Greg DeMarco is back to take a look potential changes in WWE television for 2019! Will we see more of a UFC style, a return to Crash TV…or both?
I was recently chatting with Andrew Balaz, and the word “interesting” seems to describe the outlook for 2019, with changes afoot for nearly every major wrestling promotion. One of the overlooked stories headed into 2019 is the move of WWE Smackdown to FOX–possibly because it doesn’t happen until October.
Well the last two weeks of television for WWE have been interesting to say the least. WWE attempted to establish the fans at “The Authority” but in reality it was more of the same–a return to the McMahons all over our television screens. In my opinion, advertising a “shake up” with the return of Vince McMahon was a mistake. Simply advertising his appearance would have been enough, setting the table for a shift only had fans setting too high of an expectation. It was really setting themselves up to fail.
After the recent two weeks of Raw, Rip Rogers (fantastic follow on Twitter, by the way), shared his opinion of how the product could be better:
With Raw having its all time worst rating what do u think about more competitive matches with upsets , surprises, the announcers actually calling the matches instead of plugging other shows gimmicks etc ? Varying the format starting with a match in progress & have standby match?
— Rip Rogers (@Hustler2754) December 28, 2018
As much as I respect Rip, I can’t help but disagree. The formula he’s referring to was replaced over 20 years ago because it wasn’t working back then. What replaced it? Crash TV. and Crash TV changed the wrestling business, winning the Monday Night Wars for WWE and shifting how we watch wrestling on a weekly basis.
Raw and Smackdown this week seemed to invite a little more of that old element into their style, and after two weeks it was paying dividends. Many will tell you that the drop in ratings is damning to the product, but the last Christmas Eve Raw was in 2012, and the way we watch television is very different than it was 6 years ago. You simply can’t make a good comparison between the two ratings numbers.
Critically, Raw and Smackdown were better received during the holiday week, with fans enjoying the in-ring product along with the backstage elements that were unexpected and welcomed (such as Santa Vince announcing the coming Women’s Tag Team Championships and non-Santa Vince seemingly challenging AJ Styles to embrace the hate). To me, I saw more of Crash TV in this week’s product than in recent years, and it’s working.
On the flip side, you have WWE Smackdown headed to FOX, and many expect the product to be more athletic and competitive in nature. That makes sense, given the history FOX has with UFC, a deal that changed the fortunes of the world’s largest MMA organization for good.
Fans want a different product, and one thing Rip Rogers has right is that you can infuse some of what worked in the past into today’s offerings. I wouldn’t infuse what he’s saying, but I would borrow from wrestling’s most successful era. A fast moving product that reminds you that “anything can happen” will keep viewers tuned in, and keep people talking.
With an influx of Crash TV, and a move for Smackdown to FOX, I think we could see two very distinct shows by the end of 2019. Raw’s Crash TV vs. Smackdown’s UFC style (focused on building match-ups and athletes) could offer fans with a reason to focus on both shows, and enjoy the differences.
(Note: A return to Crash TV is not a push for an Attitude Era style program. That ship has sailed, but the manner in which the Attitude Era was presented–Crash TV–can have value today.)
We may be having a very different conversation at the end of 2019, comparison the very different styles of Raw and Smackdown for WWE. I hope we do, because it’ll be evidence of a necessary shift for WWE, one I personally would enjoy.
Good Reads On The Chairshot
- RAW IS TAPED this week, and Eric has your results from Detroit
- Mathew continues his look at the the best matches of 2018
- Cook brings you his 5 favorite Moments of 2018
- Carol tells you why 2018 was the Year Of The Heels
We had a great planning meeting for 2019 on Thursday night, and I am excited for the goals The Chairshot has for the coming 12 months. At the end of the day, it’s all about you–the reader–and we want to give you the best experience possible. As always, hit me up with any feedback or ideas you may have!
One of my goals? 250 editions of The Daily DeMarco in 2019. That’s right around 5 per week, and will include my ROH coverage as well as my weekly NXT ratings. Let’s have some fun this year!
Daily DeMarco: NXT & NXT UK Takeover: Blackpool Ratings & Review
Greg DeMarco is here with his match ratings for the UK’s first Takeover, WWE NXT UK Takeover: Blackpool!
The WWE’s NXT UK brand presented their first ever Takeover on Saturday, from the place it all started, The Empress Ballroom in Blackpool. The
- Zack Gibson & James Drake defeated Mustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) in 23:43 to become the inaugural NXT UK Tag Team Champions – ****3/4
This match was fantastic. I can’t speak enough to it. It built to the third act, which delivered in a big way. All four men had their strengths highlighted, and their weaknesses used against them. Zack Gibson and Trent Seven did an amazing job directing traffic, and all four sold like champs in this match.
I noticed one thing that sets this match apart. The tag team offense came as a result of communication. It wasn’t automatic. This felt real, and is the type of thing that could reinvent tag team wrestling again for WWE. Kudos to everyone involved.
- Finn Balor pinned Jordan Devlin in 11:51 with the Coup De Grace – ***1/2
The rating here is for the entire story, including Travis Banks’ pre-match attack on Jordan Devlin that led him being helped to the back, and Finn Balor being introduced as “Plan B.”
Balor and Devlin put on a storytelling classic, with Balor taking the early advantage, and Devlin being at his cheating best to steal that advantage back. The match itself was “shorter” than you’d expect, but Balor is a former Universal Champion and is poised for a big 2019. Devlin still looked great in the loss, and this could be a thread in NXT UK over the next year.
