Welcome to Alexa Bliss Watch!
I mean… The Bret Hart Categories. That’s what this is supposed to be.
But it has turned into the space where I kvetch about the previous night’s Raw a lot.
I’m generally a pretty positive guy when it comes to WWE. I recognize that it has MANY flaws nowadays (and as long as Vince is making billion dollar deals, these flaws will never resolve), but watching WWE typically brings me at least some joy.
But damn… last night’s Raw was ROUGH.
So the main event was Alexa Fiend vs Asuka for the Raw’s Women’s Title, and I’ll be honest… it went just as it was supposed to, but that only assumes that WWE is going to tell the “right” story here, and I don’t believe that they ultimately will.
Last week, Bliss pinned Asuka clean after beating and scaring the holy hell out of her. They had a rematch for the title this week, and it went much the same way. Asuka was scared and hesitant and pretty easily dominated by Alexa… until Asuka was saved by an intervening Randy Orton for the disqualification loss.
Now, here’s the story WWE should be telling; indulge me my fantasy booking:
Asuka now knows Alexa is out of her league and supernaturally powerful. Asuka should rightfully be terrified of Bliss and the threat that she represents. And then… Alexa wins the Royal Rumble.
So then, Asuka has nowhere to hide. She KNOWS Bliss is coming for her at ‘Mania. Asuka is terrified, and along the way, she and Charlotte lose the tag straps because Alexa does something spooky during a title defense, leading to Asuka getting freaked out and pinned.
Asuka has to defend the Raw Women’s Title at Elimination Chamber. She is scheduled to enter the chamber last, and the WHOLE MATCH, spooky shit is going on with her pod. It fills up with baby dolls? Lights flicker? She can see Alexa’s visage in the glass? Maybe Bliss herself teleports into and then out of her pod? Weird shit.
Asuka finally gets into the match and is almost eliminated a few times because her head clearly isn’t in the game. Finally, it comes down to Asuka and, say, Charlotte or Nia or Shayna. Asuka almost loses again… but then a switch is flipped, and she LOSES IT. She goes back to either the old Asuka Buzzsaw of NXT… OR she suddenly appears wearing her old clown makeup from her Kana days in Japan. Whatever they go with, Asuka dominates her last foe and retains her title.
And then the last month’s build to WrestleMania is that Asuka has dug deep and found a part of herself she had buried. She isn’t just a fun loving dancer anymore… she’s the indestructible empress she used to be.
Finally she and Asuka have a KICK-ASS WrestleMania match with each woman seemingly impervious to pain and just laying into the other. Alexa even finally shows some fear of her own.
From there, you can still have Alexa win (we ALL KNOW the endgame is to get the belt back on Charlotte, and Charlotte beating The Fiendess would make Vince cream), but at least Asuka finds her edge, freshens her character up, and isn’t just run over.
That’s how I’d do it. What will WWE do?
Probably have Charlotte win the Rumble again, Asuka gets wrecked by Alexa on a random Raw, then Charlotte beats Alexa at ‘Mania.
DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE
THOUGHTS: So ranking DDP is a bit of inter-sWo trolling. Jab is WELL KNOWN for his passionate dislike of Page, while Wyntyr fesses up to being a big fan. I am a bit between the two. I hated DDP with a passion until his famous Halloween Havoc match with Goldberg. After that, I did almost a 180 on the guy and became a big fan. So what do I have him at? 22.5 out of 30? That feels right. It’s embarrassing how badly WWE missed the boat on Dallas.
As far as his look, DDP was right tall, but scrawny and gangly as hell. He just was not intimidating. He looked older than he was (seriously, he seems to have barely aged from 1997 to now, which is both a testament to how youthful his yoga keeps him and an indictment of how old he looked in his heyday). He emoted SUPERBLY well in his face, though. He had great eyes.
There was just something magnetic about Dallas. All of his interviews come off as fluid and natural, and even if he relied a bit too heavily on gimmick phrases (Feel the BANG/Scum)… hey, that stuff worked for him. He was ENORMOUSLY popular as the one guy the nWo couldn’t get in 1997, and you have to figure if not for the Sting build and then the immediate Goldberg push, he might have been the guy to get the belt off of Hogan.
