NXT working japanese style?


Hey Scott,
I just got done watching NXT: rival and Is it just me or is NXT trying to incorporate Puroresu, with even the announcers saying "he seems to have the fighting spirit" during the Itami match? Or do you think it's more of a one time thing they did to play off the fact he's japanese?

​I think it's just playing off the Japanese thing, although it's a given that both Albert and Graves would be paying attention to what NJPW's been doing lately.  ​

​On a larger point, I do think it's interesting that WWE has essentially created their own indy promotion with NXT, except that they control everything and they can now make "indy stars" who work WWE style.  If that's HHH's ultimate goal, it's kind of brilliant, because they get all the benefits of the indy cred without all the "bad habits" they hate so much.  ​

Network Still Working After Unsubbing


Hey Scott,


Just wanted to pass along that my WWE Network expired earlier this week, but I still have access to the shows on Xbox 360. Just wanted to point that out and see if anyone else is having that same access.

Thanks!

​That's not a bug, it's a feature!  What they're doing is giving you your free trial week at the END of your subscription, after you've already paid for it.  Some might call this scummy, we just call it business as usual for WWE.​

Working the Crowd

With all these hostile fans lately, it might behoove HHH and Orton to watch this classic masterclass in dealing with a hostile crowd: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6vASwhleU4

But seriously, how great was that promo? 

Yeah, but people LIKED Shawn and were willing to forgive him being a massive troll to them.  I don't think Hunter or Orton would get that kind of leeway.  
Shawn was really brilliant in that whole Hogan feud, though.

A Very Special “The Postgame.” (Alternate working title: Did They Break Us For Good?)

Writing about Raw on a weekly basis became tiresome within a couple of months because after a few weeks of awesomeness of Daniel Bryan fighting the machine, it stopped being interesting enough to give me an angle from which to approach it. (That, and I prefer to drink with my friends while watching wrestling. It’s not only more fun, but ensures I’ll fall asleep at a decent time when I have to work the next day. But that’s another story.) 


Having the sportswriting background that I do, one of the first things you’re taught is that there’s no cheering in the press box. I try to apply that ethos to whatever I write, unless you count my silly-ass Facebook rantings. It isn’t that I think it’s wrong to show favoritism in writing about professional wrestling; I don’t even think it’s inherently wrong in some forms of sports journalism, with pundits like Bill Simmons proving impartiality to be unnecessary. I just think it makes for more interesting writing. 


The plights of the character of Daniel Bryan, and moreso of Bryan Danielson the performer, have made even intimating any form of impartiality a difficult task in recent months.


This isn’t the first time a crowd has responded in a manner far different from how they’re “asked” to respond. While it has become the norm in the last 15 years and has possibly reached critical mass with the story arc of Daniel Bryan over the last eight months, it’s nothing new for a crowd to be very vocal about hating who they’re supposed to love, loving who they’re supposed to hate, treating a supposed midcarder like the biggest thing in the world and outright rejecting what they present to us as the supposed biggest thing in the world.

You can push whoever you want, however you want, to whatever extent you want. But you can’t think for an audience that’s always been much smarter than promoters and condescending non-wrestling fans alike have supposed. No matter who you push or who you say is the good guy, we like who we like.

Last night’s Royal Rumble certainly seems like it’s going to prove to be a tipping point, I just don’t know of what. Maybe it will prove to be the latest example of the WWE relenting to an overwhelming demand for something, and they give in and give us Daniel Bryan, Top Guy. (They have listened before, every now and then.) Maybe this was the plan all along, and this will prove to show just how hard they can troll us in what’s necessary to get us to emotionally invest in someone this fervently in this era. 

Or maybe it will be the moment for many of us that our cognitive dissonance breaks for good, and we fully accept that they truly do not care what we want. I call it cognitive dissonance because deep down, I think most of us know that who we want pushed isn’t the WWE’s priority, yet we still bring ourselves to care so much.

For whatever it’s worth, I don’t think they’re blind to what we’re asking for. It isn’t like Daniel Bryan is being buried. Zack Ryder was buried. This is not a burial. Daniel Bryan was in four straight pay-per-view main events and even in the worst-case scenario of the WWE proceeding as if Pittsburgh’s crowd didn’t do what they did, will still be in a high-profile Wrestlemania match.

I don’t even know if Vince McMahon, Triple H or anyone else with a say-so necessarily disagrees with us regarding Bryan. All we hear is that Vince loves the guy, after all, and I don’t see why he wouldn’t.

Even accounting for the possibility of a reversal of course tonight, it’s clear that building up a new star to Rock or Austin-like levels is not in their interest. And maybe it shouldn’t be. As much as Bryan has galvanized an existing fanbase, has he expanded it? (Counterpoint: much like Punk in 2011, was he really given that chance?)

To the WWE, the story arc of Daniel Bryan has been a rousing success simply because they elevated him to that rarified air of made men who can be plugged into anything from a program with a part-time star like HHH, Brock or Undertaker to a midcard feud with Bray Wyatt. Making him THE guy was never a consideration, nor is changing course to do so even if the fans ask for it.

