Monday, February 24, 2014

Gorilla Position: WWE's Elimination Chamber Pay-Per-View

The final Pay-Per-View before the launch of the WWE Network has come and gone now, another part of history, and what will its legacy be? A showcase of one of the most brutal title defenses witnessed? The clash of two stables that will go down as legends long after they've gone on to be monster solo successes?

Or could it be another tally mark that adds to this record-setting achievement of disappointing endings to a Pay-Per-View this season? The historic WrestleMania looms on the horizon and we're seeing the puzzle pieces fall into place. But what does it mean for everyone who leaves the Elimination Chamber battered, bruised, and broken, even in victory, the winners looked worse for wear. Are we going to be able to count on these guys to deliver at the 30th anniversary of the showcase of the immortals?

I skipped through the pre-show match of the Rhodes Brothers vs. Ryback and Curtis Axel (I refuse to use the stupid mash up of their names because it sounds like an anti-depressant) as well as the throwaway Divas championship defense. I don't buy Cameron or Naomi for an instant. AJ has run out of challengers.
As for Titus O'Neil VS. Darren Young, I may have a minority opinion on this, but I think it had the opposite of the intended effect. O'Neil didn't look like a vicious heel beast. Young looked like an underdog star, who knew how to wear down the big guy. It made Darren look pretty great in this match, despite losing, and O'Neil looked a bit worse for wear by the end.

Jack Swagger with Zeb Colter VS. Big E for the Intercontinental Championship
The IC defense match opens the show proper and it was a hard-hitting match.
Big E (dropping the Langston from his name, though the commentators don't seem to remember that, often referring to him exclusively as Langston) moves really well for a big guy, and Swagger can be impressive, but this lacked a spark. I think the two just didn't find a good enough groove.
Still, I loved the dive through the ropes, with Swagger on the apron. Basically, looked liked a spear to the floor, but that's something new. I would've loved to see what Langston had planned for his top rope maneuver.
That said, a fine opening match, a solid title defense, and two big men having kind of a clunky fight? Par for the course.

The Usos: Jimmy and Jey VS. The New Age Outlaws: Road Dogg Jesse James and Bad Ass Billy Gunn for the World Tag Team Championships
Well, the Outlaws are gonna hold the belts through to WrestleMania, I guess. It's hard to book them as believable champions, though. Goldust and Cody Rhodes, at least in their matches, it looked to be more even. But I don't buy for a second that the aging Road Dogg and Billy Gunn (who, despite what the commentators will have you believe, does in fact look his age AND moves accordingly).
The Usos were spectacularly entertaining and were the reason to watch, and having them come up short was a little disappointing.

The Shield: United States Champion Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns VS. The Wyatt Family: Luke Harper, Eric Rowan, and Bray Wyatt
This was an epic clash. I was glad they gave the match a lot of time, and it was paced beautifully. Every member of both trios had some strong spots.
It's too bad they fed Rollins to the Wyatts before the Shield mounted their comeback. With the surging popularity of Reigns and Ambrose, it's unfortunate to book Rollins in such a way. But maybe it's because he sells the best of the three. He did have some bright moments though, taking a top rope maneuver and landing on his feet, and a slingshot maneuver off the ropes and landing on his feet, and then the suicide diving senton to Harper on the outside.
I'm truly impressed with how Harper and Rowan manage to distinguish themselves. They are typed similarly, big burly men who are the muscle, the monsters flanking a strange and unorthodox Wyatt. But Harper feels more daredevil, more Mankind in a way. Rowan is a lumbering giant, a masked Kane. Wyatt of course has come into his own and is unsettling and off-putting.
Reigns was a monster in his own right, truly making himself look like a star. Ambrose similarly so, in his own odd style.
The audience loved it all the way through, cheering "This Is Awesome" at nothing more than the staredown at the beginning of the match. The third act went into complete chaos, first with some of the outside maneuvers, then with Rollins double chokeslammed through the Spanish announce table, and Ambrose and Wyatt tumbling over the barricade into the audience. I was hoping there'd be more back-and-forth from the ring (where Reigns and Rowan were trading blows), to the announce area (where Harper could've continued his destruction of Rollins), and then to Wyatt and Ambrose in the arena. But they never returned to Wyatt and Ambrose after the initial tumble, and Rollins stayed down for the remainder.
One of the final images, was Reigns coming to and realizing the tables had turned and the Wyatts had him surrounded, Hounds of Justice style. It was a full-circle moment that gave me goosebumps, and led to a great finishing sequence with Bray himself picking up the victory.
9.5. (Match of the night)

