Another week, another mixture of fantastic wrestling and question mark booking. Monday setting the WWE stage with a nothing show before a genuinely great main event, propping up SmackDown perfectly to air absolutely nothing of worth.
On the other channel AEW has a tad of downtime, following up a crazy week of doors and blood with new champions and set up. All Out isn’t until September, so I expect more ground laying these next few weeks as they get reset to build. Whilst WWE is aiming their sights on July 30th and SummerSlam, with their main attraction bout stumbling for reasons to validate its existence.
We then can’t ignore the fresh run of hush money allegations to cap off the week in the knowledge the US wrestling world has been ran by a serial misconduct abuser. The WWE Board’s investigation unearthing million dollar NDA agreements left and right as this story has only just began to unravel.
On that note, we’re kicking off the column with SmackDown again this week, that can only mean one thing… and it certainly isn’t because it was a top notch wrestling show.
Friday Night SmackDown
July 8th 2022
From “Consensual” To “Coercion”
Here we are again, as we thought we would be. Sitting round the campfire holding Vince McMahon to the flames, as three further sexual misconduct hush money allegations are brought to the attention of the public eye.
The Wall Street Journal publishing a second article on Friday detailing the alleged agreements. Not even the WWE used ‘consensual’ in their statement this time. That’s not the ‘C’ word quoted here, we’re talking straight up ‘coercion’.
The alleged hush money total currently at $16million over four known incidents, with the largest payout coming in 2018 at a ginormous $7million to keep a former wrestling talent from going public. It turns out female independent contractors are just as likely to be sexually harassed by their boss as the employees are.
A pattern emerging, painting a picture clear to see. This really is just the beginning and the WWE Board will continually have to answer questions that will not be going away any time soon. That doesn’t mean I expect Vince to step down from his roles, but as this goes on (and further stories emerge) his misconduct becomes increasingly tied to the company.
The McMahon legacy is tied to WWE, if that comes attached with serial misconduct then how long does he seriously have left? In two weeks escalating from some fans brushing the story aside as “just hiding an affair” to now having to be excused for harassing and showing unsolicited nude photos to female employees , as well as coercing a wrestler into oral sex before turning down to renew their contract when they refused to continue.
We already know what the next stage is. The Rita Chatterton rape allegation has been in the sphere for a long time, only now it’s paired with a pattern of behaviour. These aren’t separate isolated incidents anymore, they’re painting the sole story.
This IS the story of Vince McMahon. The man behind the mainstream wrestling behemoth in WWE, who used his power to sexually harass workers under his employment.
These statements aren’t separate. His creation is the reason I’m a wrestling fan, that doesn’t make me incredulous to his misconduct. Like with any entertainment medium, I’d like to know in the making of the thing I’m enjoying the people who made it weren’t abused.
That doesn’t mean I stop covering the company, that’s not fair on the hundreds of people going in to their jobs, giving it their all and not sexually harassing any of their work colleagues.
Just look at the video game industry. Company after company with employees revolting against the behaviour of heads abusing their power. Vince McMahon isn’t special, he’s just another company head with a slew of misconduct allegations.
I’d like to proclaim: “Get him out of here! Get him off my TV and out of that creative chair!” But alas… Vince has the majority voting power on his own personally appointed board of yes men, the only way he steps aside is if he agrees to.
Being the creative mind behind WWE is the only position that really matters to him. That’s what he lives for. He’s not going anywhere unless there’s a major force pushing him to do so. We’ll see in time how strongly his actions become tied to his company.
As for now, there’s whole arenas worth of fans arms open ready to forgive him for whatever misconduct is revealed next.
Oh by the way, “Why didn’t you talk about the show, Imp?” SmackDown was PISS POOR this week. NOTHING happened. 13 minutes of wrestling in total, as we retreaded the exact same (well delivered by Heyman) ground for Reigns/Lesnar that we did for ‘Mania in spite of Roman having now beaten him.
Ending on a show long hype for a main event that didn’t happen because, “Ha! Swerve! Got you!” No, you just cheated some fans out of a match they wanted to see and ended the show on a flat note to drag a storyline through SummerSlam.
Great job, what a great creative output the serial sexual harasser is generating for his company.
I need to cut myself off before I go on a column long rant, but MY GOD SmackDown is awful.
Monday Night RAW
July 4th 2022
USA! USA! USA!
There’s your ruddy table spot, happy now??
Oh Monday, you seem so far away now I revisit you in my mind. A night celebrating ‘Merica! Glorious eagles, patriotic video packages and CGI flags; all adorned in the red, white and blue.
As a Brit the sheer patriotism is quite possibly the most foreign thing about America to me. Nah, where I live we shit on where we come from. As a nation we thrive on everything being wrong. They had to a release a ‘Worst UK Towns To Live In 2’ because too many people complained their town wasn’t included.
