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Gunz: Jon Moxley Could Change The Way WWE Handles Its Talent

Has Jon Moxley opened up new doors for talent?

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AEW Jon Moxley Dean Ambrose

Has Jon Moxley opened up new doors for talent?

In the span of fewer than two months, Jon Moxley, the former Dean Ambrose, has gone from WWE afterthought- a character that was frequently labeled as unappreciated and mishandled by most fans- to the hottest name in the business. Wrestling’s biggest free agent is a free agent no more. Moxley debuted for AEW this past weekend and revealed a deal for dates with New Japan as well. The decision he made in his mind a year ago to leave the WWE on his own recognizance has rejuvenated his career.

In the days of the “Monday Night War” between WWF/E and WCW, if a talent was leaving one company, it would be highly assumed that they would be sought after by the other. And in most cases, that talent’s final months in their current company might be spent either consistently putting other wrestlers over on TV week after week, or simply sitting at home and not being used on TV at all, in an effort to dilute their value and stature in fans’ eyes.

This was strangely not the case with Dean Ambrose. Soon after rumors swirled online that Ambrose had not yet re-signed his contract with WWE and could very well be on his way out of the company, it was concretely confirmed on television that was just the case. Ambrose would soon depart the WWE. The real-life situation was then woven into the storyline reunion of the Shield. It hastily erased Ambrose’s shocking heel turn a few months earlier, but in addition to a WWE Network special and a slew of new t-shirt sales, it gave Ambrose a swan song rarely seen given to anyone else outside of “legend” status. Yes, he put over Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley in the final weeks, but he was figuratively given a bro hug as opposed to a kick in the rear on the way out. So why, with many believing WWE might soon face their first real competition in almost twenty years, for the change in the usual protocol?

With the intent of writing this article, I spoke with Tom Colohue from Pro Wrestling Torch about this topic. Colohue told me that, according to his sources, “Ambrose offered WWE certain assurances that encouraged WWE to give him a proper send off. They (WWE) believed that he was going out the ‘right way.’” However, Colohue told me, “from personal opinion, I believe that the assurances in question have now been proven false.”

So it would seem that, while WWE appreciated Ambrose giving them far advanced notice that he would not be resigning with the company, they were not under the impression that the reason Ambrose was declining to re-sign was because of an intentional desire to instead sign with AEW or any other major wrestling company. Had they been of that mind, perhaps the situation would have been handled differently. In fact, when I asked Tom if he thought the WWE would have gone the same route with Ambrose’s final days had they known he was signing with AEW, he said, “I do not. I think in that instance he vanishes from TV completely.” So does the WWE feel screwed, or at the very least misled, by Ambrose? “I’m waiting on an answer to that one myself,” Tom said.

Vince McMahon and the WWE are not dumb. You have to assume they knew Ambrose signing with another ‘major’ company was at least a possibility since he’d be free and clear after his contract was up (no no-compete clause, etc). But instead of playing ‘business as usual’ or even diluting or straight burying Dean as his obligations to the company wrapped up, creative instead steered to an unusual route. Not only did they openly acknowledge that one of its top talents was leaving, but they also made it part of a storyline on TV. “WWE always believed Ambrose to be the least marketable of The Shield,” Colohue told me. Plus, “the farewell tour was a way to get Roman back in action while having him wrestle as little as possible. It also helped boost Rollins in the run into ‘Mania. Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t about Ambrose very much at all.”

So was this farewell tour more of an indictment on ‘the competition’ (AEW, New Japan, etc) being seen as anything but, or an indictment on the way WWE viewed Ambrose himself as a performer and a brand?

Surely the WWE could have still done the Shield reunion without Dean’s ongoing contract negotiations as part of the puzzle. Perhaps it made his babyface turn a little easier to justify from a storyline standpoint. It would still seem strange that WWE might openly admit that a top guy is leaving, and probably doing so to sign with a new competing company. Unless, as I believe, at the time they didn’t think much of AEW or Ambrose. Vince may not have even been aware of what All Elite Wrestling was, and I doubt he viewed Dean as a big enough star to make any difference in any company he might join in the future. And if Dean’s departure, or possible subsequent debut somewhere else, isn’t going to affect WWE’s bottom line, what’s the harm in using his character to give Reigns and Rollins a rub and sell some new Shield merchandise on the way out?

