Loyal readers, it’s for the WWE Mailbag!
It’s a busy time of year for us WWE fans with the 25th anniversary of Raw coming on Monday, the Royal Rumble is on January 28 (my predictions are coming next week) and then we’ve got WrestleMania to look forward to on April 8. I thought it would be the perfect time to see what other WWE fans were thinking, so I asked my fellow wrestling fans on Twitter for some good questions and, as expected, there were a lot of them.
Before I start, here’s a clip of WWE’s Triple H and Stephanie McMahon along with The New Day on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon from Thursday night. I thought it was pretty funny as they competed in the Lip Sync Battle. The New Day with Fallon sang a classic Boyz 2 Men song while Triple H and Stephanie McMahon sang something from the movie Moana. Since Triple H and Stephanie have three young daughters, of course Triple H knew all the words. That’s why it was hilarious. Check it out below.
My Twitter handle is @johnreport, so please give me a follow on there if you’re on Twitter and let’s begin.
1. A repeat of a WrestleMania main event
From @Dmento7 : Thoughts on WWE going back to the reigns vs Lesnar match again this year… hasn’t it been played out? Would love to see Braun finally win it at Mania – he’s earned it and is very over.
I liked the match they had at WrestleMania 31 and I think the crowd did too. They’ll probably have a better match this time, but people are sick of Reigns in that spot. Believe me, I get it. I’m not even a Reigns hater, yet this might be his fourth straight WrestleMania main event where the crowd boos him, even though WWE’s creative team thinks he’s a face. It’s not supposed to be like that. If he was getting cheered by the crowd every year then that’s fine, but he’s clearly not.
I agree with you that it should be Braun Strowman in that spot. The problem is that this has been Vince McMahon’s plan since last March. We don’t know Vince personally, but he can be pretty stubborn in terms of not listening to the fans and he’s going to do what he wants.
2. Is it time for WWE’s women to get their own show?
From @ProWrestleLinks: Do you think the WWE women’s division would benefit more from just having their own show separate from the men? Or has the time for it come and gone with them focusing more attention on the women now?
I wouldn’t hate it, but there’s probably too much WWE content right now. After the five hours of Raw and Smackdown every week, it’s tough to really enjoy more wrestling in a regular week. I watch NXT every week too, although I usually skip 205 Live. I did check out the Mixed Match Challenge this week because it’s only one match on a 20-minute show. During Royal Rumble weekend, we will have another 6.5 hours of content with the four-hour Royal Rumble (plus two-hour Kickoff Show) and NXT Takeover Philadelphia is 2.5 hours. It’s a lot of WWE in our lives!
With that said, it would probably benefit the women in the company to have more of a spotlight on them. WWE could even tape the show once per month like NXT does. I wouldn’t hate it, but I’m not sure if more content is needed or if it’s worth the financial investment if they barely have anybody watching. For what it’s worth, I think an all-women’s show would do better than 205 Live because female fans might be more inclined to watch and male fans will like it too because the action is good, plus the appeal of beautiful women too.
3. Remembering The Rock vs. CM Punk
From JwhiteCNA1: What did you think of the match between Punk and Rock at Royal Rumble 2013? What’s your match rating?
It was pretty good, although I think I only watched it live the one time. I remember people were pissed off that Punk lost, even though it was very obvious that was going to happen. I think my star rating for the match was ***1/2 (out of five) or maybe a bit above that. They did a lot of near-fall spots as well as a moment where it looked like Punk was going to win, so the fans bought into the idea that maybe Rock would fail.
That was the same night that John Cena won the Royal Rumble to set up Rock vs. Cena at WrestleMania 29 for the WWE Title. You may recall at WrestleMania 28 it was Rock vs. Cena in a “once in a lifetime” match, even though WWE knew back then they would do it two years in a row. They lied to us! Shocking!
4. New NXT signings could make NXT stronger than ever
From @KTankTJR: If Ricochet, War Machine, & Candice LaRae all start in NXT, combined with those currently there, would that be the strongest roster NXT has ever had?
It’s up there because of the talent of the four people you mentioned, as well as the roster that’s currently there. There are going to be some awesome Takeovers this year with all of them involved, plus Gargano/Ciampa probably feuding for half a year. All the tag teams they have and a good group of women wrestlers, reminiscent of the depth they had three or four years ago.
It’s going to be a strong year for NXT. The peak year was 2015 in terms of incredible shows from to bottom, which still happens these days, but that roster was better. You may be on to something because the 2018 roster may be as good as it’s ever been in NXT. If you’re not a regular NXT watcher, you should make a point to watch it in 2018 because it’s going to be excellent.
