By Haydn Gleed
-It’s been a bit of a strange week in the Gleed household, but I want to thank all of you who reached out to me to offer condolences for the passing of my friend Paul. Your heart felt words and thoughts meant the world to me, so thank you.
-There has been a lot going on this week in the crazy world of wrestling so lets see if I can break it down piece by piece. First up is the incredible turnaround for Shield merchandise where the new shirt for their reunion were immediately on sale the night of their return. I can’t be the only one who’s imagining Roman Reigns with a needle and thread desperately trying to get a thousand shirts made in a week or Dean Ambrose with a sewing machine screaming, “Look what I can do boys, lets get these shirts made!!” with his foot down hard on the pedal. In all seriousness, I think far too much has been made about that as it’s not conceivable in a kayfabe sense that after last week they agreed to the reunion and the company made the shirts available. Merch aside I thought it was a strong outing from the returning Shield and I’m certainly looking forward to TLC and the handicap match. I’m still reserving the right to feel that this may ultimately pale in comparison to their first run as I wrote last week, but creating havoc on the show this week felt that the group hadn’t missed a beat.
-I do agree to a point that’s it’s strange that the Raw Tag Team Champs and the Intercontinental Title holder are all in the one match with neither title on the line at the next Raw PPV, especially on a show without a Universal Championship match. At the same time, I would argue in the era of one brand only shows or “secondary show” they don’t necessarily need title matches just for the sake of it, instead focusing on one big attraction per month. The Shield returning in a TLC match is certainly that. If this was SummerSlam or the Royal Rumble, then I would be grumbling but keeping title matches until big shows or when they are needed/seem necessary makes those matches feel more important by default, so no major grumbles from me.
-So Bray Wyatt is a vessel for Sister Abigail, eh? Sigh. Look, my girlfriend and I are big fans of the Supernatural television series. We started watching in August and managed to devour five seasons in two months. We love it. This Bray Wyatt/Sister Abigail is something that I would expect to see in that type of show, not on a show which is supposed to be athletic competition with scripted drama. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are people out there who like this sort of thing in their sports entertainment, but for me this is going past the line of pro wrestling into a genre all to itself. I get that WWE is a circus and if you don’t like the clowns you go and look at the elephants, but this feels like it doesn’t belong in the same universe as 99 percent of everything else on the show. Finn Balor saying he knows what he needs to do now was intriguing. Does that mean he’s going to summon the spirit of Prince Devitt?! Kidding aside, I like Bray Wyatt and if he could find that right mix of spooky but also intimidating with mind games/cult leader, WWE would be onto a winner. But leaning more towards the possessions, bad holograms, deep voice singing kids, and video ring canvases just takes viewers out of the moment and is something that you hope a non-wrestling fan doesn’t walk in to see you watching.
-Sami Zayn turned heel in the way that I predicted in a blog last week. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed both the moment on Sunday and also his promo on Smackdown where he laid out the feelings of being disrespected and saying that despite playing by the rules, he feels is career is passing him by. I loved it and not only because I predicted it. It’s given Sami a new dimension and made people care about him. The key now is the follow up. The first thing they need to do is change his music even though it will break my heart. For about an 18 month period, that song was my alarm to get me up for work in the morning until my girlfriend deleted it from my phone and threatened to kick me out of the house if I put it back on. The problem is it’s so catchy and uplifting and it’s the complete opposite to what they should do with the current Zayn character. They also need to start giving Sami some in-ring credibility with the casual fans. I’m talking about winning matches without the aid of Kevin Owens. He needs to face the likes of the Tye Dillingers of this world and he can cheat to win, but not with outside help and not because he has to but because he wants to. They need to show a whole new vicious and darker attitude with him. As you can imagine, I will be following this closely over the next couple of weeks.
-I’m a little bit torn on the women’s division on Raw. On one hand I love the fact that we will get two ladies matches at TLC, one involving the title and one that doesn’t involve the title, but I’m not too sure I’m happy with the content. The Asuka match is going to be a glorified squash match and even though I know this going in I am looking forward to seeing what WWE allows Asuka to do in this match. It’ll be interesting what approach WWE takes with this. Will they have Asuka destroy Emma in under a minute or will it be a longer form match where Asuka can show her impressive moveset to the larger main roster audience? Either way, it’s going to be great to see her on the main roster. With the title match, I’m pleased as punch that Mickie James is getting some love from WWE and she’s certainly held her own on the mic with the continuing to impress champion Alexa Bliss, but I’m not too crazy about the age slant of the feud. Don’t get me wrong, a heel should use any perceived weakness or self-doubt against a babyface, but until they start doing this such as AJ Styles, who is 40, then it does feel like a double standard. I’m not the type of guy who gets upset with this kind of thing, but I can understand the pushback by those fans who do and it’s a line that WWE doesn’t and shouldn’t even need to be trying to walk. But to get back to the positive side of things, two women’s matches at TLC? Certainly a sign of progress.
-One last little gripe I want to make regarding WWE is the way that he Hardy Boys have been treated since their return. They returned hot at WrestleMania with the crowd going crazy for them, but since then it just feels that WWE have been milking any of the star power out of them. I worry how far this is going to go. I understand older acts have to give back when the time is right, but I just don’t feel that it’s the time for the Hardys to be doing that since they still have so much to offer. Braun Strowman kicking out of the Twist of Fate on Raw was probably the right thing to do from the standpoint of building Braun, but combined with everything else they’ve done over the last six months it feels at this point that the Hardys, Matt especially, are like a glorified enhancement guys. I want to believe that this is all by design and it will lead to a Broken or Woken or Sleepy (ok ,maybe not that last one) gimmick, but I’m starting to lose confidence that it will happen or that Matt will be seen as a big enough star for it to work on WWE TV.
-At this point, I would usually be tempted to say Impact Wrestling announced the Global Wrestling Network……….anyway……….but I’m not going to do that. I am genuinely curious about how this works out. I don’t believe it’s going to be a roaring success, but I will certainly be signing up for the free trial to have a look around. One aspect that I think will make this a moderate success is based on how the press release worded is that new episodes of Impact will be available through this over the top method for free, possibly on delay. Pop TV is on a higher tier of American TV and there may be some old TNA fans who don’t want to pay for the upper tier just for Pop, but they might check out the latest episodes available on the app and stick around. I don’t think the video library is as valuable as some within the company think. Let’s face it, some of the older TNA episodes are very hard to watch, especially 15 years on. Pulling back the curtain here, I decided to do some retro reviews of some of the first episodes of TNA as a column for Prowrestling.net. I got through half of the first show and saw a guitar shot, smaller people wrestling in a comedy match, and I felt nauseous from how quickly everything was happening and nothing being allowed to settle. I have filed that particular column away in my “started but never finish” folder of work.
-Progress Wrestling put up their latest on demand content this week, which was the women only “Mae Young Classic Inspired” eight-lady tournament, which they held just two weeks ago. It’s pretty good. As far as people you would be familiar with if you watch the main product, only Jinny has appeared on an actual Progress chapter, but the other ladies looked competent in the ring and a few stood out as having good, raw potential. It in no way compares on a quality level with the previously mentioned Mae Young Classic, but at the same time it shows that the talent is coming through on the UK scene, and it certainly didn’t feel like a cheap imitation of the MYC either. Progress’s next big show is still two weeks away where all their main storylines are due to be reset following their biggest show in September, but they will have three shows in a month coming up, so there will be plenty of work for me to do in bringing you coverage right here on Dot Net of the top quality UK indie wrestling.
-Have a great weekend everybody!
As always I love to hear from you with your thoughts. You can find me on twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org