Cheap Shots are unfiltered, uncensored opinions, and those opinions reflect only the author!
As we glide into a runway at The Nassau County Airport, my passengers and I notice something interesting underneath us. It’s the DeLorean. I haven’t seen this thing in months! Why is it here? Who brought it out of the garage? Given the fact that it’s lunch time within shouting distance of The Big Apple, I can afford a small joyride before heading to the arena tonight. But, where and when was I supposed to go? Upon opening the door and getting comfortable, I find my instructions with two dates and locations.
I am to retrieve two pieces of steel and an empty front row seat before going to the show. The dates and signature inform me of the DeLorean’s purpose. Dates are sequenced chronologically. First is 10/17/83 at the Athletic Cathedral just across The Hudson. It’s Madison Square Garden. The cage is not erected yet. Pieces are being carried to the ring as I type. I must haul ass to an empty front row seat over the railing. Bolt and wire cutters await. Discretely impersonating a crew member, I sneak onto the floor removing a tiny piece of steel from the bottom of the cage. After doing this, I use the bolt cutter to take the empty seat from The Garden Floor. Exiting the building without incident, my instructions say these seeds are to come with me to Pittsburgh 15 years later and repeat the first act again where the crown is handed out. Despite the cage being lowered from the ceiling this time, the effects of the DeLorean enable me to clip the cage in a blink and get out of the venue unnoticed. Remember, mine wasn’t the only section of steel removed on this might. The other is now in the lore of the art form forever. Before I get to last night’s show: Pop Quiz hotshots, who left these instructions for me? The organizer of this adventure was indeed Mick Foley.
Monday Night Raw comes from Mick’s back yard of Long Island, New York. Show starts with our GM Kurt Angle letting us know that Carnella’s creative crutch is next on WWE’s PPV Calendar. The formula for arriving at the numbers and participants in both Money in The Bank Matches has been slightly altered. Despite their most recent offering being an abject disaster, WWE Creative has FINALLY woken up enough to start co-branding PPVs. This time it translates to four participants from RAW & SmackDown; eight in total, will all compete in both of the main drawing matches. How we get there appears scattered and drawn out.
This concept lends itself to on camera politics, which at times can only be rivaled on a pain scale by backstage politics most of us can’t see initially. Basically, everyone not in a qualifying match will beg to be placed in a qualifying match until we get to Chicago. Baby faces are not immune. This brings Braun Strowman down the aisle. The Big Man is getting better on the mic. This time, talking about what happened when he was left out of building a tree house as a kid. It didn’t end well for the others in the neighborhood. This prompts Kevin Owens to come from the back, reprising his obnoxious French-Canadian self. Whining about Angle’s treatment of him the past month and saying the wrong man was pinned at Backlash. Quick question Kevin: Do you REALLY wanna know how many people cared about that match last night? Kurt is pissed at this point. He has two athletes asking for a chance. Fine boys, you want an opportunity? Fight for it! KO tried to win twice by count out. He freaked out each time Braun got back in the ring. Eventually, The Big Man overwhelmed him. Picking up the win in convincing fashion. Strowman will be in Chicago!
Anybody got a blender? Let’s see if we can turn all these promos into a margarita without a hangover. Backstage, Roman Reigns is asked about the challenges in front of him. He says that he is The Uncrowned Universal Champion and Management is holding him back. Come on Roman! Even you don’t believe that? He says all he can do right now is focus on The Triple Threat match in front of him. Jinder Mahal found Angle twice to scream at him. Once before actually winning a match, and once after beating Chad Gable. Mahal felt insulted and rebuffed both times. The Indian Brooklyn Brawler would make his statement later in the night.
