By Nick Perkins, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@WesternRebel)
Hello friends, neighbors, readers and my cat, Bruce Wayne, who is about to get neutered and will never forgive me. 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.
Man, does Raw continue to prove itself to be the lamest wrestling show on television lately or what? It’s not even that this week’s show was bad, per se. It was just so unequivocally uneventful, uninspired and, more than anything else, boring, that I could literally not keep my eyes open. It’s gotten to the point (thank you, DVR) where I can skim through the whole show in about 12 minutes.
“Well if you don’t watch the show, then how can you judge it?” you cry, indignantly.
Well, Marcus, I can judge the show because I’ve been watching it for the past 20 years, through good times and bad, and it has finally reached the point of being absolutely skippable. None of the matches really matter, there’s very little story-telling and when there actually is storytelling, it results in subpar endings or features somebody banging somebody else’s wife. If I wanted to watch a married woman sleep with another man, I’d watch the weird videotape I found in my parents’ attic.
So Raw was mostly skippable, as was the Smackdown that preceded it. I’m not sure if we’re all just in such an anti-WWE mood that nothing they do is right, or if it’s actually the case that nothing they do is right. I’m just alarmingly unmoved by the product WWE is putting out.
Except, of course, for NXT. Wednesday has become such a paradox of Monday and Friday. Wednesday really is the new Monday for a lot of wrestling fans, this writer included.
The black and gold guys put on another solid show, featuring Tommaso Ciampa returning to the ring, and what we thought would be the final meeting between Keith Lee and Dominick Diamonddallaspageavitch. That match once again proved to be a case of the irresistible force vs the immovable object (my favorite Gorilla Monsoon quote, by the way. Did you notice when The Joker uttered that line to Batman in The Dark Knight – I stood up in my seat and fist-pumped when I saw it in the theater…surprisingly I was single around that time). Both big men continue to impress in their encounters against each other and the addition of Roderick Strong next week should make for a very interesting encounter.
AEW was no slouch this week, either. They put on a loaded show, highlighted by Pac and Jon Moxley taking on Kenny Omega and Hangman Page. It was a star-studded that couldn’t possibly be topped…until it was. Chris Jericho took on Darby Allin in a match that made both men look like stars. It was like the equivalent of Kevin Nash taking on Rey Mysterio except Jericho could actually keep up with Allin.
The Lucha Brothers continue to impress as well, but The Best Friends and SCU are looking great too.
The only issues I continue to have with AEW are the lack of actual stories going on. During the Attitude Era, not only did we have Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon as the main feud, we also had Austin feuding with Rock, Undertaker feuding with Kane, Triple H feuding with The Rock, Triple H feuding with Owen Hart, and more. In fact, during the faction war between DX and the Nation of Domination, each member had their own mini-feud with a guy from the opposing team. There were different stories for each wrestler and there really was, quite literally, ‘something for everybody.’ AEW is still lacking in that department and it’s still mostly a show that features great wrestling, but no character development. If I’m a casual fan, I’m asking myself ‘who is Darby Allin and why should I care about him?’ He has a great backstory that could really draw people in (his uncle was an alcoholic and died, which caused him to lose faith in a lot of humanity), but all we know from episodes of Dynamite is the fact that he paints half his body and likes to skateboard.
AEW also needs to be better about explaining rule and rulings of matches. If they’re trying new things to be different, that’s fine. But they should explain why they’re doing it so viewers are confused when a match doesn’t end after somebody gets DDT’d through a glass table.
On the plus side, the video piece about Cody Rhodes was awesome and MJF did a backstage interview for AEW’s YouTube page that is my favorite thing I’ve seen all week. He calls somebody ‘boobs’ and it’s perfect. Go out of your way to watch it.
What you probably don’t need to go out of your way to watch is Smackdown. After it’s first episode on Fox, it was back to business as usual. It’s as bland as Raw is, which is to say…it’s pretty bland.
That could potentially be a reason why WWE has parted ways with Eric Bischoff.
Yes, less than three months after he was hired, Eric Bischoff was allegedly fired and replaced as Executive Director of Smackdown by his own buddy, Bruce Prichard. Granted, we don’t know for sure what exactly happened or why Bischoff left or was let go but, just for the sake of argument, let’s say Vince fired Bischoff, for whatever reason.
Regardless of how you feel about the guy (I thought he was an asshole for the longest time, but have warmed up to him considerably thanks to his 83 Weeks podcast), Eric Bischoff deserved better. He was hired by Vince, at least partly because of his name-value, and the guy moved his entire life from Wyoming to Stamford. He and his wife uprooted their lives to take a chance on WWE and they were sent home three months later. This just goes to show the lack of empathy Vince McMahon has for other peoples’ lives. He doesn’t care that Bischoff took a huge risk, as a show of good faith, to come work for him. Just like he doesn’t care what stupid cuckolding story could do to an actual marriage. He has no regard for the people in his company, which is why so many people leave WWE so bitter.
Bischoff will bounce back. He always has. But it was just a shitty thing to do. Some people say that McMahon hired and fired Bischoff just to f— with him, one more time. I don’t think it was that. I just don’t think he cared about Bischoff at all, one way or another. That’s almost worse.
Do you want to know a big reason why so many fans are being drawn to AEW? It’s not just because of the wrestlers, or the great matches, or the excellent shows. It’s because, in a lot of ways, Tony Khan, Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, and so many others actually seem like genuinely decent human beings. They seem to care about each other and want to take care of past, present and future wrestlers. People like to see good people succeed. It’s easy to root for guys like that.
Meanwhile, Mike Bennett asked for his release from WWE after a storyline that saw his real-life wife berate, emasculate, and verbally castrate him for a month straight. Knowing WWE, they’ll probably make him sit his entire contract out while a story is written that calls for Vince to be declared the father of Maria’s baby.