Imp’s Wrestling Adventure
Saturday hits once again and it’s been pissing it down with rain for days over here. So time for a column that decends in an accurate reflection of the increasingly crap British weather this week!
All bright and chipper to start with, but I progressively become a whingey twat as the column goes on. Wednesdays are an absolute highlight, Fridays… not so much. I wouldn’t mind being in a positive mood when finishing up this column, but alas now SmackDown’s the final WWE note of the week instead of NXT.
Really the atmosphere on social media reflects this sentiment pretty accurately. Yes Wednesday & Thursday has those AEW/WWE lines present, but that’s not representative of the majority of fans who are on the whole largely positive. Be it NXT or AEW or both like me, we’re flat out enjoying what we’re seeing. Both shows are delivering, such an awesome feeling to walk out pumped for the next week of two wrestling shows I’m genuinely excited to watch.
Especially when WWE’s main roster presentation falls further and further into tropes I’m not a fan of. Like they’ve picked up so many bad habits without consequence as they were the only storytellers in town, we were simply grateful for their presence even if we were entirely buying what they were selling. But we’re not in that world anymore, those habits are now flat out cons.
But we’ll get into that later, this column’s starting out all chipper and the like remember!
A quick note on CM Punk, it really is cool for his fans to get to see the man cut that wrestling jibber jabber on TV once again. For me personally my reaction was a quick, “Oo that’s nice,” then I moved on and got on with my day. Like seeing a tasty pastry in Birds before walking right past to catch the bus. Yeah, it’s nice, I’m never going to watch it though. It’s not out of some anti-WWE stance, plus I live in the UK and WWE Backstage doesn’t air here anywhere.
Even if it did, with so much quality wrestling being pumped out every week when in the hell would I have the time or energy to dedicate to an hour of talking about storylines I’m only half interested in? A cool show for hardcore WWE fans, but for me it’s an… ‘eh’.
AEW Dynamite on TNT
November 13th 2019
MJF Can Drop The ‘J’ Now
I could watch these two all day
There’s 4 hours worth of wrestling to consume every single Wednesday, something dangerous when it’s all so easy to consume. Both shows are flying by right now, even my notes of criticism are of a place of a much higher bar than elsewhere.
Like with the women, my note is just do what they are, but you know, more often. It’s cool to want AEW Dark to be must watch, but it wouldn’t hurt to feature them more on Dynamite itself. I know they’re dedicating more time to the tag team world, if anything that’s what WWE are sacrificing to give that time to the women. You can’t have both every single week and maybe AEW are realising that, with only a finite amount of time you can’t feature everyone.
Just be ready because every show you don’t give a lot of time to the women, there will be complaints. Especially as fans won’t forget more focus was promised ahead of Full Gear, the true point that they’re still figuring out what the show is has a time limit. I’m personally expecting that to take months if not over a year to truly find, but it’ll only fly for most people for a short while before questions raise.
In that vein of focus/attention, the fallout from Saturday’s PPV had a lot of it set on Chris Jericho, MJF and the tag team championships. I just want to give all the praise in the world to that promo between the two, both played their roles to absolute perfect with crowd 100% in tow. An excellent example of how to pull off a heel vs heel segment with them realising a common enemy, even if in the bigger picture they’re not allies.
No MJF didn’t join the Inner Circle, if that’s what you took away then you missed the entire point of the segment. With the two completely unable to set aside their own egos and admit they could benefit each other. Plus if this told you one thing, it’s that if MJF did join the stable there’s no way in hell he’d be able to handle not being the most important person in it.
MJF is many things, being a follower sure ain’t one of them.
For poor Chris Jericho, we got a nice consequence to words earlier spoken in the main event. Just to recall, in an earlier post-win tirade Le Champion was throwing shade on everyone he passed backstage. One of those comments was thrown to an off camera wrestler, “Hey Scorpio Sky, you’ll NEVER get a chance at this title!”
Well guess what? This week’s episode ended with that very man scoring a pinfall over Le Champion, you hate to see it.
When even throw away comments come back to bite even the biggest of characters, man this world feels so alive.
NXT on USA
The Best NXT on USA Yet
And that was one of the least painful spots of the match!
Following the positive vibe, this week’s venture down to Full Sail was also an absolute joy.
Lio Rush and Angel Garza absolutely killed it in their opening Cruiserweight Championship match. Quite possibly my favourite of all these high energy, pulse pumping show openers. A personal highlight being the two headbutting each other both sat on the top rope with their arms hooked, such a damn fun match.
Also Garza stripping in front of Rush’s family for mega heat: 10/10.
