Oh right, I have a blog.

Hello, everyone! Believe it or not, I don’t exist exclusively on Twitter!

Fun fact: I started my Twitter to promote this blog, which was originally going to be centered on Raw recaps and the like. However, I soon figured out that my recaps weren’t reaching an audience big enough for the headache they caused me, so I decided to try and make my blog more opinionated. I THEN realized that posting my thoughts straight to Twitter was vastly more effective than what I was doing on this blog.

I’ve also been crazy busy. ICYMI…

However, my real love has always been and always will be writing. I breathe it.

That’s why I’m going to try and move this blog in a new direction.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m currently a junior in college studying to become a journalist. I love writing. I love investigating. And I’d like to believe I’m pretty good at it. Now, I wouldn’t use the stuff I have here as ample evidence, but my point stands: writing is my dream. I’m going to school for it. My degree is my only concern right now; absolutely nothing else matters more to me than my education.

That means that this blog, for now, isn’t my priority. Neither is my Twitter. But perhaps I can make this into something more fun for all of us.

I’m a creative writer. I’m a foodie. I’m a wrestling fan.

I’m going to try and blend all of those things into this blog by posting recipes, funny wrestling stories, and maybe even interviews, if I ever get any done. I want to make this blog something that doesn’t feel like a chore for me to maintain and something that wrestling fans, wrestlers, or anyone, really, can enjoy.

So, long writey-crap aside, what does this mean for the blog?

Well.

  • I’ll try to write more in general.
  • I’ll be posting recipes and maybe little cooking videos here inspired by wrestling stuff.
  • I’ll actually do post-show write-ups when I go see stuff live. I promise.
  • I’ll share links to stuff I do outside of wrestling, including journalism and Star Wars stuff!

Thanks for everything, friends! MWAH!

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The humanity in sex scandals

I’m not saying any names. If you’re reading this, you probably already know the events which have spurred me pulling out my laptop to write. My timeline has been a whirlwind of arguments about feminism, jokes at the victim’s expense and a bunch of other stuff I won’t even bother explaining.

But something I see missing from so much of the discourse about this sex scandal, and many others like it, is an acknowledgment of the very real people involved in these scandals. Yes, those people you watch on your phone or laptop, those people you have seen at their most vulnerable, are real. They have family and friends.

Imagine living your life as normal, engaged to the love of your life, when suddenly your social media is flooded with illicit photos and videos you never believed would leave your personal possession. You have to go about your day knowing that aside from your parents and coworkers, thousands of strangers have seen your naked body against your consent.

Doesn’t that sound awful?

I cannot imagine something like that happening to me.

She is only five years older than me. She is, or rather, we are, so young. You know what young people do? They mess up. They make mistakes. They put themselves in bad situations because in our youth, we feel invincible. We don’t dwell on the worst case scenario.

Should we? Yeah, of course. But do we? No!

“Well, then she shouldn’t have become a celebrity!” says some guy on Twitter who probably who probably watched the leaked footage all the way through.

Right. She shouldn’t have followed her dreams because of the possibility of being hacked. Should she have waited to wrestle until she was older, and her body was worn down? Perhaps she should have held off until she was in her mid thirties, and the internet suggested she retire because she looks to old to wrestle.

Say what you want about her being irresponsible making the video in the first place, but if we’re going to be “realists” here, I’ll give you some facts.

  1. She can do what she wants in private.
  2. Shaming her on the internet will not change her, but it could hurt her.

I’m angry, yes, but mostly, I’m just sad. Sad to see so many people making jokes at the expense of a young woman who is still growing as a person, whose body is now out there to be judged and god knows what else to.

So to my friends who are making jokes, I ask you this, though I really wish I didn’t have to:

If that was my body posted to the internet against MY will, would you still laugh? Your mother’s? Your sister’s or daughter’s? Would you make jokes about something that will haunt me whenever I have to look my parents or coworkers in the eye?

If your answer is yes, we were never friends to begin with.

These people we watch on television aren’t paper dolls. They aren’t just objects to be gawked and laughed at. They are human beings. They have feelings and fears and right now, their lives are being thrown quite suddenly into chaos.

I’m not trying to start any fights. I’ve seen friends of mine trying to make light of this. But at this point, I don’t find it funny anymore. I’m not laughing. I’m just…really, really sad.

It might be funny if they were just characters. Probably not even then.

But they’re not. They’re people too.

We should try to remember that.

My Glory Pro Adventure

I don’t think that highly of myself. I’m just a 19-year-old kid who loves to write, loves to talk to people and loves wrestling. But this year, I’ve been able to get a small but passionate audience of wrestling fans who love to discuss and analyze the product, and I’ve developed a small platform to promote talent I believe in.

So when I heard that Michael Elgin (you know, the guy who just put on a 5 star match in Japan) was starting a promotion only two hours from where I live for college, I knew I had to go, and I had tog et as many friends as possible to go with me.

First off, I wanted to see my friend Trina (@themarkysmark) in her ring announcing debut. Trina has been instrumental in helping me find my voice in the IWC and in making me believe in myself as a legitimate voice, someone whose opinions deserve to be heard. I also wanted to meet Damian (@Dare2BDamian) in person to sing to him.

Second, believe it or not, I had never been to an independent event live. I’ve relied on DVDs and Youtube to get my indie wrestling fix for years.

And third…I needed a nice little trip. My life is work and school. I don’t go to parties, I don’t know how to have fun. So I was determined to have fun here.

Now, let me walk you through my day.

I had to switch my work schedule up to make it to the show, so I woke up at 6 a.m. Sunday morning and made my way to work. I cleaned bathrooms and collected garbage for several hours and was picked up directly from work at 11 a.m. by Zach, Terry, and Ross, three of my awesome wrestling squad I managed to convince to take me to the show.

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We spent the 2 hour car ride eating Wendys and listening to stand-up comedy.

When we finally got to Alton, we were able to get pretty close to the front of the line (thus letting us get seats in the third row, muahahaha!). I met Alex from Pro Wrestling Iowa and because the weather was awesome, it was a pretty enjoyable wait.

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From left to right: me, Zach, Terry, and Ross

I spent half of my time in line hiding from Damian, because I was determined to ambush him by singing Brian Kendrick’s theme song. The other half was spent feeling quite insecure about my height because all of my friends are taller than me, and the incline of the hill we were on did me absolutely no favors.

First row seats were let in first, then second row, and finally it was time for us to make our way inside the venue. As a Catholic girl, I was snickering at the crucifix right above the hard cam and the photo of Pope Francis at the entrance to the venue. I love making Catholic jokes, so it gave me a chance to do that a ton.

Michael Elgin was sitting at the table where we gave our tickets, and I was NOT prepared for that. I’m a huge fan of him. Zach in particular was a bit starstruck. He’s our resident NJPW mega mark. I stumbled on my words a bit when he told me to enjoy the show.

When we got to our seats, I made a beeline for the merchandise tables. What cracks me up is how not smooth I was with these guys I admire so much. I won’t lie, I think I can be pretty charismatic on Twitter. But in person, I am an absolute mess. I went to Ethan Page and Danny Adams first, because I had promised to buy their shirts on Twitter (I doubt they remembered). I then saw an opening for Matt Riddle’s merch.

Y’all. That Progress Atlas title is absolutely STUNNING in person. I was as starstruck by the belt as I was by Riddle himself.

I bought my Riddle shirt and shook his hand (and my face only got a LITTLE red) before going back to my friends. We sent Zach to get us sodas, and for some reason he went to where the alcohol was sold, but we found it funny anyways. Then, Big Mike came into the ring and announced we would be getting a pre-show match.

Aaron Dzinic & Matt Kenway vs. Barackus & Garrett Shanks

Thanks to Trina, I already knew who Matt Kenway was. I wasn’t too familiar with his ring work, but from what I’d seen I was curious to see him in person. Now this is what blows my mind: Kenway is 19 years old. He’s MY age, and he’s REALLY good already. He has a great energy in the ring and carries himself with confidence. He teamed with Aaron Dvinic, who also impressed me with the fun style he worked in. They won their match against Barackus & Garrett Shanks, and I enjoyed it a LOT more than I could have expected.

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I called them future stars on Twitter, and I stand by it.

I was happy to be able to talk to Matt Kenway during the show’s intermission. I had gotten up to go buy more merch (because I am an impulse buyer, I guess) and when I was making my way back I noticed this tall guy in really good shape standing at my seat. I then realized WHO it was, and introduced myself, congratulating him on an incredible match. We talked and I introduced him to my friends, and we all bonded over, well, our youth? I don’t know. It was a fun conversation and he was super nice, and I am totally serious when I say that he has a bright future in the business. You heard it here first, friends.

