Even though Raleigh was probably a consistent city for Jim Crockett Promotions and The Horsemen in more ways than one, I’m not sure how many tapings or live events centered around the kind of wrestling that my colleagues and I cover on this website ever took place at NC State University. Given their prime generation, I can only imagine how many after hours shows the boys participated in when cameras weren’t pointed at the ring in this city. Spit balling, Vinnie’s current circus most likely does live television from half-a-dozen to a dozen college campuses per year. Last night’s SmackDown Live was for those in The Wolfpack. Shall we join them in the hunt?
Hard camera shot finds a ladder in the ring, Samoa Joe’s music greets the crowd as the tough talker goes between the ropes. His first act was to climb the ladder and remove the briefcase from it’s tempting position, reminding perspective opponents of the ultimate purpose of the encounter in Chicago. After doing this, Joe climbs to the mat and drops The Biblical Story of Jacob’s Ladder on Daniel Bryan while striking down the Heavenly details for The Yes Man. “No light, no Angels at the top of this ladder for you.” Until now, the final slot for the Men’s Money in The Bank Match had yet to be filled.
Joe mentioned Daniel’s family one too many times, bringing The Bearded One from the back to respond. Except he didn’t wanna talk. He wanted to fight. A wrestling show was seconds away from putting a main event in place of a curtain jerker! The winner would be given the last opening in MITB. Then Big Cass comes out to wreck the vibe. He tells us that he has talked to GM Paige and he gets an opportunity to qualify for MITB upon receiving medical clearance from the leg injury he suffered in London. Surprise, The Long Island Redwood is cleared to compete and throttles both competitors as confirmation. Cut backstage and Renee Young catches up with The Sexy Goth Chick who backs up Cass’ claim. Our Main Event is now a Triple Threat Match. Winner gets a one-way ticket to Chicago.
Before heading to break, we find The Challenger for WWE Gold walking the halls with a set of cards numbered from 1 to 10. After scattering them, Shinsuke Nakamura was ready for action. Let’s go to Twitter to find his opposition? Not kidding, when The Con Artist set the parameters of his latest shot at Gold, he took up temporary residence on Sesame Street. He was trolling AJ Styles with a tweet asking him how high he can count. The harassment was intercepted by The Forgotten Perfect 10, Tye Dillinger.
Talk about an ignored athlete. Outside of one random promo, we haven’t seen him in months. There are rumors flying that Dillinger is headed back to NXT and I’m wondering why? Shinsuke is so physical, and the dude gave him a fight to be proud of. He survived multiple “ten-counts” before succumbing to The Kinshasa. I see why NXT marks love him. Come on Vince. You can’t find something useful for a pro like this? That’s on you. We see it. Anybody else think Tye Dillinger would be an interesting fit in Impact?
Two recess segments last night. Starting with a “Dance Off” between Naomi and Lana. Both Ladies brought their full compliment of backup. There was no way this was ending clean. If I must cover the goofiness of this segment, each lady can move in her own way. Rusev’s better half is classically trained in ballet. She may truly have a more flexible skillset than that. How many in ballet can break into pure breakdancing just because? Jimmy Uso’s wife is a former NBA Cheerleader whose athleticism has led to Women’s Gold in New York.
Now that that’s done, do we have reason to believe Lana’s deer in headlights look is almost gone when it comes to in-ring physicality? The ladies did a tandem spot that ended with The Ravishing Russian giving The Glow Worm a neck breaker. Then she got up and slapped the taste out of Jimmy’s mouth. Yes, she got beat up and took a rearview from Naomi. That’s not the point. Lana doesn’t look quite so scared, and that’s a big deal for her!
More female flavor as Mandy Rose had consequences for disrespecting Paige. When will these girls learn? What was The Pound for Pound Pinup’s punishment? Oh nothing. Just a showdown with Asuka! Despite absorbing an assault from Sonya Deville; which gave Rose the advantage throughout the match, The Japanese Ace was displaying enough offense to remain dangerous. Eventually securing her personalized submission for the tap out victory. PS: For some strange reason, Corey Graves keeps forgetting his marital status when Mandy Rose competes. It’s alright man, we’ve all got ours. Now, quit talking crap about mine!
Six-Man Tag Was next. Of course the primer segments involved pancakes. The Unicorns were being served by their new assistant Mr. Bootyworth. The other locker room found Mike trying to catch breakfast that was being flung at him by both members of The Bar. This was supposed to remind us that Mike got “shamed” last week. Doesn’t he get shamed every week? Anyway, the match itself was a typical coin flip. Kofi Kingston took quite a bit of heat. Eventually, Big E got the tag. Extended Tag Matches are designed to break down, and this was no exception. Most memorable spot? Mr. SOS jumping off the top rope to the outside taking both Bar members out. This left Big E inside alone with Mike to deliver The Big Ending and get his win back. We still don’t have a clue which member of The New Day will enter the namesake fight in The Windy City.
As was established when SmackDown kicked off. This week’s last act was a Triple Threat Match for the final spot in Chi town. These matches are built around false finishes and broken pinning combinations. Even though most of them aren’t exactly believable. Daniel and Joe did most of the heavy lifting. If Cass wasn’t 7’’0’ tall, would WWE even look at a performer with his move set? Some of it probably stems from his knee surgery. He looks really stiff in the ring. Bryan’s intensity, nor the loyalty of his supporters have wavered one bit. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough for him in this instance. Samoa Joe got the win by putting his Clutch on Daniel after the underdog knocked Cass out with a running knee. Overall, we’ve left fun tracks on campus. Now it’s time to party before hitting Charlotte in the morning so we can see an old friend in Houston 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.