Is anyone else disappointed that we were told which brand Auska is headed to? I would have rather been surprised at her Raw debut. Because of social media, there is hardly ever an element of surprise anymore when it comes to wrestling storylines. Even with the Hardys, we all knew they were debuting, even though we didn’t really know for sure until their music dropped. That’s part of the problem with wrestling today. There is not enough separation between the fans and the show. They’re breaking kayfabe too often. Due to leaks, we already know everything that’s going to happen before it happens. We don’t need the company telling us more, like who’s debuting and where they’re going.
Whether you hate John Cena and Roman Reigns, or love them, or hate one and love the other, you have to acknowledge that their contract-signing promo this past week on Raw was buzz-worthy. Everyone is talking about it. After the promo aired, there was some speculation that Cena went off-script, but other sources suggest that it was “exactly what the WWE wanted” (https://wrestlingrumors.net/john-cena-go-off-script-raw-segment-roman-reigns/). But more importantly than that, it was exactly what the fans wanted.
When the John Cena vs. Roman Reigns match was announced for No Mercy, I have to say that I was honestly kind of dreading it. Cena and Reigns both have a very limited technical wrestling arsenal, and they don’t really provide a lot of shock-value with their moves. They’re both predictable wrestlers. Earlier in the Raw episode, after seeing an ad for No Mercy, I thought, “Wow, they really haven’t built up this match/rivalry at all.” But their promo changed everything for me – even how I feel about the future of WWE.
Before I say anything more, watch the promo if you haven’t already:
At (9:40) Roman says Cena gets booed because he sucks, to which Cena responds, “According to them [the fans], so does he [Kurt Angle], but that’s okay because he won a gold medal.” This is the part that felt to me like it was off-script. It seems as if Reigns – based on his expression – didn’t expect Cena to say anything in that moment. So far, the argument has been a lot of back and forth, without interjections, up until this point when it deviates from that pattern. And realistically, that isn’t how an argument goes. When two people argue, they don’t exactly listen to what the other has to say, and then respond. They yell over each other when they hear something they disagree with.
Further proof of straying from the script is that Roman loses his train of thought. You can see it happen. He pauses for a moment, then suppresses a grin. Of course, Cena points this out: “Go ahead, find it. Go ahead. I’ll wait.” Officially we don’t know whether this moment was scripted or not, but either way it’s typical Cena. He’s witty and quick, and that is one of the main reasons why he has been so successful in this business. When Roman can’t seem to come up with a response, Cena tells him, “It’s called a promo, and if you’re gonna be the Big Dog you’re going to have to learn how to do it.” This moment was mic-drop worthy. Later, he calls Roman stupid: “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and to have people think you’re stupid than to open it and prove them right,” and “It took you five years to cut a half-way decent promo” (10:25). In this segment, Cena becomes a champion of the people by telling Roman what has been on our minds since the company starting pushing him. It’s like Cena read all of my angry tweets directed at Roman Reigns.
Cena is not only speaking for the people, but he is speaking candidly to the people. He breaks the fourth wall, addressing the fact that people want him to have a heel turn. Typically, we’re supposed to pretend that the entertainers and their characters are all one in the same. They’re not supposed to break kayfabe by using backstage terminology such as “heel,” “face,” and “promo.” Cena even says at one point, “See ya fourth wall!” We feel close to him in this moment. We feel as if there isn’t this huge barrier between the company and the fans, between the storylines and the entertainers themselves.
The most profound quality of this promo is that it seems as if the writers are reading the comments section on social media and responding to the people. They are researching what the people want. This is confirmed when Cena says, “they [the fans] hold the keys, they always have.” This gives me hope for the company’s future.
My top four favorite wrestlers of all time are: John Cena, Batista, Rey Mysterio, and Eddie Guerrero (but not necessarily in that order). Last night I met Rey Mysterio – in my hometown of Bristol, Connecticut – and it was one of the best nights of my life. As a kid, I was never taken to a wrestling show, so I would have never imagined that I would be able to shake hands with – and HUG – my favorite superstars. I am still in awe right now. The entire show was fantastic and so impressive. The crowd was electric. The atmosphere was intimate. It was truly an unforgettable experience.
