In Kevin Owens, WWE rewards a consummate professional

They tell you in Hollywood that an amazing motion picture simultaneously surprises the audience and satisfies them at the same time, which is exactly how people in Houston’s Toyota Center reacted when Kevin Owens earned the WWE Universal Championship belt at the end of Monday Night Raw on Monday.

I know this to be true because no matter how loud the amplifiers blared music, what the announcers were yelling or for that matter, how villainous the ending, you could hear the crowd chanting in the background to the company’s top bad guy: “You deserve it.”

Now that’s some respect.

Say what you want about pro wrestling fans such as little ol’ me. You can call me stupid for watching it, but I’m not so stupid to where I don’t want to see a lifetime of dedication go unrewarded.

I’ll try to be brief about Owens’ accomplishments in the sense that I don’t claim to be a wrestling insider as other bloggers do. I do know that, much like stand-up comedy, you have to be a person of uncommon drive to be a pro wrestler. He’s spent half of his life as one, having started at 16. It’s an unusual vocation, solitary, taking you to the oddest places for chump change and golf claps from tiny audiences.

You toil for years under blind faith that your brass ring is within grasp.

Having said that, I remember people telling me stand-up must be the toughest job on the planet. I disagree. I think one of the reasons comics are wrestling fans because we recognize it is a tougher form of entertainment than stand-up. The risk of major injury is real, but you still have to be tell a damn good story in the process.

And Owens has surely been entertaining, honing his traditional heel routine for more than a decade around the world. The man is incapable of not talking trash, as if — like a great white shark has to keep swimming — stopping to be nice meant he would sink and die.

Consider how the WWE for the last 18 months has forced Roman Reigns on its fans, despite his lack of ability to connect with an audience. (Side note: Reigns can still learn to connect. Making eye contact with the audience is a good start when delivering a promo.)

Owens, conversely, smashed that fourth wall between performer and audience as the seasoned veteran he is. It also doesn’t matter if the show is televised or a WWE house show. I know this having seen Owens perform away from the cameras.

What made the result even more eye-popping was that the in-house crowd knew in advance they would see something major in that episode. Typically, championship belts change hands during pay-per view events. To have its most-important belt awarded on basic cable is almost groundbreaking for wrestling fans.

Four wrestlers competed for the belt, with Owens deemed lest likely to succeed by those bloggers who are allegedly in the know. Among the remaining three included two former champs — Reigns and Seth Rollins — with crowd favorite Big Cass.

Having chosen one of those three to win would have been the safe route for the company. It was so safe as to be expected, predictable. Like another push for Reigns.

Allowing Owens to ascend to the top of the heap, though, opens up all sorts of interesting possibilities for future episodes of “Raw,” which is going to be a must-see this upcoming week. How will Rollins react to betrayal from former allies? Does Cass consider turning on his tag team partner for more solo title shots? Will Reigns learn a move other than a punch?

But that’s a few days away for the writers to think of a good plot twist. For now, the bad guy in red and black has a matching championship belt to sling over his shoulder.

For those of us who admire work ethic, you’re damn right he deserved it.

The hunch: USC shocks Alabama

I admit up front I might need my head examined.

I also acknowledge that I have a bias against the SEC. Oh, I don’t think the conference sucks, but I do think it’s a good-ol’ boy network that protected itself in the polls at the expense of the rest of the nation. Memo to hillbilly sportswriters typing without opposable thumbs: The SEC is the greatest because it’s the SEC is not an argument.

But I digress…

This season kickoff between two powerhouse football programs in Dallas smells bad for the defending national champions. The more I think about it, I believe No. 24 USC will beat the third-ranked Crimson Tide.

If I’m wrong, so be it. At the start of the season, there is more guesswork involved because you’re bringing in new players that are unknowns on the bigger stage. 

Speaking of new players, many of them play for Alabama — including quarterback, running back and on defense, four of the Tide’s front seven. Quarterback is a curious situation for coach Nick Saban. Even today, he claims he hasn’t decided between junior Cooper Bateman and redshirt freshman Blake Barnett.

I don’t buy that. Assume Saban is fibbing to his adoring simpletons in the SEC press corps and has a starter, though. Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has a history of conservative playcalling at the start of the season. If you’re a USC fan, you know this well. Kiffin called so many bubble screens when he coached the Trojans even an idiot like me could see them coming.

