The Beat Downs Go On Forever

A basic rule in the WWE playbook is that if you want to build heat on a character or in a feud, go for a beat down. Time and again, heels have taken the last 10 minutes of Raw to waffle someone with a folding chair again and again, usually in a two- or three-on-one situation, just to amplify the cruel unfairness. A week ago, The Miz and the Miztourage pounded on Roman Reigns well after he’d stopped moving, going so far as starting to leave the ring and come back down the ramp to beat on Reigns’ prone body some more.

Roman Reigns Shows His Softer Side

This year’s number one project in the WWE is clearly building Roman Reigns. He’s big, agile, and charismatic, and perhaps because he was picked for big things years ago, fans have been slow to truly embrace him. At the recent “No Mercy” pay-per-view, he completed a brief program with John Cena designed to give Cena a chance to tell the fans that Reigns has earned his respect.

Did Jinder Mahal, WWE Go "Too Far"?

The WWE’s efforts to build Jinder Mahal look remarkably like flying a plane into the side of a mountain. I keep waiting for the company to treat its champion like a champion, but the top story on Smackdown Live is Kevin Owens versus Shane McMahon, where no titles are on the line. Mahal currently holds the most prestigious belt on the show, but he remains mired in angles that are unconvincing if not demeaning. Tuesday, he cut a promo on Shinsuke Nakamura that was too complicated as well as racially problematic.

The WWE Keeps It "Real"

Pro wrestling has always asked you to believe what you think you see, and the WWE has raised that to an art form. When it launched Total Divas on E!, the reality show quickly meshed with WWE in-ring “reality” as storylines crossed for a mindfucking reality-squared effect. That cat-and-mouse game with reality has become WWE writers’ favorite tool recently, used most effectively in the John Cena/Roman Reigns program. Three weeks ago, the two seemed to be shooting, telling the truth on each other.

The Big Show Shows How It's Done

I never loved physically big wrestlers in the WWE. They wrestled big, slow matches that were all about power, so they bored me on a couple of levels. I am proudly #neverhulkhogan, and The Great Khali and Giant Gonzales made me uncomfortable to watch because you could see that their unusual size came from the acromegaly that would afflict them more as they aged. That unhealthy undercurrent in big wrestler matches further took the fun out of them.

The WWE Recalls Its Sideshow Roots with Jinder Mahal

In the New York Times story on WWE Champion Jinder Mahal that ran before last weekend’s SummerSlam, Mahal remembered how an in-ring promo he cut on Randy Orson put him on the map. 

“Randy, you’re just like all of these people!” Mr. Dhesi [Mahal] said, shooting his opponent a piercing glare. “You disrespect me because I look different! You disrespect me because of your arrogance and your lack of tolerance!”

Raw's Kurt Angle Introduces Jason Jordan as His Illegitimate Son - "It's True!"

 The big news this week in the WWE was the announcement that American Alpha’s Jason Jordan is the illegitimate son of Olympic gold medalist, long-time WWE Superstar and now Raw general manager Kurt Angle. Jordan isn’t in real life, but the shared broad cheekbones make the story possible. The story’s the kind that doesn’t move me, and it doesn’t help that it was tied to a performer who had little presence in the WWE Universe before this week.

Raw, Smackdown Take the Week Off

WWE "superstars" all stress that wrestling is storytelling, and that a good match tells a good story. This week, little storytelling took place in the ring on Raw. Samoa Joe’s unmotivated feud with Brock Lesnar took place on the mic and the entrance ramp, where Joe put his Coquina Clutch on Lesnar and almost choked him out before officials from the back could separate the two.

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