We’re going to try an experiment tonight. Going to watch live along with the wife to get a different perspective on Raw. I’m watching with 30 years of context, an encyclopedic knowledge of the product on screen and a solid grasp of the behind the scenes workings to the extent an outsider can possibly have. I’ve watched wrestling from around the world from stadiums to gyms. The wife hates John Cena and loves Hornswoggle. This is live as it happens so there will surely be swings and roundabouts in my thought process.

Very first thing I had to do was explain who all is in the authority. The group is less scary when they end up being “Schneider from One Day at a Time, Boris & Natasha, Sweaty Guy, International Mr. Leather 2014, and guy who should have stayed a fire demon.” Thanks hon for just murdering this angle for me. Though to be fair, it really was already in intensive care.

Tried to explain the life of Kane. This is a fruitless enterprise. I am not paid enough to even attempt that. I should have just shown the anger management skit where he tells his life story.

Steph and HHH going to the rich and powerful well for quick crowd heat. One of these weeks we’re going to have a discussion about the way that wrestling reveals a confusing interplay of populism and conservative ideals.

WCW bomb? Vince Russo’s gonna send out some angry tweets. Did you know his last week of Nitro was the most-watched program in TV history?

How the hell is John Cena a malcontent? Dude learns Mandarin just to help push the company. It’s not like you have to include non-canon entertainment in reading this. The company pushes the Cena as Make-a-Wish king every week, show his appearances at WWE publicity events all the time, have him be the face of their video game marketing.

Wife just asked the same question. I had no answer. Can anyone explain to me what the Authority’s problem with Cena is? Or what Cena’s problem with the Authority was before they randomly decided he needed to be destroyed?

Wife wondered why the sound guy plays all these songs for people who shouldn’t be there. I had to explain that its the work of wizards who use magic to just make people’s entrance themes begin to play when they arrive.

Careful there WWE. If you start asking people to have a memory longer than 3 months the whole world they’ve created could implode. First reminding us how evil Mr. McMahon was, then the WCW reference and now showing us footage from Ryback’s heel time when Cena was mocking him. I don’t know if I can handle this kind of thing.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Luke Harper: “Do they ever have a match without people not in the match getting involved?” Not very often my dear. Not very often indeed. Luke Harper owns the Luke Harper character. His eye movements are perfect. In my dream world Cena would have to turn to Bray Wyatt as the only one who could stop Harper. Also in my dream world they would pillage the indies/Japan, hire most of the SHIMMER roster and Dave Prazak, and turn Smackdown into an all women’s show. And I would watch it with the Lionel Richie clay head the blind lady makes in the “Hello” video on the mantle.

“Its all terrible.” Wife not sure which is worse, the awful storytelling, the lack of even pretending it’s a real sporting contest, or the ridiculous overselling by Ziggler. My vote goes to the storytelling, but then I have fond memories of Curt Hennig.

This match feels really disjointed. Everything is stop-start-stop-start. I understand they’re trying to sell Ziggler being hurt but it is a hard watch.

Harper with a title seems weird to me. Like he should sell it for a rabbit pot pie or a good whittling stick or something. Also Harper’s music blows. He’s a creepy bastard, his music should reflect that. Instead it’s generic rock riff, and sounds like all of the ex-Shield members’ music to boot.

“It’s a good thing they’re having all these replays because I forgot what just happened.” The best of part of this statement is whether sincere or sarcastic it still works. Winner: Luke Harper – new IC Champion

Ooooh, it’s John Cena’s poetry corner time! This week let’s imagine Cena getting long winded and slam poet-ish while reading “Love” by Beau Sia.

“Instead of making the product smarter and getting more viewers by showing the actual athleticism and talent of the wrestlers they’re just going for the lowest common denominator and somehow dumbing pro wrestling down even more.”

“It’s so overcomplicated that it makes it less accessible. I’m just so confused!”

“This team stuff reminds me of Twilight. And I hate Twilight.”

Who knew my wife was a smarky fan this whole time? If I didn’t like being married I would have her watch TNA just to finally see a person’s head actually explode.

Pretty sure Miz just lost an argument to a dwarf feline. The fact that Miz and Mizdow are obviously having fun doing this segment makes it that much more entertaining. I’m calling Grumpy Cat a top 10 Raw guest host.

