Mark for War

Mark For War: Royal Mess

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Mark for War BannerAnother Royal Rumble is in the books.

What a show — for better and for worse.

I think we can all agree that this PPV was a tale of two main events.

The First:

Lesnar vs. Cena vs. Rollins

ON FIRE THE WHOLE TIME!

First off, the sigh that JBL and Cole let out when Lesnar walked through the curtain set the tone for a big match-feel right off the bat. Cole saying something to the effect of, “Look at the shape that Lesnar’s in!” put us viewers on notice. We knew that Lesnar was ready to kill dem boys.

I love dthe first ten minutes of the match, which essentially was Lesnar dismantling two men at his leisure. There was no build to the beatdown. Lesnar executed his first German on Cena within the opening ten seconds of the match, which was really cool to see. WWE has booked Lesnar as a champion that doesn’t have to build to big moves. When that bell rings, it’s on. He also acts like he is above all WWE norms and rules, like when he took the TV off of the announcers’ table and smashed it for no reason. Great touch.

I was worried about this match turning in to a brawl, due to the fact that there was no DQ in the match, but no. They used the hardcore element like sprinkles on ice cream (a legit aggressive wrestling match).

Obviously, the spot of the match came when Rollins dove from to the top rope on to Lesnar on the announcers’ table. I was sort a disappointed that Rollins essentially took a full minute to get up to the top rope to jump off.  It makes Lesnar look weaker than he should be, since he laid dormant for minutes, and also completely telegraphs the move. Ironically enough (since they were in Philly for the event), ECW was the best at not telegraphing big hardcore spots. You’d be watching a match, suddenly realize that a dude was set up on a table for whatever reason, and before you had a chance to register what was happening, his opponent was already in the air coming down upon him (see match of the week below). I also don’t like the fact that Lesnar was not moving for about eight minutes after the elbow drop. Too long. I did, however, like the fact that Cole said, “We’ve been told Lesnar has aminimally broken rib.” Good touch to a good visual. I like the distinctness of the call. I’ll focus on commentary a little more later in this article. I think Lawler was okay on the call of this event. JBL was outstanding. Cole was untouchable.

Favorite line during this match:

(Cena put’s JJ Security up for an AA on his shoulders)

King: I think this security company’s about to be out of business.

JBL: Do they count as one person?

(Cena slams them)

Cole: AA to the unemployment line!

Back to the match:

Now, I’d argue that Lesnar was the MVP of this match. His dominance, power display, and the superhuman angle they’ve been playing up with him has been working out beyond-well.  He’s SUCH a good champion.

Ironically, I think Lesnar was the MVP when despite the fact that he was missing for the the strongest five-minute span of the match — when Cena and Rollins went at it. Rollins took his WWE career to another level with this match, that’s for darn sure. However, you’re fucking nuts if you don’t give John Cena huge credit for his work as well. Cena has seriously been one of the top three wrestlers on the roster since he debuted, and has never swayed from that position. He and Rollins going at it reminded me of Cena vs. Edge circa 2006, only with Cena actually being an even better wrestler than he was then.

As anyone could have predicted, we got the result of Brock Lesnar winning with a pin on Seth Rollins. We couldn’t have had Lesnar pin Cena again for the third time in recent memory. Also, this is a nice set-up to Rollins potentially cashing in Money in the Bank to pin, or get pinned again by Lesnar. And now Cena can gracefully get out of the championship title mix, for now. Actually, during the Royal Rumble after-show, we saw our first altercation between John Cena and Rusev, setting up an inevitable Wrestlemania 31 clash.

This match was a masterpiece.

It will no doubt be the match of the year for 2015.

The second:

Rumble Match

The Rumble match itself started out being well-planned and booked. Like, really well booked. I think it has a lot to do with a new crop of cerebral writers the WWE has been employing. You can tell these kids grew up watching The Sopranos and are thinking outside the box for interesting swerves and cosmic connections. Like R Truth teaming up with Bubba Ray Dudley for an apropos “Whats Up!” off the top rope. Outstanding idea.

I like Bray Wyatt making a statement early. What was interesting was that they were able to wrap a few story lines around him that came across super-well. We knew it would be interesting for him and Luke Harper to have a confrontation in some shape or form, which happened early.

By the way, how amazing was it when Bubba Ray Dudley and Luke Harper had a standoff and went at it for a two-minute stretch? JBL’s line of, “These might be the two least likely men I thought I’d see in a ring together tonight” nailed it. I love Eric Rowan’s presence as well, and wish he had stayed around longer. Cole kept repeating, “Rowan’s not in this match!” Wouldn’t it had been hilarious if he just went in there and fucked shit up for ten minutes, including eliminating a couple of people, while refs were trying to drag him out of the ring?

