Mondo Pro Wrestling 1

It has been a crazy week of wrestling, arguably the most eventful newsworthy of the year? It has prompted me to make sense of it. Some of it. The it that I have seen. And only a little of that. There is way too much to actually get into every detail. Not sure what to think? Don’t worry, I’ll tell you in this ‘not be the latest, but simply the greatest’ analysis and projectionsis from an outsider who does not know enough nor is not interested in being considered an expert. Maybe from here we will do this on a regular weekly basis but those are some famous last words in these parts. And one more thing, GIFs are stupid.

Summer Slam

I have been thinking about why the match between Finn Balor and Seth Rollins was not so memorable and far from match of the year or match of the weekend. Leaving everything injury related completely aside. I rewatched it and found the match started in what seemed like a race to get things done. There was no build in tension, no circling one another, sizing one another up, trying to intimidate each other – the things you would expect from a real sports combat competition and what a simulated one should absolutely contain. There is something to be said for a sudden flair up – two combatants running at each other and clubbing away or someone rushing in and getting a sudden advantage. But it wasn’t like that; from the moment Finn landed the first drop kick it simply seemed like a rush. Some speculation that perhaps this was a case of main stage jitters on the part of Finn, and Rollins not being quite seasoned enough to help matters? Setting the stage for a heated, rage-fueled competition is of the utmost importance.

The outpouring of reactions brought on by Brock Lesnar vs Randy Orton showed something was done right. Glimpsing online reactions one gets a sense of extreme opinions, people thinking they knew what was what (except you take 5 any people and you get any of 5 different interpretations) and you get reactions to Brock that suggest a lot of unease, a lot of anger, or HEAT, beyond that of storyline, which is in fact good heat to get. Let’s not forget that wrestling is at its best when it blurs the line between the staged and the real. Putting my feelings about the use of actual brute force and level of risk involved, it was an intense confrontation. What probably left many people feeling underwhelmed was the sudden finish after a show that became increasingly exhausting as time wore on. The card definitely needed editing. It is also a bit problematic that this was the main event and we are not left with any direction from here when it comes to Brock Lesnar. We are not left seeing him as a title contender as he has been in the direction of left field since he started feuding again with Undertaker. It just left people with as much confusion as it did any temporary rush of adrenaline.

Raw? Medium, well…

Not much to say about RAW, which was in scramble mode after plans suddenly shifted due to the new and first ever Universal Champion to be crowned, Finn Balor, was declared injured. They did what they had to do, stripping him of the title. But I will suggest a perfectly good opportunity to generate some of that stuff they call HEAT was squandered by not having a face off between Finn and Rollins. They could have blurred that line between reality and show, and made this into a feud with some stakes beyond the belt, something it was lacking from the beginning.


The introduction of Bayley was something many were looking forward to after her apparent send off at NXT Takeover Brooklyn last weekend. What took place was OK, but it seemed a few tweeks could have made it so much more exciting. General Manager Mick Foley came out to have an exchange with Charlotte and then announce Bayley. The only reasons for this I could see is 1) kill time (which RAW seems to have way too much of and 2) have a familiar face introduce a potential newcomer to the wider RAW audience.

I think the impact could have been far greater if Bayley just took to the ring suddenly, with her music ringing out as Charlotte seemed all but completely triumphant in her standing. And again it would have been the perfect time for some reality tinged trash talk between WRESTLERS, no need for the go between of a mild mannered. Charlotte could have asked Bayley how she could dare think she has a shot at the title after just LOSING to Asuka. Bayley could have retorted that she knows someone she HAS beaten and that is Charlotte herself. All would have been valid points, would have given those unfamiliar with their NXT activity the background they needed, and built up a solid confrontation – WRESTLER to WRESTLER.

The Dudleys send off seemed ok though it hit from out of nowhere, with many expecting more to it. Perhaps negotiations between the tag team and the company were truly up in the air til this point. Being laid out by Anderson and Gallows, though, actually highlighted what a great program that could be. In these two teams you have some forces of destruction with plenty of credibility: on the one hand this new and exciting team with the allure of having a cult following in their previous incarnation, plus the legitmacy of working the rigorous style associated with Japan and NJPW. In the other, a team with a long history including the craziness of tables and ladders from their ECW days. While the Dudleys have been on the back burner, a sudden changeup could shake off some of the dust that seems to have fallen on them. Hopefully the value of such a feud will wake some folks up and business can be done to keep them around a bit longer, at the least, to have a run against Guns and Gallows.


