Category: wrestling

A few thoughts on last night’s WWE Elimination Chamber PPV

WWE put the worst elements of their booking on display last night, and the bright spots even managed to prove the rule.

Elimination Chamber was symptomatic of a bloated creative team that hides its lack of good ideas in overwhelming volume—overwriting the simplest and most compelling elements of what makes competition resonate with people.

The Intercontinental Title Match

Inexplicably this match turned into a two-on-one match, presumably because someone who doesn’t understand how sports or competitions works thought Finn Balor would look more sympathetic and more impressive going against the odds in this way. But this is the point of view of a moron, because implicit in these two-on-one rules is that Balor can (and did) win the title by pinning either member of the two-person team, even though only one member was the defending champion.

So WWE expects this to be a significant moment when Balor wins the Intercontinental Championship — which he does by pinning the defending champion’s hype man. Balor wins the title by not defeating the champion. How is that supposed to get him over? How is that supposed to feel satisfying? Right away, he’s undermined by booking that routinely broadcasts its own lack of awareness of how athletic competitions work and why they resonate with audiences. (more…)

JBL must go.

There’s no way around it—JBL has to go.

WWE’s bullying culture has been known for decades, but some unfortunate timing and sympathetic victims have launched the issue into the mainstream. Much of the judgment has swirled around John “Bradshaw” Layfield, a former cowboy-themed / occult-bodyguard themed / J.R. Ewing-themed wrestler-turned-Fox Business analyst-turned color commentator.
JBL’s penchant for bullying has been well documented, but a confluence of two victims’ stories has recently focused a spotlight on his behavior. Play-by-play announcer Mauro Ranallo is likely done with WWE as a result of how JBL’s bullying preyed on Ranallo’s battle with bipolar disorder. Former ring announcer Justin Roberts recently published Best Seat in the House, in which he speaks frankly about his experience on the receiving end of WWE’s bullying culture.

WWE is hardly the first company—or organization—to have a history of bullying, but locker-room justice is a blunt object that’s hard to align with an organization’s values.

Veterans coming to JBL’s defense have been pointing out that this is a thread running back to the history of the business. Whether it’s sports, fraternities or the military, hazing and bullying have long been leveraged to build bonds between participants who need to trust their colleagues, and to preemptively weed out those who can’t handle the pressure before the eventual caving can cause damage. And in a business like professional wrestling, trust and reliability are essential to the safety of the talent.
Culture has power; a 2016 DeLoitte survey showed 82 percent of global respondents believe culture is a competitive advantage. Companies are increasingly learning about the importance of clearly defining and taking ownership of their culture, cultivating it with care and harnessing its potential to drive their business.

And that’s why WWE needs to part ways with JBL sooner rather than later. For WWE to fully reap the benefits of its bullying culture, they need someone who truly excels at preying on the less powerful on all fronts; JBL is not that man. (more…)

Triple H Is Leaving As Champ: Wrestlemania 32 Prediction

I’ve been saying it for months now, ever since Triple H won the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble:

He’s leaving Wrestlemania as champion.

It’s not necessarily for any one reason, but as is always the case when the winds shift at the last minute in his storyline favor—for a confluence of reasons that just happen to align at just the right time.

It’s no secret to anyone that Roman Reigns is not getting over as WWE’s lead babyface. Nor is it any secret, particularly after this past week when they had to cut essentially the same promo twice, that The Authority is a tired force lording over WWE programming. Furthermore, the talent roster is thin—particularly following some ill-timed injuries—and in need of an injection of fresh blood.

And Triple H just happens to provide the silver bullet for all of their problems.

wweSo first thing’s first—how does Triple H leave Wrestlemania as champion when they’ve spent so much time and effort building up Roman Reigns as the new top face?

I’m old enough to remember when WWE invested time and money into a particular anti-Authority wrestler, on a path to topple the power-abusers and show once and for all that they could be beaten. And then, even after the storyline had played out over two calendar years, WWE made the decision at the last second to change the finish and have Triple H go over, throwing away all of the buildup for a finish that made no sense.

That was last year.

New Japan Acquisitions: Is This WWF 1984 or WWF 1999?

The news this week that four New Japan stars may soon be headed to WWE has sparked some unexpected and intriguing speculation about WWE’s plans for this talent, particularly revolving around the former members of New Japan’s Bullet Club.

