WWE Books Travel About As Well As It Books Television

So it’s not just onscreen where WWE is making stupid, entirely preventable mistakes. But at least the ones that wind up on TV make a bit more sense now. Take it away, Observer.

While last week was supposed to be the Superstar Shakeup, lots of things happened this past week that caused plans to change.
The biggest thing was the about-face of breaking up the relationship between Ashley Fliehr (Charlotte Flair) and Manny Andrade by putting them on different brands. The relationship wasn’t a secret and the decision was made with knowledge of this. But it didn’t play out well in real life so it was reversed with Andrade moving back to Smackdown the next week. Because they didn’t want to break up the Andrade/Zelina Vega act, they moved Thea Trinidad (Vega) back to Smackdown as well. Unfortunately, then they were breaking up a married couple, so her husband, Tom Budgen (Aleister Black) also had to be moved to Smackdown.
That broke up the Ricochet & Aleister Black tag team, and based on Ricochet losing to a repackaged Bobby Roode, now back to doing the Robert Roode character with a Don Frye mustache, the orders from above to protect the second run of NXT call-ups ended.

Points to them for not breaking up couples on purpose like they used to I suppose, but how do obvious things like these fall through the cracks?

What a damn mess.

The Wrestling Notepad Experience

Is Mania over yet?

Seriously, it took me almost a full week to want to watch any wrestling again after that fucking show, even stuff I knew would be good. And when I do, I’m immediately slapped in the face by how awful WWE is at writing babyfaces.

First Seth explains that hitting Brock in the beans was ok because he didn’t do anything Brock wouldn’t have. Way to take the high road, dude.

Then Curt Hawkins tries to fake an injury to win a title match even though he’s supposed to be cheered.

After that, Curt Angle, virtuous Olympic hero, comes out to insult and attack the guy who beat him fair and square the night before. Would it have been that hard for Curt to have been sincere even though they don’t like each other only to have Corbin go after him first? Then he could have retaliated and everything would have made sense.

All of that and we’re only like an hour into Raw.

Ok, so maybe they just don’t know how to write anybody. After what feels like months, Lacey Evans finally decides to do something other than interrupt a segment and leave. She comes out and hits Becky with her big finishing move. Cool, new challenger for the new champ. But wait. Becky just pops right back up and starts fighting with her. Hell of a first impression there.

I’m getting closer and closer to taking the advice I often give to other people. Forget Raw and Smackdown, just watch NXT. The shows are shorter and you’ll actually come away happy and rewarded.

Did they lie about Mania being Angle’s last match? If not, why was it him that Lars Sullivan had to show up and kill instead of almost anyone else?

Was Sami Zayn’s return promo supposed to be the voice of Vince McMahon telling us all to get off his lawn, sit down, shut up, watch the show and like it? Because that’s how I heard it.

Is it too much to ask that my wrestling announcers speak like human beings instead of like they’re reading corporate memos out loud? WWE is by far the worst offender here, but they’re not alone. Josh Mathews on Impact has this thing lately about saying that so and so is “trending in a positive direction.” If somebody said that to you in real life outside of your work hours it would take every ounce of restraint you have not to slap the face off his head. Hell, nobody wants to listen to that guy *during* work hours, so why would we want him in our entertainment unless somebody is killing him?

These poor saps. They go from being War Machine which is a pretty cool name for a tag team, to the War Raiders which took a little getting used to but is perfectly fine, to…The Viking Experience? Lol! Are they going to beat me up or are they going to teach me history while I’m visiting a museum?

And what in the fuck are these stupid announcers talking about? Do they know how dumb the name is? Someone must. Why else would they be tripping over themselves to tell us that it’s actually a very fitting name for them because they live the viking lifestyle and it’s not just a character they play a couple days a week? Nobody is supposed to feel like a throw away character, you god damn nitwits. Jesus christ. Sometimes I wish my eyes worked so I could mute these idiots.

Just had it hammered home once again that WWE really has no idea what they’re going to do from day to day. On Monday they moved Andrade from Smackdown to Raw, where he proceeded to have a good match with and then pin Finn Balor, the IC champ. Foolishly, I thought to myself ok, this must be the start of a new feud. Could be a fun one if they let it. But now here we are the next night on Smackdown and out trots Finn fucking Balor. Why? Who even knows? But at least he got to have a good match and win this time, for whatever that’s worth in this stupid company.

For the first time I can remember, the New Day’s pancakes were remotely entertaining. Nice work, Big O.

How is Becky getting away with calling herself Becky Two Belts? Shouldn’t she have to be Becky Multiple Championships?

Jesus. They finally did it. Bayley got booed. Bayley! They weren’t trying to get her booed, of course. But there’s only so long you can treat the most natural babyface to come along in decades like a complete loser geek before people will take no more.

Between Becky and the IIconics I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the word belt more in this one segment than I have in the last 15 years of television.

Has anyone pointed out how silly the Superstar Shakeup is now that in storyline the same four people are in charge of all the shows? Major “acquisitions” don’t feel nearly so major when you’re only negotiating with yourself.

I’m glad WWE didn’t waste their time before making Cedric Alexander into just another geek on Raw. Means I won’t have to waste any of mine pulling for him.

