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.
From Aeon Mathix
1. Why is Finn Balor not on 205 Live?
For some reason this is a question that gets asked time after time and no one really has an answer. Balor is billed at around 190lbs and for some reason that doesn’t qualify him to be on the cruiserweight show, which has a 205lb weight limit. For reasons that still aren’t entirely clear, Balor is a mainstay on Monday Night Raw and has seemingly never even been considered for the cruiserweight division. That doesn’t make sense, but then again, that’s partially why it fits with WWE.
This is a little better than what you get today.To begin with, there’s the whole idea of having a cruiserweight division in 2018. Back in the 1990s, the cruiserweights were this newfound force in mainstream wrestling. With names like Rey Mysterio Jr., Juventud Guerrera, Psychosis, Billy Kidman and several others, WCW’s cruiserweight division brought what had once been a very niche product to the mainstream. The division was a smash hit and played a role in WCW’s dominance over the WWF in the Monday Night Wars.
Long gone were the days of the junior heavyweight divisions where wrestlers who happened to be a little smaller wrestled the exact same kind of match that their heavyweight counterparts wrestled. Now these wrestlers were doing things that no one had ever seen before under the cool sounding name of cruiserweight. They were flying all over the place, doing one cool thing after another and turned their matches into games of “can you top this?” It was some of the most entertaining wrestling you could find anywhere and the talent that was available was some of the best of all time.
These wrestlers were incredibly influential and spawned a new generation of high flying wrestlers. The problem though was very simple: why should these very talented stars be stuck lower down on the card when they could clearly wrestle against the heavyweights with no real downside? In short, there was no reason why they couldn’t and the smaller wrestlers started to become some of the most successful wrestlers, with names like Eddie Guerrero, Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio, all former cruiserweight stars, becoming World Champions in the heavyweight divisions.
This was quite the moment.That presents the problem with a cruiserweight division in modern times. You really can’t put the genie back in the bottle as fans know that people like Mysterio can hang with anyone bigger than him and even win on a level playing field. Why in the world does he need to hang down with people who are just his size? Mysterio has succeeded against everyone but now he has to wrestle with the smaller people?
The other problem is in the presentation of the cruiserweights. Just putting the name cruiserweights (or any weight class really) on a division makes it seem less important. It’s locking them down into a division that no one believes is as important, which is reinforced by the way the division is presented. Look at 205 Live at the moment. They barely ever make a pay per view (they have yet to make the main show of any pay per view this year) and they’re never mentioned on the main roster shows. It’s like being a second class wrestler, and that’s hardly something that people would want to do.
The same is true for Balor. He’s a former Universal Champion who has pinned names like Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns clean. Why would anyone believe that Tony Nese and Brian Kendrick are going to be threats to him? He would have some of the best matches on the show, but it’s WAY too much of a stretch to think that Balor would be in any real danger on 205 Live. The same is true of any top level wrestler, regardless of their size. It’s the reason why there’s no point in having a cruiserweight division anymore and I’m really not sure why WWE brought it back in the first place.
Does this look like something that belongs on 205 Live?So, in short: it’s because he’s too good for 205 Live and everyone knows it. Also because the cruiserweight division isn’t meant to be anything more than a place to put people who aren’t interesting enough for the main roster (for the most part) and there was never any serious intention of turning the show into something that mattered. I don’t see that changing anytime soon and really, that’s for the best. 205 Live doesn’t exist to do much of anything besides give WWE more content and while it does that job, its next to non-existent importance is going to keep Balor away for a very long time.
2. How close have the last two months of Raw come to being as bad as the last days of WCW?
Oh….about as far as Roman Reigns is from being well liked.
The last few months of Monday Night Raw have not been good. Like REALLY not good. The wrestling has been acceptable but the booking decisions are illogical, the storytelling makes little sense, there’s not much worth fighting over with the lack of a World Champion and the Intercontinental Title is passed around between good names and bad names (like Dolph Ziggler, who is quite bad).
But to really compare this to Monday Nitro’s last few months is really not going to work. Above all else, there’s the chance that Monday Night Raw could get better. That’s the big difference: there was no hope for Monday Nitro, as it had suffered far too much damage and it wasn’t going to get any better. Things actually improved a bit in the last few months, to the point where the show was actually getting a little better. Maybe that was due to everyone giving up and just having a good time but it did indeed get a little better.
