QOTD #10: Your favorite title change

On the heels of an utterly forgettable Money in the Bank
pay-per-view where John Cena claimed his 15th World Title in
unspectacular fashion, I ask you:
Today’s Question:
What was your favorite
all-time World Title change in North American history?
Answers tomorrow. If you want to skip yesterday’s Money in
the Bank discussion then please click on comments or scroll right to the end.

Kyle Fitta: I’m expecting it to be the best PPV ever on
June 29th 2014.
Now there’s a man not afraid to lay it all on the line. I
recommend you scoot over to your nearest casino and put everything down on red.
And black. And 0.
ts14: My prediction? Pain.
What did you say Paper Champion? I’ll beat you like a dog, a
dog you fool!
RosAlGhulScoe: I expect that WWE is kind of painted in the
corner with the main event and with Brock being the next big challenger. I
think the ideal winner to tonight’s match would be Bray or Reigns, but it’s a
waste to give either of them the title just to transition to Brock and I doubt
they let Brock end the streak just to lose his follow up match. I’m assuming
the year-long story is Brock beating Taker, winning the title and then main
eventing next year’s Mania. Because of that, the only real solution is putting
it on Cena to give the most name value in Brock vs Champ match and also put the
title on someone who won’t be impacted at all by a short title reign.
Mister_E_SeesTheLineInTheSand: I’d like Cena to win the title just because
he can drop it back to Brock without losing any cred. Anyone that wins their
first title tonight only to get smoked by Brock in a month will be damaged
goods unless they really have a strong and compelling plan in place for them. Plus
it would tie in to the earlier Cena/Lesnar match and set up the eventual rubber
match. Best choice all around says I.
Dirty_Dave_Delaney:
I never thought I’d be going into a WWE
pay-per-view hoping that Cena wins the title since I hate the thought of seeing
either Kane or Orton win the belt as I’ve heard many people speculate about.
The part that worries me the most from what I’ve read online is the rumour that
WWE want to swerve the fans due to that Summerslam poster being leaked
revealing the main event of Lesnar/Cena II. That’s just completely retarded on
their part because their response to this really should be looking into
preventing information from leaking out online as opposed to changing the
finish to the main event.
It’s definitely the right direction. It’s always fun to see
a new winner anointed, but the time isn’t right. The only issue here is that we’re
looking at a good year before we’re in line for any of the new blood, with
Brock pencilled in through Mania, and then either Bryan or presumably Reigns as
a back-up plan taking the ball from there.
Knuckleberry Pinn:
One thing (of many) that sets ppvs of
today apart from ppvs of years ago is just how overproduced things are. When
things are calculated to a tee, you lose the “Raw” (heh) feeling that
often makes a show great. I bet tonight for the MITB and title ladder matches
we will see ladders decorate the aisle, ladders plastered on the same HD set
that they use for every ppv, and some of the most contrived spots you’ll see
all year. You’ll probably hear Michael Cole say “wait, Sheamus is back up!
The 6’5, 260 pounder who has never won a MITB match before makes his way back
into the ring!” You’ll hear that Justin announcer (and it’s telling that I
don’t know his last name off hand) yell “SSSSJJJJJJJEEAANNN
CEEEEEEEEEEEENA!” And you know what, everything being micro-managed will
almost guarantee the ppv won’t be bad. TLC this past December was the first ppv
in ages that I thought wasn’t great, and even then it was ok. But, we won’t get
an over the top pay per view without letting things happen organically. We got
MITB 2011 as the last time the company strayed from it’s comfort zone in the
slightest, and look how great that turned out to be. Sometimes, you just need a
boring old survivor series ’02 set for a cozy feel, you need to let a ladder
leg bend and let the wrestlers figure out how to deal with it, you need cheesy
swinging hooks because, dammit, the show is called BACKLASH. So, my expectation
is a good ppv, but not a memorable one.
dynamic_dave: I’m expecting a thousand quick camera cuts
during the ladder matches, leading to seizures and a more intense dislike of
Kevin Dunn.
They couldn’t quite figure out the angle they wanted when
Randy Orton’s bare ass was on display. They were cutting all over the place
trying to decide what the hell to do – easily one of the highlights of the
match for me.
 Witlon: My biggest
expectation for the night: Jack Swagger will injure another internet favorite.
Will you accept Randy Orton getting his head split open and
eating a Sister Abigail instead?
Curtis Williams: As long as Reigns, Ambrose, and Rollins come
out of the PPV strong, everything else is icing on the cake.
They made damn sure to protect all 3; the rocket up the ass
continues. I really have no idea how on earth they’re going to fit all 3 into
the main event scene, but it’s a good problem to have.
Thanks to everyone who participated. That’s it for today –
enjoy the Money In The Bank fall out, and I’ll see you back again tomorrow.

MeekinOnMovies on….Some Movies For a Change

Howdy Otters – the Ottie Awards are likely coming tonight / tomorrow / Monday depending on when I can get my video editing software working properly / build the right graphics, until then, a round up of movies I’ve seen, including Captain America: The Winter Solider, Wolf of Wallstreet, True Detective, and Saving Mr. Banks.  Also a review of South Park: The Stick of Truth is at the bottom.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

What a rush! While The Winter Soldier naturally refers to the super-powered villian in the movie, it also refers to the role of someone like Captain American in our current America, where the general idea is that we’re very quickly turning into an Orwellian / Minority Report kind of world.

 It tackles questions of security vs. freedom in a surprisingly even-handed way, and finally offers the counter-balance to the “stop spying on us NSA!” thing, which namely is an uptick in things like domestic terrorism. Robert Redford, looking like a non-eye-patched 616 continuity Nick Fury says something like “A Dirty Bomb in Atlanta, an EMP blast in Chicago, it’s inevitable!”, and sadly, it probably is. As technology grows and information becomes more wildly available to those people on the fringe with warped minds, these sorts of events become all the more likely. 

The action is also *awesome* with the hand-to-hand combat being particularly skillful. You can savor all the crazy choreography without feeling like you’re watching a rehearsed dance number, and there’s quite a few action set pieces, including shoot outs, chase scenes, a heist, and a climatic battle that doesn’t end the way action movie flicks normally do, along with some great twists and turns and callbacks that make the movie feel like a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe without it feeling hokey or tacked on.

It’s well acted, too. Scarlett Johansson seems to be doing a Rashida Jones impression, Chris Evans plays a man out of time really well, and Robert Redford brings so much legitimacy to his role that you almost feel bad for the guy. His heart was in the right place, it just got…tangled up along the way.

