WWE’s long term opportunity

As a wrestling fan, I try to keep the bigger picture in mind. It’s easy to react with disgust on a week-to-week basis when you see how some people are booked or certain match results. I’ve written before about how the regularity with which that happens leads to me losing interest in WWE’s main roster product. But I can deal with bad booking or the lack of a character if I can at least see where it’s going, and I try to give stories a chance to play out before judging them.

Long-term storytelling is when wrestling is at its finest. Last November I wrote an article looking at how Becky Lynch’s momentum and stardom seemed so organic, and that was down to small nuances over several years. Now the crest of that wave is taking her to the main event of Wrestlemania. Continue reading WWE’s long term opportunity

The Man takes the spotlight

There is one character in WWE that has been the talk of the industry far and above all others. That we can have a week where Daniel Bryan not only turns heel, but wins the WWE Championship, and that’s barely even in the top five talking points for the week, you know someone is on fire.

To say that Becky Lynch has been on a roll would be a drastic understatement. Sky Sports published an interview with Lynch earlier today where she claimed to be the face of the industry, and as far as WWE is concerned she is absolutely right. She has been so good that the fans didn’t let her turn heel, and ever since she has been getting one of the loudest reactions on the show.

The thing is, this has been a long time coming. Continue reading The Man takes the spotlight

In Defence of the Reality of Wrestling

A couple of frustrating conversations I’ve had recently got me thinking about this post that I wrote over two and a half years ago. But in trailing through my archive, I realised I never actually published it on this site (although it did get published in my university’s student newspaper). Purely for the integrity of the original piece, I’m posting it now as I wrote it then, and instead of updating it I’ll add in a few thoughts at the end. Enjoy. Continue reading In Defence of the Reality of Wrestling

Tempering NXT UK Expectations

It’s an incredibly exciting time to be a UK wrestling fan. Major moves are being made behind the scenes in the UK market, and that has resulted in the official announcement of NXT UK – as well as the first four sets of tapings.

WWE seem to be creating their own tiered feeder system, and this is the first step towards creating a new tier. You’re going to have Raw and SmackDown at the top, NXT next, then the regional promotions like NXT UK that are starting up, and below them the companies WWE have working relationships with, like Progress and ICW in the UK. It could completely revolutionise the wrestling industry.

But it’s early days, and there are still questions over where and when the new NXT UK show will actually be aired, but even these happenings are so encouraging after a year of nothing really moving. The likes of Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate have stolen shows in that time, but it’s great to see others finally get the recognition that a WWE stage will undoubtedly lead to. Continue reading Tempering NXT UK Expectations

WWE’s Fandom Conundrum

When I wrote my column about becoming more interested in companies outside WWE, I briefly mentioned naming this blog. “That Wrestling Fandom” was specifically named to not be WWE specific. But I also deliberately picked the term “fandom”, because I anticipated that at some point I’d be talking about fan culture. And here we are.

I think WWE and their fans are in an endless cycle of no-win situations.

Fans, myself included, cry out month after month for long term storytelling. Shotgun booking appears to be public enemy number one at times, and yet is all too prevalent in WWE’s programming. The obvious example going back a few months was when Finn Balor lost to Kane towards the end of last year when he was considered to be Brock Lesnar’s obvious next challenger.

And yet, when WWE try to have a feud simmering under the surface for months, that doesn’t go down well either. Sasha Banks vs Bayley is a rivalry that has burst back to the fore after last night’s Raw, and nobody seems to care anymore. The time for a heel turn, based on crowd reaction, was 14 months ago. People say this is a feud that has gone nowhere for six months, but Banks looked like she was turning heel around Wrestlemania 33 – over a year ago in April 2017. Continue reading WWE’s Fandom Conundrum

Life Outside WWE

So let’s just get into it. I haven’t really posted here for two months, and that has been for a few reasons. For one, work has gotten very busy. For two, there’s been some personal stuff that I had to deal with that took priority. But for three, and I think this has been the most important part of the lack of writing here, WWE just hasn’t been that interesting.

The reason I say that’s the biggest factor is that I was still busy with work around Wrestlemania season. But I was so excited for the biggest show of the year that I rebranded this site, came up with new concepts for articles, and wrote something in the region of 15,000 words in roughly a week. I don’t have the exact figure to hand, I could sit and work it out, but around Wrestlemania this year I think I wrote more than I did in the entirety off 2015.

