Shadows Over Asuka: A Royal Rumble Affair

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[Side note, I feel like Shadows Over Asuka makes a great fan fiction title. Someone more creative than me get on it, and definitely tweet it at me]

WWE is a longstanding trainwreck. Just when you think they’ve cleared away the debris and rubble, another absurd and completely avoidable accident happens and we’re left watching them deal with damage control. Take for example, the 2018 Royal Rumble. Everything seemed to be okay and getting better, like the debris had nearly cleared. WWE had implemented the first ever Women’s Rumble match, which is a huge step that no one imagined happening in this century. To round out the night, both rumble matches were won by Japanese wrestlers: Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka.

I know, pretty crazy considering WWE’s whiteness and racial tendencies. When this happened, I too was a shookie cookie.

In fact it was too good to be true, and as predicted, WWE found a way to cheapen the victory of the first ever women’s rumble winner. The debut of former UFC fighter: Ronda Rousey. It’s so amazing how ridiculous this moment was, I’m not sure if I should pick this apart by beginning with sex, or race.

Ya know what, let’s just throw in a mixture of both and see what sticks.

Shinsuke Nakamura, male, right? After his win he was allowed the opportunity to bask in the glory, to tan in the lights of the WrestleMania sign, to announce that he chose to go after AJ Styles’ title at WrestleMania. Good, great actually. No random white man decided to make their presence known by swinging their dick around and making sure everyone had their eyes on him. The attention, and rightfully so, was all on Shinsuke. That’s exactly how it should have been, all about the victor.

Then we have Asuka’s victory, and holy hell what a confusing mess this was. Asuka barely had a chance to speak for herself, nor did she get the chance to establish who exactly she wanted to go after come WrestleMania: Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss, or SmackDown women’s Champion: Charlotte. Someone backstage felt it necessary for both women to make themselves known in case someone forgot what they, or the belts looked like.

 

Neither one is Brock Lesnar, we see the belts weekly and they’re defended. Don’t worry, we remember.

So here we have a Japanese women getting interrupted by not one, but two white women. Sure, that’s a swell plan. Let’s steal the spotlight from her.

Don’t worry, it gets better.

To make the grand total of three: three white women stealing the spotlight, WWE decides it’s a great time to introduce Ronda Rousey full time. She makes her entrance, in all of her 80’s coming of age movie glory sporting most of Rowdy Roddy Piper’s gimmick as she does so. This completely takes away any and all attention from Asuka and shines the spotlight on herself. Such a pivotal, crucial moment in WWE history absolutely eclipsed by this transphobic putrid hot mess of a woman whose hype train surrounding her lost its gas give or take a year ago.

That sends the wrong type of message. That says not only do you not value your winner, Asuka, very much, but that you don’t value the women of your division as highly as you do this woman coming in out of of the blue. She’s a fan? Great. Has she been shaping and molding your division, putting in blood, sweat, tears, and risking her life weekly for the sake of entertainment and trying to raise the value of the women’s division in the eyes of doubting fans everywhere?

Nope, she’s a quick cash grab.

The cherry and rainbow sprinkles on top of it all is that as of today, Ronda Rousey hasn’t been seen since. For a full time wrestler, she’s too busy filming a movie to make an appearance. Which means, of course, her debut in my eyes is considered a complete and utter waste. It was tasteless, ill-planned, and shone a poor light on whoever decided it was a wonderful idea to eclipse your inaugural winner for a has-been.

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Review Of TrumpMania: Vince McMahon, WWE and the Making of America’s 45th President

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Lavie Margolin’s TrumpMania is exactly what you would think it is. A book which focuses on our current president Donald Trump’s involvement with the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) throughout the decades. Now you may be thinking what I had thought the second I saw the title of this book: it’s a satire. I automatically assumed that it was a book meant to poke fun at all that Donald has done throughout his professional wrestling career, but it is far from that.

The book actually focuses on the economic as well as marketing areas of the professional wrestling business, arguably that is one main focus. The other main focus would have to be an extremely thorough look into the past and formation of the WWE. His work is very in depth, detailing the outcomes of matches as well as the storyline that brought said matches to fruition in the first place. His work reads like a historical look at the development of the WWE and its success due to the work of Vince McMahon and Donald Trump. It tells of individual success as well, making a point to show the further development of their companies on the backs of one another.

