By Haydn Gleed, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@haydngleed)
-Welcome to this weeks blog written by a very warm and fed up man sitting in his home office in South Wales, where it has only rained for literally ten minutes in the last six weeks and it’s far too hot. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of hot weather if I’m sat next to a swimming pool in an exotic foreign land with a beer in one hand and a good book in the other, but sitting in a hot, sweaty, non-air conditioned office with hundreds of computers and deadlines to meet every day, I can tell you the hot weather loses its charm rather quickly. So expect a more grumpy version of this weeks across the pond than usual…
-Here’s a riddle for you. When is a three year suspension not a suspension? When it’s covertly handed out to a man who made some vile racist comments on tape and we only really know about the “punishment” after the suspension has been lifted. Let me set the table here by admitting that I was a massive Hulk Hogan fan when I started watching wrestling in 1991. For a young nine year old, watching this larger than life superhero endure adversity before ultimately seeing the hero triumph over everybody and everything was what hooked me on pro wrestling. Over the years, as I started to understand more about the man behind the character, I slowly lost my fandom while still having that little “Hulkamaniac” deep inside because the character brought me into a genre that I still love to this day. It shattered my tiny world when all this came out about his comments because in my tiny world being a racist and treating people differently because of the color of their skin is in my top three of the worst traits that a human being can have.
That being said, my personal view is that everybody deserves a second chance when they’ve made a mistake as long as they truly fully understand what they have done wrong and have learned from their misbehavior. With the announcement of his suspension being lifted, it also came out that Terry Bollea was invited to speak to the locker room before the Extreme Rules PPV to address the reasons behind his suspension. We may never know exactly what was said, but the reports coming out of the meeting were not favorable for the man who once walked on water for a lot of young fans. New Day and Titus O’Neill released statements that strongly suggested that Hulk didn’t come across as sincere as they felt he should, and there was a suggestion that there wasn’t a genuine effort to apologize.
Titus took it a step further and noted that he didn’t feel that Hogan saying he didn’t know he was being recorded was not a firm way of showing remorse for his actions. I cannot agree enough with this statement as it smacks of somebody being sorry for being caught saying what they said, not someone who is truly sorry for the language and the hateful things they said. It’s the equivalent of someone going on twitter and apologizing to the people who may have been offended. It’s not a real apology, but rather it comes off like I’ve been told that I need to apologize and here’s the reason it’s not my fault.
James Ellsworth said in an interview that Triple H spoke before the meeting about how wrestlers must be aware that they could be recorded at all times and to act PG in the real world as well as on TV. I’m sure that it was just a cursory warning to the talent given the circumstances. It couldn’t be less appropriate given the nature of the meeting. It suggests that the only thing that management saw as being wrong in this scenario was the Hulk was caught on video saying these things, not necessary that what he said was wrong. I don’t for a minute believe or want to believe that these are the feelings of WWE management, but the handling of this whole issue has been lower than amateur.
Between the ghost suspension, ill-timed comments about being careful about being recorded and the lack of awareness from Hogan based on the information leaked from the meeting adds even more weight behind the fact that he should never be put into a position to be on WWE television again. I wrote a couple of months ago when rumors were circulating about a potential general manager role for Hogan that it would be difficult. After all, it would put the company, Hogan, and especially the talent in a very uncomfortable situation. For instance, if Hogan addressed the New Day, every word and tone would be analyzed to death and perhaps labeled as overcompensating. Of course, if he didn’t speak to any black wrestlers then it would be noted as well. It would have been a no win situation all round.
