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Ask Wrestling Rumors – June 16, 2018Here's what we're answering this week. Got something you want answered? Ask…

Posted by Wrestling Rumors on Sunday, June 17, 2018

In short, my name is Thomas Hall and I’ve been watching wrestling for over thirty years. I thought some of you might find my knowledge of wrestling to be a bit of a resource and therefore opened the floor for whatever wrestling questions you might want to ask. It can be historical, trivia, modern, fantasy booking or pretty much anything you would like. As always, you can use the Facebook comments section to ask whatever you would like to see answered next week. Let’s get to it.

From BestSportsEntertainer

1. Why not send a few wrestlers back to NXT? Guys like The Revival are way too talented to be doing nothing.

Let’s get this out of the way right now: I’d love to see this happen more often. It used to be a somewhat regular thing, but now it’s once in a blue moon and I can’t actually remember the last time it took place. That being said, there are rumors out there at the moment about Mike Kanellis doing just this, and that makes a lot of sense given how little he’s actually done on the main roster. At the moment his entire character is he’s the husband of a gorgeous woman with better talking skills than he has. What exactly are you supposed to do with that?

But now back to a broader sense. The thing to remember about NXT is that while it has taken on a life of its own, it’s still officially developmental for WWE and that means the main idea of the place is to build people up and get them ready for the main roster. The problem with that is if you treat it like developmental, there’s nothing left for Revival, Sami Zayn, or any other name that you might want to see back in NXT to do down there. They’ve been developed, and are ready for the main roster. Now that’s where things get a little sticky.

The Revival can do something like this.

Who will leave Toronto with the NXT Tag Team Titles?

Simply put, there’s a lot of stuff going on up on the main roster and with all the time spent on promos, recaps and longer television matches (this week’s Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live featured three matches going fifteen minutes or longer, with one of them being a 45 minute gauntlet match). In other words, there just isn’t enough time for everyone to get a chance to be on television and get something in there.

This is where you get to the main difference between the main roster and NXT. If you look at NXT, it’s rare to see someone featured on television in back to back weeks. You might get a video on someone or a quick promo from them, but it’s rare to see someone wrestle one week and then do it again the next week. They move things around so much that not only do wrestlers not have a chance to get stale, but they’re also treated well enough that it’s a lot harder to get tired of them. However, there’s a rather large difference between NXT and the main roster shows.

That difference is a simple one and it’s called television. NXT is broadcast on the WWE Network and can be watched on demand at any time, any day, on multiple devices. While you can get Monday Night Raw or SmackDown Live at later dates on the Network, if you want to (legally) watch them within a month or so of them airing, it’s either watching live or on DVR. Those shows bring in a fortune for WWE (starting in 2020 it will be nearly half a BILLION dollars a year worth of broadcasting rights) and a lot of that is predicated on ratings.

But now they’re doing something like this.

Roman Reigns & Bobby Lashley vs. The Revival: Raw, June 18, 2018

That’s where the problem comes in: a lot of fans aren’t interested in a long, drawn out and well executed match between two smaller guys like the Revival. Look at the biggest stars of the last thirty years: Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, The Rock and John Cena. These guys might not have been the most technically sound (though they’re capable of doing some more traditional stuff) but it wasn’t about that for them. They drew you in with their talking, charisma, and star power. While not on the same level, wrestlers today are more about their ability to make fans care and stop flipping through channels.

Unfortunately, wrestlers like the Revival don’t do that for the masses, which isn’t the biggest surprise in the world. Those wrestlers are better in the ring and are capable of putting on some incredible matches, but with so much else going on, it’s really hard to get the Revival working on their usual level. WWE doesn’t exactly have eighteen minutes a week to let them work a knee and then set up a hot finish. It works in NXT, but that’s the place for the more hardcore fans instead of the masses.

Think this might work on occasion for a house show?

The Revival make surprise appearance at NXT Live in Oklahoma City

That brings us back to NXT, which is where bigger names who can draw in an audience are developed. Their TV time needs to be dedicated to people who can draw fans into NXT arenas or become top stars later on the main roster. Revival would be a lot of fun for a flashback, but they’re not the kind of thing that NXT needs to be focusing on. Maybe as a one off appearance for a house show, but putting them back in NXT full time isn’t going to make them more worthwhile for a main roster spot.

Long story short (too late), Revival is in a weird spot in between the main roster and NXT. While their stuff in NXT was incredible and they’re capable of putting on one great match after another, the style that got them there doesn’t fit in on the main roster. Now you can get into a vast and long discussion of what the point is in developing them with a style that has no chance of success on the main rose, but that’s for another day. The Revival going back to NXT wouldn’t make sense for NXT, but wasting them on the main roster doesn’t make sense either. They’re stuck in the middle, and that’s a shame for everyone involved.

From Shane K.