Adam Rose vs. Tyson Kidd: Explaining that the bunny is stealing Adam Rose’s spotlight is making me reconsider many things in my life. I don’t watch Total Divas but isn’t there something about Tyson Kidd, Nattie, and a cat? Make sure Nattie doesn’t kidnap Grumpy Cat. Who am I kidding? That cat’s certainly got a better road crew than anyone in WWE. Is that a huge Ted Allen head behind the announcers? I hope it is. I love Chopped. With all the wacky character ideas that have been tried over the years no one has done gourmet chef. We’ve had plumbers and garbagemen and baseball players and gator wranglers and clowns and the Wrestling Beatle George Ringo. But never a chef. I feel like CHIKARA is missing an opportunity here.

“If he didn’t want to get hit on by the bunny maybe he should have used less eyeliner.” She has a point.

I would buy 20 subscriptions to WWE Network if Rhett Titus ended up in the bunny suit. Winner: Tyson Kidd Eternal Loser: Guy getting humped by bunny

Ambrose is the most genre savvy wrestler in many years. He’s like the anti-Sting. I hope Sting appears, Ambrose walks up to him and says “Hey Sting, let’s be friends so I can turn on you at a date and time to be determined” and Sting is totally good with this plan.

Wife was able to quickly pick up the Ambrose/Wyatt storyline. It made sense to her, and was the sort of thing that she would want to see where it goes. I know sometimes the Wyatt rambling can get wearying to those who watch every week. It is easy to ignore the work he does with the character each week because they can’t write him a damn climax to a storyline. In the Ambrose feud his promos have picked had a little faster cadence and a heightened sense of emotion. With Bryan and Cena it seemed like he was fighting them simply because they were there. The fact that Harper and Rowan are off on their own now leaves Wyatt in a place he hasn’t been in a long time. He’s alone. He’s a damaged soul looking for not a follower, but a kindred spirit. But Bray Wyatt does not know how to be someone’s friend. He’s too far gone for that. In his previous feuds I believed nothing Wyatt said because it seemed he didn’t believe it. His words and actions were part of a larger goal of domination and gaining power. This feud though I believe him. I believe Bray Wyatt loves Dean Ambrose, but Bray only knows how love someone once they’ve been broken down and rebuilt in his image. To rebuild Ambrose in his image would be to destroy Ambrose. And Wyatt knows this but he cannot help himself. His heart cannot escape his shattered mind. It’s like Romeo and Juliet with a swamp dwelling cult leader and a street punk with a condiment belt.

I don’t have any jokes for the fact Larry the Cable Guy is hosting Raw. The joke is really on me. And all of us. I feel like I do every year when the White Sox host Mullet Night. I don’t know why it is happening, I’m ashamed to be part of the same group of people who can embrace this idea, and think I should get new hobbies.

Ryback vs. Cesaro: This crowd is quite burned out on Ryback tonight it seems. Though they haven’t had much energy for anything so far. “Why is it always about someone taking control of the company? It would be like if the guy who runs the NFL decided the Bears get to play with 24 men on the field and each time they score it is worth 100 points.” I don’t even need to make the comment about WWE replaying Austin/McMahon for nearly 20 years now. I just want to see Roger Goodell tilt the field for the Bears that way. They’d still struggle to go 9-7, but it would be more fun to watch. Ryback looks so gassed he might fall over in a Flair Flop.

This is just incredibly sloppy. Not in the “hosses fighting and making it look like a real fight” way but in the “someone’s going to get their neck broken” way. For a guy who is supposed to be on the chopping block Cesaro is getting a ton of offense here. They brought up the idea of Cesaro joining Cena’s team and really it would do wonders for his credibility. Hence it won’t happen. For being pretty not good most of the way the ending 90 seconds or so were actually pretty damn awesome. The Swiss Death to Ryback got me excited and thinking it could be an upset. Winner: Ryback Loser: Rumors of Cesaro’s imminent firing

Rusev vs ???: I will give Lana credit. Her accent is more consistent than Kevin Costner as Robin Hood and makes more sense than Sean Connery’s in Highlander. Topless horse riding Putin is delightful. How have they not brought in a Putin impersonator at some point? Maybe they’re saving it for the run-up to Mania. Heath Slater? As Uncle Sam? Kurt Angle is too busy hanging out at JAPW shows to come back and do this thing properly? I have settle for Heath Slater as the least convincing American icon this side of the Dark Patriot?

??? would have put up a better fight. America goes down with barely a whimper. Welcome to Obama’s America. Something something Benghazi. #falseflag #blessed Winner: Rusev Loser: the american dream Winner: “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes because he wakes up every day knowing he’s Dusty Rhodes and gets to teach Prince Devitt how to drive.