As far as the post-credits and overall Marvel connective tissue stuff goes, this movie nails it. Perhaps because this is now the 9th movie in that universe, but the call backs and references are becoming both more obscure and more obvious at the same time. There’s a couple of scenes involving a list of ‘targets’ that likely has enough Easter eggs to last you until the resurrection of Christ.

With Guardians of the Galaxy on the horizon, and Avengers coming next year, it looks like the Marvel Universe is in great hands. This is probably the most well-rounded of any of the Marvel Flicks, with the quiet scenes informing the action, the action being satisfying, and the message being front-and-center in a way that makes you think about it, but isn’t up its own ass like in say, The Dark Knight Rises.
————————————————————————————-

The Wolf of Wallstreet

I saw most of this movie on a post workout high where I was giddy and hyped, so the sheer insanity of this movie was totally welcome. Interesting is that this ultimately a comedy and a farce. It’s even labeled as such under Red Box.
And that it is. When movies claim they’re “Outrageous!” odds are they
often times are trying to hard to be that way. “Wolf of Wallstreet”

Like the best of his movies, this one is about process. We follow Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort through his rise to Wall Street supremacy as he brings friends, drugs, women, insanity, midgets, farm animals, fast cars, expensive suits, and Rob Reiner along for the ride.We understand what penny stocks are, who they exploit, why there’s no backlash from customers for awhile, and generally speaking over the movie’s three hour run-time we understand enough of what Leo and his band of merry men are doing, so that when it goes wrong, or something goes poorly, we get it. Compare this to American Hustle where you get a lot of time on the broad strokes of the various scams, but never really get a sense of the nuances that make them feel real.

It helps this is a true story and adapted from a memoir, allowing you to dig as deep into this subject matter as you want – additionally with the story being told from a first person perspective, when Belfort narrates about the various horrible things he’s done, it comes with remorse, sure, but also a sense of “Can ya blame me? Really, can you?” – as a result the wish-fulfillment aspects – the money, the women, the drugs, the parties, are all just a hint more rollicking and fun because we’re not being hammered with “THIS IS BAD FOR YOU”.

To borrow from Michael Cole, this is vintage Scorsese with a modern twist. Biker ‘Taker if you will. It doesn’t take itself as seriously as Goodfellas, Casino, or Shutter Island and the movie is better off for it. It’s a  ribald parable, the R-rated uncle to “Catch me if you Can” and less stuffy cousin to “Wall Street”. Belfort isn’t Gordon Gecko, he’s the guy someone like Gecko is worried about. Good comedy comes from drama, and boy oh boy does Marty know drama.
————————————————–

True Detective (I know this isn’t a movie, shut up). 

A good sniff test for a great work of art is that you’re thinking about it after you’ve seen it. Even if you react negatively to something – like American Hustle, if you’re stilling wrapping your head around some of the juicer parts a week later, odds are it affected you in some way. True Detective has been swirling around in my head with every back road I ride down and dilapidated house I see. It’s a show about the horrible things that can happen on the fringe. The fringe of our mind, the fringe of society, the fringe of America, the fringe of the law, and so on. It’s totally bleak and nihilistic, but also darkly funny and poignant, and any time you get someone monologing about 4th dimensionality I’m up for it.

I also had the advantage of seeing six episodes of this show in a row while sleep deprived and on [drug that rhymes with flaccid], which added an entirely new element to the proceedings, which made the disturbing elements all the more disturbing and the awesome moments all the more awesome – including a 6 minute unbroken take scene in the 4th episode that is simply masterful – though I imagine there was a little compositing going on.

Anyway, I feel strongly about True Detective but I don’t have anything very strong to say about it. It’s great, well worth your time, and I can’t believe that Woody Harrelson has become such a reliable force in our entertainment, he’s the new Gene Hackman in that you can find him in some movie somewhere on cable at any given moment.
——————-

Saving Mr. Banks
 
So this is the movie about how a raging anti-Semite and a child-abandoning lesbian wacko come together to make one of the most endearing movies of all time – Mary Poppins. Of course the anti-Semite and Child-abandoning and Lesbian things are completely ignored since this is a for all ages Disney picture, so instead we get a churned-up-inside tart of a woman who has to let go of her most precious possession – Mary Poppins in order to stay afloat financially.

This is a pretty great flick actually if you avoid checking into the ‘real’ story before watching it. It presents about fifty dozen cliches, sure: “The magic of Disney”, “Curmudgeon who doesn’t like fun,”, “Blue collar guy melts the heart of aforementioned up-tight curmudgeon”, and the eventual “Heart to heart between creatives” thing, but they are all executed pretty well.

This is a movie for fans of movie making. I saw it with two people, one who has seen “Mary Poppins” and one who hadn’t, and not seeing that flick makes a lot of the various references and call-backs feel hollow if you don’t know what they’re referring too. It’s weird. They’ll make a joke about how “Dick Van Dyke will never play that role!” and it’s dropped, but because you know what happened in reality, it becomes a funny gag.

The cast includes Tom Hanks as Walt Disney, Emma Thompson playing pretty much the exact same character as she did in Stranger than Fiction, BJ Novak, Bradley Whitford, and Jason Schwartzman as jolly producers writing the movie and music (the “lets go fly a kite” scene in this flick is wonderful and heartwarming even to an old cynic like me), Colin Farrell as Hollywood’s idea of a drunk, and Paul Giamatti as a limo driver with a heart of gold. 

Ultimately, good stuff for the whole family. Not ground breaking, trend setting, or mold breaking, but as far as general Hollywood mass-produced stuff goes, you can do a lot worse.
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 South Park: The Stick of Truth

 If Kurt Vonnegut was the “Moralist with a Whoopee Cushion”,  “South Park” packs a flaming bag of dog doo instead. Through 247 episodes and counting,  “South Park” has grown into itself, the intelligent writing and unique point of view hovering below the scatological surface becoming apparent. Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s brain child became something of a socioeconomic court jester, using Kyle, Stan, Cartman, Kenny, and a supporting cast of dozens to call out society’s hypocrisy and extreme polarization, while being foul mouthed and ribald and touching and scatalogical and subversive and popular and instantly quotable all at the same time.

And now RPGs and “South Park” have combined via Obsidian’s oft-delayed, publisher shifting “South Park: The Stick of Truth”, which is certainly “South Park”’s biggest undertaking in the gaming space, ever, and yet another high-profile licensed title from Obsidian, who’ve previously taken the reigns of “Star Wars” and “Fallout”.  