The Trojans, meanwhile, are returning 10 starters on offense. Granted, replacing a quarterback is a tall order, but junior Max Browne is surrounded with nothing but veterans who are unlikely to be easily rattled. 

And USC returns six defensive starters, to boot. The Trojans weakness there is on defensive line.

So this is what I see happening: two teams protecting inexperienced quarterbacks by running first against an opponent’s unproven defensive front. That should keep the score down at first, giving USC a shot.

In that scenario, can you envision the Trojans experienced line protecting Browne enough to hit Juju Smith-Schuster or other returning receivers? Or Kiffin’s repetitive bubble screens working all night?

If anything, USC returns all four of its starting defensive backs. They know that screen is coming often. I think they adjust.

I think they can shut Lane Kiffin the hell up the same way Tampa Bay knew what the Oakland Raiders were running in Super Bowl in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Of course, if I’m wrong, screw it.

Austin, the Rams huge offensive risk

Last night, before the Los Angeles Rams played an exhibition game against defending Super Bowl champ Denver, the team announced it will pay wide receiver Tavon Austin $42 million by extending his contract through the 2021 season.

And then they didn’t score a touchdown and lost 17-9.

Granted, it’s an exhibition game against the Broncos and their elite defense, and Austin by all accounts is a quality guy to have on the team.

But this curious move sounds like one that will backfire.

The amount of money Austin will earn makes him — in NFL parlance — a “true No. 1 receiver.” There isn’t any evidence to suggest he is one. For example, the No. 8 overall pick from 2013 reached career highs last season with 52 receptions, 10 touchdowns and 907 yards from scrimmage.

Note that I didn’t write 907 reception yards. A true No. 1 receiver should be counted on to approach 1,000 per season. He’s never had more than 500. Also, a true No. 1 receiver should challenge for 100 receptions in a season. Coach Jeff Fisher sees that as a possibility. But until there’s evidence to back it up, you’re asking Austin to double his output based on a hunch.

That’s $42 million worth of conjecture you’re trying to fit under a salary cap.

So Austin should be paid on the level of Dez Bryant, Julio Jones or Demaryius Thomas? I don’t see it, particularly when you also consider that his presence on the field doesn’t necessarily lead to other opportunities for the rest of a poor Rams receiving corps. A true No. 1 receiver should draw double teams, leading to open teammates. That didn’t happen last year, either.

To be clear, the Rams’ first-team struggles during the exhibition season have been wisely self-inflicted. L.A.’s offense is based on the production of running back Todd Gurley, last season’s offensive rookie of the year. Fisher held Gurley out of all but one offensive series. The Chargers used to do the same thing with LaDainian Tomlinson, knowing the back would be getting the ball 30-plus times per game. Why expose Gurley to extra pointless hits?

But to deserve $42 million, you’re supposed to be on a level where you can produce even when Gurley is on the bench.

This contract is another land mine in the DMZ that is L.A’s offense. The franchise traded a handful of draft picks for quarterback Jared Goff, who won’t play at the start of the year but that’s an acceptable risk. Gurley not playing is an acceptable risk.

Austin’s contract makes three risks — which should give people pause — just like the Rams offense could be hesitating in their return to Southern California.

When being a cheapskate has its limits

I’m not always a cheapskate.

But when I want to, I can commit felonies on spare change when I don’t want to let it go.

For a few months, I’ve run this misguided and somewhat narcissistic blog with the idea that being moderately interesting and amusing could gain a following, not on a stalker level. I’ve had that in comedy… And I didn’t deserve my stalkers. I sucked.

I simply wanted to converse with people about random things, maybe pitch a book or two along the way.

Not as bad, though, as the bottom feeders of the Internet wanted to pitch me and you beastiality pictures, though.

That was only my second-favorite piece of spam. My fave remains the bot that asked me if I’m getting too much spam.

For the record, if I had approved of that comment or replied to it, I would have deserved all the spam I received.

The worst part is my blog is linked to my iPad. Whenever I get a comment, my tablet dings. I’ve gotten 70 comments about free animal sex pics in the last 24 hours. I can’t hear a ringing bell without thinking of Animal Planet After Dark now. Cue up Luther Vandross’ greatest hits, Simba. Nala’s feeling frisky.

Anyway, I’m figuring most people who bought my novel are women. And most people checking out my sports takes here are men. Since none of them are animals, I’m assuming they aren’t as visually stimulated as humans are and don’t need to see animal sex pics.

