Author: Marc Alan Fishman

The Handmaid’s Tale S2E2: “Unwomen” Hot Take Recap

  • “There probably is no out”. And there it is kids. Season over!
  • This is like Walter White’s vacation in the great white north. Except Robert Forster is just an old handyman. And June isn’t a meth kingpin. OK, this is nothing like Breaking Bad. Shut up.
  • OK, the Handyman’s “After a while, crocodile” sold me. He’s my new god.
  • Seriously. Are all college classes in TV and Movies either COMPLETELY CHOCKED FULL or sparsely filled by nerds and assholes?
  • ACK! TWISTY THE CLOWN! Err. Wait. No… Just another railroaded liberal. And a GAY one to boot!
  • A lot of world building this episode. Figuratively and literally.
  • A requiem for a newspaper. A 1 act play wherein June mourns the written word, the dead, and decides to publish her own zine. (If I don’t make my own jokes here, I’m going to go insane of sadness.)
  • “You and our baby”. Vomit, Nick. But hey. He gave her a gun!
  • I’m sorry. Two guns. I’m starting to feel bad for actual husband. Sorta. He’s a bit of a dweeb. I’m stalling while the dead-eyed weirdo boinks the pregnant chick. I’m hella-uncomfortable.
  • Sweet Christmas. That’s enough with the freeing sex, kids!
  • It’s just my Hulu, but the first ad after all that sex was for White Castle, and I seriously vurped.
  • So how does one get to be a cattle prodder? “Well, in my other life, I worked at the DMV.” SOLD!
  • An MFA in interior design? It’s JUST as useful working in the wasteland.
  • Somewhere, a Trump supporter watching this show has a hard-on when they deny the marriage license of a gay couple that is “no longer recognized”. And I’d like THAT person to be sent to the wasteland.
  • OH DAYUM, GINA. College Prof gots lady balls. Suck it, house frau!
  • If I lived in this world, and had faith previously? It hath been smoted by meow.

Handmaid’s Tale S2E1 “June” Hot Take Recap

(all these thoughts are made chronologically as I “enjoy” the episode)

  • I just made myself a bowl of ice cream prior to hitting play, because I’m going to occasionally need to be reminded that joy does indeed exist in the world still.
  • I just finished the recap. I’m glad I added cookies to my ice cream. Also “Trust me.” No, Nick. I do not trust you. You were an out of work loser ass-bag in the before-time. So, no.
  • They KNOW she’s preggers, right? That should give us SOME feeling of safety for June, right?
  • STOPPED at 6:56 to take a breath. I mean, I get it. They have work to do, and apparently fast. But, like, wouldn’t it be just as easy to march down the handmaids who are going to be hung in a neat and orderly line, without all the rush-rush-rush? Time is money, sure. But Gilead don’t have no money! ALSO… They have folks hung like ornaments all over the place. If they need to murder you, they literally have rifles. This seems like WWE levels of idiocy.
  • OH FUCK YOU, SHOW.
  • Die Aunt Lydia. Die. Die. Die. Die. Die. (Each ‘Die’ comes for a separate bit during the show.)
  • Why did we have another kid? Cause Fuck the Patriarchy! Great reason, millennials.
  • “How did Ofmike get such beefy biceps? That bitch-bag made her stand outside with a rock in her hand for 3 hours, and she’s got 24″ pythons now, brother!”
  • I’m glad I finished my ice cream ahead of the live burning. Aunt Lydia needs to be murdered. By an army of savage children all singing “Our God is an Awesome God.”
  • I don’t know who this nurse/social worker is, but I think Aunt Lydia must have been cloned. Also? I hate her.
  • I know that silhouette anywhere. Hello Mrs. Twatface! Also? “Don’t get so mad, Serena. It’d be bad for the baby?” Cue that gif of the kids all going OH!!!!!”
  • Nice try show. I’m not going to believe June’s getting out of this hospital! I bet this is just more theatrics! (He says, silently praying Mayday is gonna get her out of this, and full well knowing NOT on episode 1 of the 2nd season).
  • WAIT! WHAT!? Don’t make me have hope, show. I still don’t trust Nick!
  • Haha! Fuck you, red frock! Also… SWEET CHRISTMAS, WOULDN’T NICK KNOW AN EASIER WAY TO REMOVE THE TAG!? I’m going to be sick.
So Long And Thanks For the Fish, Man #017: An Oral History Of My Career In Comedy

So Long And Thanks For the Fish, Man #017: An Oral History Of My Career In Comedy

10 years ago – give or take a year – I toyed with the idea of doing a little stand-up comedy. I knew from the notion itself, it would never be more than a hobby interest, but I figured it would be a good way to determine if I was (as many a friend and coworker would denote) a funny guy. Ultimately, I wound up doing a handful of shows, and called it a day. Why so suddenly serious? I didn’t want to pay for parking in the city, and it turns out I’m hella uncomfortable around drunks. LOL.

