Posts Tagged ‘Bray Wyatt’

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Extreme Rules 2017

June 10, 2017

WILPW

I arrived at the Royal Farms Arena around 5 pm. I had never been to a WWE show before, this was the first one after over 20 years of being a fan. Because of my inexperience, I was unaware of when the doors would actually open. I drastically overestimated how early that would be. Still, a line had already formed when I arrived and I walked to the end and leaned against the wall. Pretty soon, I was engaged in conversation with the band of misfits behind me in line. We made our predictions, talked about the state of the business, the past, and played entrance music on our phones. It is extremely rare that I get to talk to people who are knowledgeable about wrestling in person. Usually, it is only through Twitter.

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I was one of the first hundred people inside since I had gotten there so early. I snapped the above picture of the setup and then settled in with Twitter while I waited for the show to start.


Apollo Crews vs. Kallisto

We started with the one pre-show match. I have to admit that I have been bored by these two performers in the past because neither has received good pushes in a while. This new Titus Brand storyline has actually drawn more personality out of Crews and given Kallisto more purpose. Also, Titus O’Neill is really fun to watch live because he is so expressive. The match itself was a lot of fun. Both guys are fast and technically proficient and they have good chemistry. These two (former?) friends put on a great show with Titus getting embarrassed as usual. The crowd woke the crowd up pretty well.


The Miz w/ Maryse vs. Dean Ambrose

Then the main show started and right off the bat, the pyro scared the hell out of me but I recovered. We started with Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz. I really appreciate Mike Mizanin as a performer but I love hating The Miz even more. He has evolved as a wrestler and once again it showed in this match. Dean Ambrose is a perfect opponent for him as well. Miz was being a weasel the entire match and Ambrose was responding in just the right ways. I audibly cried out “No!” when Maryse slapped Miz. I didn’t want the match to end yet and not that way. The two false finishes were a great way to hide the real finale which kind of came out of nowhere but it was great.


Rich Swann and Sasha Banks vs. Noam Dar and Alicia Fox

Next, we had a match with my hometown hero, Rich Swann partnering with “The Boss” Sasha Banks against the insane pairing of Noam Dara and Alicia Fox. The match was a lot of fun and there were a lot of great moves and good laughs. I am not a huge fan of mixed tag matches in WWE because the flow is weird because the genders cannot mix. (Talk to Joey Ryan about intergender matches, please). This match actually went really well as they used those weird rules to their advantage. Watching Sasha Banks hit the double knees on Noam Dar on the outside was great. One of the highlights of the night for me was watching Swann beat the hometown curse and danced with Sasha after a fantastic win. Watching a happy Rich Swann jut makes me smile.


Bailey vs. Alexa Bliss

Bailey deserved better. I was so excited to see her entrance live and I was not disappointed. I got that warm, fuzzy feeling I usually get seeing her entrance. Unfortunately, the disappointment was not far behind. Bailey got in a flurry of offense and then it felt like a squash match in favor of Alexa Bliss after that. I love Alexa Bliss but I thought they would give the match more than they did. It was criminally short. After Bailey talked in a pre-match interview about studying the progenitors of extreme, I thought she would get to swing the kendo stick at least once. I thought she would have a brutal battle with Alexa ending with Alexa getting the victory. What they did fell flat for me and was not fair to Bailey (or Alexa for that matter).


The Hardy Boyz vs. Sheamus and Cesaro

I had never seen a steel cage match in person so I was excited to watch the Hardy Boyz face off against Sheamus and Cesaro. Their entrances were even more awesome live (though it was kind of funny to see Cesaro miss his mark during the blackout). These are two of my favorite tag teams in the WWE. Cesaro and Sheamus did not really work for me at first but now I really enjoy the team up. Cesaro has a way of melding well with whoever he is thrown together with. The action was back and forth with plenty of great chemistry. I shouted “Delete!” and chanted “Brother Nero” loudly along with the crowd so I hope WWE and the Hardys work together to move away from the stale Hardy Boyz gimmick. I stood up when Jeff jumped from the top of the cage. I was happy to see Sheamus and Cesaro win because that felt like the more interesting option.


