VOW Flagship: Fastlane, NJ Cup, Wally Yamaguchi & more!

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VOW Flagship: Fastlane, NJ Cup, Wally Yamaguchi & more!

Post by Rich Kraetsch » Thu Mar 14, 2019 1:52 pm

This week on the Voices of Wrestling Flagship podcast we review WWE Fastlane 2019, discuss the current state of WWE storytelling and our anticipation level for major WrestleMania match. Other topics include a look at our New Japan Cup brackets, what we liked in round one and what to expect in round two. Lastly, we preview ROH's 17th Anniversary Show and talk about Wally Yamaguchi's impact on wrestling beyond "Choppy Choppy Your Pee-Pee"



MP3: https://audioboom.com/posts/7201950-vow ... i-more.mp3

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Re: VOW Flagship: Fastlane, NJ Cup, Wally Yamaguchi & more!

Post by mlev76 » Thu Mar 14, 2019 5:50 pm

Every promotion relies on tropes to build their big matches and when it comes to big, Mania level matches, WWE certainly leans on the McMahon angle a bit too heavily. That said, the twists and turns between the Rumble and Mania tend to be a feature, not a bug for most WWE fans. I don't, contrary to Joe's comments, consider those of us who either enjoy or don't mind this kind of storytelling are lesser or less sophisticated fans than those who enjoy post match arrivals of wrestlers to ask a champion for a title shot.

I've not been super invested in loving or hating the Beck/Ronda/Charlotte build because to me, the end result is what I'm anticipating. Sometimes, the destination is enough regardless of the ride. On the flip side, the build with Kofi is some of their best stuff in quite some time. The Smackdown promo was genuinely one of my favorite things this year and Kofi's comments about missing time with his kids and missing special moments got to me in a way that most builds don't.

"They didn't plan this, it fell in their lap." To which I say-so fucking what? I'm tired of the downplaying of good unanticipated booking because it wasn't the original plan or retroactively saying things were failures because the first attempt to get a wrestler or storyline over failed. I mean, how much praise did the Jay White booking get for pretty much the same thing? He wasn't the guy for the spot he's in, but they did it and it was praised rightfully.

I do give you credit for at least acknowledging that the product isn't for you anymore in addition to your complaints. Most who complain aren't as self aware and it makes it impossible to listen to them.

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Re: VOW Flagship: Fastlane, NJ Cup, Wally Yamaguchi & more!

Post by Danwaka » Thu Mar 14, 2019 6:31 pm

mlev76 wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 5:50 pm
"They didn't plan this, it fell in their lap." To which I say-so fucking what? I'm tired of the downplaying of good unanticipated booking because it wasn't the original plan or retroactively saying things were failures because the first attempt to get a wrestler or storyline over failed. I mean, how much praise did the Jay White booking get for pretty much the same thing? He wasn't the guy for the spot he's in, but they did it and it was praised rightfully.
Rich does make the point of just wanting to see people win and get rewarded for winning. Jay slid into Kenny's slot by beating Okada at Wrestle Kingdom (which he wouldn't have if Okada was being groomed to beat Kenny for MSG), and then parlayed that win into challenging Tanahashi. A to B to C from reworked booking.

The framework was already there, so they just switched out Wrestler A for Wrestler B. In contrast, the WWE hardly books anything sequentially from a backwards looking perspective, so we wind up with angles being chained week to week with no overarching plot or consistency.

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Re: VOW Flagship: Fastlane, NJ Cup, Wally Yamaguchi & more!

Post by mlev76 » Thu Mar 14, 2019 6:39 pm

Danwaka wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 6:31 pm
mlev76 wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 5:50 pm
"They didn't plan this, it fell in their lap." To which I say-so fucking what? I'm tired of the downplaying of good unanticipated booking because it wasn't the original plan or retroactively saying things were failures because the first attempt to get a wrestler or storyline over failed. I mean, how much praise did the Jay White booking get for pretty much the same thing? He wasn't the guy for the spot he's in, but they did it and it was praised rightfully.
Rich does make the point of just wanting to see people win and get rewarded for winning. Jay slid into Kenny's slot by beating Okada at Wrestle Kingdom (which he wouldn't have if Okada was being groomed to beat Kenny for MSG), and then parlayed that win into challenging Tanahashi. A to B to C from reworked booking.

