Is it fair to say I was underwhelmed by Tuesday’s SmackDown Live show from Orlando? After being on hand to watch Ronda Rousey in her WWE singles debut and feeling the energy from the soldout crowd in Jacksonville from Momday Night Raw, I came home Tuesday night hoping to be overcome with excitement as the second to last show for the blue team before SummerSlam should have made a statement.
It did not. And because of it, I changed my format a bit for this week. We are allowed to do that from time to time, to show creativity and keep things fresh.
While Randy Orton continues to give fans his best performance of his career, blaming them for the lack of respect he has been shown over his career, how he fits in the United States Title match between Shinsuke Nakamura and Jeff Hardy is yet to be determined. It is difficult following to storylines when the title match takes a backseat to the new package WWE has created for “The Viper.”
Personally, I never knew the third-generation superstar could be this entertaining. In years past, he has been stiff, uncomfortable on the microphone and somewhat robotic. The “Apex Predator” has finally become a complete performer.
I have to admit I am beginning to like the new Randy Orton. From “Legend Killer” to “Legend” or whatever you want to call him, he has been at his best while he has been at his worst. Orton opened SmackDown Live with plenty to say and one statement to make. He would erase any opponent put in front of him.
This is the best Orton we have seen, and the most vocal. He said his actions are because of a lack of respect he has received over the years from the locker room and the fans. While he is not part of the United States Title match between Jeff Hardy and Shinsuke Nakamura, the 13-time world champion figures to be a part of the result.
WWE has rebranded a veteran who figures to be part of the main event shortly. Orton prefers to play the role of the heel and has been rumored to have politic for the change.
Here are a few other thoughts from Tuesday night
Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch are Headed for Splitsville
This, my friends, is what we call tension. We all know where this is headed – the infamous storyline of friends becoming foes. Somehow, I believe the IIconics want to be the Bella Twins. The fans did not like the monologue prior to the match. The match wasn’t great. Flair got the win, which thrilled Lynch.
Sense the sarcasm?
After the match, you could see the transformation happening, the fiery redhead turning into a jealous and angry heel. It’s only a matter of time. Less than two weeks and counting. The problem is, in order to do this properly, Flair must beat Lynch for the strap while Carmella falls in line with the story.
The idea of Lynch turning heel does have its appeal, especially if it leads to a confrontation with Asuka for the title by the end of the year.
The Miz’s Major Announcement
It is on! The Miz announced he and Daniel Bryan will meet at SummerSlam. It could be the match of the year. Hopefully, WWE will continue to build the momentum of this battle.
Byron Saxton interviews The Miz…
Once again, The Miz kicks it out of the part. His over-the-top personality is perfect for this wrestling climate. And then, Bryan appears and attacks his rival. It’s building to be … wait for it… AWESOME!
WWE has slow played this match since “Talking Smack” and the confrontation heard around the wrestling world. This match must meet everyone’s expectations – including mine. I am already thinking “Match of the Year” and “Feud of the Year”.
Please do not disappoint me, boys.
AJ Styles Speaks
It was the current WWE Champion’s chance to rebuke the comments made by Samoa Joe one week ago. This was a fairly bad promo as Styles is a better performer than he is a talker. Still, the message is clear – this could be one of the best matches of the night in Brooklyn.
“You made it personal when you talked about my family,” Styles said. “I want to be one of the greatest WWE superstars for my family.”
Styles and Joe go back to the independent circuit. While his delivery wasn’t as direct as his opponent, Styles made his claim to keep the WWE Title. I hope WWE does the right thing and puts the strap on Joe’s waist for a while. Let Styles chase him for the belt, and eventually make him a three-time world champion.
Zelina Vega vs. Lana – The Rematch
I still want to see more of Andrade “Cien” Almas and Rusev, but this will do – if f0r nothing else than the hot factor. The only problem is I hate the program. It takes away from Almas getting a much-deserved push.
Both women have been impressive in recent weeks. But the Aiden Engish angle takes away from a pretty good storyline. Can we already get past the apologies and have the two former friends get in the ring?
And if that is the case, where does Almas fir in all of this? I thought WWE was high on him and ready to push him toward the main event? That’s two straight weeks has not been in-ring action.
The New Day Beat The Bar
The best match of the night produces the wrong winner, in my opinion. The Bar – Sheamus and Cesaro – showed no signs of rust and continue to impress with their strength and size.
