Grappler’s Choice #15: Classic WWE

Remember the days when WWE/WWF did awesome video packages for promos, when they captured all the raw emotions and build up perfectly, sprinkled some awesome music on the top and made you love one guy, whilst simultaneously detest the other?

Well, those days are not long and forgotten, if fact they’re making a comeback in a big way. I realise what I’m saying is quite vague at this point, so allow me to elaborate somewhat.

Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn

Amongst other things, the recent feud with Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn brought something with it that has been missing from the WWE product for awhile now, and that’s authenticity. The whole video package of these two superstars who were best friends and are now sworn enemies is completely compelling and believable. It pretty much sold itself and these two didn’t need to do much to get the crowd engaged in the storyline. But this small addition was a significant bonus, it really was the icing on the cake for me.

Triple H vs Shawn Michaels 

For some reason, it reminded me of the video package of Triple H & Shawn Michaels from Summerslam 2002. Everything about that video package was perfect, it really nailed the emotional side of things, it made us absolutely hate Triple H for betraying Shawn Michaels, it was nostalgic and reminded us of the memorable moments with those two from the past, but most importantly, the video was able to stir the right emotions with the crowd. Of course, the video package is a small part of the feud itself, the superstars have to sell it and make the crowd feel it each week in the lead up to a PPV, but this video really wrapped everything up nicely.

And for me, the Owens vs Zayn package for WWE Payback did exactly the same thing. I know I often write about things the WWE needs to do or isn’t doing, or they are simply doing wrong, but I feel it’s important to also say what they’re doing right, because, after all, there’s plenty of reasons why we tune in every week, and plenty of reasons why we’re still engaged, even if the product isn’t always to our liking.

With that in mind, I also wanted to comment on the recent three feuds between Roman Reigns & AJ Styles, Chris Jericho & Dean Ambrose and Natalya & Charlotte.

Roman Reigns vs AJ Styles

The Reigns vs Styles feud was brilliant in quickly shifting the focus away from the Styles vs Jericho feud. Many fans (including myself) were unhappy that Styles lost to Jericho at WrestleMania, it seemed pointless in their storyline and it really didn’t do anything for either of the superstars, they seemed to just go their separate ways.

However, not long after we were treated to an exciting Fatal-Four-Way match to decide the number one contender for the WWE championship, AJ Styles came out on top, and now we’ve received a very engaging feud between the two, which has also brought us the debut of the Bullet Club in the WWE, as well as, what looks like a new stable in the form of Roman Reigns & The Usos (which is being billed as ‘The Family’ or ‘The Bloodline’ – I think they should stick the latter, it sounds much cooler).

The feuding between these two stables has become a little too repetitive for my liking, and there’s only so many times you can see the same people in the ring before you get bored (unless the superstars are truly captivating and involved in an intense rivalry). With that being said, the upcoming rematch between Reigns & Styles is looking very exciting. My only hope is that AJ Styles will come out on top.

Roman Reigns – changes needed?

I really feel that if Roman spends some time away from the title picture, gets a slight change in gimmick (e.g. new entrance theme, new ring attire etc) it might breathe some life into his character again and inspire the crowd. It’s been spoken about a million times, but yeah, Roman is not getting over with the crowd right now, and it’s not because he isn’t talented or doesn’t deserve it, it’s because he isn’t being booked properly.

Reigns has done everything he can to improve (he’s worked on his mic skills, improved majorly in the ring etc) and now it’s up to WWE to push him in the right way. Many spectators have argued that an outright heel turn would be beneficial for him, and whilst I’m inclined to agree (having seen his brilliant work in NXT as a heel) I don’t think this is the way to do it. Because turning him heel right now won’t get organic heat.

These boos aren’t because Reigns is ‘the bad guy’ or because he ‘isn’t good’, it’s because WWE haven’t booked him correctly, and so his character has suffered as a result. I am completely contradicting previous blogs I have made about Reigns, but to be honest, over time things change, and so too has my opinion of both him and the current situation. I think if they take Reigns out of the picture, repackage him slightly and give him a push in a non-title capacity, he will achieve the right response from the crowd. But that’s just my opinion, I’m not an expert, just a fan.

Y2AJ/ Jericho vs Styles/ Jericho vs Ambrose

Fans might also remember the earlier initial ”Y2AJ” tag team partnership between the two earlier in the year that was somewhat short-lived, it left fans confused and disappointed and also seemed somewhat pointless when you consider the fact that they even went as far as to sell merchandise for the team on WWE Shop. With that being said, this current Jericho heel turn has been brilliant, possibly one of his greatest so far (although his feud with Shawn Michaels in 2008 will likely remain his best heel turn of all time) and Chris has really pushed himself both as a wrestler and a performer this time around.