2. Is it just me, or are SmackDown’s Iconics exactly like LayCool?

It’s certainly not just you and that’s by design. As Jim Cornette has said before, you can recycle an idea in wrestling every seven years. LayCool was officially done due to Michelle McCool leaving WWE on May 1, 2011, or just about seven years ago. That’s more or less an eternity in wrestling and it would make sense to have the same act come up all over again after so much time.

LayCool was a great idea and something that worked very well together. McCool and Layla were a great act together and the perfect combination that would make you want to see them get what was coming to them. The same thing is true of the Iconics, almost down to the entrance and outfits. They’re both entertaining teams and that’s because they’re talented people using a gimmick that plays to their assets as well as anything else could possibly do.

It worked when they showed up.

Billie Kay and Peyton Royce attack Charlotte Flair: SmackDown LIVE, April 10, 2018

The main thing here though is how long it’s been between the two teams appearing. If you’re twelve years old or younger, there’s a good chance that you don’t remember LayCool in the first place. That’s how wrestling has worked for years and it’s how it still works today. LayCool was an idea that worked very well in the first place and now it’s being done again to more success. The Iconics are getting over because they play the role well and that’s why it was given to them.

It’s perfectly fine to reuse successful characters and gimmicks because they’re good characters. Look at gimmicks like cowboys for instance. That’s a very simple idea, but it’s something that works every time. If you have a bunch of cowboys running around, you’re not going to get very far. But if you have one every now and then, the reaction is likely to be “Oh they’re a cowboy. Cool.” The same is true of the Iconics and LayCool now, with the good looking, whiny women who like to make fun of others and you want to see them take a beating. It’s smart booking, and there’s no reason not to do it.

And they might sound a bit familiar.

Raw: Natalya confronts Lay-Cool before WWE Bragging Rights

From Liam French

3. With both Royal Rumble winners losing their WrestleMania title shots, which one was hurt worse?

This is something that is happening more often than not in recent years and it continues to make me shake my head. In the last ten years (eleven Royal Rumbles), the winner of the Royal Rumble has a record of 3-8 in their WrestleMania title matches (including Triple H, who won the title in the Royal Rumble). I’m really not sure what the point is in having the winners lose over and over again, but it’s certainly been the case more often than not with the winners being one for their last six WrestleMania title shots. This doesn’t do the winners many favors, but let’s take a look at the two this year.

Starting with the men’s match, winner Shinsuke Nakamura earned the right to face WWE champion AJ Styles at WrestleMania 34. The match was billed as a dream match between two great wrestlers with both of them being ready to rise to the top on the grandest stage of them all. That’s an idea that is going to work every time, but when you have people as talented as Styles and Nakamura, you want to see just how good of a match they can pull off.

It was a big upgrade for an interesting guy.

Take a closer look at Royal Rumble Match Winner Shinsuke Nakamura: SmackDown LIVE, Feb. 20, 2018

Nakamura lost to Styles via clean pin after the Styles Clash, only to turn heel on Styles after the match with a low blow. This set off a five match series with Styles winning four out of five and Nakamura never actually won the title. The problem here was how Nakamura lost in the first place. He was pinned completely clean and as the great wrestling mind of the Disco Inferno once said, “what’s the point of a rematch if someone wins the first match clean?”.

That’s the case here. Why would I want to see these two fight again if the first match ended with a clean pinfall? The match was good but it was far from a classic or a masterpiece, so why would I want to see it again? I’m not sure WWE was ever able to come up with a reason for that and the rematches, while good as well, felt like they kept going to the point where I lost interest in what I was seeing.

As for female Royal Rumble winner Asuka, it’s a much longer backstory to get her to the Royal Rumble. Asuka was a female wrestler the likes of which we’ve never seen before in WWE. She ran through NXT and held its Women’s Title for about a year and a half with very few being able to even make her break a sweat. Asuka never actually lost the title, instead vacating it to come up to the main roster. I didn’t like that at the time, but the more I think about it the more I like the decision.

This brought her up to the main roster and, again, Asuka went on a tear, dominating everyone she came up against. She entered the Women’s Royal Rumble and cleaned house, eventually eliminating Nikki Bella to win the whole thing. After the match she teased picking between Charlotte and Alexa Bliss over which Women’s Title to go after, only to be interrupted by the debuting Ronda Rousey.

She’s kind of a big deal.

Asuka's undefeated streak by the numbers: Raw, Feb. 12, 2018

Eventually Asuka picked Charlotte….and lost the match for her first ever loss in WWE, tapping out to the Figure Eight. That was the biggest shock of the show and something that a lot of people predicting the show (myself included) got completely wrong. Asuka winning the title and moving into the top spot among women’s wrestlers seemed to be the biggest layup of the show and it just didn’t happen. She then fell through the floor and is now losing to the combined forces of Carmella and James Ellsworth.

