10 Ways to Spice Up Your (WWE) Relationship

We can’t help but notice that some wrestling fans and bloggers (and we’re both looking in a full length mirror here) have been a little ‘meh’ about the WWE lately. It’s not that Andrew and I have stopped watching. We’re still tuning in and enjoying what we see. It’s just that we haven’t been feeling like we’ve got much to say for a while. Rather than bombard you with rubbish, we kept quiet. Also, we found ourselves analysing wrestling so much that it was sucking the life out of it. A definite shift takes place when you go from fan to critic, and sometimes you need find your inner fan again. It’s a bit like a food critic who needs to go to a greasy spoon and eat a wonderfully disgusting fried breakfast to remember why they love food.

If you consider your WWE love like a relationship, just lately it’s hit an awkward stage. You’re having enough fun that you don’t want to call it quits and run for the hills. You’re not in that ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ place, but you’re not in such a giddy state that you’re frothing at the mere anticipation of watching either. Being the amateur psychologist that I am, I’ve come up with 10 tried and tested ways to spice up your relationship with the WWE and get it back on heart-pounding track. Come on, kids. Let’s put some lead back in that pencil! Here’s what our lab experiments concluded…..

Convert Someone 

The best way to jolt your memory into remembering why you love something so much is to try and explain to someone else why you love it. Grab a friend who knows nothing about wrestling, sit them down in front of Raw, talk them through it and LOL the night away at how many times they say “Dude, you know this isn’t real, right?” and “So jorts are a thing in wrestling?” and “Jesus, Randy Orton walks SLOWLY!” You’ll soon realise you kind of like knowing as much as you do about the non-sport of wrestling. It might also help if they’re a willing test subject. If you need to secure them to a chair with some gaffer tape or pay them in cold hard cash, choose a different friend.

Don’t Be Lonely 

If nobody around you loves wrestling, it can be a lonely pastime. If there’s nobody to make even the crappiest shows more fun, it can be easy to let them slip off your Sky+ hard drive unwatched. Think of it like when you’re getting sick of pounding out the miles on a treadmill at the gym and you wonder if you’d be happier getting home an hour earlier, growing fatter by the day. A good friend to share the experience with will give even the most arduous of work-outs a purpose. So if you find yourself fast forwarding through more matches than you’re watching, watch with someone else (even if you just do it over Skype) and share the love.

Put On Rose-Tinted Glasses

You know those phases in a relationship where every tiny thing your other half does annoys you? We’ve all been there. They leave toast crumbs in butter. They walk away from you in shops and you have to spend 20 minutes looking for them before you can leave. They call you ‘sweet-cheeks’ because they know you hate it. It makes you want to just AAAAAARRRRGGGHH! If this has been going on for a long time and you can’t rise above it, it might be time to say adios. But in most cases they’re just the annoyances that come along with any relationship. So too with wrestling. Ignore the silly stuff you don’t like. There will always be things that bug you. That’s life! Stop watching expecting to be disappointed and focus on the good stuff.

If I were a sentimental and crafty sort of person, I might suggest buying a big pasta jar from IKEA, taking some pretty notelet cards and writing something you love about wrestling on each card. A memorable moment, match or promo you’re fond of, for example. I might then suggest you go to the jar of wrestling love and pull out a card to read when you’re having one of those “I hate wrestling so much” weeks. I would say that if I were a sentimental and crafty person. Which I am not. Not at all. I am lying.

Don’t Panic! 

Can you imagine how difficult it would be to make every week as exciting as this year’s Money in the Bank? It would be impossible. The reason that show was so achingly exciting was that it built-up over time. To have peaks, there must be troughs. If you can ride out the quiet times without panicking that EVERYTHING HAS TO BE EXCITING ALL THE TIME, you’re made for life. Proving my theory that there is an episode of Friends for every event in life – remember when Phoebe started dating Gary and it was all heat and passion and new love? And remember when Monica got upset that her relationship with Chandler was too comfortable and EVERYTHING HAD TO BE SEXY ALL THE TIME? That worked out well in the end, didn’t it? Chill.

Have a Duvet Day 

Gather up some of the favourite matches or shows on DVD, book the day off work, put some cosy clothes on and spend the day watching and enjoying your favourite stuff under a blanket with a cup of tea. (Beverage choice negotiable.) Try to make them recent matches. You don’t want to spend the day watching stuff from the distant past and end up repeatedly saying “This was when wrestling was actually good.” That will defeat the purpose. Also, this works even better if you can do it with other people. Oh and if you can go back to work the next day and not feel the need to tell your colleagues a lie about what you really did on your day off, you get extra points. Nobody will believe you climbed that mountain or spent the day rescuing orphaned seals anyway.

Get Out of That Rut

If watching WWE has become a mundane part of your week, switch things up a bit. If you’re watching Smackdown on Friday night when you’re completely shagged from a heavy working week, you might not be absorbing the fun; especially if you’re thinking “It’s Friday night. Why aren’t I out on the town living the life of a hedonistic playboy/girl?” Alternatively, you might be missing parts of Raw because your kids keep waking up and requesting a cuddle during crucial moments. If you’ve lost part of the story and are wondering what happened to make Dolph Ziggler punch John Laurinaitis in the chops, you’re less likely to stick with the rest of the episode.  Watch on Saturday morning when you’ve had 10 hours of sleep and a bacon breakfast, or put a lock on the kids’ bedroom door so they can’t demand you show them any affection during wrestling-times.

Lust 

Turn up at a WWE show unexpected. Lie to the security guard about being a member of staff and make your way to CM Punk’s locker room in a nonchalant manner. Offer him a full-body massage and when he agrees…..alright, that’s just me. But hey, if you need to get through the quiet times lusting after your favourite superstar/diva, that’s okay. Whatever gets you through, kiddo. They’re not prancing around oiled up and half naked for their own amusement. Quite frankly, it would be rude not make use of their inherent buffness.