Because while wrestlers leave, the brand doesn’t. Ironically, it seems as if the early-mid 2000’s, when Foley, Austin and Rock all left basically for good within a two-year window, and Brock Lesnar came and went within two years himself, was their own tipping point. This is ironic because it gave us a stale product lorded over by Triple H, who now is part of the shot-calling process.

Or maybe it’s not ironic, and in fact directly informs why they’ve been so seemingly loathe to push someone to the point where they eventually don’t need the WWE, which has happened with just about every huge star they ever created/employed.

John Cena came along and became the top guy, and stayed there for two reasons. The first is that he’s remarkably, shockingly reliable. I’ve said before that if Hogan, Rock and Austin are the Ruth, Aaron, Griffey, etc. of pro wrestling, then Cena is Cal Ripken: shockingly durable and reliable, in the lineup every day to do what’s asked of him. (Not a perfect analogy because Cena has had a few serious injuries, but I think it still works.)

The second reason is that, as such a company man, he’s the perfect top guy for a business that has long since decided the brand is the star. Really, it’s surprising it took them this long to figure it out: wrestlers come and go, but your brand needs to keep growing.

That’s why the WWE Network’s launch is bittersweet for so many diehards, and comes at such an ironic time for the WWE itself. The Network gives old-school fans like us everything we’ve ever wanted: basically the entire history of wrestling at our fingertips, as well as every live pay-per-view, for a shockingly low cost. It’s the best mainstream publicity they’ve garnered for themselves in…honestly, maybe ever?

But at the same time, Daniel Bryan has become a cultural flashpoint to the extent that, as pointed out on this blog earlier in the day, some so-called mainstream media has even commented today on how little the WWE is listening to their audience. 

I think that perfectly sums up where we find ourselves as wrestling fans, and where the WWE finds itself as a product: they expand their brand even further by pushing not any wrestler, but themselves. And at the same time, they almost intentionally seem to be not pushing the one performer we want more than anything. 
At the same time they’ve given us everything we want, they refuse to give us the one thing we REALLY want. 
Maybe that cognitive dissonance isn’t going anywhere, after all.

Best working wounded match

Now that we know the extent of Cena’s elbow injury, would you consider that the best match ever where one guy goes into the match with a greatly disabling injury?
Other candidates off the top of my head:

Wrestlemania XIV: Michaels vs Austin (Michaels with career-ending back inury)
King of the Ring: Undertaker vs Mankind (Taker jumping off Cell with broken angle)
Wrestlemania XIX: Angle vs Lesnar (Angle neck injury)
Taboo Tuesday: Michaels vs HHH (Michaels with torn meniscus)

I certainly can’t think of any other ***** matches where one guy had a freakin’ baseball growing out of his elbow, on top of a torn triceps.

Working?

Hey Scott,
Quick question … apparently Jerry Lawler had a heart attack last night on an episode of Raw. Has the WWE gotten so bad at faking injury angles (or wrestling in general for the matter) that when serious things like this happen the first instinct is to be cynical about the carnies on Raw?

Yup.  Because they overuse the "X" signal now, so it's a case of the boy crying wolf too many times.  That being said, at least they keep high quality EMTs in the arena because of the other awful things that have happened in the past, so that likely saved Lawler's life.   The really sad thing is that the injuries guy DO suffer are almost never ones where they can use it to build for a big return afterwards, because no one notices until weeks later when some doctor is like "Uh yeah, you suffered a concussion in Milwaukee, take 6 weeks off."  It kills their momentum and gives the impression that the guy just disappeared for a month instead of having something do when he returns.  

New shirts, Macho Man shirt on sale, and working with Mick Foley

Hey Scott, your previous plug for our site was awesome in helping us move some Macho Man shirts.  Wanted to see if I could trouble you for another, since yesterday we added a few new shirts to the site and have dropped the price of the Macho Man shirt down to only $10 bucks, for 3 days only.  But more importantly, we also designed a sufficiently bad ass Mick Foley shirt that is only gonna be available from the man himself.  He'll be selling them on his comedy tour this summer and at the shows he's doing in Edinburgh UK.  Later this year, we'll be selling them on our site with some of the profits going to benefit http://www.RAINN.org, which is a charity Mick is heavily involved in.  But for now, buying them direct from Foley on tour is the way to get them.  His tour dates are here:  http://www.realmickfoley.com/events-3/
ALL of the shirts we sell can be seen here: http://doomsdayattire.storenvy.com/
But the 2 wrestling related shirts are right here:
http://i.imgur.com/ppoOL.jpg
Macho Man/Kool-Aid "Oh Yeah!" shirt – ON SALE FOR $10
http://i.imgur.com/Se37S.jpg
Mick Foley's Cheap Pop
Thanks for helping us spread the word, and I'm sure Mick is thankful as well!

Sure, but does he ever e-mail me to tell me so?  NO.  Does he take me on a Wrestlemania dream trip?  NO.  Damn Scotsman.
Love the shirts, keep up the good work!