I haven't written anything here since last WrestleMania season. It's no secret my interest in wrestling has dwindled since I launched the site in 2009, but I usually come back for the Rumble - Extreme Rules stretch as it's when WWE kicks it into high gear. But after last night's Royal Rumble, I'm officially closing up shop with our final entry here at Kick-Out!! Wrestling.#CancelWWENetwork is still trending worldwide after last night's controversial finish, people are unhappy and it's not just because they dislike Roman Reigns. Honestly, I think most people actually like the guy, they just don't think he's WrestleMania main event worthy yet, which is a valid concern considering the guy has had one singles match on PPV in his entire WWE career. And it was against Randy Orton, so you know it wasn't anything special.A lot of folks are saying "well what did you expect? This has been obvious since July," which is true, but this reaction has been obvious since August. I've never seen a rise so forced, WWE was going to make this happen no matter what and there was nothing that was going to change their mind. It's kinda like how the Republican Party picks a nominee for president, "it's Mitt Romney's turn!" But unlike the GOP, WWE had other options: Bray Wyatt looked like a beast, Dean Ambrose is still red hot despite a string of underwhelming PPV main events, Dolph Ziggler stopped The Authority just two months ago, Rusev is in prime Yokozuna territory right now, and of course, Daniel Bryan.Bryan has a built-in story, he never lost the WWE Title and he returned just in time for the Rumble, how does he get eliminated unceremoniously after a couple minutes? That's just bad storytelling and you wouldn't stand for it on any other TV show.Other folks, some might call them "assholes" have been pulling out the mocking HHH gif from last year, "did somebody not get what they want?" to troll those who are miffed. Yes, somebody didn't get what they want, that somebody would be "everybody."And WWE knew this reaction would happen. Response to Roman has been tepid at best since his return from injury, he's getting a thin skin about it too, lashing out at fans in a radio interview last week with one of the weakest arguments ever, "if you've never been a wrestler you can't criticize me." Bullshit. I've never pitched a Major League Baseball game either, but I know when my team sucks.So knowing this, WWE trotted out The Rock to put his stamp of approval on his cousin and that went over great for about 2.5 seconds, then fans saw right through that cynical attempt and continued booing. Letting The Rock speak for Reigns isn't going to help either because it's not like The Rock has been gone that long, he's beaten John Cena and CM Punk, they're just going to want to see him face Lesnar instead.And WWE knowing this, doing it anyway and preparing for it, is why everyone is so angry. It's not really about Roman, it's about how WWE knew this is what their paying customers didn't want and still told them to shut up and like it. Don't get me wrong, I'm the first to say wrestling fans are an entitled bunch of reactionary, angry teenagers, but to pull a stunt like this two years in a row is a flat-out "fuck you" to your audience. It's trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, it's keeping an entire coaching staff and QB on payroll after a 1-15 season, it's so self-punishing, I wonder if Vince McMahon was auditioning for Anastasia Steele.So here we are again, another year with an unpopular Rumble winner heading into a disaster of a WrestleMania main event. Does WWE scramble to fix it like they did last year? It would actually make more sense than last year's Occupy Raw, all Bryan has to say is he never lost the title and deserves a rematch. Stranger things have happened, like wrestlers signing contracts meant for someone else, yet it's somehow legally binding, so it's certainly a possibility. But I kinda think WWE is really going to try to force this, I can't imagine Vince letting his WrestleMania season get hijacked two years in a row and this is our punishment for forcing his hand last year. I know that sounds petty, but I think the last three years or so have shown just how petty this company can be.And hey, #CancelWWENetwork might work, it might not, but either way, it's clear this company never learns, so I'm done wasting my time writing about it. I'm not going to swear off WWE forever, I might even keep my Network subscription for on demand access to the good memories, but I just can't devote this much time to it anymore. I've spent tens of thousands of dollars on WWE in my almost 30 years of watching, but it's clear our dollars and our voices don't matter, so why bother talking about it?And I know there are other options out there. New Japan is getting hot after their recent PPV, people love Lucha Underground, people have been on me to check out Chikara for years, and even NXT kicks ass under WWE's umbrella, but I'm sorry, I'm just a WWE guy. It'd be like telling me to watch The Yankees since The Reds disappoint me, WWE's my team, for better or worse. If I'm not into WWE, I'm just not into wrestling, period. I have other hobbies and interests and watching any other wrestling show would just bum me out about how good WWE could be.It's not like I expect the show to always be amazing, but I think it's safe to say I've always been a pretty positive fan - my first review here was a glowing one for WrestleMania 25. Yes, a glowing review of WrestleMania 25, so don't tell me I'm just some cynical "IWC fan." But WWE beat that optimism out of me after how horribly they bungled that dreaded walkout storyline in the fall of 2011 and they've never recovered. There have been glimpses of greatness and the door is always open to win me back, but at this point, I have to resign myself to the idea that it's only temporary.Thanks for reading for the last six years. Find me on Twitter sometime.
