[SFX: Intro music]
JIM DOOM: Hello and welcome to the latest Podcast of Doom. I’m your host, Jim Doom, and with me as always is Doom DeLuise.
DOOM DeLUISE: Hey.
JIM DOOM: Ever since Fin Fang Doom declared us to be a wrestling site also, we’ve made a little more effort to talk about wrestling —
DOOM DeLUISE: Definitely more of an effort than we’ve made to talk about comics.
JIM DOOM: — and last month, we previewed WWE Hell in a Cell. I don’t remember how we did, but shall we take this month like we did last month, and start from the bottom of the card and work up?
DOOM DeLUISE: Yes!
JIM DOOM: So I guess maybe at the bottom, we’d have the Divas elimination match?
It’s Alicia Fox, Natalya, Naomi & Emma against Paige, Cameron, Summer Rae and Layla. A few points on that —
1. I thought Emma got fired for shoplifting.
2. I thought Natalya was a heel, but she’s on the face team.
3. I didn’t realize Summer Rae was still around — that’s Fandango’s sidekick, right?
DOOM DeLUISE: I couldn’t say. I didn’t realize Fandango was still around.
JIM DOOM: I don’t think he is! That’s why I was surprised she is. But maybe he’s not.
DOOM DeLUISE: I’m going to guess that Paige wins this match, because I couldn’t pull any of the other girls out of a lineup.
JIM DOOM: Yeah I’ll agree with you on this one. Paige is the only one who seems to have any narrative proof of existence, so I’m with you — her team wins.
DOOM DeLUISE: Who’s to say. Next!
JIM DOOM: Next, I bet we’ll have that four-team tag-team match. Seriously this show is going to have so many people in the ring at all times.
So that’s the champions — the Dust brothers — versus Miz & Mizdow, Los Matadores and The Usos.
DOOM DeLUISE: I’m looking up the card right now, because, even though this is the first month I’ve had the Network since it launched, I’ve only been watching old WCW PPVs. Haven’t actually watched anything new since Hell In A Cell.
Hmm. Well, since Miz and Mizdow seem to be the only team that’s even halfway fresh, I’m guessing they’ll win the belts and then they’ll exhaust every combination of matchup between them and those three other teams until Wrestlemania.
JIM DOOM: I’m going to guess that Mizdow costs Miz the match somehow. There’s no way Los Matadores are winning. So my guess is that the Dusts retain and the Usos keep chasing in the most uninspired feud of the year.
DOOM DeLUISE: That “feud” just will not die.
JIM DOOM: For those of you listening, he’s holding up air quotes when he says “feud.”
The Usos need to start getting Rocky Maivia heat. All they do is jump around and do that combination smile-sneer. They’re dorks.
DOOM DeLUISE: Totally. On the one hand, it’s nice that they’ve been putting Tag Team Title matches on every “PPV” for the past year, but, on the other hand, their teams all suck. And it’s mostly been the same match every month.
JIM DOOM: I feel like they have potential but I think they need to get rejected and maybe creative will decide to give them a reason for existing.
I think it says something about the tag team division that 6 out of 8 wrestlers in this fatal four way tag match are essentially comedy acts. And the other two just jump around and smile.
DOOM DeLUISE: They need to really invest in some quality tag teams, with something in common for the partners other than the fact that they dress alike. Otherwise, you’re right. This is what we’re gonna get. Comedy acts.
JIM DOOM: Ok next, let’s say we’ll probably see Ambrose and Bray Wyatt, because Dean Ambrose completely gave up his down-to-the-bone obsession with Seth Rollins once Bray Wyatt played a hologram in his match.
I gotta tell you man, and I might have said this last month, but Dean Ambrose was the coolest dude in The Shield, and WWE has no idea how to write for him. He has become a doofus tool.
Look at his photo in the Survivor Series promo. He looks like he’s making farting sounds with his mouth.
Here, I printed it out for you. (ED. NOTE: You can view it here.)
DOOM DeLUISE: That’s a shame. They had potential to break him out into a major player.
JIM DOOM: We never did talk about the finish to his match with Rollins last month, did we? I guess that’s what happens when we record previews. They’re usually devoid of results.
