By Nick Perkins, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@WesternRebel)
The Ring Bearer blog will typically be a Friday feature at ProWrestling.net. This is a special Monday version before the blog moves to its usual slot later this week.
Hello friends, neighbors, readers, and ex-girlfriends who refuse to return my calls but still stalk my social media. My name is Nick Perkins and I am your flag-bearer, your Paul Bearer, your Ring Bearer in the world of professional wrestling. Take my hand and follow me as I lead you through the week that was. We’re delving into the highs, lows, mediums and ‘mehs’ of pro wrestling and there is nowhere I would rather be than right here, right now, with you. Whether you’re an old fan, a new fan, or you land somewhere in the middle and just hate-watch these shows out of habit, I am proud to be the bearer of good news, bad news, and the downright ugly news from WWE, AEW, ROH, Impact Wrestling, and more. With that being said, let’s step through the ropes and into the proverbial ring, as Pro Wrestling Dot Net presents Ring Bearer: Exploring the Week that Was in Professional Wrestling.
-WWE Raw and Smackdown continue to be a chore to get through, which is a bummer thing to say. Used to be, Monday nights were more exciting than the weekend. Used to be, I would risk imminent death by defying my parents’ rules regarding professional wrestling. Used to be, two hours would fly by and leave me begging for it to be a week from now. Now? I keep Raw on in the background while I balance my checkbook. Metaphorically. I don’t actually have a checkbook. Nobody has a checkbook anymore, except your grandmother when she uses it to buy a gallon of milk for $2.17.
-There are a few highlights, however. Daniel Bryan, while not having much of a purpose these days, is making the best of what’s given to him. His match with Buddy Murphy this week was exceptional, but it was his backstage antics the week before that really impressed me. Go back and watch his backstage ‘interrogation’ of Murphy. He came off as a sadistic, maniacal, almost Joker-esque sociopath. It was great!
-Speaking of Joker-esque sociopaths, Bray Wyatt, er, The Fiend, continues to be a highlight of the show, when he chooses to show up. I actually like that he’s not on the show every week. It adds to his mystique and makes each appearance feel like an ‘event.’ Wyatt and Daniel are pretty can’t-miss these days, despite past booking mistakes. Wyatt, in particular, could turn out to be a real success story with his reinvention/repackaging. But who knows? Bryan was also an easy, nay, the easiest success story to tell regarding his comeback and WWE completely wasted that opportunity. The depth of their ineptitude sometimes astounds me, but it never surprises me anymore.
-The King of the Ring tournament is underway, and I applaud WWE for at least attempting to make it seem like a big deal. But I cringe at the thought of Drew McIntyre wearing a robe and crown whilst carrying a scepter. Luckily, he’ll probably lose this week anyway.
-WWE doesn’t seem to understand that being the ‘King’ of the ‘Ring’ isn’t about actually pretending to be a king. It’s about being considered one of the best in the world. Former winners, like Steve Austin, Triple H, Bret Hart, Owen Hart, and others used the tournament to catapult themselves into the main event scene, much like what the Intercontinental Title used to do for stars. But, like the IC title, winning the King of the Ring in previous years hasn’t really meant much of anything.
-For further proof of this, look at the current Intercontinental champion, Shinsuke Nakamura. When Shinsuke debuted in NXT, he was treated like the performance artist (heh) that he was – a king without his crown. He was a bonafide international star and had all the potential in the world. Now, he needs Sami Zayn to cut promos for him because Vince McMahon doesn’t understand that it’s possible to tell stories without speaking.
-Oh yeah, Sami Zayn. One of the best wrestlers in the world is now the manager/mouthpiece for one of the other best wrestlers in the world. Cool.
-Randy Orton is more interesting than he’s been in years, but that’s not saying much. Kofi Kingston, on the other hand, is beginning to flame out. I had zero problem with Kingston becoming champion at WrestleMania. It was a legitimate feel-good story and it was one of the very few times in recent memory that WWE actually made good on their promise to ‘listen to the fans.’ That being said, his time has come and gone and, unless they find a way to tweak his character in a way that doesn’t involve f—ing pancakes, it won’t be long before fans turn on him as quickly as they sided with him.
-Speaking of fans turning, there’s a very good chance fans turn on NXT for the first couple shows and then add it to the list of things to DVR and get to later. NXT on WWE Network feels like a secret club that only a few people know about. That’s part of its success. The other part of its success is that Vince McMahon has nothing to do with it. Fans are understandably skeptical about NXT’s success on the USA Network, especially if it’s another two-hour long variety show. I want NXT to succeed, just as much as I want WWE as a whole to succeed. I’m just not sure it will.
-Outside of the WWE bubble, AEW is getting ready for their second (technically third?) major show, All Out. While it promises to be an excellent show, it is not without its hiccups.
-Jon Moxley (F/K/A Dean Ambrose) announced that, unfortunately, he needs surgery to remove MRSA from his elbow, thus rendering him incapable of competing against Kenny Omega at All Out. Shit happens and his health is of utmost importance, but this was definitely a strong blow to All Out, as that match was seemingly the one that the majority of fans were looking forward to the most.
-AEW is trying to make it up to fans, as they’ve announced that PAC (f/k/a Neville, who was f/k/a Pac) will be replacing Moxley in the battle against Kenny Omega. This is sure to be a great match, but it just further shows that AEW is relying more on ‘good matches’ than ‘good storytelling.’ It’s not as much of an issue now, but I’m curious to see how their writing goes once the weekly shows start up.
-AEW All Out will air on August 31, on Bleacher Report Live and traditional pay-per-view. It’s advertised as being $49.99, so AEW is asking a lot from fans who want to support the company. Hopefully, they deliver a show that’s worth the price of a light bill.
-Impact Wrestling’s Jordynne Grace sparked some ‘controversy’ (which is stupid by the way…none of it matters) for saying that professional wrestling is more of a performance art. Several fans and wrestlers took offense, because they still want to perceive themselves as big, tough, sports guys. Here’s the thing, though, wrestlers are phenomenal athletes. But they’re artists as well. Any time somebody tells me that wrestling is fake, I retort that it’s something of an athletic stage-play. Or, in other words, ‘performance art.’ That’s not to discredit the athletic ability of the wrestlers themselves; it’s just a fun, post-modern term for wrestling and wrestlers. Whatever it is, we can all agree it’s better than being called a f—ing ‘sports entertainer.’
-That’s it for this week, friends. Thanks for reading and please feel free to give your opinions below. Just like, be smart about it. Don’t be a troll. This is a safe space. Any offensive comment will either be deleted or, more likely, completely torn apart by me. But we certainly want to hear your opinions, so share them below.