And “Stick of Truth” plays great once you get your hands around the gelatinous nature of the combat and environmental interaction. By which I mean the tutorial and introduction to the gameplay is anything but solid. A cohort I shared the first four hours with openly cursed when Cartman mocked her inability to parse the strong / weak attack timing mechanics for the fifth time.

Battles are turn-based, fast-paced, input-intensive, and getting comfortable with the timing, item management, and various buffs and debuffs will take a couple of hours, plus one or two more if you want to figure out the best way to synergize all your equipment modifications for a proper build. Attacks require hitting the right button at the right time for a ‘perfect’ hit, and you’re encouraged to hit “A” when being attacked to block some incoming damage. It actually feels quite a lot like the “Super Mario RPG: Legend of The Seven Stars” in that every spell or attack involves some sort of mini-game or input from the player to achieve the optimal result.

Like “Mario RPG” is the way you can affect battle conditions via environmental factors. Fart on enemies, they’re “grossed out” to start the battle. Hit them with your bow? Dazed. Knock a lamp onto an enemy or two? The boss battle starts with two enemies already downed. It’s really creative and lends an almost point-and-click adventure appeal to the non-combat parts of the game.

The combat difficulty is scalable, and on the normal setting I found hitting one or two powerful attacks could vanquish most enemies with ease if you know their weakness. Boss battles are tougher encounters, and you’ll find yourself engaged in a great back-and-forth struggle as enemies throw their best attacks and various defensive maneuvers at you – a particularly enjoyable battle involves being sure to defend every attack from an umbilical cord or else it regenerates life infinitely.

Once you’re cozy with all the systems, the whole shebang is quite a lot of fun. A neat addition is that you can also use items and attack on the same turn, which makes battles go by way faster, and a little easier to swallow for non-gamers or folks who picked this up for the “South Park” name but generally avoid RPGS. If you’re a game dev looking for a gameplay innovation worth popularizing, this would be a great one.

Ultimately combat feels great once you get the hang of it, and is made all the more sweet by the various South Park tropes that are layered on top. You’ll be utilizing things like bathroom robes for wizard cloaks, tin foil for helmets, cardboard for horses, and so on – in addition to actual ‘real’ looking weapons and armor too. Beyond that, you get to pick from several South Park mainstays as a battle companion. Butters is a lighting focused Paladin who decries “I uh…I was just seeing if it worked!” upon knocking out a fake elf with a very real ball-peen hammer. Jimmy is a bard, his special attacks requiring you hammer the “A” button when he stutters during one of his debuff creating songs. Stan uses his dog in all manner of not-PC ways in combat, and Cartman, of course, lights his farts on fire for AOE damage.

However one problem is the size of “The Stick of Truth”’s proverbial boat, versus its motion in it’s the ocean. I played “South Park” in about a week’s time, savoring a fair amount of the content, talking to pretty much everyone and completing the side quests that seemed interesting, and clocked in at around 12 hours play time if the save screen is to be believed. A lot of this 12 hours involved walking from Point A to Point B, arranging equipment, and watching cut-scenes. With such a robust combat system and litany of customization options, it’s a shame you find yourself nearing the final third of the game before you know it. I’m not one to harp on game-length, but I can’t help but feeling bummed by how quickly the whole thing wrapped up.

But the length could also be a “South Park” problem. There’s only so much to do in a single mountain town (and parts of Canada), and maybe Obsidian didn’t want to overstay its welcome, or Trey Parker and Matt Stone simply didn’t have it in them to write and perform the dialog required for a sprawling 30-40 hour RPG.

Regardless, it’s impressive how well the RPG part of “South Park: The Stick of Truth” comes together, to the point where it steals the show from the narrative. The only real gameplay misstep being the two non-combat special abilities you earn. One allows you to teleport over gaps, and the other allows you to shrink. While novel, switching from your bow to cross a gap, then hastily switching back to your bow to get a quick pot shot off at an enemy to daze them before combat, is a hassle, especially when a jump button would have been welcome and felt a little more organic to the experience.

Speaking of organic experiences, It’s almost…sublime how developer Obsidian managed to capture “South Park”’s crappy animation to perfection. Friends *will* think you’re watching the show if they casually glance at the screen. The school, all the characters’ houses, Tom’s Rhinoplasty – it’s all here and accessible to explore, and all completely authentic to the show. There are literally hundreds of callbacks to prior episodes spread across the open world, with cameos by the underpants gnomes, Mr. Hankey, the aliens from the pilot (“Cartman gets an anal probe”), Mongolians and the “Chitty wall”, and countless more in the various item descriptions and NPC one-liners. The bigger the fan of the show you are, the more masterful the world becomes, down to correct geography, and the diegetic audio being popular songs from the series. It’s a real nostalgia trip, with many moments not only calling back to a specific episode, but subconsciously stirring up the memories of whatever you were doing at that time in your life, too. And of course, Cartman, Kenny, Butters, Stan, and the supporting cast all get moments to throw in their most known phrases, and naturally Kyle’s mom gets called a…well, you know.

So It’s kind of a big fat bitch that the tale told in this fantastic world feels a little underwhelming. Look, I didn’t expect to be moved emotionally, nor did I want some grand deconstruction of gaming. I did expect some level of intellectual stimulation, be it a message, theme, blatant allegory – anything! Instead ”Stick of Truth” presents itself as a high-quality farce and nothing more, which is fine. “Airplane” is a high quality farce. So is “The Naked Gun”, “Young Frankenstein”, and “Family Guy”.

But “South Park” is a farce with a point, damn it. “South Park: The Stick of Truth” delivers shocking content in droves. wangs, balls, racism, abortions, sexism – it’s all here, and a lot of it will make you laugh in the “how did they get away with that?!” way. Yet, there’s little context to set up a lot of this stuff…so in a way it’s just a lot of (funny) racist, sexist, offensive, humor…without a point, which, if my memory serves me, is the exact same thing “Cartoon Wars” got all bent in a tizzy about in regards to “Family Guy”.

Previously, when “South Park” dipped its toes into the interactive media space – the N64 FPS being something of a cult-classic, “Chef’s Love Shack” trying to do the ‘Mario party’ thing, poorly, cart racers, tower defense games, and beat em’ ups, the titles were received lukewarmly.  The problem with these titles is they took the look and feel and style of South Park, but none of the creative pungency of Matt Stone and Trey Parker – creating a “South Park” experience in name only.

