Report from the Fort: Best Villain

Our pillow fort here in the Wrestlegasm Bunker is starting to sag. If anyone’s in the area and has five spare minutes, please be a doll, come round and fluff up our pillows for us? We’ll pay you in cheese puffs. While we wait, I’ll crack on with our next award, for the people we love to hate.

There aren’t many pure villains around these days. We have plenty of bad guys and angry girls, but what we’re talking about is moustache-twiddling, Disney-esque villainy. It’s one thing to want to beat down everyone in your path to victory, damning the consequences as you go. To have a devilish plan that not only gets you to the top, but also takes you down the most dastardly route possible is quite another.

A rare breed of wretch was reborn this year in the form on John Laurinaitis. We hate him. No, I mean we really hate him. Johnny’s 2011 incarnation had all the Machiavellian qualities of Vince McMahon without any of the deranged likability. His behind-the-scenes campaign to bring Triple H down from his lofty managerial perch while playing dumb in public made me want to throw rotten vegetables at his face. It was his influence that forced our beloved Beth Phoenix to wander down that vomit inducing ‘We’re girls. We need protecting. Wah-wah-wah’ path when he ushered the roster towards a vote of no confidence in their leader.

Every time John appeared on screen, I gave out an enormous and genuine sigh that said ‘Urgh. This guy. WTF does he want this time?’ There’s also the fact that he’s allegedly an even bigger dickhead in real life, which only ramps up our loathing further. Here’s to you, John Laurinaitis. We look forward to your pending demise, beginning with CM Punk’s heart stopping character assassination at the end of this week’s Raw and the inevitable repercussions of punching Mick Foley in the kisser.

Honourable Mention: goes to Kharma. There aren’t many wrestlers who can fill not only their opponents but also the audience will palpable terror after just a second of crunching piano chords and a spine chilling cackle. Even watching her WWE debut again now I get a genuine, slightly fluttery feeling in my chest. The kind of internal tremor that reminds me why I love wrestling so much.

For purely selfish reasons, it’s a shame her plan to trim the Divas division and make it her own was so short. But we can hardly be angry with a woman for disappearing for the sake of motherhood, as debated earlier in the year. Whenever Kharma’s ready to return, we’ll be there, peeking from behind cushions, hoping she doesn’t catch our eye. EEK!

Keep the Noise Down

I’ve thought long and hard about whether I want to write this post or not, but Andrew is a wise man and is right in saying that I need to get it out of my system so I can fully enjoy wrestling again. I’m struggling with wrestling at the moment, but it has nothing to do with wrestling itself. I’m finding Raw surprisingly enjoyable, Smackdown is rebuilding itself after the big shift in personnel, Tough Enough was fantastic, Superstars is the hidden gem that not enough people realise is excellent and that’s all before the plethora of indie DVDs we’re slowly making our way through. We recently finished watching CHIKARA’s 2011 King of Trios tournament, which was so outstanding I’d struggle to find the words to describe it. Luckily, Matt Jones did that for us after attending the shows himself. We’re moving on to Colt Cabana’s Wrestling Road Diaries next. I can hardly wait.

So what, you might ask, am I struggling with? Well, it’s the Internet. It’s colouring how I view wrestling, bringing me down, turning me off, urinating on my fire etc.  I spent several months hardly checking in with the Internet Wrestling Community. It made me angry, so I avoided it. But after a recent difficult personal event, wrestling was a welcome distraction and I revelled in sharing it with others. That all changed again when Christian lost the World Heavyweight Title just a few days after winning it for the first time at Extreme Rules. The IWC was outraged, I was not.