The framework was already there, so they just switched out Wrestler A for Wrestler B. In contrast, the WWE hardly books anything sequentially from a backwards looking perspective, so we wind up with angles being chained week to week with no overarching plot or consistency.
Kofi replaced Ali due to his injury. He pinned Bryan in the Gauntlet match and outlasted everyone but Bryan in the Chamber. At this point, from a "real" perspective, he should get the next shot, but because it was clear that the Kofi thing was bigger than a one month B show match, they needed a way to get him from point a to b without damaging Kofi. Having Owens beat Kofi to get his title shot would have done so, so they went the McMahon route instead. They teased putting him in the match and then heated him up more by screwing him over. Now, they're putting him in a situation where he does have to win (against imposing odds) to get his match. There is a very clear plot and it is consistent. Whether you, Rich, Joe or anyone else likes it is another story entirely.

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Re: VOW Flagship: Fastlane, NJ Cup, Wally Yamaguchi & more!

Post by Danwaka » Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:01 pm

mlev76 wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 6:39 pm
Kofi replaced Ali due to his injury. He pinned Bryan in the Gauntlet match and outlasted everyone but Bryan in the Chamber. At this point, from a "real" perspective, he should get the next shot, but because it was clear that the Kofi thing was bigger than a one month B show match, they needed a way to get him from point a to b without damaging Kofi. Having Owens beat Kofi to get his title shot would have done so, so they went the McMahon route instead. They teased putting him in the match and then heated him up more by screwing him over. Now, they're putting him in a situation where he does have to win (against imposing odds) to get his match. There is a very clear plot and it is consistent. Whether you, Rich, Joe or anyone else likes it is another story entirely.
Speaking for myself, I go back and forth. A lot of it doesn't interesting but there's usually specific things I get excited for to one degree or another. Batista's potential last match is the biggest thing right now.

Regarding the angle progression:

Why is Vince McMahon backing Kevin Owens for Fastlane despite the man headbutting him months earlier? Or backing Daniel Bryan, the vegan snot-nose heel that 'Genetic Jackhammer' Vince would obviously dislike? Why is he so against Kofi Kingston, with no actual reason given besides "I don't do handouts"? They don't give any actual reason on either side other than 'why not?' and 'Someone like me!', which just flashes me back to the Booker-Hunter feud.

And it has to be said, but I hate it whenever someone in the WWE does the Dolph Ziggler schtick.

"I've been here for years."

"I've busted my ass."

"I've got kids I barely see."

"Someone like me."

Etc....

It's a transition from progression to entitlement that just rankles.

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Re: VOW Flagship: Fastlane, NJ Cup, Wally Yamaguchi & more!

Post by Danwaka » Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:02 pm

Also, I'm listening along past the half-hour mark now and I can see what mlev is saying about the hostility Joe and Rich are presenting.

"Low standards of WWE fans" isn't what I'd call fair.

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Re: VOW Flagship: Fastlane, NJ Cup, Wally Yamaguchi & more!

Post by cbacon87 » Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:08 pm

mlev76 wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 5:50 pm
"They didn't plan this, it fell in their lap." To which I say-so fucking what? I'm tired of the downplaying of good unanticipated booking because it wasn't the original plan or retroactively saying things were failures because the first attempt to get a wrestler or storyline over failed.
Wrestling fans seem to have a real bee in their bonnet about this kind of stuff. I'm sure it comes from Dave and Bryan complaining about it so much and I get why they complain about it so much, because they're in the business of discussing stuff before it happens. But, things with writers get re-written. That's how other stuff works and nobody seems to mind. This idea that in wrestling you have to have one idea and go with it and if not you don't get credit, I don't really get why that matters. Owen versus Bret was originally supposed to be Bret versus Bruce. Do we have to caveat all of their matches too?

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Re: VOW Flagship: Fastlane, NJ Cup, Wally Yamaguchi & more!

Post by Rich Kraetsch » Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:39 pm

cbacon87 wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:08 pm
mlev76 wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 5:50 pm
"They didn't plan this, it fell in their lap." To which I say-so fucking what? I'm tired of the downplaying of good unanticipated booking because it wasn't the original plan or retroactively saying things were failures because the first attempt to get a wrestler or storyline over failed.
Wrestling fans seem to have a real bee in their bonnet about this kind of stuff. I'm sure it comes from Dave and Bryan complaining about it so much and I get why they complain about it so much, because they're in the business of discussing stuff before it happens. But, things with writers get re-written. That's how other stuff works and nobody seems to mind. This idea that in wrestling you have to have one idea and go with it and if not you don't get credit, I don't really get why that matters. Owen versus Bret was originally supposed to be Bret versus Bruce. Do we have to caveat all of their matches too?
You know Joe and I well enough to know that we don't ape Bryan/Dave. We are our own people with our own opinions. I would not say we are influenced by them on anything more than a macro wrestling website level. I find it pretty insulting that you'd assume we only have that opinion or take because Bryan & Dave sometimes have it. Both Joe and I have talked at length for years about our uncertainty of giving credit to WWE for a story that they needed to be pulled to kicking & screaming most notably Bryan at WrestleMania XXX.