Dallas was also a tremendously talented wrestler, and perhaps the only non-cruiserweight in nWo-era WCW to consistently have really good matches. Even guys like Ric Flair and Randy Savage and Bret Hart were all mailing it in during that time. And for that, DDP deserved one great big SELF HIGH-FIVE.
LOOK: 6 (haha oh god. He had one of the worst wrestling physiques of all time- at least until modern indie wrestlers took over- but he was at least tall)
CHARISMA: 9 (okay, I never “got” DDP. He came off like puffy-faced white trash to me. His pronunciation was terrible and his “SCUM!” catchphrase is mocked for a reason. If you ask my OPINION, he’d be a “4” or a “5” because I couldn’t stand him. But crowds loved him, and he even got stupid stuff in WWE over. And I shan’t hamper the dignity of SWO Productions with bias- only scientific accuracy will do)
RINGWORK: 7.5 (ehhhhhhhhhhhhnnnnnnnnn hard one to say. He had some good matches with Sting- mostly because they repeated the same one over and over- and there’s that famously good match with Goldberg. People deride him because he planned out his matches so they wouldn’t suck, but… I mean, I gave Randy Savage a “10” and he did the same shit. And I can’t lower ratings for that because I have no idea if any of the other guys here were hardcore planners or “call it in the ring” guys- all I care about is the finished product. And he was pretty good)
THOUGHTS: 22.5 (Okay, I used to hate DDP. And totally not just because bitter Teen Jab who couldn’t talk to girls worth a damn was resentful because this bloated, tatted-up pigman was married to the hottest woman in wrestling in Kimberly Page. TOTALLY I HAD OTHER REASONS YOU GUYS!! He was Bischoff’s best buddy and got his push because of that. He put himself into a feud with the hot act Raven and best worker in Chris Benoit and got to win all the bouts, having great matches as a result of them, then got the “Rocket Push” over both guys. His push was relentless and his finisher was given near-DDT-level credibility. And his promos remain a bag of butts- I’m sorry. But… DDP seems like a really good dude and wasn’t a bag of butts in the ring. And I’m forced to admit he was a very good, hard-working wrestling star. Now I need a shower)
THOUGHTS: 23. Wait. I *love* DDP, and I only gave him .5 higher than Jab? What kind of nonsense is this? Maybe we’re both mellowing out in our old age. Page was a tall dude, and being so lanky made him look like he towered over all the mid-range size boys in WCW. Apart from that, he looked (and acted) like what he was: a bouncer and promoter. He was 35 iirc when he broke away from managing and behind the scenes stuff; and personally I know how hard that is, since for whatever reason I waited until 35 to start training as well (maybe subconsciously mirroring Page in an attempt to get women far outside my league. It works). In your 30s, your body just can’t do the things that the younger guys can do, so you focus on your strengths and beat that dead horse until it comes back to life. Page was an expert at that; using his white trash Jersey silver tongue and one or two signature moves to become one of the most over talents of the entire NWO era. I love everything DDP has done from wrestling, his “acting”, his book, to DDP Yoga aka Yoga For Regular Guys, which I give 100% credit for getting me back on my feet and back in the gym after I wrecked my spine. Hail DDP, the man, the wrestler, and the miracle worker.
THOUGHTS: Sabu is like the anti-Randy Savage in that these categories just don’t really do the man justice. But let’s start with Look, which I oddly have as his high water mark of the three. Sabu was a terrifying dude! He had just huge gouges and scars all over his body. He had those damn Hammer Pants that added some zest to the character, and he wore the turban to the ring. He was visually striking in all regards, and he felt like a proper… well, not a bad-ass, but at least a proper madman.
Sabu had a good physical chemistry in his extremely shifty and sudden movements. His finger-up pose was iconic. And he was willing to do god damn near ANYTHING to his body to get a reaction from people. But you can only score a guy who didn’t talk so high. That’s what Bill Alfonso was for (and Fonzie did enough talking for three other men).
And then you get to his in-ring performance, and… shit. The only thing more reliable from Sabu than doing something that would take your breath away was his FAILING at trying to do something that would take your breath away. There’s something to be said for just saying “fuck it” and trying wonky stuff that may or may not work, I suppose. But mostly when I think of Sabu wrestling, I just think of a dude legdropping a chair onto your face.
