It was one of those moments we all will remember as wrestling fans. Samoa Joe attacked Paul Heyman, and in doing so, he became the baddest man in WWE and also became With Extreme Rules in the rear view, and Money in the Bank on the horizon, it’s sort of a “tweener” week in WWE. It’s a little too soon to push the SummerSlam agenda, so both shows are sort of treading water.
The ramp-up to the biggest event of the summer will start in earnest on June 19th or so (the day after MiTB), so I’d like to take a look at my list of miscellaneous ideas while we wait for Brock Lesnar to come back from Suplex City.
WWE Random Thoughts Edition
Kurt Angle Wrestling? – Though WWE hasn’t done much to push the story in the past week or two, there are some hints that current GM Kurt Angle may be getting back into the squared circle sooner rather than later. So far, Angle’s story is that he seems very concerned by some emails or messages that an “insider” is feeding to Corey Graves. There has been a veil of secrecy cast over the story, with Angle’s worried mutterings the only clue as to what’s going on. I suspect that there will be a McMahon behind all of this somewhere, and I anticipate that our Olympic Hero will find himself in a feud with the King of Kings or perhaps Samoa Joe (HHH’s designated enforcer) heading into SummerSlam.
Will Miz Make the HOF? – Before you throw your computer across the room, consider his resume. With his win over Dean Ambrose at Extreme Rules, Miz is entering his seventh reign as Intercontinental Champion. Only Chris Jericho has held that strap more times. While it’s true that the IC belt hasn’t been as prestigious as it used to be over the past 10 years, there’s no argument that it never seems more relevant than when the “A-Lister” is carrying it. Miz has been one of the most over heels of his generation, and his work over the past two years or so has been the best of his career. There’s a good chance he’ll find himself in the main event scene sooner than later, especially if the resident beasts (Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman) are either absent or injured. Miz has a legitimate claim to the Hall right now. If he rises to the main event scene over the rest of his career, it will be a no-brainer.
It was one of those moments we all will remember as wrestling fans. Samoa Joe attacked Paul Heyman, and in doing so, he became the baddest man in WWE and also became Mahal or Nothing – I’m willing to give WWE credit for trying something new, but Mahal isn’t resonating – he’s a human mute button. Now, the creative team has booked itself into a corner. If they have Mahal drop the title to Randy Orton at MiTB, there’s little doubt that he’ll sink back to the lower mid-card (or worse) and probably disappear from WWE entirely in a matter of a year or two. If they keep the belt on Mahal, they risk the audience losing interest in SmackDown’s top title. The solution may be to have Mahal keep the belt at MiTB, and enter into a feud with a star-maker. Maybe a returning John Cena or possibly AJ Styles. That way, Mahal’s opponent can create more interest, and WWE can book him stronger when eyes are on him. For the record, I would have built Mahal up a lot more before making him champion. That way, if it wasn’t working, there would have been an out. Right now, the most interesting thing about Jinder is watching to see how WWE books the belt over the next month to six weeks.
Say Hello to the Bad Guys – I’m not sure what it says about WWE’s booking strategy, but right now, almost every titleholder on the main roster or in NXT is a heel. Brock Lesnar (Universal Champion) and Asuka (NXT Women’s champ) are sort of in the same category. They’re not babyfaces, but they’re not quite heels either. They’re just a much bigger deal than anyone else on their rosters. Naomi (Smackdown Women’s champ) is the only pure babyface champion in the company right now. The other belts belong to Pete Dunne (UK), Neville (Crusierweight), Mahal (WWE Champion), Kevin Owens (US), Miz (Intercontinental), Alexa Bliss (Raw Women), Bobby Roode (NXT), Sheamus and Cesaro (Raw tag team), the Usos (Smackdown tag team) and the Authors of Pain (NXT tag team). The only explanation I can think of for this is that HHH has more influence in the booking these days, and Hunter has always loved a good heel. It will be interesting to see if being bad is a good thing in WWE all summer.
Speaking of Bad Behavior – It looks like Daniel Bryan better get back to SmackDown Live before Shane McMahon totally loses control of the show. Over the past month or so, things have gotten wild on Tuesday nights. Two weeks ago, there was supposed to be a five-way elimination match to determine the No. 1 contender to Naomi’s title. The match never officially started, as all five competitors ended up brawling around ringside. McMahon came down to ringside to restore order, and promptly placed the miscreants in the first-ever women’s MiTB match for the upcoming PPV. I’m all for the women getting a ladder match, but it doesn’t make sense to send the message that you can get what you want by acting out. A similar message was sent when Kevin Owens got a spot in the men’s MiTB match simply by walking out when the competitors were being announced. Baron Corbin is also in that match, despite the fact that his day usually consists of walking around backstage, beating the hell out of anyone he encounters. Lana was the latest example. She made her return to SD Tuesday, coming down to the ring and demanding to be added to the women’s ladder match. McMahon told her no, so she simply came back later, interfered in a six-person tag match made up of the MiTB competitors and champ Naomi, and was rewarded with a title shot against Naomi at MiTB. Apparently, Shane O’Mac hasn’t heard of the tough love concept.
Good Booking – For the first time in as long as I can remember, there were no real head-scratching outcomes at a WWE PPV event. At last Sunday’s Extreme Rules, every outcome made sense, both in terms of the previous story lines and looking ahead to Great Balls of Fire (seriously?) and SummerSlam. Some of the actual matches were a bit disappointing (Bayley and Bliss), but they got the winners right.
With almost everything on the shows geared toward SummerSlam, the next two months of WWE television have a chance to be compelling. Now, let’s see what the boys from Stamford do with the opportunity.