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Cell Phones? In MY Theatre? Meh, No Sweat

Jeremiah

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It’s no secret I’m a cranky bastard. I remember once at a Royals game, I turned to friend of mine, Al, and I said, “You know what bothers me, Al?” To which he said, “Everything bothers you, Jeremiah. You’re the most bothered man I know.”

I say this to tell you this: I don’t give a rats ass if you text in movie theaters. Do I find it annoying? Yes. Do I wish you would stop it? Of course. Would it send me into a vitriolic rage so epic I would wish a pox on both your houses? Meh.

Look, put away your damn phones. You’re in a public screening room; people paid good money for an experience, so don’t be a dick. Also, put the thing on silent. There’s an entire production number before the trailers reminding you to silent the blasted contraption.

Movie critics and movie lovers alike will rant and rave about how cellphones need be confiscated before entering a movie. The Alamo Drafthouse, for example, famously has a zero-tolerance policy for cell phones and texting during the film. I’m actually okay with that. At the same time, I don’t think every theater needs one.

Movies are supposed to be empathy generators. For an hour or two we walk in someone else’s shoes; may they resemble us or maybe we’re nothing like them. At the end of the movie we’ve hopefully, at the very least understand them and by extension people we know like them, or ourselves, a little better.

Yet when someone takes to social media and goes on a tirade about how cell phones are killing the movie going experience someone will inevitably bring up the extreme example of “What if it’s an Emergency?” To which the self-righteous ranter will reply, “Leave.”

Fair enough. But still who cares?

Look, everyone has had a bad movie going experience. It’s a sad fact of life. Not all ball games are fun and sometimes going to the movies means sitting next to the guy who chews his popcorn with his back teeth. It’s the price you pay for going out in public with other people.

You know something? I bet you that while you may have had someone text or talk in a movie you went to, you probably don’t remember the movie it happened at. Or maybe you do, and if the movie was any good, it was still good even with the jack ass on the phone. The art is stronger than the cell phone.

I had a friend, Eric. We used to watch movies together all the time. That rat bastard would almost never shut up. No matter the movie good, bad, classic, he had jokes for every occasion. It wore on me sometimes, and sometimes it helped. Yet, when I think back, I don’t remember the anger or Eric’s jokes. I remember the movie and how it made me feel.

The art is stronger than the cellphone. I’ve had people text in movies. But I didn’t care because who the fuck cares about that rando I think that fat guy is Tom Cruise! If the movie is any good the memory trumps the inconvenience because good movies are so rare and great movies are rarer still.

Although there was one time where I do have a vivid memory of an dickweed on his cellphone. I had the privilege to see Godfather: Part II in theaters, on the big screen. It was, predictably, a-god damn-mazing. About the time we get to the pivotal moment where SPOILER ALERT Fredo gets shot, someone’s cell phone goes off. And it goes off for like a good minute. The audience is visibly perturbed but we soldier on because the moment is about to happen, so forget that guy.

But then this little rat fuck behind him decides to take a cue from Falling Down and kicks the back of the guy’s seat. Hard. And now it’s a thing. Because the cellphone guy, who’s with his wife and kids, has just turned off his cellphone; and the bearded Shemp kicks the back of his chair again.

Cell phone dude stands up. So does Osh-Kosh-McDumb fuck. Now I have a memory of the time there was almost a fight because an idiot and a moron decided they needed to have a dick measuring contest. Oh by the way, saw Fredo getting shot. Missed Michael being told though. So, thanks ass wipe.

Art is stronger than the asshole with a cellphone. What the douche in black did though was turn it from a thing and turned it into a moment, a true distraction. He pulled us away from the Corleones and made it all about him. That guy peeves me more than cell phone guy.

The phone guy, forgetful, possibly rude. Whatever. People who text during movies, nincompoops, the lot of them. Are they being selfish? Yes. But before you come at me with “I paid good money!” They did too. I could give a fuck about people on cell phones and texting. Welcome to the modern world. It’s something people do. It’s also part of why we go to the movies.

