We’re back again with more questions being answered. In case you weren’t around last week, you might want to check out last week’s edition, which can be found right here:
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.
1. Do you think Kassius Ohno will ever debut on the main roster?
In short, oh….no. It’s not that Ohno isn’t talented (Just watch his stuff outside of WWE and you’ll see exactly why that’s the case. The guy can wrestle a ton of styles and have a great match against almost anyone.) but there’s another reason that he’s designed to stay down in NXT: the guy can wrestle a ton of styles and have a great match against anyone. Let’s think about this for a second.
As I’ve talked about before, NXT is a place designed to have some wrestlers get better and better over time. You can learn a lot at the Performance Center, but at the same time you need something a little bit more than just wrestling in front of your coaches and peers. You have to get out in front of a paying audience and see what you can do out there. If you want to go somewhere further along, which is the point of NXT, you also need some quality opponents instead of people on the same level as you.
The guy is pretty smart.That’s where Ohno comes in. While he might not be the best wrestler in the world, he’s been around for a very long time and has been in so many different promotions learning so many styles. He can make the wrestlers wrestle a different kind of match and that’s the way you learn how to expand your repertoire. Ohno isn’t going to be a big star in NXT or really ever advance past the spot he’s in now, save for maybe a shot at the NXT Title on a big episode of TV. He’s the gatekeeper for NXT and at 38 years old, that’s a very good spot for him.
Of course there’s also the other big factor: his physique. Ohno certainly has a large gut on him but he’s someone who has shown that he can still work at a high level in that kind of condition. That’s fine from a wrestling perspective, but from a marketing perspective on the main roster, it’s a little hard to present someone who has to wrestle with a shirt on as someone who is going to be treated as a big star. Ohno can wrestle quite well and his conditioning has never been an issue, but I could see WWE not being pleased with it and having some issues bringing him up to the main roster as a result.
And he can work with anyone.So no, Ohno won’t likely be on the main roster as he doesn’t need to be there. He’s already an indy wrestling legend and will likely be handed a full time trainer’s job as soon as he’s done in the ring. Let him be the guy who helps get people up to the next level because he’s really good in that role and can work in it for a very long time to come. It suits him well and if he can help a lot of prospects, it’s probably a lot more valuable to WWE than just a short main roster run.
2. Any thoughts on Brock Lesnar fighting for the UFC Championship?
Oh I think I can come up with a few. I mean, that is if I can remember anything about Lesnar as he hasn’t been in WWE for nearly three months and there’s no reason to believe he’ll be there for another month. For those of you who have somehow not seen the clip yet, Lesnar jumped into the UFC octagon this past Saturday night at UFC 226 and shoved new Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier. Lesnar said he wanted the title and the match was soon confirmed, likely taking place in January when Lesnar’s suspension for performance enhancing drugs is over.
And here is said clip.Of course this is all happening while Lesnar is the reigning and (officially) defending WWE Universal Champion. In theory he’ll be defending the title at Summerslam next month, but you never know given how things have been going as of late. Assuming he does though, there’s the question of whether or not he leaves with the title. I know that sounds a little insane if he’s going to fight in UFC again, but is it that crazy?
Can you imagine how happy it would make Vince McMahon to have Lesnar pose with the UFC Heavyweight Title on one shoulder and the Universal Title on the other? That one shot alone might be enough to convince McMahon to let Lesnar reach two years as champion. It’s not like we’re that far away from him hitting such a milestone anyway and while it would be a nightmare for the fans, if McMahon hasn’t started caring by now, another nine months isn’t going to change his mind.
While I’m not a huge UFC fan, I do follow the sport enough to have an idea of what’s going on. My first question is why Lesnar is getting a title shot after not actually winning a fight (and having that win stand) since July 2010. Then I of course realize that it’s due to him being a star and UFC desperately in need of star power. That makes a lot of sense and while annoying for the fans, it’s the way you run a business. Lesnar is a big star and someone who is going to get fans to buy the show. Putting him on the card makes sense from a business standpoint and I can’t say I disagree.
The thing is though, Lesnar has had quite the career of his own away from UFC and the UFC is smart enough to capitalize on that. What makes UFC fans more annoyed? Having some “fake” wrestler come in and take over their promotion. Lesnar will draw in wrestling fans who want to cheer him and hardcore UFC fans who want to see him get beaten up and sent running back to the “fake wrestling” show.