While the book is heavily detailed and extremely thorough, it may not be for everyone. Personally, I feel as though the book could have been done in short form as opposed to long form. A scholarly article would suffice to prove the author’s main idea of his work. Second, due to the nature of this book, it may not be for everyone. Not only is it a historical look back on previous matches and company development, it deals with marketing and economic aspects associated with their career paths both in the past and what brought them to present day.

A heavily detailed book, I find it’s a good read for those interested in a more analytical approach to all things related to the WWE.

Niche Please: Women Like Merch?? (Part 2)

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Niche Please: Women Also Have Money

Part 2: Merchandise

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What a novel concept that is, right? Women have money, that belongs to them! They have both checkings and savings accounts and by golly gee sometimes they want to use that to buy things for themselves and or others.

Now it seems rather obvious, especially given that over the years mass media, as well as our friendly neighborhood 80 year old man always say: women love shopping. All they do is shop, shop, shop, and spend someone else’s hard earned money. Now that’s a horrifying issue for an entirely other day, but here’s the thing: we do in fact buy things. Sometimes more than men, sometimes less. What’s important to grasp here is that we have disposable income to spend on things to support programs or other forms of media that we love.

Enter, the WWE Shop.

While the year may be 2017, it seems that some people forget that women in fact enjoy wrestling. Perhaps this is shocking to some, but there are many women that don’t watch just to stare at muscles drenched in baby oil, sweat, and sometimes someone else’s blood. Rather, they watch it for the sport of it all, for the amazing talent that these performers exude, and sometimes it’s for the storyline.

[Ya know, depending on the program and just who exactly is writing that dream feud you’d always hoped for yet somehow isn’t amounting up to anything your imagination cooked up (Bray Wyatt vs. Finn Balor).]

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Nah, ladies like wrestling. Sometimes they like to buy things to support their favorite wrestlers.However, sometimes it’s frustrating to buy things you want when a) it’s only in men’s sizes and quite frankly you’re sick and tired of getting a men’s shirt to pair with leggings or alter all on your own because it’s completely unflattering; or b) they just haven’t made it yet.

Take for example: leggings. Yes as of recently Wild Bangarang has announced that they will in fact be making WWE themed leggings. Thank the gods of wrestling, it’s about time, isn’t it? But it feels like that’s been far too long in the making. Leggings have been in the forefront of fashion for years, and damn it, why has it taken them so long to do so? This could have been extra money in the pocket for years and years already. Perhaps they were waiting to see someone else undergo this task.

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Perhaps, they were waiting to see a member of the competition try their hand at making leggings. Maybe they wanted to know if it was going to be a huge flop, which in the end would have saved WWE the embarrassment and the failure. Luckily for them, The Young Bucks blasted into the online marketplace with their very own leggings; and boy were they a hit. They were such a hot commodity, there isn’t one single gif on the internet that seems accurate enough to portray the surprise and sheer happiness of their success with this merchandise.

Well, perhaps there is one, but really who as enough time to catalog gifs by emotional range, right?

The Young Bucks’ leggings were a massive hit. So much so that it had people asking, “Why hasn’t WWE done this yet?”

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You think they would. It seems so stupidly simple of a project to undertake. To create leggings modeled after Superstar’s gear, to create leggings that could have anyone feeling like the man Seth Rollins’ even on their worst day. They wouldn’t even have to be marketed only to women. The idea to make them unisex so men and women alike can live out their greatest dreams, they’d be even closer to cashing in big come Halloween time.

It’s not only leggings that can be marketed to women, but more inclusivity for things one would expect to have been a long time coming at this point. It’s as though WWE doesn’t expect things to sell like tank tops modeled after Becky Lynch’s ring gear, or an AJ Styles wig so we can all embrace our inner soccer mom…

That last one was a joke, no one wants that mom hair; but the statement still stands. It seems like WWE is behind the curve of wrestling merchandise, maybe because they don’t’ expect things to be able to sell to their female audience.  Look how long it took them to make WWE underwear (which I definitely, definitely called years ago). Yet they’re still missing the mark–not a single pair is for women, nor does anything say ‘hit hard, hit often’ on the backside, much like Roman Reigns would clearly do.

I mean, come on. That just seems like a given, right?