Cocky? Sure. Self-righteous? Maybe. Wrong? We shall see.

In the days since Double or Nothing, is it possible some of the WWE’s sentiments have changed? Might they be wondering if they missed the mark on Ambrose? Will the buzz Jon Moxley has created subside, or can a company like AEW ride the wave of momentum (and a new TV deal) and truly challenge for a piece of the wrestling pie? Colohue told me, “From what I’ve heard it’s officially business as usual. They don’t consider AEW a threat as of yet, but they are watching.”

And WWE should be watching. It doesn’t mean much to them to lose Dean Ambrose, but it means a lot for AEW (and even New Japan) to gain Jon Moxley. And therein lies the rub. It’s why guys like The Revival are reportedly getting 2-3 million dollar contract offers. What might cost WWE more- overpaying a bit to keep their talent on the roster, or the buzz that talent’s departure might create for the ‘other guys?’

I do not believe that the WWE will ever not be the #1 wrestling company in the world. The question is, will there ever again be a true #2? And just how much distance can be maintained, or ground made, between those two spots? In the next few months, we will probably find out if the handling of Dean Ambrose’s departure will become the new norm, or might be a pivotal turning point for the future in the way the WWE views the need to continue to protect their territory in this new landscape of the wrestling business.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Andrew’s G1 Climax 29 Ratings & Analysis: Night 7 A Block

KENTA and Okada may start pulling away in A Block! Who falls first? The Rainmaker or The NOAH Outsider?

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KENTA and Okada may start pulling away in A Block! Who falls first? The Rainmaker or The NOAH Outsider?

Aside from the big names being stuck in the middle of the pack, we’ve got poor little Zack Sabre at zero points. Can he twist Fale into a pretzel and figure it out?

Then we have Okada facing a banged up Ospreay, while KENTA takes on a rising EVIL.

Do we still have any undefeated participants in A Block after today?

Ratings:

  • Yota Tsuji & Juice Robinson vs Jon Moxley & Shota Umino: Shooter wins via Boston Crab @3:55 – ** 1/4
  • Taichi, Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Toru Yano, Hirooki Goto & Yuya Uemura: Kanemaru wins via Deep Impact @8:50 – ***
  • Yujiro Takahashi, Chase Owens & Jay White vs Jeff Cobb, Tomoaki Honma & Toa Henare: Chase wins via Package Piledriver @9:50 – ** 1/2
  • Shingo Takagi, BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito vs YOSHI-HASHI, Ren Narita & Tomohiro Ishii: BUSHI wins via MX @7:35 – **
  • A Block: Zack Sabre Jr vs Bad Luck Fale: Sabre wins via Countout @6:30 – ** 1/4
  • A Block: Lance Archer vs Hiroshi Tanahashi: Tanahashi wins via Victory Roll @12:00 – ** 1/2
  • A Block: KENTA vs EVIL: KENTA wins via Go 2 Sleep @15:05 – *** 1/2
  • A Block: Kota Ibushi vs SANADA: Ibushi wins via Kamigoye @19:15 – *** 3/4
  • A Block: Will Ospreay vs Kazuchika Okada: Okada wins via Rainmaker @21:55 – **** 1/2

 

 

Analysis:

Still a lot of heat from their NXT past and Moxley’s debut match in NJPW. Juice and Mox don’t face each other until the end of their block schedule, but if this needed more heat…well this was gasoline. Juice and Mox stay on each other, brawl to the back while the Young Lions fight, but Mox apparently gets the best of the brawl. He returns to the ring to help Shooter, hit their Hart Attack tandem move and Shooter sinks in the Boston Crab.

There’s history between Taichi and Goto centering around the NEVER Openweight Title, Yano and Suzuki have fun history and it looks like Uemura is stepping up to Suzuki. So there’s a lot of fun moments, Uemura has a death wish trying to fight Suzuki, but it’s still fun. A lot of moving pieces in this one that kept it very entertaining.

Honma got put through the paces, Jay White got tossed around a little bit by Jeff Cobb, but the Bullet Club tag partners proved to be more useful than Cobb’s. Chase has picked up a few wins in the tag matches, so he might get some kind of push coming soon.

