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Dolfan Watches Every Wrestlemania On Lockdown


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90s Cinematic Matches could have saved WCW.

We would have got the RoboCop/Sting team and also the Rick Steiner vs Chucky blood feud.

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Russo booking cinematic matches would have been like giving a kid free reign at a candy store. He'd do a ppv with all matches cinematic, but one, because Goldberg and Scott Steiner want to really fight. 

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DAY 124

Back in 2018, I said on this very board, I wouldn't be surprised if WWE moved to a two day wrestling festival format.  It makes sense.   WrestleMania was pushing 7 hours, and despite being the biggest show of the year, that's a punishing length for even the most hardcore of fans.  It would also have the somewhat convenient side effect (for the WWE) of crushing the indie shows, who have become remora who have clung to the WWE's great white shark.

The pandemic forced the WWE's hand, as Vince clearly wants to have as big a show as possible.  And in a completely unearned reading of the situation, wants to be as magnanimous as possible and get as many of his talent a payday as he can. (not you Rusev 😞 )  So, the WWE took the unprecedented step of putting on WrestleMania across two days to make a 6+ hour show into two 3 hour shows.  Frankly, I appreciated this and if 2021 is any indication, it appears this may be the format for Mania going forward.  

So, Charlotte won the 2020 Royal Rumble in a performance that people proclaimed as "she was there" and "Shayna should have won." The question once she won was which title was she challenging for (and winning).  In a nice surprise, she was attacked by NXT Champion Rhea Ripley. So after Rhea won her match at Takeover: Portland, Charlotte decided she'd challenge for (and win) the NXT Women's title. 

Unfortunately, the initial attack was the only time during this feud that Rhea had the upper hand in this feud.  The build was clearly setting up Rhea to go over, because doing so would do all of the following: a) establish the NXT title as on par, or even above, the Raw/Smackdown belts, b) make Rhea a big star, and c) have Flair develop as a character because the arrogant heel has received a comeuppance.  

So, of course, Charlotte won a 20 minute squash. 

I wish I was kidding.  It was awful re-watching this.  Charlotte came in acting like she was above everything and Rhea came in as a house of fire, determined to take down the arrogant challenger.  But after about 4-5 minutes of initial offense, Rhea makes a mistake and hurts her shoulder.  Once Flair drapes Ripley's arm over the rope and yanks down... that's it for Rhea.  Unfortunately, that happens about 6-7 minutes into a 20 minute match. 

I wish I could write up the match in anything other than this dour way.  But god damn, Ripley gets basically zero offense during the final half of the match.  Nothing she's doing is working, and Flair is lording over her.   It's all but a matter of time before Flair gets the Figure 4 and bridges to make it 8.  Rhea taps meekly and it's over.  

This was somehow worse than I remember.  Rhea still hasn't recovered from this loss (it didn't help that she was off TV for months).  The NXT brand (both sexes) was thoroughly demoted back to minor league status.  And Flair went on to a two month title reign which was filled with disinterest and disdain. 

I know it's ridiculous to expect Charlotte to "do the right thing", as I'm 90% sure she has no input into the booking.  But I honestly did not expect this to be an all out destruction of Ripley that made her out to be a little girl pretending to be an adult. And on top of everything else, the match was awful. The silence of the crowd somehow worked as a death knell to Rhea's career.  

Day 2 of WrestleMania is not off to a great start. 

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Bobby Lashley should never ever be a babyface.  The dude is a gigantic freak of muscle and raw aggression and he excels at making people look and feel small.  He does lack a little something every now and again when it comes to promos, but so long as he's a heel, it's usually a very safe bet that he'll make you tons of money.  However... 

He's paired up with Lana who's in kayfabe has divorced the babyface Rusev and joined with Lashley.  Even though Bobby won their feud, Lana has been costing him matches left and right.  She also got him into a match with Aleister Black, which was a problem back in 2020 when people actually took him seriously. 

The match is a bit of a back and forth affair, but I'm noting that Bobby is on offense a lot more than I remember.  But of course, the part that matters is that Bobby has Black dead to rights and is about to powerslam him into oblivion.  Lana screams at him to spear him to finish him off for reasons that are totally unclear.  

So, of course, Aleister kicks Lashley's face off with a Black Mass in the middle of his spear attempt. 

