Cheap Pops - Wrestling News & Views - October 18, 2015

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Cheap Pops - October 18, 2015

by Chris Delloiacono, Mike Maillaro and Jeff Ritter

This week!

- WWE Partners with ESPN

- Sami Zayn to appear for EVOLVE

- Lana and Rusev Engaged

- NXT Results


WWE Partners with ESPN

From Lords of Pain:

WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins appeared on tonight's 9pm EST airing of ESPN flagship show SportsCenter. Rollins appeared in a segment that ran around 6 minutes with current ESPN anchor and former WWE announcer Jonathan Coachman.

The segment opened with various moments from last night's RAW in Chicago including Kane's Tombstone on Rollins, Naomi leaping out of the ring onto other Divas, Roman Reigns' Drive By on Braun Strowman and many more. Coach then recapped last night's RAW with the top match - John Cena's open challenge, a one-liner award for The New Day's Xavier Woods taking a shot at Chicago Bulls player Derrick Rose, then a top move award for Reigns' Superman punch to Braun and Luke Harper.

Rollins then appeared live via satellite and asked why he wasn't mentioned in the top moments. Coach asked what's up with Kane. Rollins called himself the Tom Brady or the New England Patriots of WWE and said everyone is jealous of him. Coach also showed a clip of Rollins taunting Johnny Manziel and taking a shot at LeBron James back at RAW in Cleveland in the summer. Rollins also talked about his favorite sport - football. Coach asked about age limits in sports and Rollins said he does not believe there should be a limit. They also talked about unwritten rules in sports and WWE in regards to MLB star Chase Utley's slide. Rollins says it's very competitive in the ring but they're always looking out for each other.

The segment will air weekly on SportsCenter every Tuesday at 9pm EST. Apparently various WWE Superstars will be making appearances on the show.

Mike:  I think it’s great that wrestling is getting some mainstream attention.  But it would be nice if it came at a time when the product was a lot stronger.  I also think wrestling is at it’s best when it’s a little edgy.  And I worry that it may become even more watered down in order to fit on ESPN.  Plus, is this really going to bring in a lot of new viewers?  I think for the most part most adults have made their decisions about wrestling.  They are either fans or just don’t care.

Chris: Forbes magazine called this a game changer, but I don't see it.  Perhaps they're right in the sense that it will legitimize WWE a bit in the sporting sense. WWE has trouble attracting the same level of advertising as pro sports like the MLB, NBA, and NFL, so maybe this exposure assists in that.  Possibly not, though.  There has always been a stigma about wrestling and its fans, and I doubt being on ESPN will change that.

Jeff: It’s funny to look back on ESPN’s relationship with pro wrestling over the years. They were the home of the AWA on cable in the early days. Once ESPN really caught fire they cut wrestling out completely. Now and then they’d recognize something if it was really big, like the death of Macho Man Randy Savage or Diamond Dallas Page’s efforts to clean up Jake Roberts and Scott Hall. I often wondered if some of this wasn’t due to their hiring of Jonathan Coachman and Todd Grisham, but I think they were both still in the WWE when Savage died. Of course, ESPN’s ratings are down now, because they aren’t the only game in town. The World Wide Leader is now chasing the individual sports leagues themselves. and both do a really good job bringing information, highlights and interviews to their fans. I’m going to show my midwestern colors now, but it is hard to put up with the coastal biases of ESPN on a nightly basis. It doesn’t matter if the Yankees lost a close, hard-fought game to the visiting Tampa Bay Rays or if the Mets won a rather ho-hum contest against the Phillies by the score of 4-2, those games will be on first. Then they’ll talk about either Boston or Los Angeles, typically the Dodgers. Then they might go to Baltimore, Washington or San Francisco before they finally get around to the Central Division teams, and they’ll start in Chicago and perhaps Texas. The Cardinals could have 1-hit the Braves and scored all 12 runs on back-to-back grand slams in the 3rd and 8th innings--I won’t even see it mentioned on the damn scroll until just a split second before they pull the scroll down for a commercial. It’s pathetic, really, and they can only blame themselves for their lack of vision. So now they have to go to a non-sport--and let’s face it, it isn’t a sport if Vince and HHH pick the winners--to get viewers. Well, OK, if that’s what you think you need to do.

If Vince, HHH and Stephanie are smart, they’ll just make their own WWESPN on the Network and present their own highlights packages and analysis. I can see Renee Young and one of those vanilla-as-hell disposable mouthpieces on NXT doing the Linca Cohn and Scott Van Pelt thing, and then utilize the Superstars for analysis. A mix of past, present and future stars would be pretty sweet. Imagine Arn Anderson and Paul Heyman breaking down a Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt match, or Chris Jericho and Billy Kidman discussing the Red Arrow of Adrian Neville. It might still be choreographed, but seeing the matwork given more substance would lend a little more authenticity to every show.

