My passengers and I had to sleep off Monday’s bad dream before taking a midday trek through the coastal skyway between LaGuardia and Logan. Rental Car agencies love us. We cover overhead for months. Last night’s SmackDown Live threw a dart in the map at Worcester, Massachusetts. The Beantown suburb has been a reliable stronghold for The Evil Empire for generations. Boston and its satellites have fabulous history with the art form. Look no further than John Cena and Sasha Banks. Older than a Millennial? Fine, would you settle for the most respected Shaman left in the industry? Boston proper is home to the heart of the last great Booker in NWA/WCW History. Marks remember him as “The Task Master” Kevin Sullivan.
There was an incredibly low threshold to surpass Monday’s utter junk. The Professional Instigator kicked things off. His segment was centered around a shockingly relevant question given the original source. Last week, The New Day won a tag team match with a unique stipulation. The winning team would send one member to Money in The Bank. Though, nobody new which member would get the honor. The Unicorns have verbal chemistry with a tree stump. Mike is near the top of the roster when cutting a promo. As a result, the question everybody was curious about led to a segment that would make Abbott & Costello smile! After the baseball routine, Mike didn’t get an answer. Would anyone be shocked if Mike’s mouth got him into a fight? He told us that he could beat any member of The New Day. Big E steps up to disagree. After weaseling his way up the ramp and being pelted with pancakes, GM Paige insists Mike get out there and fight. The Miz defeated Big E with help from The Bar. This led to The Sexy Goth Chick making a six-man tag next week, cool!
Early recess with dual qualifiers for Chicago on the ladies’ side. Our first contest is proof smarks still can’t do this on paper. Last week; when this match was made, 98% of the audience had one or both of these thoughts in their collective head: “Why is Lana in this match?” and/or “She has no shot here.” Tell me you didn’t and you’re lying! Billie Kay going over in this spot made complete sense because her IIconic partner did not qualify and Lana hadn’t wrestled in months. Her fans; which unabashedly include this author, were just happy to see her on camera again. She has proven more than capable with a promo. Would her in-ring potential be given legitimate thought again? Wait, they gave her a solid entrance with accompaniment from Aiden English. But, she’s competing against someone who is getting a massive push? Fortunately for The Ravishing Russian, Sexy Koalas have the attention span of two gnats. The Songbird brought out a very tall “Lana Day” sign to do the distraction thing. The Aussies lose their minds, allowing Lana to slap the s*** out of one while barricading the other. Could she do this? A huge Machka Kick and sit-out faceplant later, the answer was YES! Lana won her first singles match in WWE and I popped like a kid!
Later in the night, Naomi and Sonya Deville had their chance to qualify for Money in The Bank. Athletically these two ran circles around the previous feminine encounter. However, Lana evokes the type of emotional reaction they can only wish for right now. Most memorable spot involved several dueling kicks. Eventually, The Glow Worm got the advantage and the victory with an old-school looking rollup. It will be interesting to see if there is any tension between Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville because only The Pound For Pound Pinup made it to the PPVs namesake match.
Then we move to a promo in the ring between The Usos and The Good Brothers. “I don’t see any bars…” Preceded by “This ain’t Japan….” Very Typical stuff. Although this was gonna be an interesting match because we haven’t seen it in a while. The Samoans were able to get most of their spots in. They even tried their tandem finish from opposite corners. The attempt was not successful. One of them got pushed off the top turnbuckle, eventually leaving the other vulnerable for The Magic Killer. Congratulations Gallows & Anderson! Your reward is a date with The Bludgeon Brothers for Tag Team Gold in Chicago.
This week’s action concludes with a first-time match between Daniel Bryan and Jeff Hardy. Excuse me? Yes, I think The Charismatic Enigma was losing his mind in Orlando during some of Daniel’s prime run in New York. Otherwise, Vince never put them on the same competitive path. Why the HELL not? As expected, it was a clinic and coin flip throughout. This was a second chance for The American Dragon, who went over clean with a Heal Hook. The victory cleared the way to a final qualifier for The Yes Man against Samoa Joe who was on commentary this week.
Most important piece of news from this week’s SmackDown Live? Let’s go to the ring for a face-to-face promo between WWE Champion AJ Styles and Money in The Bank Challenger Shinsuke Nakamura. These two have already had three solid matches. The Con Artist won last, enabling him to choose the stipulation in Chicago. Nakamura is a very good heel, capable of making anyone on Tuesdays twist in the wind. A Ninja takes whatever advantage he can. The challenger was ready to show his cards, but not before administering a beatdown and ten-count that Styles could not answer. I was wrong. It’s not gonna be in a cage. We have A Last Man Standing Match for WWE Gold. I doubt people is Sasha’s home state left disappointed like those in New York on Monday Night. Relax everybody, the itinerary takes us to Flair Country again next week.
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.