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Rob: Is Charlotte Right?

A Twitter inspired topic,; between general grievances of her position in the division and her own responses to articles. Rob takes a look at the perception of Charlotte and who she really is!

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WWE NXT Charlotte Flair

What would be wrestling Twitter be if they were not complaining about the WWE, or Vince McMahon, or Roman Reigns, or Charlotte Flair?  Probably pretty quiet.  Well, the WWE and Vince shots never end and Roman has been relatively left alone compared to say, 2016 so that leaves us with Charlotte.  If you’re reading this then you know she came back in December and won the RAW tag team titles with Asuka at TLC in her first match back.  And now we are back in our familiar place of people on the internet being upset about how she’s booked, and implying all kinds of nefarious intentions behind it all.  All this was encapsulated in a piece on Fansided DDT where they aired all their grievances – that she fits the Vince McMahon mold, that she gets into a title program immediately every time she comes back, etc.  Charlotte herself opted to respond to it, which probably wasn’t the best idea because that never ends well, but it’s worth seeing if either their takes or her refutations are right, so I did just that.

Now anyone who knows me knows that I don’t take too kindly to fans saying ‘no, we’re not the problem’ whether the subject is pro wrestling or anything else (Star Wars fans make wrestling fans look like amateurs when it comes to ruining the experience, by the way).  This piece leads off with that, so it is a veritable free fire zone for me.  First up it says that no, fans aren’t fickle but they don’t like having corporate champions shoved down their throats, and it cites Hulk Hogan, John Cena and Roman Reigns as other examples.  It also says that championships are supposed to be awards based on ability and hard work, like achievement awards in other forms of entertainment, and not choices by management……

Oh, you naive child.

I hate to break this to you, but pro wrestling isn’t a shoot.  Championships are props used as plot devices to give the characters something to fight for and advance storylines.  And unless it’s someone getting a championship send off, which almost never happens, then they are not rewards.  You don’t get a championship because you ‘deserve’ it.  People get crowned champion because the booker thinks it’s the best way to flesh out a character or move storylines along to make the company money, or because one person singularly is that much of a draw.  That’s it.  The Honky Tonk Man was Intercontinental Champion for 14 months from 1987 to 1988; at no point was he either one of the best in ring workers in the company (not even top 20) or one of the hardest workers.  He ultimately kept the belt that long because of circumstance (Jake Roberts said in an interview that he would have won it from him if his drug problems hadn’t been an issue) and then because whoever ultimately (see what I did there?) did beat him would get a rocket launcher push out of it.  Hulk Hogan was never the best in ring worker in the WWF but having him as World Champion for 4 years drew the most money.  Ditto for Bruno Sammartino, who held the title for almost 8 years back in the 60s/70s.  Story and/or money, that’s it.  Becky Lynch was RAW Women’s champion for over a year because she was the biggest star and biggest merch seller in the company; it wasn’t because Rebecca Quin ‘deserved’ it.

Every champion is corporate.  Every win and loss, every push, every title change is dictated by the boss.  The ones you like and the ones you don’t like.  All chosen by the evil old man.  They’re all corporate decisions, you didn’t pick anything.  Even when you think you did, that person was chosen by the boss to be put in front of you in the first place and there are many who have been stuck in catering without getting that chance (EC3, remember him?).  You had as much to do with Becky or Daniel Bryan for that matter reaching their respective spots as you did with Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man.  A decision was made to put them in front of you to garner a reaction, you reacted, and then the companies reacted to your reactions.  But they never had to make those initial choices in the first place.  All three were good at what they did but someone else could have been put there at the initial stage of their careers had the bosses wanted.  You did not convince the WWE to sign Bryan Danielson or Rebecca Quin, or to put  Daniel Bryan and Becky Lynch in any meaningful angles early on to start them on the road to their crowning moments.  You didn’t put Daniel Bryan in Team Hell No and you didn’t put Becky in the match against Sasha Banks that was her first big showcase.  And had they never signed either one in the first place I doubt you would be burning up message boards demanding it.  The reality is that they saw something in both that none of us predicted, just like Kevin Feige saw the reward in going with a troubled actor like Downey over a safer choice.

