G’day Lords of Pain and welcome to the return of FACT or FICTION, the monthly/bi-monthly/quarterly/annual column where we put the the hot topics going around the world of wrestling in front of a pair of my Lords of Pain brethren and we determine if they are FACT of FICTION.
In case you have never read one of these before, I have come up with five statements for myself and my guests to discuss and determine if they are FACT of FICTION. All of them are inspired by different conversations on the LOP Forums so if you want to weigh in or ever want to feature in one of these columns down the line you should sign up down there today.
Just for the sake of introductions I’m your new host for this series Sir Sam (@Sir_Samuel on Twitter), you may have read my work here on LOP either in Sir Sam’s Court or my Daniel Bryan series YES Relived. That is enough about me though, allow me to introduce my two guests for today:
Steven Bell – @StevenFnBell – The host of LOP Radio’s The Late Shift, Aftershock and Retroshock. A former main page writer, he won the 2017 Columns Forum Writer of the Year and is basically God down on the LOP Forums.
DynamiteBillington – Was recently dubbed LOP forum’s Xavier Woods. As well as producing a number of quality pieces over the years, he is the pit boss for the Columns Forum’s own Fact of Fiction.
Now the formalities are out of the way, let’s get this show on the road.
Brock Lesnar will not defend the Universal Title at Summer Slam.
Dynaminte: Total FICTION. Sure, there have been news stories relating to contract disputes etc, but as far as I’m concerned they’re Fake News. There’s no chance in Hell that WWE would leave their Championship on someone without a binding contract. Following Wrestlemania, most stories relating to Lesnar’s contract length agreed that it was another multi-year contract, albeit with significantly fewer dates and a pay-per-appearance deal. I don’t believe WWE’s legal team are stupid enough to not name SummerSlam and WrestleMania as mandatory appearances. Any stories about contract disputes are just that, stories. If this was a genuine dispute, they wouldn’t be talking about it on TV and letting it impact storylines. And remember people, no matter what WWE claim about Lesnar’s contract as a part of this story, someone else has a contract that can make a match happen….
Steve: FICTION. I know we’ll likely already know the answer to this by the time this column goes live, but I’m gonna go ahead and put it on the line by saying that Brock will definitely be at SummerSlam. While I tend to avoid most rumors and things of that ilk, being an active member of Twitter and keeping up with stuff for The Late Shift means that stuff like that inevitably enters my line of vision. To that end, the most repeated rumor about Brock’s contract is that he owes WWE one more match. Could that be wrong? Sure. But I don’t think it is.
I think we’ll see Brock at SummerSlam against either Roman Reigns or Bobby Lashley, maybe both. Then he’ll hopefully go away. I’ve been well beyond caring anything about Lesnar for so long and he’s been around so infrequently that it’s frankly just a technicality for me that he’s truly gone. That last match will be a formality and then, if we’re lucky, we’ll never see him in WWE again. At the very least, hopefully we’ll never see him in the Championship picture again.
But we do have to go through one more formulaic Suplex City match and I think it’ll be at SummerSlam.
SirSam: Sadly I’m gona have to say FICTION too. A few weeks ago when they completely stopped mentioning Lesnar on air this actually looked like something that may happen. With Brock’s recent UFC foray and the WWE actively calling attention to his absence since Greatest Royal Rumble it is clear he will be there.
That said Kurt did say he would strip him if he didn’t show up at Raw last Monday……
Braun Strowman needs to cash his Money In The Bank Briefcase in sooner rather than later.
Steve: You know, I actually kinda like the idea of him having it so long that people almost forget about it, like a Carmella or Ziggler or Rollins. The pop when his music would hit to cash in would be massive. I mean, that pop will be massive regardless of when it happens, but I don’t know. I just kinda dig the prolonged holding of MITB.
That said, I think the current climate and situation in the company makes this FACT. At this point I’d actually be kinda surprised if Braun doesn’t cash in either A) during the Universal bout at SummerSlam, B) immediately after the Universal bout at SummerSlam or C) the night after SummerSlam. There’s a part of me that wants to see Lesnar actually win his match at the show and retain the title, disappointing me and others who agree that Lesnar is a weight around the company’s neck at this point, only for Braun to come marching out and kick the bejeezus out of Brock, dominating him so suddenly and thoroughly that we never see Brock again.
