Giving WWE Praise Where It’s Due: Seth Rollins, Kofi Kingston and Bayley – by Mike Sanchez

I hold my hand up as one of the many WWE fans who have penned criticism about the product and picked holes in their storytelling, characters and feuds. WWE isn’t doing everything right and it does grate with a lot of fans who bemoan the company purely because we like WWE, their talent and want to see them do well. Though some criticism is warranted, it would be unfair to continually take pot shots at WWE and the wrestlers. Sometimes they do something right. Sometimes they do a lot right, and recently there have been a lot of positives and I feel it’s only right to highlight them here.

The WWE booking is a contentious issue among the fan base and while there are legitimate gripes about the handling of Braun Strowman, the whole Money in the Bank scenario and many others, WWE has been doing some good booking of late. For example, four current WWE champions have been booked very well since their title wins.

Seth Rollins blasts Elias with a steel chair: Raw, June 17, 2019

Seth Rollins – Rollins achieved what many would perceive as impossible by defeating the Beast, Brock Lesnar, at Wrestlemania to become the Universal Champion for the first time. There were whispers that Brock pushed the idea of losing to Rollins to the office, but true or not, anyone who saw that match can’t say the win wasn’t booked excellently. Brock didn’t come out of the loss bad at all, and Rollins only looked stronger for his victory. The manner of the win was decisive and since that moment, Rollins hasn’t looked back. The booking I’ve noticed and really like, is that Rollins gives the impression of standing alone atop the mountain, ready for any and all challengers. The Shield is no more and with Roman Reigns over on Smackdown Live (depending on the wildcard rule), Rollins must stand on his own two feet, knowing there won’t be anyone rushing out from the locker room to save him.

The ongoing tease that Brock Lesnar could cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase to take back the title is always in the background for Rollins, but at the moment he’s focused on evening whatever odds are stacked against him. I love his current bit of threatening the locker room if they agree to be the referee in his upcoming match against Baron Corbin at Stomping Grounds. The Universal Champion (or WWE Champion) should be at the pinnacle and be feared among his peers. They should all recognize him as the top dog and not dare to cross him. I like where this is going and the passion and drive Seth Rollins has shown recently only brings another dimension to his character.

Alexa Bliss slaps Bayley on “A Moment of Bliss”: SmackDown LIVE, June 18, 2019

Bayley – Though not as passionate or physically involved as Seth Rollins, Bayley has carried her WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship well. She’s carried herself like a champ, called out her challengers and isn’t afraid to confront those who bad-mouth her. Bayley’s foil at the moment for her current story is the wonderful Alexa Bliss. Bliss is one of those WWE stars who has equally good in-ring and mic skills. She is a popular wrestler who always gives the impression of a never-say-die competitor. She would be a great face if she wasn’t such a good heel. I do agree that Bayley’s best work in WWE was while at NXT where she had that epic feud with Sasha Banks that culminated in one of my favorite matches, main eventing an NXT Takeover in New York.

That being said, it doesn’t mean Bayley hasn’t been successful on the main roster. She’s won both versions of the WWE Women’s Championship and was one half of the inaugural (in this era, anyway) Women’s Tag Team Champions. Before that Tag Team win, Bayley was in the shadows, pushed out of the limelight by Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey. With that three-way dance now out of the way, WWE has pushed Bayley once more to shine on her own. I don’t think the happy, hugger gimmick is going to be a long-term success for her, but the babyface, fighting champion certainly is. Her involvement with Alexa Bliss will hopefully propel her forward as a long-time champion and not the ‘placeholder’ Bliss called her this week.

Kofi Kingston promises to never quit: SmackDown LIVE, June 4, 2019

Kofi Kingston – I’ll fully admit that I didn’t think Kofi would be WWE Champion this long. His win at Wrestlemania was fantastic, and the journey he went on prior to the biggest show of the year was very well told and had a lot of fans rooting for him. Once the fireworks had died down and the new ‘season’ of WWE kicked off, I fully expected him to drop the title within a month to have normal service resumed. Just like Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins’ run with the Raw Tag Team Titles, I thought Kofi’s run would be curtailed quickly and Kevin Owens, AJ Styles or Roman Reigns would have the gold by the end of the first PPV after WrestleMania.

How happy I am to be wrong. Kingston has been booked as a credible, tough, unflinching champion – and they deserve credit for that. It would’ve been really easy to have him continue as champion by using Big E and Xavier Woods as his protectors at all times, costing his opponents the match by interfering, but they haven’t. It would’ve been really easy to have jealousy creep into the New Day and fracture the solid team by having E or Woods declare Kofi as unfit to be champion and challenge him for the gold. But they didn’t. WWE has stuck to their guns and pushed both the New Day and Kofi Kingston, who has won every match since becoming WWE Champion.

The fresh face as champion has also given the opportunity to other talents to face off against Kingston. Dolph Ziggler, forever on the periphery of the main event since his unlucky run as champion some years ago, has tried to once again reinvent himself as a heel and challenge Kofi for something he himself had to surrender rather than be beaten for. (Yes, I know the belt was different, but the same thinking applies). Ziggler isn’t to everyone’s taste, but it does keep a feud going for Kofi heading into Stomping Grounds.

I didn’t even get around to mentioning the always awesome Becky Lynch who since being freed of carrying the whole Women’s Division herself, has been involved in a very fresh feud with Lacey Evans. I like the direction they’re going with this and having Evans involved with the dominant Lynch for the past few weeks will certainly help to build up her character on-screen.

So what do you think? Do WWE deserve credit for their positive booking of Seth Rollins, Kofi Kingston and more, or do you think more needs to be done? Is it too early to involve Lacey Evans in the title picture, or does Becky Lynch need new people to feud with? I’d love to hear your thoughts. As always, thanks for reading.