Maybe it’s just the summer lull between WrestleMania and SummerSlam, but I frequently find my mind wandering as I watch WWE TV just lately. I still enjoy the shows, but they’re not grabbing me the way they did just a month or two ago. Thankfully, I watch all the shows with my son, Jake, and that makes for a fun time no matter how odd the programming might be.
It might be a good thing that I’m not so focused on storylines and feuds right now. It gives me time to think about some of the more esoteric aspects of WWE.
Some Random Thoughts about WWE
- Smackdown seemed like Raw this week –SmackDown took place in London this week, and apparently, the rules are different in Europe than they are in the United States. Randy Orton and the rest of the top end of the SD live men’s roster came out to the ring and engaged in a chat session. For some reason, there was no match. Then, the top of the women’s division came out to the ring, and everybody talked some more. By the time there was actual wrestling on the show, seven or eight people had talked (depending on whether you consider James Ellsworth a person), and 28 minutes (nearly a quarter of the show) had gone by. Maybe WWE didn’t want to send two writing teams overseas, and had the Raw crew write both shows.
- Everything about Jinder Mahal is wrong right now –Mahal might be WWE’s choice for No. 1 contender to the WWE Championship, but the Universe isn’t into it. It’s not that the crowd hates him. It doesn’t care. A lot of fans didn’t want to see Goldberg win the Universal Championship earlier this year. They were pissed that it could happen. Those fans aren’t worried about Mahal. There’s no reason to be. No one, including the announcers, take him seriously. Tom Phillips halfheartedly complains about Mahal’s tactics while JBL uses every nickname in the book for him. I’m astounded that he hasn’t busted out Jinder “Taj” Mahal yet. Maybe he’s saving it for Payback. It’s okay to push someone unexpected, but not if the crowd doesn’t care. If you add up every reaction Mahal has received, positive or negative, in his entire WWE career, it doesn’t match the pop that Shinsuke Nakamura got just for coming down the ramp on Tuesday. Some guys just have “it.” (Thanks, Chris Jericho.) Jinder isn’t one of them.
- Is WWE promoting theft? –When Mahal came down to the ring, he showed pictures of him with the WWE Championship on the TitanTron. This seemed odd, since Mahal never won the title, and only had the belt because he stole it from Orton. The bottom of each photo was tagged with a WWE.com logo. Why would the company publish photos with a fake champion on its own website? Maybe we should have gotten to see Mahal’s Instagram story instead.
- Rusev is a doofus –So, the story is that Rusev isn’t happy about being sent from Raw to SmackDown. It’s not clear why that would bother him, as he clearly wasn’t going anywhere important on Monday nights. For whatever reason, Rusev announced that he wouldn’t show up on SmackDown until he was granted a title match at Money in the Bank. This made sense from a story perspective, since he was out with an injury anyway. However, he appeared in a vignette yesterday and said that his demand was ignored and thus he’d be showing up at SmackDown next week. If he shows up just to be ignored (sort of like Curtis Axel on Raw) again, doesn’t that defeat the purpose? In fact, doesn’t it defeat the purpose of holding out if you show up anyway?
- So are Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon –For some reason, McMahon and Bryan are letting Mahal steal the title belt, win No. 1 contender’s matches by cheating, watching three of the women on the roster hang out with James Ellsworth (and beat up the other women on the roster), and ignoring Rusev. Rusev shouldn’t feel bad. Apparently, they’re ignoring everything.
- What about Sami? –For a glorious moment, I had hope for Sami. He was in the No. 1 contender’s match, but had his moment stolen by Jinder Mahal and a pair of action figures in pastel button-downs. Then, he was in the ring with the top dogs on Tuesday. Maybe he’d finally get a chance to shine. Nope, Sami was there to take a beating and make everyone look good. Plus, he was in a backstage bit where Randy Orton and AJ Styles made it abundantly clear that they think he’s a dweeb. Properly pushed, Zayn could be the next Daniel Bryan. Right now, he’s the next Jack Swagger (without the title run). If you don’t believe me, stream this week’s SmackDown. Zayn got as big a response as anybody in the opening segment, except for Styles.
- Strowman’s absence –With Brock Lesnar currently doing whatever the Brock Lesnars of the world do when not wrestling, the Universal title has been absent from Raw. Maybe it’s because we’ve seen it before, but I don’t miss it that much. It might be a chance to elevate the Intercontinental Championship, like they’re doing with the US title on SmackDown. However, Braun Strowman looks to be out for 4-8 weeks with an arm injury. While Raw doesn’t miss Lesnar that much, the show is going to be in trouble without Strowman. It’s arguable that he’s the main attraction on Monday nights.
- Fandango is still over in Europe –The third biggest pop of the night (behind Nakamura and Styles) went to Fandango when he and his tag team partner came out for a nothing match against The Ascension. (Who were literally locked in a closet earlier in the show…) Even JBL noticed. He said that while Breezango look ridiculous, they’re a great tag team. (I’m no fan of Layfield, but he makes a valid point.) It makes me sad to see Tyler Breeze in this program. It makes me wonder when I see crowds pop for Fandango. Also, in their (very lowbrow) comedy vignettes backstage, Breeze comes off as idiotic. There’s sort of a creepy menace about Fandango. Somebody should investigate repackaging the former Johnny Curtis.
- English crowds look familiar –After two nights of watching shows that took place in London, I’m convinced that one half of the audience is related to Sami Zayn. How many guys are there in England with curly red hair and beards? The other half looks like Cesaro.
- Shinsuke’s mouthpiece –It’s possible that Shinsuke Nakamura is so over that there’s nothing WWE can do to stop him. It seems like they’re trying, though. The guy speaks passable, but not fluent, English. So, instead of having him speak very little, or not at all, they send him to the ring wearing a mouthpiece. It boggles the mind. Why would the creative team want to spotlight THE ONE THING that might slow down the King of Strong Style? CM Punk would be hard to understand if he had to talk around a wedge of rubber. I’m not against mouthpieces in general. Brock Lesnar uses Paul Heyman every time he comes to the ring.
These are the things that occupy my mind when WWE is just marking time. I expect that things will start to get more interesting in June with Money in the Bank (SmackDown exclusive), and come to a crescendo in August for SummerSlam. Until then, maybe I’ll check out my Netflix queue.