Cheap Shots are unfiltered, uncensored opinions, and those opinions reflect only the author!
Mad Man avoiding jet wash as I hit the proper cruising altitude above The Motor City, in the shadow of Cobo Hall. Don’t worry, no blades or fire balls showed up last night. Let’s Rock’N’Roll! The initial segments should have clued us in to a very strange night ahead. Kurt Angle opens Monday Night Raw with a quick promo reminding us of The Main Event at WrestleMania. The other three participants in the match were not in the building. We would find out relatively quickly that this number would increase even more than smart marks were thinking. Turns out, Kurt could’ve stayed in the back after five minutes.
I’m curious if anyone else heard The Twilight Zone Theme embedded under the action last night? Once The Olympic Gold Medalist mentioned Brock Lesnar, Bradbury was easily found throughout the show. An utterance of The Beast’s absence when his presence was promised in Motown last week drew an irate Roman Reigns from behind the curtain. Wait, people in the art form lie? Yes Roman; even you lie, and I’ll prove it.
If the next 20 minutes weren’t proof that WWE scripting promos is pointless, I can run a marathon. Sheep were back to being themselves as Roman says Brock is disrespecting both he and they once again. He tells us that he found out from Kurt’s show intro about Lesnar skipping out, as opposed to Vince McMahon letting him know. After all, Vince was in the back. “Anybody else does what Brock’s done in another job: they get fined, suspended, or fired. He gets special treatment” No s*** Sherlock…We knew he could roid up when they brought him back!
“It’s one thing to be disrespected by Brock Lesnar…” whom he called. “Vince’s Boy,” “I will NOT be disrespected by Vince McMahon!” Quick, anybody know the definition of irony? They even hang the one baby face they’re not trying to kill, and nobody tries to stop them? Roman stomps to the curtain a hot mess. Magically, Vince appears in the back. Fourth Wall Alert: Most the time, the old dude calls the show from a production truck. Reigns almost gets physical as the two men go to an office to talk.
Shortly afterward, a walking teleprompter sticks a mic in Roman’s face, and gets nothing as he leaves. Vince follows: “Brock does get special treatment, he’s earned it.” No, you GAVE it to him. Anything else, you talking caricature? “Roman has to know his role…He is temporarily suspended.” Are we allowed to go through our TVs and smack him? STOP IT! This is why fans are pissed! Vinnie, you have shoved this man and this Mania match down our throats for over a year. Break The Fourth Wall already, He’s not suspended, and he is your boy!
On to our regularly scheduled programming: Early recess, first of multiple women’s segments, yay! Absolute Yawn accompanies Sonya Deville. They await Lady Banks and The Human Elmo. Sasha’s Bossed Out, but Bayley left her gimmick at home. She looks like someone stole her dog. Physical match as always with The Female Dragon involved. Bayley made sure Sasha got the win after she pulled Mandy Rose off the apron. She left Sasha alone post-match to get a beat down from Absolute Yawn. Hey Hug Life, if she snaps, it’s gonna take all 3.5 of you to beat The Boss at Mania!
Appropriate that MIZ TV followed Absolute Yawn, as I welcome everyone to the “giving away a PPV match for free” portion of the show. Prior to their one-on-one match, The Move Set Twins did everyone a huge favor by knocking The Miz out of the ring. Hey Mike, can you not make it look so obvious when you’re taking a bump over the top rope? Just curious, I promise you can keep stealing money if it’s too much to ask. Balor and Rollins had a solid match with fluid movement as always. The 8-Pack Irishman won when Rollins waited a beat too long in his suplex combination. Someone actually won a match ala Steamboat at Mania III!
The latest Raw in Seger’s House felt like promo and vignette central. The wow moment of the night? No one breaks The Fourth Wall like Big Match John. Started simple enough. John came out his normal self. Said his new plan to get to Mania was to buy a ticket and go as a fan. He started one of his 50/50 chants and said he was ready to not hear it at Mania. Wait, he stops to ask: “How many people wanna see The Undertaker kick my ass?” “If you were done, you wouldn’t be posting workouts…” Whole promo’s worth a Youtube search
Other than Cena, most non-ring work fell into the WTF category. Elias showed up for a gig but was too battered to play: Lights, Guitar, Stool: “This is all your fault.” Braun cut a bright letter promo gloating about pianos. More on him later. The Bar asked Kurt Angle to be traded to SmackDown Live. More on them later. Do I really have to tell you if Woken Matt Hardy or Bray Wyatt made sense? There will be a Women’s Battle Royal at Mania named for The Fabulous Moolah. Everybody needs to flood social media and protest this to get it changed. There is a reason it’s The Mae Young Classic. Moolah’s treatment of those she trained, including her daughter, was hideous. Given my feelings about ladies in the art form, I am sickened those in Stamford gave her such an honor. Research? Ask any of these gentlemen: @wrestlerweekly, @mikeleotis, @SethHanson1982.
Okay, off my soapbox, and back to recess. Asuka starts an in-ring promo and gets one word in before Little Miss Math Class Goes Full Mean Girl. Bliss says Asuka is smart and made the right choice. The Rising Sun Mystic Says Charlotte is the better champion! Bliss and Mickie James start laughing. They think Nia Jax is coming out. She doesn’t show. Mickie attacks The Japanese Ace. They have a very physical contest. This included Asuka hurting her leg. The Empress is still unbeaten thanks to an Asuka Lock. Alexa leaves ringside to go ask Nia where she was. Angle put her in a squash match, she was prepping. Bliss keeps feeding her backhanded compliments. Despite this, Nia promises to back her up against Asuka next week. Big Girl handles her match. She is still in the ring when a camera and boom mic in their locker room turn on at the wrong time! Alexa proved how much of a B**** she was in five minutes and bolted faster than Mysterio. Miss Nia is pissed, and Little Miss Math Class is DEAD come Mania!
Earlier in the night, The Bar was scheduled for a match versus The Miztourage. The Europeans have been talking trash long enough to infuriate every team on RAW, so every team jumped them in the ring. Kurt Angle thought he had a fix for this. A Tag Team Battle Royal sounded solid in theory, until Braun Strowman blew those plans up. The Big Man stormed to the ring alone and destroyed every team. Technically Braun won, but we have no idea what that means since one performer has never won the tag belts. As I sit on the tarmac amongst The Great Lakes, I reflect on a weird show. Vince does some things that make a smart mark cringe while opening up interesting possibilities elsewhere. Sometimes though, it feels like the good stuff is there to counteract the stupid. Most of us wish there was no stupid at all. Hopefully, there is less stupid on our next trip over Fly Over Country. Come with me, won’t you?
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.