See Other People

When it’s just the two of you (WWE and yourself) and you’re focused on each other to the detriment of everything else, there’s nothing to do and nowhere to go when you really want to get away during the quiet times. I know we bang on about this all the time, but when your wrestling life is filled with more than one thing, it gives WWE a bit of context. Don’t be afraid to try something new. It makes your relationship healthier and we promise we won’t call you a slut.

Turn the Internet Off

We love to think we’re free-thinking and make our own decisions on which WWE stuff we like and don’t like. Lord knows I hold the minority view on most of the company’s activities. But it’s all too easy to find yourself carried along with a mob mentality. Before you know it, you’re in a “Do I love this or hate this? What does everyone else think? I can’t make my own decisions. Tell me what to feel, Internet?” situation. Turn Twitter off and watch the shows without the irritating crackle of snarky interference in the background. We no longer watch any WWE PPVs with Twitter open. It is a joy!

And if all else fails…..

Add Muppets. They are the seasoning that makes everything a little bit tastier.

Sunday Musings

I was going to write a humorous summary of Wade Barrett’s appearance on Daybreak today. Nothing makes me feel more smug than non-wrestling bods interviewing wrestlers, desperately walking the journalistic tightrope of curiosity vs ignorance. The idea of Adrian Chiles snarling and spitting “Wrestling is fake though, isn’t it?” at Wade Barrett would have been worthy of a whole post in itself. Christine Bleakely trying to look interested in any man who isn’t Chiles or pretty-faced boyfriend Frank Lampard would have been great, especially when faced with wonky nosed Barrett. At least they could have discussed their shared interest in over-tanning.

If you’re not lucky enough to be British and have no clue what I’m babbling on about, Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakely are a platonic TV couple who jumped ship from their daily evening show on the BBC (where they were great) to front a daily morning show for more cash on ITV (where they are terrible). Adrian Chiles just isn’t made for being seen in the morning and Christine Bleakely makes me not want to look in the mirror myself in the morning.

Evidence

Unfortunately, Wade Barrett was bumped from Friday’s show. They needed room to cover the atrocious earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan. That’s fair. They’d be hauled over the coals for chatting away with a home-grown wrestling superstar while thousands of people were suffering at that very moment. Having said that, they did find time to run a segment where five, yes five, grown adults sat around and chuckled at the fact that the Ken doll has a new haircut. It went on for some time. This was before speaking with their Hollywood reporter live via satellite to ask for an update on that washed-up actor who has been dominating Twitter with his incoherent musings. (I’m deliberately not saying his name.) Nice to know you’ve got your priorities straight, Daybreak. So Wade recorded a British radio interview to be broadcast next week and jetted off to Germany for more promotional work before I’d even caught glimpse of him on local telly.

Now what am I going to talk about? I could tell you about the dream I had last night where CM Punk dumped me for Kaitlyn while we were on holiday in Cornwall, only to find myself crying on Stephen Merchant’s shoulder, but that’s not very interesting. The truth is, it’s actually been a very busy week for both of us. It’s definitely been one of those weeks where real life has taken priority over blogging. We even had to skip our sacred ‘watching Smackdown in pyjamas’ on Saturday morning. Sad times. We did manage to watch CHIKARA’s Anniversario Elf show on Thursday, which was unsurprisingly fantastic, and we squeezed WWE Superstars in on Friday afternoon. Unusually, I’ve only just got round to watching Raw and Smackdown. Smackdown on a Sunday is wrong. It is to be watched on Saturday mornings in pyjamas with the Sidekick or not at all.

I’m not going to recap either show and the post I might have written about Michael Cole’s interruption of the Raw Divas match on International Women’s Day has already been written rather wonderfully elsewhere. More on that in a few paragraphs time. But something quite profound struck me while my eyes jogged through today’s Raw/Smackdown marathon, and that is that this really is a watershed in WWE programming. At least, I hope it is.

The forthcoming Wrestlemania is the pulling-out-all-the-stops Wrestlemania. They’ve brought legends back, others are probably on their last trot around the paddock and a young and overly stacked roster are salivating at the prospect of being moved up. Obviously, Wrestlemania is the money spinner; the one chance WWE has to draw in PPV buys from people who don’t bother for the rest of the year. Unabashed carrot dangling is expected, but what they’re doing here can never be done again, at least not without people saying “Meh. You’ve done this already. Show me something else.” If you’re going to this Wrestlemania, soak it in.

The Rock’s reappearance sent tingles down my spine, but he definitely won’t be a regular feature once ‘Mania’s done. Austin will always be around in some form, but if he values the use of his lower body he’ll never wrestle again. Trish Stratus is ultimately back to plug her own yoga business. The Undertaker’s body is so broken I’m worried he won’t even make it to his Wrestlemania match with HHH. Triple H has made no secret of the fact that he loves his backstage role and would be fine if he disappeared again. Shawn Michaels is indirectly involved in the Taker/HHH match and will be in Atlanta to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Strange as it seems, I hope this last hoorah is a way for all those legends to say goodbye.  When I started watching wrestling, all these people were at the top of their game. They were wrestling to me. They were the reason I watched. This loaded Wrestlemania card should be where they say thank you, step aside and let the young roster flourish. Yes, The Rock pulls out the most incredible promos. He always will. He’s the best. But I don’t think he necessarily shows the other performers up. Wrestling is a totally different game now and I don’t think Jim Ross was fair in telling the younger guys to shut up and stop complaining about having to share the ring with their predecessors.

It’s got to be frustrating for them and I don’t buy into the idea that today’s wrestlers are less of a draw than Rock and Austin. The output and the audience have changed dramatically. If you still want the Attitude Era and profess about how much you hate the PG era, wrestling has left you behind. You can’t compare current individual performers with those from 15 years ago because they’re working in an entirely different environment. It’s not disrespectful to acknowledge that this is a whole new ballgame. Without balls. Well, some balls, but…..never mind. You get my drift.

I’m genuinely proud of the young performers and how their media savvy selves are embracing their roles inside and outside the ring. The way Dolph Ziggler sold his faux firing on Twitter, for example, was brilliant. The current mix of former collegiate athletes, second or third generation competitors and indie stars is actually a nice mix. They don’t always use them properly and I’d like to see more indie guys being brought up, but then, I’m a born again indie geek. I would say that.