Now back to Charlotte.  Is what she’s saying false?  Well, contrary to what the article says she did not go away because she wasn’t in the title picture.  She had surgery twice and her Dad got sick once, like on his deathbed sick.  She said it herself but it’s also been well documented so to even imply that she took her ball and went home is bush league.  But what about her other point, where she said she spent 18 months looking at the lights to help create a new star?  That’s very easily verifiable thanks to cagematch.net, so let’s see.  (If my rough counts are off by 1 or 2 here or there, forgive me).  In September of 2018 she lost the SmackDown Women’s Title to Lynch.  From that point forward in 2018, she lost 13 of 15 one on one matches to Lynch (a DQ win and draw were the other results) and six times in Triple Threat matches to Lynch and Asuka where she got tapped out for the decision.  Then there’s 2019, where she won 35 matches and lost 100 in total.  Yes, you read that right 35-100.  Among those there were:

  • 9 losses in 13 matches one on one vs Lynch (4-9)
  • 16 losses in 17 one on one matches vs Asuka (1-16)
  • 30 losses in 34 one on one matches vs Bayley (4-30)
  • 13 in losses in 13 triple threat matches with Becky and Asuka (0-13)
  • 3-6 in pay per view matches (after going 4-6 in 2018)
  • She also went 0-4 in triple threat matches vs Becky and Asuka in early 2020

That’s a ton of Ls and yes they were to either help make or remake someone, or to protect either Becky or Asuka from taking the fall in a one on one match.  (At this time I’ll throw in that she lost a few house show matches to Ember Moon in 2019 as well and took the pin in a Triple Threat match vs Rhea Ripley and Sasha Banks on SmackDown.)  Well Becky was already a star, you say?  Yes she was popular and well liked, she was almost always on TV and in some kind of storyline title or no title, but she wasn’t being booked at the top of any cards and the last time she was SmackDown Women’s champion people were happy for her but they weren’t too upset when she lost to Alexa Bliss.  In 2018 the person she was feuding with during her ascent did make a difference.  Same thing with Bayley cashing in the briefcase and getting all those wins over her in 2019.  And before you say house shows don’t count…..I bet you’d count them if she won all of those matches.

But what about the titles and stuff she won along the way?

Let’s talk about those.  She won the SmackDown title from Asuka in March of 2019 on what was a whim from the boss, held it for a few weeks, and then lost it at WrestleMania to Lynch in the main event.  Becky walked out double champ and they sold a bunch of Becky 2 Belts t-shirts, which doesn’t happen if Charlotte walks into the match with no title.  While like you I didn’t think that was fair to Asuka the end result was them making more money off the shirts, which is the whole point of being in business in the first place.  She win that title back from Becky at Money in the Bank and lost it literally two minutes later when Bayley cashed in the briefcase on her, cementing Bayley’s jump start on the roster at a time when things on the surface were looking bleak.  The she won it at Hell in a Cell, and lost it five days later on SmackDown when Bayley revealed her new look and full character change.  Each of those wins had a purpose to ultimately benefit someone else almost immediately after.  Feel free to come up with a different way to reach those three outcomes but the won loss record is what it is.  Unless you expect her to lose every time out in perpetuity, which isn’t going to happen, then she’s going to win sometimes and they’re not going to all be over people lower on the card than her or people who you don’t care about.

What about 2020?

What about it?  Yes, she won the Royal Rumble in 2020.  Well, she was originally going to win it in 2019 but Vince called an audible at the last minute and went with Becky.  If you think she was going to go her whole career and never win one sorry dude, you’re delusional.  Rumble matches are almost entirely won by people who are already in the top tier or someone who is already being sent that way.  They’re not used for upset wins to give an underdog a rub.  So if it wasn’t her then who exactly?  Shayna Baszler?  Vince wasn’t sold on her at the time as being more than a one off Mania challenger for Becky, and neither was a lot of the non-Twitter audience.  Sasha Banks wasn’t in the match and wasn’t on the card at all because she was injured.  Becky, Bayley, and Asuka all had other matches on the card.  Again, use realistic booking logic and not Cinderella fantasy booking that had zero chance of happening.  Beth Phoenix wasn’t winning, ok?

