Wrasslin’ Wednesday 10/22/14Posted: October 22, 2014
Derek: We’re coming to you live (two days later) from Kansas City! Hell in a Cell is this weekend and the over/under for Royals mentions is set at 74.5.
In case you didn’t know, the cell is intimidating, frightening, sadistic, ominous, destructive, demonic, career-altering, an unforgiving beast, the anatomy of evil, the devil’s playground, and any other adjectives I missed over the course of Raw. It also changes your life, is a stage for unspeakable things to happen and is, above all, a structure.
God help you if you drank every time they said the word “structure.”
Michael Cole kicks off the show reminding us that “so much is at stake!!!!” in this Sunday’s Randy Orton vs. John Cena match. Which is funny, because at the time of that comment not a single thing was at stake except the attention span of adults and the hearts of children. Not that Michael Cole is prone to hyperbole, or anything.
Orton promptly claims that he will end his and Cena’s decade long rivalry “once and for all” this Sunday. The fifteen previous times apparently weren’t enough. Orton and Seth Rollins then argue over whose match is bigger before Triple H butts in and tells them they’re both special little snowflakes in their own way.
Then the main event is revealed to be a 3 on 2 Handicap Street Fight featuring Rollins, Orton and Kane vs. Cena and The Unstable Dean Ambrose. Will, could you explain to me the difference between a Street Fight, a Hardcore Match, and an Extreme Rules match?
Will: I tried to write something explaining that they are different things, but no, they’re all the same thing. I don’t believe WWE uses the term ‘hardcore’ anymore, and that ‘extreme rules’ is a sort of rebranding. Some of the hardcore matches in the late 90s/early 00s were pretty insane, and I think McMahon Corp has long since moved towards softer core fare.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some of that insanity. Sorry about the music. It is not easy finding a wrestling video on YouTube without Metallica in it.
The gist of these aforementioned matches is that you can beat your opponent by pinfall or submission, anywhere. Foreign objects and interloping wrestlers are permitted and encouraged. If there were a hardcore match bingo board, it would include STEEL CHAIR, TABLE, STEPS and INTERFERENCE. The board might only be 2×2.
My favorite part of hardcore wrestling is all of the absurd match types that have happened. Many of them have been in ECW or independent circuits, but all that matters is that they happened on Earth. Check these out: First Blood match, Taipei Deathmatch, Barbed Wire Massacre, Fans Bring the Weapons match, and my personal favorite, the Clockwork Orange House of Fun match. Wrestling is the best.
I confess that I haven’t been following WWE consistently. I enjoy flipping Raw on when the Monday Night Football game bores me. I’m going to rely on you to do the lion’s share of the analysis here.
A question, though: What’s your take on the Rusev-Big Show feud? I applaud WWE for exploring brave new ground. A foreign heel speaking ill of America until confronted by a Pledge-reciting babyface is a fresh new idea.
Derek: Great question! It’s certainly a fresh take on things. You see, after Rusev’s match ends the same way every time, the Russian flag drops and then OH MY GOD:
I’M BEING EATEN ALIVE FROM THE INSIDE
WHY DID I CLOSE MY EYES AND SAY “BIG SHOW” INTO THE MIRROR THREE TIMES?!
Phew. It’s over. Anyway, the USA/Russia stuff is obviously done to death and there’s nothing interesting about Rusev. He’s been on a rinse/repeat cycle for months. Someone challenges him “for America” then promptly ends up in that submission move of his.
It’s just a matter of time before someone steps up and beats some freedom into him before he fades into mid-card obscurity. My money’s on Cena, but we could be in for a special treat…
Let’s just hope that comes sooner rather than later. Rusev has been the most skippable character for months. He beats someone up, makes them submit, the crowd gives a U-S-A! chant, then Lana tells them to shu-tup. I just hope they don’t OH MY GOD IT’S BACK
I just hope they don’t stretch this out until Wrestlemania. Surely there’s something more interesting.
Something like Cena and Ambrose! Will, these two have been going at it for weeks over who gets a one-on-one shot at Seth Rollins, because wrestling. Now they’re best buds! How did you enjoy their suddenly friendly banter? What are your thoughts on Hell in a Cell’s co-main event? And how much would you pay right now to watch a Cena/Ambrose movie in which John is the wise, street smart, tough guy with a heart of gold cop and Ambrose is the young, cocky, plays by his own rules but undeniably talented cop?
Will: Agreed that Rusev is a human fast-forward button. Let’s not waste any more time or energy on him.
On the other hand, I am all in on a Cena/Ambrose buddy cop flick. I even tweeted as much! The idea of the greasy, unhinged Ambrose juxtaposed against the literally clean-cut Cena is a natural fit. Cena does a wonderful job of looking shocked and horrified by everything that Ambrose says. It’s like the Harlem Globetrotters walking into one of John Wooden’s practices.
I am way, way more interested in Rollins-Ambrose than I am in Cena-Orton. Putting Cena and Orton together is like two Ken dolls fighting in a sandbox. They’re good workers and it will probably be a well-done match, but they have all the charisma of burnt toast. There is one thing that has saved Orton some face: the RKO Vines have been delightful.