That didn’t take long. The Viking Experience are now the Viking Raiders. That’s much less awful. But the name isn’t totally dead. They’ve renamed their finisher the Viking Experience. You know what? I’m ok with that. It sounds much better as the name of a move than the name of a team.

Ever the masters of subtlety, WWE has added a silly ass cartoon spring noise to the beginning of Ricochet’s entrance music. You know, because his name is Ricochet. Get it? Get it?

I know I should be excited for Seth and A.J., but I have so little faith in WWE right now that I can’t trust them not to ruin it. You just know there’s going to be some sort of stupid storyline or bad promo or needless stipulation or dumb finish because god forbid we build a wrestling match around two guys who are very good at wrestling having to wrestle each other with a title on the line.

Let me tell you what I can’t even try to get excited for. A Roman Reigns vs. Elias feud based around McMahons. Jesus. Are they trying to run people off?

Oh hey, Andrade is back on Smackdown after one week on Raw. Hell of a shake up, fellas. Christ, this company is such a fucking mess. But at least they remembered that he and Balor are supposed to be feuding, so they’ve got that going for them.

You knew Owens was going to turn on New Day at some point, but I would have liked what they did a whole lot better had they stretched it out for more than one week. It would have been much more impactful that way, I think. It’s hard to be shocked, surprised, angry or even emotionally invested in something that’s hardly had a chance to exist.

I keep harping on this, but man could WWE ever learn a few things from New Japan about how to pace a show. I just finished Wrestle Kingdom (I know I know), and even though it was well over four hours long, it never felt that way. I watched it the same way I watched Mania. Same ability to fast forward, same need to stop a few times. But never did I feel like I was watching the fucking thing for 37 straight years. In fact I was surprised how quickly I got through it. It helps a lot when the show is great, but even the best WWE shows feel like they go on too long. I can’t remember the last time WWE left me wanting more, but after WK ended, I found myself thinking that I’d start on New Year Dash if I had time.

Jesus. WWE is lucky that it was them who helped me discover wrestling 30 some odd years ago and that I’ve stuck with them through thick and so much goddamned thin. Were it not, I’d have shut this fucking Raw off as soon as they set up a wrestling match between two of the best tag teams in the entire company by having the babyfaces secretly videotape and then publicly make fun of one guy helping another guy shave his back.

No, I have no idea why ratings and attendance might be tanking. Total mystery.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I really want Sami Zayn to stop talking. I don’t even want anyone to beat him up because booooooo, the mean man isn’t being nice. I just want him to stop talking here, right now, in real life.

Speaking of not wanting to hear talking, it has begun. The Seth vs. A.J. contract signing bored me to tears. Almost 10 minutes of prattling on and on about arson and carpentry and whatever the hell and then a forced fight at the end. I already care less than I did a few days ago, and there are weeks before the match actually happens.

So Roman Reigns finally gets a chance to explain why he punched Vince McMahon and his answer is that it didn’t have to be Vince, it could have been anybody because he just wanted to remind all of us that he’s the big dog and that this is his yard? Hooooookay. So the company’s number one babyface is an insecure asshole with a temper problem. Good to know. Last time I asked when he’d get booed again I was kidding, but now I’m expecting it to start back up any day now. These people truly amaze me sometimes.

Because apparently a three person announce booth isn’t overcrowded enough, they’ve shoehorned a fourth guy into 205 Live this week. I hope this isn’t a permanent part of WWE’s let’s do too much of everything strategy.

Lol. Not sure if it was intentional, but Daniel Bryan just dropped the line of the night. “There is nothing about Monday Night Raw that is fun.” Preach, my dude.

Wild card rule? More like the lazy booking rule, or the we can’t remember anything from show to show anyway so fuck it rule, or even the sneaky way to get rid of the brand split rule. Sure right now the idea is that three people from one show can appear on the other each episode, but you know soon enough they’ll forget about the cap and it’s just going to be dudes floating everywhere until we’re back to the days of the same few people and stories being over exposed on every show.

Aaaaaaaand…that didn’t take long. They didn’t even get through one show before deciding hell with it. Bryan, Roman and Kofi had already come from Smackdown. That, you do not need to be a super math genius to figure out, is three. But now here comes Elias out to attack Roman during his match with McIntyre. Seriously, why do I bother with Raw and Smackdown or anything to do with WWE proper anymore? It’s just so much garbage. And it’s not even hilarious garbage like a lot of the stuff Vince Russo did. Sure his booking was terrible, but it had a certain holy Christ quality to it where you could look back on it and have a laugh once you were done being irritated. This shit I just get annoyed by and then forget. It makes me feel unhappy and like I’m wasting my life in a way that I thought wrestling never could.

Speaking of garbage…

Remember, the ones putting the Icy Hot in the trunks of people who have never done anything to them are the ones you’re supposed to like.

Wait, isn’t Lars Sullivan a Smackdown guy? I swear I just saw him on Smackdown feuding with Truth and beating up Hardys. That’s five.

I feel like this backstage segment where Vince is explaining the wild card rule to somebody on the phone, making sure that person thinks he’s a genius, being sure to add that Elias doesn’t count because he was with Shane, threatening to fire people and then ultimately changing his mind and making it four instead of three is kind of how some of the writers meetings go minus the part where Lars intimidated him.