Actual results, that is.
DOOM DeLUISE: No, I don’t think we did. I tweeted something about how it sort of went 100% against the point of having a Hell In A Cell match, ending it in interference. But it’s worse than that. It seemed so much like something they would’ve done in WCW, like when Hogan saw Warrior’s reflection in his dressing room mirror, but everybody pretended the camera couldn’t pick it up.
Stuff like that will not make a guy a star. Same goes for the crappy build to that match. Making a white-hot heel sell for a hotdog ain’t gonna do him any favors.
JIM DOOM: This is what happen when a company run by roided-up nerds hires a bunch of unintimidating nerds to run their creative team of yes-men. There’s no way they’re going to get people on creative who actually understand 1) sports, 2) actual tough guys and 3) dramatic writing, because somebody who is well-versed in any of those things would be a threat to Vince & HHH’s self-image.
And as a result, we get a bunch of goobers written to act like morons because these writers who aren’t good enough to get actual TV writing jobs don’t know how people act in the real world. Or even the fake real world.
DOOM DeLUISE: They’re not good enough to get actual TV writing jobs working on SOAP OPERAS
JIM DOOM: So I guess we haven’t even gotten to the prediction part — who wins here? I feel like Ambrose needs a win, but Wyatt just came back, so he probably does too.
DOOM DeLUISE: It’s a bad program. Both guys really need a win, and neither can afford a loss. Which means they’ll probably have a non-finish.
Wyatt was pretty hot earlier this year, but then they jobbed him to Cena every which way they could for a few months.
JIM DOOM: I’m going to predict that Wyatt goes over, just because they could not give any less of an indication that they’re concerned about protecting Ambrose. Dean “UNSTABLE!” Ambrose
DOOM DeLUISE: I love (and by “love” I mean “hate”) how Bradshaw calls him “Lunatic Fringe,” as if that’s a nickname.
JIM DOOM: Cole does it too! Over and over. It just makes Ambrose seem so incredibly uncool and not-dangerous.
That guy has so much potential, but for his character to work, he needs to feel actually dangerous, sincerely unpredictable. Not scripted-unpredictable. He is written so poorly.
And not endorsed as “unpredictable” by the godawful announce team.
For those of you listening, Doom just held up air-quotes when he said “unpredictable.”
DOOM DeLUISE: These days, the best way to get a new guy over would be for the announce team to just completely 100% ignore him and no-sell his existence when he’s on TV.
JIM DOOM: Good point — that’s kind of what they do during Ziggler matches and he’s getting pretty hot again. I would pay $10 a month extra without hesitation to have a broadcast without the announce team.
DOOM DeLUISE: Look at how lightning-fast they destroyed Bo Dallas.
I mean, he’s not without fault, but when every sentence they say when he’s on TV has a “Bo” related pun (and a bad one) while they snicker… god, what awful crap
JIM DOOM: I think the only justice in any of this is that when Michael Cole and JBL look in the mirror, they have to accept that they are actually Michael Cole and JBL. I can’t imagine how heartbreaking that must be.
Can you imagine going to bed at night and thinking to yourself, “Oh god, I’m John Layfield, and there’s nothing I can do about that.”
Speaking of things that we can’t change no matter how much we wish we could, at some point we’re going to see the Divas title match, AJ Lee vs Nikki Bella.
DOOM DeLUISE: Yes! I am really excited for this match.
JIM DOOM: I’m going to say that Bree Bella costs Nikki the match, and then they can feud again.
DOOM DeLUISE: I think Brie is going to have a great moment where she can finally stand up to her sister and get one over on her. If it means she’s going to cost AJ the title, that’s a necessary sacrifice for this amazing, Shakespearean storyline.
JIM DOOM: But how would that get one over on Nikki? That would help Nikki.
DOOM DeLUISE: Or the other way around.
I forgot who was who. I really don’t give even half a [BLEEP] about this match.
JIM DOOM: It’s the worst. Ok, speaking of half-[BLEEP], it’s going to be main event time!
DOOM DeLUISE: Already?
JIM DOOM: I think so! I think there are only five matches on this thing. Five advertised matches, that is.
