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Smackdown - March 12, 2015

Smackdown
Date: March 12, 2015
Location: Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Commentators: Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, Jerry Lawler

Reviewed by Tommy Hall

It should be interesting to see if this week's show continues Smackdown's recent focus on the Intercontinental Title. After all the weeks of World Title build on Raw, it's nice to have something a bit different on the other show, if nothing else just to avoid the fatigue of seeing the same things over and over again. Let's get to it.


Opening sequence.

Here's Daniel Bryan to get things going. He thanks the fans for their kindness and says he's been trying to ignore that Wrestlemania sign since Fast Lane. It's become clear to him that he can't repeat what happened last year at Wrestlemania, but when one door closes, another door opens.

A few weeks ago, he was surrounded by people fighting for the Intercontinental Championship and it got him thinking about his heroes. People like Mr. Perfect, Ricky Steamboat, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and Randy Savage. When they were fighting for the Intercontinental Title at Wrestlemania, it was more exciting than anything happening in the World Title division. Wrestlemania VIII would disagree with you Bryan.

He's officially in the ladder match this year though and the fans are very pleased. This brings out Bad News Barrett who reminds us that he's still the champion and will still be after Wrestlemania. Dolph Ziggler comes out to disagree but he does say Bryan is his hero. Barrett may be the champion but he can't even hang onto the belt. How could he possibly do that with six other guys throwing him off ladders at Wrestlemania?

Cue Harper to say he wants his Wrestlemania moment. That sounds so wrong coming from someone like Harper. He should be more like old school Cactus Jack who just does stuff for the sake of violence. Dean Ambrose comes out to a very loud reaction to say every one of them should be locked up if they think they can fight without inviting him. He even knows a good place they can be held for observation if need be.

Now it's Stardust who grabs a mic and looks under the ring for the white stallion of the Milky Way. He wants the ivory enterprise, but instead gets R-Truth with the burlap sack. Truth pulls out the belt and calls it a beaut. He thinks the title has been passed around enough so he's going to hold it until Wrestlemania when he climbs that ladder. Barrett cuts him off but Truth calls him sizzle chest. A brawl finally breaks out and it's Ziggler, Ambrose and Bryan left standing.

Usos/New Day vs. Tyson Kidd/Cesaro/Los Matadores

Big E. is on the floor this time and Los Matadores confirm their heel turn in an inset interview where they say they'll do whatever it takes to have their Wrestlemania moment. Not win the titles mind you but have their moment. Kofi and Diego get things going with the masked man stomping away in the corner. Kingston dropkicks him down for two and it's quickly off to Woods. The intelligence doesn't seem warmed up yet as Diego drags him into the corner for the tag to Fernando.

Jimmy tags himself in, much to Woods' annoyance. Hey dude get over it. You kind of suck in the ring. Diego offers a distraction to break up the Whisper in the Wind and Jimmy gets crotched on the top. We take a break and come back with with Diego jumping on Jimmy's back on the ropes and putting on a chinlock. Jerry: “What do you call a matador with a rubber toe? Roberto!” Jimmy fights up and makes the hot tag to Jimmy, leaving Cesaro to yell at Los Matadores.

Jey starts cleaning house but Kofi tags himself in for a springboard cross body for two on Kidd. Some heel miscommunication sends them to the floor and the good guys bust out dives, only to have Woods land on Jey. Again, he's not that bright. Cesaro uppercuts Kofi through the ropes and Kidd loads up the fisherman's neckbreaker, only to have Fernando tag himself in. Diego sneaks in with a Backstabber for the pin on Kofi at 8:40.

Rating: C+. This did its job and that's almost all you can ask for out of a match like this. I'm assuming it's another multi-team match at Wrestlemania, just like last year, but I'm not sure this one is going to be as good. It also says something that the Usos and Los Matadores are still in the match, just like Cesaro but with a different partner. You would think something would have changed by now. Still though, good way to set things up here.

Video on Sting vs. HHH.

Recap of Rusev vs. Cena from Monday.