Niche Please: WWE’s Limited Marketing Hurts (Part 1: The Cruiserweight Division)

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Niche Please: WWE’s Limited Marketing Hurts

Part 1: The Cruiserweight Division

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Over the years WWE has clearly done something right in terms of marketing and brand expansion. They’re often seen as the number one wrestling program (excuse me, sports entertainment) sheerly for their dominance over professional wrestling in the entertainment world. WWE breeds star power, with forces such as Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Dave ‘The Animal’ Batista, and now John ‘U Can’t C Me’ Cena. Are there other, very successful wrestling programs? Of course, but for today we’ll focus on WWE programming. More specifically, how formulaic their shows can be, and how that hinders them; while competitors seem to flourish without said formula.

It seems silly to decree how an entertainment titan such as WWE should run their show. Yet one can’t help but to notice that WWE seems to dig themselves into a hole with supposedly good intentions ,yet at the same time buries all of their talent alive in it. This refers to the Cruiserweight Division. What started as an incredible tournament on the WWE Network has now led to a subpar division with usually mediocre segments on Monday Night Raw.

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Now why might that be? Why would some of the contenders from such a widely well received tournament be stuck in this rut on WWE television? One would assume that their matches and segments would be pure fire, given the level of talent these wrestlers have garnered while on the independent circuit. Yet it seems that whenever such segments air live on the show, they’re met with silence, or the occasional beach ball party. So how does something that was once so incredibly popular which had viewers foaming at the mouth, become the new designated restroom break?

Quite simply, WWE places their performers in these little niches and keeps them there, without any possibility of escape. With the induction of the specialized division and a championship belt, one thought that meant we were going to see the new signees go toe to toe with some of the main event staples of Monday Night Raw. In contrast, what we saw was complete isolation. By being a cruiserweight, that meant that you didn’t interact with anyone outside of the division, save for the short-term stint of Alicia Fox as a manager to Cedric Alexander, then Noam Dar. It’s as though the division has a deadly plague, and having them interact with other superstars would leave to the complete decimation of the show. It’s a very odd tactic to do, to isolate the cruiserweight division from everyone and keep them completely self-involved; especially when that wasn’t always the case.

Sure, one could see this as WWE trying to make things fair and equal: guys going against similar weight classes so as not to provide an unfair advantage. Yet doesn’t WWE thrive on such feuds built upon this? It’s a classic David and Goliath scenario, one that does well for the likes of people like Braun Strowman and Sami Zayn: yet somehow can’t be used for the cruiserweight division. In addition to that, they’re doing this to competitors who have never been relegated to competing against only one type of opponent before stepping into WWE. Take for example: Kalisto and Neville. Even before this division, such competitors were competing amongst everyone else in WWE. Much like their independent circuit friends, there was no weight limit that classified who they could and could not wrestle against. Size was just an element of the story, meant to play up the hero’s hopeful triumph or heartbreaking downfall.  It did not indicate their skill level or capability to defeat a large opponent.

It never stopped people like Rey Mysterio.

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Yet WWE continues to have the cruiserweight division in this niche. Story evolution is at a halt, for they show two, maybe four competitors per week on Monday Night Raw. Of course, there’s 205 live, but for the casual fan that’s not willing to, or doesn’t have, the Network: they’re at a complete loss. Usually it’s just a throwaway match for them to hit the concessions or evacuate their bowels.

If you’re going to have a division isolated by itself with a generous amount of athletes (see also: Women’s Division); then you may as well go all the way with it. Why not add a secondary belt? Something for the other, forgotten members to fight for seeing as how all anything has ever been about is the chase for the purple belt. Wrestlers that were esteemed and revered for their talent now look like complete and utter jokes (sorry, TJP). Almost as though someone doesn’t want them to be seen as a top tier talent that can take away from the big guys.

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After all, if we look at this from a more cynical level: it’s pretty disheartening. Signing the cruiserweight could be seen as a money trap where all the favor goes to Vince McMahon. These wrestlers being signed means that they’re not wrestling for any other promotion; likely drawing their fans to watch WWE instead. That of course, means more viewers, which usually means more money in some capacity, no? It also keeps from the program’s competitors from making their shows as entertaining as possible. Losing some talent can be a big blow to suffer, and it’s a way for McMahon to keep the control and the eyes on his product. Why worry about other promotions when you’re snatching up and signing all the best that there are out there? These performers weren’t cruiserweight outside of WWE, they were just incredible and talented.