If you haven’t seen Ricochet before, please check out some clips on YouTube or watch full matches if you have time. He’s an incredible in-ring performer who can do stuff I’ve never seen before and make it look easy.
5. Finn Balor’s place at WrestleMania
From @bowdust: Where do you think Finn Balor will end up on the Wrestlemania card?
Balor might be lumped into some multi-man IC Title match involving a ladder. Or if Miz is champ, I can see Balor beating Miz for IC Title in a singles match. I don’t know if he would be in a more high-profile match than that.
Sadly, WrestleMania cards are not as good as they should be in the last couple of years. Believe me, I hate writing that sentence. It’s just how it’s been for the last few years where WWE has been unable to make WrestleMania the best event because of their insistence to get as many people on the show. Singles matches are better. That’s what we remember and want to see.
6. Mixed Match Challenge has some odd pairings
It is weird to mix faces and heels or how they have some low-level talent while top talent is together. Clearly, teams like Braun/Alexa, Miz/Asuka and Roode/Charlotte are positioned to go far. It’s harmless fun and the whole point is to get some of that Facebook money, so the booking of how they get there may not matter as much as a regular show.
I think mixed tags can get repetitive and the match this week is probably the best of the first round because of the talent involved. I enjoyed it. It was better than any Smackdown match this week.
7. Royal Rumble top contenders
From @RockMKaka: Who are your top 2 contenders to win the rumble? Also, do you think it’d be a good choice now to put the title on Owens and Sami?
I think Nakamura is the best choice and I hope it’s him. Another choice would be Roman Reigns, but I don’t want it to be him because they already did that in 2015 in the same building in Philadelphia where Reigns was booed heavily. I don’t think WWE believes in Finn enough. Based on crowd support, WWE should get behind Balor more than they currently do.
I’m a huge fan of Kevin and Sami, but I feel like AJ Styles should carry the WWE Title to WrestleMania, so please keep it on him. Have Nakamura beat Styles for the WWE Title at WrestleMania. That would work well.
8. Excitement may be down for big matches at WrestleMania
From @MikeSanchez1878: Cena vs Taker, Reigns vs Lesnar. I’m not excited for these proposed Wrestlemania ‘Main Events’. Are you?
I’m not really that excited about it and that’s part of the reason why I choose not to go, even though I love New Orleans. I’ll go to Money in the Bank instead and have more fun. I think for casual fans, those matches are appealing. As much as we might like to think otherwise, WWE is mainly catering to those casual fans who only watch sometimes because they want those fans to become hardcore fans like us. They know us hardcore fans are watching WrestleMania.
It’s the same reason why WWE tries to involve celebrities or do anything to get mainstream press. It’s all about reaching a wider audience. In this case, maybe some of those fans in their 30s or 40s who used to watch 15 years ago may tune in just to see Cena vs. Undertaker because it’s the first time at a WrestleMania. I don’t love it, but it may still be a cool match to see.
9. The future of AJ Styles
From @brandonvineyrd: How much longer do you think AJ Styles goes in WWE? Do you think he’s done enough for a HOF spot yet?
I think he’ll be in the HOF for sure because it’s not that hard to get in WWE’s Hall of Fame. He’s already had way better matches in two years than some guys did in 20 years. He’s 41 later this year. He said recently it’s probably going to be a couple of years until he stops. Most likely, he’ll do two or three more years full-time and then I’d use him as a part-timer. The man has four kids (the tattoos on his ribs are the birthdays of his kids), so it’s easy to see why he may want to stay home.
The reality is that money is great in WWE for a top guy, so he’s probably made more in the last two years than the previous five years, so that’s the motivation to keep going. Plus, he seems like a guy who genuinely loves the business and isn’t doing it just for the money. Styles has been the best performer in WWE during his first two years there. His in-ring work is at a level above everybody else, but he is pretty solid in terms of promos too.
It’s a shame that Styles didn’t get to WWE five or 10 years earlier. At least we get to enjoy his performances for a few more years.
10. Remember that CM Punk guy?
From @simmy2285: Do you think CM Punk will ever return?
Maybe if he has a kid that wants to see him wrestle like Goldberg did! I use that joke often, but it’s true. I think it’s possible down the road. Not any time soon. We’ve seen so many come back that I would never say never.
Think of all the names who have come back to WWE this decade that badmouthed them for years. Names like Bret Hart, Ultimate Warrior, Bruno Sammartino and Bill Goldberg. All of them trashed WWE because of their falling out with the company. The Ultimate Warrior said some of the most awful things I’ve ever heard, yet he was welcomed back with open arms and they even built a statue for the guy. I find that to be ridiculous, by the way.