Miz lists off his career accomplishments and says winning the battle royal will be the latest entry on that list. Mizdow is worried that Miz can't beat Ryback tonight so Miz tells him to stay in the back, press his pants and get him a drink that is way too complicated to type.

Miz vs. Ryback

Ryback will have none of the sunglasses being taken off so he puts Miz on the top rope. A delayed suplex brings Miz right back down but he hammers Ryback into the ropes to take over. The fans want Mizdow as Ryback blocks a running boot and plants Miz with a spinebuster. The Meat Hook and Shell Shock are good for the pin at 2:59. Ryback's push continues to look strong.

Mizdow chuckles in the back.

Here's Roman Reigns to respond to Paul Heyman's comments from Raw. We get a quick clip of Heyman talking about Lesnar destroying Rock, Undertaker and Cena and promising Brock will do the same thing and worse to Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania. Reigns says Heyman thinks he knows his family but he's just disrespecting them. Heyman thinks Reigns is three generations removed from cannibalism? Who thinks that? Reigns won't take someone disrespecting his family and telling him he can't when he can. He'll win at Wrestlemania and do his family proud.

This brings out a slightly thinner Mark Henry, who thinks Reigns is either trying to be funny or he's been hit in the head by one too many coconuts. He doesn't like anyone talking about his heritage but Reigns needs to understand that Heyman has gotten under his skin. Mark knows who he is, and he's been in the ring with Lesnar. Brock nearly killed him with the F5 on the floor and Mark doesn't think Roman is ready for that.

Roman says with all due respect but Mark cuts him off and says Reigns has to earn respect around here. That's enough for Roman as he goes to walk away but Mark spins him around and yells at Reigns for being a young buck that thinks he knows it all. That earns him a Superman Punch and a spear through the barricade.

Reigns is tired of hearing he can't, because he can and he will. Believe that. The family heritage idea is better than nothing but it's still not much of a connection to a guy like Reigns. However, being tired of being told he can't do something and proving people wrong IS something people can connect to and the idea they probably should have gone for months ago.

We look back at Bray Wyatt's speech from Monday and Undertaker lighting the chair on fire to accept the challenge.

AJ Lee/Paige vs. Summer Rae/Cameron

Paige is so excited for this match that she took off the white shirt under her jacket between the walk through the back and the entrances. The Bellas are on commentary as you would probably expect. Paige kicks Cameron in the ribs to start and it's off to AJ in about five seconds. AJ goes after Summer on the apron and gets nailed from behind by Cameron.

With two weeks before Wrestlemania, the Bellas are bragging about the ratings for Total Divas. Summer puts AJ in a chinlock as they FINALLY start talking about the upcoming tag match. Paige gets the tag and cleans house with her set of clotheslines, setting up the PTO for the tap out from Summer at 2:25.

Paige and AJ yell at the Bellas post match. My guess is they're saying “TALK ABOUT WRESTLING! YOU'RE WRESTLERS!”

We look back at Reigns and Henry in case we have the attention span of a goldfish.

Henry says Reigns has made a believer out of him. He doesn't think Reigns will beat Lesnar, but now he believes Reigns can. It's a shame this wasn't Sexual Chocolate as the old Henry would have certainly hit on Renee in her stomach revealing top here. Very fetching indeed.

We look at a Cricket Wireless event with Dolph Ziggler. He's bringing some kids to Smackdown to be ringside.

Low and behold, the kids are here.

This week's sitdown interview is with Randy Orton. He looks at the footage of Rollins curb stomping him a few months back and says that night changed him. We see him returning at Fast Lane but that wasn't the best way to get his revenge. Instead he wove his way back into the Authority to gain their trust. This is really, really not making this horrible story make more sense.

He used Reigns to get closer to Rollins and this past Monday was reverse psychology. Apparently in WWE, reverse psychology is code for REALLY STUPID STORY. Orton explained getting rid of everyone else in the Authority, even though he had almost nothing to do with getting rid of Big Show or Mercury. Basically all he did was punch Noble.