DOOM DeLUISE: Well, I guess that IS their entire roster they’re comfortable with putting on television.
JIM DOOM: So Team Cena ended up being Cena, Ziggler, Big Show, the bald Wyatt guy and Ryback.
DOOM DeLUISE: What happened to Sheamus?
JIM DOOM: Sheamus got “injured” on Raw.
DOOM DeLUISE: For those of you listening, Jim just held up air quotes around “injured.”
JIM DOOM: Did they ever give any explanation at all as to why one of the Wyatts joined Team Cena, or why Team Cena would accept this Wyatt?
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Jim and Doom recorded this based on audience leaks of the Smackdown tapings, prior to the Smackdown broadcast that revealed if Team Cena loses, everyone BUT John Cena would be fired. Their predictions for the main event are based on the premise that all of Team Cena is fired.)
DOOM DeLUISE: I didn’t read any recaps this week. I did see that they added a stipulation for if Team Cena loses, but that’s all I know. Who’s on Team Authority?
JIM DOOM: Team Authority ends up as Rollins, Kane, Rusev, Henry and the other Wyatt.
So let me tell you what my prediction was.
I feel like they’d been doing a decent job showing how much dissent there was in the Authority ranks, with Triple H going around and getting under everyone’s skin. My thought was “a ha! WWE knows the Authority needs to go away, but they also can’t stand not having McMahons as the storyline centerpiece.”
So my prediction was that Triple H interfered to cost The Authority the match, leading to a schism between the McMahon family, and Triple H becoming a face authority figure — also masterfully undercutting WWE’s top babyfaces by subtly sending the message that they can only win with the help of The Son-In-Law.
Which really seems like something they’d do.
DOOM DeLUISE: That does seem to make sense in the “That Doesn’t Really Make Good Business Sense” sort of way that WWE has made us used to. By the way, I just held up my fingers in air quotes for much of that last sentence.
JIM DOOM: But now here’s what I think is going to happen instead.
DOOM DeLUISE: I’m ready for it.
JIM DOOM: WWE has figured out AFTER giving Lesnar the title that they are unwilling to pay him to make appearances, meaning they continue to have pay per views where no one wrestles for the title. That’s background.
DOOM DeLUISE: Right.
JIM DOOM: So I say the Authority wins. Probably Triple H interferes. Maybe Bald Wyatt turns on Team Cena since they never explained why he was even on the team, and Other Wyatt kept saying “I’m a team player!” — suggesting he was referring to The Authority, but subtly reminding everyone that the truth was right there in our faces, and he and Bald Wyatt are still BFFs!
But regardless, the fact that they created a stipulation that will make everyone think “There’s no way they’re going to fire everyone on Team Cena!” means that’s what will happen.
They’re also giving away November for free on the network, which means they want a good cliffhanger to make everyone start paying — not realizing that a demoralizing outcome like The Authority winning and dominating TV for at least another month is not good TV at all.
However, what happens is that Vince McMahon comes back and was like “Jesus you idiots, I let you prove your position in the company, and this is what you do? You fire five of your biggest stars?”
So then McMahon gives Smackdown to The Authority, and the brand split returns, and Team Cena becomes the faces of Raw. Other faces, such as Ambrose, start out as Smackdown stars.
And then they bring back the big gold belt, because they need to have a title defense on their pay per views before Mania.
And then when Orton returns, he returns as Smackdown’s lead face to feud against The Authority. Because they set that feud up on a tee, and if the Authority is gone, it’ll never get its payoff.
That’s what I think is going to happen.
DOOM DeLUISE: Ok. Well. I think that’d be quite the interesting development. It’s well thought-out, provides some good potential storylines down the road, and gives them a lot to work with.
So here’s what’s actually going to happen.
Cena’s going to win.
JIM DOOM: I really hope you’re right.
DOOM DeLUISE: They might make every member of his team get eliminated first, but then he’s going to win. Are there any odds in the world that he can’t overcome?
JIM DOOM: I think part of how he’s able to win is that there’s a standoff between him and Rusev, and Rusev just bails on his team. I think they play up how the Authority drove their own wedges between their teammates with their arrogance. Because they’re building up to a Cena/Rusev match, so they can’t let him dominate Rusev yet.
