Raw is happening less than 30 minutes from where I sit, and I really gave only a brief thought to going. A thought quickly snuffed out. I worry that maybe I should step down and let someone more excited about watching this show take over, but then I think that no one in the world could be excited to watch this show. If you are excited at the thought of watching Raw every week, send your writing samples to the VoW staff.

Fellow Voices of Wrestling writer and Joshi expert, Kevin Wilson, is raising money for ALS in honor of his uncle. Also, he is offering some incredibly cool prizes for donating. I’m already clearing space on my shelf for the Kazuchika Okada action figure. All the info can be found at http://www.puroresucentral.com/ALSFundraiser.html.

No questions for Raw tonight. They don’t care what I think. Let’s watch the show.

WWE Monday Night Raw
July 6, 2015

Brock Lesnar Looks Friendly

The guy who keeps bringing the “Larry Horse is my Father” sign is definitely my guy. I would totally buy him lunch at T.B. Diddlers in Manteno.

Brock Lesnar guy is in the front now. Dude gets around.

Crowd still annoyed at Undertaker losing the streak.

HE SAID OUR TOWN’S NAME! YAYYYY!

I wish Paul Heyman introduced President Obama everytime he entered a room. Or at least for State of the Union. Imagine Bill Livingood being replaced by Heyman. “Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States.  BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRACK OBAMA!” Would liven things up significantly. Winner: WWE. They got through an opening segment with no CM Punk chants!

Why the hell didn’t they take actual shots of Kane in Hawaii? Or at least on a goddamned beach?

That said the J&J Road Trip graphic puts me in a forgiving mood.

Ryback vs. Big Show

I know why Miz is involved, but I don’t know why Miz needs to be involved. Without him this whole story makes sense. Both men would have very understandable and clearly stated motivations. Ryback is big and wants to beat the biggest guy. Big Show is the biggest guy and will suffer no challengers.

Miz cheerleading is fun. Even if it exposes the entire foolishness of these sorts of matches. I mean, why would either of these guys fight? But since they’re dumb enough to do so, it allows Miz, someone who has a vague knowledge of wrestling tropes, to take advantage of this illogical behavior.

“I was cheering for you!” Followed up by Miz declaring himself from Hollywood rather than Cleveland is quality.

I’m talking about Miz because this match is moving so slowly it’s beginning to make me feel like I’m watching through Google’s Deep Dreaming machine.

Miz is absolutely golden. I still would prefer a straight up Ryback/Show feud, but Miz is doing goddamned work in this. He is the most annoying man in the world, and everyone wants him to be destroyed by everyone else in the angle. The only thing Show and Ryback can agree is the need to murder Miz. He brings people together. Winner: Miz. Because, for tonight at least, he kind of is awesome

Seriously. They had comedic gold waiting for them with Kane on the beach, and they muffed it.

J&J are mocking Wrigley Field from their nice new car. I’m good with this. I’m spectacularly good with this.

Brie Bella vs. Paige

Mrs. Spiffie is certain Alicia Fox’s skin tone is getting lighter. Hopefully the site’s flagship podcast will investigate this.

Be sure to use #TotalDivas if you hate yourself so much you would watch that show. And use #365DaysofRaw if you want to point out my horrible decision making to keep watching this show for almost a full year now.

Brie wants to know where Paige’s friends are. So do the rest of us.

I’m unsure what “giving up” would entail for Paige. Would she quit WWE? Would she only wrestle non-Bellas? Would she spray tan? Someone needs to clarify this for me. Winner: BRIE MODE!

I hope no one notices all the caps I’m using to try and make it look like I’m paying attention to this show.

Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus

Oh good lord why?

I wouldn’t have taken a bet that a JBL chant would happen before a CM Punk chant.

And returning from break I hear the Punk chant happening.

“The eternal flame of Roman Reigns is burning bright.” Rare is the night when JBL isn’t the announcer annoying me the most. But Byron Saxton, tonight I loathe you most of all.

Crowd is now just booing both of them. I would say Roman doesn’t deserve it, but the spasms he is having when he gets excited just irk me.

I never knew that the count kept going through Cajun Cult Light Failures. Seems a bit unfair to me.

Have I mentioned that Chicago has an inexplicable love of Randy Orton? I’d say over the last decade or so the only person more over in this town was Punk. I have no idea why this is the case. I can’t explain the actions of many of my fellow Chicagoans. After all, many of them are Cubs fans. Winner: Sheamus

Daddy’s home! And he’s giving Seth some perhaps not great advice.

I know it’s not WWE, but the fact that the best built match in years was canceled bums me the hell out. I was ready to find an Irish pub and hang out with some crazy gingers and root for Conor McGregor.

So we’re still doing this Lana and Summer and Rusev and Dolph thing?

I don’t know how well this segment is going to go over here.

“We Want Lana!” I’m a little disappointed.