Then he walked away from the tag and had fun beating Rollins up. Orton loved every single bit of hurting Rollins this past Monday and he let all of it out. He's ready for the Authority's retribution and is ready to challenge Rollins for Wrestlemania. Good for you Randy. You had a stupid plan in a stupid story that makes no sense when you actually think about it, but good for you.

Daniel Bryan/Dolph Ziggler/Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper/Bad News Barrett/Stardust

Unfortunately no Truth on commentary here. Ambrose headlocks Barrett to start and runs him over with a running forearm. Off to Stardust vs. Ziggler with the painted one taking over in the corner. Cole talks about Stardust being like Gollum with the Intercontinental Title. To mix things up a bit, Saxton thinks Stardust is acting like Kim Kardashian. I'm going to move on to Bryan putting Stardust in the surfboard instead as it's less painful than talking about that disturbing, hideous, nightmare inducing creature. It's easier than talking about Gollum too.

Stardust gets out and hammers on Bryan in the corner but gets taken down by a hurricanrana. The threat of a running knee sends Stardust running to the floor and we take a break. Back with Harper Gator Rolling Bryan before it's off to Barrett for some forearms to the in the corner. Bryan finally kicks Harper away and the hot tag brings in Ambrose to clean house. An atomic drop into a faceplant gets two on Stardust and everything breaks down.

Ambrose cleans house and dives onto Harper and Stardust for a big crash. Barrett breaks up Dirty Deeds on Stardust and Harper kicks Dean in the face as we take another break. Back again with Barrett kicking Dean in the face for two. That seems so familiar. Bad News' chinlock doesn't go anywhere and Stardust's top rope superplex does just as poorly. Instead Ambrose nails a top rope dropkick and makes the tag to Ziggler.

Harper comes in as well and eats a dropkick followed by the Fameasser for two. Everything breaks down again and the good guys load up a triple dive but Harper nails Ziggler to break up a third of it. The Batista Bomb gets two on Dolph but he comes back with a Zig Zag, followed by the running knee to give Bryan the pin at 17:38.

Rating: B. Nice long tag match here to close out the show. When a show is built around talking like this one was, you almost have to give them something like this to affirm that it's really a wrestling show. Above all though, Barrett didn't get pinned! That's one whole show in a row and possibly a new record for him.

Cole congratulates Bryan on the win but Ziggler jokes that Bryan stole the pin from him. Last year Bryan had luck on his side but this year Ziggler is going to be out there with him. Dean chimes in and says Dolph stole the show, just like everyone has been stealing the title lately. Maybe Dolph thinks he isn't quite as good as Bryan and it bothers him.

Dean says the people in the locker room know the truth about Bryan: he's, shall we say, human waste. Ambrose goes to leave and Ziggler agrees with him, leaving Bryan in the ring alone. I really, really hope they don't turn Bryan heel but it seems to be the only thing left for him to do at this point.

Overall Rating: C. We're definitely in the last push to Wrestlemania, which means expect several shows like this in a row: mostly talk and hype with a token long match for most of the wrestling content. Reigns sounded fine and it's good that they're FINALLY giving him a reason to want to fight Brock.

On the other hand, Orton sounded like a crazy man trying to explain a stupid story. Either bring him back as a full on psycho or bring him back as part of the Authority without the Fast Lane attack. What they went with makes it seem like they were just hoping people weren't paying attention, though given how this build has been going, they might be onto something.

Results
Los Matadores/Cesaro/Tyson Kidd b. New Day/Usos – Backstabber to Kingston
Ryback b. Miz – Shell Shock
AJ Lee/Paige b. Summer Rae/Cameron – PTO to Summer
Dean Ambrose/Dolph Ziggler/Daniel Bryan b. Luke Harper/Stardust/Bad News Barrett – Running knee to Harper


Remember to check out my website at kbwrestlingreviews.com and head over to my Amazon author page with wrestling books for under $4 at:

http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Hall/e/B00E6282W6

Comments

  1. "On the other hand, Orton sounded like a crazy man trying to explain a stupid story."

    Well, it IS...

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  2. They're finally booking Reigns the way he should've been booked since returning but sadly it seems the damage has been done.

