By Nick Perkins, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@WesternRebel)
Hello friends, neighbors, readers, and my first hater in the comments section. 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.
-I apologize for the delay since my last blog. I went to my first ever Comic Con here in New York this past weekend. While that was happening, some personal stuff was going on as well but I’m finally able to take a breath, crack a Pepsi and talk about this unprecedented week of wrestling that we all got to experience.
-As I’m writing this article, I’ve got Hell in a Cell playing in the background, so you’ll be able to read my thoughts as they happen during this WCW-like hilariously planned Pay-Per-View.
And listen- I’m not saying WWE is anywhere close to the ineptitude of WCW but…
I mean, yeah. Yeah, I am. They’re being real dumb lately.
But let’s start with the good.
Last week was an enormous one in the world of professional wrestling.
AEW debuted on TNT
NXT put on a loaded show on USA
Smackdown debuted on Fox
Like I said, truly a monumental week. Let’s start with AEW.
-All Elite Wrestling debuted on TNT and to say it was a success would be a huge understatement. Despite a few ‘huh?’ moments, AEW definitely delivered and proved that they are right where they belong. The first week featured a lot less ‘introductions’ than I thought it would and there are still quite a few performers whom casual viewers know nothing about.
One of those people is Kenny Omega. I’m waiting for him to be given some promo time. All we know right now, per the first couple shows, is that he likes cleaning utensils and doesn’t like Jon Moxley. Similarly, we don’t know much about Moxley other than he doesn’t like Kenny Omega. I’m sure AEW will find their sweet spot in terms of wrestling and storytelling, but I’ve also been saying that since Double or Nothing.
(The women’s Hell in a Cell match, by the way, was incredible. Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks completely tore the house down. I like The Fiend and Seth Rollins, but they’re gonna have a helluva time trying to top these ladies).
There are a bunch of standouts that have been featured, however. Chris Jericho, every time he does anything at all, continues to prove why he is one of the greatest of all-time. MJF makes the most of every second of television time he is given. Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks are being treated like superstars (no pun intended), because that’s exactly what they are. And those are just the tippy-top talent. There’s also Hangman Page and Pac and Sammy Guevara and Private Party and S.C.U. and Nyla Rose and Britt Baker and Awesome Kong and Brandi Rhodes and The Best Friends.
And Orange Cassidy. My, oh my, Orange Cassidy. I love this guy. I know it’s all a bit, but ‘cool’ just radiates off him. I know that’s the point but, my God does he pull it off. I’m buying a denim jacket stat; I’ll tell you that much.
Jake Hager debuted at the end of the first episode of Dynamite and was met with a resounding ‘meh.’ The internet, as the internet is wont to do, took to the Twitter machine to voice their apathy. I think this does Hager a disservice. He was starting to find his groove in the final days of his WWE career and then he went on to become a legitimate bad ass in real combat. Now he’s back and, much like Lex Luger, he’s aiming to make people forget all about the stars and stripes as he carves his own path towards a world title or two. Bank on it.
(How did Daniel Bryan not turn heel? I’ve been calling it for weeks and was, at least, 85 percent sure that he would because if he didn’t, it’d be the lamest ‘babyface turn’ in recent memory. Well, color me shocked but not surprised. This f—in’ company).
-Going head-to-head with AEW was NXT, who is also knocking it out of the park. In addition to some dynamite matches (heh), NXT also saw the return of Tommaso Ciampa and Finn Balor. Both stars confronted Adam Cole, which sets up months-worth of television, just in the heavyweight division alone. That’s not even considering the rest of the Undisputed Era, Shayna Baszler, Velveteen Dream, Keith Lee, Dominick Diddykongadocious (or whatever), Damian Priest, Pete Dunn, the Walter, and so many more.
I know that years and years of Raw and Smackdown have conditioned fans to believe those are the two ‘A’ Shows, but in terms of actual in-ring competition, sensical stories and overall entertainment value, NXT and AEW really are the two best leagues in the business.
-Speaking of Raw and Smackdown…Raw certainly happened. Smackdown debuted on Fox and (don’t @ me) had a pretty entertaining show. It felt like a big deal. The Rock, as per euge, stole the show but at least Becky Lynch and, yes, even Baron Corbin got a rub. Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon had a barnburner of a match and, if this really is the last time we see Shane for a while, he left on a high note and reminded all of us why we liked the guy in the first place.
