Welcome back to another edition of The Voice of Reason. I’ve got a few things to cover. Fast Lane is this weekend and I’m looking forward to it. NXT Takeover: Rival was the last week and if you haven’t seen it yet, check it out. I’ll give my thoughts on the event in a little bit.
One thing I need to say and it just dawned on me. It’s been said but I’ll say it again. We all have to keep in mind that WWE writes its shows for the general audience. We are all smart fans, whether we want to admit it or not. There’s a good chance that many people in the audience don’t check wrestling news sites daily, weekly, monthly, or even at all. They just don’t. We need to keep that in mind when we start complaining about stuff.
This Week’s Topics:
- NXT Takeover: Rival
- NXT vs. The Main Roster
- Kevin Owens
- Samoa Joe
- Crowning #1 Contenders
- Fast Lane
Yes, I marked out at Survivor Series when the entrance for Sting started. While I would like to have seen or see a match between Sting and The Undertaker, I’m fine with Sting vs. Triple H. I liked the way they’ve strung us all along with surprise appearances by Sting here and there. Finally, they pulled out the Sting-in-the-rafters approach on RAW. I had been waiting for them to do something similar. Everybody remembers WCW and how they’d show Sting in the rafters occasionally. Like they did with an independent wrestler & not getting a close up, they could do more Sting-in-the-rafters. For their WrestleMania match, I don’t want something too short but not too long. I want to see the high spots like the Stinger Splash or Triple H’s Pedigree. For who goes over, it depends on how much more they want to do with Sting. I wish they’d do something with him at SummerSlam.
NXT Takeover: Rival
Screw being the developmental brand. NXT is the alternative brand, almost like an ROH-New Japan system here in the US for fans to enjoy under the production banner of WWE. I’ll start off by saying Rival wasn’t as good as R-Evolution. Maybe it was because it was rushed for whatever reason so it wouldn’t overshadow Fast Lane or WrestleMania. However, it was another solid Takeover show. The opening match between Hideo Itami and Tyler Breeze was solid. The No DQ match with Baron Corbin and Bull Dempsey was okay. If you’re going to make a match No DQ, weapon use is a must. I’m not talking about the ring steps or ring post. They brought out a single chair and the only thing it was used for it was for Corbin to sit down. I’m a fan of Corbin. The tag title match was decent at best. There were quite a few missed spots that took away from the match itself. Before I continue, if they do end up doing a Mighty Mouse gimmick with Neville or the gay hair stylist with Kalisto, why even have NXT? These guys perfect their characters & gimmicks only to be called up and made into jokes. The Ascension is not an illuminati Road Warrior-esque tag team. Those guys dominate and that’s it. Not that goofy face paint they use.
Speaking of face paint, I was a little let down with Finn Balor’s entrance this time. I wish they had let him do an inverse of the design even though it was a little different. Remember when Kane was mainly red with some black, then he switched to mainly black with some red? That’s what I mean. Either way, Balor and Neville put on a show. And you want to make Neville in Mighty Mouse? I guess Balor is the next Boogeyman? Please.
The Fatal 4-Way for the Women’s title was a clinic. I saw a report that officials were high up on Charlotte but didn’t think she had the supermodel look. Well duh. She’s an athlete. She played volleyball at Appalachian State when I was at Georgia Southern. I remember doing the “WOOO” before the match and she ran by & asked me if I had a (bleeping) problem. Needless to say, the Nature Girl deserves to have a better debut than what she had a few months ago on RAW. This was a match between WRESTLERS, not Divas. They were given time and they took advantage of it. I like Sasha Banks and Bayley. I haven’t seen enough of Becky Lynch to be a fan or not yet. If I’m on the Divas roster, I’d be worried. Yes, the ladies deserve more TV time and more than just one storyline. I’d love a 4-way with Paige, AJ Lee, Natalya, and Charlotte. The UFC features the ladies and it’s only a matter of time with the legitimate wrestling talent in WWE that the Divas are featured like Trish & Lita were at one time. For the barely can wrestle Divas on the roster, I’d be worried.
