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Cheap Shots: Montreal New Job #2

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Buckle up for one final bottle of wine. We still have echoes of Andre in our heads, The Montreal crowd continues to resemble A Premier League match. We open The Go Home SmackDown Live for Backlash with two announcements from our Goth GM. The first has little consequence right now. Shane McMahon will be off the show for a while, recovering from his participation in the match in Saudi Arabia. Looks like Paige has reason to misbehave down the road, cool! Her second piece of news was more impactful on an immediate level. More on that later.

The Professional Instigator is in the ring for the latest installment of Miz TV. After getting a very heelish pop for reminding the French-speaking audience that he took his French-speaking wife to “Hollywood.” Mike brought Jeff Hardy out, attempting to stir things up by alleging that he is the best IC Champion of all time. Typical of The Miz it was an epic fail with Jeff reminding him how fake his movies and arguments were. God Bless Jeff Hardy. Mike is frustrated. He brings Randy Orton out, trying to save his intentions. The Viper says he and Hardy are cool though. No one tells him when to strike. Even when pointing out the spot that cost Orton against Shelton Benjamin last week, they threw pie in Mike’s face. It is so nice when baby faces are allowed to think!

Did someone mention Shelton Benjamin? The Gopher came from backstage, interjecting himself in the conversation. Correctly pointing out that he defeated Randy last week and received nothing. By this time; all four athletes are in the ring attempting to have a schmoz. Okay Pale Rider, make the tag match. With that piece of business done during the break, we have the first contest of the night. Benjamin was misused the first time he was with the company and he is underutilized now. In either case, I have no good reason for this. It was a coin flip with each team having the edge for a while. The baby faces went over with an RKO and Swanton Bomb. There were no shenanigans until after the bell when Randy hit an RKO on The Charismatic Enigma. A warning in preparation for his shot at United States Gold on Sunday.

I’m guessing this episode was promo heavy thanks to the organization’s insane travel schedule this month. They’re human folks. They have jetlag too. Hold your breath. Let’s see if we can superglue these together. Skipping one intentionally, be patient. Cut to The IIconics being way to happy about beating Asuka even though The Japanese Ace didn’t take the pin last week. PS: I enjoy your work ladies, but you sound like Sexy Koalas and nobody else. Will parrots ever learn not to stick a microphone in heels’ faces? If there is money in asking someone to act like a six-year-old and giving her Gold: There is only money in it once, unless marks are truly sheep.

The next leg of our promo finds Rusev standing with Aiden English. Suddenly. It’s LANA! There is an audible pop and “Lana” chant in the arena. Hey Stanford, she’s over. DO SOMETHING WITH HER! A Rusev Day Shirt never looked better! The Ravishing Russian says something is holding her husband back. Rusev Day and Aiden English are over as well, but I know who wins the coin flip if it comes to that. Our next promo starts with Big Cass headed to the ring. Even though he is not in Montreal, The Long Island Redwood calls out Daniel Bryan. Who comes out to Bolster Cass’ ego? A little French-Canadian person. He takes a beating. Did I mention this is 2018?

This is starting to feel like a Wednesday in Jim Crockett Promotions. We come back from commercial to find WWE Champion AJ Styles being asked about the change made to his defense of Gold against Shinsuke Nakamura at Backlash. Our GM’s most pressing announcement at the top of the show focused on making the next match between them a No DQ thanks to the double count out in the desert and The Con Artists repeated low blows on The Champ. AJ says he’s glad the restrictions are removed. He is ready to finish this. Wait, Samoa Joe? AGAIN? I might be the only person in America saying this. I don’t care. Quit talking and stay healthy. Do both or go away! GASP! Nakamura’s music hits with Joe on the ramp? What’s this? The Samurai coming through the crowd like earlier this month? AJ takes yet another low blow from behind. Why are baby faces clueless?

An awkward baby face promo from The Ladies Division. Charlotte shouldn’t be here. Becky Lynch is having a cow because she got pinned last week, costing Asuka the match. The Rising Sun Mystic tells her not to worry. Charlotte runs Carmella down as Asuka commands: “Avengers Assemble!” Go across the way, and we see Absolution in one place for the first time since The Raw After Mania. Sonya Deville is going full heel here. Saying she expects special treatment. For now, Paige says that’s not how this is gonna work. Mandy Rose has a match with Becky Lynch because both girls went Little Miss Math Class on The Lass Kicker.

Earlier in the night, Shamus and Cesaro were celebrating their new SmackDown Live contracts when The New Day offered pancakes and reminded them they were only on Tuesdays as result of losing The Raw Tag Team Title in the desert. Not surprisingly, The Celtic Warrior was irritated and asked for a fight. Big E stepped up to take him on but was scoffed away in favor of Xavier Woods. Hey look, a wrestling match! The traffic and movement outside the ring enabled Woods to pick up a clean win with a schoolboy.

