We’re in a very interesting and precarious time in the world we live in. There is a genuine question as to if the news that we’re receiving is legitimate or “fake”. Now, more than ever, news is readily available faster and from more sources than ever. And as usual, reality is mirrored in our little safe haven we call wrestling.
I don’t have to tell you guys reading how weird of an entity professional wrestling is. The athletes are playing a character doing choreographed moves with a script and determined winners. Yet in the past 20 years, what’s going on behind the scenes of the machine has almost become more interesting than the action in the ring. Surely this is a byproduct of Vince McMahon’s, and subsequently all of wrestling’s, admittance that the product is in fact scripted. This opened up a brand new door at a very familiar house. “Why did this wrestler win?” “How was that wrestler picked to have a ‘push’?” “Why aren’t you doing what I want you to do???”
Obviously, I want to be as respectful as I can on this topic because I in fact work for a wrestling news site, so attacking the very medium I am tied to is very hypocritical and quite frankly incompetent. Still, I have to address how wrestling news, and the way it’s presented, can affect your perception and opinion of what you’re seeing. And that conversation starts with Dave Meltzer, the most popular and accomplished wrestling journalist in the world.
Meltzer, of the Wrestling Observer, has created his own niche in the market of wrestling news and journalism. He’s found a way to not only be successful, but he’s also found a way for his word to be more believable than what is often times shown on screen, which can be a dangerous notion. If he reports something, the belief among us die hard fans is that its an unmitigated fact. If those reports, however, turns out to be wrong, the response is that “plans changed”. And while plans do change in wrestling, quite often in fact, that’s a total lack of accountability for the original news item.
I’ll give you an example. Roman Reigns has been pegged to be “coronated” at WrestleMania 34 by Meltzer for a year, and the fans not only believed it, they swore by it. Yet, here we are, two major Pay-Per-Views removed and Reigns is still not the champion. The response when asked what happened? “Plans changed.” That process creates a dangerous rhetoric. Wrestling is so frenetic that feasibly, you can say anything that you want is going to happen and with the clout that somebody like Dave has, fans will believe it. In fact, fans will go against what they’re being shown on television because of what the reports were. This creates a narrative that no wrestling company can effectively combat. This creates a version of fear mongering.
Now, I don’t mean to attack Dave Meltzer, and I don’t mean to accuse him of purposely trying to create that narrative in the eyes of fans. However, if you look at some of the news items and stances he takes, it’s easy to question his motives. Let’s use two Daniel Bryan items for example. Firstly, Dave Meltzer has publicly accosted WWE for having Bryan lose cleanly to Rusev on Smackdown last week, leading to Rusev being put in the Money In The Bank Ladder Match. So much so that he’s said that Bryan should leave WWE when his contract comes up in September because WWE will never push or promote Bryan as a top level star again. This comes after Bryan’s officially been medically cleared and re-instated as a wrestler for a little over a month. Also, this is Bryan’s first loss since returning. So now, some fans will most assuredly think, want, and clamor for Bryan to leave a company he’s been very clear that he loves. All because the main journalist in the industry created the narrative.
Subsequently, Sports Illustrated did an article and interview on The Miz. In the interview, The Miz said “He (Bryan) doesn’t deserve to be in the ring with me. He’s not at the level that I am.” SI used this quote as the headline for their article, and Dave responded with “It’s a sad day when an entity that is supposed to be real publishes a working quote like that, let alone highlights it. What’s next, Thanos saying Drax is a pussy as a major sports headline.” Never mind the fact that Sports Illustrated has started covering wrestling in some form, his declaration is off base in a number of ways. First off, the overwhelming opinion is that Bryan is a much better worker than Miz, but it’s still just that; an opinion. Secondly, attacking a legitimate sports magazine for not covering wrestling the way that you would want to is tremendously unfair and hinders the ability of that entity to cover what they want how they want. Lastly, wrestling is a very layered entity, as mentioned earlier. It’s a tough and selfish ask to want them to cover scripted entertainment and have them not cover it the way it’s presented.