Smackdown had a solid show that seems to be upstaging RAW. It is shorter, more manageable, and seems to be having quite a lot more fun.

American Alpha had a great match with Breezango. I think they should tone down the silliness with the latter. And it is worth noting that American Alpha’s music was tweaked just enough to be terrible. When it ain’t broke don’t fix it! And considering the string of smash hits NCT’s music team has had there is no reason to think there catchy intro music from NXT needed a change.

There was a lighthearted and knowingly naïve charm to the segment between Heath Slater and Rhyno, when Rhyno offered to team up with the guy he had knocked out of a contract, and help him get on the roster (and pay for an aboveground pool!)

I think they should find a way to win. Slater is obviously winning the crowd over and the premise of the contract slipping away from him at every turn is getting long in the tooth.

As nicely poetic as these two teaming up is, did it occur to anyone that a perfect partner for Slater would be KANE? I don’t know what his exact status is but I believe he is officially signed to SMACKDOWN. You would have the redhead and the big red machine. But let’s not discount this just yet. Perhaps this could be the blueprints for a fun 3 man act. In Rhyno and Kane you have two wrestlers with genuine political experience. Slater could be…Slater. The Constituency perhaps?

Bray had an excellent presence when he confronted Randy Orton. I am a bit disappointed he is still being positioned as a heel at this point. I noticed Bray started tagging his twitter activity with a phrase DOWNWITHTHEMACHINES. It sounds like the making of rebellious crowd favorite fare. Hopefully he looks strong against Orton and changes lie in wait for Wyatt.


Royal Rumblings: What if AJ Styles had a major role in the Royal Rumble?


While WWE’s output on its main roster shows have ranged from stagnant to embarrassingly hokey as of late, despite NXT remaining steadily watchable and full of promise, the landscape does have potential to become interesting, if not downright exciting. In case you somehow missed all the commotion, hot on the heels of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s annual major Wrestle Kingdom show, reports were flying that AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Bullet Club pillars Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows had given notice to the company with WWE contracts waiting to be signed. Other details came into focus a bit further along the way, yet all the particulars of who will be there, when, and in one capacity are yet to be determined.


Most germane to this weekend’s big Royal Rumble event, which always has a direct impact on the WWE’s focal point Wrestlemania, is the fact that AJ Styles has signed and is available to work, even teasing his appearance at an indie show. I’ve heard authorities – not Kane and J and J Security, but people highly regarded as being knowledgeable on all things pro wrestling – have read into Styles’ declaration in opposing ways. First, it seemed to be too obvious a statement to make thus eliminating his chances of being a surprise entrant into the 30-competitor match known for having at least a handful of surprise participants. Later on, I’ve seen opinions shift more to the ‘eh…maybe’ sort, perhaps feeling the fact that WWE is really hurting for intriguing developments.


With possibilities swirling about my head and being stoked over some recent AJ Styles activity (that match with Shinsuke Nakamura from Wrestle Kingdom is st, I formed a bit of a scenario involving AJ Styles that I wouldn’t go so far as calling a prediction, since WWE’s logic is vastly different than its fans, but something I do think would be very interesting and not completely out of the realm of conceivable. Even if it doesn’t happen, I would make a strong case that this could make for a very compelling Wrestlemania build and general direction for the company (though I am sure some would call my thinking delusional). Imagine if you will…


