I was thinking about whether or not someone else should just win the Elimination Chamber match because of the (well-documented) problems that Reigns has in getting positive reactions from the crowd. My ultimate opinion is that they should just go with Reigns. There is nothing they can do about the crowd reaction in general, maybe they can turn some people around before, during and after Wrestlemania, but as I said in general it is going to be what it is going to be for now. The issue is that there is no one else that has so much momentum that they would have to go away from what has been their plan for years and certainly for the last year.
I know Braun Strowman is very popular. I personally am a big fan of Strowman. There are several issues with Strowman though.
Issue number 1 is that I don’t think he is over enough for WWE to change their one year plans. If they were going to “go with Strowman”, he should have just won at No Mercy. He is borderline over enough. If management (meaning Vince) decided to go with Strowman over Reigns, I would not argue it…I just would not do it. I would like to see a little more in terms of some kind of metrics that show Strowman could be a draw with just one more push towards the top (meaning winning the Universal Title at WM).
Issue number 2 is that while Strowman is popular, I would contend that a great deal of his popularity is based on his destroying things and beating up Roman Reigns. Those are two easy ways to get over. I would think that there are diminishing returns to breaking things and lifting things every week. He also cannot beat up Roman Reigns every week either…I mean he could, but then it just becomes a meme. I would need to see a little more before I change my long-term plans one month before the end of those plans materialize.
Issue number 3 is related to issue number 2, Strowman is a limited performer. He is great at what he does and what he is asked to do. Moreover, he is charismatic. At the same time, in this era in order to avoid backlash, there probably has to be a bit more. It would be great if the day came where someone had so much charisma that he or she could be a big draw and become accepted by fans even with limitations. I am not sure that Strowman is that guy. I just think that there could be push back against a main event push for someone who by most standards is not a great worker nor a great promo. I believe he benefits a great deal from the fact that Roman Reigns is seen as the chosen one. I am not certain that Strowman’s popularity would survive that perception.
No one else in the chamber (including any of the four who may be added to it on Monday’s Raw) is even close to being an argument in juxtaposition to Reigns. Even if the idea was to turn Reigns heel (which is something that I want to get into another time), I would probably just do it at Wrestlemania at this point or the night after.
In short….screw it. Do Reigns versus Lesnar. You’ve come this far…time to see it through. See what happens with Reigns as a long-term champion.
I have to go back to this idea that fans have an obligation to boo the heels. I disagree with it so much that I have to say something even if it comes off as repetitive. For this I will use the Miz Test.
The Miz Test is simple (I should note that I named it after the Miz, but it could be any heel). The hypothetical example is if the Miz is wrestling Seth Rollins, Finn Balor or real. y any other babyface and you as a fan want the Miz to win, then you should not boo him. It’s not real heat if you are only booing him because you think you are supposed to. I hesitate to say “should not boo him,” because I believe fans should be able to do what they want. At the same time, booing a heel just because that is the role he or she plays is something that I would argue does not really help anything, which is especially true now.
In this era where WWE says any reaction is a good reaction, booing a heel just because he or she is a heel only hurts the performer in this sense….who knows what WWE could have on their hands if fans reacted viscerally at all times. WWE may be casting the next big babyface as a heel, when they could have the next merchandise-selling money drawing babyface.
I have made this argument before, booing a heel just because that performer is a heel is as meta as cheering a heel because you think he or she is a good performer. Any reaction where the fan has to think is meta, which is actually the basis for the flawed argument that heels should be booed.
Ultimately, it is like a PWTorch.com writer said (not Wade Keller, he is too close-minded and stuck in what wrestling was to see what I am about to say), heel heat that does not lead to drawing money is almost useless. I won’t say completely useless because the appearance of a strong heel-face dynamic does at least sound good. At the same time, it does not really help, especially today when fans are so dispassionate about heels. Indeed, heels today get boos because fans are trying to help (the point of this post) or because the fans do not want to see the wrestler and are booing to express their satisfaction or because the heel does something cheap that the fans are obviously going to boo. People are so concerned about cheers and boos that they are settling for boos that are not really heat.
My wish is for all fans to react naturally and then the company’s response to that will likely lead to better numbers. One thing, I am not saying that a really strong face-heel dynamic will not draw in wrestling. What I am saying is that people are confusing boos for heat and the former is not going to lead to uptick in business. In fact the former in today’s wrestling is more of a sign of indifference than emotional connection to the product.
