|The lads discuss year end lists and Roadblock, and Jericho comes up|
Photo Credit WWE.com
Guests: Steve Kazee, Dan St. Germain
December brings a deluge of Year-End lists. Best movies, best albums, best TV shows, best sick takedowns of Trump on Twitter, and they totally worked! Oh, and I'm not immune to the charms of telling you about my favorite albums of the year, which you can find over on my Medium blog - Elliot's favorite records of 2016
Okay, back to wrestling, and back to arguably our most important wrestling journalist, David Shoemaker. I'm sure he would bristle at being called a journalist, since at heart is he is merely a fan who has been given the privilege of writing about something he loves. But that genuine love, combined with intellect and an even-keeled nature, make Shoemaker a listenable voice in pro wrestling criticism (even if he can't remember that the John Cena/Kevin Owens feud happened last year, not this year).
Thus it falls to Shoemaker for a reasonable year-end review of WWE's highest and lowest moments, for which he brings on actor Steve Kazee and comedian Dan St. Germain to assist. What's nice is that instead of each guy reading off his Top 10 matches of the year or something like that, they each have a favorite moment/storyline/match, in addition to a least favorite moment/storyline/match, and the discussion flows organically.
The episode starts with a mini-recap of Roadblock: End of the Line: Seriously That's It: This is the End, My Only Friend, The End. Regarding the end of the show that saw Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns laying an angry beatdown on Owens and Chris Jericho, Shoemaker quotes his friend Robert Greene, director of Fake It So Real: "It just felt like the jocks beating up the nerds." You can talk about illogical WWE booking until you're dead, but this one line encapsulates the problem better than anyone. Credit to Greene and Shoemaker for noticing that WWE believes the traits of a good person to be vindictiveness and anger, and for pointing out in simple terms.
Perhaps this is why the guys here don't think there are any true, popular babyfaces in WWE right now. It's maybe AJ Styles, which is...not what WWE wants. Rollins could technically be that guy, but as everyone on this show says, WWE dropped the ball big time when Rollins came back by not capitalizing on the crowd's enthusiasm to see him. He had to slide back into his role as a heel, and then very gradually, very unconvincingly became a guy we were supposed to like. He accomplished this by being even more sniveling, and more importantly, giving people obnoxious nicknames like "Sparklecrotch." Remember, when you're a good person, you have to make fun of someone's eccentricities!
The guys agree that one of the biggest lows of the year was the one that's supposed to be the highest: WrestleMania 32. I feel that the main reason why that show felt slapped together was the rash of injured wrestlers, and unfortunately that point isn't brought up on this episode. But they are still correct that it was a mostly forgettable show that may have been fun in the moment, but hardly has anything that will be making your own year-end list (the Women's triple threat was very good, but has since been eclipsed by almost all of the Sasha Banks/Charlotte Flair matches).
If you are to take anything from this episode, and from Shoemaker's general outlook, it's that things will be okay. After almost unanimously trashing WrestleMania 32, they agree that 33 is guaranteed to be a better show. They also agree that the eventual debut of Shinsuke Nakamura will be gold, with Dan St. Germain quite brilliantly comparing him to The Undertaker, due to his "more than words" vibe and ghostly movements. In recapping what worked for WWE in 2016, Shoemaker and his friends remind us that the most valid wrestling criticism is the one in which they acknowledge the very reason for pro wrestling existing, to make money and mostly make people happy. Shoemaker, Kazee and St. Germain aren't immune from complaining, but they do so with an eye toward the future, and a hope that goodness will prevail.