Mizspect

After delivering the best matches on Backlash and WWE TV this week (excluding 205’s excellent main event), Miz deserves more respect for upping his game inside the ring. And the getting-carried-argument doesn’t apply, since I’ve seen Rollins or Jeff Hardy have way worse matches with other good workers

​Delivering the best match at Backlash isn’t exactly high praise.  ​

Cena/Reigns


Since it’s been about 16 minutes since you’ve answered a Reigns question, here’s another one for the queue. 

I had tuned out during Cena’s rise to the top. I stopped watching completely while he was still rapper John Cena, and when I tuned back in it was the glory days of LOLCenaWins.

During his initial rise, was Cena as unpopular as Roman is now?  By the time I started watching, people at least begrudgingly acknowledged  Cena’s talent, and part of the boos almost seemed like people were just having fun with it.

With Reigns their seems to be a real venom behind it where people just can’t stand the guy. 

Thoughts?

​Cena was wildly popular as a rapping heel, to the point where the company was forced to turn him babyface and push him to the top.  Hard as it is to imagine John Cena as an underground sensation, it really was a grass roots movement from the fans to get him to the top.  It wasn’t until months into his first title reign that the fanbase even started turning on him.  And yeah, past a certain point, it just became the “thing” to do “Let’s go Cena/Cena sucks” and boo him, but his matches still got big reactions.  This kind of thing NEVER happened to Cena, except for extreme cases like that Rumble match with Randy Orton where the crowd decided in advance they were going to hate it.​

Vince


Has Vince McMahon reached Verne Gagne levels of tone deafness?
​Yeah, but in all fairness, Vince is going to double his current TV deal and the company has enough money from the Saudis to tell the fanbase to go fuck themselves for the next 10 years or so, so really it doesn’t matter what we think anymore.  
Also, are we still talking about Reigns, or is this in reference to Bryan doing the job tonight?  ​

Wwf


Hi,


Do you still have wwf tapes available?

​Sure, but you’ll have to take a time machine back to 2004 and dig through the dumpster they all ended up in when I changed everything to digital format.​

Another Roman Reigns question!

Kind of…

How much more interesting is the WWE if Roman isn’t around?  Twice as interesting?  Ten times?  They have so much talent running around and without Vince’s Anointed Chosen Big Dog taking up space, that main event scene is just wide open for the taking.  Plus, all the guys are AJ/Bryant/Balor size, it makes Brock seem even MORE monstrous, which would make his eventual defeat even cooler.


You know, people endlessly e-mailing me about him is probably part of the reason why they keep pushing him…

Two birds, one stone


How’s this for a realistic solution for WWE’s two main issues: Brock’s neverending reign, and Roman Reigns. The solution… the current MVP, Seth Rollins

Seth says he likes Brock being an absentee Champ because his IC title is THE title on Raw by default and thus he’s the guy.  He brings up ending Brock’s last title reign and thinks he’ll end this one too. This would eventually lead to a challenge: IC Champ vs Universal Champ at SummerSlam.   

Meanwhile… Roman is getting booed out of the building as a babyface vs Jinder. He beats Jinder in a MITB qualifier and at MITB, in yet another #RomanWinsLOL moment he wins.

Midway through the title for title match in the main event of SummerSlam, Roman cashes in (symmetry from WM31) and spears Rollins to win the Universal Title.

No more Brock, heel Roman, babyface Seth.

​Whilst I’m with you on WWE needing to cash in on Seth Rollins while he’s super-hot, Roman’s not turning heel so everyone might as well just get over it.  ​

If Balor hadn’t got injured…


Hello Scott,


This may be a shot in the dark, but do you have any ideas what the plans were for Finn when he won the Universal title? Would Goldberg / Brock have carried on the same but without the belt? Maybe a Finn v Seth program through the Autumn?

Thanks as always.

​I imagine Finn v. Seth in rematches, but I never heard what the plan was beyond that.  The Finn injury was too sudden and threw everything out of the window right away.​

Any chance you’ll redo ECW Heatwave 98



http://insidepulse.com/2002/07/30/4804/

Maybe time will have made you hate it less perhaps?

It’s in my top ten shows of all time, but then again I always enjoyed me some ECW 😉

​I didn’t hate it at all, I just thought it was not up to the level of what WCW and WWF were producing at the time.  There’s a very real chance I’m totally out to lunch on that, though, because I’m older and mellower now and I remember RVD & Sabu v. Hayabusa & Hakushi being a hell of a match in retrospect, for example.  Plus Awesome v. Tanaka, terrifying as it is now to watch it.  
So yeah, maybe next week, we’ll see.