And with Jimmy Smith going, “F’ off, I’m not working Independence Day,” on holiday we were lead through the night by the delight of Kevin Patrick’s Irish tones! This really was a party. He was great to boot! Nothing more American than an Irishman emigrating and thriving.
Speaking of, our main event for the night was an Extreme Rules rematch between Becky Lynch and Asuka. A damn enjoyable affair with both women launching themselves all over the shop as they pulled off some genuinely innovative spots.
Some nice little moments with Asuka delivering kicks to a trash can clad Lynch in denting fashion. Whilst others were strong character unique moments like Becky blocking a Poison Mist by opening up Asuka’s previously introduced umbrella.
All to the tune of “We want tables!” every time there was a break in the action. Not the wrestler’s fault at all as these two delivered a hell of a character and action packed 10 minute main. It’s just easily one my least favourite chants that’s cemented after years of response conditioning. Whenever there’s any No DQ match of any sort in any company, “We don’t care what you’re building to or what story you’re telling, give us the arbitrary thing!”
So much hate, Daniel Bryan was right.
A main event easily worth the watch, as for the rest of the show…. eh it depends how much you love America and body humour.
July 6th 2022
This. Is. WAAAR!
The TNT Championship finally back on trajectory!
Another solid episode of Dynamite bookended with two of their lad’s singles titles on the line.
The rise of Wardlow climbing to a new peak, becoming TNT Champion as fire erupts behind him in victory. The crowd exploded in his crowning moment as the smoke from the Power Bomb streak permeated Rochester. The home of Brodie Lee in full standing applause with their approval.
I was also impressed with the awesome visual for the entering champion, accompanied by Page, Lambert and a handful of American Top Team lads. Making Scorpio feel like a big deal ahead of the War sword striking him down.
I honestly didn’t mind Scorpio’s reign, a perfect kind of guy to hold on to the title for the reset. A bigger role than a transitional champion, as he was essentially a great lad to absorb all of the previous stink and set the title nice and fresh for the next lad.
I now just hope Wardlow gets a nice long reign to pay off on his rising dominance. Really cement it, maybe even serve the already set up champion vs champion clash once CM Punk returns.
There was so much progression on this show, beats worth talking about and characters cemented in their new elevations. In particular Christian continuing to slay his heel demeanour and Jon Moxley holding himself in the main event like the champion he is.
AEW have some time till All Out in the first week of September. They can use the breathing room to cap off some lingering feuds and ready the Dynamite boat to set sail proper in August. AEW puts so much into distinguishing their characters that any number of pairings have potential right now. There’s no rush though, I’m perfectly happy existing in the fallout of double whammy of Forbidden Door and Blood & Guts for a couple weeks.
Not that what’s being booked is a calm and relaxing wrestling affair… because that wouldn’t be very ‘Eddie Kingston’ would it?
July 8th 2022
Eddie Kingston vs Konosuke Takeshita
AEW yet again showing how you make a star in defeat
“Oh damn!” I proclaimed Thursday morning as I watched Dynamite. The graphic of Kingston facing Takeshita flashing up on my screen as Excalibur blasted through upcoming matches like they were side effects for medication.
Well if mediocre, nothing SmackDowns are the illness, then consider AEW Rampage the cure. The easiest wrestling show to watch of the week, a solid hour of action with the time going by like it’s nothing. Even a lesser week of importance is still such an enjoyable watch.
This week kicking off with a killer of a match. Eddie Kingston getting to wrestle his AJPW tribute against Takeshita, as the young Japanese talent’s stock continues to soar. A physical as hell match with the two laying in to each other in style, really elevating the young lad as Eddie backfists him into the night.
Kingston getting a nice win against a rapidly rising young star, setting him up to deliver a damn great promo setting up his Fyter Fest match. As I said, calm and relaxing isn’t really his style. Instead challenging Chris Jericho to a Barbed Wire Deathmatch in his laser focused objective to make his rival bleed.
Good God! Just in case you were afraid the Discovery merger might force AEW to relax on any violence… NOPE! From Blood & Guts to a Barbed Wire Deathmatch, Eddie isn’t stopping until he’s seen that man’s blood.
Oh and by the way the Jericho Appreciation Society will be suspended above the ring in shark cages. Well that’s certainly a thing that will be happening.
RAW Grade – Becky & Asuka tore it up! Skip the rest.
SmackDown Grade – Literally nothing of note happened.
AEW Dynamite Grade – So much set up coming out of a show with two banger title matches.
AEW Rampage Grade – AEW making yet another young star in defeat.
Comment below. I’ll be here to reply and chat this weird wrestling world.
Imp’s Week In Wrestling – Vince McMahon: Hush Money and Creative Bankruptcy
Imp’s Week In Wrestling – The Forbidden Door Swings and Championship Wins
Imp’s Week In Wrestling – Banks & Naomi, MJF/Wardlow and “Disappointing the fans”