I saw Independence Day in theaters when it first came out. My sister worked at the theater and she came in during the movie to see how we were doing. Before she left she asked us if we noticed anything odd about the screen. My Mother and I shook our heads. She pointed to a small white spot on Will Smith’s head. “Someone threw a gummy bear at the screen yesterday and it melted on.” So my memory of Independence Day includes Will Smith marching about with a Gummy Bear tattoo on his forehead.

So back to the original point: I could give a fuck about people on cell phones and texting. Welcome to the modern world. It’s something people do. I’d prefer it if you weren’t texting or talking. But there’s a fifty to seventy foot screen with larger than life images who I find infinitely more interesting than your insignificant self.

To the ranters and ravers who say the other people are murdering the movie going experience-have more faith in the art. The art is amazing. Trust.


Featured image courtesy of CC0 Public Domain

Jeremiah lives in Los Angeles and divides his time between living in a movie theatre and writing mysteries. There might also be some ghostbusting being performed in his spare time.

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Fandom Meme Disease, and What Should We Do With It?

Angelina

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A fandom meme disease is this thing that happens when creators absorb fandom-born memes and integrate them into their work.

(And so, first things first: sorry that for the duration of this article I’ll use “meme” as if this were a legit term.  It is controversial to say the least, but it is shorter to say “meme” than “any idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture”.)

I’m not implying that the creators who do this are somehow bad, or that fandom is somehow bad. Moreover, I don’t believe that fandom-creator interaction is bad. What is bad, then? Let me explain how I see it.

Fandom Meme Creation

Any given fandom is, in my opinion, born when some people contact any given media and start using it as a source of inspiration. Not just a purely artistic inspiration; people may be inspired to write meta-analysis, or to engage in discussions, or to wage a flame war against opponents. All this is normal human reaction on something inspirational. Even flame wars are somewhat natural (still wicked, though; human nature can be wicked, too).

And while acting on their inspiration, people deconstruct the original source and use its metaphorical bricks to build their own work, be it a meta, a fic or an art. The result may be perfectly in line with the original, but usually it is not. It resembles the original, that’s true—but as it went through processing in one’s creative imagination it came out a bit different. Thus, fandom meme is born.

There are millions of those floating on the Internet’s vast expanses. Some of them are soon forgotten even by those who first gave life to them. Some are more resilient than others, so they spread and multiply their kind. Those memes become known as fanon. Other fandom memes stay in this gray area between a headcanon and “this weird idea I share with some friends”. Still, all those are memes.

But I digress.

 How The Internet Changed Things

Nowadays the creators have a unique opportunity to exchange views with the fandom. Not that it was not possible before; the letters existed, the fanmail was a really important thing, and the conventions started long before the advent of Internet, but still the scale was different.
What’s more important, the speed was different.
Back then the creator had to wait for quite a time to get a sufficient amount of feedback from, well, fandom. Now a minute past the release there is a ton of articles, metas, fanart, fanfiction—etc. There is fanart and fanfiction about characters who are announced only/had a brief screen moment in trailers or even teasers. There are metas about them, too!

And all this is actually great. But any great thing has a flip side.

In this case, it is this little fact that on average, an interested person is much more exposed to fandom memes than to canon memes. Because the original version is a meme, too—but a meme that is spread and multiplied on much lower rate than fandom memes are. And the thing with memes is, more exposure usually means more absorption.

The sad truth is, creators are interested persons, too.

When Creators Absorb Fandom Memes

Basically what happens is, being constantly exposed to very bustling fandom life, the creators not only have an influence on it, but are influenced by it. This influence may be different.

While there are certainly those who treat fandom memes as a discussion point only, they are not the only ones. Some creators consciously decide to follow a fanon as a means of pandering to their fandom. Other creators use their work to basically say “your fanon is wrong, don’t follow it”. And then there are some creators who genuinely absorb the meme and spread it in good faith. The latter thing is especially typical for multi-author franchises.

Thus it happens that when a next installment is out, it suffers from fandom meme disease.

What Is Not a Fandom Meme Disease?