Rollins-Ambrose, on the other hand, is a terrific matchup. I have been fascinated by the progression of the former Shield. Roman Reigns and his hair were anointed the next big things in wrestling, but then he got hurt just as everyone realized that he only has three moves. So Rollins and Ambrose–two guys who I had no real interest in or affection for–were thrust into the spotlight, and they’ve done pretty well in their expanded roles.
I will say, though, that Rollins’ gimmick doesn’t do much for me. His thing seems to be that he’s smarter than everyone else, in the vein of The Game-era Triple H. But man, Rollins does not sound smart when speaking into a microphone. He said something to the effect of “me and my brain are up here; you and your brain are down here” to Ambrose on Raw this week. I’m confident that a dictionary was not consulted as he sketched that out. It reminded me of Ricky from Trailer Park Boys more than anything else.
I didn’t think much of Ambrose’s “Lunatic Fringe” schtick at first, but he’s won me over. He watches weird movies to get ready for matches. He wears a leather jacket. He has disheveled hair. He walks with a good strut and has an appropriate amount of spaciness in his eyes. He seems just real-life crazy enough to make his on-screen craziness work. I’m in on anyone who employs insanity as his primary personality trait — that’s why watching Ron Artest and Mike Tyson is so fun.
It seems like Ambrose is trying to adopt a Stone Cold-esque character, but without completely biting that style. Instead of driving to the ring in a Zamboni or a Bud Heavy 18-wheeler, he pushes a hot dog cart down the ramp and assaults people with condiments. How can I not love this?
I’ll leave you with one last question: Are you interested in any of the undercard matches at Hell in a Cell? Like, at all? Sheamus and the Miz? Ziggler vs. Cesaro? The Bellas? The Usos vs. Stardust and Goldust? Make me care, please.
Derek: I’m sorry. I can’t.
There’s not a whole lot to offer right now, and WWE must know it. Why else would they give us Cena vs. Orton XXVIII when the two already had higher stakes matches at TLC and Royal Rumble? And that doesn’t even count when they were in six, eight, and four man matches at Elimination Chamber, Money in the Bank, and Battleground, respectively. I really do think most of us could do without our sixth main event match featuring the two of them since December. Plus, the other five were for the belt. This one isn’t.
They even tried to sell the A.J. Lee vs Paige match as “Breaking News!!!” on Raw. Yeah, we all knew they’d have a match already. There are no other interesting Divas. People stopped caring about the Bellas’ feud about 48 hours after it happened. Their match will be a good time to do a few chores around the house.
And I don’t blame WWE. It’s not their fault. Since Wrestlemania, Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, and, my personal favorite, Bad News Barrett, went down with significant injuries. Batista flopped. Brock Lesnar is the champion, and he’s not even going to be at Hell in a Cell. Punk left in January and people are still chanting his name. Ever since he and A.J. got married, there are more “CM Punk!” chants during her matches than there are chants for what’s going on in the ring. (Really, though–would it kill her to do Punk’s finisher in a match? Just once?)
My point is, it’s easy to slam these matches for being garbage, but I don’t think I could do any better. Some of the most interesting personalities are gone. Who should Cena face instead? Bray Wyatt again? I’m good.
I think I have a solution, though, and it’s just three letters: HHH.
Come on, Triple H! Enough with this Authority suit-and-tie stuff. Get involved in some matches outside of Wrestlemania. We need you.
So, no, I’m not that excited for the non Ambrose-Rollins matches with a couple of minor exceptions. A.J. vs. Paige is usually fun to watch, and I’m kind of excited for Sheamus vs. The Miz.
The feud itself doesn’t really make any sense. Last month, Miz was feuding with Ziggler and Sheamus was feuding with Cesaro. Then they just swapped feuds without much explanation, and here we are.
Ever since MIz adopted his Hollywood superstar gimmick, he’s been one of the stars of WWE. That first night, when he was listing his accomplishments and exclaimed “I’M THE MARINE, DAMN IT!” I was hooked. The addition of Damien Mizdow has been stellar as well.
My best hope for this match is some damage is finally done to Miz’s “moneymaker.” He keeps avoiding blows to the face so he can stay handsome for all of his movie roles, and sooner or later someone is going to make solid contact and his reaction is going to be priceless. Obviously not a dream ceiling for the undercard, but them’s the breaks.
Which brings us to Ambrose vs. Rollins at last. While I agree that Rollins isn’t an all-star on the mic, he’s so great at acting tough and then running away the second someone’s about to fight him. I instinctively root for him to plunge through the Spanish Announcer’s Table, so he passes the heel test for me.
Ambrose is the clear-cut winner from The Shield disbanding. He bored me in The Shield. He was the United States Champion, but he never defended it and I got tired of seeing him carry the belt around. His promos were some combination of “we’re The Shield” and “we’re dangerous” and “you might have noticed I’m not totally sane.” Yawn.
Now he makes Batman references and steals hot dog carts and tries to find creative yet illogical places from which to ambush Rollins.
And the best part is he’s a pretty good actor. You really feel his disgust for Rollins. I get the sense that he has a picture of Rollins on all of his mirrors.
Finally — and, I suppose this is all that really matters — the match has the approval of the only man whose approval counts for something:
Mick Foley, who subscribes to the WWE Network for an undisclosed monthly sum, is in.
So am I.