So I ponied up the $5 per month to give myself peace of mind and to remember that the only sexual intercourse I need to hear about involves a pizza delivery boy.

I hope to be in better spirits tomorrow.

Friedman isn’t wrong; Ellis had to go

There are distinct flaws with an all-analytics approach to building a baseball team. If you’ve read the book “Moneyball” — excellent read, by the way — the point of the book was to make a team that couldn’t afford so-called five-tool players competitive with the teams that can.

Hence, my primary problem with the Los Angeles Dodgers with Andrew Friedman. They can afford the five-tool guys, and yet they’ve overdosed on analytics and let elite players that could increase their chances at world titles slip away.

Analytics isn’t always wrong, though. As such, catcher A.J. Ellis was expendable. Absolutely.

Dodgers fans bemoaned the catcher’s departure for Philadelphia on Thursday, sent in a trade for catcher Carlos Ruiz.

As a side note, that move triggered other interesting little roster shuffles. The Dodgers couldn’t go a game without a backup catcher, so for one day Shawn Zarraga was promoted. In order to accommodate that move, outfielder Scott Van Slyke’s season was ended. He was placed on the 60-day disabled list.

Now, that’s a lot of lives impacted for bringing in a backup catcher to replace another backup catcher. And Ellis was also one of those “clubhouse guys” you read about. The guy who doesn’t put up great on-field results but man, his teammates love him to death and you want harmony over a long season. Heck, three days before the trade, Ellis joined teammate Rob Segedin to welcome  the outfielder’s child into the world. I challenge you not to smile after clicking that link.

But this move presented itself and it had to be made. I may not understand everything the Dodgers front office does, but they have committed themselves to roster depth over five-tool players. In the instance starting catcher Yasmani Grandal gets injured, Ruiz is a far better hitter than Ellis. Currently, Ellis isn’t even hitting .200.

And the Dodgers need all the hitters they can get. Their starting pitching is in tatters and last night they didn’t even land a single base hit until they were down to their final out. Scoring one run in two games is no way to hold onto first place.

Their has been some speculation that once-in-a-generation-elite pitcher Clayton Kershaw will miss his pal Ellis enough to opt out of his contract after the 2018 season due to Ellis leaving. That’s highly doubtful. If Kershaw leaves, it’s because the Dodgers front office has continued to bring in substandard players on this idiotic prideful quest to prove you can win titles with minimum-wage talent.

But they weren’t wrong on this one. Ellis is a feel-good story. Ruiz is an insurance policy.

And insurance makes you feel pretty damn good when you need it most.

For U.S. Soccer, a deal with Hope was a deal with the devil

Last night, U.S. Soccer — which oversees both the men’s and women’s national teams in international tournaments — terminated the contract of its most successful goaltender of either gender over ugly comments she made about Sweden at the recently concluded Rio Olympics.

The women’s team, a favorite to win the gold medal, left Rio blingless when Sweden eliminated them in the quarterfinal round on penalty kicks. Solo, an admitted sore loser, said the following after the loss: “We lost to a bunch of cowards.”

That stings. If it weren’t for swimmer Ryan Lochte, she’d probably be scorched on the international stage for being everything that’s wrong with America. Elitist. Priggish. Entitled. If this bratty little outburst were an isolated incident, though, it probably doesn’t rise to the level of dismissal from the team.

Only it’s not a solo incident. It’s one of many Solo incidents over an international career than has spanned at least 13 years. This leads me to an inevitable conclusion, which we’ll get to in a moment.

This disciplinary action is at least her third suspension by U.S. Soccer. She was suspended in 2007 for shredding American goalie Briana Scurry after the U.S. lost 4-0 to Brazil: “There’s no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves,” Solo said. “And the fact of the matter is, it’s not 2004 anymore. … It’s 2007, and I think you have to live in the present. And you can’t live by big names. You can’t live in the past. It doesn’t matter what somebody did in an Olympic gold-medal game in the Olympics three years ago.”

Solo continued burying teammates in her autobiography, “A Memoir of Hope,” which I’m guessing is even cheaper than my novel (cheap plug. You can find it on Amazon).

She was arrested in 2012 in a domestic violence case on the eve of her wedding to former NFL testicle-target Jerramy Stevens. We still don’t know who struck who, but it apparently wasn’t just soon-to-be man and wife allegedly getting swings in. It included her own relatives.

