VOW Flagship: The Fiend, New TV Landscape, NJPW, ROH

Talk about shows from the Voices of Wrestling podcast network and argue with us here.
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Joe Lanza
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VOW Flagship: The Fiend, New TV Landscape, NJPW, ROH

Post by Joe Lanza » Fri Sep 27, 2019 2:44 am

One of the last weeks of normalcy begins with a discussion of THE FIEND Bray Wyatt, the new pro wrestling TV landscape with NXT, AEW, Impact, WWE, ROH, MLW, Beyond Wrestling and so many more all vying for our attention on a weekly basis.

We also review NJPW's Destruction in Kobe, preview the upcoming Fighting Spirit Unleashed weekend and touch briefly on King of Pro-Wrestling.

Last but almost certainly least, a preview of Ring of Honor Death Before Dishonor 2019. Because, yes, there is a ROH PPV this weekend.

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Re: VOW Flagship: The Fiend, New TV Landscape, NJPW, ROH

Post by FilipPejic » Fri Sep 27, 2019 2:50 pm

Good podcast as usual guys, I will disagree with your opinion on the fiend character because I might be the right demo age wise for the character because the fiend gives up the fucked up adult swim types character. Like him going for this playhouse character to a fucked up crazy man wearing mask is similar to the vibes you get from too many cooks or any of those fucked up comemricals. like it goes from a scale of 0 to 100 on a fucked up scale. But I agree with you guys they way they book Seth against him is stupid, and he clearly isn’t over rating wise. But I don’t believe his character belongs with all the other wrestle crap.
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Re: VOW Flagship: The Fiend, New TV Landscape, NJPW, ROH

Post by PrivateRadio87 » Fri Sep 27, 2019 3:19 pm

On the topic of weekly wrestling saturation - do you think MLW and Beyond still find a way to benefit from all of this, and to what degree? If AEW and Smackdown on Fox create new/returning wrestling fans, do they trickle down to MLW? I also dig MLW, but a big part of the appeal for me is I don't feel any pressure to catch episodes as they happen. I also imagine the decision to go for a second season of Uncharted Territory wasn't easy with all the talk of them hemorrhaging money every episode - are they counting on some percentage of new fans becoming new hardcores? People who wanna check out what Janela or Orange were doing before Dynamite?
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Re: VOW Flagship: The Fiend, New TV Landscape, NJPW, ROH

Post by Bloodbuzz Bunk » Fri Sep 27, 2019 4:04 pm

I mostly agree with you on the Fiend discussion but I do want to say that it’s hard to pin such a SSS such as week to week ratings on him. Also there needs to be a Bray Wyatt discussion with some nuance. Wyatt has star potential he just does. He strikes me as a Cody type. Second generation wrestler, lifer in the business, deep interest and inspiration in pop culture, and above all else enough charisma to get anything over with a live crowd and create crowd connection despite being an average in ring worker. If Wyatt ever wises up and gets out of the WWE machine that builds you up only to cool you off for 5 year midcard stretches but constantly tease your imminent ascension than I think he could be a big money draw.

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Re: VOW Flagship: The Fiend, New TV Landscape, NJPW, ROH

Post by Joe Lanza » Fri Sep 27, 2019 4:23 pm

PrivateRadio87 wrote:
Fri Sep 27, 2019 3:19 pm
On the topic of weekly wrestling saturation - do you think MLW and Beyond still find a way to benefit from all of this, and to what degree? If AEW and Smackdown on Fox create new/returning wrestling fans, do they trickle down to MLW? I also dig MLW, but a big part of the appeal for me is I don't feel any pressure to catch episodes as they happen. I also imagine the decision to go for a second season of Uncharted Territory wasn't easy with all the talk of them hemorrhaging money every episode - are they counting on some percentage of new fans becoming new hardcores? People who wanna check out what Janela or Orange were doing before Dynamite?
I think the smaller, lower profile shows will suffer, not rise with the tide dont speak. People only have so many hours to devote to wrestling, and honestly, I'm not sure anyone WANTS to spend that many hours on wrestling even if they can find the time.