  • FlanderizationIt shares one notable similarity with fandom meme disease—namely the fact that a character or event becomes increasingly simplified and defined by their/its most obvious trait, and it happens as the franchise or series progresses. But the difference is that the fandom has no part in this creative decision, just some lazy writing. FMD is not a sign of deterioration—it can happen with something that is otherwise pretty good and very much alive and thriving—while Flanderization is usually a red flag signalling that this media is dying.
  • Retcon. It is, again, very similar to FMD in effect (something or someone is no more the one it once was) and timing (also occurs with some new installment), but the key difference is, retcon acknowledges that something has in fact changed, it just asks us to pretend it hasn’t. FMD doesn’t acknowledge any change and acts as if things were always this way.
  • Any other case of real or perceived OOC. It can be a case of fandom meme disease only if the sudden shift in the original is consistent with the fanon or directly opposes it, but contradicts the earlier version.

Notable Victims

fandom meme disease

Not pictired: a badass warrior who overthrew a whole patriarchal system to learn how to fight

Yeah. I really hate what the otherwise pretty good Legend of Korra did with Katara. A decent half of her personality suddenly disappeared in the thin air, leaving us with the fanon Mommy Healer Katara whose only life goal is to care for her child-husband Aang and bear children for him. Sure, that was a widespread enough idea (and pretty sexist, too), but did the creators forget that they themselves wrote her as very proactive and never content with staying away from action?

Not pictured: a traumatised child-soldier, deeply anxious about her underperformance in all things “feminine”, haunted by things she had to do yet always caring and empathetic towards others

I had a tough time picking a poster person for the very…peculiar way in which Game of Thrones treats George R. R. Martin’s characters. The problem is, only some of them suffer from FMD; others are rewritten to fit into D&D’s own narrative.

The thing with Arya (and Sansa; and Sandor) is that sometimes it is not hard to point directly towards those fan discussions that were a basis for the creative decisions turning the original character into something very, very different.

If I could pick an event to illustrate the FMD…Game of Thrones would never disappoint! Do you remember that Robert’s Rebellion was built on lies? That’s the most blatant case of FMD I’ve ever met. It is ripped from fanfiction and wishful-thinking style metas and even the idea that Robert’s Rebellion is all about Rhaegar and Lyanna is pure fandom meme!

fandom meme disease

Not pictured: a tormented soul, devoid of all emotion due to being consumed by Dark Side, a sorry creature that is ever a puppet of his masters

See, this one is tricky. FMD mostly tortured Vader back in the old EU, but I think Kieron Gillen’s comics are not free from its fair share of Over Powerful Unstoppable Cool Awesome Guy Vader We All Adore. He has his good moments when he actually catches the other part of being a Sith, but mostly it is right here. This Vader is really cool, he is fun to watch, he is wisecracking, he is never truly challenged and never has to doubt himself. He beat the ancient dark Jedi without breaking a sweat, for good’s sake. That’s really too much.

The ultimate Manly Man of the franchise—though of course Rogue One gave us an even more blatant example of purest fanon possible on big screen.

And There Are More

I didn’t want to use Hermione Granger from Cursed Child because it may cause misunderstanding, but what about the movies? What about Princess Leia and her sorry fate throughout the old EU? What about loads of characters I don’t know, but you certainly do?

And what about sexism that is suspiciously ever present in any case of fandom meme disease?

Girls and women are pigeonholed by their tomboyish/feminine attitude, with tomboys stripped off all feminine traits, while girly girls devoid of all courage, right to be angry and right to be rational, as those things are associated with masculinity.

All the while “cool” male characters are carefully stripped off any sign of human nature, emotion or just simply weakness. Tell me it happens by pure chance.

So… What Can We Do?

We can talk about it. Raise awareness. Point out the bad tendency of sexist fanons to creep on big screen and on book and comic book pages.

If this exists, it can be beaten, after all.


Images courtesy of HBO, Viacom, Disney

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ClexaCon: A Safehaven for Queer Actors and Content Creators

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It’s been a week since ClexaCon ended, and I finally feel up to talking about it. Not because I haven’t had anything to say, but because I’ve honestly been recovering from the worst con crud I’ve ever had for the past week (I’m still coughing and sneezing, but at least I don’t feel like I’m dying anymore and napping 3x a day!). However, the prolonged time has given me space to fully flesh out my initial reactions.