To me this just seemed like another twist in a constantly rolling series of stories. Christian dropped the belt to Randy Orton. So what? If Edge hadn’t retired, Christian may never have been a contender anyway. Who was to say that this wasn’t the beginning of something much bigger? This may have been the start of the Story of the Year. Fans behaved as if Vince McMahon and Co. had somehow betrayed them by promising a title run before snatching it away again. I didn’t see it that way. Nobody had been promised anything and, in reality, they were probably more concerned with establishing Randy Orton as the new Smackdown poster boy. I couldn’t cope with such ridiculous Internet venom and when people started tweeting death threats in Randy Orton’s direction I checked out of Twitter, vowing not to return until it had all blown over. Unsurprisingly, it took no more than a week for ‘the most awful thing that had ever happened in wrestling’ to be forgotten.

I started wondering if I was getting too old for wrestling. I don’t actually think you’re ever too old for wrestling; I’m just outgrowing the crowd of people who spew inconsiderate and unintelligent nonsense around the Internet. If nothing else, my time away from Twitter forced me to accept that not everybody watches wrestling for the same reasons and with the same agenda that I do. We all take something different away from it and I decided I’d just have to accept that there would always be fan reactions I didn’t understand. My angst settled again, until the WWE Over the Limit Pay-Per-View.

We decided not to watch the show live, opting to avoid spoilers and watch it on Monday. I watched during the afternoon and, while it wasn’t a particularly memorable PPV, I quite enjoyed it in parts. I certainly didn’t feel angry about anything that happened during the show. I returned to the Internet to see what others had thought and was met with a shower of insurmountable negativity. In some places, whole streams of comments made throughout the show were nothing but diarised bullets of anger shot out at anyone who cared to read them. For want of a more elegant way of putting it, it killed my buzz.

We all have our frustrated moments, but I don’t understand why people continue to watch and comment on wrestling when it is mustering such fury within them. Wrestling isn’t a sport where the outcome of each event is unknown. It’s a scripted television programme. If I’m watching a TV series that’s gone off the boil  (however much I used to enjoy it) I stop watching. Just as an example, I watched and adored the first series of Glee. Andrew will vouch for me when I say that anything where people suddenly burst into song and dance makes me extremely happy, but I didn’t enjoy the second series. To use some wrestling terminology, I thought it became a spot-fest and forgot what it was supposed to be about. I’m disappointed that Glee became something I didn’t want it to be, but I don’t feel that I have or should have any control over the creative process. In wrestling it seems that everyone feels they have a right to dictate how stories will play out. We all have opinions and suggestions, but many wrestling fans seem to express them with such life-and-death desperation it just makes me want to stop conversing altogether.

The only way to make an impact is to vote with your remote control. Stop buying the PPVs and stop watching the free stuff.  I know it’s not easy and I should have done it myself during the atrocious Raw Guest Host months. I loathed it. The shows were painful to watch but I kept writing about just how awful they were week after week. It wore me down and I resented spending my weekends writing about it. I’m sorry I subjected people to that. At the time we were on a blogging treadmill and it took several months before we were able to step off and only write about things we thought deserved our time. It was the best decision we ever made. If you’re hating wrestling, step away from it for a while. If you miss it, you’ll come back. If you’re hating WWE, find an alternative.

After some of those who watched Over the Limit live had stolen my enjoyment of the show, I quite seriously considered deleting my Twitter account. Instead, I checked out again and tweeted a statement I still stand by. ‘There is more to wrestling than the WWE and there is more to life than wrestling.’ There are far more important things worth getting worked up about. I started paying serious attention to independent wrestling less than two years ago and now I couldn’t do without it. It gives you a bigger picture of wrestling. When WWE isn’t hitting the spot, it’s a place to go where your faith in wrestling is instantly restored. When you have options, you worry less about the WWE. King of Trios was our ‘happy place’ during the usual post Wrestlemania slump. In fact, while watching CHIKARA recently, both Andrew and myself agreed that if we had to choose between the two, we’d easily select CHIKARA over WWE. A show that makes you smile for three hours straight once a month is far superior to a collection of shows broadcast three or four times a week where the expectation is that only small portion of the shows will be entertaining.

