The roller coaster challenge ended, and a few of you were kind enough to donate. One of the donations came from fellow VoW writer, and #433 in this year’s PWI 500, Brandon Howard Thurston. With his donation came this request. “With my donation, I hereby commission from you a poem concerning the life and times of Vincent Kennedy McMahon, a minimum of 32 lines.” Ask and ye shall receive. During my time in the MFA mines I grew to enjoy strict forms such as the triolet, the villanelle, and as seen here, the sestina.

How does one sum up the life of Vincent Kennedy McMahon?
The unwanted child, the feckless youth, the fearless man.
A Titan who gave form to the grandest daddy of them all.
Like the Coliseum long before, a relic doomed to fall.
Walt Disney, visionary, genius, teller of stories, dream maker.
Sadist, accomplice, pervert, cheater, crinimal, life taker.

Amidst the rabble he defeated, each promoter to a man
was sure Vince’s plans to own the world would lead to his fall.
Verne and Jim and Bill and Stu lost stars to Vince the Taker
“You’ll be Superstars each one of you” promised Vince the Maker.
One by one old boys surrendered, til he nearly owned it all
for but one foe at last the name of wrestling was McMahon.

The universe craves balance, the rise requires the fall
so charges claimed that IcoPro was not the body maker.
The United States of America vs. Vincent K. McMahon
with due respect to Bart and Bean, the real Brawl for All.
Battle won, war lost, his golden hero an admitted steroid taker
Vince seemed an wounded lion on the ropes, a older tired man.

Lex and Bret and Shawn and Kev, each one let down their maker
These failed heroes from Vince’s lab, could he get it right at all?
From Texas via Georgia by way of Paul E. came a man
one day to be used in pithy quotes and called a Brass Ring Taker.
None could have seen that January, not even wise Mr. McMahon,
that before him stood the man who would cause Ted and Eric to fall.

Tanks rolled up and trucks rolled over while Hummers puzzled all
Yet vehicles paled before the men, Stone Cold, The Rock, and Taker.
New legends rose and watched on high, seeing other big boys fall
Good night Hogan! Good night Randy! Said victorious McMahon.
On all the screens he stood and called the names of every man
taunting all his fallen foes that they must meet their maker.

In war is wealth, in peace is not, thought an inert ticket taker
as the boys and men picked up and left, even young Shane McMahon.
“Sorry guys you’re just not cool” said every cultural taste maker
so Vince made his choice, he took his belt, and anointed the new man.
One by one he took his soldiers and ordered them to fall
then maybe things would turn out right if John Cena beat them all.

Now we come to judge this man, likely years before his maker.
A model of consistency, not rise nor fall could change this man at all.
Moment giver, career taker, a lucky sumbitch by the name of Vince McMahon.

I’m wiped out after that. Let’s watch the show.

WWE Monday Night Raw
September 28, 2015
First Niagara Center
Buffalo, New York

Give me the Bad News first Doc

The show begins with John Cena. I’m so happy I can’t contain myself.

“I wish the words on the back of Cena’s shirt were true.” – Mrs. Spiffie. I have married a wise woman. I too wish I could not see him.

The US Championship Open Challenge is back. Remember when we all wondered what young up and comer was going to take the belt from Cena and justify him going over everyone for months at a time? Then he lost the US title to the WWE champion and the WWE champ lost it back to him? That made tons of sense.

I hear Cena’s theme being played on trombone and I’m horrified. The last thing in the world that needs to happen is the best thing in the world being sucked into the vortex of Cena. Typical though, Cena finds a hot act and involves himself in it.

It just wouldn’t be a John Cena moment if he didn’t belittle them in the process. The King of the awful photoshop, the Master of the bad joke, he’s ready to tell them that it’s time to be serious.

Who the hell crapped in Cena’s cereal this morning? He’s US Champ, he’s beaten Seth Rollins repeatedly to show he’s better than the WWE Champ, what can have him so damn grumpy?

John Cena vs. Xavier Woods

Last week I spent a lot of words trying to reconcile watching John Cena matches with being able to care about them, and why that gave me so much trouble. I thought on it, and continuing down this road was not tenable. Cena wasn’t changing. I had to change the way I approached Cena.

