By Haydn Gleed, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@haydngleed)
-I want to start out this week by offering my condolences to the Sammartino family for the passing of Bruno Sammartino on Wednesday. Although he had long retired before I started watching wrestling, it’s quite clear from learning about wrestling history just how much of a foundation he laid for what we know and enjoy today from professional wrestling. I’m so glad that he was able to have somewhat of a reconciliation with the WWE late in life so that his legacy was honored at the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013 for the current generation of fans.
-There’s no easy way to transition from this sad news, but let’s give it a try. The past week saw in my eyes the NXT debut of the greatest female wrestler in the world Steffanie “Nixon” Newell. Right, I will say straight up that I consider myself a fair analyst and I have and will always try to be impartial no matter my thoughts on a particular wrestler. Newell, however, is from my hometown of only roughly a thousand people, so I’m going to be a total homer for her moving forward and I’m not going to apologize for it. Trying my best to be impartial, I will admit she has has a long way to go to be “WWE ready” and considering the seriousness of the injury she suffered just before the Mae Young Classic last year, she has a tough road ahead to get back to the level she was at around the UK scene, but I genuinely think she is going to be a big player in NXT and then hopefully on the main roster in the years to come. She has all the potential in the world and if you don’t believe me look up some of her matches on YouTube against both female and male wrestlers (I recommend her matches against Mark Andrews, which are truly outstanding). After making her triumphant return/debut as part of a tag team with Dakota Kai last week, I look forward to seeing how the valley girl does in the big world of WWE.
-If you think I should be more impartial when it comes to Nixon, just think of it this way. The last and only full time wrestler ever on the WWE roster from Wales was Mason Ryan…..I’ve made my point.
-I guess I should discuss the smaller (in comparison) news coming out of the Superstar Shakeup. The first thing that struck me was Smackdown have come away from the Superstar Shakeup with a tremendous roster. We now potentially have a long-awaited showdown between him and Daniel Bryan. Judging from Tuesday’s show and the interactions between Bryan and Big Cass (another new addition), it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if we have a Diesel/Shawn Michaels type partnership between Big Cass and Miz with Cas becoming the bodyguard of the awesome one. I’m perfectly happy with this and I feel it’s a smart booking decision. If the plan is for The Miz and Daniel Bryan to have their big blowoff at SummerSlam, then Bryan having to get through Cass is going to be a positive on a number of levels. You build even more anticipation with the fans of the eventual Miz vs. Bryan match and you also have someone who can help Big Cass in the ring if he has a number of matches with Bryan. Added to this, you could potentially hide Cass’s glaring weakness, which is talking on the mic by having him looking tough behind Miz. Although they might not go this way, I personally think it makes the most sense.
-The addition of Samoa Joe to the Smackdown roster is also a major plus because he will stand out as a real bad-ass big man on that particular show. If he’s booked appropriately, he can eventually be a real strong heel for the main event babyfaces to play off. I am somewhat confused by the logic of originally booking Roman Reigns against Joe for Backlash only for Joe to move brands, but I’m hopeful they have that covered from a storyline perspective. The tag team division has had a massive upgrade with Sheamus and Cesaro along with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows to add to the already established New Day, Usos, and Bludgeon Brothers. There could be some fun matches coming up from those five teams. Smackdown was also been boosted by some great NXT call-ups with Sanity (apparently minus Nikki Cross) joining the main roster along with the outstanding pairing of Andrade Almas and Zelina Vega. Top to bottom, the Smackdown card looks exciting and more importantly fresh.
-On the women’s division side of things, they have also had some great additions with Asuka along with NXT standouts from a character perspective in Peyton Royce and Billie Kay. My issue is it seems to me that WWE has established a two tier division within the women’s division. In essence, you have the women that WWE are clearly behind and look to protect the majority of the time in Charlotte, Asuka, Naomi, and to some degree Becky Lynch, and then you have the wrestlers that WWE seem to feed to these wrestlers such as Carmella, Sonya Deville, Mandy Rose, similar to the way they used the Riott Squad (and perhaps now Billie Kay if this weeks’ Smackdown is any indication). The problem with this as you’ve probably worked out is that one side has the babyfaces who they attempt to make look strong and the women who are being fed to them are the heels. This doesn’t allow any of the newcomers to really get themselves over as threats, and as a consequence it makes the babyfaces weaker. I have a sneaking suspicion however that this could be the perfect opportunity for Becky Lynch to turn heel and really establish herself.
-I think most of us can agree that the biggest plus for Smackdown in the shakeup was Jinder Mahal going to Raw, speaking of which….
It’s really odd because on the surface, it feels that Raw has been invaded by the job me, pay me squad with the likes of Tyler Breeze, Fandango, Viktor, Konnor, Zack Ryder, Mike Kanellis, Mojo Rawley and to some degree Baron Corbin. It’s going to be interesting to see what they do with these guys and whether or not they plan to use them in different roles than what we were used to seeing on Smackdown. Raw also got a number of wrestlers who should mean more but either through bad booking or just feeling stale haven’t meant as much as they should have. Prime examples of this are Dolph Ziggler and Chad Gable. I’m particularly intrigued by Chad Gable, as he is now on the same brand as his former Alpha from America Jason Jordan.
Where I think Raw have really gained is from their free agent signing of Bobby Lashley as well as NXT call-ups in The Authors Of Pain and Drew McIntyre. Both Lashley and McIntyre have the potential to be big players for WWE, and if you consider Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn to be free agent signings, even if it’s from a storyline standpoint, then that reinforces my point.
-The thing that jumped out to me as I just looked up and down the roster was the sheer amount of talent that is on both brands and it’s simply not sustainable. Look, I don’t want to see people lose their jobs, but there’s only so much time on the TV shows and so many stories that can be told. There’s a lot of talent that won’t be on TV each week and certainly won’t be anywhere close to getting pay-per-view matches, especially now that the network specials are duel branded. If WWE can afford to have all of this talent simply jobbing at house shows to the TV stars then so be it, but it’s certainly something that from a corporate point of view might need to be addressed.
-Last week I complained about Booker T’s use of the term “little woman at home” where it came across to me as he was talking about Maryse being Miz’s little woman at home. After some urging from a reader I re-watched that part of the pre-show and he indeed appears to be using that term for Miz and Maryse’s daughter, just in a very confusing manner, so I will retract that criticism. I blame my “little woman at home” for the confusion (I’m so joking).
-That’s going to do it for me this week. My beloved Cardiff City clawed their way to a victory last weekend and Fulham (who are owned by the same guy who own Jacksonville Jaguars) slipped up at home against Brentford, so the misery I was feeling last week has started to lift. It’s a big game this weekend for us at home to Nottingham Forest, which I will be attending for so check out my Twitter as I will probably be going through all the usual emotions I get during a Cardiff match. Happiness, relief, pain, suffering, anger, and then finally either elation or dejection. You know standard stuff for a long-suffering Bluebird.
-Have a good weekend everyone!
As usual, you can find me on twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to discuss anything I’ve brought up here or indeed if you want to say hello. Of course you are also welcome to comment in the comment section below