WWE

WWE Weekly Recap: Let’s talk about Kevin Owens’ title reign

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Before Braun “Adam from Tinder” Strowman and Roman Reigns “interrupted” The Kevin Owens Show on this Monday’s edition of Raw, Bill Goldberg and the Universal Champion stood toe-to-toe in the middle of the ring.

On the surface, this should have been a huge moment. Here’s Goldberg, one of the biggest stars of the Attitude Era, arguing with a world champion from Earth’s biggest wrestling promotion.

In the bubble of WWE, this is the first time we’ve seen Goldberg since he announced his intentions of entering the Royal Rumble. That was the night after he defeated Brock Lesnar in less than 90 seconds and, to boot, it’s the first time he’s interacted with Kevin Owens on television.

So why did the climax of their interaction feel anticlimactic?

Was it because Owens didn’t get a chance to deliver an actual promo about Goldberg?

Should the tone of the segment have been different?

Or is this a product of Owens’ lackluster title reign?  

romo

Now don’t get me wrong, Owens has elevated himself and the Universal title during the four-plus months he’s held the red strap. The first time his music hits on Monday nights, he gets a good reaction, which is a sign of how captivating a character is, but it is really hard to sit here and say that Owens’ time with Raw’s main championship has been anything but mediocre.

He’s been given numerous opportunities to connect with the audience due to the amount of time that must be filled every week on Raw and he’s taken full advantage of it, but if you watched Owens’ dominate NXT, you know that his run with the Universal Championship is just a fraction of what could have been.

I mean seriously, when was the last time he won a match clean? Without doing any research, the last time I remember him pinning someone without the help of Y2J was back in early December when he beat Sami Zayn on Raw and that felt like an anomaly.

Sure, heel champions are supposed to cheat to win, that’s part playing the bad guy role, but even bad guys still need credibility in order for the crowd to perceive them at a certain level.

K.O. is still entertaining week in and week out, but he’s been tasked with acting as the cowardly heel, as opposed to the bad ass who ran his mouth while beating the crap out of guys at Full Sail.

owens

Owens is incredibly entertaining when he gets screen time, so the crowd is going to respond accordingly, but sit back for a moment and imagine how the crowd would have responded if the NXT version of Kevin Owens stood in the ring with Goldberg and told him that he was ready to fight. The crowd in Tampa would have actually had a pulse.

Instead, when Owens got in Goldberg’s face, the crowd didn’t quite know how to react. This was a side of Owens that we haven’t seen since his feud with John Cena. He turned the intensity up, but it felt flat because it was too much of a contrast to the character the WWE audience is used to seeing every week.

Owens has “attempted” to run away from every moment of adversity since he won the title, so it was actually out of character for him to stand up to Goldberg. It would have made more sense for him to bolt from the ring and stand on the ramp while cutting a promo on ol’ Bill.

I don’t want to put all of the blame on Owens here. This was Goldberg’s weakest appearance since his return to the company back in November. His “you’re first” line to Jericho was so cringe (Hi, Filthy Tom!) that I turned the volume down on my TV. People want to see Goldberg spear people as opposed to yelling the word spear at the top of his lungs like a relic from the past.

FANATSY BOOKING ALERT: Wouldn’t it have made more sense for Jericho to cut Goldberg off before he got a word out; have Y2J tease putting Goldberg on the list, SPEAR, and then Owens flees to the outside before he can be attacked by the maniac? Owens could then cut a promo about how he’s going to beat Goldberg if he wins the rumble and then Roman’s music hits. He stares at Owens on his way to the ring and then Strowman barrels his way down to the ring for the double spear spot.  

barbrady

Owens is set to face Reigns at the Rumble and it sure seems like we’re going to see a title change, which would be a shame because the blow-off between Owens and Jericho should be for the title at WrestleMania, but based off of the company’s booking pattern, Reigns vs. Strowman for the title seems much more likely.

HHH-Rollins, Goldberg-Lesnar and Undertaker’s match will be the three “main events,” which means if Strowman wrestles for the title, it doesn’t have to be a 20-30 minute marathon. He can be hidden in a 10-15 minute brawl.

If Owens walks out of San Antonio with the title and goes on to successfully defend it at the company’s biggest show of the year, he might be able to use it as a springboard to reinvigorate his title reign, but only if his character becomes a bit more serious.  

Holy Schnikes moment of the week

Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada had one of the best professional wrestling matches ever. That is not a hyperbole. The two sacrificed their bodies for 46 minutes of entertainment including this ridiculous spot:

Time to “Go Home”

– Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler had an excellent match this week on SmackDown. That’s two straight solid performances for Corbin, who is being pushed right into the main event picture.

