Happy early Halloween! As Crown Jewel lumbers ever closer, like a slasher in a bad 80’s horror flick, we seek to determine which brand’s “go home” show was a trick and which was a treat in this week’s Red vs. Blue!
Controversy can be a unique concept depending on the individual perceiving it. Former president of WCW, Eric Bischoff is famously known for the quote “Controversy creates cash”. Bischoff saw controversy as a profitable method for keeping eyes fixed firmly on his product. However, an individual such as Dustin Rhodes saw success embracing the fear and paranoia that his controversial Goldust character received throughout the fan community early on. The point I’m badly trying to make is that although the term inspires a negative response more often than not, controversy has not only been known for resulting very positivity within pro wrestling, but it’s very nearly become an integral part of the business itself.
That all being said, WWE’s most recent dances with controversy have been a very stark contrast to the varied success stories I mentioned earlier. From the poorly received WWE 2k20 to the incredibly offensive design of NXT superstar Jordan Myles’ first official WWE shirt, to….yes, the Saudi Arabia shows of this past year. It’s definitely been a long time since WWE actually struck gold by being edgy, so much so that it very much seems they’ve resorted to the outrageous in the hope of pulling out something half as successful as events that took place during the highly regarded Attitude Era.
This week, we once again sat in a sustained state of annoyed anticipation as WWE sought to deliver the final hype push going into Thursday’s Crown Jewel. Both Raw and Smackdown featured matches, segments, and interviews that all in some way served as appetizers to wet fans’ appetites for the Saudi showdown. However, Red vs. Blue isn’t about determining which show built actual excitement for an event most fans and talent have spoken out against… it’s about which brand was better overall!
You know the format, folks. I watch the shows, make the notes, then I give you fine fans a winner for the week based on my semi-informed opinion. So, with the explanation and introduction adequately handled, it’s time once again us to jump right into the positives of this week!
It’s been a decent amount of time since I’ve watched a WWE show that expertly juggled multiple ongoing storylines the way Friday’s edition of Smackdown did. The quick succession of hype building moments was the perfect formula to distract fans from overblown upcoming matches like Team Hogan facing Team Flair with samples of more anticipated meetings like Lesnar/ Velasquez or Rollins/Fiend 2. Be it Brock Lesnar launching a hard to watch assault on the Cain Velasquez camp, or Bray Wyatt reviving Ramblin’ Rabbit in the latest Firefly Funhouse, it’s unquestionable that the Blue brand was fully focused on getting fans to tune in come this Thursday afternoon.
Even Friday’s main event, despite being booked as two retired wrestlers living vicariously through teams of modern talent, perfectly showcased several members of the upcoming multi-man tag match. Watching guys like Cesaro, Baron Corbin, and…sigh…Shorty G delivers an absolute clinic to close Friday’s show nearly made me forget that the idea behind this entire rivalry is that all these guys were handpicked by two men infamously known for refusing to job to younger talent.
Where Smackdown pushed the hype rev limiter to near redline proportions, Raw sought to keep the Crown Jewel train at top speed as the last main roster show before Thursday’s Spooky Saudi Spectacular! The major difference between the two brands this week has to be Monday Night Raw scrambling to remind fans that even though Crown Jewel will be hosted by a notoriously oppressive country, WWE is still about the ladies! Women’s Tag Team Champions, The Kabuki Warriors, continued their uber effective heel tactics by excommunicating Paige’s association with the team via Asuka’s green mist.
Currently, The Warriors could very well be the best-booked heels in the WWE. From the inclusion of Muta-Esque poison mist to both women refusing to speak English, this entire gimmick reeks of the old school, foreign talent heat. Moving on to a debuting superstar, this week Sin Cara enlisted the help of Chilean luchadora “Carolina” in his reignited feud with Andrade and Zelena Vega. Although the end result was a losing effort for the “Faceless” Sin Cara, it bares mentioning that Carolina is very possibly the first masked female wrestler WWE has featured amongst their main roster programming. Hopefully, the future will see Carolina move away from the valet role into a successful run in Raw Women’s division.
Even a fantastic showing like we saw from the Blue brand this week isn’t without a few flaws. First off, what in God’s name do they have Cha-…”Shorty G” wearing?! Did this poor kid accidentally kill Vince’s favorite pet or something?! Don’t get me wrong, the idea of Shorty embracing his…um, shortcomings… is absolutely admirable, but pushing it to the point of wearing a bright singlet, complete with a giant “G”, while openly referring to yourself by a name that sounds like a rejected Beastie Boy… that’s the moment when “he’s so brave!” becomes “this is stupid!”.
Staying in the vein of the nonsensical, why are people still giving Ric Flair a microphone on live television?! Seriously, Hulk Hogan is infamously known for having an out of touch mentality when it comes to cutting promos, and he blew the Nature Boy out of the water Friday night! And if you don’t believe that, then tell me why both Hogan and Flair also appeared on Raw, but neither recieved promo time on the red brand. It’s time that Ric joined fellow legend The Iron Sheik in the club of guys WWE strictly limits when it comes to mic time.
The flagship brand of WWE certainly isn’t exempt from it’s share of follies either, with this week’s Raw including not only a tag team squash match that saw The Viking Raiders demolish a team of jobbers with the only perceived point being a reference to a Major League Baseball rivalry, but also Jerry Lawler’s “Divorce Court” as the cringe-worthy final segment of the night. Why is this… you know what? Just WHY IS THIS?! What is the point of a cuckold storyline in modern-day professional wrestling?! Are we supposed to believe Lana and Lashley are actually an item when Bobby’s arm is around Lana, but his hand isn’t touching her? Is referencing the failed past marriages of beloved Hall of Famer, Jerry Lawler, supposed to be comical? And most importantly, what the hell happened to Lana’s accent?!
The only thing worse than how beyond convoluted this entire storyline is has to be the heart treatment of R-Truth this week. Featured in his first legit match in what feels months, Truth quickly started off his exhibition against Buddy Murphy by reminding us all of the level-crushing of talent he still possesses within the ring. However, what could’ve easily been received as a push for Truth within Raw’s mid-card scene instantly became another half baked attempt at channeling comedy as soon as the usual 24/7 Channel Benny Hill skit broke out during the match. When you are actively booking a former NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion as the wrestling equivalent of the Trix Rabbit, it may be time to get Vince’s hands off the wheel!
Neither Raw nor Smackdown were without their charms this week. The over-emphasis put on Crown Jewel refreshingly didn’t feel as forced as past Saudi shows have, with much of the hype being centered around the quality of wrestling we’re being asked to expect. But, that still leaves us with the question of which show actually did a better job of building momentum for Crown Jewel? As for this week, I think it’s fairly obvious that the winner is…
Wow, yet another superior show from the Blue Brand this week! It’s very quickly starting to seem like moving to the Fox network family may have been exactly what Smackdown needed to surpass its crimson counterpart. But, with this week’s winner definitively decided, it’s time I bid you fine readers farewell the only way I know how. Until next time, may all your kicks be super and every frog splash five stars!
You can find me on Twitter @DirtSheetDandy. Thanks for reading.