We’re not quite here yet.What people might not remember though is just how bad WCW got in their last fifteen months (or say from the start of 2000 until their demise at the end of March 2001). The World Title changed hands seven times in January 2000 ALONE. Just think about that for a second. I know it’s been bad without having Lesnar around, but imagine the title changing hands multiple times in a single show. You literally wait an hour and the title would change hands again. That’s not good writing. That’s pure chaos.
At the end of the day, as bad as Monday Night Raw may be at times, you can still tell what their big story is supposed to be. You know where things are going and there’s still a big goal out there (to dethrone Brock Lesnar, whenever you have the chance). There are some personal issues and, for the most part at least, things aren’t jumping all over the place from one insane idea to another.
Those things alone make it better than the last days of WCW, but there’s more to it than that. Going back to the idea of a hope that things can get better, there’s a crazy amount of talent on the roster who could turn things around for WWE. Look at names like Drew McIntyre, Rollins, Braun Strowman, Balor and several others down in NXT. Those people either already are or could be top stars one day. That means there’s a chance that things could get better down the line.
It helps when this is the future.Over on Monday Nitro, it was still people like Sid, Kevin Nash, Jeff Jarrett, Scott Steiner, and all of the other good old boys who had been dominating the show for a long time without drawing much interest (or money for that matter) from the fans who were all turning their backs on the promotion. The company was rapidly dying and that’s just not the case for WWE. They’re not exactly entertaining right now, but they’re far from on their last legs. Monday Night Raw is really boring at the moment and there’s a lot of dumb stuff being done, but they’re in another universe compared to what Monday Nitro was doing at the end.
3. Do you even see the WWE bringing back the Women`s Tag Team Titles? If so how do you see them doing it? Who do you see as the first title holders?
Now this is a bit more my style. Back in the 1980s, these titles actually did exist and were even featured on the first ever Royal Rumble in a heck of a 2/3 falls match between the Jumping Bomb Angels (I love names that don’t translate all that well) and the Glamour Girls. These teams dominated the titles for long stretches, with multiple title changes between the two teams. The titles were abandoned in 1989 due to what should be pretty obvious reasons.
This can work.Things are a lot different for women’s wrestling now, to the point where it actually matters. The women’s division just didn’t have the depth or the focus to be important back in the day and that would be the case for several years to come. We’re now in a new era though, thanks to the power of the Women’s Revolution. However, it’s hard to say what that is going to mean long term.
At the moment, there are two Women’s Title in WWE, plus the NXT Women’s Title as a bonus. There is enough talent on both shows to warrant having both titles around, but beyond that….I’m not so sure. It’s the difference between having a deep roster and having a bunch of people on that roster. Those are two different things and I’m not sure if WWE is ready to have another set of titles running around.
I’m just not sure I see the point. There aren’t exactly many tag teams in the divisions in the first place. Really you have the Iconics and then Bayley/Sasha Banks, who have all the stability of a jello mold standing on a house of cards. Otherwise it’s going to be a bunch of thrown together teams and that doesn’t really hold anything. Find a better way to set up a deeper division and maybe this could work, but at the moment there is barely enough talent for the two singles titles, let alone doubling the amount of champions.
We’ve come a long way from this.Overall I get the idea, and while I could easily imagine the titles being brought back (as has been rumored recently), it doesn’t seem like something with much potential or much of a need. The women’s divisions are starting to grow a lot and gain some traction, but having four champions with so few members in each division wouldn’t make sense. If they absolutely have to do them, at least have the titles go on both brands, but WWE would probably think the solution is to have titles for both brands.
From Jordan Bailey
4. Do you think Jeff Hardy Willow version would work in WWE?
This is one that I had to think about for a little bit. In case you’re unfamiliar, the Willow character is Hardy’s insane character who spins a black and white umbrella, screams a lot, and speaks in riddles. He used the character before his time in WWE as well as in Impact Wrestling a few years back. While it seems unlikely to have Willow appear in WWE, it’s not the most insane thing in the world.
How many people (myself included) would have said the same thing about the Broken characters? They’ve worked in WWE….kind of, which is where we get into the discussion here. At the end of the day, the Willow character is very outside the box of what most wrestling characters are. It’s insane, it’s not exactly logical, and it’s something that only works when Hardy himself is coming up with the material.
This is…odd.WWE doesn’t exactly like working that way. They like running everything themselves, or at least having a very large hand in any character that might be seen on television. That would certainly be the case with Willow, just as it likely has been with the Broken characters. That’s where I’m not entirely sure how well the Willow character would work in a company like WWE.