Regardless of how it goes down, though, I do think it needs to happen relatively soon, if only to hopefully salvage whatever good will within the fanbase still exists within the Raw brand.
Sam: FACT. Let’s just think for a minute about who Braun Strowman is. This is a guy that for over a year and a half demanded more and more competition, has never showed one sceric of patience or restraint but we are supposed to believe this character is waiting to call his shot against Brock Lesnar. Going by his character he should have interrupted the very first segment of Raw the Monday after he won the thing and declared that Brock Lesnar better show up next week to catch these hands because he is cashing in his briefcase.
The fact he has not cashed in shows how completely the WWE has abandoned the character that shot Strowman to popularity. Gone is the man who doesn’t take a back step from anything, gone is the man who will run through a brick wall to get to his foe, gone is the man who actually injured himself while trying to assault his opponent. Sure he still flips stuff over and he will still get a cheer when he does cash in but Strowman needed to cash his contract in yesterday.
Dynamite: To me, it’s not when Strowman cashes in that matters. It’s how. He needs to give advance notice, and he needs to do it at a big event. SummerSlam would seem ideal, especially given they already cancelled what was scheduled to be the No.1 Contender match. When Brock finally appears and there isn’t a No. 1 Contender, that would be the perfect opportunity for Strowman to come out and say he’s cashing in at SummerSlam making it FACT. However if it happens later than that, it’s FICTION. I don’t care either way, just get the cash in right, it doesn’t matter when it happens.
Rusev’s main event match at Extreme Rules was part of a permanent push for him.
Sam: Rusev is such an interesting case. By all rights he should be a guy that Vince loves and the IWC hates. He is a WWE developed talent, has a jacked body and was strapped with a hokey 80’s foreigner gimmick. However through sheer force of character and a lot of persistence Vladimir Kozlov Mk.2 has become one of the most popular wrestlers on the roster but someone who the WWE brass seems absolutely loath to push.
That is why I’m going to say this is FICTION. This mini-push is a reward for his hard work and for turning the chicken s*** that was ‘Rusev Day’ into chicken salad but with the likes of Samoa Joe and The Miz waiting in the wings of the Smackdown Main Event scene it is hard to see him as a long term presence on top of the card.
More likely in my mind is that his Extreme Rules match will have been a test that may see him given another more prolonged shot down the line.
Dynamite: You’d hope so wouldn’t you? He’s faced Cena at WrestleMania. He’s faced Undertaker. Both are signs that WWE have faith in him and have plans for him in the longer run – not everybody gets picked for those sort of matches. He’s even managed to get ‘Rusev Day’ over, something that should be seen as a ridiculous gimmick but somehow works. Hopefully it evolves into something more, I’m not convinced it’s a long term gimmick in it’s current form. And don’t make the mistake of splitting him from Aiden English. So long as their act evolves, I say FACT.
Steve: I’m calling this one FICTION but I’m super sad about it. Rusev should’ve been in the main event mix a long time ago, in my estimation. The poor guy has been bounced around doing just seemingly random stuff for so long that it’s almost easy to forget that he was, at one point, an almost predestined staple of the upper tier within the minds of most fans.
It didn’t work out, though, for whatever reason. Unfortunately, I don’t see it working out too much in the future, either, at least on a consistent basis. He may flirt with the World title scene here and there moving forward, but I’m doubtful that he’ll find with any sort of sustained push.
Rhonda Rousey will win one of the WWE Women’s Championships before the end of the year.
Steve: FACT. I think there’s a damn good chance that Rhonda wins the Raw strap at SummerSlam from Alexa. Do I want that to happen? Meh, I’m not thrilled about it but it wouldn’t necessarily break my little heart or anything, either. She’s been good with what she’s had put in front her so far and though that action is very limited in scope, it’s been pretty high profile for the most part. Her reactions seem overwhelmingly popular, she’s putting in the work to improve and it’s stating the obvious to say that she’s easily the most well known woman on the roster. Hell, she’s one of the most well known people, male or female, on the entire roster.
