Another week, another insane amount to talk about. I thought last week was crazy, but the wrestling wheel just does not stop. We’re on the other side of the Hell climb and fully rolling with momentum down the mountain of money.
Last Sunday brought WWE’s first certified 5-star classic in years as they elevated Cody Rhodes to a bonafide star. The feud with Seth Rollins 100% achieving its job in making sure the American Nightmare was a made man. His injury scuppering their upcoming summer plans for their new star, but by announcing he’ll be out for 9 months they’ve at least done all they can to set up a Cena-esque Rumble return come WrestleMania season.
Wishing the best for the recovery. Cody, you’re absolutely mental.
As for now, we look towards the builds for WWE’s Money In The Bank event and AEW & NJPW’s joint Forbidden Door venture. Two sold out shows set to be two of the most impactful of the year. June turning into one hell of a month to be a wrestling fan as WWE’s SummerSlam direction unfolds and AEW build towards their dream card.
I’m currently excited for both companies. Money In The Bank is my second favourite event of the WWE calendar and NJPW (my personal promotion of choice) has me damn looking forward to the month ahead. Like this schedule is tailor-made for me. I am the exact audience these two shows will attract and I’m loving the smell of the grass.
So let’s go out and have walk through these wrestling fields. Look at how positively I’m entering the wrestling world right now, how long will this week’s shows be able to hold up my optimism?
Monday Night RAW
June 6th 2022
Sure, Why Not?
That’s what you get for not wanting to be spooky supernatural!
Is a surprise simply good automatically because it is indeed surprising?
No of course not. What are you talking about? In what world is that good? Writing a TV product like a kid playing with their toys. Cheer the action and excitement but don’t look for any developing narrative through line. Obi-Wan turns on Qui-Gon Jinn because it’s cool and “woah!” you didn’t see that coming.
Are we really at the point of praising “stuff happening” even though there’s no trackable rhyme or reason for it? That’s not good television, I don’t understand why I should be singing high praise of yet another WWE moment of no substance.
The idea of the turn sounds great on paper, having Finn Balor join but it’s a ruse from the other members to overthrow Edge. However, with zero build or effort to make it work the whole thing swings right into one massive negative. You can’t just do the thing without making it make sense for the characters, you’ve got to at least put some fuel in the tank before you drive. Instead they’ve stalled right out the gate and cornered themselves into retrospectively booking their way into sense… again.
It’s almost a certainty we get a, “Why? You people don’t deserve to know why!” promo next week. As given the content of Damien Priest’s promo I’m not entirely sure they know what the plan is. That said their reasoning could literally be anything. In WWE you can say what you want with Schrodinger’s canon, where the past both ‘is’ and ‘isn’t’ remembered selectively.
Because if anything Judgement Day was built on Edge giving his stablemates purpose and direction, setting them on the winning track. That was the entire point. Priest and Ripley have done nothing but win since following his leadership, so what motivates the turn? Each week the two have been nothing but positive reinforcements of their purple master’s teachings, so what traits facilitated the overthrow?
The answer is nothing. You can do what you want when your own past both ‘does’ and ‘does not’ matter on a whim. In the end that just results in it becoming increasingly difficult to get invested in the world. You reach a point of ‘things just happening’ because nothing matters.
“Anything can happen in the WWE” doesn’t mean what it used to.
June 8th 2022
AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door
My British arse will never not see the Doctor Who poster that this is
I’ve been a fan of NJPW since 2014, the year WWE pushed me away and I landed on Fighting Spirit shores. I needed a getaway from what had been my main source of wrestling and that year’s G1 Climax was the perfect antidote.
An air guitar man, a no nonsense lad kicking his way into my heart and a bloke bashing his head before kokeshi doll falling off the top rope. I’d found my home away from home, my new favourite promotion as I soured on the product from the states.
So it’s a given I should be absolutely pumped beyond belief for June 26th… right? Don’t get me wrong, I’m still excited and expecting a banger of a show. Yet I’d be lying if I said the build had done much for me at this point. I’ve enjoyed the few NJPW pop-ups we’ve had so far, but I’m not bouncing in anticipated joy like I was upon the show’s announcement.
Saying CM Punk’s injury threw a spanner into the works is an understatement. A huge match for a 2010s generation in Punk vs Tanahashi unable to take place. Suddenly names are shifted about with other dream matches shelved for another time. Instead of a direct build Dynamite was altered into being a show to determine the US side of the now Interim AEW Championship match.
We saw Will Ospreay’s debut, but within a six-man tag set up rather than a direct tease for a dream one-on-one. He won the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship the morning of posting this column, so could easily be set for a defense on the show. However I would say his AEW appearance did more to educate the fans than it did to excite me in particular.
Which I believe explains my current thoughts on the show. We’re two weeks out and don’t really have an idea of the card. Only one match is confirmed for sure, with others in the boil and a whole list big names with nothing as of writing.