BUSHI continues to pick up pinfalls in these tag matches, and this sort of builds for Ishii and Naito, but not a ton happens. YOSHI-HASHI is there, Shingo looks like a million bucks and BUSHI wins the match, LOL. This was very paint by numbers.

Sabre jumps all over Fale at the start and tries a plethora of submissions to no avail. A kendo stick shot from Jado pushes the action to the outside. Fale and Bullet Club look to have an advantage, but Sabre dodges some double team tactics, grounds Fale with a Triangle Arm Bar, and then races to the ring to beat the 20 count. Fale couldn’t make it back fast enough, so Sabre gets the first Countout win of this year’s tournament.

Tanahashi is really showing the age and injuries this year, so all of these flukey wins just come off as forced. The match was slow, had moments of being interesting, but Tanahashi not even being 50% of what he used to be makes these hard to watch at times. Archer is getting over well, but Tanahashi winning at this point does hurt the credibility a little. I get the story they’re telling, but unlike last year where Tanahashi could push through injuries, this year, they are much more obvious, and he’s much more hampered.

EVIL took the fight to KENTA and then they went to the outside. Through the back and then into the crowd area next to the ramp. EVIL went for Darkness Falls on a bunch of a chairs, but KENTA stopped him and suplexed him onto said chairs. When it got back in the ring, EVIL tried to weaken the legs and KENTA went after EVIL’s upper body to mitigate the power advantage. Heavily booed, KENTA played up heel nicely (I guess WWE did help for something), and eventually he gets the best of EVIL and lets him take a nap. KENTA moves to 4-0.

We get a solid match between two guys who are right on the precipice of the Main Event scene. Kota outsmarts SANADA early by not going for the stupid dueling Dropkick spot, and from then on it was an interesting struggle. Between fan support and the general “anything you can do, I can do better” pacing, this was entertaining, yet slow and felt too long in some spots. Both looked pretty good, but this could’ve been told faster and SANADA’s perpetual struggles are a little frustrating for anyone who is a fan of his.

Okada and Ospreay were expected to blow the roof off, and well I’d say this was a damn good shot. Ospreay is obviously dinged up, but he fought through the pain and pulled off numerous flipping counters and found a few different ways to hit the Os-Cutter. They both let their personalities fly and this was a lot of fun to watch. Okada always has this older brother aura since he’s the one that brought Ospreay to New Japan and Chaos, so whenever they get together, it’s very much like two siblings trying to outdo the other. Ospreay had a great flurry at the end, flipping through a Rainmaker attempt, to try his Stormbreaker, but Okada flipped through that and hit a short arm lariat. Rolling Rainmaker and a normal Rainmaker later, Okada edges out the little brother. Great match.

 

Overall Score: 7/10

Well this night struggled cause the first two Block matches were really weak. The next two amped-up the intensity a little, but fell short of a memorable match. The main event was fantastic, but generally speaking this felt like it was slow, plateau’d for a while and only picked up at the end. Nothing out right awful, but a lot of matches that could’ve been a little better.

Still a solid enough night if you’re following it all, but only the main event is worthy of seeking out individually. It is nice to see that everyone is on the board with some points. So if Okada and KENTA stumble a little, the rest of the block could plausibly catch up.

 

Block A Standings:

  • Kazuchika Okada: 4-0 (8 Points)
  • KENTA: 4-0 (8 Points)
  • Lance Archer: 2-2 (4 Points)
  • EVIL: 2-2 (4 Points)
  • Kota Ibushi: 2-2 (4 Points)
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi: 2-2 (4 Points)
  • SANADA: 1-3 (2 Points)
  • Will Ospreay: 1-3 (2 Points)
  • Bad Luck Fale: 1-3 (2 Points)
  • Zack Sabre Jr: 1-3 (2 Points)

 


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Opinion

Rob: Brock Is Back! But What About Seth?

Rob evaluates the fans’ role in the run of Seth Rollins and the excitement around Brock Lesnar’s third reign as WWE Universal Champion.

