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Femslash Fanart and ClexaCon 2017



So, ClexaCon has come and gone. It almost feels like a surreal dream in some ways, because it was too perfect to have been real. For a first time convention, it was an absolutely resounding success, and one of the most incredible experiences of my life. So what made it such a brilliant experience? Well, you can hear my co-editor Gretchen and I gush about the celebrity guests here on our Ladies First podcast, but it was far more than autographs and photographs with your heroes.

If there’s one thing that truly defines femslash as a fandom, it’s the awe inspiring, dizzying amount of fan content we create for the characters and shows that we love. From 100,000+ word fanfiction works, to fullsize oil paintings by classically trained artists, to elaborate cosplays, and more, the femslash fandom is a notoriously hardworking, creative, and talented one.  While it’s not unheard of for femslash artists to attend more general fan conventions, never in my life have I seen so many different femslash artists all in one place. It’s one thing to see the works of J. Foley or Pixelwayve (left) all over your Tumblr dash, it’s quite another to see them in person, in the same place, surrounded by dozens of artists like them.

The variety available from booth to booth was quite impressive, both in how many different fandoms were represented and the number of artistic styles on display. During my three days at the convention, I saw everything from pencil rendering, to oil painting, to woodcut, to papercraft, to digital art, to textile crafts. Artists were eager to gush with you about fandom, and to talk about what creating the art means to them. The passion was very palpable in a way I’ve never really experienced at a fandom convention, or even most art conventions.

The act of creating femslash fanart is about far more than just making a living off of your work. It’s something deeply personal to each artist, and something that is not really done in the spirit of turning a profit. It can be a form of therapy, especially since femslash shipping often involves the pain and suffering of both the characters and the fandom. There are projects like Paper Heda (right) that started as a way to cope with the loss of Lexa, and to heal from it. Several of the artists I spoke to brought this up on their own, citing its importance to both them and the people who enjoy their work. Femslash fanart is about more than just mindless self indulgence; it’s about building a community that feels and heals together.

It was also very inspiring to see that most, if not all, the artists featured were women, with a wide variety of educational backgrounds and ages. It’s a common stereotype that art is a feminine thing, but it’s no secret that the bulk of production art like comic books, animation, and concept art is created by men. How unfriendly a particular artistic industry is to women varies greatly across disciplines, but every woman who has ever done professional art has encountered pushback because of her gender in one way or another. Sometimes it’s in the narratives we choose to tell in our art, sometimes it’s the fact that our art style is perceived to be inferior because it is somehow “feminine,” and sometimes it’s just a big, heaping spoonful of old fashioned sexism. When going into a discipline like art that is already very emotionally and physically demanding, butting heads against sexist art critics and creative directors is even more of an emotional burden to carry, and it’s one you’re expected to carry with a smile on your face.

Every single person who grows up investing the hard work it takes to get good at art is told their entire life, “it’s so hard to make a living at this.” Variations include, “it’s very competitive,” “the work isn’t stable,” and the coup de grace, “why don’t you get a real job?” The thing is, everyone who does art is fully aware of how difficult it is, even if we didn’t spend our whole lives surrounded by concerned parents, teachers, and guidance counselors constantly hammering that message into our heads. It’s somewhat ironic, considering that we are also constantly hammered with the message that you should “do what you love,” “get a job that you’re passionate about,” and “find your bliss.” But it is possible to make a living at art, even if it is hard. Several of the artists I spoke to worked in the animation, video games, and comic book industries, and most of them told me that while it was stressful and unstable, they do it because they wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. It’s a noble, inspiring, and deeply defiant attitude to have. Especially for a woman.

There were a lot of inspiring things to take away from ClexaCon 2017 as a convention and as an experience. Many of the panel contributors and press members were very young women, or women in their late 20’s and early 30’s like myself and Gretchen who are just now hitting the ground running. The celebrity guests were incredibly gracious and kind, and you could tell how deeply every single one of them cared about the responsibility they have to the community they represent. But what struck me the most was, for the first time, being physically surrounded by my peers and allies in a real-life space. ClexaCon was Tumblr fandom personified and brought to life before your eyes, uniting all femslash fans across shipping war lines and between fandoms or mediums. This convention was something by us, for us, created for our enjoyment and consumption, and nothing drove that point home harder than the fanart.

If you didn’t attend the convention yourself, you’ll just have to take my word for it that it was awesome. But you can always show your support for the community. If you can, put your money where your mouth is: fanartists do sell their work, and if you can, you really should buy some. It was a privilege to see all of these artists inflate with happiness and pride when people told them how much they loved their work. But if we want them to keep providing us with amazing content, we need to make sure they are earning what they deserve for all the wonderful work they give us. Support your local femslash fandom artist any way you can.

Finally, if you’ll permit me, I’d like to give some closing thoughts on the convention itself. What I personally got from this convention, other than well over $200 in art, was a reminder that the people in the online femslash communities are real. When so much of your community is relegated to online spaces, for practicality and our personal safety, it’s easy to start to feel isolated. You forget that there are real people behind those blogs, who have full and rich lives outside of whatever fandom they’re currently spamming their followers with in a wave of femslash excitement. I met people from at least ten different countries. I learned from women who are old enough to be my mother or grandmother who have been in the trenches of femslash shipping since before I was born. I got to tell Heather Hogan in person that she was the one who inspired me to write about queer media, and she shook my hand. I now know exactly how much taller Kat Barrell is than I am, both in heels and in flats. Every corner of this convention was bursting with the message, “you are valid,” and that was a message that I really needed to hear.

This is it. The greatest photo of me ever. Nothing will ever top this.

Anyway, that’s enough sap from me. See you next year ClexaCon, we can’t wait to see what you’ve got in store for us next!

When not working on her degree or at her actual job, Elizabeth pursues her true passion of complaining at great length about pop culture on the internet. She serves as a Managing Editor for The Fandomentals. You can find her on Tumblr, Twitter and Steam @ohemgeelizabeth



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




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



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





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


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.


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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