So I didn’t burst into flames after last week’s report, nor did I break my TV. And even though I’m an excellent quitter I’ve decided to keep watching at least through the Road to WrestleMania. Since even if it sucks, at least stuff might happen.

First, a mea culpa. In my report last week, I was not paying close attention at the very beginning of the show and for whatever reason Tony Chimel’s voice did not ring a bell for me. He sounded very rusty to me and I still think it sounded awful, but I should have known who he was since I’ve been watching for 32 years. I tried to think of the last time I heard Chimel announce, and I am not 100% sure it would have happened since the years still were written with two zeroes in them.  So I offer my most sincere and heartfelt apologies for my momentary lapse of reason. Rest assured that any future appearances of Tony Chimel will be duly noted. To make amends, here is Tony Chimel being slapped repeatedly by Alicia Fox. Enjoy.

With that said, these are the top five ring announcers in fight sports that I’ve watched:

  1. Howard Finkel – The legend: The voice I associate with wrestling and important events. If Howard were the voice of anti-smoking PSA’s the smoking rate would drop 97%. I still use the “Howard Finkel” test that Scott Keith proposed for wrestler names. If you can imagine the Fink saying “and NEW World Wrestling Federation Champion ________” and it sounding right, then the name works. I’m looking at you Dolph Ziggler.
  2. Lenne Hardt: She would be number one except that I can’t imagine her in anything less than a stadium. Her voice is too powerful for anything smaller. She’d make your local indie barn explode. But my god listening to any old PRIDE show just makes me tingle. She was the harbinger of war between the gods. Nothing less epic would suit her.
  3. Gary Michael Cappetta: Another classic voice that sometimes gets overlooked because he was stuck in WCW during some bad years at the same time the Fink was riding high at WrestleMania. But his title change calls are only a hair less memorable than Finkel.
  4. Bruce Buffer: The better Buffer. That’s right I said it wanna fight about it?  A ring announcer for a sport that went from pariah to profit. A voice rough around the edges, not afraid to crack and strain to show the excitement he’s feeling about what’s going to happen. And the By God Before Your Very Eyes Buffer F’n 360 (youtube link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaroKxTYEis). Never forget.
  5. Jimmy Lennon, Jr.: I never really was that big on him, but I loved the fact that the play by play never failed to call him “The Classy Jimmy Lennon, Jr.” I don’t know if it was something in his contract or if he just was so ridiculously smooth, but either way he deserves props for that sort of nickname/descriptive. It’s right up there with people calling you “The Great.” This excludes giving yourself that nickname because screw you for making me sleepy Nate Marquardt.

If for some reason you have not watched Wrestle Kingdom 9, please do so. The Nakamura/Ibushi match was pretty damn close to perfect and worth the cost on its own. Also, you should buy the Voices of Wrestling NJPW eBook. It costs whatever you wish to pay and it is worth sending some cash the way of the guys who contributed to it. I am not one of these people, so in order to pay me the cash I obviously deserve you’ll need to tweet me at @spiffie6123 to make arrangements.

So when last we met and sat under the learnin’ tree for a spell I was a touch dismayed with the creative direction of WWE. Things were said, souls were cursed, Morlocks were invoked. None of it falls under the category of “things I now wish I hadn’t said.” But the mountain will not harken to me, so I must, as ever, go to the mountain on its own terms. WWE doesn’t give a deep fried damn about internal logic or storytelling or making any sense. It certainly doesn’t want viewers digging deeper to find subtext or nuance in their characters. It wants us to cheer for the people they want us to cheer for, boo the people we’re supposed to boo, and always have the question “how does John Cena fit into this?” on the tips of our tongues. They’ve essentially become the WCW Worldwide tapings at Disney World. Turn on the light that says “cheer” and everybody say Yay! Turn on the light that says “boo” and everybody say Boo! Turn on the light that says “John Cena is nice to cancer kids” and everybody say “Cena can’t turn heel and disappoint sick children.” Turn on the light that says “what if we didn’t have an evil boss running things?” and watch the McMahon family have a collective aneurysm.