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Re: VOW Flagship: The Fiend, New TV Landscape, NJPW, ROH

Post by Joe Lanza » Fri Sep 27, 2019 4:24 pm

Bloodbuzz Bunk wrote:
Fri Sep 27, 2019 4:04 pm
I mostly agree with you on the Fiend discussion but I do want to say that it’s hard to pin such a SSS such as week to week ratings on him. Also there needs to be a Bray Wyatt discussion with some nuance. Wyatt has star potential he just does. He strikes me as a Cody type. Second generation wrestler, lifer in the business, deep interest and inspiration in pop culture, and above all else enough charisma to get anything over with a live crowd and create crowd connection despite being an average in ring worker. If Wyatt ever wises up and gets out of the WWE machine that builds you up only to cool you off for 5 year midcard stretches but constantly tease your imminent ascension than I think he could be a big money draw.
I agree it's a SSS and it could absolutely catch on. I do think he needs to either win or very clearly dominate at the PPV

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Re: VOW Flagship: The Fiend, New TV Landscape, NJPW, ROH

Post by BoxingRobes » Fri Sep 27, 2019 10:12 pm

I started off hating and quickly ironically liking the Firefly Funhouse gimmick. It was light and harmless and it seemed like it was something Vince just let Bray do. I gravitate toward shit that Vince has no part in. Firefly Funhouse and this Fiend gimmick came off - early on - as something Vince had no real part in. Maybe I'm wrong...but that is how it felt.

Then after his first match where the crowd went BONKERS for him, the oversaturation and subtlety hammer came into play and here we are. Its hot...for now...but tend to agree with Lanza that this one's just a Candle in the Wind. And, its a shame, because Bray probably stumbled upon something that would have made him a legitimate star, and now its getting overcooked. He should probably win the title, but they will likely do that really dumb non-finish they've been doing on house shows where Bray just goes bonkers and gets DQ'd and then Vince goes a little more Vince with'em.

This isn't the first thing they've had since Cena that was very hot early only to fizzle out with overbooking. You mentioned Braun, but Ambrose, Daniel Bryan (took an act of God to get him to the main event of Mania and then they CM Punk'd him), CM Punk, Finn Balor. You can continue this trend when you look at any bad ass, really over unstoppable monster types...ranging from Big Show and Kane to Braun, but also includes guys like Rusev that once Vince gets the idea that you're kind of a goofball in real life, he basically turns you into a clown and god forbid he thinks you cry in real life or are a cuck. Then its a wrap. Vince has had ideas on his plate that he could have made a lot of money with but once he gets his grubby little fingers over something that was organic, its over for it. You gonna be The Seven Foot Monster Among Men Braun Strowman flipping over 18 wheelers and jobbing to The Showoff The Heel Dolph Ziggler in the next Fatal Four Way on Monday Night Raw to determine the number one contender for a championship opportunity for the Double You Double You E Universal Championship at Fast Lane End Of The Line Vroom Vroom.

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Re: VOW Flagship: The Fiend, New TV Landscape, NJPW, ROH

Post by BoxingRobes » Fri Sep 27, 2019 10:13 pm

Oh, btw - Rich loves Papa Shango but hates The Fiend...some takes don't make sense.

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Re: VOW Flagship: The Fiend, New TV Landscape, NJPW, ROH

Post by Joe Lanza » Sat Sep 28, 2019 6:54 am

BoxingRobes wrote:
Fri Sep 27, 2019 10:13 pm
Oh, btw - Rich loves Papa Shango but hates The Fiend...some takes don't make sense.
1993 vs 2019?

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Re: VOW Flagship: The Fiend, New TV Landscape, NJPW, ROH

Post by BoxingRobes » Sat Sep 28, 2019 12:55 pm

Joe Lanza wrote:
Sat Sep 28, 2019 6:54 am
BoxingRobes wrote:
Fri Sep 27, 2019 10:13 pm
Oh, btw - Rich loves Papa Shango but hates The Fiend...some takes don't make sense.
1993 vs 2019?
The man wears a Papa Shango shirt in public in 2019.

This gimmick will flop, but lets remain consistent here.