Beyond that though, I recognized that to be truly great at stand-up comedy, there is a level of commitment that I wholly accept is beyond my desire to dedicate to the craft. But let me not get ahead of myself. Cue the flashback machine!

My very first set of comedy was performed in the back of a comic book shop, as dared to do by the shop owners. We were all friends at Stand Up Comics in Lansing, IL, and every Wednesday when I’d pick up my books… the shop keep(s) and I would go back and forth about the fake worlds of which we partook. After weeks upon weeks of weekly weak knees… the idea was thrown into the wind: Why didn’t Stand Up Comics have a Stand Up Comedy Night? And with that, I was asked to join a few other shop patrons at an open mic competition.

My first set was short, sarcastic, and overly stuffed full of Jewish jokes and schmaltz. I adopted a “wise guy” persona – easy enough to do in a room full of similarly-minded nerds – and apparently did well enough to be asked to do another set. A far longer set. That set is still available on YouTube (search for it if you dare, cause lord, I ain’t promotin’ it!). I did my best to prepare a wealth of material. Cereal Box Mascots. My problem with the homeless in Chicago. My parents. My Jewishness. I covered it all. And for the most part? I felt like a million bucks afterwards. Enough so that I sought out actual open-mic nights soon thereafter to see if I actually had any chops.  Continue reading “So Long And Thanks For the Fish, Man #017: An Oral History Of My Career In Comedy”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #016: To Binge or Not To Binge

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #016: To Binge or Not To Binge

As of late, I’ve been lucky to consume a metric ton of digital media. For those in-the-know, I tend to operate on two screens; one primarily for the drawing work I’m doing for the evening, and the second monitor to play something to keep my ears happy. I tend to toss on Netflix, YouTube, or Hulu, and let a show run while I draw. It’s good for when I need to take a mental break — no, seriously, drawing causes me to intensely focus so I need to take it easy every few minutes — and it’s good to catch up on all the shows in the zeitgeist.

Recently this has meant consuming the second season of Iron Fist, the third of Daredevil, and as of a few days ago… giving Runaways a try over on Hulu. And it got me thinking specifically about the shows I consume week-to-week versus multiple-episodes-a-night— The Flash, The Gifted, and Legion being the most well-known.

Binge-Culture is a thing now, isn’t it? Shows being made specifically to be absorbed en masse as quickly as possible. It allows for motifs (be they visual, auditory, or a combination) to form, fire, and be appreciated far easier than for shows where you return, at most, once a week. But just because binging exists doesn’t mean it’s a valuable tool for every show. Case in point: The Flash (or really any CW show).  Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #016: To Binge or Not To Binge”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #015:  The first W in WWE stands for… What?

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #015: The first W in WWE stands for… What?

This past weekend marked the first, historic, monumental, astounding, amazing, never-happened-before* pay-per-view of all female­ talent in the world of professional wrestling sports entertainment. WWE Evolution was a rather enjoyable event that shined a positive light on one of the strongest brands in American television producing content today. The evening was chock full of messaging that spoke directly to little girls straight through to women to tell them that anything they want can be achieved. And in between these self-aggrandizing promos, there were some damn fine wrestling matches to enjoy.

But somewhere after the fourth or fifth of these interstitial talking heads, wherein the performer would choke up (rightfully so mind you) over the very notion that the ladies of the WWE would be given this time to shine… I began to sour. Again to be clear: not because the event wasn’t deserving of praise — but because WWE Evolution was not erected to right a wrong… it was a consolation prize for the WWE selling its soul.

For those who don’t religiously follow the ins and outs of the World Wrestling Entertainment company, allow me to spoil the surprise. WWE Evolution was created first and foremost as a PR move to appease the noisy internet smart-marks (think gatekeepers, only slightly less awful) who would rightfully (for once!) denote that the women of the WWE would not be allowed to perform with the company at the next pay-per-view event. One week after Evolution comes WWE Crown Jewel. Coming to you live this Friday from the King Saud University Stadium, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. And in case you didn’t know? Women are not allowed to wrestle or perform in that particular country.