The New Day is still one of the best tag teams to ever wrestle in WWE. Maybe it is fatigue, but I would love to see someone else go over and face the Bludgeon Brothers. When you have a tag team so big and so dominant as Harper and Rowan, you must have an equally impressive opponent. The David vs. Goliath theme does not work here.
So SummerSlam will pit the baddest tag time in wrestling since the Wild Samoans against cartoonish act we are tired of.
Some hold the popcorn. This might be a bathroom break for me.
Becky, Ronda, or Charlotte: Who Should Win?
Ok, we assume the match. But who wins?
There’s a historic women’s main event coming to WrestleMania, and it’s time to start considering who comes out on top.
We’re now one week closer to WrestleMania, and while we’re still not officially in the know about who’s going to be in the big match I think it’s a pretty safe bet that we’re going to end up with a triple threat between Becky Lynch, Ronda Rousey, and Charlotte Flair. So the real question is: who wins? Is there a case for anyone other than Becky winning or is it Becky or Bust? I thought I’d take a look at it now.
Why: It’s the easy, feel good, no brainer call. There hasn’t been a feel good ending since WrestleMania 30 (32 was supposed to be one, but the whining crybabies in the crowd couldn’t stand to see the Prince of Darkness Roman Reigns win in the main event ruined that one). Becky winning won’t piss many people off in the building and would make a lot of people happy. After last year’s frustrating finish and the sad one from a year earlier, just do the simple thing and don’t try to get too clever or outsmart yourself, Vince.
Why Not: What comes next? Becky chasing the champion > Becky as champion, we’ve already seen that. Assuming Ronda takes a break after WrestleMania, then unless Charlotte comes to RAW with her then she’s going to be in the position of having to work as champion against a roster of opponents that either don’t appear to be on her level or could outshine her in a one on one setting, and that could make things difficult after the post-Mania glow starts to fade (I talked about this more here). Us as fans don’t have to worry about that but when you’re booking things, you do. Her character is going to hit a crossroads soon after and if they feel that the long term investment with her at the top will not pay off then taking the hit now and moving forward may be what they want to do.
Why: First up if she is going to take a break right afterwards then there is no why. She’s gotta drop the tile. But if she isn’t then you gotta look at the headlines. The biggest mainstream coverage afterwards would come with her winning. ‘MMA Champion conquers WWE at WrestleMania’ will get a lot more play then anything about her losing. To the casual observers, people who don’t watch at all, or people who only pay attention on a surface level she’s the name that draws the attention and there’s more momentum to be gained with them by still having her on top than taking a loss. For them, once she loses the story is over and it’s time to find something else to do so better to have something to keep their attention. As well as the women have performed the driving force behind the interest in their side has been Ronda being there and you want to keep that going as long as you can.
Why not: Your hardcore audience has talked themselves into believing that Ronda losing is a foregone conclusion. If it doesn’t happen a lot of them are going to be pissed. That’s pretty much it. If she’s not taking a break then it’s perfectly logical for her to win and keep the title.
Why not: I’m flipping things around here on purpose. Charlotte winning neither pays off the heroes journey story Becky is on or maximizes media coverage like Ronda winning could. To the people who have fallen hard for Becky, this would literally be the evil prevailing and would feed the narrative of Vince giving Charlotte everything because of her last name (and that is beyond tired by the way). It would be a crushing blow and might make some of them want to quit entirely. The only people who would be happy are the Charlotte fans like myself, and there would be a deluge of dirty diaper podcasts going on and on about the old man losing it again. Wrestling twitter would be ablaze about it, too. And in a world where a lot of fans take out their anger with a finish not by booing the heel but ranting about Vince, it really may not be worth the headache no matter what you planned.
Why: She’s the safest bet long term. Ronda is not going to be around 10 more years and there’s no real certainty to how long Becky’s run can maintain it’s momentum win or lose. Charlotte may never be as popular with hardcore fans as Becky is now but she is the best performer on the Women’s side and projects greatness in a way that is always going to draw attention and make her matches feel like a big deal. We know that she can perform at a high and compelling level as champion, which matters. And we’ve seen she can maintain some level of interest even without the full weight of the machine behind her like Becky is getting now. In two years Ronda may be gone for good and Becky cooled off, but Charlotte will probably be where she is now. If they think that taking this heel thing up a notch and really riding with it is the way to go then they may want to go with it now instead of waiting a few months to put a title back on her anyway. Also, the backlash may not be as big as wrestling twitter would have you believe. If the plan was always for her to win, and they have a map going forward with it after the show then my own fan bias notwithstanding I think they should stick with the plan.