The phrase “it is what it is” is oft-overused in our society. Many times what it is does not have to be the only thing it is or can be. But WWE…they really are the epitome of “it is what it is”. Sure, from time to time they might make a small change because the fans really get their dander up about something. But since September 22, 1997 the WWE has had exactly one story to tell. That story is the McMahons vs. the World. Sure sometimes it would be a surrogate like Vickie Guerrero or Eric Bischoff. Sometimes they would drum a GM/Commissioner/Guest host out of power for whatever reason or someone they didn’t like would sneak into the role for a spell. But since that night when Vince lay quivering on the mat at Madison Square Garden the company has had a single overarching premise. Vince McMahon and Family are right, you are wrong, and we will keep proving it by always coming back to run the show we write each week.

How do we go on, when there can be no victory? We live under a cruel dictator’s iron fist. Maybe one day there will be a revolution. Perhaps a peaceful change of guard, perhaps one day someone will offer Vince McMahon enough money to say the hell with it all. I doubt either of these though. Vince McMahon will stay in charge until he takes his very last breath. That may not happen during any of our lifetimes. Aubrey de Grey, British researcher specializing in aging, has said the first person to live to 1,000 years old has already been born. I believe this. Vince McMahon living to 1,000 would not at all surprise me. I expect it. He will promote WrestleMania 850 with holographic John Cena vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley the 36th. He cannot be stopped any more than my complaints will stop the snow that is falling outside my window.

So let’s just watch, try to have some fun with this awfulness and maybe find something of value in it.

Monday Night RAW
January 5, 2015
Corpus Christi, Texas

If you had “everyone will be forced to be out at the ring” in the pool you win.

Good of John Cena to decide that one guy’s well-being is worth more than everyone else in the company. The fact that everyone in the ring isn’t stomping his guts out is befuddling. But then nothing anyone does makes a damn bit of sense so why should I be surprised?

“We know what’s best for you.” The true, real, and enduring tagline of WWE.

It isn’t that I don’t enjoy the performances of HHH and Stephanie as delusional power hungry dictators. I spent many weeks praising them, especially Steph. But the story had ended.

The lack of heat in this segment is stunning. No one gives a damn. Even the five year olds that supposedly are the target audience.

I hate this, but the naming of tonight as “John Cena Appreciation Night” couldn’t help but make me laugh. If Yurple appears I will rescind every negative thing I said last week about these people.

So did Bad News Barrett turn heel when I wasn’t looking?

Wow, Roman Reigns vs. Big Show! Seth Rollins vs. Ryback! Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt! This set of matches is so fresh!

Dolph Ziggler vs. Bad News Barrett: So the first match by the evil Authority is putting a champion in a match against someone with a legitimate claim on the belt that the champ has? That kind of heel brilliance surely explains why they shat all over their stipulations and reset everything so that the last six weeks never happened!

Guess he turned heel when I wasn’t looking. I was kind of looking forward to a face run for Barrett. But that would have been different. Guess we better not do that. The question is “what does John Cena have to say about this?”

Nothing gets a champ over like yet again having him get his ass kicked and treated like someone anybody should respect.

Heh. Shades of the Austin vs. Dude Love match with the…fluid…stipulations. I do have a place in my heart for sleazy heel moves.

24 hours ago I watched a stadium full of people living and dying with every near fall of a 5 star match for a company’s Intercontinental Title. Tonight I’m watching an I-C champ who gets beaten up every week defending a belt that usually leads to its holder losing 300 non-title matches each month. Remember this the next time someone says WWE shouldn’t have gotten rid of the World Title. Any belt can be worth fighting over, but only if they make it seem worth fighting for. And make the people holding it not seem like incompetent geeks.

Speaking of which, Bad News Barrett is a five-time Intercontinental champ. And hasn’t that just made his career seem so impressive? Truly one of the greats to be remembered in the annals of history. Winner: Bad News Barrett

Roman Reigns and Renee Young, the pairing that launched a thousand fanfics.

Bray Wyatt and Dean Ambrose, the pairing that launched a thousand fanfics in my mind and in my column.

Ascension vs. Jobbers: I have to sit through JBL going to cartoonish lengths to justify heel actions the rest of the time. But here, where they’re trying to build up a new team, JBL goes into full burial mode. Makes perfect sense. After all, how will these guys learn to be humble if they’re not made into fools for saying the things they were told to say?