The main event was spectacular. Just like someone said, in the MMA world and even in the WWE video game world, there is such a thing as winning by KO. Why check a guy’s pulse in a sleeper hold? Zayn and Owens had an awesome feud in ROH. If you haven’t seen any of it, check it out. They were tag champs for a while before all hell broke loose. At Rival though, this was the second chapter in what could be a long feud. After Owens’ debut in December, they’ve built it up nicely between these two. Owens flat out destroyed Zayn with the powerbombs. Zayn did a good job of selling but not pulling a Dolph Ziggler and acting like he was dead. These two will have more classics down the road.
NXT vs. The Main Roster
There were a few articles and reports that came out in the last couple of weeks about the main roster being jealous of the people on the NXT roster. There was even an interview with one of the Bellas about how she wouldn’t want to be called up to the main roster if she was in NXT. It’s something I’ve thought of for a long time. It’s almost like a curse to be brought up to the main roster. Pros about the main roster; you make more money, you have more fans to perform in front of, you get to travel to different places, and there are more events. Cons about the main roster; you have crappier matches, nonsensical storylines, the limited chances to actually perform, and people booing you out of the building when they don’t buy into something. With the NXT guys, the only things are less money and less “big” events. If Triple H is truly going to make NXT into another brand, I expect to see more TakeOver specials and more house shows. He’s already stated he wants to expand outside of Florida.
The fact remains that when talent is called up to the main roster, things are tweaked and they’re almost made into a joke. Look at the Ascension. These guys were fine down in NXT and when they’re moved up to the main roster, they look like an Illuminati-type tag team. Bo Dallas had tremendous performances down in NXT and when he got called up, it was hit or miss. Who wouldn’t want to have 10-15 minute matches compared to 3-4 minutes? I’ve never written television for WWE but there has to be a better way to do things. They have 7 hours of television EVERY WEEK and they can’t get better stuff from their writers?
Owens reminds me a lot of me a few years ago with his look. He can do things big guys normally can’t do. He’s psychotic. Yes, Brock Lesnar throws people around and laughs about it. Owens throws people around but he does it after he gets in your head and out of your game plan. The future is bright for him on the main roster. Owens-Lesnar? Owens-Wyatt? He’s got a lot of miles ahead of him hopefully. I always remember JR saying that Stone Cole and The Rock had "it" when they were coming up. Owens has "it" along with other guys on the NXT roster.
I’ll be brief on Samoa Joe. This highlights the main reason I quit watching TNA. Guys who built the company have always been and always will be passed over for outsiders brought in because of their name. Wait, TNA or WCW? WCW did the same things during the Monday Night Wars allowing stars that had stuck with them to be transitioned into jokes or not used at all. It’s a crying shame when a guy like Joe, who has way more talent than many of the guys brought in and has stuck with TNA from the start, has only had 1 World title reign compared to Bobby Lashley or or Jeff Hardy. Not to take anything away from those two but when I hear those names, they’re associated with WWE. They were made stars in WWE. They aren’t “TNA guys.” It pisses me off with the talent decisions they’ve made, like who they’ve let go and who they’ve kept. If Joe ends up in NXT, I’ll gladly pay full price for a PPV to see Joe-Owens.
Crowning #1 Contenders
One thing that bugs me is when a guy gets a title shot without having done much of anything to earn it. WWE needs to continue to build stars organically, rather than shove them down our throats. I’ve got a couple of ideas to make the process easier. WWE wants to be considered sports entertainment but people to buy into everything. Do they still even do Power Rankings anymore? One person said that if WWE was run like UFC, Daniel Bryan would still be champion & would face Brock Lesnar, who would be considered the Interim Champion, to crown an undisputed champion. I like ranking systems to crown a legitimate contender & give title shots out; not this whole concept of getting a shot for the heck of it.
First off, let’s make some changes to the Royal Rumble. I like how they’ll do the packages on the different winners, who have eliminated the most people, etc. I heard one idea about making a “rule sheet” that accessible to everybody so they know what’s going on. I figured along with that, let’s make some guidelines on who actually gets to be in the Royal Rumble. Let’s talk qualifying.