It’s the kind of thing that has me completely flipping my opinion on whether I’d like to see Finn Balor in WWE.

bc2Prior to this week, if you’d asked me if I’d like to see Balor get called up to the main roster, I’d have said “No” without hesitation. Whether it’s the embarrassing mishandling of money main-eventers (Sasha Banks) or the midcarders who still deserve better than instant obscurity (Tyler Breeze), it’s becoming increasingly clear that the creative force(s) driving WWE’s main-roster product have absolutely no idea what to do with NXT talent.

But the prospect of putting Balor at the helm of an American version of the Bullet Club on WWE TV has me more excited for potential storylines on Raw than anything has in a while–because Balor and a Club of talent that got big in Japan on WWE’s main roster would signal that they’re finally recognizing top talent can come from somewhere else. It’d be indicative of a perception shift that hasn’t budged since roughly May of 2001.

That excitement is because I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s making some assumptions as to what kind of acquisition this is. And there’s pretty good reason to assume this isn’t the kind of acquisition I’m excited about.

Podcast of Doom (transcript): Survivor Series 2014 Predictions

[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.


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.

[audience laughter]

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?


Wrestling & Comics

When we started this little blog 7 1/2 years ago (WOW!), comic books were a lot more exciting than they are now. DC was going through a revolution, with Geoff Johns reviving the Green Lantern franchise and then bringing back the multiverse in Infinite Crisis. Marvel, my first love in comics, had become my whipping boy, with Joe Quesada giving Brian Michael Bendis free reign to destroy everything I loved about the House of Ideas. There was a lot to praise and a lot to complain about. Today, comics just aren’t as exciting. Sure, series like Invincible, Daredevil, Aquaman and The Walking Dead still keep me interested enough to go to the comic shop every week, but there isn’t really that buzz around the industry that there was back then.

DC’s New 52 really sucked out most of my interest in the company. Suddenly, all the characters I’d spent the last decade getting to know weren’t themselves anymore. Infinite Crisis, the story that got me interested in DC in the first place, probably doesn’t even exist in the continuity anymore. Of course, we don’t know for sure, because DC won’t frakking explain what happened and what didn’t in their new universe. For continuity buffs like myself, that’s a hard pill to swallow.

Marvel hasn’t really evolved much over the last decade either. It seems like they have a mega-crossover event that changes the status quo forever twice a year now, which makes you wonder what the status quo ever was to begin with. Instead of ruining the Avengers for me, Bendis is now ruining the X-Men, but they’ve really been ruined for a while anyway. Ed Brubaker, the best thing going at Marvel, has stepped away from superhero comics for the time being. And for some reason Marvel thinks it’s their responsibility to make me angry.

The declining frequency of our posts is a clear indication of how much we’ve really stopped caring. Back in the day we’d have a new post everyday, sometimes twice a day. We’d do weekly reviews of comics. We’d do Books of Doom that we’d review as a group. Now we can barely be bothered to post a Podcast of Doom transcript or bitch about stupid crap. Which brings me to the title of this blog post.

Jim Doom, Doom DeLuise and myself, Doomkopf’s version of the DC’s Trinity (before you make the joke guys, I realize I’m Wonder Woman), have two foundations to our friendship. One is comics, and the fact that we seem to agree on most aspects of storytelling and art styles. The other is professional wrestling, and the fact that we seem to agree on most aspects of storytelling and in-ring styles.

Tonight is Wrestlemania night. As I’m writing this in Austin, TX, I’m a little sad that I’m not sitting next to my buddies at DJ’s Dugout in Omaha, NE. We’ve been watching the big pay-per-views together for as long as we’ve been doing this blog. Now I’m in Austin, and DeLuise is about ready to leave the country, and we’re not going to be able to do that together anymore. But one thing we CAN do together is bitch about it on the internet. So as of right now, Doomkopf is officially a blog about comics AND wrestling. And I can’t think of a more appropriate day to do it than on Wrestlemania day.

I’m not sure if this means we’ll be posting more frequently, but it does mean we’ll have a lot more to talk about. Starting tomorrow with a review of Wrestlemania XXIX, naturally. I hope my fellow wrestling buddies will do the same.