New Japan’s Dominion event from Osaka is the talk of pro wrestling fans thanks in large part to the major headlining matches that took place. Chris Jericho took the IWGP Intercontinental Championship from Tetsuya Naito and Kenny Omega won the IWGP Championship from Kazuchika Okada.
It was a moment in wrestling history that many fans will never forget. Dominion was perhaps the best example of what NJPW can deliver to those that want more from the business. But what does New Japan’s rise mean to WWE?
For many fans, there is no comparison. New Japan is all about the wrestling. It’s a vast departure from everything that WWE is and much more. NJPW focuses on the in-ring action. It’s not about the drama outside of the squared circle.
How many times has Monday Night Raw kicked off with a five minute promo? The old notion that a wrestling event should begin with a hot curtain jerk match to set the tone is apparently very old indeed. The primary goal now is to spell it out for the crowd. WWE lays the foundation for the following three hours by walking fans through it one word at a time.
If the long-winded promos only happened occasionally, fans would likely not mind. But when silly storylines are the norm and characters begin acting out of character, then frustrations rise. Add to that the constant need to book the McMahon family in main event spots and it just gets worse.
WWE doesn’t seem to listen, which is not helping. The company is so firmly connected to its audience through social media but that connection does not equal understanding. It’s not unheard of for the company to openly mock the fans on live TV. Triple H has in fact done it before yet somehow many seemed to miss the irony of it all.
Without the paying audience, WWE would not exist. Fans can be loud and emotional and even obnoxious, which distracts from the show. But much of the crowd don’t want to act out, they genuinely just want the product to be good. It’s no coincidence that the biggest pops of Raw or SmackDown Live tend to happen because of hard-fought pro wrestling matches. Despite all the hoopla and grandeur that accompany a WWE event, it’s the wrestling that fans respond to the most.
But WWE has existed in this form since The Monday Night Wars. Since the competition disappeared, Vince McMahon’s company has not been the same. The slick presentation and overproduced programs are ingrained into the company and WWE has been in the driver’s seat with no one legitimately threatening its position of power.
However there are some bright spots. Thanks to CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and a few others, WWE is much different now than it was in the years after WCW fell. NXT is a viable third brand and the company now features some of the best wrestlers in the world today. Perhaps WWE seems to have finally realized the importance of strengthening its game in the ring. Is that just a natural evolution or is it happening out of necessity?
The fact is that New Japan is redefining what professional wrestling is. WWE does not happen in a bubble; the world has opened up now. NJPW is the alternative that Impact Wrestling wants to be, but the two companies could not be more different. Anyone that has followed New Japan sees the heart and the effort on display every time the cameras go on. The men in New Japan’s locker room are hungry. They want more and they’re working hard to get it.
But as much as diehard fans love the company, the truth is that NJPW is not without its faults. Yes the men of New Japan are working hard but where are the women? The Women’s Revolution has leveled the playing field for WWE. Women are working main events on TV and pay-per-view. It’s only a matter of time until women main event WrestleMania. Will New Japan feature any female wrestlers by that point?
Then there’s the comedy routines. Though it’s not as prevalent as it once was, comedy does occasionally happen in a New Japan ring. It’s the same comedy that keeps Jim Cornette awake at night. Though many believe he obsesses too much over it, the fact is comedy does equal disrespect in the minds of many pro wrestling fans.
Then there are the matches themselves. No one can deny the amazing body of work that guys like Will Ospreay are delivering. But when that work includes multiple death-defying moves that no one should ever recover from, then the point gets lost. Pro wrestlers are not superhuman. They’re extremely mortal and it’s their humanity that connects them to the crowd.
When Strong Style replaces common sense, what’s left? If two guys stand face to face and physically destroy each other while never leaving their feet, then why should fans believe anymore? The crowd knows that wrestlers are not intentionally trying to cripple each other. But that doesn’t mean they should advertise the ineffectiveness of moves that could seemingly knock a guy out cold.
Both companies have their issues, that much is certain. The idea of sports entertainment consumes WWE. NJPW at times appears just as consumed with crafting five-star matches instead of just allowing it to happen organically. But for many fans, New Japan is the pro wrestling company and WWE is the company that happens to feature pro wrestling. There is a difference.
WWE has talent to rival New Japan. There is no arguing that point. If the governor was removed from the Superstars and they were allowed to tell the story in the ring instead of backstage, on the mic or on social media, then this would be an entirely different conversation. But Vince McMahon’s company is designed a certain way and that way appears to be working. It’s difficult to dismiss a billion dollar company that is firmly entrenched in pop culture.
