Wrestling Notebook: Brock Lesnar, Saudi supershow, AEW booking
Vince McMahon is obviously hitting the panic button with his latest Brock Lesnar push.
I read a couple of the reports on the “Money in the Bank” pay-per-view from Sunday night before I was able to watch the show that had the Lesnar move going over well with the live crowd.
Aside here: I had to rely initially on the online reports because I watched the “Game of Thrones” finale Sunday night, because that was my viewing priority.
Which, no, that’s not good for WWE, but I did decide to watch “Money in the Bank” for myself on Monday, based on the reports.
I don’t know that I heard or saw evidence of the Lesnar win going over well with the live crowd, just me there.
I get why McMahon is going here. Ratings for “Raw” and “Smackdown” have been in the crapper for months now, dating back to “WrestleMania” season.
Nothing seems to be going over. Might as well try to shore things up with an old reliable.
I don’t know that Lesnar is the secret sauce or anything. He was the Universal champ at the start of the slide that WWE has been in now for several months.
Yet another Lesnar push is a sign that WWE is admitting that it doesn’t have anything else going right now.
And this could become a full-blown crisis as we head toward the fall, and the new, huge-money contracts with USA and Fox kick in.
Aside from Becky Lynch, WWE hasn’t been able to develop anything in the form of a new star in, really, years.
There might be a “Stone Cold” Steve Austin or Rock on the roster, just waiting to be discovered, but whoever that is, it’s not immediately obvious.
And so, we have Lesnar, holding the single-greatest prop in all of pro wrestling, the Money in the Bank briefcase, on his way to, it seems, cashing it in for a match in Saudi Arabia that nobody in the States will watch.
The Saudi supershow
I watched the first one, and regretted it, left with the impression that WWE had just wasted my time on what felt like a five-hour house show.
I skipped the second Saudi show, and when it didn’t seem like I’d missed anything, felt good that I wouldn’t have to think about any of the future shows.
Which makes it, to me, odd that WWE still programs on Mondays and Tuesdays as if they need to build toward the supershows as if they’re building toward a States-based pay-per-view.
If you’re not going to do anything significant on these shows, and it doesn’t seem that they want to do anything significant on these shows, don’t waste your time, or mine, as a viewer who probably isn’t going to watch, building toward them.
Treat them as the paid shows that they are, make sure the check clears, and we can all move on.
I’ve been following with interest the behind-the-scenes stuff regarding the now-scrapped Hangman Page-PAC match that had been set for AEW’s “Double or Nothing” show this weekend.
Seems that PAC, the Dragon Gate champ, doesn’t want to suffer a non-title loss in AEW, and in the process devalue his championship reign.
Now, twist here, PAC was apparently set to get the win over Page at “Double or Nothing,” but that win would set him up for a match down the line with Kenny Omega that PAC would ultimately lose.
This is all being conjectured in the context of word from the folks at AEW, Cody Rhodes and the rest, that they want to put emphasis on wins and losses, lending a real sports aspect to pro wrestling, that you don’t get in the 50/50 booking that frustrates the hell out of folks who watch WWE.
The AEW idea is that you don’t insult fans by having non-finishes, which is what we got with the angle that the company came up with to get out of having PAC and Page match up at “Double or Nothing,” flying Page to England to face PAC in a match that ended in a DQ, to basically give both guys the chance to save face alongside the announcement that their match for the PPV had been called off.
What AEW will learn from this is: they’re going to need to have more booking flexibility than their professed desire to have definitive finishes rule the day can offer.
WWE goes way, way overboard with its 50/50 booking, which has left in its wake a roster full of guys and gals devoid of anything in terms of momentum, positive or otherwise.
The flip side isn’t having guys like PAC or Page come out of the gate with a blemish when you don’t need either to do a job, with the company just getting its feet under it.
If you want to have what is just a great match, not specifically for any title, any payoff, you need to be able to book it, and giving yourself the option of a schmozz finish, a double-DQ, a time-limit draw, is a necessity in those kinds of situations.
Column by Chris Graham