By Haydn Gleed
So, the main focus of the WWE television shows this week has been the build towards SummerSlam and I would give them a minor thumbs up for this week’s television efforts. The card is somewhat split between matches that feel SummerSlam worthy and some that feel thrown together at the last minute. I have heard a lot of people complaining about the latter category saying that matches on the SummerSlam card should mean something. In an ideal world, I would wholeheartedly agree, but we live in the age of two pay-per-view events most months that need to have some kind of build to them, so it would be almost impossible to develop all storylines to peak at SummerSlam.
With that being said, I would like more of a backstory to the feuds that are just starting to make them feel like there’s a reason to invest in the match. Off the top of your head, could you tell me what the beef is between Bray Wyatt and Finn Balor? John Cena and Baron Corbin? Granted these might be fleshed out over the next seven days on the go-home shows but I would argue it is too late the week before a major show to really get people interested or even to want to see the matches. It feels like a, oh this will be ok type of deal and it’ll fill a spot on the card. With the talent that WWE has and two different shows to tell stories on, I would strongly disagree with ever having true filler on a major show like SummerSlam.
On the flip side and to try to bring some positivity into this blog, the matches that have built up over the long term feel must see. I spoke about the four-way Raw main event in this very blog last week, but they managed to further itch my curiosity on the result of the match. I still can’t call it at this point and that’s what gets me excited as I could make an argument for each of the four to win the match. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose are continuing nicely with their story. There was a slight variation to what I predicted last week but I still feel we are heading towards a Dean Ambrose heel turn eventually after what I would book as the reconciliation on the Monday Raw go-home show. For the heel turn, I would even take it one step further than I fantasy booked last week and have a moment in the SummerSlam match that matches what happened with Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa breakup in terms of Rollins pushing Ambrose out of the way of an attack, which could lead to some great heel logic promos for the post match beat down of Ambrose telling Seth that he’s still selfish and he proved it with that act or something along those lines.
-Back to negatives, folks, as the mess between Big Cass, Big Show, and Enzo Amore got even messier with the announcement of Enzo being put in a shark cage above the ring during the Big Cass vs. Big Show match at SummerSlam. Now not only do you have a babyface hanging above the ring, which makes no sense at all, but we saw this match a couple of weeks ago and it was not what you would call even a good match, so I doubt there are many people highly anticipating this one. When Cass and Enzo debuted on the main roster they had an energy and an edginess to them. I can’t help but feel the backlash that was rightly made against Enzo after the whole “Burt and Ernie” comment made management give the duo a shorter rope and made them be careful with the material before sending them out there. As a result, we had months of the same old Enzo and Cass act that the live crowd enjoyed, but for the people at home it was a cue for a lot of people to go for a bathroom break. Now that Enzo and Cass have split, it still feels that the edge that was there originally with Enzo and his promos is not there. An Austin Powers reference in 2017? Only strange people would do that, yeah baby!
-There’s been some chatter amongst wrestling fans regarding John Cena’s reaction (or lack of reaction) to the loss to Shinsuke Nakamura the previous week. It’s certainly not the first time that this subject has been brought up and I’m guessing it won’t be the last. Look, I know it’s frustrating to see John Cena come out on top of feud after feud but he is the face of the company and that’s why that happens. With that being said, the logic should be that his opponent should come out of a match or a feud looking better than before they went into it. For every AJ Styles coming out of a feud with Cena looking better, I can name a Bray Wyatt or Rusev or Kevin Owens, hell even The Rock lost something after a Cena feud and my own personal opinion is that Cena doesn’t sell the loss or the agony of defeat and/or look venerable. Say after the first loss to Owens, Cena came out and said “I underestimated him and I don’t know if I’m good enough to defeat the new guy on the block.” If he then overcome those doubts by winning, it would mean a lot more than giving the impression that his first loss was a fluke. Granted, with Shinsuke, he wasn’t as dismissive of his opponent’s talents, but it didn’t make you think that Cena thought he had lost to a better person.
-Because I submitted my blog early on Friday last week, I missed the biggest news of the week… WWE released Eva Marie. In all seriousness, it’s not a joking matter when someone loses their job but you got the sense that WWE was not going to put her back on TV (aside from the Total Divas episodes that were already filmed) and as a result it was a waste having her marked as being on the roster. I’ll give her all the credit in the world for the work she put in to become a wrestler, but sometimes no matter how hard you work you can’t achieve your goal.
-ROH produced a very good TV show this week that they had consistently built over a number of weeks. They put forth one of the biggest matches they could put on considering their current talent pool. From an in-ring perspective, it wasn’t an all out classic. At the same time, it was good enough. The true special feel was the story and the feeling that this match mattered came from the build. I find that a lot of time, wrestling promotions can over promise and under deliver, but in this case, Cody vs. Daniels in a best of three falls match for the ROH Title was built well and we had a satisfactory conclusion to the feud that started at the beginning of the year. This is why I’ve enjoyed ROH television so much in 2017, it’s simply because they are telling stories. There’s no grand stories with helicopters, guns, and explosions, but nice simple stories of “I’m better than you and I want to prove it” and I feel some of the “bigger” companies could learn from ROH TV in 2017.
Agree or disagree? Feel free to let me know via twitter @haydngleed or via email@example.com or even pop something in the comments section below
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ricky Starks on his NWA run, doing enhancement work for WWE, leaving NOLA due to Hurricane Katrina, the January 24 NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, his relationship with Nick Aldis, and much more...