By Haydn Gleed, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@haydngleed)
-I’m writing to you today in the middle of a snow storm, the likes I haven’t seen for twenty years here in the UK. Between this snow storm in South Wales and the Earthquake last week, I don’t know what is going on in my little world here across the pond. The good news is I didn’t jinx my beloved bluebirds Cardiff City, who beat our “little” neighbors of Bristol City last weekend. We are edging closer to the Premier League each and every week, but the first rule of promotion is you don’t talk about promotion (until/if it happens).
-WWE showed both sides of their booking ability spectrum with the angle involving Ronda Rousey on Sunday and Monday. The use of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon at Elimination Chamber was spot on in terms of the right people to play the role opposite Rousey to get the crowd onside, but also the fact that for once The Authority were not afraid to sell both in a physical or emotive sense for the former UFC Champion. I came away from Raw feeling underwhelmed by the final segment of the show. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it for a long time, but the more I thought about it the more I realized it was because I felt that the same two players undermined both Rousey and Kurt Angle with the way they behaved. From Stephanie making an obvious point of showing how much taller she is (in heels) than Rousey by towering over her to Triple H sucker punching Kurt for seemingly no reason, it all felt a bit too much in regards to making the heels look strong. Without the sucker punch, I would have come away from that segment thinking that the heels were on the ropes, but they are going to come out fighting. Instead, it just felt that Hunter punched Angle for no other reason than to make himself look good (yes, I’m aware of how repetitive a point that sounds) while making Angle look weak and undermining the entire segment.
-I try not to bring up Roman Reigns in these blogs because by the time my blog is published at the end of the week, it feels that every move he makes has been dissected by every Tom, Dick or Harry. However, Jonathan Coachman’s tweet regarding fans saying they “hate” Roman without backing it up did get a little under my skin (although Jake Barnett’s amazing Twitter response alleviated any negative feelings). Reigns is a great wrestler. You would be hard pushed to find anyone in professional wrestling who has improved more in terms of ring psychology during a match in the last two years, but people just don’t connect with his character. Look at the declining gates for WWE events. I’m sorry, but in any other point in WWE history it would be attributed to the top guy in the company, who at this point is Reigns. It’s difficult for people to connect emotionally with a guy who gives the impression that he’s better than everyone else, shows no humility, doesn’t come across as likable, and he rarely loses meaning full matches and thus the fans can’t get behind any kind of redemption story. The fans don’t feel that they were on the journey to get Roman to the top and now he’s there they have no emotional attachment. This is why people have called for a heel turn with the idea that once he turn back to being babyface, it will be because the fans want him to start doing the right things instead of wasting his talents by taking the easy way out.
With that rant being said, WWE started a nice storyline that will surely get some people to start backing Roman on the way to WrestleMania. It was designed to evoke memories of the “Steve Austin took his ball and went home” promo by the Rock back in the day. It was designed and so well delivered that people legitimately couldn’t tell if it was real or not and that always gets people talking. By Roman positioning himself as the guy who stands up for the fans and his co-workers against a guy who thinks he’s too good for the business sets a clear divide. Either you are with the guy who thinks wrestling’s beneath him, or the side of the guy who says he’s dedicated everything he has to the company, the fans, and the business. I don’t want to speak too early because they could eventually screw this up, but this is potentially what might start getting the fans behind Roman because it positions him as the guy standing up for them.
-Damn you, WWE! I was watching Elimination Chamber when the crowd had quite clearly lost interest in the Bray Wyatt vs. Matt Hardy match, I wrote in my notes for this blog that “The Woken Universe appears to be Broken.” I can’t even begin to describe to you how proud of myself I was with that use of wordage. So what did WWE do? They gave me hope that the Woken Universe is not indeed broken by teasing a potential video shoot on Hardy’s “battlefield”. Whether this materializes and is indeed anywhere to the level as we saw from the Broken Universe in TNA is obviously not something that can be answered right now, but WWE has certainly managed to breathe a bit of life into this floundering feud and gimmick.
-WWE Smackdown was a little better this week, but that’s like saying a hammer to the hand is better than a hammer to the head. John Cena’s star power certainly helped from an entertainment point of view, but I’m not sure how great it made the Smackdown roster look that the guy who is doubting whether or not he can hang with the younger wrestlers is able to pin the WWE Champion clean. So essentially what we are led to believe is the champion on Smackdown is nowhere near the standard of Raw wrestlers.
-Shane McMahon sure likes his popcorn. Hey, I think I’ve just worked out the authority animosity storyline after Shane’s snide remark about Brie Bella making dinner for Bryan, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn. He’s bitter because Daniel’s wife loves him enough to make a full cooked meal while Shane is stuck eating popcorn. No? Hey, it makes more sense than the majority of Smackdown the last nine months.
-Quiz time: Shinsuke Nakamura wins the Royal Rumble and since then they have established him as a top talent ready to take on the champion at WrestleMania by a) showcasing him in the ring and letting him connect with the audience while showing he’s on a momentum building winning streak, or b) put him in a match with a comedy figure who has not been portrayed as a threat in the ring and let it take the number one contender nine minutes to put him away? Well, I guess it’s a positive that he at least he appeared on the show this week.
-The Ring of Honor 16th Anniversary show one week from today is starting to take shape, and there are a number of intriguing matches. The Briscoes vs. The Motor City Machine Guns should be great once the bell rings, though I wish they had done more to establish the MCMG’s personalities outside of a standard heel beatdown from the good ol’ boys heading into this match. Marty Scurll vs. Punishment Martinez is going to be fun. I suspect this will be more about comedy moments than a barn burner of a match, which is fine since Marty has recently been so entertaining and charismatic with his villain character. It all depends on the finish and whether it’s a fluke win for Marty or him using his villain tactics. The main event is Dalton Castle vs. Jay Lethal for the ROH Title in a match where I think we will see what level Dalton is really at as champion. It’s going to be a good match no matter what given that both men are hugely talented, but I always get the sense that Lethal is the measuring stick by which you are judged in ROH. If Dalton is as good as I believe he is then this match could surprise a lot of people.
-With that I’m going to go and build myself a snowman so I will take my leave. Have a great weekend and an even better week my friends.
As always, feel free to get in touch through either twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Jason Powell and Jake Barnett co-host the Dot Net Weekly and Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast combo show and discuss Raw Underground and other WWE concepts, The Rock's group buying the XFL, the Marty Jannetty story, AEW Dynamite and NXT TV, and more...