Coming home last year, I was more focused on how ClexaCon solidified my personal writing and career goals. This year is a little different. Rather than thinking about what the con means to me, as an attendee and panelist, I find myself reflecting on what it means to the queer actors and creators. What it means for them to have this space, too.

It all started at Ascension—the afterparty Saturday night. Several of the celebrities showed up and mingled with fans, something they didn’t have to do and showcased just how invested they were in us and our community. While watching Stephanie Beatriz get down with Isabella Gomez to the delight of the room, my friend Leah (one of the organizers of TGIFemslash, who we interviewed last year) pointed out that being surrounded by queer women who love her and her work must be a relief for Beatriz. For the first time, she gets to be the big star. Her existence as a queer woman of color is not just acknowledged but celebrated. That got me thinking: ClexaCon isn’t just a safe space for the attendees, it’s a safe space for queer actors, too.

I found Stephanie Beatriz walking the vendor floor and gave her a button that said, “It’s very embarrassing having feelings.” She was both delighted and delightful!

Where else does Stephanie Beatriz get to talk openly about her bisexuality and the bisexuality of her character and be met with cheers? Where else does Erica Luttrell get to be openly affectionate with her girlfriend and be greeted not with disgust or avoidance but happy tears and heart-eyes? Where else can queer actors dress how they want and be surrounded by folks who look like them?

As attendees, we’re so used to thinking about how important the con is in providing a space for us to be visible and see ourselves reflected in everyone around us. That’s true. This year, I thought about that being true for the actors as well. Not just us, but they get to be in a room of women who are just like them. How often does that happen for them? Even in Hollywood, probably not all that often.

More than that, how often do they get to be the stars? How often do actors like Briana Venskus, Dot Marie Jones, Rachel Paulson, and Nicole Pacent get to be the actors that fans are lining up for and hype to get autographs, selfies, and photo ops with? How frequently do you think Elise Bauman and Natasha Negovanlis get to be some of the biggest stars in the room? When do these queer women get to be not just adjacent to the action, but the main attraction?

We’re here to see them and that means just as much to them as it does to us. They’re getting recognition and hype for being queer women who play queer female characters. They have space to celebrate who they are as much as we do. That’s HUGE.

And even for straight actors playing queer female characters, how often is it that the queerness of the role they’re playing is the main draw?

On Saturday, staff was shorthanded on volunteers in the autograph lines, so I signed myself up to help out. I ended up in Chyler Leigh’s line scanning tickets and let me tell you, I was getting emotional listening to fans talk to her. I’m sure at other cons she gets to hear stories like the ones I heard, but imagine that being the only story you hear over and over. “You’re so important to me as an actor because Alex helped me accept that I’m gay.” “Alex helped me come out to my parents.” “Alex’s conversation with Kara was exactly like talking to my sister, and I cried watching it because of how important that was to see.” All these and more.

For actors who truly care about the representation they’re embodying with their characters, as all the actors at ClexaCon do, being bombarded with love, support, and celebration of the work they’re doing must be one of the most fulfilling experiences. They might get flak from family, friends, or other people in the industry for portraying a queer character. They might have people say awful things to them because of the choice to support queer rep and do it well. But at ClexaCon, all they get is love. And them receiving that is important because they may not get it elsewhere.

That’s why I got so angry when I heard about how short the autograph lines were for Nafessa Williams after I finished my volunteer shift. She plays Anissa Pierce on Black Lightning—a literal bulletproof black lesbian and, in my opinion, the most important queer female superhero on TV right now (no offense to White Canary or Alex Danvers) because of that. Yet she wasn’t being given the same level of recognition as other actors were. This is her place to shine and be lauded for everything she’s doing for queer women of color representation and yet…it wasn’t happening the way I expected and wanted it to. Given the levels of racism and homophobia in our society, Nafessa Williams deserved to be celebrated at ClexaCon, because if not there, where else?

