuff is its own universe, bolstered by the dirt sheets and message boards and internet content that wouldn’t make sense on TV and executives would see no value in. It doesn’t overshadow what’s on TV, it augments it and manipulates the audience into thinking they are cheering or booing people based on “the truth” of who a performer is, while actually playing into an expertly woven storyline.Everyone’s always working and kayfabe is back, baby! Of course, none of that is actually happening, and at this point it all becomes dumb 4-dimensional chess that I don’t think benefits anyone and isn’t what I’m looking for from wrestling, exactly. But it would be an overdue attempt for a company to try and fully embrace the now near-total onlineness of all wrestling fans and be able to generate real heat in a promotion where fans love to cheer anyone with a high enough workrate. Again, I think this is all stupid and too complicated to ever work, but I could see some nerds who were really invested in Wrestling As Carny Art giving it a shot.
  4. I'm pretty into all of this. I like being surprised, I like not knowing what's happening next, I like when the dirtsheets don't quite know what's happening next and nobody is precisely sure what's a work and what's not. I don't like not knowing what's happening next and then what happens is nothing, or what happens is the same thing that everyone thought would happen but then convinced themselves it wouldn't because it would be too obvious. And, of course, the danger in working the dirt sheets is that it becomes your main, increasingly weird niche focus and you lose the larger plot entirely, but that doesn't feel like what's happening here. This isn't "GOLDBERG WON'T FOLLOW THE SCRIPT, SO THIS WILL BE A REAL FIGHT" territory, and it's not even close. I feel like some people are severely underrating how sharp and clear the death of WCW was. No idea what the main event for All Out is, not even sure I could make a reasonable guess, but it's not like that'll keep me from watching. Jon Moxley is maybe having the best year in all of US Wrestling and it's really fun to watch him get to enjoy it. I tend to buy the boringest explanation of all this, which is that Punk isn't actually ready to come back but they wanted to unify the belts and doing a squash match at the PPV seemed risky in a bad way. I like Interim Titles. To me, it just feels like a (slightly complicated, slightly nerdy) way to build up a match between the person who won a tournament for the vacated belt and the person who never got pinned to lose it in the first place. This is something that already happens all the time. The visual of someone holding two belts is fun, and it elevates someone as a legitimate world champion (and tests how the crowd responds to that) without taking any momentum away from the person on the shelf. I get why people don't like them, though -- there are certainly enough fucking belts as it is in this company. Weirdly, I am not really into Kenny or the Bucks, but something about how clean everything Ospreay does, and his smarmy little prick act is growing on me. I will also say, I think a lot of this go-go-go high spot no sell back flip choreography style of wrestling is WAY better in person than watching it by yourself in your living room. While that trios match was super fun to watch on my laptop, I can only imagine how hype it is getting to see a bunch of performers do so many insane things back to back while surrounded by a hot crowd. Yeah, it can be a little cirque du soleil, but that's fun! Who doesn't like Cirque Du Soleil!! As long as that is not the only style of wrestling happening on the show. Another reason why I am enjoying Mox as champion. Everything does feel a little chaotic, though, and everything could absolutely end up disappointing and fucked but I would rather have wrestling I am invested in break my heart as a grown-ass man than to watch Karrion Kross and Johnny Gargano be the exciting new direction of a company (with all due respect!).
  5. Maybe this topic has been beaten to death or is better suited to the WWE thread, but now here we are at 700(?) days of Roman Reigns's Reign -- who takes the belt off him? Let's assume, barring injury, it's probably at Wrestlemania. The Rock? Rollins? Those both feel a little bit like a dead end. Cody probably makes the most sense, but that's assuming he's good to go by the Rumble, and he really hasn't had enough time to see if his whole thing is gonna stick. There's not a lot of viable contenders. Even in terms of an underdog getting a flash pin, who's even close to that spot? I feel like Riddle is over enough, but that still feels kind of unsatisfying. I know this is fantasy booking and a lot is bound to change with HHH at the helm, but it's not something I have any kind of obvious answer to. The Usos are in a similar situation, but truth is, with how the tag titles are generally handled, it could really be anyone with a few weeks of build. I'm thinking of when The Shield finally dropped the titles to the Rhodes Brothers. It sort of came out of nowhere, but it made sense! Also, when I was a kid, I always assumed Zbyszko being called "the living legend" was a semi-sarcastic heelish self-selected title, like Bobby Heenan being called "The Brain." Had no idea he was anybody other than an announcer for ages. Learning about the storied career of Dok Hendrix was equally mind-blowing.
