Tuesday, December 30, 2014

THE RAW REVIEW (12/29/14)


The last RAW of 2014 was a good representation of the entire year.

Some good performances, some progressive booking, some stilted performances, and some incredibly regressive booking.

2014 has been a good year for the WWE, despite the flaws, with several younger performers slowly rising to a place of prominence and, in so doing, reinvigorating some of the veteran talents. While fans have had to endure a truly disheartening stream of advertisements on an overlong flagship show and angles that seem booked and built by a blatantly out-of-touch board of directors, they’ve also been treated to an overall sense of increased hope and positivity and signs of legitimate change in the wake of significant events in the WWE fiction and in the actual WWE company.

There is still a great deal of work to be done, though.


RAW kicked off with a somewhat stiff opening segment between Edge and Christian. Sadly, their late 90s/early aughts schtick just doesn’t seem to resonate any more, either because they had to repackage their gimmick into a script or because today’s generation just doesn’t understand who they are and what they’re referencing.

The intensity picked up when Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar entered the scene.


When Lesnar and Heyman enter the arena, standing together as a truly villainous, all-powerful duo, I feel as though I’m watching a good scene in a good movie. These performers become forces of nature in an old-fashioned yet timeless tale of good versus evil - Brock is the brawn and Heyman is the brains. Thanks to Heyman’s oratory skills and Brock’s steely, serial-killer eyes, their threats to babyfaces like Edge and Christian are actually convincing.

Cena came to the rescue and settled into his traditional Cenaisms.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

THE WWE IN 2014: A RETROSPECTIVE


Writing weekly reviews of two WWE shows along with the occasional editorial is sometimes daunting (if the shows are bad), but almost always nourishing and energizing.

Each week, sometime around Sunday afternoon, my mind resets and I become excited for RAW. This would happen even if I didn't write about the show, but because I write about it, the prospect of building a new RAW REVIEW for a new week, trying to keep it as fresh and as-engaging-to-read-as-possible is an enjoyable, personal challenge. My focus is always on trying to keep these reviews and these editorials fresh and engaging for myself, first and foremost. Because if I write from that place, from a center of passion and interest, then it will show in the work and be more enjoyable for you to read (hopefully).

Thursday, December 18, 2014

THE MYTH OF JOHN CENA: SHEDDING THE NEON SKIN


John Cena has been the "top guy" in the WWE for over a decade.

This is an unprecedented run that has inspired legions of fans as much as it has inspired legions of detractors. The character, and the performer, will consistently elicit a strong reaction one way or the other, but his existence also leaves room for more complex reactions.

For example, my feelings about the character have evolved from 2005 (when I first became aware of Cena) to the time of this writing.

I've loved Cena, I've "hated" Cena, I've liked Cena but simply been frustrated with the creative surrounding Cena, I've rolled my eyes at the sound of his entrance music, I've smiled and leaned forward at the sound of his entrance music, I've groaned at his bad jokes and his babyface shtick, and I've been moved to tears by his best promo and the way he interacts with the children in the WWE.

My feelings about a particular performer in the WWE have never evolved in such a radical way. I usually either love a character or loath a character, or my childhood disdain for a heel evolves into a form of respect for that heel's excellent performance. But, as an adult, I've never gone from fan, to "hater", and, ultimately, back to fan.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

PAUL HEYMAN'S PERFECT RAW PROMO


Paul Heyman's promo this week at Raw Tulsa was the best four minutes of the broadcast. And he wasn't even in the building.

The promo received a passing mention in The Raw Review because, at the time of writing, an in-depth praise or analysis didn't feel in keeping with the particular theme of that review. But it's a promo, and a segment, that is due further examination and celebration.

His visage towered over the Tulsa audience, his voice radiating throughout a silent arena, enlightening the masses, in more ways than one, on the significance of the ongoing narrative-thread featuring his client, Brock Lesnar, as well as the importance of effective promo-work.


Michael Cole asks Paul Heyman to address the new stipulation that should John Cena lose to Seth Rolins at TLC that he would no longer be the number one contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

STEVE AUSTIN INTERVIEWS VINCE McMAHON


After watching Stone Cold Steve Austin interview Vince McMahon live on the WWE Network for his podcast, I had only one thought:

Steve Austin just performed a public service for professional wrestling.

Before I demonstrate how Austin did so, I will go over the substance of the interview for those who weren't fortunate enough to see it on the Network.

The mere concept of a legitimate sit-down interview between Austin and McMahon is entertaining in of itself. In reality it's a pure joy to watch. McMahon has represented that "big fish" for Steve Austin Show listeners, quite possibly the most wanted guest in the show's history given the relationship between the two.