Erick Rowan really was looking for Grumpy Cat these last few weeks? Is she going to be his new manager. Can they bring in an heir of Mathilda so they can feud? What in the hell is happening? The sheep mask-wearing psychobilly is obsessed with an internet meme. Might as well embrace it and have Tay Zonday singing the theme song for Kofi/Xavier/Big E. This whole damn show is running off the rails. That said I would watch the shit out of a movie with Grumpy Cat, Miz, Grumpy Cat 2, Sandow, and Rowan as the wacky comic relief.

Dear God they’re bringing up that Show was billed as Andre’s kid.

I’m saying this with hindsight having finished watching the show, but watching the various faces of Stephanie McMahon throughout the show was amazing. In the first segment she was trying to project bravado and confidence. Make it seem like the Authority’s victory is so inevitable that right-thinking people leave Cena’s team creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Projecting the kind of power that can allow something like Ryback’s actions at the end of the show last week to be water under the bridge so long as he doesn’t join with Cena. She’s trying to run out the clock, no need to go crazy here as long as people avoid Cena everything is fine for her. When Ziggler decided to stand up, he was destroyed as an example. She was brash, in control, and felt like nothing could stop her.

By the time Show came out for his whatever was going to happen here there was doubt creeping into Stephanie’s mind. But she had the perfect target in her sights, the one man whose absence would leave a giant-sized hole in Team Cena.

Big Show has always been a man prone to listening to the last person in his ear. The dozens of heel/face turns speak to him being a man strong of body but weak of will. As self-possessed as he is in so many ways, essentially being the same person acting the same way regardless of his alignment, Show is always caught in between. He truly seems to enjoy being a good guy who the fans can cheer for. He smiles a true and honest smile when he’s in a face role. But always lurking in the back of his mind is the question “is this my best?” He’s never had that dominant run as the baddest man in the industry. Is it because he’s just doggone nice? Stephanie has known him longer than anyone on the roster save Kane, an ally of hers. Surely she has learned the way the Big Show’s mind and heart work.

So she appeals to his pride. She builds him up rather than tearing him down, while still gently reminding him that he has really underachieved throughout his career. From the day he arrived with a false lineage he has been played the fool on so many occasions. A giant man with a gentle heart and a fear of being left behind by the tides of history. And she knows she is reeling him in. His rebellion is hushed to the point of being inaudible. Just one more push and he might teeter.

That’s when the Fella appears. He’s too damn Irish for any sort of reasoned discussion. He’s young and strong and ready to fight the world. No words, no matter how well reasoned, will pierce his burly mind. The fish is off the hook. The only thing left to do is to let the man who wants nothing but to fight square off against the man who is always fighting to be the man he so desires to be.

This is not the last we’ll see of Steph and HHH tonight.

Big Show vs. Sheamus: “The only way to create any dramatic tension with these arbitrary alliances is doing something like this. At least there’s something at stake.” My plan of having the wife say absurd things is rapidly falling apart. She feeding my over-analysis. And she’s right. God help me JBL is making complete sense during this match. Putting two pro wrestlers in a wrestling match with a shot at the World Title is somehow a punishment. Even if you assume that the Authority isn’t going to follow through on their promise they’re still being asked to wrestle each other. There’s no stipulation that demands they maim or injure each other. They just were told to wrestle. The thing they’re paid to do in order to entertain us all.

Wife just said the exact same damn thing.

I’m always entertained when they invoke a wrestler’s shoe size.

The announcing and production is reaching 1996 Nitro levels of ignoring everything possible to ignore the matches happening in the ring. Between the Cena cutaways in the Ryback match and the endless bickering about Survivor Series and its aftermath I really am feeling more rage than usual towards these three lumps of crap. “It looks like he’s squeezing a grapefruit!” – Wife on Rusev doing the accolade to Show. It really did.

They should have had Sheamus/Show vs. Henry/Rusev in a chicken fight.

The fact that the stooges attacked during the match does not invalidate my earlier thoughts about it not being a punishment. They could have pulled a fingerpoke of doom, ended the match, and walked to the back. They could have sat on the mat giving each other gentle headlocks, keeping an eye out for the likely sneak attack. Instead they did exactly what the Authority wanted because only Ambrose apparently has a functioning brain among the faces in this company. Winner: No one. DQ’s for everyone!

“the game looks as fake as real wrestling!” – the lady’s tongue is a knife I say.

