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Cheap Shots: Is There Such Thing As The Face Of A Franchise?

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After Saturday’s match at Dominion and the final chapter (for now) in Okada Vs. Kenny Omega, it is now safe to say that Kenny Omega is truly the global face of NJPW. But is that true for every promotion? As a kid growing up watching wrestling in the 90’s it was Stone Cold Steve Austin that ran the WWE, in the 00’s it was John Cena, but there isn’t such a clear cut figure anymore for the WWE, Impact or ROH. Is there really a need for figure heads? In my opinion, the wrestling world has become so overly developed with new talent that its hard to pinpoint who is that face and there’s more of an opinion as to who that is.

The WWE want Roman Reigns to be that guy, but that’s a ship that has already sunk. Some say Seth Rollins and his run with the success of the Intercontinental Championship has made him the guy, and other may say that whoever AJ Styles goes, he is “the face that runs the place.” Impact has always struggled with finding that face, while Styles was there, he was it. Impact may have a suitable face in Eli Drake, being with the company since 2015. Surprisingly  Impact continue to look outwards for talent when the talent they have in house has proven to be effective.While ROH has had a swinging door of wrestlers that were once their staple player. The Young Bucks, Jay Lethal, or semi-newly acquired Cody could be considered for ROH.

In the 1980’s Hulk Hogan was that guy, he was that guy to a lot of people. He spear headed WWE into more than just being a wrestling program, but in being a significant part of pop culture. It has only been in recent years that wrestling has blurred the lines between a wrestling program and a part of this pop culture bubble we live in. With Twitter and Instagram, wrestlers have a bigger platform to connect with fans. Total Divas turned the Bellas and now The Miz and company into reality TV sensations. The Young Bucks have used Youtube to produce their “Being The Elite” series and they have created an empire without the letters WWE in front of their names. The world of wrestling and pop culture has become intertwined with one another that fans have gotten to choose who they want to be the face of their favourite programming. That is the thing that WWEs creative is missing. It isn’t about who you build up to be this powerhouse anymore. There’s so much talent and so many means to watch it that I think it’s impossible to build a franchise figure as much as the WWE want to believe. 

So what makes Kenny Omega different? He wasn’t pushed in the sense that he wasn’t involved in every match in every storyline. He organically grew as a fan favourite with Ibushi and eventually with the Bullet Club he had a storyline that spanned out over a few year and his rise to the top is like the ending of movie, but it was built slowly and surely. 

So are we being blinded by this idea that there needs to be a face that runs a franchise that wrestling has created? In a sense, yes. But as the wrestling landscape changes, so do the fans, essentially the promotions should catch on, but until then we’ll all be debating who is hat where for the foreseeable future. 

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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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