Let’s play a game of “Try To Find Some Sort Of Similar Theme” right now, shall we?
Universal Title: Roman Reigns is about to reach the 600-day mark as champion, and has steamrolled through just about everyone there is to beat on Smackdown.
WWE Title: Roman Reigns now owns this one, too, with no official plans for what is going to happen to it made public yet.
Intercontinental Title: Ricochet is a popular performer with the WWE Universe, but the Intercontinental Title was viewed in such a poor light that it wasn’t featured on a two-night WrestleMania card that featured 16 total matches. There just don’t seem to be any viable challengers at the moment.
United States Title: Finn Balor is a popular performer with the WWE Universe, but the United States Title was viewed in such a poor light that it wasn’t featured on a two-night WrestleMania card that featured 16 total matches. Hmm… that sounds familiar.
Raw Women’s Title: Sonya Deville has randomly been placed into the next-in-line spot for a title shot because… well… who else is there right now?
Raw & Smackdown Tag Team Titles: If we’re to believe what we’re seeing play out on television, it would appear that WWE is about to unify both titles, giving us just one set of Tag Team Champions. That really narrows things down when it comes to title challengers.
24/7 Title: The focus of the “division” has gone from attempts at slapstick comedy and “title matches” to focusing on two “couples” and their upcoming “weddings” next week.
WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles: While I understand that the lineage of these titles only goes back three years, it’s still worth pointing out that every pair of champions these belts have had since Payback 2020 has been randomly thrown together singles wrestlers that had nothing else to do. Sometimes, those randomly thrown together teams don’t even like each other as they’re winning matches and holding the titles.
Alright, so what’s a similar theme that you’re seeing with those titles at the moment? For me, it’s a MAJOR lack of depth in every one of the divisions. You either have dominant champions that have beaten everyone there is to beat, or you have a group of challengers that don’t “belong” in a title picture… or you simply have WWE not caring about what happens.
When you’re talking about WWE’s ridiculously shallow roster, there is two things that you have to mention immediately.
One, they created these rosters in the WWE Draft, which is where you’re supposed to build your title divisions from top to bottom.
Two, and most importantly… MAYBE WWE SHOULDN’T HAVE RELEASED APPROXIMATELY 1700 WRESTLERS OVER THE LAST TWO YEARS, USING “BUDGET CUTS” AS THEIR DUMB FUCKING EXCUSE, EVEN THOUGH THE COMPANY IS MAKING MORE MONEY NOW THAN THEY EVER HAVE IN THE PAST.
You can’t tell me that some (most? all?) of those released and not re-signed names couldn’t be beneficial to the overall product right now. The IIconics in the women’s tag division. Same for Ruby Riott still being there to team with Liv Morgan. John Morrison could’ve, and should’ve, been a player in the United States Title picture. You could easily say the same for Andrade. “Swerve” Scott would really benefit the Intercontinental Title picture on Smackdown right now, and any two of the three guys from Hit Row could’ve done well chasing after the Smackdown Tag Team Titles. Guys like Keith Lee, Samoa Joe, Aleister Black, Christian, Braun Strowman, Bray Wyatt, Cesaro and Jeff Hardy would really add depth to the main event pictures on both brands, even if it’s just a temporary run. Mickie James, Mercedes Martinez, Ember Moon, Franky Monet, Mia Yim, Tegan Nox, and Toni Storm could’ve done the same for the Women’s Title pictures on Monday and Friday nights.
Rusev. The Authors Of Pain. Deonna Purrazzo. The Revival. Undisputed Era. Zack Ryder. The list goes on and on and on of names that are no longer with WWE that would be greatly beneficial to the product right now. I’m not saying every name I’ve listed would’ve had classic matches, or even that they would’ve been guaranteed title wins. A lot of them would simply be names that would bolster the depth of the different divisions. Roman Reigns needs new opponents. The midcard titles on Raw and Smackdown are in dire need of extra talent. More tag teams! More women’s wrestlers to pick up the slack when multiple top-tier talents are injured at the same time!
Why is this such a difficult thing to understand?