My theory? I don’t think Trey Parker and Matt Stone are very big gamers. They’ve tackled videogame related topics in “South Park” before, and have done so admirably, but generally those episodes have treated games as a sort of macguffin to arrive at a larger point – The “Chinpokomon” episode generally speaking to how fads can be good and bad, and it’s best not to get too riled up about them. Similarly, “Towlie” featured the ubiquitous Okama Gamesphere as an object of single-minded desire for the characters, but had little to say about gaming culture. The “World of Warcraft” episode is lauded, but ultimately closed with a lasting image of our South Park heroes sacrificing their lives and well being for a pointless MMO. Toss in the brutal message at the end of the “Black Friday’ trilogy about how the kids should use their imagination to play – not needing 500 dollar consoles to have fun, and not only do I think Trey Parker and Matt Stone aren’t gamers – I don’t think they “get” gaming.

Which is…okay. One thing Parker and Stone do very well is educate themselves on a topic before tackling it. I’m sure they’ve played games, lots of games in fact, because their entire livelihood depends upon being up-to-date with pop culture, and “South Park” certainly know the broad strokes of the who, why, how, and where of video gaming culture.

But considering their generally sour take on the medium, I don’t think they have anything (more) to say about gaming. Especially considering what they’ve said before is that gaming is a life-sinking, imagination killing, electronic, interactive, dopamine dispenser – all things you probably don’t want to communicate through a video game people pay hard earned money for.

Thus I find myself in territory similar to Remedy’s “Alan Wake” – a game I bought for the story, but loved for the gameplay. Here, “South Park: The Stick of Truth” delivers fantastic combat, customization, and strategy in droves – you can sink your teeth into the system and feel mostly full by the time you’re done chewing. However, if you’re a person who loves “South Park” for what it says, versus how it says it, you may find the story  portions a little malnourished, not because they aren’t good, or entertaining, or funny, but because ultimately it’s mostly empty calories.

Look, there’s no way a game where this much care, and effort, and personality doesn’t get a proverbial thumbs up from me. It’s a high-quality game that doesn’t quite live up to *my* high-standards of what “South Park” is, and can be, but it doesn’t stop me from appreciating it for what it is – a surprisingly deep, terrifyingly funny, oh-so-very beautiful, old-school, RPG that despite being brand new, will flash your brain back to 1997 and all the years in between with startlingly regularity as through not only a game, but 17 years worth of television history that may just be a little more important to you than you may think.

Opinion change on past rants

I just finished watching Vengeance 2002 and as becoming a habit with me while watching shows on The Network I checked out your rant on the show afterwards. From that review:

"Brock Lesnar is just not the guy to be putting the main event of the second-biggest show of the year, and he’s getting more exposed as not that guy with every match."

Would you like to take that back? Also what other opinions or predictions have you made in your reviews that you disagree with today?

A lot of them, I would suppose.  I say a lot of stupid shit during the course of a review because it's written on the fly.  
As for Brock, you also have to remember that he didn't become the megastar he is today until the UFC, and it really took until WM19 to fully legitimize him as a main event drawing card.  So I think I was right in that instance.   Clearly they should have pushed HHH even harder.  

The Postgame: On the cusp of “great change?”

Maybe Jim Cornette said it. I’m not sure, but it sounds like something he would say. It may have been a poster here in the comment section, for all I know. I really don’t remember; it’s been years.

Aside from it being poor form to not properly attribute a quote, it doesn’t really matter. It was the most precise, one-to-two sentence description of what John Cena’s eventual place in WWE lore should have been: he’s not The Rock, Stone Cold or Hulk Hogan. But he’s a big enough star to put over the performer who becomes the next iconic, breakthrough sensation. He’s not The Man, but he has enough juice to turn someone else into that. 
In some ways, Cena just might be in that pantheon anyway; he’s never sent business through the stratosphere on his own or become a true household name the way those three did. But he has put a good enough public face on WWE over the years to keep business steadily profitable for 10 years, now, and at least provide the veneer of mainstream stardom. 
With as many entertainment choices as there are today, maybe that’s as big of a star as a professional wrestler is now capable of being. Would Johnny Carson as iconic today, with millions of 18-to-49 viewers preferring the cable snark of Stewart, Colbert and Conan to the network late-night hosts? Probably not.
Insofar as one can tell, the only items on the checklist keeping Cena from being remembered as an all-time great in the real sense, and not just in the kayfabe sense, are his consistently mixed-at-best reactions for nearly his entire run and crowd fatigue. Proven money-maker years after years? Check. Crossover mainstream attention? Check, at least as much as one can be today. Consistently delivers great matches on a big stage? Classics with Shawn Michaels, CM Punk, Rob Van Dam, Daniel Bryan, Brock Lesnar and The Rock (at least the first one, though not even Punk could drag a good match out of The Rock in 2013) make that a big check. Reliability and someone who truly puts a good public face on pro wrestling? Few in history top him in this regard. 
Still, before this can be considered a love letter to Cena- it’s not; I don’t know if he’s ever even been one of my five favorite performers at any given time- his matches have never felt like a bigger deal than when he’s defending the title against an up-and-comer with whom the crowd has firmly planted their flag: Rob Van Dam at One Night Stand. CM Punk at Money in the Bank. Daniel Bryan at Summerslam. Not even his buyrate record-setting match against The Rock felt as monumental as those title tilts were, because in those matches Cena represented the obstacle between the stagnated status quo, and a revolution. 
In an impassioned backstage promo on last night’s Raw, Cena walked the now-commonplace line between fiction and reality, somewhere between subtly and overtly referring to the disgruntled crowds of late in describing the WWE as “on the cusp of great change,” which is obviously a claim that will always be met with great skepticism considering the subject matter. 
He proceeded by calling out the present and future of the WWE to pay attention to the statement he planned on making against Randy Orton in the night’s main event: “That statement goes to the Wyatts, to the Shield, to Antonio Cesaro or Daniel Bryan: if any of you think you have what it takes to carry the future of the WWE? Know that you will have to go through me to get it.” 
This site’s fearless leader would probably respond to that by saying, “I love shoot comments that aren’t supposed to be shoot comments.” But Cena’s still a relatively young, healthy man; he’s only three years older than Austin was when he won his first WWF title. So for those already disgruntled with a product they perceive as stagnant and deaf to their fans, the last line of that promo is a potentially harrowing truth. 
So, with Hollywood not beating his door down the way they did for Dwyane, he’s probably right: anyone who wants to be the “face of the WWE” does have to go through Cena in one manner of speaking or another. 
(Though, with as obnoxiously as they’ve made that phrase a plot point in recent months, I’m not sure I’d want the job, because maybe the fans are going to eventually reject whoever is in that spot. Maybe Bryan’s promo about preferring just to be known as “Daniel Bryan” rather than the “face of the WWE” also had more truth in it than we realized.) 
And maybe that’s how it should be, that if Bryan, Reigns or whoever else wants the job needs to clearly supplant Cena. To be the man, and all that.