I like Bryan and Rowan as Smackdown tag champs. When they said Shane McMahon would be crowning new champions I was worried that he’d either give them to himself and Elias or the B-Team. Their match with the Usos, who remembered they were supposed to be babyfaces tonight, was quite good. But now that they’ve beaten them, who’s next? Does Smackdown even have tag teams?

They just announced Goldberg vs. Undertaker for the next Saudi Arabia show. That’s going to be an awesome match 20 years ago.

It’s been weeks, and Elias as running buddy/favourite/heavy of the McMahons is still just weird. It doesn’t feel like they’re playing to his strengths at all. I know the idea is to put the guy in a more prominent role, but in the process they’re starting to take away everything that’s ever made him stand out.

These are some useless ass Money In the Bank go home shows. Literally one notable thing has happened in this five hours of television. Sami Zayn is replacing Braun Strowman in the ladder match. That’s it. A match or two has been ok, but nobody needs to watch any of this programming.

There isn’t a lot I don’t like about NXT, but one thing I could do without is the tendency to have people give up titles when they get called up to the main roster. Yes it’s developmental, I know that. but if you expect me to watch and care about a show, it needs to feel like it’s important to the people involved. I’d much rather see the War Raiders defend and drop the belts than have them just say we’re leaving now, buh bye. You can argue that it’s predictable, but it’s only as predictable as you make it. Why do they have to lose on television every time? Why not make the switch at one of the Florida house shows now and then? You do away with the issue of spoilers and you give people a reason to buy tickets. What’s not to like? Maybe logistics make it hard to do things like that especially with WWE not knowing how to plan long-term, but it shouldn’t be too much to ask that a single company be able to work with itself.

Well hey. I get to at least end this thing on a positive note. Just watched MITB, and I liked it. WWE hasn’t given me much to enjoy since Mania, but this was a good show. It never really dragged, there was lots of good action (Seth and A.J., the ladder matches, Kofi and Owens), everything felt like it either settled something or was leading somewhere (Miz and Shane have to be heading for a Hell In A Cell match since Shane escaped with a cheap win in the cage, right?), there was some unpredictability (did not see Brock showing up to win the briefcase coming), and even the stuff that wasn’t so great (the two women’s title matches) lead to something cool (Bayley cashing in on Charlotte). I don’t have faith that it won’t all get messed up quicker than you can say nice job, but for now, nice job.

All Elite Wrestling Might Actually Be Real

I haven’t said basically anything about All Elite Wrestling here, because I’ve learned not to get my hopes up about there ever being real competition for WWE again. Everything that’s tried to fill the void left by WCW and ECW has either died before it ever got going, been mismanaged into oblivion or not had the resources pumped into it that it would need to truly make a go of things. But I’m starting to think we might actually be getting somewhere here.

Yes, AEW somehow managed to score a deal with TNT. Not bad for a promotion that’s ran literally one show that didn’t even use the All Elite name and sold out one more that hasn’t happened yet. I’m sure to some that last sentence sounds like I’m belittling them, but in fact it’s just the opposite. What AEW has done here is a credit to the wrestling names involved and to what seems like the solid commitment of the money people. Nobody else could have made this deal, I don’t think. Impact, which is better now from a content standpoint than it’s been in years, sure couldn’t. They just finished taking a significant downgrade from a deal that already wasn’t very good, and the only reason they even landed that is because their parent company owns part of the station they settled for. (See into oblivion, mismanaged.)

There are a lot of smart people behind this project and they seem to be taking the time to get things right. And with so many indies doing so well and WWE’s ratings dropping further and further all the time, it does seem like they could be the right people coming along at the right time to create a solid second major company. WWE is worth so much money right now thanks to TV deals and selling shows to Saudi Arabia that it would take incompetence on a scale heretofore unseen for AEW to pass them in the next few years, but they certainly appear to have enough going for them to make WWE at least sit up and think that maybe it’s time to change some things before the rights deals come up again. People aren’t going to want to pay billions of dollars to a company that nobody watches forever, after all.

May 15, 2019 – WarnerMedia announced today that it is partnering with All Elite Wrestling (AEW), the new professional wrestling promotion featuring a world-class roster of diverse male and female wrestlers, giving fans a new wrestling experience for the first time in 20 years. WarnerMedia and AEW together will build this powerhouse sporting league from the ground up and will begin airing weekly matches later this year. With this league, AEW is introducing a new generation of wrestlers to fans, offering fun, gripping and authentic athletic matches that will make wrestling more accessible to a broad audience. WarnerMedia will utilize its position as a next-generation global media company to build this league into a global pro-wrestling franchise.
Founded by President and CEO Tony Khan, AEW is headlined by members of The Elite, which includes all-star wrestlers The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson), Cody and Brandi Rhodes, Kenny Omega, and Hangman Page, and a roster that includes the legendary Chris Jericho. Omega, Cody and The Young Bucks also serve as executive vice presidents of the company in addition to in-ring talent, and Brandi Rhodes also serves as Chief Brand Officer.
Later this year, WarnerMedia will provide exclusive multi-platform access for fans to watch AEW events, airing live weekly matches on TNT in prime time, as well as streaming them through WarnerMedia’s B/R Live and on pay-per-view. A leading digital sports enterprise, B/R Live’s high fan engagement will provide an invaluable opportunity to build AEW’s audience.