Maybe this would work in the UFC.Overall, I’m not wild on Lesnar going to the UFC for a title shot because I’m worried that WWE will somehow keep the Universal Title on him for the shot at the two belts thing. That’s one of the worst things that could happen to WWE fans but WWE would probably love to go with something that gives them all of a week’s worth of publicity for the sake of annoying the fans even more. If they’ll keep pushing Roman Reigns no matter how badly it’s gone so far, they’ll do this as well.
From Jordon Bailey
3. If Neville dose come back to WWE do you think he should return to 205 Live, or join the NXT UK Division?
Let me answer this with a question: who is the current Cruiserweight Champion and who is he feuding with? I’ll let you think about that for a second, because it’s not like he’s been doing anything of note lately. The champion is Cedric Alexander, who won the title on the WrestleMania 34 Kickoff Show and hasn’t defended it on a pay per view since. The title hasn’t been defended on an actual pay per view (as in not on a Kickoff Show) since last October at Tables, Ladders and Chairs 2017. Do you really expect that streak to be broken anytime soon?
In case it’s not clear, I’d go with NXT UK all day. Neville has shown that he’s one of the best cruiserweights WWE could possibly have and that they really don’t think much of him. He was champion for about seven and a half months and got to Enzo Amore, who wasn’t exactly the strongest in-ring worker in the world. If there was no way to get up to the main roster and Neville was going to be stuck in 205 Live, what would the point be in coming back to the division?
He’s already had a match of the year.Neville is a great example of someone who could wrestle against the heavyweights (he did for a long time) so why would you throw someone with his look and skill on a show that means nothing? I know NXT UK isn’t a guaranteed success, but it’s better than going to a show that is as close to being out of WWE as you can be while still being in the company. If you’re going to come back to the company, go and see what you can do with an actual chance to get somewhere instead of having to duck to avoid the ceiling.
There’s also the fact that the NXT UK division will need some talent to come in there and make an instant impact. Neville has a resume and has had success in WWE on various levels, including the original NXT. He’s the kind of guy who could turn into a star all over again and maybe move back to the main roster one day. That’s not going to happen if he’s in 205 Live, because the division is such a low level show that it doesn’t matter what happens or who shows up. Go to the UK, where you might get somewhere other than the land of the forgotten.
And stolen a show on a WrestleMania.From LibSuperstar
4. As for Reigns, he’s not believable in the mode they tried to cast him. What is his character anyway?
Well isn’t that the million dollar question. If there’s one thing that Reigns has struggled with over the years, it’s figuring out why he’s not connecting with the fans. Wrestling fans, as intelligent people, are pretty good at telling when a wrestler is being themselves. There are wrestlers who know how to play themselves very well but if you give them a character that really doesn’t fit them, it’s not going to work nearly as well. That’s where we get to the problem with Reigns.
When you look at Reigns on paper, you have a 6’3 275lb former football star who is carved out of stone and is part of one of the world’s most famous wrestling families. That’s not the hardest character in the world to write because it’s basically the Rock without a lot of the charisma and talking abilities. Now in a sane world, that would be a pretty easy heel to write but that’s not what we’ve gotten for the last four plus years.
Maybe this is more Reigns’ style.Over the years, Reigns has tried a variety of different characters and for the most part, no one has any idea what he’s supposed to be. One of the characters was supposed to be something close to a Daniel Bryan style underdog, because when you think of a 5’8 goat faced grappler, you think of Reigns. You know, as in the guy who is put into one main event after another. That’s the guy who is being held back by the company you see.
At other times, he’s been the anti-authority brawler in the vein of Steve Austin. This worked to an extent as Reigns can play the ticked off character rather well, but as usual, it didn’t last long enough to matter and Reigns lost the title to the returning Seth Rollins and we started all over again with the character being gone all over again.
After that stopped working, he was the All-American guy ala John Cena. You know: “I’m not a good guy. I’m not a bad guy. I’m just the guy.” That’s a case where you probably get the idea they’re going for but at the same time it’s another case where they’re not really wanting to actually say something definitive. It made Reigns what WWE would consider a tweener while most fans would think that he was just a face with a bit of an attitude. As in Cena, again.