We were second in line for the event, but first in line to meet Rey Mysterio. He was running a little late, and we saw him arrive, and then enter the locker room to put his bag away and get ready. A few minutes later, he came out, and the first thing he did was go over to Kevin Nash (who was sitting down), jump on that little brick wall you can see in the picture above, and hug him from behind. He was such a normal person! After greeting Nash, Mysterio came over to us and said, “Sorry about that,” to which I replied, “It’s okay, you can do whatever you want, you’re Rey Mysterio!” We bought a photo of him which he autographed. He asked our names to write them on the photo, and I said my name (Emily) which he misheard as “Emma.” He asked, “Emma?” and so I repeated, “Emily,” and then he said my name out loud! I leaned over to my boyfriend and said, “Oh my god, Rey Mysterio just said my name!” After he signed the photograph, I told him that he is one of my favorite wrestlers of all time, and he replied, “Thank you so much.” After, we took the photo with him, and before we were about to leave I asked him if I could have a hug. He said, “of course,” and then I hugged Rey Mysterio! And if I stood there another minute I would have cried ugly, happy tears.
Next, we met Kevin Nash. He didn’t seem to be in a very good mood – he was very quiet. However, he came out to address the crowd and apologized. He said that he was recovering from his 32nd surgery, and was medicated. Upon learning this, we were even more impressed, because he showed up anyway, even though he was in pain, and it was uncomfortably hot outside.
After we met Nash, we stood in line to meet Jack Swagger, who had not yet arrived. We were second in line to meet Swagger. When he showed up, he apologized for being late. I said, “That’s okay! You’re Jack Swagger! Better late than never!” and he said he liked my attitude. At this point, I turned to my boyfriend and said, “Jack Swagger likes my attitude!” To which Swagger replied, “Aw, you’re going to make me blush. I like Connecticut!” You guys, I made Jack Swagger like Connecticut. And oh my god, I didn’t notice he had his hand on my shoulder!
Here are some other highlights:
Hacksaw Jim Duggan performed in a six-man tag team match.
We were impressed by the athleticism of some of the other wrestlers, who we did not know beforehand. Flip Gordon, a very talented individual, competed in a triple threat match and had us with our jaws on the floor. The Young Bloods were also impressive. Ryback was supposed to compete, but his flight didn’t land in time. He was supposed to fill in for Jerry the King Lawler, who had to cancel his appearance a few days before the show.
The coolest part about sitting front row was the interaction that we had with the wrestlers, the host, and even the referee. Flip Gordon, who got knocked outside of the ring, asked us to let him know when his two opponents were both down so that he could go back into the ring and get the pin. Wrecking Ball Legursky’s manager came out and took the mic from the host, Kurt Adonis, and Adonis started a chant that the manager’s breath “smelled like poop.” Then he turned to us, and said, “It really does smell like poop,” and the referee looked at us and nodded in agreement. When Adonis was announcing a new match, he said, “This match is scheduled for one fall,” and of course, the crowd chanted, “one fall!” and the ref looked at us again and asked, “One fall, not two? One?” and we laughed and said “one!”
Rey Mysterio competed in the main event of the show. The entire crowd chanted “619” the entire match. He won the match after a 619 and a frog splash off the top rope. After the match, Rey grabbed the mic and thanked us all for coming out. He said that every time he comes to CT the 619 will be renamed the 860. After the match, and after he addressed the crowd, he walked around the entire ring to touch all of the hands that were out.
It was truly an amazing experience to attend this show put on by Northeast Wrestling. I started to feel emotional at the end of the show, thinking about the entire crowd coming together to enjoy the same experience. No matter our differences, we all came together because of our love of wrestling.