I’m curious where the shows will end up airing in Canada. The obvious choice is TSN, assuming that all those years of attitude era Raw that gave them so many headaches aren’t still leaving a bad taste in their mouths. They did air a Kenny Omega documentary not long ago, which could either be a complete coincidence or a subtle hint. They also have five stations to fill now instead of one, so the issue of shows being constantly preempted shouldn’t need to ever crop up the way it used to for Raw.

But if it’s not going to be TSN, things get pretty dicey.

Bell wouldn’t buy the rights to wrestling and then stick it anywhere but TSN, which rules out CTV, I suspect. But even if it doesn’t, where do you put it? CTV does well in prime time, so there’s no way AEW would fit in anywhere that isn’t a complete death spot, something like 2 in the morning on a Sunday.

Ditto for Corus. Global used to air WWECW, but it was Saturday morning at one and there’s no reason for things to be any different now.

Rogers is firmly locked up with WWE, so unless there’s something we don’t know, Sportsnet or anything else Rogers-owned is out of the question.

That basically leaves the Fight Network, but even that one gets complicated since Anthem already owns Impact and has a broadcast deal with Ring of Honor.

These are some interesting times all around. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens and to hopefully not being disappointed for once.

I Really Don’t Get Intergender Wrestling

I admit I don’t watch a lot of intergender wrestling because what I have seen I mostly haven’t cared for, but I’m going to ask this question anyway and then let everyone yell at me to go watch more and figure it out.

How do you present the women in these matches as anything but babyfaces? I’m not trying to be sexist at all here because there are a great many women in this world who could certainly kick my ass, but knowing that women wrestlers are trained professionals just like the guys doesn’t change nature. Most of the time, the man in the situation is going to be bigger and stronger. That’s just how it works. It’s one of the reasons we don’t have intergender MMA. Even when things are as equal as possible, they still aren’t necessarily equal.

It was Tessa Blanchard and Joey Ryan from United We Stand that got me thinking about this again. Tessa is one of Impact’s biggest heels, but she still had to be the face in this match here on this Impact show because by comparison, Joey is a gigantic man. Yes, Joey is totally creepy and comes off like a heel by default, but even if he wasn’t and didn’t, what choice was there? Goliath isn’t usually the good guy, especially when domestic violence is involved. One of the reasons I quit watching Lucha Underground is that I hit my limit for dudes beating the absolute fuck out of women and being told it was ok because equality! It didn’t feel like equality to me. It just felt weird.

Everyone is free to like what they like of course, but I prefer my real and simulated combat sport violence gender separated, thank you.

Wrestlemania May Still Be Going On For All I Know, But The Wrestling Notepad Is Here

WWE’s beat the clock challenges are almost always kind of dumb. Who wants to watch a match that randomly ends with no resolution when somebody fails to beat the time? It’s just terrible, unentertaining television. What incentive is there for the opponent A.K.A. the one who isn’t being challenged to beat the clock to participate? They’re flat out being told you’re being trotted out to either lose quickly or beat yourself up for nothing. We never find out what they get if they happen to knock off one of the challengers. But I just now watched Becky, Ronda and Charlotte compete in one for literally no reason. No, “Wrestlemania momentum is on the line” does not count as a reason, announce team. That’s a completely nonsensical statement. Nobody gains a thing here because there are zero things to be gained. It wasn’t for a title match, because there’s already going to be one. It wasn’t determining a favourable entry number, because that doesn’t exist in a 3-way match. All you’ve done is make the Riott Squad who already aren’t over look like even bigger scrubs than before really, really fast and wasted a few minutes of my life. Go away.

I did like Ronda’s “that’s all I have to say” promos though, so at least it had that going for it.

I’ve seen some people upset that Charlotte beat Asuka for the women’s title on Smackdown. I get it. Asuka really didn’t get to do much of anything with her run and isn’t any better off for having had it. But if Charlotte carrying the belt into Mania means that we’re unifying the titles, I’m good. There aren’t enough women on the roster to carry two separate divisions, especially now that some of them are going to have to primarily focus on the tag team side. Besides, there’s only one set of tag titles, so it would make for a nice bit of consistency.

Wait…what…hold on. Did I just see babyfaces doing babyface things? On WWE? What is the world coming to! Dogs and cats living together! The Usos just forfeited their spot in a gauntlet match because they respect New Day and Kofi too much to take a cheap win. I can hardly believe my eyes.

I realize it’s sort of the man’s actual name, but I can’t hear Jax Dane without hearing “jack stain”. Is that the goal? If so, why is that the goal? “It’s funny to make everyone say jack stain” is a perfectly fine answer, by the way.

Oh cool, they are going to unify the women’s titles at Mania. Or at least they’re saying that the winner is going to get both of them.

Why is Beth Phoenix having her first match back after like six years on a random episode of Raw instead of on Mania, which we’re supposed to want to pay for?

Oh fun. WWE is doing its usual stupid tag partners that don’t get along match, but with a twist that is also stupid. Ronda, Becky and Charlotte have to team up against the poor Riott Squad, but “the first woman (Flair, Rousey or Lynch) to betray her team will forfeit her Wrestlemania opportunity.”

