411 Fact or Fiction Wrestling: Are you Excited For Drew Mcintyre’s NXT Run?
Welcome back to the latest edition of 411 Fact or Fiction, Wrestling Edition! Stuff happened, people loved/hated it and let everyone else know. I pick through the interesting/not so interesting tidbits and then make 411 staff members discuss them for your pleasure. Battling this week are 411’s Mike Hammerlock and Mike Chin!
1. The Superstar Shake-Up was poorly executed, because there was never a real explanation in regards to the moves.
Mike Chin: FACT – I was super excited for the draft episode of SmackDown this summer, only to feel let down after WWE played it a little too straight, conducting a legit sports style draft with little in the way of showmanship or bells and whistles. The Superstar Shake-Up seemed to over-correct with no logical progression or rationale offered for any of the moves. While the old draft episodes of Raw weren’t always great, they at least mixed wrestling and inter-brand matches with transactions to have some flow, variety, and internal logic. The Shake-Up episodes of Raw and SmackDown, with very few exceptions, felt random and arbitrary. Shane McMahon’s introduction of Charlotte to the SmackDown brand offered a template of how this format could have worked, with an authority figure making a big deal about an acquisition he presumably championed. Unfortunately, very few Superstars got that sort of treatment.
Mike Hammerlock: FACT – Unlike the old draft format, this was just a nebulous process where people mystically appeared on different shows. They could have done if via social media voting. They could have staged matches where various wrestlers got to win opportunities on rival brands (e.g. a six-man ladder match to be the #1 contender for the IC title). They at least could have shown us the backroom dealing or made it like pro sports where various portions of each roster were declared free agents, forcing the powers that be to bid on them. This felt like they couldn’t be bothered to build any kind of story around it. People moved … because reasons.
2. You are excited for Drew McIntyre’s run in NXT.
Mike Chin: FACT – I wasn’t a huge fan of McIntyre in his WWE main roster run, even when he was getting a push. McIntyre proved himself during his time away from WWE, though, performing nicely everywhere he went and establishing himself as a top-tier worker. If he were heading straight back to the main roster, I’d worry we were looking at a similar situation to Alberto Del Rio’s ill-advised second run in WWE, in which he consistently felt like a square peg WWE was trying to wedge into a round hole. His return to NXT makes significantly more sense, though, given he’ll have the chance to put on more great matches and influence a crop of young up ad comers. As long as WWE doesn’t get antsy and bump him back up to the main roster (or as long as they don’t do so too soon) then this run should be a lot of fun.
Mike Hammerlock: FACT – Always excited to see Drew Galloway. He did some outstanding work in the indies after the WWE handed him his walking papers. NXT should be a good way for him to re-establish his credentials with the WWE audience. Hopefully they hotshot him into title contention. He’s just entering his pro wrestling prime, age 31. So this could be the start of something that turns him into a major player in the E universe (today NXT, tomorrow the world). Will it lead to the three-way WrestleMania main event between the former members of 3MB that we’ve always wanted? Well, we can dream.
3. While the Superstar Shake-Up could have been executed much better, you are happy with the roster changes
Mike Chin: FICTION – The Shake Up included some good moves. Flip-flopping Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss freshens up each women’s scene, and I’m glad Sasha Banks stayed on Raw if only to give her some time separate from Flair. I really like the choice to place Sami Zayn on SmackDown where, especially with no bigger face acquisitions and with Dean Ambrose off to Raw, Zayn really might have the chance to shore up a spot in the upper card. For every good move, however, there were other head scratchers. After the best year of his career, The Miz is off to Raw and somehow already looks lost in the shuffle. And as much as Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn can put on a good-to-great match in their sleep, would it have killed WWE to separate them for a little while? A lot of other moves concerned performers with no clout like Jinder Mahal, Curt Hawkins, Apollo Crews, and The Shining Stars–moves that, in short, don’t really matter because the guys involved are just bodies filling lower card spots. Moreover, despite The New Day heading to SmackDown, the Raw tag scene still seems to full for comfort. The Hardys, The Revival, The Club, and Sheamus and Cesaro are all too good to get lost in the shuffle but at least one or two of these two teams inevitably will (more if Enzo and Cass or Slater and Rhyno get pushes). I hope I’m wrong, and we could get some interesting new angles out of all of this movement, but I don’t think WWE’s off to a great start.