Extreme Rules 2014
Thou shalt not boo Paul Heyman.Extreme Rules has become a weird PPV. Years ago, the PPV after WrestleMania was Backlash, which made sense since it was often filled with rematches from the big show. But now, WWE kinda reboots after Mania, they've even started calling the Raw after Mania "Opening Day," so it doesn't make a lot of sense to have gimmick matches to start a lot of feuds. They should do Payback after WrestleMania, then save Extreme Rules for the matches that carry over into the next month, but I suppose they try to keep a little air between this and Money in the Bank.Let's start with the pre-show, El Torito vs. Hornswoggle in a "WeeLC" match has to be the most un-PC thing WWE has done in years, but goddamn it was funny. I'm a sucker for a good pun, so the match name alone was fantastic, but then they added in mini commentators, JB-Elf, Micro Cole and Jerry Smaller! Here's the kicker, they were better than the actual commentary team, they should've stuck around.The match itself was pretty fun too, Los Matadores and 3MB were bouncing like pinballs to keep the crowd into it, and Drew McIntyre's tope con hilo on a table was brutal. Unnecessary, but brutal. El Torito won with the Drop the Dime through a tiny table. Good times.Cesaro vs. RVD vs. Jack Swagger in a Three-Way Dance was the opening contest and as far as I know, it's the first time WWE has ever done an elimination Triple Threat? It was news to Michael Cole too, who totally botched the call when Swagger was eliminated... damn shame too because it was a cool spot with Cesaro hitting the Uber-Plex and RVD landing on Swagger with the Five Star.I feel bad for Swagger, he's better than every aspect of his character: he's better than that horrible singlet, horrible hair, stale gimmick, he can cut a pretty decent promo even though he can't talk... I dunno why he can't catch break though. I'd like to see him with a new tag partner, but I think the Zeb Colter stuff has run its course outside of the "We The People" chant.Cesaro vs. RVD was about what you'd expect, RVD was his usual sloppy self, but had the crowd wrapped around his little finger (or thumbs, I suppose) and Cesaro was beastly as always. The finish was pretty nasty too with Cesaro hitting The Neutralizer on a broken trash can, RVD looked like he might have been attending his bris on that one.They're doing just about everything right with Rusev, but haven't we seen this character a bajillion times in the last few years? I know evil dominating foreigner is nothing new, but we're following a pretty strict formula here, no? He's probably better in the ring than Kozlov, but he's not nearly as fun as Umaga... but Lana is a better hype man than Armando Estrada, so maybe we're onto something. Poor Xavier Woods though, here's a dude with a legit interesting story and he's getting thrown into the ring frame before the match even starts.Bad News Barrett vs. Big E took some time to get going and it kinda annoyed me that Big E was getting booed, but the crowd has really taken to BNB (for some unknown reason), so who am I to judge? They weren't being dickish about it, they just really wanted Barrett to win, and when you give people a reason to care, like they did with the IC Title tournament, it's hard not to cheer for the guy.I'm kind of like an abused animal when it comes to Barrett pushes though, I've been conditioned to bite when I see one because they never end well. They seem serious this time, even Michael Cole was selling it as "this one counts this time, for realzies, guy," but I'll wait and see.Kudos to Big E for that spear through the ropes though, NASTY stuff. Evolution vs. The Shield was a Match of the Year candidate, period. WWE has never put a huge focus on teams. Tag matches rarely headlined big shows, they have pretty much killed tag wrestling altogether. Stables typically don't last that long either and even when they do, their most successful ones still have an emphasis on the parts rather than the whole: DX was about HBK at the top and Hunter going after the Euro title, then Hunter in the IC Division and The Outlaws doing their thing. Even Evolution had their own things going on, but The Shield are different. They tried to stick to this formula at first, it's why Dean Ambrose is the US Champion, but they seem to have really figured out that these