(The majority of this show is like a poorly delivered house show in Wyoming…bring on The Fiend!!).
-And now a word about Kofi Kingston. I’ve always liked the guy. I really liked him around 2008. I’ve never been a huge New Day fan and I thought his talents were being more and more wasted with every pancake he threw. The act just really was never for me, but that’s okay because I don’t think it was supposed to be. So, when Kofi literally carved his own path to the WWE Championship at WrestleMania, I was psyched. Daniel Bryan is my favorite wrestler ever, yet despite that, I was pulling for Kofi to win. When he did, I celebrated. It was an important moment for him personally, I’m sure. But it was also an important moment for African Americans. Far too few WWE champions have been black, and that is a shame. I don’t think it’s a conscious thing on WWE’s part, but it’s still a disservice to so many talented people and the audience that they represent.
That being said, Kofi’s reign was boring. It wasn’t his fault, either. It’s hardly ever the fault of the talent. But nothing about his reign grabbed me, moved me, or made me feel like that night at WrestleMania, or even the few events before. His feud with Bryan was good. His feud with Owens was awkward. And his feud with Randy Orton lacked the intensity that it really could have had. Again, this is not the fault of Kofi or any of the other guys. It’s the writing. Still, though, I wasn’t as angry as many fans when he lost the title to Lesnar. I was annoyed that he lost so quickly though. But Vince McMahon will never stop pushing Lesnar at the expense of his actual loyal talent, so I’ve just come to expect it. Lesnar vs Velasquez interests me more than a Lesnar vs Kofi feud. Probably I’ll be disappointed either way, but at least Lesnar and Velasquez have a built-in story and legitimate beef. We’ll see what happens but, for now, I don’t hate the result.
(But holy f—, do I hate the result of The Fiend vs Seth Rollins. Oh my God. Why do they hate us? Is Vince mad at us for liking AEW and/or NXT? Is he punishing us? The match played out like the end of a slasher movie, with The Fiend playing Michael Myers and Seth Rollins playing the Final Girl. I was okay with the match. It was unique and fun and unpredictable. But then, the ref just stopped the match. Like, just because. WTFFFFF. How was this the ending they came up with? I get not wanting Bray to win, but don’t book him in the f—ing match then!! This is bad. Like, really bad. Like Finger Poke of Doom bad. Like, Starrcade ’98 bad. Like, this will be the moment historians point to when discussing the fall of WWE bad. Jesus. I almost don’t believe it. Did this really happen? Am I even really here? Am I writing this article or is this a fever dream based on stress and anxiety? Somebody wake me up, September has ended and so, too, has the goodwill from fans to WWE).
-Okay, guys. Full disclosure. I stopped writing this article right after the Hell in a Cell main event. I literally couldn’t even. I just walked around my house with my hands on my head for a couple hours. Then, I got another phone call regarding the aforementioned personal issues, so I walked away from this article because I just couldn’t focus. The second week of Raw, AEW and NXT happened in the meantime. AEW and NXT were fine. Nothing really stood out, except Jericho naming his group ‘The Inner Circle’ (perhaps a play off Vince’s inner circle?). NXT featured a great match between Walter and Kushida. Raw was literally the most boring episode I have ever seen. Vince is continuing to punish us, this time for not liking Hell in a Cell. He is a petulant child that doesn’t let us play with his toys when he’s mad at us because ‘they’re his.’ Whatever.
And that has been the past couple weeks of wrestling. As I finish this, we’re coming up on the second edition of Smackdown on Fox and it’s going to feature the first night of The Draft. God, I hope this works. Something in WWE needs to change, and it needs to change soon.
Thank you for reading, everybody. I apologize for the length of this article and the delay in publishing it, but we’ll be back to our regularly-scheduled programming next week! In the meantime, follow me on Twitter via the link in the byline, leave some constructive criticism in the comment section, and/or share your opinions as well! I read every comment, positive or negative. But please, if you’re going to be negative, be entertaining about it.
Hugs & Kisses