As I stated earlier, I realize that I work for a wrestling site noted for its news and opinion pieces. The one thing, however, I’ve tried to do in my work since I started writing 8 years ago was to not only be transparent and honest, but to be accountable. I’ve made the majority of my “notoriety” by being a voice for people and fans who don’t like the overt negativity some fans seem to have. I’ve disagreed with a majority of IWC opinions, and I’ve been a “contrarian” to the thought process that WWE sucks. With that, I realize that as small of a voice that I have, my voice does have a modicum of power. All of our voices do. That’s the reason the first amendment was enacted; to allow the average citizen to feel comfortable having an opinion and to be themselves. So, I’m not trying to attack Dave Meltzer or any other wrestling journalists. I’m definitely not trying to call him out. I’m trying to remind people that news, no matter how true it may be, can be unfathomably biased. The news you read is intrinsically tied to your stance on whatever the news item is. So if you don’t like WWE, you’re more likely to read news that is anti-WWE, and it’s more likely to be more news that is anti-WWE that will be reported.
We all love wrestling. It’s why you’re on this site, (hopefully) reading this column. So let’s not let external forces affect how we view and perceive it, m’kay?
Stay woke guys.
The Good, Bad and Ugly SmackDown Live (2/19/19)
Bobby gives us the Good, Bad and Ugly of SmackDown following Elimination Chamber!
Bobby gives us the Good, Bad and Ugly of SmackDown following Elimination Chamber!
Raw was okay. That’s it. NXT did their usual stellar job but the show had some major flaws. It’s nothing major and overall Raw was Good and more than got the job done. The whole roster both NXT and WWE Raw and SmackDown have been going full steam and ready for this WrestleMania which speaking personally feels very special this year for some reason.
Here comes the money! Shane took to business hyping the NXT call ups, when Miz interrupted and apologized to his partner. Shane O Mac and Miz can work the hell out of a crowd and bring a ton of emotions every single time! Sometimes things get crazy and not everything clicks especially when high risk is involved which messes these guys up every single match. They still continue to show up every show and put in work. We haven’t seen their best stuff yet. The Usos when they get loose out go wild and leave it all out there. All legit vets that can work and will be present in the some fashion at WrestleMania. It went a little bit slow and long but it was from the heart which WWE fans respect. Uso’s joined and taunted McMiz to a rematch in a mocking fashion. Fastlane Rematch for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships. Good by a heartbeat, the match Fastlane hopefully will be better than the last one.
Andrade w/ Zelina Vega vs. Aleister Black
SD Live whipped out the big guns in this one! Holy talent! No need to build up this match, it is Good the way it is. As usual we had talent showcasing kicks, strikes and high risk. That is these guys comfort zone and it shows. The NXT crew has only made things better as they always do. Being used in the NXT personas has been a great way to keep them prominent and seemingly safe from being buried on the main roster. Andrade was a huge NXT Star himself at one time and him and Black are a perfect blend. Zelina Vega is a pleasant addition to Andrade every match as well and always finds a way to get involved effectively. However before she could get involved in this one, Aleister Black hits “Black Mass” for the win. Solid, clean match with two very talented Superstars.
“DIY” Ciampa and Gargano (NXT and NXT NA Champions) vs. The Bar Shamus and Cesaro
The promo of Cesaro talking trash and The Bar laughing and belittling DIY was entertaining and very effective. Good little hype promo. This is a solid contrast of teams. All four are extremely intense and physical. DIY has all the speed and the little bit of crazy that helps when you need it. The Bar is all precision, pain and power. Really stiff match here, a lot of punishment on both sides. It was fantastic though as NXT Talent continues to show up ready to rock out! The Bar had this match on ice but out Ciampa got the blind tag and an over the top “roll up” on the “Swiss Superman” for the upset victory. Awesome Match!
Non-Title Match- (SmackDown Women’s Champion) Asuka vs. Mandy Rose
Mandy Rose wanted to fulfill Asuka’s Challenge. Mandy Rose with her sidekick Sonya Deville came down and Mandy Rose faced the Champ. Out of the blue, Lacey Evans came out distracting everyone. Sonya Deville stood in her way and turned her around. Mandy Rose looked great in there and working with someone as Good as Asuka is a big thing for her. Asuka is amazing and is a strong person to have that title. Mandy Rose hit a vicious knee on the outside and later played an eye injury getting a cheap roll up for the win and pinned the SmackDown Women’s Champion in this non-title match.