Now, I know some people are going to talk about the WWE roster being overly bloated at one point. I don’t disagree with that. I’m not saying that WWE should never release anybody, and that they should just let 400 wrestlers stay under contract at any given time. Of course not. That would be stupid. You know what else is stupid, though? The biggest wrestling promotion on the planet having depth issues all over the place. That’s stupid. Putting yourself in this situation under the guise of “budget cuts” during record record revenues and profits? That’s stupid.
This is more of a mini-rant than a column, and I apologize for that. It just drives me absolutely insane to see some of these decisions being made. The worst part of it all is the aforementioned record revenues and profits, because that means there is zero reason for WWE to change their ways. They’re one or two steps away from unifying the Women’s Titles and then doing the same for the midcard titles and just ending the “brand split” altogether.
What say you, ReaderLand? First and foremost, what released talents do you think WWE could use the most right now? Secondly, how would you feel if WWE just announced one day that the “brand split” was done? As always, hit me up in the comments section below, or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), and let me know what’s on your mind. Once again, I apologize for the brevity this week. I’m sure I’ll be back to “normal” next week.
Weekly Power Rankings
- FTR vs The Young Bucks: With their match against The Briscoes during WrestleMania weekend and this one, FTR now has back-to-back Match Of The Year candidates. They are absolutely on fire right now. The Bucks, of course, are The Bucks. They’re going to deliver quality, no matter who they face. This was just a great match. Not just a great tag team match, but a great match, full stop.
- Wheeler Yuta vs Jon Moxley: The story with Yuta trying to join the Blackpool Combat Club has been a lot of fun, and it has given us some really good matches on top of that. This might have been the best of the bunch. It could very well be a star-making performance from Yuta. I say that it could be one, because it’s all about how things are presented from here on. The man hasn’t exactly been on a huge winning streak. In fact, he hasn’t been on the winning side of a match that was on television or pay-per-view since All Out, when he and the rest of Best Friends teamed with Jurassic Express to defeat Matt Hardy’s Job Squad. That was over seven months ago. He has never won an AEW singles match on television or pay-per-view. I would assume that changes now that he has aligned himself with one of the hottest acts in the business, but we shall see. Either way, this was great storytelling and a great performance from a young star.
- Trent Beretta vs Bryan Danielson: Rampage was really bookended well with Best Friends vs Blackpool Combat Club matches. Beretta continues to look like a million bucks since returning from injury, and Danielson continues to look like he is having the time of his life wrestling the matches that he wants to wrestle. I would really like to see AEW use Beretta more, but with as loaded and as deep as their roster is, you could say that about 50 different people right now.
- Lacey Evans Video Package: I have not been shy about saying that I haven’t liked anything about Lacey Evans since she debuted. I’m not a fan of her in-ring work, and I enjoyed her “this would’ve been corny and over-the-top 30 years ago” character even less. With that said, this video package was tremendous. Instead of her being some stupid Southern Belle stuck in a time warp from decades ago, this is who she should’ve been all along. A mother, a veteran, and a general badass. Now, it’s time to see if her in-ring work has changed at all. At least we’re off to a good start here.
- Cameron Grimes vs Solo Sikoa: As always, when Cameron Grimes is brought up in conversation, I am legally and contractually obligated to mention that he nearly broke my leg at an independent wrestling show a few years ago. This may have been my favorite NXT singles match of his. It was my favorite Solo Sikoa match, for sure. I’m really digging the changes to Grimes’ character, allowing him to be more serious and relatable, all without having him undergo a major presentation change. He’s on a roll now. Solo has done better than a lot of people expected in the short period of time he’s been in NXT. I don’t know why that’s a surprise, considering the… Bloodline… he is from. It really is only a matter of time until he’s working with his brothers and his cousin.
- The Street Profits vs The Usos: Hey, speaking of Solo Sikoa’s brothers, here’s another fun match they participated in. These two teams have a lot of chemistry together, and they continue to have magic in their matches. What hurt this one was that there was never any doubt who would win. Just a minor gripe.
- Gunther: Well, he’s an official member of the Smackdown roster now, along with Ludwig Kaiser (aka Marcel Barthel). I, like many of you, am not a fan of Barthel’s new name, nor am I happy that Fabian Aichner wasn’t involved in the call-up from NXT. I think that will affect Kaiser and Aichner more than it will affect Gunther, though. He still has the potential to be a big-time player for Smackdown. There’s potential money to be made in a feud between Gunther and Roman Reigns, but that’s fantasy booking for down the road. For now, a solid start to his official main roster career.
