Tag Archives: batista

The Chair Shot Heard Around the World

shieldI like the Shield. It’s hard to dislike the Shield. They were given the ball and they ran with it and really did become the most over and arguably the best faction in the history of pro wrestling – and that’s all of pro wrestling. Their ring work speaks for itself, their promo work is fantastic. I, like most of you, am very high on the Shield. I can tell, however, from my interaction with some fans, that there are much bigger fans than me. I am OK with admitting that, especially now, because in the face of the chair shot heard around the world last night, I can look at this swerve more objectively than a die-hard fan and say: it makes very little sense.

Let’s start with the Shield’s turn to facedom. The Shield was somewhat involved with the Authority at the beginning of this year. We got our first taste of the Shield being fan favorites when they had their altercation with the Wyatt family. Stirring this pot a little more was Triple H trying to dissuade the Shield from pursuing this any further and Roman Reigns stepping up to him and saying, “with all due respect Hunter, we are not asking you.” Fast forward a few weeks, they came to Jerry Lawler’s aid against Kane and we ended up with a Kane & New Age Outlaws match at Wrestlemania (in which we saw the Shield destroy them). The following night on Wrestlemania, they came to Daniel Bryan’s aid and stood up against Triple H, Randy Orton, and Batista, making them white hot.

What would follow is a grueling two month feud including constant battles and beat downs on television in conjunction with brutal drag-em-out battles in the ring at two consecutive PPV events. These two factions hated each other and tried to completely destroy each other in order to win and to rid WWE of the other.

Just about 24 hours removed from another battle, in which the Shield was completely victorious and stood stronger than ever, why did Seth Rollins turn? Booking-wise, I can see an argument for it. The Shield has already done everything it could possibly do. You can add more accolades to their ledger, but after dominating Evolution, a faction of seasoned veterans, all with multiple championships between them (I believe they counted 31), all having headlined Wrestlemania(s) and worked with the best of the best, the Shield obliterated them and that’s the cherry on top of their work as a team. Show business mantra, you leave the audience wanting more. You quit while you’re ahead. It’s cliché, but it’s accurate. It’s time for Dean, Seth, and Roman to move onto bigger and better things.

Kayfabe-wise, however, this abandons all reason. 24 hours prior to Raw, Seth Rollins was diving off of a stage into Evolution and trying to wipe them out – as he was doing for months. When Raw started, Triple H had no idea Batista was going to quit. Some time between 8:15 and 10:50 PM, Triple H and Randy Orton somehow made Seth Rollins an offer? Maybe he came to them, but why would he? Was he tired of fighting and decided he’d be more valuable and make more money being part of Camp Triple H? It seems like a slender thread at best. They have a week to come up with something (more) creative. The pacing of it just seems very odd. After trying to almost kill each other, what could have changed his mind to (re)align with Triple H, especially after detaching from him in the first place to start this whole feud? If you were to win a war with someone – you wouldn’t offer to join them after proving their inferiority – as well you wouldn’t accept an offer to join them.

We touched on this topic of a possible Shield member betraying the others on last week’s Doing the Job. We arrived at the conclusion, however, that the only way a turn would make sense is if it stemmed from dissension from within. The example we offered was if one of the members were eliminated and the other two ended up winning – alla Owen Hart in Survivor Series 1993. He would then (of his own volition) turn on the Shield and be welcomed with open arms into Evolution. It was the only way that the story would make any real sense – juxtaposed to a full scale assault on the opposition for months, only to join them. The fact that the Shield clean swept them at Payback neutralizes that theory.

As a mark, of course I don’t want to lose the Shield. I wanted them go push on righting wrongs and triumphing over evil. As a fan of good story-telling, I don’t see a coherent way to convincingly explain this turn of events. The only story that makes any sense is that Seth Rollins approached Evolution when an opening presented itself – counting on his stock being high after taking Evolution down not once, but twice. That hearkens back to the question of why he would have left the protective wing of the Authority to begin with only a few months ago to begin with. While one might say, “it is one thing being part of the Authority, but a totally larger opportunity to be part of Evolution,” that might have been true once upon a time, but we just established the Shield is superior and leaving the winning team to join the losing team is a step down from where Rollins already is. On the Network’s Raw post show, they theorized that Triple H, perhaps, offered Rollins a seven-figure check and that he needs to do what is right for himself or his family… I’ll just leave that one there for reference, just in case that’s what they go with.