Once again I tried to ignore the rubbish, but when the Kharma story started seeping across the Internet like an unstoppable torrent, it tipped me over the edge. As a woman, I struggle with the way the WWE treats its female roster. It goes against many of my principles and I’m often embarrassed by the lack of equal billing (among other things) between Divas and Superstars. Still, I persevere because the WWE is loaded with wonderfully talented women who will surely one day be given an opportunity to be trusted with stories and main events currently set aside for the boys. [Incidentally, there’s an excellent article on Feminism and Pro Wrestling by Danielle Stull in the first issue of the Fair to Flair Quarterly. I highly recommend it.]

Kharma (Kia Stevens) was an impossibly exciting addition to the WWE roster. Nobody was more thrilled than I was when she started gate crashing the established Divas matches, paralysing them with fear as she drove each of the girls into the mat, one show at a time. I was brimming with ideas and excited at the possibilities to come. It shouldn’t have taken one contract signing to inject such vigour into the division, but at least it felt like there may be something of a watershed on the horizon.

Out of nowhere on the May 23rd edition of Raw, Kharma broke down in tears in the middle of the ring surrounded by the bewildered Divas. It began emerging online that Kharma would be out for several months. This seemed odd considering she hadn’t had a match yet. It would be terribly unfortunate for her to have picked up an injury after such little ring time. Before Kharma had even had an opportunity to explain her forthcoming absence, it leaked that her time away would be at least nine months. Oh. NINE MONTHS. Wink-wink-nudge-nudge-saynomore. It was disappointing that the announcement of such a personal event had been taken away from her, but if the news was true I was thoroughly pleased for her. What more exciting news is there than finding out you’re becoming a parent for the first time? It never really crossed my mind to consider how it would affect my hopes for the Divas division. Some things in life are more important. Unfortunately, not everyone felt the same way.

I was genuinely stunned at some of the comments I saw online. People were annoyed that Kharma would be disappearing so soon after her arrival. Some were more than ‘annoyed’, they were nasty. Interestingly, on going back to find a couple of them, I notice that some have been taken down. In writing this post I had several examples saved that I planned on using here, but upsetting people for the sake of it is not my style. I’m not much for confrontation. The people who spouted off online about how a woman’s pregnancy ‘let them down’ know who they are. I will, however, quote the comment that upset me the most.

Nine months = pregnancy.

And, if that is the case, one would wonder why she couldn’t use birth control or something before the biggest push of her life. Anti-climactic.

Yeah, mate. How dare a woman have a child when your leisure time is at stake. How very selfish of her. Another comment on the same article described Kharma’s then alleged pregnancy as “PREGO!!!!! Epic fail by Kharma.” A child is never an epic fail. By the way, those who asked if Kharma had broken down because it was her ‘time of the month’ and was she feeling emotional should be ashamed. I saw that question asked by women. Despite the fact that the Internet had already ‘broken the story’, no official statement had been released by the WWE. It was announced that Kharma would address the audience on the next episode of Raw, drumming up significant speculation online about how the announcement would play out. Much of the discussion was about how trashy the WWE would make her departure, considering the fact that maternity leave hasn’t been high on their list of priorities in the past.

Kia is a classy lady and the WWE allowed her to temporarily bow out of competition with real style. I was proud of her and I was pleased they resisted the urge to turn something very simple and touching into anything less than it deserved. Even the Bella Twins coming out to verbally bitch-slap her was done with a touch of coolness. The show must go on! If ever there was a moment for them to ramp up their heel credentials, that was it. When the WWE has handled a female issue with more tact and delicacy than the fans, something is very wrong and I’m not sure I want to be part of it any more.

