WWE

WWE Weekly Recap: Goldberg ain’t done yet

Leave a comment

Welp, that was quite a weekend. There’s so much to talk about I really don’t know where to begin. I suppose the fallout from Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar is worthy of leading this column, but there were so many other OMG moments that I don’t want to spend 800 words talking about one match, so let’s get it out of the way quickly.

giphy

Me: Is this last time we’re going to see you in a WWE ring?

Goldberg: “I’m sure acting like it. At the end of the day, it’s all that I’m concerned about. I take one day as it is.”

That’s what Goldberg told me last Tuesday when I had the opportunity to chat with him before the PPV.

It quickly became clear on Sunday that this would not be his final appearance with the WWE. After he defeated Lesnar in a minute and 24 seconds, many questions arose including: When did this become the planned finish for the match?

The Wrestling Observer guru Dave Meltzer reported after the show that Goldberg had signed a multi-match deal with the company earlier in the week. After Goldberg inked his name to the deal, Vince decided to change the finish of the match because Lesnar was reportedly penciled in to go over.

Vince notoriously hates short main events. He thinks a crowd deserves to have a fulfilling main event, in terms of time, but Goldberg is a different animal. The aura of Goldberg was built around destroying guys in one segment, which is something the WWE whiffed on 13 years ago.

That means if you were expecting a 15-20 minute brawl, sorry, this match wasn’t for you. People were legitimately angry after the abrupt ending, but in hindsight, this was the perfect call by Vince. Goldberg has been the biggest and most organic babyface on the roster in quite some time so why mess with the formula that got him over as a superstar?

Also, Goldberg-Lesnar followed a 53-minute match, 20 of which (rough estimate) were filled by Shane McMahon’s nonsense (we’ll get to his shenanigans later). If there was ever a time to use a flash pin finish, this was it and it worked.

The interest level in the product the next day was similar to the day after the Undertaker’s streak came to an end. In an era where so much of the product feels recycled, Goldberg’s triumph felt unique and most importantly, it felt special.

Maybe it’s because it’s been so long since the biggest babyface on the roster prevailed over the monster heel…

(This has been harped on by Bryan Alvarez a ton, but it’s true, the company just doesn’t understand how to book a babyface. Finn Balor looked like he was on his way to becoming the top babyface on Raw, but who knows if the company would have actually held on and pushed him to the moon.)

…or maybe the smell of nostalgia is warping my brain, but whatever the case it’s awesome that this isn’t the end of Goldberg. Instead of getting a one-off appearance, he’s getting one more run as “The Man.”

Only 462 words. I’m proud of myself.

#DoItYourself

Between NXT Takeover: Toronto, Survivor Series, Raw and Smackdown, there were a total of 25 matches. Some were good, some were just OK and some were meh, but there were a select few that battled for the Match of the Weekend award.

Samoa Joe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (NXT Takeover)

The men’s traditional Survivor Series match (Survivor Series)

The tag team traditional Survivor Series match (Survivor Series)

Baron Corbin vs. Kane (SmackDown)

Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens (Raw)

But the winner of the MOTW award is Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa (#DIY) vs. The Revival in a two out of three falls match for the NXT tag team championship. In fact, it might be the MOTY in all of WWE/NXT.

From bell-to-bell, the psychology of this match was flawless. Every sequence was executed perfectly and at no point did a spot feel out of place. The Revival worked Gargano over for minutes on end before he finally got the hot tag, which allowed Ciampa to do what he does best and run wild on everyone. Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder showed off their underrated double team moves, including a wicked Shatter Machine on Gargano and a Hart Attack (!).

The final five minutes of the match were incredible. After Wilder took Gargano’s leg out with a chop block (after Dawson held up the title belt and Gargano kicked it, thus “injuring” his leg), Dawson locked in a knee bar, which is the move Gargano submitted to at Takeover: Brooklyn II. Gargano got to the ropes in order to break the hold.

The Revival then set up to hit Gargano with #DIY’s finishing move, but Wilder missed and superkicked Dawson. #DIY then hit a Shatter Machine on Wilder for an AWESOME near fall, which by my count was the fourth believable near fall of the match.

Gargano then locked Wilder in the Gargano Escape, while Chiampa simultaneously locked in an armbar on Dawson. Dawson and Wilder locked hands so they wouldn’t tap out. Dawson yelled “DON’T TAP” at Wilder as Gargano leaned back. The Revival eventually tapped out and #DIY became the champs.