Way back in the day, when dinosaurs used dial-up modems to access the internet, a man named Christopher Robin Zimmerman did reviews of wrestling shows. The thing that set him apart was the sheer level of detail. He would work in analysis, but he gave you the radio play by play of what was going on in the ring. You could piece together what happened, and see it in your mind, just reading his review. I am no CRZ. But I think his style gives me an answer on how to solve a problem like John Cena. Since John Cena matches exist seemingly only to be exhibitions of collaborative movement to create a story involving a simulated fight, an activity that is both emotionally empty and yet technically competent, why not just focus on the movement? So let’s pick this match up coming back from commercial.

Cena with the Blue Thunder Bomb, followed by the You Can’t See Me taunt and the five knuckle shuffle. Cena scoops up Woods for the AA but Woods slips out. Woods attacks the leg and gets a 2-count. Woods to his feet first and goes to the top rope where Cena meets him with a right hand. Cena goes to the second rope and puts Woods over his shoulders. Woods escapes, ducks a Cena crossbody and hits a leaping DDT from the second rope for two. Woods gyrating in the corner, somersaults onto Cena’s shoulders, is caught and dropped into a power bomb. Cena picks Woods up again on his shoulders, Woods escapes, lands two kicks, followed by a reverse suplex for 2. Woods stalks Cena, misses a sloppy springboard into Cena’s arms and is dropped into a flapjack for 2. Woods escapes an AA with a counter into an combination armbar/ jawjacker. Woods with a sliding DDT with Cena on his knees for 2. Cena walks away from a Woods senton dive, hits a clothesline, locks in Woods for the STF. The New Day interferes before Woods can tap. The Dudleyz run out to clear out New Day. Winner: LOLCENAWINS~!

Dudleyz/Cena vs. New Day

Back to normal. CRZ mode off.

Cena’s troll face is still the best troll face ever. If the stories told around him didn’t demand he was the protagonist he could be so damn fun. Snarky, asshole who knows he’s an asshole John Cena is appointment television. John Cena who needs to lecture everyone on how to be more like John Cena is not.

I’m going to make a gif of New Day stomping Cena and watch it whenever my mood needs lifting.

Enjoyed the sequence with Kofi sliding to pull Cena’s legs out from under him followed by Big E getting some insane height on the splash.

I like to think that D-Von knew exactly how the dodging of Big E would end, and just let Cena get trucked by Big E anyhow. The Dudleyz seem like they would not be John Cena fans. Public Enemy, now they would have totally hung out with Cena and spoke jive to each other. Mikey Whipwreck would be there looking terrified the whole time. Winners: NEW DAY~!

I would like someone to break down the intricacies of Kane’s contract situation. When he puts on the mask does he go back to being an independent contractor as opposed to an employee of the WWE? Do the two roles have any sort of legal interaction? Is it double dipping when he appears on the show in both roles?

None of this angle is a good thing to be happening in 2015, but damn if ole Glen isn’t doing his damnedest to make this work. Being the man who is well versed in conflict management is something to put on the resume.

Dean Ambrose doing sub-community theater line delivery is a tragedy on par with the Hindenburg. This segment was absolutely terrible. It felt as natural as having a play-doh cheeseburger for dinner. How the hell does this even happen? They could have just pointed the camera at Dean and given him props from Whose Line Is It Anyway and that interview would be 10 times better.

Big Show vs. Mark Henry

Mark Henry says he is close to retirement. Watching him get beaten up every week makes me think it isn’t close enough. There’s something sad about watching him be a JTTS.

I know Show is…well, he’s Big. But WWE has killed off his mystique so totally over the years that beating him isn’t special. We’ve seen so many people lift him and throw him and march around with him on their shoulders that being able to move him around is not a thing that makes jaws drop. So why spend a Brock Lesnar match on him? There’s no mystery as to whether or not Brock can lift him or suplex him and F5 him. There’s no immovable object to counter Brock’s irresistible force. There’s just a big guy who Brock can suplex. The match and the show have no greater meaning, so why not give people something different? Put Brock in with someone he’s never going to face otherwise. Hell, Brock vs. Sheamus would be a much cooler sounding match than this. Does anyone really think that having Brock beat Show is somehow going to heat up Taker/Brock III in any way at all? Because if they do they should be arrested for misappropriating oxygen. This whole thing is booty. Winner: Big Show

Miz TV

It is important, vitally so, to remind WWE fans that whether or not these women can wrestle they’re still catty jealous bitches who are only interested in being catty to each other.