I feel like I should also point out that I had to REALLY watch my mouth, because I can curse like a sailor when given the chance. Big Mike told us that it would be a family-friendly atmosphere. And while I’ve been to PG shows, at big WWE arenas you can curse all you want. But in Spaulding…well, I knew I couldn’t get away with it.

Paco Gonzalez vs. Kobe Durst

Our first match of the main card was Paco Gonzalez against Kobe Durst. I was unfamiliar with both of these men, but this match made me a fan of both. Paco has this unique quality about him. He is so easy to invest in and works such a thrilling style. And Durst has some of the BEST facial expressions I have ever seen in my entire damn life.

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Just LOOK at the emotion from Paco. HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THIS MAN?!

I’ll go ahead and state this now: Paco Gonzalez was one of the MVPs of Glory Pro. He is thrilling. He is amazing. He is the kind of guy you can build a promotion around. I’m so serious about this. Glory Pro is going to be his proving ground, the place where he makes himself a megastar.

Ethan Page vs. Danny Adams

This is a match I was VERY excited about. And I went into it with certain expectations. Namely, I was convinced that Danny Adams would be the babyface and Ethan Page would be the heel.

Boy, I’m an idiot.

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A wild Damian appears!

Ethan Page and Danny Adams put on a super fun match. The crowd interaction throughout made it stand out to me. Adams was flat-out bullying a fan and Page’s defense of him was hilarious.

A highlight of the match for me from a storytelling standpoint was a comedy bit. Adams hit some sort of stunner (I THINK) from the ropes, and as he sailed through the air he just shouted out, “I’M THE BEST.”

That KILLED me, you guys.

Shigehiro Irie vs. Curt Stallion

I didn’t know WHO to root for in this match. On one hand, all of my friends were marking out for Irie, and I think that he is simultaneously the most adorable and terrifying man I have ever beheld. On the other hand, I am a HUGE fan of Curt Stallion and we once had a lovely Twitter interaction about Star Wars, so that has to be worth something, right?

So, I settled for cheering for them both. And boy, this match nearly made me lose my voice.

Curt Stallion has this wonderful intensity about him from the moment he makes his entrance to the moment he leaves. And him promising to TRY not to curse was beautiful. It’s difficult to convince a crowd you have a chance against someone like Irie, but he did it. I’m not surprised he’s being noticed by Ring of Honor. He moves smoothly and strikes crisply. God, he’s just FUN to watch. And to listen to out of the ring as well.

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This staredown gave me chills.

I consider myself lucky to have seen Shigehiro Irie live. He has one of the most unique energies I’ve ever experienced from a  wrestler. It’s like having Godzilla as your best friend. Like, he would slam Stallion into the mat, and I would think he had just KILLED him, but then he would look up with such a delighted grin I would forget he could probably snap me in half if he wanted to.

The finish to this match blew me away. Irie throws Stallion up in the air and then catches him with this terrifying submission hold, and to my SHOCK, Stallion tapped instantly. I think it was the right choice. Stallion made Irie look like a damn beast and left the match looking strong for putting up a fight in the first place. And not just putting up a fight, taking him to WAR. Great, solid storytelling, and a fun and hard-hitting match.

Jason Kincaid vs. Everett Connors

When Everett Connors made his entrance, I laughed out loud. I’ll admit it. I then proceeded to dance, because why not? Bieber gimmicks are supposed to be fun, I suppose. I then decided to give this Connors person a lot of crap, because I’m an awful person.

Kincaid was someone I was not familiar with. I had heard of him, but had never watched any of his matches before. But the second he made his entrance, I knew I would enjoy him. He had the same kind of charisma I see in Bray Wyatt, like a cult leader without the creepy religious stuff.

That sounds bad.

I just LIKE him, okay?

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The match was fun. It bled into the crowd, which was great for me because I got to touch Kincaid. That also sounds creepy. The match is on Youtube, go look it up. Huge kudos to Connors for doing this spot where he goes to hit Kincaid then catches the wall with his hand. That had me cringing watching it live and then cringing AGAIN seeing it on video.

I’ll talk about Kincaid more when I get to the main event, so let me just say this: it can be hard to win over a crowd of (mostly) grown men with a Justin Bieber gimmick. But Connors did it. He worked very well and had great chemistry with Kincaid in the ring. And the promo he cut after about wanting to give everything he has for the fans after the match was excellent. It had everyone cheering for him. That’s skill.

Myron Reed vs. Davey Vega vs. Gary Jay vs. Jason Roberts vs. Mat Fitchett vs. Space Monkey

Oh man, you guys. I purposefully did not tell Terry, Ross and Zach about Space Monkey, and I am so glad I let them be surprised. Their reactions were PRICELESS.

“Only in my LSD induced fever dreams do men come out in monkey masks and space outfits,” Zach said. He had a lot of other amusing comments about Space Monkey, too, like: “If you’ve ever wanted Matt Riddle’s good looks to be upstaged by a man in a monkey costume then Glory Pro is for you!”

Oh, and right after this match, he went right to the merch tables and bought himself a Space Monkey shirt.

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Look how happy Zach is with his Space Monkey shirt. I like how he never broke character. Nice touch.

The banana spots throughout the match were hilarious. At one point, the banana hit the ceiling and then tripped someone up, and my sides hurt from laughing and cheering. It was the best, y’all.

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The legend himself.

I was familiar with Davey Vega, but not too familiar, so seeing him live was a joy. He’s a ton of fun to watch. Jay, Roberts and Fitchett were great as well. Multi-man matches can be a hot mess, but this match was fast-paced and easy to follow along with. It also included a crazy spot out of the ring that had me convinced I would die, and that’s always a plus for me.

Myron Reed, who entered to my JAM from middle school, was a great choice to win the match. The finish to the match was insanely cool, and he deserves a title shot with the performance he put on. He made all of us Dolphins fans that day.

Brandon Espinosa vs. Sean Orleans

Well, every show needs a good squash, right?

WRONG.

Just kidding, this was great.

Dad Bod himself, Sean Orleans, came out and cut a wonderful promo about the hard work he put into preparing for this match and said he wouldn’t let Elgin and us down. He then proceeded to be decimated by a very unamused Brandon Espinosa.

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He promised to pose on the ropes next time so I can get a better picture. The purest of babyfaces, right?

This was great, honestly. Orleans had a great determination about him, staring Espinosa down without fear. He had the crowd eating out of his hands by the time he was pinned. I honestly felt heartbroken, which is a good thing in this case. This sets up some really great story opportunities for down the road, so I will definitely be looking for more from both of these guys in the next two shows.

Jake Something vs. Shane Sabre

An intense guy who looks like Jesus versus another intense guy who looks like Jesus.

This match was GREAT.

I actually didn’t get any pictures during this match because I was having too much fun shooting down “SOMETHING” jokes and coming up with jokes of my own. Something was a ton of fun in the ring, and him yelling out “SOMETHING” was just delightful. He also has a sick tattoo, which my friends and I spent a lot of time analyzing. Shane Sabre deserves equal credit for the work he put into the match. I thought he sold like a champ, and he was good at storytelling, especially with his facial expressions.

I don’t remember too many specific moments from this one, just that I was sad when it ended because it was so enjoyable.

OH, Jake Something bellowed in a guy’s face after the match. That was great. He’s great.

Give me more of BOTH these guys, please!

Matt Riddle vs. Michael Elgin

Jesus effing Christ. This match. Where do I even begin?

Matt Riddle is a wrestler I am very familiar with. I was so thrilled to have the chance to see him live and freaking MEET him. He is everything I look for in a wrestler: hard-hitting, quick in the ring, and oozing with charisma and personality.

Michael Elgin is someone I have been a fan of for a long time as well. Zach, in particular, was super excited to see him live. My friends and I had just watched his match against Naito together (we have a NJPW watch party thing, it’s pretty great) so we knew we would be getting an amazing match.

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My only concern was what kind of story they would be telling by pitting two faces against each other. But who was I to question anything about this match?

It blew me away.

This match was stiff as hell. I spent most of it screaming my head off and cringing as I watched these two stars beat the life out of each other. The strikes, the kicks, everything about it was beyond words for me.

It also still blows my mind how Elgin moves in the ring. His kicks are what Ryback always wanted to pull off. (Don’t get mad, guys, let me make my jokes.)

The moment that made this match for me came right in the middle, while Riddle and Elgin were ramping up the match’s pace. They just stormed in each other’s faces for a classic staredown, and it felt like I was watching a volcano erupt int he ring. There wasn’t any personal animosity, it was just the ferocity of competition, the level of passion in the match, that drove them to do it. It was, in my opinion, a perfect moment.

