Cheap Shots are unfiltered, uncensored opinions, and those opinions reflect only the author!
Mad Man on a somber and serious flight path for two reasons. First is the passing of arguably the most important pillar to ever perform in The New York Territory and WWF. Think about that statement and then realize I’m not talking about Hulk Hogan, sorry Terry. One man justifies this description. When a man is a secular Saint for multiple generations of wrestling fans on The East Coast, and a pivotal figure to millions of immigrants in this country without having the circus of the modern art form behind him, he qualifies for such lofty status. When an organization puts its top honor on someone for EIGHT years and sells out the top athletic venue in The United States more than 170 times, rarified air becomes oxygen sent to other performers. I am a proud part of The Missing Man Formation for Bruno Sammartino, who was called home last week.
Monday Night Raw opens with a Ten Bell Salute and a tribute package for the original Living Legend. As a bonus, the video cut down on Paul Heyman’s talking time. My second level of seriousness can be traced to geography. This week’s episode emanates from St. Louis. Wrestling Territories nationwide had sacred cities for big cards: Portland, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Dallas, Memphis, New Orleans, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Tampa. So, what separated St. Louis from those cities? A former sports reporter named Sam Muchnick along with five other gentlemen; including one from Omaha, formed The National Wrestling Alliance in 1948. Fly Over Country my ass! YOU’RE WELCOME MARKS! Apologies for the emotion, but the author of this piece is doing cartwheels.
Muchnick had clout in Washington as well. Fighting off an early anti-trust lawsuit thanks to his political connections. Seen as an honest promoter, he was President of The NWA for over 25 years. Dealing with over 30 promoters and controlling The NWA Gold. For a while, one of those promoters was Vince McMahon Sr. The two bosses tried to organize a Title vs. Title showdown between Bruno and Lou Thesz in New York in 1966. Like always, the Super Match fell apart due to money. Thesz threatened to make it a shoot. However, Sammartino did get one “real” shot at the better gold on June 15th, 1973 in St. Louis. His opponent was Harley Race. They went an hour in a time-limit draw.
With that history, The Arch always deserves respect from the art form. Marks and sheep did not get much from Paul Heyman. Brock Lesnar’s Advocate brought his Beast and his microphone. As usual, he talked of spoilers instead of predictions. He actually compared The UFC Octagon to a steel cage in WWE? Okay Paul. Then he brought up Brock’s new contract, which wouldn’t exist without this desert circus on Friday. More locational proof of Vince’s anatomy. Heyman says Reigns is leaving in multiple boxes, without Universal Gold. Finally, Roman comes out to say he doesn’t know how he’s coming home, but he’s coming home with the strap. Would someone please advance this storyline? Look, it’s Samoa Joe making old threats via cell phone video. I am officially bored out of my mind.
This week’s competition began with Elias mid-ring, ready to do his tweener promo when Bobby Roode’s entrance cuts him off. There will be no concert in St. Louis! Mr. Glorious dominated early and attempted his finish once, to no avail. He tweaked his knee before going for a Blockbuster, which he would hit later on. After this, Elias went outside the ring only to have Roode throw him back in. Trying to follow him, Roode was stunned thanks to Elias using the ropes inside the ring. Disoriented, Roode stumbled into a schoolboy from Elias, giving The Guitar Man the win.
Next match, we find The Ascension in the ring. Remnants of The Superstar Shakeup, who knew they were still employed? The Painted Clowns were the next set of sacrificial lambs for The Deleters of Worlds, Woken Matt & Bray Wyatt. The Weirdoes win was typically impressive. This smart mark would be surprised if these two were unsuccessful in Golden Expideetion. I like this team. My only question is how long they will be together? I hope the split doesn’t happen too soon.
Cut backstage and we find Chad Gable making his introduction to RAW GM Kurt Angle. The new arrival initially asks how his former tag team partner Jason Jordan is doing with recovery. Our GM tells him that Jordan is getting better, with the caveat that American Alpha is not reforming. Dogear this segment because WWE Creative may have actually found a plausible way out of The Illegitimate Son storyline down the road. For now, Gable says all he wants is an opportunity to compete. Enter Jinder Mahal, blowing smoke about being cheated out United States Gold. After The Indian Brooklyn Brawler went the “Nicholas” route, Kurt ordered the match in the ring. Gable is a supreme athlete who found a way to go over clean. I sincerely hope he is viewed and used as a serious option.
Thankfully, The Miz left Monday Night Raw. Aside from having to see him on Tuesdays now, the only drawback is that Stamford replaced one heel promo segment with another. At least Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn can work and aren’t stealing money. No surprise, their first show was designed to rub Kurt Angle’s nose in their current employment. Don’t piss an Olympic Gold Medalist off! He just might put you in a tag match against Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman! The contest was a good kind of train wreck. Power and athleticism all over the place. Owens was destroyed before the finishing bell. Two running shoulder blocks and a 385lb dropkick outside the ring will do the trick. Sami Zayn took the pin after a patented vertical suplex from Lashley and a power slam from Strowman. If this team were ever made permanent, the entire division on RAW would be dead!
Did someone mention The Miz? In an arc that bordered on painful throughout the show. Two lost puppies tried to find a new master. After failing with both Seth Rollins and Finn Balor, both performers had a tag team match versus the same half of The IC Gold Picture that they had asked to help earlier in the night. Why is WWE doing this? These guys both have legacies in the art form and you haven’t given them any guts after this long? They deserve better. Thank God Mike showed them how to steal money.
We enter the most two-faced segment of the night. Mainly because the painful part was unwatchable. It turned hilarious half-way through. Back up to the start of the show. When Booker T. shows up on commentary, get ready for anything, especially recently. With that bit of information in your head, No Way Jose Congas his way to the ring for a match with Baron Corbin. Jose is not even through the ropes yet. On a live mic, The Pinch Hitter starts making the Adam Rose comparison. “Maybe we should give this guy a party bus? …It’s a script!” I was rolling on the floor. God Bless you, Booker! Corbin refused to have the match thanks to the size of the rookie’s conga line. The Heel With No Pulse had one Monday Night. Waiting for Jose’s companions to dance their way back to the locker room, leaving him vulnerable to an attack. By the way, I was too generous with my predicted timeline. There was no reaction to Jose last night, sorry kid.
Listen, I love The Women’s Division, but this is why moving whole factions from one show to the other is completely STUPID! Never mind storylines get interrupted for no good reason. Pardon me Ms. Riott, didn’t you cut this exact promo when you and your girls tried to blow up SmackDown Live? How many of you got shots at Gold with your little uprising? How many of those opportunities ended with a title change? Pitcher’s duels aren’t worth the hype ladies. Recess is a 10-woman tag match: The Riott Squad, Alexa and Mickie against Nia, Ember Moon, Sasha, Bayley and Natalya. The match was very physical and notable for two spots: Nattie had The Sharpshooter on Mickie when Sarah Logan gave her a chop block, rendering her incapacitated at ringside. Big Fine went full bowling ball from the apron, sprawling out ladies from both teams. Remember Nattie’s new friend from last week? Mickie James forgot. She kept attacking a wounded baby face. Cue Joan Jett! Ronda Rousey comes down to check on The Queen of Hearts and Mickie James blindsides HER and promptly ends up with an arm injury! Given The Gateway City’s sacred place in the artform, St. Louis has seen hundreds of better shows. For Little Vinnie’s Circus it was a coin flip at best. I’m hoping for better consistency when we get passed this sham in the desert. If my passengers will hurry, we’ll take the jet and haul ass to Louisville. See everyone there!