Cheap Shots are unfiltered, uncensored opinions, and those opinions reflect only the author!
“Mad Man” in my crop duster for an initial flight over SmackDown Live. Turbulence may be harder to avoid. I snuck some things on board to compensate. Wheels up, let’s fly. SmackDown tends to feel more thrown together than Raw. Ten minutes in, here they go again. It’s The City of Angels so WWE brought out the big guns, and Cena doesn’t make a habit of lying. Big Match John comes out cutting a promo and looking for an opportunity to live up to his moniker once again at Mania.
There is a five-way championship match coming at Fast Lane. Naturally, Cena wanted in. Shane comes out. Says SmackDown is the land of opportunity. Daniel Bryan’s music hits. The bearded one says passage into a big match required overcoming a big challenge. Bryan set the main event; another Styles/Cena showdown. This time Shane agreed with him. The hand-holding of these two impersonating a decades-long married couple would stop after the first match started.
The goofy Canadian tweener Sami Zayn took on the heel with no pulse, Baron Corbin. The goat allowed the obnoxious Canadian tweener, Kevin Owens to do commentary. Graves should take notes because KO is actually funny. Watching the match in back, the married couple started arguing over whether Owens would interfere. Corbin won when Dolph Ziggler did a run in from behind the announce table to Superkick Owens in the head. Zayn got distracted and took an End of Days from Corbin upon turning around. After getting the win, Corbin took A Zig Zag from Dolph. All parties in this match are scheduled to compete with AJ Styles in the main event at Fast Lane. After the match, Daniel passive-aggressively said Shane had everything under control and asked to go home. His request was granted. We’ll see if this leads to more friction.
The women were spotlighted next. Mini flashback: The Scrimshaw Shadow began to flip the script on The Queen last week. Charlotte has been dealing with The Riott Squad for a while now. Her frustration led her to count Riott and her cohorts as victims on a hit list. The Squad Leader is the only one remaining on Charlotte’s list. Unfortunately for Becky and Naomi, being Second Nature’s backup comes with a price. Riott took The Lass Kicker out last week. The Glow Worm followed suit this week. Both ladies are squared up and ready for their high noon showdown for Gold at the PPV.
Breezango took us on a painful trip that was pure B movie. They are usually better than this, but it was so bad. The lead actor of USA’s new series on the Biggie/Tupac murders was involved. WWE’s Big E nor The New Day could save the segment. The level of seriousness went from 0 to 5 when The New Day cut an in-ring promo rehashing their rivalry with The Usos. Intensity increased to an 8 when the Samoans responded with a face-to face rebuttal. Turn it up to 12 and rip the knob off…IT’S THE BLUDGEON BROTHERS! They slowly walked to the ring, hammers in hand and switched places with both of the teams they were looking at. Didn’t need to say a DAMN thing. Give The WWE Universe the triple-threat match already!
The next few segments ran together. Rusev Day was pestering Shane because they hadn’t been on TV in two weeks. Their efforts earned Aiden English a match with Shinsuke Nakamura. Dolph cut a brightly colored promo. Then Bobby Roode cut a backstage promo questioning Randy Orton’s problem with him. Was it the contrived SmackDown Live Top 10 List? The Viper was quick to clarify by interrupting. The United States Championship was the only Gold he hadn’t held yet.
We all knew what would happen when The Songbird met The Artist. Still the match was solid and longer than expected. When the camera panned to Rusev, I couldn’t help pining for the singles match between Nakamura and The Bulgarian Brute. We’ll have to wait. Cena and Styles closed things out this week. It was a rock-solid match for current WWE. Intensity from both men. High spots and false finishes everywhere. Of course Cena won, making the main event at Fast Lane a Six Pack Challenge. The Mad Man thinks this was a good show. Many elements fell into storyline. I hope the flock enjoyed it. Join me soon for our next departure from fly over country!
Dear Smarks: WWE Does Listen To Fans
Either last week or earlier this week (my days are running together so I don’t remember), Stephanie McMahon was at a summit called ‘Game Changer’ and she made the following comment: ‘We’re successful for one reason only – we listen to our fans.’
The internet smarks ROASTED Stephanie over this comment, mocking her for claiming that WWE listens to their fans when, in their minds, that is clearly not the case. Why? Because Roman Reigns, not Braun Strowman is champion, among other things. Clearly, any company that makes Roman Reigns champion over Braun Strowman isn’t listening to their fans, or at least, their REAL fans. You know, the all-knowing, smark community who know how to run a multi-billion dollar business better than the people who work there do.
