By Sawyer Paul.
Simmons dared ESPN to punish him for speaking out against Goodell, saying “I really hope somebody calls me or emails me and says I’m in trouble.” Simmons has been one of the fiercest critics of the NFL and its handling of domestic violence cases.
ESPN later removed the podcast from its website.
Want to hear the audio? Here you go. Fuck the NFL.
A good intro can do a lot. In theatre, the old cliché goes that people often only remember the entrance and exit. In wrestling, the same rings true, but there’s an emphasis on the result. But Night of Champions was a night of entrances. If you focus on the conclusions, you’ll leave the table hungry. That’s partially due to just what time of the year it is, but mostly due to WWE investing in long-term stories while retaining a product model built for a more impulsive era. Surely they don’t need to do 12 special events a year anymore. They either have your $9.99 or they don’t.
Focus on the endings and you’ll see the opposite of Summerslam, a cavalcade of spinning wheels, meaningless title switches, run-ins, and the same old, same old. But WWE put more work into the beginnings of things here that I’m going to dedicate the entire column to them.
I know who Paige is now. I don’t know everything, but that’s okay. You’re not supposed to know everything about a character this young (irrelevant here is her real age). But before night of champions, I didn’t. I got that she was a fiery competitor who was always a villain but took some time to show it. But now I know her as she is. I know because they finally gave her a microphone and a light, and let her talk over video of her opponents. WWE is unfathomably guilty of simply going “look, we also have women” that they barely let them become fully realized. AJ Lee has become so through grit. Nikki (and many others) had to go get a different show to be able to speak. Paige is now there. Watch the introduction video to the Divas Title match, and you’ll finally know her, too.
WWE positioned Night of Champions as the first wrestling show. First of the calendar? Maybe. Maybe the stories presented and continued will reach a peak around April, but I don’t think any will survive October. No, Night of Champions was a first wrestling show in that it was presented as an Introduction. If you’re showing someone what WWE is all about, this is the first show. Yeah, it’s not the best. But showing people the very best old wrestling right away has never been wise. It is unfair. Wrestling can’t sustain its highs, and isn’t designed to. Wrestling, like soap, is meant to sulk along for great stretches, it’s adorned wondering what month it was, hoping for the next crack of true romance and blood.
Night of Champions presented the various macguffins in fine, vainglorious fashion. Look at those intro videos, keynote transitions of nostalgia porn. I fell for it. Each belt is worth more having been made the town halo. This isn’t a starting point so much as a reminder. We do this because of this. Is it a good reason? Is a weird lineage enough to justify a weird existence?
One offshoot of those title videos is that they contained no wrestlers on the current show. All of WWE’s legendary performers are now firmly entrenched in the past. You know WWE is in a weird spot when Goldust is the only veteran left on the active roster, but not even Lesnar or Cena seem like they belong in those videos yet. This WWE is a new one. You may not necessarily feel like WWE is in the midst of a new generation, but they sure do.
I generally don’t care about titles, but there’s something about videos about titles that really gets me. Night of Champions is often a disappointing show, but they also often have boss as hell intro videos. 2010’s is still the pinnacle of macguffin promos, but this one came close. This was the coming out party for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Sure, we’d seen it, but this was WWE making an Apple product demo. I almost expected HHH to sit in a white room talking in dulcet tones about its chamfered edges. They should play this video on the shop site, and then just make you buy a replica. Finally, finally, the greatest trophy in fake sports looks beautiful, at least while engulfed in flames and hammers.
It seems worthless to talk about the results about an intro show. This show was built to make you watch the next show (ad infinitum), whether that be for free on cable or again on the network. Twice, the announcers sold the network over PPV in classless, glib fashion. “Folks, if you paid $54.95, you’re an idiot,” Michael Cole inferred. It’s as if they want to lose all their PPV licenses. But the message is clear: We have a platform, and you should get on. There’ll be more like this. You like this, right? This? Yeah, this. This show. This is what you want. We can only do Wrestlemania XXX once, but Night of Champions 2014? This is just another day at the office.