Punk hasn’t talked about WWE as much as some of those guys, but there’s a lot of bitterness there. Plus, Punk is being sued by a WWE doctor because Punk trashed him on the Colt Cabana podcast in 2014, so it’s not going to be easy to forgive and forget.
I’m a huge CM Punk fan and I think he was the best overall performer from about 2009 to 2013 (he quit after Royal Rumble 2014), so from a performance standpoint I definitely miss watching and writing about the guy. He clearly wasn’t happy, though, so moving on was the best thing for him and his wife AJ Lee at that time.
By the way, every time I’ve done a Q&A in the last four years I get that CM Punk question. The man is missed.
11. A faction idea centered around Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
From @EricDeLash: A thought on a new faction on SD that could ultimately rival
#TheClub. Thoughts on Mike Kanellis aligning with Owens and Zayn, who then join a heel turn Bryan to form the #HonorSociety (tip to Ring of Honor)?
I think Tye Dillinger as a heel would be good too and he’s Canadian like Sami/Kev, so he would fit. It’s just a matter of finding people who have a strong connection to Kevin and Sami.
Any time you have a dominant heel stable on a show, it tends to carry the brand for a while. It worked well for Evolution on Raw over more than a decade, in terms of establishing Randy Orton and Batista as top guys under the wing of Triple H and Ric Flair. Right now, Raw and Smackdown are lacking in having heel stables running things. Perhaps in 2018, we will see it again.
12. Let’s talk finishing moves
From @KG4231: What’s your favourite and worst finisher in WWE today?
My favorite finisher is probably the Shatter Machine by The Revival. It’s basically a double-team version of Chris Jericho’s Codebreaker, which is also a very cool-looking move. I just think it looks great to see Dawson launch the guy in the air and then Wilder’s there to finish him off with the knees to the face.
For a singles wrestler, I’ll go with NXT Women’s Champion Ember Moon’s Eclipse finisher. With her opponent staggered in the ring, Moon jumps off the top and hits a Stunner-like move. The first time I saw it, I was stunned by how cool it looked and that hasn’t changed since I’ve seen her do it many times.
The worst finisher is Bayley’s Bayley to Belly suplex. It’s just a typical belly-to-belly suplex that doesn’t stand out much at all. I don’t like finishers that are basic moves we have seen people doing for decades. Also, Enzo Amore’s “Jordunzo” thing where he puts his foot to the face of his opponent and then Enzo bumps to his back is lame. Gail Kim did that in Impact Wrestling for years. She does it better than him.
13. A salute to the best heel wrestlers
From @TBooks4sfg: There have been some great characters in wrestling history, I think Stone Cold was probably the greatest face ever, but who, to you, was the best HEEL ever? I’d say, from my time watching: Flair, Hollywood Hogan, Triple H or Edge.
I think Ric Flair is the best heel wrestler ever. I didn’t grow up on Flair like some people because I was mostly a WWE guy, but in seeing a lot of his career, he was the epitome of being a great heel. Another name that comes to mind is Roddy Piper, who was one of WWE’s best heels in the 1980s.
The other names you mentioned are great heels too. Triple H is one of the best that probably doesn’t get enough respect for it. Edge had a really long run on top as a heel. Hulk Hogan’s heel turn in WCW helped them turn the corner, so that needs to be mentioned too.
Another name I’ll give you that took being a heel to another level as the evil boss: Vince McMahon. When thinking about all the great Raw moments or stuff from the Attitude Era 20 years ago, Vince was at the center of it as the evil boss and that’s something we shouldn’t ignore. He wasn’t a wrestler like the others, but his presence was huge.
14. The 40-Man Royal Rumble: Good idea or bad idea?
From @Tru_Inferno: Do you think we’ll see another 40 man Royal Rumble match and did you like the first one?
I hope they don’t do it again. For those that don’t remember, the first and only 40-man Royal Rumble was in 2011 when Alberto Del Rio won it. I thought the match dragged on too much with an additional 10 guys in the match who you knew had no chance of winning the thing. Every time the buzzer rang, it just meant people were going in who had no chance of winning. I think that hurts the match. I didn’t really like it, so doing it again would be a mistake.
That’s where I’m going to end it, just under 3,000 words. It was fun to do a mailbag and I’ll probably try to make it a monthly thing because there are always good questions to ask about the crazy world of WWE.
Next week is the Royal Rumble, so I’ll be back with some fearless predictions one week from now. Thanks for reading.