By Haydn Gleed, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@haydngleed)
-So the last few weeks have been super crazy in my little world. First there was the mini earthquake followed by a week of being snowed in and then last week going to a conference with my work. I was looking forward to getting back to a normal routine week and I managed to break my car! I’m sure I’m not a bad person but my karma says otherwise at the moment. Perhaps it’s because my soccer team is doing so well and the universe is trying to balance everything up!
-I can’t be the only one who is getting bored with the whole “I shouldn’t be saying this” approach that a lot of top stars are employing at the moment. Two weeks ago we had Roman Reigns saying that the people in the back don’t want me to talk about Brock Lesnar not being there and now John Cena is doing the same schtick when it comes to the Undertaker. I understand that the approach of making the audience feel that while the show is scripted and the matches predetermined there is always a chance of somebody breaking script can be exciting for the viewers, but with these situations less is more. If every top program involves some form of kayfabe version of “I shouldn’t be saying this or doing this” it conditions the audience into thinking that what they see in front of them could be real. Going “off script” as part of every show takes some of the “anything can happen” feel from the show. For example, if CM Punk had done his famous Pipe Bomb promo and then two weeks later John Cena did something similar it would have diminished the specialness of the segment. There are times and places for the use of these storytelling tools but like with anything in life, the more it will lead to diminishing returns.
-I’m very much in the minority on this opinion and that’s fine, but I’m not sure I quite understand the people in the crowd from Raw who are really upset that Brock Lesnar wasn’t part of the show on Monday. When he failed to show a few weeks ago despite being advertised I can understand some frustration, but the key to the storyline build to WrestleMania between Reigns and Lesnar on television is that Lesnar doesn’t care enough about the fans to show up when advertised. There must have been some sneaking suspicion that he wouldn’t show. I kind of agree that maybe he should have been put into a dark segment, but in 2018 that information would get out there and WWE is trying to at least give the impression to the viewers that there is a genuine issues backstage (see my previous paragraph). Part of the fun of the first Roman promo was people contacting me or others at Dot Net and asking whether what they saw was real. So although I can appreciate the disappointment, I’m surprised that anyone who had watched the show the last couple of weeks didn’t anticipate this happening.
-Where I am more sympathetic is the situation with Ronda Rousey. As far as I’m concerned, it’s unforgivable from WWE’s point of view. Although the right decision was made in terms of keeping her off television and not overexposing her in the build to WrestleMania, the fact that a WWE.com article proudly proclaimed that she would be appearing on every Raw between now and ‘Mania set fans with the expectations of exchanging their money for the chance to see the former UFC star and amounts to nothing short of false advertising in my mind. I appreciate that some of you reading this may call me a hypocrite based on my opinion of Brock’s situation, but Lesnar being off television and being advertised for an appearance and no-showing is part of a storyline whereas the decision was made to pull Rousey from a scheduled appearance without any prior notice and without adequate reason to appease the paying fans. By the way, how concerning is it if WWE actuyall feels that Rousey appearing on every show is overexposing her? It kind of makes you wonder how successful her supposed full-time commitment post WrestleMania will be.
-Ultimate Deletion is next week and I have this sneaking suspicion that it will be DELIGHTFUL!!!
-WWE Fastlane was praised in many quarters for the work of the wrestlers in spite of terrible booking and I certainly can’t argue with that. Lots of the matches delivered to the best of current abilities of the wrestlers involved and the main event was a lot of fun. But I’m still so confused by the booking and storytelling with the Shane McMahon character. Let me break it down like this. The babyface (Shane) gets an accidental kick to the face. In revenge, he deliberately stops both men involved in said accident from winning a match that they had fairly won. On the following show, the supposed heels complain and make truthful and correct statements that they were screwed for no reason by the supposed babyface and I’m supposed to boo them? Why? I was always under the impression that babyfaces would ultimately take the noble course of action and heels would make half truth statements that get under the fans skin because they aren’t telling the full story. I don’t see that happening here and as a result there’s this huge disconnect with me with this entire storyline. This was just another layer added to the apathy that I’m feeling towards three characters who under normal circumstances I thoroughly enjoy.
