I wrote a bunch of words about Stephanie McMahon last week. I think they were mostly good. You should read them. All I asked for this year from Santa was to double my pageviews. My ego is like a Faberge Egg, and it is only cushioned by your love and attention.

I didn’t expect to be watching tonight. I was planning to be at the dentist to have a wisdom tooth removed. Sadly that was postponed so I have a much more painful task ahead.

Vince McMahon! Vince McMahon! Vince McMahon!

Vince is sure there’s one last drop of blood left in that stone. He just needs to squeeze a little bit harder and suddenly he’ll recreate 1998 damn it.

Even Vince is now commenting on how predictable the show is. Every segment tonight should start with Vince telling us everything that will happen, and in every case no one will be surprised by any of it.

Has WWE ever established how the music guy knows when Roman is appearing from the Concourse. It’s always been my belief that the music guy sits about 20 feet behind the curtain with a huge soundboard loaded with every person’s music/tron ready to go. That accounts for most of the times people come out with their music blaring. But with Reigns? Maybe he sends a text or something. Same way he gets security to the aisle he’s coming down.

I feel like this whole segment should be played in court one day as part of a trial on the independent contractor status of WWE wrestlers.

The privileged scion of wrestling royalty is not exactly the guy I would expect to be carrying the ball in a fight for the common man against the evil rich man.

I wanted to comment on the CM Punk chant but things took a turn for the racist when I wasn’t looking.

Vince’s momentary look of annoyance at being called geriatric was nice. His ego can’t stay fully submerged even in service of an evil scheme. Much like Roman has to get the mic up for the “officer” because Roman Reigns loves being a jerk to people.

This segment had a moment where it could have become very unlike previous “evil boss” angles. Instead, just as Vince McMahon was reveling in the decades of true evil he has perpetuated, earning a dollar for every penny he gave to his “independent contractors” while they broke their bodies to draw crowds to his shows, the script turned the page and all that remained was “McMahon family wackiness with cops.” I guess we’re supposed to just hate Vince for being a crotchety old rich guy with the same kind of vague racism as your uncle at the holidays.

I think WWE actually likes to set up plot possibilities they know would be exciting, and then abandon them just to show they’re in charge.

Seriously though, has there ever been a segment involving “cops” or “jail” that made any sense? Other than the Mountie going to jail of course. That whole thing was predicated on sound legal reasoning.

I wonder what Vince thinks about the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Loser: Jurisprudence

Kevin Owens vs. Neville

I like the video package before the match.

After all the things that have happened to Owens in these last six months apparently losing a Slammy vote is the thing that really irked him.

Thing I typed just before Owens appeared again. “This is a segment that needed to go to the Will Ferrell killing Chris Parnell with a trident level. Owens needed to appear after the commercial break and attack Neville again. Owens needs to attack him in the ambulance. Owens needs to show up at the hospital. Owens needs to pop up in the back of Neville’s rental car.”

Instead they did an excellent job of showing that Neville is not able to stand up for himself. Good for Dean Ambrose getting to be more important than someone I guess. He deserves that every couple months or so. Winner: Neville

Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch

Remember when these two had the VoW Match of the Month?

Becky going for the Mick Foley cheap pops. Sasha and crew pulling every cheap heat trick possible, including the mention of Pizza Rat, to keep from being a face in a building where she helped make history a few months ago. The disdain when Banks pulled out the Patriots hat, and the furiousness of Tamina’s snow hat twirling make me unable to do anything but love this.

In fact, Tamina as the third member of Team BAD has been kind of awesome. She doesn’t have the personality to be a huge star or the person to carry an angle. But she has just enough oddness and humor to be a great supporting player with a group like this. Sasha is a charisma machine, but Tamina is a great sidekick for outside the ring shenanigans.

That spot with the kind of sort of spear was just not a good thing. Everything feels a bit off. But they’re at least trying to make the match make sense. Becky keeps going back to the arm. Sasha is, in theory at least, making Becky’s energy and impulsiveness work against her.

The crossbody from the top to the outside was just the thing the match needed at that point.

Nice closing sequence that helped pull things up a bit, but that match had a lot of bowling shoe moments.

It wouldn’t be the worst thing for the Divas division to have the matches be simplified a bit. I don’t mean to make them the old hair pull spectacles. But right now Charlotte, Paige, Sasha, Becky, they’re all doing truncated versions of the NXT matches that got everyone excited. But that’s not what needs to be happening. The format of RAW, the larger and more indifferent audience, and shorter run time, and the shitty announcers require a distillation of their form.