Still, it feels like his career full of insanely loud, very mixed crowd reactions has still been a missed opportunity to create an entirely new wave of bona fide superstars. It feels like he was uniquely positioned to be able to really, truly be a starmaker. It feels like the special moments in which he stared at the lights as crowds lost their collective minds for RVD, Punk, Bryan should have had more come from them than they did. 

Or maybe I was right about this being as big as a wrestling star can be today, and just pulling them somewhat near his level is the best he can do. 

Change of perception after watching DVDs

Hey Scott, I was wondering if you ever have completely changed your perception of a wrestler after watching their DVD? I’ve found this happening to myself. I used to love CM Punk because of his straight edge lifestyle (which I still admire that aspect of him) but after watching his DVD I just think he’s a whiny little bitch that cries when he doesnt get his own way. On the other hand, I use to despise HHH but after watching Thy Kingdom Come, he seems like a really hard working, smart guy and a great father to his girls. Any similar experience for you?

Certainly not like yours.  

HBK…when did you change your tune?

So I'm back overseas reading your complete 2003, I have noticed a couple of things.


-You love Randy Orton (or at least the RNN updates) I found that to be hilarious given your stance on him nowadays.

-You completely called Steiner having nothing in the tank as soon as the HHH/Steiner feud began.

But it was your HBK-hate that got to me. I know you weren't a fan of the one shot deal comeback and now you have a respect for him. But during the 03 rants, you are just riding him hard (no homo) at every turn. 

My question is, was there a moment of clarity when you said "I'M A FAN!!!" or was it the totality of his comeback that made you silently nod in approval. SUCKAZ GOTS TA KNOW!

Your part time #1 draw

It was when he tapped out to Benoit at Backlash 04 to actually put someone over, and then had that run of awesome main events around that time.  It was apparent that he had no interest in being champion again, and wasn't going to flake out and leave, AND pretty much had great matches every time out.   The Angle match at Wrestlemania cemented it.   

Why does WWE change advertised matches?

Scott,


I wasted another Wednesday night watching Main Event. I was looking forward to Langston/Barrett vs. Miz/Del Rio only to find out that they changed the Main Event AGAIN! Do they just not care about The Main Event or do they figure that people will watch anyways? This is the third of fourth time that they've done this in a couple of months. Also, why do they keep changing stipulations that are added already to PPV matches? i.e. Cena vs. Ryback – Ambulance –> Three Stages of Hell, Survivor Series having Team Punk vs. Team Foley –> Cena vs. Ryback vs. Punk, HHH vs. Lesnar at WrestleMania –> No Holds Barred + HHH's career on the line,. 

Is it just writers' indecisiveness or just laziness?

Thanks

I know this will come as a shock to the readership of my blog, but WWE's tendency to bait-and-switch their matches is a bit of a pet peeve of mine.  I understand injuries or whatever, but it's WAY too frequent now where, as you noted, they'll advertise something for Main Event on RAW and then just tape a totally different match instead.  Or even the Fandango-Jericho dance contest, where they advertised THAT for a week and then didn't even deliver it!  
It's all Vince, basically.  He's apparently getting more indecisive as he gets older, and the writers just have to go along with what he wants, even if it's changing every two hours.  As it is, RAW these days is getting perilously close to the halcyon days of 1999 where Vince Russo would literally book the shows on a napkin the day of.  Vince frantically rewriting everything for no reason all the time is frighteningly similar.  

Plans Change

Hey Scott, once again keep up to good work! Been a fan for almost a year and still check your site daily looking for more interesting insights into the business. If you could answer, I have another question for you. Recently I read a rumour that, in 2008, Christian was supposed to be revealed as the guy behind all the attacks and incidents J. Hardy was suffering, but since the rumour was already out, WWE decided to change mid-course and go with M. Hardy, instead. For what you know, is this – by any way, shape or form – close to be true? Did WWE really changed mind mid-course because they thought Christian wouldn't be a surprise anymore ('cause the fans guessed it)?


That is indeed the story, yes. More's the pity because an updated Edge & Christian v. Matt & Jeff Hardy double ladder match at Wrestlemania would have been balls out super-duper awesome, of that I have no doubt.  Matt v. Jeff was less so.  It wasn't even a particularly well-kept secret leading up to the show, and Matt's turn rendered the entire storyline senseless.  And the end result was that Edge got to drop yet another belt to Super Cena at Wrestlemania.  

Another follow-up question. In the same lines of this, I read that the winner for the 2012 royal rumble was supposed to be Jericho, but since the fans were already into it, WWE decided to once again change the plans and go with Sheamus, instead. Again, do you think/know if this is true? Because, honestly, I think it's ridiculous to change the winner of royal rumble of 2012 based on the fact that the fans believe that Jericho is going to win. No one was built as a real potential winner for the rumble more than Jericho, who would've the fans go for? Jericho had all the momentum of his return, of course everyone was going to "buy" his win!

While Jericho winning would have made the most sense and was talked about as a possibility, it turns out that Sheamus was the guy all along, planned out long before the match.  So no, that one was just armchair booking on our part. 

Plans Change

Tonight, a pair of e-mails about changed plans…

Hey Scott,
The bookings for Wrestlemania’s 13 & 14 were both changed do to
unexpected events, Shawn’s “injury” in early ’97 and Bret’s departure
later that year.  Do you have any insight on what the main event
matches for Mania’s 13 & 14 would have been if those two events did
not happen?  Bret has stated that at one point he was supposed to main
event 13 with Shawn, if so, what would Austin’s role have been?  What
would the shakedown of Bret/Shawn/Austin have been at 14?

Not sure about Austin’s role, but it was definitely supposed to be Bret getting his win back from Shawn at WM13.  Bret talked in his book about how they even had a rigged prosthetic boot for Shawn to wear, so that Bret could catch the superkick and break Shawn’s ankle for the submission finish.  And WM14 was supposed to be Bret dropping the title to Austin, but of course Montreal happened.  No matter what happened to who, though, the end result was always SOMEONE dropping the title to Steve Austin.  I don’t think there was any specific plans for Shawn at that point, but if I had to guess I’d say it was Ken Shamrock, Mankind or something along those lines.  The thing is that the entire promotion changed so severely after Montreal that it’s impossible to even say. 

Scott,
I’ve always been interested in knowing the WWF’s plans that were interrupted either by injury or an abrupt absence.  Do you have any insight regarding the following:
Post-Wrestlemania XX plans for Brock Lesnar following WWE Title loss to Eddie G and ‘Interpromotional Match’ vs. Goldberg?