Riddle retained his title (of course), and I admire Elgin for booking himself to lose clean. It was the right choice and he looked strong in defeat, so I had no complaints. I can’t wait to watch that match again.

I also hope I get to see Riddle live again someday. He’s just great.

Jason Kincaid vs. Ethan Page vs. Paco Gonzalez vs. Shigehiro Irie

Introduced by Mischief (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), the gorgeous Crown of Glory title match was thrilling from start to finish.

First, I’d like to mention that I absolutely FREAKED when Mischief came out earlier int he night to promise women’s wrestling in future shows (Su Yung, anybody?). I think she’s one of the coolest ladies in the world.

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At this point, Ross, Terry, Zach and I were all arguing over who would win the title. I bet on Page, they bet on Irie or Paco. We were all idiots.

This match was everything a main event should aspire to be. It was full of thrilling spots and a lot of stories mingling together to tell one glorious story.

I honestly don’t know what to write about this match. It was spectacular. Ethan Page reverted to his more heelish ways in this one, targeting Paco and calling him a kid (judge him by his size, do you?). Irie took punches as if they were sunlight and he was Superman. Paco was the ULTIMATE underdog, taking a crazy spot that had him wiped out right in front of me.

My friends were hooked. I think Zach offered him his limbs while he regained his breath at our feet after being clobbered onto the ground. And to think, I had been rooting for Page! I was convinced Paco was going to win the title in one of the purest moments imaginable, but then I realized something.

Kincaid was still around.

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a wrestler live who has as many cool reversals as Kincaid. The dude worked his way out of ‘ranas and had all of us practically worshipping him during the match. So when he won, I was thrilled for him.

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He deserved it!

I stayed around for the press conference after the show, and I loved the cockiness he displayed. He speaks very well, and that will serve him well int he future. And man, does that belt look VERY fitting around his waist!

Also, how about the CERTAIN SOMEONE who showed interest after the victory? 😉

After the show, my friends and I made our rounds to get pictures with everyone. Sadly, I didn’t snatch pictures with Page, Kincaid or Adams, but there’s always the next show! As I got pictures, my friends got their tickets for the next shows. THAT’S how impressed they were.

I was lucky enough to finally get to meet the myth, the legend…Papa Hales! He’s a wrestling fan I have tremendous respect for. He’s such a wonderful voice in the industry and I guess my screeching throughout the event caught his attention, because I got a picture with him, featuring Trina and Damian!

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Graps fam 🙂

I loved the atmosphere of Glory Pro. The fans were enthusiastic, even when they didn’t know the talent well. And they didn’t put up with anyone’s crap. At one point some wise guy decided to make a taco joke at Paco Gonzalez, and we booed him and called him out on it. There was great investment from the crowd and overall, a genuine love of wrestling that was echoed in the performers.

That might be my favorite thing about Glory Pro. From Michael Elgin to the wrestlers to the people helping manage the event, everyone was doing what they did because of a genuine love of pro wrestling. The desire to entertain, to put out the best product imaginable, was evident in every moment I was there.

That’s amazing. That’s what makes Glory Pro special. It’s a group of people who care about the industry and the people industry. It’s a roster of wrestlers with all the talent in the world who are also extremely approachable and nice. It’s people like Trina, who gives her everything to the business without any agenda except love of the industry and wanting to get people over.

It’s the car ride back to Columbia I took with my friends, where we just talked about how much fun we had and made plans to go back.

I’ll be back for the May and July shows. I can’t wait.

Congrats to everyone involved in Glory Pro. You started something special!

 

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Mick Foley’s RAW promo & benevolent sexism

Hey, guys. Did you know I’m a woman? I know, I know, shocking. Well, as a woman, I have a plethora of life experiences that have shaped the person I am today. I have been groped by a stranger in public. I have been patronized and looked down on because of my gender. Why am I saying this? Well, because sexism is a reality in my life that I am aware of with every breath I take. And that reality has spurred me to write about what I saw on RAW tonight.

I’ll cut to the chase: when Mick Foley began to passionately beg Sasha and Charlotte to reconsider their historic Hell in a Cell match on Monday Night RAW, I was horrified.

Mick Foley has long been a supporter of the women’s divisions on both shows. He has voiced support for the women of WWE for years. He is an ally for women in the company in so many countless ways. Outside of the ring, he’s even more of an ally, supporting organizations such as RAINN tirelessly.

AGAIN, LET ME BE CLEAR: I LOVE MICK FOLEY. So that’s why I was so saddened by what transpired on the final RAW leading into Hell in a Cell.

DISCLAIMER: I am aware that Mick Foley the man is probably thrilled with the women going into Hell in a Cell. I am aware he does not write his promos. But here’s the truth of it all: his championing of women’s wrestling has been woven into the character he plays on TV. And so far, his character on TV has been disappointing for fans of women’s wrestling.

Yes, we got a RAW Women’s Championship match as the main event of RAW that had the crowd on its feet. But merely one week later the only women’s segments on the flagship show are an arm wrestling match and a contract signing. A contract signing which was hijacked by Mr. Foley’s character.

Benevolent Sexism

Now, Foley’s delivery was fantastic. He has a real passion for the business and it shows whenever he has a mic in hand. But his words, on the other hand, were the textbook definition of benevolent sexism.

You see, sexism isn’t just slaps on the sass or catcalls. It’s not just calling someone a nasty woman. It’s the subtle things too.

Benevolent sexism may seem harmless, noble, or even “romantic,” but its effects can be devastating. Benevolent sexism, like hostile sexism, is an ideology that supports gender inequality, and in some ways benevolent sexism can be even more insidious.

-UnderstandingPrejudice.org

Things like saying women should be cherished and protected, as if we all fit neatly into traditional gender roles and stereotypes. It’s the paradox of toxic masculinity that tells boys they need to protect women but also be dominant sexually.

So how does this all factor into Foley’s promo? Well first, let’s examine how the other two Hell in a Cell matches (in a triple main event, which could get its own blog) were built on the very same RAW.

Roman Reigns vs. Rusev & Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins

The build to this feud has its own problems (Fighting for your wife’s honor? Really?) but the buildup tot he Hell in a Cell match has been focused on each competitor being willing to put their opponent through intense physical punishment.

Not once is it ever brought into question whether or not the men know what’s in store for them. Admittedly, Reigns does know what it’s like to be inside Hell in a Cell…in a match with no bloodshed. But regardless, his ability to put his body on the line is never brought into question. Instead, the focus is on the men themselves.

Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins’ rivalry is a bit more complex. Not only is the Universal Championship involved, but also ingrained in their plot is the Triple H angle and the rising personal animosity between Rollins and Owens.

The buildup to their Hell in a Cell match has been an exchange of threats. Rollins passionately promised to render Owens unable to move by their match’s end. That anger and animosity is the centerpiece of their feud. Well, that and Chris Jericho.

So, in short, the men hyped their matches by promising to take their opponents to hell and back. The usual.

And now, the women…

Sasha Banks and Charlotte are under an enormous amount of pressure. They are in a first of its kind match (for WWE), and if their match is subpar, there will be fans saying that women should never be allowed to be in these matches.

Never mind the plethora of disappointing men’s Hell in a Cell matches over the years.

The last impression on RAW before a PPV is important. It sets the tone for their impending match. So WWE, in their boundless wisdom, decided to have Mick Foley tearfully beg them to reconsider their match.

…..what?

This wasn’t the same Foley who warned Ambrose and Rollins that they weren’t ready for life after Hell in a Cell.

Foley then was determined, almost daring Ambrose and Rollins to live up to his legacy. There is a difference between warning and coddling, after all. And Ambrose and Rollins both emerged from the segment unfazed.

On paper, his promo with Sasha and Charlotte seems similar. But contextualized, it’s a completely different animal.

For starters, his interruptions were yelled right in their faces, which is just unsettling. Additionally, they took away from what little screentime the women had at all. Remember, in this episode the only women’s segments weren’t even matches. So to inject Mick Foley so completely into the contract signing was just another nail in the coffin.

But most importantly: his words were patronizing.

Foley begged the women to not go into their Hell in a Cell match unless they were ready to sign away years of their life. He emotionally recounted meeting Charlotte as a little girl and Sasha’s love of Eddie Guerrero. He didn’t even want to give the women their contract.

Oh, and earlier in the preshow Jerry Lawler suggested that the girls should be scared. YUP.

What’s so bad about that?

  1. It’s patronizing. You think that, in storyline, Sasha and Charlotte are not absolutely aware of what they’re getting into? You think that these two women needed to be told in the final segment before their HISTORIC match that they weren’t ready? How many times has this happened to women in male-dominated professions? Answer: all too much. It’s not the same as when he warns the men because undercutting women with ambition is a systemic and societal problem.
  2. It enforces gender stereotypes. The women NEED to be protected. They NEED to be warned. They’re getting too ambitious and need to be reined back in by a man of authority.
  3. It made the women’s segment about a man. Guys, Charlotte and Sasha are going to tear each other apart but MICK FOLEY DOESN’T HAVE A HIP SOCKET.

Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t interrupted them multiple times. Maybe then it wouldn’t have felt like mansplaining. But the truth of the matter is that Mick wouldn’t have been scripted to be so concerned for Roman or Seth. Foreboding, yes, but not concerned.

Sasha and Charlotte are in a difficult spot as it is. They’re in a ridiculous triple main event when they should be the main event: period. They have to craft a gimmick match for skeptical marks. And now, their match has to overcome incredible pressure not just from fans, but from an overly protective authority figure.

I have no doubt they will put on an incredible match. I have faith in them. And that is what their GM should have said. He should be building them up (as the real Foley would do) instead of insinuating their ignorance.

But hey, why am I even upset? We ARE in a women’s revolution, aren’t we?

Aren’t we?

 

The Women’s Revolution is in our hands too

A few weeks ago, I attended Monday Night RAW in Kansas City. I had an amazing time. I had single seats, so I was surrounded by strangers, with only my love of wrestling and ability to make friends with just about anyone to keep me afloat.

I was dressed in full Bayley gear, and was so excited to be seeing my favorite wrestler live for the first time. I, of course, was completely hyped for Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins. It was going to be a great time. I knew it would be.

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And then…I began listening to the men sitting around me.

When Bayley and Charlotte entered, I cheered, but then I saw a man in my row get up to grab a beer. Minutes into the match, all the men around me began making these comments.

“Wow, Charlotte is hot as all hell.”

“I love Bayley’s leggings. They’re tight in all the right places.”

There were more. I won’t get into it.

Here’s the thing: sexism is alive and well in the wrestling community. It may not be as overt as it once was, but it’s out there.

I won’t get into RAW’s lack of female storylines beyond the Women’s Championship or the still low percentage of screentime they get. That’s covered in many other places. I want to talk about how we as fans treat women.

Have you ever gone into the comments section of any Youtube videos involving the Women’s Division? Here’s what you’ll find.

 

We see Nikki Bella being called a slut for dating John Cena by the same fans who will never utter a word of complaint about her body. We see the Rock blatantly slut-shaming Lana because management was upset about her engagement to Rusev being leaked. This is all in 2016. It’s not ancient history, folks. It’s the present.

Everything female wrestlers do is put under the microscope. Alfred Konuwa once wrote an op-ed claiming women needed to stop crying after their matches in order to move forward. Wrestler Naomi is criticized for twerking and dancing, when the real issue is the overt objectification of her dancing. I mean, I don’t see people telling the New Day to stop their twerking. Nikki Bella’s breast implants have long been subject to ridicule, but we forget the environment she was recruited into. Socially-labeled “Feminine” actions are put down; women are expected to act more masculine to succeed.

Independent wrestling has had its fair share of bumps in this regard as well regarding equal pay and presentation of its female talent. Before being signed by WWE, Nikki Storm discussed her treatment in the indies at length. Luckily, promotions such as SHIMMER, SHINE, WOW and RISE are giving female wrestlers the chance to hone their abilities in a healthy environment.

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This cavalier attitude is not just directed at female talent. In both indie and in WWE fandoms, female fans are called ring rats and face constant scrutiny. Apparently, we’re only fans because we like to see attractive male wrestlers.

I recently posted a live reaction to AJ Styles’ victory at Backlash. A charming user decided to immediately reply with a screenshot of my crotch, commenting “puss slip.” Lucky for me, I was wearing Nike shorts so my “puss slip” wasn’t even  puss slip. But still…that happened. I reported the user, but Twitter said he didn’t violate any of their terms of service. Hilarious, right?

I’m not alone in this. There is nothing wrong with complimenting female fans. It’s flattering and all, but let’s be real: it can be downright uncomfortable sometimes to be called “fucking sexy” by a complete stranger who is twenty years older than you or by someone who has just been belittling you.

Female fans are accused of supporting Roman Reigns for his looks and villainized for being fans of him. They are generalized and roped into a “women and children” category. They are constantly forced to defend their opinions by so-called hardcore fans with nothing better to do.

Female fans are expected to conform to a very specific form on fandom or else the IWC casts them aside as “casual fans.”

But here’s the thing: there is no single type of “female fan.” Anyone who listens to my podcast knows that I am not a fan of Roman Reigns. I support Seth Rollins and AJ Styles. But that doesn’t mean I’m “not like other girls.” I hate that terminology anyways. I am no better at being a wrestling fan than someone who does support Roman Reigns.

So how can we combat this?

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Talking is a good start. And when I say talking, I mean true discussion. Do NOT invalidate or discount women’s experiences. Don’t just say, “not ALL men” or “MEN FACE IT TOO.” Don’t try and sway the discussion to something else. Look at the sexism. Think and consider the feelings and experiences of female fans.

And, if you’re so inclined, ACT.

“If you’re neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” -Desmond Tutu

The Women’s Revolution is not just in the hands of the Four Horsewomen, the Women’s Division, or WWE Creative. It’s in the hands of the fans to combat it, like the ones who booed the disrespectful fans who began to yell, “THIS IS FILLER!” at NXT tapings during a women’s match. Don’t be silent. Don’t drown out the voices of female fans. Don’t pit female wrestlers against each other to try and support one.

Listen. Discuss. Learn. And maybe we can help propel the Women’s Revolution to where it needs to be.

RAW Recap/Analysis – July 26, 2016

New Era indeed.

With a split roster, the first Monday Night RAW of the brand extension was forced to delve deeper into its characters and stories, providing viewers with longer matches, fresh camerawork and a historic-feeling moment that provided the best RAW I can remember seeing in years.

Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon opened RAW, bringing the new roster out and announcing two Fatal Four-Ways to determine an opponent for Seth Rollins at SummerSlam for a new title: the WWE Universal Championship.

Fighting for the title would be Chris Jericho, Cesaro, Roman Reigns, Rusev, Sheamus, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and . . . Finn Balor.

Calling Charlotte forward, they also announced that Charlotte would be defending her title against Sasha Banks that night.

Rusev vs. Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens vs. Finn Balor

Owens and Balor took each other on in the center of the ring right away as Cesaro and Rusev brawled at ringside. Owens went to work on Balor right away, but Balor powered back with a dropkick that sent them both out of the ring, allowing Cesaro to capitalize and take control.

Cesaro and Balor temporarily worked together, but Owens and Rusev soon worked them into a precarious situation, with Owens gleefully mocking Balor as he and Rusev teamed up on him. Owens continued to target the man who took the NXT Championship from him over a year ago, tossing him out of the ring before working with Rusev to hit a suplex on Cesaro. Both men took their turns beating Cesaro before rolling Balor back into the ring.

But Balor returned with a vengeance, planting Owens who then took a side suplex from Rusev. A rebounding Cesaro hit a flying crossbody on Rusev and Owens both, taking them and Balor on his uppercut train.

Balor regained momentum, countering a powerbomb from Kevin Owens and taking all three men out at ringside before trading strikes with Cesaro in the ring, hitting 1916 on Cesaro for a near-fall. Kevin Owens gained momentum, but it was Rusev who would plant the other three competitors with a Tower of Doom.

Owens hit a Frog Splash on Balor, but Rusev broke the pin. Cesaro hit Owens with a corkscrew uppercut and looked to take Owens swinging, but Rusev hit both men with kicks to the jaw, locking in the Accolade on Owens, only for Cesaro to plant him with a vertical suplex, going for the Sharpshooter. Rusev reversed into the Accolade, but Cesaro rolled over, forcing him to break it.

Cesaro put Rusev in the Sharpshooter, but Owens broke it, only to fall under attack by Balor, who would hit the Coup de Grace on Rusev for the victory.

While it’s a shame that Cesaro was put in a match he clearly would not win, I like the new direction he seems to be going in. I am curious to see what the rest of the year holds for him.

This match was brilliant, full of thrilling moments that got only more exciting as the match went on. The time given to the men paid off, as they built an exciting story that featured a lot of fun moments.

It felt surreal seeing Finn Balor in main roster competition, and seeing him once again battling Kevin Owens was a real treat. He was the right person to win this, as we’ll discuss later.

Nia Jax vs. Brit Baker

Nia quickly and dominantly pinned the local jobber without even breaking a sweat.

This match served its purpose: establishing the dominant beast Nia Jax is without damaging anyone else on the roster like Paige or Alicia Fox. Nia is still a bit green for the main roster, but she is a hard worker whose character will be an excellent addition to RAW.

