You know what’s cool? Wrestling tournaments. It doesn’t matter what the wrestling promotion is, it’s hard to bungle up wrestling tournaments. They’re an absolute blast, and it’s always great to see unconventional match-ups. If you’ve never seen it, please do yourself a favor and watch Team Sendai Girls versus Team ROH from CHIKARA’s King Of Trios 2012 tournament. Singles tournaments, tag team tournaments, trios tournaments. They feature some of the most fun matches any wrestling promotion can manufacture (the inverse of that being the Spirit Squad matches from King Of Trios 2014).

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If you’ve read at least two of these Monday Night RAW reviews, you know this is the part where I mention how WWE found a way to bungle up the idea of a wrestling tournament, while also doing the unexpected and bringing back the King Of The Ring.

I love the King Of The Ring. Most longtime WWE fans love the King Of The Ring. Everyone has their own personal King Of The Ring stories, but the one I love is everything that happened as a result of Booker T winning in 2006. As far as I’m concerned, King Booker is the best thing Booker T has ever done in his career, and the amount of joy I felt at hearing Booker T talk about how he was a poor boy from Liverpool (who became king!) at the beginning of RAW almost negates the terrible “Owen Hart didn’t defy gravity” “joke” he made later in the episode. Actually, it doesn’t even come close to negating that, but it was still good for all five seconds it lasted. The fact that the semi-finals and finals of the King Of The Ring will also be happening live on the WWE Network (although, poor Main Event, yet again) Tuesday night gives it even more of the importance it should have.

But as for the King Of The Ring tournament itself, at least the line-ups (with the exception of the R-Truth/Stardust match) promise good wrestling. Neville/Harper is fantastic, and it’s great to see main roster finally do right by an NXT alum. However, two of those matches have “WWE logic” (meaning “illogical”) finishes. The Barrett/Ziggler match has Sheamus and his trusty microphone show up to continue his more-than-homoerotic fascination with male butts and to screw Ziggler over, and the Sheamus/Ambrose match has Ziggler showing up to screw Sheamus over… by screwing Ambrose over. It’s a lot of screwing and butt talk, as there are picture-in-picture promos from every participant in King Of The Ring, and Sheamus’ first decree is literally to have a line of boys (he says “boys”) to kiss his arse.

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Every person who has ever insulted professional wrestling should feel the sweet taste of vindication while wrestling fans have to listen to people talk about the taste of butt cheeks, over and over again.

And at the risk of hyperbole: R-Truth makes it past the first round of the King Of The Ring tournament, because there is no Wrestling God. R-Truth makes it into the first round of the King Of The Ring tournament in the first place, because there is no Wrestling God. If the King Of The Ring tournament is supposedly still about the idea of investing in the future (which is really giving WWE too much credit at this point), there’s absolutely no reason a wrestler with no future should win a first round match. There’s absolutely no reason a wrestler with no future should be in the tournament. Whoomp, there it is.*

Elsewhere on the card, because John Cena is supposedly an indestructible humanoid, there can’t just be an actual break from his open challenge because of how constantly going at full speed could possibly be detrimental to him. Instead, we go from great matches with Wade Barrett, Dean Ambrose, and Stardust, to… a 2011 rematch against Kane and a bluff of a match with Heath Slater (who despite his perpetual jobber status, could probably have a pretty good, real match against Cena). The diminishing returns have turned from the “LOL Cena Wins” aspect to it becoming a sham of a competition and segment.

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It doesn’t help that this week’s “challenge” is only a means to lead to the fourth straight Cena/Rusev pay-per-view match, at Payback in 20 days. If people already weren’t worried about Rusev’s post-United States title/undefeated streak future, he will now be fed to Cena for a third time, as the match is an I Quit match. There are thousands of words on the Internet about why an I Quit match with John Cena is the least anti-climactic match in WWE history, and I don’t need to add to that. Instead, here are some words about how the teasing of a Rusev/Lana break-up—again, after she apologized and promised to never show compassion or Americanism in the WrestleMania Kickoff show—is unnecessary, unless the potential Lana face turn has her saying “I was just kidding” about the Russian accent, and Rusev… Rusev has (will have) nothing but three straight pay-per-view losses to John Cena.

This is what the point is about how certain wins can make someone a star and certain losses can only diminish their value. This is why the biggest thing people care about with regards to the Bray Wyatt/Ryback storyline right now is that it could possibly mean acknowledge that Bray and Bo Dallas are brothers. Bray Wyatt is all talk at this point, and they have to find something interesting to latch on. This is why people were worried about Rusev’s direction in a post-WrestleMania world. He has nothing left, especially as he loses continually to Cena. He could be in King Of The Ring. That could be something. Instead, the King Of The Ring is used to give the WWE’s midcard division (everyone from the Intercontinental Championship kerfuffle, with Neville in place of a broken Bryan) and not shake anything up. It’s all the same match-ups we’ve either already seen or will see, again and again.

It’s boring. That’s the biggest crime of WWE right now—it’s not entertaining, it’s boring. Actually, that’s the second biggest crime, as the commentary (not counting the Saxton/Phillips/Brennan second string) is an assault on the audience’s ears, brains, and livelihood as decent human beings. It’s absolute garbage, which is at least what the matches have over the commentary. Perhaps the truest proof that wrestling isn’t real is the fact that anyone who was as incompetent at their “real” jobs as JBL, Cole, and Booker T (and Lawler, who luckily isn’t on the show anyone cares about anymore) appear to be (again—they have had past moments of being good to great, but not in the past four years) here in WWE would have been fired a long time ago.

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JBL shouting and slurring about the possible (as “possible” as the obvious choice in a WWE App vote can be) Triple Threat match—and how he won’t stop shouting, even when they go to commercial—is embarrassing. The commentary on any main roster WWE show from the three “legends” known as JBL, Michael Cole, and Booker T—who have all had their better days behind the booth—is embarrassing, and it’s not a shock to believe it’s possibly driving viewers away. In the interest of transparency, it (along with a mediocre product, despite having great wrestlers) is the reason I stopped watching main roster WWE (again) after the Royal Rumble. It makes me want to stop again, to be perfectly honest.

Stray Observations:

  • The new version of Seth’s theme is so bad. I guess it captures how grating Seth’s laugh can be, but it’s really awful.
  • Those “Justin Bieber” chants were really upsetting, because anyone who watches The JBL & Renee Show (nee The JBL & Cole Show) knows Kane is the biggest Justin Bieber fan there is.
  • The Damien Sandow (who is another person who could have been in the King Of The Ring) segment is a combination of truly heartfelt and typical asshole WWE face. His mimicking Axel was another reminder that WWE really isn’t for me. Also, his new theme is atrocious.
  • Abraham Washington was right: “Rosa Mendes can’t dance!”
  • Let’s Give Divas A Chance to be real human beings.
  • To JBL’s Triple Threat match math, I say this.
  • The crowd really got into the main event, especially towards the end, but nothing about the combination of Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Kane intrigues me, personally. The match itself was more than the usual by-the-numbers tag team match—it was actually very good for what it was—but at this point, the main event scene just comes down to a personal preference.
  • Unrelated but totally related: Verne Gagne just passed away at the age of 89.
  • *This entire paragraph is hyperbolic, and please do not worry about my mental or emotional health or that I’m taking R-Truth too seriously upon reading this.

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