I’m pretty sure that WWE knew that Brock was leaving, but it’s just that WE didn’t.  So I don’t think there were any plans for him. 

Plans for Chris Benoit in lieu of the May 2001 injury?

Probably some involvement with the Invasion, but they knew pretty far in advance that he was getting the surgery, so it’s not like he was screwing up anything long-term for them.  My gut feeling is that, had he continued without getting hurt, he would have naturally gravitated into the Austin-Angle feud and ended up winning the World title 3 years earlier than he actually did. 

Plans for 2001 HHH (face) vs. Austin (heel) program before Hunter’s quad injury?  SummerSlam match, or later?

Much later.  It was supposed to lead to a Wrestlemania blowoff. 

Owen Hart as “The Game” rumors have been floated over the years.  Some have implied that, had Owen lived on, he would have been in HHH’s role.  Is the “Game” thing in regards to the nickname itself, or the actual role and main event push?  The Stephanie marriage?  Top heel?  Or just another nickname for Owen?

Never heard that one before, actually.  Although if anyone could have pulled off the The Game muppet on the YouTube show, it was Owen.  He probably would have loved that. 

Plans Change

Tonight, a pair of e-mails about changed plans…

Hey Scott,
The bookings for Wrestlemania’s 13 & 14 were both changed do to
unexpected events, Shawn’s “injury” in early ’97 and Bret’s departure
later that year.  Do you have any insight on what the main event
matches for Mania’s 13 & 14 would have been if those two events did
not happen?  Bret has stated that at one point he was supposed to main
event 13 with Shawn, if so, what would Austin’s role have been?  What
would the shakedown of Bret/Shawn/Austin have been at 14?

Not sure about Austin’s role, but it was definitely supposed to be Bret getting his win back from Shawn at WM13.  Bret talked in his book about how they even had a rigged prosthetic boot for Shawn to wear, so that Bret could catch the superkick and break Shawn’s ankle for the submission finish.  And WM14 was supposed to be Bret dropping the title to Austin, but of course Montreal happened.  No matter what happened to who, though, the end result was always SOMEONE dropping the title to Steve Austin.  I don’t think there was any specific plans for Shawn at that point, but if I had to guess I’d say it was Ken Shamrock, Mankind or something along those lines.  The thing is that the entire promotion changed so severely after Montreal that it’s impossible to even say. 

Scott,
I’ve always been interested in knowing the WWF’s plans that were interrupted either by injury or an abrupt absence.  Do you have any insight regarding the following:
Post-Wrestlemania XX plans for Brock Lesnar following WWE Title loss to Eddie G and ‘Interpromotional Match’ vs. Goldberg?

I’m pretty sure that WWE knew that Brock was leaving, but it’s just that WE didn’t.  So I don’t think there were any plans for him. 

Plans for Chris Benoit in lieu of the May 2001 injury?

Probably some involvement with the Invasion, but they knew pretty far in advance that he was getting the surgery, so it’s not like he was screwing up anything long-term for them.  My gut feeling is that, had he continued without getting hurt, he would have naturally gravitated into the Austin-Angle feud and ended up winning the World title 3 years earlier than he actually did. 

Plans for 2001 HHH (face) vs. Austin (heel) program before Hunter’s quad injury?  SummerSlam match, or later?

Much later.  It was supposed to lead to a Wrestlemania blowoff. 

Owen Hart as “The Game” rumors have been floated over the years.  Some have implied that, had Owen lived on, he would have been in HHH’s role.  Is the “Game” thing in regards to the nickname itself, or the actual role and main event push?  The Stephanie marriage?  Top heel?  Or just another nickname for Owen?

Never heard that one before, actually.  Although if anyone could have pulled off the The Game muppet on the YouTube show, it was Owen.  He probably would have loved that. 

Plans Change

Tonight, a pair of e-mails about changed plans…

Hey Scott,
The bookings for Wrestlemania’s 13 & 14 were both changed do to
unexpected events, Shawn’s “injury” in early ’97 and Bret’s departure
later that year.  Do you have any insight on what the main event
matches for Mania’s 13 & 14 would have been if those two events did
not happen?  Bret has stated that at one point he was supposed to main
event 13 with Shawn, if so, what would Austin’s role have been?  What
would the shakedown of Bret/Shawn/Austin have been at 14?

Not sure about Austin’s role, but it was definitely supposed to be Bret getting his win back from Shawn at WM13.  Bret talked in his book about how they even had a rigged prosthetic boot for Shawn to wear, so that Bret could catch the superkick and break Shawn’s ankle for the submission finish.  And WM14 was supposed to be Bret dropping the title to Austin, but of course Montreal happened.  No matter what happened to who, though, the end result was always SOMEONE dropping the title to Steve Austin.  I don’t think there was any specific plans for Shawn at that point, but if I had to guess I’d say it was Ken Shamrock, Mankind or something along those lines.  The thing is that the entire promotion changed so severely after Montreal that it’s impossible to even say. 

Scott,
I’ve always been interested in knowing the WWF’s plans that were interrupted either by injury or an abrupt absence.  Do you have any insight regarding the following:
Post-Wrestlemania XX plans for Brock Lesnar following WWE Title loss to Eddie G and ‘Interpromotional Match’ vs. Goldberg?

I’m pretty sure that WWE knew that Brock was leaving, but it’s just that WE didn’t.  So I don’t think there were any plans for him. 

Plans for Chris Benoit in lieu of the May 2001 injury?

Probably some involvement with the Invasion, but they knew pretty far in advance that he was getting the surgery, so it’s not like he was screwing up anything long-term for them.  My gut feeling is that, had he continued without getting hurt, he would have naturally gravitated into the Austin-Angle feud and ended up winning the World title 3 years earlier than he actually did. 

Plans for 2001 HHH (face) vs. Austin (heel) program before Hunter’s quad injury?  SummerSlam match, or later?

Much later.  It was supposed to lead to a Wrestlemania blowoff. 

Owen Hart as “The Game” rumors have been floated over the years.  Some have implied that, had Owen lived on, he would have been in HHH’s role.  Is the “Game” thing in regards to the nickname itself, or the actual role and main event push?  The Stephanie marriage?  Top heel?  Or just another nickname for Owen?

Never heard that one before, actually.  Although if anyone could have pulled off the The Game muppet on the YouTube show, it was Owen.  He probably would have loved that. 

