Hello and welcome back to yet-another listicle on pro wrestling! I mean Sports Entertainment. With only 2 weeks until the biggest party of the summer upon us… well… we got a whole boatload of wheel-spinning! Yippee. Let’s go over the week in the WWE, and see if we can separate the wheat from the chaff. Or the Rock from the Rocky as it were. The Stone Cold from the Ringmaster. The Undertaker from the Mean Mark. You get me, right, playa? Holla if you hear me. Actually, on second thought? Don’t.
- Give Paul Heyman the Emmy right the hell now.
Paul Heyman this week earned every red cent of his contract, and then some. The devil was in the details, and I couldn’t have loved his segment more. His well coifed three-piece suit belied his unshaven chin and glassy eyes. His once boisterous bellow replaced by a meek mumble. And he choked back what felt like real tears for the kid he brought up into the business and helped book as The Beast. We were left in a place WWE rarely allows us to be; Legitimately confused as to how things will be booked. Will Heyman and Lesnar split (as we know Lesnar has a UFC fight to begin training for soon enough)? Will Paul take on a new client (make your speculative lists now, but go ahead and remove Cesaro and Curtis Axel)? Or is this all an elaborate ruse to once-again thwart Roman Reigns from being The Big Dog Yard Guy? I don’t know, and lord help me… I’ll happily wait and see.
- I admit Ronda Rousey is a joy to watch in the ring.
She’s green as Hal Jordan and Ollie Queen, but I’d be lying if I said I did anything but put my remote down when Rousey was squared up and ready to rumble. Her match with Alicia Fuuuuuuuuuux (Sorry, Noam Dar ruined her name.) was 17 kinds of rushed spots and mistakes. But Rousey has one thing that literally no other Superstar has ever (eeeeeeeeeeever) had: blistering speed. She’s so fast that even her botches look punishing (in the good way, not the oh crap! way). And because of it, she looks like the legit badass she actually is. Outside the ring, we know she’s four screws loose — just don’t google about her wacky opinions on bomb shelters and genetic superiority — but within the confines of the WWE she’s stacking up to be more than a decent draw. If she can continue to get seasoned in the ring and find a way to both slow down her presentation without losing the edge? We’ll have the second coming of Kurt Angle. Or dare I say Brock Lesnar… since Rousey cuts about the same quality promo.
- Is the point of all the McIntyre and Ziggler double-teaming meant to make us miss Dean Ambrose?
Fine. I miss him! I’ve missed him since he had to go get surgery! But I’m left in the weird and wacky world of fantasy booking while they build potentially to absolutely nothing. Seth Rollins added serious legitimacy to the IC title (and Miz did before him). Such that the title truly feels like the belt it once was — when it was defended by Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, or early Stone Cold Steve Austin. But to build and rebuild this feud between Rollins and Zigglesworth seems moot; nothing has changed, without a single hint as to where the angle is going. And far be it from me to complain about story quality, but how is the architect suddenly an idiot who can’t see the doubleteam DQ a mile away?
In my mind the only way around this is sneak Ambrose out to distract Dolph leading to Rollins stealing of the belt back. Then the two show up to save Reigns to ensure he wins the big red vine. A full babyface Shield reunion is just about the only way to legitimately book Reigns to hear more cheers than boos. And face it, the Shield is about the only group that would feel like a match to a single Braun Strowman.
- Once again, the… NEW DAY… reminds us how good they (and The Bar) are.
Leave it to Smackdown to give us more wrestling in less time than their red-brand counterpart. The main event this week on Smackdown Live saw Big E, Kofi, Shamus, and Cesaro tear the house down with true tag-team wrestling. It’s almost as if Vince McMahon was drafting up the XFL “Must Stand For Flags” policy back in Stamford, and the blue-brand got away with something they shouldn’t have. We had the ring being cut off. Hot tags. Double team maneuvers. Working a body part. It was all there! And the finish was clean to boot.
The only point of contention I leave with is knowing that New Day and the Hot Topic Twofers have waged war in the past. It’s hard to see the Mustache Mallets losing at Summerslam… but after this toe-to-toe with The Bar? If they give it time on the (already choked to the nines) card, there could be a show-stealer (which, face it, will likely be the opening match after the kickoff show if we’re lucky).
- Was… was that nuanced storytelling we saw between Becky and Charlotte?
Nevermind the poor “freeze frame on the tea time” transitions the production truck botched TWICE. Becky and Charlotte (and yes, Alexa Bliss Lite) are telling an amazingly deep story here. Well, deep for WWE present-day standards. Becky’s winning streak versus Charlotte’s impromptu opportunity versus Mella’s mean-but-lucky title reign. When will friend turn on friend? How long will it take Becky and Charlotte from trading throws to devolving into slaps and punches? And will Carmella steal one away from them? Or, if Becky is able to decidedly win… Will Charlotte raise a tea cup in her honor, or will we have bad blood brewing towards Evolution?
I have no answers to any of those questions, and I couldn’t be more excited to get the answers.
- And in non-WWE news…
Well, All-In is shaping up to be quite the event. While, sadly, I will be away at Dragon Con during that weekend (which will prevent me from ordering the PPV)… I will continue to follow along as Cody and the Young Bucks make Dave Meltzer eat his hat. My hope is that Vince McMahon wakes up to the world of Independent Wrestling, and acknowledges that if Cody and company handle this well enough? We might all live to see a viable option for professional wrestlers to have lucrative lifestyles for fewer dates. Having a product decidedly not in the style of WWE is what we all need for the sake of the business. There’s room for all kinds of storytelling. So, I’m all in on the rising success of the Prince of Professional Wrestling (beh-beh).
I also saw that Colt Cabana is suing CM Punk and my heart died a little. I don’t fully understand how their friendship dissolved — knowing only that the lawsuit and defamation from WWE’s doctor toward Cabana and Punk due to the amazing Art of Wrestling podcast (of infamy now…) has left Cabana with a mountain of bills Punk should assist his friend with. As I would see it (as a layperson, totally here), Punk wanted a safe space to air his grievances about his exit of the WWE. Colt offered that space to him. And because of it, Cabana is in debt to lawyers for protecting his right to present free speech. And while they won their suit… lawyers cost money. It’s only fair (not legally so, but as a friend) that Punk help the person who offered him the safe space to comment in the first place. But what do I know? I love Punk, and I love Cabana. I just want them to be friends. And for the Barenaked Ladies to reform with Steven Page. And for the Shield to reunite. And for R-Truth to retire.
Baby steps, I suppose…