Chris Jericho vs. Sheamus vs. Sami Zayn vs. Roman Reigns

Sheamus and Jericho immediately teamed up on Reigns while a dumbfounded Sami watched, but soon enough he joined in, because he’s a smart guy. Jericho and Sheamus drove Reigns into the barricade at ringside as Zayn awaited them in the ring.

The two heels once again teamed up on Zayn, who fought back valiantly with a hurricarana to Sheamus before launching Jericho at him. Reigns planted Zayn from behind, going for the pin, but Zayn kicked out, and Reigns went on the offensive, hitting him with a snap suplex and a series of strikes, but Zayn once more fought back.

Jericho went on the offensive, but Reigns launched both him and Zayn out of the ring, wiping out all three men. Jericho and Sheamus rebounded back in ring, teaming up on Reigns once more before turning on each other as Zayn returned to the fray.

Reigns took control with a double drive-by on the apron, but Zayn caught him with a Blue Thunder Bomb, going for the Helluva Kick before Reigns planted him with a Razor’s Edge, which Zayn kicked out of. He hit Sheamus with a Helluva Kick, but Jericho broke the pin. The two fought, and Jericho caught Zayn in the Walls of Jericho, only to have it broken by Sheamus. The two redheads fought until Reigns returned, planting everyone with Superman Punches. He went for a Spear, but Jericho countered with a  Codebreaker. Reigns kicked out, pinning Jericho with a Spear for the win.

This was an excellent match, with Zayn the clear favorite to win, but Reigns was the right choice to go over in this match. He was aggressive and domineering, a good look for someone such as himself.

SONNY BOY!

Coming to the ring to celebrate their record-setting reign as WWE World Tag Team champions, plugging Booty-O’s, which yes, is an ACTUAL CEREAL.

They aired a hilarious celebratory video package, and announced they would be selecting an honorary New Day member from the crowd, selecting a man at ringside in a Booty-O’s shirt and girating in the ring with him before being ambushed by Anderson and Gallows.

They demolished the New Day and antagonized the fan, Sonny Boy. It was a fitting way for them to strike up a feud with the tag champs. Anderson & Gallows, when given the chance, are one of the best heel duos in the entire wrestling industry right now. This feud should be perfect for them.

Neville vs. Curtis Axel

Neville started off strong against Axel, utilizing his usual swiftness and hitting a standing moonsault on “Mr. Irrelevant” Curtis Axel. Axel looked to fight back with a dropkick, locking in a chokehold on Neville.

Neville fought back with a surprisingly strong German Suplex before going for the Red Arrow,  securing a solid win for his return to WWE television.

Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks (WWE Women’s Championship match)

Sasha and Charlotte locked up with instant aggression, the motivated challenger forcing Charlotte onto the match before going for a roll-up. Dana Brooke looked to interfere, grabbing Sasha by the leg, but the official noticed, and Sasha hit the Backstabber, forcing Charlotte into a modified submission hold, like an Accolade and Banks Statement in one.

Charlotte broke the hold, but Banks got the Statement again, slamming Charlotte out of the ring with a double knee. Charlotte fought back once the action returned to the ring, kicking Banks into the barricade and holding her title in Banks’ face mockingly. Brooke joined in, but Banks suckered her into being caught by the ref and kicked out of ringside.

Banks continued to work with aggression, sending Charlotte into the ropes before hitting the knees into the mat yet again, buying her valuable recovery time. Sasha went ham on the champ, dropping her with knees from the ropes and nearly getting Charlotte pinned. Charlotte managed to hit a neckbreaker She went for a moonsault, but Sasha dodged, hitting a wild suicide dive out of the ring.

Charlotte hit a wild moonsault from the top ropes out of the ring on Sasha, bringing her back into the ring for a failed pin. She went for a Figue Four, and Sasha rolled her up only to nearly fall to Natural Selection. Charlotte went for the Figure Eight, but Sasha battled out. Sasha locked in the banks STatement, but Charlotte got her foot on the ropes.

Sasha hit the Backstabber and finally, FINALLY got Charlotte to tap.

“I did it!” she declared to a thrilled crowd.

I’ll admit it: I cried. A lot. This moment has been long overdue for Banks, who has proven herself to be one of the best wrestlers, male or female, in the world. Even Charlotte couldn’t keep the smile off her face as Banks tearfully hoisted the title that has always been meant for her in the air.

Braun Strowman vs. James Ellsworth (?)

This poor jobber didn’t stand a chance. His punches didn’t faze Strowman, sporting a new look and new music, in the slightest.

Suffice it to say, he was pinned within seconds.

His pre-match interview was adorable, despite the fact that it was clear those words were likely the last the poor sap would ever speak. Strowman’s new look is pretty awesome, as is his music. If WWE continues this booking, they may make a star out of him yet.

Enzo & Cass vs. The Shining Stars

Enzo and Cass came out to entertain everyone, and because RAW was too entertaining for its own good, the Shining Stars emerged and cut them off, targeting Enzo Amore early. Big Cass evened things out, but Primo managed to clear the ring, only for the Golden Truth to walk through the match Pokemon hunting, allowing Cass to hit a Big Boot for the win.

Finn Balor vs. Roman Reigns

Reigns went right Balor, tossing him clean across the ring, taking early control with his size and strength advantage, driving Finn’s face into the ropes. Balor fired back with an explosive dropkick, using his speed to his advantage.

But Reigns was like a man possessed, ripping into Balor with a series of strikes. He went for a driveby, but Balor dodged, sending Reigns into the barricade.He targeted Reigns’ leg, but Reigns regained control soon enough, continuing to tear into Balor with sheer strength.

But Balor caught Reigns with a kick from the ropes, hitting a running knee from the apron before ascending to the ropes, hitting a double stomp on Reigns’ back before Reigns caught him with a Superman Punch for a near-fall.

Reigns went for a Spear, but Balor countered it, landing the Coup de Grace to go to SummerSlam to face Seth Rollins.

Roman Reigns is definitely in the doghouse, but the real story is not about him. It’s about Finn Balor, who was treated just like the star he is in his debut on RAW. Balor played the part of underdog very well, despite the fact that he wasn’t an underdog in his golden days on NXT.

The crowd loved him from the start, and everything he did felt like magic. Sorry Vince Russo, but the new era is here and, quite frankly, it’s incredible.

 

WWE Draft Results

Here are live results for the WWE Draft!

RAW

  1. Seth Rollins
  2. Charlotte
  3. Finn Balor
  4. Roman Reigns
  5. Brock Lesnar
  6. The New Day
  7. Sami Zayn
  8. Sasha Banks
  9. Chris Jericho
  10. Rusev (w/ Lana)
  11. Kevin Owens
  12. Enzo & Cass
  13. Gallows & Anderson
  14. Big Show
  15. Nia Jax
  16. Neville
  17. Cesaro
  18. Sheamus
  19. Golden Truth
  20. Titus O’Neil
  21. Paige

SmackDown

  1. Dean Ambrose
  2. AJ Styles
  3. John Cena
  4. Randy Orton
  5. Bray Wyatt
  6. Becky Lynch
  7. The Miz (w/ Maryse)
  8. Baron Corbin
  9. American Alpha
  10. Dolph Ziggler
  11. Natalya
  12. Alberto Del Rio
  13. The Usos
  14. Kane

RAW Recap/Analysis – July 11, 2016

Hi, everyone, I’m back from my mini vacation! So is, it seems, RAW.

No. 1 Contender’s Battle Royal for the Intercontinental Title

RAW opened up with the entrance of Apollo Crews to participate in the battle royal to determine the Miz’s opponent at Battleground. Miz welcomed everyone to the show and joined the commentary team

Chaos ensued. The Ascension, Aiden English, R-Truth and D-Von Dudley went early, and Simon Gotch was quick to follow. Jey Uso was eliminated, as was Goldust. Apollo Crews tossed Bo Dallas out next. Jimmy Uso and Jack Swagger were the next to go, both eliminated by Baron Corbin.

Bubba Ray was Corbin’s next victim before Del Rio took control before being eliminated by Apollo Crews. Corbin eliminated Ziggler, but he and Apollo Crews eliminated each other, making Darren Young the accidental winner.

Backstage, Seth Rollins interrupted Stephanie and Shane discussing Vince’s impending arrival, and was given his own talk show: the Rollins Report. Elsewhere, Sheamus ambushed a fired up Zack Ryder, informing him they would be going at it next. Randy Orton’s return was also announced, on The Highlight Reel at Battleground.

Zack Ryder vs. Sheamus

In a SmackDown rematch, a passionate Zack Ryder took early control, but Sheamus would not fall so easily, catching Zack Ryder with a Brogue for the win.