three guys are a trio, they are the sum of their parts, they are perhaps the best 3+-man group in WWE history.And when we were expecting them to continue following the same formula, we were all ready to crown Roman Reigns as the next big thing, but since the face turn, they're all the next big thing. Reigns is the prototypical WWE Superstar, no doubt about it, but Seth Rollins has cemented himself as a Jeff Hardy-esque star with none of his many downsides and Dean Ambrose is just a fucking nutcase, he's marvelous.Seriously, how crazy was Rollins suicide dive into the barricade last night? Then the dive off the balcony when they were brawling in the crowd? And Dean doing the 40-yard dash across the announce tables?! And Reigns Superman Punching Batista so hard, I expected to see an Elmer Fudd sized knot show up on Big Dave's big head!It's going to be near impossible to top Daniel Bryan's moment at WrestleMania, but I think this is hands down the leader for Match of the Year so far....In spite of Randy Orton being in it.John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt had a tough act to follow, but even if they didn't, the match still would've sucked. I dunno what happened between WrestleMania and now, but this was night and day from their match last month, this was bad. Really bad. Like, worst match Wyatt has ever had and worst Cena match since he was feuding with Big Johnny bad.The storytelling was inexcusable. So the whole point of making this match a cage match was to keep Harper & Rowan out, never mind the fact that has never worked since the cage match became a thing, but okay, I'm jiggy wit it. So if the point is to keep Harper & Rowan out and make Bray fight man-to-man, why the fuck does Cena keep trying to escape the cage?!If Cena believes in himself so much and think Wyatt is just a big talker who's not worth taking seriously, beat his ass and pin him or make him tap out. But no, Cena keeps trying to scale the cage or walk out the door (good guys never use the door) even though Harper and Rowan are right there to make it impossible, like that Fatal Four Way cage match in Day of Reckoning on Gamecube. I'm not opposed to the escaping the cage rule like a lot of folks are, it just didn't work for Cena in this particular match.So that alone totally killed the momentum of the match. And considering 99.9999% of it was Cena looking like a doofus, there wasn't much else going on. The ending was a little hokey with the creepy kid singing at John Cena, but I have to admit I got some chills when I first heard The Exorcist-esque voice distortion.I get what they're doing here, Bray's "message is spreading" and the Cenation is turning on John, but wrestling has natural storytelling limitations and I think we're about to hit them here. In a traditional television show, the Bray Wyatt character could literally be the Eater of Worlds, a threat to the very fabric of all our heroes. But in wrestling, his world eating is still sandwiched between a leprechaun rock star and fans going to get nachos. You can tell WWE has become more hands-on with Wyatt's stories, he was writing his own stuff early on, but in WWE logic, if it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing. The "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" bit was great, but now it's every segment he's in. Creepy kids? Awesome. But now we need creepy kids every time.What's the endgame here? In wrestling logic, this is a prime opportunity to create a new main event player, but traditional storytelling logic would have Cena vanquish Wyatt. And if Wyatt does continue to win and his message keeps "spreading," what does that mean? That's not a rhetorical question either, literally, what does his message spreading do to WWE as a whole?Terrible, terrible match veering into dangerous storytelling territory. Paige vs. Tamina was a really good match, but the crowd was pretty tapped out, although that's why they put the Divas match here. It's a shame too because Paige has put on at least two good matches a week since her debut, but the crowd is still expecting the Divas match to be the bathroom break. Impressed Paige could get Tamina in the Scorpion Cross Lock too.Kane vs. Daniel Bryan seems to be pretty divisive, judging from the social media response, but I loved it. Hey, if you've ever waxed nostalgic about wanting the