I won’t dive into the recent history here, if only to sum it up succinctly:

Vince McMahon accepted a ten year multi-million dollar contract with the Saudis to bring to them his oiled-up carnival several times a year. And not only would he deliver a standard show from his cavalcade of Cro-Magnon cohorts, no! Vincent Kennedy McMahon would succumb to any whim that the Crown Prince so desires.  Dust off the Undertaker? Sure! Unretire Shawn Michaels? Here’s a dump truck of money! Give the Rock the championship back? Well, it’s been reported by several outlets it’s been under consideration. And as a fan? It makes me sick.  Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #015: The first W in WWE stands for… What?”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #014: Shameless Self-Promotion, Part 2!

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #014: Shameless Self-Promotion, Part 2!

Back in August, I lamented about the giant gamble of crowd-funding your way into comics. But as of late — with a deluge of projects bombarding my social media feeds these days — I’ve felt the urge to revisit the topic and dive a bit deeper into the nooks and crannies of shameless self-promotion. Get your pat of butter and jam ready, kiddos. Let’s make breakfast.

The truth of the matter is that being an indie publisher/creator/distributor of original content means having to navigate the choppy waters of branding, marketing, and relating to your public… all in order to keep your doors open and the money flowing to keep the drawings a’comin’. Simply put: you’re not going to be able to draw without also becoming a draw to would-be patrons. Especially if you opt to crowdfund your way into building the capital necessary to produce a product. Because of the nature of the beast, that often necessitates having to promote yourself early and often to the masses.

The how, of course, is the hard part. Because of the advent of social media, it’s easy (to a point) to build up a solid network of friends, fans, and family. But once you’ve amassed your following… stoking the fire becomes a balancing act between pride in your work, and desperation to see it pay off.

Shameless Self-Promotion to me is that balancing act of shilling for your passion projects without fear of sounding desperate. And there’s no greater time to act shameless, when you’re crowdfunding. Why? Because Kickstarters are built on the principle of all or nothing. With that in mind, setting the bar high and then needing to clear it or else will mean having to ask every family member, friend, and fan to support you. A lot. Repeatedly. And in doing it, maintaining a tone that comes with the confidence that your product is high quality, while you’re literally begging them to back you for a few dollars… comes with its own set of problems.

And the million dollar question is… When do you cross the line from acceptable hustle to annoying shill?

Truth be told: I don’t believe there’s an easy answer here. Every independent promoter I know is inherently tied to their brand. As such, one fella’s hourly update of his funding numbers may incite a truly positive groundswell as his fans rally to his aid… and another’s once a week crying vlog of happiness may get the job done just as well. So, what follows here is wholly my personal opinion, and nothing more.

As a friend/fan/contributor to a project, I don’t want more than a single touch a day from a given campaign (and to be clear: if a campaign is broadcast to multiple pages I’m receiving? No biggie!). The fact is, any more than that — save wholly for significant milestones or other worthy interruptions — triggers my “I’m caring less and less about your success” feelings. Having been on the other side of the equation, the data supports my leanings. No spikes in backer-dollars-in came due to incessant needling by way of over-posting.

More often than not, backers come in very few flavors. Those who know you and know they will back you — where their decision really relies on “how much can I afford to help you this time” really is the deciding factor. Those who stumble upon you by way of someone specifically sharing the project with them, or searching for something in the space your product is sitting. They are sold perhaps by your video, write up, rewards, or most likely some combination of all of the above. And the only elusive group we’re talking about here… those who know you but have no need to support you.

My last Kickstarter saw about 150 people back the project. I have 1,100 friends on Facebook. Unshaven Comics is liked by about 3,000. So, you can tell a considerable chuck of either subset represents that untapped potential customer group.

And I certainly tried every guerrilla marketing technique in the book to sell to them (such as it was, in the long-long-ago). Posting morning, noon, and night (being sure to self-deprecate about my frequency of shilling whilst still being positive and excited about the project). Making up daily contests. Begging people to share the project even if they couldn’t afford to assist. Posting to groups. Posting literally in any corner of the internet where people might stumble upon us. Asking all backers to “just increase your bid by X and we’ll make it!”