Because to me, ClexaCon isn’t just a chance to gush about ships—though I do understand why that’s such a huge draw—it’s a space to participate in and listen to conversations about layered identities. Where else can we discuss what it means to be queer and mentally ill? Or about being queer and disabled? Or queer and non-white? Where else do those conversations get to be not just in the margins, but the main attractions?

I participated in three panels this year, and what has surprised me most is that the one I’ve gotten the most positive feedback from is the Neurodiversity in Writing panel I moderated. (Fellow managing editor Kylie and Fandomentals writers Lisa and Kristen were the panelists.) Sure, I got a lot of people saying how much they loved the Korrasami panel and my Responsibility of Media Makers panel (you can find both of those panels on YouTube). But I’ve had more people go out of their way to email, Tumblr message, or tweet me and my fellow panelists about the neurodiversity panel.

That tells me something. It tells me that this is a conversation people are desperate to have but have no space for. They’re so grateful that we talked about it because no one else is making that space for them. Which, again, is why ClexaCon is so necessary and why it’s important that it not just be about shipping. Because we as queer women don’t get space to talk about ourselves and our layered identities anywhere else. And we need that if we’re going to change the way stories about us are told.

Panels such as these allow us to talk about ourselves and what we want to see when it comes to representation. They’re a form of activism because we’re advocating for our own stories. We have to carve this space out for ourselves because no one else will. And if we don’t have these conversations ourselves, how can what we say get back to the actual content creators in a way that they can listen to and reflect on when they’re creating art?

Most content creators don’t go online and listen to marginalized fans about how they want their stories told. Some do, but most don’t. As much as I hate that it has to be this way, conventions are a recognized means of bringing attention to issues in a way that content creators might be more likely to listen to. Even then, there’s no guarantee they will pay attention. Still, panels at a convention ‘look’ professional to the media industry and are more likely to be acknowledged. They spark conversations that can ripple into something bigger.

Nevertheless, some of the content creators are in the room and they’re listening to us. And I don’t just mean the industry professionals like Emily Andras of Wynonna Earp or Gloria Calderon Kellet and Mike Royce of One Day at a Time. It’s great to have advocates within the industry who are writing and creating nuanced queer stories and characters. But they aren’t the only ones who deserve our attention.

ClexaCon is bursting with original content creators who either haven’t found a way to break into the industry or want to do things differently. Three times as many booths filled the vendor hall this year. Most of the fanartists also create their own original art, and I saw more book booths this year than last year, which makes my bibliophile heart happy to see. We need more queer books and the queer books we do have deserve more recognition, especially those being produced outside of traditional publishing avenues.

A selection of art I purchased at ClexaCon plus the poster I brought and had Erica Luttrell sign. Art by marburusu, Atomic Pixies, Foley, Fresh & Irie Arts, and Paige One Comics.

ClexaCon presents a unique opportunity for queer women and allies to support queer content creators. There’s art or books to buy, films at the film festival to see, and plenty of time to talk about new projects and how to support a creator who is in media res. That’s why I always take cash with me to ClexaCon. I look at it as an opportunity to put my money where my mouth is by supporting queer original content creators.

It’s also why I take my microphone with me so that I can interview a creator or two for my Creator Corner series. I met Foley at ClexaCon last year—my all-time favorite fanartist for SuperCorp and Supergirl as well a really talented author and webcomic artist. This year, I met up with original fiction and fic author Rae D. Magdon to talk about her most recent book. I also caught up with the folks from the Clexa Project, who interviewed me last year and are still working on their documentary film about challenging industry standards for representation.

Not that everyone can do interviews or can afford to buy a lot of original art. The point is that I can. I have a position of relative privilege when it comes to spending cash and the added privilege of an online platform (however small it is) that I can use to benefit them. I truly believe that it’s my responsibility as a member of this marginalized community to do what I can to support and highlight queer artists creating original content. I say it’s what I want: more stories written by queer women about queer women. ClexaCon is a safe space where I can throw money at artists for making beautiful things and offer what little publicity I can. Because if we’re going to change the media industry and society to make it safer for people like us, we all have to get there together.