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Re: VOW Flagship: The Fiend, New TV Landscape, NJPW, ROH

Post by mlev76 » Sat Sep 28, 2019 1:39 pm

Next Thursday will clearly be one of the more interesting days in a while when the overnight ratings come out for Wednesday and we see how well NXT and AEW do. In terms of the latter, I do believe that the Tony Khan/TNT prediction/hope is closer to reality than any thought of there being millions of viewers who were recently turned off returning. First, I believe the "lost" audience is about half what Joe assessed. It has really dropped between 1.1-1.5 million since 2014. Still bad, but half as many as Joe stated. Second, with the comparison to Nitro, you have to remember that Nitro started with a roster containing Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Sting and Vader at the top. AEW's top guys are Jericho, Moxley, Omega and the Bucks. In the bubble, the latter is hugely popular. Outside, Jericho is probably the only one with any crossover appeal. We're also in the age of "content is king" so many folks who may have tuned into wrestling in the 1990s might have a lot more options and will choose otherwise.

This doesn't mean it will be impossible for AEW to top a million at the outset or by year's end. But, I do think they need, contrary to Joe's assertion, to attract a wide base of fans including WWE fans. Which means they need to cut some of the nonsense out.

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Re: VOW Flagship: The Fiend, New TV Landscape, NJPW, ROH

Post by suplexberry » Sat Sep 28, 2019 4:21 pm

I said on Twitter I think the Fiend is just enough of out-there, something unusual, clearly thought up by somebody-not-named-Vince-McMahon and fans are so deprived of that kind of thing, they are willing to give it a shot. I personally was a fan of Bray back when it seemed like there was a shot of his character getting this slowburn storyline of eventually something being revealed about his past, but then his character became unimpressive matches and long, meandering promos that all said the same thing. Basically, when it seemed like we were getting payoff, it was interesting, when it became clear we wouldn't, I started to see the character as something pseudo-deep and ultimately dissatisfying to keep investing into emotionally.

I know the *guy* behind the character still cares about that stuff, but is maybe a little too into himself and cryptic clues as opposed to driving home that story. But I think since somebody is giving him this platform, it may actually motivate him to think of something interesting and maybe even step up his in-ring game. This is why I sometimes wonder about wrestling matches being "agented". Like, yes, there is a good side to guys being told, "don't do X because X is gonna be the spot in the main event" but other times, a wrestler should be able to just think of how the wrestling ties into his character and make it work on his own terms, as opposed to being given direction in the match itself.

The wrestling saturation is going to burn out some fans who feel the need to keep up. Anybody who doesn't have to, should pick and choose and let their interest drive their viewing. If you don't want to watch *any* wrestling for a week, don't. Like Aaron on EE said, he's watching joshi and AEW, and takes the weekend off. The relentless need to keep up is what stops wrestling from being enjoyable. It's not just wrestling, I had a friend who did this to herself with movies. She watched like 15 films a week (she was a student back then but still, 15!). Eventually she didn't keep up with new releases, missed out on the local film festival and only got back into movies after her brother starred in one and she basically had to go see it.

Also, damn that list of 2017 Young Lions is grim. I don't know what's happened. I know some guys just won't be able to or willing to withstand the grind of the dojo schedule. But still feels odd that Kawato has just flat out disappeared. Like, I know this kid probably wasn't gonna light up the world after that awful Mexico excursion ..but you can put him under a mask and have him fill tags as the New Captain New Japan for the next 40 years and the crowd will at least enjoy him. (Did I just wish that fate on a kid? I'm just saying, there's always a spot to be filled.)

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Re: VOW Flagship: The Fiend, New TV Landscape, NJPW, ROH

Post by Joe Lanza » Sat Sep 28, 2019 6:49 pm

mlev76 wrote:
Sat Sep 28, 2019 1:39 pm
This doesn't mean it will be impossible for AEW to top a million at the outset or by year's end. But, I do think they need, contrary to Joe's assertion, to attract a wide base of fans including WWE fans. Which means they need to cut some of the nonsense out.
But the current 2.2 million (a number that appears to be the settling point when they bottom out) WWE fans who watch weekly like nonsense and wackiness. So is there an argument you need some of that to appeal to them?

