Monday, May 5, 2014


During the absolutely captivating six-man tag team match between Evolution and The Shield, I couldn't help but be taken aback by the hatred thrown toward Batista ... and more than that, what could have been a missed opportunity.

Let me take a step back before I discuss that missed opportunity and the signal it could send to take advantage of ensuing opportunities.

(Because, frankly, the vitriol isn't likely to dry up anytime soon.)


As Jim Ross vented about around the time I tragically turned 30, true "heels" or villains are tough to come by in modern wrestling. Everyone's a hipster - even, improbably, wrestling fans - and nothing screams "Faux Punk Rock" quite like rooting for the bad guy. The problem with that is that even giving leeway to postmodernism (again, even improbably with wrestling), it's difficult to come across guys who are truly booed.

Shades of gray are fine and almost necessary. Too many guys getting stuck in the murky middle isn't.

There's no middle with Batista. He's sharply awful, at least if you ask his detractors. He's the invisible gun-toting douchenozzle of doom and the WWE should seize that distaste and milk it during what's clearly a transitional period in their storytelling.

*Warning: "Extreme Rules" spoiler coming*

*Seriously, this is a chance for your eyeball to not come across a spoiler*

With that in mind, I couldn't but soak in the very weird and almost-surreal heat Batista drew in my former hometown East Rutherford, N.J. on Sunday. People got strangely personal by chanting "You can't wrestle" (that seems a little excessive) and "Bootista" (guess someone goes on the Internet).

In the end, it was Roman Reigns and Batista alone and I couldn't help but think:

"It would be too perfect if Batista won right here."

Reigns is the wunderkind. He's the greasy-haired Next Big Thing. He has cool tattoos but only covering one of his arms. He seems like he could play the part of "Conan: The Barbarian" if they tried to reboot the film series again after it didn't work out with the "Game of Thrones" bad ass.

I'm sure there are some people who aren't drinking the Reigns Kool-Aid (it's the Internet, where you can always find someone who will hate something ... I bet there are are Anti-Free Food and [No Smoking Sign] Hugs communities bursting with weirdos*), but generally he accomplishes the rare feat of satisfying the hipster/kiddo/casual fan continuum.

Really, Reigns is the Anti-Batista; it's plausible that the same exact people LOVE Reigns and HATE Batista. So imagine if Batista did the trolly thing and won? It would have been great because so many people would think it was awful and so many people would be generally on board with hating him.


Also via
Really, the WWE could milk Batista being so despised. Imagine him milking that win - clean or not, it doesn't really matter - over Reigns in countless ways. Posters. T-shirts. Montages.

The latest word is that an Evolution vs. Shield rematch might be in the books, but imagine how much more satisfying it would be for Reigns to get revenge against Batista while adding fuel to his rocket boost to the top?

Under current circumstances, there could even be some logic to giving Batista a brief (and absolutely aggravating) run with the world heavyweight title. Imagine the derision he'd draw by underhandedly winning the title from Daniel Bryan, torment fans the whole way and then just be a horrible tool with the title?

I imagine him saying that Bryan was "Now the No. 20 contender" after beating him for the title, dodging defending the championship except in flimsy ways (once every 29 days by adhering to a once-per-month requirement, naming injured wrestlers the top contender). Picture Batista's machinations finally falling through because he read a contract incorrectly due to wearing sunglasses indoors.

True douches don't grow on trees, especially with name recognition. People hate Batista, which is something the WWE should embrace and love (rather than running away from it). They've done some of that, but I think cranking the volume up to 11 on that - if just for a little while to rile people up - could be a lot of fun.

I mean, it can't be much worse than a pay-per-view full of retread matches, can it?

* - There are even people who eat pizzas with mushrooms as the only topping ...

Baffle Royal

While watching Monday Night Raw tonight (May 5), I observed the typical Battle Royal viewing pattern in a new way thanks to the splendors of DVR.

First, I watched it with the full grouping of 20 men in the ring. As battle royals are wont to do, things were super-boring because there were so many damn people involved. It's really just a huge mass of dudes leaning on each other (AND NOT IN A COOL WAY) with not much going on (aside from ... leaning).

The next step in the process is to "Fast-forward until Kofi Kingston does something awesome." I can't blame him for doing something only semi-awesome with lower stakes in Raw - your bag of tricks is only so deep, after all - so I'll let it slide.

(By the way, there MUST be something better they can do with Kingston, right? Generally a guy with amazing leaping ability and athleticism is better off being a jobber ... especially considering that your other African-American wrestlers seem to be getting the shaft lately too.)

Besides "getting everyone a cut," I wonder why the WWE (or some other company) wouldn't experiment with the number of combatants who start things off more often. After all, Royal Rumble's one-by-one format already adds credence to the "Less is more" concept, right?

What if you went with a dozen or a half-dozen, even? You could cut right to the storylines and give more time to specific wrestlers really fighting off elimination.

As is, it's kind of ridiculous to see even jabronies avoiding being tossed multiple times. It sort of takes the starch out of near-escapes for the guys you want to promote.

Speaking of which, I feel like these are a great way to give someone who needs a boost a nice little push rather than just handing a win to The Obvious Guy or The Second-Most Obvious Guy. From a logical standpoint, wouldn't Great American Hero III be less ferklempt about being tossed over ropes rather than losing via pinfall or submission?

Yes, the object is to avoid elimination, but it's also something these guys would be "less experienced" at. I think it would be cool if WWE Creative was a little more imaginative with gimmicks like these.

It would add drama if people ended up learning that a guy was "Weak in" a certain area. Maybe a great wrestler who's also a hero is at a great detriment in hardcore matches because you have to go "too far" (paging Dr. Cena), perhaps one wrestler simply isn't all that interested in escaping from a cage so he often gives up opportunities for an easy win to defeat an opponent and maybe some high-level guy is so used to high-flying (paging Nurse Rollins) or is a little smaller (again, Nurse Rollins, please pick up) and thus would be at a marked disadvantage.

I feel like there are a lot of areas for improvement in making great shows with peaks and valleys almost constantly entertaining. Battle Royals seem like an area of particularly obvious improvement in Sports Entertainment.

(Main image via