Rusev emerged, but an invigorated Ryder attacked him, only to be put in the Accolade as Rusev yelled, “I ACCEPT YOUR CHALLENGE!”

Breezango vs. The Lucha Dragons

Fandango took control early on, working well and efficiently with Tyler Breeze to wear down Sin Cara. They tagged each other in frequently, isolating Sin Cara from Kalisto. When Kalisto finally tagged in, he took control quickly.

Breeze nearly rolled up Kalisto, but luckily, he got the win more definitively, pinning Kalisto in the center of the ring.

The Rollins Report

Seth Rollins emerged, smug as ever, and proud of himself for his scoop on Roman Reigns. He then aired a clearly doctored “interview”and demanded that Roman Reigns be taken out of the match. Ambrose gave Rollins credit for letting lose, and the two traded insults.

Rollins prclaimed himself the best Shield member, and an impassioned Ambrose responded with the kind of fire we haven’t seen since last year. It wasn’t wacky Ambrose who replied to Rollins, it was serious Dean, who said that Rollins would have to pry the title from his cold, dead hands.

Dean said that he would fight Dean anytime, any place, and Rollins teased a match for that night before putting it off until next week.

Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro

Kevin Owens wormed out of a match against Cesaro as long as Sami Zayn was there, and as Sami Zayn, who was to be on commentary left, Owens came out anyways. The two briefly exchanged blows and traded insults and challenges before Zayn was forced away from the match.

Owens avoided locking up with Cesaro early on, and Cesaro took advantage, catching him with a suplex.  The match left the ring, and Owens sent Cesaro barreling into and over the barricade. Owens threw Cesaro back into the ring, hitting a back splash.

Owens mocked Zayn, and Cesaro took advantage, hitting a standing back suplex. Owens went for a Superkick, but Cesaro dodged, only to be thrown clean over the ropes and into the barricade.

Owens kept control until Cesaro managed to dodge a canonball into the turnbuckle. Cesaro fired up, taking Owens on a ride on the Uppercut train. He nearly pinned Owens with a corkscrew, but Owens kicked out, rolling out of the ring. Cesaro stole JBL’s hat and hit a crossbody on Owens back in the ring.

But it was Owens who would emerge victorious. Going back to the commentary table, Owens proclaimed himself the best in the world, only to be caught by a Sami Zayn out of nowhere right into Cesaro, who took him swinging.

Titus O’Neil vs. Heath Slater

O’Neil maintained dominance throughout the match, only looking weakened when Slater brought his knees up during a turnbuckle move. But O’Neil’s raw power proved to be too much for Slater, and he picked up an easy victory.

The New Day vs. The Wyatt Family

At the Wyatt family compound, the two teams brawled in a confusingly edited video that is impossible to properly recap.

Gallows & Anderson vs. Enzo & Cass

Before the match, both teams exchanged insults, with Styles warning Enzo & Cass to leave before Gallows and Anderson dropped them where they stood.

Gallows and Anderson controlled the match early, dominating poor Enzo Amore for a lengthy period as AJ Styles cheerfully talked trash at ringside. The Club dominated  all the way up until Big Cass tagged in, taking control right back and nearly pinning Anderson.

Gallows broke the pin, and Styles threw Cass over the barricade, causing the disqualification. They looked to beat down on Enzo until John Cena emerged to everyone’s surprise to make the save.

Sasha Banks vs. Dana Brooke

Sasha immediately caught Brooke off-guard, scaring her right out of the ring repeatedly. Sasha caught Brooke with an impressive deep arm drag, keeping momentum until Brooke caught her with a series of strikes that sent Banks clear out of the ring.

Brooke maintained control until Banks caught her with a kick to the face. Brooke sent her into the mat, but Banks managed to kick out of a cover. Brooke continued to keep Banks in check until Banks caught her with legs to the face from the turnbuckle. Banks hit Brooke with knees to the ribs in the corner, but that wouldn’t keep Brooke down for the count.

Banks hit a lateral crossbody on Brooke, but even that wouldn’t put her away. Brooke countered with a series of clotheslines until Banks locked Brooke into the Banks Statement, forcing her to tap.

Following the match, Charlotte took to the mic and told Sasha she wouldn’t be worthy of a title shot unless she took Brooke on again on SmackDown.

Vince

Vince said to his children that he was disappointed in them, making fun of Stephanie’s passive aggressive behavior and saying that he wanted competition, not this cooperation that he had been seeing.

Shane and Stephanie both presented their cases for being the new Commissioner of SmackDown Live, and Vince made his decision:

Shane McMahon.

Steph would be running RAW. Vince told them that RAW and SmackDown would be going to war. He wanted them to compete at all costs for ratings, for ticket sales, for everything. He said they would choose General Managers the next week.

RAW Recap/Analysis – June 27, 2016

WWE has long been able to rely on the charisma of its talent to drive even the most subpar storylines, and that trend continued on June 27’s RAW, which broadcasted from Tampa, Florida.

SUSPENDED!

Seth Rollins immediately addressed the elephant in the room, bringing up Roman Reigns’ suspension and demanding that Reigns be taken out of the Battleground main event. He was interrupted by Dean Ambrose, who asked Rollins what it was all really about.

They were interrupted in turn by AJ Styles, who suggested that he be put in the match in Roman’s place. He reminded everyone that he had a victory over John Cena, and said he deserved a spot in the match. John Cena then emerged, proclaiming Dean Ambrose to be a fighting champion.

Cena suggested that Ambrose fight against him, reminding Ambrose that he beat him the last time they fought. Rollins objected, and Stephanie McMahon emerged. She set two matches to give John Cena and AJ Styles the chance to put themselves in the main event of Battleground.

Rollins was fun on the mic as always. His promos during his title reign could get old, but only because of overexposure. This was short, sweet, and Rollins’ charisma had the crowd listening raptly to everything he said. He and Ambrose have wonderful chemistry, so they will not have any issues building up to their match at Battleground.

The introduction of Cena and Styles into the storyline certainly got a pop from the crowd. WWE would be wise to continue putting the two veterans against the likes of Ambrose and Rollins.

Sasha Banks & Paige vs. Charlotte & Dana Brooke

Sasha started things off against Charlotte, but the champion tagged herself out right away, tagging Brooke in. Banks threw her right into the turnbuckle, tagging in Paige to double-team on Brooke with a double dropkick, making both blondes retreat to recover.

Charlotte and Brooke regained control with underhanded tactics, brutalizing Paige in the ring. Charlotte locked Paige into a chokehold, showing off her athleticism and cheapshotting Banks. Banks went after Charlotte, having to be restrained by the referee.

Paige finally tagged in Banks as Brooke tagged in, and Sasha went crazy, dropping Brooke with clotheslines and knees to the midsection from the ropes. She hit Brooke with the Backstabber into the Banks Statement, forcing Brooke to tap.

Banks and Paige were both supremely over. I hope the brand split forces WWE to utilize Paige to the fullest. She certainly deserves it. But the match was all about Banks.

The former NXT Women’s Champion was all fire and attitude, and the audience soaked it up. Sasha Banks was as over as can be and didn’t skip a beat throughout the match. Her title shot, whether it comes at Battleground or SummerSlam, better come with a lengthy title reign!

Rusev vs. Titus O’Neil

O’Neil did not even wait for the match to start, going right after Rusev before the bell could be rung. He rammed Rusev with a series of clotheslines and right hooks, slamming Rusev onto the mat with ferocity.

Rusev made a comeback, bearing down on O’Neil with a series of kicks. He locked O’Neil into a chokehold and continued to wear down on him until O’Neil caught him with an elbow and shoulder tackle.

Rusev retreated from the ring, grabbing his belt with the intention of leaving, but he and O’Neil collided outside the ring. O’Neil sent Rusev into the timekeeping area, where he was counted out.

Backstage, Kane approached Stephanie McMahon asking to be considered for SmackDown GM, but both were interrupted by the Miz. Kane brought up the fact that the Miz hadn’t defended his title in a long time, bringing up the ever-forgotten 30-day rule. Stephanie booked a title match for later that night.

Funny how a feud can pick up steam after the title match, huh?

Seth Rollins vs. John Cena

Cena looked to start off strong, but Rollins had him well-scouted, responding with a shoulder tackle of his own. As the crowds chanted wildly for both men, Rollins gained the upper hand, hitting Cena with a series of strikes and a dropkick.

Cena looked for a comeback, but Rollins once again responded with ferocity, hitting him with a quick move from the ropes and blows to the head. Cena finally managed to get some shoulder tackles in, but Rollins caught Cena with a kick to the face, mocking the franchise man.

