There was a time when reviewing the wrestling scene would have to cover two maybe three blogs. Now – check it. All in this blog without pushing it. I’ve heard it mentioned in the odd podcast here or there that if wrestling had a season it should go from September to April. That’s the truth. May to August – with the exception of maybe the occasional interesting feud in preparing for SummerSlam – is the time where things seem to ease off the gas and there’s little in the way of uproar about it almost as though everyone is in on what’s going on. Yet there is a product to put out and so they put out what they can and to be fair it’s not a complete wasteland, there are a few things of note.
Cena vs. Punk: This is the only feud worth watching on WWE at the moment. Of course it’s not the first time that Cena and Punk have faced up. Earlier on this year they had a mini-tiff and they’ve had their matches from time to time. Yet they have been able to refresh the feud and following a win against Rey Mysterio and a win against the champ on a Raw Punk sees himself as the number one contender.
What makes this feud worth the attention is once again the work of Punk. Just as Punk made the feud with Orton bearable and then Orton pulled out a good effort in their matches, so Cena obviously sees something to get his teeth into in what maybe the last feud Punk has in WWE before leaving. Cena is overall a better performer than Orton and at least has charisma on the mic when he’s not being goofy. So Punk’s departure and threat of taking the belt with him already made this feud of even greater interest, but the last Raw has set the cat among the pigeons for both fans of the product for its own sake and the ‘smart’ fans who know what goes on behind the scenes but enjoys something different. Punk certainly gave something different with his latest promo at the end of the last Raw. It caused such a stir among the IWC that it was the most talkworthy event for months.
To me in the larger scheme of things it will mean little. Yet in the immediate term it is the right injection required to make the feud mean something and stir interest in how this will culminate. The way it highlights how good it is for wrestling is in considering the various outcomes that could take place in the Money in the Bank PPV in the middle of the month. The speculation and fantasy booking is a delight to behold and maintains people’s interest in the downturn time of year. It is almost worthy of a Mania main event itself, though it is a sign of Punk’s actual worth that it is unlikely that Vince McMahon would have put such emphasis on Punk to headline a WrestleMania.
What else on Raw: From your WWE Champ to giving his assistant a push The Miz is making the most of the downtime to help Alex Riley be an established player in the Raw roster. It is a mildly entertaining feud and interesting to see the barely established Miz already getting someone over in Riley. It’s a good time to do it with little mattering and it being a time for those under the radar to make a name for themselves and they are doing a fair job with Riley.
Beyond that after an impressive start following his turn and involvement in the title feud with Cena, R-Truth is already making his way to mid-card mediocrity. Sure he may get a MITB place and when Morrison returns they may complete the feud they started, but other than that he’s done well and will find himself ‘where he belongs’ before long. New Nexus? Do me a favour. Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler is a feud that knows each other very well and so can perform very well and so hold the mid-card deal very well. Having said that for both they need to be moving on from their umpteenth match against each other. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a best out of 7 series to pass the time. Del Rio is having a crack against Big Show as well, for whatever that’s worth. That’s about it though of any interest on Raw.
Orton vs. Christian vs. Sheamus: So from Raw we move onto SmackDown where there is marginally more happening, but not necessarily as good as on the Red brand. I give Randy Orton grief often, he has the look, he knows his way around the ring and more importantly he’s been given the rub by the power players behind the scenes who matters. He’s been Trips and Vince’s project since Evolution – it is in their best interests to invest in the guy and he pulls the crowd reactions. He plays his Viper role well, without being a great. Therein lies my reservation concerning the guy – he is not great. He’s not great on the mic, he’s not great in the ring, he’s not great all over, whereas there are arguably others who are better. Still, I’m sure you’re not going to turn down the chance of being pushed to the moon and being the company’s golden boy. He’s the World Heavyweight Champ and up until recently his main bone of contention has been Christian. I was at first a bit suspect of his heel turn, but just as he has been used to do for most of his career, Christian has taken this and flown with it playing the aggrieved and jilted veteran whose been shafted by the system. It’s good stuff. I hope he gets a run with the title soon – I doubt it, but that’s the whole point of hope – it goes beyond what seems to be at present. Sheamus’ presence in the scene is refreshing in making it a triple threat deal and the possible permutations from that. He is a genuine threat physically and can more than handle the responsibilities of being champ. It will be interesting to see how important it is for the blue brand to have Orton as champ. The feud makes for good viewing.