– Also, heel turn for Ziggler!

– I totally thought the Eddie Guerrero cheating spot into the codebreaker was going to be the finish of Jericho vs. Reigns. A very solid story was told in this match.

– Was anyone else surprised that Renee Young didn’t come out and eliminate Maryse from the main event on SmackDown? Booking 101 says she should have come out, slapped Maryse, chased her off to the back, which would have distracted the Miz and thus, cost him the Intercontinental Championship.

– This didn’t feel like the right time to take the IC title off of Miz. If it ultimately means that he’s getting bumped up to the main event for a program in February, then it’s fine.

– What the hell was going on with Charlotte on commentary? She seemed lost and never found a rhythm with Mike Cole, Graves and Coach II.

– Can every Braun Strowman match be a Falls Count Anywhere match?

– Jack Gallagher is my spirit animal.

– I could get down with Titus O’Neil joining the New Day. He was pretty damn entertaining on Monday.

– John Cena cut one of his better promos in recent memory on Tuesday. When he goes on a passionate rant, there are few in the business who can reach this level:

– Remember when Undertaker was going to appear on SmackDown more? Yeah, me either.

– So Aliyah made her main roster debut before Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura? Makes sense.

– That’s a joke everyone, random NXT talents have popped up for one off appearances on SmackDown since the draft, but it’s still hilarious to think about.

– If you haven’t watched the Okada-Omega match from Wrestle Kingdom 11. Stop what you’re doing, set 50 minutes aside and go watch it.

– Seriously, watch it.

The Twitter Machine: @ScottDargis

WWE: How Alexa Bliss Found Her Voice

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Before Alexa Bliss defends her Raw Women’s Championship at the Tables, Ladders and Chairs Pay-Per-View (this Sunday live at 8 p.m. ET on WWE Network) I had the chance to talk with her about the process of developing the Alexa Bliss character, what it was like to have cameras around her house for “Total Divas” and of course, the world famous Larry-Steve

Me: “So what game did Larry-Steve pick for you to download on the [Nintendo] Switch?”

Alexa: “Mario! The Rabbit Kingdom. I was trying to find a game and all of a sudden Larry-Steve jumped on my lap and just started moving the Switch, so I was like I have to get this on video. He was doing it for a lot longer, but I only caught a couple seconds on video.”

@larry_steve_ helping me figure out which game to download next on my @nintendo #switch

A post shared by Alexa_Bliss (@alexa_bliss_wwe_) on

“Are you a big gamer, or did you see someone else with the Switch and said to yourself “I need one of those”?

“No, I love video games. So my fiancé and I went through this phase recently where we got all of the older gaming systems. We have this box that plays old Sega and Nintendo games. We have the original Playstation, recently just got a Game Boy. We have an Xbox a PS4 Pro and the Super Nintendo that just came out.”

“I got the Switch back in March and it’s a life-saver on my commute”

“Oh it’s the best. It seriously saves my life when it comes to traveling because I get so bored so easily, especially when a plane doesn’t have WiFi … ughhhh I die.”

“When you did an interview with ESPN a few months back you mentioned that you got Larry-Steve because of Total Divas, which made me wonder if getting a pig was something you’ve always wanted to do, or if this was a spur of the moment decision because of the show?”

“I’ve always wanted a pig. I grew up in Ohio, in Grove City, which is a farmy place. A lot of people there have farm animals and I’ve always wanted a pig because they’re super cute and I know they have a risk of getting up to 500 pounds, but whatever.

I actually pitched the storyline for Total Divas of me getting a pig and then my fiancé telling me that I can’t have it and then I’d have to give him back. You know, this whole drama thing.

So I get Larry-Steve and I have him for like two days and then I called Matt and said I’m not giving this pig back. I was like I can’t, he’s too cute and he’s deaf!

I was like he won’t hear the dogs barking at him. He was like what if he gets really big, I was like that’s 500 pounds of love. So I did the whole pouty thing and then he was like it’s your call, you make the decision. The whole I don’t want you to, so you probably shouldn’t, but I’m going to tell you that you can. And I totally took it as OK, I’m going to get him.

They get along so well. Matt loves him. He’s become the baby of the family. He knows it.

He’s like a child. He’s on a schedule. He wakes up every morning at 7. He sleeps in a Pack ‘n Play [crib]. He eats at 7:30. He naps at 2 and if you don’t put him in his crib to nap at 2, he will go lay by his bed. He wakes up, gets more food, will walk around the house, play for an hour to an hour and a half and then he’ll go back to bed.