Cena took control once more, hitting the Five Knucle Shuffle, but Rollins managed to escape an AA. Cena caught Rollins with a Tornado DDT, but Rollins stayed alive, hitting a dropkick and going for an unsuccessful pin. The two traded blows in the center of the ring, with Rollins gaining the upper hand.

Rollins hit Cena with a corner powerbomb, but Cena dodged his Frog Splash. Cena ascended the ropes, but Rollins caught him, landing a Superplex into a Falcon’s Arrow. Rollins went for the Pedigree, but Cena reversed into the AA, with Rollins staying alive enough to put his foot on the ropes.

Cena caught Rollins in the STF, but then the Club emerged, distracting Cena and allowing Rollins to hit the Pedigree and pick up the win.

“You owe me one,” AJ said to Seth with a smile on his face.

Rollins and Cena have fantastic chemistry in the ring, and although that chemistry wasn’t on full display, it was evident throughout the match. Rollins is looking fantastic, his incorporation of more high-flying moves a very welcome addition to his hard-hitting moveset.

The dynamic between Styles and Rollins at the match’s conclusion was about as intriguing as the ongoing developments between Styles and Cena. I’m looking forward to seeing those two clash someday.

Enzo & Cass vs. Local Competitors

After getting a wave going, Enzo and Cass picked up an easy win over two local jobbrts within seconds. They looked to celebrate, but were cut short by the Social Outcasts. They proclaimed themselves hard (yeah, for real.) and went right for Enzo and Cass.

Well, not exactly. After a big boot from Cass sent Heath Slater packing, Dallas and Axel refused to enter the ring and retreated.

Enzo and Cass are great. The addition/return of the Social Outcasts into the fray is somewhat refreshing, as it’s something other than the Vaudevillains or Dudley Boyz.

Becky Lynch vs. Summer Rae

With Natalya on commentary, Becky Lynch simply went right after the third-generation star, looking for some sweet revenge as she drove Nattie into the barricade with ferocity, screaming to Natalya that she had messed with the wrong girl.

This was far too short for my tastes, but it’s encouraging to see WWE pushing this feud and storyline. Non-title stories for women that aren’t centered around men are all-too rare these days.

The Highlight Reel (with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn)

After complaining about Ambrose being champion, Jericho brought out both Owens and Zayn.

Jericho relished in the tension between the two, bringing up their past as friends and the fact that Zayn was Owens’ best man at his wedding. Zayn refused to play into Jericho’s game, saying that neither he nor Owens would get anywhere until they moved on from each other.

Zayn implored Owens to put an end once and for all to their rivalry at Battleground. Owens just stared at Zayn in silence, and Zayn called him a coward, demanding that Owens admit that he betrayed him because of resentment and envy.

Owens denied it, saying he did what he did for business.He said Zayn is the one who ruined their friendship. He said that he was happy for Zayn when he signed to WWE, and that Zayn should have been happy for him when he won the NXT Title.

“I was always a better friend to you than you were to me,” Owens said, accepting Zayn’s challenge.

Jericho agreed with Owens, calling Zayn pathetic before giving everyone the gift of Jericho. Instead of drinking it in, Owens and Zayn both Superkicked Jericho over, and Owens left without saying another word to Zayn.

I would honestly not mind seeing Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens fight forever. What they have together is the stuff of legend, the kind of rivalry that could put either one of them into the Hall of Fame someday. Their storied past combined with their current chemistry has made this feud, which has been building for over five months now, one of the most enthralling stories on WWE television today.

The Miz vs. Kane (Intercontinental Championship match)

Kane immediately caught Miz with a right hook, blasting the champ into the turnbuckle and hitting him with a boot to the face. Kane kept control easily early on, hitting a vertical suplex and dropkick.

But then Maryse fell off the apron, clearly feigning injury, and Miz carried her backstage, giving Kane the victory by countout, but no title belt.

Backstage, Maryse revealed to Miz that she had been acting the whole time, and he certainly approved.

WWE had us all thinking we were fixing to see a debut. How naive and stupid we were.

Cesaro & Apollo Crews vs. Alberto Del Rio & Sheamus

Cesaro started off strong against Del Rio, hitting a series of uppercuts after a beautiful crossbody. He looked to take Del Rio or even Sheamus swinging, but Del Rio took control, planting Cesaro with a DDT.

Sheamus continued his team’s momentum until Cesaro managed to reverse a backbreaker into a back body drop of sorts, allowing Crews and Del Rio to tag in. Del Rio hit Sheamus with a dropkick, quite enjoying himself, and walked out as Crews hit the sit-out powerbomb on Sheamus for the victory.

Backstage, Jojo interviewed Dean Ambrose, but was cut off by an unhappy Stephanie McMahon, who berated Ambrose. The champ, however, was unaffected.

I hope Cesaro and Del Rio are given an actual story sometime soon. It would be a shame to have them wasting away into the cluster f*@k that is this storyline.

New Day falls…?

Dressed as the Wyatts and hilariously spoofing the Wyatt family, the New Day came out to the ring. They roasted the Wyatts cheerfully, though Xavier Woods wanted to wrap things up early. Then, the real Wyatts emerged.

Bray offered a little spoof of his own before saying that the world wasn’t all positivity and rainbows He said the power of positivity was a lie. Wyatt acknowledged how shaken Xavier Woods looked with a sinister laugh, and then repeated… New Day falls.

Backstage, Renee Young asked the New Day if they thought messing with the Wyatts was a good idea. Woods just kind of…walked away.

Woods’ terror is a stark reminder of how talented he really is. He can bring it when called upon, and his team’s worry over him brings an interesting pathos to the entire story. Bray Wyatt’s logic in going after the New Day, also explained, was sound.

This rivalry seems to be finding its footing. Here’s hoping Creative doesn’t ruin it.

Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles

Ambrose and Styles locked up early on, wrestling mat-style. Ambrose looked to roll up Styles, but then the match became a battle of headlocks. Styles took control, driving Ambrose back with a series of chops, looking for Dirty Deeds early on, but Styles dodged, always a step ahead.

He kept control, hitting a wicked dropkick on Ambrose and hitting a series of hard hits on Ambrose, working him into the ground. Ambrose looked to stage a comeback with a clever reversal, going for a back body drop, but Ambrose hit a Codebreaker on Styles, nearly getting a three-count.

Ambrose and Styles exchanged rollups and near-falls. Styles ascended the ropes, but Ambrose caught him, landing a huge superplex. Styles went for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Ambrose caught him, looking for Dirty Deeds, but Styles caught him once more, the two remaining at a painful stalemate.

Styles rolled Ambrose into the Calf Crusher, but the Lunatic Fringe escaped, hitting a Suicide Dive on Styles out of the ring. Styles hit Ambrose with a pelee kick, but Ambrose responded with a clothesline as the Club emerged. Styles took advantage of the distraction, but Ambrose stayed alive as John Cena ran out.

Ambrose planted Styles with Dirty Deeds, and a relieved Rollins applauded him. Anderson and Gallows, upset, attacked Cena and a distracted Ambrose was planted by Rollins. The Club hit the Magic Killer on the stage, and Rollins planted Ambrose yet again with a second Pedigree.

A fresh match between two stars you’d never offhandedly imagine together proved to be an exciting mesh of different styles, resulting in an entertaining main event. Rollins’ commentary, and reluctant support of Ambrose for his own sake, was a welcome addition to the match. Styles and Ambrose told an entertaining story, complementing each other surprisingly well, and despite the predictable ending, it was fun to watch all the same.

 

 

RAW Recap/Analysis – June 20, 2016

Dean Ambrose is on top of the mountain, and we’re enjoying the view as much as he is. Tonight’s episode of RAW was a good time to be sure, featuring a title match, two thrilling returns, and yeah.

SASHA BANKS.

Between brothers

The New WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Dean Ambrose, kicked off Monday Night RAW, title in hand and a massive grin on his face. The crowd chanted “YOU DESERVE IT” at full blast and he soaked it in. The exuberant Ambrose recapped his actions at Money in the Bank, saying that what goes around comes back around in reference to the man he cashed in on: Seth Rollins.

“Hard work pays off,” he proclaimed. He discussed his two-year chase for the title, but was interrupted by Roman Reigns.

Reigns said that Money in the Bank was Ambrose’s night and offered his congratulations, asking how good it felt to cash in on Seth Rollins. Ambrose admitted that he would have cashed in on Reigns as well. Reigns asked for his rematch, but an infuriated Seth Rollins emerged, demanding his rematch.

Reigns and Rollins faced off over who deserved the rematch more, and Shane McMahon came out, setting up a match between the two for RAW to determine who would face Ambrose for the title first.

Every time these three share the ring, there is electricity in the air. They promised they would take over the company, and they have.

