Allow me to give all of you a sneak peak into my creative process for these Wednesday columns I write every week.
Starting with AEW and NXT on Wednesday night and ending with Raw on Monday night, I make sure to have everything watched before I even sit down at my computer. Sometimes, an event will take place on one of those shows that I will want to write about. Sometimes, those events won’t take place, or at least won’t spark enough of a creative fire within me. When that happens, I’ll browse the internet. I’ll look at news stories that have taken place over the last week. I’ll browse social media for discussions and arguments that are taking place. There is inspiration to be found anywhere and everywhere.
This week was different, though.
By the time I finished my dinner last Wednesday night, I knew what I would be writing about here. Once Chris Jericho and MJF had their segment on Dynamite, I absolutely, positively needed to talk about it. I know that some of you aren’t fans of AEW, so you may not have seen what happened. For those people, take six-and-a-half minutes out of your time to watch this video, and then come back to read the rest of my column.
Now, I don’t know about all of you, but my Twitter timeline and my Facebook feed simply exploded during and after that happened. It has been a long, long time since I’ve seen a single moment in wrestling bring out such strong opinions, on both ends of the scale, immediately. You had people who thought it was fucking brilliant. There were people who thought it was one of the most embarrassing things they’ve ever seen. People were arguing with total strangers right away.
The first thing I thought about when I watched this segment was the November 12th, 2001 episode of Monday Night Raw.
What happened on the November 12th, 2001 episode of Monday Night Raw?
The Hardy Boyz defeated Booker T and Test to win the WWF World Tag Team Titles. Duh.
Something else took place on that special night in Boston, Massachusetts. If you’ve got 16 minutes to kill (trust me, it’s worth your time), go ahead and watch the following video and then come back to read my column. If you don’t have 16 minutes, fast forward the video to the 10:00 mark and watch it from there.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock. Two of the sport’s all-time greats… the go-home show for Survivor Series… the culmination of the Invasion storyline that had been going on for nearly eight months… and they were spending their time singing.
When I watched that live, I remember thinking in my head how surreal the entire thing was. It was like when a blooper makes it into the final cut of a television show or a movie. Austin singing “Delta Dawn” by Tanya Tucker, followed by The Rock singing “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers, and then both men doing a duet version of “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffet is just an absurd fever dream in an alternate reality… that really happened. Do not get it twisted… I was laughing my ass off and enjoying every moment of it. I just couldn’t believe it was happening.
Is that any different than what Jericho and MJF did?
No. No, it is not.
I loved what Austin and Rock did. I loved what Jericho and MJF did.
Pro wrestling is like the ultimate variety show. In a perfect world, every wrestling show you watch is going to feature a little bit of something for everyone to enjoy. Maybe you want some amazing technical wizardry in your wrestling. Perhaps you want some witty repartee on the microphone. High-flying aerial assaults? Sexy women? Hot men? Layered storytelling? Whatever you like, it SHOULD be there for you, no matter what wrestling promotion you enjoy giving your time and/or money to. These two segments merely showcase that. They’re certainly not for everyone, but they’re reaching out to a different fan than something like Keith Lee vs Sheamus would, as an example.
“BuT tHe WhOLe ThiNg WaS riDiCuLoUs AnD aN eMbArAsSmEnT!”
We’re fans of a sport that is dominated by two men lathered in baby oil and rolling around in their underwear. You know the damn stereotypes that wrestling fans have to deal with. You’re going to tell me that Chris Jericho and MJF doing their version of a Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. hit is any more “ridiculous” and “embarrassing” than any of the usual stuff we have to watch? If you believe that, kindly take a long walk off a short pier. It was an epic piece of professional wrestling history, and it’s going to be something we’re talking about for years to come. Isn’t that one of the major goals? Mission accomplished.