So Reigns, at various points, has been Bryan, Austin and Cena, plus probably a little CM Punk in there somewhere. That’s quite the mixture of talent and the problem is that’s not exactly a mix that works out very well. At the end of the day though, it sums up to one thing: it’s a big mixture of a lot of other gimmicks and characters rather than anything actually unique.
When he wasn’t quite ready for this latest character.That’s what Reigns is: a bunch of things that have worked together who Reigns could play if he read up on them enough, but none of them that really fit him. You can have wrestlers who can fit into other characters, but that’s not the case with Reigns in any of those roles. The fans saw through that and it leaves you with what Reigns has become: whatever suits the story the WWE is trying to tell with him at the time.
5. Who do you think the next guy to grab the brass ring will be? Also, whom do you want to see grab the brass ring?
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I absolutely love Drew McIntyre. As far as I’m concerned he’s the complete package and someone who could be WWE Champion tomorrow, let alone whenever his time finally comes up. That’s not something you get very often around here and I’d love to see him pushed to the moon and back without so much as the blink of an eye.
However, WWE seems content with playing the long game in his case, as we’re going to be stuck waiting on this Dolph Ziggler story to wrap up instead of going with the story that seems ready to jump off the page right then and there. McIntyre could be a top star very quickly and I’d love to see him move up to the main event where he could thrive but since that isn’t happening at the moment, we seem stuck with a few other options.
He’s already working the big matches.We’ll start with the person likely to get the next big shot at the main event with Bobby Lashley. After he returned the night after WrestleMania 34, along with several others including McIntyre, it was pretty clear that Lashley was going to be pushed hard and likely get to the main event in a hurry. Lashley has all the tools (minus maybe the intensity and the talking) that you would need to push someone into the main event scene and it wouldn’t shock me to see him get the big push.
The other option is someone who has the golden ticket in the form of the Money in the Bank briefcase: Braun Strowman. It’s really easy to see how much WWE has already put into Strowman and how protected he’s been and it would be easy to see the cash-in that turns Strowman into the World Champion that he probably should have been about a year ago. Strowman can go and win the title and then hold it for a few months, likely until Reigns takes it from him because….well you get the point by now.
Finally, I’ll throw in a bonus: Andrade Cien Almas. He’s 28 years old, he’s got the experience, he’s been successful around the world (including in NXT), he can be a star in both America and Latin America and he has a great chemistry with manager Zelina Vega. If there has ever been someone just ready to go and take a push like this, I’m not sure who it is. Let him get the rocket push because there’s not much left for him to do and waiting around with people hasn’t exactly proven to be the most effective way of making new stars in WWE.
If he can do this with Sin Cara, what can he do with someone bigger?From BestSportsEntertainer
6. How much of NXT’s success is due to booking, and how much is due to the show only running 1 hour each week and Takeovers only happening every 2-3 months?
Now you know I have to get an NXT question in here every chance I can get. There’s no secret that NXT is one of the best things to happen to wrestling fans in modern times as it gives you great storytelling, solid action and usually incredible payoffs. For the official minor league of WWE, it certainly doesn’t act like something that belongs so low on the totem pole.
So why is it so good? Well it’s a combination of all the things listed here, plus a few other factors. Let’s get the first one out of the way early on: there’s a ridiculous amount of talent around there. This gets overlooked a lot of the time but it’s a major factor. Most promotions have to work with what they have and develop stars on their own. Then you have NXT, where it’s one indy superstar after another being brought in. Couple that with the homegrown talent that certainly exists and how in the world can you not have one amazing show after another?
Just pure greatness.The booking does indeed have a lot to do with the success too. NXT is a promotion that is often about the long form storytelling and it’s often a case where the journey is more important than the ending, though the endings at Takeover are almost always excellent. NXT knows how to take a simple story and turn it into something that feels epic, mainly because every story is given the attention and importance to turn it into something special. That’s illustrated by one thing that is so often overlooked: the commentary.
While I know it sounds simple (partially because it is), the commentary in NXT is something that elevates everything around it. Why is that the case? It’s because no matter what is going on in front of them, the commentators treat it like the most important thing in the world right now. Watch any episode of NXT and see how many times they talk about something else going on or something that’s coming up later on in the show. Now compare that to any given Monday Night Raw or SmackDown Live where such a thing is discussed five times per match at minimum.