And that’s what I love so much about ClexaCon. Because when I’m there, I can see how it’s possible. I see queer actors being celebrated and queer characters being cheered for and fawned over. I see queer art and queer books and queer artists and writers making these beautiful things for us to enjoy. And I think about how important it is for everyone who is there that this space exists.

ClexaCon isn’t just for me. It’s for every queer actor who has never gotten the chance to be in the spotlight or celebrated for who they are. It’s for the actors playing queer characters to experience how powerful and necessary their allyship is first hand. It’s for queer content creators and storytellers to gain recognition and support for the hard work they do making art for us. It’s for all the panelists who spent time and energy preparing to talk about significant issues. It’s for the volunteers and staff to see their hard work come to fruition and for the fans and attendees to revel in the safety and joy of being in a room full of like-minded people.

And it’s for all the other queer women who can’t be there, too. Who might not be out or safe enough or able to afford to go. We celebrate with them in spirit and hold them in our hearts.

ClexaCon is, quite simply, a place for all queer women to shine and for all of us to be stronger together.

Also a fun place to do queer cosplay like Rey/Leia/Holdo from The Last Jedi. (Thanks Alice and Beth!)


Featured Image Courtesy of ClexaCon

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Dancing Pancakes, Somehow, Weren’t the Weirdest Thing to Happen At Wrestlemania

Dan

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You can’t exactly watch wrestling and expect it to be serious. No, not even in Japan. But what we saw Sunday night, at WrestleMania 34, was enough to leave the even most seasoned Japan-loving, two-sweeting, what-chanting smarks scratching their heads. What seemed at first glance like a strong card devolved quickly into a mishmash of bizarre booking, screwed up finishes, and even some good old-fashioned passive racism.

The Good

Ronda gives intergender wrestling a shot

The most galling part of Mania was just how good the show should have been. And despite a card full of missteps (which we’ll get to), there were some real bright spots.

H is For Hurricanrana

The biggest highlight was also its most surprising: a debuting “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey actually bumped, punched, and wrestled like a superstar. Breaking out body drops, punches, and even a hurricanrana, Rousey was a firecracker booked like the unstoppable monster she is. Stephanie McMahon was in her element as a conniving heel, and it’s hard to put Triple H and Kurt Angle in a ring together and not get something great. But it was the moment that Rousey stepped into the ring with Triple H, a multiple time WWE Heavyweight Champ twice her size, and even got the jump on the veteran, that the match truly became great.  Even wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, known to be extremely discerning in his tastes, called it a “perfect match.”

Ice Walkers, Woken Matt, An The Awoken Walking Dead

Ice-cold

Other highlights included: Undertaker came back and looked better than he has in years as he squashed John Cena, a big win in the Intercontinental Championship match by newly-minted Grand Slam champ Seth Rollins, and a WONDERFUL victory in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal by “Woken” Matt Hardy (thanks to an assist from his former nemesis Bray Wyatt).  But Wrestlemania was a seven-hour show, and a LOT can go wrong in seven hours.

The Bad

The big dog gets a wipe

More Like Schmain Event

In the past, main events have been where the biggest moments of Wrestlemania are made. Hogan bodyslamming Andre at III, the boyhood dream at XII, or Austin’s turn at X-7. But the match Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns had on Sunday probably won’t be making any highlight reels anytime soon. Unless it’s a mix of “bloodiest matches.” Or perhaps “most finishers spammed in a minute.” Even compared to past bouts between Reigns and Brock, their match was a limited affair.

After about a million suplexes and more overhyped superman punches than a Zach Snyder movie, the match finally devolved into F-5 after F-5. An obvious attempt to book Roman as a never-give-up babyface, the crowd quickly turned. But, as the boos and “boring” chants rained down (along with Roman’s blood), somehow a dumb match got an even dumber ending. After three years of  build and a near-expected end to Brock’s yearlong reign, the WWE decided to toss everything out and have the Universal champ retained. All of the building, the burying of stars like Braun Strowman and Samoa Joe, and the sheer insanity of the match; it all led to nothing. Brock is still champion, Roman seems like a stubborn idiot, and nearly every fan walked out of the Superdome pissed off.

