Guys and Divas #7: “Clusterf*ck Yes!” or “The Short One” (The Shield, The Wyatt Family, Mickie James, Survivor Series)

Good Wednesday (or other day on which you’re seeing this), dear reader!

Welcome for the seventh consecutive week to “Guys and Divas”: the only column on Inside Pulse Wrestling that wears a scarf it knit itself.

It’s a bit of a slow news week, but I think I’ve still got a real barnburner for you all. In the “Bonus Ball”, I look back at the night that defined “Survivor Series” for me forever AND(!) in this week’s “Divas” segment, I take a quick look at the arrival of the latest veteran Diva trainer to hit the Performance Center in Florida.

BUT FIRST(!), this week’s pre-taped Raw from Manchester, England (England) brought us a slew of great matches, but what everyone will remember are those final glorious moments. Let’s gush about them together in the latest edition of…

GUYS

The life of a nerd is filled with many what-if scenarios. In the case of the comic book nerd, such speculations tend to start with the question “What if [superhero A] and [superhero B] duked it out?”.

Being a nerd for both comic books and sports entertainment, I ponder such concepts even more often. Goldberg and Ryback. Sting and the Undertaker. Rick Steiner and Chucky. (…Okay. Maybe not that last one.) The list goes on. In more recent history, I’ve had my eye on a clash of supergroups. Not Avengers vs. Justice League, per se; but close.

This Monday night, we got a taste of that clash in the wee final moments of this week’s Raw; as The Shield and The Wyatt Family stood toe-to-toe in the ring, if only for a few fleeting glorious moments. Now, while that skirmish and the 12-man brawl (including CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, The Usos and The Rhodes Brothers) that followed it were an exciting way to say good night, what I found most intriguing were exactly who paired off. In the ring, Shield leader Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins squared off with the lumbering Luke Harper and Eric Rowan; while on the outside, Shield enforcer Roman Reigns tussled with Bray Wyatt.

Does this speak more to the size and skill sets of these men or to their place in each organization?–It certainly gets you thinking; particularly with what appears to be a subtle, slow-burn breakup for the Hounds of Justice cooking up of late.

Now, of course, like most clashes of super teams, eventually they must band together against a common enemy; in this case, the aforementioned Punk/Bryan/Usos/Cody/Goldust contingent, who seem primed for one hell of a 12-Man Elimination Traditional Survivor Series Match in two weeks, if all our predictions are correct.

I have to be honest. Right now, that match is the key selling point of that show for me. While I’m not as down on Big Show vs. Randy Orton as most, it certainly isn’t something we’ll remember a year (hell, a month) from now; and Cena/Del Rio–forget it. For once, the Traditional Survivor Series Match is the star; and that’s coming from a guy who thinks the more competitors you add to each side of the ring, the less interesting that match becomes.

To be fair though, look at this lineup. Two monster trios, the IWC’s favorite former long-running WWE Champion, the scrappy rightful champ, the current Tag Team Champions fresh off of an amazing comeback story and their current #1 Contenders who are making a big name for themselves each and every week. We’re in for quite a ride…if our theories are correct.

If not, what’s the alternative?–I remember reading a number of tweets as that final segment developed trying to logistically justify two Six-Man matches from this destructive dozen.

Obviously, Punk and Bryan have already set their sights on the Wyatts and (unless his Twitter-borne overseas heel turn really takes) one can only imagine they’ll bring fellow former buzzard feed The Miz into the fold. This leaves us with The Shield, The Usos and The Rhodes Brothers. I highly doubt there’s a fourth Shield member waiting in the wings at this point, so what’s the play?–My money would be on an incapacitated Goldust or Cody, with the remaining brother teaming with the Usos for a little payback.

Either way, Survivor Series 2013 looks to be a good night for the upper midcard and a fitting distraction for Bryan and Punk before they head off on what we can only hope are their respective Roads to Wrestlemania.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty damned excited.

…and on that happy note, we move on to this week’s “Divas” segment.

Earlier this week, word hit the internet that–arguably–one of the greatest Womens/Divas Champions in WWE history would be heading down to Florida to teach the new crop a thing or two. Prepare yourselves for lots of gushing and excited rambling in this edition of…

DIVAS

2005 and 2006 were very formative years for me.

Not only did they encompass my freshman year at my university of choice, but they also contained my favorite Diva storyline–possibly just storyline, in general–of all-time. Naturally, it included the 7-time WWE Womens’ Champion and future Hall of Famer Trish Stratus.

On the October 10, 2005 edition of Monday Night Raw, Trish defended her title against another living legend Victoria; in a match which saw their comrades (Ashley Massaro and Candice Michelle & Torrie Wilson respectively) banned from ringside.

*(NOTE: Whoever posted the video got the date wrong. Also, GOD, the things Jerry Lawler used to say.)

…and so it began. The debuting Mickie James proclaimed herself Trish’s biggest fan and quickly became a constant presence in the life of the champ, jockeying for favor with Trish’s other confidant Ashley well into 2006. As months passed, it became clear that Mickie would stop at nothing to be the #1 lady in her hero’s life, including not-so-subtle attempts at a sapphic physical relationship.

