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!
Greg DeMarco’s Three Stars Of The Night: WWE Raw (3/18/19)
Who delivered the biggest performances of the night on Raw?
Greg DeMarco brings the Three Stars of The Night back with the March 18 episode of WWE Raw from Chicago!
Raw was live from Chicago, on the Road To WrestleMania, and it seemed like the perfect night to revive the Three Stars! I mean, it’s a mega city for the company and a very important Raw. I figured the entire roster would step up in a huge way. I was wrong…
But we did get a packed WWE Raw, including Kurt Angle’s opponent being revealed as Baron Corbin, Beth Phoenix officially returning to the ring, and the heat being turned to 11 on Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins. Now, it’s Three Stars time…shall we?
The Third Star: Leo Rush
I know people find Lio Rush annoying, and it means he’s doing his job. In reality, he delivers in a big way on a weekly basis, making Bobby Lashley more relevant and usually putting in a great in-ring performance. This week was no different, especially when he was selling for Braun Strowman. Bobby Lashley also let it happen to Lio Rush, which is another way Lio delivered–letting Lashley’s character develop even further. Hate on Lio Rush if you must, but he continues to enhance Bobby Lashley’s entire act on a weekly basis.
The Second Star: Elias
Few people have a better grasp on their character than Elias (Alexa Bliss being one of them), and he’s gotten it to a point where it’s effortless. To me, that means we may see a big push coming for him after WrestleMania. In this segment he delivered a strong promo, interacted brilliantly with Alexa, got the desired reactions out of the crowd, and perfectly foreshadowed a WrestleMania interruption that very well might be John Cena. Count me in as walking with Elias.
Honorable Mention: Paul Heyman, Alexa Bliss, Ronda Rousey, and Sasha Banks
And now… a distinction usually reserved
for the top performer of the night …the first star!
The First Star: Seth Rollins
If there was any question who has taken up the mantle of leading WWE Raw, it should be answered now. Seth Rollins delivered in a big way on Raw. Last year he carried things as Intercontinental Champion, and I think he’s more than ready to be the Universal Champion. I look forward to seeing his run, with opponents like Drew McIntyre waiting in the wings after WrestleMania.
But can I put in for a Rollins vs. Batista program post-WrestleMania? Please? Nothing would make me happier than seeing Big Dave put Seth over before heading back to Hollywood.
In hockey, a game’s “Three Stars Of The Night” represent the top three performers of the night. For more clarification, I defer to this Pittsburgh Gazette explanation:
“The tradition dates to the 1936-37 season, when Imperial Oil became the principal sponsor of Hockey Night in Canada radio broadcasts and was seeking a way to promote one of its products, Three Star gasoline. The idea of doing so by selecting the top three performers in a particular game purportedly came from a Canadian advertising agency.
Many clubs do recognize the player with the most three-star selections with an award or trophy, usually in conjunction with a corporate sponsorship, at the end of the season (or sometimes, each month). All six Canadian franchises, for example, have an affiliation with a well-known brewery.
The NHL keeps track of its own Three Stars Of The Night selections, but that is done on a league-wide basis. The league employs a system that awards 30 points to a first star, 20 to a second star and 10 to a third – a running total can be found on the league’s website – but it does not present an award based on them.”
In hockey tradition, the first star represents the best of the three, but all three are considered to be receiving a high honor.
Greg DeMarco’s WWE NXT Star Ratings & Review (3/13/19 edition)
Two great matches, and three great storyline developments. That’s good TV!
Greg DeMarco takes you inside a blockbuster edition of WWE NXT as we have the semifinals of the Dusty Classic and more!
We have quite the edition of WWE NXT here, with three major matches and almost no filler! NXT sometimes finds themselves in a rush to get to Takeover, but in this case I’ll take it.
Dusty Rhodes Classic Semifinal Match: The Forgotten Sons (Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler, with Jaxson Ryker) vs. Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) – ***1/4
- Moustache Mountain have to be two of the most likable wrestlers on any WWE brand. You can legitimately imagine hanging out with them at a bar (where they will drink you under the table).
- This tournament is tailor made for The Forgotten Sons, who could be huge with a win. Granted, the same can be said for The Street Profits and Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner–all who lost in the opening round.
- Ryker putting Blake’s foot on the rope to break up a pinfall is so old school–I love it.
- Still wonder why this can’t be Blake & Murphy on the main roster.
- Led by some heel shenanigans, The Forgotten Sons win and head to the finals.
#1 Contender’s Match: Io Shirai vs. Bianca Belair – ***
- Side note: Shayna Baszler on commentary is fantastic. “One’s a nobody from Japan, and the other I’ve already beaten.”
- Shirai and Belair, along with Kairi Sane and Mia Yim, are revitalizing and basically reloading the NXT Women’s Division.
- Belair is a great example of a “fighter,” a WWE character who isn’t a face nor a heel, and it works. Shirai, of course, is a mega-babyface. I don’t need to tell you Baszler is a heel…and one of the best in the business.
- Great match was going before Baszler got involved, bringing Kairi Sane out as well. It all made sense, and I am fine with it.
Side Note: I kinda love Dominik Dijakovic trying to fight Keith Lee in a Performance Center ring. When you want to fight someone–when it’s become personal–it doesn’t matter where. Nice touch.
Dusty Rhodes Classic Semifinal Match: Black Flash (Aleister Black & Ricochet) vs. #DIY (NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano) – ****
- DIY wearing matching tights, and having a new Titan Tron video is such a great touch.
- Ciampa clutching Goldie while looking at Gargano, who “knows what he’s doing” is a level if deep subtlety that you just don’t see anymore. That’s Ole Anderson level shit.
- I do need to point out that this is typical for WWE tag teams, meeting the requirements of Patrick O’Dowd’s Vicious Cycle Of WWE Tag Team Booking.
- It wasn’t that long ago in WWE where this would have been the obvious TV main event two weeks before Takeover Phoenix.
- Ricochet looking at Aleister Black as to make sure it’s okay that he’s sitting next to him in the ring? Another great touch.
- Tommaso Ciampa applies the best chinlock in WWE today. Yes, this is a real thing. Randy Orton would be proud.
- Actually, Ciampa has stolen a good bit of his act from Randy Orton. Don’t @ me.
- Gargano gets hurt, and Ciampa has to go it alone. This, of course, is a throwback to Takeover: Chicago, when Ciampa got hurt…and we all know what happened there! (Ciampa turned on Gargano.) It’s coming.
- It took two finishers after a 2-on-1 advantage to pin the NXT Champion. That’s how it should be.
- Black Flash wins, and they’ll face The Forgotten Sons in the finals. If you know anything about WWE booking, you know this ends up. #SaveTagTeamWrestling
- The post-match developments with Gargano and Ciampa were nothing short of brilliant. I am not mad that Ciampa ended up hurt, at least in terms of the storyline. I’d give the show ending segment five stars, easy. A small detail is Ciampa tossing the NXT Championship–something he’s obsessed with–aside for it, showing that he has one obsession bigger than Goldie. Gargano’s smile when he stopped Ciampa’s turn–brilliant.
- The whole thing–brilliant.
I know we don’t get Gargano vs. Ciampa at Takeover: New York, and I am okay with that. They can revisit this down the road on the main roster. For now, I see it as a satisfying ending.
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