Solo wasn’t suspended for that, but she was for letting her husband drive the team van while it was training in Manhattan Beach for the 2015 World Cup. Stevens, whose rap sheet exceeds his accomplishments in the NFL, drove the van with a blood-alcohol content allegedly at four times the legal limit. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail. She was suspended for 30 days, which was just short enough for her to play in the World Cup — when the federation was tweeting about her brilliance leading the team to the world title.

Even before the Olympics began, she was making an ass of herself with tweets about the Zika virus. To be honest, I think it’s funny… if you back it up by winning.

Only she didn’t win. And that’s the key to this entire termination.

U.S. Soccer willingly looked the other way so long as she was in net during her physical prime. Only now she’s 35. By the time the next World Cup rolls around, she’ll be pushing 40. In other words, to paraphrase Hope Solo: it’s not 2007 anymore. … It’s 2016, and I think you have to live in the present. And you can’t live by big names. You can’t live in the past.

This is why her contract was terminated. U.S. Soccer is cutting bait to save some money — and pretend to save face.

Know this: Solo has representatives that will claim she is being held to a different standard based on her gender. But declining athletic results are as gender neutral as it comes. Father and Mother Time always wins.

For all those years, U.S. Soccer has been telling us to look the other way, that her athletic accomplishments are what we should be admiring about Hope Solo. That golly, doesn’t she look ripped in ESPN magazine’s annual “The Body Issue”? And hey, why not buy more women’s soccer team merchandise on our website?

Only it’s not patriotic, U.S. Soccer, for me to glorify a fraud.

And I don’t just mean Hope Solo. I mean U.S. Soccer at its core.

L.A. comics cut their own throat with the political correctness blade

Some of the funniest comedians I’ve ever heard are dirty as hell.

Some of the most intelligent comedians I’ve performed with work almost entirely blue.

Some of the most politically astute comics I know — not with my political affiliation, either — have a cache of sex jokes.

They also talk about race, religion, sexual preference and identity. They cuss. They say some things that would be highly inappropriate in the workplace.

So why in the fuck are some idiot LA comics willing to treat comedy clubs like a traditional workplace?

There is a piece posted on my Facebook feed today about female comedians fighting sexual harassment in the oh, so naughty and inappropriate Los Angeles scene. To which I say, except for one point, fuck that. Aside from the obvious assault on freedom of speech, this assertion opens up a Pandora’s box that no comic — indeed, no artist of any sort — should open.

I agree on one point. Sexual assault has no place anywhere. That’s a no-brainer, but I’ll address how to combat that in a moment.

Consider the definition of what makes a business liable under sexual harassment laws: It is what the aggrieved party deems offensive that is considered sexual harassment. Even if that party says the same thing back and you are not offended, it is not considered harassment.

What does that mean? For example, there was a rather infamous open miker in Los Angeles who was in adult films. Her entire act was one-liners about her sexual escapades. But if you mentioned pornography around her, she was willing to fight you. It made for some of the creepiest confrontations I ever witnessed in Los Angeles.

Common sense makes you wonder what her problem is. After all, she brought up her sex life in the first place.

But sexual harassment laws say she was in the right.

Imagine a world where that person is in the right. Always.

And now you’re willing to give up your rights to say what you want on stage? Do you even realize that a primary reason comedy clubs exist is for people who want to hear something inappropriate after a work day of being politically correct?

The damndest thing about me writing this post is that I worked almost exclusively clean, but don’t for a minute think I did so on this moral high horse. I didn’t go around pooh-poohing comics talking about titties, butts, penises, AIDS, group sex, Richard Gere, 9-11, “Two Girls One Cup,” or an orgy involving every living president and First Lady.

Because it’s your art, or at least your attempt at art.

To include sexual harassment in the “workplace” of the comedy club will lead to an unlimited array of ugly consequences that would kill stand-up comedy as you and I know it.

Doug Stanhope couldn’t work again. Neither could Andrew “Dice” Clay, Dave Attell, Jim Norton, Sarah Silverman or Amy Schumer. Yes, take note that this movement also eliminates blue female comedians once these standards kick in. One person gets offended, and their material is obliterated, too. Or maybe one male comedian who had his material shredded by a comedy club “compliance manager” will get a little snippy and insist all women be held to the same criteria.