Batista VS. Alberto Del Rio VS. The Patience of the WWE Universe.
Well, for fuck's sake.
Batista came out to the complete hate and vitriol of the audience.
Del Rio came out on a crutch and neck brace, and in sweats. No one was buying that he was actually injured, we knew it was only a matter of time.
What I had expected was for Batista to jump Del Rio anyway, use his crutch on him, and destroy him, and this match would've been over in a few minutes.
What happened instead was Batista bought it, and Del Rio jumped him. He struck him to the point that the crutch was destroyed, he looked like a crafty heel. Which made me realize...THEY'RE STILL TRYING TO MAKE US BUY BATISTA AS A FACE! What in the bloody hell?
Now we all understand why. Batista's back because of Guardians of the Galaxy, wherein he plays a hero. We couldn't possibly have him heel turn now, despite getting the worst crowd reaction he's ever received in his career.
The problem with the booking of it all was that Batista never once put up a fight. He got in his spinebuster before Del Rio turned it around again, and then pulled out a Batista Bomb and a pin and win out of nowhere. It was a travesty.
First of all - the booking of Del Rio to come out and use a cowardly tactic that ultimately did not work is confusing and pointless. Now Del Rio looks weak and Batista looks weak because he fell for it and he never recovered from it.
Second of all - Batista is now about to headline WrestleMania and he has not proven he can even go in a match. For all of Orton's faults, he's a fierce competitor, looks like he hits hard, and be pretty vicious. I worry for Batista. He's not in in-ring shape. Del Rio, a technical wizard and a great worker, would've been a lovely test to carry him through his first real match back and possibly pull out a good match from the Animal.
Instead, we got a convoluted match that amounted to a squash wherein no one looked strong. Arguably, Del Rio looked stronger. We still don't know if Batista can wrestle, he seemed to just barely escape with his win, and he looked like an idiot.
0.5 (The .5 is for the crowd chanting for RVD and Jericho. And also, for the commentators' first onscreen acknowledgement since the championship unification that Jericho was the first Undisputed Champion.)

Cesaro with Zeb Colter VS. Christian VS. Sheamus VS. John Cena VS. Daniel Bryan VS. Randy Orton for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Cena was out first. I actually really love Cena. He seems like a great guy and he works hard. He's impressively strong, and that was a great little moment he had with a fan at ringside, giving him his hat and shirt.
Christian second. Is Christian actually talking out loud when he walks out, or is he just mouthing words? And regardless, is he mouthing a real sentence, or is it nonsense? I've wondered for years just who Christian thinks he's talking to when he comes out.
D-Bry. A marvelous reaction for the little guy. It's too bad we all know he's not going to win.
And Orton. The champion has an advantage of not starting the match, but Orton has never won a Chamber match, a fact highlighted several times over the past month, leading me to believe Orton will retain.
Sheamus and Cesaro, open with a hard-hitting brawl. Quite a difference from Michaels and Jericho starting a Chamber match years ago with some great chain wrestling.
Sheamus is another guy I actually love. At RAW, he's managed to turn crowds back in his favor, before they hijack matches he's in, and audiences actually don't seem to mind him much, unlike Orton, Cena, and Batista. Like I said, during his tag match with Christan for instance, he was able to keep the chants for Daniel Bryan or anything else from happening. Only Cena has really managed to do that. It throws off Orton terribly, and Triple H seems unable to improvise around it. 
It felt like a first, with all six men getting into the match before the first elimination.
Bryan took some hard spots, going through two chamber pods over the course of the match.
Cesaro took an AA over the rope onto the steel, though it was padded somewhat by the plexiglass that had fallen off one of the pods Bryan went through.
A third pod was destroyed by a Brogue Kick when Sheamus, (who was booked really strong and dangerous in this match) went after a cowardly Orton who retreated back into his once everyone wanted to gun for him. Also during this moment, Orton weathered crowd chants of "Bullshit!" and "Pussy!" He definitely was not happy about that.
Cesaro had some good spots too, of course the Swing coming in against Orton. (I don't understand how the crowd is counting. They're counting too fast for number of rotations but keep going faster and faster so it's not seconds. It makes no sense.)
To eliminate Sheamus, Christian took a splash off the top of a pod. Christian and Cesaro soon followed. As expected, the Wyatts interfered to help eliminate Cena. And also as expected, Kane interfered to help Orton retain against the remaining Bryan.
The match ended, like so many RAWS and Pay-Per-Views have now, with Bryan on the floor, Orton leaving victorious. But the crowd's reaction was unexpected, so much so, that it felt like a work. It was stunned silence. Whereas at the Royal Rumble, the editing team drowned out the chorus of boos from the crowd for Batista by popping the fireworks and his music, there was nothing to do with the deafening silence of the Elimination Chamber crowd. People were shown in the audience not clapping, not booing, not screaming No, nothing. All their expressions neutral, all their faces blank. "I Hear Voices in My Head" played over what felt like an empty stadium.
There is something worse than heat and even true heat. It is silence.