I’ve reached a point where I’m embarrassed to call myself a wrestling fan and it has very little to do wrestling at all. That’s frustrating, and I’ve had to seriously consider whether the Internet enhances or detracts from my enjoyment of wrestling. At the moment it’s spoiling it. We’re definitely not closing the blog because we love it dearly. And I’m not deleting the Twitter account, but it’s time to reconsider the sources of information I seek out, take note of and allow to cross my path. Differences in opinion and debate are healthy and spark new ideas, but pandering to rumours, sourceless stories and the fans who force their negativity on others only fuels their fire. Being passionate about something isn’t measured in how loud you shout and, from here on in, I refuse to allow people shouting far too loudly to steal professional wrestling away from me.

 

 

What? Already? Bloody hell, it’s only the Over the Limit predictions

I have to question the logic of cramming in an extra PPV in the month after Wrestlemania. Considering the amount of sales they expect for ‘Mania, a bit of breathing space might be nice. Still, I’m sure they know what they’re doing. This weekend is the second Over The Limit PPV, and just looking at the posters for the two years you can see how much times have changed. Daniel Bryan on a Pay Per View poster? Surely the true harbinger of the rapture…

Sidekick Andrew: First up, the obligatory Divas match for the “butterfly emblazoned title” (© wwe.com) Brie is inexplicably Divas Champion (a fact I had to enlighten Boss Lady Ray with, which should give you an indication of how successful a champion she is) and Kelly is looking for her first title. Of course, this is really about one person, and one person only…

Yep, pretty sure Kharma is making an appearance and saving this match from being as awful as it promises to be. Seriously, with Beth, Natalya, Kharma and Gail on your roster, Brie bloody Bella and Kelly Kelly are the best you have to offer? Sheesh… Anyway, I’m going to go with Kelly winning the title, after Kharma comes out and distracts Brie long enough for Kelly to sloppily pull off a roll up.

Boss Lady Ray: It’s true. I, chief person in charge of being frustrated at the treatment of the Divas Division, had to ask the Sidekick who currently held the title. Times is bleak. I actually don’t think either will win the match. I’m guessing Kharma will interfere and end it early. Kelly and Brie can finish it another time. More importantly, I’m desperately hoping Beth and Natalya come out to beat Kharma down. UHH. I’m getting excited just thinking about it. I know WWE people read this blog (hah!) so let’s make it happen, people.

Sidekick Andrew: Hmm, I’ll confess I’ve not been watching as much WWE as I perhaps should have been. Over than Tough Enough, Superstars and Z! The True Long Island Story we’ve been (slowly) working our way through King of Trios over the last couple of weeks instead. As such, I’m not sure what’s going on with these two. I saw Chavo doing guest commentary on Sin Cara’s match the other week, and they had a very manly handshake in the ring afterwards (complete with FORESHADOWING)

While I don’t have much interest in the reasons for this match, I am looking forward to the actual match itself. Sin Cara is pretty exciting, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he performs on a PPV setting after his slightly shaky Raw matches. Chavo is a pretty safe pair of hands for him to go against, seemingly bringing the best out of the newer guys on the roster (I believe he had Daniel Bryan and Rey Mysterio’s first WWE matches.) Pretty sure Sin Cara is winning this one though. If WWE are wanting to push him then a PPV win would be a nice start.

Boss Lady Ray: Unlike my slack colleague, I have been making an effort to watch WWE programming of late. We’ll discuss this at your appraisal, Andrew. I do, however, agree that Sin Cara’s got this one sewn up. He was such a huge acquisition and he’s not had the brilliant start everyone was expecting. Chavo’s a loveable dork and happy to put anyone over. It’s a perfect marriage.

Sidekick Andrew: I have absolutely no idea what’s going on here. I know R-Truth is supposedly a heel now, which means that everyone hates him…

Wakka Wakka!

I’ve literally nothing else to say about this one, other than I want Mysterio to win and that I’m looking forward to the Divas match more than this one.