Reigns is Luger circa 88/89


Scott- assuming Vinny doesn’t view Reigns as the guy anymore, the roadmap to his rehab is Luger late 88/89. He lost to Flair twice…put a mid card title on him for a while ala Luger beating Windham (transition ic to balor then reigns beats him) then have him go heel on Rollins and feud over IC for a bit. It might rehab Reigns failure a bit…

​Honestly, he needs to just get the hell off TV for a few months.  I don’t want to wish serious injury on someone, but even a fake one would allow them to say “Roman will be back in 6-8 months” and then they can pay him to go hang out with Richard Rodriguez (allegedly) and let the heat die down a bit.  They have nothing for him (I mean, JINDER is their big idea to get people to cheer him?!?) and they don’t want to turn him heel, so just let him go away for a while like Brock.  ​

The Final Step?


The crowds boo Roman out of the building. Then it became chanting random sh*t to amuse themselves. At Backlash, it evolved to flat out starting to walk out before the match ends.


Its been said the only thing that might make WWE grasp the situation is sitting on your hands and staying dead silent, cuz “any reaction is a good reaction.” 

You think we’re actually realistically approaching a point where fans do that at the shows? Just go quiet in protest?

​Won’t work.  Vince will just think everyone is watching a Randy Orton match.​

Scott’s Scintillating Origin Story!


Hey, Scott:

You’ve shared the story of how you became a wrestling fan on many occasions. So, how did you first get into comics? What was the first title or storyline that hooked you for good? Has there ever been a title or a run that’s given you the same feelings as the current WWE product? Thanks!

Aaron​

First comic I can remember hooking me was a Legion of Superheroes digest issue from the late 70s, featuring the Starfinger storyline.  I mostly read Superman comics off the comic racks when that was still a thing.  The one that blew my mind was of course Crisis on Infinite Earth’s and from there I moved into the follow-ups like Man of Steel and Flash.  Once I was old enough to save my own money and discovered my local comic shop, I was hooked for good, although after University it turned into a real addiction for me and I’ve had to stop collecting on multiple occasions because of it. 

Do they think Reigns is bigger than the belt?


Hey Scott,


I was wondering if it’s possible WWE thinks Reigns doesn’t need the belt to be a star — ala Taker or Andre? I know that sounds ridiculous, but they let him main event a ‘Mania with Taker without the title (and without any real issue or storyline between them) and he main events these b-shows against Strowman and Joe without the belt.

He’s basically Cena circa 2012 when Punk was champ. Maybe they think they’re gonna draw regardless and having the belt on Brock gets mainstream attention on their champ?

​I honestly think Reigns was originally booked to have the Universal title at Backlash, so I think it’s more a case of their booking being all screwed up than anything.  ​

Miz/Roddy


Are we at a point where Miz can be called a working class man’s Rowdy Roddy Piper?  I feel like he’s moved beyond “poor man’s Rowdy Roddy”.  Both are/were middle of the road workers for their time, but could absolutely be carried to great matches, and more than made up for it on the mic.  There probably aren’t 5 better guys on the mic in wrestling history than Roddy (Rock, Flair, Austin and that might be it) and Miz is probably the best of the current crop.  

​I strenuously disagree, and here’s why:  If you go back and watch those old Piper promos, he specifically makes you want to see the match he’s hyping up, like when he’s burying Ricky Steamboat on Mid-Atlantic and you’re like “Oh man, I hope Steamboat kicks his ass.”  Ditto Ric Flair, who could make you want to see him against five different people in one promo.  Miz is great at reciting the robotic catchphrases that WWE writes for him on the talk shows and knows how to talk in the way they like to hear, but he doesn’t make me give a good goddamn about whatever bullshit they’re doing at the next PPV. He’s a good talker who is adapt at getting himself over, but it doesn’t transfer onto anyone or anything else.  ​

Has WWE Ever Been This Creatively Bankrupt?

Though this might be a kneejerk reaction to an astonishingly bad show, I genuinely feel that Backlash has established the past six months or so as the most nonsensical and narratively unsatisfying period in WWE history.

I’m not saying that this is the worst WWE has ever been – God knows that the depths of the early-nineties dark ages may never again be plumbed. What I am saying is that the storytelling has become so bad that even the great matches we regularly get ultimately feel meaningless. Character motivations (when they’re even established) change on a whim and without explanation. Storylines shamble between stupid and shoddy plot points and rarely come to gratifying conclusions. The messaging has become so muddled that audiences often don’t seem to know what to make of it – and when they do, their reactions are frequently the opposite of what was intended.