And in the end, we succeeded, but in the wake of the campaign, I personally felt hollowed by the experience. While the goal was met, and my little studio’s graphic novel dreams would now come true… It was hard to step back and feel if the support was earned or pitied. On some days, I feel bulletproof, and proudly declare that a win is a win. But more often, I’m left questioning if the naked neediness of shameless self-promotion hasn’t cheapened my brand. And at the end of the day… isn’t the value of your brand the most important of all? In the wide breadth of those I know in the indie market, it’s hard for me to separate the shill from the salesman at times. We’re all hustling — and next week, I’ll explore our specific brand of shameless salesmanship at Unshaven Comics — but again: there’s a line between over-confidence and wild desperation. To know where it is, is to live in that lucrative sweet spot.

I don’t have the answers as to where it is, of course. But when I figure it out, I’ll be the first one to sell it to you.

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #014:  Con-Job!

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #014: Con-Job!

Unshaven Comics — the studio that houses myself and my brothers-from-other-mothers — participated in our final conventions for 2018. While other comic cons are going to be running through the end of the year… for us, the year is over. And what an interesting experience we as a company had in our final pair of shows. It seemed we forgot how calendars operate, and wound up double-booking ourselves. The newly minted Ace Universe show in Chicago welcomed us (and our money) the very same weekend we’d committed (as always) to the Kokomo Comic Con, in Kokomo, Indiana. Luckily for us, there are 3 Unshaven Lads, and Kokomo was only a one-day shindig — allowing us to divide and conquer. With that being said… there is a lot to unpack regarding the size, scope, and relative success my motley crew saw across the pair of shows.

Ace Universe is a hot new contender in the pop culture convention space. As brought to the geek kingdom by way of the Shamus empire — formerly of Wizard World fame. Ace’s calling card is top tier talent specifically in the autograph / photo-op space. Specific to the Ace Universe Chicago show we tabled at? Chris Evans, Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olsen, Karen Gillan, Zazie Beetz, Matt Smith, and a litany of WWE Stars all took center stage. The show itself was held at Chicago’s Navy Pier — which by most fans we spoke to, was not the easiest or accommodating commute to take. The convention hall was a single large open room, with the autograph/photo-op area dead center, artists and vendors around its periphery, with a “main stage” set in the tail-end of the space.

As an artist tabling at the show, we found almost immediately that our success would be wholly achieved through the grind; as most of the attendees came strictly to collect their photos and signatures. These “celebrity experiences” were costly endeavors — with VIP packages starting in the mid $200 range. Keeping that in mind? It became apparent that we lowly vendors and artists were there strictly to act as window dressing and distractions for the already wallet-light fans milling about. Friday itself was the most-rough day of the weekend, with the after-work crowds all dawdling in with little desire to buy. Saturday and Sunday saw larger and more amicable fans pursuing the aisles (all 4 of them) with only slightly more desire to hear about new and wonderful independent publications (such as “The Samurnauts” or “Toolbox”). Given a relatively tame tabling fee, Unshaven Comics left Navy Pier on Sunday night a little above break-even; once the $30 per-car per-day parking snapped the top off our coffers.

In contrast, the Kokomo Comic Con was a single day, single community affair in the wonderfully proud 13th largest city in Indiana. Here in its 9th year, Kokomo Con is a show Unshaven makes the trek out for regardless of specific sales goals. As denoted this year even more than the last, with little new to showcase at our table, most of my interactions throughout the day really were with well-wishers who already owned all that I came to promote. Anchored by stalwart Indiana-based comic bookers like guest-of-honor Stuart Sayger, always amicable Gavin Smith, and a handful of other fantastic independent artists and vendors… the show seats itself in the wide-eyed, big-smiled hearts of those who know what comic conventions of yesteryear looked like. With costume contests, light-hearted announcements over the PA, and a little over 1000 fans from around the city and beyond milling about, it was as far removed from Ace as one might get.  Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #014: Con-Job!”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #013: Sell Out!

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #013: Sell Out!

It’s been rattling around my brain for too long; this endless debate that begs a simple question: What makes one a sellout?

The term itself is often overused. It’s shorthand for labeling creators as lesser for any number of reasons — typically revolving around the notion that a creator acquiesces to changes in their work as demanded by a corporate entity to ultimately shave the edges from their output so-as to allow the end product be more appealing to a broader audience.  We also label those artists who choose to license their original work for use in commercials and other sundry productions with the same term… but in the specific case of my thoughts this week, we’re focusing on the former, not the latter.