A PRICELESS Rumble moment occurred when Bray Wyatt met the Boogeyman. As Cole described it, “The Eater of Worlds vs. The Eater of Worms.” Amazing! The creep-out sesh they had amongst each other was fantastic. This was my high point of the Rumble match. It was cheesy and youthful, but still out of left field. Great dichotomy.

I also want to give props to all the announcers for calling an amazing PPV. Lawler had some lame jokes (what else is new?), but JBL is spot on. His one-liners were top notch! On DDP getting eliminated: “Yoga that.” (By the way, we were cheated out of an Orton/DDP confrontation of RKO vs. Diamond Cutter).

As for Michael Cole, he is seriously about five years away from cementing himself in JR territory. His calls are becoming AMAZING! He has a unique voice. It’s darker than JR’s. He’s like a child of the CNN broadcasts of the Golf War. He roots for the good guys, he respects the legacy, but at the end of the day is objective. He reminds me of what it would be like if Geraldo Rivera were a wrestling commentator.

Midway through the match, all hell broke loose. The unthinkable happened and Daniel Bryan was eliminated about thirty minutes too soon. The air was taken out of the balloon. Here’s the thing: the Royal Rumble has always had a telegraphed way about it. For example, when John Cena returned at the Royal Rumble in 2008 to win it, what were the odds he’d draw number thirty? The match is fixed and arranged for dramatic encounters, which seem somewhat random. For Bryan to get eliminated so early, it kind of contradicts what the Rumble’s about. To be clear, I had no problem with the idea of Bryan not winning. The dramatic undertone behind him losing so early was poor, in my opinion.

Our winner was Roman Reigns. Ironically, a dude who was SUPER over six months ago, but now for some reason is hated by everyone?

This is why I hate backstage wrestling promises that are seemingly made nine months to a year in advance. No one was sure if Daniel Bryan would have been back in time for ‘Mania this year. For the last six months we’ve been hearing that Reigns was the favorite to win it. Then Bryan comes back in to the mix. He’s super hot upon return. From there, any great wrestling fan starts visualizing Bryan vs. Lesnar at Mania. Lesnar is so destructive and unbeatable, while Bryan is the “Little Engine That Could,” with a crowd full of supporters.

No offense to Reigns, but that match was Bryan’s to win last night, and the crowd made him feel that. Now, there could always be some backdoor bullshit allowing Bryan to get back in the mix of the main event at Mania, like last year. I hope that doesn’t happen, though. The first time it happens it’s cute, second time it’s cheap.

As soon as Bryan was eliminated, I immediately became fixated with Rusev. In my mind (as visions of the prior match danced in my head), Rusev was the only guy I could see challenging Lesnar and having a shot at beating him at ‘Mania. He’s like a mini-Lesnar. His power and destructive qualities are similar to Brock’s, and he may actually be more insane. It would have been an interesting conflict.

Rusev disappeared at one moment, and my stoned friends and I said to each other, “Did we miss something? Oh, I guess Rusev was eliminated.” He was apparently hiding under the ring. A bunch of nonsense transpired where the Rock came out to help his cousin (seemingly teasing the Rock being in Reign’s corner at Mania) and interfered with the match, to some degree. Rusev comes in, gets eliminated, and that’s that.

I would have LOVED it if Rusev sneak-attacked Reigns, like any loyal Vladimir Putin supporter would obviously do, and pulled out the win. But alas, that didn’t happen.

Let me be clear on something: I am all for not getting my way in the end. But I like when my way actually gets to the end. If Reigns was the pick, so be it. But it would have been electric to see Bryan in the final three, at least. The WWE are starting to look a gift horse (the fans) in the mouth a little too much.

I’m clueless as to what WWE will do with Bryan at Mania (possibly Undertaker tagging with him?). Actually, I think the idea of adding a third competitor to the main event under triple threat rules is off the table at this point. After the Rumble’s championship triple threat main event, how can the WWE justify two triple threat matches to headline their two biggest PPVs in a row?

Love to hear your thoughts on the Rumble, the outcome, and what you see coming down the pike on the road to Wrestlemania.

Match of the Week: Super Crazy vs. Tajiri vs. Jerry Lynn, November to Remember, Nov 7, 1999, Buffalo, NY

After what I saw at the Rumble, I have three-ways on my mind. If someone were to ask me what my favorite three-way I’ve seen is, I’d probably say this one. These three dudes totally play off each other the whole time, and KILL it. Tajiri, whose nickname is actually “The King of the Threeway,” absolutely killed in any three-way match he was in during his ECW run. Add in Super Crazy and Jerry Lynn, arguably both in the their prime, you have this result. There’s an art to the three way dance, which is very present in this match. It’s three dudes playing off each other the whole time.  

That’s what makes what we saw on Sunday at the Rumble so special. It was almost like three separate matches were going on at the same time in one small space. A very odd, but magical, dynamic.

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