Shadowlands data is coming in heavy, although first via official blogs with explainer text as opposed to raw datamining, so this week is bound to be a busy one!
With that said, let’s talk about the week including this!
WoW: Shadowlands Alpha: No confirmation of access yet, but I did get early alpha for BfA, so I am very excited to hopefully play soon! The blog posts from Blizzard have a lot of promising ideas, and while I haven’t really broken down the class changes yet, what I’ve read for Demon Hunters sounds great, and I am eager to see more!
Live WoW: Eh, It Exists, I Guess: Not really thrilled for live WoW this week. Gonna do a single 5 mask run for a 470 piece of gear, we’re likely (fingers crossed!) to clear N’Zoth heroic this week, and Legion legacy loot enablement has allowed new solo challenges for me on my DH (Mythic EN, yes, Mythic Nighthold, yes except last phase Gul’dan, Mythic Trial, yes, Mythic ToS, no, Mythic Antorus, first boss only so far!). Outside of these, the rest of the game just isn’t there for me right now, and with Shadowlands alpha coming, I am optimistic that for fun, I can test!
FFXIV – Resistance Weapons, New EX Trial, Leveling Warrior: I am back in love firmly with FFXIV once more, between leveling my warrior to 80 (in progress), and the new 5.25 content, I have a lot of interesting stuff to do in that game.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Just Living Life: ACNH is a fun 45 minutes a day of just relaxing and enjoying time with my fiancee, who absolutely loves the game. Short, sweet, and to the point – it is a good, consistent bit of fun!
Wrestlemania 36: No dedicated post this time, but I wanted to follow-up last week’s post with this – I did end up watching it, sort of passively while playing FFXIV, and the two-day format made the show so much more bearable! The matches I expected to not like, I didn’t, and the empty arena format was really bizarre. However, WWE absolutely came up in spades with a special and unique match each night.
On night 1, the main event was the Boneyard Match between AJ Styles and the Undertaker. When announced, no one knew what it was or what it would be. The build to the match was awful, with shoot promos where the two called each other their real names and AJ referenced the Undertaker’s wife, former women’s wrestler Michelle McCool, a lot. Like, A LOT. On the night of (well, on the night of 3/25 when it was taped), the match overdelivered, with a sort of cinematic arthouse fight in a weird set with abandoned buildings and graves, including an open one that both tried to bury the other in. The match ended with AJ Styles buried alive and his hand poking out of the dirt as the Undertaker rode off on a motorcycle. It was campy and weird, but similar to the Hardy brothers’ Broken Universe segments from Impact Wrestling (which were also produced by Jeremy Borash, who is now with WWE), it was so weird that it turned around to great again.
Night two, on the other hand, had a “Firefly Funhouse” match between John Cena and Bray Wyatt. Let me try to even summarize this in a way that makes sense – John Cena is the most recent major face of the WWE, reigning on top of the company from 2005 until very recently, as he has stepped away to Hollywood, not as successful as the Rock, but a similar sort of template. Bray Wyatt has been a few characters under that name, but the most recent is a sort of evil Mr. Rogers, appearing in-universe in the “Firefly Funhouse,” a children’s comedy show with puppets. The segments present as fun and childlike, with Bray being loud and cheerful, until the moment of madness sneaks in and horror movie cinematography come in, with jump cuts, serious sullen voice on Bray, and the puppets reacting appropriately. When shit hits the fan, Bray becomes “The Fiend” – a horrific abomination in carnival pants and black tank top with a Tom Savini horror mask on, and the entity as which Bray has wrestled most of his matches since returning to TV in the summer of 2019.
On TV, the story leading to their expected normal match was revenge for Bray, as in 2014 at Wrestlemania, the two faced off and Cena, expected to lose to promote the new Bray Wyatt character, instead won. Cena wanted to end Wyatt as overhyped and undeserving, while Bray as Bray wanted to make things right for himself and claim the victory he thought was his.
As a regular match, this would have been merely okay, at best. However, the no-crowd verdict pushed them to the stipulation, and another cinematic match. The match, if you can even call it that, was a video-essay style deconstruction of how John Cena’s character, from his WWE debut in 2002 through to today, would have absolutely failed presented under the same conditions of modern WWE in which Bray has had to work. His debut was recreated with Cena in tiny shorts and screaming “ruthless aggression!” His rapper character was (accurately!) presented as an awful bully, using childish rhymes to bury his opponent as Cena stood alone, on top (this character is the one under which he won his first world title). There were allusions to why Cena was kept on via an 80’s WWE joke, “big muscles make you a stud, no matter how little talent!”, references to Cena’s failed engagement with former wrestler Nikki Bella (famously proposed in the ring at Wrestlemania in 2017), and then callbacks to the match between the two at Wrestlemania 30, with Cena being offered a chair to hit Bray, which he did not do in 2014, keeping with his babyface persona. However, here, he swings and misses as Bray disappears, and this turns Cena heel, as he comes out to the nWo theme of the 90s in WCW. Cena snaps in line with this in-segment heel turn, beating on Bray, until Bray turns into the pig puppet from the Funhouse and Cena back into his modern gear, lost to his hubris. The Fiend grabs Cena for his finisher, as Cena’s last promo (calling Wyatt overhyped and how he’ll end him at Wrestlemania) is played. Cena is finished and pinned, and in-universe is…lost in hell, I guess?
The normal wrestling was hit or miss as expected, but the two matches mentioned above make the show well worth watching and made me thrilled with my decision, particularly the Cena/Wyatt match as it pulls continuity from past storylines in a way WWE almost never actually does, and it comes out being a brilliant art piece for it.
With that, my week is ready, and Shadowlands posts ready to come!