DOOM DeLUISE: This is their first ever FREE “PPV,” and it’s supposedly one of their Big Four, and I say that there are very likely odds that they’ll want to end the show with John Cena winning big so he can go on to take on Brock Lesnar for the title.
JIM DOOM: I feel like that would be the smart thing to do.
DOOM DeLUISE: It’s also what they’ve BEEN doing for the past decade.
JIM DOOM: I think people are more likely to want to continue subscribing if they go home happy.
DOOM DeLUISE: Absolutely.
JIM DOOM: But I just fear that they’re a little too smitten with their own creativity and think that people will be more likely to keep subscribing if they get a cliffhanger.
I want to be clear, I think the scenario I laid out above is a bad idea.
But it’s what I could see them doing, because it keeps the McMahons as the focus, it deals with the problem they created for themselves with Lesnar, and it recycles old ideas that worked well for them in the past.
DOOM DeLUISE: While getting them completely wrong, btw.
JIM DOOM: Oh no doubt, But keeping themselves as the focus and rehashing old ideas, while having to try to solve for shooting themselves in the foot, is what they do.
DOOM DeLUISE: Unless they can explain storyline-wise how firing their top five babyfaces is “best for business”
JIM DOOM and DOOM DeLUISE (together): Air quotes
JIM DOOM: This is the one time I want Cena to win. It’s too bad the announcers aren’t considered part of The Authority.
DOOM DeLUISE: hahaha [actual laughter]
JIM DOOM: You know, I’ve been super negative about the product, but I want to point out, I think the buildup of Ryback these past few weeks has been absolutely top-notch. It shows how quickly they can salvage a misused character just through some focus and basic straightforward storytelling.
They made Ryback seem like a star.
DOOM DeLUISE: That sounds familiar.
If they could invest in him longer than a month, they could easily make him one of their top guys. Remember the pops he was getting when he debuted? Then they stuck him in a lose-lose booking scenario with Punk, and that was that. He was part of a tag team with Curtis Axel a month later.
JIM DOOM: In their defense, that was a tough situation with Punk and I don’t know if there was really a right answer.
DOOM DeLUISE: That’s what I meant by a lose-lose scenario. They booked themselves into a corner.
JIM DOOM: But I don’t think it was necessarily of their own doing. Ryback got hot, but they were actually carrying out a disciplined long-term plan in the process. They don’t often do that! So I don’t think it’s fair to say that they created a problem by doing something right.
So let’s say they hotshot Ryback with the title after his one hot month, and he flops. They’ve thrown away Punk’s long-term title reign.
DOOM DeLUISE: Yeah, but with that point made, they didn’t have to put them in a Hell in a Cell match or a ladder match or whatever it was. They could’ve gotten out of it with both guys looking good, but they didn’t do that.
JIM DOOM: You know what I’d really like to see is — other than the big four — stop making dedicated PPVs that are like “Hell in a Cell” or “TLC.” Save those gimmicks for when it makes sense, rather than wedging feuds into gimmicks that they aren’t ready for.
The flipside of that is, I think they actually did a really good job this month with fitting the storyline into the pre-scheduled gimmick match event.
DOOM DeLUISE: I agree completely. Hell in a Cell used to work because it was used as a last resort.
JIM DOOM: Right, not because “It’s October, so I *really* want to hurt you now!”
DOOM DeLUISE: hahahahah [actual laughter]
JIM DOOM: Also I want them to bring back Halloween Havoc.
DOOM DeLUISE: And War Games!
JIM DOOM: Isn’t Elimination Chamber basically WWE’s War Games though?
DOOM DeLUISE: I guess so. They’re doing away with that PPV, at least. I think the new title is, like, “Fast Lane” or something.
JIM DOOM: I think Elimination Chamber is pretty cool, but when they put it the month before mania, there’s basically no suspense.
Wait — they’re getting rid of EC?
DOOM DeLUISE: Yep.
JIM DOOM: That’s excellent news. I love the gimmick, but for the Wrestlemania main event to really mean anything, you kind of need to see it coming from a mile away.