One of my major takeaways from Le Dinner Debonair is just how different AEW is from the modern day WWE product. Breaking news, I know, but my point remains. Not only were Jericho and MJF given a level of creative and artistic freedom that WWE Superstars simply do not receive, but AEW management seems to understand what I was saying earlier about wrestling being a variety show. I’ve said it in my columns before when breaking down the “Wednesday Night War,” but while NXT regularly features the better in-ring action every week, AEW is the company giving more types of people what they want. To me, that’s why they win the ratings battle just about every week. They want to reach a wider audience, and they’re doing just that.
Say whatever you want about AEW, but as I’ve talked about in the past, this is a company that should be sponsored by FUBU. They truly are the “for us, by us” promotion. The people in charge are true fans of the sport, and it shows. They seem to approach everything differently than the 2020 Vince McMahon does. No, they aren’t perfect, which I’ll probably want to discuss in a future column, but they’re still trying to give the fans what they want. I’ve seen countless interviews with AEW talent that have talked about how open Tony Khan, Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega, and The Young Bucks are to their ideas and suggestions. Yes, I’ve also seen endless interviews that have said Vince McMahon’s door is always open for talent to come see him about things, but how is that turning out? Either Vince doesn’t want to listen to his talent and the fans, or these talents are coming to him with the dumbest ideas ever.
A key thing to think about is how the current wrestling landscape has been changed dramatically because of COVID-19. If wrestling was still business as usual, with WWE and AEW performing in front of a different arena full of fans every week, do you think we would’ve seen MJF and Jericho singing together? I don’t think so. This is an unprecedented time, to say the least. With everyone having more time to sit around, it allows for your mind to work differently. You start thinking about things more. For the more creative folks, their minds go into overdrive, thinking about how to do this better, start doing that, wanting to incorporate this, etc. I refuse to see this as anything more than people having more time on their hands, and it led to going completely out of the box for one segment. Feel free to come back to me down the road if Chris and Maxwell are singing different tunes together every week, I guess.
I’ve seen way too many people that are upset over the segment. Not just upset, but REALLY upset. Like… unreasonably upset. To make it even worse (better? funnier?) is that a very large percentage of those who were super duper upset aren’t even fans of AEW to begin with. I know, for a fact, that a bunch of them don’t even watch the product at all. Can we stop this, ReaderLand? This current “war” between the fan bases is as dumb as it gets. If you can’t find it within your heart to watch and enjoy all the shows, just stay in your lane and worry about the shows you do like. Way too many “AEW SUX” fans who aren’t even watching AEW. Way too many “NXT SUX” fans who aren’t even watching NXT. What purpose is this serving, folks? If it isn’t your job to watch everything, just watch what makes you happy. If it isn’t WWE, NXT, or AEW, find something else. New Japan is available. Ring Of Honor is out there. Impact Wrestling is doing their thing. There are all sorts of independent promotions still out there trying to show what they’re capable of. There’s YouTube, WWE Network, DVD’s, and so on if you’re incapable of watching anything from the here and now.
Long story still kinda long… relax. Chris Jericho and MJF gave us an entertaining moment in time, and here we are, still talking about it. Take the sticks out of your chocolate starfishes.
Weekly Power Rankings
- Chris Jericho & MJF: Everybody was talking about them.
- Randy Orton: His 14th World Title reign comes at a time when he is doing some of the best work of his career. With John Cena seemingly at the end of his in-ring career, could we see Orton reach 17 World Title reigns, breaking Cena and Ric Flair’s mark of 16? When Cena was getting close to Flair’s mark, I was totally sure that WWE wanted to get him to 17, to cement their on-screen claims that he is the best WWE Superstar of all-time. Maybe it really will end up being Orton, though. Maybe Vince McMahon respects and loves Flair so much that nobody will ever top 16. We’ll have to wait and see. Either way, Orton is on a roll right now.
- Roman Reigns: I don’t know how many other ways I can say this, but I haven’t enjoyed a wrestling character like this current version of Reigns in years. Everything he is doing now comes across as so natural and effortless, and it really makes you question just why Reigns was pushed so hard as a face that the masses simply didn’t accept for so long. Well… you don’t have to question it, because you know why… but still. I am very much looking forward to the build for Reigns vs Orton at Survivor Series, even if the match ultimately means nothing in the grand scheme of things.