So where does that leave everyone following the last stop on the road to WrestleMania?
We know Batista and Orton now have a match for the title. But does Bryan somehow get inserted into that picture as a triple threat? Do we see shades of Benoit/Triple H/Michaels, and get another classic, with a great payoff for the underdog in the match?
Or does Bryan head to match with Triple H himself? Booking-wise, it makes no sense, as I feel his main beef would first be with Kane. A Kane VS. Bryan match at WM would be a disappointing showcase at the biggest show for the littlest engine that could.
And what about Lesnar? Does he make a return soon? Does WM dare try another fatal four-way to headline the event, with Lesnar and Bryan being added to Orton/Batista? That's the least likely scenario, but it'd be fun.
Del Rio looks to be done for now. Where he heads is unclear. Christian and Cesaro both had strong showings in the Chamber match. Cesaro heads on to bigger and better things, hopefully separating from Swagger soon, Christian is also unclear. Both are possibilities for Sheamus' dance partner, as he's the only marquee player without much of a match even rumor-wise at WM.
Cena looks cemented for a match against Wyatt which will be an extremely interesting clash of styles and could be a rather off-beat passing of the torch moment if Wyatt goes over.
The Shield look to be stable for a bit longer, and the break-up might happen post-Wrestlemania. I feel like Ambrose's U.S. Championship will be put on the line against Langston's IC belt, further unifying the fringe titles, and strengthening the IC belt. I really wish a Shield break-up wasn't so imminent. Once Ambrose loses his belt to Langston (which I feel will happen if that's the direction they decide to go with the IC belt) then the Shield will be a gimmick by itself and with the Wyatts to feud with now, there feels like much more mileage can be gained from a couple more encounters between the two trios. But maybe not. It was a pretty iconic clash, so maybe WWE should leave it at that, and prepare everyone for Reigns to break out on his own. He's already had quite a destructive season: dominating Survivor Series almost by himself, setting a new elimination record at the Rumble (threw out 12 men by himself) and looked really good in this match at EC against the Wyatts.
Then of course there's the question of The Undertaker, but it looks like he may be facing Lesnar at the big show.
It's all up in the air, and it's all really intriguing.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Musical Monday - Musings on Improvised Musicals

This weekend, I had the pleasure of watching a truly effective Musical Comedy scene, improvised onstage at the National Comedy Theatre in front of an appreciative crowd.

Don opened the scene in a flower shop, talking about how he had no friends or family, and only his flowers to make him happy.
Enter Karen, who confessed she passes by the flower shop daily to see Don inside, but never getting up the courage to say hello until now.
Jeff played Karen's young son, who was deathly allergic to poinsettias but also desperately wished to have a dad.

The description alone is full of tension, drama, and irony. The scene lasted only three minutes, compressed into four songs and two scenes, but drawn out, elaborated upon, I think it would have made for a brilliant little, slightly subversive, musical.

I got to thinking about exactly what was entertaining about this particular scene. What I arrived at what was essentially the same conclusion for one of my favorite movies: Shaun of the Dead.
As a comedic subversion of classic zombie movies, Shaun is a masterful parody.
But also as a truly classic zombie movie, it is equally effective.

Knowing the rules of what generally works within the context of any genre (some spheres like to call these 'tropes') allows you to create a story based in that genre so that it is recognizable to the audience, so that they know the rules of the world going in without you having to explain them, and it allows creators the freedom to find ways of subverting, and in so doing, revitalizing, these rules and 'tropes.'
It's an old adage, but always true: You have to know the rules before you can break them.
Audiences are not completely stupid. Let's be honest, they can be dumb about a lot of things. Also, for the sake of entertainment we are so willing to suspend disbelief and this makes for a lethal combination. But audiences understand conventions, detect patterns, feel rhythms.
Saying that something is going to be a musical, it conjures up specific expectations in the eventual viewers' heads. Same thing if I were to say "Greek tragedy", "summer blockbuster", "chick flick", "Disney film", or "zombie movie." Audiences immediately know what rules will apply to this world.
When something comes along that can deftly and tastefully take us through these expected beats, and then suddenly add in new elements we weren't expecting but are executed so well that we can accept them, we have a refreshing new take on a tried and true method.
Take the film Enchanted, for instance. Not only is it a clever twist on the classic Disney formula, it still works as the classic Disney formula, modernizing it and updating it.

