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.
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……
NXT UK Chuffed and Buzzin’
Brad hits us with some NXT UK highlights!
Brad hits us with some NXT UK highlights!
6. It is time for Johnny Saint to retire and officially promote Sid Scala to General Manager. Saint is a beloved figure in British wrestling (and a technical in-ring wizard), so I understand why they brought him in. Truth be told, he’s never done much and when he is around he isn’t a strong presence. Scala is there every week and has earned the job. Give Sid the job!
5. It is only right to send Mr. Saint out with a proper farewell. This is a gem from at least 1985, the last year for the original World of Sport Wrestling. It’s easy to see his influence on British wrestling and safe to say Tyler Bate studied and stole every one of Saint’s moves. Added bonus: some youngster named Dave Finlay has a mullet that would make Eddie Guerrero jealous.
4. Isla Dawn’s character keeps getting better. For months, she hasn’t cared about winning and losing, only taking trophies from her opponents. This week, she beat Aleah James then returned the hair scrunchie she stole from her. That is a seriously cool twist & one I hope they continue until Dawn returns all her stolen goodies. It’s like she took everything she needed from her opponents in order to build herself up to challenge Meiko Satomura. I don’t know if she’s championship material, but I’d love to see her and Satomura try and top their first encounter.
3. I like the idea of Teoman’s family, but the execution is lacking. There is no reason for Rohan Raja or Charlie Dempsey to be with him. There’s nothing that ties them together. NXT UK has been running blazing hot this year, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it works. Maybe it won’t. Either way, Charlie Dempsey is a star. When the time is right, he and Tyler Bate can have the 5 star Heritage Cup match we’ve been waiting for.
2. Pretty Deadly versus Mustache Mountain feels like a MOTY in the making. Can the Dandy Highwaymen defeat the forefathers of British Strong Style again and officially claim to be the best tag team in the brand’s history? Can Mustache Mountain finally capture the titles that surprisingly have evaded them since the brand’s inception? If they keep it clean with no outside interference, there is about a 1% chance this match won’t live up to the hype.
1. Gallus’ theme music is bad ass. That is all.
Steve Cook’s Fave Five: November 2021
It’s Thanksgiving week, and you know what that means!
This is the time we give thanks for our favorite professional wrestlers. And other things, I’m sure. Many of you reading this have other things to be thankful for. I don’t know what those are, but I do know which wrestlers I’m thankful for here at this moment. Let’s dive into the Fave Five!
5. Eddie Kingston
As somebody that was into the independent wrestling scene back in the mid-2000s, I’ve been aware of Eddie Kingston’s existence for a long time. I’ve known that the man was a better talker than almost anybody in the wrestling business. I’ve also known that the man was his own worst enemy, much like Buddy Landell was his own worst enemy back in the 1980s & 90s. If Eddie could somehow find the right place and right time, nothing could hold him back.
This seems like Eddie Kingston’s right place & time. He got a spot with AEW, and he kept getting over. His piece with The Player’s Tribune got him even more sympathy than he already had. The feud with CM Punk heading into Full Gear was perfect. It got Punk into the state people wanted him in. The match at Full Gear was great, even if Punk ended up winning. The only issue? The feud isn’t continuing. But that’s AEW. Feuds don’t last long unless they’re on BTE. Punk & King have already moved onto other things, and we can only hope they get back to each other in a year or two.
4. Bryan Danielson
I know that Bryan’s biggest run came when he was the underdog going against The Authority, and many folks took to him as that underdog. I was one of those guys that followed Bryan during his indy career, and his best run came when he was a total dickhead heel in Ring of Honor. Yeah, he was still short or whatever mainstream fans complained about at the time, but he could out-wrestle anybody put in the ring with him, and he was supremely confident about that fact. Not over-confident, supremely confident. He’d tell the referees the rules, because he was the Best in the World.
AEW fans are now getting that side of Bryan Danielson, and fortunately he has the right opponent to do it against. Hangman Adam Page has been accepted as a folk hero by hardcore AEW fans. They won’t turn against the Hangman for anybody, even when it’s really tempting since Bryan Danielson is a pretty amazing professional wrestler. One of the best I’ve seen! He’s getting to be a total dickhead again while he runs through Page’s Dark Order friends, and it’s amazing.
