Welcome to the High Spot, Place to Be Nation’s weekly pro wrestling update. Steve Wille (@SteveWille34) 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. Glenn Butler (@Glenniebun) 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!
People like to be surprised. And it’s getting more difficult for wrestling fans to do so. Spoilers for events are immediately available on the Internet, even live as they happen. And, for some reason, there are often weeks between an actual taping and the broadcast date for promotions like Impact Wrestling and Ring of Honor. But the WWE has succeeded twice this year surprising, possibly even shocking, their fan base. The first, of course, took place at Wrestlemania, as even the most jaded of internet critics were stunned by Brock Lesnar defeating the Undertaker. It happened again this week, though to a lesser extent, as the iconic Rock made an unadvertised appearance on Raw to confront the Russian sympathizer Rusev and his protégé Lana.
So, besides the obvious need to pre-tape shows, why is it so hard to surprise fans? For one, news sites like to present every single possibility for a match or feud before it occurs, so they can draw numbers and claim that they were the first to know. Not convinced? In the last two weeks, I’ve read that Brock Lesnar could be facing Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, John Cena, The Rock, Sting or the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 31. That’s some solid prognosticating, there.
But it’s too easy to knock the Meltzers and Kellers of the world. I believe that fans need to take some ownership themselves. On the 15th anniversary episode of Smackdown (set to air the day that this article sees print), there will be a 16-man tag team match, player. On the PTBN Facebook Live Chats page, there’s already been debate to the quality of the match, which, of course, no one has seen except those in attendance in Philadelphia. If there’s a show that you want to see, like an independent show, all it takes is some simple self-discipline to stay off of Twitter for three hours during the event. By doing so, it brings the enjoyment back to wrestling we remember from the Monday Night Wars. This week, I’ve been enjoying the CMLL 81st Aniversario show without spoilers and it’s been a fun diversion from American-style wrestling. I’ve also been watching the DVD of the ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds super show, and the tag team title match between ReDRagon and the Young Bucks wasn’t as great as I hoped, as I already knew the outcome.
As fans, we can’t control whether wrestling companies telegraph the progression of their storylines. But we can alter our habits to maximize our own satisfaction with the product. And, also, when we are positively astonished by what we see play out, remember to praise those promotions as much as we criticize the status quo.
- Things That Are Not Happening Redux: It’s understandable, really. It is. When we don’t have something we want, we can find ways to foretell its coming. The human mind is, thanks to millions of years of development, very good at sensing patterns and intuiting causal relationships even when they’re not there. This need not necessarily be conscious or specifically intended, and indeed is often not. Thus it was that desire became hope, hope became theory, theory became rumor, and many things that should have been forgotten were resurrected when people started whispering about the idea that TNA recently made a last-ditch offer to CM Punk to return under the aegis of Impact Wrestling. Look, we all already know the story here: Punk seems to be happy as he is right now, and when that changes he might be amenable to some sort of deal. However, TNA being the recipient of that deal seems, as Gorilla Monsoon would say, highly unlikely.
- A Little Less Monstrous: Former (oh so former) WWF Women’s Champion Madusa was hospitalized this week after taking “a bad spill” during a monster truck show in Australia. Sometimes there are risks in doing what we love. The best wishes of all go out to Madusa.
- How Many Continents Did it Visit: The long journey of Dolph ziggler’s lost Intercontinental Championship belt, dragooned into an extended journey by United Airlines, has ended. The belt yearned to return to its master, and so it has.
- No Friends, Many Foes: In the announcement that Royal Rumble tickets are going on sale, it was also announced that there will once again be 40 participants in the 2015 event. While the 2011 event was considered watered-down and a disappointment by many (this writer was at the event and therefore has an inflated view of it in general; personally, though, the Hornswoggle segment in the middle of the Rumble match was so great that not even the Corrrrrre and a couple of the Nexus flunkies could bring it down for me), if you do a little fantasy booking and assume some NXT involvement with the upcoming show, it could certainly work. (“King, just imagine what it would mean for the career of Hideo Itami to win the Royal Rumble and go on to wrestleMania!”) If you mentally rule out the NXT roster, the list of (male) wrestlers on the main roster stands at around 45, depending on returns from injury, demotions to NXT, and the status of older part-time wrestlers. Figure in a couple surprise guests in the league of Mick Foley and Roddy Piper in years past and you could put together a 40-man match; whether that would be the best option on an aesthetic level is more complex, and most likely can only be decided for ourselves inside each of our hearts. I know I’d rather see Adrian Neville in there than Curtis Axel, though.