As I’ve stated before, when a big time match gets the little details right, it’s more likely than not going to be a very good or great match. This match was better than great. The pacing was so smooth that it reminded me of Bayley vs. Sasha Banks from NXT Takeover: Brooklyn I. Each spot transitioned into the next seamlessly and no one got lost.

Now it’s time to get the #TopGuys onto the main roster as quickly as possible.

giphy-1

Here comes the botches

For some reason, Shane McMahon became the focal point of the men’s traditional Survivor Series match for a good chunk of the 53 minutes. He was worked over in the ring by the Raw team for what seemed like forever and then he started punching back, which was a sight to behold.

Look, I don’t want to spend the next 150-200 words just bashing Shane. From everything I’ve read, he seems like a very approachable and nice person, but he’s not a professional wrestler. If his role was to execute one or two big spots and then get the hell out of there, I wouldn’t have had a problem with him getting some shine in this match, but I must ask, who was clamoring to see Shane get worked over and then make a comeback while potatoeing seemingly everyone along the way.

Shane punched Chris Jericho right in the nose and bloodied him up, but that ish happens in quite a few matches so we’ll let it slide. Shane O’Mac then proceeded to blow a small package spot when he was supposed to grab Jericho after a Lionsault counter.

I wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to finish the match after he tagged out because he laid down on the apron for a good 5-10 minutes. It was clear at this point that he was blown up to a point of no return, which meant that his punches were going to look worse than normal.

giphy-2

The elbow he delivered to Braun Strowman looked good, but at this point, Shane can do that spot in his sleep, which is pretty damn impressive.

The next spot Shane took was just unnecessary. He went for a coast-to-coast dropkick on Roman Reigns. Reigns popped up and caught Shane out of the air for a spear, but not only did the top of Reigns’ head hit Shane right in the chin, Shane’s head snapped back and slammed onto the mat. As the referee counted to three, he noticed Shane’s right arm off of the mat and stopped the count. Either McMahon instinctively kicked out at two or his arms moved up, which will happen when someone suffers a concussion.

I’ve seen people say that it was Roman’s fault, but it’s really no one’s fault. This was a super risky spot and it didn’t help that the person taking the bump was extremely tired. Maybe this will be a wakeup call for Shane and he’ll finally cut back on the daredevil spots.

Was Raw better than SmackDown this week?

giphy-3

Time to ‘Go Home’

– There were a few future angles set up in the men’s traditional Survivor Series tag match, but some of the booking was questionable. The agents assigned to the match played a dangerous game by eliminating Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho within minutes of each other. They’re lucky the crowd didn’t hijack the match.

– Kudos to the crowds all weekend long in Toronto, especially on Saturday and Sunday. They were understandably tired by the second hour of Raw though.

– So Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton were the survivors for team SmackDown Live and their reward is a number one contender’s match against American Alpha next week?

– SmackDown’s Tag Team Turmoil was a great idea BTW, hopefully that’s a gimmick match we see more often.

– No one was more over this weekend than Tye Dillinger. The crowd would not stop chanting 10.

– Kalisto’s C4 or Spanish Fly off of the apron to The Brian Kendrick was one of the craziest spots I’ve seen in a while.

– As noted above, there were some questionable eliminations on Sunday, but none baffled me more than Sasha Banks. Some people will argue that New Day’s surprise elimination was worse, but you could see the spot coming. Sasha’s elimination was a genuine surprise that came out of nowhere.

– Nia Jax tapping out clean to Becky Lynch’s armbar was also very surprising/questionable.

– I wasn’t planning on watching #205Live because another hour of wrestling per week just seems unrealistic to fit into my schedule, but with Rich Swann getting this push, I’ll be tuning in to see if he beats Kendrick for the title (he should).

– Braun Strowman just about killed AJ Styles and James Ellsworth on Sunday. I think there’s about three guys in the company (Styles, Seth Rollins, TJ Perkins) who could have taken the wild bump into the ropes and walked away ok.

-Also, Styles took the bump off of the ladder on SmackDown perfectly. It looked like it didn’t hurt at all, but it still looked brutal at the same time. He also nailed the foot stuck in the ropes spot to perfection. There are so many moving parts in both spots that a botch could have easily happened, but Styles is a pro’s pro.

– So are the New Day heels now? They totally cheated to win and the crowd responded with audible boos.

-This Cesaro/Sheamus pairing is working out very nicely.

