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Mixed Match Chambers – Jake’s MMC Review – Week 9

November 17, 2018 | Posted by Jake Chambers
WWE Mixed Match Challenge Braun Ember
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Mixed Match Chambers – Jake’s MMC Review – Week 9  

There are a lot of problems with this season of Mixed Match Challenge, from the lack of enthusiasm to poor wrestling and lethargic attempts at comedy, but I think there is one less obvious reason for the suckiness: no draws.

For a first attempt at a round robin style tournament, the WWE is failing at the intricate booking required to make every match feel important. They’ve been kind of selling it like a loss doesn’t matter because you get a chance to wrestle again. That’s really the opposite way to arrange this format, each match equals points to your record and thus you should be trying every strategy to keep up in the standings, even if it means playing for a draw rather than taking a loss.

A draw, even if rare, is what helps maintain the drama a pro-wrestling round robin tournament, and having a time limit creates the immediacy of the matches that you don’t get outside of these tournaments. In the world’s largest sporting event, which is also a round robin tournament, the FIFA World Cup, draws are crucial to strategy, the match drama, and the block standings. You can go from 4th place to 1st based on a draw in the most extreme situations, whereas unlike in the MMC, being in 4th place and having lost almost every match, means you are basically equal to first place without having to earn anything.

If these matches had 10 or 15 minute time limits it could have even played better into the “comedy” match style they’ve been going for this season. It might have added some context to these pointless dance offs and goofing around, as the wrestlers are trying to trap each other into draws, especially when some of these C level teams are facing off with the main event-ers.

Of course, the WWE has further exposed their often glaring lack of concentration or patience with logic or long-term storytelling during this MMC season. They had such a great opportunity to play with the intricacies hinted at in NXT and 205 Live, by weaving interesting team arc threads into a larger narrative, but we’ve seen no great character work or manipulation of this tournament format. All of the teams are coming off as generic goofs whether married or thrown together, rather than shades of different personalities and strategic planning. And all of this could be linked to a lack of draws, a decision that had to be consciously made when planning out this show, and was metonym for the grander laziness of the show on the whole.

As always, 411mania is the home to the greatest show/match reviewer alive, Larry Csonka, and his weekly review of Mixed Match Challenge will breakdown the matches and expertly rate them in relation to his extensive knowledge of the pro-wrestling canon. On the other hand, I created this alternative “star ratings” rubric in hopes that these damn matches would be interesting pieces of a larger scheme to integrate mixed gender competition into a compelling narrative. As if.

MMC Match Rating Rubric

5 Stars – a transcendent match that truly evens the playing field for the male and female wrestlers involved at a main event level.

For example = Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle vs. Stephanie McMahon & Triple H: enraptured a Wrestlemania audience with action, drama and moments of believable inter-gender combat. It is unlikely any match from MMC 2 will be able to reach this rating level.

4 Stars – near-flawless and exciting wrestling action, where characters are out of the element and realistically trying to win the match in dramatic fashion; elements of inter-gender wrestling will be a strong bonus.

For example = MMC S2 – Week 1 – AJ Styles & Charlotte vs. Jimmy Uso & Naomi: house-show level competitive back-and-forth between Charlotte and Naomi, fun verbal interactions between Styles and Uso, and inter-gender elements that resulted directly in the finish.

3 Stars – solid, clean wrestling where you don’t notice any continued errors or lethargic sequences; if lacking in drama or action, superior exterior features such as macro or micro storylining and/or character flourishes are taken into account.

For example = MMC S2 – Week 2 – Alicia Fox & Jinder Mahal vs. Mickie James & Bobby Lashley: Well-timed sequences that fit together like dominoes, giving four wrestlers with often little opportunity on the main roster a chance to put on a compelling and satisfying match.

2 Stars – even if the wrestling performed is average or the outcome predictable, a match at this level should feature a solid pace that stops it from being boring or pointless.

For example = MMC S2 – Week 6 – Finn Balor & Bayley vs. Bobby Roode & Natalya: dull wrestlers being instructed to “have fun” in between moments of chain wrestling with the energy of a backstage run-through.

1 Star – basically a match that goes through the motions, relies heavily on rest holds, or features a lop-sided effort from competitors of one gender; mistakes and botches stand out significantly.

For example = MMC S2 – Week 5 – Asuka & The Miz vs. Lana & Rusev: a lifeless match of unnecessary comedy and dancing anchored by Lana’s poor wrestling.

MMC2 – Week 9 Review

Match #1: Country Dominance vs. Monster Eclipse

Just a lethargic match from all involved. Proves how pointless winning this tournament is when there is no immediacy on these undefeated teams to try and even pretend to care to get a victory here. This was almost like watching the “The Process” era Philadelphia 76ers trying to not win games.

Match Rating: *

Match #2: Awe-ska vs. Charlotte Flair and Jeff Hardy

Not a terrible match, which I guess is the best this show can shoot for at this point. However, what they make up for in wrestling, they cancel out with nonsense. Why was Jeff Hardy added to this match? What did Hardy get out of participating if it’s only a one off? And why is a one-off competitor even allowed to get involved, shouldn’t the team have to forfeit? And why would they build up Miz and Asuka, last season’s undefeated champions, only to have them lose to a one-off team? And the guy who was able to help get the random victory was way-past-his prime Jeff Hardy? Ugh.

Asuka is now part of two unnecessarily premature ends to significant winning streaks. Up until she tapped out (again) to Charlotte, I thought the match was going along pretty well. They carried the load in the match, as they did in the finals of Season 1 too. Well, one last thing for Asuka to hold on to, I guess, on her path to C level obscurity.

Match Rating: **

Okay, so they have confirmed now that next week’s two winless teams are facing off in an elimination match, as speculated in my column last week (when I wasn’t stuck in a nihilistic fever dream) meaning what we can only assume is an 8-team tournament is what they’re doing after that. You’d think then that there can’t be another weak episode of this show, right? Feels like I say that every week, so let’s see how WWE can make an official elimination episode feel lame; shouldn’t be hard considering the teams involved.

But yeah, this whole presumably 8-team single-elimination tournament coming up just made the entire round robin style absolutely meaningless. This assumes “seeding” in a WWE tournament actually means the same as a real sport tournament, but it’s all scripted so it’s not like a 4-0 team is any better off against a 1-3 team when they’re at the whim of the writers… and when no one in the audience knows or cares about those seedings anyways. What a waste.

However, WWE did announce that the two winners will get the 30th spot in their respectively gendered Royal Rumbles in January. Again, being that this is all scripted, we know that coming in at #30 guarantees nothing, and I think it’s long-gone since it mattered one way or another about when a wrestler enters a Rumble match. So a pointless reward for a pointless tournament, when all we really wanted was good matches. Is that so hard to figure out?

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The final score: review Poor
The 411
A harmless episode, unless you're Awe-ska and the last real compelling story in the MMC universe... now cast aside like all the promise of this season. From this point forward, it's all eliminations, so it can only be uphill from here, right... right??
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