Miz noting that he’s wearing an infinity scarf and dropping the 1D reference does not make up for the fact that he’s using every single stereotype possible in describing this angle.

Brie Bella’s pants seem to be skirting the line of decency. Daniel Bryan is going to be so unhappy.

So far in this segment I’ve heard “catty”, “jealousy”, “high school girls”, “hot mess”. The Revolution is alive and well?

The only suspense at this point is whether or not the Raw timeline will actually acknowledge the John Cena/Nikki Bella relationship as existing in this universe.

Last week I defended the Paige rant as being useful if it led to moving beyond the faction wars. Figured if Paige split off from PCB, maybe we’d get more movement in the coming weeks. The whole story could progress into being more than just gang warfare. I would like to apologize to the world. Nothing is ever going anywhere. They’ve murdered my enthusiasm. Somehow by the end of the segment…

Team PCB vs. Team Bella

I’m going full Mugatu at this point. I must be taking crazy pills. I’m not watching another trios tag match. I can’t be. How is this even life?

“The divas never seem to get along.” JBL pushing the narrative. Keep pushing the narrative.

It’s taken a couple of months but finally WWE has completely destroyed any crowd response. Go back and listen to the crowd the first night Charlotte and Becky and Sasha appeared. And listen to this room tonight. It’s night and day.

This whole thing just sucked. I so badly wish I had something good to say about any of this. Winners: The MRA Subreddit

WWE using Audioslave in the ad for WWE 2K16. As always they are right on top of the pop culture curve.

I work in human resources and I have to say I’m very skeptical that any of this is following corporate protocol.

“It’s your severed head!” The sheer enthusiasm of Kane delivering that line made me smile.

Prime Time Players vs. Luke Harper/B.Stro

I’ve missed the Millions of Dollars Dance.

Having the Wyatts in the tag division should be a good thing. And in time it could be a good thing. But right now Strowman is serving two masters. He is his own wrestler, but he’s also the unholy sidekick of Bray Wyatt. A tag team where one member needs to be invincible can be hard to book.

To wit, I didn’t see anything light on fire when Titus got the hot tag. That’s when you know something is wrong with the world.

The positive to the Wyatts remaining a tag team is being able to imagine a world where the Wyatts feud with New Day. I never realized how much I wanted to see this until right now, but at this point I want nothing else as much. Winners: Luke Harper/Braun Strowman

Neville vs. Stardust

A fresh and exciting Raw matchup.

And then Wade Barrett appeared. The amount of important people in this segment jumped from zero to zero.

Even JBL sounds forced when talking about Barrett’s royal position. Winner: Fans of Repetition

I’m trying with this show, but it’s not only far from good, it’s not even bad in ways that lend themselves to fun mockery or ranting. It’s just all so desultory and bloated and artificial and designed to make the viewer question their life choices.

This is NOT how HR Works

I used to have a roommate who was a flight attendant. Whenever we would watch something that had air travel involved she would point out whatever was happening that was not how it was really done on an airplane. There were moments when I felt like she was causing me to lose focus on the actual entertainment, but I could tell it kind of drove her a bit nuts watching that. I say this to you now because if I go off into a rant about HR handbooks I hope you’ll be as indulgent with me as I was with her. Because from the jump I can see this entire segment is going to make me a little twitchy.

How the hell is she (this random HR lady) supposed to make a performance evaluation in that short a time? And create a report that would be able to be filed in the employee record? She could only really have some scribbled notes on a pad.

There have been a few times where my annual review mentioned “having the soul of a demon.” Thankfully my teamwork and initiative were praised so everything worked out in the end. My ability to work independently was a big part of it too.

I didn’t think they ever would have worked with each other, but I’m still a bit sad that there are no photos of Tyler Black and Elijah Burke together.

Both of these men do deserve kudos for their impressive record keeping. One of the most important parts of filing any sort of complaint with HR is having adequate documentation.

Bad news lady! Seth doesn’t actually work for WWE. He’s just an independent contractor! I hope one day a wrestler uses sketches like this to argue in court that WWE works to convince the audience that the wrestlers are normal employees of the company.

