Keep the Universal Championship on Roman
Welcome to the Cool Points.
SummerSlam 2022 was an enjoyable evening of wrestling and entertainment. Surprisingly, all the champions retained their titles, so there were no surprise title change tactics on this show, which I believe is for the better.
Instead, the shock factor was applied to some “OMG” moments for WWE’s future documentaries. YouTuber and celebrity boxer Logan Paul flew from the top turnbuckle to the announce table on Miz, and then defeated him. Bayley, Io Shirai (now Sky) and Dakota Kai returned to confront Women’s Champion Bianca Belair, following an incredible match against challenger Becky Lynch. Liv Morgan and Ronda Rousey wrestled a short match with a controversial finish, which saw Rousey get fined and suspended for her post-match attack on a WWE referee. Finally, Brock Lesnar drove a tractor to the ring, then used it to lift the wrestling ring during the Last Man Standing match, and still lost to Roman Reigns (and the Bloodline).
Our focus will be on the Smackdown side, specifically, Roman Reigns and the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship title picture.
Reigns is Done with Lesnar
Roman Reigns’ success, in the Last Man Standing match against Brock Lesnar, ensures a definitive end to their rivalry of the past 7 years. Yes, WWE could decide to reprise it any time, and they have surprised fans a few times this past year with their choice to do so. A Last Man Standing match, however, is a stipulation used often to close out a feud. Given that Reigns has now beat “The Beast” Brock Lesnar, twice within the year, at the two biggest shows of the WWE calendar, it is time to move on and start pushing other contenders to challenge Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.
Bloodline: Ascending or Descending? [Reprise]
Last week, I asked if we had hit the peak of the Bloodline’s success? Seeing that Reigns and the Usos retained their championships, I would argue that we are still witnessing the faction at the apex of their powers. Yes, they are on the coveted plateau of success in the WWE, carrying the undisputed titles. Their power, as a faction, is derived from being champions. While Reigns has reached the level of superstardom where he can attract viewers, with or without the title, his reign as undisputed champion is a major talking point in the wrestling world.
Numerous columns and rumors have discussed: How long should his Undisputed WWE Universal Championship title reign last? Should he defend one of his championships and lose it for the sake of the Raw brand? Would it be better for other wrestlers to have an opportunity to be a champion and wrestle more regularly?
Those are all valid questions and there are good reasons to have a champion defend the title regularly, and to have the benefits of a championship title spread out to more wrestlers. The longer Reigns (and the Usos) keep the championship, the bigger a deal it will be when they lose.
Reigns is at 705 days today. I’m all for seeing him retain as long as possible, and as close to Hogan’s title reign of 1, 474 days from the 1980s. Record-breaking title reigns, especially ones of longevity, are an easy way to attract interest in a feud. Undertaker’s Wrestlemania winning streak became known as “The Streak” and look at how mythologized and appreciated those matches became. Even if the match itself didn’t fully deliver, and often it did in the latter years, fan interest was always high. More on that another time.
Clash at the Castle in September
Let’s discuss the next PPV/PLE. Clash at the Castle takes place on September 3rd, from Principality Stadium, in Cardiff, Wales. This is the first major event for Wales, and the first time returning to the UK for a PPV/PLE since SummerSlam 1992 (not counting the UK-only PPVs in the late 90s/early 00s).
Drew McIntyre is going to challenge Roman Reigns on what is, essentially, home turf. This is an ideal matchup where there will be a clear fan favourite and clear villain. Imagine the pop McIntyre will receive if he can win his 3rd WWE world title. It would be a big moment for UK wrestling fans and it would make up for McIntyre missing that moment at WrestleMania 36, when the Covid-19 pandemic shut down WWE live events (and live events everywhere).
Reigns and McIntyre have a history against each other, and they have wrestled in singles and multi-man matches over the past 4 years. Reigns has come out on top every time, including Wrestlemania 35 and Survivor Series 2020. The storyline of McIntyre finally overcoming the Tribal Chief, one of the few top wrestlers he has never beaten, is an intriguing one. There’s a promo package waiting to be made there.
The power of the Bloodline lies mostly in their championship dominance though. That remains compelling television and has yet to be drawn out. McIntyre is a big deal and a capable champion, but if we are already looking forward to Wrestlemania 39, in Hollywood, he is not the box office draw to challenge Reigns. It’s unclear who that will end up being, but it’s not McIntyre. And it’s not Karrion Kross either.