Attitude Era back and still complained about that match, you probably didn't watch much of the Attitude Era. A late 90s-esque main event if there ever was one, a fun homage to Kane in his prime, and a great coming out party for Daniel Bryan, who proved he's not just "the wrestling guy," and can do goofy forklift spots with the best of them.The diving headbutt off the forklift into the ring was a tremendous visual (even if Bryan needs to stop doing the headbutt), the chokeslam through the announce table was great, and hey, they even busted out some fire to end the thing. It wasn't a "good wrestling match" in the traditional sense, but more importantly, it was fun. A lot of us are conditioned to Bryan matches being Citizen Kane, but it's okay if they're The Avengers, ya know? I like art, but sometimes I just wanna watch shit blow up. Aside from Cena/Wyatt, this was the best of the non-WM PPVs this year, which is saying something since 2014 has been really great so far. We're definitely entering the dull point of the year, but if this is dull for WWE these days, I'll take it. We're far, far away from the nightmare that was the summer of 2012.And another spotless night for the WWE Network. For $10 I got a great PPV that streamed flawlessly all night and then there's all the other stuff that comes with it. If they renegotiate Raw replays to air sooner than a month later, I might just be ready to cut cable altogether.
Monday Night Raw - 4/14/14
This show kinda sucked. Let's take a look at the headlines.5. John Cena open mic nightJohn Cena defeated Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania, repressing the monster inside himself and standing up for his values, but Bray almost had him and almost brought Cena over to the dark side. Makes perfect sense for the story to continue and it makes sense for Cena to have more confidence heading into the rematch, he knows he can beat Wyatt, he's done it before. So I didn't really have a huge problem with Cena going into his comedy bag of tricks and mocking the Wyatts a bit, if Wyatt would've responded by getting angry and kicking the bottom rope, as bad guys on the other end of a Cena mocking are wont to do, it would've flopped, but Bray totally no sold it and flipped it around on Cena.Bray's right, this is what Cena does, he makes jokes when a legitimate threat comes along, and he's excited for Cena's proposal of a steel cage match at Extreme Rules, despite the fact that it neutralizes (but not really) Harper & Rowan. This is what makes the Wyatt character interesting, you can beat him, you can mock him, but he doesn't care. He's not here to win matches or titles, he's here to play with your head, which kinda makes him the modern day Jake the Snake.4. The IC Title mattersI love a good wrestling tournament and putting one together to determine the new #1 contender for Big E's Intercontinental Title is exactly what the championship needs to matter again. Give people a reason to care and they will, and judging by the names in this tournament, it looks like the IC gold is about to reclaim its spot as the #2 title in the company now that the WHT is out of contention. Unfortunately, most of the matches in the first round just weren't very good. RVD looked a little rusty against Del Rio, Swagger vs. Sheamus was bowling shoe ugly and Barrett vs. Ziggler was nowhere near as good as people are claiming it was. The crowd played a big part in the matches never coming together, Birmingham was terrible last night, but the wrestlers weren't clicking either. And what the hell was Barrett doing trying to get the crowd to start a "Bad News" chant? The lone highlight of the tournament came in the match with the man I expect to win it...3. Cesaro vs. Mark HenryThis match was just a good ol' fashioned hoss fight. Cesaro looked like a beast when he hit Henry with The Neutralizer and Heyman sure did his damnedest to get some of that Streak heat onto Cesaro, but the crowd just doesn't want to boo the guy. If they're hellbent on making him a bad guy, he can't do the Big Swing, and there's something really amusing about a guy called "The King of Swing" who never does said swing. I want to see him tease it every match, then turn it into something like a spinning toe hold. 2. The Ultimate TributeI liked the tribute stuff to The Warrior, that video package they put together was