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WWE Brock Lesnar Seth Rollins Extreme Rules

Rob evaluates the fans’ role in the run of Seth Rollins and the excitement around Brock Lesnar’s third reign as WWE Universal Champion.

So we are now back in the era of Brock Lesnar as Universal Champion, after he cashed in on Seth Rollins at Extreme Rules.  The WWE did a decent job of putting some suspense into it by throwing out the possibility of Brock choosing to cash in on Kofi Kingston instead but by the time it happened most of the people I interact with on Twitter were strongly in favor Rollins being the victim and weren’t the least bit discouraged when Brock brought his reign to an end.  There are a lot of reasons for that, and I’ll have to get into them another time, but it really seems that there weren’t too many people happy with Rollins time as champion from his biggest supporters to his biggest detractors.  So with that in mind I’m gonna do what usually do when it comes to stuff like this – that’s right I’m going to throw some blame at the fans.

Now I am not one that was underwhelmed by Rollins run with the title.  The match with AJ Styles at Money in the Bank was really good and I did not hate the Baron Corbin feud like a lot of you did.  I think Corbin is a good heel and a pretty good worker.  By Wrestling Twitter standards he’s no good because he doesn’t check any of the boxes that one needs to in order to pass their test – never worked indies, doesn’t have 5 star matches, doesn’t do 100 moves or work work 30 minute matches, and he isn’t charming or funny in his role.  But a lot of you guys were so appalled at the mere idea the Baron Corbin would get a program for the Universal Title that you either complained nonstop or checked out entirely.  But I gotta ask you guys a serious question here – do you really support him like that, or is it more the idea of Seth Rollins as Universal Champion?  Is Rollins the guy who should be champion in your eyes or is he the best representative of the type of wrestler you think should be Universal Champion?

What I mean is that Rollins checks all the Wrestling Twitter boxes – indie cred, workrate guy, is popular enough – and he’s also a big enough guy to not look like a joke standing next to guys like Roman Reigns or Samoa Joe or Corbin.  And because of that he gets favored in those circles over guys like Reigns or Brock Lesnar or Braun Strowman.  But none of that has stopped the crowds from checking out of some of his biggest matches – Summerslam 2016, Extreme Rules and TLC last year.  Meanwhile Strowman can get 11 million views for an arm wrestling match with Bobby Lashley even after a lot of people on Twitter think the ship has sailed on him, and Reigns got maximum crowd participation last year even in filler matches with Jinder Mahal and Bobby Lashley.  There’s a real gap between how he’s viewed on Wrestling Twitter and how the general public takes him for sure.

And what I mean by that is that the Corbin feud shouldn’t have been a deal breaker for someone who you guys really are invested in as the top guy.  Reigns didn’t check out during those programs with Lashley and Mahal last year and they didn’t check out during the whole Shane McMahon feud despite being pretty vocal in wanting Roman to move on ASAP from Shane and Drew McIntyre.  Rollins singles champ counterpart on Smackdown Kofi Kingston hasn’t had any issue maintaining his support even through a multi Pay Per View program with the often groan inducing Dolph Ziggler (I’m not a Dolph hater but a lot of you are).  You’re supposed to just want to see your favorite as the champ; being in a program with a top level guy or gal isn’t supposed to be a requirement, especially in what is supposed to be a post WrestleMania honeymoon period for a new champion.

So it’s pretty simple to me if you’re a big fan of Seth Rollins or anyone else.  Yes you want them to face the best people and have the best matches all the time, but if they’re going to hold one of the top two titles then sometimes they’re going to have to get through a month or two against somebody who isn’t one of those people and you’re gonna have to ride it out and support them.  The card has to be balanced out and the champion is supposed to be at least somewhat of an attraction by themselves.  But if you’re crapping on what turned out to be some perfectly fine matches (his last two main events with Corbin were not bad, they just weren’t five star movefests like some of you guys think big title matches should be) because of, who the opponent is then you’re not helping your favorite out here at all.  He’s not above doing a couple of gimmicked up sports entertainment matches with Baron Corbin, ok?

But if you say he should be the top guy and then you demand that he only get to work with certain people under certain circumstances then well……that runs contrary to pretty much all of wrestling history.  So you’re gonna have to either change your demands, or maybe change your assessment of the guy.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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