Last night, history was made with the first ever Women’s Money in the Bank match. However, the match will be memorable for all the wrong reasons. It was an amazing, breath-taking match that would have gotten my vote for best match on the card – until the end. James Ellsworth unclipping the briefcase and handing it to Carmella was so, so, so cheap. Why are there rules, if the rules can be broken without punishment? The commentators tried to say, “Well, it isn’t technically against the rules…” But it is. Your friend can’t come down the ramp while you have a match against someone, pin your opponent, and try to declare you the winner of the match. A fan can’t hop over the barricade and pin someone and call themselves the winner. You can’t join a match that you were not scheduled for, just because you feel like it, and walk out the winner. That’s not how it works. Sure, it was a no-disqualification match, but there has to be some kind of law and order. WWE fans (I think) believe in fairness. This storyline – although annoying – would have been fine in a regular match, even a pay-per-view match, but the fact that it happened in this first-time-ever match is sad. What fans will remember is the ending, not Charlotte’s corkscrew off the top rope or any of the other equally impressive moves by the women in this match. The controversial ending downplays the rest of the match. Just like making Jinder Mahal champion, I think WWE made this decision for shock-value, and to gain viewers through this method. However, I think more than anything, it makes fans unhappy with the company. We don’t like to be duped. James Ellsworth won the match despite being in the match. If he can do this, doesn’t that mean that superstars can do anything they want? Where does it end?
I can’t be the only one who’s annoyed that they see ads for the WWE Network, while they’re watching something ON THE WWE NETWORK! Especially when those commercials happen in the middle of matches. If you’re creating matches that you don’t mind interrupting with an ad (the Hype Bros vs the Colons at Money in the Bank) there’s something wrong with the matches you’re making.
Every week, it seems like, WWE hits a new record for low ratings. Both Raw and Smackdown’s ratings are poor and continue to decline week by week. There are even talks of NBC terminating their contract with WWE, to take Raw and Smackdown off the air in 2019, when the contract is up for renewal.
So what can WWE do to improve their ratings and keep their spot on cable TV?
Here are some ideas:
Listen to the people.
We – as a majority – do not want Jinder as champion, and we want the company to stop pushing Roman. These two “athletes” do not belong in the Universal/WWE championship running. The title does not carry the same amount of respect when it is given to just anyone. Roman has about three moves: punches, spears, and clotheslines. I want to see WWE favor superstars with actual talent. AJ Styles, in my opinion, is the most talented wrestler in the business right now. He is not my favorite (character-wise) but he has some serious talent. I think that the WWE needs to reward those with actual athletic ability and wrestling skills by giving them long title runs until there is someone worthy of holding the title. I feel the same way about Charlotte in the Women’s Division. She is clearly the most athletically gifted female wrestler on the roster. So to give the title to someone like Bayley – who has a good amount of fans, no doubt, but struggles with wrestling and talking – isn’t right. Ultimately, superstars that can wrestle should have a place in the business, even if their mic skills need improvement. Generally, the fans will accept superstars that are impressive wrestlers, even if they can’t talk well. If you can speak naturally and believably, that’s great, and you can gain acceptance from viewers in that way. But there are only so many places on the roster for people that are only good on the mic. This isn’t a talk show. And for some reason, there are superstars on the roster that can’t talk OR wrestle (aka Roman & Jinder). This isn’t right.
Expand the roster.
I don’t care whether this means bringing back former WWE superstars, stealing superstars from TNA, recruiting Indy wrestlers, sending up more superstars from NXT, or going to high schools and scouting graduating kids. WWE needs more variety. We are tired of seeing the same matches week after week, and being able to predict what is going to happen based on storyline patterns. There are almost no surprises on Raw or Smackdown. They rarely have superstar returns, or championship matches on the two main shows. Rather, they save everything good for the pay-per-views. And yes, you want your jaw to drop for the PPVs, but I remember ten years ago when I had this reaction every Monday night when I watched Raw. It was pure excitement.
I have to believe it’s possible to recreate the atmosphere of what wrestling used to be.