-In the words of Peter Griffin, here’s something that really grinds my gears. The lack of sensible booking in the women’s divisions on the main roster of WWE. At the moment, you have two heel wrestlers who are more personality than wrestling ability as champions. They’re making the babyfaces on both Raw and Smackdown looks weak in comparison. Remember when Asuka was unbeaten in NXT and everybody feared her? Or how Emma and Dana Brooke cowered in her presence? Now she’s getting beaten by Carmella because she couldn’t resist kicking the human piñata that was James Ellsworth at Extreme Rules like a fool. The monster mystique that was once a fascinating trait of Nia Jax has pretty much evaporated on Raw. Your main star attraction in Ronda Rousey is being written so poorly and the continuity and realism of her story just isn’t there. It’s been pointed out that she was not banned from the PPV only Raw, yet she felt the need to buy a ticket and then jumped the guardrail. On Raw the next night, she broke her suspension (hey at least we were aware of this suspension WWE) and was rewarded with a title match at SummerSlam. Don’t even get me started on the mess that is Sasha Banks and Bayley. Everybody else are trading wins and loses.
The one ray of sunshine in all of this is Becky Lynch and the story that they have started to build with her presumably challenging Carmella at SummerSlam for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. They gave her a series of wins and made her look strong, but a large part of me is waiting for the other shoe to drop in that she could be another babyface fed to Carmella just in time for a miscast babyface Charlotte to come back and save the day. Both divisions are such a mess despite possessing the best talent pool of female wrestlers in the world.
-Dreams do come true, ladies and gentleman. After years of hard work and slogging away and paying our dues, Darren Gutteridge and I finally made it onto NXT TV. Granted, it was only for a brief second in the Progress Wrestling crowd during the War Raiders video package, but it still counts, dammit! In all seriousness, I am really digging what they are doing with the former War Machine in NXT. It does feel at the moment like a slight rehash of The Authors of Pain (I know the irony of that statement considering AOP struck me as a War Machine ripoff), but I’m confident that given their ability, experience, and mic skills that they will ultimately stand out rather than appear as a copy to the more casual fan.
-The Mae Young Classic is really starting to shape up with even more inclusions this week. I’m excited to see how Tegan Nox and Jinny do in the tournament in August. For the longest time, I didn’t get Jinny and thought she was being pushed way too hard and too quickly in Progress Wrestling. Over the years, her in-ring ability has really started to match her confidence as a performer. She is by far one of the best heel female talents I’ve ever seen. From the moment she walks through the curtain and the way the she looks at the crowd with such disdain and an air of “I’m better than you”, it’s so easy to dislike this women. She main evented a Progress show with Toni Storm recently in one of the best female matches I’ve seen in a long time, so I’m hoping they cross paths during the Mae Young Classic. Tegan Nox is the former Nixon Newell. She has been given a new name – Tegan is Welsh for toy. I bet there’s not another analyst on a major wrestling website who would be able to tell you that! I genuinely believe she will turn heads in this competition. She was ready to compete in last year’s tournament only to suffer an injury beforehand, which should only add to her hunger to prove herself.
-ROH and New Japan will be holding an event at Madison Square Garden on the Saturday of WreslteMania weekend. I bet that really got under the skin of the Vince McMahon. I’m certainly looking forward to this event, but it’s also very interesting how WWE will react to this. If they don’t react at all, it should be clear that WWE simply doesn’t see anyone as competition anymore. I still suspect Vince will see this as a personal slap in the face and a shot heard around Titan Towers. Nevertheless, there’s a lot to take into consideration for this event. We probably won’t know the card for months, but it will be interesting to see whether top talent might coincidentally be lured away before the event. This is definitely a story to keep an eye on. I spoke last week about how going to Madison Square Gardens is on my arena bucket list. If I actually get to WrestleMania next year, I will definitely be making my way to MSG that Saturday night. Now all I have to do is find $2,000 for the trip…
-That’s going to do it for me this week, folks. I’ve survived another blog during this heatwave. I’m going to go and make myself a bath with cold water only, throw in some ice cubes, and look at some pictures of Penguins and Polar Bears……..OK, that sounded a lot less weird and a hell of a lot more innocent in my head……Have a good weekend, everybody!
As always, you can find me on twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to say hello, have a chat or to throw abuse at me for constantly complaining about the weather, it’s all good folks!