By Haydn Gleed, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@haydngleed)
-Ahoy-hoy! It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these, but I am back. For those who don’t know, my mother passed away suddenly after a short illness several weeks ago, so the last few weeks have been crazy. Thank you everybody who reached out to me to send their condolences and their prayers, they really helped me during this difficult time.
Because of everything that has been going on, I watched very little wrestling. However, I’ve been catching up over the last seven days, and my word what a seven days they have been in the crazy world of wrestling.
The biggest news is obviously the incredibly sad and shocking statement by Roman Reigns on WWE Raw. As I was watching live, I was in stunned shock and, judging by the reaction of fellow analysts and fans on social media, I wasn’t the only one. The crowd in the arena classy with their reaction and so was the statement by Reigns. It would have been so simple for him to have WWE release a statement and that would have been enough, but he clearly wanted to address the fans in a face to face manner. For that, I have all the respect in the world for him. That could not have been easy and he didn’t milk it either. He simply faced his fans and told them straight what was happening and then said see ya later. If you haven’t already, check out the WWE video that they have on their official website to see the reaction that he got when he walked back through the curtain, but be warned it is rather emotional.
Love him or hate the Reigns character, nobody deserves cancer and especially having to live in fear of a previous cancer coming back. How he has managed to rise up through WWE and perform at the level he has for so long is an inspirational story. I hope it doesn’t sound callus of me to say, but when he returns he will be rightly received as a hero. I’ve been consistent over the years in saying that I have never hated the Roman Reigns character and enjoyed the majority of his matches and he was quite clearly talented, but I never felt that the fans had a connection with him. And that’s what brought WWE’s overall product down, as they were pushing somebody as the top guy that the fans didn’t have an attachment with. Some did, but the majority either didn’t know much about him or were turned off by his character’s presentation. Now they have something to cling too. It’s only a small positive in this terrible time, but it’s important for him to have the thought of that huge reaction when he fights back from this terrible condition. Of course my thoughts and prayers go out to Roman and his friends and family.
-Dean Ambrose turned heel three hours after the Roman Reigns announcement and I am torn between whether I agree with the timing or not. On one hand, Ambrose needed to be turned heel as it was clearly the shift in his character that was long overdue, and I don’t necessarily have an issue with it happening on the same show as the Reigns news. What I had an issue with was the framing of the turn as something that was worse because of what happened earlier in the show. For me it feels somewhat exploitive of Roman’s real life issues. Perhaps it was Michael Cole speaking out of turn and that’s fair enough if it happened, but when he said “not tonight of all nights” or words to that effect it was blending serious real world issues and storyline in order to garner more heat, and that’s what I took issue with.
The turn itself was fantastic. All that was missing was a barber shop window and Seth Rollins going through it to really pop me out of my chair. It does set up an obvious feud between Seth and Dean with the roles reversed from several years ago and it should be a lot of fun. Add to the mix that the tag team champions are now two people who can’t stand each other, a storyline tool that I personally love, and you have an intriguing feud just below the WWE Universal Championship scene.
-Has anyone seen Bray Wyatt?! His picture should be on milk cartons by now.
-WWE Evolution is this weekend and outside the main events, WWE has done a piss poor job of promoting it. WWE were so proud of themselves that they were presenting their first ever all female pay-per-view, but it feels that that was the pinnacle of the interest the company showed. The biggest problem is they have too much to promote at the moment, but more on that later. Outside the main events for each brand, there has been only a half hearted push for everything else. It also feels like WWE is content with just paying lip service to the fact they are progressive and want to promote the female talent, but there isn’t as much of effort made as there would be for the male talent. I know more about what’s happening at Crown Jewel next week than at Evolution. The Mae Young Classic has also been majorly under promoted. Again, part of this is due to the fact that WWE has so much to promote, but I also don’t sense that it’s a priority in their eyes. WWE has to do more than just put on shows to say they are truly progressive, they have to set the female events to be just as important as the male events going into 2019.
-While we are on the subject of the Mae Young Classic, I’ve personally found it a step above last year’s effort. The 2017 version felt more of a novelty so it got a pass, but ultimately I thought the action wasn’t that great until we got deep into the tournament. This year there hasn’t been a match that was bad enough to even remember it for how terrible it was. Instead, there have been quality matches up and down the brackets. I’m absolutely devastated for Tegan Nox, not only because she’s from my hometown, but because she had been doing so well in the competition. The previous knee injury wasn’t hampering her, and it was such a fluke injury that took out her other knee. I mentioned one YouTube video before, but also check out the video of Tegan backstage after the injury, which is also heartbreaking. When she started to apologize to Triple H, was that a sign that she was due to either win the competition or at least get through to the final? Who knows, but I do know that I had a tear in my eye watching that video.
-It must be said that when I see Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, and Kane these days, it reminds me of when I went to see a tennis legend exhibition show a few years back. The players all look the same with just a few more grey hairs. Characters such as John McEnroe are still saying things like “you can’t be serious” but the action is a lot slower and after a while it makes you feel sad. Super Showdown’s match between Triple H and Undertaker was just uncomfortable for me to watch at times and I can’t criticize the wrestlers as they are no longer full time performers and probably shouldn’t even be in the ring at this stage of their lives. I’m not expecting a classic. Just as when I went to the Tennis Legends show it’ll be great to see them, but they won’t even be at a 50 percent level compared to what they were in their prime.
-My final subject of the day is NXT UK and the lack of time to promote this show. There was a push for it’s debut last week, but I haven’t seen anything this week hyping this episode two (look for my review later today *cheap plug*). There’s no clearer indication that NXT UK is far from being a priority already than the fact that when I was looking at the card for WWE Evolution on Sunday, I spotted a WWE UK Women’s Championship match that showed the champion already even though the tournament to crown the champion hasn’t even started on the NXT UK television show. I understand that WWE likes to over provide for their subscribers to the network, but with so much content being filmed months in advance they are losing sight of continuity across their shows simply because there are too many of them. The first episode was enjoyable and something you should check out. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel in anyway, but it definitely has a NXT feel to it. Episode one had a hot main event, a decent women’s match, an intriguing introduction sit-down interview, and some storyline love to the mid-card. I am looking forward to episode two.
That’s it from me for this week. I hope you all have a lovely rest of the week and weekend.
As always feel free to get in touch either through email firstname.lastname@example.org or through twitter @haydngleed
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and NWA Champion Nick Aldis.