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  3. I think if we can get over the fact that it's not who should be in the main event, we should be able to recognize that starting with the Reigns/Bryan feud they've kinda been nailing the Reigns/Lesnar build. Of course, having Heyman cutting promos is kinda like a cheat code for any storyline, but still.

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  4. "Yep Mode" Abeyance Brown ©March 12, 2015 at 8:47 PM

    What I took away from the show was this....Bryan's a turd!

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  5. Gotta say it like Shelly in South Park. 'Shtupid turrrrrd'

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  6. So basically the main event story is all about how there's no way the challenger can win. It could have made a good story for someone smaller than Reigns.

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  7. After watching Extreme Rules '12 the other day for the first time in awhile...I'm cool with a Bryan heel turn. He's been a heel for a huge chunk of his career and he's an awesome one.

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  8. It's not like Reigns is a huge guy.

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  9. I haven't watched this show in years.
    On an unrelated note, while I have no issue with your recap I must disagree with most of your opinions

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  10. I dunno...Bitter Heel Bryan wouldn't be the worst thing.

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  11. When Brock Lesnar is the guy you're chasing, I'm cool with it. Now if it were Seth Rollins or the Miz, yeah, Reigns is laughably bigger than them and it would be ridiculous.

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  12. It would definitely complete the Zack Ryder'ing of Bryan. By that, I don't mean bury him completely out of the TV product, but to knock him back into place and murder crowd reactions for him.

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  13. Wrestlers used to fight about something, now it's all about Wrestlemaniw moments. There's something wrong about that.

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  14. kbwrestlingreviewsMarch 12, 2015 at 9:34 PM

    Nothing wrong with that.

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  15. I hate it. I know everyone mocks pointing at the sign, but it's so stupid. I don't care about their moments, or whoever's 'legacy'.

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  16. Whether they're good builds or not, I'd say Sting/HHH, Reigns/Lesnar, Cena/Rusev and Taker/Wyatt all have clearly defined motivations beyond a mere "Wrestlemania moment."

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  17. Stranger in the AlpsMarch 12, 2015 at 9:55 PM

    I get the feeling that Orton coming back and destroying the Authority with RKO's in one tremendous moment would probably have gotten him way over, and there is no way that can happen when the writing team has other plans.


    Instead, he works his way back into the Authority with a business meeting, then proceeds to play mind games with Seth Rollins.


    It's true: no one is allowed to possibly transcend the brand like Austin or Rock did.

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  18. True but I will be happy if no one ever points to that sign ever again.

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  19. I feel like it's almost self-referential or tongue-in-cheek at this point, though. I didn't watch or record Smackdown tonight (nor have I been paying as close of attention as years past on general) but I also can't remember it being done all that much so far this year.

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  20. ARRRRGH THE BARBARIANMarch 12, 2015 at 10:37 PM

    Except it won't turn him heel with most of the crowd. It's bitter heel Punk all over again. Just like "heel" Punk ruined Sheamus, "heel" Bryan will do it to these guys.

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  21. The booking for the IC match went something like this:


    WWE rep: OK so next on the list we got... oh wow. Vince there are a ton of people who don't have a match.
    Vince: So? Put them in the Andre thing.
    WWE rep: Yeah, but these are guys who are popular... or at least were popular until you, um, started giving your input about what they should do...
    Vince: Hmm... put them in the Forever Midcard title match.
    WWE rep: You mean the IC belt?
    Vince: Yeah I think so. They all just kind of blur together now.

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  22. The Raw guy wish he could do reviews like these

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  23. ARRRRGH THE BARBARIANMarch 12, 2015 at 11:05 PM

    You don't remember the champ vs champ stuff they did with Sheamus and Punk? It went so well for Sheamus they took the belt off him and never gave it back.

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  24. I thought you didn't like Tommy Hall

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  25. I think he hates Andy more.

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  26. Well, they've finally decided on Reigns' story. I don't know if I get it though.


    I think my major issue with WWE is that wrestlers win and wrestlers lose, but rarely do they feel like natural results from their character's strengths and weaknesses. Cesaro is demonstrably stronger, more athletic and a better technician than Dean Ambrose, but Dean will swamp him with his shitty lariat because Dean's booked to win. His moves 'hurt' more because he's a babyface and Cesaro is going to lose.


