Kevin Smith, the writer, actor, director, author (and non-invited guest to Friday Night Smackdown after his AEW appearance), hosts podcasts and discussions on various social media platforms. I’m a fan of his movies and have read his lengthy book/diary My Boring-Ass Life. I mention him here because he recorded a reaction/review video after watching Avengers Endgame in which he discusses the high standard of writing by the Russo brothers and colleagues for the latest Marvel installment that broke box office records. Spoiler alert – if you’re one of the few yet to see Avengers Endgame and don’t know the ending, skip a paragraph. If you’re up to speed or don’t care, read on.
Towards the end of the review, Kevin Smith discusses how the writers had metaphorically ‘painted themselves into a corner‘ by having Captain America be the sole survivor in the final battle against Thanos and his massive army. The quality of the writing and the structure of the story made it that they could get themselves out of this dilemma by a literal snap of fingers – or gauntlet. Basically the quality of the writing and the groundwork that had been put in place before led to a high-tension scene where the heroes were able to be victorious all through one action that was both believable and in keeping with what had gone before.
I mention this because I’ve read several opinions on the current Seth Rollins vs. The Fiend feud in WWE now that many are saying is in danger of failing due to WWE painting themselves into a corner. The feud itself seems fine, but there are several aspects that don’t sit well with many fans and are cause for concern – mainly because the endgame for this pair doesn’t look so rosy.
Too Much Too Soon – Discounting Bayley’s new persona, The Fiend is the newest ‘character’ in WWE right now. He was slowly built up through vignettes of Firefly Fun House that were highlights of WWE TV and introduced us to a creepy new Bray Wyatt who smiled at the camera in a playful manner, but with definite unnerving undertones. His puppets only added more layers to the creepiness. Soon after, we were exposed to The Fiend who proceeded to attack legends in WWE and leave them in a heap while unsettling music whined over the speakers and The Fiend disappeared into the darkness.
Seth Rollins, while this was going on, was capturing the Universal Heavyweight Championship from Brock Lesnar and becoming the #1 guy on Raw. I think we all had an inkling that his and The Fiend’s paths may cross at some point, but is this too soon? The Fiend has leaped up the card and right into the title picture without facing hardly anyone on the roster. Though The Fiend may be a popular character, he’s quickly been thrust into the limelight, perhaps too quickly?
The Title Is a Problem – The key issue for me with this feud is the Universal Heavyweight Title. If Seth Rollins did not hold the belt and was not in the title picture, then this feud could play out much better. The wins and losses wouldn’t matter all that much – even if they had gimmick matches such as Hell in a Cell (more on that later) or Last Man Standing. Both of those matches give you an ‘out’ when booking them. The rules can be skewed in favor of the winner such as restricting your opponent in a cell to allow you to escape (rope, handcuffs etc.) and Last Man Standing can build to improvising a finish to keep your opponent down – like a pile of chairs, an announcer’s desk or even a forklift truck – either finish is kooky and silly, but it doesn’t harm the loser as they’re been deliberately kept down and we can all see what happened.
However, when we throw the Universal Title into the mix, then it complicates matters. Today’s audience may forgive one match in a feud not having the title on the line, but a feud is a series of matches and as a self-proclaimed defending champion, Seth Rollins must defend his title. Here’s the main problem – The Fiend is so fresh and new that WWE can’t have him lose or it’ll stall or even cripple his run. So what do you do? Do you have him lose to Rollins and keep the title on the champion, thereby ruining the push of the Fiend, or do you have the new star capture the gold too – in which case, what then? He’s reached the top of the mountain and the only way is down.
Rushed Booking – From the outset, if WWE wanted to have The Fiend face off against Rollins, then it should’ve been planned better. Granted, hindsight is 20/20 and it’s easy for me to say that now, but WWE should’ve been well aware of this. If you’re going to build this character up and give him a massive stage to perform on, then surely they’d look to early 2020 where The Fiend can be involved in the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania. Would it not have been better to have him work his way up the ladder to reach Rollins? The brief interjection with Finn Balor was fun, but too short. Did they really need to have Rollins next on the hit-list?
The recent Hell in a Cell match is a prime example of this. It’s as if WWE booked the match and then realized they wanted the title to stay on Rollins, but also not bury The Fiend. Instead of backtracking or changing plans, they plowed on ahead and gave us a match with a confusing and terrible finish. I appreciate Seth Rollins’ efforts on social media to try and support the outcome of the match by arguing the finish was the right call, but it was poorly executed from WWE. If they wanted to have Rollins stay as champion, incapacitate The Fiend in some way that clearly shows the audience what happened. WWE has now announced there will be a rematch at the Crown Jewel event and I seriously believe WWE hasn’t learned their lesson in all this. I think we’re going to be treated to another nonsensical ending that’ll only infuriate fans even more.
All that being said, perhaps I’m being too presumptuous and have written off this feud before it’s even ended. I’m forgetting that Paul Heyman will likely have a big say in what goes on and the booking going forward. I doubt he’d allow another finish that’ll irk the fans – especially in a high-profile show abroad. Maybe the scene is set for an outcome that we won’t expect? Perhaps the whole point of the feud is to turn Seth heel and elevate the Fiend? Who knows? Whatever the outcome, whatever the Endgame WWE has planned, it may take a lot more than a snap of the fingers to get out of it.