By Haydn Gleed, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@haydngleed)
-So we are right in the middle of ProWrestling.net staff birthday season, therefore I would like to wish Jake Barnett and Will Pruett a happy birthday for last Saturday and Sunday respectively and I want to wish Jason Powell a happy birthday coming up on Saturday. Of course the birthday of the most handsome, the most talented writer and podcaster, and indeed the most modest of the bunch is tomorrow. It’s very strange that we all share a birthday in the same week, and even more weird when you know that Darren Gutteridge, my British Invasion partner in crime, was born on the very same day that I watched my first ever wrestling show, the Royal Rumble in 1991.
-Anyway, WWE this week produced their finest main roster shows in quite some time. They were full of logic, full of stories, and I came away looking forward to seeing how it all plays over the next couple of weeks on the way to SummerSlam. I didn’t think they could do it but they have made me interested in Brock Lesnar again, and it was all because they changed up the usual formula. Who would have funked it, eh? Instead of Lesnar coming out and smirking behind a performing Paul Heyman, they gave his character more depth. Granted they gave him a complete douchebag personality, but it was certainly believable. This was aided by the great performance of Heyman, who played his role perfectly. I’m looking forward to seeing how this story progresses over the next couple of weeks. Granted, it’s a shame that it all leads to another Brock vs. Roman match, but at this point I’m just holding my hands up and screaming, “I give up, just put the damn belt on Roman.”
-Over on Smackdown, the layers have been added to multiple storylines from AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe, Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz, Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy, Becky Lynch/Carmella/Charlotte, hell even the Lana/Rusev/Aiden English story have all had extra layers put on top of them. All of this made Smackdown feel like a truly entertaining show from start to finish. I loved how Samoa Joe instantly made the match between him an AJ very personal, especially when AJ has come across as a great family man. I still don’t quite understand what I’m seeing with Randy Orton and Jeff Hardy, but I’m certainly intrigued by it and the fact that the crowd were desperate to see an RKO and Randy didn’t perform the move just gave me great confidence that they aren’t just looking for a reaction, they are looking for the right reaction. The Miz and Bryan have had their feud bubbling for years, which reached the boil with their confrontation on Talking Smack. There’s been a lot of anticipation to see these two lock up in the ring ever since Bryan was granted his clearance. Although WWE seemed to be doing their best to squash the excitement for this match over the last few months, this week’s Smackdown really got the feud back on track with Miz at his most weaselly best. Not only was he not in the arena to respond to Daniel face to face, but he brought up the contract situation and really got under the skin of the fans. This one is certainly hotting up nicely to hopefully a nice close to what has been a great story.
-The most impressive development of the whole week was certainly the Smackdown Women’s Championship situation where Charlotte has been inserted into the title match at SummerSlam. I’m in the camp that feels Charlotte doesn’t work as well as babyface as she does a heel. If you let me indulge in some fantasy booking, I would love for SummerSlam to come along with Charlotte and Becky seemingly on the same page only for Charlotte to screw over Lynch in some manner to win the title. This would put Becky not only on the chase for the title but also in search of retribution for being wronged by someone she trusted. That would be a great story to tell and it would lead to the strongest match that the women on Smackdown could produce for the Evolution pay-per-view in October.
-World Of Sport Wrestling aired the premiere of the rebooted version of the product this past weekend. I give the first effort a C+ grade. I wrote a review on Sunday and I also spoke at length about it in a members’ audio show. The main point I emphasized is I don’t believe the show was made with the audience that consumes different wrestling products from around the world, and gravitate more towards an adult orientated product. WOS is a show that is broadcast at 5pm on prime time television and is catering to the families sitting down for dinner, and for that they did a great job. Although Stu Bennett (f/k/a Wade Barrett) is a heel authority figure, it didn’t bother me because it’s a tool that is being used to tell a formulaic story with the popular babyface Grado. Most of the WOS viewing audience probably hasn’t been overexposed to the heel authority figure storyline in a million different companies, so it’s going to provide a nice story arc for those viewers. They did an admirable job of developing and getting across a lot of characters in one show. For instance, I came away knowing who is on the heel/babyface sides of the line.
I couldn’t tell you right now that it’s a show that you have to go out of your way to see, or indeed tell you that this represents the current UK Independent scene. So when I’m reviewing the ten week run, I will be basing my judgements through that lens while keeping in mind the target audience for the show. The main benefit that will come out of this show is exposure to a larger audience for some very talented wrestlers in the UK, which will not only benefit them but also the UK wrestling scene in general. I can see people watching this show and seeing Joe Hendry and thinking he’s great. Well, guess what? When ICW rolls into town and Hendry is on the poster, some WOS viewers will go to that show and possibly fall in love with a different kind of wrestling.
-Speaking of the UK independent scene, NXT UK filmed for two nights in Cambridge also over the weekend, and although I have purposely not read the spoilers, the word I got from friends who attended is that they have enough material to put on some really good shows already, so I’m certainly looking forward to seeing the final product.
-That’s going to do it for me for this week, but I can’t leave without giving my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Brian Lawler, Nikolai Volkoff, Brickhouse Brown, and Tracy Caddell (father of Trevor Lee). It was very saddening to hear of all these passings on Sunday and I’m hoping that their loved ones can take some solace in the outpouring of love that they have received from people in the industry and fans alike since then.
If you want to get in touch, then by all means do so either through twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org