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Re: VOW Flagship: Fastlane, NJ Cup, Wally Yamaguchi & more!

Post by mlev76 » Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:42 pm

Danwaka wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:01 pm


And it has to be said, but I hate it whenever someone in the WWE does the Dolph Ziggler schtick.

"I've been here for years."

"I've busted my ass."

"I've got kids I barely see."

"Someone like me."

Etc....

It's a transition from progression to entitlement that just rankles.
To me, Kofi's point, moreso than Big E and Xavier who did do what you're stating, was the exact opposite of entitlement. He's never felt entitled and has always just gone along with any shots he's gotten. But, now that he has been thrust into the situation and done things that would be befitting someone who has earned a shot, he doesn't understand what else he needs to do. He didn't want to be given his shot; he wanted to earn it and wanted Vince to give him the means to earn it.

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Re: VOW Flagship: Fastlane, NJ Cup, Wally Yamaguchi & more!

Post by Joe Lanza » Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:47 pm

mlev76 wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 5:50 pm
Every promotion relies on tropes to build their big matches and when it comes to big, Mania level matches, WWE certainly leans on the McMahon angle a bit too heavily. That said, the twists and turns between the Rumble and Mania tend to be a feature, not a bug for most WWE fans. I don't, contrary to Joe's comments, consider those of us who either enjoy or don't mind this kind of storytelling are lesser or less sophisticated fans than those who enjoy post match arrivals of wrestlers to ask a champion for a title shot.
I don't mind being take to task for anything I say, but in the interest of fairness, I (and Rich) consistently bury the New Japan trope of "guy walks down to the ring to ask champ for title shot" as extremely lazy and boring.

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Re: VOW Flagship: Fastlane, NJ Cup, Wally Yamaguchi & more!

Post by mlev76 » Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:51 pm

Rich Kraetsch wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:39 pm
cbacon87 wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:08 pm
mlev76 wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 5:50 pm
"They didn't plan this, it fell in their lap." To which I say-so fucking what? I'm tired of the downplaying of good unanticipated booking because it wasn't the original plan or retroactively saying things were failures because the first attempt to get a wrestler or storyline over failed.
Wrestling fans seem to have a real bee in their bonnet about this kind of stuff. I'm sure it comes from Dave and Bryan complaining about it so much and I get why they complain about it so much, because they're in the business of discussing stuff before it happens. But, things with writers get re-written. That's how other stuff works and nobody seems to mind. This idea that in wrestling you have to have one idea and go with it and if not you don't get credit, I don't really get why that matters. Owen versus Bret was originally supposed to be Bret versus Bruce. Do we have to caveat all of their matches too?
You know Joe and I well enough to know that we don't ape Bryan/Dave. We are our own people with our own opinions. I would not say we are influenced by them on anything more than a macro wrestling website level. I find it pretty insulting that you'd assume we only have that opinion or take because Bryan & Dave sometimes have it. Both Joe and I have talked at length for years about our uncertainty of giving credit to WWE for a story that they needed to be pulled to kicking & screaming most notably Bryan at WrestleMania XXX.
This is very much true and very big shortcoming in your analysis/a blindspot you have. Not crediting making a change when something isn't working or when they are forced to change things due to an injury or other unanticipated event occurs is not fair in my opinion. I'm thinking more of your critiques about Austin and Rock and not crediting Vince/WWE because their original incarnations failed. Obviously, in both those cases and in others, you need to give a bulk of the credit to the performer. But, discounting a home run on a second or third at bat because you struck out the first time is not fair.

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Re: VOW Flagship: Fastlane, NJ Cup, Wally Yamaguchi & more!

Post by Joe Lanza » Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:55 pm

In regards to the Kofi thing falling in their lap, I think (or at least tried) to convey that they have done a good job taking advantage of it, but I think it's also disingenuous to ignore precedent when it comes to WWE and fail to acknowledge that for decades they've slotted people at a certain level and refused to budge except when the hand is either forced or they stumble upon it without intent. I'd be more apt to fully praise a promotion that doesn't have that history in regards to going with something that caught them by surprise. They had already derailed this very same guy once before.

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Re: VOW Flagship: Fastlane, NJ Cup, Wally Yamaguchi & more!

Post by Danwaka » Thu Mar 14, 2019 8:02 pm

mlev76 wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:42 pm

To me, Kofi's point, moreso than Big E and Xavier who did do what you're stating, was the exact opposite of entitlement. He's never felt entitled and has always just gone along with any shots he's gotten. But, now that he has been thrust into the situation and done things that would be befitting someone who has earned a shot, he doesn't understand what else he needs to do. He didn't want to be given his shot; he wanted to earn it and wanted Vince to give him the means to earn it.
I mean, Kofi literally talked about his son losing his first tooth two nights before. That said, he did also ask what he needed to do.

