By Nick Perkins, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@WesternRebel)
Hello friends, neighbors, readers, and my fellow Americans. 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 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.
- We’re in the Endgame now when it comes to professional wrestling on network television. This is the final week before the world of wrestling as we know it changes forever. If that sounds hyperbolic, let me explain.
- Previously, fans have been able to watch Raw on Monday, Smackdown on Tuesday, NXT on Wednesday, Impact Wrestling on Thursday and various other promotions sprinkled in, depending on one’s taste. Now, we have Raw on Monday, Impact Wrestling on Tuesdays, NXT and AEW on Wednesdays, catching up on other television on Thursday (American Horror Story, This is Us, and Dawson’s Creek reruns for this guy), Smackdown on Friday, relations with my girlfriend because she feels neglected on Saturday…but only if there aren’t any PPV’s, and an assortment of PPV’s and Network Specials on Sunday. Basically, if you’re a wrestling fan, you will never have a lack of programming.
- Obviously, the biggest stories of the week involve WWE and AEW, both companies are gearing up for their super special days.
- Reports coming out today state that the commentary teams for Raw and Smackdown have undergone quite the shakeup (no pun intended cause it’s such a stupid f-ing term). Michael Cole and Corey Graves will be the exclusive voices of Smackdown, while newcomers Vic Joseph and Dio Maddin will join the legendary Jerry Lawler on Raw. Mauro Ranallo, Beth Phoenix and Nigel McGuinness will remain at the NXT desk and Renee Young will be the host of a new backstage talk show on FS1. As for Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton, well, are going to miss them?
- Speaking of missing people, WWE seems to have missed John Morrison (FKA Johnny Nitro, Johnny Impact, Johnny Gilmore Girls, et. al), as reports suggest he has signed a new contract with the company. I’ve always been a HUGE fan of Morrison and his parkour style of wrestling. Some of the matches he had with the likes of CM Punk, Edge, Jeff Hardy and more back in ’09 were incredible and I can only imagine how good his matches with current performers could be. Maybe he’ll make his presence felt on NXT and can feud with Johnny Gargano over who can really call themselves ‘Johnny Wrestling.’
- Both WWE and AEW are pulling out all stops next week for their respective ‘season’ and ‘series’ premieres. Raw will feature Seth Rollins defending his championship against Rey Mysterio while Smackdown will feature the first non pay-per-view match Brock Lesnar has competed in since 2004 when he challenges Kofi Kingston for the WWE Championship. In addition to those two blockbuster matches, WWE is also parading out their obligatory legends, like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Sting. If I had my way, Bray Wyatt would take out each and every one of them in one fell swoop. This is his time now. The time for legends is coming to a close – now it’s time for new legends to be made. Wyatt could very easily become one before all the dust has settled, much to the chagrin of Seth Rollins, the supposed ‘Final Girl’ of this battle against Bray.
- Seth’s mouth sure looked pretty as he was screaming the other night on Raw though, didn’t it?
- Remember Drew McIntyre?
- Shane McMahon and Kevin Owens are both putting their careers on the line in a match against each other on Smackdown next week. This won’t be just any match, however. It’s going to be a ladder match which almost, almost, makes this entire stupid story worth it. There’s just something about seeing Kevin Owens with a ladder in his hand that does my heart well. Hopefully El Generico doesn’t decide to come out of retirement to cost his former tag partner the win.
- In actuality, this match needs to be the end of the Shane McMahon character for a while. Remember how excited we all were when Shane returned to confront Vince and Stephanie? My, how the mighty McMahon has fallen. It’s like getting a fun new toy for Christmas but then, every week, your Dad comes into your room and hits you in the face with it.
- Remember Bobby Lashley?