    But just as there are wrestlers who are so offensively weak it breaks the suspension of disbelief for them to win (Ziggler, Miz, Ambrose, Stardust) so are there wrestlers who are portrayed so dominantly it doesn't make sense for them to lose. Roman Reigns is one of those wrestlers. He jumps higher, he punches harder, he runs faster and takes more abuse than everybody else. He was the brute of the Shield. He's rarely, if ever, defeated in singles competition. He went up against the best technical wrestler in the company (shoot and worked) and powered through his technical chops to cut him in half with a spear. Roman Reigns is unbeatable so what's the point of the "Can he beat Brock?" story? There's no way for him to lose, and while yeah, I guess that's how wrestling traditionally works the deal seems so boring.


    Should there be unstoppable characters in wrestling? Yes, but that shouldn't be EVERY top guys gimmick. Brock Lesnar suplexes you like normal men take out the trash. John Cena is unbreakable. Rusev CRUSH all opposition. When Sheamus comes back he's going to kick everybody's head in. Roman Reigns as another unstoppable wrestler is...ugh...because when you have them lose it isn't just a clever opponent taking advantage or anything else, it's them being worse at what they're supposed to be. If Cena is just more UNSTOPPABLE than Rusev than what does Rusev have left?


    I guess what I'm saying is that there should be a viable and character related way for every wrestler to win a match, but also there should be a way for every wrestler to lose a match. Dean Ambrose is crazy and tough and unpredictable, but also can be easily trapped and tricked if you can survive his flurry as his erratic actions leave himself vulnerable to exploitation. Throw him against Ziggler, who's quick and technical but his obsession with being an "entertainer" causes him to take unnecessary risks. Wrestling is always at it's best when the matches reflect the conflict between the characters, and good characters have both strengths and weaknesses.

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  27. "You can't beat Lesnar" has pretty much been Reigns's story since the Rumble (Fast Lane interlude notwithstanding), so it's not as though Creative finally hit on it.

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  28. Honestly I keep track of what's going on through reading this blog rather than watching the actual product. I prefer it that way.

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  29. "Yep Mode" Abeyance Brown ©March 12, 2015 at 11:59 PM

    Don't forget about the turd sandwich.

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  30. Sounds like a Dragon Gate title

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  31. And the other goob even more.

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  32. Matt?


    Man, everybody has ultra WASP-y names. Tommy, Scott, Matt, Andy, Danielle...

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  33. Except...who are the faces to cheer for?

    They had one...

    People aren't cheering for Roman Reigns. They're not going to cheer for Randy Orton doing anything but hitting the RKO out of nowhere on someone. I don't think they're really cheering for Dean Ambrose at this point. They know that cheering for Dolph Ziggler is pointless.

    Who are the faces worth cheering for? Undertaker? Ryback?

    This is why John Cena has job security. :(

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  34. Battle Kat LitterMarch 13, 2015 at 4:41 AM

    Nice post dude

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  35. Thanks.


    I just think there's way more drama when you can compare the strengths and weaknesses of wrestlers and get into serious arguments about who could win. Nerds talking about Batman fighting Superman is fun because you know what each guy can do and you can make arguments about what's stronger (ruthless cunning or raw power?)


    Let's take NXT for example with Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens. Kevin's bigger, stronger and more vicious. But Finn has the advantage of speed and technique, plus he knows Kevin's style. Also, will Finn's warpaint be able to psychologically counter the mind games of the champ?


    Psychology is such an important part of wrestling, and while the in-ring talent will try their hardest to utilize it, it helps if the out of ring stuff supports it as well. Don't just say "Wrestler X is tough" say "Wrestler X has a great chin, so I don't think strikes will be able to put him down". Talk about how dangerous their moves are and what about them makes them so dangerous "That spinebuster will knock all the wind right out of you".


