By Haydn Gleed, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@haydngleed)
-WWE Smackdown didn’t play out like we were expecting, did it?! I’m of two minds when it comes to the Daniel Bryan vs. Samoa Joe bait and switch. On the one hand, for the first match in WWE between these two you would hope that the company would build a big storyline around it as both men are master craftsman in the ring when given a story to work with. By giving it away for free on Smackdown with a small build, you take away the magic of “the first time” with no real payoff.
On the other hand, WWE promised a match that had the hardcore fans and I imagine a lot of casual fans salivating for a week. I’m not sure that the trade off between upsetting your fanbase in order to save a match in this instance was worth it. The next time that WWE promises a big match as a main event on either of the main roster brands the fans are now conditioned to believe it won’t happen and are thus less likely to tune in live. It didn’t help that it was Big Cass, who has been a huge disappointment, who was inserted into the match against two of the best workers the world has seen in the last fifteen years. In the words of a future comedy/parody rap king, you can’t teach that.
-What?! You mean the Enzo “rap” song is not a piss take?!
-While we are on the subject of Daniel Bryan, a lot has been spoken and written about the way he is being used. I can understand what WWE is doing to some extent. This is a guy who has been out of the ring for two years so if we look at it from a kayfabe point of view he is undoubtedly going to have ring rust. Think of your favorite sports stars who have been out for 12-18 months with serious injuries. When they come back it typically takes them a while to get back up to speed. So losing to Rusev and being saddled with Big Cass in order to get his timing back in a low profile feud makes some sense.
Where WWE is failing is if this is indeed the story they are telling with the bearded one in that they are not doing a good job of putting that over. The announcers should be talking about how Bryan is not looking as sharp as he did and his opponents are taking advantage of it. Hell, even go as far as questioning whether we will ever see the old Daniel Bryan again because of his time out of the ring. Then when the company has faith that he’s not going to break down or once he’s re-signed, they can use that story built up over time to get the fans behind him again as the underdog who has proven he’s not just as good as he was before but better. The issue is not necessarily with Daniel losing or who he’s in a feud with, rather it’s the way his comeback has been framed.
-Are you seriously telling me that Enzo’s “Phoenix” is going to be released as a proper single?! Really?!
-When Raw finished on Monday, I didn’t even noticed that Roman Reigns wasn’t on the show. It proves the point that I’ve been trying to make for years. Back in the heyday of The Rock, Steve Austin or John Cena, an absence by any of the three men would elicit conversation. What happened? Was he at the show? Is he injured? As far as I could see there was little mention of Roman on twitter or other social media platforms that I use. It was simply, “Oh well, he didn’t appear this week” and right there is the biggest issue with him. The majority of the fans just don’t care about his character. People don’t boo him just because they don’t like him, they boo him because it’s fun to do it as the character bores them to tears and it gives them something to do. It doesn’t matter what WWE officials or the personalities they have in their pockets say, the reaction is not about the fans caring about him one way or another. it’s because they are bored with his character and want him to go away. The lack of reaction to his non-appearance on Raw backs that up.
-What was up with the end of the Paige, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch segment?! Are they trying to suggest that all British people do nothing except drink tea?! I can assure you as a fully paid member of this fair land that is not the case.
-True story, folks, back in the ’90s I learned when American national holidays were taking place, based on when WWE (or indeed WCW) would have wacky segments that were more cringeworthy than funny. Something happened to a turkey in November, oh it must be Thanksgiving. When someone would dress up in a full USA suit and top hat in July it must be Independence Day. Triple H dresses up as Kane and has relations with a corpse and screws her brains out…….well it wasn’t on Halloween but it haunts my dreams like a Halloween horror. For a number of years, WWE has been so much better with not having any holiday “ha ha” on their shows, but this week we had a Memorial Day BBQ that turned into a food fight and a dance off which served zero purpose as far as I could see except to set up random matches for next week that are no more intriguing based on the events on Raw and Smackdown. WWE really confuses me sometimes with their audience of one booking, especially around holidays.
-I’ve been very vocal in my support of the direction ROH has taken with their TV show over the last 18 months and I stand by that praise. The TV show has been focused, episodic, and most important of all the attention to detail by the announcers and talent has been great. Before the change in booking philosophy, it was show that felt like an afterthought. It was a show that had three random matches that didn’t have any build to them and felt that whoever put it together had a bunch of raw footage and randomly put it together without much thought just to get something to the network. It’s the change in the philosophy that has meant every week I look forward to ROH TV more than any other weekly wrestling show out there aside from NXT. But this week felt like a return to the bad old days. Let me run down some of the biggest issues I had with this weeks show.
*Cheeseburger is in the middle of a big feud in the ROH universe with Bully Ray, but during his match that was barely mentioned and nothing of consequence that enhanced that feud came out of it.
*They’ve showed the same video package three times over the last couple of weeks for the mini-feud between Jenny Rose vs Sumie Sakai instead of having one or both women cut promos about the importance of this match to them personally and the importance for the Women of Honor Championship that they were fighting for.
*Said video that has been shown three times painted Jenny Rose as the clear heel in this story, yet she came out smiling and high-fiving the fans, and at one point tried to get the crowd to rally behind her.
*Despite said video being shown three times, the announcers spent a huge chunk of the match debating why this was being treated by both women as a grudge match and why the code of honor at the beginning of the contest was not adhered too.
*They replayed a backstage promo between Marty Scurll and Cody that aired on ROH TV from three weeks ago.
*SolCal Uncensored cut a promo saying they would beat both The Kingdom as well as Adam Page and The Young Bucks, even though the main event was just SCU vs The Kingdom and there wasn’t even an appearance by Page and the Bucks.
*The extent of hype that next week’s major TV main event for the ROH TV Title between holder Silas Young and the return of the man who helped put ROH on the map Austin Aries was reduced to a brief generic promo from Young and two lines from the announcers.
*Two teams of heel trios in the main event, which caused the fans to sit on their hands. So much so that the only time they reacted in a strong way was when a balloon was popped.
*The finish to the main event was up there as one of the most mind-boggling decisions I’ve seen in ROH. So much so I refuse to rant about it anymore. If you haven’t seen it, have a read of Jason Powell’s report or if you are a member listen to my audio review.
I’m sincerely hoping it was just an off week. I do worry that ROH is putting all their focus on their streaming service. At the moment, it feels that the streamed live events are where the big matches and angles are playing out. Although I understand wanting to make their new shiny toy seem like an important product that ROH fans must pay to play with, I do worry that by neglecting their TV show it will be a mistake long term. The TV show is where fans are more likely to stumble upon the product or take their first look if they’ve heard good things about the company, and if ROH are not prioritizing telling stories through their weekly TV show or having strong continuity from week to week then I fear they will ultimately miss out on creating new fans. Again, it’s only one week, but I can’t tell you how disappointed and frustrated I was watching this week’s offering.
-To be positive about something ROH(ish) related, Being The Elite is a lot of fun to watch. I find myself every week looking forward to seeing the mini-stories related to the wrestling storylines involving The Bullet Club play out backstage as well as some of the silly stuff such as how SCU will describe the town they are in this week or how Jay Lethal will turn into Black Machismo on an episode. It’s a lot of fun and I would recommend you watch the 10 minute videos each week if you are not already. This week’s episode is worth going out of your way just to hear how Matt Jackson pronounces Edinburgh.
-That’s it for this blog, I’m off to have a cup of tea. Have a bloody good week everybody! #stereotypes #ifyoucantbeatthemjointhem
As always if you want to get in touch you can do so either through twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org