Faking harassment claims for vengeance. It happens all the time in the regular workplace.

Taylor Williamson would have never reached the finals of “America’s Got Talent” because judge Heidi Klum found his jokes offensive and he didn’t even say one sex joke.

Oh, and the median annual salary of a compliance manager is about $90,000. Good luck getting paid gigs when that becomes the industry standard.

Back in the day, George Carlin had a bit on the words you can’t say on television. Wait until you get a list that’s even longer for your three-minute showcase at The Laugh Factory.

Oh, and goodbye LA open mic scene. Goodbye, Marty’s. Goodbye, Comedy Store potluck. Goodbye, Meltdown.

Now, let’s take a moment and answer the obvious: What should a female comedian do when a shithead male comic gropes, won’t take no for an answer, etc.?

Well, there’s 911. But the LAPD might be too busy harassing black people. So there’s bouncers in comedy clubs. That would be a good idea. Having said all of that, there’s a really good third option: Professional male comics.

The vast majority of male comics — even if they think a female comic is attractive — know that to have sex with her is a bad idea professionally. Here’s why:

1) They fear you will ask them for favors if you do have sex. Stage time at other shows. Writing assignments. Paid gigs in LA are a pain in the ass to find. You think the comic wants to ask the booker, “Hey, could you also pay my girlfriend?”

Or if the situation was reversed: Say the female comic lands a movie role, a headlining gig, etc. She damn sure wouldn’t want to hear from me, either.

2) Most male comics know damn well you’re going to talk shit about them in your act when you break up.

I’d have to admit there were a couple of female comics where I was sorely tempted to ask the lady out, but it never went anywhere because of the first reason listed above.

So oddly enough, many male comics see female comics not as a sex object, but as a comrade — fighting the same struggle. Being a comic is tough as hell. If you have respect for the game, real comics will respect you for it.

Many male comics will defend female comics and pull the jerk away. Our comedian code may not make perfect sense, but it is a code. We despise joke thieves. We can’t stand people trying to harm brothers and sisters we respect.
And for the record, I have booked female comics for shows I ran and not once was sex part of the deal.

Also, more than once offered to kick the living shit out of a guy who wouldn’t take no for an answer from a female comic. I would have been happy to do that, even if it meant going to jail, because it would have been the right thing to do.

But what is not the right thing to do is to limit what can be said in a comedy club. The Comedy Store may not be a welcoming environment, but it is one of a precious few places left in this country for unfettered freedom of speech.

So to those who want to put the kibosh on that because they can’t stand up for themselves, I have one final thing to say.

Fuckin’ man up, already.

What to make of the L.A. Rams after two games

Much like the preseason itself, it’s difficult to come up with a precise forecast after watching two exhibition NFL games. The Los Angeles Rams moved back home an incomplete team, and they still look like a team that left a few things behind in St. Louis.

To wit, they left their secondary behind. The Rams had excellent defensive personnel last season but had to make difficult cuts to remain under the salary cap. In the process, cornerback Jenoris Jenkins and safety Rodney McLeod left as free agents. 

Now, the Rams defensive line also took hits. Chris Long left as a free agent for New England, for example, but that calculated gamble paid off because Aaron Donald is considered by some to be even more devastating than Houston’s J.J. Watt.

As a result, rebuilding the secondary has so far inspired Cowboys fans to nominate an unknown quarterback named Dak Prescott to the Hall of Fame and made Kansas City’s Alex Smith look like Dan Marino. The Rams are 2-0 in the preseason, yes, but those wins came from fourth quarter rallies by players with little to no chance of making the team. You want progress from your starters.

L.A. has appeared to progress on offense. It scored two touchdowns in the first half Saturday against Kansas City, which is a reason for optimism. The Rams have also advanced despite top draft pick Jared Goff being demoted to third string.

At this juncture, though, I can’t argue that the Rams are better than Seattle or Arizona. Maybe Arizona, but that puts the team in jeopardy of missing the playoffs again.

Meanwhile, St. Louis is fooling itself into thinking the Rams are worse off without them. Keep telling yourselves that, guys. Maybe it will keep you from jumping off the arch.

And this does not look good. I remember seeing this all the time when the Raiders played here. The gut feeling? L.A. Raiders fans switched colors so they could skip paying $4 for every gallon of gas up to Oakland. Note to Rams ownership: Better pay some OT to put up that new stadium up quicker and price the thugs out of the market.

