By Haydn Gleed
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-Well another year has nearly gone by and we are in the throes of the holiday season. Trust me, trying to do Christmas shopping or indeed working in a City Centre during this time is one hell of a slog, but it’s nearly upon us and I’m looking forward to putting my feet up with an adult beverage or 20 (don’t drink, kids!). So what has the world of wrestling been throwing at us in the last week?
When I sit down to write my thoughts of the week, I try to look at some stories that don’t get as much love as the bigger stories of the week. By the point you get to my blog on a Friday, you’ve probably heard the biggest stories dissected and analyzed from each angle on podcasts or in columns so I try to give some love to the stories on the lower end of the scale. But this week I have to start with Stephanie McMahon and that complete nonsense that happened on Monday.
One of the most positive things for me in 2017 has been the evolution of the women’s division with a TLC match and the Mae Young Classic displaying how female wrestlers can be just as good if not better than their male counterparts. However, the moment that Stephanie’s music hit and the women in the ring completely broke kayfabe and stopped fighting with each other because the almighty McMahon has made her entrance was about ten steps back in the wrong direction. I don’t know about you, but in a real fight I wouldn’t tend to wait until one of my favorite tracks comes on in the bar and stop what I’m doing or indeed if an authority figure like say the police turn up I wouldn’t just stop because I would assume I’m in trouble and run (disclaimer: I’ve never been in a bar fight or indeed a fight but I’m sure they are not fun).
Sure, you can come back at me with “but Haydn Kayfabe is dead and it’s just a television show” but I would disagree. If I’m watching Gotham and there’s a fight scene but the writer comes onto the screen and everyone stops what they are doing and listens it would surely take me out of the moment. I would no longer see Jim Gordon or Harvey Bullock in the same way, and I would argue the same thing happened here. Watching this kickass heel in Paige just stop mid-beatdown to listen to Stephanie and then lead a Yes chant didn’t just take me out of the moment, it took me out of thinking of Paige as the leader of a badass team. For me the announcement of the ladies Royal Rumble was a huge moment that could have been the final segment of Raw with only Stephanie in the ring. It’s certainly two or three steps forward from a progress point of view to me taking the women’s division seriously on the main roster, but it also took ten steps back based on the way they were produced in this segment.
-WWE Clash Of Champions exceeded expectations……but when I was expecting a D show and it just scraped its way to a C level, that’s not really giving it high praise. As I’m writing this I cannot think of one match that was a real clunker but at the same time I can’t think of a match that really stood out as something that I would go back and watch years from now either. Clash of Champions encapsulated how I’ve been feeling about Smackdown for a while now in that don’t want to not watch it but I’m not blown away by what I’m seeing either.
-One aspect of Smackdown that I am enjoying is the disintegration of the Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon on air relationship. Just to get the negative out of the way, I feel they are starting to over shadow the “stars” of the show in Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, but that’s not the point I want to make. WWE has to be very very careful because they are pushing this angle in a direction where the only resolution will be some form of physical conflict, possibly over who takes control of Smackdown. Unless WWE has secretly cleared Daniel Bryan, which is not out of the realms of possibility I’ll admit, then they are setting fan expectations too high to the point that they will be disappointed when/if Bryan has to find a surrogate wrestler to replace him in the eventual match. The backlash and rejection of the match would be huge.
-Dean Ambrose goes away on honeymoon and then a couple of weeks later he’s injured. Wow, that’s a vigorous vacation you had there, pal. In all seriousness, while the timing of the injury sucks for Dean and for the Shield reunion in general, it can be a positive. It appeared that they were pushing toward a slow build of a heel turn for Ambrose to re-split the Shield, but can you imagine the promo that Dean could cut on his return. Say on his first night back they reform and have a match and mid-way through Ambrose abandons his teammates or recreates the Seth Rollins blasting him with a chair moment, breaking the hearts of the fans and his Shield brothers in the process. On the next available opportunity, Dean talks about how Seth and Roman never checked on him during his recovery and how even before the injury he felt that his teammates were out for themselves instead of looking out for him etc etc. It would be a great way to reintroduce him down the line and continue with whatever direction they were heading.
-So let me get this right, countless Fashion Files segments and the Bludgeon Brothers hunt, and the payoff was a two minute squash? What the funk?
-Do you know who Dolph Ziggler reminds me of? He’s that co-worker that moans and moans about management not giving him a pay raise, and how the company machine sucks and is biased towards him. Meanwhile, the employee shows up for work late, takes 90-minute lunch breaks instead of the allotted hour, and is constantly moaning and bringing everyone down (second disclaimer: I don’t currently work with anyone like that…..honest). You just want to grab that person and say, you’ve got the same opportunities as everyone else, shut the fudge up and get on with it. But I will admit I am intrigued by Dolph’s “Lost his smile” moment. The speculation of some fans is that he has yet to re-sign a contract and he could be leaving WWE, but I don’t really see the purpose of this angle if that is the case. Why break the lineage of the title just as a going away present? I can just about get my head around Ziggler getting the U.S. Title as a “gold watch” reward on the way out, but then move it onto the next person you want to hold the belt not hand it over to abeyance.
-In a reverse to Clash Of Champions, I thought Final Battle came in under its expectations. It had the potential to be a solid A show but came in on the high end of a B show. Everyone worked hard from top to bottom and the matches were on a world class level for the most part, there just wasn’t that special moment that could push it over the top. As I said in my members audio this week, I enjoyed the show and although they didn’t go in the direction I thought they were going to for a lot of the matches, the fact that I still came away satisfied says a lot. We head into 2018 with Dalton Castle as the champion and I’m intrigued. I saw the spoilers for the TV tapings and I’m fearful for his first feud as champion, but I’m willing to give it time before coming down too hard on it. The ROH roster might be small, but a lot of the wrestlers are being utilized in a positive way so I’m looking forward to 2018 and ROH.
-That’s going to do it for this week folks, all that’s left to say is I hope you have a wonderful, enjoyable, pleasant, and safe holiday period.
Agree or disagree? By all means let me know on twitter @haydngleed or via email email@example.com