The Push of Mark Henry: What shall we do while we’re waiting for something important to happen near the end of Summer? I know lets give a push to one of the guys whose been on the roster the longest. Even though he’s had push after push without any real sense of investment in him, let’s give him another push and see how he goes. On the plus side, this is a legitimate push. Henry is a contender, he is not a comedy piece, he is not a hired muscle, he is a monster heel with a chip on his shoulder and people to knock around whether it’s Big Show, Kane or even the Champ Randy Orton. It is good stuff as far as he’s concerned and the video pieces showing his wreckages makes him that much more of a big deal. I’m enjoying the push and looking to enjoy it on its own merits even though in the back of my mind, I know only too well where this will end up.
What else on SmackDown: Your Intercontinental Champion is Ezekiel Jackson which is WWE pushing the big guy as face, not convincing as yet, but I guess I still have to give him time. I would definitely prefer Cody Rhodes to hold the title as he’s still doing a sterling job in the mid-card trying to make something out of Ted Dibiasie. Having said that the thing they have going with Daniel Bryan is a good mid-card feud. Nothing to make anyone put money to see a blow off but good wrestling and on the mic stuff.
The Khali/Mahal/Ranjin story is steadily ticking over mid-card development which won’t mean anything until it hits a paydirt which would be a eye-catching feud. Though why the big man whose already established is a lackey to the new guy coming in remains interesting, but there’s no doubting the new guy looks good, so far. Other than that I’m scraping the barrel to mention anything worthwhile on SmackDown.
The Reign of Mr. Anderson: Oh yeah TNA and Impact Wrestling. Quite a lot still ticking over as they get on with appealing to more potential viewers. The main thing on any wrestling promotion should be who your world champ is. At the moment it is Mr. Anderson following his win against Sting at Slammiversary. Theoretically that should be all good for the promotion. Anderson is relatively young, he has charisma of sorts and he performs to a decent standard in the ring. His a-hole gimmick seems to be doing well and is one of the few over things on TNA and he’s been plugging away looking to get his hands on the title. If you’re not rooting for someone like AJ Styles or even consider giving Kazarian a decent push, then there are few better to run with the company than Mr. Anderson. So why does it all come across as such an anti-climax? Could it be that the storyline dragged out too long? Could it be that it’s not made to seem as important as other matters, such as whatever Bischoff and Hogan are up to or Sting’s ongoing opposition to them? Could it be that the title change was deemed not to be as important as the end of the Angle/Jarrett feud? Could it be that Anderson’s gimmick is a bit tired now and something new needs to happened for the guy, not a turn one way or the other, just something to freshen him up?
Yep. All of the above.
Rebranding TNA: So they’ve changed the name of their main programme and they’ve got a new logo and colour scheme. Oh and they have the ‘wrestling matters’ tag-line going to get the impression that unlike some other company it’s not about sports-entertainment it is all about wrestling. To be fair they’ve made an effort in terms of more in-ring action and they have the characters to pull it off – if they’re serious. The new league system they’ve set up in the countdown to Bound for Glory is intriguing as well and definitely making the most of keeping characters prominent and making matches matter. I hope it works out. For that to happen though, they really need to play down the old elements like Steiner (seriously?!), Hogan, Bischoff, etc. as well push the actual wrestling talents. An exception to that is in the work of someone like Bully Ray whose character still rates highly in my opinion. They are trying with the likes of pushing Gunner as well, so we shall see how that plays out.
It’s relatively early days for this new TNA so there’s little to judge at the moment, but here’s hoping it works out for them. After all if that works out and movements work out as they should then they could … am I getting ahead of myself? Am I hoping too much? Am I being too optimistic? Yes, but in this season with little going on you’ve gotta cling on to something! Here’s hoping for something more tasty to report at the end of the month.