So last analogy was between soap opera character Jake McKinnon and A.J Styles (in terms of how they both got me into another soap opera and wrestling promotion respectively). This analogy is between me and Shinsuke Nakamura which is argument for him winning the Royal Rumble. I’m not hellbent on Nakamura winning the Royal Rumble, but if it were up to me I would have him win it.
Now, Nakamura is popular, but he has underachieved on the main roster when it comes to said popularity. While some of that can be contributed to WWE’s writing and booking, Nakamura has not had the level of performance on the main roster that could get past that questionable writing and booking. That is where the analogy comes in.
When I was a freshman and sophomore in high school, I did very well in math. In my junior year, I struggled early in the semester with the advanced concepts. My math teacher and the math supervisor knew that I was not applying myself. The decision they made to get me back on track was certainly unconventional…they made me a math tutor. The idea was to get me around math so that I could get back in the proverbial groove. Anything that I had trouble with in my current class is something that I would be able to get help with. I would certainly be able to help students at lower levels (because I did so well in 9th and 10th grade math). More than anything for me (here is the essence of the analogy), it was my first paying job. In other words, I was essentially rewarded for underachieving…but that was not the goal of Mr. Miller. The goal of Mr. Miller was to motivate me to be a better student by giving me more responsibility.
One could argue that Nakamura does not “deserve” to win the Royal Rumble because he is not over enough and/or has not worked hard enough. My argument is that putting him in a top 3 or 4 match at Wrestlemania for the WWE Championship versus A.J Styles can be the motivation that he needs to be the Nakamura that we know he can be. Just like I needed to be motivated into the reward instead of being motivated for a reward. While there is no telling what will happen with Nakamura after this match (ie: the Styles match may be great, but that does not mean he will be great afterwards). It is time for Nakamura to have a standout performance. We can worry about later…later.
I should add that there are more reasons Nakamura should win, but I am just going to stay with the analogy.
If you read this blog you know that I am a staunch advocate of fans being able to do what they want. The idea that fans have an obligation to cheer faces and boo heels is nauseating. Some of the biggest babyfaces of all time were cheered as heels. With that said, there is something that fans do that does annoy me and it goes to the newest sensation in WWE-Rusev and Rusev Day. I am worried that fans are going to hijack shows with this chant which is unfair (I know…”life is not fair”) to the performers who for the most part are giving a legitimate and often a very strong effort. I am not a fan of chanting for wrestlers who are not part of what is going on in the ring. I do not like C.M Punk chants or Randy Savage chants or chants for announcers, but that is the equivalent of a boring chant…which for some reason I find more acceptable than chanting for someone who is on the roster. It just makes me uncomfortable.
I should say that Rusev becoming the most over person on Smackdown or the entire WWE for that matter is something I am perfectly fine with. In fact, I am more than okay with it. I am a big fan of Rusev. I am fine if Rusev in Segment A is more over than (for example) A.J Styles in Segment C. I am not okay with Rusev being more over than A.J Styles in Segment C. I am not okay with Rusev being more over than Mike Kanellis if Rusev is not in a segment with Kanellis.
Now, these things don’t usually last in terms of fans disrespecting talents by chanting for other wrestlers. The Zack Ryder thing did not last. Even the Daniel Bryan hijacking of the Cena-Orton segment was not the type of hijacking I am talking about because (1) it was his hometown and (2) he was in the ring. I want Rusev Day to get over big, but not when other people are trying to get over as well.
Obviously, the best way to get the best of both worlds is to push Rusev strong because it will give fans their fix of him so they won’t overwhelm other segments with their chants. More importantly, it will give WWE an opportunity to see what it has. By the way, the hijacking of shows has not really happened yet. There was a Rusev Day chant during the Cena segment on Raw, but it was counter to Merry Christmas so that’s fine. It was the chant during the Samoa Joe-Roman Reigns match that concerned me. I know it’s Chicago, but still. I am just worried about it because people like to do their silly chants and it is almost as if they take pleasure in disrupting the shows and I hope that does not happen here.
There are people who consider themselves to be traditionalists when it comes to wrestling. In many ways I am a traditionalist and in many ways I am not. So to answer the question in the title, I am not a strict traditionalist. No clever way to get into it…so let’s just start
I believe that championships should be the most important thing on the show and everyone should want to be a champion. Perhaps there can be a faction/team situation where someone may not pursue the world championship, but everyone should want to be a champion and most people should want to be the world (or Universal) champion. There can always be personal rivalries, but the most important thing for just about everyone is to be a champion. Any other motivation should be secondary (even if it is not secondary at the time in the given storyline).