The most successful characters on RAW are unique, and their entire presence reflects that. A John Cena match looks like a John Cena match. A Dean Ambrose match looks like a Dean Ambrose match. For now, divas matches look like divas matches. And those don’t look good right now.

Right now the women’s division is not a division. It is a diversion. WWE wants to have women on the show, and they’d like to catch a few of the fumes from the Ronda Rousey rocket ship to help drive their paddleboat. They know the nerds in their mom’s basements seem to like the women wrestling in NXT, and even though they hate those people, they do want to keep getting their money, so throw them a bone. So have a “revolution” and let the girls wrestle a couple extra minutes. Name drop Rousey and Holly Holm and Serena Williams and watch the bucks roll in. Time to go rewrite Stephanie’s segment to have another 5 chances for her to slap someone.

So obviously there are some issues that simply can’t be fixed and are just beyond the control of anyone. But unless the company is actively laying out the matches in a certain way, there is still some space for the wrestlers to make their characters their own. And that space has to be claimed by the wrestlers. Even if the endings they’re given are always shitty rollup finishes, there is still room to make the time between the bells unique.

To make that distinction clear the women need to start emphasizing something unique in-ring that can give their matches an identity. That crossbody by Becky felt like such a breath of fresh air. I feel like it might help if/when a few more women come up who have distinct styles emerge, to help differentiate the women who are already here. But that won’t matter unless the matches start looking different. To be a division, it has to be a group of unique people fighting, all in their own unique way. It can’t just be based on the fact that these people share a gender. So much is out of the control of the women involved. Someone who cares about them needs to help them make what they can control as distinctive and memorable as possible.

Or just bring up Asuka and have her kick everyone in the division into a puddle. That would also be memorable. Winner: Sasha Banks

A Jerry McDevitt reference! Totally makes this horrible angle worth it. But not really.

Kalisto vs. Kofi Kingston

This crowd is weird. It’s like every 20 seconds they forget what they were thinking about and start something different.

Let us celebrate Trombonemas!

New Day being upset about a Slammy is exactly what I do want to happen. Kevin Owens should not give a damn. New Day should give all the damns. They should be demanding recounts and following the path of Chris Jericho in DC trying to overturn Dean Malenko’s victory at Slamboree ‘98. Also, if you have the WWE network you should go watch that card if you haven’t seen it, just for the pop when Malenko unmasks in the cruiserweight battle royal. Roman Reigns would kill for a pop like Dean gets.

Kofi Kingston will fight your children! Big E will ROFL! Pitch pipes will be defective!

Is it illegal to pull a mask? You can’t pull a man down by his hair, but if a guy wears a mask with hair like fringe on it can you use that to bring a man to the mat?

I refuse to believe the words “dynamic velocity” have ever been uttered outside of a boardroom or overpriced leadership conference. I very much refuse to believe they were uttered by a luchador. Winner: Kalisto

Big E vs. Sin Cara

Sometimes you want the exact thing you know is going to happen to happen, and damn the predictability. When Xavier Woods started talking you knew he was going to end up saying ShinigamE was facing Sin Cara, but it didn’t matter because the road to getting there was a beautiful thing I never tire of New Day being disgusted by people and things.

Thanks to Xavier Woods for giving us a brief glimpse into what it is like to be an announcer with Vince McMahon in your ear.

Jesus tandem skydiving Christ that was a nasty fall by Sin Cara.

They must really need this segment to fill time, as Big E is so obviously anything that would hurt Cara’s shoulder it’s weird to watch. Kudos to him for gutting the match out, and I hope this isn’t his last match for a while. That mask is as cursed as the IC Title

Injuries always suck, yet in an odd way it gave the match more emotion than it otherwise would have had. I was more into that match than I would have ever guessed I would be for a match with Sin Cara.

Damn you Xavier Woods, you magnificent bastard. Winner: Big E

Miz TV Year in Review Spectacular

Miz, I think your scarf game is officially out of control. Seriously, that was almost certainly lifted off of an elephant dressed for Christmas.

“I think WWE actually likes to set up plot possibilities they know would be exciting, and then abandon them just to show they’re in charge.” – me, a few paragraphs ago. This also pertains to not giving me a full year in review by Miz. Couldn’t you go do a few more supersets there Big Guy?

Shame that Goldust will never be important enough to face Finn Balor in the full Demon getup.

Since I do mention this whenever Kane or Undertaker is around, I should mention that Dustin Rhodes has been kicking around for 25 years now as well.

Should I just stop typing now and wait for Ron Simmons to appear? Does Ryback realize that he has been demoted to the geek squad? Is there anyone better at holding together these sorts of segments than Miz?