-As a whole, Smackdown was a lot better this week. It’s funny how a member of New Day actually taking something seriously has reinvigorated my enjoyment for group as a whole. I’m actually looking forward to the apparent three-way tag match between The Usos, New Day, and Bludgeon Brothers at WrestleMania and the opportunities for good in-ring storytelling. Two teams who have a long-standing rivalry that has an uneasy truce in order to team together to battle a bigger common threat. I’m also excited for the Asuka against Charlotte match simply for the potential quality. Although Asuka has been positioned as an unstoppable force, it’s such a shame that Charlotte has been part of the brand that seems to overlook their women’s division on a consistent basis. Charlotte still has the respect of the fans, but her run as Smackdown Women’s Champion hasn’t really set the world on fire due to the way the women are positioned on the show. It’s such a shame because if Charlotte was a red hot champion that had been setting the Tuesday night show alight with excellent emotional storytelling and great in-ring action, this match could have had the possibility of being truly something special from an in-ring and competitive standpoint. As it is at the moment, it feels like a match that people will look forward too, but is not as red hot as it should be.
-I wrote a scathing section of this blog on WWE’s use of the Fabulous Moolah name for their women’s battle royal shortly before the news broke of the battle royal name change. I commend them for that. I understand that any allegations are just that allegations they are not proof of guilt, but equally if any talent past or present are accused of allegations of this magnitude, current roster members are either suspended pending an investigation while names from the past can be scrubbed from WWE TV. In the modern world, that is exactly the right position to take (and not instantly believe guilt of the accused or the accuser like some people have a tendency of doing) especially in the corporate world that WWE are so proud to be part of. I strongly believe that WWE made a mistake in naming the match after Fabulous Moolah in the first place given the level of accusations against her legacy, but common sense has prevailed, presumably due to pressure from a sponsor. The focus can now be on the actual match rather than the person the match is named for.
-Luckily, I did not watch the live feed for the ROH 16th Anniversary show, but instead caught a replay the next day. Working in an IT environment as my everyday job, I look at the stream issue through that lens first and foremost. It is frustrating and I can understand the disappointment of the fans who paid a lot of money up front to access ROH pay-per-views via HonorClub only to be left with essentially a blank screen, but you have to take into account that this was a first real world test and sometimes variables happen that can’t be accounted for no matter how good a testing cycle has gone. I hear the argument that as part of Sinclair Broadcast Group this should not happen, but from an IT perspective we don’t know what type of resources they were given for this. How many developers were put onto this project? What bandwidth restrictions were in place? How much beta testing was done? How much resource and time was given to these tests. Frankly, I’m not surprised that there were issues considering the budget that ROH reportedly gets from Sinclair and sometimes failures ultimately provide a better service. The IT guys will now be reviewing the data collected and ultimately their main priority is stopping a repeat. With one of their biggest shows and arguably one of the biggest matches of the year between Kenny Omega and Cody at Supercard of Honor, they now have the opportunity to fix any underlying issues and build a framework to cope based on what went wrong on the 16th Anniversary show before this major show. Or, of course, ROH can just turn the server off and on and that will get that baby working just fine.
-As for the event itself, I actually enjoyed it a lot. I had a rant about one of the pre-show matches being a quarterfinal match when we were due to see the first round match of one of the competitors on the TV show the night after, but you’ll have to be a Dot Net member to hear my rant on that in audio. That nitpick aside, I couldn’t really find much fault with the show. The matches that were expected to be good to great delivered and the matches that fans thought would be average either reached those expectations or exceeded them. ROH continues to be on a great roll and when Bully Ray said that Cody vs. Omega is the biggest match on WrestleMania weekend, he’s not far off and that says a lot.
-That going to do it for me this week. I’m going to go and cry over my savings account bank statement that once held my WrestleMania funds for next year but has since been transferred to the account of my local mechanic. If anybody is in the UK area and you hear sobs and screaming in the distance that will probably be me.
As always, feel free to get in touch by either leaving a comment below, contacting me through twitter @haydngleed or via email email@example.com
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