Plans Change

Tonight, a pair of e-mails about changed plans…

Hey Scott,
The bookings for Wrestlemania’s 13 & 14 were both changed do to
unexpected events, Shawn’s “injury” in early ’97 and Bret’s departure
later that year.  Do you have any insight on what the main event
matches for Mania’s 13 & 14 would have been if those two events did
not happen?  Bret has stated that at one point he was supposed to main
event 13 with Shawn, if so, what would Austin’s role have been?  What
would the shakedown of Bret/Shawn/Austin have been at 14?

Not sure about Austin’s role, but it was definitely supposed to be Bret getting his win back from Shawn at WM13.  Bret talked in his book about how they even had a rigged prosthetic boot for Shawn to wear, so that Bret could catch the superkick and break Shawn’s ankle for the submission finish.  And WM14 was supposed to be Bret dropping the title to Austin, but of course Montreal happened.  No matter what happened to who, though, the end result was always SOMEONE dropping the title to Steve Austin.  I don’t think there was any specific plans for Shawn at that point, but if I had to guess I’d say it was Ken Shamrock, Mankind or something along those lines.  The thing is that the entire promotion changed so severely after Montreal that it’s impossible to even say. 

Scott,
I’ve always been interested in knowing the WWF’s plans that were interrupted either by injury or an abrupt absence.  Do you have any insight regarding the following:
Post-Wrestlemania XX plans for Brock Lesnar following WWE Title loss to Eddie G and ‘Interpromotional Match’ vs. Goldberg?

I’m pretty sure that WWE knew that Brock was leaving, but it’s just that WE didn’t.  So I don’t think there were any plans for him. 

Plans for Chris Benoit in lieu of the May 2001 injury?

Probably some involvement with the Invasion, but they knew pretty far in advance that he was getting the surgery, so it’s not like he was screwing up anything long-term for them.  My gut feeling is that, had he continued without getting hurt, he would have naturally gravitated into the Austin-Angle feud and ended up winning the World title 3 years earlier than he actually did. 

Plans for 2001 HHH (face) vs. Austin (heel) program before Hunter’s quad injury?  SummerSlam match, or later?

Much later.  It was supposed to lead to a Wrestlemania blowoff. 

Owen Hart as “The Game” rumors have been floated over the years.  Some have implied that, had Owen lived on, he would have been in HHH’s role.  Is the “Game” thing in regards to the nickname itself, or the actual role and main event push?  The Stephanie marriage?  Top heel?  Or just another nickname for Owen?

Never heard that one before, actually.  Although if anyone could have pulled off the The Game muppet on the YouTube show, it was Owen.  He probably would have loved that. 

Plans Change

Tonight, a pair of e-mails about changed plans…

Hey Scott,
The bookings for Wrestlemania’s 13 & 14 were both changed do to
unexpected events, Shawn’s “injury” in early ’97 and Bret’s departure
later that year.  Do you have any insight on what the main event
matches for Mania’s 13 & 14 would have been if those two events did
not happen?  Bret has stated that at one point he was supposed to main
event 13 with Shawn, if so, what would Austin’s role have been?  What
would the shakedown of Bret/Shawn/Austin have been at 14?

Not sure about Austin’s role, but it was definitely supposed to be Bret getting his win back from Shawn at WM13.  Bret talked in his book about how they even had a rigged prosthetic boot for Shawn to wear, so that Bret could catch the superkick and break Shawn’s ankle for the submission finish.  And WM14 was supposed to be Bret dropping the title to Austin, but of course Montreal happened.  No matter what happened to who, though, the end result was always SOMEONE dropping the title to Steve Austin.  I don’t think there was any specific plans for Shawn at that point, but if I had to guess I’d say it was Ken Shamrock, Mankind or something along those lines.  The thing is that the entire promotion changed so severely after Montreal that it’s impossible to even say. 

Scott,
I’ve always been interested in knowing the WWF’s plans that were interrupted either by injury or an abrupt absence.  Do you have any insight regarding the following:
Post-Wrestlemania XX plans for Brock Lesnar following WWE Title loss to Eddie G and ‘Interpromotional Match’ vs. Goldberg?

I’m pretty sure that WWE knew that Brock was leaving, but it’s just that WE didn’t.  So I don’t think there were any plans for him. 

Plans for Chris Benoit in lieu of the May 2001 injury?

Probably some involvement with the Invasion, but they knew pretty far in advance that he was getting the surgery, so it’s not like he was screwing up anything long-term for them.  My gut feeling is that, had he continued without getting hurt, he would have naturally gravitated into the Austin-Angle feud and ended up winning the World title 3 years earlier than he actually did. 

Plans for 2001 HHH (face) vs. Austin (heel) program before Hunter’s quad injury?  SummerSlam match, or later?

Much later.  It was supposed to lead to a Wrestlemania blowoff. 

Owen Hart as “The Game” rumors have been floated over the years.  Some have implied that, had Owen lived on, he would have been in HHH’s role.  Is the “Game” thing in regards to the nickname itself, or the actual role and main event push?  The Stephanie marriage?  Top heel?  Or just another nickname for Owen?

Never heard that one before, actually.  Although if anyone could have pulled off the The Game muppet on the YouTube show, it was Owen.  He probably would have loved that. 

Plans Change

Tonight, a pair of e-mails about changed plans…

Hey Scott,
The bookings for Wrestlemania’s 13 & 14 were both changed do to
unexpected events, Shawn’s “injury” in early ’97 and Bret’s departure
later that year.  Do you have any insight on what the main event
matches for Mania’s 13 & 14 would have been if those two events did
not happen?  Bret has stated that at one point he was supposed to main
event 13 with Shawn, if so, what would Austin’s role have been?  What
would the shakedown of Bret/Shawn/Austin have been at 14?

Not sure about Austin’s role, but it was definitely supposed to be Bret getting his win back from Shawn at WM13.  Bret talked in his book about how they even had a rigged prosthetic boot for Shawn to wear, so that Bret could catch the superkick and break Shawn’s ankle for the submission finish.  And WM14 was supposed to be Bret dropping the title to Austin, but of course Montreal happened.  No matter what happened to who, though, the end result was always SOMEONE dropping the title to Steve Austin.  I don’t think there was any specific plans for Shawn at that point, but if I had to guess I’d say it was Ken Shamrock, Mankind or something along those lines.  The thing is that the entire promotion changed so severely after Montreal that it’s impossible to even say. 

Scott,
I’ve always been interested in knowing the WWF’s plans that were interrupted either by injury or an abrupt absence.  Do you have any insight regarding the following:
Post-Wrestlemania XX plans for Brock Lesnar following WWE Title loss to Eddie G and ‘Interpromotional Match’ vs. Goldberg?