Even the announcers know that Heath Slater is doomed.

I was terrified when Big Show came out. My mind immediately leapt to Big Show vs. Roman Reigns at the February PPV. Him entering the Rumble is a much less worrisome prospect. Loser: Me. I wanted to hear about Miz doing Bikram.

Ryback vs. Big Show

Lemmy Kilmister is dead. The most pure distillation of rock and roll madness has been claimed. Already children have been born into a world that will never again hear the sound of Lemmy singing “Ace of Spades” and they will be none the wiser that they live in a cruel universe that does not hear your meaningless wails. A tree will grow somewhere near a place where Lemmy once trod, and the wood of that tree will have gnarls unlike the rest of the forest and 10,000 years from now when a new mankind comes to reclaim the earth a trailblazer will make a house or an axe handle, or perhaps even a roughly hewn musical instrument. But he will never hear Lemmy singing “Ace of Spades” despite having conquered the very speed of light itself and leaping galaxies like an innocent child leaping over a puddle of raindrops falling on a quiet night. Once a man said history is a chronicle of replacement. His name has been replaced in my mind with a weather forecast, and a video of golden retriever puppies. This match will be replaced with another match. Another generation will tell their children how none will ever understand the magic of their fallen hero, their growling bard. So why wouldn’t Big Show just walk away and leave this match behind? Winner: Ryback

Ambrusos vs. Legionnaires

I do love the League’s titantron video. Properly dignified.

Can no one say W.W.E. tonight. Vince kept saying something like WUB, Sheamus said something that had a W in it. You work for the damn company, learn to enunciate. Promote the brand! Impart some dynamic velocity!

Dean Ambrose may be portrayed as a lunatic, but he’s the only person smart enough to hold someone from the side in a double team so he doesn’t get hit when the opponent ducks out of the way.

Will the same people who will point out the “boring” chants during the Sasha/Becky match point them out here in this match with some of the top guys in WWE?

This is the second match tonight where they’ve had to work around one of the participants being injured. Of course they actually booked the injured guy here knowing he can’t do anything. I wonder if the people writing the show have any contact at all with the people who manage the wrestlers. I assume that it took until July 2014 before they stopped writing segments for CM Punk.

The highly enthusiastic celebrations by the League evoke happy memories of La Resistance.

Owens is back! On a show where it often feels like everyone is just doing their part in the performance Kevin Owens is the angry god of vengeance. The only person who seems like he really hates everyone around him and desires to cause pain and suffering. Contrast this to the guy in orange who will be coming back later tonight. Winners: Legionnaires

John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio

I was wrong about Cena. He’s wearing green. With orange.

Glad to see that losing his US Championship and apparently being kicked into the Phantom Zone for two months doesn’t bother him one tiny bit.

And the Brooklyn crowd chants “USA” #ChicagoForeverNewYorkNever

Wife is in the other room, yet still some things get through the walls. Or, as she posted on Facebook “I’m sure one of the circles of hell has Stephanie McMahon on a platform screaming at poor souls. Not sure what awful sins they committed for such torture.”

Can you even imagine how incredibly insufferable and full of testicular metaphors a Roman Reigns vs. John Cena feud will be? I’m shuddering at the damn thought of it.

It doesn’t take very much to convince Alberto Del Rio that it is definitely duck season, not rabbit season.

Looked like Del Rio took that bump to the outside awkwardly. I don’t think the punching the ringside mats was selling the injury.

If John Cena was using a self-aware deconstruction of Del Rio’s masculinity in an attempt to leverage his archaic sense of manhood to fool him into a poor decision I would have said Cena talked him into it. But really, the pre-match promo was simply Cena throwing a tantrum and calling names until Del Rio happened to be dumb enough to give in to the giant manbaby.

Remember what I said about Ambrose standing to the side when holding someone? Rusev should have paid attention.

Welcome back John Cena. Wouldn’t want anyone not to have you repeatedly pin or submit the US champion and show that you can beat up the top heel faction in the company before being so kind as to take a 3-on-1 beating.

I’m surprised Vince isn’t in disguise in the crowd leading a “We Want Roman” chant.

At least Rusev was willing to die by spear in order to help Roman’s push.

I’m not sure I can handle a show with John Cena being John Cena and Roman Reigns being John Cena. That’s more John Cena than I have any desire for in my life. At least two more. Winner: LOLCENAWINS

Final Thoughts: Can you make a new John Cena while the old John Cena is still around? This is going to be the question facing WWE in the next few months. The downside is this means watching so much Cena it might make me lose my mind. Whole thing makes the dentist sound pleasant.