Neville vs. Austin Aries

I was excited to watch the next match but I seemed to be in the minority. All of the energy seemed to be sucked out of the building. Maybe it was how long they took switching the ropes out unnecessarily. I thought it was a great match. There were so many great false finishes and they continued the story of Neville protesting too much while Aries never backed down. I really thought that A Double would pull out a victory but the finish was brutal and interesting.


Bray Wyatt vs. Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor vs. Roman Reigns

Finally, we got to the main event. Once again, the entrances were so much more amazing live (even without some of the camera tricks). I held up my cell phone to be one of Bray Wyatt’s fireflies and I got chills. I held up my arms in time with Finn Balor’s music. I even got to boo Roman Reigns even though I appreciate him as a performer. I felt like the match lived up to its potential. I was intrigued by the continued team up of Samoa Joe and Bray Wyatt. I was also glad to see Bray shine as bright as he did after continued mistreatment of his character. In the end, I hoped to get my wish to see Finn win but I am not mad at Samoa Joe being the one to face Lesnar next.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Kayfabe

November 13, 2015

WILPW

So two days ago one of my favorite sports entertainers, The Undertaker, appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and tombstoned a guy wearing a turkey costume. In a bubble, the skit was actually pretty funny. You can watch the video above for context but context doesn’t really do much for that sort of humor. In the interest of full disclosure, I will state that I have disliked Jimmy Fallon in the past because I felt he ruined Saturday Night Live while he was on it. I have since released my grudge but I still don’t really care for him but I respect that he is popular.

I can see why they chose Undertaker for something like this, seeing as we are coming up on Survivor Series. For those unaware, The Undertaker character made his debut during Surivivor Series 25 years ago in 1990. The guy must be close to retirement at this point as he only shows up for big payperview matches and those matches are farther and farther between. The Undertaker also has historically had some of the best pyro and has a history of showing up and beating up everybody just because.

Now, the above video is why I am a little upset at WWE for loaning out the character. Back in the day there was a more strict adherence to something called kayfabe. Kayfabe is a term in backstage lingo that evolved from the secret language of carny workers. The concept of kayfabe is that promoters, writers and performers create a world that the characters live in that has its own rules that are usually strictly followed. Kayfabe is used to enforce a code of acting both in and out of the ring that helps with the audience’s willing suspension of disbelief. A heel performer might even refuse your autograph request and insult or threaten you to keep up the illusion.

Let’s stick with The Undertaker as our example. The Undertaker started as a creepy individual who was brought in by Ted Dibiase. He felt no pain and locked people in coffins and was billed as a near unstoppable monster. With a height of 6′ 10″ and a dead-eyed expression on his face, it was easy to understand how crowds would be intimidated by him. Then the character was killed in an event that took pretty much every heel in the promotion and even then it was a close thing. He was instantly ressurected and since then he has been a supernatural entity. He’s basically a horror movie monster but strangely he’s spent much of his career as a babyface. I think it draws on the desire a lot of us have to root for the horror movie villain. He grants that desire by only hunting heel characters.

Let’s get back to my point, though, about the Wyatt Family taking on the Brothers of Destruction and the larger point of kayfabe. As I type this, there is currently a storyline running where Bray Wyatt is calling out the Undertaker and his brother Kane. I’m pretty sure I’ve discussed this before but Bray Wyatt is a backwoods cult leader with a vaguely defined Cthulu-like mythos. He and his family recently took out The Undertaker and abducted him to who knows where. Wyatt claimed to have consumed his soul and later demonstrated that he had control over Undertaker’s spooky supernatural powers. On Monday, November 9 the Undertaker (and Kane) returned to face down the Wyatts.

So what am I getting at? If the Eater of Worlds can’t keep the Undertaker down, how can Jimmy Fallon summon him on a whim for a comedy sketch? It’s actually not that big a deal these days but it raises a lot of questions when a character appears outside of their domain. How did Jimmy get the Undertaker to come? Why does Taker hate the guy in the suit? But, like I said it’s not a huge issue. The slight pin prick of annoyance did make me think about how much I love kayfabe though. It’s ridiculous, it’s strange but everyone plays along with the story and we get to immerse ourselves into a strange world that I enjoy.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Creepiness

May 22, 2014

WILPW

I have very fond memories of watching wrestling on Monday nights (and eventually Thursday nights) and being creeped the hell out by some of the more spooky denizens of sports entertainment.   I would have been on the edge of my seat if I had not been sitting on the floor.  Sure I thought wrestling was real for a bit when I first got into it but I quickly smartened up.  Still, like all the horror movies I loved, I could get sucked in and my heart would start pounding and I would lean in.  It was alright, because I knew the babyface (good guy) was always going to win.

