By Haydn Gleed
-From some good editions of WWE Raws to the sad news of Chyna’s passing, it’s certainly been a strange couple of weeks in the wrestling world since I’ve been away on vacation. I know it’s been nearly two weeks since her death, but with this being my first opportunity, I would like to pass on my condolences to Chyna’s friends and family.
-WWE Payback occurred over the weekend and with the exception of the ending to the Women’s Championship match and the McMahon family silliness, it was a pretty good show. What struck me more than anything was the Intercontinental Championship match and overall perception of the division. Cast your mind back twelve months and we are at the point that Daniel Bryan was just about to vacate the IC title due to injury. Since then, despite how closely I follow the business, I can’t for the life of me no matter how hard I try, remember the majority of holders in that time. There was a time when I was a kid that I could recite to you every IC champion since Pat Paterson all the way up to the then modern era. Now part of that is I’ve got older and as time has gone on real world so called “important” stuff fills your brain and you are going to forget certain things, but considering how much I analyze wrestling you would think that I could remember at least 95 percent of the belts linage from the last twelve months? Nope. I could look it up and I’d be kicking myself when I remember what has happened, but my brain has stored the information away in a little filling cabinet labelled “not really important but you may need it one day.” It’s in one of those places that is locked up and you then lose the key. Well, at least that’s how it works in my forgetful brain anyways.
Despite the hope that John Cena and Daniel Bryan holding the secondary titles coming out of WrestleMania 31 would reinvigorate the championships, it seems to have gone in the opposite direction. However, I’m sensing something starting to change for the Intercontinental Championship. Wrestlers are starting to declare how badly they want it and as a result makes the title feel that it’s something worth winning. Not to sound like an old man, but in my youth it was Bret Hart, Mr Perfect, Razor Ramon, Shawn Michaels, and Diesel all declaring that they wanted the belt, and making it seem like the most important thing in their world. As a result, it made me think it was something important and I wanted the person I rooted for to win it. WWE set up the division to the point that we have wrestlers the caliber of Cesaro, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn all talking about and looking at the belt like it is the holy grail. With the high quality of matches these men can produce, it gets the fans excited. I know there have been many false dawns with the secondary titles, but I feel WWE have gotten the IC Title into a position where it means something again. I just hope it won’t be yet another false start. For now, I am looking forward to seeing the next chapter.
-What I am not looking forward to is the next chapter of the never ending McMahon family problems. I know this has been talked about a lot by my Dot Net colleagues already, so I won’t go over all the details, but I’m just fed up with all of it. When Shane McMahon returned, fans were excited about the prospect of change. It feels like Vince McMahon has seen the declining ratings and declared, “We need more McMahonnnnnnnnnn’s!” WWE is preaching a new era, but what exactly does that mean? Shane has said that he wants Raw to change, yet the same cliché Taxi cab and red phone box used on the last four Raw visits to the UK were used again this year, and the main events are carbon copies of what we see in rotation. For Raw to truly feel fresh and to sell viewers on this being a new era, there has to be a big change to either the booking philosophy and/or the way the show looks or is produced. I just don’t see that happening anytime soon with people in key positions who are set in their ways.
-League Of Nations seemed to be going their different ways and is anyone mourning that? No, me neither. As I’ve said a number of times, they are so much better individually as characters than they are together where they feel watered down. It’s just a shame that it appears the reports of Wade Barrett leaving seem true. When I went to the Raw and Smackdown tapings, I was thinking perhaps he would make his return to get revenge on his three former stable mates, as it was the logical move to get a mega babyface reaction in his home country. When he didn’t show up, it was a signal that told me he won’t be back anytime soon. They were selling Wade Barrett t-shirts at the merch stand at the O2 arena, but as I pointed out to my friend, they are probably trying to get rid of the last amount of stock before he leaves officially.
-Speaking of things I did on my vacation, I also went to an evening with Bret Hart which you may have seen my recap on the main page two weeks ago. It was certainly an interesting night and hearing Bret essentially “shoot” on WWE and Triple H was entertaining, but it felt slightly unprofessional given the fact that it had only been announced two days prior at the Raw taping that he was going to be doing business with the company. Overall, it was a great evening, and Bret was entertaining with his stories and made sure that everybody who wanted a photo with him got one as well as autographs despite his messed up hand. I did get the sense that Bret was either struggling to show emotions following the number of health issues he’s had or he’s just very tired and is still not 100 percent. I noticed he struggled to react when people were saying heartfelt thank you’s when they were having their photo with him or at the autograph table. I’m not expert on how his illnesses, especially the stroke, have affected his ability to express emotions facially, but based on the way he stated over and over again how proud he was of Natalya, I can’t believe that he would have been as emotionless as he was coming across during the women’s match at Payback without there being a reason.
-I have to say that I actually enjoyed Camp WWE, mostly because it’s something out of the norm. It’s not going to blow anyone away with its humor or quality but it’s a decent watch. I’m certainly going to be watching episode two. I have heard mixed reactions to this, but I certainly got a few chuckles out of it. I have to be honest, horny Ric Flair chasing a bear into a cave while woo’ing made me laugh out loud. The Michael Cole speech about how everything else will still be PG was just groan inducing. At the same time, if that’s what is required in order for us to have a little bit of adult humor and entertainment, then so be it.
As always, if you have any thoughts on the blog, by all means get in touch via twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org