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Re: VOW Flagship: Fastlane, NJ Cup, Wally Yamaguchi & more!

Post by Rich Kraetsch » Thu Mar 14, 2019 8:09 pm

mlev76 wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:42 pm
Danwaka wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:01 pm


And it has to be said, but I hate it whenever someone in the WWE does the Dolph Ziggler schtick.

"I've been here for years."

"I've busted my ass."

"I've got kids I barely see."

"Someone like me."

Etc....

It's a transition from progression to entitlement that just rankles.
To me, Kofi's point, moreso than Big E and Xavier who did do what you're stating, was the exact opposite of entitlement. He's never felt entitled and has always just gone along with any shots he's gotten. But, now that he has been thrust into the situation and done things that would be befitting someone who has earned a shot, he doesn't understand what else he needs to do. He didn't want to be given his shot; he wanted to earn it and wanted Vince to give him the means to earn it.
This right here is what irks me about WWE storytelling and what I tried to put across on the show. I don't care the path, the result, whatever. The fact that stories for the last two decades have relied on a perform having to walk up to a McMahon hat in hand and ask for a chance/opportunity/shot has finally broken me. I'm sick of it. I'm over it. I want guys to get title matches because they are overwhelming great at what they do. I want them to get shots because they win a lot.

I said it at one point during the show. You will never be able to convince me that we needed all of the bullshit leading to Becky/Charlotte/Ronda. If you can't tell the story of "ass-kicking babyface that the crowd loves vs. undefeated champion" without involving McMahon oversight/worked shoots/inserting someone else into the mix then you have lost your touch. Plain and simple. That was a 3-on-1 fastbreak that they stopped to let the defense catch-up. They still may score on the play and they probably will but just take the fucking open shot.

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Re: VOW Flagship: Fastlane, NJ Cup, Wally Yamaguchi & more!

Post by mlev76 » Thu Mar 14, 2019 8:18 pm

Rich Kraetsch wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 8:09 pm
mlev76 wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:42 pm
Danwaka wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:01 pm


And it has to be said, but I hate it whenever someone in the WWE does the Dolph Ziggler schtick.

"I've been here for years."

"I've busted my ass."

"I've got kids I barely see."

"Someone like me."

Etc....

It's a transition from progression to entitlement that just rankles.
To me, Kofi's point, moreso than Big E and Xavier who did do what you're stating, was the exact opposite of entitlement. He's never felt entitled and has always just gone along with any shots he's gotten. But, now that he has been thrust into the situation and done things that would be befitting someone who has earned a shot, he doesn't understand what else he needs to do. He didn't want to be given his shot; he wanted to earn it and wanted Vince to give him the means to earn it.
This right here is what irks me about WWE storytelling and what I tried to put across on the show. I don't care the path, the result, whatever. The fact that stories for the last two decades have relied on a perform having to walk up to a McMahon hat in hand and ask for a chance/opportunity/shot has finally broken me. I'm sick of it. I'm over it. I want guys to get title matches because they are overwhelming great at what they do. I want them to get shots because they win a lot.

I said it at one point during the show. You will never be able to convince me that we needed all of the bullshit leading to Becky/Charlotte/Ronda. If you can't tell the story of ass-kicking babyface that the crowd loves vs. undefeated champion then you have lost your touch. Plain and simple. That was a 3-on-1 fastbreak that they stopped to let the defense catch-up. They still may score on the play and they probably will but just take the fucking open shot.
Two things are at play which will never change and will likely always keep you from fully appreciating WWE:

1) I believe it was last week when you guys noted coming from a sports background and that coloring your likes in wrestling (may have been a Patreon show). WWE does not, on the main roster, work like that and never has. It's been built on championship matches based on grudges, struggling underdogs overcoming odds and occasionally, like with the Royal Rumble winners, wrestlers surviving incredible odds to get ahead. I don't think the idea that "wins and losses don't matter" is true; it's just that they are not sole determining factor in how things work. Never has been.

2) They are locked into the concept of running 52 weeks of tv every year twice a week with monthly big events and quarterly bigger events. They are a tv product, not a traditional wrestling product. They don't believe you can get through that much content without telling their stories. I don't know that they're wrong.

In the end, however, the people who end up in these big spots generally are the great talents you seek or go on great runs to get into the positions they are in. Especially at the Universal and WWE level, they are (for the most part) putting those people front and center.

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