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WWE’s Latest Bailout

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Bailout

Vince’s crew will be doing an old school loop in Florida through at least next Monday. One need only look at this year’s insane first half travel schedule for justification of this territorial time warp. Last night’s SmackDown Live was in Graham’s flagship city of Tampa. Readers who may know my style by now might think I would give a thumbnail of The Golden Goose of the modern art form. Since said Goose only crossed into one territory South of The Mason-Dixon Line just long enough to blink; and he was a better technical wrestler in The Rising Sun the he ever was in the US, those sheep would be wrong. Goose only needs Vince’s cash and your adoration because he made bad decisions and couldn’t keep his mouth shut. Wish we all had the McMahon wallet as a fallback plan once we got to our sixth decade.

Most fans tend to think Tuesday Night houses the more consistent show for both performance and storylines. Outside of one glaring mistake that makes a regular appearance because she is holding Championship Gold there is not much one can use to counter this argument. In my opinion, it starts with Paige. Even though she is scripted like all performers, her authenticity in wanting a good product comes across thanks to her experience in the industry. She knows how the art form is supposed to be portrayed; and does a much better job with this than Kurt Angle.

When something screwy happens on SmackDown Live, it doesn’t take a month to resolve. Attempts are made to advance issues quickly. Sometimes, within the same show. Want proof? This week’s episode was recess heavy. Outcomes aside, this is never a bad thing. Ladies bookended festivities, starting with Renee Young conducting an in-ring interview with Becky Lynch. The Lass Kicker has been excessively hot recently, including a clean tap out win over Charlotte. The redhead reinforced her long road back to challenging for and winning SmackDown Women’s Gold.

Full disclosure here. The Aliens sent me home last month, so I could see The Blue Brand in person. Staying in character, I walked my mechanical ass out of one televised match in Omaha. Yes Carmella; I would rather risk falling down a flight of stairs with heavy equipment on my back in the dark, than watch you be a fake champion in a work. Blondie Circus, there’s your heat! Listening to her is impossible. I can’t tell you a word she said in the ring. All I know is Ellsworth has a Titantron, and Becky got jumped by someone who can’t wrestle. This prompted a returning Charlotte to run in and save her best friend. What was she returning from again? Never mind that Second Nature did An Exploder Suplex in some serious heels. That’s hard enough in wrestling boots!

Just because a result moves a storyline along does not mean it was a good thought. Case and point: in the first hour, Carmella went looking for The Sexy Goth Chick to remedy the fact she had been punked. In the process, she may have wormed her way out of losing Gold at SummerSlam. The Belt Holder was heeling up on Paige, reminding her that she will never be champion again. All the promos were extremely personal and vicious. Creative was in rare form last night. More on that later. Back to Carmella. Our GM wasn’t gonna be insulted. She set up the main event with a stipulation that virtually guarantees Carmella will escape SummerSlam with Gold.

Quick, anyone remember the last time a champion lost two straight matches clean on TV and kept the strap? I know bookers and insiders think of titles as props, but must they slap us in the face so obviously? I hate Triple-Threat Matches, and Vince is beating me over the head with one. Why even have it? We know who’s walking out of there. We can see it weeks out. Why? Because the champion lost ANOTHER match where her challenger had fake rust in order to win a “coin flip.” HERE’S AN IDEA! Becky already beat Charlotte. GIVE HER THE SINGLES MATCH!

I am an unabashed Super Mark for the ladies art form, but what the Hell was Stamford’s other offering last night. The storyline surrounding it was understandable if not unnecessary right now. Not the first time. Won’t be the last. Why is WWE breaking up Rusev Day when fans LIKE THEM? If anyone has an answer other than: “Because Vince wants to,” I can walk! As strange as it is, at least marks can see that WTF moment coming. As for the Lana/Zelina Vega match we saw? I’ve got nothin’ for anybody except: Cover your ears. What the f*** was THAT? I have been watching various incarnations of the art form for over 30 years. That may have been the strangest worked match I have ever seen. Ms. Vega, Lana is a virtual rookie. You are not. If I’m not mistaken, you have years of professional experience around the globe. The Ravishing Russian does not.

I am a rarity for a Super Mark. I hear NXT rumors and respect opinions of those who know the product. However, I take pride in not watching talent before they come up to the main roster. Vega was no different. She had a great reputation as Almas’ mouthpiece. I wanted to see what she could do in the ring. The answer I got last night was stunning. She can do nothing?? Vega went over, and I couldn’t care less. Let me get this straight? She gets in the ring, and Creative tells her to FLAT OUT COPY her dude? Excuse me? Here’s the thing; not only did it look very weird, but she couldn’t do it without Lana running circles around her professionally. I didn’t stutter.

Lana should have won the match. She was kicking her ass and handing her most of her offense. Zelina, if you are going to do nothing yourself other than talk, stay out of the ring. Maybe the Puerto Rican art form is just perpetually f***ed up?

Unfortunately, the gentlemen were the only representation left. There was just one additional contest Tuesday. The semi-finals of a tag tournament to determine The Bludgeon Brothers’ opponents for Gold at SummerSlam. Participants: The Usos and The Bar, who have recently returned to television after completing other obligations for the company. The standard WWE formula of “returning performers win” held up here. The trick is to help sheep suspend disbelief long enough to think it won’t. Mission accomplished, fabulous match.

This was a very strange episode. I can’t remember the last time I closed a piece breaking down promos. They were all great. First, Jeff Hardy called out Randy Orton. The Charismatic Enigma was pissed after a torturous attack last week. He’s still gonna be pissed next week. When he wants to be, there is no better heel on either main roster than The Viper. Jake would be proud. Hardy mentioned his connection with the fans, and his pride when holding United States Gold. Orton came down the ramp only to swerve us with help from Shinsuke Nakamura after a brief stare down between heels. Finishers and vintage moves everywhere eventually found Hardy laid out on the announce table with Randy wiping off his customary war paint. This was fun.

Next, we have Daniel Bryan calling Mike out. Naturally, Mike showed up on The Titantron rather than in person. He was pretending to be shooting his reality show. I doubt it. Daniel was running down his in-ring skills and fake movie career. Mike countered with: “This is an old argument. Fans are sheep. Let your contract expire. I see you as nothing more than a baby.” This was glorified high school and it was great! Leading to something at SummerSlam. Though none of us are quite sure of the outcome yet, given the shoot aspect of Bryan’s contract.
Time for the best talker in the game right now. Hopefully, that’s not all Samoa Joe will be known for in Stamford. He has earned his history. We are well aware of what he can do. So is AJ Styles. This got personal in a hurry!

After praising his accomplishments and physical ability, Joe questioned Styles’ skillset and heart in terms of fatherhood. Going so far as to say that his family would be rooting for Joe to send him home after SummerSlam. What an odd, intense night. After that, I could use a shot of whiskey with a coffee chaser. Eventually, I will sober up, jump in the Cessna, and catch everyone up The Gulf Coast in Jacksonville next week.

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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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