If you follow college basketball, you know that tournament time is always fun. Rules stipulate that if a team wins its conference tournament, they get an automatic bid. Normally, the regular season winner gets an “at-large” bid. My point with this, title holders get an automatic bid to the Rumble. So your Intercontinental, United States, Tag Team, NXT, NXT Tag Team and even Divas & NXT Women’s Champions get slots. Remember when Beth Phoenix came in? Even if Nikki Bella or Charlotte is in for a minute or two, it’s cool to see. All those title holders get slots so 9 spots are taken. Consider them your automatic bid winners. For the remaining spots, I borrow some concepts from NASCAR.
NASCAR has a couple of events where past champions & winners get possible spots. They have the Sprint Unlimited where certain people are eligible to be in the field but are voted in by the fans. What better way to give the WWE Universe some power by letting them vote in 5 Superstars? Let them choose from past IC and US title winners. Of course, people who are no longer with the company may not be eligible and wouldn’t be on the ballot.
Another concept they have is called the All-Star Race. This involves the last year’s race winners, the last 10 series champions, and last 10 Race winners. So from this, you could choose from last 10 Rumble winners and the last 10 WWE World Heavyweight Champions or there could be no timeframe at all, just past winners. This opens up that surprise factor for past champions & winners who may have been gone for a while but are looking to return. Let’s give the “past winners” group 10 slots.
Prior to the All-Star Race, they have another race & the winner gets a spot in the All-Star Race. Why not have a mini-battle royal before the event with the winner getting a spot in the big Rumble? This can be the spot for your comedy/goofy acts like Adam Rose or Heath Slater.
With the other 5 spots, have your typical qualifying matches. I think it’s ridiculous to tell fans that R-Truth or Curtis Axel have a chance to main event WrestleMania when we all know the real truth. This rule sheet & format makes it a lot more interesting.
Money in the Bank
I love this concept and it’s always a way to catapult a guy into the main event. Yes, I do miss this being at WrestleMania and wish they wouldn’t a PPV around it. Similar to the Rumble, give “auto” bids to the IC and US title holders. Aren’t they supposed to be trying to grab the “brass ring?” This is another chance for them. Have the typical qualifying matches and let some guys who deserve it be in there. And whoever wins, give them a solid push with the title if they win it.
King of the Ring
I used to love King of the Ring. I love tournaments of any kind really. It gives you multiple storyline avenues to possibly pursue. Most KOR winners went on to become world champions. So again, tie a title shot to the event. Unlike the Royal Rumble in which you get only about 2 months to build to the match, the King of the Ring tournament gives you a couple of weeks plus possibly two more months build towards the title match. I know Daniel Bryan mentioned it before about making it exclusive to SmackDown but what about making it exclusive to Main Event? Build it over a couple of weeks and have the semis and finals on a PPV. Then, put the title match in a month or two. Want me to buy into a guy as a new main event star? Have him win the King of the Ring tournament instead of throwing guys over the top rope at the Royal Rumble.
With Fast Lane, I think they’ve done a good job in building a normally lackluster PPV into something worth seeing. We usually have our Elimination Chamber matches this month but with only 1 title being held by a part-time performer, that’s a no-go. I don’t want WrestleMania to be a continuance of Fast Lane rematches like events are after the major ones. I realize the Bryan-Reigns feud is a stopgap between the event. I see dirty finishes with Reigns & Bryan, Rusev & Cena, and the tag title match. I think Nikki retains her title and Ambrose wins the IC prop, I mean, title. I don’t care too much about the 6-man match as it looks to be the return (hopefully) of Randy Orton. I think the Rhodes brothers will have some type of dirty finish with the older Rhodes going over. I’m looking forward to seeing STING!
That’s all for this week. Fast Lane is tomorrow night and I’m looking forward to seeing what types of stories they tell. The road to WrestleMania kicks into high gear this coming Monday!