Welcome to the High Spot, Place to Be Nation’s weekly pro wrestling update. Steve Wille will take you through the biggest story of the week in the world of wrestling, adding in a unique view to help put the story in perspective. Justin Rozzero then takes a quick look at other important stories of the week. If you have any tips or story ideas, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
An unexpected disagreement led to some bizarre discussion this week, and it wasn’t remotely related to the storylines on WWE television. At the recent television taping for their annual Tribute to the Troops show, A.J. Lee supposedly argued with sportscaster Michelle Beadle backstage after Beadle was spotted talking inappropriately to C.M. Punk, Lee’s boyfriend. According to an article on Bleacher Report, multiple big wigs from both WWE and one of their business partners, NBC, viewed the event. Rumors leaked that Lee was going to be punished by, at the minimum, dropping her title at the forthcoming PPV event. This has purportedly been the topic du jour in the WWE locker room since the incident occurred. Thankfully, none of the assumed consequences occurred (which leads me to question the veracity of the sources of the internet wrestling writers), but interested fans are now left with some disheartening commentary to read through.
After the initial chatter came to an end, the usual commentary and reports from unidentified “sources” started to appear. What emerged was an ugly confluence of hearsay and gender roles that had little to do with the on-air product. The now familiar suggestion of Michelle Beadle as, for lack of a friendlier term, “overly flirtatious” was all over the internet. Renewed allegations of dalliances or, at least, coming on to players from the Packers reappeared, as did a rumored affair with a married man. A.J. Lee has been portrayed as immature and insecure in her relationship. More than one internet writer, including Dave Meltzer, reported that her behavior was “nuts,” which leads me to question whether people are capable of separating reality from A.J.’s fictional character. At the time of this writing, there are now rumors that wrestlers are bullying her over this incident and her relationship with C.M. Punk. And, when it comes to Punk, unsurprisingly, the man they were supposedly fighting over is viewed by the male audience as a conquering hero for his history of dating multiple women within the wrestling industry. In essence, what is occurring is the shaming of women who, God forbid, have a libido, while praising the man who does the same thing.
My guess is that something less devious, but still completely objectionable, is at work. Clearly, the majority of wrestling fans are male, and AJ Lee and Michelle Beadle would seem to be the ideal mate for them – attractive women interested in an obscure, generally frowned upon hobby. What male wrestling fan hasn’t fantasized about sharing their pastime with their current or future significant other? But Lee and Beadle are clearly unattainable, so, instead of facing reality, hate appears in an attempt to bring down these “objects of desire,” making them less idealized and more imperfect. Sadly, this kind of behavior, and the over focus on a disagreement completely inconsequential to the product makes wrestling fans look like gossip hounds, no better than those perusing the Us Weekly in the supermarket line.
Top Stories of the Week
- Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards officially debut on NXT this week under the American Pitbulls team name. It was a quick turnaround for these two, as Richards announced he was leaving Ring of Honor on December 1st and Edwards had just competed at Final Battle this past Saturday. Richards was set to team with Edwards at that show and he offered to work the match, which WWE had signed off on, but ROH brass decided to remove him from the card altogether in response to comments Richards had made in a November interview. Of course, the newly christened Pitbulls were given newly minted WWE names: John Cahill (Edwards) and Derek Billington (Richards). Despite the new team name, they kept the look, style and mannerisms of the Wolves concept. The Pitbulls rebranding, and Richards’ name in particular, is a clear nod to the British Bulldogs. It will be interesting to see what kind of success the Pitbulls can have with WWE but one would have to imagine they will not be in Orlando very long. WWE would be well served to debut them the next time they take a trip through the Northeast corridor.
- It has been rumored for months, but the word on the internet right now is that WWE has a standing offer out to Shawn Michaels to wrestle Daniel Bryan in a one time comeback match at WrestleMania XXX. We can debate all day whether that particular match helps or hurts Bryan when it comes to perception and you have to wonder if Michaels – who, come April, has astonishingly now been on the sidelines for four years, equaling his first hiatus that started in 1998 – has enough left in the tank to deliver a “Mr. WrestleMania” level of match but even with those questions lingering, it is worth a shot because the possible reward of an all time WrestleMania classic is well worth the risk that the match ends up being just pretty good. The company, and Michaels, shouldn’t let the retirement stipulation from 2010 stand in the way, because Michaels will remain permanently retired. This isn’t a full-time comeback in any sense of the word and doesn’t do any damage to a stipulation that has been eroded over the years anyway. A one time match should always be permitted when it makes sense to do so. And this one sure as hell does. At the end of the day, the potential of a gem match outweighs honoring a stipulation that nobody buys into anyway.
- A key story to follow as 2014 beings is the future of WWE’s television programming. With the WWE Network finally set to launch in February, Variety recently published a long look at current state of WWE’s TV deals and their relationship with NBC Universal. Thanks to some pre-planning, the company is set to see all of their TV deals expire at the same time, meaning they can offer a complete package to any network that wants to bite. It will be hard to see Universal letting WWE go, considering the programming helps carry both USA and SyFy, but if the price starts to go up, you wonder how much the peacock would be willing go. Lingering around the periphery is Fox, a company looking to add tent-pole programming to its burgeoning Fox Sports One and Fox Sports Two networks. Raw would slot in quite nicely on FS1 and the Fox brand is continuing to grow whereas NBC continues to stagnate. Vince McMahon is always looking to make a big splash and be in the middle of the action and hopping into bed with Fox would be definitely send waves through the entertainment industry. Turning to the Network itself, it has all but been confirmed that it will be set up as a true network, with regular programming and commercials, offered as a streaming option (via a service like Netflix or Hulu) as opposed to a tiered cable network. When you look at the numbers and cost effectiveness, this is the shrewd way to go. And if they company offers the monthly PPVs plus a full On Demand library, then a price point between $10 and $15 per month seems like quite the deal. The company has a month to determine exactly what its fans want to see in exchange for a monthly fee and this is one time they can not afford to push their vision down our throats and hope to rebound later. They need to hit a home run out of the gate and hook in those initial curious subscribers.