Ricochet vs. Eric Young w/ Sanity)
Another very effective mix of talent here. Eric Young who isn’t seen enough being as Good as he is, facing the best of the best, Ricochet. This is a potential blockbuster. Honestly though considering who was working here, this was a pretty slow match at times. Looked sharp though but not the usual speed of these two. Finally after Eric Young had controlled the whole match, Ricochet started moving. Eric Young got busted open and Ricochet continued his assault. Ricochet took down the whole Sanity crew flying through the air. Ricochet maintained and hit his “630” Splash for the win! Okay match, and with Ricochet, far from being a Bad one.
Kofi Kingston, AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy vs. Daniel Bryan (C), Randy Orton and Samoa Joe
Bryan, Orton and Joe, make Sanity look like a Boy Scout troop. The heels isolated Jeff Hardy and took turns beating him down. Rapid tags and effective offense kept them in control until Kofi Kingston got the tag and came in hot. All hell broke loose, Kofi got slammed onto an announce table, with fighting all around. Once things got back in the ring, AJ Styles got the tag from a beaten Kofi and AJ killed it but took some punishment as well. Kofi came in again and shined! Kofi went on to hit a “trouble in paradise” and pin the Champ, Daniel Bryan for the impressive victory.
Shane O’ Mac then announced that Kofi Kingston will be getting a title shot at Fastlane against Daniel Bryan. Well-deserved and well done!
BAD and UGLY- No and No.
Nothing is perfect but SmackDown was Good. There were a few blah spots and times where it could have been better overall, but it was a solid show. It was entertaining and continued the party on the Road to WrestleMania.
NXT is the next one on the agenda and never soon enough. But we seemingly have had NXT action all week so far which has been a huge success. The audience wins all around with the addition of NXT talent to Raw and SmackDown. What will that mean for NXT now though? Well I would say it will only make everyone else there even hungrier to shine. Looking forward to seeing what’s next! Read the next Good, Bad and Ugly!
Cook: Don’t Hate Lafayette Because They Don’t Know #DIY
Steve Cook chimes in on the controversy surrounding the WWE Monday Night Raw crowd from Lafayette.
Anybody that knows me well knows that I’ve always been a huge baseball fan. It was the first sport I fell in love with as a kid and has been part of my life as far back as I can remember. I read pretty much anything I could about the history of it. I might be a Cincinnati Reds supporter, but I also have a good appreciation for most of baseball history.
That’s why I was excited when the New York Yankees came to town in 2011. The Yankees don’t come to Cincinnati very often. In fact, it was only the second series they’d played in Cincinnati since interleague play started in 1997. Whether you like the Yankees or not, it’s hard not to be impressed with their tradition of success. Their twenty-seven World Series championships are sixteen more than any other team has. Names like Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle & countless others give the Yankees a tradition that’s unparalleled.
Aura & Mystique on the road
Even in 2011 the Yankees had some all-time greats on their roster. Mariano Rivera became the first unanimous Hall of Famer this year. Derek Jeter will follow him into the HOF in 2020. Alex Rodriguez…well, that vote’s going to be interesting. He’s got the numbers! Heck, Bartolo Colon was on that team, and his HOF vote will also be interesting if he ever retires.
I was lucky to get off of work and get a ticket to a Wednesday afternoon game. The stadium was packed & stacked, as fans in the area knew that the Yankees wouldn’t be back in Cincinnati for several years. Unfortunately for the fans & myself, Jeter was on the disabled list so he wouldn’t be playing. Nobody’s fault, these things happen. We would have expected A-Rod to play, but a rainout the night before resulted in Wednesday being a previously unscheduled doubleheader, and Yankee manager Joe Giradi opted to give Rodriguez the day game off.