The Rumble is in full effect, and Lesnar is out of the match…Screwed over by someone who will likely be his Wrestlemania opponent in the absence of a higher profile outsider’s return. If it were up to me, this would be Kevin Owens who is ready for the big things. I know many feel this could end up being Bray Wyatt after the way the close of the most recent RAW unfolded, and it is possible but looking at Smackdown a few days later, I think the Wyatts are just meant to look like a major threat to all in the battle royale. Owens could lose his IC title match to Dean Ambrose and still come out of the night looking strong by taking out a lot of heads in the Rumble match and causing Lesnar to be eliminated in underhanded fashion…..So we get to a later point with number 1 entrant Roman Reigns hanging in but struggling, and suddenly AJ Styles is called and makes his way to the ring. He would get a huge reaction from a city that knows him quite well. He could go on to play to that babyface reaction, taking people out left and right, and forming an implied alliance with Roman Reigns. This could take them through battle with the League of Nations or The Wyatts…Probably both. And at some point during this skirmish, as the two heroes seem to be getting the upper-hand, AJ Styles would grab Reigns from behind and unceremoniously eliminate him, thus becoming the new Heavyweight Champion, and half of the main event at Wrestlemania. The victory would probably get a mixed reaction with many ‘smart’ fans being happy for Reigns to lose and especially happy to see Styles go over, but I think this would be met with a nice balance of boo’s from more mainstream fans unfamiliar with Styles that have been getting behind Reigns. The turn would be solidified with Hunter and Steph coming out to congratulate AJ Styles and reveal him as the new ‘face of the company,’ part of the plan all along.


OK, I’m already hearing the hollering about the problems with this idea. I’ll address those.


What is so dastardly about eliminating Reigns that it would get AJ over as a heel? It is an every man for himself match.


True but it could be done in such a way that Reigns did not see it coming. It would be easy for them to establish an understanding that once they eliminated the heels they would face off fair and square, making AJ appear cowardly by taking advantage of a turned back. There could even be one or two heels in the ring with him when Reigns is eliminated, who clear out after it is done, making them stooges to the Authority machine.


Authority? Aren’t you sick of the Authority?


Yes, but it is a convenient storytelling device that does not have to be thrown out completely if it serves to set up exciting things down the road. Styles being new could use their backing to put him over if he is going to be put into such a prominent spot right away like I am proposing. This is an alternative, mind you, to one of the more talked about Wrestlemania possibilities, Reigns VS Triple H, which would be that much more of an Authority retread and one with a far less credible premise for athletic competition to buy.


We are talking about WRESTLEMANIA. You do realize how many tickets this is supposed to sell? How could you possibly propose half the main event be a brand new guy in the company?


This is the hardest point to argue, based on what I know about the conventional wisdom of Wrestlemania being the WWE’s biggest event, attracting casual fans and having the pressure to sell out bigger and bigger stadiums. I could point to the fact that we once had a main event of John Cena VS The Miz. But I realize pro wrestling has been taking a beating and can’t take a built-in audience for granted.


Does this mean that only the most familiar talent can sell Wrestlemania? Not in my book. To me, the only sure thing that WWE needs is a big heap of CHANGE. A brand new star with the presentation that suggests being taken seriously could bring just that if he had the talent to back it up. AJ Styles could be just the wrestler to do it. With so many guys on the roster getting stop-start momentum, someone brand new made to look like a superstar could draw lots of positive attention otherwise alluding WWE right now.


Then, there are some other things I like about this story…


First is Styles’ incredible talent. After injuring his back, he still put on an incredible exhibition against Nakamura at Wrestle Kingdom 10. Throughout his stint in NJPW this year, he has put on incredible matches with Okada, Tanahashi, and Ibushi to name a few. There is little doubt he could bring Reigns or most any other WWE wrestler to a stellar main event match.


While Styles could be positioned to come in as a baby face, he has worked a heel persona in New Japan beautifully and could surely do so again in WWE.


If Styles were to be brought in as The Authority’s new face of the company this would be a clear message to Seth Rollins: You’re Out. This would in turn set up a baby face Rollins to return to a hero’s welcome after his injury with a legitimate gripe against The Authority. It would also establish a program between Styles and Rollins, which would be out of this world. Taking this a bit further, it could come to pass that Gallows and Anderson are brought in as a team, also under the Authority’s sphere of influence to back up Styles, which in turn could lead to a reunited Shield with Reigns, Rollins, and Ambrose realigning in their most successful from as The Shield to battle who regardless off their WWE name, we would knows as the individuals in the Bullet Club.


While there are plenty of other more likely situations, I am holding out hope we see Styles in the Rumble and something along these lines taking shape.