“I was born to flex (yes)/Diamonds on my neck/I like boardin’ jets, I like mornin’ sex (woo)/But nothing in this world that I like more than checks (money)/All I really wanna see is the (money)” – Cardi B
For decades, pro wrestling has looked to achieve crossover appeal and get mainstream publicity. Andy Kaufman feuding with Jerry “The King” Lawler. David Arquette winning the WCW World Title. Kevin Owens powerbombing Machine Gun Kelly off of the Raw stage. Dennis Rodman joining the nWo, which led to Karl Malone and Jay Leno getting involved and participating in matches for WCW. Guest Hosts for Raw. Floyd Mayweather facing Big Show at WrestleMania 24. Donald Trump and Vince McMahon having their “Battle Of The Billionaires” feud. Those are just some of the times through the years where wrestling reached out to other walks of celebrity-dom in an attempt to get more eyeballs on the product. Sometimes, it works and it provides entertaining programming. Other times, it flops and goes down in history as a terrible idea.
In today’s wrestling scene, where live attendance is almost non-existent across the board because of COVID and where television viewership is either in the toilet or not as high as companies would like, some of the biggest promotions are looking to go back to that well again. AEW recently had Snoop Dogg make an appearance on Dynamite, and he went viral for delivering one of the worst top-rope splashes in the history of ever, but it’s still Uncle Snoop, so nobody buried him (or AEW) for it. In a couple weeks, Shaquille O’Neal will be making his in-ring debut for AEW, teaming with Jade Cargill to take on the team of Cody Rhodes and Red Velvet. I’m a fan of both Snoop and Shaq. They’re on my all-time greats list for their respective fields. The only issue I have with them is that it’s 2021. Snoop and Shaq burst on the rap and basketball scenes, respectively, in the early 90’s. Snoop is 49 years old, and Shaq will turn 49 three days after the aforementioned mixed tag match he’s participating in. AEW couldn’t find more “current” names to run with? Yes, both men are very popular, and they’ll bring in new viewers to the AEW product, but why not open the doors to a younger, fresher, hipper audience?
That, of course, brings me to WWE.
It has been a long time since you could use “younger, fresher, hipper” to describe WWE. A long, long time. Their constant dependence on part-timers and stars from eras gone by would normally mean that they would be the ones who would be interested in using Shaquille O’Neal and Snoop Dogg.
Wait a minute.
They HAVE used Shaq and Snoop on their programming. Several times, as a matter of fact.
Could times be a-changin’ in Vince McMahon’s world, though? Enter… Bad Bunny.
Almost 48.4 million monthly listeners on Spotify, which is good for the 9th most of any musical act in the world, and with 8.3 billion streams in 2020, he was named as the streaming service’s most-streamed artist of the year. 31.7 million subscribers on YouTube, helping his official account approach the 14 billion views mark as I type this. The lowest number of views for any video on his account is 2.8 million views, and that was for a two-minute trailer for a YouTube Music artist spotlight promo. It’s also worth mentioning that he has 2.6 million followers on Twitter and 29.8 million followers on Instagram.
He’s a 26-year-old that is making millions as one of music’s hottest acts. Younger, fresher, hipper.
The early rumor is that Bad Bunny has been training at the WWE Performance Center, preparing himself for a match at WrestleMania. Bunny & Damian Priest vs The Miz & John Morrison is what’s in play. Is he going to be in the match for 20 minutes and help to make it a seven-star Dave Meltzer classic? No, probably not. You know what he will do, though? Get tons of attention for WrestleMania that may not otherwise be there. There will be music-related television shows, podcasts, websites, and so on that will cover his Mania appearance, as they have been covering his appearances at the Royal Rumble and on the last two episodes of Raw.
How do we add to these potential new eyeballs? Enter… Cardi B.
Almost 37.5 million monthly listeners on Spotify, which puts her in the #35 spot in the world. She has 16.2 million subscribers on YouTube, giving her official account over 5.5 billion views. With 17 million Twitter followers and 82.3 million followers on Instagram, she is insanely popular on social media. On top of that, this was the third year that she has appeared in a commercial during the Super Bowl. The viewership numbers for those three games combined to total 293.21 million viewers on television and 10.32 million viewers through streaming.
She’s a 28-year-old that is one of the most recognizable and popular celebrities on the planet, even if you’ve never listened to any of her music. Younger, fresher, hipper.
At multiple points in time, Cardi has tweeted about various wrestling happenings. Most recently, she got into a bit of a back-and-forth argument with Lacey Evans. Since then, there has been plenty of buzz about WWE wanting to work with Cardi, with WWE Chief Revenue Officer, Nick Khan, publicly stating that the company is looking to sign her and have her involved with the product. Whether it’s to simply perform a song at a WWE event, wrestle in a match, or anything in between remains to be seen. What I do know is that if she were to step into the ring for a match, she’d already be a better wrestler than Lacey Evans, so there’s that.