I say no. I contend there are more than enough lapsed/frustrated WWE fans, plus AEW's base, to run a successful business. Even of a lot of the latter come from the former

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Re: VOW Flagship: The Fiend, New TV Landscape, NJPW, ROH

Post by mlev76 » Sat Sep 28, 2019 7:02 pm

Joe Lanza wrote:
Sat Sep 28, 2019 6:49 pm
mlev76 wrote:
Sat Sep 28, 2019 1:39 pm
This doesn't mean it will be impossible for AEW to top a million at the outset or by year's end. But, I do think they need, contrary to Joe's assertion, to attract a wide base of fans including WWE fans. Which means they need to cut some of the nonsense out.
But the current 2.2 million (a number that appears to be the settling point when they bottom out) WWE fans who watch weekly like nonsense and wackiness. So is there an argument you need some of that to appeal to them?

I say no. I contend there are more than enough lapsed/frustrated WWE fans, plus AEW's base, to run a successful business. Even of a lot of the latter come from the former
It depends on what "success" means to them. I personally think as they are currently going, between 500-600k for the debut is a given. And that would easily put them at number 2 in NA amongst promotions, but not put them where TNA was at their peak (I believe they were above a million in the Spike era). I assume they want to be regularly want to be above 1 million and I think they can get there, but not necessarily by just going to the "base" audience it already has. As I said, the idea of repeating the Nitro magic act of finding a new audience waiting for a WWE alternative is unlikely to be repeated because 1) WCW was already in existence for seven years before Nitro and had a large base already, likely bigger than AEW; 2) WCW had bigger, more mainstream stars than AEW; and 3) there are so many other options both in and out of wrestling that the demand that was there when Nitro hit may be significantly less.

Now, if they hit over a million on Wednesday, I will be surprised but not shocked. But I don't see them getting much further unless they use their strengths to appeal to a broader audience.

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Re: VOW Flagship: The Fiend, New TV Landscape, NJPW, ROH

Post by Frank Olson » Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:11 pm

suplexberry wrote:
Sat Sep 28, 2019 4:21 pm
This is why I sometimes wonder about wrestling matches being "agented". Like, yes, there is a good side to guys being told, "don't do X because X is gonna be the spot in the main event" but other times, a wrestler should be able to just think of how the wrestling ties into his character and make it work on his own terms, as opposed to being given direction in the match itself.
There was a TJP interview somewhere recently where he said something about the matches in WWE being so heavily agented that when he tried to do something remotely spontaneous or off the script that the people in the Gorilla position would essentially just shut the match down (by telling the referee to tell the wrestlers to go home) and then punish him by giving him less TV time the following week.

With a backstage situation like that I wonder if it's even possible to give a fair assessment of the current skill level of any WWE contracted wrestler. If they are literally being told what to do move for move and have no autonomy then it seems like any review of a WWE match is really more a review of the agents/producers/bookers than it is of the performance of the wrestlers themselves. Granted, there's still a level of skill required to execute instructions, but as you say so much of the art of wrestling is a performer thinking of how the wrestling ties into their character and the match they are involved in. So I just wonder if analyzing the skill level of a 2019 WWE wrestler is as useless as breaking down the company's “goldfish booking.”

In fairness, I almost never watch any modern WWE, but I hear a lot for example about how AJ Styles is now just an average wrestler. In his WWE run I've only seen one of his matches with Jericho (I believe from the 2016 Wrestlemania) and the Royal Rumble 2017 one with John Cena, neither of which knocked my socks off, but I think of Styles' 2014 and 2015 G1 runs where he was having excellent matches with a huge variety of opponents and I just think that there's no way his skills could have deteriorated that much (even with the natural wear and tear on his body since then). It seems like it has to be the company culture and the attendant restrictions placed on performers that cause them to suddenly become less interesting in the big company than they would be wrestling literally anywhere else.

And then I also think of Jon Moxley. I don't know that I'd ever seen a Dean Ambrose match, but again I would always hear reports of him being an average or poor worker, but I've been pretty blown away by his stint so far in New Japan, and I imagine that will translate to AEW as well. So who knows, maybe even a much maligned performer like Bray Wyatt has more actual talent than he is given credit for and has just never really had a chance to show it due to the WWE's micromanaging.

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