Happy Friday TJR Faithful. I’ve been away for a little while due to a busy work schedule, but a lot has happened since I’ve been gone. Summerslam added an extra hour, John Cena broke his nose on live TV, Hulk Hogan was wiped from existence on WWE.com, The Undertaker returned and he an Brock Lesnar are going fight. With all the aforementioned things going on right now, there should be no shortage of exciting topics to cover… so why am I not compelled to talk about any of it?
This week has been my first off in a while and I was excited to get back to writing about the WWE, but simply couldn’t find anything I felt inspired to write about. I could have written about Hulk Hogan, but that’s been covered by many others more eloquently that I ever could. I could have talked about race within the WWE in light of Hogan’s comments, but I’ve already covered the topic of race in the WWE before. I could have talked about any of the current feuds happening on TV, or the direction things seem to be heading in going into August, but nothing spoke to me and compelled me to start writing.
Maybe it’s just that my frame of mind has changed when watching WWE programming because of how busy I’ve been with work, but nothing that is happening right now has me fired up in the least.
I’ve made it quite clear that I’m not the target audience for The Undertaker or his feud with Brock Lesnar. That’s not a problem though. Not everything is geared towards my sensibilities and I understand that. However, with an emphasis on that rivalry heading into Summerslam, that’s large portions of the show that I simply don’t dig.
Now usually that’s not a big deal. There’s aways a feud or two that I don’t exactly care for, but for the most part the rest of the show picks up the slack for me. Unfortunately, I can’t say that’s been true for the last few weeks. I’m not looking forward to anything coming up at Summerslam, because the WWE has done nothing to make me excited about what’s happening next in any feud.
John Cena vs. Seth Rollins should produce some a great match, but to say that I’m looking forward to watching these two spar with one another verbally is a stretch. They’re both good on the mic, but often rely heavily on cliches and longwinded ranting. It may be worse than even I’m thinking because of Cena’s recent surgery, which will leave it up to Rollins to sell the rivalry on his own for a while. Sure the match is (fighting) Champion vs. (cowardly) Champion, and on paper that should be enough to make it interesting. It’s just that something isn’t clicking narratively for me, and if Cena has to miss time, they won’t be able to lay the proper narrative ground work for the story to hit on all cylinders. Also, putting Cena in these situations where he’s battling against The Authority always ring hollow to me as a story.
Then there’s the Divas division with the infusion of NXT talent. I love Becky, Charlotte and especially Sasha (my favourite). That being said, from a storytelling perspective I’m not exactly digging the whole Divas Revolution. I love it as a concept and progression of how women wrestlers are viewed within the WWE, but the ideas of these three 3 women teams isn’t doing it for me. It’s hard to keep track of why these 3 factions exist other than the fact that Stephanie willed them into existence, which was a dubious decision by the WWE from the jump. I’m loving the wrestling though. The fact that their rivalry isn’t like high school BS is a start I guess.
Moving on from women that wrestle like they actually want to hurt each other, to a rivalry I have no desire to see: Rusev/Summer vs. Lana/Ziggler. I couldn’t care less about Lana and Summer Rae having cat fights, especially when girls like Sasha and Charlotte are have spectacular matches on a regular basis. Dolph vs Rusev will be a solid match, but the only truly fascinating thing about this rivalry over the last few weeks has been the ever increasing likelihood that we will sooner or later get “Dancing Rusev” (#DancingRusev) and my prophecy will be fulfilled.
Then you have Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt. They seem to be adding in Ambrose and Luke Harper to the mix, although there was zero interaction between the two sides this week as Dean was busy having a match with Big Show with Miz on commentary (fun fact: all three of those guys are in WWE Films this year and there was no mention of it during the segment) and Roman didn’t even appear on Raw or Smackdown.
I might care more if Bray Wyatt was more than smoke and mirrors. He’s a toothless monster, and that perception goes beyond the simplistic metric of wins and losses. There’s nothing to him. He doesn’t have any plans, or plots. He’s a rambling backwoods preacher with no real aspirations or power. Maybe that’s the point of the character (which would be lame). Maybe this will be the feud where they finally give him some teeth, and show that he does have schemes tucked away in his twisted mind, and that win or lose he changes the lives of everyone he fights for better or for worse, but I anticipate this feud will be as inconsequential as the last.
Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens will be a phenomenal match. The storytelling leading up to the match… will likely be uninspired. That’s the key word here: uninspired. Almost nothing that is happening on WWE TV feels like it has any life. It’s either bitter senior citizens brawling in an futile attempt to regain their youth, or men sleepwalking their way through the tired motions until they get to the point where they can put on a kick ass match.
You want to know why I absolutely love The New Day? It’s because they look like they’re having fun. They’re engaged with what they are doing. They understand who their characters are and what those characters would do in any given situation. Their shtick is fresh. Their antics feel fresh. Their enthusiasm is fresh. Everything about them feels like they and the writers behind it are trying. Do I agree with every decision that has been made regarding their team? Absolutely not. Does the fact that it looks like they are trying different things help mitigate those decisions? Hell yeah. The difference between being inspired and uninspired is as simple as that.
The WWE is mirroring Hollywood right now, where the only things emphasized are franchises with previous brand recognition and remakes of stuff that’s recognizable. There’s no more creativity. Everything is sequels and remakes and reboots. On one hand it makes me appreciate The New Day and the Neville/Stardust stuff, because at least that stuff feels original and fun. I will repeat: The WWE’s roster has never been better from a talent perspective. Every match rumoured/specualted on for Summerslam will deliver in the ring, but creatively the storytelling is worse than I’ve ever recalled it being. At the end of the day, I’m a story guy, so it bums me out a little.
I won’t always agree with what is happening or the decisions being made, but I want to feel optimistic that every week I’m going to see them try to do something cool, or fun, or fresh. If every feud left me anticipating where it’ll go or what will happen next, I would be a happy man. I want them to take more chances, tell different stories and give fresh perspectives a shot to shine. Unfortunately right now I’d fast forward to the PPVs if I could, because they storytelling in-between is spotty and uninspired at best. They still have time, and hopefully it changes for the better in the next few weeks. Obviously I’ll be watching.
As always I want to know what you think. Sell me on these Summerslam feuds! Tell me that there’s some great story to be told that I’m just not seeing! Give me an angle to get excited about! Maybe it’s just the interaction and discussion with the TJR Faithful that I’m missing!
Until next time folks (where I’ll likely be doing a new A Matter Of Character, because I miss that column) I’m Matty J. Douglas saying have a great weekend and watch Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp! Should be a super fun watch.