First of all, human beings do not speak like that. Please stop.

Secondly, you have to be totally incompetent to book a match wherein there exists the distinct possibility that you will irreparably fuck up the announced main event for by far your biggest show of the year. Even if we stretch logic to its absolute breaking point and say that the person responsible for this decision is hoping to get Charlotte out of the damn thing so it can be the singles match it should have been all along, it’s still a dumb plan because what if she ends up holding her temper?

And hey, what if two people or even all three punch each other simultaneously? Do you call off the entire match or does everything stay as it is? This seems important.

Now having said all of that, why wasn’t that match and especially what followed the last thing on Raw?

Why are we going from that to Braun Strowman beating up guys he’s pretending are from Saturday Night Live?

Why is Braun Strowman feuding with guys who are from Saturday Night Live?

If the story is that Finn Balor is unbeatable when he’s in the demon persona, why would he ever not be in it?

Why does Mustafa Ali have no first name anymore?

I need a keystroke that pastes “holy hell Takeover was awesome” anywhere I need it, because there’s usually not much else to be said after one of these things.

Why, aside from financial reasons, would anyone who became a wrestler because they like wrestling rather be on the main WWE roster than in NXT? It’s such a fun, fan friendly presentation, one where it seems like what you do in the ring actually counts for something as opposed to beating the hell out of yourself on just the longest, most boring, nothing happening messes.

If I were to offer one criticism of Takeover, it’s that we didn’t need a three man booth during the UK title match. Mauro Ranallo and Vic Joseph are both very good play by play guys, but it seemed like they weren’t sure who was supposed to be taking the lead and it made for a bit of a messy call. Add to that the need for Nigel McGuinness to find spots for his analysis and it was just too much. It never completely fell apart because all three are excellent at what they do, but they shouldn’t have been put in the position to all have to do it at once.

Wow, what a Universal title match. Seth gets his ass kicked for what feels like 100 years before he (the valiant babyface I should note) hits Brock in the nuts, curb stomps him a few times and wins. Sure got me excited for this show to go on for five more hours, let me tell you. This is one of those times when I hope they had to lay it out that way because somebody was hurt, because otherwise everyone involved can fuck right off.

Maybe it’s what I get for watching Takeover on the same day, maybe it’s the bad taste the last match just left in my mouth, maybe it’s WWE’s show pacing or maybe it’s my feelings on Randy Orton talking, but I did not enjoy the Styles Orton match much at all. There was nothing particularly wrong with it, I just found it quite slow and dull.

I’m tired of all the 3/4/5/27-way matches WWE insists on. If it’s me I’d rather leave some people off the show now and then for the sake of a more meaningful match rather than bog things down by cramming everyone into every story every time.

Is it me or did Miz beat on Shane McMahon so long that it almost felt like the guy who had been terrorizing a man’s father was supposed to be the babyface?

Never mind. After that finish and the realization that we’re going to have to see a rematch, everyone’s a heel.

Really not feeling this Mania, in case it isn’t obvious. I can’t imagine having to sit through all seven and a half hours of it in real time.

I have no problem with the IIconics winning the Women’s tag belts, but it would be nice if just once somebody could be elevated by holding a title. Are Sasha and Bayley any better off after their two month run? Sure they were the first champions, but what does that really mean when you go on to do next to nothing and then lose right away? It’s yet another example of everyone running in place.

Kofi winning was pretty cool. Great match followed up by maybe even a better celebration. I sure hope they don’t waste a moment like that.

I’m happy that Samoa Joe got to wrestle at Mania, but that was one goddamn pointless match. If Mysterio was hurt that badly going in and they knew it, why couldn’t they have sent any of the other 300 tomato cans on the roster out there for Joe to have that two minute squash with? It’s not as though Joe vs. Rey was built up in any sort of memorable way that made his presence necessary. If it was so important to get Rey a payday, stick his ass in the battle royal. Don’t waste my time with a match like that on a show this long. Save it for Smackdown.

Speaking of things that could have been on TV, there wasn’t much to Reigns vs. McIntyre. It was fine enough I guess, but the story was more about Roman getting back in the ring after his illness than the match itself, and I’ve already seen him in a match. I know it wasn’t one on one, but it never felt like he was ever in enough danger here for me to care about the difference.

It was fun to see him, but should my second favourite thing on the biggest wrestling show of the year be John Cena coming out in his 16-year-old Thuganomics gimmick to make fun of a guy?

HHH and Batista was perfectly acceptable old man violence, but it lost something because it was another case of nothing seeming to be either on the line or in doubt. Of course HHH was always going to win. But let’s say he didn’t and he had to end his in ring career. Who cares? The guy wrestles maybe twice a year, and the rest of the time he’s making far more money running the company. He’ll be fine. That’s not me being a smart ass. It’s the story we’ve been told.

This show is killing me, you guys. I started watching it yesterday. I’ve taken breaks because I had to go do other things. I’ve skipped over everything that isn’t either a match or something that might be important. I’ve had a full night of sleep. I’m still so tired. How do you live watchers do it? I love the WWE Network with all my heart for so many reasons, but one of the worst things ever to happen to WWE is the damn thing giving them the flexibility to run shows that never have to end.