– I know JBL is supposed to be a heel and make fun of Ellsworth’s appearance, but it felt like he (Vince) was trying to hit us over the head with it during the closing shot of SmackDown. We get it, the guy is ugly.

– Goldberg’s shocking win overshadowed the other shocking moment from the weekend. Samoa Joe beat Shinsuke Nakamura! Sure he low blowed him and then hit a uranage on the steel steps, but Joe is a heel. This was a decisive win that stunned the crowd in Toronto.

– Sadly this means we probably won’t see Nakamura or Joe up on the main roster anytime soon.

Follow me on Twitter @ScottDargis

Glenn ‘Kane’ Jacobs leads Republican Primary for mayor of Knox County by 17 votes

WWE
Leave a comment

MY GAWD IS THAT THE FUTURE MAYOR OF KNOX COUNTY, TENNESSEE?

After 100 percent of the precincts reported their data, Glenn Jacobs, known to wrestling fans as “The Big Red Machine” Kane, is leading the Republican nomination for mayor of Knox County, Tennessee by just 17 votes.

The race isn’t over just yet though. According to the ABC affiliate in Knoxville, there are still provisional ballots that need to be factored in, so an official winner won’t be announced until next week.

Jacobs has worked under the umbrella of World Wrestling Entertainment since 1995. After announcing his candidacy last April, he’s been seen very sporadically on television. The last time he worked a match on TV was the main event of the March 26th edition of Raw against John Cena.

Adam Cole: I want to have the biggest personality in the room and not just on the microphone

Leave a comment

Before Adam Cole heads to the Smoothie King Center for NXT TakeOver: New Orleans, this Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on WWE Network, I chatted with him about how much he’s learned during his time in NXT, what makes the NXT crowds special and what it was like to meet Shawn Michaels. 

About a year ago you said that if you made the jump to WWE that you would want to start off in NXT as opposed to going right to the main roster, flash forward to now and you’re an established star in NXT. Is this part of your journey everything you thought it would be?

“Yeah for sure. When I come into a situation, especially like this one in NXT, my goal is to get to perform in front of these fans, to get to wrestle with these guys, who are in my opinion, some of the best wrestlers in the entire world. I felt like I could fit really well in this environment and I think I have. To get the chance to do what I’ve done here so far has been a total blast and so much fun.

But at the same time it’s exceeded my expectations in many ways. I’ve gotten to do things in NXT, and even WWE, that I didn’t imagine I would get the chance to do. Very happy with the journey so far.”

In what ways have you grown as a performer since coming to WWE?

“There’s just such a better understanding of who I am actually as a performer. You fall kind of into … I don’t want to say a routine because you’re always trying to improve and get better, but when you wrestle for certain organizations time-and-time again, you kind of fall into this routine of performing a certain way and having matches a certain way. Also, after a while you’ve wrestled everyone over-and-over again.

Getting to come here and getting to wrestle a bunch of new talent, some guys I’ve met before and some guys that I’ve never met before. It puts you in a situation where you learn to adapt and change, whether it be character wise, things that you do in the ring. It just gives you new challenges.

I’m teaming a lot more with Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly, so that throws me into a different situation as far as learning to wrestle as part of a team as opposed to working solo most of the time.

Also the fans, I’ve noticed in each and every promotion, even though there are a lot of similarities in many different ways, NXT is a totally different animal.

Overall, adapting has been the biggest growing point for me.”

Interesting, in what ways are the NXT crowds different from the other promotions you’ve worked for.

“The NXT fans to me are in love and so infatuated with the characters. So to me when you see a guy like Velveteen Dream or No Way Jose and the way that they’re so invested in them as performers, not even necessarily with what they’re doing between the ropes, but in their entrances.

I feel the connection with the audience is just so much greater than anything I’ve felt before. It’s pretty incredible, especially when you’re at TakeOver events.”

When I watch the backstage segments with you, Kyle, and Bobby, they come off like old school nWo style promos. Obviously the music playing in the background, which sounds like a new age nWo theme, and the camera angles help, but it’s the natural chemistry you guys have on camera because it seems like you’re just having fun and being yourselves on camera. I would imagine it has to be awesome to just bounce off of each other while filming those.

“Oh man yeah, it’s so much fun. I think that’s exactly why it comes off that way. Me, Bobby, and Kyle are as close as it gets. That’s not just a performance. I’ve known Kyle O’Reilly since 2009 and I was in his wedding. I’ve known Bobby Fish for years and years, we used to travel together all of the time. We talk every single day.