The Woken characters worked, but then they just stopped because WWE moved on to something else. How many times has that been the case with something WWE puts their focus on? It might work for a little while, but eventually WWE is going to get bored with the idea and then it’s just someone (or two people with Bray Wyatt included) running around saying a bunch of nonsense and that doesn’t lead anywhere just makes the characters seem stupid.
You can see how things change.I don’t believe WWE would be able to pull off the Willow character, even with Hardy himself running most of the thing. It might work for a little while, but it’s not a likely long term prospect. WWE would give it an initial push, maybe even picking up a midcard title, but then he would fall down the ladder and have one diminishing return after another. That’s not going to work, but the initial version might be fine enough. So yeah, it could work, just not long term.
5. If Vince weren’t so hands on what the commentators can say, then would Michael Cole be regarded at higher praise than what he gets?
Ah the traditional commentary question. It amazes me how popular of a topic this really is as it’s nowhere near as important as what happens in the ring but I find it fascinating as well, at least in certain ways. If you have a good commentator you can go a long way and, despite what some may think, I find Michael Cole to be a rather good commentator indeed. However, he’s running with an anchor.
The problem though is how produced Cole is. There’s not much you can do when you have Vince McMahon and/or Kevin Dunn screaming into your ear about how you need to do or say this and that over and over. What you hear is much more what McMahon or whoever else is in Cole’s ear want you to hear rather than anything Cole himself might actually be trying to say.
What’s interesting though is how Cole sounds when no one is in his ear. These occasions are pretty rare, but they have been known to happen. While they may be hard to find, Cole was on his own during a commentary track recorded for 1980’s Showdown at Shea with Mick Foley and at the 2002 Global Warning event in Australia with Tazz. These are the shows where you can hear Cole being himself, and the results are actually rather impressive.
Cole down under.
Overall, I don’t actually think Cole would be as highly praised without McMahon in his ear. One of the reasons Cole is so praised is because he can handle everything being pumped into his head at the same time. Imagine trying to talk to someone on the phone while a bunch of other people are talking to you at the same time. Otherwise, Cole would have been a perfectly fine commentator but not quite as big of a deal as he would be in his circumstances.
And Cole cowering.From Liam French
6. Was that the perfect way to put Almas over despite losing? Almas dominated Styles from the opening bell and in my opinion it was only Almas inexperience and AJ’s desperation that caused him to lose.
This is in reference to Andrade Cien Almas losing to AJ Styles in a non-title match on the July 17 episode of SmackDown Live. The match was rather competitive with Almas taking Styles to the limit before finally falling victim to the Calf Crusher. The idea was to give Almas a strong showing in a match he wasn’t going to win, which is hardly a brand new idea in the wrestling business.
Overall though, I did think it was a good idea. Almas is someone that has a ton of potential to put it mildly. He looks great, he has a great working relationship with Zelina Vega, he’s wrestled all over the world and his matches are quite good. When you consider how strong he was pushed down in NXT where he was a heck of an NXT Champion and how hot he was coming in to WWE, this was a nice thing to see indeed.
The match in question.Now yes, Almas did lose but it’s not like he was losing to someone even on his level. Styles has been WWE Champion for over eight months now and he’s one of the top stars in the promotion. Losing a match to him isn’t exactly condemning him to the D list because he lost to someone that much higher on the totem pole. That doesn’t hurt him and it also helps Styles by giving him a clean win where he had to work a bit.
There’s a difference between every kind of loss and this kind of loss. This isn’t the kind of loss where you scratch your head and wonder what just happened. This is the kind of a loss where you gain something from it, which was exactly the point. Almas came into the match hot and left even hotter, as there is now a baseline for what he can do on the main roster. You can’t really prove yourself by being an NXT guy who has beaten Sin Cara a few times. Now that he’s been able to take Styles to the limit, the question is where he can go from here.
Five stars.So yeah, that was a heck of a performance and really could be considered Almas’ SmackDown debut. Sure he had those other few matches but was anyone buying Sin Cara as a real threat to someone this big? Almas is going to be a big deal on the main roster and allowing him to hang with Styles for that long in a very competitive match is a great first step for him.
That’s all for now.
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 28 wrestling books. His latest book is the the Complete 2003 Monday Night Raw Reviews.
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