- Sasha Banks & Bayley: Greatest women’s wrestling feud of all-time? Greatest women’s wrestling feud of all-time.
- Kenny Omega: My biggest issue with AEW’s first year or so is that Omega wasn’t a main singles focus for the company. I have enjoyed his tag work with Hangman Page, but Omega is a guy that had all the momentum in the world coming off of his series of matches with Kazuchika Okada in New Japan. Mainstream media sites were covering New Japan and calling Omega the best wrestler alive. I’ve been waiting and waiting for him to be truly unleashed in AEW, and maybe… just maybe… we’re on the verge of that with this World Title Eliminator Tournament, with a future World Title shot on the line.
- KUSHIDA: His newfound aggressive streak continues to get him victories, as well as entertaining performances. It looks like he’s going to be in line for title shots soon. He has not had any sort of televised title shots since arriving in NXT a year-and-a-half ago, but times appear to be changing. Good. He deserves it.
- Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan: They’re the new NXT Tag Team Champions. They are now aligned with the most hated man in NXT, Pat McAfee. That’s a pretty big come-up for this talented, but previously underutilized, duo. I love the teaming with McAfee, who can handle the promo work and heat building, while they can simply go out and beat the shit out of people. It’s worth mentioning here, but I hate that it won’t be a full stable with McAfee’s younger brother, Ridge Holland, which could have made things really fun.
- Chad Gable: Dropping that dumb fucking name that he’s been using for the last year automatically means the arrow is pointing up for him. Of course, it’s now up to WWE “Creative” to actually use him properly, so I’m not exactly expecting much. Just let him wrestle. It’s not that difficult. He can be a very successful member of the midcard in that role.
- Alexa Bliss: Can I just take this time to acknowledge how much she is killing it in this new pairing with Bray Wyatt? She has been able to change her character up a ton without making it cheesy, which isn’t easy to do with what she’s having to do. Going back to her days in NXT, she has been able to shine with just about everything she’s done, which is impressive.
- Sheamus: Is it too early to call Sheamus one of the most underrated performers of the last 11 years (since his debut for the WWECW brand)? Sometimes, you tend to forget that he’s a four-time World Champion, a five-time Tag Team Champion (all with Cesaro), a two-time United States Champion, a Royal Rumble winner, a Money In The Bank winner, and a King Of The Ring winner. In those 11 years, he has showed himself to be one of the most consistent performers in WWE. He is rarely ever involved in a “bad” match. He continues to stand out on the WWE roster because of his extra physical in-ring style, and said style is something he can use against people like Big Show or against people like Jeff Hardy. I think he tends to get lost in the shuffle sometimes because he has been in some dumb storylines through the years. Then again, look at the WWE roster and tell me who hasn’t been involved in dumb shit over the last decade or so. He’s going to be 43 years old in a couple months, so I just wanted to be able to give him his flowers now, because we don’t know how many more years he has in the ring.
This Week’s Playlist: “Holy Cloth” by KXNG Crooked… “Flag” by KXNG Crooked… “OkYouFeelinDat?” by KXNG Crooked… “Damage” by H.E.R. … “Arkansas” by Chris Stapleton… “All Of My Love” by Charlie Wilson & Smokey Robinson… “When The Rain Falls” by Kolohe Kai… “Who The Fuck Is That?” by Dolla, Tay Dizm, & T-Pain… “Heartbreak Collision” by Dolla… “Forever After All” by Luke Combs… “Animals” by Architects… “Dying To Live” by Sevendust… “Save Us” by Atreyu… “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin… “Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple… “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath… “Mother” by Danzig… “Iz They Wildin Wit Us & Gettin Rowdy Wit Us?” by Busta Rhymes & Mystikal… “Here I Go” by Mystikal… “Notorious Thugs” by Notorious BIG & Bone Thugs N Harmony