The Iowa Caucuses are tonight. Sorry folks, but there’s no way I’m ignoring this for Raw. Tonight you get to share the ride with me as I flip between WWE RAW and the caucus coverage.
7:00 PM – Watching the CNN coverage of the caucuses. Jeff Zeleny is spinning every possible piece of data for Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, the panel is taking a lot of glee in the idea that young women are breaking against Clinton. The number of new Republicans looks to be good news for Donald Trump. For months I’ve said there’s no chance that Trump wins Iowa. I’m still not fully able to believe that he’s going to actually win in a caucus state, but the fact that it is so possible amazes me. The real surprise is that there are a lot of examples of Trump having a solid ground game. I assumed what would kill him in the end was not having an organization capable of generating turnout, but that looks like it isn’t the case. Not sure if he has anything built beyond Iowa, but if he does, this could be a very interesting election.
7:20 PM – Starting Raw on the DVR while waiting for voting to begin.
Paul Heyman Would Like to Tell You About Brock Lesnar
RAW opens with Brock Lesnar. Brock strikes me as a Rand Paul guy. Probably been influenced by hanging around Kane. Paul Heyman is almost certainly a Bernie Sanders supporter. I have no doubt these two avoid talking politics.
Brock is looking tremendously doofy tonight. His grin could best be described as “shit-eating.” He’s seemingly in a good mood most of the time when he’s bouncing around, doing the pee-pee dance, and just chilling out while Heyman rants.
It would be very interesting to see how the crowd would/does react to anything happening with Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose. We all know the crowd with go for Lesnar over Reigns, or Ambrose over Reigns. Unlike Roman, there is a connection between Ambrose and the crowd that doesn’t exist yet between Reigns and the fans.
Speaking of the devil, Dean is coming down because Dean has no sense of self-preservation. This is one of Dean’s most endearing qualities.
The honesty of Ambrose saying he really doesn’t want to fight Lesnar is perfect for his character. He knows damn well that Brock is a monster, and that he’s going to get his ass kicked. But that’s what it requires. And the crowd seems to appreciate that in the confrontation of Dean vs. Brock. I don’t know who Dean is supporting, but I bet it’s a longshot candidate.
Kalisto vs. Rusev
It’s a shame that Rusev has become so caught up in the backstage crap. He is so much better than this.
I have a bad feeling about the Fastlane rematch between Alberto Del Rio and Kalisto. I just keep waiting for the Kalisto push to be murdered and cast off into the Zack Ryder scrap heap of history. Also I totally see Del Rio voting for Trump.
Del Rio is doing a much better job than I anticipated of selling the rematch. It makes sense that Del Rio was overly cocky in his matches against Kalisto. He knows that it is his failing, but because he is such an egomaniac he slips right back into that mindset when talking about their rematch and the chances he could lose again.
Rusev is murdering Kalisto. Between the plancha into the superkick and then the suplex toss I can’t hate anything about Rusev just being a big Bulgarian hoss.
One thing about Rusev, he is awful at taking ranas from Kalisto. Every one in this match looked like ass. Also, Rusev wouldn’t vote for anyone running. They are all too soft and weak for his taste. This match was full of hard striking. I feel like that’s missing in a lot of matches, especially in the women’s division. Kalisto looked like he was hitting Rusev hard as often as possible, and that made his offense seem plausible against someone so much bigger. And Rusev’s strikes all looked like they were going knock Kalisto into next week. For the most part this match felt like a fight, with each guy using their strengths to their advantage and trying to make their opponent hurt. Winner: Kalisto Rating: ***
Stephanie McMahon is such a Jeb Bush voter. Roman seems like he would make a very milquetoast vote. Maybe Hillary, maybe John Kasich.
Ooooh, the intrigue and drama. It would be so WWE though to turn Ambrose at this point. If they get rid of every single face who people could cheer for over Reigns, then they have to like him, right?
Which close person to Brie Bella will return first, her sister or her husband? Trick question. The answer is John Cena. John Cena has never actually heard of any of the candidates because they have nothing to do with weight lifting or Make a Wish kids.
7:50 PM – The arrival of the Usos is enough to make me decide to flip back to CNN for a while. Thankfully I stuck around long enough to hear Lillian Garcia call them a Grammy winning tag team.