Wins and Losses
I stop short of advocating for a top 10, but wins and losses should be the primary determination of who moves up and down the card. NXT is the perfect example of wins and losses mattering. I am not sure there is a promotion today where wins and losses have more of an impact on where someone ends up on the card then NXT and that is how it should be. I believe that for the most part wins and losses matter in terms of helping wrestlers get over or not get over…but I am not really talking about that. I am talking about within the context of the show, wins and losses should move wrestlers up and down the card accordingly.
When something happens to a wrestler, it should be sold unless there is a character and/or storyline reason for it not to be sold. It should not be about getting up just a wrestler could do his or her next move. If nothing hurts, then what’s the point? The difference between me and other “traditionalists” is that lack of selling will kill a match for other traditionalists…to me it can hurt a match and it deserves criticism, but a fun match is a fun match to me. I just think selling is very important.
This post got me thinking about something so I will not do my non-traditionalist beliefs in my next post.
There are several pro wrestling Youtubers on….YouTube. I would do it myself, but I am too shy, I would not do it unless I could grow an audience and I could barely afford the apartment I am living in so I certainly cannot afford equipment. The Youtube shows (and I do not listen to all of them) are a good way to pass the time. I am not here to recommend channels over others. This is just a good way to discuss how I feel about them without talking to myself.
JDfromNY: The biggest positive is that he is passionate about wrestling. I say that as someone who is not a fan of ranting and raving about wrestling (most rants do not entertain me). The biggest issue that I have with JD is that while it is better to prioritize WWE for maximum viewership and exposure, one has to wonder how big of a fan of wrestling he is if he does not watch other promotions (other than House of Glory which he does announcing for). It would be one thing if he enjoyed WWE, but it seems like he hates it. If you like (or love) wrestling and hate WWE (or at least most of their shows)…then try something else to see if it is for you.
(Edit: 1/16/18). I hated his headline in his video about Paige’s retirement. I could have listened to what he said, but the headline turned me off so much. He put “who cares” in the title. There are actually two problems with that. The first is that if Paige does indeed have to retire from something she loved, it is callous to say “who cares.” It’s not necessarily a “tragedy”. but it sucks for her. The second reason is it represents JD’s approach to wrestling which is a major negative from my perspective…it is the “center of the universe approach to fandom…if I don’t like it or I don’t care, then no one else should care. That is not how it works or should work.
Good Mic Work: Good Mic Work (or Goodmicwork) has an enjoyable show. I don’t have much else to say about it. I enjoy listening every week. One criticism I have is that he often will try to soften what he thinks will be an unpopular opinion in order to avoid dislikes. If people are going to dislike a video because they do not agree with Roman Reigns beating Cesaro (a most recent example), then they are not intelligent wrestling fans. I wish Good Mic Work would not soften a legitimate opinion because a Roman Reigns hater or a John Cena hater might be offended. I do not have the same criticism of Good Mic Work as I do of JD from NY in terms of not watching other promotions, because the former does not rant about WWE as much as the latter so there is not as much (in theory) reason for Good Mic Work to watch other promotions. I know I did not say much positive about Good Mic Work, but I do very much enjoy listening to him. I just thought of a specific positive…I like that he gets what WWE is trying to do from a business standpoint. He also accepts it, so that is a positive because many people criticize things they do not like without seeing the other side of it.
Velena: Velena is okay for me. I am a subscriber so I do know when her videos come out and watch most of them. It is not destination listening for me, but it’s not a turnoff by any means. She uses the word literally too much, but that’s fine I guess. I do not know what Velena is going for in terms of coming across as an expert on wrestling (she does seem passionate about it), but I put her somewhere between JD from NY and Good Mic Work, if she wants to come across as more knowledgeable, she could stand to watch more wrestling outside of WWE…at the same time she does not seem to hate WWE like JD so it is not a case of she should just try to watch something else.
Dalyxman: Dalyxman is fine…there is some “stereotypical smark” in him, but he is a good listen. I like that he cares about the content of his channel and always tries to keep things interesting in terms of discussions and talking points. He also dabbles in other promotions which is something I respect…yeah so he is okay. I don’t have any macro or even micro criticisms that come to mind (other than the stereotypical smark thing)
Wyza: Wyza is my favorite. He seems like a cool person and he is intellectual about wrestling. There is very little ranting and if there is it makes sense. He is both engaging and intelligent when talking about wrestling. It does not get much better than that. I even subscribed to his Twitch account so that I can watch his live viewing of wrestling shows (even though I don’t watch his live viewings…live). The only criticism is that he can get distracted at times, but that’s my personal hangup. He also dabbles in NJPW and other promotions, so that is another positive.