“He sounds really easy to take care of”

“He’s so easy to take care of. As long as you can get his schedule down, because if not, he gets really grumpy.”

“Grumpy! How do you know that he’s grumpy?”

“Yeah because he’ll go “oink, oink, oink” all of the time and start pushing you. When he gets grumpy you know and then he’ll try to bite your toe, but that’s only if he’s grumpy.”

“Because [spoiler alert] Total Divas is a pseudo-reality, did you find yourself having to adjust to how you acted in front of the camera because you’re so used to playing a specific type of character in front of one?”

“I had a little bit of an adjustment period for sure because I’m so used to when the camera is on, I turn into Alexa Bliss, this mean, attitudy character. So I had to get out of that because our first filming was at TV. So I’m in a work environment and it was just a different camera, so as soon as the camera came on I was thinking ‘wait I can’t be that way, I have to be me.’

There were times where we’re at home making breakfast and there’s cameras there and I feel so weird because you have to open up to the cameras, but still act natural.

It was very different, but I had a lot of fun with it.”

*** Season 7 of Total Divas Premieres Wednesday, November 1 at 9 p.m. ET on E! ***

“You’ve talked about your transition from NXT to the main roster before and how you needed to turn up the persona that you found in NXT, but what helped you find the character’s voice? Was there a light bulb moment where you realized that this is it when you were with Blake and Murphy?

“I watched back our first few NXT matches together when I was managing them and realized that I was just silent. I wasn’t doing anything, I wasn’t saying anything. I was just looking at them in silence. And I was like hmmm, well that’s nothing.

I remember specifically trying more and more to be mean and I was trying to think of a character that’s relatable and I was like oh my gosh, a mean girl from high school. Everyone knows her. Everyone had one. Some people were her and no matter how mean she was, you still voted for her for homecoming queen.

I was like I want to be that girl because I knew that girl in high school. I knew a few of those girls in high school. I knew that everyone did. So that was my main motivation was to be that girl.

I get my inspiration from movies and a lot of the time I’ll actually people-watch when I’m at the airport. William Regal told us to people-watch because you can get your best motivation from them. I’ll notice little mannerisms that irritate me and I know they will irritate other people.

“How long did it take you to be comfortable in front of the camera as that character? Was it something you had to workshop a lot to get to that point?

“To get it started was a long process, but once it clicked, it was super easy. It’s just another part of me now and it’s been so much fun to play around with.”

“The saying is the best characters in this business are an extension of who the actual person is, but turned up to an 11, so is there any part of your actual personality in the character?”

“Oh god, none of it (laughs).”

“See that’s really interesting because you’re so comfortable playing the character, but it’s not you at all.”

“So I remember watching ‘My Date with Marilyn’ and watching the scene where she’s just super shy and super timid and then she asks somebody ‘do you want me to become her?’ And then she goes into Marilyn [Monroe]-mode and people start swarming her. She becomes this confident, sexy woman and I feel like it’s pretty much the same kind of thing. It’s something that you just switch into.

I’ve always wanted to do acting and wanted to explore that route and I feel like this has been the most fun part of doing what I get to do. Being able to transition into a completely different character.”

“So your match coming up with Mickie James this weekend; in another era this probably would have been a depends on a pole match …”

“(laughs)”

“But it’s just going to be a normal one-on-one match, even though in the build-up for it, you’ve been so aggressive in promos and backstage segments that it could have warranted a stipulation in storyline. Would you prefer a stipulation match, or are you OK with it being a regular match?”

“I’m OK with it being a normal one-on-one [match]. Of course stipulations are always cooler and more fun, but I feel like if we were to do a stipulation match it would have to be something that was driven towards the storyline that we’re doing right now.

I’m talking about her being old, so it should be like a walker match.”

Twitter: @ScottDargis

There’s a new playable character in WWE 2K18 and it’s … Colonel Sanders!?

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During the “Hell in a Cell” Pay-Per-View last night, it was announced that Colonel Sanders will be a playable character in the WWE 2K18 video game.

The announcement came during a segment in which the world was introduced to Colonel Angle Sanders who promptly took care of his rival, the Puppers Cluckers Chicken.

If you want to see an extended look of Colonel Sanders in WWE 2K18, you can watch him face off against Puppers Cluckers Chicken on UpUpDownDown this Thursday (October 12th).

WWE 2K18’s launch date is October 17th.