This current feud with Ambrose, in my opinion, has run its course and both men need a new challenge. I feel that Ambrose should be in contention for the WWE title after Extreme Rules, and I think that Jericho should get put into the Intercontinental Championship picture because 10-time champion has a great ring to it – don’t you think? (The same goes for the Dudley Boyz too, let’s make it 10 WWE!)

Jericho In General

It would be good to give him another championship run, perhaps back to back PPV title defenses thereafter, and this could then culminate in him dropping the title to an up and coming star (for instance, Baron Corbin who is currently losing his momentum after successive losses to Dolph Ziggler).

Some might say that the whole ‘passing of the torch’ idea is lame and overused, and I would be inclined to agree in some instances, however, the WWE is an open door for Jericho and considering the fact that he’s also involved with other ventures (Fozzy, Talk Is Jericho etc) I’m sure he wouldn’t mind putting someone over before he leaves. On that note, I’m happy to see Jericho winning matches again and not just putting over up and coming talent all the time.

Misused Superstars

He has been used incorrectly by WWE in the past, and this undermines his achievements within the company and his character as a whole. He isn’t the only superstar to suffer this fate by any means, but I feel inclined to comment on this issue, as it’s ridiculous for superstars to be put in this position. In all honestly, I thoroughly dislike the misuse of many superstars (both former and current) and I don’t think that consistent jobbing is ever ok, as it damages superstar reputations.

Whilst we all know the reality of professional wrestling with regards to the staged aspect of it all, it’s nice to be able to buy into the ‘story’ of it and if I’m honest, this is what has always drawn me into it. Ryback, Dolph Ziggler, Tyler Breeze – I could name so many superstars that suffer this fate, so I will leave it there. Sorry to take this post in a negative turn, but I like to give a clear and honest opinion on everything.

Women’s Division

Back on a positive note, The Women’s division is very exciting at the moment and just keeps on giving.Natalya vs Charlotte has been a  very mixed bag in my opinion. I felt that the whole ‘Chicago Screwjob’ idea was completely ridiculous and just insensitive to Bret Hart, but with that being said, the wrestling between these two superstars has been excellent. Fans appear to be fully invested in it and I have to say for me it’s been more compelling and exciting than the WWE title feud.

Natalya vs Charlotte (Extreme Rules) Part 1

I think that if Natalya wins at WWE Extreme Rules, we have seen a good feud that makes sense, but if she doesn’t, It will become a terrible one. Whilst that may seem like a very extreme opinion, you have to consider the fact that these two have been on and off feuding since WWE Roadblock. Charlotte is an extremely talented wrestler and has proven multiple times that she deserves the title, but we need to get more excitement pumped into this division. For example, many fans want Sasha Banks to become champion, and yet she’s been all but forgotten since her opportunity at WrestleMania 32.

Title Additions & Considerations

This for me is one of the reasons why I believe there to be a case for creating mid-card & tag team championships for the Women’s division (please check out Grappler’s Choice #14 for a deeper explanation on this issue), as it would create even more excitement for the Women’s division, and give the wrestlers that are not in the current title picture opportunities elsewhere. In fairness, there are interesting feuds developing (for instance, Emma/Dana Brooke vs Becky Lynch) but I still argue that WWE should introduce more titles, simply put, the women’s division is expanding and developing at an ever-increasing rate, so now is the time for WWE to capitalise on it.

This for me is one of the reasons why I believe there to be a case for creating mid-card & tag team championships for the Women’s division (please check out Grappler’s Choice #14 for a deeper explanation on this issue), as it would create even more excitement for the Women’s division, and give the wrestlers that are not in the current title picture opportunities elsewhere. In fairness, there are interesting feuds developing (for instance, Emma/Dana Brooke vs Becky Lynch) but I still argue that WWE should introduce more titles, simply put, the women’s division is expanding and developing at an ever-increasing rate, so now is the time for WWE to capitalise on it, and make it even more spectacular.

Natalya vs Charlotte (Extreme Rules) Part 2

If Natalya does win, we should receive a very refreshing and interesting title reign where we will likely see many title defenses. Natalya is a ‘fighting champion’ style wrestler, so if she wins it will be likely that she will want to remind everyone how good she is. With that in mind, I think an eventual heel turn for her might be a good idea after some passes, just to add another interesting element to her character. She’s a complete face at this point, so it would be very entertaining if she could successfully pull it off. Perhaps I live in the fantasy booking world a bit too much..

Overall, WWE is returning to it’s classic formula, we’re seeing exciting and compelling matches, interesting and compelling character developments, and a generally entertaining product. Sure, not everything will be what people like, but it’s impossible to please everyone. In my opinion, they’re on the right track and the future looks bright.

– Christian Reeve

 

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