My question is not who or what is responsible for this – your inbox is probably stuffed to the brim already with hot takes on that particular query. What I’d like to know is A) whether the company’s storytelling has ever been this bad before, and B) if it even matters whether anything WWE does makes any goddamn sense. You’ve remarked on several occasions that the company’s current business model makes it basically unsinkable, but is there a limit to that? How long does this stretch of total baffling garbage have to continue before it starts affecting the bottom line?

 
​The thing is that Saudi Arabia’s oil money basically guarantees cash on hand for years, so really it matters less than ever what quality of programming they’re putting out.  Stuff like the Nia Jax “anti-bully” speech after her match are really tone deaf, though, because who in their right mind buys 120 pound Alexa Bliss as a bully against 300 pound Nia Jax?  
Anyway, the thing that really bugged me was the layout of the Superstar Shakeup, because it rendered two different PPVs completely meaningless.  So the Bar moves to Smackdown, and then challenges for the RAW tag titles?  Gee, I wonder who’s winning that one?  Samoa Joe challenges Roman Reigns to a Universal title match, then gets moved to Smackdown​, and then Roman fails to win the title anyway, but the match still main events?  WHAT?  What is the issue even supposed to be?  And then of course you have the US title situation, where Ziggler vacates it for no particular reason, then Roode wins the tournament, drops it to Orton right away, then Jinder wins it at Wrestlemania in a multi-man match, then immediately moves to RAW and loses it to Jeff Hardy there, and then Jeff immediately moves to Smackdown and defends it against Jinder.  None of it makes any sense as a storyline or puts any heat on the matches.  It’s just a bunch of stuff that happens to fill time.  Like, what even was the Elias segment from the PPV?  He tries to sing a song and Bobby Roode somehow arranges for a million people to come out and annoy him so that he can hit one DDT and then dance away?  That’s the payoff for Elias trying to end his career on RAW?  
Hopefully having a few weeks until Money in the Bank will give them some focus, but god help us if Big Cass ends up with the briefcase or something. 

Randy Orton Questions

1. What is happening with Randy Orton? He loses clean as a sheet to 74 year old Jeff Hardy’s finish in a US title match? Is he the new Kane? Someone who gets a guaranteed pop and has the credibility to be believable in a main event feud but is used exclusively to put someone over? 

2. If this is to be his role for the duration of his career how would you define his legacy? When he started I thought he had the pedigree and tools to be one of the best ever. Would you even say he’s in the top 50 all time? He’s had multiple title reigns but has never been in a position to be the guy to carry the company. He’s main evented a Wrestlemania and been put in prime spots but I can’t really recall him having a show stealing match on a big stage. Considering his start and potential his career has to be considered a disappointment no?


​I think his main problem was the same one as a lot of other people during that era:  He had the misfortune of coming up at the exact same time as John Cena and was never able to escape that shadow.  I certainly wouldn’t call him top 50 of all time or anything, but he won a bunch of World titles and was part of the zeitgeist for a while with the RKO Outta Nowhere meme, so it’s hard to call him a disappointment overall.  The main problem is that we had long periods where he was booked as a babyface and he clearly wanted to be a heel and so wasn’t particularly motivated.  These days he seems happier to be winding down and putting guys over, although the whole lineage of the US title this year was completely baffling.  Also, 2017 REALLY hurt his legacy, like a lot.  ​

Question

Hey Scott, whats up?


1. Has WWE ever looked into signing Fedor? I know he cant speak english, but add the right manager or advocate, monster heel.

2. Why has WWE never had a Tyson , Lesnar confrontation? Just the face to face would be money.

1.  I can’t imagine Fedor having any interest in doing pro wrestling or WWE meeting his redonkulous asking price.  
2.  Do kids today even know Tyson as anything beyond the wacky celebrity from the Hangover or the cartoon?  Again, can’t imagine the asking price would justify the cost.  

Local Endorsements for wrestlers



Hey Scott-


Any sports fan knows that athletes in your local sports town will have endorsements with car dealerships, delis,  restaurants etc.


Can WWE talent do that?  And if so, do they have to give the company a cut?

All that stuff has to be negotiated through WWE, and yeah, WWE definitely gets a piece of the action. 

Hatred for Stephanie

Hello Scott,


I’m not what you would call a knee-jerk McMahon loyalist, but I’m not sure I understand your venom toward Stephanie.