By the way, Devlin’s Yanking Backdrop Driver is amazing.
- Eddie Dennis beat Dave Mastiff in a No Disqualification Match at 10:48 – **1/2
The shortest match on the card, and it only took a few minutes for the stairs to end up in the ring, a Kendo Stick to be wielded, and the mats to be removed from the floor. Maybe it’s the over-used stipulation, but I didn’t love it. It wasn’t offensive, but compared to other matches of this style we’ve seen over the past year, this one fell short.
- Toni Storm pinned Rhea Ripley to win the NXT UK Women’s Championship in 14:48 – ***
A good match, yes. But it was lacking in some areas, sloppy in others, and slow still in others. That showed in the crowd, too, as they were lowest for this match (unless people were kicking out of finishers). Even the applause seemed to be more polite than passionate.
They still popped huge for the finish, as Toni Storm is one of the most likable people around. Not in the business, but in the entire world. I also think the right person won, on this night, but Rhea Ripley (who was possibly champion due to injuries to others) has the potential to be a legendary WWE performer.
- Pete Dunne forced Joe Coffey to submit to retain the WWE United Kingdom Championship in 34:13 – ***1/2
Joe Coffey has always looked like an ultra-talented Jim Neidhart, but damn is he good. I kinda wish he won this match, because he would make one hell of a heel champion. Sadly, it’s Pete Dunne’s time in NXT UK.
This match was decidedly equal. Coffey looked like a star, and the two botches actually worked for this match. Dunne won via submission, which he’s done a few times recently. After the finish we saw the NXT UK debut of WALTER, and I half worry that he’ll be given the championship right away. Not that he won’t make a great champion, but I’d like to see more of a build.
Overall this was a great first Takeover outing for NXT UK. It wasn’t perfect, but it set the table for this great brand. I think it’s my favorite brand at the moment, and I can’t wait for what they do next.
Daily DeMarco: Could Finn Balor Win The Royal Rumble?
After campaigning for Aleister Black to win the 2019 WWE Royal Rumble, Greg DeMarco is now wondering out loud about Finn Balor and his chances in the big match.
After a day of backend issues for the site, I am excited to focus on bringing the written word to you, the readers! IT’s frustrating when the only thing that won’t work is the button to add a new article! We got it fixed, and have a great slate of content coming out.
So let’s focus on what’s good, and that’s
Could Finn Balor win the Royal Rumble?
We are just a few short weeks away from the 2019 Royal Rumble, where two people will punch their ticket to the theoretical main event of WrestleMania. Now I fully expect Charlotte Flair to win the Women’s Rumble, and stake her claim at a shot at Ronda Rousey at MetLife Stadium, possibly closing out the yearly spectacle. It’s what I believe will happen, it’s what I want to happen, and it’s what I think should happen.
So what about the Men’s Royal Rumble? As 2018 comes to a close, WWE hasn’t positioned any front runners to challenge for Daniel Bryan’s WWE Championship or Brock Lesnar’s Universal Championship at WrestleMania 35. Without any obvious challengers, the Royal rumble match itself is wide open.
I previously suggested WWE should go with a surprise winner in Aleister Black. I stand by it, as the company would be provided 2.5 months to build Black as the challenger for either Daniel Bryan or Brock Lesnar, and a win would solidify him on the main roster for years to come. But if it’s not Black, then who?
There is a good list of potential Royal Rumble winners, many of whom I can go into further detail about in the coming weeks:
- Seth Rollins
- Drew McIntyre
- AJ Styles
Another candidate? Finn Balor.
And in my opinion, Finn Balor is the most intriguing option here. He was the first ever Universal Champion, which gives him a built in storyline against Brock Lesnar. For me, that raises the obvious question of if Finn Balor is credible against Brock Lesnar.
The answer is equally obvious: of course he is.
This has nothing to do with Finn being the first ever Universal Champion, as a champion like Brock Lesnar transcends wins and losses. Brock is a beast–a Beast Incarnate in fact. But Finn Balor has the equalizer: The Demon.
The Demon has never lost in WWE, but it’s also never faced a foe quite like Brock Lesnar. It wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility for Lesnar to get the first win over Finn Balor’s Demon, but I don’t think that happens. WWE loves creating history, and keeping The Demon undefeated can play into the history of Finn Balor.
If The Demon is to beat The Beast at WrestleMania, is it The Demon that wins the Royal Rumble? If I’m holding the book, the answer is yes. Imagine this… The Demon enters the Royal Rumble at #1, lasting all the way to the end. Maybe he enters the final two with John Cena, who is of course seeking one more championship reign to break his tie with Ric Flair. Balor overcomes the legend, building his own in the process.
But that does more than elevate Finn Balor. Going through nearly 60-minutes of a Royal Rumble would wear away most if not all of The Demon paint, nearly humanizing The Demon and creating a greater link between Finn and his alter ego. It also adds a new element to the power of the paint, and the power of the man himself.
As WWE looks to (at least claims to) usher in a new era, Finn Balor is a great option to lead the charge. He has everything you want–look, charisma, skill. He has the all-important “it factor,” which you can’t instill in someone. Either they have it, or they don’t.
The title of this article asks if Finn Balor can win the Royal Rumble. For me, it’s really between AJ Styles and Finn Balor as my pick for the Royal Rumble. Finn Balor presents the greatest upside, and gains the most. Thus, the answer to the question…is yes.