Black wins an elevated Raw match, and the slo-mo replay makes the finish look worse than it did in real time.   

And I'll just make a note, on top of EVERYTHING ELSE that they've done to Black to ruin any momentum he once had, doing the iPhone slo-mo...... into real time replays do Black absolutely zero favors. You can clearly see the thigh slap, where Black pulls up, and the opponent selling the move before any contact happens.  All of wrestling is smoke and mirrors, but it's egregious to be shown where the mirrors and smoke machine are.

(Black needs to go back to NXT.)

End of Day 124. 

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1 hour ago, Dolfan in NYC said:

(Black needs to go back to NXT.)

They don't want him. Honestly, I never cared for Black all that much. He is a guy that would be better off outside of WWE. I assume he is just waiting out his contract at this point.

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I never got Black... I think he's dull and not terribly compelling in the ring, but that's me. I know plenty around here dig him. I just turned 49 on Saturday so maybe I'm becoming a curmudgeon regarding pro-wrestling in general to the point where Jim Cornette might tell me to lighten the fuck up

James

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DAY 125

Bayley and Sasha are interviewed about the upcoming SmackDown Women's title match. Bayley seems confident.  Sasha seems to be cool with Bayley winning. I've always said this storyline - even though they are both heels at this point - needed to have one or both of them whipping Corey Graves' ass, literally.  For years both of them had been enduring Corey's taunts about how they were bound to turn on each other because... hmm... I believe the notes say "bitches be crazy." But them never turning on each other until they actually had a good reason to (losing the Women's Tag Titles), disproved his constant, well-beyond-borderline misogynistic commentary.  Unfortunately, he gets headaches whenever someone bumps him, so... blah.  

Up next is a very... well, I'm not sure if "problematic" is the right word, but "problematic" is definitely on the target.  Otis is a big fat oaf of a character who happens to be strong. Mandy Rose is a conventionally beautiful blonde who "is out of his league..."

Side bar - No one is out of anyone's league.  Everyone is a weirdo.  Everyone is beautiful in their own way.  Everyone is terrible in their own way. If you focus on looks, you'll doom yourself to an unhappy existence because no one will ever meet the standards of the expectation you have. If someone's personality meshes with yours, if someone can stand the thing you hate most about yourself, and if you and they can talk -- and be quiet -- together, you've found someone special.  

Back to this match.  Sonya Deville is an out lesbian character, who has been pining for Mandy. Dolph Ziggler is a fucking dirtbag.  You throw the 4 of those characters together, along with (never revealed Mustafa Ali) revealing Dolph and Sonya double crossing Mandy, and we have a match. 

I was prepared to be totally annoyed by this match, but it's actually surprisingly fine.  It's short and Dolph is bumping his ass off.  I will say, Otis - as a character - does NOT work without a crowd there to reply to his stuff. Like, I know he's been trained to do nothing but play to a crowd, but part of the character work needs to be learning how to deal with changes in your circumstances... in this case, the absence of the crowd.

Anyway, Mandy comes out after Otis gets his balls smashed in by Dolph after Sonya distracted the ref.  She finally officially completes a babyface turn and beats up Sonya.  That gives Otis enough time to return the nutshot favor and delivers a caterpillar for the win. 

After the match, Otis finally gets the girl.  And though this is played for comedy by the insipid commentary, just a reminder, no matter who you are, there's someone out there for you.  Life is weird, but it's better when you have someone to go through it with, especially when they get you.  

That's ultimately the secret.  Find someone who gets you and the rest will work itself out. 

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1 hour ago, Dolfan in NYC said:

Side bar - No one is out of anyone's league.  Everyone is a weirdo.  Everyone is beautiful in their own way.  Everyone is terrible in their own way. If you focus on looks, you'll doom yourself to an unhappy existence because no one will ever meet the standards of the expectation you have. If someone's personality meshes with yours, if someone can stand the thing you hate most about yourself, and if you and they can talk -- and be quiet -- together, you've found someone special.  

That's some good shit right there.  A friend of mine is in that situation and damn if I'm not tempted to respectfully use this to try and help him out.