Further down the show I realised I absolutely love both Swerve and Bronson Reed. Yes I’m one of those nerds that had already become a fan of them before their WWE days, but the presentation they’ve had so far has really elevated them both. Bloody loved their match, can’t wait for the era where both those lads are main eventing the show over championships. They’re both incredible, had my full attention even in their short mid-card unspectacular.
Also, in the past I’ve banged on about how WWE/NXT’s entrance themes have gone through the floor since CFO$ left, but bloody ‘ell are the tunes for both these lads absolute bangers.
And finally the main event ladder match between Mia Yim vs Io Shirai was BRUTAL! How Yim was wrestling two days later with nothing but a plaster I have no idea. Those two threw everything into that and that was all before a scary as hell crash to the outside for the Blasian Baddie with a “Kay Lee Ray says ‘ello!”
Such a high paced episode of NXT from start to finish, the thing never let. Easily my favourite show of the week, Full Sail was white hot throughout the entire thing.
Oh and feckin’ hell Finn Balor is RIPPED. It’s not fair at this point *eats a whole packet of bourbon biscuits*
Monday Night RAW
The Man in ‘Man’chester
Coincidentally I had to pull myself away from listening to Man With A Mission to watch RAW this week.
And ah yes, back to the land of visibly seeing people clap and cheer whilst hearing, “Booo.” I moaned about it last week, not going to do it again. Just being consistent, it irritated me again so hey here we are.
Even though I am English, I completely forgot RAW was recorded in Manchester late last week. Hey, a lot happened over the weekend and I was up 23 hours on Saturday! Imp’s allowed to forget things when it comes to the third promotion down in his fan hierarchy.
In case you’re wondering: NJPW > AEW > WWE.
But it’s been a while since I’ve properly talked about the women in WWE. Set to a slow build in the background whilst the PPV being built to wasn’t going to be featuring them. The division was heavily featured in programming, but they weren’t directly building to anything for a wee while so that purpose wasn’t exactly there for their segments.
Now we’re back into the grove however! Becky Lynch is opening shows, NXT interference is casting an aura of unexpectancy over everything and the Women’s Champions Triple Threat legit feels strong enough to main event the whole Survivor Series shebang. If anything that time of slow build has benefitted the Women’s divisions, it’s given a lot of gravitas to proceedings now things are kicking into gear.
This week may not have driven anything momentous, but I’m a fan of the course. Especially when you add in the on NXT animosity within their own Women’s division, the four wrestlers that attacked Bayley and Sasha Banks this week are the exact same four who’ve been teaming up recently in the build to War Games.
Huzzar for continuity! Because I’ll be honest, that was a slight worry of mine. The possibility the stories and rivalries on NXT were going to be subdued on the main roster, held back for just Wednesdays as everyone unites to take on RAW & SmackDown. So I’m damn pleased to see that isn’t the case, alliances are crossing over.
Also bloody ‘ell, Mia Yim wrestling on FOX two days after that ladder match. Her tough badass reputation keeps building!
Unfortunately, if I’m talking about how the women are doing in WWE right now, I’ve also got to talk about the storyline revolving around Lana. If you weren’t aware with the episode being edited, the UK crowd booed her RAW segment to smithereens. They absolutely weren’t having any of it. But on TV it came across as absolutely hilarious, just the whole presentation with it played so seriously with the crowd in the background simply taking the piss.
To be fair, the script she was given was awful. I talked about that last week, an actor is nothing if they’re handed a shite script. If WWE wants to be regarded as serious storytellers, then they have to completely change how they write their dialogue. Believable characters do not talk in exposition, or flat out read their character sheets. Like Bayley this week on SmackDown, fine delivery of a script that was literally just her character traits. ‘I like this’ and ‘I don’t like that’s told right to your face so it’s impossible to not follow.
When that kind of writing hits a story like Lana & Rusev’s, get ready for critique because there’s going to be a lot of it. Soap Opera writing with overly dramatic reveals, does not mix well with characters slapping you in the face with exposition of their emotions. It’s one step too far and the closest I can come to enjoyment is watching it as comedy, there’s no possible way I can become invested and believe in those characters.
Just watch Kenny Omega’s backstage segment from AEW this week. He achieved absolutely all the same notes a WWE doctor’s room segment would, but did it with one sentence and a look. That is all you need, surprisingly enough a high number of wrestlers are pretty good at acting facial expressions.
Show don’t tell.
Final point, the success of these segments online isn’t because they’re good. It’s down to that old adage: sex sells.
Which is especially so on the internet.
Although on that note, please bring back Moustache Rusev.
