Welcome to the Behind The Barricade, where we give the Good, Bad, and What the *bleep!?* of pro wrestling. This week, new opportunities arise for several wrestlers, roll-up victories taint otherwise great matches, and my childhood officially dies.
New opportunities arise across all brands.
For what seems like years, professional wrestling has only had a handful of guys to rely on as their top “stars”, who can be counted on to carry the show on a regular basis. That formula has grown stale, as men and women scratch and claw just to be seen on TV. This week, we see a smattering of underutilized talent get the opportunities they deserve. Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura knock off the New Day to capture the SmackDown Tag Team Championships. Both Cesaro and Nakamura have the potential to be HUGE singles stars, but have never been afforded the chances to carry the “brass ring”. This win for them finally puts them in the position to prove their value.
Indy veteran and all-around tough guy Eddie Kingston debuts on AEW Dynamite to challenge Cody for the TNT Championship. Admittedly, I have not seen a lot of Kingston’s work, but I am thoroughly impressed by what he did in the ring with Cody, bringing a different style that the champ isn’t used to fighting.
NXT Champion Keith Lee says that he can’t carry both the NXT and North American Championships, so he is going to relinquish the North American Championship and give other talent the opportunity to prove themselves, and to see who will step up and take the challenge. In what could be the shocker of the week, Bronson Reed defeats both Johnny Gargano and Roderick Strong in a FANTASTIC Triple Threat match. Reed goes on to qualify for the North American Championship Ladder Match to take place at NXT Takeover 30 in August.
On Smackdown, after losing the Tag Team Championships at Extreme Rules, Kofi Kingston tells Big E that he’s going to be on the sidelines with an injury for a while. Combine that with Xavier Woods still rehabbing his injury, Kofi tells Big E to go chase some singles success. It’s nice to see some fresh faces in prominent positions in professional wrestling.
Slow burning storylines.
Kenny Omega and “Hangman” Adam Page have been teasing a rivalry for MONTHS now, ever since their five-star classic they had at AEW Revolution in February against the Young Bucks. The story was put on hold with the changes brought about by COVID-19, but with both men back at it, it seems that they’re picking up right where they left off. Omega has problems with Page’s friendship with FTR, while Page constantly wonders why his partner isn’t there to help him when he needs it, including this week when Page was being beaten down by the Dark Order. This one will blow the roof off once we get the payoff.
Robert Stone has been trying to rebuild his Brand ever since he was abandoned by Chelsea Green. He went from over-confident, arrogant agent to distraught, drunken, and desperate. Since acquiring Aliyah into the Brand, he has slowly started to build himself back up. The attempts at gaining additional talent have been entertaining to watch, including the failed acquisition of Rhea Ripley. Now, after multiple attempts to lure in Shotzi Blackheart, he adds another piece to his Brand in the form of Mercedes Martinez, who wants him to handle all the “business” so she can do what she does best: hurt people. I don’t see this being the last addition to the Robert Stone Brand. More to come.
Probably the biggest pet peeve I have about professional wrestling is the roll-up victory. Yes, I’ve seen it happen in high-profile matches where it makes sense (British Bulldog vs. Bret Hart, for instance). Utilizing it as a finish in multiple matches week in and week out has severely diminished the “shock value” of the move. And when it comes in a match that is becoming an entertaining contest, it’s extremely deflating.
On Raw, Kairi Sane and Bayley are having a classic back and forth contest, when Sane counters the Bayley-to-belly finish with the roll-up to upset Bayley Dos Straps. On Dynamite, Ivelisse and Diamante, two newcomers to AEW, are putting on a physical bout that’s building a great story, only for Ivelisse to sneak in the inside cradle to abruptly end the match. And on SmackDown, Alexa Bliss used it to sneak a victory over Nikki Cross for the opportunity to challenge Bayley for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. Roll-ups are overused and unnecessary.
I don’t want to degrade the match itself, because it turns out to be an OK match. I want to talk about WWE using Jeff Hardy’s personal demons and his past history with alcohol abuse in this storyline. Personally, I think it’s a slap in the face to the talent that have to be involved in the story. It didn’t work for Road Warrior Hawk, and it’s not working now. I know Jeff is willing to do what it takes to put on a good show, but this seems demeaning, in my opinion. If this is how they’re going to treat him on his way out, I don’t blame him for not wanting to re-sign with the company.
What the *Bleep!?*:
Eye for an Eye
Professional wrestling is about suspension of disbelief. Stories are written to make you think that this is a real feud, with real fights and real results. That being said…Who put this on TV?!? Seriously, I want to know who thought it was a good idea for a match to end when a wrestler “loses an eye”. I’m about as sick as Seth Rollins after watching this crap.
Undertaker is on TikTok
It’s bad enough that the Undertaker is on Twitter. It’s even worse that the Undertaker is on Instagram. I get it. Mark Calaway has always been a reclusive person in nature, never revealing his personal life to the public. When The Last Ride documentary came out, giving us a behind-the-scenes look at the man, it felt real and genuine to see the man under the hat and trenchcoat. But the Undertaker is on TikTok now?!? That’s it, my childhood is officially dead.
News from Behind the Barricade:
Kairi Sane says goodbye, Ric Flair talks his health, and Adam Cole renews a rivalry.
Kairi Sane’s contract expires.
After months of rumors surrounding Kairi Sane’s future, it appears that the Pirate Princess has wrestled her final match in WWE. Sane’s contract expired on July 20th, on a day that WWE filmed two weeks worth of Raw. We saw Sane’s victory over Bayley this past week, but we don’t know yet whether she will appear on this week’s episode. Sane leaves the company in good standing, as she moves back home to Japan with her husband. I, for one, will definitely miss seeing Kairi Sane.
Ric Flair denies testing positive for COVID-19.
Reports have come out that Ric Flair and his wife, Wendy, have both tested positive for COVID-19. Flair denies ever testing positive, but confirms that his wife does have the Coronavirus. Flair claims that he and his wife live in separate rooms in their home, and that she has isolated herself from him. The last thing Flair needs in his life is to be stricken with the Coronavirus. It’s bad enough that he’s been at Raw every week, instead of quarantining himself for his own health.
Adam Cole goes off on The Pat McAfee Show
Former NFL punter and current NXT correspondent Pat McAfee invited Adam Cole to guest appear on his daily radio show on Thursday. Cole obliged and made an in-studio appearance, talking about his past in professional wrestling and what got him to where he is now. McAfee, being the “journalist” that he is, condescends Cole’s stories, and angers the former NXT Champion to the point of explosion. Here’s the full segment from McAfee’s YouTube channel:
WARNING: STRONG LANGUAGE
While most of the wrestling community are split as to whether this is a “work” or a “shoot”, this is classic Adam Cole heel persona. I hope this builds into more of a story.
That’s all for this week, folks! Catch you next week for more Behind the Barricade! -Josh L.
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