Mike: I hate to come across as so cynical all the time when it comes to WWE, but I have just not been able to get through an episode of Raw or Smackdown in forever.  It’s not wrestling in general.  I still get very excited for Lucha Underground, NXT, and our local Pro Wrestling Syndicate shows.  But for WWE, I constantly just feel like great talent is being wasted.

Chris: Cynical or not, you're right!  The product is nigh unwatchable, which shouldn't be the case.  The talent is in place, but we get the same old crap ad infinitum.  Very little worth watching, nothing to care about, and nobody to root for.  Any time the fans get behind someone, Vince goes the other way.  

The shows are phoned in most weeks building towards PPVs that don't hold the same meaning they did in the past.  The Attitude Era was so good because Raw was often better than the PPVs.  Stuff happened every week, there were title changes, blow off matches, and unexpectedness.  You know what you'll get on Raw every week now, and who really gives a damn.  I've said it before, but if WWE doesn't care, why should I!

Jeff: I think it’s simply time to throw out the cookie-cutter scripts and start over. Everyone expects an hour long gabfest to start the show, just to announce some random tag match that doesn’t really get anybody excited. Changing the show’s stale layout--leading off with an actual match for example--might be a good start. Adding a WWESPN show afterwards on the Network might help. I’ve suggested in the past of completely redesigning the model of Pro Wrestling to more closely resemble real sport--adding trackable stats and a seasonal concept. Vince wouldn’t go for it. I tend to doubt Hunter would either. I can’t help but think Eric Bischoff might be visionary enough to see the merit of a complete shift of the concept, and Paul Heyman might be crazy enough to get behind it too .

Sami Zayn making some Indy Appearances

Mike: Last week, EVOLVE casually dropped the news that Sami Zayn was going to be making some appearances.

WWE later confirmed this, and said that he will be participating in a non-wrestling capacity.  I love Sami Zayn, and I am hoping this is kind of the beginning of his “rehab tour” towards getting back in the ring.  

Chris: It's great news Zayn is getting out there again, and this odd dynamic with Evolve is pretty cool too.  I'm interested to see if this is really going to develop into a working relationship.  Anything to unstagnate the product!

Recap of his appearance:  WWE NXT Superstar Sami Zayn did a meet & greet before tonight's EVOLVE 49 iPPV in New York City. The iPPV actually started late to accommodate the meet & greet. After the show went off the air and the main event, which saw WWE NXT prospect Johnny Gargano defeat Ethan Page in an "I Quit" match, Sami came out and appeared for the live crowd.

Sami thanked the EVOLVE fans for having him, saying he missed "all this." Sami thanked the fans for supporting EVOLVE and said this is the beginning of something big for EVOLVE. He said this is only going to get bigger and better.

Sami praised Gargano, which got a "NXT" chant, and said he's the one to carry the EVOLVE brand now, calling him "the man." Sami said there's never been a more important time for Gargano to step up in EVOLVE than right now. Gargano wrapped Sami in streamers that had been thrown into the ring and Sami thanked fans again before his NXT music hit and he left.

Mike: Looks like it wasn’t too big an appearance (just enough to tease the partnership between WWE and EVOLVE), but still glad to see him back.

One thing I had never understood about wrestling is that why when a wrestler is injured do they vanish for long periods of time.  I know you get that quick cheap pop when the character makes his return, but it seems to me that keeping him on TV in some capacity would be far better in the long term of keeping him in the viewers’ minds.  I am not saying every week, but having someone like Daniel Bryan, Sami Zayn, Alex Riley, or Hideo Itami appearing every now and then to offer their thoughts about what’s been going on in their absence would be nice.  Frankly, I would rather see Daniel Bryan in the ring with his awkward “Oh shucks” promos than the creepy love rectangle with Dolph Ziggler, Lana, Rusev, and Summer Rae.   Speaking of which…

Lana and Rusev get engaged!

Mike: Last week, Lana was showing off an engagement ring.  And this week, the WWE decided to get all weird and make it part of the storyline.  

“It’s very obvious Rusev proposed to me. If you watched Rusev and Summer, Rusev has always loved me. He was just so devastated about me picking Dolph that he went with Summer to make me jealous. But at the end of the day, we know we’re good for each other.”

“I am from the former Soviet Union; Rusev grew up in Bulgaria, and one common thread they teach you there is to survive. The winters get very cold and they get very dark. We do what we need to do to survive. This is what is happening. We will be leaving the greatest legacy this company and the WWE Universe has ever seen.”