Is it still a mirage if it lasts 26 years? The High Desert Mavericks fold

Granted, the following quote may not be etched in granite and placed in front of an eternal fountain off Highway 395 for residents of the High Desert to reflect, but it sure defined an era for California League baseball:

“Where the hell is Adelanto?”

That was the reaction of league president Joe Gagliardi when he heard the Riverside Red Wave wanted to migrate north after three seasons. The Red Wave was the third franchise to head to the Inland Empire and by far, the least successful, playing at UC Riverside. Neighboring residents had objected so strenuously to having a team in the area that the franchise was denied a beer license, a sobering reality to where team owners were desperate enough to listen to a proposal for a stadium in a town of fewer than 7,000 people.

My boss drove to what was already called Mavericks Stadium two months before the team debuted in 1990. He remarked the light blue steel awning gave it the appearance of a desert mirage off Highway 395.

Now, 26 seasons later, it may as well be. The Cal League is contracting from 10 teams to eight, with two franchises vanishing — Bakersfield and Adelanto. In response, the Carolina League will expand from eight teams to 10 next year.

The Mavs played a role in the peripheries of the memories of my young adulthood. The stadium drew legions of fans from across the High Desert — Victorville, Apple Valley and so forth — for many years. As such, the move was a stroke of genius for the owners. The Red Wave never drew more than 90,000 people. The Mavs, if my memory is correct, almost drew twice that in year one.

That team was managed by one of the most genuine men I had ever met in baseball. I know this to be true because years after being impressed by the guy, I eventually covered the major leagues and in the Padres dugout, Bruce Bochy was still every bit as earnest and friendly as he was back in Adelanto.

I was covering a Mavericks game the night when our nation was shocked over a pipe bomb explosion that killed one and injured 111 more at the Atlanta Olympics.

I caught my first foul ball at a Mavericks game — on the fly, thank you very much. Still have it.

I also remember that was the first place where I heard of “the Cal League curse.” If you’re a sportswriter, never mention the speed of the game or it will last more than four hours. I was no longer in the Cal League on June 28, 2009, but I’m guessing some nitwit in the press box smiled over the prospects of going home early and mentioned the game was going fast — and the Lake Elsinore Storm edged the Mavs in a 33-18 pitchers duel.

There are fewer than 10 Mavericks currently in the majors. Two of them — Billy Butler and J.J. Hardy — were all-stars. MLB Network announcer Matt Vasgersian is a former play-by-play guy. Kind of a funny dude, but I’ve never heard any tales of cow tipping in Visalia from the guy during his current broadcasts.

And now, Heritage Field — as it is currently called — will be silent at the end of the month, when the Cal League season closes. Its blue awning had faded and rusted long ago. The Adelanto City Council had developed a hostile relationship with the team, although I don’t know who is to blame for that. The council tried to evict the Mavericks. It’s not like there’s many options for the town. Its population is at fewer than 32,000.

I don’t really know how to react to that. Many Cal League teams have shuffled across the state. Riverside still doesn’t have a team. And it’s not like the cry went from “Where in hell is Adelanto?” to “Where in the hell does Adelanto get off doing this?”

I guess the best way to put it is this: Minor league baseball had a heyday in the 1980s-1990s. It was billed as local entertainment for areas like the High Desert that was sorely lacking.

Only we don’t lack for entertainment options in most of the United States, anymore. You can’t go 30 miles in any direction without finding a casino. You can stream baseball games at bus stops in the middle of nowhere. We don’t need minor league baseball to keep us happy as much as we need a good data plan and an outlet.

Not that the Cal League is dying, mind you.

But must-see? Oh, that’s a mirage now.

That wasn’t fun while it lasted, or, a review of WWE Summerslam

The WWE will be coming to my town for Wrestlemania next year and truth be told, I am looking forward to it. But when the larger pro wrestling events come, it’s described as “the WWE invades your town.” And that’s exactly what Summerslam last night felt like — despite two new champions crowned in Finn Balor and Charlotte Flair — something that lasted so long it was almost against your will.

Summerslam was like a luau. It sounds cool, but the food and decor doesn’t fit your lifestyle and who gives a damn about the hula dancers, my joints are stiff from sitting with my legs crossed for six hours and there’s sand in my butt.