What makes short-form improv so deceptively difficult is walking that increasingly fine line between a scene that fulfills the expectations of the audience while also giving them something they were not expecting, without breaking the rules of context.
The improv team I perform with is wonderfully talented at many things, and one of their stronger suits is bringing musical scenes to life. Across the board, they're not always the strongest of singers, but their conviction and commitment makes them absolutely believable, and removes some of the scrutiny of their technical abilities, allowing the audience to focus on what they should be focusing on: their storytelling abilities.

A short-form improv scene is an organic contradiction. A scene is always played truthfully.
But improv also exists as a distillation of life. Another adage explains that theater is larger than life. And I've held to the belief that improv is larger than theater. It's not that it's so broad and we're just these caricatures onstage, barreling through tired cliches.
The task of the performers in an improv scene is to know all these rules and conventions, present them believably, and then perhaps to find a new creative path and toy with these conventions.
It's an exceedingly fine line. It's finding the balance of playing these broad characters and situations to be quickly grasped and understood by the audience, while bringing the originality and unexpected that audiences are also anticipating. There's also a very clear and finite time limit in a short-form scene. You'll have three or four minutes to do this.

You need not tell a complete story. Even a long-form scene may not reach an ending, though that is the expectation when presented to an audience. A short-form scene is just that: a scene. It could be a compression of a full musical, but it could very well only reach a certain point. And that's fine. But it's making the most of those three minutes.

This musical scene, like I said, had it all.
Immediately, the performers adopted the attitude of characters you'd see in a musical. Don's character was bright despite adversity, comfortable with himself. Karen's was earnest, honest, and attempting to join the big world. Jeff's was the comic character, adorable, childish, hopeful.
The songs came in at the perfect time. A rousing, world-establishing opening number, sung by Don, set the stage of a flower shop situated at the base of an apartment building where Karen resided. The second number was a confession of feelings from Karen to Don, and Don perhaps reciprocating. A third number was comical while also being somewhat confessional, a brief number to establish Jeff's character. The final number of the scene was the lovers accepting love, and taking the next step.
All the familiar beats are there: the hero establishes himself, boy meets girl, there is a brief conflict, the conflict resolves itself.

What was clever and fun about the scene though, was this added element of a tragedy.
In classic drama and theater, tragedy and musical comedy are inherently dissimilar.
I think the main cause of the clear distinction is how in control the characters are of their own destinies.
What makes tragedies so distinct is that its characters are indelibly linked to fate, and it is a fate they cannot control. They cannot alter the path they are put on, and we as the audience see their inevitable failure.
Musical comedies, be they serious or lighthearted ("comedy" is not a reflection of tone, rather of structure) are of characters who, while they may slip in and out of control of situations, are always in control of their destinies. They decide where they end up at the conclusion of the story, giving us either a happy or sad ending. (Most often, it's not a "sad" ending, but an ambiguous, or bittersweet ending.)
In Thoroughly Modern Millie, the title character loses everything, only to take charge of her own life and become a modern woman.
In Next to Normal, a much more dramatic and serious musical, the protagonist chooses her own fate by deciding her mental state. It is poignant, but it is never left up to predestination.
This mixes with the emotional response each respective style demands of its audience. A musical requires us to root for our protagonists. A tragedy does not. A tragedy demands that we learn a lesson and/or take pity on the protagonist.
A musical cannot be a tragedy. It can be sad, serious, dramatic, even heartbreaking. But ultimately, there's a hopeful air to the ending.