Oh my god there’s still an hour and five minutes on the clock.

They’ve really set Corbin up well to do some fine heel work, but if that really was Kurt Angle’s last match, what a flat end to the career of one of the best wrestlers I’ve ever seen.

Demon Finn beats Lashley in a well worked TV match and is IC champ again. Cool. Can this show please die now?

Joan Jett still sounds pretty good.

So that was…wonky. Either they messed up the finish or they’re trying to set the stage for a Ronda Becky rematch. But if a Ronda’s shoulders weren’t down finish was the plan, why would you do it in your historic first ever women’s Wrestlemania main event? Even WWE couldn’t be that stupid…could they? Match was pretty good up to that point, but would have been so much better on a show half as long. Something honestly needs to be done about the length of these shows.

I am so done.

A Complete Guide To Just How Awful Crown Jewel Was

Induction: WWE Crown Jewel – The 2018 Gooker Award Winner
This right here is a goddamn work of art, by which I mean that it was written by a guy named Art. It’s also an amazing piece of writing, so good it makes me jealous. I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s a masterful history and dissection of the absolute stupidest stupid thing that WWE did last year, complete with about a million zingers. I’m not even sure I caught them all on first reading, to be honest. Go read it and then give WrestleCrap your money.

Simply put, WWE Crown Jewel was a bad idea from day one. The event, part of a 10-year, twenty-show deal with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was under fire from the get-go for serving as propaganda for the totalitarian state, its new crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), and his modernization campaign dubbed, “Saudi Vision 2030”. 
One can’t discuss Crown Jewel without first talking about May’s Greatest Royal Rumble. Like the Prime Minister of Lebanon, the WWE Network special would be held in Saudi Arabia, albeit it voluntarily this time.

Wrestling Notepad

Nice to see all these NXT guys on Raw I guess, but WWE doesn’t have a clue what to do with three quarters of the people on the main roster as it is so I’m not sure just bringing a bunch of dudes up for no reason and with seemingly no purpose is the best use of talent.

The most surprising part about the Balor and Ricochet tag team is that one babyface selflessly came out to save another one. Being a good friend is usually something reserved for bad people.

DIY and the Revival had a pretty good match. Shame nobody alerted the audience.

No better way to get a guy over than having one of your backstage interviewers refer to him as “…your friend right here.” Jesus. Thank goodness Ricochet is an extremely spectacular wrestler, because with a start like that he’s going to need all the help he can get.

Fantastic to hear that Roman Reigns is well enough to make a comeback. I honestly didn’t know if we’d ever see him again, let alone see him wrestle. But this does raise an important question. When is it ok to boo him again? I kid, I kid. Fighting off leukemia has made the dude a babyface for life, no matter how hard WWE is going to eventually try to turn him heel. Come on, you know they will.

Sometimes I really wish I could watch WWE shows on mute. Times like when Michael Cole says “Braun Strowman says #GetOffTheTracksTheMonsterTrainIsComin’Through”, for example. Christ, he’s so bad.

No disrespect, but Torrie Wilson is in the WWE Hall of Fame and King Kong Bundy isn’t? That would be completely ridiculous even if Bundy was still alive.

I realize that some of the best characters start with a bit of the real person, but Vince McMahon’s new out of touch crazy old man who constantly changes his mind and fucks up planned matches gimmick may be a bridge too far.

Speaking of that, if Kevin Owens is supposed to be a babyface now, why did they bring him back in such a heelish manner? I mean nothing screams babyface like standing quietly by while the owner of the company robs a deserving coworker of a spot he earned and puts you in his place. And yes, this applies even if you say you feel bad about it, ask to team with him later and don’t screw him over.

Honky Tonk Man is also going into the Hall of Fame. That one I can get behind based on theme song alone.

Finally got around to watching the show from the Chris Jericho cruise. Man, that looked like fun. Good action, a match worked around a sunburn, a random bird swooping out of the sky…I’d love to go on one of those someday. The whole idea of a floating wrestling party sounds pretty cool to me.

WWE has missed the boat on a lot of talent over the years, but Juice Robinson really stands out. He’s seriously one of my favourite wrestlers right now. He’s got such an energy and charisma about him. If those were things he had while WWE had him playing CJ Parker the jobbing hippie, it’s criminal.

I think I might be more excited for Scarlett Bordeaux vs. Disco Inferno than I am for anything on Fastlane.

Disco has been super entertaining whenever he shows up on Impact. Some of it is inside stuff which I never quite know how to feel about, but we’re at a point with Impact right now where inside fans are pretty well all they have, so why not?

Impact has gotten a lot of things right since the management change, but one thing they still haven’t fixed is the term Knockouts. It’s so outdated. When even WWE is willing to get rid of bad old branding, it’s time for a change. For that matter, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if Ring of Honor dropped Women of Honor. Unless you’re going to call the guys Men of Honor, it’s silly. Just call them women and let them fight for a women’s title.