Once, Wrestlemania’s over, I hope WWE have the courage and the confidence to leave the past as it stands and put some faith into their current roster. I’m quite comfortable with Rock, Austin, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, HHH and Trish Stratus limiting their appearances to biennial pops, leaving Edge, Christian, Mysterio, Jericho and possibly even Cena to be the elder statesman. If you feel you’d be left wanting without the people brought back for Wrestlemania 27, I’ve a feeling you might find the next 18 months or so rather painful.

Before I sign off for the day I just wanted to mention the excellent work going on over at Fair to Flair. I caught up on the latest posts this morning and it’s really inspiring work. It makes me want to be a better wrestling blogger. There are very few places where you can read intelligent, thought-provoking writing on professional wrestling without the aggravating, smarky, ‘wrestling fan’ rubbish, but you’ll definitely find it there. If any project deserves to prosper, it’s Fair to Flair. I mentioned earlier that the women’s post I might have written has already been written brilliantly elsewhere and that’s where you’ll find it. Click here to read and enjoy.

We’ll be back tomorrow with our latest Song for Whoever and hoping real life gives us a break this week. Happy Sunday and if you haven’t entered our second birthday giveaway yet, you’re missing out. Click here to win excellent prizes. They’re on us!


blue crush: the rise and rise of smackdown

Yeah yeah, I’ve not written anything for ages. Let’s just pretend I’ve apologised to you all personally and never speak of it again OK?
Anyway, as NXT has become frankly too embarrassing to watch, never mind recap, I’ve had to think of something else to write about. Now, it’s no secret that I am not a fan of Raw. In fact I think I’ve watched 3 episodes this year, and that was only because Boss Lady Ray chained me up in the Bunker and threatened to lower my pie rations if I didn’t watch with her. My main issue with Raw has always been it’s focus on storyline at the expense of wrestling. While I’m happy to accept that storyline is a very important, if not vital, part of Sports Entertainment, I would rather see it put across in promos or in-ring than with tea party sketches.

And I for one am not prepared to argue with Debrett’s Guide to British Behaviour

No, I’ve long been a fan of the “Blue Team” over on Smackdown. The so-called B-Show has been consistently more enjoyable than it’s more high profile cousin on Monday nights; with better wrestling, more intriguing characters and feuds, commentators that don’t make me want to hammer pencils into my eardrums and (for the most part at least) a lack of inane sketches. I always assumed that I was in the minority in this opinion, after all Raw has more of the established big names (Cena, HHH, Orton) whereas the general “mid-carders” have been lumped on Smackdown following ECW’s demise. But recently it seems that the WWE have actually taken notice and seem to be happy to promote Smackdown as fulfilling the “Wrestling” part of their company name, with Raw as the “Entertainment” part.
But look at what’s actually been happening on Smackdown over the last year or so. CM Punk went from great wrestler to amazing wrestler and even better character. First with the feuds against Jeff Hardy and The Undertaker and then with the introduction of the Straight Edge Society, Punk secured his place in the higher echelons of the WWE to the point where he is supposedly being lined up for a big push over on Raw once he comes back from injury. We were fans of Punk anyway in the bunker, but he really stepped up given the space to become a main-eventer on Smackdown. Would he have been as successful if he had been on Raw from the start? Personally I’d wager not, but it will be interesting to see how well he does on Raw. Given that Edge went from winning the Royal Rumble and having a title match at Wrestlemania as a Smackdown superstar to floundering in multi-man matches with no real direction on Raw, it’s not looking good…

The beauty of not jamming Smackdown full of established main event stars is that there is plenty of room for younger wrestlers to make their mark. When the biggest name on the show only wrestles a handful of matches a year, there are TV and PPV slots open for many more guys. People like Alberto Del Rio who has come and done amazingly well so far, putting his 10 years of experience in Mexico to great use and proving himself to be a definite contender for the Wrestlegasm “Breakout Star” of 2010 Award at the end of the year. The wink makes funny noises come out of Ray, and his rolling cross armbar finisher makes me wish I’d tried harder in PE at St Wulstans primary school. He even managed to overcome a slight internet faux pas over at wwe.com…

Dolph Ziggler is another name that’s doing really well on Smackdown, and one that we in the Bunker are always happy to watch. I can’t say I miss his incredibly tiny shorts but there’s no denying the guy can wrestle and his current storyline with Vickie and Kaitlyn (swoon) has played out pretty well. In fact, so popular is he in the Bunker that one of us *may* have been known to dress like him before bed, but I’ll let you decide who…
That’s not to mention the likes of LayCool still being hilarious given the opportunity, as well as their pet project Kaval. Cody Rhodes leaving behind the incredibly dull Legacy of Randy Orton and Ted DiBiase and actually getting a character in “Dashing” Cody Rhodes – his grooming tips, amazingly entertaining mirror entrance and almost naked appearance appeal to a much wider audience than tagging with the likes of DiBiase or Hardcore Holly ever would. Jack Swagger has also gone from strength to strength; from winning Money in the Bank and cashing in against Jericho, to his latest antics alongside the Swagger Soaring Eagle. And of course, that’s not to mention a certain announcer that Ray is mildly enamoured with…

