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CheapShots: New Wavelengths of The Brain

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WWE Shinsuke Nakamura
Cheap Shots are unfiltered, uncensored opinions, and those opinions reflect only the author!

Two special spirits guide the wings of my plane as I look at Indianapolis on approach with The Brickyard below me. I can’t help but feel a vibe about the place. Basketball and auto racing are lifeblood here. Sports fans know that. But I wonder how many Hoosiers; including one of us who whack you over the head regularly, understand the weight of their city’s connection to the modern art form and WWE? Let’s find out if the stories being told underneath our landing gear added to the legacy of professional wrestling in The Bruiser’s second city; and, The Brain’s first territory (WWA).

There were old-school flashbacks all over last night’s SmackDown Live, including a few that would make Bobby Heenan proud. We start with a rare mechanism indeed. An authentic dueling baby face promo. AJ Styles comes out and says it’s fine to call him anything outside the ring, but inside he is Phenomenal. No argument here. The truth keeps planting roots as he says the odds of him being in WWE, being WWE Champion, and retaining Gold all looked impossible at times. But, he is here holding the title and ready to give us the match we all want to see at WrestleMania.

Lights out, violin hits. Now we’re Walkin’ to New Orleans! Shinsuke Nakamura swags his way to the ring as only he can. “I respect you…Dreams come true at WrestleMania. My dream? Knee to face, I’m WWE Champion!” I am a total nerd who does a running commentary when I watch, stop laughing! I do not geek out for promos. Last time I had goosebumps like this? Lady Banks and The Female Muta the night after The Rumble. On both occasions, I was screaming at the top of my lungs: “LET’S GO!” I must ask smart marks of the Japanese art form to shut up because countless Americans have never seen this match, and don’t want to ruin its epic nature by doing a Google search.

Aiden English and Rusev; who WWE is wasting, (Where the HELL is Lana?), come out to kill the buzz. The bell rings with English on the outside and Nakamura watching from the announce table. Two years ago, this is a WrestleMania match. Now it’s a thrown away match on SmackDown. It was still fun, with a split crowd. The Bulgarian was focused and methodical. He kicked AJ in the skull. His boots were probably gimmicked, sounded like a shot and would’ve scrambled an average man. Styles is not average. Rusev tried for his finisher. The Champion slipped behind him, stuck-and-moved a while. After displaying hidden power, Styles put The Calf Crusher on and another referee forgot the rules again. Why are there ring ropes? English causes a DQ when he jumps in the ring to break up the hold. Both guys attack AJ after the bell. It took longer than expected, but Nakamura jumped in for the save. Backstage, The Artist flashed back to Mania VI, when he told AJ that he would save him until Mania, so he could beat a healthy champion for The Gold.

The Brain would have been more than happy to make The Bludgeon Brothers the top tag team of The Heenan Family. My thoughts on Rowan & Harper? They are a new-school heel version of The Road Warriors capable of destroying any team on the entire roster. They proved it at Fast Lane, rendering the majority of The Usos and The New Day incapacitated last night. The monsters asked whoever was left between the two teams to step up and fight on SmackDown Live. This forced a VERY cool flashback to World Class if Terry Gordy had to team with Kevin Von Erich. After the initial emotion. The match was brutal and quick with The Bludgeon Brothers going over. I know the hypothetical match in Texas would have gone longer.

Lunchtime recess, as The Rising Sun Mystic made her SmackDown Live Debut. At Fast Lane, Asuka cemented her challenge to Second Nature with a simple point at the WrestleMania sign. Charlotte says she’s ready. Even while watching The Rumble; The Queen was hoping Asuka would win and select her to face off at Mania. The Japanese Ace responds, saying she wants the challenge.  She doesn’t bow to anybody, and: “No one is ready for Asuka!” Vince, we can see your hamster running. If ANYBODY F**** this up, millions of us may have to come find you. Don’t make us do that. Did I mention anybody? Two former cheerleaders wrestled. Only one of them knows what she is doing. However, Carmella beat Naomi for her first singles-match win in what feels like six months. I hate that damn briefcase! A manager like Heenan would prop her up more efficiently. Backstage, Ms. Stolenmoney was cutting a promo while I was screaming at my TV in a vain attempt to show I can indeed do the half of her job that matters better than she can!

Randy Orton comes out to cut an in-ring promo. The Viper is glad to finally be A United States & Grand Slam Champion and says no one is taking The Gold away. The latest Saint Richard Knock Off comes out gloriously to congratulate him. Bobby Roode shrewdly creates his WrestleMania moment by stating that he will invoke his rematch clause in New Orleans. The Indian Brooklyn Brawler walks down the ramp to do the inverse of last week; take on Roode, with Orton sitting at the commentary table. It’s a solid match. Mahal wins, which will inevitably set up a pointless Triple-Threat Match at Mania. The Canadian Sikh takes an RKO after the match though.

Earlier in the night, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn did opposing promos whining about the outcome of The Six-Pack Challenge. Owens went after Shane McMahon. Zayn pretended to switch baby face and blamed his association with Owens for his fate. With this expectation, Shane closes the show with two huge announcements. First, he says Daniel Bryan will be back next week to take over as both GM and Commissioner because Shane is taking a leave of absence. He says his last current act is to make a match between the two Canadians at WrestleMania. In a very Bobby “The Brain” move, they go to the ring, and prove the dissention between them was fake! They assault Shane and drag him backstage, where Owens powerbombs him on what looks like a metal piece of staging. Now what? Rock solid show. Bobby Heenan was smiling down on his original territory last night. As I head south, I eagerly invite my passengers to join me in my adopted home territory next week. God Bless Texas!

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Cheap Shots

Dear Smarks: WWE Does Listen To Fans

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Stephanie McMahon WWE

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.

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Cheap Shots: Should Finn Balor Quit WWE?

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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. 

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