It’s easy to get bogged down in the negativity that exists online when it comes to the world of professional wrestling. Let’s put a pause on the bad stuff, all the complaints, criticisms, rants, and rundowns. Instead, let’s come up for a breath of fresh air, sift through the week that was, and accentuate the positives.
Here are your top positives from the week that was:
1. Royal Rumble Title Match
I found the development from last Monday’s Raw, in which Vince McMahon announced that Roman Reigns would be defending his WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the Royal Rumble match, to be an excellent way to close the show and a great hook for the PPV itself. Many fans were looking for something to add some fire to the Royal Rumble event, and I can’t think of a bigger stipulation to add than this one. Never before has someone defended ANY title, let alone the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, in the Royal Rumble match and the idea that something new is happening in a match concept that is 28 years old is an obvious positive. Plus, someone winning the (vacant) title in the Royal Rumble brings back fond memories of my childhood:
More than that, however, this opens up a lot of opportunities at the Rumble that aren’t predictable. That predictability factor has been the biggest detriment to the Rumble over the past few years. We knew Cena would win in 2013 to set up the rematch with Rock. We knew Batista would win in 2014 because he was making his big return. We knew Reigns would win in 2015 because he had been deemed the chosen one. This is the first time in a while that the winner of the Rumble isn’t obvious. There are several options that WWE could run with and the idea of waiting to see who wins the Rumble match is what makes the match so much more fun.
The potential positives reach out beyond the Royal Rumble event, as this will have obvious ramifications on WrestleMania 32. But before we get there, we have the FastLane event which will certainly play a big role in shaping the final picture for the biggest show of the year. By having the Rumble match determine the champion rather than the number one contender, when we get to the FastLane event, the number one contender spot for the WrestleMania title match will more than likely still be undecided. This immediately gives the sophomore edition of FastLane a boost in importance. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of match or stipulation will be involved in determining the challenger at WrestleMania as nothing is set in stone in terms of the main event type of match for this PPV. Again, the unpredictability factor plays a large part in why this is a positive.
The options are wide open at this point for WWE. With so many people in the Rumble, they could conceivably put the title on just about anyone, though the credible names aren’t as numerous. Despite that fact, WWE has the ability to take a risk here, especially with the FastLane event still to go before Mania. If they wanted to put the title on someone not currently in the title picture, like say Bray Wyatt for example, they’d have plenty of time to put everything in position to build to a legitimate main event match at WrestleMania. This is the case for several others as well, which again gives WWE options and that’s something they need after having been painted into a corner so to speak by so many injuries as of late. I always look forward to the Royal Rumble, but I’m definitely looking forward to this year’s even more thanks to the title stipulation, and that is a huge positive in my book.
2. NJPW to WWE?
There’s been a lot of talk over the past week about the potential signings of AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Doc Gallows, and Karl Anderson. I know many are saying they are a lock for WWE, but from what I have been able to gather, none of the men have “officially” signed a WWE contract yet. That can mean many things and the keyword there could be the word “yet.” Nevertheless the buzz that this has generated has been excellent and I always love that feeling of “what kind of matchups could we see” that comes with every new arrival (or rumored arrival). If these guys indeed sign on the dotted line (are contracts signed on dotted lines or just regular lines?) then this is a no brainer for being a top positive.
But regardless of whether or not they have officially signed, the way WWE has handled the rumors/leaks is what I find to be refreshingly positive. WWE decided to ride the wave and posted their own story on WWE.com which included a “no comment” response from Triple H. This is a great move on their part. Even if the guys aren’t signed, WWE can still generate buzz simply by reporting on the rumors and therefore can use the same method in the future for guys that are signed and create an air of uncertainty as to whether said person is truly coming to WWE. If these guys have indeed signed the contracts, then WWE reporting on them gives the new guys a head start in terms of introducing them to the WWE fans as well as laying the groundwork for a potential WWE storyline, especially with the mentioning of The Bullet Club/Balor Club connection. I’m also oddly intrigued by the fact that Triple H “declined to comment” and I’m hoping that plays into a storyline because I like it when little things said in passing end up being big deals. I’m weird that way.
If I had to say one way or the other if I thought these NJPW guys are coming to WWE, I’d have to say yes. As much as I think it would be a positive, I doubt WWE would actually go out of their way to talk about four guys who aren’t with the company or soon to be with the company. I could easily be wrong, but I think we’ll be seeing all four on WWE television soon, and that is definitely a positive!
– I thoroughly enjoyed Smackdown’s USA Network debut this past Thursday. Mauro Ranallo was excellent as the lead announcer for the show and I loved the fact that Jerry Lawler slowly eased in to a more heel-leaning announcer, something we haven’t seen from King for far too long.
– TNA debuted on PopTV last Tuesday, but my cable company is one of the few in the United States that doesn’t offer PopTV (I’m not sure when it dropped TVGN, the former identity of Pop). I was delighted to see that PopTV uploaded TNA’s debut episode online. I’m hopeful that future episodes are also put online, because not only does that allow me to watch them, but others who may miss the original showing will have a chance to keep up with the product.
– I’m starting to really dig the /Becky Lynch/Charlotte feud. I was afraid Becky might fade into the background when she was put with Paige and Charlotte back in the summer, but I think she’s maximizing her minutes now and the crowd is starting to connect with her. Oh, and Ric Flair is always entertaining.
– Normally I post my AtP articles on Saturdays, but I had to delay this week’s until Monday. Because of that, I’m able to get a jump on the story that Sting is the first inductee in the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2016. Needless to say this is a positive for Sting, the fans, and the wrestling business. I may expound more on this next week, depending on what other positively goodness happens this week.
Well, that’s it for this week. Until next time, stay positive!