Yeah… it’s you, Matthew

The most encouraging thing about all this is that WWE themselves seem to be waking up to the idea that Smackdown is the better show. Bragging Rights is a great example of this. One of the unwritten rules of Professional Wrestling is that one wrestler will get the upper hand before their opponent makes a comeback, and so on and so forth. This happens in singles or tag matches as well in the likes of 2 out of 3 falls matches, Best of Seven Series or Iron Man matches. Now Bragging Rights, as you may well remember, was a new PPV that debuted in 2009 rather tenuously pitting Raw against Smackdown; coincidentally timed to broadcast around the release of the Smackdown vs Raw video games.
At the first Bragging Rights, Smackdown won the 7 on 7 match and won the Bragging Rights trophy. However, this was only due to the fact that Big Show betrayed his team.
Therefore, logic (or at least “wrestling logic”) dictates that when Bragging Rights 2010 came round Raw should be winning. The team being run by the current “Mr Money in the Bank” The Miz (another possible 2010 Wrestlegasm Award Winner) and featuring ex-champions Sheamus and CM Punk should have had this one won, especially after Team Smackdown were victorious on Raw on Monday and again on Friday’s Smackdown. So what happened?
Smackdown won! Two years in a row! Aaaaaand… not only did Smackdown prove their superiority over Raw in Bragging Rights matches recently, they have also shown that they are stronger than them in another way. Even as someone who doesn’t watch Raw I’m obviously aware of the Nexus storyline that’s been going on this year. At first I was hoping they would start to invade all three shows (yes Superstars, I do know you exist) but as time went by I was quite happy for them to stay where they were and leave “my” Smackdown alone. However, back at the start of October Nexus did make an appearance on Smackdown, acting as Lumberjacks in a Cena/Kane match but not really asserting themselves as they would have probably liked.
Last week though Nexus set their sights on Smackdown proper, while Barrett was off “visiting family” in the UK, Otunga decided to lead an invasion, interrupting a match between Edge and Del Rio. After a bunch of Smackdown stars had entered the ring and chased them off, the main event of the show was then changed to be a five on five Smackdown vs Nexus match. Now, Nexus have had plenty of matches against the top stars on Raw, which have tended to end in the same way:
“little ones” is in no means a slight on the man’s genitals
So what happened when they tried the same thing on Smackdown?

Not only are the WWE now happy for us to believe that Smackdown wrestlers have the ability to beat the Raw wrestlers on a pretty consistent basis, but also that they are able to rout the Nexus invaders when the need arises – something that Raw hasn’t managed yet, even to the point of Cena having to join them.
Now, this is all well and good, but to be honest it’s all just my opinion and I’m interested to know what you lot think. I know we have readers who love Raw unconditionally and will defend it to the death so, on the off chance that anyone reads this far, let us know in the comments which show you prefer and why. Hell, if enough of you prefer Raw to Smackdown I might even watch and recap an episode.

a sad panda and lots of kisses

Back when Matt Striker was on the ECW roster he used to do a video bit on WWE.com called ‘Best Week, Worst Week’, where he would select public figures who’d had, well, the best and worst week. He also used to write excellent blogs and answer viewers’ questions. Sadly, this all fell by the wayside when he was shifted to commentary. Depending on how you feel about Striker’s commentary, that’s either a good thing of a bad thing.
Two WWE entities who had a startlingly good and bad seven days, so I figured I’d pay homage to Striker (because I don’t do that enough already) and do my own scribbled version of Best Week, Worst Week. And while we’re at it, Jamie Keyes, you weren’t actually due to be eliminated from NXT this week. But “seducing” Striker was a step too far.
You’re not fooling anyone with that flower in your hair, pal.
To steal words from Tina Fey’s notebook (because I don’t do that enough already either):
“I had never felt this feeling before. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears. My stomach felt like it was about to fall out my butt. I had this lump in my throat like when you dry-swallow a big pill. I hated [Jamie]. I hated her!”
But that’s quite enough of my worrying and feral need to attack a woman smooching a man who isn’t even my man. We should probably get to the bones of this post.

Worst Week

John Cena. Obvious, I know. But he who fights the good fight at all times has had his foundations rocked this week. It’s been a rollercoaster akin to that new ride at Alton Towers that I can’t remember the name of and might just be making up for the sake of it. Things started going wrong at Hell in a Cell, where our hero had to beat Wade Barrett to force the Nexus into going their separate ways. If Cena lost? He had to jump the fence into bad guy territory and swap his purple clobber for the black & amber. Seems unlikely, right?
And yet, unlikely things do happen. The ring was invaded by two fans, who were clearly Husky Harris and Michael McGillacutty. The officials were distracted and Cena lost the match. Of course, if all the people in the arena had actually taken the time to watch NXT, they might have recognised the assailants and not spent the next 20 minutes pulling expressions like this:
Seriously, unless you’re too young to fully grasp the concept that professional wrestling is predetermined theatre, you should not be pulling these expressions when John Cena is forced to buddy up with the baddies.
This is acceptable.
This is not.
24 hours later, things weren’t improving for our hero. John was forced to join Barrett & Co. in the ring and read out a statement in which he declared himself under Wade’s wing. Don’t worry, kids. He did it in a solemn, monotone manner so as not to indicate that he was enjoying himself in any way.

