This was a weekly column I was writing during the summer-fall of last year and I am bringing it back. This first week is going to be the wonky and free-form format of the previous columns, but from here on out this weekly column will be structured with my likes, dislikes, match of the week and superstar/tag team/diva of the week all pertaining to the happenings on WWE TV during the previous week. This will include Monday Night Raw, Main Event, NXT, Smackdown, Superstars and PPV using a Monday through Sunday schedule. It will appear on VoicesofWrestling.com every Monday afternoon to recap the previous week of WWE TV and prepare you for Monday Night Raw. This week I will just be using my old format which was just running down some hot WWE topics that struck a chord with me.
The Stone Cold Podcast
Similar to when Vince McMahon sat down with Stone Cold, this podcast has been very polarizing. Steve Austin was clearly more comfortable during this interview than he was with McMahon. Austin did not appear as guarded and nervous about asking follow-up questions. Perhaps this was due to the feedback from the McMahon interview, or (more likely) Triple H being more of a peer to Austin.
On the other hand, Triple H was obviously guarded. The best portion of this interview was when Triple H was talking about NXT and how Vince has really allowed him to have 100% control over it. Triple H talked about putting together NXT for the “hardcore fans”, because he knows they make up the majority of his audience. We have all speculated about how much of NXT’s entertainment value had Triple H’s fingerprints on it. I wouldn’t go so far as to say when Triple H is running the WWE that it will be like a larger scale NXT, but the direction could remain the same. Triple H talked about believing in bullet point promos, good wrestling, and long-term storylines. These are the things we need to see in the WWE.
The subject of Chyna going to the Hall of Fame has been a hot topic.
- Does she really need to be in the WWE Hall of Fame?
- You can do drugs, be an alcoholic, kill people, beat women, etc., but if you do porn that is what crosses the line.
Now I realize that Triple H was trying to be a diplomatic representative of the WWE and this is obviously an awkward subject for him to talk about. I don’t have an issue with his answer at all, but it is an answer that will be talked about to death from here on out.
The CM Punk talk was minimal. On the infamous Art of Wrestling podcast, CM Punk stated that the night in Cleveland when he was standing in the office with Vince and Triple H letting them know he was walking out that he told Triple H to his face that “I seriously resent you for not putting me over three years ago when you should have…”. Triple H alluded to this comment by stating that Vince made that decision. Is this Triple H deflecting the heat off of himself? Did Triple H agree with the decision? Could Triple H have changed Vince’s mind?
This is what is interesting about the future state of the WWE. We watch NXT and see how great of a wrestling product that is, but then we see Triple H opening up every episode of Monday Night Raw with a 20-30 minute talking segment — we see him being the overly done heel authority figure and the focal point of storylines. Does Triple H realize there is a more entertaining way to do things on Raw? How much input does he have in Raw storylines? What does Triple H feel is REALLY “best for business”? These are the questions that intrigue a WWE fan when looking into the future.
Does kayfabe have to be dead?
One thing that really bugs me about Triple H and heel authority figures in general is that breaking kayfabe is really unavoidable when you are a legitimate corporate figure within the publicly traded WWE. With that said, the WWE doesn’t even try to keep things in kayfabe. For instance, on Monday Night Raw heel authority figure Triple H was talking to his wife, Stephanie McMahon, about how he was going to be on the Stone Cold Podcast after Raw. Makes sense; why not pitch content on the WWE Network? Triple H did this “in character”. He talked about this in his heel persona. The Stone Cold Podcast interview was done as C.O.O. Paul Levesque. The podcast was done as a behind the scenes look. Now, I would not have wanted to see Triple H do an “in character” interview with Stone Cold, but it is confusing to go back and forth like this. If Triple H is going to be a heel authority figure I would never expect or desire for Triple H to act as a heel authority figure during conference calls and whatnot, but when he is on WWE TV in a scripted environment he shouldn’t be making reference to his “other life”. It just blows the whole curtain back and shows that the Wizard of Oz is just a man with a control booth and special effects. When I watch pro wrestling I want to be fully immersed in the product. When I watch “Breaking Bad” I am fully immersed in the story. I don’t expect Bryan Cranston to be in character as Walter White when he is walking the red carpet of the Emmy’s, but I also wouldn’t enjoy Breaking Bad as much if during an episode Walter White was talking to Jesse Pinkman about how he was going to appear on “Talking Bad” with Chris Hardwick after the show to talk about why he wants to kill Tuco Salamanca.
Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan at Fast Lane
I wrote in my most recent Smackdown review my fantasy booking idea about how the WWE could do some damage control and fix this situation without having to derail the course of having Reigns defeat Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. It included Daniel Bryan coming out on Raw and talking about how he was stripped of the WWE title and never received his rematch (which he did) and then he would go on to face Roman Reigns at Fast Lane to determine who would take on Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania (which he will). The WWE’s course was the same, only they threw in the bonus Seth Rollins vs. Daniel Bryan match to sweeten the pot.
My idea would go on to have Daniel Bryan lose a close back-and-forth 20 minute match with Reigns. Daniel Bryan would get on the microphone after the match and endorse Reigns as the better man (I watched Daniel Bryan do this with every guy he wrestled on the independents during his 2010 stint post-Nexus angle, and he did a fantastic job of putting these guys over). This would alleviate some of the heat from Roman Reigns. Daniel Bryan would do a sit down interview with Michael Cole on Raw and declare that he doesn’t feel like he is 100% post-time off from the neck injury and intends to go to NXT to work his way back up. WWE would then keep him out of matches on free TV, but keep him in the public eye with spot interviews here and there talking about his progress. DBryan would then become WWE Network exclusive while wrestling any number of dream matches down on NXT that the WWE can advertise on Raw every week this adding to the Network subs. Bryan then would work his way back up to WWE, win the returning King of the Ring tournament and challenge WWE Champion, Roman Reigns at SummerSlam.
Now, that would be the direction I would take, it isn’t a likely route for the WWE to take. Fast Lane could end with Daniel Bryan going over and defeating Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. This would give Roman Reigns that stake in being ripped off that he can use down the road. Roman could continue to improve and then maybe he can challenge WWE Champion Daniel Bryan at Summerslam or try to win the Royal Rumble again next year to get the WrestleMania main event that he earned the previous year. Maybe by then the fans will WANT Roman Reigns to get his shot. That is the thing the WWE has been missing with the Reigns train. Stone Cold, The Rock, John Cena, Daniel Bryan all have one thing in common. They won over the fans so big and the WWE kept them all from the WWE title long enough to make those fans beg and plead that the WWE would finally give them a shot at being the top star in the WWE. If anything the WWE should use Daniel Bryan as the work horse that is going to get Roman Reigns ready for the top spot in the WWE.
That is it for this week! Next Monday I will be covering the week of February 2nd – February 8th of WWE TV with my likes and dislikes, Match of the Week, Superstar/Tag Team/Diva of the Week! You can follow me on Twitter @MrTCMitchell and read my Smackdown reviews every week right here at Voices of Wrestling.