So when we’re there and we’re talking in front of the camera, that’s just us having a good time and I think that’s a big reason why the group works so well. It’s very natural because it’s very real. So I think in turn how we project ourselves comes off as fun because we are genuinely having a great time together.”

Speaking of coming off natural, you come off so natural on the microphone. I talked with Ronda [Rousey] this week about where she’s at in terms of speed while talking in front of the live audience and then I asked Roman [Reigns] about it and he talked about how he was able to process the idea of taking his time to make sure he stopped rushing through his material.

Is the speaking part of the business something that you were able to gravitate towards and get comfortable with quickly?

“I think so. There is a constant growth process. I think that’s why I love this job so much. There’s no such thing as completely perfecting every area of it, you’re always trying to get better at it.

For me, I picked up the promo aspect of pro wrestling much faster than the actual wrestling part of it. I was always fairly athletic and I could do things even from the beginning of my career, when I was 18 and 19 years old. I was always the guy who could always string words together and found what I was saying to be actually believable however I was trying to come across, whether that be somewhat likeable or somewhat of a jerk.

I don’t know why that is, but I remember as a kid just being so fascinated by guys who were good talkers. Even in movies. I used to love the way James Bond villains would act and how cool they came across and how awful they seemed, but what they were saying was so believable.

I’ve always been fascinated by guys, especially bad guys, who were able to talk a certain way, tell stories with their words and just paint this beautiful picture for that you just completely rode along with. I’ve focused a fair amount of time on making sure that promos were something I really focused on.”

Your in-ring style is very interesting to me. You’re a smaller guy, but you work a style that is similar to a lot of bigger guys and it’s because of this slower pace that the spots actually mean something, especially when you build up to the climax of a match. Is that a pace that you’ve always had, or was there a certain point where you were like, OK I need to slow down now and figure out what works for me?

“That was something I developed over time. When I first started, I was definitely a guy that was doing every move under the sun and I was going a million miles an hour and just trying to wow the fans as much as I could. I thought that was the way to get them invested in me. Don’t get me wrong, that style is very impressive, but I on purpose work a certain style. It’s very important for me to do that.

It’s obvious that I’m not the biggest guy in the world, but I want to have the biggest personality in the room and part of that personality isn’t just on the microphone. That’s the way I have to project myself in the ring as well.

All of my favorites in this business really took their time. They made everything they did mean something. Every movement they made had a purpose and that’s the type of performer I’m most comfortable being and that’s the type of performer I want to be too.”

There are so many performers doing unbelievable things we’ve never seen before on what feels like a weekly basis now, but after 20, 30 minutes go by and the match ends, I’ve seen so many big spots that it just feels like a blur, where as your matches build up to a few big spots that are easy to remember.

For instance, I watched your match with AJ [Styles] in Ring of Honor recently and you guys worked such a slower pace, but it built up to a huge finishing spot that is going to stick with the viewer. When I come across a match like that one it just feels so different in comparison to a lot of the matches we’re seeing nowadays.

“Sure, sure. You bring up AJ and he’s the king of that. AJ is a guy that can do anything under the sun. He’s one of the most athletically gifted guys there is, but AJ is able to place his stuff and put it in situations where he has the fans completely in the palm of his hand.

He knows he can do anything, but he knows that the biggest reaction he’s going to get from the audience is working a certain style and taking them on this ride by building a story within the match.

Doing a million things is very impressive, but if you forget 90 percent of it, it’s kind of a shame.”

How many times has someone come up to you at the Performance Center and said you look like Shawn Michaels?

“(Laughs) More times than I can count. Whether that be at the Performance Center, whether that be fans. I think I get at least five or six tweets a week about how I look like Shawn Michaels. To me it’s just a giant compliment.”

Has he said that to you?

“Yeah! When we first met he said, ‘A lot of people tell me that you and I look alike and now that I met ya I see what they mean.”

Who is somebody in NXT that you haven’t had the opportunity to work with yet that you’re looking forward to getting in the ring with?

“I’ll tell you what, I would love the chance to have any sort of a program with Velveteen Dream. I think that guy has so much potential. He’s so good now. His understanding of the industry for his age is unbelievable. His natural talent is the same. I watch him, I’m captivated by what he does, so to get the chance to be in there with him in some capacity would be great.”

Twitter: @ScottDargis