WWE

WWE Weekly Recap: The Reality of the Disposable Era

Leave a comment

Remember when Batista defeated Mr. Kennedy for the World Heavyweight Championship in 2007?

Nope.

Or the time John Cena defeated Bobby Lashley for the WWE Championship at The Great American Bash?

Doesn’t ring a bell.

What about the classic seven-on-seven elimination tag match between The Nexus and Team WWE at SummerSlam in 2010?

giphy-3

Don’t be ashamed, there’s plenty of people who don’t remember those matches.

Quite a few of them attended SmackDown last Tuesday when The Miz stunningly brought out what’s left of the Spirit Squad to confront Dolph Ziggler about his “disappointing” career. Kenny and Mikey did their usual shtick and while it was a fine performance, the crowd had no idea who these two male cheerleaders were.

This is an accurate depiction of what the crowd sounded like when their music hit:

hn-spu

Ten years ago, the Spirit Squad was involved in a long feud with D-Generation X. They were linked in storyline to Vince and Shane McMahon, which is very important in the world of WWE. In other words, this was an act that was pushed up to a main event program with four of the most important guys on the roster at that point.

So when The Miz reintroduced the Spirit Squad last week, you would think the crowd would respond with a nostalgia pop that everyone gets when they make their return to WWE television.

giphy-1

Even the pockets of hardcore fans that always make noise at WWE shows were silent as Kenny and Mikey made their way down to the ring.

The lack of reaction for the SS got me thinking, is this an isolated incident, or would a good chunk of the talent from 2006-11 receive a similar reaction if they returned to WWE?

Sidenote: WWE’s unofficial eras are as follows:

  • 1982–1993: The Golden Age
  • 1993–1996: New Generation Era
  • 1996–2001: The Attitude Era
  • 2001–2002: The Invasion
  • 2002–2008: Ruthless Aggression Era
  • 2007–2013: The PG Era
  • 2013 – 2016: The Reality Era

(Thanks for the layout Wikipedia. Note, I made some changes/updates to the list.)

If Montel Vontavious Porter’s music hit or if the guitar screeched for John Morrison’s entrance, would anyone in the crowd care? What about Carlito, Shelton Benjamin, (he was a star a bit earlier than 2006, but it feels like he belongs in this group) or Bobby Lashley?

When you think about the period of time WWE romanticizes (Monday Night War/Attitude era ’96-’01) there’s a strong case to be made that most of the product from the last decade is Disposable.

Here’s a good example: Lately WWE has been running commercials for WWE Network featuring packages of highlights focused on Ric Flair, DX and John Cena. The Flair ad is marketed towards fans of 80s-early 90s wrestling. The ad featuring D-Generation X is for fans of WWE’s most important era, while the John Cena ad is for all of the little kids who just can’t get enough of him.

Even though Cena is technically a member of the Disposable Era, he’s Generation Z’s Hulk Hogan. Making a WWE Network commercial around the idea of going back and reliving Cena’s biggest moments is a great idea.

The problem here is, the only other main eventers who are still on the roster from this time period are Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, The Miz (he headlined WrestleMania 27, so I have to include him here) and Brock Lesnar, who works like five days a year.

The rest of the guys in prominent roles during that time period are either in the mid-card, wrestling for other companies or working for CollegeGarageSale.com.

There’s little reason for anyone to go back and watch a random Pay-Per-View event from 2008 on the Network, so most of the guys and gals who filled out the roster during this time period are going to be forgotten.

By my count, there are only four guys who could return from this period and receive a sustained main event reaction, CM Punk (highly unlikely that he’ll return), Rey Mysterio (ain’t happening) and The Hardys (this is a fascinating case because would they be BROKEN or just “The Hardy Boyz?”).

(I thought about including Cody Rhodes, but I don’t know how long the crowd would stay with him. I didn’t think Batista was worth mentioning because most of the crowd would chant “Bluetista”.)

