The Universe – Entry Thirteen: Smelling Salts

Well, how about it folks? The WWE giving us two quality weeks of programming in a row this fall? I’m stunned, truly stunned. More than that, they have managed to turn me around on this whole “Purgatory in a Cell” thing. Just what exactly are they doing right? You’re going to have to click on, my little padawans.

I’m Brian Andrews; welcome to The Universe. Let’s get started.


13. Smelling Salts

As I sit here in the gorgeous Temple of Infinitude, I find myself honestly excited for the Hell in a Cell show. I know I was previously less than impressed with the way the WWE was handling things this autumn, but they have managed to put together something that definitely feels like it is worth the admission price. How could this have happened? This October’s offering was shaping up to be one of the more pointless shows of the year, but this week’s Raw added a few pieces of the puzzle that were sorely missing in this programming cycle.

WWE Booker starter kit.

WWE Booker starter kit.

Things like character direction. I haven’t given a single shit about Randy Orton for YEARS. Oh, how wonderful it was to see him actually go out there and perform as if he enjoys it. Best Orton promo in years, to lead into a Hell in a Cell match with his most hated rival, John Cena. This does not mean that I want to see them wrestle again. Been there, done that. Orton, however is riding on a wave of new-found IWC support due to the “RKO outta nowhere” gimmick that’s been making the rounds all over the interwebs.

The WWE is even promoting these suckers on social media. The internet is creating a memetic legacy for Randy Orton, and I hope the top brass can see the true value in this. They have a chance to gain a firm hold on a segment of their fanbase that has an ability they lost a long time ago, and that is creating buzz for their entertainers beyond those that would watch either way. These videos do just that. That is something you would show to a non-fan simply for it’s humorous aspects. It holds on its own without being professional wrestling. It’s sports entertainment in a very modern form, and has put Randy Orton back into a place where he can vie for a number-one contendership and it’s acceptable.

I mean, it’s not like he stands a chance against Lesnar, but I would pay $9.99 to see it go down.

One more just cuz’.


Another thing is rationality. There hasn’t been a whole hell of a lot of that going around lately. This is true. One of the most paramount aspects of the believability of professional wrestling is the reasoning behind a match. Why are we fighting? Cena and Orton got a nice dose with the number one contendership to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship added as an incentive to perform well at Hell in a Cell. Where else are we seeing rationality in the WWE as it pertains to Hell in a Cell? Bella vs. Bella.

I joke. No one gives a Total Crap about the Bellas. Too bad, sibling rivalries always have an extra sense of potential about them. Where was I? Oh yes, rationality. Big Show vs. Rusev. Rusev’s story has been the most solid story happening this year. Straightforward, yet nuanced. This sense of coherence isn’t tied exclusively to Big Show’s involvement, but it seems as it we are hitting critical mass with the “American Nationalistic Malevolence” subtext. Why is it okay for The Big Show to tear down a Russian flag for no other reason than he doesn’t like Rusev, but when Rusev teases a similar reactionary action, we cheer on a fan trying to stop him?

Guy deserved it, too.

I understand the WWE is an American-based company. The WWE’s scope, however, is worldwide. These athletes are performing to an audience much larger than the USA. We, as Americans, need to understand this. Rusev is nothing more than a gifted athlete that wishes to compete at the highest levels and prove his dominance. It’s getting to the point where Rusev is getting bulled by the so-called “babyfaces” of the company just because he comes from another country. I hope Rusev mows through The Big Show this Sunday. He is the better of the two and a true symbol of dominance. He deserves to be treated better. Get with the program America, stop being an island unto yourself and join the global community for God’s sake.

As a final aside on the Rusev/American soldier situation, any fan that jumps the barricade can expect to get messed up. That guy got off easy.


One more thing, and this could be the most important thing. Crowd quality. A good crowd can make a bad show bearable (Rumble ’14,), or turn a good show into a great show(MITB ’11, Raw after WMXXIX). A bad crowd can kill a WrestleMania. We had a crowd ready to boil over in Kansas City this Monday, and it made all the good things that much better. The crowd is a powerful part of the show, and when they get active, it pulls the television view in that much more.

Being in the crowd at a WWE show is a truly remarkable experience, and it allows us to be a part of the show. We made Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, we made Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, and we most certainly made The Rock and Steve Austin as famous as they became. We made John Cena as well for like three months, but I guess they never got the message that we stopped caring like eight years ago. The truth is, the WWE needs us to be loud and raucous. They need us to tell them what shows are good and what shows are bad. No matter what they put on that stage or in that ring, no matter how hard they try to shove something down our throats, we have way more power than they ever will. Let’s start using it more.


The WWE seems to be putting themselves in a position where they can gain some early momentum going into WrestleMania season, and I am all for that. Just remember, every match has the potential to be great, until it begins.


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