“Just try it,” he pleaded.
I’m reluctant, and let out a deep sigh to tell him so.
“It’s fun, I swear,” he continues. “Just give it a chance.”
Several weeks later, and he and I are sitting on the same couch, in front of the same flat screen TV.
“There’s NO WAY they’d move Seth Rollins,” he says. “He was Raw’s first pick in the draft less than a year ago!”
“YEAH BUT,” I dispute,” Dean Ambrose was SmackDown’s first pick in that same draft… and they’ve already moved him!”
He looks at me with wide eyes, his mouth hanging open in equal parts shock and adoration as professional wrestling blares in the background. “Look at you!” he exclaims.
How did we get here? And who have I become?
It started innocently enough. In the midst of our usual “Tuesday-night-pizza-and-TV date,” we were surfing channels, desperate for something to watch.
Boyfriend came across SmackDown, the second of two consecutive nights of live WWE programming that airs weekly on the USA network. He wanted to watch.
I… didn’t. Not even a little bit.
He pleaded and made his case, promising it would be over-the-top and entertaining. I, who had never watched a minute of professional wrestling in my life, reluctantly agreed.
The over-the-top storylines. The ridiculous acting. The allies and adversaries and absurdity. It was more manufactured drama than The Bachelor and, not only was Boyfriend right about WWE being entertaining, it wasn’t long before I was hooked.
Which brings us to this week when, on the heels of the thirty-third Wrestlemania just eight days earlier, the main WWE franchises, Raw and SmackDown, announced a “Superstar Skakeup.” Half of these “Shakeup” announcements, in which personalities from each of two programs would switch to the other, would take place on Monday night’s program, Raw, and the other half on Tuesday’s live show, SmackDown.
For those who don’t follow wrestling: First of all, if you’re still reading to this point, THANK YOU. Second, think of Raw and SmackDown like the American League and National League. Similar but different—and usually separate. Both “leagues” play under the same corporate umbrella, with occasional opportunities for crossover.
Missing the opportunity to watch Raw live, Boyfriend and I sat down after the Indians’ Home Opener on Tuesday night to catch up on both—and see what the “Shakeup” had in store. If you’re familiar with WWE, you know that this is five hours of wrestling programming. That’s a feat we don’t normally attempt, but so much wrestling backed into one evening gave me so much to think about. I started taking notes.
The Biggest Moves to Raw
- SmackDown’s Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose, whose hair looks perpetually damp, made the jump to Raw. I found this shocking, because he was definitely a central figure on Tuesday night’s show, most recently feuding with Baron Corbin, whose hair also looks perpetually damp. (Perhaps the source of their feud?)
- Also making the move to Monday is Bray Wyatt, who currently holds no WWE belts, but does hold the title “Creepiest Human Alive.” Wyatt’s weird, drawn-out story line involving nemesis Randy Orton, a spirit called “Sister Abigal,” and a haunted cabin was wearing thin and giving me the creeps. Boy, bye.
- Cleveland’s own Mike “The Miz” Mizanin also made the jump to Raw, along with his wife, Maryse. She doesn’t really “wrestle,” but Maryse is great at standing on the side of the ring and getting mad when her husband gets pummeled, which is often.
- You know Mindy Kaling’s character in Inside Out, Disgust? If that character were a real person, it would be Alexa Bliss, who made the move to Raw’s women’s division.
The Biggest Moves to SmackDown
- I’ve often wondered why Raw is a whole hour longer than SmackDown, but I realize now it’s because of how slowly Kevin Owens speaks. Regardless, the WWE U.S. Champion moved over to SmackDown—no word yet if it will move up to three-hour episodes as a result.
- The most exciting news? My favorite humans on Earth, The New Day, are soon making the jump to SmackDown as well. I find myself catching Tuesday night’s program way more often than Monday’s, so I’m beyond thrilled that Big E, Xavier Woods, and Kofi Kingston will soon be there. The tag-team trio, decked out in neon, sparkles, and unicorns, frequently brandish a trombone, ride an ice cream bike, and dump boxes of BootyOs cereal onto their fans—and that’s just the beginning. New Day, if you’re reading this, please never change.
- Also joining SmackDown from Raw is Sami Zayn, who appears to be one of at least 16 WWE Superstars with a red beard. I’m not super familiar with Zayn yet, but I think that he—along with “The Queen” Charlotte Flair—will shake-up the SmackDown storylines nicely. Yes, Charlotte is Rick’s daughter and yes, before you ask, she does that “WOOO!” thing too.
A while back, our friend Will Gibson wrote an article about “embracing the absurdity” when it came to cheering for the Cleveland Browns. In writing this piece, I realized that’s what makes WWE so entertaining to me. It is—and always has been—completely absurd, a trait the franchise celebrates without abandon.
Sure, there’s plenty of high-flying and impressive acts of athleticism on display, but the ridiculously crazy story lines are what make it fun. I love trying to predict who’s going to win each match, and the backstage fights are just as entertaining as those in the ring. I still can’t believe it, but I’m a huge fan of WWE—and I can’t wait to see what these new “shaken-up” rosters bring.
Go out and enjoy this beautiful Thursday, you guys. And the next time someone tells you to “try it, you might like it,” maybe give something new a chance. Even if you think you don’t want to… you never know what you may find.