By Nick Perkins, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@WesternRebel)
Hello friends, neighbors and hypothetical readers. It’s me; It’s me, it’s NRP 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.
Lest anyone should accuse me of being ‘anti-WWE,’ allow me to make this claim – Raw was the best pro wrestling show on TV last week. In fact, I’ll go even further – AEW Dynamite was really bad this week. To be fair, this is the first complete ‘miss’ since Dynamite first started airing in October, which is a pretty good track record. But there were just so many aspects of this show that were disappointing, dumb, and outright bad that I simply cannot overlook them. By all accounts, AEW won the ratings battle against NXT this week, but it definitely had the inferior show.
Let’s start with The Dark Order, shall we? I hate it. I hated The Dark Order when they first arrived, I lightened up a little bit when they started producing those interesting vignettes, and now I’m right back to hating them. Evil Uno, the supposed ‘leader’ of this group for the time being, should be, well, dark, shouldn’t he? He should be reciting Edgar Allen Poe, or passages from the Necronomicon. Or even Clash lyrics or something! He should be mysterious and evocative. What he should not be doing, in this humble writer’s opinion, is talking like just another dude, telling Christopher Daniels that he “wouldn’t be where he is today” without Daniels’ help.
Where, exactly, is he? Isn’t he the leader of a sociopathic cult? Or is he just a dude under a mask playing pretend? Regardless, any ounce of mystique that he once had (which was already very little) was lost once he started talking like the Joe Schmo that he already looks like.
Of course, the bigger problem with this angle is that it’s the same angle that AEW is running in two other cases. I was willing to give the company the benefit of the doubt at the beginning of each of these stories (Dark Order, Nightmare Collective, and Inner Circle Recruitments, for those unaware), but the fact that the literal same exact angle took place two separate times on Dynamite last Wednesday was ’00 WCW-like ineptitude.
It’s not hyperbole when I say the same exact angle, either. Evil Uno offered Daniels the chance to join The Dark Order and Daniels pretended to join, then “surprised” the faction by changing his mind and attacking them. An hour later, Jon Moxley did the exact same thing to The Inner Circle. Like, the exact same thing. It was laughably bad. To their credit, Mox did have me questioning his motives for a brief moment. I did think, just for a minute, that he actually did join the Inner Circle. That had as much to do with his performance as it did with the fact that I didn’t think AEW would be so deliberately obtuse. I was wrong. Mox did end up turning on The Inner Circle and, in doing so, he showed just how far AEW still needs to go to be taken seriously. Letting the wrestlers ‘write their own script’ sounds good in theory, but shouldn’t, like, somebody be in charge of making sure the stories being told aren’t the exact same thing?
On the plus side, both Orange Cassidy and MJF continue to prove themselves to be two of the most ‘over’ acts in the company. Cassidy, especially, gets more cheers for putting his hands in his pockets than most guys do by flipping a thousand times.
MJF continues to prove himself to be the best mic guy in the company, even when it comes at the expense of Cody Rhodes. Rhodes actually came out of this show looking really, really bad. Rhodes had a match and MJF came out immediately afterwards to call out his blood rival, the man who said he would do anything to get his hands on. MJF even did the typical heel countdown move, which usually results in the triumphant entrance of the scorned hero. This time, it did not.
DDP of all people came out to confront MJF and his heavy and when Page got attacked, Cody was still nowhere to be found. His brother and a handful of other random wrestlers had to make the save. And yes, the announcers tried to save face for Cody, by stating that he just had a match. The only problem was Dustin Rhodes was in the same match and he still came out to make the save!!
Dynamite was full of so many plot holes, it makes my head hurt. But I’m not ready to write the epitaph for the company just yet. It was a bad episode, to be sure. But even Breaking Bad and Mad Men had a couple duds every now and then (Editor’s Note: any views and opinions of Mr. Perkins that imply that the great Breaking Bad had even one bad episode are strictly his and do not reflect the opinions of this website or its ownership).
Speaking of duds, Tessa Blanchard’s ill-advised tweet this weekend was just that – a dud. Actually, it was more than a dud. It could quite possibly be a career-breaker. After tweeting (and I’m paraphrasing) that more women should encourage and empower each other, some of her former coworkers spoke out, alleging that Blanchard was less-than-encouraging in many instances. And by “less-than-encouraging,” I mean she was accused of saying some straight up racist shit. The timing couldn’t be worse, as she was scheduled to challenge for the Impact World Championship when the claims were made and went on to win the title at Impact’s Hard to Kill pay-per-view. You know what’s not hard to kill? Somebody’s career after they’re accused of being racist. Unless you’re Hulk Hogan. Then you just lay low for a little bit, hoping to rest on your laurels.
A company that refuses to rest on its laurels is New Japan Pro Wrestling. Their Wrestle Kingdom show last weekend continued to prove that, much like ECW 20 years prior, any time somebody leaves, another wrestler is more than ready to step up and make a name for themselves. There’s a reason why The Elite have become the stars that they are. Actually, there are a bunch of reasons, but one of the big ones is the time they spent in New Japan. Kazuchika Okada, Tetsuya Naito, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Kenta are the real Elite of New Japan and I have no doubt they will continue to become megastars.
Speaking of megastars, has Chris Jericho proven himself worthy enough to at least be considered to be on the famed ‘Mount Rushmore of Professional Wrestling” yet? He continues to be one of the best parts of any show he’s on, whether it’s AEW, New Japan, or even YouTube. So, if he’s on the Mega Star Mount Rushmore (Hogan, Steve Austin, The Rock, John Cena) he should at least be on the Wrestler’s Wrestler Mount Rushmore (Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, Bret Hart and, now, Chris Jericho).
And now, just a few random notes.
- John Morrison is back and is teaming with The Miz and I think that’s the best use of both men right now. I loved Morrison and the matches he had before he left were out-of-this-world good.
- Seth Rollins is so much more palatable now that he’s back to being the obtuse heel with the messiah complex. His matches with Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe, and others should be quite good.
- Speaking of which, Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe (or ‘Joe-Wens,’ as I call them [I don’t actually do that, but I’m surprised WWE hasn’t, yet]) are the tag team I didn’t know I wanted but now they’re all I want.
- The Fiend has lost a ton of momentum, hasn’t he? Maybe they’ll surprise us and give the title to Daniel Bryan at Royal Rumble?
- They won’t. WrestleMania is going to be The Fiend vs. Roman Reigns.
- The Usos and Robert Roode are back on Smackdown, which is good because that show desperately needs as much goodwill as it can get.
- It was recently reported that Marty Scurll has re-signed with ROH and is also said to be the promotion’s new head booker, which is certainly an interesting development. Those waiting to see The Villain join his friends in AEW will just have to keep waiting.
- By all accounts, NXT UK delivered yet another barnburner of a show on Sunday. I have yet to watch it because I was busy when it aired live, and WWE Network is becoming increasingly impossible to navigate. I’ll surely be checking it out this week. Tyler Bate vs Jordan Devlin, especially, seems to be the match that most are talking about.
- Finally, if you’re on social media and you don’t know who RJ City is, do yourself a favor and follow him on Instagram and/or Twitter. He’s an independent wrestler that is part wrestler, part vaudevillian actor, straight out of the ‘20s. More than anything, the dude is HILARIOUS and his banter with actor and former WCW champion David Arquette is funnier than any sitcom on television right now. Check him out.
And with that, I bid you adieu. This next week, I’ll be going back home to Wyoming for the first time in six months, so I don’t imagine I’ll have much time for wrestling. But stay tuned, because I’ll be back just in time for the Royal Rumble. Have a great week, friends. Be good.
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...