“Ziggler is very funny and he’s charming, but he is not The Super Athlete. With me, Rusev was the undefeated Super Athlete. He listened to what I said, he was very focused. We made each other better. He challenged me and I challenged him. Summer has made him so soft that he hasn’t won. You tell me, who is the better pick?”

I actually really hate this “reality era” of wrestling.  Total Divas and all that has been a real detriment to the storylines and characters.   If WWE wants to have kayfabe dead, I can understand that.  Wrestling being scripted doesn’t take away from the product all that much...I’ve never heard someone say “I hate Star Wars because it’s scripted”...  But stuff like this feels like they are treating the audience like they are dim.  “It’s fake...and real...AT THE SAME TIME!”

Chris: I'm happy for Rusev and Lana!  I wish them well in their life together.  This is an industry that's destroyed a lot of marriages.  I hope they have the best of times.

As for WWE's reality situation, this is all too much.  What's the point of this storyline still dragging out on TV.  It sucked months ago when it began.  Each month I wonder how this is still going on.  My goodness, what a waste!

Jeff: It’s as if millions of boners suddenly cried out and were silenced. Congrats to the crazy kids. Please fight somebody else. I suggest Ryback. And get Summer Rae a damn cheeseburger.

NXT RESULTS 10-14-15

- Show starts with a recap of NXT Takeover Respect.

- NXT Women’s Champion Bayley comes out. Crowd is chanting “Match of the Year.” Bayley says that last week NXT made history.  Not just because of the Iron Man match, but for the whole PPV.  From the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic to women getting to main event the show. That created a whole new level for the Divas’ revolution.  Out comes Alexa Bliss with Blake and Murphy.  She says what Bayley accomplished was incredible.  She says no one deserves to be champ more than Bayley.  She holds up Bayley’s hand, and then snatches the title away.  Blake and Murphy block Bayley from getting it back.  Alexa says people like you aren’t meant to be champion.  She then throws the title at Bayley and promises to take it for real.  She leaves with Blake and Murphy continuing to block Bayley from getting to her.

- Last week, after they won the Dusty Rhodes, Samoa Joe and Finn Balor are congratulated by GM William Regal.  Joe says tagging with Finn was an honor, but he still wants his title shot.  Finn is willing to give him one.  Regal says no. We need a real #1 contender.  There will be a battle royal.  Both Finn and Joe seemed kind of disappointed.

- Some backstage promos for tonight’s #1 contender’s battle royal.  Ty Dillinger, Apollo Crews, Rhyno.

- Short segment about WWE’s partnership with the Susan G. Korman Foundation.

- Vaudevillians def. Sawyer Fulton and Angelo Dawkins with the Whirling Dervish.

- Dash and Dawson are backstage saying they aren’t all that impressed by the Vaudevillians.  They beat them during the Dusty Rhodes Tag Classic.  That should make them the #1 contender.  In fact, they should have the titles now.  Instead, they have to fight Enzo Amore and Colin Cassidy.  They mock Enzo and Big Cass’s catch phrases.

- Nia Jax Promo video.  She debuts next.

- Recap of Asuka’s debut at NXT Respect.  After match, Asuka taunted Dana back stage, and stared Emma down.  Dana’s head was so messed up after the match, she thought she won the match.

- Nia Jax def. Evie with a brutal modified spine buster.

- Recap of Bayley Vs Sasha at Takeover Respect.

- Some backstage promos for tonight’s #1 contender’s battle royal.  Tyler Breeze and Baron Corbin.

- Eva Marie does a promo from Paris.  She says she needed some me time, but will be back soon.

- Apollo Crews wins the battle royal for the #1 contender spot.  Crews hits a series of jumping kicks to Baron Corbin’s head, before clotheslining him over the top rope for the final elimination.

Mike: Typically the NXT shows taped the night after a Takeover special are kind of blah.  This episode was actually one of the better ones, even though we didn’t get a lot of matches (and two of the three were basically squashes).  Coming right out, we have several new storylines building up: Alexa Bliss Vs Bayley, Dash and Dawson looking to rise up the ranks, and a new #1 contender.  

Jeff: I almost didn’t bother watching this episode because I was afraid of exactly that--the post PPV recap episode letdown. Thankfully they pushed the next set of stories and set up more than a couple of arcs. Good job, Team Regal!

Mike: Nia Jax made her debut tonight.  They mentioned her Samoan background and that she is the Rock’s cousin.  Unfortunately, like most WWE/NXT debuts, it was basically just a squash match, so we didn’t get to see very much of her.  She looks strong.  That bear hug was great, and her finished genuinely looked like it would take someone out.  I also think it’s great that we have a female wrestler who doesn’t have the traditional “diva” look to her.  I would love to see a match with Nia Jax Vs Kharma. One quick comment about Evie.  She is from New Zealand...not Australia.  It seemed like every time NXT announces a new female jobber, they are from Austrailia.  I guess this is progress.  