  6. Banner year for pro wrestling. So many good matches, so much young talent, so much possibility looking towards the future, and this is only the cherry on top. If Vince is really done done (which it seems like it!), and it sends Dunn, Pritchard and Brock all packing, that's only good news. I agree that the whole operation is basically an algorithm at this point, so I'm not trying to get my hopes up too high, but man, if ever there has been a chance that WWE could actually evolve into something beyond what it's been for the past, uhhhh, twenty years, this is it.
  7. It's a play to bring in Chuck Taylor so he can finally say shit SOMEWHERE.
  8. Miyu v. Rosa is one of my favorites of the year, hands down. Loved it. Told the exact story to get the rematch. I wish Rosa's run had been stronger before giving up so much in this match, but I also think it was presented in a way that made everyone look like a star. Miyu is correctly right in the mix at the top. I think AEW feeling more international in this way is good. I love Private Party but I think they maybe should scrap the gimmick. A great performance from them, but I think they need to find a new presentation. GIVE BEAR BOULDER THE EARTHQUAKE RUN. Have him squash somebody's pet! Was there a Sean Dean - Cody Rhodes match before he split? Is there heat between commentary and him? Maybe I just missed the joke, but it seemed like they were giving him a pretty hard time for somebody who was ostensibly the face. Give 2.0 fireworks. Theme song is pretty good but could be louder and dumber. THE FIVE STAR SYMBOL OF EXCELLENCE! Willow deserves better music, also! It suits her but it's a little too generic MIDI for me. What a fisherman's suplex. Loved the finish of this. Such a clean Doctor Bomb. Sasha Banks - Willow Nightingale soon(?!) Great entrance and intro for Raju. Great dunks on West Virginia. Fyter Fest is a terrible name, but calling your big non-PPV shows something the same every year is still the way to go. Very expressive facial work from Raju. I find Angelico…interesting. Logan Laroux looking like a young, off-brand American Dragon. Dante Martin had better be ready for the worst lawsuit of all time whenever Taz gets around to it. QT Marshall conscious of the monetization! Good fast-build-story to the match! Nice neck wrench by Nick. Taz, don't spoil the outcome for the tag match tomorrow! Loved this one. Good selling of PAC’s story and why he should be taken seriously wherever he goes. Love Shota's expressions. I'm sold on him as the future. Another good fisherman's suplex! If anyone has a good social history of British wrestling crowds singing things vs. US crowds, I'd love to see it. Nice fake finish with the knocking PAC off the top. Despite the amount of titles, I like the gimmick of this one. It feels fresh and different and is a good way to spice up some of the smaller shows.
  9. Just wanted to pop in and say Wave Of Mutilation is about global warming. Ok. Cool. Thanks. Hope B-Dan can wrassle ZSJ soon, and the MJF thing has some kind of payoff after Forbidden Door!
  10. I know we are all basically fantasy booking with a lot of contingent ifs hanging in the balance, but I think how AEW dealt with CM Punk (and Bryan, too, honestly) has been a great template for how to bring in a star from another company and not have it overshadow your homegrown talent. Come in, put on a bunch of high-end matches with people who deserve to be showcased and then slowly build to a title win once the dust has settled a little. Hell, that's sort of what WWE is doing with Cody (kind of! Probably!). I know people give her a hard time for the perception of pouting or half-assing it when she's not going over, but I think Sasha's WWE run has proved (if nothing else) that she is willing to lose over and over and over again and it never seems to take much shine off her. I think this is especially underlined by how she made Bianca. I am mostly pulling this out of my ass, but I'd bet she would be a lot more willing to put over young talent than say, Charlotte or Ronda for the twentieth time.