Rusev is one of our great modern poets. I want to do centos of Rusev speeches. Like hundreds of them. Tristan Tzara would have had 2 million simultaneous orgasms at the thought of playing with Rusev’s words.

“Don’t waste your precious words hot summer” is seriously a poem prompt I would have killed for back in workshop. In fact, I decided to put this out to some poets and like-minded folks and see what they could turn around in a matter of hours. Their names have been replaced by wrestlers they remind me of:

Welcome to Voices of Wrestling Poetry Workshop. Today’s prompt was “Don’t waste your precious words hot summer.” What did the class create for us?

Don’t waste your precious words, hot summer,
Nightfall brings no relief,
Your morning makes me wish for death.
Don’t waste your precious words, hot summer,
To my lungs, a thief,
Your silent, steamy breath.
-Dean Douglas

Don’t waste your precious words, hot summer
Save them for fairer days
I can’t hear you over the Air Conditioning
Thanks to Faraday
-Taz

Don’t waste your precious words, hot summer;
Quality is of little concern.
Feed me more,
I’ll throw a couple of minutes at this;
No rules. I know there’s more
MFAs,
Example people,
Dear poet friends.
If anyone can
Challenge
Making tacos now.
-Waylon Mercy

Don’t waste your precious words, hot summer
Your presence is felt in every drop of sweat
That falls from every dedicated runner
And from me each time I take a bloody step
-Kevin Owens

Don’t waste your precious words, hot summer, chants are lingering.
Bridges burned, while buckles turned, mats on backs will sting.
-Tommy Dreamer

Don’t be fooled. Today is warm. Tomorrow is warm. So easy to
waste the hot hours expecting that
your sultry hours are unending. Each hot hour is
precious and worth a load of frankincense. My
words are legacies of fear. I have seen the summer’s end. The last
hot hour of the season. The sunbeam freezing, crashing, shards of
summer tearing holes in our parkas.
-Porkchop Cash

Don’t waste your precious words, hot Summer,
We are beyond the point where they still have meaning.
And I, a captive in your Sun soaked embrace.
Don’t waste your precious words, hot Summer,
Simply hold on, as long as you can.
Tear me down, gladly I submit, to your heated pace.
Don’t waste your precious words, hot Summer,
For I won’t hear them, above the rush in my head.
High on your heat, drinking you in, as my pulse doth race.
And thirsty, so thirsty, my hot Summer,
To finish it together,
With the one last precious word you just said.
-Ryback

Don’t waste your precious words, hot summer in Nantucket
Save them up, carry them in this bucket
And when the burden you bear
Is more than your share
Pick out the ones that say, “Fuck it.”
-Colt Cabana

Don’t waste your precious words, hot summer.
September already draws near.
You chatter as if the days will always stretch into gentle twilight,
As if fireflies will sparkle through the brutal cold,
As if green fields will lift their humid offerings without fail.
Your words, precious as the mid-summers eve, clatter like bicycle bound youth along the street, bubble up like Rapids in the creek, roll gently like sweat down an iced tea glass.
Yet you grow hoarse
Your words grow brittle
The leaves of your volumes color
Red
Yellow
Orange
You are but a whisper
You stammer
Stagger
Then fall.
-Dusty Rhodes

Don’t waste your precious
Words hot summer nights are few
The midnight sun twists
My Mountains reach out to you
Close your mouth come taste my lips
-Athena

Don’t worry, if you were afraid something had changed while I discussed poetry, everything about this angle is miserable and offensive to anyone with the mental capacity of a mature 12 year old.

The upshot though of Rusev being apparently back is a good thing though.

I’m surprised how pliant the crowd was for this segment. It’s like Chicago quit being Bizarro World. Guess it’s all up to Canada now.

Rusev leading cheers with his battered crutch was awesome. Mrs. Spiffie is disappointed that Rusev didn’t beat Ziggler with the gurney board. She doesn’t like Ziggler. Winner: Everyone if this angle at least gets into the ring going forward.

Bo Dallas vs. Dean Ambrose

JBL going for the old reference (though still relevant in this case) but he gets the name wrong. Sam Sianis owned the goat. Not Billy Sianis. Though following up with George Halas is some quality old man referencing. George Halas was one of the founders of the NFL by the way. Now think about how long the NFL has been around.

Who would have thought that this match would have the crowd making noise. A THUNDEROUS “WE BOLIEVE!” chant echoing throughout the Allstate Arena.

I miss when Dean Ambrose was crazy instead of just being called crazy. I mean, I still enjoy Ambrose more than most anyone else on the program, but the most they have called him nuts the less insane he’s been. At this point he’s just a dude who throws

You could hear the readiness to hit the bars as JBL talked about how fun a town Chicago is. That was not scripted in his ear. Winner: Dean Ambrose

Not sure where J&J were off to. They seemed about ready to hit a Dress Barn or a DSW.