I understand that they’ve sort of made her the figurehead/spokesperson for the Divas Revolution/Evolution/whatever, but did i miss some specific incident where she personally (outside of kayfabe) took credit for the rise in women’s wrestling?  I don’t ask this
sarcastically – I really want to know if there was some specific incident where she literally painted herself to be both the inventor and savior of modern women’s wrestling.  


On a related note, I think that a lot of fans don’t realize that those inside the business look at things from a different perspective.  With certain well-known exceptions, most aren’t as obsessed with their legacy outside of whether or not the fans are currently
enjoying what they do.  They are obviously passionate enough about the business to have devoted their life to it, but when it’s your job and lifestyle, the fact that you’ve made it to the big-time tends to make you fairly secure in your abilities – this is
why it’s pointless to shout “you can’t wrestle” at even the shittiest wrestler on a WWE program.


Again, I want to stress that there are very obvious exceptions to this, but by and large, when you’re Paul Stanley, you don’t sweat whether or not people think you’re the world’s greatest guitarist – you’re more interested in whether or not people love KISS.


That being said, I would be surprised if Stephanie was hell-bent on making sure that the world thought she personally played a huge and important role in the resurgence of women’s wrestling.  

​The problem with Stephanie and HHH in particular is that it’s incredibly difficult to determine where kayfabe ends and reality begins.  Stephanie feuding with Ronda Rousey is clearly Stephanie The Character, but what about when she’s doing commentary for the Women’s Rumble and Michael Cole is scripted to say that she’s far too humble to say it herself but she’s the driving force behind the Women’s Revolution/Evolution?  Or when they announced the Rumble and every woman on the roster, heel and face, had to come out to the ring and celebrate the opportunity being given to them by Stephanie? 
I think what bugs me foremost is that they already own the company and we know it, but they still remind us of it every week and put themselves on TV instead of using someone who could the extra merch sales or videogame royalties.  Remember when Vince McMahon was just the announcer for two decades and had no interest in being an on-screen character because he didn’t want to overshadow his larger-than-life superheroes?  ​

Sweet Daddy Siki Doc


Hey Scott – here’s something from the “wrestlers I never thought I’d see have a documentary devoted to them” file (a very specific file, I know) –  Sweet Daddy Siki.  I’m not sure how many will have heard of him, but he was a *major* heel in the 70s here the Maritimes back in the Atlantic Grand Prix days.

 

http://www.cbc.ca/documentarychannel/docs/sweet-daddy-siki

 

I saw that!  Actually kind of interested in it, as well.  

Backlash Women’s Title Matches


Scott –

2 trains of thought:

1. Charlotte and Bliss have been on top long enough, so move on to new blood.

Or

2. Carmella is not believable as a champ, and Nia isn’t ready to carry the A show’s woman’s division, so have them both drop the belts on Sunday.

Which way are you leaning?

​#2.  They clearly want Bliss as the long-term face of the division on RAW and Nia’s already had her revenge.  Carmella is a complete nothing as champion and more proof that they had zero plan for that briefcase beyond “Wouldn’t it be hilarious if Ellsworth won the first women’s MITB match?”  I think they switch both belts tomorrow.​

New Day


Whats up Scott,


I was listening to Brad Shephards podcast and he was saying how New Days merch sales have been going down. Is this indicative that the gimmicks run its course? If so, whats next? Break up? Gimmick change maybe? Heel turn?

​Wow, Big E throws pancakes out of his pants and merch sales go DOWN.  Big shocker there.
I think they’ve run their course and it’s time to do something different with them and split up.  Kofi is due for another token singles run anyway.​

Break the Stars DOWWWWWWWNNNNN

Hey Scott. Hope you’re well, thanks for all the content over the years. 


Jericho’s recent attack of Naito put me in mind of the classic he and Omega put on at Wrestle Kingdom 12. In the comments for the rant you wrote for the show, a reader marveled at the fact that Jericho put on the best match of his career at 47 years old. Do you agree that it was, in fact, his very best match? While I certainly believe that it should be in the conversation, Jericho’s put on so many tremendous performances over the years that it’s nigh impossible to point at one as head and shoulders above the rest. If forced to choose, I’d probably put Jericho/Benoit vs. HHH/Austin at the top – if we’re limiting the conversation to singles matches, I think the Jericho/Benoit ladder match for the Intercontinental Title is my favorite. 

Thoughts?

Based on his age and limitations today, it was by far his best PERFORMANCE.  But his best match is still the Benoit one, I think.