It’s been almost 3 months since I decided to start this blog. It’s also been almost 3 months since my last post. I didn’t really take into consideration all of the other things I had coming up in my life around that time and boy did I get slammed. I’m not going to bore you with why I haven’t been active because frankly you don’t care.
In these 3 months I have stayed true to my purpose of staying away from the IWC and, with the exception of some pretty regular podcasts that I will never stop listening to, I have refrained from any back stage rumors or wrestling news outlets. The outcome has been more than I ever could have hoped for. I am invested in the product so much more than I have been in recent years and it truly takes me back to why I fell in love with wrestling in the first place. The stories are being driven by characters, which are portrayed by phenomenal athletes, whose sole purpose is entertaining the masses. And right now it’s a good time to be a wrestling fan.
Heading into the brand extension draft I was not sure what to expect, especially with one more “ppv” (I’m still not sure what to call these since I watch on the WWE Network… for only 9.99) happening after said draft. I was a little bit annoyed with the way the draft coverage went down, but that had more to do with my schedule at the time than anything else. I had to watch the Smackdown Live portion of the draft from my dvr and could not commit to the 3 or 4 hours of the WWE Network coverage that was happening concurrently and extended past the cable broadcast. That being said I thought it was a solid draft, giving both shows some great surprise picks and some excellent call-ups from NXT.
Even with Raw getting the lion’s share of picks both shows were able to come away with an excellent assortment of superstars and for the most part well balanced shows. There are certain areas that Raw monopolized on early, most notably in the women’s division grabbing Charlotte and Sasha within the first 3 rounds. But the Smackdown Tag Team Division is going to be a huge pillar of the new Smackdown Live with some well established tag teams as well as a few from NXT, including one of the most exciting tag teams in the company right now, two time NXT tag champs – American Alpha. However, just like I didn’t really feel like watching all 6 hours of draft coverage, I’m not going to go through everything. I just wanted to touch on it because it was really the first paragraph of this new chapter in the history of WWE.
And… if the draft is the start of one chapter, Battleground is the end of the previous chapter. There were only a few things of note that really worked for me. Bayley coming out as Sasha’s unknown partner against Charlotte and Dana Brooke was probably the biggest pop of the night and well worth it. It was a great way to tease the eventuality that Bayley will be on the main roster. The Wyatt family getting a clean win over the New Day was cool but it also seemed like a bit of waste considering they were splitting the faction up after that night. But I really enjoyed that match. Lastly, as anyone who is reading this could predict, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn tore the fucking building down yet again. Much like the crowds have started to chant at some shows, I really hope these two guys really do “fight forever”. Their feud will go down in history beside Austin/McMahon or Flair/Rhodes as one of the greatest of all time. Spanning multiple decades, promotions, and countries.
The rest of the card was fair but again it felt more like the end of that era for WWE.
The Monday night after Battleground officially kicked off the New Era of WWE, exploding onto the airwaves. Many of the changes to the show I noticed instantly and all of them were for the better. A detail I must have missed from the draft was JBL leaving Raw, a change in commentary that I couldn’t be more thrilled about. Corey Graves on commentary is my absolute favorite thing of the New Era. He completely killed it in NXT and I’m glad to see (hear?) him on the big stage. The dynamic he has with Byron Saxton is professional wrestling gold. The two of them together remind me of Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan. We’ve needed a definitive heel on commentary for quite some time and Corey Graves pulls it off flawlessly. “Stay with me Cole”
Smackdown Live the next night helped to continue ushering in this New Era of WWE. Not as many flashy changes on this show as on Raw, but it didn’t really need them. The biggest change for Smackdown was it becoming live rather than pre-taped. Other than that I really like the stat bars that pop up to the side for wrestlers entrances on Smackdown and I’ll always enjoy any show Renee Young is on. The things that I love most about the New Era of Smackdown Live can be summed up in three names… Mauro Ranallo, Daniel Bryan, and Bray Wyatt.
Ever since I started getting back into wrestling a few years ago I latched onto Daniel Bryan. He and Kane fighting over which of them were the tag team champions was amazing and I loved watching his progression once they split them up. Wrestlemania 30 is one of my favorites of all time because of that man. Much like Daniel Bryan is a main reason I started watching wrestling again, Mauro Ranallo is THE reason I started watching Smackdown again at all. His voice was built for sports commentary and he provides a great sense of legitimacy to the show that I think WWE should take more advantage of. He’s the best commentator the WWE has had since the white meat baby-face from Norman, OK… Jumpin Jim Ross.
And do I really need to say anything about the silver-tongued devil, Bray Wyatt? The in-ring promo he cut to officially open the show on August 9th still gives me goose bumps.
Follow the Buzzards.
Raw and Smackdown Live have been so great in this New Era that I’m actually excited for SummerSlam. As far back as I can remember, I really can’t recall being this invested in a card from top to bottom. Every match on there is going to mean something. Seven out of the nine matches determined so far have gold on the line. And for the other two matches (Brock v RKO, and Enzo & Cass vs JeriKO) the WWE has built these stories in a fashion that makes them feel hugely important.
Enzo Amore kicked off Raw with an in ring promo two weeks in a row. First Enzo working with Sasha had me marking out like nobody’s business. And it happened again the very next week when they set up the match for SummerSlam between Enzo & Cass and Chris Jericho & Kevin Ownes. Those 4 guys in the ring together was a clinic on cutting promos. Everyone single one of them is phenomenal on the mic. The only weak link being Big Cass and he ain’t much of a weak link. He has the voice of an angel. Have you ever heard him sing Ol’ Blue Eyes?
When WWE announced that Brock is facing Randy at SummerSlam I thought… why? And then the video packages and interviews started to roll out. The long time history of two guys who came up in developmental together made a lot of sense and was something I could get behind. And then WWE did something nobody expected. The night Lesnar returned to Raw, Heyman was there as usual to cut one of his spectacular promos and make the big push for the match at SummerSlam. That was, of course, until Randy, who was drafted to Smackdown, hit a RKO from you guessed it… #outtanowhere. Brock returned the favor the next night on Smackdown with and F5 to Orton and the shit became personal. These two men are going to literally destroy each other and I can’t wait to watch it.
There’s still a shit ton of stuff that has happened in the past two weeks a lone. I have barely scratched the surface. I would be doing you the reader a disservice if tried to cover it all so I’m going to end this with one final thought:
Foley is Good.
The hardcore legend Mick Foley as the GM of Raw is equal parts spot on comedic timing and a fantastic mind for the product. I love having him on the show week after week and frankly speaking there’s only one sound that would make me pop harder than the car crash at the beginning of his entrance music… and that’s glass breaking.
So there it is… my first post back. I’ve had a chance to compile a lot of ideas for future posts so now hopefully I’ll be writing with a lot more frequency. I would love to create a dialogue in the comments or on Twitter. What’s your favorite part of the brand extension? What matches are you most excited for at SummerSlam?
In the words of the above mentioned hardcore legend…
Have a nice day.