I think all of those things are going to add up to a run with the title in the not too distant future. I could see them holding off and then her winning the Rumble or something, but I also don’t think those two scenarios need be mutually exclusive. I could be off and WWE could be aiming at playing the long game with Rousey, but I’m thinking it’s more likely that they cash in on their hot commodity sooner rather than later.
Sam: I was a big Rhonda Rousey in MMA, she was like a fire that burnt hot and bright even if only for a few years. Even then she incorporated a lot of professional wrestling into her presence, mugging for the camera, talking up the personal nature of her matches and calling people out. After she left in such a sad way and seemingly in a pretty bad mental state it was amazing see her seem so happy when she finally did show up in the WWE ring.
A motivated, happy Rhonda Rousey in an absolute star. She can charm the cameras, she has athleticism and has an inspiring story of coming from very little to reaching the peak of two sports.
All of this is to say that I absolutely believe it when she says that she is home in the WWE ring and the WWE would be crazy to not capitalize on a mainstream star that not only shows up but seem happy to be there when she does. So I will say FACT, if she doesn’t win the championship at at Summer Slam it will happen at Survivor Series.
Dynamite: No matter how much Rousey claims to be totally dedicated to wrestling, I struggle to believe she’ll stick around for more than a couple of years. I also struggle to see that WWE’s “Creative” department can keep her looking strong if she’s featured on TV regularly – that becomes increasingly true the longer she sticks around. To me, she should be used primarily as a PPV attraction. Not to Lesnar levels, but keeping her matches PPV exclusive will make us more excited to see them. If she’s wrestling on TV every week, our hunger for those matches reduces. Also, if she isn’t on TV every week that means she only wrestles those who have earned the right to face her, which rules out half the women’s roster. I think they’ll keep her strong, then give us the match Ric Flair has already teased us with, Rousey v Charlotte at WrestleMania. That’s the soonest I see her winning the title, so this is FICTION.
The WWE has waited to long to pull the trigger on the Bayley and Sasha Banks feud.
Steve: Absolute FICTION. Do I think it should’ve happened at WrestleMania? Yes. The conflict at the Rumble and the follow-up stuff at Elimination Chamber were great and would’ve served as plenty to get a feud really rockin’ as we headed towards the biggest show of the year.
That having been said, the notion that the feud won’t get over or whatever because it’s happening a few months later than that is, in my opinion, a false one. Shasha and Bayley are both quite good and they have an established history of having great matches against each other. That’s not going to change anytime soon. If people judge the matches and feud based upon what they’re seeing instead of what they wish would’ve happened, I don’t see a reason why anyone would hate. Could it have been something special at Mania? Sure. Does that mean it can’t be special now, Hell no. Bayley and Banks are talented enough that the feud will be just fine when it finally gets underway in earnest, probably quite soon.
Dynamite: This is so much of a FACT I’ve lost too much interest to even get a full paragraph on the topic.
Sam: This is the hardest question I set myself because I am still pumped for this story and one of my pet peeves is when wrestling fans talk themselves out of something before it even happens. I often feel there is a group think mentality where people start to believe a feud has lost its momentum simply because people saying it has lost momentum. However, it is hard to deny that the drawing out of the ‘will they or won’t they’ that has gone on since the Royal Rumble has pushed the patience of a lot of fans who do want these two to lock up and more importantly pushed the believability of the character progression.
However I want to go with my better self on this one, thumb my nose at the group think and say FICTION. I actually hope this feud will be the start of a trend that will see women start to have featured programs outside of the main event. These guys have the characters and in ring skills to pull it off and even just the fact that the WWE has persevered with teasing this story for so long tells me that when they do go for it they will be all in.
And that brings the return of FACT or FICTION to a close for July. Thanks to Steve and DynamiteBillington for joining me today, don’t forget to follow them on Twitter and check out their work here on LOP down in the Columns Forum.
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