But if guys like Daniel Bryan, Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, AJ Styles, Kevin Owens and Shinsuke Nakamura had their way, then the silly storylines would probably end. Yes fans want pro wrestling to be fun and entertaining. But New Japan is turning the volume up and the sound is deafening right now. Fans can only wonder if WWE is really listening.
Greg DeMarco’s YouTube Performance Report: WWE Raw (4/22/19)
You shouldn’t be surprised at the video that topped Raw on YouTube this week.
A look at the YouTube performance for the April 22nd edition of WWE RAW!
As we all know, social media and other outlets have become a huge means of drawing in interaction and viewers for WWE. Most people will point to television ratings like they did during the Monday Night Wars in the late 1990’s, however that can be skewed with so many various means of watching today that do not include cable television. As such, YouTube has joined social media as a metric as important to WWE as television ratings (if not more).
As you’ve become accustomed to, here is this week’s RAW YouTube Report, compiled Wednesday morning, for the 4/22/19 edition of WWE Raw:
- Bray Wyatt’s Firefly Fun House – 2 million views
- Seth Rollins’ challengers emerge – 1.58m views
- AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin – 904k views
- The Miz vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Baron Corbin – 815k views
- AJ Styles vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Samoa Joe – 775k views
- Becky Lynch & Lacey Evans promo – 450k views
- Robert Roode vs. Ricochet – 440k views
- Becky Lynch vs. Alicia Fox – 395k views
- Naomi vs. Billie Kay – 332k views
- Cedric Alexander vs. Cesaro – 325k views
- The Revival and The Usos Backstage – 292k views
- Sami Zayn runs down the WWE Universe – 282k views
- The Viking Raiders decimate The Lucha House Party – 225k views
- Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins discuss The Viking Raiders – 126k views
Ratings analysis appears after the ad – buy a shirt!
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Greg DeMarco’s WWE Raw YouTube Ratings Analysis
It should be no surprise that Bray Wyatt’s Firefly Funhouse comes in at #1 for the week, surpassing 2 million views. We are in the post-Easter week, so numbers are down overall (only 2 videos over 1 million views), but this one definitely has people talking. It’s also the #18 trend on all of YouTube.
Seth Rollins also topped a 1.5 million, as we had the show opening multi-man promo scheme designed to set up the matches for later. The set-up and those matches were the major focus on Raw on YouTube this week, ranking #2-#5 in terms of views.
Becky Lynch didn’t deliver this week, as she might be suffering from a bit of overexposure. The Raw women’s division continues to rebuild, making me wonder why they broke up The Riott Squad. The division occupied spots #6, #8, and #9, and cumulatively they barely broke a million views. But let’s be honest, the less people that see Becky Lynch vs. Alicia Fox, the better.
Also bad news for the tag team division, as they occupied 3 of the four bottom videos.
My favorite video…the Robert Roode pornstache!
What did the YouTube results for this week tell you?
Andrew’s WWE Raw and SmackDown Live Ratings & Analysis (4/22 + 4/23/2019)
More changes after the Shakeup! It’s like we get an extended draft before the NFL Draft! How did WWE’s main roster shows pan out?
More changes after the Shakeup! It’s like we get an extended draft before the NFL Draft! How did WWE’s main roster shows pan out?
Shortly before Raw went live, there were reports of some Superstars being moved again even though the Shakeup was last week. We also heard some rumblings that our favorite Experience was getting a different name.
So were we happy with the shows? Were they just a mess? Let’s find out!
- Samoa Joe vs Rey Mysterio vs AJ Styles: Styles wins via Styles Clash – *** ¼
- Billie Kay vs Naomi: Naomi wins via Roll-Up – N/A
- The Miz vs Baron Corbin vs Drew McIntyre: Corbin wins via Claymore – *** ½
- Cesaro vs Cedric Alexander: Cesaro wins via Swiss Death Uppercut – ***
- Alicia Fox vs Becky Lynch: Lynch wins via DisArm-Her – * ½
- Ricochet vs Robert Roode: Roode wins via Glorious DDT – ** ½
- AJ Styles vs Baron Corbin: Styles wins via Phenomenal Forearm – *** ¼
So this opening segment was generally worthless. Triple H was added to the proceedings purely because…well…he can be? Seth is a travesty on the microphone and the others march out like we weren’t just told there was going to be 2 Triple Threats. So it was just messy. Unless this is the first hint towards Seth rejoining with Hunter, this dynamic was almost as worthless as the word salad they threw at ass.
Our first Triple Threat is the work rate match. There’s really no story here aside from both Rey and AJ have had issues with Samoa Joe, but it wasn’t conveyed in the match well. Joe’s Avalanche Double Mountain Bomb was a spot, but really just took too long to set up and looked too cooperative. This match is fine, but I doubt it stopped anyone who still flips through channels at 8:30 est looking for something to watch.
