AS I SEE IT: The State of WWE
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
Wrestling is a world with Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada thrilling audiences with a 48 minutes classic and 60 minute classic, in matches that will set the standard going forward for many fans.
Wrestling is a world with AJ Styles and Kevin Owens shocking an audience at the “world most famous arena” Madison Square Garden with an unexpected title switch, sending fans home talking…and online fans speculating.
Wrestling is many styles. It’s the wild, unpredictable hardcore action (and yes, sex) of ECW, mixed with lucha libre at its best and technically great matches fans of a generation will always remember. Wrestling is the daredevil spots of lucha libre, with intricate spots that violate most known laws of space and time….and it is a slow Southern match where the two wrestlers take 5 minutes to lock up…and the crowd is frothing at the mouth all that time. It’s all of those and more.
But the first, second, or even the 356th thing I think of when I think wrestling…is NOT The Great Khali.
Philadelphia saw WWE Battleground last night. It did have surprise results, with Kevin Owens regaining his US title (nice sneaky shout out to Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks during Talking Smack), Nattie Neidhart going over in the #1 contender match for the Smackdown Women’s Title match at Summerslam, and even The New day regaining their WWE Tag Team Titles over The Usos.
But we also get one of the tiredest gimmicks being re-used with a Flag Match between John Cena and Rusev…with the well-known (cough) worldwide rival of the United States…Bulgaria. We get people being upset when United States flag etiquette is thrown by the wayside as an American flag touched the ground (note to non-US readers: in theory a flag should be ceremonially burned if it touched the ground).
Most importantly, the Jinder Mahal Experiment isn’t working. When you have trouble selling tickets to a WWE live PPV in Philadelphia…and tickets are being widely discounted…that should be a sign that something is very, very wrong. When online interest in the event (even given this being mid-Summer) is as low as many have seen in a long time, it should send out a signal.
It starts with the feeling, right or wrong, that Mahal’s title reign is little more than a business strategy to gain entry into the untapped market of the Indian subcontinent. It continues with the perception, fair or not, that Mahal, is the latest Chernobyl Steroid Mutant from Hell being featured by WWE over many other talented workers in the company.
So…what does WWE add to a main event featuring Jinder Mahal? The Great Khali.
The Great Khali…who charitably…is as exciting as watching paint dry…in slow motion. He comes off as a big. lumbering wrestler who is…well, big.
This is how WWE solves the Jinder Mahal problem? I can’t wait for the captivating promo by Khali on Tuesday night or the thought of Great Khali playing Diesel on Smackdown.
Might need a 60 minute AJ Styles– Shinsuke Nakamura match on Smackdown to get THAT taste out of my mouth.
Until next time….