By Nick Perkins, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@WesternRebel)
Hello friends, neighbors, readers and all of my fellow Halloween enthusiasts. 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 ProWrestling.net presents Ring Bearer: Exploring the Week that Was in Professional Wrestling.
-This was a really good week of wrestling. Shocking, I know! While Smackdown has gone back to being irrelevant (for the time being, anyway), Raw, AEW and NXT were all coherent, good wrestling shows. While there were a few lows (I will NEVER get behind these stupid affair stories and I don’t care if it’s Vince McMahon, Paul Heyman or Jack Tunney himself writing them – they’re deplorable and, worst of all, boring), this was a relatively entertaining week of professional wrestling.
Raw, for the first time in a while, at least tried to be different. It featured new faces, fresh matchups and less goofy shit than we’ve been subjected to. I think Raw is indirectly (or possibly quite directly) copying AEW’s format of less talking, more wrestling. They’re letting the wrestlers speak for themselves with actual wrestling, and the result was a pretty enjoyable show. Drew McIntyre, Ricochet, Andrade, Sin Cara, Humberto and The Street Profits were all given a chance in the spotlight and they all delivered. Seth Rollins continues to be less ‘edgy’ and more…’douchebag-y.’ I’m not sure if this is by design or inadvertent, but he’s really coming off like a dick these days. I never thought I’d see (or hear) the day that Roman Reigns gets a better reaction than Rollins, but here we are. Maybe the goal is to feature Reigns vs. Rollins at WrestleMania. If Rollins keeps getting back on his bullshit, I could very easily see crowds finally being behind Reigns at a WrestleMania.
-WWE Crown Jewel is next week and, even if it didn’t fall on my absolutely favorite day of the year, I doubt I would watch it live. While the matches seem entertaining enough, I doubt anything too conclusive will happen. And that’s the biggest reason I won’t be watching life. In what may shock the internet wrestling community, I don’t actually believe WWE performing in Saudi Arabia is a bad thing.
Yes, the royal family of Saudi Arabia sucks. But, I mean, the ‘royal family ’ of our country kind of sucks right now, too. Not everybody in the country is as cold-blooded as their prince, however. Just like not everybody in America is as much of a doofus as I feel our ‘leader’ is. There are also men, women, and children in the country and, quite frankly, they could probably use a little distraction from the world around them.
Vince McMahon may only be interested in the money that comes with bringing WWE to Saudi Arabia. But I would be willing to bet there are quite a few wrestlers who are more than happy to entertain an appreciative crowd, regardless of what country they live in. So, we can be mad at the higher-ups that put this show together, but I think it’s okay to support the wrestlers who are performing, and the crowd who is watching them. They have just as much of a right to enjoy the escapism of professional wrestling as we do.
-Speaking of escapism, Chris Jericho and the rest of his Inner Circle could find no escape from Cody and his bunch of merry men on Dynamite this week. In a show chock-full of incredible matches (particularly Private Party vs The Lucha Bros), it was Jericho, once again, who stole the show without even stepping foot inside of a ring. He wasn’t alone this time, though. Cody, Sammy Guevara, MJF and DD F’in P shined brightly on this show during a brawl segment. MJF, especially, shined in his role as he sacrificed the only thing he ever loved to help his friend Cody. It was a wildly entertaining brawl segment that couldn’t be topped, even by a Jon Moxley vs Pac main event. That match was off the rails as well, until it ended in a time limit draw. I’m one of the few who actually likes this result, I think. Neither man could use a loss right now, and it explains the urgency of tv time very well. Moxley and Pac having a good match for 12 minutes on television should, ideally, make us want to see them have a good match for 30 minutes on pay-per-view.
-The real story of the week has come from NXT. In a move straight out of Hulk Hogan’s playlist, Finn Balor was recruited to be the third man in a stare down with Undisputed Era. But, instead of joining Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano in beating down Adam Cole and Co., Balor actually kicked Gargano and returned to his darker roots.
It was a great moment that was the true highlight of wrestling television this week. If done correctly, Finn Balor could become the biggest, baddest, best heel in NXT and beyond. Imagine how devastating a heel ‘Demon’ Finn Balor could be?
The Balor turn confirmed something to me that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. Wednesday really is the best night of wrestling. I skip through episodes of Raw and Smackdown, but I never want to miss a minute of AEW or NXT. Raw may be Vince McMahon’s favorite show, Smackdown may get the bigger plugs, but NXT is the most entertaining brand of WWE television.
AEW even paled in comparison to that moment on NXT. It’s risks like these that will continue to make Wednesday night the true destination viewing night of professional wrestling.