Wade Barrett vs. R-Truth

Someone really, really, really, really, really, really hates Wade Barrett.

Byron Saxton unable to make his joke happen. Poor guy. I had high hopes for him, but this role just does not work for him.

Also, someone in power really does not like Wade Barrett.

Harley Race would still beat the hell out of both of these guys.

I wonder what Wade Barrett did to make the power structure of WWE try to drive him so insane he quits the company.

Little Caesars is running an ad campaign based on the idea that ordering food online is too difficult. If this doesn’t work the next one will just be “crawl to your window and scream for pizza and we will come feed you like you’re a baby robin.”

Whose hand didn’t Wade Barrett shake? Did he have a sneezing fit near Vince McMahon? Ask why no one in creative ever has any long-term memory? Ask if he could blade in every single match? I just don’t get it. Winner: Wade Barrett. I guess. Can anyone really be a winner in this feud? Can anyone truly win in the endless cycle of futile combat that is WWE? Can anyone win when all of us must one day die?

How many times will Michael Hayes say he was shorted on a payoff or fined by Dusty?

Seth Rollins Will Do Anything You Tell Him

Whatever that is Seth Rollins is holding, it should be bigger. Much bigger.

Oh shit, they brought the car out with them. This thing is not going to survive two straight weeks. It can’t possibly live through this. That would be like a wedding with a trophy-shaped cake going undisturbed.

“Justin Bieber” chants? Has the crowd turned over that much in the last 16 months?

Giving Brock Lesnar an axe just seems reckless. Giving him two axes is overkill.

That poor car. Jamie just got that cool camo stripe on it!

The way the axe is bouncing around as it hits the car is kind of worrisome. I feel like it’s about to end up bouncing back and lodging into Brock’s skull.

Brock Lesnar: Ford Man.

Brock just jumped from the floor to the apron and then from the apron over the top rope into the ring. Brock Lesnar really is an absolute freak of nature. And now think about the fact that he was basically beaten out of UFC like a kid losing a fight on the playground to the school bully. Lesson learned here? UFC heavyweights are the most terrifying people in the world. Winner: Fabricio Werdum, UFC Heavyweight Champion

Lucha Dragons vs. New Day

Lucha Dragons always seem to follow the most serious segments of the show.

Titus O’Neil is going to keep these damn stooges in line and talking about the match.

Jim Ross is so happy right now hearing all this talk of where guys went to school.

Holy god that tie that Titus is wearing is possibly the best thing ever. That tie makes me want to be a better man. Winners: New Day

I honestly cannot think of any way they fill Cowboys Stadium unless Steve Austin is convinced to come back. Can you?

John Cena. John Cena. John Cena. All work and no play makes John Cena.

I kind of dig the Battleground graphics showing each guy’s signature move.

I’m already looking forward to Finn Balor’s gigantic full demon entrance at Wrestlemania 2017.

Kevin Owens does not come out to “Cult of Personality” which is just not right. This would have been the greatest heel move in history. But since he’s the de facto face I guess that would have been out of place.

Oh my. Cesaro has had enough of everyone’s shit. I hope he swings both of them and throws them farther than Lesnar threw that car door.

This is not a match that we needed to do two weeks in a row.

“I look like Mark Wahlberg ate Mark Wahlberg.” I would watch a cut of nothing but John Cena and/or LeBron James scenes from Trainwreck.

Every time Cesaro makes clear what a physical anomaly he is I wish that Cesaro vs. Lesnar was a thing that could actually be a thing.

Points to Saxton for trying to sell the idea of Cesaro watching film and game planning for Cena. That’s the sort of thing I actually do like an announcer to do.

That close up of Cena smiling before the aborted five knuckle shuffle is the trollingest troll face that could ever be trolled. That is the “screw you, I’m staying here until the very heat death of the universe. RAAAAPPPADOOOOO!”

A great thing about two superhumans against each other is that they can provide such a base for the other guy to try anything. The spin into the DDT counter by Cena was one of those things that works only because Cesaro is strong enough for Cena to climb up and down him like he doesn’t weigh a thing.

SAT Prep: Billy Kidman:powerbombs::John Cena:?

  1. “No Logo” by Naomi Wolf
  2. cross body blocks off the ropes
  3. adult humor
  4. jorts

It would be an interesting approach if Cena found that the new generation of opponents were immune to his usual finishing sequences. Kind of like how Okada found he needed to evolve beyond the Rainmaker after losing to Tanahashi, so could Cena explicitly have to confront the need to work doubly hard to keep up. We see bits of that in things like the springboard stunner or the Code Red.

I know this is stating the utterly obvious, but Cena and Cesaro have amazing chemistry. Like, Punk vs. Cena level chemistry.

