By Haydn Gleed
I watched my first “football” game this week. When I say football, anyone reading this from my side of the pond will probably know it as throwball. I actually sat down and watched the Minnesota Vikings against Green Bay Packers and it was…….interesting. This wasn’t some sort of task set by the boss (aka Jason Powell), I am actually going to a live game in London a week from Sunday involving the Vikings, so I thought I’d better at least get an idea of what I’ll be watching. I hate to admit it, but despite my sarcastic comments on Twitter I quite enjoyed it. I didn’t really understand what was happening and I don’t think I’ll be a regular fan, but I find myself looking forward to attending a real game in person so watch this space American readers.
-The big story this week is the addition of Kane to the TLC main event in a surprise twist during Raw. I’m actually digging this a lot. I think they were perhaps a week too late in bringing in Kane to the match only because I would have like to know his motivation behind his actions and alignment with the heels. At the same time, I’m not going to be complaining about a nice surprise that I very much doubt most people saw coming. To pull off a surprise like this in 2017 is hugely impressive. Besides, a TLC match or indeed any kind of ladder match doesn’t feel right unless I can write the old cliché of, well, Kane will be a good grounded base while everyone flies around him.
-I am looking forward to TLC more than I think a lot of people are. Firstly, WWE has been more disciplined in that they haven’t tried booking chairs, tables, stairs match, etc. that came out of nowhere and water down the gimmicks for future use. Secondly, I don’t have an issue with the top heavy main event as that’s what you want the fans to be looking forward too. Quickly, name me two of the fights on the Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather undercard? Unless you are a super fan (or a Cardiff City fan in Nathen Cleverley was in one of them in my case), you won’t remember the undercard because the big attraction sells the event and that’s the approach I feel they have taken here and, most importantly, they haven’t given the first Shield match away on TV. I know it’s like comparing apples to oranges in terms of boxing and wrestling, but in the case of TLC every match has a reason for being there. I don’t feel that they have just thrown together random matches with no stories behind them. Granted, some of the stories are far less compelling than one would like on the lower to mid-card, but the sales pitch is wrapped around the Shield’s return and I can see WWE seeing a rise in their network subscribers based on this. I don’t think this approach is something they should do on a regular basis unless there’s a true special main event like this one, but for this particular event I don’t think it’s a reason to be less excited about the show overall.
-So is The Demon against Sister Abigail technically an intergender match?
-Over on Smackdown, Sami Zayn continues to knock the heel turn out of the park. The promo at the start of the show was great with Sami emphasizing that he at least partly blames fans not himself that he hasn’t moved up the ladder, but to do it in the home town of the loved Daniel Bryan created a great atmosphere. I did feel that the promo strayed into the Daniel Bryan/Miz territory at times from THAT Smackdown Live episode, but it just about straddled the line not for it to feel like a rehash. If you ever wanted to see an example of telling an effective story in the ring, watch how Sami Zayn won in the main event. It fit his new heel persona perfect and continued building up Sami as, not only a heel, but someone who has credibility in the ring. I am really enjoying this change in character so far.
-Didn’t Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho always mention the fact they were best friends? I guess Vince McMahon forgot about that and therefore he believes the fans have as well. Or is this intentional?
-Aside from Owens/Zayn/Bryan/McMahon, I’m not really seeing anything that excites me on the Smackdown brand. Jinder Mahal is champion, which the negatives of this have been written about a lot, two big stars in Nakamura and Orton feel in limbo, Fashion Files are either something you love or loathe (otherwise known as marmite in the UK), New Day are facing off against Rusev and Aiden English in a battle of comedy, and the new U.S. Champion comes off the biggest win of his career by losing to the guy arguably at the bottom of the roster of Smackdown. In all seriousness now, have Fandango and Breeze retired from in-ring competition and are now paid to be parody actors? I legitimately can’t remember the last match that they had on television. I wouldn’t mind so much if I understood exactly what story they were trying to tell with these mini-movies, but as every week goes by I feel it’s not really leading anywhere or at least not anywhere compelling. In fairness to the brand, they managed to get a number of feuds to their natural crescendo in time for Hell in a Cell, so there’s going to be a transition period, but it doesn’t make for great television.
-Jim Ross released an autobiography which I am currently in the process of reading and so far I’m enjoying it. Once I’ve finished, be assured there will be a full review available on the main page of Prowrestling.net.
-The Global Wrestling Network is available for all with a 30 days free trial period………….anyways……..
-Anyone who caught the ROH iPPV on Sunday wouldn’t have been disappointed by what they got for their money. My god, Flip Gordon against Will Ospreay is the match that every fan who appreciates the current indie scene has to see, but there was good action all around. I went into the show not particularly excited as the event wasn’t built around storylines, but instead was a showcase exhibition style evening. It was certainly worth the time and money spent on it. They’ve managed to kick start the Cody against Dalton Castle feud, which I’m looking forward to a lot. Anyone who has heard my audio shows knows that I really enjoy the Dalton Castle character and firmly believe that he is one of the big stars in waiting on the Ring of Honor roster. If they tap into more of the bad ass but true to the character side of Castle that he displayed in his feud against Silas Young instead of the more comedy quirks of the persona, this could be a real breakout feud for the fighting peacock.
-That’ll do me for this week, I hope you all have a lovely weekend.
As always, feel free to get in touch with me to discuss anything I’ve touched on or to shout at me for calling it throwball on twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org