Consider that the WWE extended its programming for Summerslam to Wrestlemania length, up to four hours for the event, plus a two-hour kickoff show, and that doesn’t even count Saturday’s NXT Takeover (consider that something like a Triple-A baseball game), and a Friday WWE-themed concert. Even for a town that bathes in its own excess such as New York, it was far too much. That’s nine hours of wrestling, plus who knows how much music I don’t listen to?

By the time Summerslam actually kicked off, the audience was on its final can of Red Bull because they had nothing. For that matter, it felt as if the bookers for the show and many of the wrestlers had little left in the tank, too.

They need a day off. Only they won’t get one because Raw is on tonight — three more hours to consume in Brooklyn. And those three hours won’t even address the two most-pressing questions I have:

  1. What was the deal with John Cena’s post-loss reaction to A.J. Styles?
  2. Does Randy Orton have any blood left in his body?

Because those are Smackdown brand wrestlers. That show comes about Tuesday.

Let’s get the good out of the way first:

1) Styles-Cena. Two consummate professionals performed a match of about 40 minutes with lots of high spots, believable near falls, excellent storytelling and a clean finish win for Styles, a nice reminder that the guy is more than a traditional cowardly heel.

2) Chris Jericho-Kevin Owens def. Enzo-Big Cass. I’m in the minority when I say I don’t particularly care for a lot of NXT call ups, especially Enzo-Cass. Don’t get me wrong, if Roman Reigns had one-third of the mic ability of Enzo Amore, he’d be worth that two-year push WWE has forced on us all. But the majority of their matches have been about Cass steamrolling other teams for two minutes and Enzo running his mouth for 15.

Jericho and Owens? Man, I can’t say enough about them. We often talk about somebody being a man’s man, a doctor’s doctor, a mechanic’s mechanic, etc. Either of those two are a wrestler’s wrestler. Their versitiliy makes them valuable and entertaining in any type of match. And this combination finishing move was outstanding.

3) Charlotte def. Sasha Banks. Even if Banks weren’t injured, I think this is the right call. Owens and Charlotte have been the two best NXT promotions by far. Banks, she’s a strong worker but I still don’t get why people see her as a face when she talks like a self-absorbed heel. At least Charlotte embraces that role, and she excels at it. She gets some of the loudest boos I’ve ever heard.

4) Finn Balor def. Seth Rollins. A strong match in front of a crowd that kind of wanted to go home but hung on in case anything really great happened. But it wasn’t particularly great. It was just really good, so the crowd amused itself by booing the hideous new “universal title” belt.

There were five other matches aside from these 3 1/2 good ones, which means a lot of crap that just didn’t justify 4-6 hours staring at your tablet. And the final two matches never quite materialized, leaving the crowd angry and confused. Fortunately, I was drunk by then and could walk 12 steps to my bed. Those poor people in Brooklyn had to take their respective subways home.

Nobody can figure out why Roman Reigns vs. Rusev was booked after all title matches were held. Even worse, I don’t think anyone can explain why technically the match never happened, as Reigns simply attacked Rusev before the bell and was “ejected” from the ring.

That couldn’t have happened before Balor-Rollins?

Also, we’re left wondering why a match that was billed as more than a decade in the making — Brock Lesnar-Orton — was stopped when Lesnar opened an impressive gash in Orton’s head. I know I can’t be too old-school when I say this: Wrestlers used to bleed profusely all the time in my day. Now it’s a TKO?

I feel bad about speculating, because apparently Orton needed 10 staples to his head to close the gash. But consider the importance of this match to the company.

This match was billed as a bragging rights match over which of WWE’s shows has superior talent. WWE has tried to revive Smackdown after more than a year of irrelevancy, and now one of its biggest names loses by TKO? That’s a horrible ending.

The less said about Dean Ambrose successfully defending his title against Dolph Ziggler, the better. Nobody will remember to say anything about The Miz defending his title against Apollo Crews. Maybe we’ll remember that Nikki Bella returned from a major spine injury for a six-woman tag-team match that had no stakes to it other than it featured a lot of pretty athletic women. (Now that I think of it, why was a nondescript match like this also held after a women’s championship match?)

Also, now is a good time to admit we want Jon Stewart to tell jokes from behind a desk, not muddying up a tag-team match between The New Day and Gallows & Anderson.

The entire show was a confused pile of stuff, much like what I feel like I’m writing now.

If Wrestlemania in Orlando is anything like this, I’m going to swear off wrestling. It was that bad.