This has been one of those weeks where there were several stories of interest but I wasn’t sure how many of them could be stretched into a full length column. Therefore, today I’ll be taking a look at a variety of stories in shorter form instead of focusing on one big thing. Some of these stories are obviously bigger than others but each deserves at least a little attention as they all have something to offer.
These are in no particular order.
The story hasn’t been the kindest in the world with Bliss saying that James is too old and James basically saying she has the experience to take Bliss out. Ignoring the fact that James is only thirty seven years old and is in better shape than she’s probably ever been in (while still being a stunning woman), it makes for a simple story that makes you want to see Bliss get what’s coming to her. It’s not a classic or anything resembling one but it’s a story that is always going to work.
Here’s what James thinks of Bliss:
What I find interesting though is how James is treated in so many of her storylines. Over her career in WWE, three of her biggest stories have centered around her either being crazy, overweight (which is still a combination of nonsense and a terrible message to send to younger fans) and now old. What in the world did James do to WWE to be treated like this, even from a storyline perspective? She’s still an incredibly talented performer and makes the stories work, but could we get something a little less harsh on her? Just for a change if nothing else?
Over on the blue side, there’s another story that drives me crazy but in another way. This time it’s Jinder Mahal, who is somehow STILL the Smackdown World Champion as his reign is now at over 140 days. That puts him at the longest reign since Seth Rollins’ reign from back in 2015 and my head continues to spin every single time I see him coming to the ring with the title.
I’ll spare you the standard rant about how horrible he is and how he was nothing more than a comedy jobber who somehow came back to WWE, spent a few months on “Main Event” and then was defeating Randy Orton to become a World Champion as it’s been covered to death. There are other problems with his reign itself, which are actually far more damaging to the show and title themselves than just Mahal’s background. They’re fixable, though I really don’t see the big one changing anytime soon.
Above all else, Mahal is one of the most average wrestlers in history. On the best day of his career, he’s a step above average and unfortunately that’s what we see from him far more often than anything else. Mahal wrestles the same match over and over again and that gets very tiresome to watch. He’ll wrestle a generic match, get in trouble, have the Singh Brothers bail him out of trouble, have the Singh Brothers be neutralized, then find some way to hit one of the worst finishers of all time to keep the title.
This is probably the high point of Mahal’s reign.
The Khallas needs a little more attention in this actually. I was lucky enough to be in Dallas for “Takeover: Dallas” and got to see Shinsuke Nakamura’s WWE debut. He and Sami Zayn had one of the hardest hitting battles you’ll ever see inside a WWE ring. They beat the heck out of each other for twenty minutes with neither being able to put the other away until they were pushed to the furthest limits. Now I’m supposed to buy that a missed knee in the corner and a lame cobra clutch slam puts Nakamura down? I’m not buying that no matter how hard WWE pushes it.
Oh and the Shield is back. I went into this for a full column last week but I’ll keep it a little more simple here. Now we know that they’ll be facing Sheamus, Cesaro, Miz and Braun Strowman in a Tables Ladders and Chairs match at the pay per view of the same name. That works as well as anything else and you can pretty much guarantee that Cesaro will take the fall (as he always does) so everything is fine, save for maybe one thing.
I really wasn’t a fan of how Shield actually made their return. Above all else, it felt a bit too manufactured. Shield worked back in the day because they felt like an outside group who was coming in to clean house and played by their own rules. This time it felt like they were as produced as possible, which really didn’t feel like the old days. The moment was still good (save for Michael Cole’s ridiculous “WHO COULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING???” line, as anyone watching the preview for the show knew it was coming) but it could have been slightly better.
What didn’t you see when Shield reunited?
Instead of how they did things, why not have Miz and the Bar running their mouths at the end of the show and then have SIERRA, HOTEL, INDIA, ECHO, LIMA, DELTA hit? It lets the crowd be built up to the point where they’re dying to see the guys come back and makes it feel a lot more like the old days. Now it feels like three guys playing a team instead of being a team, even with that snappy new shirt of theirs. Still good, but not as good as it could have been.
Back to the blue show, we have the coming together of two of the biggest enemies in modern WWE to form what could be the best evil team in a long time. Over the weekend, Sami Zayn saved Kevin Owens from Shane McMahon’s elbow from the top of the Cell, turning his back on what he had stood by for his entire WWE run to date. Now this is something I can work with.
Two nights later on “Smackdown Live”, Zayn explained his actions by saying he was tired of seeing Owens do all of those evil things to great success while he stood on the good side and never won a thing. Therefore, he’s decided to switch his allegiance and that could open up a ton of doors for him in the very near future.
I’m a big fan of this idea as Zayn had absolutely nothing going on for him since he came over to “Smackdown Live” and you could argue that has been the case in the roughly year and a half he’s been on the main roster. This is instantly the biggest story he has and if this past week was any indication, he’s going to knock the heel character out of the water. This has a ton of potential and I’m really curious to see where things go.
The big explanation.
Speaking of potential, there’s another story going around that I really hope isn’t true. Apparently Neville wants out of WWE and walked out of this week’s “Monday Night Raw”. The story seems to go that he was supposed to face Cruiserweight Champion Enzo Amore in a non-title match. As you saw, Kalisto faced Amore instead and won the title.
In theory (and I emphasize that word as the details haven’t come out yet), Neville wasn’t happy with being stuck in the cruiserweight division after dominating the thing for months on end. There was no word on him potentially heading back up to the main roster to compete against the heavyweights and since he wasn’t allowed to challenge Amore for the title, there wasn’t much of path forward for him.
If this is the case, I can’t really say I blame Neville. To begin with, Amore was brought into the division with the basic message of “You guys didn’t do anything for a year so here’s this guy who people actually care for. Thanks for nothing for all that work you put in, because now it’s ALL about Amore.” I can agree with the idea that the cruiserweight division wasn’t working, but Neville looked like a STAR in that thing. If not for Strowman, he would be running away with the Most Improved Wrestler of the Year Award as he’s nailed the entire heel character.
Instead of a reward for the last nine months though, he gets to deal with Amore, who is widely considered to be one of the worst in-ring performers on the roster at the moment. Why he can’t be moved back to the main roster with a slightly altered weight (Just say he’s put on muscle and now weighs 206lbs. It’s not like they have to be honest with the weights.) isn’t clear, but I don’t think I’d be happy with doing so much good work (which it was) and then being sent even lower on the card for Amore’s sake. It’s just a big mess all around and hopefully it’s cleaned up soon.
Hopefully this isn’t it for Neville.
There’s a lot going on in WWE at the moment, but at the end of the day they need to capitalize on some of that potential. WWE has a very bad habit of just wasting whatever they have going on, which really doesn’t give me a ton of confidence. While the World Title scene might not be the most interesting at the moment (given that one of them is barely ever around), there’s other stuff that can grab your attention if you just give it the time.
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