Many have been calling for a WWE off-season for quite some time. How does it work? Rob has some ideas.
One of the highlights of the round of interviews that Roman Reigns did this past week was his support of having some kind of off-season for the wrestlers. Now that’s something I’ve seen kicked around on Twitter for a while now, especially when we hit one of those stretches where the injuries start piling up. 2015 and 2018 ended particularly bad on the injury front, to the point of seriously affecting the following year’s WrestleManias, and 2014 got derailed pretty bad towards the end as well. So given that three of the last five years saw a lot of people go down in the closing months it definitely makes sense to consider some kind of way to not have all the top guys and gals grinding out every weekend from Friday through the following Monday (and in the case of the Smackdown roster Friday through the following Tuesday) year round.
The only problem is: how do you do it? As bad as the schedule seems now this is actually the lightest it’s ever been; they used to do three or more weeknights plus double headers on Saturdays and Sundays, with significantly worse medical care and time off for injury. There’s a real question as to how you can lighten up the schedule any more than they have.
But that’s not all. There’s also the issue of getting guys and gals to agree to take time off in the first place. Missing a month or more, even for your own good, can be the difference in you getting a title program or missing a show like Money in the Bank or TLC where you have a chance to put on a memorable performance in a signature match. And that’s just for the top people who are sure to get something upon their return. For the mid and lower card people missing a month or two means losing precious TV time to better familiarize the audience with you, which can in turn affect future pushes or angles for you.
Imagine if Becky Lynch had been scheduled off in November and December of 2018; that would have totally changed the booking of her and Charlotte’s match at Evolution (Charlotte wins the title back then for sure) and would have had her off TV entirely right when the infamous Nia Jax punch happened. More than likely that means no Rumble win and no WrestleMania main event for her. Even if she was really worn down and needed a break really badly, you think she’s gonna just accept it right when she was reaching the hottest point of her career?
So…….what to do? We have to make a couple of big concessions first. One is that the company is running all year. The networks are paying for twelve months of programming, and a lot of that time is during months where TV is otherwise dormant and they can capitalize on less competition. RAW getting 2 to 3 million viewers in the middle of July and even up against Monday Night Football is a huge win for USA network, probably more so than during WrestleMania season, because those July numbers are happening when most everyone else’s are a fraction of what they usually get. That will apply to Smackdown as well, both for the next few months on USA and especially on FOX.
Wrestling is an out of sight, out of mind form of entertainment and they will never risk going dark for three months and giving people time to get into something else. The other concession is that during WrestleMania season it’s all hands on deck. You’d have to lock someone in prison to get them to forego a run during that time and the possibility of a WrestleMania moment and bonus. I don’t care what kind of physical condition Kofi Kingston is in right now there is no way that he’d have elected to go home given what’s on deck for him.
So…..what can we contemplate here?
House Show Relief
This is the first and easiest option, I think. Right now RAW runs house shows Friday through Sunday and Smackdown does them Friday through Monday. There’s no reason why you have to run the same lineup every night the whole weekend. They have enough people to swap people in and out so that some RAW guys can get one of those three nights off and the Smackdown guys can get one or two of those four straight nights off. Like you don’t have to run The Usos vs The Bar vs New Day four nights in a row.
Whoever’s holding the titles at the time will need to work more but you can swap out either of the other two teams for someone else or no one at all. Asuka vs Charlotte four nights straight and then one or both doing TV on the fifth night doesn’t need to happen; no reason you can’t mix in a different challenger one night and have Charlotte take on one of the other women a different night. You obviously can’t give all your important people the same night off but they have enough people to mix it up some now.
Time Off Of TV
This is a bit dicier. In theory you could write one of your top people off TV at a time so they can get a break, and put them back in as soon as they return. Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, AJ Styles, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and others like them can go away for a month and pick up right where they left off with no problem. The only issue is what happens if there’s a ratings dip. We’ve seen how things went on RAW when Roman was out with no end in sight. A month away may not hurt, and would help from a personal and creative standpoint, but will have a lot of people checking out until he returns. And on a three hour show like RAW one big absence can leave a crater sized hole.