nice, but absolutely heart-wrenching when they highlighted his daughters. It was a wrestling-heavy show with lots of vignettes of Warrior's best moments in WWE and I think that's the best way they could've paid tribute to him. Warrior Week on WWE Network is a nice touch too.1. Evolution reunites... uh oh.So Evolution reunited to thunderous apathy from the Birmingham crowd and took out The Shield after The Authority forced them to wrestle half the roster first. Yawn. We've seen the "handicap match vs. the world" nonsense before and it does nothing for anybody. But it looks like Triple H, Orton & Batista vs. The Shield is on tap for Extreme Rules, which is fine, but what about my War Games match? No, instead it looks like Daniel Bryan (who was off this week for his honeymoon) will be defending the WWE Title against a re-masked Kane. And with the massive steps forward WWE has taken in the last month, they're taking a huge leap backwards here, Kane is nowhere near on Daniel Bryan's level right now and it doesn't leave me optimistic for his reign. This is Punk 2012 all over again, getting saddled with glorified Raw main events on PPV while snoozers like Big Show vs. John Cena with Johnny Ace's job on the line headline. Granted, Evolution vs. The Shield is a little bigger, but the focus on the show is still on the abusive authority figure and not on the WWE Champion. Going back a few years, it's the same thing they did after WrestleMania 20 and what they constantly did to the World Heavyweight Champion even if his program was way hotter than the WWE Champ's.I hate to be so pessimistic after WWE knocked it out of the park last week, but we've all seen how bad the post-Mania hangover gets and history is not on their side here. Bryan working with Kane right now is like if Austin's first opponent after WrestleMania 14 was Vader. A fine match on paper, but by mid-98, Vader's heat had completely evaporated and a main event run just wouldn't have worked. Kane's time as a viable WWE Title contender ended around 2003, so this is a big step down for Bryan, the hottest act the company has had since Cena. Granted, Bryan could return next week and with the right crowd, they could make it a red hot feud, they have great chemistry together, but as it stands right now, it looks like WWE is sliding back toward their Royal Rumble mentality, which concerns me.Quick hits on the rest of Raw:Rybaxel looked great in their match against the Rhodes Bros, but what about the Rhodes Bros?!Paige vs. Alicia Fox was short, but good... Alicia has improved dramatically.Why are The Shield randomly Batista & Orton and costing The Usos a match? Talk about an injustice.This sentence took longer to read than it took to watch Rusev vs. Xavier Woods.Appreciated Sandow getting time to talk, hope it's a sign they plan on reinvesting in him.Nobody cares about Fandango, no matter who you put him with... dude is just creepy.Overall, not a good Raw at all. They can't all be last week, you can't give away the farm every Monday and you won't be blessed with a WrestleMania crowd in every town you roll into, but regressing into a pre-Bryan mentality when he takes a week off does not instill me with loads of confidence as we head into WWE's notoriously slow months. A big gimmicky 8-man tag (seriously, give me War Games) would've caught some eyes and I bet it would've made a lot of people plunk down $10 for the Network. Instead, we're getting business as usual, and people don't commit six months to business as usual.
- Apr 09, 2014 Ultimate Warrior dead at 54
- Apr 08, 2014 Monday Night Raw 4/7/14
- Apr 07, 2014 WrestleMania XXX
- Apr 06, 2014 WrestleMania XXX predictions
- Apr 03, 2014 John Cena and "I like the man, but hate the character"
- Apr 02, 2014 Top 30 WrestleMania Matches - Part 3
- Apr 01, 2014 Monday Night Raw - 3/31/14
- Mar 25, 2014 Monday Night Raw - 3/24/14
- Mar 21, 2014 Top 30 WrestleMania Matches - Part 2
- Mar 13, 2014 Top 30 WrestleMania Matches - Part 1
- Mar 11, 2014 WWE Raw - 3/10/14
- Mar 10, 2014 There is no #2
- Mar 04, 2014 WWE Raw - 3/3/14
- Mar 03, 2014 #MakeRawFun
- Mar 02, 2014 Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies trailer
- Feb 28, 2014 NXT ArRival
- Jan 26, 2014 My ideal WrestleMania XXX card
- Jan 14, 2014 Daniel Bryan is the best pure good guy in WWE since Bret Hart
- Jan 09, 2014 WWE Network