asformyfansihopeyoustandbymebecausethefactofthematterisyou’reeithernexusoragainstus
Now part of this posse of wrong-doers, Cena had to start playing the part. He was told to choose a tag partner and go at it against Evan Bourne and Mark Henry. Apparently, the proper etiquette for choosing someone to tag with these days is to step right up into their face as if about to plant a passionate kiss on their chops and not say a word.
Good to know for the next team building away day in the Bunker.
The match got under way but Tarver was not happy. Shaking your opponent’s hand before a match is very un-Nexusy. And the good behaviour didn’t end there. Tarver stepped into the ring to show Cena how to be mean but found himself being mauled by an extra-shiny Mark Henry. After a while, John felt he should probably help Michael Tarver by offering him a tag. But as soon as Tarver held his shaking hand out for salvation, John pulled it away, stuck his hand in his denim pedal-pushers and pulled out a pen. What?
Ahhhh. Gotcha.
While Cena pressed the flesh with the audience and made insignificant pieces of craft card suddenly worth mega cash, Tarver was suffocated by Mark Henry’s belly. “The happiest loser ever seen” decided that being part of a group wasn’t quite for him and John announced that, if he had to remain a member of the Nexus, he planned on destroying it from within. The ultimate non-conformist, Michael Cole? Not quite.
Cena went on to make mince-meat of Michael Tarver and absorbed the adoration of the bellowing crowd through every pore of his perfectly smooth skin.
Nice of Hulk Hogan to buy a ticket and cheer John on.
This rabble-rousing was not missed by the still anonymous GM. Michael Cole stepped up to his podium and announced that if John couldn’t fall into line and follow Barrett’s orders, his contract would be terminated. For good. Pretty sure that’s illegal, but still, EEEK!
Cena was a sad panda, so he skulked off to consider his future. You know what everyone needs when everything they’ve ever known is hanging by a thread? Josh Matthews with a microphone on the end of his wrist.
A quick appearance from Harris and McGillacutty and Cena was on his toes chasing them to the locker room. He should have known better. His new boss was waiting with his henchmen to quiz John on his anti-Nexus behaviour.
Later on it was announced that there would be a 20-man Over the Top Rope Battle Royal to determine the NoC for the WWE belt. Basically, Barrett wanted it and if John didn’t act as his personal bodyguard throughout the match, there would be consequences. It’s tough having a boss who doesn’t think you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread, eh John? Welcome to real life!
The Battle Royal did its work. The professional jobbers fell on their swords and, as if it had been decided beforehand, John and Wade ended up with just each other to eliminate. Cena was in a sticky situation. Eliminate Wade and he’d be the people’s champion, the number one contender and would be safe in the knowledge that he didn’t compromise his principles. Downside? Well, he’d be fired. Kind of a bummer. So what did John do? He did what all of us do when we’re frustrated at work….
1) Get angry and butt heads with the boss…….
2) Consider making a fuss……
3) Then just do what they tell you to do anyway.
Keep smiling, John-boy. You will overcome. Of that I have no doubt.

Best Week

You’d think the person who had the Best Week would be Wade Barrett, right? I mean, in March he was begging for the big-time in FCW and here he is barking orders at arguably the most well-known face in wrestling. Fun times for our compatriot. But ‘Best Week’ goes to a show rather than a single person. That show is……NXT. It was great and…..nah I can’t do it. It’s Smackdown.
Last week it was a big, fat, ugly Raw-fest to celebrate the show’s move to SyFy in America. Dear Raw, do not infect my beloved Smackdown with your Raw germs again. Thankfully, it wasn’t just back to normal this week, it was better than normal.
Edge came back to his spiritual home, the Dudebusters got back on TV, Kaval did lots of clever kicks, the Dolph/Vickie/Kaitlyn lust-triangle took a new turn, and Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio pulled off one of my favourite non-PPV matches of the last few months.
Bravo, Smackdown. With your snazzy new graphics and more favourable theme tune, I think I want to kiss you. Lots.There’s only one thing which makes me want to play hard-to-get and save those kisses for our next date.
Why is Michael Cole commentating on Smackdown?!?!?! Must his insipid, interfering voice be heard on every show now? Cutting Matt Striker off mid-sentence while you’re having a love-in with Jerry Lawler during a PPV is one thing, but cutting him off on his own show is just bad form. GO. AWAY. NOW. Get rid of Cole, Smackdown, and you’re on a promise for next week.

an equal opportunities crush

You may have noticed, following the first episode of the all-Diva series of NXT, that my Sidekick had something of crush on Kaitlyn. Ok, not ‘something of a crush’, it’s a giant, pulsating hubba-hubba of a crush. At that point I was still to be convinced. In fact, I did an eye-roll every time she was mentioned. Now? Cue the new Wrestlegasm-family crush. I am now fully on board the Kaitlyn Express.
Considering Kaitlyn was the understudy of NXT, waiting in the wings should serious injury, family tragedy or a sudden sacking (kerching) occur, she is having the biggest impact of any of the girls, all thanks to the fact that she’s hitched her wagon to Vickie Guerrero. That’s a metaphorical wagon, by the way. Vickie’s been compared to enough farmyard animals to last a lifetime.
Being at Vickie’s side has afforded our favourite newbie a major Pay Per View appearance, something none of the other ladies were able to secure, and some key dalliances with LayCool and Dolph Ziggler.
Assuming the NXT brand is slowly ebbing away never to be seen again, it must be quite the ego boost to be placed in the lifeboat and sailed to the safety of storylines away from the sinking HMS NXT.
If you’re not watching NXT  (I’m assuming most people aren’t) the drip-feed story that will likely end in Kaitlyn snaring Dolph and stealing him away from his sugar-mummy means that if you’re watching Smackdown, or even if you just decided to watch Night of Champions, you know who she is. And it doesn’t matter how obvious it is that the story will play out the way I expect it to. Being able to predict the end of a storyline never stopped me watching Eastenders. Although, I won’t be fully satisfied unless Vickie gives a Princess Diana-esque ‘there were three people in this relationship’ interview to Josh Matthews. What do you mean Vickie can’t do coy and unassuming?
Demure and regal. To be fair, HHH had just revealed that Edge and Alicia had been smooching during a wedding planning rendezvous in front of the viewing public.
It started during episode two of NXT when a mixed tag win with Dolph prompted this:
Followed by this:
Then at Night of Champions Kaitlyn failed to contain her concern when Dolph was flung from the ring at the hands of Kofi Kingston and was swiftly shooed away by her boss:
Although I was slightly disappointed that Dolph’s new neckwear wasn’t a fashion-related rouse to hide some of Kaitlyn’s love-bruises.
Don’t dress like that. You look like a knob. Sorry….even more of a knob than usual.
But things really started gaining momentum on this week’s Smackdown, when Kaitlyn innocently (ahem) helped Dolph back to his feet after another fall outside the ring.
As you can imagine, Vickie took umbrage with such physicality and made it known in no uncertain terms that her rookie’s heavy lifting services were not required. Kaitlyn, understandably frustrated with her older mentor’s unnecessary insecurities, pushed Vickie to the ground, turned on her strappy heels and left the arena.
Oh…
…no…
…she…
…di’ent!    (Don’t pretend you didn’t say that and wave your finger in a sassy manner.)
I genuinely want to see what Kaitlyn does next, which is a triumph considering the panning that this series of NXT has received.
Much to Andrew’s relief after swooning over her mic work and her feminine form, Ms. K does show some wrestling promise. Is she incredible? No. But then none of them are. They’re still learning. At least she appears to have some genuine athleticism. You don’t get quads like that just prancing about in pretty dresses and without a punishing squats regime. And if you can hold your own while sharing a turnbuckle with LayCool, you must be doing something right, even if that love-in did end on a sour note.
With the exception of Aksana, who is awesome because she’s in on the joke that is ‘herself’, the rest of the NXT ladies are pretty bland and forgettable. Seriously, if A.J. does one more Mickie James jump I’ll throw my slippers at the telly. If I want to see what Sarah Silverman looks like on a sugar rush, I’ve got YouTube. Oh and we’re not perturbed in the slightest by the fact that our favourite gal was first to be eliminated from the game of Musical Chairs on this week’s NXT. If we were her, we’d lose to deliberately to get the hell out of there too.