But what about Rhea Ripley?

Again, what about it?  In kayfabe a 24 years old NXT wrestler stepping to a then 10-time singles champion isn’t a guaranteed win in any book, even if it’s the NXT champion.  Out of kayfabe, if one loss at WrestleMania to a 10 time champion who was in the main event at the previous WrestleMania ruins your career, then just how promising were you?  All of the Horsewomen have at times taken losses along the way and are still thought of as winners and champions.  So has Asuka, so has Alexa Bliss.  And as I mentioned before she took a pin from Ripley in 2019.  If that’s burying Ripley then it’s because you’re the one holding the shovel.  If you can’t rebound from one loss at WrestleMania, then you aren’t as good as people think.  Daniel Bryan got squashed in 18 seconds by Sheamus at WrestleMania 28.  HHH got squashed by the Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania 12.  I think they both did ok afterwards, and if Ripley is that big of a prospect then she should be able to make it back from losing an exponentially more competitive match than either of those at WrestleMania 36.

Final Thoughts

Let’s get down to brass tacks here,  You don’t like that she’s in the spot that she’s in, or that she’s in it so frequently.  And that’s fine!  You don’t have to like everyone who’s in a high position.  And let’s  be honest, if one of your favorites got the same booking treatment you wouldn’t have a problem with it.  I don’t recall any fans of Lynch or Bayley saying ‘ok, they’ve been champ long enough, time to give someone else a turn’ during their recent reigns.  Had Lynch not gotten pregnant she might still be RAW Women’s champion right now, and it would absolutely be the right call!  And if it’s really about taking a spot from someone else, then why were so many of y’all so down on Mandy Rose, Dana Brooke, Lana, Peyton Royce, and Lacey Evans getting so much TV time in October and November?  Are there people who have gotten wrongfully shortchanged?  Well yeah….cough, Naomi, but she’s gotten equally shortchanged whether she’s on the same show with Charlotte or not.  That’s a whole other matter, which I have spelled out myself here , here, and here.  But at the end of the day, and this piece, let me just that perception is not reality, not one bit.  The facts tell a much different story and opinions are just that, opinions.

Until next time……


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Opinion

Steve Cook’s Fave Five: March 2021

Cook gives us his quick snapshot of early storylines that might be the important things through the month of March!

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It’s March! You know what that means.

It’s time for me to channel my inner Booker T and list my Fave Five in the world of wrestling! This list could very well change tomorrow, or whenever this ends up getting posted, but I only type it out once each calendar month. Consider it a snapshot in time.

5. Cameron Grimes

People have been telling me about Grimes for years, going back to his stint with Impact Wrestling. I never really saw it. Decent enough competitor, sure, but he always seemed like Just A Guy to me. Now that he hit it rich on the stock market, he’s the most entertaining part of NXT.

Get rid of Finn Balor & Adam Cole and put the strap on Grimes! TO THE MOON!

4. Shane Taylor

One of my criticisms of ROH television over the past several months has been a lack of defined characters. As fun as Pure Wrestling is, everybody involved in the tournament & the division tend to sound the same. Then, with a lot of the main guys, it’s tough to tell whether they’re good guys, bad guys, or shades of grey. There’s a place for shades of grey, but it’s tough to be interested in a TV show where you don’t know who to root for.

Shane Taylor’s presentation suffered from this for me for awhile. I wasn’t too familiar with his work pre-pandemic, so I’ve been getting to know him along with the rest of the ROH talent. From what I can gather, he was working one of those deals where the promotion didn’t really want to promote him, which can either make one very popular or largely ignored. The promotion tended to treat him like a heel. Either way, Shane looked pretty darn good in his matches, working a physical style that appeals to fans like me. Apparently it appeals to other people as well, since Taylor was the #1 choice of the fans to get a shot at Rush. Taylor was screwed this time around, but now has a story to sink his teeth into. Nothing wrong with that.