Lineup card subject to change
Playing third base for the Yankees instead was the immortal Ramiro Pena. He played 23 games in 2011 and went 4 for 40 for a batting average of .100. He had one home run, four RI & scored five runs. If you’re one of those advanced stats guys, he had a WAR of -0.8 for the season. In all fairness, this & 2012 were his least productive seasons in MLB. He managed to play 50 games in 2013 & 81 games in 2014 for the Atlanta Braves & wrapped up his MLB career in 2016 with the San Francisco Giants. From what Wikipedia tells me, he’s currently playing in the Mexican League.
Jeter’s replacement ended up accomplishing a bit more. Eduardo Nunez played 127 games for last season’s World Champion Boston Red Sox. He was also an All-Star in 2016, though I think that was due to the fact that every team has to have an All-Star & the Minnesota Twins didn’t have a ton of candidates. We also got to see Rivera close out the game, so it’s not like we missed out on everybody of historical importance. And yes, Jorge Posada was there playing first base and hit a home run. Any Yankee fan reading this will yell at me if I don’t mention Posada.
Core 4, baby
At this point you’re probably wondering why in the the world I’ve spent all this time writing about a random June 2011 Yankees/Reds game. In the big picture, that game wasn’t too terribly important. A ton of baseball games aren’t. The game came to my mind early Tuesday morning while I was catching up on Twitter’s reaction to Monday’s Raw episode.
Mostly, people were mad at the crowd. This week’s Raw was notable for being the main roster debut of four NXT Superstars. (NXT wrestlers are called Superstars too, right?) Ricochet, Aleister Black, Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa all wrestled on Monday night’s show in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Triple H did the big introduction at the beginning of the show, we got videos with Michael Cole yelling buzzwords, and the four men got to take part in matches. Which is more than some of the last crop of NXT call-ups can say. Ricochet got to do some flips. Black got to beat up Elias. Gargano & Ciampa got to randomly re-form their tag team.
It was fine, if a wee bit random. I would have expected NXT fans to be happy that some of their favorites were on Raw-wait, no, I wouldn’t have expected that at all because NXT fans want their favorites to stay in Full Sail forever. WWE will mis-use them on the main roster, you see. So I was a little surprised that wasn’t the main thing that Internet wrestling fans were complaining about.
No, it was the crowd.
The Raw crowd didn’t make enough noise for these debuting talents. They should have been out of their seats for Ricochet & Black like they were Austin & Rock in 1998. And of course the fans should have gone crazy for DIY vs. The Revival because it’s great tag team wrestling.
Listen, I’m with you guys as far as the talent of these guys goes. I’m hip to the NXT jazz. I’ve been watching & reviewing lately, If I was in that crowd, I would have been cheering & rooting all of those guys on. The thing is…I’m not in the majority of wrestling fans. Far from it. I’m a wrestling nerd that consumes way too many hours of my day with watching wrestling & writing my opinions about it. From what I can tell, a lot of the people I saw whining & moaning about that crowd do the same thing that I do. We’re obsessed with wrestling & analyze everything way too much because that’s what we enjoy doing.
Not everybody does that.
Sometimes we lose touch with the fact that not everybody is like us. There are plenty of wrestling fans that don’t spend every day obsessing over the gossip or watching every single show they can get access to. I know WWE fans that don’t get WWE Network. There are even WWE Network subscribers that don’t watch NXT. I’m not going to get all hot & bothered & mad at people that don’t watch NXT for not going crazy over NXT call-ups. I might wonder why Baron Corbin gets a louder reaction than any of them, and I might think that reflects poorly on their taste, but at the same time, I realize that it’s because Baron Corbin’s been on TV long enough to establish a persona.
To the casual wrestling fan, Ricochet & Aleister Black are like random guys filling in for Derek Jeter & Alex Rodriguez. Hopefully their careers turn out a little bit better, but just like I wasn’t excited to see Ramiro Pena back in 2011 at Great American Ballpark, Lafayette wasn’t excited to see Aleister Black. You can’t fault paying wrestling fans for not watching all the shows, unless you’re just looking to lord your knowledge over everybody else.
Most of those fans at Raw didn’t have any idea what a Johnny Gargolye or a Tomato Chomper was. Hopefully they’ll get the chance to find out, and hopefully they’ll appreciate them as much as we do. Until then, give Lafayette a break. Don’t get mad at them because they paid to see WWE Superstars & got NXT ones instead.