Here’s the thing… I really dug Sabu! I thought he and Rob Van Dam’s partnership, under the tutelage of Fonzie, was brilliant. But as for the scores… wow, he’s just a 16. Bret Hart didn’t give us a Recklessness category.
LOOK: 7 (he had a terrible body, but the scars and intense expression gave the sense that this was a dangerous man- an aura of credibility)
CHARISMA: 7 (a rare “unspoken guy” who can carry things just through his physical intensity)
RINGWORK: 7 (one of the clumsiest, botchiest workers of all time, but at ONE point he was quite good! His casual disregard for his own safety made for some incredible, state-of-the-art matches. One of the guys who informed the modern style the worst- whether that’s a good thing or bad is anyone’s guess)
THOUGHTS: 21 (pretty good- best off in a smaller fed like ECW or FMW and would have been exposed anywhere else. But good!)
THOUGHTS: Here’s what I’ll say for the homicidal, suicidal, genocidal, fratricidal, matricidal, fungicidal, human botch machine Sabu: whether he was hurting others, hurting himself, or just hurting the business, no matter how you felt about him you *COULD NOT* take your eyes off him. And at the end of the day, what better metric could a pro wrestler be measured by?
THE LEGION OF DOOM/THE ROAD WARRIORS
THOUGHTS: I always feel like I’m really generous on the Looks category because in just our brief tenure on these, I’ve given a few perfect 10’s out. Maybe it’s down to who I’m picking, though. Because if the Road Warriors aren’t a 10… who is? What part of their look ISN’T iconic? The shoulder pads? The haircuts? The facepaint? Come on. These guys just present as legitimate monsters here to drag you back into your own nightmares.
Hawk and Animal just CONNECTED with fans. They are a throwback to the old 80’s era of YELLING EVERYTHING REALLY LOUDLY TO GET OUR POINT ACROSS, but you can’t argue that they didn’t have intensity to spare.
As far as workrate goes… I don’t know. Effortlessly crushing most opponents and stiffing the daylights out of jobbers isn’t really MY idea of being a talented wrestlers. The LOD was more about protecting their aura and characters than they were about having 5-star matches. Or 4-star matches. Or, really, 3-star matches.
That puts arguably the greatest tag team of all time at a 21/30. Tag teams are a bit hard to rate, though, but the Road Warriors were similar enough and so irrelevant without each other that I thought I could give it a shot!
LOOK: 10/10 (One of the greatest “Looks” in wrestling history. Both looked like characters out of Fist of the North Star- these huge, muscular freaks in facepaint and covered with spikes. Hawk was more toned, while Animal just had that meaty “strongman” look)
CHARISMA: Hawk 8/ Animal 6 (Animal was a standard “yelling guy” and never got it going on his own, but Hawk had a great “wildman charisma” thing about him, and all the catchphrases)
RINGWORK: Hawk 3/ Animal 4 (neither was great shakes in the ring- Hawk in particular was one of the worst no-sellers of his era. He was agile and hit the flashier moves, but he didn’t have the basics and was way too selfish. Animal was more “together”- he knew how to work and was more generous. But still not great)
THOUGHTS: Hawk 21/ Animal 20 (both were legitimately great, but needed each other- if you see how bad they were as solo stars, you can see why. Terrible workers, but there’s a reason they call it the “Road Warriors Pop”- even I loved to see them kill guys)
LOOK: 10. But if there’s anybody who could break the scale, it’d be these guys (or prime Kane, but I digress)
THOUGHTS: Ooooohhh what a RUUUUUUSH. Jesus, if that couldn’t light a fire under your little kid ass in 1989, I don’t know what could. I can’t remember what I ate for lunch today, but I can remember the first Road Warriors promo package I saw; just these two massive dudes covered in leather and spikes, holding massive logging chains and looking like hell come to Earth in a dark, foggy parking lot. Say what you will about their ring work, but the Doomsday Device was the most innovative and visually impressive tag team finisher in wrestling history up to that point. Tag team wrestling is my *jam*, and here’s hoping we can do a few more teams in the future. Ranking one of the undeniably greatest teams in the history of the sport is a great starting point.