Now I love the IIconics, and I know the corny/cringe worthy promos are part of their gimmick…but can we stop? The crowd didn’t react to anything and came off forced and trying waaaay too hard, like Mauro Ranallo’s pop culture references. Billie got made a fool of in this match, and then the promo the IIconics had in the back was much better than their walking down the ramp crap. Do more of the backstage dynamic and less of the really bad comedy.
Most people might right off this second Triple Threat, but hey, this was the better pro wrestling match. We saw an easy to follow storyline for people who have watched somewhat recently, we saw progression when Baron took cheap shots on McIntyre and Miz was a wonderful babyface in peril. I really enjoyed everything about this, including Corbin taking advantage of McIntyre laying out Miz with the Claymore, dumping Drew to the outside and stealing the pinfall. Great story telling.
Sami Sami Sami. I have to admit, I like this concept of running down the IWC and it seems like he genuinely enjoys cutting the promos, or his a great actor. I’m still not 100% on board with this, since it can fall apart at any moment given WWE’s track record. But for now, it’s fun, it’s smarmy and I like it.
Ahh now here we get a paradox. Both Cesaro and Cedric are making their official post Shakeup returns/debuts, so someone has to lose. This was a nice match in the regard that it proved Cedric can go toe to toe with someone the pedigree of Cesaro. Cedric will need time adjusting to the size difference since he was one of the bigger Cruiserweights, now he’s a little below average. As long as this is an actual building block and not just a throw away match, this could go somewhere for Cedric. OH! Cesaro picked up the win! Weird…right?
Usos backstage, Jey takes a small jab at Jimmy and then start going through the tag team roster. The Revival show up to try and check the Uce Troop, but the brothers pretend to fall asleep and just clown The Revival. It was good stuff and that should be a great match whenever it happens.
Oh God no! Lucha House Party against the Viking Exp…wait…Viking Raiders? So will Asuka and Kairi be known as the Steeler Buccaneers? Anyway, we all know my rule, if the Lucha House Party are on I drop the show score a half point. Oh-WAIT! The Vikings destroy all three, the match doesn’t begin and they just beat the hell out of the Mexican Masked Geeks? I retract my statement about dropping a half point. Hell this might raise it. Though I’m not a fan of Thor’s Hammer being renamed The Viking Experience, but I guess Vince just wanted it in there somewhere.
Lacey is wonderful. I love the character, I love her look…just…ahh. Okay that’s bad English, especially when written out, but did you expect me to talk about the match? At this point I’m not sure if Alicia is a bad wrestler or if she’s just told to go be a spazz on purpose. However Lacey getting in two Woman’s Rights, was nice. Again…Lacey Evans.
Ricochet fights his dad! Erm, I mean Robert Roode. I really do like him going back to the full name. It sounds more like an adult since, what 40 year old man is known as Bobby? The match was okay, but honestly you have a theme song with a porn stache facing a superball with no personality. So…don’t expect anyone to care, but Robert gets a win!
It’s been a pretty okay show so far, but since Corbin closes out the show, it’s gonna end with a wet fart right?
WAIT- FIREFLY FUN HOUSE?
This is…pure genius! I loved every second of this demented dark comedic children’s show. I want Bo Dallas to show up as a Mailman or Curtis Axel as a Cowboy (Cowboy Curtis reference). I literally can’t stop snickering from how random, but beautiful this vignette was. Just…I think a tear is coming to my eye.
MORE STORYTELLING IN THE RING!! YAY! Styles tweaked something in his Triple Threat and it effects how he throws his offense. Corbin tries to take every advantage possible, but Styles’ resolve is proving troublesome. Styles tries for a Styles Clash, but can’t do it, Corbin looks like he’s going to win, but AJ Styles is Phenomenal after all. Fights through everything and hits the Forearm for the surprise pinfall. I say surprise mainly because it’s a pretty big angle, fairly quick. But with MITB and then Saudi Arabia, Styles could always be slated for both of them. That carries immensely more star power than anything involving Corbin.
Overall Score: 8/10
Great show! Extra points for Lucha House Party destruction, Firefly Fun House being fantastic, not knowing if Alicia Fox does that on purpose and…Corbin, being involved in the best story matches of the night.
The show started off questionably, but yeah I can’t be mad. I was entertained for most of the show and even the down points were partially expected, so it didn’t leave the lingering taste of disappointment in my mouth. It’s gonna be hard for SmackDown to top Raw!
What did I just say? I blame Bray.