As for the mid and lower card guys and gals, well a lot of them already get de facto breaks as it is when they get stuck in catering for weeks at a time. Kinda hard to say they need time off when they get a lot of it anyway. And given that any of them could get inserted into an angle at a moment’s notice I doubt you’re going to see them be all that eager to head home for a month and miss their chance. The only thing I can think of is to give all the major players one Monday or Tuesday night off a month. If need be you can tape some stuff with them so that they can still appear on the show. But longer stints away probably aren’t ever going to become a thing.
So those are my ideas. A wrestling off-season is something that is great in theory, but is a lot more difficult to execute in a way that does not hurt your business. I’m open to any ideas or suggestions you guys might have. I think that it is doable but it’s going to take a lot of people from Vince to the wrestlers to us as fans to change how they think.
SANADA, From Breakout Performance To Breakout Year ?
Valentin brings us some thoughts of the up and coming SANADA. If you haven’t watched the match between Minoru Suzuki and SANADA, go back and do that.
Valentin brings us some thoughts of the up and coming SANADA. If you haven’t watched the match between Minoru Suzuki and SANADA, go back and do that.
You know, tournaments are always full of surprises. From upsets you never saw coming, to matches you never thought would be as good as they are. Sometimes, as the matches happen, you see some things develop which you were not expecting.
Today, I will take a look at one of these things, as March 17th saw SANADA had one of his best, and possibly most important matches in his New Japan career.
This year’s New Japan Cup has been filled with interesting turn of events and some participants, already eliminated or not, can be considered breakout stars of this tournament so far. One of them is Los Ingobernables de Japon member SANADA, who has now defeated both Hirooki Goto and Minoru Suzuki, to advance in the tournament. The first thing to note is that out of the three L.I.J members originally participating, SANADA is the only one left, and even considering who eliminated Naito and EVIL in the first round, this is quite impressive.
The biggest feat so far for SANADA, of course is his performance against Suzuki. Not only did he win, but as you possibly know, not all wins weight the same, and we are talking about a big win here. After losing to Suzuki in Sapporo, this match was SANADA’s chance to redeem himself. The match itself being built to focus on SANADA’s ability to out wrestle his opponent and endure some unbearable amount of pain. Suzuki being a master at inflicting pain, you knew this was the perfect match-up to build SANADA up. From some of the usual vicious attacks to Suzuki to an intense battle of submissions full of reversals, SANADA landed Keiji Mutoh’s trademark moonsault for the win, as he received possibly the biggest crowd support he has ever gotten, even by Koruaken Hall standards. Speaking of crowd reaction, rewatch the submission sequences and listen to the crowd chanting for SANADA. Only the top performers in New Japan will get this type of response, and, as well as winning the match and in which fashion, this is the last ingredient for a star making performance.
Of course, having such a performance under your belt isn’t enough. With New Japan’s landscape being filled with opportunities for guys to shine, things cannot just stop there. As SANADA will have to face Colt Cabana, and possibly the winner of Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Zack Sabre Jr in the semifinals, what can we expect from the Cold Skull now ?
Outside of eventually finishing as New Japan Cup’s breakout star alongside Will Ospreay, SANADA can be in for a big year, as a singles wrestler. Let’s take a quick look at L.I.J.
So far, only Tetsuya Naito has had true singles success as a heavyweight, and both EVIL and SANADA have yet to really get a grasp of it, outside of good performances in previous G1 Climax tournaments, and a quick NEVER Openweight championship run for EVIL. There is a spot to fill as the second top heavyweight behind Naito, and while Shingo Takagi adds even more complexity to the mix, as of now, why can’t SANADA reach that level ? He certainly keeps proving he has the ability, so all is needed now for him to reach it, is to keep scoring big wins. Making it to the New Japan Cup semifinals would be a big deal, but after the Suzuki match, capping things off by going to the tournament’s finals would be a huge step. Even bigger if SANADA eliminates last year’s winner in ZSJ, which he is currently tied with in singles matches. However, defeating Tanahashi would be as big of an accomplishment.