#FlashbackTweet incoming:

Back when rumors were flying around for the draft, there was a push to bring back talent from the D.E. Here are the names that have decided to return to WWE: Jinder Mahal (hasn’t made an appearance on Raw in weeks), Curt Hawkins (let’s face the facts, this gimmick is going nowhere) Shelton Benjamin, and now the Spirit Squad.

Instead of bringing back guys from an era that has no significant meaning in WWE history, it’s time to raid NXT in order to give the roster another shot in the arm (especially on SmackDown) because more acts like the Spirit Squad will inject the audience with a dose of anesthesia.

giphy

Why is no one following the buzzards?

Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton was the final match at No Mercy last Sunday and the crowd sounded exactly like they did during the Spirit Squad entrance on SmackDown. This felt like a main event at the end of a bad three-hour edition Raw.

The low level of crowd heat was rivaled by the tag match between Kane-Orton vs. Wyatt-Luke Harper on Tuesday night. When Kane received the first hot tag of the match, you could have heard a fart in the crowd. Orton did all he could to get the crowd into his hot tag, but not even crickets cared about the finish of the match.

So what’s wrong with Wyatt? I think it’s likely a combination of his placement on the card (he’s never “won” a major feud, I’m looking at you Mr. Hustle, loyalty and respect), and his promos (at first they felt groundbreaking, but over time, they’ve devolved into nonsense; when Wyatt speaks, he should be pushing the envelope instead of rambling for four minutes).

Wyatt is a solid worker in the ring, but that doesn’t matter if the crowd doesn’t care about the story that’s being told on the microphone. He isn’t talking anyone into the building for a match. Instead, he’s talking them to boredom.

(The cat GIF from earlier applies here as well)

The wacky backstage segments between Wyatt and Orton certainly didn’t help the build for their match at No Mercy, but the creative team is in a tough spot when they have to write something for Wyatt. His character is supposed to be a cult leader with a splash of supernatural abilities, but in this day and age, a crowd just isn’t going to respond to it the way a crowd in the 80s or 90s would have.

The character isn’t dead by any means, just look at the reaction his entrance gets every week, but there is some serious rehab that needs to be done if he’s ever going to crack the upper mid-card barrier that he’s been stuck underneath for years.

Was Raw better than SmackDown this week?

giphy-2

Time to “Go Home”

– James Ellsworth did the one thing you’re not supposed to do when taking the Styles Clash (tuck your chin). Luckily for Ellsworth, Styles recognized that Ellsworth was out of position and adjusted on the fly by landing on his feet.

– AJ usually lands on his knees, but moments like the clip below must have made Styles realize that he needs to look down before landing on his knees.

– Anyone else cringe when Shane talked down to Styles? Felt like a Stephanie segment.

– I thought the crowd reaction to Ellsworth “pinning” Styles was really weak. The finish to the match felt sloppy and disconnected because the crowd couldn’t properly heat up for the three count.

– I know I say this every week, but Jericho really is on fire right now. His smile when Stephanie told him that he would be inserted into the title match at Hell in a Cell if he beat Rollins was hilarious. Crossing her off of the “List of Jericho” was also a nice touch.

– So Dolph Ziggler wears a Hype Bros. shirt during his opening promo, but Heath Slater and Rhyno come out to make the save when Miz and the Spirit Squad start beating him up. #Logic

– I thought Miz’s promo to Ziggler was fantastic and made Ziggler look like such a geek.

– “He killed Kenny!” – Mauro after Ziggler superkicked Kenny.

– Paul Heyman is a master at his craft. Instead of just talking up Brock for five minutes, he made Goldberg’s return feel incredibly important and got a very loud Goldberg chant going.

– Kudos to the New Day and Cesaro/Sheamus for making a botch by Kofi feel like it was a planned spot.

– Braun Strowman should probably bench the running dropkick.

– The wrestlers participating in the Cruiserweight Classic had to legitimately weigh in at or under 205 pounds. There’s no chance in hell Sin Cara is under 205 pounds with the way he’s been hitting catering.