DOOM DeLUISE: Agreed. You know what would be a really cool ending to Survivor Series?
JIM DOOM: An explosion?
DOOM DeLUISE: haha
JIM DOOM: Sting coming down and beating everyone up with a bat?
DOOM DeLUISE: Have Team Cena win, but don’t have John Cena be the guy to win it. That’ll basically never happen, but it’d at least be something slightly different.
JIM DOOM: I’d love that. The only one I see maybe pulling that off is Ryback, since he is a chemical freak.
DOOM DeLUISE: I would love to see Cena first out. And then have Team Cena go down to JUST Big Show, and then he battles his way to a victory.
JIM DOOM: Oh man, you know how they didn’t take Jack Swagger on Team Cena because he got “injured” and thus wouldn’t be ready to compete at Survivor Series?
DOOM DeLUISE: Yeah.
JIM DOOM: Did you see he wrestled on Main Event?
DOOM DeLUISE: I read that, yeah. It’s hard to keep up with how many guys are fake injured these days. They’re only one writing team.
JIM DOOM: Things like that are why, no matter how many things they might seem to be doing well, I have no faith in them at all to be competent storytellers. I just hope the positive accidents keep on coming.
DOOM DeLUISE: You’d think they’d have at least ONE whiteboard in the room.
JIM DOOM: If there’s one good thing we can probably predict with reasonable certainty about this show, is that it’s probably going to be better than next month’s show.
DOOM DeLUISE: Yes, that’s true.
Kind of sad that the product has gotten so stale that they’re very literally giving away one of their biggest PPVs for free, and there are so many people out there who could watch it who are or used to be fans, and they’re just not going to, because it’s not worth the opportunity cost of giving it a few hours of time.
JIM DOOM: It gets to their core problem — they keep trying to get creative with their delivery mechanism, with their marketing techniques, with their bundling, and so on. But what they’re not getting creative on is the actual product they’re selling.
I don’t care how convenient they make it, how many samples they offer me, how many platforms they’re on, how unrestricted the terms of subscription are — if the product is awful, none of that matters.
But they’re focusing so singularly — and I’d argue not strategically — on these creative delivery modifications.
They gave their subscription model less than a year before abandoning it.
So what they’ve essentially done is just — in a span of a few months — taken this incredible revenue generator and reduced its value by 80%.
It’s stunningly short-sighted.
DOOM DeLUISE: I’m not very well-versed on the technical side of things. You’re referring to PPV?
JIM DOOM: Yes. I think that the network model is their future. I think it was a smart business decision to invest in it and launch it. It was unnecessary that they launched such a public assault against their PPV carriers, because they didn’t need to alienate them and lose that business so immediately. But they needed to commit to their model for at least more than a year.
Because now, by switching to monthly subscriptions with no contract, PPVs immediately went from $60 to $10.
DOOM DeLUISE: You’re absolutely correct. The announce team openly mocks PPV buyers on each show.
JIM DOOM: It used to be if you were a Wrestlemania-only buyer, they got like $70 out of you each spring. Now they’ll get $10 out of you.
DOOM DeLUISE: Which is odd, because there are certain parts of this country with really bad Internet, so PPV is still the only viable option for lots of fans.
JIM DOOM: Yep! But because they were huge [BLEEP] in public, DirecTV dropped their PPVs right away. So if you’re a rural WWE fan who can’t get broadband, you now have no way to give them your money.
This company is an embarrassing series of unforced errors. Run by a family of paranoid maniacs. But the alternative is TNA.
DOOM DeLUISE: I know it’s not a very fair comparison, but when you mentioned that about rural fans, it reminded me of that story last month that there are still 2 million AOL dial-up subscribers in this country. The Network can’t even get half that size of an audience.
JIM DOOM: But it shows that people will pay for something they want, no matter how inconvenient.
IF the product is something they want.
DOOM DeLUISE: And that they’re willing to keep putting money into an outdated business model so long as somebody isn’t openly mocking them for it or making it impossible to do so.
JIM DOOM: Yep! Well hey, we got pretty off-topic there, but that’s what happens when you don’t want to talk about the thing you started talking about.
[SFX: Closing music]