R-K-Glow Out Of Nowhere

First ever Women’s Wrestlemania Fustercluck

The women of WWE didn’t get away from the bad booking, as the writers still seem to have no idea how to write them. At the first ever Women’s Battle Royale, the women alternated between factional in-fighting and betrayals. Women rolled out without being eliminated, teams betrayed each other, and the camera had no idea what it was doing. When fan favorite Becky Lynch got tossed out, one of three women to get an entrance, the crowd started to turn.

The match seemed salvageable when it came down to former friends Sasha and Bayley as the final two, but even WWE had to mess that up. After she turned Sasha’s friendly handshake into an elimination, Bayley seemed like the winner. But then, for no reason, former champ Naomi emerged from under the ring, hit Bayley with her ass, and then tossed her out. Bayley, Sasha, and the crowd could only stare as the winner, who had seemingly sat off-screen for most of the match, danced and smiled in the middle of the ring. The problem is not Naomi, who is by all accounts an incredible athlete and amazing person, but with the choice to have her win so anticlimactically.

The Ugly

One-handed bridge to nowhere

WWE seems to be on a quest to make “guaranteed title shots” a thing of the past. Over the course of Wrestlemania, both of WWE’s Royal Rumble winners lost clean to their opponents.

Young Upstart Charlotte Flair Gets The Rub

The crowd went wild at Wrestlemania 34 as the undefeated Asuka tapped out to SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair at the grandest stage of them all. Flair, a mere seven-time champion in the WWE at the tender age of 32, defeated the seemingly unstoppable “Empress of Tomorrow” after a well-fought match. Working over the arm of the “Queen” in order to set up her Asuka Lock, the challenger pulled off some amazing moves like a smooth as hell moonsault reversal. But the brave and selfless Asuka didn’t need the win here and ended up tapping out to her opponent after she’d locked in a weaker, one-handed version of her figure-eight leglock. After such a clean and sudden win, which does nothing to devalue a woman who hasn’t lost a match in over two years, the humbled challenger held the retaining champ’s arm up and declared that Charlotte had, in fact, been ready for Asuka. The future seems bright for Charlotte, and we can only hope that her defeat of Asuka can help finally catapult her into the upper echelons of the WWE.

Kneel Before The White Boy

Shinsuke with the real rack attack

As if the formerly unstoppable Japanese woman jobbing to the super blonde amazon wasn’t worrying enough, they had Shinsuke Nakamura lose clean to WWE Champion AJ Styles. And unlike Asuka v. Charlotte, the match didn’t even compensate for the end.

Considering the history these two wrestlers had with each other, nearly everyone expected this to tear the roof off. Instead, we got a slow, plodding match that made even the relatively smarky Mania crowd go quiet. After losing to a quick Styles Clash, Shinsuke stood, retrieved AJ’s championship, and then KNEELED before AJ. In one motion, Shinsuke seemed to create a perfect metaphor for what happened to the Japanese wrestlers that seemed so promising just months ago. Although the segment was saved by a Nakamura heel turn and beat down, the fact remains that WWE still couldn’t let either Japanese wrestler go over their chosen ones.

The WTF

One half of the WWE Raw Tag Team Champions

There’s barely room for all the weirdness that happened at Mania this year. So much of it was neither good nor bad, but it sure was strange.

  • 27-year vet Goldust dabbed
  • Miz wore whatever this is
  • The New Day came out with dancing pancakes
  • Nia Jax dressed like this
  • Jinder Mahal won another championship
  • Alexa Bliss made this face
  • A ten-year-old became Raw Tag Team Champs with Braun Strowman
  • “Woken” Matt Hardy had a catchphrase fight with Tye Dillinger
  • And the Miz, again, came out dressed like this

All pessimism aside, WrestleMania 34 was still one of the weakest Manias in years. There just wasn’t enough going right on Sunday night to make up for what was going wrong. If there was ever a sign that maybe seven hours is too long for one event, Wrestlemania 34 might be it.

Join WWE on April 27th in sexist, oppressive, oligarchy Saudi Arabia for the Greatest Royal Rumble, only on the WWE Network.


All images via WWE

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