RAW: Damage Limitation

Alright. Let’s stop dancing around the inevitable. Punk is gone. He hasn’t been officially future endeavoured and there is a part of me holding on to the fact that this might be the most ballsy, elaborate work in history. But as he’s been pulled from pre-paid AXXESS meet & greets and assessing the bizarre atmosphere on RAW this week, we can assume that at the very least he’s having an extended holiday.

There was a definite air of damage limitation on this week’s RAW. Fan-made signs enquiring as to Punk’s whereabouts were confiscated by security. In the same way that Rey Mysterio was booed at the Royal Rumble simply for not being Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton’s words made no impact on the crowd, who were otherwise engaged in repeatedly chanting for CM Punk. Being a bit of a tough-nut, their disinterest in his moaning about his lack of…(umm, what was it again?) made no impression on him either.

Needing to pacify an already volatile crowd Steph and HHH appeared on the ramp to instruct Randy to stop whining. To curry favour with the audience even further, they warned him that they had the power to strip him of his ‘face of the company’ moniker. If he didn’t cool his boots they might be forced to make someone else their favourite. Daniel Bryan, maybe. HHH even joined the Yes Movement. Turncoat!

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Daniel Bryan, who in the space of a week has gone from their whipping boy to potential poster boy. You can’t help but feel that even what would have been Bryan’s eventual triumph over ‘the man’ has been ditched in favour of keeping people from turning off.

The Shield won a three-man tag against Big E. Langston, Kofi and Rey Mysterio, but the crucial part of the story came when Dean Ambrose (unf) and Roman Reigns squabbled over who should have taken the pin. Poor Seth Rollins. As if his comedic tumbling the previous week hadn’t been upsetting enough. Now mummy and daddy are fighting again. I wonder which of them plays mum and which takes on the role of dad. Let’s think about that for a moment. Anyway, the bickering soon ended and their broken pieces were glued back together when the Wyatts appeared on screen hoping to capitalise on their moment of collective weakness. They didn’t.

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It also seems there’s dissent at Camp Real Americans. After losing a place in the Elimination Chamber to Christian on SmackDown, Jack Swagger was given a rematch, only to lose a second time. You can always tell when Swagger’s in a panic. His bottom lip bursts open, like that kid in school who always got stress-related nosebleeds on class trips.  Zeb Colter made his disgruntlement known in no uncertain terms and even Antonio Cesaro dropped and shook his head in shame. Time to disband these guys and start hyping Cesaro, lest he go the same way as Hero. At least, let’s not allow that to happen before I can successfully attend any British shows he might be booked on. Selfish? Me? Absolutely. It already sticks in my craw that I don’t get to clap eyes on Chris Hero’s colour-of-a-cornfield mane when he’s in the UK at the end of this month.

In further attempts to placate the ready-to-riot crowd, the New Age Outlaws were forced to put the tag titles on the line against Goldust and Cody Rhodes. Oh and they were forced to do it *MOVIE TRAILER VOICE* inside a steel caaaaage. New Age Outlaws retained in a match that went on for far too long, never really got going and made little-to-no use of the cage. Hey, Hunter? Where’s Punk?

Thankfully this was followed by Batista’s arrival. Now, hold on. I know this doesn’t sound all that exciting. But the small detail I deliberately omitted in the name of building tension is that our Dave’s back in the double denim. Yes!

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And not just top and bottom denim, but a matching burnout tee. Cor! But beyond my predictable giddiness at Dave-denim, the real star of this segment was Alberto Del Rio. Dressed in less impressive single denim, the promo he ripped on Dave was so convincingly impassioned you might believe there was some truth behind it. I mean, why would the guy who’s been consistently great but never truly trusted to carry the company along with the big boys feel cheesed off that Dave’s waltzed back in to steal a Wrestlemania headline slot? It was the first time in many months I’ve really sat up and taken notice of Del Rio. Their scrap was fierce and Del Rio was so pumped he returned to the ring to retrieve his rather fetching black blazer, before catching glimpse of Dave’s face and thinking better of it.

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Speaking of those flying uncomfortably under the radar, Dolph Ziggler was teamed up with R-Truth and Xavier Woods to go up against the Wyatts. The match had all the bumps and jumps you’d expect, with Bray Wyatt pinning Dolph for the win. To match their video interruption earlier in the evening, The Shield made their own video based gift, with Dean Ambrose (unf) mocking the Wyatts’ scare tactics and his fellow warriors warning of retribution. This was met with the usual psychotic laughter in the ring. Standard but still pleasing fare.