So which of these two is the bigger fall from losing their title match? Asuka, and by a wide margin. She had so much more to lose while Nakamura was just winning his first major match at the Royal Rumble. He’s been seen as underwhelming for a long time now but it’s not that much of a fall back down the ladder. Asuka was knocked off the ladder and dented the concrete when she landed. It’s Asuka, by a mile.

From Yer Maw

4. So the same as last year, Monday Night Raw is having a multi man match at Extreme Rules to determine a number one contender. Do they have too much big stars or is it just lazy booking?

Oh this could be a long one. I can’t stand the multi-man matches for the latter reason: it’s lazy booking, mainly due to the same reasons that I can’t stand most of the building towards Money in the Bank. In short, the problem is the lack of stories, which are what draw a lot of fans to wrestling in the first place. They’re not having matches because they hate each other, but rather because the boss has decided that they’re going to be having these matches this week and that’s that. I’m getting a little off topic though so let’s look at both sides.

Are there too many big stars? Not really, because a lot of the stars aren’t big. Let’s look at the two sets of Money in the Bank participants for an example:

Braun Strowman
Bobby Roode
Finn Balor
Kevin Owens
Kofi Kingston
Samoa Joe
The Miz

Alexa Bliss
Becky Lynch
Ember Moon
Sasha Banks

Of the sixteen (yes SIXTEEN people in two matches) people listed here, you can pretty easily cut off the following as realistic winners: Roode, Kingston, Rusev, Moon, Lana, Banks. Simply put, those people either aren’t someone WWE is going to push that high up or they had something else going on at the moment and weren’t going to be given a rocket boost that takes them all the way to the main event scene of their respective divisions.

Would you really consider all of these people top stars?

Greatest Money in the Bank contract cash-ins: WWE Top 10

That would cut you down to five people per match, leaving you with a few more options for those people to be on the show elsewhere. Since WWE’s philosophy seems to be “quantity equals quality”, more people were thrown in. The theory is that if you have more people involved in the match, more fans will watch due to the spectacle. There’s no real way to spin people like Roode or Lana as top stars, so I really don’t think you can say that it’s due to having too many top stars.

Now on the other hand, suggesting that it’s lazy booking, with the idea being “just throw more people into the same match so we can do more random singles matches for a month”, seems pretty spot on. How many times do you see people thrown into a match or a story going on way too long (Money in the Bank also featured Styles vs. Nakamura V) with little changes in where they’re going? It does indeed scream lazy booking and that’s a problem that has plagued WWE for a long time.

Look at just this week alone. Money in the Bank had sixteen people in major ladder matches. Monday Night Raw saw the announcement of some form of multi-man match for a title shot coming at Extreme Rules. SmackDown Live saw a gauntlet match with five people fighting for a title shot. That’s four matches in three days with very limited personal issues (Roman Reigns and Bobby Lashley did seem to have something going on Monday Night Raw) as most of the focus is just on “I want the title”.

Well yeah, almost everyone’s goal is to be champion, but why do I want to see YOU fighting over a title? You can put together all kinds of stories or angles to advance the issues between someone (jealousy, anger, betrayal, an object, a person, a statement and more), but fighting over a title is just one of them. If you rely on those all the time, the people start to blend together. Why were Steve Austin, the Rock, Hulk Hogan and others such big deals? The fans cared about them and what they were doing with the title just being a detail.

Why not another feud like this one?

Booker T & Tajiri & Torrie Wilson & Edge Japanese Shampoo Commercial SmackDown 02.28.2002 (HD)

Today though, it’s about the title far too often with fewer and fewer ideas being presented. It really does come off as the writers being lazy and not trying to come up with something fresh because they don’t have to. I can get behind a title match very quickly, but it’s going to be even better, not to mention much more entertaining, if we’re given a reason to want to see someone beat up someone else for whatever reason. The booking is lazy, and has been for a long time, hence why so many people are thrown into matches with one reason in mind.

From #MrScissorsKick

5. I’m quite sick of authority figures. Thoughts?

Speaking of ideas that are being repeated. Authority figures have been around in varying degrees since before most of us were watching wrestling, but they’ve taken on a life of their own in the last fifteen years or so. Starting in 2002, Monday Night Raw and SmackDown live were given General Managers, who could be put on TV every week and come up with some kind of story to make things work. Over the years, these figures have been joined by the CEO, the COO, Commissioners, Presidents, the Constable, Lieutenant Commissioner, Co-General Managers, Assistants, Managing Supervisors and more than I’m probably missing.

Remember when it used to be simple?

Jack Tunney announces The Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan: WWE Special Report

As you can see, WWE likes to go WAY overboard with this concept and it gets annoying in a hurry. These people all exist for a few major reasons, but the biggest is to answer the question of “why is this happening”. Why is this match taking place? Why are these people fighting? Who made this decision? Now, that’s all well and good, but there’s often a much simpler answer: it’s happening because that’s how the show works.

