Holy star power wrestling fan. After looking for a while like it was going to be a really bland Survivor Series card, the changes in the last couple of weeks have produced a stacked show. There are 12 former world champions on the show, 8 former women’s or divas champions, 6 former NXT champions, and the only man on the show (including Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas) who has never held a title is Braun Strowman. However, even with the depth on the card, what a lot of people seem to be talking about this week is the ages of the participants in the top matches – in particular the Raw vs SmackDown 5-on-5 Elimination match.
SmackDown’s team consists of Shane McMahon (47), Randy Orton (37), Bobby Roode (40), Shinsuke Nakamura (37) and John Cena (40) for an average age of 40.2 years old. Raw’s team consists of Kurt Angle (48), Braun Strowman (34), Finn Balor (36), Samoa Joe (38) and Triple H (48) for an average age of 40.8. The issue that people have with the ages of performers is undoubtedly exacerbated by the other real main event – Brock Lesnar vs AJ Styles – also featuring two forty year olds.
I don’t care these guys are both 40, I haven’t been this excited for a WWE match in a long time!
This is going to be one of the most disjointed columns I’ve published in a long time. Usually I like to write to make a point, to address one or two ideas through exemplification and analysis. There will be aspects of that here, but there were so many things I wanted to talk about it is a bit of a mish-mash of ideas. That is because last week, I went to the Raw house show in Glasgow and the Aberdeen house show in Aberdeen – and when you see so much, it gets you thinking about a lot of different things too.
Ok, so here is the space where I talk basically about why I did what I did in my Raw fantasy booking series, and try to justify the whole thing. I thought I had better make this a separate article after the final part started approaching 10,000 words (damn all those epic promos), but there are a few things I wanted to highlight here. Starting with…
So WWE’s perennial question right now is how to keep Braun Strowman strong, while still building towards Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns as the top match at next year’s Wrestlemania. This has meant that they are coming up with increasingly bizarre (see TLC) ways of writing him out of stories and giving him personal grudges. I wanted to protect him without resorting to those extremes every month, and really he is the most protected guy in this story – he never gets pinned once, and I think he only ever loses one match not including the Royal Rumble. When I took over the book, he was coming off a loss to Brock Lesnar that, in all honesty, didn’t make him look that impressive. So I wanted to re-establish his dominance in the first few weeks, and then had him be one of the two survivors for Team Raw at Survivor Series. Continue reading
And here we are at the end of Wrestlemania season! We’ve had six straight nights of content from WWE alone with the Hall of Fame, TakeOver: Orlando, Wrestlemania 33, Raw, SmackDown and NXT. It almost feels strange not having more wrestling to look forward to tonight. BUT, we can look back at all the awesome stuff that’s happened in the last week, and look ahead by asking the question “where do we go from here?”
We saw Kurt Angle return to the company, first as a Hall of Famer then as the Raw General Manager. We saw what looks like a full on heel turn from Asuka. We saw Matt and Jeff Hardy return to the WWE and become the Raw Tag Team Champions. We saw the career of The Undertaker likely come to a close. We saw The Revival debut on the main roster on Monday night, and Shinsuke Nakamura and Tye Dillinger get the call up on Tuesday night. And crucially, we also saw Vince McMahon announce that next week we would shake up the rosters.
And that’s what I want to focus on here. Who is most likely to switch brands, or maybe rather who needs to switch brands the most? Here I lay out six picks, three from each show, who could really benefit from a shake up of their surroundings.
As we head into Wrestlemania, all eyes are on the ultimate thrill ride, and rightfully so. It’s not WWE’s pinnacle for no reason. But, as ever with WWE storylines, a big part of the excitement around Mania is the possibility for what will come next. So I’ve put my fantasy booking hat on (I mean come on, I don’t really ever take it off) and come up with eight rivalries I want to see on SmackDown coming out of Wrestlemania season. In case you’re wondering, I’m only doing SmackDown because I’m too uncertain about who will be in what spots and roles on Raw, and I’m doing eight feuds because there are eight segments in a typical SmackDown broadcast. And the roster isn’t really big enough for more. Got that? Let’s go!
WWE Championship – Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt ©
First off, Battleground was a great show. We saw a match of the year candidate between Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, another great match for the WWE Championship, what must be one of the best promos of Enzo Amore’s life, and the long awaited main roster debut of Bayley.
On top of that, The Wyatts and the New Day produced an entertaining battle that was all about the story of Xavier Woods, Natalya and Becky Lynch put on a solid showing in an unlucky spot, and Randy Orton might have produced the line of the night in a Highlight Reel that accomplished all it needed to.
That seems like a fairly stacked show, right? Continue reading
So here we are with Part 2 of my retrospective look at Smackdown. Part 1 focused on some of the greatest matches and rivalries to take place on the blue brand, and this one moves on to look at some of the more standalone moments or characters we have seen on Thursday and Friday nights. Let’s get right into it!
It’s been a big year for Smackdown. It celebrated its 15th Anniversary in October, and it has fairly recently been announced that Smackdown will be moving back to Thursdays next year, which should give it some impetus that it’s currently lacking. But when you think about it, some of the more iconic moments in WWE history happened on the blue brand. Then they went through the brand extension, where Smackdown was consistently the better wrestling show. It has been under the leadership of Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, Paul Heyman (all on and off screen), as well as the likes of Vickie Guerrero, Teddy Long, Kurt Angle, John Laurinaitis and even Zack Ryder. It has gone from The Rock’s show, to the better brand, only to fall into irrelevancy in recent years. I’m going to take a look back at some of the best moments over the last 15 years, and then look at why nobody cares about it anymore.
This article is part 1/3. Here I’m going to look at some of the best matches and rivalries to race the blue brand. This is by no means an exhaustive list, just some of the most iconic and memorable things we have seen on Smackdown. Continue reading
Back on the 25th March 2002, on Raw, the landscape of the WWE changed completely. That was the date of the inaugural WWE Draft – and the beginning of the Brand Extension.
In June 2006 the Brand Extension changed again with the revival of ECW as the third brand in the company. As I’m sure we all remember, it started out as a tribute to the extreme style of the original ECW with the return of various ECW alumni, but it quickly developed into a watered down, generic WWE TV show. It still served a purpose though as an enhancement show. It was eventually replaced in February 2010 by a purpose built development show known as NXT.
And the final nail was hammered into the coffin of the Brand Extension in August last year, as Supershows became the norm, allowing superstars from both brands to appear on both shows. The concept of each show having exclusive rosters was just quietly dropped, but the absence of the annual draft from 2012 was the final confirmation – if it was needed – that it was no more.
The very existence of the Brand Extension has been a contentious point since then, with some arguing that it is needed for the good of WWE television, while others argue that it was never necessary in the first place. Here I try to look at both sides, and weigh up both arguments. Continue reading