So far Marco Rubio is getting all the credit for running what looks like a closeish third. Curious what the numbers will look like when the more rural parts of Iowa come in. Rubio was always going to have his best numbers in urban areas like the Des Moines area. But if late deciders
On the Democratic side it is a funny thing how a few percentage points can make a difference. The race between Clinton and Sanders is obviously, in this state, almost 50/50. But if Sanders slips over the 50% mark his entire campaign gains a mark of legitimacy. On the other hand, if only 48% of the delegates go for Sanders, his campaign is essentially over before any other states vote. One stat that could have some impact on the reporting is if raw vote estimates get leaked out. But unless those numbers showed something very different for Sanders than the delegate count, it seems likely his New Hampshire support falls apart.
Biggest shock of the night: Martin O’Malley got on the board. I can’t believe there’s a room where he reached 15% of the vote. Never mind, he’s back to 0%.
8:10PM – Okay, back to Raw. Time to let some votes come in before doing any more guessing at what I’m seeing.
The Usos vs. Curtis Axel/Heath Slater
The best family is the family you choose. Speak the truth Red Dragon.
The tightest group of “good brothers” in the WWE. Shots fired at the Bullet Club.
It is important that at all times we remember that Byron Saxton is a goober, and nothing he says should be taken seriously. Even though he gets to talk a lot over the three hours. We should just ignore him. Makes perfect sense if you just think like Vince McMahon.
I’m not sure what Curtis Axel was trying to do when he jumped off the top rope. Best I can tell it was “get superkicked.” Not the best plan. Winners: Usos
Miz TV with A.J. Styles
I’ve almost certainly lost my mind with this show, but I think a Miz/AJ match could be a fun watch.
It’s going to really be a city-by-city thing for AJ. Depending on the town he’s going to either be over like rover, or he’s going to be greeted by a polite pop. If he’s still only getting a star reaction in smart cities 4-6 months from now, there could be some problems for him.
Miz talking for AJ, while intended to be heelish, is probably the best thing that can happen to him. Because when AJ talks things often go south quickly.
Ouch. The crowd seems to have forgotten Daniel Bryan, or just stopped caring.
The work Miz just did in that segment deserves all the respect. He builds up Styles, gives him credibility, then links him to Daniel Bryan, then goes heel and gets the crowd hotter than it has been all night, and gets that heat to AJ for beating him up. Miz is on a roll lately, but no one will notice it.
Brie Bella vs. Charlotte
Nice callback by Charlotte to Nikki, who used to channel Big Poppa Pump and drop the in-ring pushups.
I have to inform JBL that top flight European football is too mainstream in the US for him to drop Ronaldo and Zidane references as his Obscure Eurosport Reference. Premier League and La Liga are way too well known now. Maybe Bundesliga or Serie A could work.
For a moment I was surprised when Brie Bella won. But then I remembered that rarely are matches involving a champion actually for the champion’s belt. Winner: Brie Bella
8:40 PM – The prospect of Erick Rowan vs Big Show is all the motivation I need in order to turn back to CNN. Right now the Trump campaign has to be apoplectic at how poorly they’re doing. If Trump finished third his campaign ends tonight for all practical purposes. Even a distant second pretty much ends his campaign. Which would be hilarious if after six months of sturm und drang, we end up with basically a repeat of 2012 for the GOP. The establishment candidate, Marco Rubio as this year’s Mitt Romney, vs. the hard conservative candidate, Ted Cruz standing in for Rick Santorum, with possibly a loud and angry hanger-on in Donald Trump playing the Newt Gingrich role.
It’s very easy to say that you will vote for Donald Trump when a survey company calls you or you are asked online. It might even be easier to do so when you’re standing in a curtained voting booth, where no one will ever see what you chose. But it might be terrible luck for Trump that Iowa, a caucus state, is the first voter test. To have to stand up in front of your friends, your neighbors, the people you see at church or at Little League games, and say after a year of being inundated by campaigns and information, you have decided that the best person to be the next President of the United States is Donald J. Trump. That’s not as easy Certainly a lot of people are able to do it. But the question has to be asked, how many people felt a tug of shame or regret, at the last moment. It doesn’t take many people to feel it. Just enough to make someone think that maybe voting for a sitting U.S. Senator makes a bit more sense.