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5 hours ago, J.H. said:

I never got Black... I think he's dull and not terribly compelling in the ring, but that's me. I know plenty around here dig him. I just turned 49 on Saturday so maybe I'm becoming a curmudgeon regarding pro-wrestling in general to the point where Jim Cornette might tell me to lighten the fuck up

James

I think there's a good argument that the few month period where NXT went from Gargano-Almas to Almas losing to Black and Gargano-Ciampa starting their multiyear stranglehold on 40 minute main event matches was the apex and beginning of the descent of NXT, with Almas the last champion of peak NXT and Black the first champion of current NXT.

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5 hours ago, Dolfan in NYC said:

Bayley and Sasha are interviewed about the upcoming SmackDown Women's title match. Bayley seems confident.  Sasha seems to be cool with Bayley winning. I've always said this storyline - even though they are both heels at this point - needed to have one or both of them whipping Corey Graves' ass, literally.  For years both of them had been enduring Corey's taunts about how they were bound to turn on each other because... hmm... I believe the notes say "bitches be crazy." But them never turning on each other until they actually had a good reason to (losing the Women's Tag Titles), disproved his constant, well-beyond-borderline misogynistic commentary.  Unfortunately, he gets headaches whenever someone bumps him, so... blah. 

Actually it was specifically Sasha Graves would go on about eventually betraying Bayley. He generally liked Bayley for the most part and talked up how she would be better off on her own. Also keep in mind his words are Vince's words. Sasha & Bayley probably like Graves too much personally to want to beat his over stupid shit he has to push for Vince. Of course the inability to beat his ass is also why they never should have pushed it to the degree they did.

5 hours ago, Dolfan in NYC said:

Sonya Deville is an out lesbian character, who has been pining for Mandy.

This is inaccurate. Generally they haven't really referenced Sonya being a lesbian on tv. She also wasn't pining for Mandy. She just though Otis was below Mandy's level.

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21 minutes ago, Eivion said:

 

This is inaccurate. Generally they haven't really referenced Sonya being a lesbian on tv. She also wasn't pining for Mandy. She just though Otis was below Mandy's level.

There was one moment where Sonya gave Mandy a little loving touch after a match that felt like it was gonna lead to something but never did.  Or at least I don't think it did, I was watching pretty infrequently and just happened to catch that episode.

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IIRC Graves actually did the classic/proper heel broadcaster schtick of disparaging babyface Bayley only to immediately start boosting and defending heel Bayley and praising her attitude shift, etc

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3 hours ago, Nineteen said:

There was one moment where Sonya gave Mandy a little loving touch after a match that felt like it was gonna lead to something but never did.  Or at least I don't think it did, I was watching pretty infrequently and just happened to catch that episode.

It did not. It was covered on Total Divas that they had pitched a lesbian storyline, were given the green light, but then it was canned with no explanation ever given.

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6 hours ago, Nineteen said:

There was one moment where Sonya gave Mandy a little loving touch after a match that felt like it was gonna lead to something but never did.  Or at least I don't think it did, I was watching pretty infrequently and just happened to catch that episode.

As already mentioned it led nowhere. It also started before they brought the Mandy/Otis stuff from NXT to Smackdown as an actual storyline. 

3 hours ago, DreamBroken said:

It did not. It was covered on Total Divas that they had pitched a lesbian storyline, were given the green light, but then it was canned with no explanation ever given.

I believe what canceled it was the dumb way they brought back Liv as one of the people Lana cheated on Rusev with. Mandy & Sonya were understandably annoyed when they saw that angle.

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When Edge returned at the Royal Rumble in 2020, people (outside of those of us plugged into the Wrestling Bubble) genuinely freaked out.  Dude's neck was supposedly a column of ash and he was never, ever supposed to take a bump ever again. (This explained his sudden retirement with the title after a win at WrestleMania 27.)  But, he found a new surgeon and his neck fully healed, so...  

Well, the cynic in me says, he needed more money and/or he has a death wish that will see him carried out of the ring and end up like his hero, Dynamite Kid.  The optimist in me says he had more to give in the ring and knew this was the best way he could entertain people.  I'm guessing the truth is a mix of all of that.  

Of course, once he was in the Rumble, he started reliving all of his old glory and the old Edge was there like he never left.  This, of course, included betraying Randy Orton. Randy, who is noted for his even temper and overwhelming ability to just let things go, responded by bashing Edge's head in the next night on Raw.  He then told Edge's kids he loved them.  And later he gave Beth Phoenix (Edge's real life wife), a constructive critique of her NXT commentary:

34a45-15832103902553-800.jpg

This leads to a last man standing match at Mania.  

