Every week as I consider what to write in this column I am always concerned with whether there will be enough breaking news in the WWE to fill up a column. Clearly, that’s not the case this week, as I will likely not be able to use all of the available material I have at my disposal. That said, the fallout from the Super ShowDown in Saudi Arabia has created a tidal-wave of news. For everyone clamoring for WWE content today, I decided to push up the release of this column. So lets get to it:
In this space a week ago I opined that the WWE was limited with the character development when it came to The Fiend. “…I have previously taken the position that WWE is boxed in with The Fiend’s character. There is no backstory to The Fiend and his gimmick will likely run it’s course in a few months. The most interesting part of this issue is how WWE intends to book The Fiend once he drops the title. The likely answer is the same way WWE booked Bray Wyatt’s original character after he dropped the WWE belt a few years back.“
I don’t get to claim I’m prescient very often, so pardon me while I take a bow. In all seriousness, the WWE has to figure out how to book The Fiend. I believe his gimmick is one-dimensional. This character would have worked well in the 1970s and 1980s where the audience wasn’t concerned with the backstory of individual wrestling talent. But in today’s WWE it’s expected for wrestling talent to engage on social media and engage the audience. If I was booking talent at WWE, here’s how I would handle the fiend:
- Drop the Bray Wyatt character and ride with The Fiend most of the time. The Firefly Fun House seems to repeat the same narratives for each opponent of The Fiend.
- Give The Fiend a backstory that’s people can relate to. In some ways The Fiend’s backstory should mirror The Joker character from Batman. This might help him connect better with those folks who currently aren’t on board with the character. The canvas is empty WWE. Real life issues such as bullying or family tragedy can easily be incorporated into his backstory.
- Embrace the weakness of his character by having him appear on SmackDown next week to discuss the demons he’s been dealing with.
- The Fiend should have his own social media accounts to build a better connection with the WWE Universe.
The Super ShowDown PPV was an unmitigated disaster for the WWE. Other than a few matches, the end product of the PPV was uninspiring. That was the feeling by many WWE fans and commentators going into Super ShowDown, and very little was done on the positive side to change that narrative. The crowd was dead for most of the event and some of the booking decisions really left me scratching my head. Here are my thoughts:
- Why bring talent like Roode and Mysterio to the event if their only role in the show is outside of the ring?
- The ending of the Gauntlet match was awful. In fact, the entire match was a joke. I don’t take R-Truth seriously as a wrestler, given how he has spent the last year in comedy bits.
- AJ Styles getting stomped on by The Undertaker was hardly believable.
- Reigns vs Corbin for the 5th PPV in a row, really?
- Aside from the main event, the only noteworthy matches were The Street Profits vs Murphy & Rollins and Miz & Morrison vs The New Day. Congrats to Miz and Morrison for winning the SmackDown Tag Team title belts.
- The Brock Lesnar beat-down of Ricochet was predicted and only added to the bad taste left in my mouth by the end of the PPV. For a guy who wrestles 4-6 times a year, WWE shouldn’t really have much trouble booking him in feuds that matter. If that’s too much of an issue, then maybe he shouldn’t be the face of RAW and WWE. As an aside, I think it took me more time to write this bullet point than the actual length of their match.
- Bayley and Naomi made history as the first women’s championship match in Saudi Arabia. I didn’t see the match as special in any way. The match was similar to anything you might come across on a random Friday night on SmackDown.
- Garza & Carrillo have great chemistry in the ring. They are enjoyable to watch. In fact, Garza does a better job of playing an arrogant heel than Andrade.
There was one other item related to Super ShowDown that struck me as interesting and slightly ironic:
So where does the fallout from Super ShowDown leave WWE as it relates to Wrestlemania 36? The matches that are already booked and rumored to be booked for Wrestlemania are compelling. In spite of the BS that went down on Thursday this has the potential to be a great card. No doubt there is a lot riding on returning stars from yesteryear. But until Vince McMahon learns otherwise, part of the charm of Wrestlemania is the nostalgia trip involving past eras returning for one-off matches.
- Randy Orton vs Edge
- The Man vs Shayna Baszler (Raw Title)
- Drew McIntyre vs Brock Lesnar (WWE Title) with Paul Heyman
- Charlotte vs Rhea Ripley (NXT Title)
- Undertaker vs AJ Styles (not announced)
- Kevin Owens vs Seth Rollins (not announced)
- Goldberg vs Roman Reigns (Universal Title-not announced)
- John Cena vs The Fiend (not announced)
- Kabuki Warriors vs Natalya & Beth Phoenix (not announced)
- Mens and Womens Andre the Giant Battle Royal
I am interested to see how WWE chooses to use John Cena at Wrestlemania. Conventional wisdom points to a match between The Fiend and John Cena. I see that as problematic. Cena has certainly put over his share of talent in the last few years. During previous encore performances in WWE, Cena has lost to Lesnar, Reigns, Undertaker and Bray Wyatt. But a match between The Fiend and Cena could be problematic for WWE. Cena is not quite at the stage of his career where his only value to WWE is doing the job for existing talent or up and comers. As for The Fiend, another loss won’t help him as he seeks to recover from his loss to Goldberg at Super Showdown.
The rumor for Wrestlemania is that Beth Phoenix and her bestest buddy Natalya are going to take on the Kabuki Warriors for the Women’s SmackDown tag team title at Wrestlemania 36. I haven’t noticed a clamoring for the return of the Glamazon, but its Wrestlemania season. Phoenix does a solid job on NXT broadcasts and her husband (Edge) will be taking on Randy Orton at Wrestlemania. So why not make it a family affair?
CM Punk discussed the possibility of returning to the ring with AEW while he continues his gig with WWE Backstage on Fox. Punk pretty much threw cold water on that possibility, and he’s 100% correct in how WWE and Fox would view the matter. I’m of the mind that Punk will return to WWE in a way similar to how Edge, Goldberg & Undertaker are used. The money is likely too much of an incentive to turn down the opportunity.
This is best thing I’ve read on Twitter all week. KO is donating his proceeds from his new T-shirt (available on WWEshop.com) to mental health awareness charities in the US & Canada.
KO is one of the most compelling character’s in today’s WWE. His recent turn from a heel to a face has only focused more attention on the talent he possesses, both in the ring and as a personality. Only the biggest stars in WWE can portray who they really are and pull it off. The list is short: John Cena, Daniel Bryan and maybe Becky Lynch. I think KO is in line for a title shot and maybe a run with the belt sometime in 2020. Well done KO.
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