8:55 PM – Having to cover this match makes me feel like someone who gave his life savings to the Martin O’Malley campaign.
Erick Rowan vs. Big Show
The crowd is chanting for Big Show. I don’t like this crowd.
You’d think Brock Lesnar would be interested in saying hello to these guys. Guess he has an elk to hunt or something. Winner: Big Show
Titus O’Neil vs. Tyler Breeze
This is a case where these are two people I like but my level of interest in this match is non-existent.
For a short match they actually did some fun things in this match, they succeeded in making me have a bit of interest. The contrast of Breeze working hard on the knee of Titus, while Titus was just tossing Breeze around with one arm because he’s a ridiculous monster of a man. For a really short match they told a story in that time. Not sure why this can’t happen more. Winner: Titus O’Neil
Anytime Brock Lesnar interacts with people and doesn’t leave them in pain I feel like not only is it a disappointment, but he is not being true to his essential Brockness.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens
Throwing Ziggler around like a rag doll is always a good way to start a match.
Imagine if anything in WWE was booked as well as the Sanders vs. Clinton feud.
I’m not sure where Owens gets his information, but I’m pretty sure no one thinks Dolph is the face of the company. Unless it is because he’s been beaten down by stop and start pushes and an inability to ever be pushed beyond a certain level. And now you can see the despair and misery in his eyes even when he’s having a rush in the ring.
Talking trash inside the ring is such an easy and dependable way to get people to dislike you, I have to wonder why more heels don’t do it.
Why are we giving Dolph Ziggler clean wins over Kevin Owens at this point? Owens has done a decent job of avoiding the 50/50 booking that plagues the midcard until now. It’s not like there’s any reason to think this is the start of a push for Dolph, so what the hell is the point? Winner: Dolph Ziggler
9:20 PM – It’s getting so close. Trump is done. The joke is over. I’m calling it now that Trump doesn’t win a single state, and is out of active campaigning before the end of February.
Meanwhile, the battle on the Democratic side is killing me. I have never done anything to hide my support for Bernie Sanders, and I am desperately hoping for that last shift to tip the state over into Bernie’s column. I want the media to have to pay attention to his campaign, and for the issues he raises to continue to be debated. And as silly as it is, if Sanders loses by 0.7% then it essentially invalidates everything he says in the eyes of the media, and turns him into the crazy old guy shouting at trees. Less than 1% will determine whether or not his campaign continues as a credible thing going forward. Amazing how a couple thousand people can control the way 325 million people end up seeing things.
9:35 PM – Marco Rubio is about to talk. That’s all the incentive I need to jump back to Raw
I will say I’m glad Mark Henry’s career is going to be remembered for more than being Mizark, and being there for the birth of a hand.
Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch
Does anyone else find themselves typing “Becky Lunch” from time to time?
Now this crowd is doing the “What” chant. I am pretty sure that Birmingham should never host wrestling that isn’t in a small grimy building.
I would be so happy if for once a group actually did care for each other even though they’re not actively aligned. Why can’t Naomi and Tamina remain friendly with Sasha even though they are pursuing their own goals? Even the slightest bit of humanity is so rare in WWE, where people always act in the most awful way possible.
Not sure what the hell was going on with that criss cross spot.
A problem I’ve been seeing recently in the women’s matches is that running spots always seem to end awkwardly. Every time one of them ran at the other they ended up stopping and stutter stepping their way into whatever they were trying to do.
The Six Nations reference will suffice for JBL’s Obscure Eurosport Reference.
I have to blame Sasha for this. Naomi and Tamina did what they always do. Instead of just telling them to stop, Sashs took it so personally and escalated the situation unnecessarily.
Becky Lynch will do anything to try and find a friend. She seems like she could use a hug. If only there was someone around who was known for such a thing. Winner: No Contest
Two positives from the Jericho segment. Continued putting over AJ Styles, and pushing things happening on SmackDown.
Goldust and R-Truth should be a funnier thing than it is. Funny to think this team would be a combined age of 90.
9:50 PM – Turned on CNN to see Donald Trump saying he is going to buy a farm in Iowa and rambling about Hillary. Dude is so utterly done. He will not win a state. Prediction: by February 10, John Kasich, Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie will drop out of the race and endorse Marco Rubio. Jeb Bush will hang around through Florida, but unless he can make a huge stand there, he’s done.