    Or let's say you have two technical guys going at it, both with powerful submission finishers. You want to be able to find a way for the fans to differentiate them so maybe you promote how both holds might be equally painful but one is versatile in where it comes from allowing the wrestler to surprise you with it and the other submission is inescapable. You just found a way to give both guys more to their in-ring character and you gave the audience something to care about and get attached to.

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  36. I mean...I'm sure wrestlers think about this shit.


    I'm not a boxing fan or a religious MMA disciple (or a sports guy at all, really). But don't sportsteams and fighters have particular strengths and weaknesses? Floyd Mayweather is a great defensive fighter, Muhammad Ali had the rope-a-dope, Cro Crop had the head kick, Tyson had the liver punch (right?), Ronda Rousey has her armbar, certain pitchers have their curve ball, Pele had his backflip kick, the Patriots have cheating.


    I think John Cena would be much more likable if they explained why he was so dominant in more articulate a manner than "He Never Gives Up".

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  37. Belee_Matt!_INDEED!!!March 13, 2015 at 5:44 AM

    This has nothing to do with hashtags and things trending, thus is irrelevant to the show.


    In all seriousness though, good post.

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  38. The problem is that they want their chosen ones to get the biggest reactions, but they have been booked so poorly that the reactions aren't there. Their solution to this problem is not to book their chosen ones better so they get better pops, but rather to make anyone under them look even worse in comparison. It's mind-boggling - they routinely cut off their nose to spite their face, and no one gets over.

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  39. Vince must be thrilled that February is over and now he can book all the black guys to lose and get beat up all the time again.

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  40. That requires announcers who are actually directed to call matches, not just meaningless banter and catchphrases like "building momentum" (like seriously what does that mean).

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  41. Sweet, it's about time they switched to the family heritage angle that so successfully launched Rock's career.

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  42. Wasn't that like one match on RAW or SD? I doubt they'd take the belt off him for that.

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  43. Yeah, he's pretty much Orton's size. Hell, he's slightly shorter and since his return from injury, has the same build (whereas he used to be bulkier).

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  44. WASPily named, if nothing else.


    Don't worry, I share the same fate.

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  45. Well, I think building momentum is being on offense.


    If a guy punches you in the face, you're going to be reeling for a bit, allowing the guy to suplex you, then after the breath's been knocked out, he can drop an elbow or something.


    I think the idea is that as you get on offense the other guy is more stunned/weakened/discombobulated which allows you to hit more elaborate moves, than when the tide of the match shifts and the guy who's been beaten on attempts to get back in control they not only have to hit their own move, they have to fight through the asskicking they've been getting.


    Of course that would rely on some sort of fighting from underneath wrestling happening instead of the generic, insipid babyface comebacks we normally get (elbow out of chinlock, clothesline, clothesline, dropkick).

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  46. Maybe the announcers should actually call the matches rather than just repeating the same meaningless catchphrases over and over again (I mean "creating separation" is even more meaningless than "building momentum").

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  47. I guess creating separation is getting yourself a reprieve from a beating? A desperation dropkick or a belly-to-back out of a headlock or something.


    I agree that the lines have been repeated to a point of meaninglessness but there core ideas in them, that one wrestler has an advantage over another wrestler and a wrestler will sometimes manage to buy themselves a little time to recover, are a part of calling the match.


    The issue with the announcing is that it's like a video game, they're randomly calling out buzzwords instead of responding to what people are saying and doing.


    A teacher of mine once explained that theater is less 'talking and listening' and more 'listening and talking', it's not acting, it's reacting that makes it interesting. A guy going in there and doing his moves and the other guy doing his moves and the three old dudes yelling random shit isn't nearly as interesting as two people attempting to beat each other, fighting over each move and the commentary responding to each one as they relate to everything that's happening "That German Suplex landed Bryan right on his bad neck, I don't know how many more of those he can take!" is far better than "Whattamaneuver!"


    It seems like simple shit to me.

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  48. We can't turn Cena heel! He sells too much merch! He's too inspirational to children! He's a hard worker!

    Bryan inspired the kid who will be in the hall of fame! He's popular with the fans! He sells t-shirts and tickets and PPVs! He's a turd! Turn him heel!

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