– Kudos to creative to thinking they could use Sasha Banks to help Roman Reigns get a positive reaction. It didn’t work in the opening segment or their awkward backstage interaction, but his leaping spear on Rusev while Sasha submitted Charlotte got a very good reaction.

– The Survivor Series challenge issued by Shane and Daniel Bryan felt so scripted. These two need to be in front of a live crowd for segments like this.

– Rollins vs. Jericho was an excellent TV match.

– I have no idea what to make of Sanity’s theme music.

– Please Vince, PLEASE let this happen:

Follow me on Twitter: @ScottDargis

WWE: How Alexa Bliss Found Her Voice

WWE
Leave a comment

Before Alexa Bliss defends her Raw Women’s Championship at the Tables, Ladders and Chairs Pay-Per-View (this Sunday live at 8 p.m. ET on WWE Network) I had the chance to talk with her about the process of developing the Alexa Bliss character, what it was like to have cameras around her house for “Total Divas” and of course, the world famous Larry-Steve

Me: “So what game did Larry-Steve pick for you to download on the [Nintendo] Switch?”

Alexa: “Mario! The Rabbit Kingdom. I was trying to find a game and all of a sudden Larry-Steve jumped on my lap and just started moving the Switch, so I was like I have to get this on video. He was doing it for a lot longer, but I only caught a couple seconds on video.”

@larry_steve_ helping me figure out which game to download next on my @nintendo #switch

A post shared by Alexa_Bliss (@alexa_bliss_wwe_) on

“Are you a big gamer, or did you see someone else with the Switch and said to yourself “I need one of those”?

“No, I love video games. So my fiancé and I went through this phase recently where we got all of the older gaming systems. We have this box that plays old Sega and Nintendo games. We have the original Playstation, recently just got a Game Boy. We have an Xbox a PS4 Pro and the Super Nintendo that just came out.”

“I got the Switch back in March and it’s a life-saver on my commute”

“Oh it’s the best. It seriously saves my life when it comes to traveling because I get so bored so easily, especially when a plane doesn’t have WiFi … ughhhh I die.”

“When you did an interview with ESPN a few months back you mentioned that you got Larry-Steve because of Total Divas, which made me wonder if getting a pig was something you’ve always wanted to do, or if this was a spur of the moment decision because of the show?”

“I’ve always wanted a pig. I grew up in Ohio, in Grove City, which is a farmy place. A lot of people there have farm animals and I’ve always wanted a pig because they’re super cute and I know they have a risk of getting up to 500 pounds, but whatever.

I actually pitched the storyline for Total Divas of me getting a pig and then my fiancé telling me that I can’t have it and then I’d have to give him back. You know, this whole drama thing.

So I get Larry-Steve and I have him for like two days and then I called Matt and said I’m not giving this pig back. I was like I can’t, he’s too cute and he’s deaf!

I was like he won’t hear the dogs barking at him. He was like what if he gets really big, I was like that’s 500 pounds of love. So I did the whole pouty thing and then he was like it’s your call, you make the decision. The whole I don’t want you to, so you probably shouldn’t, but I’m going to tell you that you can. And I totally took it as OK, I’m going to get him.

They get along so well. Matt loves him. He’s become the baby of the family. He knows it.

He’s like a child. He’s on a schedule. He wakes up every morning at 7. He sleeps in a Pack ‘n Play [crib]. He eats at 7:30. He naps at 2 and if you don’t put him in his crib to nap at 2, he will go lay by his bed. He wakes up, gets more food, will walk around the house, play for an hour to an hour and a half and then he’ll go back to bed.

“He sounds really easy to take care of”

“He’s so easy to take care of. As long as you can get his schedule down, because if not, he gets really grumpy.”

“Grumpy! How do you know that he’s grumpy?”

“Yeah because he’ll go “oink, oink, oink” all of the time and start pushing you. When he gets grumpy you know and then he’ll try to bite your toe, but that’s only if he’s grumpy.”