Clinton is going to win Iowa by less than 1%, and that will be enough to begin her coronation in the eyes of the media. Perception is so important, that saying Clinton won will be enough for the narrative to be set.
Prediction: Marco Rubio wins the Presidency in November. The American populace has been consistent on one thing over the last 20+ years, and that is that they simply don’t have a desire to see Clinton in charge. Rubio has enough room to tack to the center once the general election starts, he can seem a little softer on immigration than the average GOP politician, and that will be enough to give him that edge. Right now Paddy Power is giving 7/2 on Rubio to win the Presidency. I’d get in on that action.
10:15 PM – I’m depressed now. Thank goodness I know the New Day is waiting for me on Raw.
The New Day vs. Dean Ambrose/Roman Reigns
Having Paul Heyman at ringside just makes me really wish for a Big E vs. Brock Lesnar match. Just a series of throws and clubbing blows and head drops until there is a crater where the arena used to stand.
New Day will fight a child if they have to. But they’re still better role models for children than that foul-mouthed Rock.
I am so excited at the idea of a whole bunch of people trying to figure out what they meant by Tumblr fanfiction. There’s a whole eye-opening world out there for the kids of America to explore.
New Day is in such a weird spot. They’re presented as hopelessly incompetent half the time, yet expected to hold up their end of main event level matches the other half of the time. It’s very difficult to take them seriously here when they are routinely outclassed by the Usos.
Big E really really needs to quit that apron splash thing. I want a healthy Big E around for years to come. That does not enhance the odds of this happening.
One funny thing, for being such a heartthrob and apple of Vince’s eye, Roman really hides almost his entire body from view. The long pants hide the entire lower half. The vest not only hides the torso, but it makes even discerning the size or condition of his chest/abs/back very hard to discern. That sort of look is not very common for the guys who are the number one guys in the company. John Cena, HHH, Shawn Michaels, Edge, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, Steve Austin, Rock. All of these guys were fairly exposed. Obviously Roman is in very good shape, but I’m surprised such a body guy as Vince wouldn’t want everyone to admire as much of Roman as possible.
Big E is surely aware that spanking Dean’s ass ties in neatly to that whole Tumblr fanfiction discussion.
I guess the idea of having Lesnar focus on Ambrose is not a bad way to keep Reigns from getting booed over the next few weeks. Let Dean take the fight to Lesnar, and how the crowd reacts doesn’t really matter. Dean will be cheered regardless of what he moves onto after this. Lesnar will be cheered if they want him to be cheered. He could get booed facing a few certain people, but the reaction will not be dependent on anything that happens in these weeks until FastLane. But right now Reigns would get booed harshly against either of them. So why not let him just sort of hang around until that match? This crowd really didn’t care for HHH, so maybe there’s hope that people are just so annoyed by Paul that Reigns can get cheers by default and Wrestlemania won’t end again with the crowd wanting anyone but Roman to win. Winners: Dean Ambrose/Roman Reigns
10:45 PM – I find myself feeling like there is a similarity between Clinton and Reigns. They’ve both been the seemingly unchallenged next in line to the throne. They have spent years trying to just close the deal and get their constituencies to love them the way they so desperately want to be loved. But every time they are right at the finish line, the affection begins to wane. Clinton watched in 2008 as the people she courted for ten years turned at the last minute and gave their love to Barack Obama. Roman Reigns was ready to become the next hero of the masses, but in a span of two months the crowds told him they would rather have Daniel Bryan, Rusev, Brock Lesnar, and finally Seth Rollins.
Tonight, again these two find themselves ready for another chance to be accepted as The One by their people. Instead Clinton finds less than half of her party supporting her after another ten years building up to this moment. Even the people she thought were the ones most likely to love her, young women, turned on her to support a septuagenarian Jewish guy. And again tonight, Roman Reigns faces a moment where he is going to be the villain to most of the crowd at the next major show, and even more likely he will be booed by tens of thousands on the night that is supposed to be his crowning.
Both Clinton and Reigns are going to win in the end. There are forces too powerful to overcome backing both of them. But they will both carry the sorrow with them that comes with being unloved royalty.