I’ve said this on Twitter a million times, but sitting here watching old episodes of Superstars on TV on a Saturday morning has me thinking again about how much WWE is misusing the live network channel. Yes, running the same episodes of NXT and 205 58 times in a row is easy, but it’s not the most consumer friendly especially in countries like Canada where online access to the Network is either secondary and tied to an online cable account or not available at all. I know they toss the occasional old thing on there (I am watching Superstars from 1992 after all), but there should be so much more of that stuff filling up the schedule. The library is huge and growing, but it’s mostly just sitting there. Running it wouldn’t only be a nice thing to do for those of us tethered to television. It would also be an easy reminder for everyone else that hey, all this stuff is on the website and you can watch as much of it as you want whenever you’d like.

Am I the only one who gets lost in something old on the network and then gets disappointed when it ends and a commercial for something current comes on and snaps me back to reality? I hate that feeling so much.

Really not liking this new trend of cutting away from kickoff matches to show interviews or people saying hello or anything else they could show at literally any other point during this near hour of wasted time. Please stop screwing up the one thing of value on these things.

Aside from the usual length and pacing issues, Fastlane was fine. Not spectacular, not horrific, just ok to pretty good.

I like that Shane turned on Miz instead of it being the other way around. What I do not like nearly as much is the thought of a Miz vs. Shane match. I’m sure Shane will fall off of something high and Miz is an entertaining character who isn’t completely terrible in the ring, but on paper that sounds hideous.

I thought they were setting up Mustafa Ali to be the next Roman Reigns once they threw him into the title match because he had the nerve not to be Kofi Kingston, but thankfully the booing never got quite that bad. They were even starting to get behind him a bit by the end, which speaks to how good he is.

By the way, in storyline, why does Kofi still want to work for Vince McMahon? They keep pushing that he’s been a loyal, hardworking independent contractor for over a decade, and now he’s getting fucked with for literally no good reason. Logically, after all this time he should have lots of money unless he’s yet another in the parade of dumb babyfaces, so why wouldn’t he just say fuck it, I hear AEW is hiring? I know they likely won’t bring that up, but it would be a good twist to the story.

But I should know better than to expect logic from these things. This whole thing started because Vince wanted a bigger draw than Kofi in a title match, completely ignoring that New Day has sold a shitload of merch.

With all those damn writers, why do we keep getting basically the same stories playing out on Raw and Smackdown? You guys realize that Becky and Kofi are almost identical, right? The only difference is that Becky is an executive hitting, suspension defying pain in the ass. Minus that, they’re both having to fight against the erratic boss to get a Mania match that everyone wants them to have.

Canada’s Greatest Cook

I had a fun few minutes just now watching this 1978 video of Gene Kiniski intimidating Peter Gzowski, giving us the secret of how to cook perfect pork sausages and telling a story about some crazy fans trying to set him on fire.

A Rather Uneventful Wrestling Notepad To Match The Road To Wrestlemania So Far

“You, me and everyone else here knows I have the ability to kill you with my bare hands without breaking a sweat, and the only thing stopping me is my decision not to.”

I don’t know who wrote a line that good, but I bet you honest to god cash money it wasn’t one of those 30 writers. It’s going to take me a while to get over that shit at the Royal Rumble, but at least for now I can be legitimately excited to see Becky and Ronda at Mania. Well, unless they decide to ram Charlotte in there and make it a 3-way. Nothing whatsoever against her, but if there’s one thing this match doesn’t need, it’s anyone else. The excitement and money is absolutely in a singles match. Anything else will only serve to water it down.

Speaking of great lines, Samoa Joe telling Jeff Hardy to treat this like an AA meeting and keep your mouth shut while I’m sharing with the group might have been the highlight of Smackdown.

Did I literally just watch the Usos cut a promo about being on Miz TV, a place where they will be going to cut another promo? Yes, yes I did.

Why are we doing the everyone in the multi-man match suddenly needs to get involved in a random singles match all at once so that they can fight each other for reasons unknown gimmick several weeks out from Elimination Chamber? Now there’s nothing left for the go home show unless they just do it again. Ok, never mind. They’re probably just gonna do it again. But maybe next time it’ll be everyone getting involved in a tag match, which is completely different, obviously.

I don’t know what an Eric Bugenhagen is, but I think I enjoyed watching it.

My first thought is that I hope he never gets called up to the main roster, because the moment he does, he’s done. He strikes me as someone like an Adam Rose or a No Way Jose. Over and fun in NXT, wasted and ruined in WWE proper.

Stick around for the Drew Gulak vs. Matt Riddle match that comes after young Bugenhagen on that episode of NXT, because it was also great in a completely different way.

I’ve asked this before, but how can WWE and NXT be under the same corporate umbrella? It seems impossible. One has fun characters, great storytelling and excellent wrestling, while the other is WWE. It’s so maddening because it shows that if they wanted it to, WWE’s programming could be so much better than it is so much more of the time.