smackdown(lite): babycham, quiche and butternut squash

I’m writing this recap from my sick-bed. If I fall asleep in the middle, set off a firecracker or something……
It seems there is a new star on Smackdown. A genuine star. One that could stick around for a long time. Alberto Del Rio. I am now sorry for the fact that I ripped the wee out of him during those promo videos because, OK they weren’t great, but I had no idea how much of a perfect heel package Alberto would turn out to be. Smackdown is, on the whole, consistently good. But it’s been needing a little shot to the arm lately. Bingo!
Alberto Del Rio is the perfect heel in that you kind of hate him, but you really love him too. Nobody likes someone who flaunts money and status in their faces, but he does it with such professional delivery and with such unique personality, it’s almost impossible not to be impressed. And this isn’t just a character thing. He can go in the ring too. You can’t spend all those years in Lucha without having learnt a few tricks. He may be new, but he’s about as much a rookie as Bryan Danielson was when he was plonked in FCW. Oh and he just happens to be a looker too, so definitely ‘full package’ material. To paraphrase the superstar himself… he’s the man, he’s handsome, he’s powerful, he’s rich, he’s everythiiiiiiing!
Last week’s Smackdown began with a trademark Del Rio fiesta! (Always punctuate fiesta with an ‘!’.) It was quite the spectacle. The Bentley, the all-white suit, the personal ring announcer, staff carrying salvers of Babycham and cheese & pineapple on cocktail sticks. There were turnbuckle balloons and, of course, what fiesta! would be complete without a piñata in a Rey Mysterio mask? It will come as no surprise to you that, as the piñata was a metaphor for Mysterio, it took a beating and its insides were spilt out over the ring. Although, I hope the metaphor doesn’t end up being too literal. Nobody wants to see a pancreas flopping around the ring or anything.
Del Rio was interrupted by Christian, who mocked him, sang at him in a condescending manner, chewed and then hocked out his individual mini-quiches, before carrying the pinata theme forward, branding Del Rio a jackass. A small scuffle ensued but Del Rio decided he wasn’t ready to put Christian to bed just yet. He walked away, Drew McIntyre ran in with sneaky attack on Christian from behind and Del Rio returned to pour some Dom over Christian’s head. TIP: If someone is going to shower you with stupidly expensive hooch OPEN YOUR MOUTH!
With Christian dazed, in pain and mildly tipsy, Drew McIntyre decided to bring their billed match forward to that moment, to ensure his win. What Drew hadn’t kept in mind was that Canadian’s are almost as good at absorbing booze as the British, so he managed to shake-off the Del Rio induced hangover and pin Drew for the win.
On to the ladies, where Kelly Kelly grinned and pouted her way to the ring in anticipation for her match against Michelle McCool. Layla joined Grisham and Striker on commentary and was treated to Matt Striker’s ever improving London accent. He’ll be spitting rhymes with Dizzee before we know it! Incidentally, both myself and Andrew have spotted that Layla’s sounding slightly more British lately. The Transatlantica accent is slipping away a little more every week. She may have decided to do this herself or maybe someone suggested it would be a good idea. You know, because foreign = heel. Nothing pleases us more than to hear chants of USA! USA! USA! every time someone not of those shores appears. (UGG) Either way, we wholeheartedly approve.
Oh, right, the match. It was pretty quick and ended as such:
BFF Champs 4evah n evah. Lol!!!11!
Nice to see that Matt Striker has introduced the word ‘pumpkin’ to his repertoire for the Autumn. How very seasonal of him. When I texted Strikey to tell him I wanted to be referred to as a large ground-fruit too, he replied with “No problem, Butternut Squash. See you Saturday for the staff meeting.” Swoon.
I’m skipping the Hornswoggle segment and jumping ahead to the match between Dolph Ziggler and Chris Masters. Errrrm, no, I’m skipping that too. If you think it ended with anything other than a Dolph win with Vickie happily digging her nails into his biceps….hi, you must be new.
Ta-daaaa!
Big Show won a handicap match against CM Punk and Luke Gallows when he stuck Gallows in a submission hold and forced him to tap. Punk was clearly pleased to be back to full health, as he jumped and kicked all over the shop. Sadly for him, his companion let him down and was put to sleep as punishment. WhatdidItellya? The SES is on its way out.

