What’s up? It’s good to be back on The Main Event. I am your host, Don Franc, back with another column that you will all hopefully enjoy. Long introductions aren’t really my thing, so let’s go right to…
Extreme Rules Thoughts And The Death Of Cinematic Wrestling
So I finally managed to get to Extreme Rules and for the most part it was pretty damn enjoyable. New Day/Shinsaro for the Tag Team Championships was a fun encounter. Cesaro has a layered history with The New Day so I was expecting a good match. This certainly delivered and perhaps the look on Big E’s face after the title loss could be a sign of things to come. Bayley/Cross was rock solid as both women are more than capable in the ring. Another enjoyable match. Bayley has been on fire as of late but I hope something fresh comes up for her title reign.
MVP wins the United States Championship via forfeit? This was not clearly explained and left me scratching my head. Rollins/Mysterio was absolutely brilliant. Nobody knew what the hell to expect but I think saying that they blew expectations out of the water is fair. This match was really well worked and didn’t have to become too over the top to put emphasis on the stipulation. Rey Mysterio has been involved in these types of feuds before (Punk, Jericho) and the story and matches are always a highlight.
Banks/Asuka was fantastic up until the screwy finish. I have to admit that it slightly took away from the match. The only reason WWE went that route is because they wanted Banks to have two belts but without having Asuka take the loss. With that in mind, the finish was probably the right call and sets up another match between these great athletes. Dolph/Drew was another good match. The pre-match stipulation was Heel 101 and these two men played on the stipulation to some extent. I really enjoyed this match, that’s for sure. In fact, I enjoyed the entire show until…
The Swamp Fight. Seriously, what the hell was that? It was like an extremely low budget movie and it served absolutely no purpose (well, besides bringing The Fiend into the fray; although that was always bound to happen). This was pure and utter trash. This “match” was not cohesive at all. Who were the two guys Braun was fighting? This match didn’t even include any real throwbacks to their days at the swamp. This match was completely ineffective at putting a spotlight on their time together at their “home”. Why was Strowman constantly hallucinating? Clearly his character has a thing for Alexa Bliss. This match was piss poor to be quite frank. It made no sense, served no purpose and just felt like a giant build-up play to bring The Fiend into the feud. Pathetic.
With how terrible The Swamp Fight was, I think WWE needs to put their new favourite toy – cinematic wrestling – away for awhile. Too much of a good thing is never a good thing. WWE has taken the allure away from cinematic wrestling. Not every show needs to include a cinematic match! Vince might as well change the name of his company to WCW: World Cinematic Wrestling. I really feel as though WWE should shy away from this specific genre of wrestling for for quite a bit of time. It will only do wonders when Undertaker returns and has his yearly cinematic match at Wrestlemania.
Only in WWE can something fun and unique be run into the ground with such force that shakes the very core of the genre. Let Extreme Rules be a lesson to Vince that he shouldn’t overstay his welcome. Although, that’s exactly what Vince is known for, so I digress. WWE has almost buried the genre as swiftly as HHH buried many a wrestler during 2003. The time has come for cinematic wrestling in WWE to be put on the shelf for now. The deeper WWE delves into the genre the less special it becomes.
If it wasn’t for a lack of a real crowd I don’t think Vince would have considered cinematic wrestling. Yet he has and he shoved it down our throats ad nauseum. It’s enough to make you want to throw up. Knowing Vince’s history, he probably won’t heed any warnings regarding the genre and will likely proceed to put a nail in the coffin at Summerslam with yet another cinematic match. These types of matches should be reserved as a unique annual affair, yet VKM is producing these matches like it’s the norm. Enough is enough. It’s time to put the new – but no longer shiny – toy away.
THE MAIN EVENT
The current WWE landscape is one filled with a lack of inspiration, apathy, laziness and a sense of disdain. There’s a stigma that has been attached to WWE for years which always presents them in a negative light. The fact of the matter is that the general opinion on WWE is more or less fair, albeit with a few exceptions. This has become more apparent to me in recent years and reached a crescendo when I took a hiatus from WWE last October. Their product had become tiresome and too predictable.
I’ve been feeling that way about them for years prior to that but I continued watching because WWE was practically all I knew. I was well aware of other promotions and even watched a few shows outside the WWE realm, but yet being a loyal WWE viewer since I was a kid kept me watching. At times it felt like I wasn’t even tuning in out of enjoyment but instead out of habit. But no longer can I force myself to watch a show that doesn’t interest me for the duration.