“Because [spoiler alert] Total Divas is a pseudo-reality, did you find yourself having to adjust to how you acted in front of the camera because you’re so used to playing a specific type of character in front of one?”

“I had a little bit of an adjustment period for sure because I’m so used to when the camera is on, I turn into Alexa Bliss, this mean, attitudy character. So I had to get out of that because our first filming was at TV. So I’m in a work environment and it was just a different camera, so as soon as the camera came on I was thinking ‘wait I can’t be that way, I have to be me.’

There were times where we’re at home making breakfast and there’s cameras there and I feel so weird because you have to open up to the cameras, but still act natural.

It was very different, but I had a lot of fun with it.”

*** Season 7 of Total Divas Premieres Wednesday, November 1 at 9 p.m. ET on E! ***

“You’ve talked about your transition from NXT to the main roster before and how you needed to turn up the persona that you found in NXT, but what helped you find the character’s voice? Was there a light bulb moment where you realized that this is it when you were with Blake and Murphy?

“I watched back our first few NXT matches together when I was managing them and realized that I was just silent. I wasn’t doing anything, I wasn’t saying anything. I was just looking at them in silence. And I was like hmmm, well that’s nothing.

I remember specifically trying more and more to be mean and I was trying to think of a character that’s relatable and I was like oh my gosh, a mean girl from high school. Everyone knows her. Everyone had one. Some people were her and no matter how mean she was, you still voted for her for homecoming queen.

I was like I want to be that girl because I knew that girl in high school. I knew a few of those girls in high school. I knew that everyone did. So that was my main motivation was to be that girl.

I get my inspiration from movies and a lot of the time I’ll actually people-watch when I’m at the airport. William Regal told us to people-watch because you can get your best motivation from them. I’ll notice little mannerisms that irritate me and I know they will irritate other people.

“How long did it take you to be comfortable in front of the camera as that character? Was it something you had to workshop a lot to get to that point?

“To get it started was a long process, but once it clicked, it was super easy. It’s just another part of me now and it’s been so much fun to play around with.”

“The saying is the best characters in this business are an extension of who the actual person is, but turned up to an 11, so is there any part of your actual personality in the character?”

“Oh god, none of it (laughs).”

“See that’s really interesting because you’re so comfortable playing the character, but it’s not you at all.”

“So I remember watching ‘My Date with Marilyn’ and watching the scene where she’s just super shy and super timid and then she asks somebody ‘do you want me to become her?’ And then she goes into Marilyn [Monroe]-mode and people start swarming her. She becomes this confident, sexy woman and I feel like it’s pretty much the same kind of thing. It’s something that you just switch into.

I’ve always wanted to do acting and wanted to explore that route and I feel like this has been the most fun part of doing what I get to do. Being able to transition into a completely different character.”

“So your match coming up with Mickie James this weekend; in another era this probably would have been a depends on a pole match …”

“(laughs)”

“But it’s just going to be a normal one-on-one match, even though in the build-up for it, you’ve been so aggressive in promos and backstage segments that it could have warranted a stipulation in storyline. Would you prefer a stipulation match, or are you OK with it being a regular match?”

“I’m OK with it being a normal one-on-one [match]. Of course stipulations are always cooler and more fun, but I feel like if we were to do a stipulation match it would have to be something that was driven towards the storyline that we’re doing right now.

I’m talking about her being old, so it should be like a walker match.”

Twitter: @ScottDargis

There’s a new playable character in WWE 2K18 and it’s … Colonel Sanders!?

WWE
Leave a comment

During the “Hell in a Cell” Pay-Per-View last night, it was announced that Colonel Sanders will be a playable character in the WWE 2K18 video game.

The announcement came during a segment in which the world was introduced to Colonel Angle Sanders who promptly took care of his rival, the Puppers Cluckers Chicken.

If you want to see an extended look of Colonel Sanders in WWE 2K18, you can watch him face off against Puppers Cluckers Chicken on UpUpDownDown this Thursday (October 12th).

WWE 2K18’s launch date is October 17th.