By Haydn Gleed, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@haydngleed)
-I was in an earthquake last weekend. No, I wasn’t drinking and the floor just seemed unstable, it was a full on 4.4 on the scale earthquake. I just didn’t know that it had happened. About 10km from where my girlfriend and I live was the center of the quake and apparently the house shock quite a bit, to the point my better half went out into the street expecting to see a gas explosion somewhere. Me on the other hand? I was sat at the Cardiff City Stadium thirty miles away next to a PA system with a loud bass, so when the quake hit the floor was already vibrating quite a bit. I’ll be honest, when I started writing for Dot Net five years ago, I never thought I would be discussing being in the middle of an earthquake.
-Anyways, the wild wacky world of wrestling. The big news that was made official this week was the end of the single brand WWE pay-per-views and instead a return to a duel brand format. I can’t say I’m exactly shocked because we have seen that with Smackdown especially, it feels that WWE has burnt through a lot of matches that under normal circumstances would be kept until a major show just to keep the single brand pay-per-view concept alive. If you need an example of what I mean, look at the Raw brand show from late last year when you had Roman Reigns vs. John Cena and Brock Lesner vs. Braun Strowman on a relatively minor pay-per-view card.
Because of Smackdown’s shallower main event pool, it has been felt especially hard where for show after show it felt that we would get a variation of the same match. Then, a couple of months later, we would be right back to the same competitors. With a more focused pay-per-view card where each brand only has to focus on a couple of feuds for that show, it allows better storytelling on the main television shows and being able to save matches to make the events feel special when and where the time is right, not just because they need a big time match for their main event.
Of course, it’s not all positive. With less time on each card for each brand, it means that the wrestlers at the lower end of the scale won’t be working the shows on a regular basis and presumably they won’t be paid as much. It wouldn’t surprise me that at some point there maybe some announcements of departures from the company because of this move. However, I feel the most significant loser with this decision will be the women’s division. With three hours every other month to fill, WWE has struggled to produce feuds beyond the titles that have felt worthy of being spotlighted on the main card, so what hope do the majority of the female roster have of cracking the duel brand pay-per-views unless they are involved in some multi-woman match?
As with any big decision like this one, there are positives and negatives to consider, but overall I feel it will improve the overall quality of the product and, from a business point of view, it’s the correct decision to make.
-Well Raw was a lot of fun wasn’t it? Ironically, without the three hour Raw which for years we have criticized, lambasted and called the downfall of WWE amongst many other things, we never would have been able to have the special two hour dedication to a gauntlet match. With the time available, WWE finally mixed up the old concept that had been stretched from one hours to two hours then two to three hours over the years and produced something truly memorable.
Coming out of the match I felt that Seth Rollins especially shined. It wasn’t just the victories over the two top dogs in John Cena and Roman Reigns, it was the skill and stamina that he showed during the 60-plus minutes he was in the ring. It wasn’t like Rollins needed to be re-made, but since his return from his injury 18 months ago, there hasn’t been the same sizzle with him. It might be the heel then babyface combination he came back with or whatever, but he certainly came out of Monday looking like a top star again. They also used the time to convey to the viewers how important the Elimination Chamber was too each wrestler and why winning the match on Sunday is important. Overall, as a go home show, Raw couldn’t have done a better job in hyping their main event.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that I’m a three hour convert, far from it. In a way, the fact that I’m so high on the show this week is because it was something different that has shone a massive spotlight on how predictable and dull the format of the regular Raw has been since moving to the marathon three hours each week. Obviously, you can’t do a two-hour gauntlet match week in week out, but perhaps the reaction to something a little different may get the powers that be thinking perhaps it’s time to shake things up a little. I’m not holding my breath, but I’m just glad we had the show we had on Monday to reinvigorate my passion for the brand.
-WWE 205 Live has been must watch television for the last several weeks. The point has been made that it remains to be seen what will happen when the current tournament finishes and we go back to the week in week out show that has struggled since it’s inception. It is a very valid point, but at the same time WWE should be given a tremendous amount of credit for taking what many considered to be a dead in the water brand and repackaging it to the point they now have an opportunity to re-establish the show long term.
This week’s show was no exception. I was delighted by the way that Jack Gallagher was showcased. Not only was he part of a very good match, but he was presented as a strong, vicious and credible heel which is certainly something that hasn’t always been the case. I strongly recommend that you check out the Figure Four Films documentary on the Gallagher, as it will give you a great background on the man behind the gimmick. Also have a read of Jason Powell’s excellent review of the film.
-That’ll do me for today. I will be back tomorrow with a special Saturday edition with thoughts on the sad state of WWE Smackdown, plus notes on NXT and Ring of Honor television, and Jeff Jarrett’s WWE Hall of Fame induction.
As always, feel free to get in touch if you wish to discuss anything about the blog or wrestling in general. You can find me on twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
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