And then there was one.
I forgot to mention in previous recaps that MVP and Jack Swagger have been playing out a lacklustre, low-rent feud to fill in the gaps. This week, Jack Swagger had won the right to host his very own episode of MVP’s VIP Lounge. He brought his still wheelchair-bound father out as his guest and, well, you know it was only a matter of time before Ballin’ strutted out to put an end to it. He criticised Swagger for not knowing how to host a VIP party and snubbed his use of charity shop furniture and pleather chairs. Dude, that’s the same furniture you use in your show every week. Check yo’self!  This all ended in a brawl where Swagger Sr. was left with further injuries and the ring was trashed. Ah wrestling. The only place where a convicted felon can attack a war hero in a wheelchair and neck brace and still get cheered.
Gawd bless ya, wrestling
Now, we (mainly the Sidekick) have been bashed a few times on this blog for cracking easy Fatt Hardy jokes. Did we ever stop? Not really. But it seems the trend has gone full circle. Cody Rhodes delved into the greasy bag of Fatt jokes on Smackdown, meaning it’s pretty much over. It’s kind of like the cycle of a fashion trend. An avant garde designer starts a trend for, say, suede ankle boots with knee-high socks. MK Olsen and Alexa Chung start wearing them, Primark starts churning out copies for under a tenner…..by the time you see Amanda Holden, Claire Sweeney and former Big Brother contestants trotting about in them, it’s over. So goes the cycle of Fatt Hardy jokes. (PS—-> We’ll probably still make them. We’re not very fashionable.)
Cody made various hurtful jibes about Matt’s nose, useless facial hair and his spare tummy-tyre, forcing him to take a good look at himself in the mirror on Cody’s jacket. The tirade of abuse ended with “Do you even see Matt Hardy version one? No. All I see is Matt Hardy version DONE!” Ouch. So they had a match to decide whether Cody’s insults were justified or not and…. yeah, they were.
Pretty sure my mum’s got some safari themed hand-luggage to match those trousers.
That was the end of the wrestling for the night. Kane made a backstage speech about something or other, then he had a coffin brought out to the ring. He spoke again in the ring about more sinister and devilish matters.
“Humour meeeeeeee! This is my laaast main event runnnnnnn!”
The lights went down, thunder rolled, Taker’s music played and he appeared in a bejewelled hoodie at the top of the ramp. A slow walk and much growling later, the lights went down again, then came back up again, but Kane had disappeared. Taker gave the closed coffin a curious look and flung the lid open, bu Kane was not inside. He was under the ring setting up some pyro and a pre-recorded video of him doing a sinister laugh. Mwahaha indeed, Kane. Mwa-ha-ha!

raw(lite): “a septic tank of a show”

WARNING: I’ve got a cob on.

I could have recapped Raw in the usual way this week, but as it was two hours of WWE repeatedly patting themselves on the back for broadcasting 900 Raws over the past 17 years, there wasn’t a great deal to catch up with. Between the flashbacks to Monday nights past and novelty matches, there wasn’t any real time left for much of merit with regard to how things will move forward. Also, the thought of going back through the entire thing again listening to Jerry Lawler inform us that they had produced more shows than a whole host of over top programmes was a task I would rather like to avoid, thankyouverymuch. I’m more of a quality over quantity kinda gal myself, but hey, whatever, congratulations WWE.

Before I get to the good/important bits, a further grumble about the current state of play on Raw. I did warn you I’ve got a cob on! I assumed that once Summerslam was out of the way, the Nexus group would gradually ebb away and a return to singles competition would follow. Not so. When the Nexus invasion first happened it was a stroke of storyline genius. It was a total surprise and the whole Daniel Bryan fall-out almost caused the internet to implode. A few months on though, it’s turned into a bit of a damp squib. Raw is cram-packed full of main eventers. Actually, they have too many main eventers to give each of them an equal amount of time every week. Throw a group of (now) six fairly green guys into the mix who all need airtime and matches, and those two hours disperse before anyone beyond Cena, Orton and Sheamus have had a serious look in. And this is without Triple H peacocking about under the umbrella of heir-in-law.

Edge, for example, has practically taken on the guise of wallflower since his draft to Raw. On Smackdown, he quite comfortably held the position of co-Top Dog with the Undertaker. Now I struggle to remember which bits he was involved in every week. I’m going to hope that his appearance in the American SyFy ads promoting their acquisition of Smackdown is a positive sign that he’s returning to the blue brand. After all, nothing in advertising happens by chance.

With regard to the Nexus, it’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff and send all bar Wade Barrett and possibly Justin Gabriel to the mid-card, if not back to FCW, to work on either their character delivery, their wrestling ability or in most cases both. They’ve played their part in a memorable storyline, but really, the fairytale needs to take a little detour for the time being. I feel a little sorry for the guys who were already on the Raw mid-card before Nexus muscled in. People like Zack Ryder and Evan Bourne who, while they’ve both had something of a push this year, should be involved in some singles storylines where the veterans can really put them over.  After Night of Champions, where I have a sneaking suspicion that The Game might be back in play, let that be an end to all these multi-man matches and group PPV runs. I want to see some well-planned, professionally promoted, one-on-one feuds as they start on the long road to the next Wrestlemania.

This week’s Raw did, however, have a few moments of interest and excitement. Ironically, they were largely the product of Smackdown superstars. I’ll leave Andrew to the discuss the unification of the Divas Title and the Women’s Title when he gets stuck into the third, all-female series of NXT.

And I’ll set the glorious addition to the SD roster that is Alberto Del Rio aside until I recap this week’s Smackdown.

But the one thing that saved this week’s Raw from being a snooze-fest was CM Punk’s epic promo. A promo for what? Well, just a promo for CM Punk, to be honest. It looks as if the SES spiel might have had its moment. Serena’s been genuinely given her marching orders and Joey Mercury’s torn a pectoral, leaving him on the outside of the ring for a couple of months. It’s not much of a society if there are just two of you, so it may be that Punk will be a one-man-band again fairly soon. If the purpose of his Raw appearance was to remind us of who Punk was before he began babysitting junkies and shaving heads, it was a huge success! On the off-chance that you haven’t seen it, I’ll stick a YouTube video just below.

Yeah, I enjoy a good babyface. ‘Aww, so cute and wholesome’ and all that malarkey. But let’s be honest, villains are so much more tantalising. Somehow, he managed to pull off making himself appear even more awesome than usual. He managed to showcase some of the very best moments from Raw in the past couple of decades while disparaging them at the same time and mentioning that most taboo of storylines past – Katie Vick. He took the loathing for him in the crowd to a new level when he teased and coerced them into believing that The Rock, DX and Stone Cold Steve Austin might march out to shut him up. They didn’t. And he played straight-man to Big Show’s punchlines  beautifully. In summary, the perfect heel promo.

