Gleed’s Blog: Hulk Hogan’s return to the WWE Hall of Fame and the reactions of Titus O’Neil and New Day, the WWE women’s division, the Mae Young Classic, ROH/NJPW at MSG

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 haydn.gleed@gmail.com 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!



Readers Comments (13)

  1. “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.”

    Alexa Bliss is my absolute favorite act going right now, and I enjoy Carmella’s work- so personally, I’m good with the way things are. It feels like since Extreme Rules, there’s been a glut of stuff coming out lamenting the status of the women’s division because some folks aren’t getting those “5 star” wrestling matches they want.

    The thing about WWE- and this has always been- is they’re story driven. Who among the women is better than Alexa Bliss on the microphone? Heck, how many men are? She’s a generational type of talent there, and she can carry those stories.

    They tried Rousey vs. Jax, and it stunk. Point blank. It was hard to find worse television. Sasha vs. Bayley hasn’t been good either, because they don’t have the mic or acting skills to carry it.

    Over on Smackdown, Carmella vs. Asuka, the right person won. Asuka can only speak limited English, and without a manager, that dance is going to get old with her as champion. Who would she feud with on the heel side that would prop her up on the mic?

    Also, why can’t Alexa or Carmella be dominant in their own way? The WWE has been framing this as them being smart. It’s a good angle.

    Characters are interesting and fun.

    Wrestling without stories is not.

    If more evidence is needed, how’d you enjoy those early episodes of 205 Live?

    • Well said. Refreshing to read amidst all the gloom and doom about Asuka not going to 500-0.

    • I agree with you about Alexa (she is also a better wrestler than given credit for here), but not so much about Carmella/Asuka. I don’t think it is Carmella being made to look smart, it is Asuka being made to look moronic.

      Mic skills certainly are important, but you say Asuka being champion would get old because of her lack of talking skills – how long do you think they can cover up Carmella’s lack of wrestling skills with bells and whistles before that gets old too? Her promos have already been reduced to just constant obnoxious cackling And repeating ‘I beat bla bla bla twice’ over and over again. They have rung as much as they can out of Ellsworth. Where do they go from here?
      If Becky Lynch beats her at Summerslam though, I’ll take it all back 🙂

  2. Still never gonna understand the internet fandom for Alexa. Who cares how good she is on the stick when the in-ring product stinks? We watch wrestling for wrestling. Sure other stuff is nice, but comedians are funnier, drama more, erm, dramatic, series are better plotted, action films have better stunts.
    All wrestling has that is unique to it (assuming we’re pretending the UFC is legit) is the in-ring product. Nobody ever brought a ticket to hear a promo.

    • Still never going to understand the internet dislike of Alexa. Who cares if she isn’t a Ric Flair level worker when her work on the mic is awesome. We watch wrestling to be entertained.

    • Still never going to understand the smark idiocy of wanting a bunch of wrestling moves over characters worth giving a damn about. The most successful products in wrestling history were about characters whose ass you wanted to see kicked and the characters who were going to kick those asses.

      Nobody ever gave a damn about 5’2″ flippy midget dude bros never selling, doing stupid moves without consequence, and trying to score Meltzer snowflakes and the wrestling business was much better for it. I’ll take a Von Erich vs Freebird brawl or even Hogan vs Orndorff over 99% of the shit today with people kicking out of 123 finishers and going to the floor in every single match.

      Alexa is the best female worker in the world today. I’ll take her over better wrestler’s every time because nobody pays to see pro wrestling.

    • Alexa far from “stinks” in the ring. She holds her own very well, I’d say, and I enjoy her matches. Twisted Bliss and the double knees she does can’t be easy to pull off, either.

      Also, I’d argue more people don’t watch wrestling purely for wrestling than those who do. Look at the most popular stars through the years.

      Hogan couldn’t “wrestle”, and he set attendance records.

      I’ve never seen the Rock called a “great worker”, but people came to the shows.

      John Cena caught so much flack for “only having five moves,” but look how many of his shirts were sold in the stands.

      Trish Stratus started out a model- people loved her, and she ended up, arguably, the greatest female wrestler in WWE history to date.

      I could start a list of wrestlers who could “wrestle”, but weren’t good on the stick, and had no character- but most have been released, and no one’s scrolling down that far.

      Like Dat Boy said, 5’2″ flippy dudes don’t sell tickets without characters. That’s why indy shows run in small venues. That’s why the initial 205 was an epic failure. And the fact that WWE embraces stories is why they’re the largest wrestling company in the world.

      I expect Alexa’s probably going to have a long heel run. One day though, same as Trish, she’s going to be the biggest babyface on the female roster. The reason is simple- she can tell a story on the mic in 60 seconds. Sasha Banks, who I’ve seen called a “great” wrestler, hasn’t been able to tell a story with Bayley that’s gotten over in what feels like 6 months! That’s why, if I were a WWE GM, and the draft was real, I’d take her over any female on the roster. Bar none.

      • I would suggest you read my blog from last week where I talk about well built story arcs drawing the crowd in emotional being my preference when it comes to watching wrestling.

        As for Bliss, I never said anything negative by design as I enjoy her act tremendously, but there are two champions who are essentially the same character and I personally don’t feel it’s making the rest of the roster look strong as a result.

      • Hogan couldn’t “wrestle”, and he set attendance records.

        I’ve never seen the Rock called a “great worker”, but people came to the shows.

        John Cena caught so much flack for “only having five moves,” but look how many of his shirts were sold in the stands.

        And Justin Bieber sells way more merchandise than Neil Young, and more people will go to see Fast and Furious sequel number 187 than went to see Get Out. The old ‘Art vs Commerce’ debate can never really be resolved I suppose.

        • Hi Shauny,

          Could you please clarify your point? I never said because they “can’t wrestle” they are not good or a draw. My point was because they have the same character they are being fed babyfaces who are being made to look stupid.

          As I said above, I encourage people to read my previous blogs where I’ve said I look for story arcs and emotion not necessary the best wrestler. My point had nothing to do with the fact they are seen by some people that Alexa bliss and Carmella “can’t wrestle”.

          • Hi Hadyn,

            My point was not really related to what you were saying – it was more directed at the commenter I replied to, regarding megastars in various entertainment sectors who are massive based on factors other than being good at what they do (while realising that all this is very subjective). I am largely in agreement with you regarding the two current women’s champions, although I am loath to tar them both with the same brush, as Alexa Bliss is a far better performer in every way than Carmella.

      • This whole comment is well stated.

  3. Alexa as champion right now makes sense. Nia Jax just wasn’t working. WWE realized this. Her character wasn’t getting over beyond getting her hands on Bliss. People wanted to see Alexa get hers. After that, Jax had no story to go on and it showed. They didn’t have a plan for her.

    The reason why Bliss is champion right now has less to do with the rest of the division and more to do with what she brings to the table right now. To me, she’s the best talker on RAW in the Women’s Division. That’s important. She’s also the most established character in the Women’s division, being someone people can easily hate. Those two things coupled together are what WWE is going to use to power the Bliss-Rousey feud. Rousey, in limited action, seems to bring great fire and the fans are totally into her. Bliss is the best foil not named Stephanie McMahon.

    Carmella? She’s a train wreck who should not be on my TV. They’ve all but wrecked Asuka trying to build her. And barring some miraculous turnaround, she will likely never be champion again after this reign. I hope Lynch wins at Summerslam, so that Charlotte can eventually return to a more natural heel role and feud with her.

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