Jeff: When they started showing closeups of her face in the promo just before she came out, I thought, “Oh no...what if Nia Jax is a repackaged Chyna?!?” Not sure why I thought that, but it gave me pause. Then she came out and I said, “Oh...she’s a repackaged Brodus Clay with better hair.”

Now, before the flames come in let me just say that I have no issue with her body type. As Outcast once said, “Big girls need love too.” It makes for a better Diva’s division to have different body types. One day soon we’ll see her face off against relatively tiny Asuka, and that should be a lot of fun. The reason I reference Brodus Clay is because I think WWE Creative could have come up with a much better look for her (and him!). The lycra catsuit doesn’t flatter her at all. The design of it looks like something left over from an mid-1980s CMLL Women’s Division rack. She’s the Rock’s cousin! And this is what you debut her in? I don’t think WWE Creative smells what anybody’s cookin’ anymore. Someday she’ll team with Tamina and then be part of Roman Reign’s heel posse, but right now she looks like a bit of a hot mess.

Mike: I totally agree with you about her outfit.  It was definitely not flattering at all.  Like you said, I have no problem with her size...but that outfit did nothing for her.

Jeff: Evie, the New Zealander, didn’t get a lot of offense in but she was certainly easy on the eyes and she didn’t come off as overly intimidated by the size of her opponent. I’d like to see more of her on the show, as long as she never does that stupid Emma hand dance thing. Jax’s bearhug was pretty tremendous. Probably the best I’ve seen in years. Not so sure about the one handed spinebuster. Many of the finishers in the WWE are lackluster these days. Look at the Whirling Dervish by the Vaudevillains. a Reverse European Uppercut and a Running Neckbreaker? I’ve made more convincing and believable finishers on my XBOX.

Mike: The main event was the #1 contender battle royal...which went for over 20 minutes.  The final four were Samoa Joe, Apollo Crews, Tyler Breeze, and Baron Corbin.  The crowd was really behind Tyler, and booed the hell out of Joe when he eliminated Tyler.  Tyler pulled Joe out from outside the ring, leaving Apollo and Corbin.  Not at all who I expected as the final two.  Nice of NXT to give us some real surprises here.  

I was glad to see the crowd getting behind Tyler.  Tyler seems to lose all his matches at Takeover.  Last time I really remember him winning at Takeover was when he won a match to become #1 Contender...and then never got his match against the champ.  Tyler Breeze has a ton of talent and a great character.  NXT needs to push him more.

Apollo Crews was a great surprise win.  Over the last few weeks, they have been teasing a Samoa Joe vs Finn Balor match, and giving Apollo the win definitely puts a nice twist into the story.  This should help push Crews, and you can have Finn beat him without either man losing credibility.  That also gives them more time to build towards a big matchup between Samoa Joe and Finn down the line.  The main show could learn from this kind of booking.

And I can’t say enough how much Baron Corbin continues to impress me.  Any time they give him some time to wrestle a match, he shows huge improvement. Towards the end, I started to wonder what a Corbin/Balor match might look like. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not quite there yet, but I still did think it could have the potential to be a very good some point.  I do think it’s important to give wrestlers a chance to show what they can do, and Corbin has taken advantage of the opportunities he’s been given.

Jeff: Mike, I completely agree on all of these points. Corbin is improving now that he’s not simply squashing dudes every week, and his mic work is getting better too. Joe is over enough already so it doesn’t matter if he gets the title push yet. Breeze is probably stuck in the “damned if you do” rut. You know, like being good at your job so your boss won’t ever let you pursue better opportunities because they don’t want to lose a proven commodity. Everyone knows Breeze is crazy talented. They figure he can do the job on a PPV and not hurt is fan cred. So far they’ve been right, but remember, they didn’t give the fans what they want when they wanted Reigns at the Rumble a couple years ago, and they didn’t give the fans what they wanted when they wanted Daniel Bryan the next year. If you don’t give the fans some Tyler Breeze title matches soon they could end up turning on him as well.

Crews picking up the victory was something I didn’t see coming, but I have no problem with it at all. He seems like a cool guy, his repertoire is deep, and I think he’ll mesh beautifully with Finn Balor. I still don’t like the Standing Moonsault as a finisher, and Baron Corbin demonstrated why.

I couldn’t help but notice the Mojo Rawley, the greatest wrestler since the HonkyTonk Man, didn’t make it the final four. I’m going to log off now and listen an endless loop of “Tragedy” by the BeeGees in protest.

Mike: I don’t get Cheap Popped, I stay Cheap Popped!!