Still, there was one debut on the show: Seth Rollins. Sure, Seth has been wrestling on WWE television since autumn 2012, and, sure, we know who he is and what he is about. Nothing about Seth Rollins up until this event, however, indicated that he had the ability to breath the same air as Brock Lesnar. To those of us who have known Seth for many years (under a different name), we saw his rise in WWE almost as curious as Bryan, or Punk. Basically, Ring of Honor guys don’t seem like they’d be trading blows with WWE’s main event scene, and yet it’s becoming more a rule than exception. Rollins entered the big show to ruin it and none of us thought twice. Sure, he’s a cowardly villain, but he still dropped Lesnar with his finisher, and it worked like wrestling moves should. Lesnar didn’t brush it off and swat Rollins to death like he very well could have. Rollins found purchase.
I wanted to somehow key in that I started a new job this week, and connect it to how Night of Champions felt like a beginning. It did, but I don’t want to compare it to my new gig, because my new job doesn’t have meaningless Randy Orton matches. My life is better lately than whatever analogue I can find in WWE, which is good, but it really wasn’t for a long time and wrestling helped me through it. I owe a lot to wrestling, to WWE, to you for reading me and supporting me through it. I can tell what WWE was trying to do with Night of Champions. They can’t rely on us old guys forever. They need to get some new people on board, maybe some folks who aren’t yet held together with duct tape and hope.
Instead — especially considering Lesnar was never advertised to be on the program in the first place — it seems likely the decision to keep Lesnar and Heyman off the show, as well as Lesnar’s name mostly out of the mouths of Cena and the other stars who appeared on Monday night’s “Raw,” is an intentional choice, most likely for future story-line scenarios. As to what those scenarios might be, though? Well, as someone who was as confused about Lesnar’s absence as the next fan, your guess is as good as mine.If you’re a fan of Brock Lesnar, you don’t expect him to show up again until a few weeks before the Royal Rumble. Anything else is gravy.
Officially advertised on the Japan side of things are Bully Ray, Devon, Samoa Joe, MVP, Sanada, James Storm, Ethan Carter III, Bram, Manik, Abyss, Tajiri and The Great Muta.Has there ever been a wrestling show with a smaller troupe?
As you pass by the “motorcycles only” section of the parking lot and make your way through the damp Best Western banquet hall lobby that’s lined with Hard Rock Café-style memorabilia in dusty glass cases, it’s almost as if you get transported back to a time when Urkel was the class dweeb, Kelly Kapowski was the homecoming queen, and Hulk Hogan was that really cool PE teacher who looked the other way when you cut class to smoke weed.
I just threw up.
TNA is trying things. They’re taking swings, and lately, some of those swings are connecting. The company’s show has a looseness and an energy to it. The timing is good; Raw has gone fully moribund this summer, and TNA looks strong in comparison. Its ratings are growing. Its characters are figuring out ways to shine. Its recent decisions—taping a summer’s worth of shows in front of a loud New York crowd that would’ve shit all over the company if they hadn’t put on good wrestling, cutting their champion loose in an MMA cage—have turned out well. Things are clicking. “It’s a perfect storm, creatively,” says Hutter. “The stuff we were doing in the past that might not have worked has been realized and negated.”
You’re going to see a lot of these kinds of articles over the next few weeks, as TNA very quickly becomes a much smaller thing. It would be sad if they hadn’t blown every one of their second chances.
Lex Luger must be very confused.
Because there’s no going back once you find out that Breaking Bad’s Walter White is actually just the dreamlike fabrication of a small child in Boston, and since you can’t cherry-pick which spoilers you see, Spoil Yourself requires you to click multiple times to agree that you are absolutely sure that this is what you want to do with your life.
Can we get one of these for wrestling?
Basically, as long as Dean Ambrose is allowed to do his thing, WWE will be in a good spot. RAW will be watchable. Puppies will bring you blooming flowers, and gorgeous people of your desired sexual orientation will make you breakfast in the morning.
$5,500 doesn’t seem like that much to pay for what would truly be the experience of a lifetime as a wrestling fan.