“It was ME, Kofi! It was me all along!”
While the ashes of the 90s wrestling boom, Attitude Era, and Monday Night Wars have long since been scattered and the bodies buried, the most lasting innovation of that era still remains: the on-screen presence of the McMahon family.
From the moment that Vince McMahon became the central villain of WWE programming in his feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin, we have seen a McMahon or McMahons involved in nearly every major on-screen authority figure angle that the WWE has presented. We’ve seen good guy Shane and bad guy Shane. Emasculating boss Stephanie and champion of women’s wrestling, Stephanie. Stuck in a coma Linda and Adding Mick Foley to Wrestlemania Linda. Suit-wearing Hunter, leather jacket Hunter, DX Hunter, good son-in-law Hunter, bad son-in-law Hunter, NXT proud papa Hunter, corporate Hunter and all the Hunters in between. And, of course, we have seen the many faces of Vincent Kennedy McMahon. Including his current incarnation as the guy that is screwing Kofi Kingston.
Why, dammit? Why? [The preceding is best read in a Jim Ross voice.]
I ask that question because, other than for the sake of a story, there has been absolutely no reason given for the current portrayal of the former genetic jackhammer. Why did Vince go from being on camera with the family announcing that the WWE universe was the new higher authority to the guy that added Charlotte to Becky’s match and the guy that keeps trolling Kofi Kingston?
I have suggested before that the influence of social media on WWE Creative seems to be a real thing. They are taking their cues from internet smarks (smart marks) and allowing their perception of things to shape the direction of storylines and booking.
Is Vince seen as a senile guy out of touch with what fans want? Great, let’s put him on TV and have him show how out of touch he is by denying Kofi-mania.
Sure, cool, except.. don’t we all know that Vince is a businessman? And doesn’t a businessman want a money match for the WWE title at WrestleMania? And what does he have against Kofi? The guy has huge merch sales, is a fan favourite and is a solid head taller than champion Daniel Bryan who, if memory serves, was the last guy Vince kept down because of his size. It just doesn’t make sense unless they are also going for a senile racist angle. But, good gawd almighty, they can’t be doing that, can they? I mean, he is singling out the faction of black wrestlers and the guy that once had to fake a Jamaican accent, but no. That can’t be it.
Which leaves us with the conclusion, and I may get proven wrong here, that there is no reason for Vince to be written this way other than for the sake of the underdog angle. Which I get, on its face, but when you troll your own fan base with swerves for the sake of swerves, you end up in Vince Russo country. All of a sudden you are kidnapping your own daughter and forcing her to marry the Undertaker because reasons. And nobody needs to see that stuff again.
NXT TakeOver NY, Bay-Bay!
Tip of the hat to the crew at NXT for the amazing turnaround from the disaster of Tommaso Ciampa’s surgery to the creation of a huge, logical new main event for TakeOver NY.
Dedicating an entire hour of TV, more or less, to one angle – the need to find an opponent for Johnny Gargano at TakeOver – is a big move for the black and yellow, but they did it perfectly. Interviews, commentary and an appearance from proud papa Hunter all set up the significance of the Fatal Five match between Ricochet, Aleister Black, Velveteen Dream, Matt Riddle, and Adam Cole. Five worthy guys, one match, fantastic action, and it moved stories forward for all the guys involved. It also ties directly to Cole’s NXT debut two years ago nearly to the day and places a super-over heel in line to go one on one with Johnny Wrestling.
I could go into the fact that, in a single hour, NXT made their championship match more exciting than WWE has been able to do with the Universal Title match since it was confirmed after the Royal Rumble, but that would just be mean.
NXT UK is spicy NXT
As you may have detected from following my writing, I really think that the NXT booking formula and TV format is a perfect presentation of televised pro-wrasslin’.
Guys and gals fight over titles or personal conflicts. Promos are about winning matches and getting closer to championship opportunities. Talents are introduced in matches where they go over enhancement talent to showcase their skills and move set.
It’s simple stuff and it’s great.
On the other side of the pond, NXT UK uses this same formula, complete with their own performance center backdrop to shoot angles in, only with British and European sensibilities tossed in for good measure. It’s hard to put a finger on exactly what I mean by that, but there are little things from physiques, body hair, and gimmicks to subtler details like characters’ street clothes to the next level chanting skills of the crowd that give the show its own flavour.
Whatever the exact ingredients are, it’s going to be really something to see Pete Dunne and WALTER added to the already stacked NXT TakeOver card. Expect a stiff, grapple-heavy match which may end with the finale of Dunne’s record-setting run as UK champion.
Both Dunne and WALTER are unique talents that I hope force more eyes to the UK product and the talents that make it such a great show.
I also want to have a beer with Trent Seven.
Twitter Tough isn’t Tough Enough
I know, I know… its the age of social media and any way to advance an angle, sell tickets, or get heat is a good thing. I get it, I really do. But, Twittering back and forth does not sell me on how badass someone is.
It just doesn’t.
Yes, Becky Lynch is a master of Twitter jabs and Ronda Rousey is making shoot videos making fun of her armbar. But is this how to present these characters as tough? That they get on their cell phones and make memes of each other?
I make memes and I’m about as tough as a soggy piece of Wonder Bread.
Would Stone Cold Steve Austin have seemed as badass if he tweeted threats at Vince McMahon? Would The Undertaker have had the same mystique if he uttered “rest in peace” on his Instagram story?
I don’t think so.
You had to be there in the arena to see that stuff whereas you can read tweets from the can. Why buy a ticket if the best promos exist on your phone?
Maybe I’m an old man yelling at a cloud here, but maybe if WWE talents were allowed the same freedom on TV that they are on the internets, we might see more heat, more full houses, and fewer guys peeing on robes.
That’s it for me this week. fans. Til Braun Strowman tips over my car, I’ll see you around the loop.