It boils down to the idea that we have to have everything explained to us. Back in the day, it was all about just putting matches together because, well, otherwise there wouldn’t be a show. Now, we have “the following match has been set up by our General Manager”. How many times do you see a card half made on the night of the show? What exactly was going to fill in the rest of the time? Well those questions aren’t important, because the General Manager/authority figure is here to set things up right in front of your eyes. Maybe WWE thinks that the fans are too dumb to get it, but this happens far too often.

Authority figures do have their place in wrestling, though it doesn’t need to be anywhere near this degree. Simply put, they should be there when something big goes down, but there’s no need to have them there week to week. Consider the first authority figure that people of my generation are likely to remember: WWF President Jack Tunney. He would occasionally come out to settle a major issue or make an announcement from his office. Other than that though, he was just kind of a person you knew was there and would appear if necessary, but the show moved on just fine without him.

It used to be something this ridiculous.

Raw - Mr. McMahon questions Vickie Guerrero's decision making abilities: Raw, June 10, 2013

The same thing is true of current NXT General Manager William Regal. He’ll often show up at the start of a show, make a match or a ruling of some sort, and then be off screen in about ninety seconds. In other words, it can be done without showing up so often. This week on Monday Night Raw, General Manager Kurt Angle appeared six times, not counting a recap of what had happened to him during the night. In those six appearances he was often with Constable Baron Corbin and was on the phone with Commissioner Stephanie McMahon. You shouldn’t need three authority figures on a three hour show.

While it’s rare to find an authority figure who works at the highest level (that level being Vince McMahon himself, because he actually is the highest authority in WWE, they do have a role to be played. Unfortunately, WWE has gone completely overboard with them, sending in so many over the last twenty plus years that I’ve lost count of them all, along with their various titles. If you just have to have one around, have them around sparingly and just say they’ve done something. We don’t need to have everything explained to us every single week and it’s been old for a good fifteen years now.

From Isaiah Morrow

6. How long do you see Lucha Underground going in the state they’re in right now?

For those of you who haven’t been lucky enough to see it, Lucha Underground is one of the most unique and absolutely different wrestling promotions of all time. It’s basically a comic book come to life, with time travel, mystic powers, Aztec gods, a gauntlet that might end the world, someone who might be a 400+ year old witch, undercover cops, and the best authority figure not named Vince McMahon in wrestling history.

These people (and there are a lot of them) gather together in the Lucha Underground Temple in Los Angeles and basically turn into the play things of evil owner Dario Cueto, all while having some pretty rocking lucha libre inspired matches. There are a bunch of people there you would recognize and a lot of them have had some great performances which have gotten them closer, or all the way to, WWE.

This place is uh, different.  In a good way.

Lucha Underground: Top 10 Moments of Season 1!

The other major difference is the show actually has seasons (with season four just starting earlier this month) and is shot like a TV show that happens to be about wrestling. It’s a completely different look, a different feel and a different style than WWE. In other words, when you hear wrestling companies trying to be an alternative to WWE, Lucha Underground actually pulls it off.

The problem is not a lot of people watch the show. It airs on the El Rey Network, which isn’t the highest level in the world. That causes a low audience and there was a very real chance that season three was going to be the last one. The show is back on a smaller budget though, and that means we get to see more of the insane greatness that comes with the show. However, the question is how long can it last, and that’s where I think the bad news comes in.

I really can’t imagine Lucha Underground going that much longer, possibly not even making it past this season. The end of the previous season looked like it was going to be the ending and season four seemed to be a bit of a surprise. As Tommy Dreamer said in the Rise and Fall of ECW documentary, “you can have the greatest product in the world, but if no one is watching it, it doesn’t matter”. There’s also a Spanish version made and I know they’re trying to get on television in Mexico, but at the moment, their audience just isn’t there and it’s becoming a problem.

This is a little expensive.

Rey Mysterio lucha underground debut

With a roster as deep as Lucha Underground has, and especially with some of the names that they’ve brought in (John Morrison and Rey Mysterio for example), there’s only so much you’re going to be able to afford. It’s a big production, and that’s going to catch up to you at some point. I hope the show goes on for a long time, but I’m really not sure I can see that being the case.

That’s all for this week. Make sure to drop in some more questions in the comments or on the Facebook comments and I’ll be back next week with more answers to whatever you have. It can be fantasy booking, general wrestling, any specific company, trivia or really anything you’ve got on your mind.

Here’s the post where you can ask some more questions.

Posted by Wrestling Rumors on Sunday, June 24, 2018

Until next week

Thomas Hall

Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his Amazon author page with 27 wrestling books. His latest book is the NXT: The Full Sail Years Volume III: From Dallas To New Orleans.

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