I’ve been watching every episode of RAW and SDL since the night after Wrestlemania and although there were bright spots, it wasn’t enough to outshine the dim demeanour of the show. Perhaps these feelings are natural considering how long I’ve been watching WWE. I don’t want to feel the way I do about a promotion I grew up watching, but the ‘E hasn’t exactly gone above and beyond to maintain any interest.
I think the biggest problem with WWE is complacency. They’ve monopolized the industry and they’ve been on top for so long that they no longer feel the desire to put on a show worth watching. Instead they just go through the motions. The fact that there’s no real competition in sight will feed their sense of complacency even more. This breeds a lack of vision, enthusiasm and the urge to put on the best wrestling show in the world. They’re undoubtedly the biggest promotion in the world, but they certainly haven’t been the best.
I’ve mentioned that there are bright spots, yet the light only shines on certain individuals. This is no longer the peak of wrestling where one man can carry an entire promotion. In this day and age – especially considering the decline in the popularity of wrestling in recent years – the entire roster needs to be on fire to get viewers tuning in. However, I have no faith in WWE’s creative team making this a possibility. WWE are absolutely stale at the moment and their constant recycling of television matches are becoming hard to watch. Literally. I even fast-forward most of the matches because they always include the same wrestlers!
Could it be that almost everything has been done before and that’s why wrestling as a whole has declined? That’s definitely a possibility. But with WWE being the preeminent wrestling promotion on the planet, they should be paving the way with fresh ideas. But again; the complacency has WWE putting in minimal effort. These days it feels like Vince and company are always trying to ice-skate uphill. Try as they may they just can’t get to the top of their game.
Drastic changes need to be made. For years WWE have struggled to create the next big star. Perhaps WWE should reconsider their approach at creating a megastar and instead focus their combined efforts on putting over a group of wrestlers simultaneously. This will take the pressure off a sole individual bearing the weight of the responsibility of being the individual who is the face of the company. WWE certainly have the talent to achieve this, yet Vince seemingly believes that there can only be one main guy.
Also, the creative on the show is stagnant. If the bookers cannot create enthralling television then replace them. It’s no good sticking to the same staff who cannot get the job done. That’s like starting the same eleven for an entire season even though they’ve been losing all their matches. It just doesn’t make sense. Then again, no creative decisions goes past Vince, so who really needs to be replaced? A fresh mind definitely needs to take over and implement new ideas. It’s been all downhill in WWE for years, and the decline in quality and ratings is evidence of that.
The only good thing that has come from WWE lately is NXT. I’ve also been watching the yellow brand every week since Wrestlemania and it became apparent early on that I’ve been missing out for years. It’s hard to believe that RAW, SDL and NXT are all part of the same promotion. The former developmental brand is miles ahead of RAW and Smackdown. NXT has generally been considered great for the longest time, but the introduction of AEW has really upped the ante.
That’s the beauty of competition. It pushes you to do more. To think outside the box. It motivates you to put out the best show you possibly can. That’s in stark contrast to the red and blue brands who face no competition. That is partly why they’re lacking any form of ingenuity. I have absolutely no problem with hailing NXT and AEW as the top two wrestling shows in mainstream media. Anyone who thinks otherwise must be watching something I’ve never heard of before.
For the most part NXT has been losing the ratings war, yet the quality on display shows a willingness to fight for the top spot. HHH’s pride and ego is at stake so you better believe he is watching the ratings like a hawk and constantly thinking of inventive ways to overcome their competition. Yet more often than not it appears to be a daunting task. Despite many a loss to AEW in the Wednesday Night Wars, the motivation to be the best show on a Wednesday seeps through your television set. And that’s what Pro Wrestling is supposed to be about; putting on the best show possible.
Personally I give AEW the nudge over NXT, yet some weeks it’s hard to determine who put on the better show considering they’re both so damn good. This war has been really fruitful for fans in general. We get to see two motivated promotions in a head-to-head battle for dominance every single week. So with such great wrestling across AEW and NXT, who needs WWE? I, for one, do not.
In fact, I’m no longer torturing myself by watching the blue and red brand and will instead watch the weekly Top 10 and watch anything that may be interesting. I think it would serve as a wake up call if everybody stops watching WWE and focusses all their attentions on AEW and NXT. I know; it’s wishful thinking, the same wishful thinking that makes you believe WWE is actually going to improve without a fire being lit up under their asses. Until that happens I’m sticking to what I know to be good, namely AEW and NXT.
And that does it for this edition of The Main Event. Do you think cinematic wrestling is dead? What do you think of the current WWE climate and the impact the Wednesday Night War has? Feel free to comment below. Alternatively, you can pop me an email: [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter @donfranclop. It’s been a blast guys. But until next time…
This is Don Franc signing out.