Now, watch the video. If you’ve already seen it, watch it again or I’m sending Punk round to tell you you’re not funny and nobody likes you.

smackdown(lite): michelle mccool: queen of denmark

This was the first Smackdown after Summerslam, so Rey Mysterio had much to say regarding the whole Undertaker/Kane squabble. But he who was now proven innocent was interrupted by a man we had been promised for many a week.

That’s right. Alberto Del Rio. The guy who’s been telling us he’s better than us in some rather dubious promo videos finally showed up on Smackdown. I wanted to hate him. I wanted to brush him off as another sub-standard pretender to Rey Mysterio’s throne, but I discovered two things. 1) For a guy famed for doing all that flippy-dippy stuff, he’s surprisingly tall and chunky. 2) I kind of liked him.

After pulling off a marvellous game of verbal tennis with Rey Mysterio, which was littered with Spanish lines and English translations, they agreed to put their physical skills to the test and fight it out at the end of the show.

Before moving on to the Intercontinental Championship title match, Cody Rhodes insisted that he inform the male viewers on how to apply moisturiser. Except he did a rather bad job of it.

Dude, this is NOT enough moisturiser. Don’t listen to him, men. You might as well not put it on at all. Take enough moisturiser to loosen any tightness in the skin and dot it on your forehead, cheeks, chin and neck. Rub it in until it’s completely absorbed, in upwards movements, starting from the neck. If you have particularly sensitive skin, guys, you might want to use an aftershave balm on the neck and chin. And if you want to go the whole hog you could use eye products too; possibly a cooling gel in the morning to reduce puffiness and a richer, wrinkle-fighting cream at night. Don’t worry about the cucumber-watermelon scent, as Cody recommends. If you want to keep wrinkles at bay, you’ll need a daytime moisturiser with an SPF in it. To maximise the power of your moisturiser, you could also use a serum, which will protect the skin further. But this all means nothing without exfoliation. So if you want really fresh looking skin, be sure to scrub, scrub, scrub on a regular basis. Can I have Cody’s pay-cheque now please?

Back to wrestling. If you remember, Kofi and Dolph’s Summerslam match was ended early by the Nexus. So here they were trying all over again. During the beginning of the match, Matt Striker became vocally impassioned about Team WWE winning at Summerslam. And to all the smarks who criticised his passion, he suggested that they drag their sweat-pants selves from behind their computer screens and shut up. Even though it didn’t apply to me, I immediately put some jeans on and closed my laptop. You know, just for safety’s sake.

The match was solid but, once again, lacked that final push. Vickie Guerrero tripped Kofi while he was jumping from the top rope, the referee saw it in the corner of his eye and awarded Kofi the win by DQ. This, of course, meant that the title stayed with Dolph. Kofi chased after the cheater but Vickie squealed and stood in his way, knowing that a gentleman would never be so brutish as to barge her out of the way. This little diversion gave Dolph enough time to return to his feet and….. well…. let’s just say it didn’t end well for Kofi. In fact, he was stomped in the face so authentically, I let out a genuine gasp of worry.

Sorry, the stomp was so slick I couldn't even get a proper screencap of it.

After some backstage fun-times with LayCool and some locker-room motivationals with the SES, it was time for Luke Gallows and Serena to take on the Big Show and Kelly Kelly. So here’s the thing. Had I written this recap a few days ago I’d be cooing over the fact that Serena finally had a competitive match. I’d be telling how excited I was at the prospect of her getting involved in the Divas division. Sadly, it might be a rather short-lived run in the ring. All signs seem to point towards her being future endeavoured either tonight or tomorrow. There are a few rumours being batted around to explain why, but it seems to be that she was living an extremely wobbly edged life. I’ll refrain from commenting on that until the next Smackdown recap, which is likely to be her final appearance.

The match itself was fun and while Serena seemed a little rusty to me, she worked surprisingly well with an unlikely opponent in Kelly. Serena went on to win the match and remained in the affections of her leader-man.

Enjoy it while it lasts, sweetheart.

The next ten minutes were spent bathed in crimson lighting while Kane explained why he put his own brother in near a fatal coma. I’ve got to be honest, the combination of chamber music, soft red lighting and the dull monotone of Kane’s voice sent me off into a lovely slumber. So I really can’t tell you why he did it. Probably something about always being in the Undertaker’s shadow, or maybe he’d been reading Hamlet and assumed that if he took his dominant brother out of the picture, his sister-in-law would be obliged to marry him. Long shot. I know.

Michelle McCool: Queen of Denmark?

Anyway, I was rudely awoken from my snooze by the arrival of Cody Rhodes. Thankfully, he’d ditched his usual ‘almost-nude’ look and thrown on a suit, so not all bad. Although, hearing Striker tell him he’s a handsome man and that he looks and smells good was quite disturbing. Please don’t do that again, Matthew. You’re making life in the Bunker a little difficult.

While the love-in between Striker and Rhodes went on, Christian won a nice little match against Drew McIntyre. Cody felt like helping his mate out, so he assisted him in pummelling Christian after the bell had tolled. Then Matt Hardy ran out wearing one ski boot and helped Christian beat them up. This is all well and good, but it needs a storyline this week.

Nice to see the people of Bakersfield, California, were as excited about the final episode of British Celebrity Masterchef as I was. I wanted Lisa Faulkner to win too.

We were back where we started, with Alberto Del Rio vs Rey Mysterio. Not only did Del Rio arrive in a Rolls, but he also brought along his own ring announcer. How very BDK of him.

Errrr, yo. You in the tux. I've got a phonecall for you. Yeah, it's 1994. It wants its hairstyle back.

It was a compact and solid match with them working perfectly together. Something tells me there’s something of a torch passing going on here. It may not happen for a while, but I’m pretty sure it will happen. Del Rio won the match convincingly and went on to damage Mysterio further after the match was over.

Errrr, yo. You in the gold knickers. I've got a phonecall for you. Yeah, it's Randy Orton. It's about that pose you stole. You're doing it wrong.

I agree, Matt Striker, we were watching a STAAAAH!