Look… I get it. The music that Bad Bunny and Cardi B deliver to the world isn’t for everyone. That goes for everyone, though, from Beethoven to Metallica to Garth Brooks to Nirvana to Jay-Z to Luther Vandross to Britney Spears (#FreeBritney), and any other musical act in the history of music. If you don’t know any of their songs, or if you know their songs and just aren’t a fan, that’s fine. In Bad Bunny’s case, you can even dislike what he’s done on WWE programming so far. Again, that’s fine. What isn’t fine is the people who are already wanting to paint this as a bad idea, usually because they don’t like the music of Bad Bunny and/or Cardi B. Fightful Select has reported that the top four spots on WWE Shop’s sales chart belong to Bad Bunny merchandise. Fifth place belongs to Roman Reigns, but his item did about 65% of the sales that BB’s fourth place item did, and less than 5% of the sales as BB’s first place item. The YouTube numbers for the Royal Rumble and Raw spots he’s been involved in are doing good numbers. This is where people will point out that Raw’s television viewership numbers are down. That is true, but it’s easy to figure out. If you’re tuning in to see what Bad Bunny is doing, what’s easier… sitting through three hours of what is usually a piss-poor wrestling program, or simply going to YouTube and spending a couple minutes to watch a video? That goes for everybody, actually, and not just BB fans. Raw’s viewership numbers continue to go down the drain, but WWE’s YouTube videos continue to do good numbers. That signals two things. One, people aren’t willing to sit through a bunch of bad to watch brief moments of good. Two, it’s a signal that viewership has changed, in general. Gone are the days where traditional television was the only way for someone to watch something. People are finding more and more ways to consume the content that they desire. That’s just the way of the world right now. The Bad Bunny deal, and a potential Cardi B deal, are fantastic ideas. Whether you like it or not.
Just wait until BLACKPINK, Taylor Swift, and Drake make their WWE debuts later this year.
“I like dollars, I like diamonds/I like stuntin’, I like shinin’/I like million dollar deals/Where’s my pen? Bitch, I’m signin'” – Cardi B
Weekly Power Rankings
- The Forbidden Door: I don’t care if AEW is your favorite promotion. I don’t care if you hate AEW with the fire of a thousand suns. I don’t care if you’re somewhere in the middle. What they’re involved in right now is very fucking cool. You have the AEW World Champion making appearances and wrestling on Impact shows. The Impact Tag Team Champions are making appearances and wrestling on AEW shows. The man who was the AEW World Champion until two months ago is also the IWGP United States Champion for New Japan, and just made an appearance on a New Japan show. The top contender for the IWGP United States Title is a contracted wrestler that just appeared on AEW programming. The so-called “forbidden door” has been opened, and as a wrestling fan, I’m incredibly excited to see what happens next. I’m just sad that we’re stealing with the Coronavirus and all of the travel restrictions that have come along with it, because otherwise the door would REALLY be open. If we got the chance to see more of New Japan’s roster working on American television… man… this will have to do for now.
- Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher vs Adam Cole & Roderick Strong: As you’ll see in the rest of this week’s rankings, it was another strong week for in-ring action on television. I have five matches listed this week, and honestly, you can rate them in any order you like and it wouldn’t bother me. The Ciampa and Thatcher pairing, simply put, works. The joy and excitement they get in brutalizing opponents makes their team a very dangerous one to deal with. I’m not saying I want them to team forever, but, I want them to team forever.
- Big E vs Apollo Crews vs Sami Zayn: Well, Apollo Crews isn’t the new Intercontinental Champion as I predicted he would be, but that didn’t take away from the match itself. Just a ton of fun. They could’ve had an extra five or more minutes added to the match without overstaying its welcome whatsoever. Big E was a popular pick to win the Royal Rumble, but that didn’t happen. He was a popular choice to face Roman Reigns at WrestleMania, but it’s starting to look like that won’t happen, either. It will be interesting to see where this path takes him over the next few months.
- Jon Moxley, Pac & Rey Fenix vs Kenny Omega, Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson: As I mentioned, it’s just so cool to be able to watch people from different promotions floating around and appearing on other shows like this. Everyone involved in this match wrestled like they were trying to prove something, and I think they really were. That’s usually a good recipe to create magic in wrestling.