Even though story-wise it’s mind-boggling, execution-wise it was extremely compelling and will probably lead to quite a rating next week. I’m sure my co-hosts will have their opinions as well. How about you? Email us!

The Decoy Curtain

Batista flipping a fan off after the Royal Rumble

Photo Credit: @Da_Fonz94 on Twitter

The Royal Rumble left the entire WWE Universe up in arms, turning to the internet to express their disapproval for the event. Although it is very possible that this is just due to ignorance on the part of the WWE, I did leave myself room for one sparkling optimistic question: is the booking now a means of working the audience, as opposed to the execution on the air? The curtain was pulled back a long time ago. We know this, we were told this a lot during the attitude era. Wrestling is a show, not a competitive sport. The problem is, how do you really work a crowd when you have pulled back the curtain? Easy, you don’t pull back the curtain, you pull back a decoy curtain.

Devoted fans stopped watching wrestling for pure narrative a long time ago. It became fashionable to be a “smart fan,” and have some idea as to who is “over” and who has “heat.” If you’re reading this, you know all the insider terms already. The drama still exists, but the focus is no longer what happens within the narrative, but the policing of the writers and the decisions that they make.

Think about it, you have watched with bated breath many times in the last decade, not because you wanted the hero to overcome the villain, but because you thought the villain needed to win the present battle in order to make the hero eventually winning the war more fulfilling. When it didn’t happen, you were left scratching your head and wondering how the booking team missed such an obvious story-telling mechanic.

Bringing us to the present, Daniel Bryan is currently the most over guy in the company. He is universally beloved by smart fans and the mainstream audience – something that rarely happens. There is no shortage of support at every show he is on. Can the powers that be really be failing to see this? If you think about it – the booking (potentially) is genius. The internet was lit on fire after the 2014 Royal Rumble. Daniel Bryan was white-hot on social media, everyone was talking about the Royal Rumble. Yes, they were complaining, yes they were furious, but they were talking about a WWE event in droves, that is remarkably good for WWE. The most furious fans are also the most captivated and I would be willing to wager copious amounts of money that everyone is going to tune into the post-Rumble Raw under the guise of, “say it ain’t so.”

The only issue is that even the most patient WWE fan is beginning to get jittery about is: are they [WWE] compliant or negligent in this booking? Too many times since Summer Slam, I (and I am guessing many of you) have thought I knew where this story was going. With each digression I sought solace in thinking that this was merely the curved path with a great ending to an epic story. But as we have seen in the past, sometimes these path digressions lead the wrestler astray. Perhaps this is what WWE wants the fans to think, making Bryan’s eventual triumph that much sweeter. Unfortunately, we have to wait longer, with the potential payoff simply being that Dave Batista gets a main event title shot at Wrestlemania 30 (and wins). I’ll reserve my opinions of Batista mostly for the upcoming episode of Doing the Job this Tuesday, but suffice it to say – bad move. The fans made that as clear as possible during the payperview. He’s not the guy. He was barely the guy the better part of a decade ago and he certain is not the guy now.

What if Daniel Bryan not even being in the Rumble is a brilliant work? Mick Foley tweeting his disgust could just be part of the act. The fact that Daniel Bryan did not even appear in the Rumble match could be testament to this. Daniel Bryan tweeted: “Sorry guys, the machine wanted me nowhere near the Royal Rumble match. But I thank everyone for their support. YOU are the #YESMovement” Definitely has the markings of a very well-crafted kayfabe work. Maybe it is just wishful thinking on my part, but what would be better, If Daniel Bryan were eliminated from the Rumble (possibly by Batista) or that he was never even in it and now can legitimately gripe that this is the only reason for Batista’s victory? I like the latter more.

I am going to keep my head high for a little while longer. One on hand, the fans would have shaken the very foundation of the building if Daniel Bryan entered the Rumble match and WWE would have created another magic moment, but on the other hand, Daniel Bryan’s stock went up even more in the past 18 hours. The fans were not booing Batista (directly), they were booing the booking staff for booking Batista as the winner. Yes, some of the anger is directed at Batista for coming back in the first place and getting in the way, but we all know that Batista did not get to book himself the winner – that was the writers behind the scene. Batista is merely the frontman. A booking staff cannot really be a heel though, can they? Well, if they are playing the part of the heel, of course they can. If the booking is what the fans pay attention to, then that is where you work them, “behind the scenes.”