That’s so important and due to reasons of WWE being WWE, it’s not something that you ever get on the main roster. Instead, you get little more than WWE treating whatever is in front of them like filler until we get on to the stuff that actually matters. If WWE doesn’t care about what’s in front of them, why in the world would I care about it either? NXT can turn any given match into something that feels like a main event. They’re capable of making a #1 contenders match to the Tag Team Titles, which would be a four minute match on Monday Night Raw (with luck), into something that feels important. It makes a difference.
Greatness, AGAIN!The length of the weekly show does play a big role as well. On Monday Night Raw, there is a desperate need to fill in time because, as has been covered, THREE HOURS IS TOO LONG FOR A WEEKLY WRESTLING SHOW! That means a lot of replays, a lot of long talking segments, and a lot of matches that are pretty clearly being extended for the sole purpose of being extended. It also brings about the problem of the fans just getting burned out.
Three hours (and ten to fifteen extra minutes) is too long to have the viewers keep up their interest when a lot of the show just isn’t very good. Cut that into a third and it’s hard to get bored, let alone become annoyed at how bad the show in front of you is. NXT often doesn’t even make it to fifty minutes, leaving you with just enough to get your interest going before telling you to be with them next week. That’s a benefit that the main roster just doesn’t have and it shows more and more every single week.
Finally, yeah the Takeover schedule does help A LOT. This is being written the night before Extreme Rules 2018 and I couldn’t be much less interested in seeing the show. There’s no fire to the whole thing because it’s clearly just a big pit stop before Summerslam. We’re four weeks removed from Money in the Bank and a lot of the matches are just fallout from that show. It’s taking place because we need a pay per view every month, not because we have a bunch of stories that need a blowoff match.
Takeover again gets lucky by not having that issue built in. While they may not have the choice of when a Takeover is taking place, they do have the extra time to set up whatever they need and that’s going to be a major plus. It also allows the fans to be wanting to see some more NXT because they haven’t gotten a big show in a few months. The fact that they have a tendency to be some of the best shows of the year offer a few perks of its own as well.
So in answer to the question, it’s a big combination of everything. NXT has all of the benefits of the best promotions in the world and none of the weaknesses, which has allowed it to become one of the true treats that wrestling fans get to enjoy. Would it survive on its own without WWE’s support? Not likely, but that’s because it doesn’t have to. It’s a perfect storm of greatness and we’re lucky enough to get to sit back and watch every single week before getting to drool over all the Takeovers.
7. If you could recommend one show on WWE Network which isn’t a pay per view, which would you recommend?
And now I get to have some fun. In short, the WWE Network is the greatest thing to ever happen to wrestling fans. For a completely reasonable price, we get (practically) every WWE pay per view ever, every episode of almost every major American wrestling show ever and all kinds of original content. That’s where we’re looking today and that means there’s a lot of good stuff to be seen.
For the sake of simplicity, I’ll leave off any actual wrestling shows. If I get into that world, I’ll be here all night and since I’ve already done that for the most part, I’ll leave them off. That leaves us with a bunch of documentaries and interview shows, which gives us quite a bit to work with indeed.
These are in no particular order, save for the last two. Also, as you might have noticed, since I tend to go a little insane with things like this, what was supposed to be a recommendation of one show, it’s really more a list of every original show on the WWE Network that I like and then my two favorites at the end. I’m sure there’s something in here you haven’t seen or at least not seen in a long time.
Edge And Christian Show
Wild and crazy antics, inside/meta jokes (including TNA references and teaching the Shockmaster how to properly break through a wall), a fun trivia game and offbeat shenanigans (OFFBEAT SHENANIGANS RULE!), this is exactly what you would think of when you think of Edge and Christian having their own show. It takes a little time to get used to but once they hit their stride, it’s pure greatness.