The last subject to tackle is what is next after the New Japan Cup. Ultimately, who knows, but with SANADA looking like he will be one of the wrestlers to come out of the tournament very strong, expect more singles matches outside of the G1, and possibly a championship match before that. Speaking of the G1 and championship matches, do not be shocked if SANADA ends up being a trump card in the tournament, and maybe even more. SANADA has always scored 8 points in his three participations, and while EVIL has been the one to stand out the most in the tournament the last few years, SANADA has been consistent and has managed to grab big wins, like against Tanahashi in 2016, or Ibushi and Sabre last year. With the possibility of seeing SANADA on the rise, do not be surprised if he ends up pinning one of the champions in the same block as him, and expect him to reach at least 10 points for the first time, meaning he would rank quite high in the block he is in. He could even finish the year with his first singles championship win.
Whatever happens, let me say that 2019 might be SANADA’s breakout year in New Japan, and you should look forward to it.
In times where New Japan needs to build up more wrestlers as threats for the diverse championships, SANADA seems to benefit the most from this year’s New Japan Cup, as an opportunity to climb up the ranks. Now tell me, what are your expectations concerning the man we will ultimately have to stop referring as Keiji Mutoh’s student ?
Carol: Why Brock Lesnar Will Win At WWE Wrestlemania
What if Brock wins?
Will Seth Rollins slay the beast at WWE WrestleMania, or will Brock Lesnar walk out the reigning, defending, undisputed WWE Universal Champion? Carol thinks the latter.
WrestleMania is less than three weeks away and while everyone’s attention is on Becky Lynch vs Ronda Rousey vs Charlotte Flair, there’s one title match that has slipped everyone’s mind. The Universal Championship match between Seth Rollins and Brock Lesnar is a high-profile fight that hasn’t received that much attention. The reason is due to Lesnar’s part-time schedule. Since the Royal Rumble, Lesnar has only appeared on RAW twice and that was to attack Rollins.
Rollins has done everything he can to get fans invested in the feud. He’s delivered heartfelt promos while also doing verbal spats with Paul Heyman about why Lesnar doesn’t deserve the championship. Heading into WrestleMania, Rollins is heavily favored to win and end Lesnar’s reign as champion. Fans have become frustrated with Lesnar being a part-time champion and will be cheering when he loses. However, WWE fans shouldn’t start celebrating just yet.
History Repeats Itself?
WWE is well-known to do stupid stuff and come WrestleMania, I have a feeling they’ll have Brock retain. There are a couple of reasons behind my theory. The first one has to do with the uncertainty of Brock’s future with WWE. Every year around this time, there’s reports questioning Brock’s career plans. Just as fans get excited about the prospect of Brock leaving for UFC, he inks a new deal to stay with WWE. This year, I don’t see things changing when it comes to Lesnar’s status with the company. Brock is one of Vince’s top guys and with new competition popping up; Mr. McMahon is going to do everything to keep his wrestlers from leaving. Brock’s incentives could include more money and a longer reign as Universal Champion.
Health Issues For Rollins
The other reason for Lesnar going over at WrestleMania is Seth’s health. Rollins has been having issues with his back, which has kept him off of house shows. Recently, he wrestled on RAW and showed that he was still in top form heading into WrestleMania. However, Seth’s back issues could be a concern for WWE officials, and that may very well play into their plan of whether Rollins wins the Universal Championship.
The Big Dog Is Back
The last reason to be concerned about the match has to do with the return of Seth’s Shield brother Roman Reigns. Prior to announcing his battle with leukemia, Reigns was the Universal Champion and was feuding with Brock. With Reigns now healthy and has returned to wrestling, Vince may decide to resume the Roman vs Brock feud, with Reigns conquering the beast and reclaiming the championship. If any of these scenarios were to happen, it would be unfair to Seth.
Rollins has had a phenomenal year and there’d be no better way to cap it off by having him win the Universal Championship at WrestleMania. But given how notorious WWE is for swerving fans, it wouldn’t be surprising if we had another outcome like last year’s WrestleMania. My advice to WWE fans is to prepare for the worst when it comes to WrestleMania, because odds are that Brock Lesnar’s reign as Universal Champion will continue.