3. Tully Blanchard

2021 is quickly becoming the year of the olds. WWE has seen Goldberg & Edge emerge as top championship contenders. Keiji Muto won the GHC Heavyweight Championship. Tommy Dreamer celebrated his birthday by challenging for the Impact Championship. Sting will be taking part in a street fight this weekend.

Age is only a number, and Tully’s number is a little higher than these other men. He also spent more time out of the ring. Nearly fourteen years since he had any kind of match, but he went into Wednesday night with all guns blazing. J.J. Dillion was in the corner. Tully was wearing his classic robe & the silver US Heavyweight Championship, while FTR donned the classic NWA World Tag Team Championships. All the old school feels were being had before the match, and after the match as well, when Arn Anderson looked on from the entrance and flashed that familiar hand signal.

Tully had plenty of talent around him to make the match work, but he hit his spots well. Marko Stunt’s good to have around so he can take a slingshot suplex. JJ got to give his shoe to somebody to use. It ended up being a fitting tribute on the night of Jim Crockett Jr.’s passing, and maybe a sign that Tully’s got a little more left in the tank. (Multi-man would probably be for the best though, I’m not as confident that he can hang with Kenny.)

2. Bobby Lashley

As expected, The Miz joined the likes of Ivan Koloff, Stan Stasiak, the Iron Sheik and other men whose world championship reigns merely existed to get the title from one person to the other without having them face off. In the case of Bobby Lashley, it’s because they didn’t want him to beat Drew McIntyre for the title, so their eventual match will be a first-time (in this particular WWE run) meeting. It makese sense, and Miz played his part well, as you’d expect.

Now is Lashley’s time, and one can wonder why it took so long. The guy looks like what’d you’d expect a WWE Champion to look like. Huge. Powerful. Dominant. He fits the prototype of what Vince McMahon would have seen as an appropriate champion back in the day. Is there anything there that Vince wouldn’t like?

Bob seems to be on a collision course with Drew at WrestleMania, and that should be a pretty solid piece of business.

1. Rey Fenix

I don’t know who the “best in the world” is, but Rey Fenix is the most exciting wrestler currently gracing televisions & other viewing devices. All he does is go out there and deliver every time he’s out there, if you see him listed on a card you know it’s going to be a good match.

AEW seemed a bit slow to capitalize on Fenix’s abilities, but since 2021 began we’ve seen the masked man getting bigger matches. His win-loss record hasn’t been the best, as he’s come up short against Kenny Omega & Lance Archer and eaten the pin in some multi-man matches. He’s still making people take notice, and I’d be surprised if Fenix doesn’t jump up to the next level sometime this year.

My favorite wrestler to watch right now, which is how one tops a list like this one.


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Bodeen’s Top 5 Moments: WWE NXT (3/3/21)

Bodeen breaks out his Top 5 moments of NXT this week. Did he miss anything that made your list?

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After Adam Cole put the nail in the coffin in the Undisputed Era last week, many eyes were on NXT this week to see what the reaction from Roderick Strong would be as well as the Tag title matches after the Dusty Rhodes Classic. With all these factors it’s no surprise that NXT put on another amazing night of action that was entertaining from start to finish. So without further ado, it’s time to look at the top 5 moments from NXT this week.

5. Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler beat Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez

It feels like so long ago we saw Shayna Baszler on NXT. Just a few years ago Baszler was dominating the NXT women’s division as she beats the likes of Kari Sane, Mia Yim, Bianca Belair and Io Shirai. After she lost the title to Rhea Ripley and moved to RAW, over time she lost credibility and she was slowly removed from the title picture. That’s why it was so great to see the submission magician back to her former self on NXT as she and Nia Jax beat Dakota Kai and Requel Gonzalas in a great match that ended in controversial circumstances

This was another great match for the team of Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez, with Raquel Gonzalez once again being the MVP of this match as she took a hot tag from Dakota Kai to dominate Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax. The match would end under controversial circumstances after Adam Pearce called for a referee to ring the bell after Kai was trapped in a submission despite the fact Gonzales was legal.