  11. I think there are really only a handful of no-brainer WWE pick-ups for AEW, even considering the state of their roster. In no particular order, it's Reigns, Owens, Big E, Asuka, and any of the 4 Horsewomen. There are others that would be good, or fun, or interesting (or petty!) -- but those are the only names I can think of where it would be worth moving heaven and earth to bring them in. I think Sasha would blend into AEW just fine (though, I cringe thinking of whatever her new name will be) and wouldn't upset the balance of the women's division all that much. She comes in, she can feud with Athena or Britt. She could bump around for Jade or Statlander. She could put on clinics with Toni Storm or Rosa. I'm not sure who ends up losing their spot if she shows up, to be honest. It might slow down some of the momentum Jamie Hayter has been building or keep Ruby in limbo, but that's all I can think of. It's not like the division is overrun with former WWE talent as it is.
  12. I was lucky enough to catch this one in person, and I gotta say, I have no idea where this MJF thing is going and I don’t particularly care, because that promo was ELECTRIC live. I have never, ever experienced someone coming out to just thunderous boos, chants of “Shut the fuck up” and real, seething heat, only to completely turn the crowd with only a promo. I say this as someone who HATES worked shoot stuff, but he had the whole audience eating out of his hands. They were literally chanting his name by the end. It was a complete marvel, no matter if he’s face or heel or wherever this whole thing is going (and maybe part of what’s fun is nobody knows!) or whether it was “too shooty.” It worked and it drove the crowd mental, and that’s the whole fuckin point of wrestling. People didn’t pop for Russo’s WCW shit. Like maybe not even once. This is an audience (at least in SoCal) that can appreciate this kind of promo work, regardless of how I feel about it. Maybe I really am a mark, because I loved the whole card and I think the main event of Dark really helped get the crowd hot for the rest of the show. There was a fun women’s tag match hidden away there too. I was worried they would cool off by the time Moxley-Garcia went on, but the quality of the match seemed to give people a second wind. I can attest that even in the cheap seats, Jaime Hayter’s various talents were very apparent, and everyone there was just so hype on the wrestling itself, it’s a wonder that anyone can managed to get booed at all. Sad for no Thunder Rosa because her theme song rips and I think she would be mega-over in LA. No complaints, no notes, just please bring AEW back to the west coast, TK!
  13. I gotta say, if it weren't for the main event, I think that tag team title match looks like a sneaky best match of the night if everything is firing on all cylinders.
  14. Not wanting to sound like one of her enormous army of fans, but Sasha Banks 100% has IT. She has capital-S Star potential in a way that Charlotte (for example) just does not, outside of wrestling. Her gimmick instantly clicks with people (especially women!) who don't have any particular interest in wrestling, she's charming and funny in interviews and is, as others have mentioned, related to America's uncle. She will be fine in whatever she does. She does not need the WWE as much as the WWE needs her. I doubt she gets released, and I could see her trying to quit but I kind of doubt it, as she (if I had to hazard a guess) understands the power and reach the WWE has in terms of continuing to 'build her brand.' I think her booking has been mostly fine, if uninspiring, but it doesn't go unnoticed that when it comes to stepping out of the main event scene, she's the one to do it and not Becky or Charlotte, so much. They've never earnestly tried to put the division on her back, which I think is a real missed opportunity. As for the walk out, I am always on the side of the workers, period. Glad she and Naomi acted as a unit and as a team. Solidarity! No idea how it will all shake out, but this is (as we have seen in the past, with mixed results) a perfectly legitimate means of exerting whatever limited power you have as an 'independent contractor.'
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