I am only making a statement about the performers and clips I chose.  The performers are the ones that stuck out in my mind and the clips are frankly subject to what is on youtube.  I briefly worried that my lists so far are mostly comprised of WWE talent.  There is a reason for that.  WWE is what I grew up with so there’s something to be said about brand loyalty.  I watch ROH and TNA but the first’s production values aren’t good enough to allow for creepiness and TNA is mostly too cartoony to be anything but laughable.

I read a lot about creepy/scary WCW performers but I did not watch much WCW back in the day since the DVR had not been invented yet.  When I watch WCW now, I find myself so removed from it because I have read so many stories about the old days.  For instance, I hear that Vampiro was scary but I just don’t see it, especially after reading Chris Jericho’s first book.  I hear Kevin Sullivan was creepy but everything I read just sounds silly.  Anyway,  here are some examples of stuff that creeped or weirded me out.

Undertaker
Entrance Music from the Ministry Days

Hands down, when I was scared while watching Monday Night Raw, it was probably the Undertaker who was the culprit.  I mean, it’s enough that he can do that trick where you roll your eyes back and leave just the whites of your eyes showing.   Add onto that his habit of taking horrible punishment and then just sitting up like a vampire in a coffin and you start getting nervous.  He has come back from the dead on at least two occasions and slowly became a legendary, elemental force rather than a man.  He was especially creepy during the period where he took on satanic overtones and became more ruthless.  He gained the power to convert people into members of his “Ministry” and mind control is one of the things in fiction that scares me most.   Sure his mistique has faded heavily as he has aged but still, when the gong hits and the lights go out for his entrance, I get a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.

The Boogeyman

I fully admit to being creeped out and weirded out by The Boogeyman when he first showed up on Smackdown to terrorize people.  The way he would show up suddenly and stare and sing innocent songs in a very creepy way was actually legitimately creepy.  He looked and sounded unbalanced and seemed to have access to anywhere in the arenas that WWE visited.  He also ate worms and moved his body like a crazy person.   The only problem with the Boogeyman is that the spent a lot of money and time on promoting him and giving him a huge crazy entrance.  They did not actually train him to be that good in the ring.  Maybe his gimmick prevented him from really showing his stuff but he kind of went over like a fart in church.  Still, while it lasted, it was fun to see him preying on the heels on the roster and he was definitely memorable.

Bray Wyatt

Now, I am currently 31 years old and this guy still scares me a bit even almost a year after his debut.   See, Bray Wyatt is the leader of the Wyatt Family which is a backwoods cult with vaguely Cthulu leanings.  I mean, the guy calls himself “Bray Wyatt, Eater of Worlds” and claims to be more monster than man.  He speaks cryptically about changing the world but in order to change the world, he must first watch it burn.   He has two “sons” in Luke Harper and Eric Rowan who are both just as crazy as he is.  Luke Harper speaks the Wyatt gospel whenever he can with a glossy-eyed, adoring look on his face.  Eric Rowan wears a sheep mask and so far has only spoken one word: “Run.”.  They are beholden to a mysterious “Sister Abigail” and much of their story is still shrouded in mystery.   I find myself curious but also I don’t think I really want to know.

Samuel Shaw

Hey, a TNA guy.  The rest of the guys on this short list are all supernatural, spooky bad guys but that is not what Samuel Shaw is all about.  He is that guy you might have met who is a little too focused and maybe the words come out of his mouth at a different rythym.  The gimmick here seems to have a healthy dose of Dexter and then you throw in every crazy ex-boyfriend who was ever served a restraining order.  He is obsessed with Christy Hemme and stalked her for months.  He was not able to take no for an answer and pummeled anybody who so much as looked at her.   Who knows what he would have done had he caught her.   My mom always used to say that horror films like Cujo scared the crap out of her as a little girl because they were plausible.  Maybe that’s why Samuel Shaw is so creepy.


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