Cheap Shots are unfiltered, uncensored opinions, and those opinions reflect only the author!
After some time off for convalescence, I see four words at the top of my flight manifest that make me laugh. As a proud supporter of World Class, there are two chants rattling around my head in a heartbeat. “Go (Von Erich) Go”, and “Go Home Freebird!” In Texas and most places in The South, the latter was viewed as an insult. However, fans of the art form in Ray Gunkel Territory took pride in being a hotbed of Southern Wrestling. Every organization had its flashpoint. Jim Crockett Promotions was no different. Without Atlanta TV, even Ric Flair isn’t the same. Before Crockett had a monopoly on The NWA Gold and Atlanta: Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy, and Buddy Roberts claimed it as home. In fact, they gave it a nickname when Saint Richard was in diapers as a champion. Say four words to fans of a certain age and they may start singing. “Bad Street, Atlanta, GA!”
As cruising speeds over Bad Street are attained, Vinnie’s circus is in town for The Go Home Monday Night Raw before the days-long bender in The Big Easy. Show opens with Jonathan Coachman impersonating a parrot in the ring, There is a clothed table with two chairs on each side of him. Why? Guess we need to kill 20 minutes? Steph and Triple H come out first. Daddy’s Little Girl must shake her ass to remind us she works out. After we get done barfing, they walk around the ring, so a cameraman can get a close ground-level shot of them pointing up at the WrestleMania sign. No one forgot! Angle and Rousey follow with their typical baby face entrances.
This was supposed to be a Q&A driven by marks on social media. Good luck with that. Triple H pulled the segment in its true direction rehashing old arguments from The Rumble. “Kurt, why did you ruin her signing?” Again? Who cares at this point? WWE scripting is useless. Angle was repeating one line throughout about Stephanie tapping out. Ronda asked her why she was hired under false pretenses. Steph said it’s par for the course and The Baddest Woman on The Planet doesn’t take losing very well. Ronda asked which her dominant hand was, so she could break the other one!
Coachman tried to save things by going to the pre-fight photo-op. All Rousey has to do to get a pop is move. Steph feigns a handshake. Ronda steps up. Kurt attempts to break it up, He takes a shot from Trips and falls out of the ring. Ronda grabs Paul’s throat while Steph sneaks behind her to give her a choke slam through a table? Steph, you’re not 6’2’’. You look stupid giving the move. Never mind Ronda’s real athletic instincts make suspension of disbelief almost impossible. Someone beats her, it won’t be Stephanie McMahon. Segment felt unnecessary and unbelievable. I genuinely hope they don’t screw up this match for the sake of publicity.
Regular programming begins with recess when Bayley takes on Sonya Deville with the remaining members of Absolute Yawn at ringside. A very solid match was used to spotlight The Women’s Battle Royal at Mania. The Human Elmo won despite attempted shenanigans from Mandy Rose, who jumped her after the match. This prompted The Legit Boss to run down and make the save? HEY VINCE, quit taking logic out of her hands. She could be the best heel on the roster. LET HER WORK! Instead of keeping her out of it, writers wasted another fight because Bayley wouldn’t raise her hand after the brawl last week? Have I mentioned Vince McMahon is an idiot? Unfortunately, Paige’s injury has really taken the spine out of Absolution, and likely cost Sasha Banks her WrestleMania moment. A match between The Pale Rider and The Female Dragon would’ve stolen the show. Now most of these performers are being wasted and none of them will win the battle royal
Oh look, it’s time to give away a PPV match on TV! The Move Set Twins had a very good match which saw Seth Rollins beat The 8-Pack Irishman with a curb stomp thanks to WWE’s booking habits. Seth’s Iron Man performance is still male match of the year. This segment was also notable for The Miz on commentary gushing about his new baby girl. Congratulations Mike! Not only are you stealing money, but they gave you a baby face promo. Don’t do this to us! It’s the rough equivalent to making Flair a baby face before 50. No one outside of Charlotte bought it, and he was only a baby face because he was shoved down our throats for decades. Short answer long. The Miz is not a baby face. They might make him one, but nobody would believe it.
I sincerely hope Stamford cuts down the number of promos on Raw after WrestleMania. If not, at least do a better job paying them off. Knowing Vince’s disdain for smart marks and sheep, they probably won’t. Two wasted segments: First, The Bar comes out for at least the third time asking who Braun Strowman’s partner is for Mania. He cuts them off and comes out to say his partner is in the back and will reveal himself if he can have a singles match with Sheamus or Cesaro. The Bar agrees, only to have Braun come out in a dress shirt and glasses, proclaiming that his name is Brains. When did they hire Vince Russo again? Stop this crap! Speaking of crap, John Cena’s music hits half-way through the show. Okay Vince, Johnny Goodguy can head straight for New Orleans now. Mr. Calloway ain’t comin’ out at 9:00PM! Surprise, no gong or Rob Ritchie! Same promo for a month straight. Only part that woke me up was when he called Atlanta Dallas’ warm-up act. Guessing Michael Hayes had something to do with that line. Thank You Sir! I know WrestleMania needs surprises. Holding these two off until Sunday is not fair to WWE’s normal audience. The McMahon Family hasn’t cared about fair or logical since Montreal.
Enter Woken Matt Hardy and Goldust cutting dueling promos on The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. These Veterans are both fabulous! The Son of A Son of A Plumber says that when he wins, they will make a documentary about him. Woken Matt Says everyone will be DELETED in honor of “Humongous Wonder #8!” God Bless Matt Hardy. Most of his solo stuff is actually getting better. Given his previous stop, that was an incredibly tough ask. He won a match with Goldust. Good as he is, it’s not about wrestling anymore, but character expansion. Stay out of his way and let the man do his thing.
More dueling promos. This time it was Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax. Little Miss Math Class and her BFF Mickie James were rehashing their boom mic promo in Bright Letter Format while Nia got a sit-down interview. She said Alexa’s treatment of her was a flashback to her time in school. She was always different. She is proud of herself. Big Fine is confident in her abilities, and ready to squash Alexa like a bug! Cue a Women’s Tag Match with Alexa and Mickie taking on Dana Brooke and Asuka. After well over a year on The Main Roster can Dana Brooke do no more than copy Chyna? Thank God for Asuka, who made Mickie tap out in less than ten minutes. Afterward, both heels jumped Asuka until Big Fine’s music hit, forcing Little Miss Math Class to run like a five-year-old. Mickie took A Samoan Drop, and Alexa is still dead at Mania!
After being discarded easier then Kleenex earlier in the night, Kurt Angle had nothing better to do than running around backstage worrying about a work because WWE. First it was Paul Heyman, insistent that he would stay positive. Then Roman Reigns who said that despite Brock Lesnar’s lack of respect for everything and everyone, he would hear Heyman out provided The Walrus didn’t say anything stupid. Have you met Paul Heyman in a work? Angle asks both competitors not to wreck the match at Mania. Really Kurt? Don’t worry, neither one is Carmella. Heyman and Mr. Roid Rage are out first. Paul is mid-promo when a human wall forms at the entrance because WWE. Two minutes later, The Samoan Hype Machine asks them why they are protecting the part-time bastard. Good Luck Roman, we’ve been asking for years. Magically, the wall opens allowing Reigns to get to the ring. Five Superman Punches later, Roman takes an F5 and the show is over. I expected more from the go home show to WrestleMania. Sorry for The Blues Bad Street. Y’all deserved a better set. I hope my passengers join me in Nashville tomorrow.
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.