This took us to a long main event between Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan, the winner of which would become the McMahon-Helmsley’s favourite boy. It was a long and involved match where both gave a lot, but it was flat. It was missing something. Despite some interference from Kane, Bryan still won the match, but it didn’t have the shine it should have. It’s not enough just to give us what we want. We need the backstory to make it mean something. That’s where promoters get wrestling fans all wrong. It’s about the journey. I wonder if that’s the line they’d be following if Punk was still around. And the fact that Orton and Kane continued to pummel Bryan after the bell means it’ll all probably flip-flop back the other way quicker than a Westminster sex scandal come next week. It just didn’t make sense. Unless Kane interfered to make sure Bryan didn’t win, what was the point?

Can you say ‘state of flux’?

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N.B. This week, in an attempt to skip what I thought were just the ads, I watched RAW via the Sky Sports On Demand service. Unfortunately, I only realised after writing this that they’d cut out several mid-card matches, linking segments etc. I’ll have seen all the missing pieces before next week, but just a warning to those in the UK. It gives a skewed view of the show and I’m going to be complaining to Sky about it.   

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RAW: Something’s Amiss

I feel there’s something else I should be musing over today. But I can’t quite put my finger on what it might be. Hmm. Maybe it’ll come to me as we go along.

The Royal Rumble officially kicks off the Road to Wrestlemania. We should be frothing at the mere thought that the biggest party of the year is on its way. And yet…

Grinning like the cats who got the cream, Stephanie and HHH over-egged their excitement at great mate Dave Batista winning the Rumble to such an extent you have to wonder if they realised soon after that they were lactose intolerant and vomited up what turned out to be a flop after all.

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The patronising tone they cloaked their jubilation in served only to rile the crowd further and… do you ever get the feeling you’ve been sneakily trolled? Baited into reacting by someone who knows how to push your buttons? Do you wonder if this is exactly what they wanted? To leave Daniel Bryan out so that we’d riot for the international press?

In sharp contrast to the acute hatred spat at the McMahon-Helmsleys, Daniel Bryan’s arrival mustered something akin to the second coming of Christ.

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It’s rare that I lash out at these two, but their incessant giggling and claim that Bryan’s match of the night against Bray Wyatt “was a good little effort” had me wanting to sock them both in the chops. Stephanie’s now modelled so much in her father’s image I’m convinced that any second she’s going to peel off her face to reveal she was Vince all along. There are no lengths my imagination won’t run to in the name of believing Steph’s a good lass.

Bryan’s impassioned demands that he be compensated for his lack of Rumble action with an automatic Elimination Chamber slot were met with a nose in the face and the arrival of The Shield, with Seth Rollins’ serendipitous tumble over the barrier cutting through the hostility in the crowd for a few seconds. The boy is the epitome of “If you stumble, make it part of the dance.” What a pro!

The Shield proceeded to maul Bryan but, as you might expect, a few mates came in his hour of need. Sheamus (yes, he’s back) and John Cena ran to the rescue before chasing the nasty bad guys away. There’s still something comforting about the fact that after all these years Michael Cole has never understood the difference between ‘cavalry’ and ‘Calvary’.

There was something else I needed to talk about. What was it? Maybe I was supposed to talk about how much I want to have Dean Ambrose bend my…mind. No, that’s not it. I already talk about that enough. It can’t have been the match between The Real Americans and Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara. That was as expected. Could it be Wade Barrett? Barrett, who now appears to spend his time being thrust toward the rafters on a mechanical penis while telling us that everything’s shit. I had a dream like that once except the cherrypicker penis belonged to….never mind. He’s like Eva Peron, but from Preston, and peddling terrible wisecracks. “Don’t cry for me, WWE Universe.” I do, Wade. I really do.

What was it, guys? Obviously not Fandango vs R-Truth. I definitely wouldn’t have been rushing to talk about Brock Lesnar interrupting Randy Orton and Brad Maddox’s discussion with a docker just off the night shift.

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I cannot recall a wrestler I’ve wanted to boot in their big, slimy, maroon face more than Lesnar. Loathing is too mild a word. I’d like to take some clippers to his stupid haircut that’s too small for his puffed up head and…yeah, it’s not him.

It couldn’t have been The Battle of Cleveland match between Miz and Dolph. Unless we’re talking hockey my knowledge of American sports is currently on hiatus. Maybe it was how depressing, if amusing, it was that the crowd were chanting for each individual member of the windbag commentary team during  Kofi and Del Rio’s match. We really should talk about the New Age Outlaw shaped pin that burst the tag-team bubble. Champions? Really? *cough* Nepotism *cough*. And a Selina Gomez quote? Okay, Dad. Why don’t you just get Snapchat and tell us how you can send your rude bits to your main squeeze like all the kids do. Ach, who am I to judge?  I’m the old lady who just typed ‘main squeeze’ and who’s already lost the Snapchat novelty.

