By Haydn Gleed
It’s been a fun week in the world of wrestling, hasn’t it, folks? For my blog this week, instead of discussing one particular subject, I thought it best to give you my thoughts on some of what has transpired since we last met last week.
– Since TNA’s jump to Pop TV earlier this month, I have been very encouraged by what I’ve been seeing. While I have not seen the show that aired last night, the first three Impact shows ranged from average to very good and there have not been any moments where you’ve watched the show and rolled your eyes at a classic “only in TNA” moment and everything seemed to be pointing towards a more mature and willing to learn from their mistakes TNA.
However, the statement that TNA issued on Friday regarding AJ Styles, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson was just another in a long line of “only in TNA” moments. Several days removed from the statement I cannot fathom what they were trying to achieve. In a nutshell, TNA claimed that the three wrestlers had agreed to return to the company by signing a deal memo only to back out.
My first reaction was so what? As loosely as the term Independent Contractor is used in the wrestling business, it is still the right of the individual to decide where he or she works. In which case, why did TNA feel the need to release this statement? They weren’t exactly going to convince the wrestlers to change their mind and join the company. I don’t know about you but if a company I was thinking about working for released private negotiation information to the world, I would be less inclined to work for them.
Although I have no information to prove or back this up, it’s my gut feeling that this was released to try to spoil the surprise of AJ Styles entering the Rumble. Dixie has stated recently that WWE are now taking TNA talent in a way that seems to insinuate that her talent is better than what is on WWE TV. It’s an obsession with her given she repeats this pretty much in every mainstream interview she grants. She’s consumed with the thought that TNA talent is better than that of WWE. Either way, this statement on Styles, Gallows, and Anderson backfired.
Fans outside the TNA bubble simply rolled their eyes and if anything made their already low opinion of TNA even lower. I cannot for a second understand what TNA thought they would gain from this. If you want my advice, Dixie, focus your attention more on getting your product out by getting the television shows online for fans who do not or cannot watch Pop TV. Don’t waste time attempting to whip up a “give me attention, oh please, please give me attention” childish rant.
– Onto a brighter subject, how about that Rumble, eh kids? It won’t go down as the greatest of all time, but it will certainly be one that I look back with fondness. WWE managed to space out the entrances and book the eliminations in a way that kept the hardcore fan engaged while also keeping the casual fans wondering who would win the match. There are some things that bothered me. For instance, the way Tyler Breeze is being wasted on the main roster. In some ways I wish he had never been promoted from NXT. It’s not that I think he could be the “next big thing” but it just seems that with his athletic ability he should be given more of a chance than we saw him get in the Rumble to mean something. And if I can be really nitpicky, Michael Cole giving us the rundown of the entrants literally a second after the buzzer went off was poor. I like the idea of a full rundown of the guys, that’s a good tool to give a sports like environment. But it took me out of the moment and irritated me that he had it available so quickly. Again, though, that is just a nitpick.
Despite those small gripes, I did enjoy the Rumble and hearing the pop that AJ Styles got was great. Just seeing AJ Styles in a WWE ring was strange and exciting and in a good way. Watching Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens go at it on the big stage was another moment that made the crowd happy and presumably sets something up for WrestleMania, which would be amazing if done right. Triple H winning the title? Meh, but I’ve made my feelings known on that and it is what it is. I did like the way they got there. I can listen to the arguments that the League of Nations looked stupid for not ensuring Roman Reigns was eliminated after leaving him lifeless. And Roman walking to the backstage area instead of being stretchered gave the impression that he was not man enough to get back in the ring and was instead walking away from a fight. I had exactly those thoughts as I was watching it, but I enjoyed this setup because it gave the impression that Roman would come back out and regain the championship, as that’s the normal course of events in WWE. Instead, they swerved us by not following their usual playbook.
– I have heard some people rave about the Raw television show the following night. Aside from The Rock and the announcement of the main event at Fastlane, I can’t really remember much else from the show. What disappointed me more than anything was the fact that they seemed to set up feuds leading up to WrestleMania during the Rumble match, but there was no followup outside the main event scene. It looked to me that they were setting something up with Zayn and Owens as I mentioned previously, but there was no followup. Maybe they are saving that one for a later date, but they also seemed to be setting something up with Owens and Styles and that also disappeared on Monday. They seemed to set something up for Brock and the Wyatt Family, and there wasn’t any real followup (although I hope Bray is not Lesnar’s WrestleMania opponent). Jericho and Ambrose seemed to be bubbling again thanks to Ambrose eliminating Jericho, but there was nothing on Raw between them. It just felt like they had given everything they had creatively the night before and were using this week to recharge. Even the two major talking points were hoo hum. Rock popping in was great for the fans in the arena but all he did was insult everyone, and he even took viewers out of the wrestling world by mentioning that he was breaking script.
– The announcement of the main event at Fastlane was just logically a mess as under no circumstances should The Authority even be willing to give Roman an opportunity to be number one contender for the title. All they had to do was have Stephanie say, okay Roman, you do have a rematch clause. But given the contract you signed you have an opportunity to face the new champion at WrestleMania……..but you have to go through The Beast and your best friend to get it. Or, even more logically sound, the board of directors forced the McMahon family to book the three wrestlers in the Triple Threat. It’s not difficult, and it doesn’t require you to turn your brain off to play along with their lack of logic.
So WrestleMania 32 is starting to take shape before us, but yet we still don’t know much definitively about the lineup. In one way that is great, because it keeps us anticipating and speculating. On the other hand, I’m a big believer that WrestleMania should be the end of major feuds in most cases. With just over two months of build left, WWE need to get their skates on if they want the feuds to feel ‘Mania worthy. Nevertheless, to use WWE’s term, we are now on the road to WrestleMania, and I believe it’s building up to be a good one.
As always, feel free to get in touch ether through twitter @haydngleed or via email email@example.com.