Just saw Meltzer’s tweet asking if Cena was arrested and hence unable to help any of his friends. We have thought on the matter and decided Cena is the worst friend since Kramer.

After watching Cena try to spin being an asshole to Ryback all those times I decided he is actually the worst friend since Eddie Haskell. Or maybe Typhoid Mary. The fact that somehow he makes Ryback out to be the bad person for getting insulted repeatedly by Cena and not wanting to get into a fight with his bosses is just mind-blowing.

“no no no. Oh no. That’s not good.” And today the wife learns that Vince McMahon is awful at black people. A New Day is dawning, and it seems like just another day of Vince writing only the most limited characters for minorities.

Mizdow/Dust Brothers vs. Matadores/Usos: “There should be a match between Damien Mizdow and the Bunny. But the evil twin girl would probably just interrupt it.” That sums up WWE pretty well I would say. If they advertised that match, I would watch whatever show they aired it on. Highlight of the night for us is Mizdow taking the somersault bump and rolling out of the ring to share in Miz’s pain.

This was the point where the wife started asking very desperately how much longer the show had in it. Only the Method level commitment of Sandow to his role was keeping either of us involved by now.
Winners: Mizdust. And now I desperately want Sandow as the third Dust brother.

Grumpy Cat is going to be the mystery partner isn’t she? I always knew that cat had something up her sleeve.

Contract Signing for Survivor Series: The Authority is determined. They can’t lose. This must mean Parker Lewis is going to be joining their team.

Now we see the real faces of Stephanie and HHH. HHH is full of impotent rage. He had grown used to having absolute power, and in one evening all of that was upended. Even if his team wins on Sunday he has lost the air of invincibility. He is still just a son-in-law. Not even a blood son. At any time Vince or Linda or even Shane could come riding back into town and take his well laid plans and scatter them on the wind.

Along with plans, they can tear apart his legacy. And there is no one more concerned with their legacy than HHH. The need for legendary moments has been fueling him for seemingly a decade now. Every attempted epic with HBK, Nash, Austin, Lesnar, Punk, Undertaker have all been his attempts to put himself in the more rarified air of wrestling. His voice is straining as he tries to make clear that he’s doing this for us, not just for himself. In the pauses between his words you can hear him saying “KENTA, Devitt, Steen, Castagnoli, Moxley, Lee, Generico, Black. These were all men I held the door open for. When they are the foundation of Raw ten years from now you’ll have me to thank for this you ungrateful bastards.” But that would be too much to say. Instead he has to speak in vagueness. He is still given the seat farthest from the turkey at Thanksgiving. He is still a Levesque in a McMahon world. He will give his life to them and their company, but they can never give him their name.

Steph on the other hand has the name. And loves two men more than anything in the world. Vince McMahon was the entirety of her world until HHH entered her life. From storyline weddings to the true bliss of family and motherhood they have grown to be a unit. So inseparable that even kayfabe can no longer keep them apart. And at long last her father has put her in a position to have to choose between them. How can she renounce the man who helped give her life? The man who gave her a fortune, fame, responsibilities far beyond her years or her talents? The stepping stone from which she has achieved more than perhaps she could even have imagined? It is impossible. He is and always will be her Daddy, the one she loves so much. But he is outside of her now. He lives in another place. She is now with HHH, and they are in this together whether they like it or not. She is quiet, reassuring him that victory is her birthright to be claimed like Anduril and Palantir. They come close, touching, ready to face the storm. If the show ended here they’d be the two biggest heroes in the company.

But it’s always John Cena. Once Cena arrives on the scene he vacuums up all reality and all human emotion into himself to be spit out as broad comedy and vulgar caricature.

Cena makes lots of jokes and blah blah blah. Rowan, having had his heart grow three sizes that day due to getting Feline Cardiomyopathy from Grumpy Cat, emerging to team with Cena is an interesting development. Kind of wish they hadn’t immediately gone to the Rowan v. Harper well though. I really perk up when it seems they might prove me wrong about Cesaro. Not just because I would have loved to see him in that role, but it would have meant the most blindingly obvious swerve ever wasn’t about to happen. But alas, we get Ryback.

At least they brought Team Cena out at the end. I was afraid they were going to push that Cena’s team would not be revealed now until Survivor Series, which would have led to fantasy booking critical mass. I would have been explaining why Cena, Lesnar, Wyatt, Bryan, Cesaro was a lock to happen. It is better we are saved from this.

So this week we learned that my wife hates all the same things I do. And that Grumpy Cat should be the next Commissioner of Monday Night Raw.

That’s all folks.