I’m pretty sure that WWE knew that Brock was leaving, but it’s just that WE didn’t.  So I don’t think there were any plans for him. 

Plans for Chris Benoit in lieu of the May 2001 injury?

Probably some involvement with the Invasion, but they knew pretty far in advance that he was getting the surgery, so it’s not like he was screwing up anything long-term for them.  My gut feeling is that, had he continued without getting hurt, he would have naturally gravitated into the Austin-Angle feud and ended up winning the World title 3 years earlier than he actually did. 

Plans for 2001 HHH (face) vs. Austin (heel) program before Hunter’s quad injury?  SummerSlam match, or later?

Much later.  It was supposed to lead to a Wrestlemania blowoff. 

Owen Hart as “The Game” rumors have been floated over the years.  Some have implied that, had Owen lived on, he would have been in HHH’s role.  Is the “Game” thing in regards to the nickname itself, or the actual role and main event push?  The Stephanie marriage?  Top heel?  Or just another nickname for Owen?

Never heard that one before, actually.  Although if anyone could have pulled off the The Game muppet on the YouTube show, it was Owen.  He probably would have loved that. 

Plans Change

Tonight, a pair of e-mails about changed plans…

Hey Scott,
The bookings for Wrestlemania’s 13 & 14 were both changed do to
unexpected events, Shawn’s “injury” in early ’97 and Bret’s departure
later that year.  Do you have any insight on what the main event
matches for Mania’s 13 & 14 would have been if those two events did
not happen?  Bret has stated that at one point he was supposed to main
event 13 with Shawn, if so, what would Austin’s role have been?  What
would the shakedown of Bret/Shawn/Austin have been at 14?

Not sure about Austin’s role, but it was definitely supposed to be Bret getting his win back from Shawn at WM13.  Bret talked in his book about how they even had a rigged prosthetic boot for Shawn to wear, so that Bret could catch the superkick and break Shawn’s ankle for the submission finish.  And WM14 was supposed to be Bret dropping the title to Austin, but of course Montreal happened.  No matter what happened to who, though, the end result was always SOMEONE dropping the title to Steve Austin.  I don’t think there was any specific plans for Shawn at that point, but if I had to guess I’d say it was Ken Shamrock, Mankind or something along those lines.  The thing is that the entire promotion changed so severely after Montreal that it’s impossible to even say. 

Scott,
I’ve always been interested in knowing the WWF’s plans that were interrupted either by injury or an abrupt absence.  Do you have any insight regarding the following:
Post-Wrestlemania XX plans for Brock Lesnar following WWE Title loss to Eddie G and ‘Interpromotional Match’ vs. Goldberg?

I’m pretty sure that WWE knew that Brock was leaving, but it’s just that WE didn’t.  So I don’t think there were any plans for him. 

Plans for Chris Benoit in lieu of the May 2001 injury?

Probably some involvement with the Invasion, but they knew pretty far in advance that he was getting the surgery, so it’s not like he was screwing up anything long-term for them.  My gut feeling is that, had he continued without getting hurt, he would have naturally gravitated into the Austin-Angle feud and ended up winning the World title 3 years earlier than he actually did. 

Plans for 2001 HHH (face) vs. Austin (heel) program before Hunter’s quad injury?  SummerSlam match, or later?

Much later.  It was supposed to lead to a Wrestlemania blowoff. 

Owen Hart as “The Game” rumors have been floated over the years.  Some have implied that, had Owen lived on, he would have been in HHH’s role.  Is the “Game” thing in regards to the nickname itself, or the actual role and main event push?  The Stephanie marriage?  Top heel?  Or just another nickname for Owen?

Never heard that one before, actually.  Although if anyone could have pulled off the The Game muppet on the YouTube show, it was Owen.  He probably would have loved that. 

Change For A Dollar

Hey Scott, All this discussion in recent months (years, really) about what is wrong with the current product/business, who should or shouldn’t be pushed, why so-and-so isn’t working, decisions that are tanking business growth, etc, got me thinking about an elephant in the room. As always I could be completley off here, but I really don’t think the issues that have plagued the business for the past decade aren’t as clear, cut and simple as "John Cena gets pushed too much" or "the titles don’t mean anything" – both of which I agree with to an extent, but I think we are ignoring a more complicated (ina strange way, fundemental) problem here. Let me lay this out with question: when was the last time you watched an episode of RAW or Smackdown that, with the exception of a some notable segments, matches or roster differences, felt like it could have taken place any time within the last 8 or 9 years? THIS has been my biggest hurdle to latching onto any regular viewing habit, the simple fact that the business has seemingly fallen victim to Mr. Freeze’s ice gun, because it hasn’t  moved since the original season of American Idol. Raw and Smackdown (and I won’t even get into TNA) are the same shows following the same formulas, norms, rules, presentation, and outlines featuring the same characters, promos, segments and matches over and over again, save for a few aforementioned details. For years I’ve gotten almost the exact same level of satisfaction and entertainment by reading online recaps than I would half-sleeping through a program. And why? I already know what is going to happen, or at the very least I feel like what had transpired on the show rarely warrants an actual viewing, because I can get the same effect hearing or reading about it. Show starts, Guy comes out and talks from script, Other Guy does the same, RAW GM makes match later, backstage segment, 3 minute match, announcers bickers, backstage comedy segment, 3 minute match, backstage segment, announcers bicker… Let’s get metaphorical: the WWE’s problem isn’t merely that their living room is in disarray (Cena and Orton are around too much), the dishes are piling up (too many titles, don’t mean anything), a lot of the rooms needs remodeling (new interesting characters, fresh booking) or the attic isn’t finished (little growth or few new ideas) – it’s the fact that their entire house is old and unsightly. The entire thing needs to make close friends with a wrecking ball. They need to move, establish a completely new way of producing and presenting a professional wrestling/sports entertainment product, just like they did during the Golden Era, the Attitude Era or, say, in 1993 when they first concieved Monday Night Raw and brought their act to a smaller, more personal venue for no other reason than to really change (I’m using the RAW move as an example, not a specific plea to repeat this particular formula). Does any of this make sense or do I need to crawl back into my hole for a while?

Makes perfect sense.  The interchangeable nature of the RAW shows is part of the reason why it’s so hard to remember anything about the shows from 2001ish until now.  They have their formula and there’s no incentive for them to break free from it.  Remember how fun and memorable the Old School episode was?  Different can be good.  I’ve said a few times they should break out of the box and do something silly like shooting from a train station ala the old Shotgun Saturday Night shows, or from Central Park or something.  Have some FUN with it again.