Imp’s Wrestling Adventure
Another 9 hours of wrestling served nice n’ hot, another week Imp blasts through it all for your reading pleasure. Every Sunday talking RAW, SmackDown, AEW & NXT like the madman I am, pretending I don’t miss the outside or seeing ‘friends’.
JK, I’m joking. I go outside sometimes… taking the bins out counts, right?
Last week I rather enjoyed talking about a single topic across all four shows, as I dove into the women’s divisions and asked how they were all doing. To rather an interesting and unfortunately often transphobic response, as Dustin Rhodes put it, “Get over yourselves.”
Or at least, if you’re going to hate so strongly, educate yourself on the topic at least a tad so you don’t come across as a moron. If you’re going to be a twat, be an educated twat. You’d be surprised how much hate comes from misinformation.
However, across the board NXT was praised as the absolute best in the handling of their women’s division. The consensus being in such agreement really does say a lot. To get a wide variety of people all of the same opinion like that, you’ve got to be doing something right.
So this week I thought why not do the opposite of that? Focus on one show and try to figure out why I feel the way I do about the ruddy thing. The good and the bad: has Smackers been a hit for FOX? Have WWE fixed their path? Is the Road to WrestleMania making the past months all click together?
Does the good outweight the bad? Or the other way round?
Why Do I Hate SmackDown So Much?
AKA The Show With The Same Match Ups Since October And No End In Sight
My least favourite show, but my favourite big boy. You get over here, Otis!
I’ve always said ‘hate’ is a strong word when it comes to me and wrestling. I don’t really feel dislike towards anything with that amount of passion, I’m a chirpy chap so if I don’t enjoy something I just switch it off and move on. Wrestling is a variety show, so there is likely going to be certain bits or styles you don’t enjoy as much.
And that’s fine. You can’t make everything for everyone, it’s impossible. As the saying goes ‘you can’t please all of the people all of the time, but you can please some of the people some of the time’.
You know what? After the last year or so it’s genuinely great that I can say we’re in an era where we’re getting 3 solid wrestling shows on mainstream TV each week.
It’s not 4 though.
WWE’s Friday night show seemingly hosts every one of my issues with WWE, all crammed into 2 hours of television I wouldn’t be watching if it weren’t for LOP. Everything from minor production peeves, to writing woes, to rivalry repetition.
Don’t get me wrong, there are positives. It’d be blind of me to paint the whole show in the same one bad lick of paint. I’m fully in on everything The Fiend does (bar KSA), Otis is so damn loveable and I’ve even been enjoying Bayley’s heel run.
Arguably the Women’s division has reached an even better place now the champion’s moved on from Lacey Evans, who is an act I just struggle to get invested in. No slight, it’s clear she’s been doing a great job as a face, her patriotic parent character just doesn’t connect with me and my foreign bottom.
So there are positives, however as a whole, the show’s well below the modern day par. SmackDown is my least favourite to watch each week by quite some margin, for example the main event scene with the never ending feud between Roman Reigns and Baron Corbin sucks the life out of any enjoyment I was having. With me wanting to tune out before I’ve made it to the final match, which is never a good sign. Also a state of mine that isn’t helped when Saudi Arabia rolls around.
Which was a major difference between RAW & SmackDown this week in particular: the first built to WrestleMania and was still enjoyable, the latter didn’t build to WrestleMania one iota and was entirely about the Saudi show next week. As if RAW managed to keep the bigger picture in mind whilst Smackers got sucked right in to the semi-canon KSA bubble.
If you are someone with no intention to tune in to the WWE Network next Thursday, you can tune right the hell out of SmackDown. Well, I mean it’s too late now, but in hindsight you could have switched off the past few weeks and be nice n’ refreshed ready for John Cena.
I’m personally so disconnected that I find it funny seeing reactions online to potential match results. I just look and see a semi-canon special with no main arc relevance, how are you that drawn in to the outcomes? How are you that upset over the featuring of old stars? It’s a Saudi Arabia show, after this we’re right back on the Road to WrestleMania as if the past 3 weeks of SmackDown never happened. Who cares what the card is?
“Told you this would get me over!” “Dude, we lost 2 on 1 to a guy with multiple spinal surgeries. You’re not doing well.”
I digress, the quality of SmackDown has fallen off a cliff so far in this era. Written so badly the roster feels barren, void of depth and many stars to work with. When it isn’t at all, it’s just a consequence of bad writing to feel like there aren’t any characters. Chad Gable went from killing it in the King of The Ring to becoming Shorty G and losing 2 on 1 against Sheamus, <sarcasm> but just you wait and see how that gimmick is going to work and get him over! </sarcasm>
Shinsuke Nakamura, Cesaro & Sami Zayn are a stone’s throw away from literally playing second fiddle to Braun Strowman & Elias. Honestly, not inherently a bad thing but it SCREAMS how much depth the SmackDown roster actually has. Carmella & Naomi have suddenly injected some life into the Women’s division, with the Queen of Staten Island healthy the entire time. Just not used as we sat watching the same matches over and over, and over, and over.