It seems like Vince and Kevin Dunn grow more vindictive as the years go by, stacking the deck against people merely for their own entertainment. Sure the Ascension is likely a dead in the cradle gimmick. But Vince, YOU called them up. YOU kept them employed for years and years, even rebooting the team when Kenneth (scary name, ooooooh!) was canned. Either YOU called them up having no idea who they were and soured on them the first time you saw them or YOU called them up purely to entertain yourself and your chucklehead yes-men. Which is it Vince? Are you incompetent or just a sociopath?

(spoiler: the answer is both.)

Roman Reigns vs. Big Show: Roman’s gear is looking especially indie-riffic tonight. Like it should be on some guy third from the top at the Eagles Club in Berwyn, Ill.

I know Show is huge and you have to see him and his enormous kitchen tool sized hands in person to really appreciate them, but nothing cools a guy down like an extended run against Show.

How did Big Show survive having the 900 pound stairs falling on his head? He should be dead right now.

This crowd is dead and so am I. I feel like the first segment deflated the crowd. Telling them that the whole thing is pointless since nothing ever really happens. People aren’t angry about the Authority coming back. They’re resigned to it. Much like Roman’s push. No one is all that happy about it, but you can’t stop the snow. Winner: Roman Reigns

Natalya vs. Nikki Bella: One day trying to reconcile the various timeframes of RAW and Total Divas is going to open up some significant rifts in time. I expect this will be the end result.

I know Paige isn’t perfect, either with her in-ring work or her character work, but to think that she’s only 22 is one of those things that makes me stop in my tracks even though I already know it. If she stays hungry and keeps improving, her ceiling is extremely high.

Another reference to Saraya Knight. If Saraya Knight ever appears on RAW I will say nothing negative about them for the entire show that week. If Saraya Knight appears as Yurple tonight and proceeds to kick John Cena in the nuts about 400 times I will never say anything negative about anything for the rest of my life. Winner: Natalya

Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan: I don’t have the heart to joke about Harper’s love of arts and crafts or Erick Rowan’s winemaking skills.

Given that they’ve made matches meaningless, what is the point of having matches that stack the deck? If you want to just beat the hell out of people you don’t like why even go through the charade of having a match with entrances and crooked referees and acting like the refs are going to count but can’t decide which one should count it? Just have 15 guys come out to the ring and beat the hell out of Rowan. The show exists solely for the entertainment of the Authority so why go through these motions? Either book people you don’t give a damn about and let them wrestle unencumbered or just beat up the people you don’t like.

The match sucked. It wasn’t a match. It was a vignette. A match implies some sort of simulated athletic activity. This was just a thing to let another thing happen. Winner: Who gives a damn? Harper gets a pin.

Kind of funny to see a time when John Cena appearing caused the entire crowd to cheer, not just the kids under 10.

Vince McMahon keeps working through his daddy issues by making a story out of any issues a worker has had with their father. Chris Jericho’s book tells the story of how it was Vince’s idea to center the Punk/Jericho feud around Punk’s dad being an alcoholic. Now Ambrose’s father has to be the center of a feud that could have been about literally anything else. I wonder if Vince’s desire to eradicate the word “wrestling” and remove the trappings of it isn’t as much about still trying to get out of his father’s shadow and dealing with a fear he could never be the wrestling promoter his father was. Sadly this means we get matches like Harper vs. Rowan.

Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt: The crowd hasn’t exactly been electric in this match but the support for Ambrose is the most sustained interest they’ve had so far tonight. Despite being in a weirdly executed feud where he keeps losing Ambrose is still the most over week-to-week face they have.

I have to be honest. I don’t think those tables with the red cross are standard issue in ambulances.

From the minute they announced the ambulance match I’ve just had this going through my head.

Watching Ambrose and Wyatt killing themselves for my entertainment lately is fun to watch but tinged with the sorrow that comes with pointless suffering. Dean is killing himself and getting the reactions that could and should lead to being atop the company. But he can’t be simply because of his lack of Cenaness. It’s not sad in the way that watching guys rolling in thumbtacks in front of 120 people at a VFW hall is sad. More like sad in the way a prospect who flames out before reaching the pros is sad. They’re doing everything they can, and in the case of Ambrose getting the des

And another loss for Ambrose. But who cares? As long as they keep presenting him as important and let him ramble he’ll be fine. But what the hell was the point of it? Either this feud keeps going on after what they just called the end of the journey, or Ambrose moves on and acts like nothing much happened and Bray moves on to whatever shiny object catches his attention next. They’ll probably mess with each other at the Rumble and move on like none of it ever happened.