Yet now they’re brushed off to the side. They’re signed, they’re not out there performing incredible stunts and drawing attention away from the WWE with their highly publicized and talked about matches. They’re no longer a threat; not only to the company as a whole, but to those that Vince has deemed to be top tier talent as well. Having the cruiserweight in this niche that they cannot escape only hurts them as performers, and makes it all the more likely that the division could fall from sheer lack of morale, hope, and intentional neglect.

The Big Dog of The Franchise

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To be the franchise, the big …er… dawg of RAW (I know I’m sorry); one has to go above and beyond the call of duty. One has to be so incredibly in tune with the audience and Vince McMahon’s needs, that it seems like the new shoulders the company rests on can’t possibly falter.

Yes I’m aware there’s a plethora of viewers that don’t want Roman Reigns to be the Big Dawg (of RAW, haha), but it may be inevitable. It might be a fixed point in time that can’t be avoided no matter how much you hate him. Now for Vince’s plan to go into fruition, Roman has got to execute the plans laid out for him by John Cena. To be frank–he’s almost there, ready to usurp the throne that the Franchise is getting ready to vacate.

Now to be the Franchise, your time has to be now. Is it? If so– you are well on your way! First thing’s first–you need to have an incredible understanding and use of filthy undertones. In summary, you need to be a filthy pervert and execute it well. John Cena has done a perfectly fine job in showing this. Remember that time he spanked Stephanie McMahon? Or nearly every single interaction he has with women and or their significant others on live television? You do? Great, then you already know what Cena’s capable of. If not…sorry.

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Roman’s definitely been a pervert once or twice…somewhat. There was that one time with Rusev and Lana and I’m pretty sure he hinted Rusev wasn’t a man… okay. You know what maybe not, as much as Cena but he has definitely shown a few derogatory statements towards ladies. Okay it was only to Lana, but it still happened. Maybe Roman hasn’t hit full pervert status, gee what a crime against humanity. The man’s less volatile to women than Cena has been in his career, and I think we’re all okay if we let that one slide.

Next up–ya gotta be big. Considering the former paragraph, take that how you will. You can’t be five feet tall and scrawny. We all know Vince doesn’t love that. Ya gotta be big. Ya gotta be thick. You gotta be veiny and–oh my. I think we all know now what Vince looks for in a man. I mean–er, what he looks for in a show runner. Not in men, that is not what I’m getting at here.. .

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Don’t forget to make sure that kids love you. Not in the same way that Vince does, obviously. That would be absolutely horrifying and we don’t need a Jared Fogle scandal. Rather, you need to be a superhero to these kids. An icon, an symbol of hope, justice, and the American way. We’ve got super Cena, and we can even refer to Roman Reigns as the most beautiful Thor in all the lands. Sorry Chris Hemsworth.

On the subject of kids: ya gotta be marketable. Can you sell merchandise? If your face was on the stupidest of paper plates–would they sell out? Would people like to eat hot steamy pizza off of your face and/or possibly your abs? Perfect. You’re doing well. Now if you can somehow turn your wrestling gear into a sort of costume that’s easy to replicate, you are golden.

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Ya gotta be able to wrestle. You don’t have to be a wrestling god, but you have to be able to go and have a good match. Sure, Cena had a time where his matches were boring- but you can’t say he wasn’t on fire during the US Open Challenge. You also can’t say that the only reason his matches were good was because of his opponents completely carrying him. Sure, wrestlers frequently say they can have a good match with a broomstick, but even the broomstick has to put some sort of work in to add the excitement.

Though if a broomstick was physically moving, we’d have a real Sorcerer’s Apprentice situation going on.

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Roman Reigns whether, you want to admit it or not, puts on good matches. He isn’t some clumsy green giant many want him to be. The man can go and makes sure to pull his weight in the ring. He’s no Brock Lesnar pulling out two moves and ending the match after executing only the two countless times. Hell, look at your favorites like Big Cass or Braun Strowman, or my personal favorite: Brock Lesnar. Errr they consistently the top tier of talent? Nah, they’re not perfect either.