More bright-letter format carpenter promos. First Bayley. Yo Elmo, Sasha’s not dead. Handle this properly, then you can talk Money in The Bank. PS: You’re still not winning. Then Breezango “cuts in” mentioning a “new case.” These gentlemen are nothing if not dedicated to this part of their craft. They are still over on the strength of these promos alone. I will not knock them. Did I mention Goldust was asking for his chance too? This margarita is getting weird! KO & Sami Zayn were seen cutting a strained backstage promo revolving around both Sunday’s happenings and Kevin’s Monday loss. Random MITB promo from Alexa Bliss. Your shoulder hurts and Ronda Rousey hasn’t touched you yet, GO AWAY! Even more random segment from The Ascension. Anyone care about them anymore? Gotta pop The Long Island crowd so Zack Ryder gets his turn asking for a MITB opportunity. The only promo that made sense from this concoction was a sit-down Rene Young got with Bobby Lashley welcoming him back to the organization. This was okay. Unfortunately, Stamford is trying to scrub the heel tendencies off of him for now. We know what he is capable of. We know what he did in Orlando. Good luck keeping all this mess down.
In case we all forget, this is wrestling programming. I will try to get back there now. The ladies needed to start their journey toward Money in The Bank in Chicago. I do take great joy that Carmella will not be in this part of the process. Recess was a Triple Threat for the first RAW spot at the PPV. Combatants: Ruby Riott w/Riott Squad, Ember Moon, and Lady Banks. Need a great match? There’s Mercedes! Although, in this case her opponents didn’t need carried quite so high. Ruby Riott is a solid heel. Capable of a lot of good work. Ember Moon is a special athlete who makes separation a dangerous thing. Sadly, promoters have this nasty habit of timing bias. Vinnie was no different here. I could feel Sasha wasn’t gonna win. With Ruby’s crew getting involved twice, it was obvious. Bayley actually ran out mid-match to help her. Relax Elmo, she’s still kicking your ass at some point. At least The Female Dragon didn’t take the loss. The Lunar Lone Star hit The Eclipse on Riott for the pin. Nightfall is coming to Chicago.
Turns out Creative’s coin-flip booking was just a week delayed. This time Elias got through his entire tweener promo and half a song. Fans want to cheer the man. As consistently as he performs, the opportunity to turn him does not present itself obviously in this smart marks mind. Having said that, his chance to be a baby face will show up. At this point, Bobby Roode and his Gloriousness comes out to kill the vibe. After another solid match that saw The Canadian hit his finish for the win. What a surprise! Roode then asked for an opportunity at Money in The Bank.
Welcome to The Jobber Portion of Monday Night Raw. So much for thinking No Way Jose just needed some additional support to turn things around. This presentation appears wasted on him, and the young man honestly looks like he has athletic potential. Jose took an End of Days and the pin from Baron Corbin in a 6-Man Tag. Slater’s kids didn’t matter. Ryno and The Redneck Red Head got crushed by Ziggler and Galloway. The Deleters of Worlds quickly kenneled The Lost Puppies.
Two contests of consequence remain on The Island of Length. Monday Night Rollins came out two cut a baby face promo. It took a little while to find his own voice. But, right now few faces are over like The Architect. He says Money in The Bank is important; however, The IC Gold is important to him and he wants to fight to keep it. Cue an open challenge and enter Mojo Rawley? A month from The Superstar Shakeup, it feels like a reach. The ex jock was decent on the mic and has ability in the ring. It might be too late for him to matter though.
The Samoan Hype Machine, 8-Pack Irishman and Annoying Canadian closed Empire State proceedings with a Triple Threat. Win for the right to climb a ladder in The Windy City. The crowd was still in rare form from the disappointment of Sunday. Roman offense got booed massively while a beat up Roman got cheered massively. Two memorable spots: Balor & Zayn teamed up to take The Big Dog over the barricade and out of the match for a while. Fans behaved themselves once he was incapacitated. Sheep went all toddler after The Hype Machine reentered things though. Especially when a Vinnie’s Boy victory appeared imminent. Except, who remembers a Pissed Off Indian? The next scenario is not a work. Fans exploded when Jinder Mahal came through the audience to grab Roman’s leg preventing a spear and allowing Finn Balor to beat Zayn clean and earn a shot at the briefcase. Awkward show. Felt like bizarro land moved south for most of this episode of Monday Night Raw, Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy has certainly seen better and done better himself. In answer to the question: No there are no Cactus Seeds left on Long Island this time.
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.