It was such a subtle addition to the scene:
Karen explained that Jeff, playing her son, had a deathly allergy to poinsettias. Don, being a florist, was around them constantly.
The game that started to be played in the second scene (also the final scene) was that not only was this allergy fatal, it was absolutely going to be Jeff's fate.
In improv, nothing is accidental. Everything that is said in a scene becomes canon. Through the process of "Yes, and," the players collaboratively write a scene. Everything said and done was meant to be said and done.
In fact, Karen revealed later she had said 'kitten' and not 'kid', as we'd heard, and apparently as Jeff had heard. But they both continued with this idea. And then, through some slip in wording, it was as if Jeff was predicting his eventual death by consumption of a poinsettia. It was unexpected, and subtle. Again, all the players went with it. In the final song, Don's final line of his verse was: "2+2=4, except he'll be gone soon, so, one less..."

It's pretty uncommon to have some sort of terminal character in the story of a musical, but the performers made it work, because the rest of the scene had been so strong. Again, the characterizations were spot-on, the music landed well and was sung well, and all the appropriate beats were hit. Then, they introduced something unexpected, albeit somewhat accidentally, but sometimes, that's the most rewarding.

In a way, musicals and improv scenes are extremely similar, very close relatives. They exist in that same universe of what some call these very fine and specific characters painted in these broad strokes. And just like improv, a musical is not a world where only crazy things happen. It is a world where people are driven emotionally to break into song, but this is an acknowledged convention of the form. What exists at the center of a musical are characters we as the audience can relate to, attempting to overcome changes to their status quo. Improv operates in much the same manner. They are real people, dealing with relationships. In both, the emphasis is not on however strange we can make it, though the creativity is certainly welcome. But even the weirdest musicals, look at Bat Boy, look at Little Shop of Horrors, look at even The Lion King, these are musicals set in strange worlds with strange characters dealing with strange situations but ultimately, they are about relationships: about love, about misunderstandings, about greed and power, and about how all these things relate to the audience.
Every time an improv scene favors tenets we can learn in musicals, it is for the better. And it's something we already naturally understand, because we know them so well, musicals aren't so unnatural after all.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

David's Guide to the Winter Olympics

So literally nothing else is on and you've stumbled upon watching the Winter Olympics. We're weeks away from Sweeps (does that even really happen anymore?) and it's six more weeks of god-awful winter with most of us already living in a state of emergency, so how about we make ourselves more miserable by watching the grossly unnecessary reboot of the real Olympics, known as the Winter Games?

Here's the thing. The Summer Olympics, they're fucking cool. Because here's the main difference: every Summer Olympic sport, are just sports. You can do them anywhere. You could be living in the most isolated, third world country that has only winter year-round, with darkness covering the land 23 hours of the day, and you could still make it on to an Olympic team from that country at the Summer games with something like Weightlifting or Archery. The Winter Games (with the exception of a couple inexplicable "sports") are entirely based around the necessity of winter.  Also, the really interesting sports to watch (not good, just interesting to watch) take place inside! You can make ice rinks that can hold several of the sports indoors, which means you can have them during the summer! And also, also, just to make it all seem worthwhile, the Winter Games features a bloated 15 events, when really you could narrow it to 7.

We're gonna talk about the quality and worth of all of them as we rank, from worst to best:
The 15 Olympic Events of the Winter Games

Also, side note before we begin:
Russia, stop being a dick.

15.) Cross-Country Skiing
Literally, the coolest this sport will ever look.
How It Was Invented: Somebody standing on a hill goes, "I wish I could do this ski thing where it's flat! How I hate inherent momentum!"
Who Invented It: Some fuck who thought, "You know what'd be cool? If that cool event, the Marathon, could happen slowly.
Why Watch It: I mean, really, no one watches the entire Marathon either, this is watching a race with no sense of drama. So no, there's no reason.

14.) Biathlon
The firing squad is skiing into position now. Say your prayers, Mr. Bond.
How They Invented It: The Nordic Combined had already been invented and mashed up skiing with... more skiing. So let's combine it with a completely unrelated winter skill that's also not a winter skill.
Who Invented It: Obviously, a redneck who saw snow for the first time and thought, "This makes me want to shoot things."
How to Improve It: Live targets, of course. Bears. And you're skiing and shooting at the same time. Because you're escaping.

13.) Short Track Speed Skating
They're actually just stuck there.
Why Does This Exist: No really, why is this a separate sport? We already have the other one. Let's take a page out of the Summer Olympics' book, guys. They have a sport called "Athletics." What does that combine? All the metre track runs, plus the runs with hurdles, relays, race walks, high, triple, and long jumps, pole vault, shot put, discus, javelin, and hammer throws, and the Marathon itself! Sprint, or relay, five laps or one, we all agree that running is running. Backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, freestyle, swimming is swimming. Short track speed skating is speed skating.