There’s something bigger though. Something shocking. Something that might make me cry. The Divas getting better with their ring work but needing some stories is less red hot news and more a gospel chanted since the dawn of time. It does make me want to cry though. Jake Roberts being inducted into the Hall of Fame would not leave me dying to discuss it.

We’re back where we started now, with Daniel Bryan, Sheamus and John Cena trying to beat up on The Shield. Whichever team won would get the first three spots in the Elimination Chamber. It was a pretty good match, as it goes. Even better when The Wyatts turned up to interfere with The Shield’s game plan, costing them the match and setting up more scrapping between them going forward. If Randy Orton has to defend in the EC, that leaves just two spots left to fight over. Could this be what instigates the Shield break-up they’ve been teasing? All good fun, but not the ‘big thing’ of the week. Hmm.

Wait! Hold the phone. Why wasn’t Punk on Raw this week?!

RAW(Lite): THE CHAOS BEFORE THE STORM

[This post was originally posted on http://buymyown.wordpress.com and has been imported in to wrestlegasm.com by the author]

Ok, so, my first proper wrestling post. I’ve been looking forward to this. This is actually my favourite week of the whole wrestling year- the week before Wrestlemania. I wish they would put this much effort in to EVERY week and not just before Wrestlemania.  Apparently they’re trying super-hard to be entertaining this time around to reach one million global PPV buys. Good luck to ya, Vinnie.

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My love of the WWE, or the WWF as it was called back in the days when I first discovered it’s greatness, is about a decade old. I was first seduced by bulging biceps back in 1999 and once you get sucked it, it never ever leaves you. It’s like a tattoo on your arse. You don’t want to admit it’s there but it is. And it’s not going away.  I remember my brother trying to kick me in the face shouting “SWEET CHIN MUSIC! SWEET CHIN MUSIC!” I needed to find out what the hell that meant, and I was VERY pleased with what I saw.

I know what folks think. It’s not real. They’re not actually hurting each other. They decide the winner in advance. Well,  a lil bit yah, a lil bit nah. Yeah, they decide who’s going to win waaaay in advance. They’ve got a whole team of writers who decide what path the characters will take. And that’s the point. They are CHARACTERS. It’s a soap – with good guys, bad guys, comedians, bitches, sexy boys, sexy girls, romances, bromances, back-stabbing, family feuds….I could go on but you see where I’m coming from, right?

It’s NOT ABOUT what happens in the ring. At least, not for me. I likes me some dramaz. And I LO-O-O-O-V-E the beautifully buff bods that go along with it all. In fact, it was The Rock’s glossy pecs that got me to stick around after the sweet chin music novelty wore off. But seriously, if it wasn’t for the Rock being such a smooth operator, I wouldn’t be boring you with this post right now. Ain’t life grand?

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Ok, look , they may not actually be punching each other in the chops, kicking each other in the knackers or cracking each other across the back with steel chairs (I personally think they’re made of turkey foil), but what they do to each other HURTS. It REALLY HURTS!  That ring is HARD. It’s not like the guy in the T-Mobile Flext ad where everything is soft and sqidgy.  Oh no.

THIS is what it’s REALLY like………………………

Oh My God, Paul. You are awesome. Can I please be your friend? See, I called him Paul ’cause that’s his real name and if we were buds, I’d be calling him Paul. See? Yeah, I know. I’m a loser.

That’s enough preaching for one day. The best brainwashing is ALWAYS done quietly and sneakily. So watch your back, I’m planting wrestle-love in your brain and it spreads like wildfire.  Now let’s see just what made my boat float on Raw this week.

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This one HAS to be good. This is Vince McMahon’s penultimate opportunity to persuade the public that they should spend their precious wages on his product instead of, you know, paying the phone bill and feeding the dog.

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I am a self -confessed Chris Jericho junkie. Not just a fan. He gets my motor running. Like Vrrrrroooooom! Not sure what it is. Probably the fact that he’s a Rock n Roll GOD. Probably the short blonde tresses and the extreme hotness. The fact that he’s a really lovely bloke, despite all that nasty ‘punched a female fan’ business. Those idiots were prodding and poking at him like was a caged animal in the zoo. The girl in question  spat on him and hit him. What, you think because someone’s famous you can get away with abusing them? Morons. Then there’s the humour. Ahh the humour, which  I am currently mourning the loss of.  Come back jolly-Jericho! I dig your heart-stopping stares and the flashy suits, but I miss the laffs. I  also dig that Canadian lilt. “You been hanging aboot the hoose today, eh?” Ahh. Tingles.