SmackDown Live Ratings:
- Andrade vs Finn Balor: Balor wins via Coup de Grace – *** ¼
- Kairi Sane vs Peyton Royce: Kairi wins via Insane Elbow – N/A
- Charlotte Flair vs Bayley: Flair wins via Spear – ** ½
- Kofi Kingston vs Shinsuke Nakamura: Kofi wins via DQ – ** ¾
Shane opens up the show to address Reigns and the actions against Vince last week. He takes the obviously hypocritical stance of “who puts hands on someone’s father”, and it gets a decent reaction of boos from the crowd. Roman comes out to a good pop, confronts Shane, doesn’t speak and just throws the mic down. THIS is the Roman most people love. No talking, just ass beatings.
To Shane’s credit, he squares up, but Elias blind sides Roman and the two on one begins. Elias coming out of two weeks where he was in the same segments with John Cena and The Undertaker, now he’s chosen by Vince and positioned with Roman and Shane…this is all great for Elias. I don’t exactly know where the whole thing plays out to, but starting with a Money in the Bank match, Elias could have a bit of a rocket.
Big O, Xavier and Kofi in the back, have an entertaining mini-interview. This is a very fun grouping.
So WWE validates Andrade and Zelina coming back to SmackDown Live with the fact that Finn ran after he lost to Andrade. So Andrade wasn’t going to let him off the hook. I don’t hate it, it makes enough sense. And much like last week, the match is good, but the problem is they already had Zelina cost Andrade this match. I’m not sure why they would do that unless they’re moving towards breaking them up soon. Andrade is talking more, but he still very definitely needs a manager. Maybe they will position the couples together, that could be the direction. But Zelina and Andrade are so good as a duo, I’d like to see them accomplish something on main roster before splitting apart.
So Paige’s ex-stablemates are jealous of her new friends. So even though Kairi got a very one sided win over Peyton, we may be seeing Fire & Desire face the Pirates of Tomorrow. Could be a fun first feud for Asuka and Kairi to work on some team synergy. Plus Fire & Desire have issues with Asuka as well as Paige, so it all makes enough sense.
Aleister Black saying nothing. But he said it ominously. The last person to speak hollow words now has a Fun House. Just…be mindful.
Jinder Mahal is moved to SmackDown! Chad Gable comes down for a match, but Lar Sullivan wipes him out, goes after Jinder, but plays Fling the Singh instead! Surprisingly, R-Truth’s music hits and he tries to stand up to Lars, but Lars eats him for lunch. I still don’t care, but they’re trying.
Charlotte starts complaining even though she knew the rules to the previous Winner Take All match. Becky says she wants new challengers and puts over a few women in the back. Bayley comes out to much better reception than last week. She thanks Becky for noticing her, and then when Charlotte tries to dismiss her, Bayley snaps back and shows some attitude.
This match was like a lot of Charlotte’s matches, sloppy at different points. Also, Bayley needs to stop the attempted sliding kick through the bottom turnbuckle. It looks awful. Leave those moves to Sami Zayn. Charlotte misses a Moonsault and falls on Bayley, and it’s just weird. I get they haven’t locked up in a while, but there were numerous moments this was a little rough. Sadly, Charlotte wins even though no one wants it. But it could be for the same reason that AJ won on Raw. Saudi Arabia could be driving a few stop gap angles before we get back to normal PPV pacing.
FIREFLY FUN HOUSE!
Dammit, it’s a rerun. Still made me snicker, and I like the fact they’re capitalizing on the viral aspect by showing anyone who may just watch SmackDown or somehow missed it Monday and on the entire internet.
Kofi and Nakamura, I wait with baited breath that we see a small glimmer of 2015 Nakamura and not the last couple years. Honestly, Shinsuke did seem a little more like his old self. Stiff kicks, animated head games, big brothering Kofi with some antagonistic kicks, all classic Shinsuke. Rusev interferes for the DQ, but that’s not the catch!
Kevin and Xavier were on the pancake desk doing alternate commentary, and they were actually pretty good together. But after only 1 week Big O turned into the Big Uh-Oh. Owens turns on Kofi, beats him down a beat and lays his claim to the being the next contender.
We all knew babyface Kevin Owens had a short shelf life. Right?
Overall Score: 7.5/10
Really good show! Very consistent show. Nothing was painfully offensive, but there were no really big highs like on Raw. Plus the fact that Firefly Fun House was a rerun, I have to rank this lower than Raw just because we literally saw a segment yesterday.
Main roster shows pulled off some good stuff. Yes, since we’re all jaded and cynical, I’m fully aware this could all tail spin and explode in no time flat. But for now, I’m taking what’s presented at face value, and it’s all solid entertainment and pretty decent in-ring work too boot.
Good job WWE!
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