When I’d heard the term bandied about through my youth, I immediately jump to a pair of performers in the music space; Jason Newsted of Metallica (at the time), and the entirety of 3rd wave ska band, Reel Big Fish. When asked if Metallica sold out, Newsted slyly smiled as he stared down the lens of the camera. “Of course we sell out — (he waits a solid and bitterly pregnant pause) — every seat in every arena we play!” And of course, Aaron Barret and his motley crew of California skankers received their first taste of widespread radio play with their hit Sell Out, wherein they joke about how “the record company’s gonna give me lots of money and everything’s gonna be alright.”

Upon hearing declarations like this, I’d felt an immediate kinship with those that ironically scoffed at the notion. That reaching a wider audience to seek better fiscal gains by way of a reduction of harder-to-understand nuances wasn’t inherently sinful. It was merely means to an end. And as an adolescent, my heroes all seemed to live and thrive living right in that sweet spot. Their work somehow seemed above completely shameless schlock, where the slick shine of heavily edited production and marketing did its job to make Enter Sandman or The Mask palatable to both me (suburban metal-tyke / comic-book-smart fan) and someone ten to twenty years my senior. And why would that be so bad, damnit?  Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #013: Sell Out!”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #013: Venture Brothers vs. Rick and Morty

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #013: Venture Brothers vs. Rick and Morty

Because when you want to create a great debate and piss off a multitude of hyper-focused fanbases? You go for the jugular, kiddos!

As I’ve been enjoying the latest season of “The Venture Brothers”, I denoted a few pals in my feeds proclaiming the superiority of the Venture clan to what I assume is its closest animated kin, “Rick and Morty”. And where I’d anticipated a litany of back-and-forth from our social circles coming to the defense of Mr. (Doctor…?) Sanchez, I was met only by Venture-centric lads and lasses singing continuous praise only for their cartoon of choice.

How disappointing.

Now, let me cut myself off before I get too knee-deep in rage-quit commenters below; I actually love both shows. And were someone to put some form of mega weapon to my forehead and force me to choose one over the other? I’d let them liquify my innards rather than be forced to make a choice. Or, more likely, I’d blurt out “The Good Place is better than both of those shows!” before the gentle zzzzzap! would turn me into fish-paste.

The fact is, the shows are only comparable on the surface alone; because I view them at their cores to be wholly separate entities when it comes to their end-game. Simply put? Rick and Morty is nihilism made blue-haired and drunk. The Venture Brothers is eternal optimism packaged in perfectly pitched pastiche.  Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #013: Venture Brothers vs. Rick and Morty”

The Smarky Six: Week of September 24th

The Smarky Six: Week of September 24th

The Irish Lass Kicker ambushes The Queen during a photo session prior to SmackDown LIVE going on the air.

Copyright 2018 | WWE

Welcome back to the snark show! I’d apologize for not covering the landscape of the WWE lately, but let’s all be honest: it’s not been worth it to cover. I’ve been paying attention though… and with that, let’s go ahead and run though my top stories for the week… you pencil-necked geeks.

1. AJ Styles needs to lose the belt to Samoa Joe (AKA Daddy Styles). 

Look: I love the champ that runs the camp. Styles could wrestle a broom to a five star match. And, somehow, I’ve learned to tolerate his soccer mom haircut. But his championship run essentially has felt like “the dick punch trilogy with whatshisname” and now the “who’s your daddy” with whatshisothername. And either Samoa Joe or Shinsuke Nakamura are worthy top-level heel champions. Yes, I know they put the US Title on Nakamura, but seemingly it’s a paper belt at this point. I mean crap, Orton’s feud came to a point with Jeff Hardy at Hell in a Twizzler Cell while Nakamura surfed! But I digress. AJ Styles is too good a wrestler to be dealing with these Attitude Era Lite feuds. So let’s let the House That AJ Style’s Built be imploded, and let some new talent chase the title for a little while. Styles, here in what might be his second prime, could do well to chase from underneath while elevating some mid-carders in the process.

2. It’s always good advice in visual mediums to show not tell.

This past Monday saw Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre try to get into the head of a lunatic. And they attempted this with a line of worked shoot in-continuity jabs at Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. Apparently, we have to believe that while Ambrose was getting surgery, treating a staff infection, and getting jacked at the gym… his Shield-mates never called or texted him. But to tell us this, in apropos of literally no actual evidence (or even a verbal retort from the Shield) sold the whole angle short. Since coming back from injury, Ambrose has never looked better. He’s changed his style in the ring, cleaned up his look, and is elevating the top stable in company — at least in theory. But Ziggles and Galloway’s one night at the improv here just felt like the WWE writers room attempting to make a story without actually giving us any legitimate setup. If anything… Dean’s reversal of verbal barbs back on the Scottish Terminator (dumbest nickname ever, athankyew) carried far more weight. So, is this what we’re building towards? A who will abandon their stable first match? Color me meh.