Ronda Rousey Wrestlemania 34
I mean, it’s like there were one or two things to write about. Anybody remember any?

Because here’s the thing, when WWE is good, it forces it’s way into my life. No matter what else is going on, WWE becomes a priority. I will find the time to watch and write about it, even if that means surviving on less than 20 hours sleep in a week. Yes, I’ve done that. Continue reading Life Outside WWE

Is it time for a Rumble-Slayer?

It’s going to be the talk of the wrestling world for the next seven days, but in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, the Royal Rumble is this Sunday. As always speculation is rife as to who will walk away with a guaranteed world title shot at Wrestlemania, but I’m here to present the case for someone who hasn’t really been mentioned as a real contender: Seth Rollins.

I know Seth is already booked for another match on the show – he’s set to defend the Raw Tag Team Championships alongside Jason Jordan against The Bar. But regardless of whether Rollins wins, or even enters, the Rumble match or not, I think we’re going to see new tag champions (as I wrote last week). It’s not entirely relevant to my argument, but it would have to be the first step for him to get to the “main event” of Wrestlemania. I also don’t see his story with Jordan continuing for long past this week, if at all, which would be another necessary step.

Continue reading Is it time for a Rumble-Slayer?

An Introduction To WarGames

WarGames. It is a concept that hasn’t been used in nearly 20 years, but next weekend a cage will contain nine men inside two rings one more time. As someone who was around 18 months old when the last official WarGames match took place, it was something I’d only ever heard of, but it was always something that was talked about as being legendary. The concept was designed by the late, great Dusty Rhodes, and became something of a signature match for the Four Horseman, especially in the early days. There have been thirty official WarGames under the WCW (and later by extension the WWE) banner, I have watched eight of them from throughout the years. I thought I’d put together this article to give people who, like me, had never experienced the concept before, an idea of what to expect.

How It Works

The best way I can describe it to people only familiar with the post-WarGames era of wrestling is as a cross between Hell In A Cell and the Royal Rumble. As previously mentioned, the match features one cage covering two rings, and usually two battling teams of four or five. Traditionally, two men start the match and slug it out for five minutes. After five minutes, there is a coin toss, and whichever wins the coin toss can send a member from their team into the cage, giving their side a 2-on-1 advantage. After two minutes, that advantage is nullified and it becomes 2-on-2. The teams alternate between sending a man in every two minutes, with the team who won the coin toss always retaining the advantage. When the last man has entered the cage, a period called “The Match Beyond” begins, which basically just means the match can now end. There are no disqualifications, and until the later versions there were no pinfalls either, meaning the match could only end when someone “submits or surrenders”. Continue reading An Introduction To WarGames

Evaluating The Roster 1 Year After The Draft – Part 3 (P-Z)

It’s the final part! Everyone you haven’t read about yet is in this part, including a handful of former world champions. It’s been a long ride, let’s get this show back on the road!

Paige

I think Paige is just about unique on this list in not having appeared on WWE programming one single time since the draft. She got hurt last year, needed neck surgery, and got suspended twice due to wellness policy violations. She should be just about ready to return to the ring in the next couple of months I think, but whether we will see her in a WWE ring again is questionable. A string of incidents in her personal life has led to speculation that WWE will think they are better off without her, which seems to be a fair opinion right now. But for Paige’s fans, there is still the hope while she’s under contract that she will return, and with The Rock making a movie about her there’s always the chance WWE will try to capitalise on that publicity. The issue is whether or not they feel they can trust her in that situation. If she gets things straightened out, and recovers physically, she can be a real asset to either show right now. My worry is that it’s all too likely Paige will go down as an underachiever in WWE.

Rating: * Continue reading Evaluating The Roster 1 Year After The Draft – Part 3 (P-Z)

Evaluating The Roster 1 Year After The Draft – Part 2 (D-N)

This is part two of my roster evaluation one year after the draft took place. The first part covered superstars whose names began with letters A-C, this part looks at the D-N section of the roster. Let’s get to it!

Dana Brooke

Dana has thus far made a career as a lackey on the main roster, first as Emma’s sidekick reuniting a successful NXT pairing, then as Charlotte’s “protégé”. She never looked up to much in the ring during that period though, made all the more obvious because she was often up against Sasha Banks and Bayley. But since splitting from Charlotte she has been missing for all intents and purposes, though there have been hints she will reunite with Emma once again in the near future.

Rating: * Continue reading Evaluating The Roster 1 Year After The Draft – Part 2 (D-N)