So what’s the Final Verdict?
Man, I don’t know. On the one hand there is the emotional payoff with Becky and then on the other hand there are what may be the better structural decisions with either long term with Charlotte or short term with Ronda. My preference as a fan is for Charlotte, my gut says just give the loudest voices what they want with Becky, and what little business acumen I have says go with Ronda assuming she’s not going for a break. Decisions, decisions…….
Aw screw it. Ronda’s going on a break, Charlotte’s the best woman on the roster, she’s been having kick ass matches for the past year, she’s put Becky over a million times and has been as much a part of her rise as Becky herself. It’s about time excellence got properly rewarded and pushed like it should be. Enough with the damn underdogs, you don’t really like them as much as you think anyway. Give her the dam victory, she’s earned it. Suck it, haters.
And next year, we do the same for the Big Dog!!
Comics & Wrestling: More In Common Than You Thought?
Do comics and wrestling have more in common than we think?
Guest column from Chad Aaron shows the relation between comics and wrestling–even more than you think?
I was in a waiting room not too long ago and happened to be wearing a wrestling t-shirt, featuring The Shield. An older woman asked me if those were comic book characters on my shirt, and not being in the mood for a discussion at the time, I simply told her yes. As I sat and waited. I started thinking about it. Wrestlers are very much like live-action comic book characters. There is a lot of crossover between the respective fanbases. Here are some examples.
NOTE: The following are generalizations. I’m not a comic book reader, so coming at me with “Well, so-and-so does/doesn’t do this thing you said” misses the entire point of this discussion.
Wrestlers Have A Superpower: Their Finisher
Comic book heroes and villains generally have a defined superpower, some multiple ones. Most wrestles have a finishing move, something they do better than anyone else. Top stars may have more than one. Superman can fly and has x-ray vision. The Undertaker is known for the Tombstone & Last Ride, among others.
Most Wrestlers Have An Alter Ego: Them In Real Life
Most wrestlers use a different name than they have in real life. Same thing in the comic book universe(s) And then they will change names as situations and stories evolve. Dick Grayson was Robin, then Nightwing. Steve Austin was Stunning before he was Stone Cold, and his given last name is actually Williams.
Wrestlers, Like Superheroes, Have A Backstory
Most superheroes and villains have a detailed backstory that makes them who they are. Most wrestlers who stay with a company for any significant length of time will have their own collection of stories, this team, that heel/face turn, this title chase, etc…
Superheroes And Wrestlers Both Tend To Form Groups
There are alliances and groups formed for varying reasons. The nWo, DX, Four Horsemen, even The New Day. Comics have X-Men, Avengers, Justice League, Suicide Squad, among many others.
Hero/Villian Alignment Changes
You will see wrestlers turn heel/face, and heroes who become villains. This happens more often in Wrestling but is not unheard of in comic books.
Storylines Involve Real Life Situations
Storylines go beyond fighting crimes and/or fighting in the ring. Both deal with relationships, love, broken trust, enemies-becoming-allies, you name it. Family dynamics make up a significant portion of stories in each universe.
Someone Real Is Putting This On
Comic books will have a variety of writers and artists handling them, each with their own take and spin on the character. Wrestling has a never-ending series of bookers and creative teams and match agents and producers, all of whom have varying ideas what a wrestler will do or say.
Both Have Large Companies And Independents
Comics are dominated by a couple of large companies and a myriad of smaller ones. Wrestling has had a similar dynamic since the mid-80’s. In both realms, the various companies often have similar characters and occasionally, ones with the same names.
Comics And Wrestling Each Have The Most Passionate Fanbase
And the fanbases of each are very, very passionate. When a wrestler does something out of character, the reaction is swift and immediate. When a movie strays from the comic cannon, the reaction is equally heated.
Of course, there have been a few examples of crossover between the two. Stephen Amell, the actor behind the Green Arrow, has wrestled a number of matches with several companies, including a WWE Pay-per-view. Rey Mysterio Jr. and Finn Balor (as Prince Devitt) have been known to incorporate superhero designs into their wrestling attire.