Boss Lady Ray: You see, if Andrew had been watching Raw (which admittedly he’s always avoided) he’d know that R-Truth is rather hilarious as a heel. He’s still mad as a box of frogs, what with his krayzee-eyez, his waffle about kicking pets and hateful hospital food, but Truth is significantly more interesting now than when he’s winning the crowd over with his low-rent rapping. He keeps telling us he’s going prove his worth, so I think Truth will take this one in rather violent fashion. I’m still holding out for a promo to rival this one though:


Everything was falling apart around him. And he seemed helpless to halt the collapse; he could only witness it, completely impotent, snatched up and gripped by processes too powerful for him to understand. (Philip K Dick)

Sidekick Andrew: That was a bit geeky wasn’t it, quoting sci-fi authors – but then I’m writing on a wrestling blog so the “cool” ship has pretty much sailed I’m afraid. The Corre is slowly collapsing under the weight of thousands of unsold t-shirts with that terrible logo on. Jackson has been ex-communicated in that particularly gangland method of kicking the crap out of him then tipping a wheelie bin full of invisible glass bottles on top.

Much as I love Barrett, and all local bias aside, I think Jackson might win this one. He needs the push much more than Barrett at the moment, and this could be the time for the Corre to implode completely. Slater messes up costing Barrett the title somehow; Barrett turns on him; Slater’s hetero life partner Gabriel jumps in to interfere; end of the Corre. In fact, you could say… Corre no More! Get it! It rhymes and everything! Ah well, as the Space Pirates would say, “if you don’t get it, just forget it.”

On the other hand, if you did get the reference, you've now got "na nanana na... Space Pirates!" stuck in your head

Boss Lady Ray: I have no children and yet I know the theme tune to Space Pirates. I need to get pregnant so I can justify my unrelenting enjoyment of children’s television. Clearly I’m made for motherhood! Anyway, I’m going to disagree with the Sidekick on this one. The Corre is definitely on its way out, but I think Wade’s keeping the title and ditching his cronies for good. The Corre hasn’t worked that well and Wade needs to get back to ticking ‘World Domination’ off his to-do list before he misses the boat.

Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company. (George Washington)

Sidekick Andrew: I’m pretty sure the only word to describe this match is going to be “ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww.” The match itself won’t be that great, although as long as Lawler gets the win and we can put an end to Cole wrestling I’ll be happy. I’ll be happy for Lawler to carry on feuding with Swagger or something, but just stop Cole’s involvement… please?

My biggest issue with this match though is the stipulation – a “Kiss My Foot” match where the loser must kiss the winner’s foot. As far as I’m aware, this has been done once before in the WWE with Lawler and Bret Hart, which does make me wonder just how much Lawler likes feet (if you know what I mean.) I did manage to find footage of a Kiss my Foot match in FCW between Katie Lea (later WWE’s Katie Lea Burchill and TNA’s Winter) and Milena Roucka (later that really flexible girl running from Rey Mysterio’s uncle in the amazing Wrestlemaniac) but that probably appeals to a completely different market coughTurtlecough

Casting aside images of attractive women flexibly kissing each others appendages for a moment, do we really want to see Cole kissing Lawler’s foot? His sixty two year old wizened goblin trotter, sweating and stinking from being cramped inside a tight boot and wrestling under hot lights for 10 minutes or so? Does anybody really enjoy that kind of thing? Kissing dirty feet?

oh... right... eww...

Boss Lady Ray: Oh! Bloody brilliant! I’ve spent ages trying to rid this blog of sinister search terms and now they’ll all be swarming over here like zombies running at a fresh human. Sod off, you creepy foot freaks! Be ashamed of yourselves. *SHUDDER*

I keep saying that Lawler will win because I’m so desperate for Cole to stay in his commentary seat and stop interrupting Divas matches. Using the skill of reverse psychology I’m going to predict Cole to win. I really can’t lose. Either this feud ends, which is preferable, or I win a point in the predictions competition. Win-win.