And they’ll never know how perfect they could have been for each other. Or maybe they will, and that’s what will hurt them the most.  Winner: Bray Wyatt

Mizdow/Alicia Fox vs. Usos/Naomi: At least they’re keeping the show moving along at a brisk pace.

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this match every week for a month or two now. There’s not really much left to say.

Michael Cole just said that he thinks Jimmy Uso may have confused Naomi with Mizdow on the apron. In other news Jimmy Uso is now going to team with Fast Eddie in ROH. Winner: Alicia Mizdow

Kane/Seth Rollins vs. Ryback: Nice pop for Ryback upon entrance. Maybe that promo did connect with people.

Once again, what is the point of having a two on one match? Why not four on one with no DQ? Why not eight on one? Are they too incompetent to press their advantage? Do they just hate everyone including their allies? Why else would they put Rollins in a match where there is any chance at all of him getting hurt, slim as that may be? Rollins should be sitting in the back eating grapes and taunting Jimmy Jacobs by sending him pictures of his dressing room in WWE.

Seriously, Rollins is waiting for a tag, WHY? None of this makes any damn sense.

Rollins wins with curb stomps. Why Rollins winning matters is something I can’t understand. Why Rollins will have to likely fight in a remotely honest match at Rumble makes no sense. Wouldn’t it just be easier to strip Brock of the title, give it to Rollins, and never have him wrestle again?

They brought back evil geniuses who are incredibly stupid. Winners: Seth Rollins/Kane

New Day vs. Adam Rose: I wondered who might be under the masks. For a brief moment I wondered what would happen if it was Balor and Itami under them.

In a perfect world I will get to see Cesaro vs. Shibata at least once. I figure once this mini-push ends he can start planning for Wrestle Kingdom 10. Winner: Adam Rose

I kind of miss Monday Nitro sometimes. As bad as some of those shows were I would kill for Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko in hour one of the show. Not the three hour Nitro though. I still have nightmares about The Hour With No Wrestling.

Main Event: John Cena vs. Me: I assume there will be forcefully said “Jack” and “get one thing straight” by Cena at some point.  He will also likely say “shut it.”

Good to have the video reminder of how Cena could have been in the ring in time to save Edge without giving Rollins what he wanted.

Thanks for the definition lesson Steph. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Crowd is asleep for this. I just about am too.

I’m sure John Cena’s character is going to change dramatically as a result of this; he may move to a more green-oriented color pallette as we approach WrestleMania.

Glad to see these guys are okay with Cena causing them to be fired. I guess Rowan has the vineyards and that instructional DVD he’s been working on with Esteban. Not sure what’s going to happen to Ryback and Ziggler, though. They don’t seem nearly as diverse in their skillsets. Winner: Boredom

Taken for what it wants to be the show itself was fine. Things happened, evil bosses did evil boss things, some matches happened and John Cena was standing in the ring at the end of the show with his best impersonation of human emotion on his face. “Important” things took place tonight. Three top guys were fired, John Cena was put out in front of the crowd as the man who caused all of this to occur and the Rumble title match became a three way. I’m sure Vince feels like the show would have been perfect if these stupid Texan nerds would have been more excited, but screw those Von Erich loving jerks. They don’t know real sports entertainment!

Obviously this line of thought is completely delusional. This show was awful. Even the good parts become awful when you realize they’re pointless both in and out of universe. John Cena never has to truly account for his actions no matter who they hurt. It’s always someone else’s fault. Kane and Eve hurt Zack Ryder. Rollins was the jerk who made him bring back the Authority.

Going forward these reviews will be getting back into talking about more interesting things (to me at least) than Mizdow vs. Usos part 670. There’s no other way to do it. Dissecting the show is a waste of time for anyone who reads this. You’re all smart people who know the things that are wrong. I’m just the dude willing to write a bunch of stuff saying it on the internet. So let’s try to have fun with it. I’m in. Hope you will be too.

If you like this, please share it. If you have feedback please send it along. If you haven’t seen Wrestle Kingdom 9, please go watch Nakamura/Ibushi.