Q:I look to you for guidance. How am I, the occasional viewer, supposed to react to Lesnar's obliteration of Cena ? A squash, with mocking no sell of The Top Guy's offence, of the bloke Who Always Wins leaves who exactly as credible competition for Lesnar ? Haven't they just made the entire roster look like at least two steps down from the new champ ?
I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. The champion should seem unbeatable, until someone proves he isn’t, and then that guy would seem unbeatable. Like Ric Flair says: “to be the man, you gotta beat the man.” Nobody says “to be the flavor of the month, you gotta be next in line,” because nobody cares who the flavor of the month is. Everybody cares who The Man is.
When you build someone up as a giant, it’s not hard to create a giant-killer. Think back to the start of the Jack Swagger/Rusev feud. Swagger was like twenty steps down from Rusev, but it only took one night to turn all that around. All of a sudden Rusev was selling for him and he wasn’t losing matches. That should be silly, but people were willing to overlook that if it meant seeing Rusev get beat.
WWE can do the same thing with Brock’s next few challengers. They’re going to have to, because it’s too soon for Roman and nobody else is over enough. The problem isn’t how strong Brock is, it’s how weak everyone else is. It’ll be hard to sell Sheamus or Wyatt or Orton or Ryback standing up to the beast, because those guys can’t even carry the jock of the guy Lesnar just spanked. It won’t be impossible (few things are in a fake sport), but they’ve made it unnecessarily hard for themselves.
With that in mind, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised that WWE had to punt and book a Cena/Lesnar rematch at the next PPV. That match won’t do anybody any favors, except that it’ll buy them another month to plan for Brock’s next challenger. Then again, if this storyline was following a plan, you wouldn’t need to ask anyone how to react to it.
We really never got WCW vs. WWE ppvs, technically yes but meh.
I am curious. What did you like and dislike about WWE’s Invasion angle?
I thought it made sense for Shane McMahon to buy WCW as part of his feud with Vince. The problem with an interpromotional war angle is that you can’t do it unless one group owns the other, and then it’s hard to portray the subsidiary as outsiders. Aligning Shane with WCW neatly solved that problem—he’d already gone rogue against his father, and they needed whatever help they could get. So the invasion ended up being more like a resistance against an occupying force.
The problems started when the focus was on Shane scouting for WWF talent to raid. I’m sure the McMahons think “WCW is raiding WWF guys!” was the most interesting part of the Monday Night Wars. But to the fans the most interesting part was “What if both sides got into a big fight on TV?”
They couldn’t decide how to present that fight. I think the original plan was to run the WWF and WCW as separate touring brands, each with their own heels and faces, and then maybe lead to a crossover later. But by May it was clear that wasn’t going to happen. It took them far too long to settle on the format of Shane as a heel trying to hijack Raw and run Vince out of business. But by then they’d spent months establishing Vince as Kick Dick of the Universe and Shane as Plucky Young Upstart, so the double-turn was more awkward than it needed to be.
It was awesome when they reintroduced ECW, but looking back it was clearly a mistake. The invasion needed to re-establish the WCW brand identity, not dilute it into a generic “anti-WWF” alliance.
After that the whole storyline stopped feeling like an invasion angle, because the invaders comprised half the roster and neither side was getting anywhere. This is where the Alliance needed to be kicking the WWF’s ass to build tension, but instead we got “even-steven booking” writ large. The announcement of the “winner take all” match at Survivor Series should have felt like a desperate hail-Mary play, but by then I think the general reaction was “good, let’s just get this over with so we can move on.”
The most frustrating thing was what happened afterwards. Vince killed off WCW forever and then we get Ric Flair, a world title unification, the NWO, a brand extension, Eric Bischoff, Scott Steiner, Bill Goldberg, Rey Mysterio, etc. So it’s like they eventually did everything they should have done, except they did it with Smackdown instead of WCW, and it meant a hundred times less.
Dave Meltzer does the Ice Bucket Challenge in the inimitable Dave Meltzer style.
lana’s all like
Mark Henry??? nah what a jerk what a— [trips] [hundreds of thousands of photos of Mark Henry spill out of jacket] w-what a fucking asshole i these arent mine im just [gathering them up frantically sweating] listen i just listen fuck [thousands of pictures of Mark Henry scatter across the floor] shit fuck im holding them for a friend just listen [x]
Q:Given your observation that WWE needs to cater to its hardcore audience to maintain itself, do you think this influenced the decision to have John Cena pretty much murdered by Brock Lesnar, given how much hardcore fans seem to dislike Cena? If so, how does this impact the potential course of Lesnar's title reign?
If WWE was trying to please the anti-Cena contingent at Summerslam, I think they undermined that by booking an immediate rematch at Night of Champions. The last thing the Cena-haters want is for John to have a chance (however slim) to regain the title.
I do think the success of the WWE Network now depends on WWE’s hardcore audience. But the makeup of that audience isn’t entirely clear. We’ve come to think of “hardcore fans” as the diehards left over from the late ’90s boom, who love Paul Heyman guys and hate John Cena. Now, though, I think the true inner core of WWE’s fan base is simple to define: whoever cares enough to pay for the Network. That includes veterans of the Monday Night Wars, but it may also include just as many passionate Cena fans, or new fans who got in for the Shield and now eat/sleep/breathe WWE. So catering to Network subscribers may not be as simple as jobbing Cena out or turning him heel.
It’s a moot point for now, though, because I don’t think WWE is even thinking about this stuff. When they got those Network numbers, the last thing on their minds was “let’s change the product to target the people most likely to subscribe.” They’re not going to change the product as long as they can point the finger at something else, which in this case turned out to be “our stupid fans don’t know what $9.99 is.”
A TRUE GENTLEMAN
IMPACT WRESTLING will remain a vital part of Spike TV’s programming on Wednesday nights, 9/8c, through the end of the year. Negotiations remain ongoing beyond this time frame.
So TNA forestalls certain doom yet again. This will give them until Wednesday, December 31 to figure out what they’re going to do long-term.
Obviously it’d be better not to be teetering on the brink at all, but you have to give TNA credit for hanging in there.