And while we’re here, let me not waste another bullet on these two hot takes:

A. Dean Ambrose can’t carry another belt right now, because RAW doesn’t have any other belt. So, stop making it look like he’s missing something he can’t have.

B. It sucks that Dolph and Drew are actually having an AMAZING run in their tag team bouts. Both versus the Shield at the last PPV and the Revival this past week; I wish that the WWE creative team would just lean into that instead. The problem is, of course, aside from the Shield, RAW’s only other face tag team is the B-Team. Someone shuffle the deck, please.

3. Someone send the Bellas back to boot camp.

Not to dog-pile on the topic (as I know most of the smark community already has), but let’s just make it clear: Between her suicide dives nearly making their namesake true, and her concussing of Liv Morgan… Brie Bella is not ready for prime-time, playa. The WWE has an amazing Performance Center. I say she packs up Birdie, gets a room at the swankiest hotel in Orlando, and shakes off every last ounce of ring rust before she and her sister do whatever it is they’re supposed to be doing at Evolution.

Oh, and while we’re on that subject? If you thought that Evolution was historic and being done for the right reasons? Please see Crown Jewel as the answer to that point.

4. R-Truth led an entertaining segment and wrestled a decent match this week.

I’m not sure this is real life anymore.

And since I’m stacking topics, let’s talk about that match for a second, shall we? First off? Daniel Bryan does better commentary than Byron Saxton. Big surprise. Did you hear his salient points about Miz’s in-ring work? He touched specifically on the execution of particular moves — his powerful front kick versus his weak hip-thrown kicks — and then lamented on his need to lean on the lowest common denominators to win matches. And then? Miz poked Truth in the eye behind the back of the ref, and nailed a mock Shining Wizard for the win. In-ring execution of a story beat. So tasty I ate the moment without a side-dish. Thank you WWE Smackdown writing staff, for doing your job correctly.

5. Becky Lynch is amazing. Period. 

Her clean win over Charlotte combined with this tweener “take no guff, give me my spotlight” attitude is exactly what the women’s division needs. Where Ronda Rousey will now sit on the RAW belt like a Lesnar-Lite (while actually doing a significant number of shows, so much harder to specifically bitch here…), Lynch is owning her fighting champion role. Giving a match to Lana, and decidedly whooping her up and down was just what the doctor ordered. Charlotte is also more a natural heel mind you, but her fighting back up the card to face Becky (be it at Evolution, the Rumble, or dare we hope for Mania) will give us the legit women’s bout that we deserve after years of forced storylines across both divisions of ladies.

6. And now, a litany of hot takes to ride off into the sunset with…

Drake Maverick in his AoP gear looks like an action figure. It’s silly, and doesn’t make Toka and Razar (zing!) look intimidating. It makes them look like they traded in their grizzled veteran manager for his cheap millennial replacement.

Meanwhile, Lio Rush — with his weird Barack-by-way-of-Peele affectation — actually sells me on Bobby Lashley. I mean, sure, I’m still bored to tears when Black Lesnar wrestles… But when Rush hypes him up? It gives me something to look forward to.

Kevin Owens is being wasted week in and week out. But I heard his contract doesn’t end for several more years. So, earn that money, Kev. You deserve better. But your kids deserve the best. So it goes.

Renee Young in the commentary booth is the best thing to happen to that booth since Jerry Lawler had a heart attack. Mean? Probably. But that’s the way the shucky-ducky quack quacks.

Baron Corbin is doing the best he can in the role he’s been given. I’d like to say something more here — fantasy book him into something interesting — but even typing his name makes me yawn.

New Day vs. The Bar? It’s sad when Shamus’s point about the same old jokes holds as much weight as it does. I’m not saying split the New Day up… but I’m saying it’s time to split the New Day up.

Hey Randy? I thought the “Ten” schtick was dumb too. Stop being right, and entertaining, damnit.

Rusev is being wasted with this angle. Milwaukee? Let me introduce you to Fish Ziggler.

And last but not least this week…. I don’t give a single care in the world that HHH is facing the Undertaker for the last time ever. At all. That their entrances alone may eat up 20 minutes before they slow-motion fight through their old high spots until one heaping pile of steroids foists his sweaty body on top of the other heaping pile of surgically replaced parts…. doesn’t excite me in any way shape or form. But boy howdy, that Saudi money must be glorious!