The crowd bit completely on the Neutralizer. It says something about the respect the crowds have for Cesaro that even though there’s no logical reason to think Cesaro could win, they accept it as a plausible outcome.

And then Cena beats Cesaro and tosses Owens around like nothing. Lest any of you fools ever think things change, John Cena would like to remind you that he views time in geologic eras. He marks the passing of days by the movement of glaciers. A little more than four years ago in the same building that the show was in tonight CM Punk beat John Cena and ran out into the Chicago night with the title. Who’s still here? RVD beat John Cena in front of the most raucous crowd ever. Who’s still here? Daniel Bryan pinned John Cena clean for the belt. Who’s still here?

John Cena is having a ridiculously good year inside the ring. At this pace he would probably have a shot of winning Wrestler of the Year in the Observer Awards. It was wonderful watching that match between Cena and Cesaro. An absolute delight. If these were two random dudes in a gym or Eagles Club I would be walking on air as I left the building.

But this ends up just being depressing. This is every John Cena story ever, only in this case it is the US belt because he decided he wanted to take that belt from Rusev and then remembered he had a warehouse full of “The Champ is Here” shirts featuring the US belt from 10 years ago. And an unsold shirt is the saddest thing in John Cena’s world. You might have thought that would be sick children, but those are the best thing in John Cena’s world. Without them he might have had to evolve as a character in the last decade or more. But as long as everything revolves around John Cena helping Make a Wish kids there’s no discussion of anything ever changing at all. But we know this.

To tolerate John Cena it is necessary to approach his matches in a vacuum. All efforts in opposition to John Cena are so pointless and doomed to end in failure that he requires a second suspension of disbelief. Firstly as a fan we accept the agreement that the things which happen on this show exist within the rather unique paradigm of pro wrestling. We buy into the reality of the performance and even participate through our reactions. That agreement, which sometimes seems so tenuous, is the keystone to the continued existence of professional wrestling. It is ever evolving and differently stated with each stage and each audience. Without that agreement, it’s just a parody of fighting.

John Cena upsets that agreement. He is outside of the normal understanding of professional wrestling, particularly in the modern television era. Even the invincible hero champions of old would evince weakness for extended periods. Bruno Sammartino had his neck broken by Stan Hansen. Andre the Giant had his leg broken by Killer Khan. Junkyard Dog was blinded by the Freebirds. Hulk Hogan had his ribs broken by Earthquake (and King Kong Bundy). There would always be some sense of danger for the hero. The threat that maybe this time a force had emerged that would not just momentarily impede our protagonist, but damage the hero beyond repair.

This is never the case with John Cena. I cannot think of a single moment where John Cena has ever seemed to be in danger of having his essential nature altered. Where John Cena might come out of whatever situation he is facing as something other than the John Cena who was there at the start. Even on the rare occasions when he does suffer an injury it is treated as just an obstacle that he will climb over, usually in half the time of a normal person. When Brock Lesnar beat him to the edge of grim death he popped up, gave a wacky speech, and went on as if nothing ever happened. Cena is often compared to Superman, but this comparison is erroneous. Superman has a weakness that villains are happy to exploit. The only vulnerability that we’ve ever seen from Cena was the ridiculous events with Edge being threatened that led to the Authority being brought back. As effective as a heel threatening a Make-a-Wish kid with harm could be, I doubt WWE would ever go to that place, so really the worst you can do to Cena is threaten random Hall of Famers and hope you picked one that he has a soft spot for.

So what do you with a problem like John Cena? He is a book that ends with an instruction to turn to Page 1 to continue the story. His career is a Mad Lib, just substituting in different opponents, titles, and odds in need of overcoming. How to approach someone who is doing some really amazing work in the ring, but whose story is always one of triumph? It is a testament to both Cesaro and himself that two weeks in a row crowds have bought in unabashedly to the potential of a Cesaro win despite knowing that such a thing would violate the very laws of WWE nature. But these sorts of things cannot last. Already Kevin Owens seems much less of a threat to Cena than he did a month ago. Beating Cena clean, and then brutalizing him after their last match has had no visible impact on Cena. He’s still healthy enough to beat Cesaro on a weekly basis. Maybe something will happen and Owens will leave Battleground as US Champ. But it won’t change John Cena.

For me, I’m going with self-delusion as my way of dealing with Cena. Instead of the eternal dream of the Cena heel turn or character growth, I’m just going to pretend Cena is a guy who just arrived the week before. Since Cena never changes and never ends, it really isn’t that much of a stretch to say he never began. It’s like asking what was here before the universe was here. Nothing, because here didn’t exist. So it is with Cena Eternal.

Hell of a match, hell of a way to end the show. Sad at the ending, but hey, maybe next week Cesaro will beat that darn Cena! Winner: #LOLCENAWINS

That’s our show. I’ve got to run and pick up a car I bought on Craigslist!

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