SmackDown on FOX
November 15th 2019
The first angle CM Punk’s got to talk about on TV for the first time in years is Furry Roman, you love it.
Okay, so I was really not looking forward to SmackDown after struggling through the past few episodes. Fair to say with how the show’s forming it really isn’t to the tastes of Imp’s Pro Wrestling. Nothing wrong if you are, but long story short in pausing the show to write this during the opening stages I convinced myself to turn the thing off.
I’ll get into why in a second, but with that negative paragraph said, I won’t lie that my spirits were temporarily lifted the second I saw Baron Corbin on a throne, just all the yes for that. All wrestling royalty should take notes from King Gino.
There’s your niche Australian wrestling scene reference for the month.
However, the snap back to reality was a quick and vicious slap to the face. The reminder that Corbin has once again surrounded himself with two other fellers to take down Roman Reigns, we’re at the exact same bloody point as last year! Different looking pieces, exact same purpose of story. At least there’s the benefit that this time those similarities might only be temporarily be present. More in line with building to the formation of Survivor Series teams than something to really get worried over.
Then came the guy in a Big Dog costume with the little dog barking over Roman Reigns’ theme, such easy pickings for those ‘Who booked this crap?!’ memes. I reckon I would have loved that as a child, it’s kinda stupid and silly. Kids love that stuff. I bet this went down like a treat, the exact kind of silly humour children love.
As an adult though? Yeah, it was kinda stupid and silly.
If anything, Corbin being given material like this to open the episode shows me WWE have learnt absolutely nothing from last year’s perception rock bottom. I know for folk on this site WWE is THE promotion you want to see talked about, but I’m very, very close to giving up on them again after Survivor Series. Yes compared to the summer they’ve stabilised, but I’d be flat out lying if I said they’d creatively improved.
The creative is still of such a low level, something I don’t mean as a slight if you genuinely enjoy it. But with stuff like this and Rusev/Lana/Lashley? Even if you’re enjoying it, surely it’s not because you’re genuinely invested in the story and characters involved? And the company stance is if I don’t like it I’m just an unpleasable moaning nerd?
No, that’s not reality, delegitimising criticism doesn’t help anyone. Going down that same alley regardless and telling us the story is fantastic without it actually being regarded as such?
Reality is real simple: if I don’t like it I’m going to stop watching and writing about it. That’s it, look at Lords of Pain nowadays, how many columnists are writing about WWE? There’s a reason for that. And given the wide variety of backgrounds for us all, it’d be closed minded just to throw every one into the same ‘you’re just a hater’ bracket.
Like a form of gatekeeping saying, “If you don’t like it then piss off.” That line helps nothing, plus is surely the last thing you’d actually want to happen?
A little while back Stephanie McMahon said she hoped one day WWE would be as highly regarded as Disney. I’m sorry, but this week proved WWE aren’t even in the same galaxy as that empire. If I can make any movie world comparison, WWE are the Transformers movies. Mediocre as they’re written as they’re filmed without a regard for the creative from the publishing house, because they’ll make money in spite of themselves. Those films aren’t for people who value strong writing and character arcs with meaning and narration in their movies. They’re turn your brain off fun, but it must stay off for the duration of the feature.
And that’s exactly where I’m at. I’m very aware that I’m in a very small niche of viewers that not only watches wrestling, but also pumps out a 4,000 word column on it all every single week. My brain isn’t turned off, I am following/critiquing and doing so to such a degree is when WWE falls apart. It’s literally best when watched at half attention, like you’ve got it on but you’re also focused on other things.
Plenty of wrestling in the world to spotlight, even if WWE is the one that gets you clicks.
At the end of the day I’m not enjoying it, so why in the hell should I be dedicating my time to them?
Imp’s RAW Grade – Perfectly fine, with sparks of NXT
Imp’s AEW Grade – Continues to absolutely fly by.
Imp’s NXT Grade – Best show of the week, amazing pace to it that never let up.
Imp’s SD Live Grade – I wasn’t joking, I turned it off (seen decent stuff about Bryan and NXT though)
But now to hear from you!
Comment below, rate and click an emoji too. I’ll be here to reply and chat this weird wrestling world.
Imp’s LOP Radio Adventure is LIVE every Thursday on both YouTube & Spreaker, this week Imp was joined by Jeremy Donovan of Keeping It Strong Style fame to talk NJPW Wrestle Kingdom and Showdown in San Jose!
Imp’s most recent columns:
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Imp’s NJPW Adventure – The Story of Hiroshi Tanahashi Part 1: Becoming The Ace