Which is my biggest criticism of SmackDown, the most in your face con with Reigns/Corbin has been the sheer amount of interaction between the two. The repetition tires you damn fast. An issue many having written about WWE before, but now in this new era it’s a problem front and centre as other mainstream promotions show them exactly how it’s done. How you actually play out a long feud, livening it up and keeping it interesting for the audience along the way.
How many times can I watch Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross vs Fire & Desire? How long has Roman Reigns vs Baron Corbin been going on? Five months? Every week with the Big Dog wrestling one or all of the same three men. For FIVE MONTHS. That’s insane.
Again, this isn’t new for WWE, but in this new era it’s an issue more apparent than ever. Easily my biggest peeve in need of address, a world of passing ships locked in their own little bubbles. When there’s alternatives out there where everyone’s on the same boat having one big party.
Which is the other part to this puzzle, the outside influences changing how you view that thing you’ve watched for years. In this circumstance in the form of 2 certain Wednesday night wrestling shows doing everything SmackDown claims to do but better.
The argument attempting to detract NXT’s success used to be that it was only 1 hour a week and therefore easier to produce, well now it’s also 2 hours so what play does the defence shift to? Then there’s AEW hitting home runs week after week, as the work put into their longer form storytelling starts to pay off with regular viewers like me gradually becoming more and more invested in their characters as time goes on (see Hangman Page’s arc from All Out to now).
Yes I’m more down on Smackers right now because its Saudi season, that’s an unavoidable influence. But my God do I enter writing my end of the week column in a sour mood more times than I am chipper, the era of Reigns vs Corbin has been rough on my wrestling soul.
The reason I brought up NXT & AEW though is because they both too have long rivalries playing out. However they’ve somehow cracked the magical formula and figured out how to write half decently enough that you don’t grow tired of them. What kind of sorcery is this? Writing long term so you can place in cool little plot points along the way, compared to whatever the hell that ‘Who Attack Roman Reigns’ arc was this Summer.
RAW & SmackDown have a few feuds right now accompanied by the, “Oh, we’ve got that again?” response. With Friday nights the larger offender given the sheer amount of time passed without mixing things up, the same match ups between the same wrestlers for months on end.
No wonder I’m growing tired.
Then the parts I have been enjoying have recently been busy dancing their Saudi Arabia match builds, is there nothing but Daniel Bryan left for me to cling to? It really should come as no surprise how quickly I zoned out on Friday. They still have not moved Reigns on from Corbin, but what else were they going to do with the Big Dog at Super Show Down? It’s a consequence of the KSA effect on the world of WWE, pacing wise you needed to have moved on weeks ago but you still can’t because you have to build to this random show.
So Limbo we enter. The television stalls. Build stops. Nothing is being set up long term. In the end it falls down to what I said earlier: in hindsight you could have easily stopped watching, had a rest and tuned back in for Cena n’ WrestleMania.
I’m not going to lie, the build to this Saudi show has been more canon than before. Doesn’t change that the product has still halted so it could enter this temporary bubble. Whilst there’s an alternative out there constantly building and reminding you every segment you watch each week matters.
So why have I hated watching SmackDown as of late? Well they need to progress, I’m bored. It’s a show in dire need of a WrestleMania to kick start them off the road they’ve been stalled on since November.
There is plenty good to find, but for the last few weeks it’s been misted over by the Saudi Arabia build. Which is arguably the real reason behind my struggle to find enjoyment right now, I can’t enjoy the bits I want to because of my own moral clash with WWE’s. Really I should have stopped watching.
Anyway, I spent way too much time in Photoshop colour correcting that Roman image only to slap silly googly eyes on him regardless. Then I did it again with Googlyberg. So I’m not really one to talk about using time wisely. Day. Well. Spent.
John Cena’s back next week though. After all that I’m going to be tuning in next week anyway. Next time a Saudi Showdown pops it’s head up hopefully I’ll remember this column.
Comment below, rate and click an emoji too. I’ll be here to reply and chat this weird wrestling world.
Imp’s LIVE every Thursday on LOP Radio, this week he talked WWE vs AEW and looked into how great this new era actually is.
Imp’s most recent columns:
Imp’s Wrestling Adventure – Which Women’s Division Is The Best?
Imp’s Wrestling Adventure – Loser Watches Wrestler Eat Dog Food (RAW, SmackDown, AEW & NXT Feb. 1st, 2020)
Imp’s WWE Royal Rumble 2020 Notes
Imp’s WWE Adventure – Who’s Going To Win The Rumble?
Imp’s NJPW Adventure – The Story of Hiroshi Tanahashi Part 1: Becoming The Ace