Mike Hammerlock: FICTION – I’m all like meh about it. The Raw side strikes me as a mess, mainly because that show is a mess. It’s the land of broken toys. Dean Ambrose dropped a turd during his time on Smackdown. He started off as the WWE champion and wound up fighting on the WrestleMania pre-show. Spinning his wheels on a three-hour Raw probably isn’t going to help. I feel bad for Miz, who had perhaps the best year of anyone in the WWE. I sincerely doubt he gets the championship run he deserves on the red brand. I love Bray Wyatt in theory, but that company doesn’t know what to do with him. Alexa Bliss will get more time to cut bitchy, screechy promos – ugh. Apollo Crews needs to leave the company and get his Uhaa Nation back. Mickie James may be the biggest win on the Raw side. She’s a pro. The Smackdown side is far more interesting because the folks running that show have displayed some character development skills and a basic understanding of what a storyline is. Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Charlotte, Rusev and Jinder Mahal (don’t sleep on him, because he’ll win a tag or secondary belt in the next year) should all get opportunities on the blue brand. Yet the biggest beneficiaries might be New Day. Creative has had zilch for them since the end of their tag titles run. They deserve a great next chapter and hopefully this move enables that to happen. Yet any goodness that comes from the Smackdown moves will be offset by others getting lost in the morass of Raw.
4. The recent JBL/bullying drama looks very bad for the WWE, considering their relationship with BE A STAR.
Mike Hammerlock: FACT – In the world of big budget charities, there’s a term known as pinkwashing. The Komen Foundation notorious slaps pink ribbons on products made by companies that manufacture or sell products that contribute to the disease. For instance, you can buy BPA-lined, “Be Aware” coffee mugs. In other cases, it’s just a marketing ploy that boosts sales of a company’s product, but does little to help find a cure or to aid women suffering from breast cancer. Given the recent news surrounding Mauro Ranallo and JBL (and, by extension, Vince McMahon). Be A Star is looking like a bullywashing campaign. We have yet to get specific details, but it is getting hard to argue anything but that the WWE fosters a hazing-heavy culture where people get treated like dirt. I’m aware plenty of sports, movie and music stars who’d rarely turn down a bump of cocaine do anti-drug campaigns. So it’s not shocking that WWE wrestlers would do anti-bullying spots and appearances even if they’re hip deep in bullying during their professional workday. Yet it’s just a facade, a company claiming to be the exact opposite of what it is. From here on out, shame on anyone buying that snake oil.
Mike Chin: FACT – While I suspect the JBL issue will blow over soon enough, it’s nonetheless a chink in WWE’s anti-bullying armor. The campaign is already a bit flimsy given wrestling programming all but necessitates heels coming across as bullies. Having a shoot issue like this further calls WWE, one of its legends, and its management into question.
5. To fully put over the Braun Strowman ambulance attack from Raw, Roman Reigns needs to be off of WWE TV FOR AT LEAST TWO WEEKS; he’ll be back on Monday.
Mike Hammerlock: FACT – Honestly, Roman should be storyline dead. Next week should be his funeral. The week after Undertaker could show up at his gravesite with the urn, summon the lightning and then Roman’s hand could shoot up out of the ground. That’s how Lucha Underground would do it. Sure, it’s preposterous, but so was BRAUN throwing an ambulance. Don’t go halfway with that. Go all the way to vehicular homicide. Plus, zombie Roman wouldn’t have to talk. Hell, that would be so over the top, fans might actually start to cheer for Reigns. The way they’re going to do it, it’s disposable. BRAUN pelts Roman with an ambulance and Roman treats it like a minor flesh wound. When Steve Austin got kayfabe run down by a car in a parking lot, he spent nine months on the shelf. I feel pretty secure in stating that 18 years from now, no one is much going to remember BRAUN going all General Zod on Roman’s ass, which is a shame.
Mike Chin: FACT – Watching Strowman tip an ambulance was one of the more fun and distinctive spectacles WWE has come up with as of late. With Brock Lesnar on the landscape, and particularly as champion, it’s hard to really get anyone else over as a monster, but a unique spot like this offers hope. It only works, however, if WWE sells the moment with the appropriate gravity. If Reigns returns next week in fighting shape, it makes a farce of Strowman’s attack. Unfortunately, WWE doesn’t have a great track record in either keeping its heroes down or appropriately selling mortal injuries. While I hope I’m wrong, I expect Reigns to make a “shocking” return to confront Strowman next Monday.
6. A hot dog is a sandwich.
Mike Hammerlock: FICTION – It requires specialty bread. Put it on a standard slice of bread and it rolls off. Also, if someone goes into an old school hot dog establishment – Gray’s Papaya, Lafayette Coney Island, Portillo’s – and orders a “hot dog sandwich,” they be tossed and possibly arrested for public indecency. It’s a Hessian meat tube, not a sandwich.
Mike Chin: FICTION – Look, I get the argument and can appreciate its technical merits. But calling a hot dog a sandwich is like calling two slices pizza piled on top of each other, cheese-to-cheese a sandwich. Yeah, I guess it meets the official criteria, but it’s still a different food. Respect the sandwich.