Now, what I remember more than anything else are two things: 1) this match was long as hell, and 2) a small, vocal contingent who were 'outraged' that there was a spot where Edge got hung up in a weight machine.  That second one is a prime example of being way too into the wrestling bubble, because no one else remembers what it was they said that was a "tribute" or even "reference" to.  But, honestly, the second one can be handwaved away, the first one though...  

Edge comes out to all his pyro, which as I've already said is just weird.  He looks pumped and ready to kick ass, and then Randy Orton dressed as a cameraman RKO's him. lol  

This is unfortunately the last thing in the match that is actually interesting. The match goes through what I assume is most of the Performance Center with various set pieces and Randy and Edge beating on each other with various items they find that in no way should ever be in any place of business.  Like, who puts cyclone fencing over a conference table?  Seriously. 

I'm a little upset they didn't go into the dining hall and destroy a vending machine or two.  But that would pretty much happen the next month in the Money in the Bank cinematic match. Which makes me think, this match would have worked a lot better as a cinematic match.  Because they're going for epic street fight, and it just doesn't have that kind of energy.  It's just the Family Guy Peter vs. the Giant Chicken without the comedy.  Or the blood. 

God this match is long.  

No one talks about what a psychotic hoarder Vince McMahon is.  Supposedly he's got every set piece for every PPV in storage somewhere.  That includes all of the bespoke PPV sets like the giant swinging sickles from that one Backlash.  You can see a few things from the past in the storage area as they go through it.  And it's not a good sign that I'm watching for things in the facility and not the match itself.  Because fuck this match is long.  

I know it ends on top of a semi, and I'm well past my normal 45 minute ride time.  In fact, I look down and I'm past 60 and they haven't even gotten to the truck yet.  I mean, I know Edge gets to do whatever he wants (so does Randy probably), but someone really needed to step in and say, guys, this is way... WAY too much.  I think to myself, okay, I'll do a cool down period when they're actually on top of the trailer.  

When they finally get up there, I am so done with this match, I am just bored out of my skull.  This is supposed to be the end of a friendship, the end of a brotherhood, but it's just not.  It's tedious.  BTW, I get actually pissed because towards the end one of them actually tumbles off the trailer, so they have to waste two more minutes getting back UP there. And fuck man.  

Edge is crying as he hits a con-chair-to on Orton and Randy mercifully stays down this time.  Edge is weeping and triumphant.  

I'm weeping because my legs hurt after these two wanked off for 36 minutes (according to wiki).   

36 minutes that felt like 36 trillion eons.   Yes, this match was worse than I remembered.  

OF COURSE they'd continue to feud after this, because nothing matters. And of course Edge got an injury that would put him out another 9 months.   Fuck it, I'm just going to say it.  

Edge should have stayed retired.   

...

Speaking of retiring... yeah, we're getting close to the end here.  Two more rides left. 😞 

End of Day 125. 

 

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51 minutes ago, Dolfan in NYC said:

(...)

Now, what I remember more than anything else are two things: 1) this match was long as hell, and 2) a small, vocal contingent who were 'outraged' that there was a spot where Edge got hung up in a weight machine.  That second one is a prime example of being way too into the wrestling bubble, because no one else remembers what it was they said that was a "tribute" or even "reference" to.  But, honestly, the second one can be handwaved away, the first one though...  

(...)

Don't forget that Mania aired only a week after the Benoit Vice episode premiered (and trusting Wikipedia, was taped a day or two after the first airing of that episode).

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1 hour ago, Dolfan in NYC said:

It's just the Family Guy Peter vs. the Giant Chicken without the comedy.  Or the blood. 

😆

I'm thinking you should have watched it in 2X speed. With the Benny Hill music playing in the background.

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I recall hearing this was edited down. Woof. I had high hopes when they began going through the performance center. Maybe they'd crash through some mythology gags. Instead it was just them grunting and falling down and then standing back up. Definitely not the greatest wrestling match ever. 

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WWE likes to manufacture legends.  I'd say, other than HHH, Edge is their most manufactured "legend".  As in, he's a guy who's referred as one, but just doesn't have the resume or popularity to back it up.

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