Clear the decks as recess closes this goofy Canadian roller coaster! This time Carmella actually has to compete. Her apologists need not worry. The IIconics did most of the heavy lifting. After Second Nature landed an outside Moonsault. Then Blondie Circus got a look at real talent and stopped participating. The baby faces looked extremely explosive. This scares me because WWE logic almost guarantees Charlotte takes the loss at Backlash and Carmella gets more false justification for having SmackDown Women’s Gold. Asuka put her submission hold on Peyton Royce to get the tap out. Canada has been arrogantly friendly this time around. Put another way, it was very French. Now, if The Maple Leaf will excuse us. My passengers and I see two steel cages and an empty front row seat on our radar.

 

 

 


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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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Cheap Shots: Mad Man’s Testing Cheese in The Mouse’s House

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Gliding over The World’s Largest Golf Ball for SmackDown Live this week. I believe Orlando was nothing more than a spot show for Graham. In his infinite wisdom, Eric Bischoff used Universal Studios for WCW TV Tapings. What’s he getting paid for now? Doing a podcast? Big deal, a ton of my colleagues have podcasts, and they’re smarter than him. Dixie Carter’s TNA Wrestling reminds us that a talented roster cannot overcome a lack of inside knowledge. Impact Wrestling currently resides in the mouse’s zip code today. The latest effort from The New York Big Top wasn’t on a cheap PPV level. I have praised SmackDown Live as the better show for months. Others have done so for much longer. Instead, WWE hands us something between a glorified house show and a week early go home show for SummerSlam?

Let’s find out if Vince left Mickey ANYTHING interesting. Randy Orton has been on The Main Roster for a generation now. He does psychopath extremely well. Not all psychopaths talk though. Creative should be more careful with Randy. He needs a very focused promo, and reason to talk. They should’ve kept him on a singular path here, Jeff Hardy. A tunnel-visioned Viper is a more dangerous Viper. Randall Keith Orton is neither one of The Authors of Pain. Don’t give him a generic heel promo. We know he’s capable. Let Jeff Hardy continue to twist in agony. If you must give Orton a verbal point, do a better job writing it, and save it for after SummerSlam.

Recess started with a backstage promo which would be unnecessary if Vince didn’t book Triple Threats. The fracturing friendship angle is fine, if not required in the art form. However, can anyone pull it off without it feeling forced? Stamford sure can’t. Why were Charlotte and Becky apologizing like it was Middle School? Vinnie put both of you in the match. Break the fourth wall and get mad at him. The Lass Kicker struggled to hide building frustration. Anybody surprised with this? She’s Irish. They teased a possible tag match with The Dragon Huggers at Evolution? I EFFING HOPE NOT! Vince, get your head out of your ass. Unless it results in Sasha Banks being traded, put this mirrored storyline possibility on ice, since you can’t get it right on Monday! Sorry for the tangent. The Tuesday Besties went over The IIconics, who have hit a wall recently.

Here’s a crazy thought, WWE has approximately 14 ladies on The SmackDown Roster. What’s wrong with holding a storyline off TV for a week instead of repeating it? Give us the illusion that friends took a week to work things out without telling Aiden English he’ll be Ron Killings in a month or two. Lana is getting better in the ring, Let’s find another way to stunt her. Put Almas’ Mini Me over again and break up one of our most popular factions. My apologies, I must have hacked into Vince’s email.

Creative got too many compliments on proms last week. Dammit boys and girls, y’all can only rope the moon once every six months. They tried again anyway, bad move! Outside of The New Day; who can read Facebook and make it good. everything else was yawn inducing. Later, WWEs modern answer to The Free Birds went on to beat The Bar in another great TV Main Event.

Random Observation: if smart marks need proof promoters and bookers view Championship Gold as nothing more than a prop, look at R-Truth. Never mind New York’s original name for him. He was respected during his previous run in Orlando for Dixie Carter and TNA. He held Top Gold and was prominent there for a while. Why not? Dude is a fantastic athlete with good mic skills. Back in WWE, he is a glorified carpenter who cuts nonsense promos. I hope the paycheck is worth it, Sir? After setting up a match no one wanted, Truth lost to Shinsuke Nakamura in under ten minutes.

Sometimes, WWE looks dumber than usual in the age of social media. Can anyone tell me why they broke Mike’s match signing with Daniel Brian on Twitter? Did they have a reason? Does anybody really think Mike was on set? Vinnie, suspension of disbelief? Where is it? They could’ve rebooted Cena/Taker from Mania. They reboot storylines far less personal and more pointless. Yes, Daniel got to wail on Mike for a minute. Can’t we do better than to jump the gun so poorly on both fronts?

If Vince wants us to take one thing away from the Styles/Samoa Joe Angle, it is that Joe clearly has both the physical and psychological advantage heading into SummerSlam. Why does everything appear so lopsided though? Not saying The WWE Gold doesn’t fit Joe. If he can stay healthy, it most certainly does. Yes, Joe is a badass, but AJ Styles is capable of rock-solid heel work too. Ask The Con Artist and Big Match John. Hell, Samoa Joe himself knows Styles’ heel talent from elsewhere. It is disappointing the WWE might make fans wait months to see these two work up to their ability, if the trigger ever gets pulled correctly. Maybe by Hell in A Cell or Survivor Series? Given New York’s reputation among smart marks, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Speaking of which, if anyone did so on Tuesday waiting for a typical good show, I apologize. They got a glorified house show. Mickey Mouse deserves better cheese.


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