By Haydn Gleed
-Well it’s been a big week in the world of Pro Wrestling with a lot of wrestling to digest especially from the WWE side of things. Two hours of NXT, SIX hours of SummerSlam, three hours of Raw, two hours of Smackdown, and so and so on. In a four day period there was half a full days worth of WWE to consume. Although there are people out there who cannot get enough of the product it goes without saying that the majority of people who watch wrestling, casual or otherwise, have full-time jobs and families that they can’t abandon for that amount of time and it’s just too much. How’s that for a nice positive start to the blog?
-SummerSlam came and went and I can’t say that it exceeded any of my expectations. The event has been broken down piece by piece, but for me it didn’t exceed my expectations and if anything it came in the low end of my already low expectations. The main event was fantastic but for me up and down the card it was something and nothing mostly. The only match that really exceeded my expectations was the Smackdown tag title match on the Kickoff Show. Everything else could have been on any episode of Raw or Smackdown and I would have been disappointed, let alone on the second biggest WWE show of the year. I decided when I started writing for Dot Net just under four years ago that I wasn’t going to be someone who just wrote about negatives and I always look for a ray of light in the storm cloud that is the subject I’m writing about, but I just can’t in the case of SummerSlam. It’s a sad indictment of how disconnected I feel and how I sense a lot of people feel to the product WWE is currently giving us on the main roster.
-Poor, poor Rusev, that is all.
-So let’s get onto something positive. NXT Takeover Brooklyn III was fantastic top to bottom. It obviously helped with the excitement level for the show that it was the first show out of four over a long weekend, but I don’t think that’s what made NXT connect to a higher percentage of viewers than the main roster shows did. Somebody asked Jason Powell and Will Pruett during ProWrestling Live about why NXT is so much better at connecting with the audience than the main roster and they both gave great answers, but what I would add to it is that every match gives you a reason to care and they feel like they matter. Anybody who watched Takeover could tell you why every match was happening and the possible connotations coming out of the contest. With the show being comparably shorter to other WWE shows that helps, but you come away wanting more of what you’ve seen due to the actions and the stories being told before, during and after the match.
-Coming out of NXT, I started to have a little thought which I’m scared may take my indie correspondent cred away, but here goes. Is ROH now the unofficial official feeder system to NXT and therefore WWE? Before you throw your lunch down and get on the twitter machine to give me hell, let me give you some statistics. On the day that Adam Cole made his debut at the end of Takeover, it had been 5,656 days since the first ROH show on the 23rd February 2002. At the time of the superkick heard around the world from Adam Cole on Drew McIntyre, it meant that of those 5,656 days, 3,367 of those days the ROH Title was held by someone associated with WWE within the last three years (Samoa Joe 645, Nigel McGuiness 545, Bryan Danielson 462, Adam Cole 445, Austin Aries 419, Kevin Steen 328, Tyler Black 210, Roderick Strong 189, CM Punk 55, James Gibson 36, Kyle O’Reilly 33). That’s 60% of the time. On top of that with the signing of Lio Rush and the rumored signing of Donavon Dijack, that’s two of the last three ROH Top Prospect Tournament winners. If you go back as far as 2011 and the first Top Prospect Tournament winner, Mike Bennett is someone else who is now in WWE. There are obvious arguments for and against this and this subject probably needs a blog and/or audio discussion of its own but was just something that came to mind. Nevertheless, I’m really excited to see Cole, Bobby Fish, and Kyle O’Reilly in NXT joining the wealth of talent that I highly respect on the roster, so at least there’s something for me to look forward too in terms of a WWE product.
-Raw is Beachball War happened on Monday. I can’t say that I was particularly blown away with what was presented. I’m disappointed that they are going right to Brawn Strawman vs. Brock Lesner at No Mercy, as this could have been built up as a super main event further down the line for a bigger show, but I look forward to seeing it. I doubt Strawman will win as I can’t see a scenario that makes sense for Brock to get the title back and having it meaning something when he puts someone else over, but perhaps an indecisive finish leading to Brock being storyline injured by Braun, meaning another singes match between the two down the line could be an interesting twist. Another big match that seems to be on the cards for No Mercy is John Cena against Roman Reigns in the battle of the boos. I’m looking forward to the spectacle of this more than anything else, but again I think this would have been better as a WrestleMania match. With Reigns and Cena seemingly facing off at the tail end of 2017, it does seem to indicate we could be marching towards the expected main event at next year’s ‘Mania between Reigns and Lesnar, but there’s a long way to go until then.
-Speaking of Cena, I know that he was advertised on the arena website, but how do you not say at SummerSlam “tune in tomorrow to see John Cena’s first appearance in X amount of time on Raw”. I know there’s the element of surprise that gives the sense that “anything can happen on Monday Night Raw” (except compelling stories, blood, feuds that don’t insult your intelligence, matches that feel that they matter, heels and babyfaces positioned correctly etc etc but I digress). However, I would have thought a promise of a Cena appearances would be built up even more than it was. While I’m on my high horse and a complete change of subject, is it really smart by WWE to be pointing out that Sasha Banks is already a four-time WWE Women’s champion? She’s been on the main roster for just over two years and she’s a four time champion? The sad thing is none of the runs as champion have so far been memorable.
-Poor, poor Emma, that is all.
-Shifting gears to ROH, they presented an iPPV/Special/Stream whatever you want to call it from Liverpool on the same day as NXT Takeover and I really enjoyed the show. The Liverpool show was fun and worth the price tag, but my biggest complaint with it was it felt like an ROH show that they could have put on anywhere else in the world and it wouldn’t have made a difference. What I mean by that is that this didn’t feel like a special coming from the UK, but instead an ROH house show that happened to be in the UK. I know Mark Haskins was on the main card, and behind the WWE associated UK talent I would rank him the best UK talent out there, but I felt the crowd was flat because of the lack of UK talent and reason to be invested. I also know CCK (Chris Brookes & Travis Banks) were on the pre-show, which by all accounts they got a great reaction, but the type of crowd that knows and goes to a ROH event will be clued up to the UK indie scene. I think ROH would have been better served if they had a better mixture of UK talent amongst the matches they put out there in terms of getting the crowd fully invested and improve the atmosphere better for the entire show, whcih felt flat. I went to a PCW show years ago where it was British talent against ROH talent and the atmosphere was off the charts. I think ROH missed that passionate crowd by not featuring more of the local favorites.
-If you haven’t already check out my blog review of Progress Chapter 53, I’ve recommended to a lot of people I know to check out Progress for the first time by watching this show. The reaction I’ve had has been overwhelmingly positive. So if you are not too burned out on wrestling and you are still bummed out by how meh SummerSlam was, get a (legal) copy of Progress Chapter 53 and then sit back and enjoy.
As always, feel free to get in touch with me via email email@example.com or via twiter @haydngleed.
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...