Her advances repeatedly spurned, the unstable Mickie finally snapped and attacked Trish on the debut revival of Saturday Night’s Main Event on St. Patrick’s Day 2006 (a night I will forever remember for my having crashed a frat party shortly after watching the show…but I digress); leading to their legendary Womens’ Championship bout at Wrestlemania 22, where Mickie captured the belt to the delight of the Chicago crowd.

Long story short (too late), Mickie James became a dominating presence in the WWE Womens’ division for the rest of the decade and stole my heart. She remains one of my favorite wrestlers (male or female)–nay, human beings–of all time.

So, you can imagine how thrilled I was when word started going around this week that she’d be headed to Orlando, Florida to train WWE’s best and brightest up-and-coming Divas at the state-of-the-art Performance Center.

Now, I know my optimism for the Divas division is a topic of great derision around these parts, but I just can’t help it. Not only does my general affection for these women lead me to want to see them all succeed, but it’s clear that WWE is truly making a concerted effort to build/rebuild/whatever this division; especially with moves like bringing back one of their best in the last decade to whip the newbies into shape.

Yeah, sometimes the proverbial main stage can get you down, but it can’t be stated enough: the night is always darkest before the dawn. If there’s one idea I want to get across in this relatively slow news week, it’s that.

Fingers crossed, the dawn will break sooner than any of us think.

Short, sweet and to the point; just like Mickie herself.

Lastly this week, it seems this year’s Survivor Series event is really heating up; with one blockbuster of a traditional match seemingly in the works…but what about those years when tradition took a backseat?–It’s all happening in this week’s edition of…

THE BONUS BALL

I picked a hell of a year to start watching professional wrestling. In 1998, the fabled “Monday Night Wars” had reached a fever pitch. New viewers were taking to their screens for Nitro and Raw by the millions; and I was one of them.

As such, the standard for the show I’ve now been watching for over fifteen years was being set by the likes of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Bill Goldberg, The Rock and the New World Order. This was the baseline for my perspective on professional wrestling, and over the course of the next year, I got a feel for the way things would run. I quickly figured out the characters and archetypes that would be worth watching, the segments and moments that would define each Monday night and above all, which pay-per-views meant the most.

In WWE, the so-called “Big Four” were unmistakable: Wrestlemania, Summerslam, Royal Rumble and the November classic known as Survivor Series.

For many of you, that last title immediately evokes elimination tag matches with large groups of the day’s biggest names coming together for a common cause. For others, it will forever be the night that whether it was Vince or Bret, somebody screwed Bret.

For me, it was a 14-man tournament for the vacant WWE Championship, entitled “Deadly Game”.

I apologize for putting that oh-so-memorable jingle back into your head. It was quite the earworm; but I can’t lie. During these recent few months in which we had no WWE Champion, part of me kept hoping against hope Jim Johnston would have to dust off that number and give it a 2013 remix.

The Deadly Game tournament IS Survivor Series to me.

In general, I’m a sucker for a tournament and in 1998, WWE had quite the roster with which to fill those brackets. (Admittedly, they filled one slot with Duane Gill, but no matter.) The Undertaker, Kane, Goldust, The Rock, Steve Austin, William (at the time, Steven) Regal, X-Pac, Jeff Jarrett, Mankind…these legendary names vied for the highest prize in professional wrestling that night…and I was on the edge of my seat.

Could you just imagine the 14 (although ideally, 16) names that would be on that bracket today? The matchups that would lead to?–Don’t let me be misunderstood. I stand by my statement that I watch this show for story and characters more than the action, but when a double-digit list of the day’s best are all going for the gold on a night where anything can happen, you can rest assured you’re going to get a great show with some quality athletic performances.

…and just like that, it was over.

Seriously, it’s a slow news week here at “Guys and Divas”; but I feel confident that next week, as we find ourselves mere days away from this year’s Survivor Series event, business will pick up.

With that in mind, I open the floor to all of you with this week’s homework assignments:

  • Will it be a 12-Man or two Six-Man bouts?–No matter how you slice it, the final segment of this week’s Raw piqued more than a few viewers’ interests. Plus, I don’t think that was the last we’ll see of The Shield and The Wyatt Family facing off. As such, how would you book these 12 participants for next Sunday’s pay-per-view? Who do you consider each competitor’s counterpart? Answer these questions and more about the brawl that closed the show.
  • Mickie James vs. Trish Stratus remains my favorite Diva storyline ever. What’s yours?–and while I’ve got you, how would you book a returning Mickie James in the current Diva climate? Sound off on our favorite former psychopath.
  • 1998’s Deadly Game tournament may be my Survivor Series, but what year defined the November extravaganza for you? What’s your favorite traditional Survivor Series match?–Ramble far and wide about the last of the “big four”.

As always, join me for my weekly Monday Night Raw live-tweet (@biscuitman18; #GuysAndDivas) and once again, stay tuned for upcoming news about my latest media venture. (Trust me. You’ll dig it.)

Until next week, I’m Jeff Heatherly saying “Well done, internet.” So long, all!

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