I’ve tackled this ‘Real fan’ nonsense in the past and I’m really not in the mood to do it now and the issue of Braun Strowman being champion is an article unto itself. However, let’s be clear here: WWE DOES listen to their fans and the fans they listen to are the fans that buy stuff.
WWE first, last, always, and forever, is a business. They need money to survive and being a publicly traded company, they need money to keep the shareholders happy, that means they have to know who and what makes the money to keep the shareholders happy and keep the company afloat and who is making them the most money is Roman Reigns.
Don’t give me that look. Don’t roll your eyes at me and grumble about him being over pushed and/or shoved down your throat. I can name several people in WWE not named Roman Reigns that are over pushed. The bottom line is that Reigns moves merchandise, his stuff sells and sells really well. Having been to a few WWE TV/PPV tapings, I can tell you that Reigns’ stuff can get a little tough to find and is usually the most requested item.
Now before any of you make snide comments about Reigns having more stuff to sell, I checked WWE’s shop are and compared the number of Roman Reigns shirts to the number of shirts for AJ Styles, in terms of shirts including: T-shirts, tank tops, hoodies and what’s available for both genders, Roman Reigns had thirteen shirts available while Styles had twenty. Thirteen different shirt designs to twenty and that doesn’t include hats, gloves, or the non-wearable stuff available.
Oh, Reigns’ stuff is bought by women and kids, so it shouldn’t count? Here’s my question: So what? It’s still money that SOMEONE is spending on merchandise. If WWE didn’t want women and kids to buy their stuff, they wouldn’t be marketing stuff for women and kids. Why? Because women and kids are FANS!
For those of you still grumbling, here’s some food for your thoughts: Why should WWE listen to their ‘real’ fans? No, I’m serious. Why should they listen to fans who cheer something one week, boo it the next, demand that indy darlings get pushed despite getting mediocre pops from Main Roster audiences, and pay more attention to beach balls and time clocks than the matches? Why should they listen to people who BRAG about spending a lot of money on tickets just to boo one person they don’t like?
WWE is like any company, they listen with their bottom line, and what they’re hearing from fans is that the fans like Reign because that’s the stuff that sells the best. And before you say one thing about about Reigns’ stuff being more available at TV tapings and Live Events, I’ve been to a RAW taping, a RAW PPV, and a SmackDown/205 taping and while Reigns stuff was at SmackDown, there was also a lot of Styles and Cena stuff available at RAW events and I’m not hearing any complaining about that.
Maybe the problem isn’t that WWE isn’t listening, it’s just that your views aren’t the what the majority paying fans think or want. WWE is catering to what most of their fans want, not just the small minority that can’t seem to make up their minds about what they want.
Cheap Shots: Should Finn Balor Quit WWE?
Why Finn Balor should “Quit” The WWE
After seeing KO burst into tears on Monday night RAW two weeks ago and “quit” there were a slew of videos about why KO “quit”. The biggest one was to revitalize his character. So in playing the devils advocate why not have the first Universal Champion quit? Here’s why!
After Balor won and “lost” the title after 2016 SummerSlam he’s had and up and down career in the main roster. The once longest reigning NXT champion was a phenomenon when he joined the NXT, but once he hit the main roster, while fan support is still there it is fleeting. He had a brief reunion with Gallows and Anderson which might’ve singled a heel turn to fans, a feud with Rollins for the IC title and has had back to back to back matches against Baron Corbin. None of which have done anything for the superstars character. A heel turn might have helped a few months ago, but the repetitive booking has kind of killed that momentum.
With Finn away from the scene for a while it might help the WWE reevaluate the talent that is Finn Balor, it might also give Finn time to figure himself out too. With a WIN to his name against Elias, it seems like the co-founder of the Bullet Club may either turn to his alter ego The Demon, or perhaps a superstar shakeup is in order and he should be in place to get Balor back in the limelight. Right now, Raw seems packed full of main card talent that is either starting a faction of sorts I.E. Braun, Drew and Dolph or is turning on The Shield.
Listen, while SmackDown Live is producing the better show, it is not like the talent on there is being utilized any better. Nakamura is in limbo with the U.S. title, Aj and Joe are having a great feud in terms of promos, but not in the squared circle. The only thing that brings SmackDown Live as the A show is really their tag division and the Charlotte Flair/Becky Lynch feud.
So maybe a frustrated Finn goes away, and comes back as The Demon on SmackDown Live and interjects himself in the feud between AJ and Joe, maybe he causes friction between The Club and AJ and they “screw over” AJ during a title match, the possibilities are endless moving Balor to team blue, but what this boils down to is WWE needs to make this move while Balor is still a fan favourite and what I mean by that is that he will always have the crowd behind him, but even the loyalist fans can get bored.