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So off the back of the whole Mickey Rourke thing, Y2J is taking on some of the legends being inducted in to the Hall of Fame on Saturday. He will, of course, lose. There’s no way the old statesmen will be defeated by a pip-squeak on their old-timers’ club trip to Houston. On Raw he took on Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler. What the hell is this? Help the Aged? Only joking. Wrestling ain’t wrestling without you squalking all over it, King. LOVE YA! It’s all very well and good, and the Mickey Rourke angle will catch a bit of media attention, but after it’s over, give my fella a proper storyline, alright? Eeeeexcellent.

On to my other lover. Jooooooohn Ceeeeeena. Ohhh baby. Apparently he is getting married to a girl he’s known since they were kids. Pffft. Thanks, John. Why don’t you just rip my heart out and hold it in front of my face, eh? Anyway. Yes. Wrestling.  Ahem. While Chris Jericho does his mean and moody thing, John is tickling my funny bone. No, that’s not a euphemism. Although, he should consider it socially acceptable to tickle me anywhere he chooses.  He really is making me LOL. I love-love-loved his greeting card for Vicky Guerrero last week. In fact, I love it so much I think I’ll watch it again. Join me if you will……

Oh John. Why so cute? Anyway, this week it was all action. Vicky, Edge and Big Show went about their strange lust triangle and John kept his pretty eyes on the pretty prize – Edge’s World Heavyweight belt. Edge even tried to sweet-talk John in to teaming up with him so they could, you know, hold hands and defeat the unnatural giant that is the Big Show together at Wrestlemania. Cheeky, bugger. My boy declined. Of course.

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I’d be quite happy to loiter around JC’s locker room with a wide-lens camera a little longer, but it’s time to move on to the Undertaker / Shawn Michaels thing.  I’ m not a big fan of either. I like HBK when he’s doing DX with my third honey, but on his own I find him….. kind of… meh! [Sorry, Foster. Don’t hate me] The other thing that’s winding me up about Michaels is that, from what I’ve heard, he has used his new-found religion to get out of doing certain things, and yet he is exploiting it in this current feud just for the sake of the story.  It kind of smacks of double standards.  Having said that, I’d like to see Taker lose, just for a change.  Apparently it’s illegal for Undertake to lose at Wrestlemania.

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Now on to the big one. The storyline giving me a total lady-boner. The match you ARE going to buy Wrestlemania for. Promise me? Your fingers better not be crossed.  It’s Triple H (+the McMahon Family) vs Randy Orton, flanked by his two errand boys (Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase).  OH MY GOD. Anything that involves Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in the same storyline makes me go in to total Cheshire cat mode.  And the fact that their marriage straddles that blurry WWE line between reality and fantasy confuses and delights me at the same time.

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After the  events of last week, I wondered how much more drama they could pack in to this story. Maybe it’s reached its peak? Orton handcuffed Hunter to the ropes, beat him up, dragged Stephanie in to the ring, knocked her unconscious and softly pressed his lips to hers while Triple H watched on in despair. Nice, eh?

So there’s Randy Orton, he of the shiniest thighs on the planet, in the ring telling us how fucking amazing he is. Ok, he didn’t F. But it was THAT strong! A shiny limo rolls up outside and, oh baby, now some shit’s gonna go down. What’s gonna happen? What’s gonna happen? AAAARGH! Tell me. Orton brings up the lights, calls out his errand boys and a gaggle of security dudes for protection. One again….. OH. BABY.

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We all wait for Triple H to appear. But HARK, who is that? VINCE. IT’S VINCE. OH MY GOD. AWESOME. No chance, that’s just what you got. Indeed, indeed, Mr. M.  By the way, what has Vince been up to in the gym while he’s been away? Has he had his skin replaced with an inflatable material that somone has to pump air in before he goes out in public? He looked….so…..well….INFLATED! Jacket comes off, tie flies off, sleeves rolled up, the old fella’s ready for a brawl I tells ya.

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A few seconds more and Shane appears. Oh God. This is too too too good. Who’s the third gonna be? Stephie? Linda? Baaaa0000m! Baaoom-Baaoom! TIME TO PLAY THE GAME. Yeeeeeeeey! Triple H. Standing sideways, looking livid. After much fierce staring (and my gasping for air for lover number three) The McMahon Men strode strongly towards the ring in unison. I swear to GOD, if there is such a thing as a Wrestlgasm, I had one.  A BIG ONE. OOOOOOOORGHHHHH!

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If you don’t want to cough up some cash for Vince McMahon after that, I don’t know what else will persuade you.  It all ended in giant punch-fest which, quite frankly, left me needing a cigarette. Observe……….

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Now I’m off to contemplate what might happen on Smackdown and to start googling mocktail recipes for my Wrestlemania party-for-one in the early hours of Monday. Oh timezones. Why must you torture me so?

ENDNOTE: NEVER let me Santino Marella in a mankini again. Ever, ever, ever. As if the fake uni-brow wasn’t hideous enough.  I’m just thankful he had shorts on underneath. Eesh!