By Haydn Gleed, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@haydngleed)
-So the last week has been a busy one for me personally and in the wrestling world, but I’m back to try and make sense of some of the bigger stories of the week, so lets start with Backlash….
-This was a truly awful pay-per-view. It’s like WWE thought of the best way to book a major show to create excitement and a buzz moving forward and went with the opposite way of presenting the show aside from the opening match. Both main card women’s matches were of a somewhat questionable quality, the WWE Title match was heading in a great direction before the rug was pulled out from underneath them with a strange finish for a no DQ match, and I can’t understand the logic of the match between Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe. Instead of telling a story with Reigns being on a tailspin before a potential redemption story, and instead of simultaneously creating a killer heel for the Smackdown brand, WWE decided that a decisive victory for Reigns that helped nobody was the best way forward. The fan reaction was very apt for the name of the show, as there was a deserved backlash against the company. Based on the way that WWE was quick to move on this week, perhaps they got and understood the message.
-I write quite regularly about how it’s important that characters in wrestling don’t only perform in the ring but understand and feel the character that they are portraying. What we saw on Sunday with Nia Jaxx is a perfect example of how scripted lines have a negative effect on a character. If you read what she said in isolation (except the horrendous Be A Star reference) it reads as a somewhat inspirational message to men and women who feel that they can’t be themselves. But watching the way Jax performed those lines, you could tell that it wasn’t something that she would normally say, so it came across so disingenuous. As a result, it was horrendous and instead of the desired effect of making Jax a champion for the bullied, it made her come across as someone who doesn’t really understand the struggles. I’m not advocating for sending out developing talent and making them hold their own without a scripted line safety net, but there has to be some kind of collaboration between the talent and the writers to ensure that what the wrestlers say feels real and from the heart.
-Did I watch Raw and see qualifiers to get a qualifying match? Or have I consumed too much beer this weekend?!
-Raw wasn’t a bad show per se, in that nothing really stood out in a way that made me want to change the channel. It was just boring. I don’t use those words lightly as I really struggle to ever call anything in wrestling boring, but it just felt that nothing really happened. It was a result of the lackluster Backlash event where I’ve already spoken about the fact that nothing compelling came out of it. Plus, we are now in Money in the Bank season so everything again feels in a holding pattern. On top of that there are so many miscast performers on the show that I feel it takes away from the show for the fans even if it’s on a subconscious level because the show doesn’t feel as hot as it should. WWE is in a funk. It’s the post WrestleMania hangover, and when you add the fact that the Universal Championship isn’t even on the show it feels like a directionless product at the moment. Nothing against Seth Rollins, but when the fact the Intercontinental Champion and his exploits are the hottest thing on the show, it shows how important titles are in wrestling.
-With Raw in London next week, I would bet my house on the usual black cab and telephone box setup that they have been using since the big bang. Seriously WWE, the UK culture has so much more to offer than a taxi and a pay phone. With WWE’s usual approach of having 578 matches on the British shows, who would bet against there being a qualifying match to earn a qualifying match for a qualifying match?
-Smackdown feels like a product that has far more potential but is also making the same mistakes. Charlotte and Peyton Royce had a good little match and there was the perfect opportunity for what I called for earlier with Roman Reigns in terms of Charlotte looking like someone who is struggling to put people away. I could have even got behind Billie Kay causing a screwjob finish but instead Charlotte essentially beat both women singlehandedly. She is now back to being a level above everyone else and the IIconic Duo are now pushed back to the lower levels. I always speak of the two level approach that the Smackdown writers have taken with the women’s division and this week is clear evidence of not taking an opportunity to elevate two women to the top level. Rather, they defined them down once again and it benefits nobody. From a kayfabe point of view, I see the IIconic Duo as an act who annoy and can’t win meaningful wrestling matches even when they have the numbers advantage. So in that context, why should I care if they are antagonizing the babyface when I know they will lose if that babyface is high enough in the pecking order.
-It’s great that WWE used this week’s Smackdown to try and get some steam behind Samoa Joe after his return run had it’s legs taken out and he was defined as someone who is not as good as the guy on Raw who’s been on a losing streak, oh hang on…
-Sheamus eating Lucky Charms really?! If they have him dress in a green outfit with a green bowler hat and have him say “top of the morning” to everyone backstage then I’m done watching WWE.
-I know this week’s blog has been very negative and I don’t like to leave you fine readers with that taste in your mouth so lets take a look at some positives. Impact Wrestling has been on somewhat of a roll recently with some decent shows, ROH is banging out top quality wrestling shows on a regular basis which you can watch live on HonorClub. The independent scene seems to be getting stronger and stronger all the time. Progress Wrestling had their three day Super Strong Style 16 tournament over the weekend, which pretty much sold out the Alexandra Palace in London. All reports out of the shows were that it was a strong event so when the video is available on their on demand service I will be watching and have some thoughts to share with you guys.
-So that’s going to do it for me this week. I can’t let you go without talking about my beloved Cardiff City. When I started this blog format back in August last year, I would regularly talk about my throne of smugness with Cardiff City sitting on top of the league despite the doubters out there. Being a seasoned Cardiff City fan of 26 years and despite my confident façade about my teams chances, I thought by January we would be back to mid-table where our budget and player ability really looked to belong. However, this weekend we were promoted to the Premier League for next season. It’s where the big boys play and to say that I’m delighted would be the biggest understatement I’ve ever made. It still hasn’t quite sunk in yet and if you are not a soccer fan then it’s hard to explain the importance of this promotion. For the people who support other teams and have wished my bluebirds good luck I thank you, as I do for the people who have sensed the passion coming from me and wished a team they’ve never heard of in a place they couldn’t point to on a map. I already can’t wait until August and the first game in the PREMIER FRICKING LEAGUE, BABY!!!
As always feel free to get in touch if you want to vent or disagree with anything I’ve said in this admittedly very negative blog this week. You can find me on twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org