Ambrose is already an exciting champion. His joy is infectious, and the crowd is willingly rallying behind him. I’d almost forgotten what it felt like to have an over babyface champion. If this promo was anything to go by, his title reign, however long or short it may be, will be a pleasure to witness.

Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens

Looking to settle their rivalry (at least for the moment), Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens went right at it in RAW’s opening match, with Zayn taking Owens down at ringside and sending him back-first into the barricade. Owens looked to leave, but Zayn threw him back to ringside, where Owens took control.

Back in the ring, Owens dropped right on Zayn, targeting his back. He retained full control until Zayn managed to counter a drop, sending Owens out of the ring. He followed, taking to the air to take him out. Returning to the ring, Owens landed a Superkick, nearly getting a pinfall on Zayn.

Zayn countered with a back suplex, setting Owens up for the Helluva Kick, but Owens hit a Superkick. Owens looked to hit the Pop-up Powerbomb, but Zayn countered, rolling Owens up to score the win. He celebrated on the ramp, but Owens cut the fun times off, and the two brawled on the entrance ramp, having to be torn off each other by officials.

The brawl continued backstage, and yeah. It looks like these two really will fight forever.

Enzo & Cass vs. The Vaudevillains

John Laurinitis emerged, discussing the WWE Draft to take place on July 19th, and was interrupted by Shane. Laurinitis declared his intentions to be the manager of SmackDown, and Shane said that no, it would be HIM running SmackDown.

This all was interrupted by Enzo and Cass. Enzo and Shane danced together, and Enzo introduced himself with his usual energy. The duo made fun of Laurinitis, calling him SAWFT before entering the ring.

The Vaudevillains started off strong against Enzo Amore in the match, isolating him from Big Cass until a well-timed counter from Amore allowed him to tag in Big Cass, who dropped English with an Empire Elbow and Gotch with a boot to the face.

Enzo was tagged in, and the two double-teamed to score the pinfall victory.

Enzo and Cass’s hot streak continues. I love it.

John Cena vs. Karl Anderson

An unrepentant AJ Styles emerged to a very welcoming crowd. He talked about his victory over Cena, and how it was “tainted” by the interference from the Club. He demanded that Gallows and Anderson come out and give him a public apology.

The two came out, and Styles told them that he hadn’t needed their help, saying they had given Cena an excuse and had dragged his name through the mud. Anderson complied, as did Gallows, albeit a bit more reluctantly. Styles requested that they apologize to Cena as well.

Cena emerged, puzzled, and said he didn’t need an apology. Gallows and Anderson offered them up, but Cena rejected it all, saying Styles simply wasn’t as good as he says he is. Styles offered him the opportunity to fight Gallows or Anderson, and Cena said it didn’t matter, as he would be fighting the entire club either way.

Anderson turned out to be the one to face Cena, and Styles promised he would knock his teeth out on his own.

Cena started off strong against Anderson, constantly glancing towards the entrance. He hit the AA fairly easily, but before he could pin Anderson, the rest of the Club emerged, ambushing Cena, hitting the Magic Killer and the Styles Clash.

As satisfying as it was to see Cena take the Clash yet again, I do wish Anderson hadn’t been squashed with the Five Moves of Doom. He’s too good for that.

That being said, AJ Styles is doing a wonderful job as a heel. He fills the role with polished ease, sounding more comfortable on the mic every night and clearly having a good time messing with the crowd.  He looks right at home sharing the mic and ring with John Cena, and it’s a beautiful sight to see.

Backstage, Rollins said that he proved his worth to be champion at Money in the Bank. He said that he beat Roman at Money in the Bank. Elsewhere, Becky Lynch that if she was the last woman in the division with integrity, so be it, and was attacked from behind by Natalya, who declared that for the first time in years, she would take care of herself.

Baron Corbin vs. Zack Ryder

Ryder looked to start off strong against Corbin, but Corbin managed to dodge a Broski boot. Ryder hit a dropkick off the apron into the barricade, setting Corbin up for the el-bro drop.

But that was the end of his momentum, as Corbin caught Ryder with End of Days for the win.

Eh. This happened. Poor Ryder.

Charlotte vs. Paige (WWE Women’s Championship match)

Paige was fired up at the match’s start, tackling the champion to the ground and landing a wicked kick. She drove Charlotte into the turnbuckle before Dana Brooke dragged Charlotte out, allowing the heel duo to take control back from the Brit.

Back in the ring, Paige staged a bit of a comeback, wearing Charlotte down with a series of kicks and a running knee to the face. Charlotte responded with a boot of her own, but Paige caught her with a fallaway slam.

Paige looked for a superplex, but Charlotte slammed her down, landing a moonsault for a near-fall. Charlotte looked to lock in the Figure-Eight, but Paige rolled her up. Paige managed to hit the Ram-Paige, but Dana Brooke pulled Charlotte’s foot under the ropes. The ref looked to kick Brooke out, distracting Paige enough to let Charlotte hit Natural Selection to retain.

Brooke and Charlotte began beating down on Paige, but then Sasha Banks emerged to a monstrous ovation, taking Charlotte down and holding the title up with purpose.

Before I get to keyboard-smashing, let me say this: Paige and Charlotte put on an excellent match, and I am glad they were given time. Paige had the crowd fully behind her, and Charlotte’s moonsaults are a thing of beauty.

Now.

SASHA BANKS IS BACK! And what a welcome she got! Hopefully this is the start of a strong and respectable title program that ends with the kind of momentous victory she deserves.

Bray Wyatt returns

Backstage, Bray Wyatt and his boys stood in their familiar dark room.

“We’re here,” Wyatt said simply.

Bray Wyatt came out to the ring, the thrilled crowd giving him his much-missed firefly entrance.

“WELCOME BACK!” the crowd chanted.

Wyatt declared that he had never forgotten what he stood for, saying that the Wyatts were as strong as they had ever been. But that’s just about all he got out before the New Day interrupted. They cracked a few jokes.

Bray merely told them to run.

Xavier Woods being hypnotized was hilarious, and seeing Wyatt back was absolutely fantastic. These groups being put together is wonderful to see. It’s unexpected, what with them being so different. And frankly, I wouldn’t be mad if the Wyatts ended up dethroning the New Day.

New….Day falls!

Rusev vs. Titus O’Neil

O’Neil went right after Rusev, furiously pummeling the champion before driving him straight into the barricade like a man possessed. Again and again, he drove the Bulgarian brute into every art of the barricade, driving him over and out into the crowd. Rusev retreated through the crowd as O’Neil stood tall in the ring.

Backstage, Shane McMahon stumbled upon an angered Chris Jericho, who said that he deserved a shot at Ambrose’s title. Shane brushed him aside.

Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns (No. 1 Contender’s match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship)

With Ambrose on commentary, Reigns went right after Seth Rollins, taking him down with a shoulder tackle. Rollins retreated from the ring, pulling Reigns out only to be shoved into the barricade and bouncing him off the announce table.

Back in the ring, Rollins landed a neckbreaker from the ropes and then in the center of the ring. He hit a dropkick on Reigns’ face, locking him into a chokehold. The fight left the ring, and Rollins kept momentum back into the ring, taking a moment to look down on Ambrose.

Reigns caught Rollins with a kick, with Rollins going for a series of high-flying moves before Reigns caught him again. Rollins took over with a boot of his own, locking in a sleeper hold on Reigns back in the ring, but Reigns caught Rollins with a right hand, hitting him with abandon.

Rollins got to his feet, stunning Reigns with a dropkick, and the two exchanged strikes and headbutts. Reigns hit Rollins with a series of clotheslines, but Rollins caught Reigns out of the ring with a suicide dive. Reigns slammed Rollins with a powerbomb, nearly getting him, but Rollins refused to surrender.

Reigns caught Rollins with a Superman Punch after Rollins went for a Pedigree, but Rollins stayed alive, catching an attempted Spear with a kick and hitting a flying knee and kick. Reigns stayed in the match. Rollins looked for a Frog Splash, but Reigns dodged.

Reigns caught Rollins onto the announce table, but Rollins caught him with another kick. Reigns drove Rollins over the announce table with a Spear, and neither man made it back to the ring in time, with both being counted out. Shane McMahon emerged, setting the inevitable Shield triple threat for Battleground.

Ambrose planted both Reigns and Rollins with Dirty Deeds, standing tall to end the night.

I’m conflicted.

On one hand, I am THRILLED about finally getting this Shield triple threat match. This is the stuff of legends, the kind of match that can transcend this generation and go into the history books. This match is the culmination of years and years of storytelling, the start of a new chapter in a story that began years ago at Survivor Series.

So why put it on a smaller pay-per-view like Battleground? This match could put butts in the seats of WrestleMania or SummerSlam. It deserves that kind of stage.

But I digress. I’m excited either way.