You must be able to make sure that you can talk the talk. Cena can do it, he’s done it for years, and he does it well. Granted, he has a formula of something something America, derogatory against women, have hope, and repeat–his words still manage to hype people and draw a reaction no matter what it is. Roman hasn’t perfected it, but has he gotten better? Absolutely. Is he The Rock? No, he definitely isn’t, but things can change. It’s not as though he’s been wrestling for 20 years and all hope is lost at this point,

No one wrestling titan was an overnight phenomena, not Cena, not Rock, and certainly not Brock.

But….Roman’s on his way, believe that.

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Lucha Underground: Crossing the Border

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I swear that title isn’t me making a racist crack, that’s genuinely the name of the third episode of season one. Poor Donald Trump wouldn’t be able to watch this episode. Actually he probably couldn’t even watch this show–you know what? Let’s focus on the program.

Let’s start off with our first match of the night: Mascarita Sagrada versus El Mariachi Loco. Right off the bat you can see a very noticeable height difference between Mariachi and Mascarita: the latter being on the shorter side.

Just goes to show, even if your opponent is too short to ride on Space Mountain: they can still kick your butt in the ring. It’s the type of match you probably wouldn’t see on other more mainstream forms of entertainment like WWE: but it provides different fights and storylines to follow. That’s not true, you’d probably see it on WWE, but it would more than likely be a pitiful squash match that’s downright cringe-worthy.

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I mean hell, this is basically a classic David versus Goliath with way more flippy shit and a comedic twist that doesn’t take away from the match itself.

In the end, Mascarita Sagrada wins his match amd is met by Chavo Gueerrero coming down to the ring. Classic Chavo attacks and beats the happiness right out of him; establishing that he’s a bully with an inferiority complex. Or htat he’s a complete scrub, however you want to look at it.

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Now we pause our writing in order for a fashion break. Today’s fashion victim is once again: Mil Muertes. He’s here to bring you the latest in pajama couture. His bottoms belong to the ‘probably would be found in a haunted mansion on the murder victim from 1896‘ line.

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Now Johnny Mundo has a scene which screams classic action movie protagonist. His hallway fight trying to get to Dario Cueto (those poor bodyguards) is a quintessential action movie brawl and fit far too perfectly.

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Aside from Catrina escorting Mil Muertes to the ring, there were no female competitors featured on the program. Does this sadden me? Yes, yes it does. However, I do get it. It’s only a one hour program that’s heavily based on storylines. Perhaps featuring someone like Sexy Star or Ivelisse here would not have fit right in regards to pacing. Perhaps the next episode will show some of these ladies kicking more ass than a donkey.

 

Lucha Underground: Los Demonios

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Lucha Underground: Season 1 Episode 2: Los Demonios

I must say, in binging this show I know simply summarizing what happens in each episode would become boring and redundant for me. That’s not a reflection of the show, I simply have the attention span of a goldfish. Therefore I’ve decided we’re going to look at moments from episode two of the first season which caught my attention.

I’d like to start by saying that the opening promo was short, sweet, and to the point. It was an introduction for Cortez, Cisco, and Big Rick: but wasn’t overwhelmingly long and boring. Now this is likely because they don’t have a three hour time slot to fill with nonsense, but it worked out quite nicely.

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Obviously Big Rick caught my attention here. The man looks like a douchebag version of Luke Cage; except he smokes a cigar and has an incredibly sad color palette for his wardrobe.  Plus he has Cisco and Cortez fight for him, and I mean…come on. How could I not call him a Bizzaro Luke Cage?

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To quote Matt Striker: “It’s almost like Dario is the Beyonder from Secret Wars.”

Well HELL YES I’m here for some comic book references thrown into the mix. These performers are practically walking comic book characters to begin with, may as well drive the point home.

Seriously though. Keep it coming, the nerd in me giggles with glee each time.

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The debut of Mil Muertes and Catrina makes me giggle (not the nerd in me, just the general me).

Not that I don’t take them seriously or find them intimidating….but the outfits are so unexpected compared to what I’ve seen of them when I started watching during season 3. Which of course makes me view them just a little differently.

I mean, Mil just looks very much like a lovely feathered friend. Dare I say even Catrina seems less sinister and manipulative. To be frank, she gives me the impression of a very skilled, seasoned professional dancer.

Though I suppose I can say she dances her way over the graves of their opponents. Ha!

I’ll go home now.