This finish made Kai and Gonzales look strong in defeat as they did not lose cleanly. It also sets up a storyline in the future, especially after NXT General Manager, William Regal stated he had an announcement to make that would change the NXT landscape.

4. The Way go to therapy 

The Christmas with the Gargano’s vignettes were one of my favorite moments from NXT in 2020. The jokes catered to everyone and ranged from inside jokes to die-hard wrestling fans to silly, cheesy jokes that you would see in a Monty Python or Adam Sandler movie. While the Way going to therapy wasn’t near the level of Christmas with the Gargano’s it was still a fun segment that continued to highlight how good Johnny Gargano is at being a goofy heel.

Gargano’s reactions were priceless to watch as he could not believe that Austin Theory enjoyed his time with Dexter Lumis. Indi Hartwell’s innuendoes were also hilarious to watch, as this series of segments did a great job in giving all members of The Way enough lines so that no member felt pointless being there.

With Dexter Lumis most likely the next in line for Johnny Gargano’s North American Championship, it will be interesting to see the involvement of Austin Theory in what is sure to be a highly entertaining feud to watch.

3. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch beat Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher  

While it was originally meant to be Dusty Rhodes Classic winners, MSK facing Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch we instead got the makeshift team of Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher facing the NXT Tag Team champions in a brutal, hard-hitting match that was intense from start to finish, with Lorcan and Burch getting the win after Imperium distracted Thatcher and Ciampa.

This match did a good job at bringing together Thatcher and Ciampa as they smiled at each other, sharing their joy for inflicting pain on their opponents. Despite sharing a moment with each other, the relationship between the two men would be tense as Ciampa seemed annoyed at Thatcher’s history with Imperium costing them the match.

2. Roderick Strong faces off against Finn Balor  

After Adam Cole put the nail in the coffin of the Undisputed Era by superkicking Roderick Strong last week, Strong would open the show this week and would waste no time in calling Adam Cole out to the ring. Despite Strong calling Cole out, Finn Balor would come out, with Roderick blaming Balor for Cole’s actions. Balor would reply by saying that Roderick does not have the killer instinct that Balor has causing Roderick to attack the NXT Champion, leading to a match between the two men later in the night.

This was my favorite match of the night as Roderick Strong, pushed the NXT Champion to his limit, with Balor once again doing an amazing job of selling, as he sold the back which, Strong attacked throughout the match. The match would end after Balor hit the Coup De Grace and 1916 on Strong to win, with Adam Cole coming out to stare off at Balor ahead of their title match next week.

With Finn Balor and Adam Cole ready to face each other in a TakeOver worthy match, it will be interesting to see who will win, in what is sure to be an amazing match.

1. LA Knight makes his intentions known 

While his name change has led to disagreement between fans LA Knight’s short time in NXT has been entertaining to watch. His promo skills and style remind me of a 1980s movie star as he is always the center of attention when he is on the mic. This week would be no different as LA Knight cut his first in-ring promo on NXT TV as he called out the entire roster as well as sewing the seeds for a feud with Bronson Reed.

LA Knight’s promo this week was absolute gold, as he blended cockiness, arrogance, pride and emotion brilliantly, stating that he is not in NXT to do flips and dives, but rather win regardless of style. LA Knight would make his big move against Bronson Reed, as he cost Bronson Reed a match against Cameron Grimes.

Bronson Reed is a great first feud for LA Knight, as it can perfectly show off LA Knight’s style well against a bigger man like Bronson Reed.

These were my top 5 moments from NXT this week. What were your top 5 moments and who do you think will win the NXT Championship Title match next week? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 


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