Legends With JBL
I know this doesn’t sound like much but this is actually one of the better interview shows on the Network. Above all else, it has one of the best lineups of guests you’ll ever see, including names like Sting, Madusa and Bruno Sammartino. That last one alone should bring you in, but JBL is actually quite a solid interviewer and goes into some interesting areas. Sammartino’s episode alone is worth watching and again, it’s a shame that the show was canceled. It couldn’t have been that hard to produce, but why have a good show when you can have a less good one?Original Specials
I think you get the idea here. This is one of the most diverse sections of the Network because it has a little bit of everything. As is so often the case, the quality can go up and down but sweet goodness there are all kinds of things to be seen in here. I’m sure you can find something in here to entertain you, because there really is that much to pick from around here. This may be cheating, but there’s all kinds of stuff on there and that’s a great thing to see.
Beyond The Ring
This isn’t quite a show but rather a collection. You know all those documentaries that WWE puts out on DVD? Well here are the majority of them without the match selection (which you can probably find on the Network on their own) and since it’s something WWE actually invests some time into, they range from pretty good to outstanding. Just pick something you like and you’ll have a great time.
Why this show didn’t continue is beyond me as it sounds like something that could have gone on for years. It’s exactly what the name suggests: a top ten list on any given topic with various wrestlers talking about the topic at hand. This could be anything from Best Big Men to Wrestling Romances to Greatest Villains. You could go on forever with that but for some reason they stopped making new episodes right around the time the Network debuted. They’re still great for background noise, even if some of the choices are a little strange.
This one may be a little dated (ok a lot dated by this point) but it worked well while it lasted. It’s a documentary series looking at a variety of people on the NXT roster, showing their journey up to the ultimate goal of the main roster. There are several different kinds of performers featured, from top stars to midcarders to rookies. You see a lot of behind the scenes material and look at just how far people in NXT come from their debuts to the top of the promotion. I could go for a second season.Rivalries
Much like Countdown, you could have run with something like this for a long time. Each episode is a retrospective on a given feud, often with interviews from the people involved. You get match clips, promos, and people talking about how important the feud was both at the time and going forward. Again, why did this not keep going for months if not years on end?
This is a show that mixes things up a little. Wrestlers spend a lot of time on the road and that allows them to see a lot of interesting, strange and at times just funny things. They’re creatures of habit by definition and when something happens that is a little out of wack, it’s worth talking about. That’s what you get here, albeit in animated form with the wrestlers telling the stories and Gene Okerlund narrating. The animation probably explains why it takes so long to get new episodes out but what you get is a lot of fun that can only come from something as off the wall as wrestling stories.WrestleMania Rewind
I might be cheating a bit on here as there is a wrestling match in the end, but there’s more to it than that. This is a series that was around at the beginning of the Network Era but then fell off to the side. Each episode looks at a specific match and, much like Rivalries, shows a mini documentary of what led up to the match, with the match itself airing at the end. I know I’ve said this a lot but this one really could have gone on for a long time, with spinoffs of a ton of pay per views. Or just call it WWE Rewind and open up the floodgates to all kinds of matches. Another good concept that wasn’t used enough.
Formerly Known As
This is part of the WWE Shorts Collection and one of my favorite things that WWE puts together. It’s a mini documentary on a given wrestler (Matt Hardy, Ruby Riott, Luke Harper, the Hardys and Bayley have all had episodes) and shows their time in the independent scene as they rose up to the WWE roster. The show also goes to their old stomping grounds, often going into the buildings where they spent the earliest days of their career. It’s a really fun show and I look forward to the new ones.Legends Of Wrestling
Now this is the show that needs to come back. It’s a round table discussion about all kinds of things with an expert panel (including some major names and people who were right there given whatever was being talked about) on topics such as Wrestling Families, Canadian Wrestling, Texas Wrestling, the 1970s and all kinds of other things. For the life of me I don’t get why this wasn’t done more often as it’s not like it’s something that would take much effort to put together. There are some gems in there though and each episode is worth seeing.
If there’s one thing that WWE knows how to do, it’s make a good documentary and this might be their best series. This is a beyond the scenes look at various topics, which often includes a specific show (WrestleMania, the post WrestleMania Monday Night Raw etc) or a specific wrestler (Goldberg, AJ Styles, Roman Reigns) and looks at everything they’ve been doing to get ready for some kind of an event. These are just well done and draw you in well, mainly built around interviews on the main focus. These are great and the topic doesn’t even matter, which is the sign of something special.Dang the WWE Network is awesome.
That’s all for now so until next week,
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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