Sidekick Andrew: No points for guessing who Boss Lady Ray is pulling for in this match. On the one hand we’ve got current Tag Team Champions Big Show and Kane, not exactly two of her favourite wrestlers. On the other team we have CM Punk, a man that the Boss has an almost ridiculous crush on (especially in those lavender trunks.) He’s teaming with the best that Wales has to offer.

Mae fy hofrenfad yn llawn llyswennodMae fy hofrenfad yn llawn llyswennod!

Only joking (please don’t sack me Boss!) He is of course teaming with the “chainsaw temper and menacing muscle” (wwe.com again) of Mason Ryan. Now, I think even Ray will admit that Ryan is still slightly green in the ring, but even so I think he and Punk will take the titles. Ryan, with guidance, should be absolutely fine in tag matches with Punk, rather than being unfortunately exposed in singles competition. All he needs to do at first is look menacing and occasionally clothesline someone, and I’m sure he could do that pretty well. Basically, I have an overwhelming vision of Punk holding the title at the end of match with a massive shit-eating grin plastered across his face. Although, admittedly, this weekend should have taught both me and Harold Camping not to trust in visions.

Boss Lady Ray: Speaking of visions, I’m just recalling that dream I once had where Tom Jones showed up in his own version of a referee’s outfit.

I was tempted to suggest that Mason would cost he and Punk the match, but I just can’t do it. Punk needs a new title and I really want to see Mason win his first. This is love, lust and pride versus a couple of old geezers I’ve never much cared for. No contest. Punk & Bazza to win. Can we please hurry up with these? Tom Jones has just thrown some bubble-bath in the hot-tub and I want to get in on that action. HUH! *Jones-esque hip girations*

Sidekick Andrew: Randy Orton vs Christian: or, as we have taken to calling it in the Bunker, Vince McMahon vs The Internet. I’ve already written briefly about the frankly hysterical uproar when Orton beat Christian for the title, so I won’t go back over old ground. Suffice to say that Orton’s retaining the belt this weekend. There is definitely an argument to be made that the amount of complaints from fans and blogs online might make the WWE think that they made a mistake and that the title should go back to Christian. It might make Vince reconsider his apparent belief that Christian isn’t a draw and shouldn’t be in the main event scene. It might make him realise that the vast majority of the internet have lost interest in Randy Orton and… his… interminably… slow… delivery, both in ring and on the microphone.

It might do all this, if Vince McMahon cared even slightly what the internet thought.

Boss Lady Ray: If the whole purpose of giving Randy Orton the title so soon after he was drafted was so that he could become the face of Smackdown, it doesn’t make any sense to take it away again. I’ve no doubt that Christian will get it back again, but I’m not sure it’s happening before Summerslam. And if you think WWE panders to fans whining about who has the title, you’re dreaming.  Randy to retain.

Sidekick Andrew: Really? REALLY? Does anyone think Miz is going to take the title back this weekend? Much as I like The Miz, the idea of Cena saying “I Quit” is pretty unthinkable. He’s been in three previous I Quit matches (against JBL at Judgement Day 2005, Orton at Breaking Point 2009 and Batista at last year’s Over the Limit) and come out on top each time. Even wwe.com admit that the words I Quit “have never been in his vocabulary.”

Cena’s retaining the title. They’re not going to take it off him this quickly, even if the internet want Miz to get to it back (see above.) Much as I would love to see the show go off air with Miz holding the title aloft and Cena having quit, it seems very very unlikely to me.

aww...

Boss Lady Ray: Yesterday when we discussed this in the Wrestle Bunker, I was all about Cena keeping the title. No way was Miz getting it back. I even did a sassy finger snap and a head bob to confirm my confidence. Today I’m not so sure. I’m going to say that neither will quit and someone will interfere. Who and for what reason, I have no idea. The Rock? HHH? Soapy Tom Jones? I’m just going on a hunch. An instinct. But we all know how terrible my instincts are. It’s amazing I’ve made it through the first disc of L.A. Noire!