Thursday, March 6, 2014

Best Coast Bias: And Now, a WWE Network Production

The match was good, but the inherent symbolism was better
Photo credit:

At the table, Road Dogg was telling Dad Jokes while begrudgingly putting over the young talent in the ring. The Usos who'd taken the belts from him the night previous and the Matadores who hoped to ascend to that place one day, and one day soon. Billy Gunn sat next to him, selling a faux bout of encephalitis, and in that moment there was no better reminder of the surety of time and change than this juxtaposition on display.

In 2014 on the WWE Network, the former Champion Outlaws may be of age, but there's nothing new about them anymore. Preserved in amber like a "My Love Is The Shh..." cassingle, long-time fans of the product look at the former King of the Ring and the former Intercontinental Champion as not entirely beloved relics of an age when there was glory to be found in being too young to know better. But those sort of days are over: nowadays, the tag teams look like each other as if to be Winklevii, flying around with topes and planchas that are just as big a jab in the mind's eye as sharing a table with Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton, or tiny bulls running around ringside more than willing to put their horns to your junk. Not that El Torito can be blamed, since Billy shoved him down first. When are people going to learn: you mess with the bull, you get the hurricanrana.

Change is the variable constant, since no one can know with surety what it'll look like; just eventually that it'll arrive. So welcome to a new era of Main Event, Bias Junctioneers: a place of relevance, shown live, and moved to Tuesday if you laid down that tenski a month. (Also, if you were just keeping Ion TV on your dial so you could find it every Wednesday, maybe that's a burden you can lay down.)

Want proof this is a changed show? It wasn't the theme change that went down earlier in the year, or the slight recutting of the opening stinger to welcome us after the perennial Then Now Don't Forget You're Here Forever blip: it was the opening match, wherein Daniel Bryan faced his former anger management running buddy and current DOO (hee hee) Kane. Seeing everybody's boy D-Bry right here was as jarring as a Mark Henry tornillo would be. It was yet another unspoken, forceful reminder of who controls the spigot and who's thirst is real: with the Network hungry for first-run live programming, suddenly there were resources that there weren't barely half a week ago, and the Revamp of the Valkryies brought out the possibly new best in the world ready to avenge a beatdown he'd got the previous night and not "two nights ago".

There can be no better example of The Prince's paragraphs being followed to the letter than having the formerly demonic now corporately entrenched libertarian fighting his shaggy, vegan, television-less constant affirmer of the positive ex-friend start out the show. You'd think you were watching a production by a semi-benevolent capitalist virtual monopoly or something. The story was David vs. Goliath mach a trillion, with an added twist -- David's always unspoken anger issues flowing out not through words, but deeds and the absence thereof. Every time the former WWE Champion started thinking with his heart and not his head, he and his beard paid the price. Kane was able to biel and uppercut Daniel around with ease when those things occurred, putting him in vice grips and sending him into the barrier and whatnot.

But once Daniel Bryan chopped down the big redwood by taking out his leg with a swing into the post and then following up where he could while hoping to survive the heavy offenses... well, you could see how certain Washingtonians could get dubbed the real B.I.T.W. In the end, it was D over G and brains over brawn, even if it was via sunset flip rather than the vaunted small package. But that in itself was a triumph, a successful scouting and countering of a chokeslam attempt. On this night, there was no Viper, no Game, no winded Animal or sarcasm-drenched harpy to ruin his moment. Just Daniel Bryan, the face of the repressed, having come back as truth. Poor Kane. He mad, tho.

From goats to foxes, Alicia went in against Nikki Bella after that, both backed up by the usual suspects. Alicia in a lot of ways has become the pass/fail litmus test for every woman out to hold the Lisa Frank Memorial Belt. Can you have a good match with Alicia? If the answer to that is no, maybe more model-y and less armdrag-y. Fortunately for Nikki, she passed. She took a missed elbow drop and turned it into arm work. Alicia swept her leg and went to work, with Brie firing up the crowd to get in her sister's corner. Another awesome thing about the new era of Main Event, should this be that: no more crowd sweetening. Let the talent develop and live and die on their own. Before, Brie firing up the crowd would've been reviewed with not outright skepticism, but a "maybe they tweaked this to further the narrative", let's say. Here, you could see the people in the first few rows latch onto the chant and try to encourage everybody around them to join in. Despite Alicia's best efforts with her signature figure four headlock and Best Northern Lights in the Business, she ended up taking a one-way express pass to rack rack city, trick. Of course Brie'd provided an assist to her by nullifying Aksana on the outside, but passing grades are passing grades.

When the Outlaws and their laundry list of ailments waived off their rematch, GM Brad Maddox (stay gold, smarmy boy) quickly moved in to fill the gap. As it was, we just got a different set of challengers to challenge for the Baskin Pennies, and who better than the 2½ men who'd personified Main Event in the past few weeks? What followed was an out-and-out respect match between both sets of doppelgangers that even went unruined with a clean finish in favor of the new Champeens. They exchanged rollups for the better part of 90 seconds and split them evenly, they went for dropkicks at the same time that failed, and the crowd was into the lot of it even if there was more Usupport than Matador amor. There was a great spot late in the second segment of the match -- yes, Virginia, Main Event can now support TWO two-seggers -- that ended up with a Matador rererereversing into a standing tornado DDT for a near fall.

The biggest j'accuse the loyalists can lobby at the WWE isn't without merit. It seems entirely Heat-in-December easy for them to flip a switch and become a Shield/Wyatts Cesaro/Zayn IV THIS IS THE MOST AWESOME THING EVER EXCLAMATION POINT ONE ONE ONE EXCLAMATION POINT ONE EXCLAMATION POINT, but there doesn't seem to be an impetus for it to be done. Perhaps the Network is the fire stoked that no outside force could touch, and perhaps this is actually going to be the new age personified, where even the Stamfordites will recognize that in the quest for perfection failing can still achieve greatness.

If this is a sweep across the board from the minor leagues to the top shows on the road to WrestleMania XXX, then there will be a flotilla of index fingers in the air chanting the same three-letter word. But let's stick a pin in this episode of WWEME: if nothing comes from it, nothing comes from it. And should something come from it, well, then, who could complain?