- Daniel Bryan will be teaming with Roman Reigns to take on Luke Harper and Erick Rowan at Hell in a Cell and this is the moment, I imagine, that Daniel Bryan will turn on Reigns and be the new leader of the Bryan Family, or whatever they’ll be called. It has to be this because, unsurprisingly with this company, Bryan’s ‘face turn’ has been just as underwhelming as everything else he’s done since coming back. This is not his fault, by the way. Bryan leading the crowd in a ‘Yes!’ chant could have been as big of a moment as the first time Triple H and Shawn Michaels put on their DX shirts or, more recently, when The Shield fisted each other or whatever. Instead, it was a weak attempt that lacked any of the passion that made the chant popular in the first place.
- And now, a word about Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis.
- You have a guy who is an extraordinary in-ring talent. He’s ripped to shreds but moves like a cruiserweight. He has a gorgeous wife who is also an amazing talent in her own right. Not only that, but Bennett’s personal story of overcoming addiction and depression and other sorts of mental health issues is a story that could endear him to fans for years to come. It would be an opportunity to use real life situations to make a performer relatable. The crowd, if the story was done correctly, would be firmly behind the pair. Instead, they do nothing with him, so he starts to complain about it, hoping to get noticed by someone- anyone, really. He shows pride in his work and the brand that he’s on, but evidently that’s a bad thing. Because then he and his wife move up to Raw and somebody (Vince) thinks it would be funny to make him a wimp and a coward while his wife verbally berates him on every show, calling him a loser and insinuating that he’s not ‘a man.’ The story continues, with his real-life wife saying he was not the father of their unborn child for the purposes of a storyline.
- So yes, let’s take this guy who has an incredible story in which he clearly states he struggles with depression and addiction and let’s make him play out this little fantasy of Vince McMahon’s because the boss thinks it’s funny.
- It’s not funny. It’s not entertaining. It’s mean-spirited, poorly written garbage. Nothing about it is provocative or interesting. It’s all trash, designed to tear down a man for having the gall to speak up for himself. And I don’t care how much of wrestling is ‘acting.’ Having to hear such hateful speech come from your wife, even if it’s from a ‘script,’ will eventually start to wear down a man. But McMahon doesn’t care about that – he just wants to laugh at somebody’s expense who dared cross him. Who cares if it pushes him over the f—ing edge or not?
- How’s that Be a Star campaign again, Vince? Grow the f–k up, you narcissistic coward.
- Compare the constant mean-spiritedness of Vince McMahon and his company to the forward-thinking, inclusive, humble and grateful atmosphere of AEW, and it doesn’t even matter which wrestlers are in what company anymore. Good people want to support good people. From all accounts, Cody, Kenny, Nick, Matt and Tony are good people. From many of those same accounts, Vince is not. He’s an insecure, out of touch old man that does what he wants without regard to the actual lives he affects. It’s just…gross. And wrong.
- PAC vs. Adam Page has been announced for the debut episode of AEW: Dynamite but I think most people have forgotten why they’re even fighting. No matter – it’s sure to an excellent matchup.
- Chris Jericho has yet to announce his mystery partners for his match against Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks but, like, why wouldn’t it be (don’t call them) LAX? It makes the most sense, doesn’t it?
- At this point, I’m firmly behind AEW and that will be the show I watch live for the time being. But I am interested in seeing how NXT stands up now that it’s playing with the big boys.
- But look at the adjective – play. AEW isn’t here to play. Despite the PR comments, they’re here to compete, to challenge, and to surpass. And they’re gonna do so with a boy and his dinosaur. Like I said, they’re not here to play.
That’s it for this week, hypothetical reader. Next week is a huge week for a lot of people. Despite my scathing rant about dumb storylines, I genuinely want to see both companies or, at least, the men and women in those companies succeed. I want everybody to make a lot of money, to live their dreams and to make memories for all of us fans. It’s a good time to be a wrestling fan, friends. We’ll talk next week.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features ProWrestling.net staffer John Moore returning for an in-depth discussion on NXT, AEW, Impact Wrestling, MLW, and the NWA, and more...