I do have to give them credit for getting something right on Raw. They’ve been telling the story that Becky Lynch has an injured knee after the Royal Rumble. She refused to let the doctors look at her, because she doesn’t trust the McMahon’s and thinks they’ll pressure the medical folks not to clear her so they can give her match at Wrestlemania against Ronda Rousey to someone else. Why? Well, they haven’t exactly filled in all of those blanks yet, but they did at least bring up that in general, there is decades of evidence suggesting that you shouldn’t trust a McMahon. Anyway, Becky mistrusts them so much that she attacks Stephanie and slaps Triple H on back to back nights for suspending her. Then, on Raw this week, they announce that Becky did see a doctor. I’d be mad about that, but in a far too rare instance of attention to detail they were sure to point out that she saw *her* doctor. Nice work. Glad at least one pushed babyface isn’t a moron. Now why, you may ask, aren’t I upset about the part where Hunter and Steph said that their doctors agreed with Becky’s doctors that she’d be ok in a couple of weeks? That’s because we’re not supposed to see any of the McMahon’s as 100 percent heel or face. I don’t really like that they’re being both or even that they’re around in the first place, but if they are and if that’s the line they’re going to walk, this was done about as well as it could have been done.

And of course, as I’m typing that last bit, they go and announce something silly. A 2-on-1 handicap match for the intercontinental title? What even is that? If you don’t want Finn Balor pinning Bobby Lashley, don’t book the match. The only possible saving grace here is that maybe it works out that Finn pins Lio Rush, Lashley kills him for costing him the belt and then I never have to see the hype man version of Lio Rush ever again. I think I could live with that.

If they can restart a random ass 6-man tag that ended due to a bad call, why aren’t they doing it at important times like title matches?

For history’s sake, I was wrong. They did not do a partners that don’t get along tag match to build to the chamber. They did a gauntlet where the winner gets to go in last. It was rather enjoyable. I don’t know if there are any big plans for Kofi Kingston, but it was nice to watch him be a very good wrestler for a while. Orton ended up winning. Good choice. The last thing I need to see is a Randy Rest Hold marathon.

Oh bugger off, Elimination Chamber Kickoff show! You have a fucking hour to kill and you’re telling me that the only time you can cut backstage for a dumb New Day segment is in the middle of the Cruiserweight Title match? We’d all be fine not hearing the wisdom of Jonathan Coachman and Stan Rogers or Sol Rosenberg or whatever that other interchangeable geek’s name is for a few minutes.

I’m not quite sure I understand these Kevin Owens videos where he’s bowling and picking up pizza and generally being a good old hard workin’ family man. When you hear his out of character interviews it sounds like that’s who he really is, but as a storyline it’s kind of weird and I’m not sure where you go with it. But he doesn’t like pineapple on pizza, so whatever this is has that going for it, at least.

WWE is short on genuine feeling moments these days, which made everyone’s emotion after Sasha and Bayley won the Womens Tag belts come off super awesome and like something people will remember for a while. It felt like an honest to god history making accomplishment instead of just another segment.

I know I said I have nothing against Charlotte, but I really don’t like her promos. Sometimes the words are there, but she has such a forced, rehearsed delivery that I just can’t take her seriously.

Man, the last several minutes of the Elimination Chamber with Bryan and Kofi were great. I don’t know how much mileage there is in Kofi as a top singles star, but there certainly seems to be some. I’m definitely here for them wanting to find out, that much I know.

If you’re short on time, just watch the two Chamber matches. If you’re really short on time, watch both from the point where it comes down to the last two teams/dudes on through the aftermath. You’ll miss practically nothing by skipping the rest of the show unless you need to see Braun Strowman getting beaten up or Becky Lynch hitting people with crutches.

Well, Suppose I Can Forget About That

Looks like I won’t be getting the Hideo Itami vs. Buddy Murphy match I was hoping for.

Hideo Itami has asked for his WWE release.
In weeks following Mike and Maria Kanellis, The Revival, and Dean Ambrose all informing WWE of their desires to leave the company, FightfulWrestling.com has learned that Hideo Itami asked for his WWE release this week. He finished up on Tuesday night’s episode of 205 Live in a losing effort to Akira Tozawa. The talk backstage was that Itami will actually be granted his release, pending a 90-day no compete clause.

Fightful was told that Itami, much like the other wrestlers who had asked for a release was unsatisfied creatively.
Itami changed his twitter handle back to KENTA in recent days and sent out the following tweet late Tuesday night:

I was surprised but not surprised by this news. After all of the injuries (to himself and others) and false starts, he seemed to finally be gaining some traction on 205 Live, but it’s 205 Live. It’s a show that, while much better than it used to be, is likely never going to be what it could have been because of the poor decisions and worse execution that plagued it from 2016 when it began until WWE finally started figuring things out in 2018.

With the independents doing well and companies like ROH, NJPW, MLW, AEW and even Impact rushing to lock up talent and apparently throwing around solid money to do so, now is the best time arguably since WCW died to be unsatisfied creatively with WWE and actually do something about it. If you have a name and the will to put the work in on the open market, why not take your chances?

And this is another reason to get so upset about WWE’s piss poor writing. I know in many ways now it doesn’t matter what they do thanks to the billions of dollars in television deals that should carry them through the next few years and then some, but what good is all the money in the world if people are so upset with their positions that they’re turning it down? Watching the product as a consumer and long time fan can be tough, but think about how terrible things must be for guys being offered six or seven figures to say no thanks, you can keep that. It’s easy to say WWE doesn’t have to care, but they should care. Things look great now, but eventually those rights deals are going to come up for negotiations again, and it’s not entirely unthinkable that we could get to a point where nobody is going to want to pay big money for something that nobody is watching.