Where the hell did the HR person go? She left the ring less than two minutes ago. Why is she not out here taking notes, especially since she said Seth should be evaluated. Jonathan Papelbon became a huge story just for a quick choke of a coworker. Seth Rollins is assaulting a fellow employee and nobody seems to be at all bothered by this. Talk about an unsafe work environment. Kane is going to have plenty of grounds to file an OSHA complaint.

They pulled the trigger too fast here. This is supposed to play out with Kane showing up an hour later as the demon, driving the ambulance down the ramp, and then tombstoning Rollins on the roof. I feel like I no longer even know these people.

Meanwhile the Authority are surely busy with more important matters. I guess if the HR department is so shoddy why should I expect any better out of the C-Suite?

Every person cheering as Kane picks up the WWE championship should be condemned to watch Kane vs. Undertaker from WWE Night of Champions 2010 on an endless loop. Winner: The HR Lady. Her job must be easy given the lack of management oversight

Bo Dallas vs. Ryback Randy Orton

I put in a name before Bo’s opponent was named. Let’s see if I’m right. If not I promise to strike out the incorrect name.

This was pretty much exactly what you would assume it would be. There’s not much else to say. I do get a minor kick out of exaggerated face Orton who acts like a complete goof and takes the piss out of it all. Winner: Randy Orton

Rusev vs. Kevin Owens

Please let this match actually happen.

Ah crap, back from commercial and Ryback is at ringside. I love Ryback as if he was my own overly muscled, positive thinking, Tinder using son, but I really don’t want this to end quickly and turn into shenanigans.

Hey Ryback, you really don’t get to mock someone’s cardio.

Dolph Ziggler is approaching Young Buck levels of superkickery. Where once his gimmick was walking around and shaking hands with everyone, now he likely just superkicks them and tries to steal their girlfriend away. Winner: Screw You WWE

Paul Heyman’s Talking. Shut up!

He called Big Show a blivet. This pleases me. This whole show really feels like six hours of shit crammed in a three hour program.

Paul’s trying. He’s really really REALLY trying to make it seem like Big Show is a dangerous man who could possibly harm Brock Lesnar.

I will say I enjoyed Show in this segment. He came out and acted like a grown up. Made clear he wasn’t going to harm Heyman. He’s out to counter all of Heyman’s spiel, speak up for himself, and try to play psychological games with his opponent. No acting like a giant angry manchild like Cena would. I still have absolutely no interest in seeing the match, but I appreciate the way they told the story tonight.

Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt

#MasculinitySoFragile that Roman Reigns needs to question if the family sees Bray as a man and call him a bitch because he seemingly has no other go-to comeback in an argument.

I know that main event matches are held to custom where the match has to go a certain length and have so many back and forth parts, but this is really an instance where the formula should be broken. Not just because of the usual third hour ennui, but there’s nothing to be gained by not having this be a fast sprint. But if you’re going to emphasize that the match is one on one with no one at ringside then both guys should be working hard to win quickly. Roman should want to take advantage of this chance, and Bray should not want to get into a war of attrition with a guy who took four F5s from Brock Lesnar.

The reaction to Reigns getting ready for the Superman Punch was one of the more negative ones he’s gotten in a good while. There’s always some sporadic booing, but this crowd was not feeling Roman’s moment tonight.

Crowd sounded like they were interested in other things as the match went on.

Wow. The finish didn’t involve interference. Sure it was a double countout, but at least it was a result.

This brawl has been a quality one. Bray using a tech guy as a weapon to launch into Roman was a great thing. The body attack through the railing looked and sounded painful.

Holy crap that spear by Reigns was incredible. This match may not have been much but the postmatch brawl was epic. Best closing to Raw that I can remember in a long long time. Just really wish it hadn’t taken so damn long to get there. Winner: Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt

That ending made them both seem important and worth seeing.

Final Thoughts: This show was not a good show. It wasn’t an atrocious show or a memorably ill conceived show. It was just an endless string of segments that weren’t compelling to watch. That ending brawl was a damn thing though, and should be recognized as such.

I will be reviewing Shine Wrestling’s iPPV later this week, so be sure to keep an eye out for that.