- Christian Cage vs Adam Cole: The match itself was really good, but the story coming out of this was the post-match activity that set up Cole’s Texas Deathmatch against “Hangman” Adam Page for the AEW World Title. I think Christian is seriously underutilized, but again, there’s a million people you can say that about in AEW right now. They only have so much television time to fill, and they have so, so many people on the roster that needs some of that time.
- Cody Rhodes vs The Miz: We don’t need two full Cody Rhodes entrances, pyro and all, in one hour of television, but it is what it is. This was a fun match. Nothing classic, but it did its job, and it was boosted by a hot crowd that is still really excited to see Cody back in WWE.
- Splitting Happy Corbin & Madcap Moss Up: Once again, I have not been shy whatsoever about my hatred for what these two have been doing in recent months. I have disliked a lot of acts through the years, but it is VERY rare when I dislike an act so much that I mute all of their promos and fast forward through their matches if that option is available. That’s what I’ve been doing with Corbin and Moss. Honestly, I might have missed this segment because of that, but Twitter got me hip to what happened here before I even watched it, so I checked it out. I’m not sure if we’re going to get the return of Riddick Moss, but I can only hope the Madcap stuff goes away. The crowd really seemed to get behind Moss here. Time will tell if that’s because they like Moss, or if it’s because people just dislike Corbin.
- Pretty Deadly: They just showed up from NXT UK, and in their first televised match for NXT, they win the NXT Tag Team Titles. Fresh off of a nine-plus month reign as the NXT UK Tag Team Champions, now we get to see what they can do in a new setting.
- Natalya: For a long time, Natalya has been viewed as the “female Dolph Ziggler” and Dolph has been viewed as the “male Natalya.” They both received opportunity after opportunity, even though people felt they didn’t “deserve” them, as they wouldn’t evolve with the times, blah blah blah. Now, we’ve seen Dolph undergo a bit of a career renaissance in NXT, where he has been wrestling with a chip on his shoulder and it shows. Could it be Natalya’s time to do the same thing? The NXT women’s division could really use her veteran leadership. For the first time in a while, I’m excited to see what Natalya is up to.
- Raquel Rodriguez: Folks, come on… Raquel Gonzalez becoming Raquel Rodriguez is not a big change. Relax. There are infinitely worse name changes that WWE has given us. Shit, there are infinitely worse name changes that WWE has given us in the last few weeks. Smackdown could really use a boost in its women’s division, and Raquel could give the show just that.
- Marriage: Carmella and Corey Graves got married after a six-month engagement. A few days later, Alexa Bliss got married to singer Ryan Cabrera after a 17-month engagement. Congratulations to both couples.
- Tommaso Ciampa: We’ve seen him on the main roster a few times, but he is now an official member of the Raw roster. He could really make his mark on the show, but we’ll see how it goes. You know Vince McMahon’s history when it comes to NXT call-ups. There’s no way you can make a prediction about Ciampa. I could see him as the United States Champion by the end of 2022, but I could also see him released by the end of 2022. Neither would surprise me. It’s all up to which part of Vince’s personality is the one at the forefront on any given Monday.
This Week’s Playlist: “Shedding My Velvet” by Jack White… “MAGIC WITH MUSTARD” by Vince Staples & Mustard… “SLIDE” by Vince Staples… “LEMONADE” by Vince Staples & Ty Dolla $ign… “Neck & Wrist” by Pusha T, Jay-Z & Pharrell Williams… “Here Ever After” by Red Hot Chili Peppers… “Poster Child” by Red Hot Chili Peppers… “Veronica” by Red Hot Chili Peppers… “Let ‘Em Cry” by Red Hot Chili Peppers… “POLTERGEIST!” by Corpse & OmenXIII… “Lemon” by N.E.R.D. & Rihanna… “Without Me” by Halsey… “Redbone” by Childish Gambino… “Utu Bang Bang” by Ka’ikena Scanlan… “Feel Me Flow” by Naughty By Nature… “Lost In Paradise” by Common Kings… “Wade In Your Water” by Common Kings… “Victory Lap” by Nipsey Hussle & Stacy Barthe… “Colors” by Ice-T… “6 ‘N The Mornin” by Ice-T