He’s not lying either. He wrestled the day after he won the WWE Championship at WrestleMania! Bryan Danielson has never lied. Maybe you don’t like what he says, but he’s always been honest. And the second he mentioned WrestleMania, those hardcore AEW fans were ready to jump on him. Bryan didn’t bury WWE like other folks that previously worked for them did. He had his reasons, and this was one of them.
3. The IInspiration
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) November 21, 2021
I was asked to be part of 411’s Fact or Fiction this week, since this week was decided to be the blowoff for a tournament from way too long ago where Len Archibald & myself made it to the finals. Bad news for me, as Len is much better with the written word than I am. 411 readers will sacrifice me at the temple of the Tribal Chief that is Len Archibald. I can’t blame them. One of the questions of this particular Fact or Fiction column asks us if underutilized people are better off getting released. Two of the most underutilized people in the history of WWE were Cassie Lee & Jessie McKay. WWE never knew what they had with them. Not the slightest idea. The only time they ever put them over was to spite Bayley & Sasha Banks for reasons. They never followed up on that because they didn’t care.
Cassie was supposed to be the breakout single star, except they never followed through with it. Jessie had the personality, and she had the look too but WWE did the best they could to take the look away from her. It was so weird. That’s why I’m so happy they found a place to let them be them. Impact Wrestling is a strange place. Certain people find their place there. The IInspiration seem to fit like a glove.
2. Dalton Castle
The Party Peacock was somebody that original Ring of Honor fans would have rejected in an instant. Some will try to tell me I’m wrong about that, but they in fact are wrong. The very first segment on “The Era of Honor Begins” featured the Christopher Street Connection getting squashed by Da Hit Squad because their sort of flamboyance wasn’t what ROH was going to be all about. It was 2002, a different time. I remember it well, as I graduated from high school. Way too many things have happened since then and I feel way too damn old.
Dalton Castle would not have been a favorite to original ROH fans in 2002. By the time he came around, he was just what the promotion needed. He had a personality the likes of which hadn’t been seen in pro wrestling for quite some time, which was great because the main knock against ROH was that their wrestlers didn’t have personality. Dalton Castle was ROH’s answer to that criticism. Unfortunately, Dalton’s body broke down at the same time he won the company’s World Championship. He fought through a broken back to have a reign worthy of the championship, but nearly killed himself in the process.
Castle wasn’t the same for a long time afterward. Only recently, we started to see shades of the old Dalton Castle. The man was revitalized by the promise of Television. He wanted to make Ring of Honor the best show on TV, even though he was a very busy man. Very busy. We’re lucky to see him when we do. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with him now that Ring of Honor is letting their people go. If he’s back to being the Dalton Castle we remember from a few years ago, the sky’s the limit. Any company would be lucky to have his talent & personality.
1. Cora Jade
I realize that I am in the minority of people around here when it comes to NXT 2.0. I can’t really say it’s a good wrestling show, but I do find it interesting. You have to know a little bit about my rasslin fan background. I ended up in Louisville during the time when Ohio Valley Wrestling was WWE’s developmental territory. While I never got the chance to attend a show at Davis Arena until years afterward, I enjoyed getting to watch the future stars of WWE on television learning their craft before they made it to Raw or SmackDown. Some were really good in the ring. Some were not. But it was all interesting to me.
Here in 2021, I have more interest in seeing the people that WWE thinks is going to be their future than seeing people I saw in Ring of Honor more than ten years ago having great matches just like they did in Ring of Honor more than ten years ago and having no chance of making it any bigger than “NXT TakeOver main eventer”. Which is fine if you’re into that kind of thing. Me…not so much.
I’m looking for the next big thing. Always have been, always will be. So when I take a look at Cora Jade, the youngest person under WWE contract, I see the potential. I see her work against Mandy Rose, who WWE wants to be the next big thing. I see Cora Jade get over, and I see the future, which is Cora Jade. People will try to tell me I’m wrong. They’ll be proven wrong eventually, but since they’re a lot louder, followers will act like the fools were right all along, even though they had the wrong opinions back in the day. That’s America for ya.
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