By Haydn Gleed, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@haydngleed)
-I was very saddened to hear of the passing of Leon “Vader” White earlier this week. Most wrestling fans of my age have fond memories of an angle or match involving Vader (or indeed Big Van Vader). He was without doubt one of the most gifted big men to ever wrestle on the international stage, and if you do some research into his life he also had some colorful moments outside of the ring from fighting with Paul Orndorff backstage in WCW to being arrested in Kuwait for an incident with a TV presenter. White will be remembered as the quintessential larger than life wrestler, and of course my thoughts go out to his friends and family at this difficult time.
-The UK Championship tournament is in the can. I’m not going to spoil anything for you as I haven’t read the results myself. Trust me, trying to stay off social media over the last couple of days has been difficult. But nevertheless, based on the excitement level I’ve sensed from the general wrestling fan is that they wouldn’t care if it was spoiled it for them as it really hasn’t generated any kind of a buzz on either side of the pond. For the inaugural tournament, I got daily tweets and emails asking what I thought about several of the wrestlers. This year? Barely anything. Granted, people are excited to see something for the first time in 2017, but I don’t really feel like people are looking forward to this. Is it due to WWE’s apparent lack of promotion? Is it due to the fact it’s not live and will feel like any other pre-recorded WWE Network show? It’s really hard to tell.
What I will say however, and again I don’t know any of the results and don’t want too until I watch it on Monday and Tuesday, but the matches that have been announced and the guys left in the tournament have the potential to make this a show that will deliver high on quality in-ring action and from a character standpoint. Darren Gutteridge and I predicted Zack Gibson against Travis Banks in the final in our audio preview for members a couple of weeks back, and part of me is dying to know if I’m right as that could be a top quality match, but I will wait until Monday.
-WWE has announced that the UK will have it’s own wrestling series involving the guys and gals that they have featured in the two UK specials. Again, this is something I’m really looking forward too. I have already taken ownership of the coverage for Prowrestling.net so expect me to be writing and talking about it ad nauseam over the next few months. If you are a conspiracy nerd like me you will enjoy the fact that WWE have announced this UK series a month after ITV recorded ten shows of their World Of Sport Wrestling reboot. Coincidence?
-The big news coming out of WWE this week was the release of Big Cass on Tuesday, less than 48 hours after his loss to Daniel Bryan at Money In The Bank. I’m sure you are all sitting there reading this thinking that this British smart ass is going to make jokes about the fact he can’t spell soft or getting fired during the biggest push of his career is something that you can’t teach, but I’m not going to do that. I’m not a jerk…..well debatable. What I will say however is it’s never nice when someone is fired from their job, especially one that is at the pinnacle of your profession. However, if the reports are true regarding his conduct, it’s no surprise me that he has been let go and quite frankly I agree wholeheartedly with it.
People have referenced the potential “going against the script “ moment with the little Daniel Bryan as a factor. There are people sat on both sides of the camp in terms of whether or not he should have even been punished for a moment which people have said is an example of someone “reaching for the brass ring” that Vince McMahon has referenced. Look, I understand that argument to a degree, but it’s been reported that he got denied his preference to lay a bigger beating on the little Daniel Bryan and then approached Vince himself. The story is that he was again denied doing anything further than a kick. As far as I’m concerned, he reached for the brass ring by having the balls to approach Vince with something that he truly believed in, but when you are turned down by the guy who signs your checks (or even if another management member) and you turn around and behave like that, ultimately there are consequences and he has to live with that. In any walk of life if you show you can’t be trusted at your job and you break the rules then you will be let go. In WWE when a wrestler is put in front of the world live on television it’s even more important, and he broke the trust put in him. Maybe he will rise like a phoenix like his buddy….man I am a jerk.
-I enjoyed Money In The Bank more than I was expecting to. I was especially impressed with Ronda Rousey’s performance. It doesn’t matter to me that the match was rehearsed and I’m certainly not surprised by this as it was a very important match for someone still making their way in the wrestling business, who’s sheer presence in WWE at this time is very important. I heard a respected analyst suggest that all big matches should be rehearsed and I’ve also heard wrestlers that I respect say that everything should be called in the ring. I sit somewhere in between. I agree that big matches should be rehearsed to a point but in my opinion not bell to bell. For me if the big spots and the finish are rehearsed and the parts in between are laid out verbally that’s a good compromise. I’m a firm believer that you are not performing a scripted play or any other kind of written theatre, you need to have the flexibility to be spontaneous or listen to the crowd and tell the story in the ring around what is working with the crowd and what is not. Ronda is a special case, but for the more seasoned pros an element of being able to change on the fly is required depending on how the match is being received. Wrestling is still presented as a sporting competition, albeit with a pre-determined outcome. If you take away the ability for anything to happen then it’s just as detrimental as we’ve seen with scripted promos over the years where everything feels forced rather than organic.
-ROH’s Best In The World is going down next week and I’m really looking forward to it. There are several matches that have great storyline driven potential behind them, as well as some matches that could really impress. I’m looking forward to the main event between Dalton Castle, Marty Scurll and Cody. They have done a good job of building the tension between the Bullet Club members, although on a negative note I do feel that it’s overshadowed the champion somewhat,, but that’s something to explore on another day. The Young Bucks against The Briscoes is……well the Bucks vs. the Briscoes. How can that not be anything other than top class?
The match I’m actually looking forward to the most is Flip Gordon against Bully Ray. We’ve seen how immensely talented Flip is from an athletic standpoint, but we now get to see how he reacts to wrestling a more grounded style. Bully Ray is unlikely to be able to keep up with Flip’s usual style and thus it will force Flip to slow down and be part of a story. I’m looking to seeing how he performs. Bully was great last week, and if you haven’t seen it you have to look it up on Fite.TV. The way he went from being this apologetic humble guy to the reveal that he is a sick human being was masterful and exactly the way the veteran should be used in Ring Of Honor.
-That’s going to do it for me for this week everyone, I hope you have a lovely weekend!
As always you can find me on twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to say hello or have anything to comment on my thoughts of the week. Of course if you want to leave a comment below I also check those so say hi!