I’ve Got No Time for Karrion Kross
Friday Night Smackdown ended with the return of Karrion Kross and his valet, Scarlett. Kross attacked McIntyre from behind, and then, Scarlett placed the hour glass in the ring at Reigns’ feet. This signals a clear intent from Kross to challenge Reigns and the Bloodline. There were some cheers in the audience, which I call the “Surprise Factor” cheers. People are just happy to see a surprise return, no matter who it might be, so they get cheered. Karrion Kross is not a face.
Ever since nXt, I have not seen what draws fans to cheer on Karrion Kross. His presentation is all heel to me. Old school thinking would position him as a heel on the basis of him having a beautiful female valet, and on his out of ring tactics.
First, female valets often accompany heel wrestlers to help support them on two levels. It makes guys hate the wrestler because he’s with a beautiful girl, and the girl uses underhanded tactics, at ringside, to help her wrestler win his matches.
Second, he attacked McIntyre from behind. Fan favourites usually confront their opponents, face to face, and then attack, like what McIntyre was in the midst of doing. Fans can appreciate a courageous, honourable wrestler, instead of a cowardly one who depends on sneak attacks to defeat their opponent.
Third, Kross attacked McIntyre, who is the #1 fan favourite on Smackdown. If Kross and McIntyre were to fight next week on Smackdown, McIntyre would be cheered by most, and Kross would be booed by most.
Keith Lee is Awesome
Finally, call it sour grapes, but Keith Lee should have beaten Karrion Kross at TakeOver XXX. Lee was a refreshing and enjoyable champion, with a unique moveset and a ton of charisma that saw fans cheering him on at every level to which he ascended. Remember his early matches against Dominik Dijakovic? Lee’s North American title victory? Remember the fall of 2019 when he helped take down the Undisputed Era at WarGames, and then, the very next night, when he became a superstar for Team nXt? He faced Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, and looked like a more than capable challenger. The fans got behind him immediately and wanted to see him beat the crap out of the former Shield partners. That’s not even mentioning his limitless victory over Adam Cole at the Great American Bash in June 2020.
Kross squashed all of that momentum not even two months later. I would argue that his title reign (and injury) played a part in the decline of the nXt “1.0” era. If you want to build up Kross to challenge a proper face, have him enter a feud with McIntyre following Clash at the Castle. Don’t expect Kross to be an adequate challenger against Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. This surprise attack could be planting seeds, but don’t expect those seeds to blossom and grow anytime soon. Leave them for a few years and see if Kross can ascend to the approximate level of Reigns.
Sami Zayn: Honorary Uce?
Allow me a few moments to reflect on Sami Zayn’s attempts to get a private meeting with the Tribal Chief last night. The Usos deflected him, on numerous occasions, and then finally Jey called Sami out on not carrying his weight. He said that Zayn’s lack of championship gold was a sore spot for the Bloodline and that he needed to pull his weight.
What I’d like to see from this is Zayn renew his focus on Intercontinental or US Heavyweight gold. If Zayn can prove himself again as a champion, it would move forward this long running story which should end in an Undisputed WWE Universal Championship title shot for Zayn against Reigns.
Other options include: Zayn finding a partner to challenge the Usos for the Undisputed Tag Team Championships, which would be intriguing, or Zayn turning on Reigns and costing him a big match, which would lead to a grudge match. No matter what is decided, Zayn’s involvement with the Bloodline is an interesting story on Smackdown. It’s been given a lengthy run and consistent weekly TV time, so it’s not going to be blown off. This is going somewhere and I’m interested to see it through.
SummerSlam Match Predictions
Belair (c) ret. Lynch- CORRECT
Lashley (c) ret. Theory- CORRECT
Judgment Day def. Mysterios
The Miz def. Logan Paul
Pat McAfee def. Happy Corbin- CORRECT
Street Profits def. The Usos (c)
Liv Morgan (c) ret. Rousey- CORRECT
Reigns (c) ret. Lesnar, Theory attempts to cash in but is blocked.- CORRECT
5/8 is batting over .500, so I’ll take it.
Next week, we’ll look at what’s going on with the Intercontinental Championship. Shinsuke Nakamura gets his first Intercontinental Title shot against Gunther. Is it going to lead to a match at Clash at the Castle? Or is it a one-off?
Here are a few questions to consider from today’s column:
Do you buy Karrion Kross as a contender to defeat Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship?
Does the Bloodline’s title dominance ultimately create more or less interest in what happens to the championship belts?
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