I’d love to get more excited for this show, but without actually knowing what’s on it I’ll stay in this relatively calm state of simply looking forward to it. Something tells me I won’t have to wait long though…
Friday Night SmackDown
June 10th 2022
Roman Reigns Finally Gets A #1 Contender!
Hit me with your Riddle stick, hit me, hit me.
Let’s not beat around the bush, SmackDown right now is garbage. A show of lateral nothing. As we went into Hell In A Cell it was almost becoming insulting in its amounting waste of time. Going nowhere and doing it slowly.
Last Sunday was a searing indictment of the state of this show. Running into the Premium Live Event serving a plate of fresh air and fried snowballs AKA a whole heap of nothing. With us set to stay in that state through Money In The Bank further still, I questioned if there were any plans to give this show direction.
This week gave us an answer for our main event title scene. Reigns’ first #1 contender since WrestleMania finally named in Riddle, the former tag champion running in the momentum of RK-Bro’s popularity. A perfectly fine opponent for Roman to beat as they test the bro out higher up the card.
A great step forward from nothing as Roman Reigns returns to defend next week. The Golden Goose back with his basket of eggs, hopefully serving SmackDown with some purpose for the summer.
Elsewhere there’s a couple of lads on the burner, Drew McIntyre set for his end of Summer piece and Gunther booked strong, but aside from that Fridays are stuck shuffling sideways like a crab. Even then Drew’s anchored in lateral tides and Gunther’s conquered rival in Ricochet is the only other bloke contending in the division.
That’s at least two characters kept strong with possible direction, but at the same time we’re guaranteed a continuation of this lateral lull. The past three weeks we’ve opened with The Usos and closed with The Drew Day and opened with Drew Day and closed with The Usos. Riddle at least got to wrestle someone else in Sami Zayn this week before getting attacked by The Usos, but the state of play is not set to change till after Money In The Bank. So any bets what happens after next week’s show?
With the whole of the Summer left, Roman Reigns doesn’t particularly have a long list to face in the in terms of the Smackers roster: Shinsuke Nakamura seems an idea cast aside and… oh damn then we’re right back to Drew. That’s literally it.
The other names in conversation are all from RAW. Be it Riddle, Randy Orton or the now WrestleMania season bound Cody Rhodes. I’ve praised Monday nights for rising above all of these issues as to actually putting in the effort to build their characters. There’s more than a few with storylines building up. The proof is right there that this isn’t a wholesale WWE problem, with some time and thought these Friday woes could easily fade away.
For example I’m glad they’re taking their time with Gunther, using the mid-card to establish a dominating beast of a lad. This is just a problem WWE could have gotten way ahead of. Instead they put all the eggs in one basket without ever questioning, “Then what?”
Almost as if there were two people who had a tad of a point the other week.
On that, the exact same goes for the SmackDown Women’s Division. They were screwed with shallow depth before WrestleMania, never mind after Sasha & Naomi walked.
June 10th 2022
William Ospreay Enters Stage Left
Rejoice as the RevPro title’s worn out on national telly
The door swings wide once more as United Empire stride in like a bunch of dick’eads a few drinks deeper than the rest. On their jaunty crawl, loudly pissing everyone off like they now own the place.
Unfortunately for them Dax is a bull just hardcore on drugs. FTR like AEW’s bouncers not taking any of their bullshit. Ospreay does one flip and, “Alright lads, I think you’ve had enough. Let’s go home.”
For poor William this was more of a wee little teaser. A 6-man tag showing us who the United Empire are rather than trying to wow us with the lad’s whole arsenal. He’s an incredible wrestler, but you can save that for the PPV. Fingers crossed this is a sign he’s not one of the guys finding themselves in lost in the multi-man tag shuffle. Give that man a spotlight.
I’m also so glad the wider wrestling audience is able to witness the excellence of Aussie Open. They got to show a little bit of their talent on Friday, but as part of the United Empire they’re certainly a name set for their true showcase moment down the line.
A damn fun Rampage main event to get the lads over, but also giving Trent his win over the Empire and FTR another match backing up their words. Seems a given the ROH Tag Team Champions will be defending against Jeff Cobb & Great O’Khan on the 26th, but I can’t say I’d be as excited at the prospect of Ospreay vs Trent.
Sure, still a match designed to showcase Will, but given AEW’s roster the potential list of opponents has so many salivating pairings… this one is… it’s fine.
And that’s it! I’ll be back next week to trudge through the mud and continued builds for Money In The Bank and AEW x NJPW’s joint adventure.
Is the turn on Edge really that bad? Are you excited for the Forbidden Door PPV? Will Roman Reigns’ return save SmackDown?
In two weeks I’ll be live after AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door with the AEW Match Guide’s Sam Brown with WH Aftershock to review the show.
Till next week, with that I bid you adieu. Adios!