- Kayden Carter & Kacy Catanzaro vs Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez: To say this was the best match of Carter and Catanzaro’s careers would be an understatement. To say Kai and Gonzalez have developed an insane level of in-ring chemistry together would be an even bigger understatement, though. They’re simply on another level right now. I’m ready to see them square off with some of the teams on Raw or Smackdown at this point.
- Bobby Lashley: He has been one of the most “protected” workers in wrestling for a while now. He dominates opponent after opponent, gets to destroy people in backstage or in-ring segments, and he does it all while looking like a million bucks as a member of The Hurt Business. He has a very tough Triple Threat Match coming up at Elimination Chamber, which could be the “out” needed to get the United States Title off of him without having him pinned or forced to submit. It sure seems like he’s being built up for something big. Maybe it’s challenging for the WWE Title at WrestleMania, or maybe it’s the long-awaited match against Brock Lesnar that people have been looking forward to for years. We shall see.
- Thunder Rosa vs Britt Baker: After a lot of not-so-great times, the AEW women’s division is finally starting to heat up. A healthy Britt Baker has done the entire division a lot of good. This was another fun Baker match, but it isn’t just about her. Thunder Rosa has been great in her time with the company. Now, things in the women’s division are about to get even better, because…
- AEW Women’s Championship Eliminator Tournament: The full list of competitors for the tournament have been revealed, and it’s quite the roster. There are 16 women, split up into a USA (matches taking place in America) side and a Japan (matches taking place in Japan) side. The winner of each side will face each other in the final match of the tournament, with the last woman standing getting a shot at AEW Women’s Champion, Hikaru Shida. On the USA side of the tournament are Riho, Serena Deeb, Britt Baker, Tay Conti, Anna Jay, Nyla Rose, Thunder Rosa, and Leyla Hirsch. The Japan side features Aja Kong, Emi Sakura, Yuka Sakazaki, Veny, Ryo Mizunami, Mei Suruga, Rin Kadokura, and Maki Itoh. The matches from Japan are being pre-taped on a closed set, and unless I missed it, there hasn’t been an announcement on how those matches will be seen by the public. I would hope that the matches will be aired during episodes of Dynamite. If you don’t watch much, or any, Joshi wrestling, each of the names in Japan are intriguing in their own right. Aja Kong, Emi Sakura, Yuka Sakazaki, and Ryo Mizunami all wrestled at AEW’s first pay-per-view, Double Or Nothing, in May 2019. Sakazaki even made a few more appearances for the company. They seem to be the favorites to win their side of the tournament, simply based on their connection to the company. Mei Suruga is going to be an interesting one to watch. If you remember a criticism of former AEW Women’s Champion, Riho, it’s that people viewed her as “too small” to be a “believable” wrestler, especially against much larger opponents. Well… Riho is three-and-a-half inches taller than Suruga, although her listed weight is 11 pounds heavier. Her speed is, obviously, her most dangerous weapon, and she uses it very well. Maki Itoh might have the best chance of becoming a star in America, based on her entertainment value, personality, and foul mouth alone. I’m hoping that women on both sides of the tournament get a chance to shine, no matter who wins. The division could really use a good showing here.
- Miro Haters: I’ve had this mentioned here before, but holy shit, Miro’s AEW run has been an absolute bust so far. Sure, the hardcore AEW fanboys will praise his time there, but everyone else sees what a joke it has been. He absolutely, positively, desperately needs to get as far away from Kip Sabian and Penelope Ford as humanly possible. Like, not just away from their partnership. I’m talking about being placed on different planets. His Rusev Day run, with all of the missed potential, is infinitely better than anything he has done in AEW, and they’re ruining any edge and buzz he had coming in. It’s sad to watch.
- MY HOLE: Who knew that a two-word uttering about Nia Jax’s anus would become pro wrestling’s catchphrase of the year?!? Perhaps the most random thing to happen on an episode of WWE television in years, and that is REALLY saying something, this might go down as the best thing Nia has done.
This Week’s Playlist: “River” by Bishop Briggs… “Come Down” by Anderson .Paak… “Giant” by Banks & Steelz… “Winner’s Circle” by Bear Hands… “Right Here Right Now” by American Authors… “Rings” by Aesop Rock… “California” by Fashawn… “Lights Come On” by Jason Aldean… “Not Tonight” by Snow Tha Product… “Missile” by Dorothy… “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath… “Use Somebody” by Kings Of Leon… “Sex On Fire” by Kings Of Leon… “Your Glass House” by Atmosphere… “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” by Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth… “Teenage Love” by Slick Rick… “Award Tour” by A Tribe Called Quest… “Luchini aka This Is It” by Camp Lo… “Come And See Me” by PARTYNEXTDOOR & Drake… “Actin Crazy” by Action Bronson