12.) Speed Skating
Everyone complains that when this is done by cars, it looks boring. But these guys won't explode.
How You Know This Was Invented Last: It's impressive to be able to do all these things while also skating, such as doing tricks or playing a game of focus, accuracy, and intensity. But let's take everything out that's interesting about ice skating and everybody just go as fast as they can. Just go. Just. Fucking. Go. You know what'd be better, if they had a winter NASCAR, and just raced the Zambonis.

11.) Alpine Skiing
Stupid, stupid, sexy, sexy Flanders. Flanders.
Why Everyone Calls It the Wrong Thing and Why It Doesn't Matter: People usually simply call it downhill skiing, because that's what it is, and more accurately, it's skiing, because the other version of skiing is dumb. Also, it should just be downhill skiing, because no one knows or cares what a slalom is. P.S., it's the same.

10.) Nordic Combined
I love cool skiing combined with awful skiing.
You Know What the Winter Olympics Needs More Of: Skiing. So let's combine a skiing event with another skiing event, because skis! That's literally all you can fucking do in this fucking winter.

9.) Curling
I mean, the main reason to watch are all the stylin' pants.
Curling, a Great Sport, or the Greatest Sport: It's easily the weirdest sport, that's for sure.
How It Was Invented: It's like someone wanted to play Bocce but in the dead of winter. When balls. Can't. Roll? If you played it with balls, it would just be bowling, and it would no longer need a curling team.
You'd just have Winter Bowling! Ice Pins! Snowling Balls! Ice Obstacles! ...Icestacles!

8.) Ski Jump
Most important bit of information is telling me where a ramp stops. 
Why We Watch: You know this is the one everyone's watching to see someone eat it, badly. But see how exciting skiing is when momentum gets added in?

7.) Snowboarding
Most impressive is how they're doing this without helmets.
You Know What Doesn't Make Sense: The Disney Channel Original Movie Johnny Tsunami is about a Hawaiian surfer learning to snowboard. There's a sequel, that's actually about surfing, but the first movie, with a title containing a titular character based on a surfing name, is about snowboarding. What the hell is going on?
...What were we talking about?

6.) Freestyle Skiing
The traditional freestyle salute: x-ing your skis.
How It Was Invented: "Guys, we need skiing to be more exciting, so how about people actually try and do something interesting while they're skiing? Great."
Is There a Better Name: Ski Flips. Shred Skiing. Ski Ski Revolution.

5.) Bobsleigh
Don't make me turn this tub around!
Most Sexist Thing About the Sport: One of the events is called the "two-man women's bobsleigh."
Most Sexiest Thing About the Sport: I mean, it's why we all ride the Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland, right? In eighth grade, it was the closest we'd get to a lap dance for a bit.

4.) Luge
Caught mid-luge, everyone just looks panicked.
How It Was Invented: Someone must've said, "Hey guys, you don't need all those guys in the bobsled. Take 'em out." Then after an afternoon of watching empty sleds slide through a track, someone said, "Okay, we'd better have one person go back in."
How To Make It Better: Again, just save us some time and make Luge and Skeleton a single sport. They're the same, except the latter is unbelievably dangerous, and the former is something we all basically did in kindergarten at recess.

3.) Skeleton
This squirrel has no idea he's about to die.
How It Got Its Name: The Luge, except face first, so if you fuck up, you're a skeleton.
The Only Way This Could Be Better: If every track was like a Sonic the Hedgehog track, and the skeletoner has to collect rings.

2.) Figure Skating
Pretty sure she's dead, and he's just dragging her across the ice.
Reasons to Watch: Chances are, this is the only event you will ever see of the Winter Olympiad. That's because it gets the prime real estate on broadcast channels, and it's way easier to advertise on the sides of the ice rink than it is to advertise on a flimsy flag on the slalom (still don't know if I'm using that right).
When It Stopped Being Cool: Same as Gymnastics for the Summer Games, in the late 90s, when all the scoring changed, and all the routines started to look the same because no one was cool or exciting or innovative anymore, they were all just really good at being told exactly what to put in to their routines.

1.) Hockey
Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Duck.
Reasons to Watch: It's the only actual sport on this list. Strategy, focus, fast-paced action, an objective scoring system, skill, precision, and passion.
Reasons Not to Watch: I mean, most of the time, I literally cannot see the puck on television. The whole game looks like they're playing Smear the Queer. (Are we still allowed to say that?) (Slalom?)