Rusev, Lana and Bobby Lashley have the greatest storyline in pro wrestling at the moment. That’s right. You heard me. That nonsensical, ridiculous, absurd, sleazy, borderline incomprehensible storyline is better than anything else going on in all of wrestling. The internet, will of course, tell you different.
I’m not even positive what is going on, to be honest. Lana doesn’t like that Rusev sends money to his family instead of buying her diamonds, so she fucked Bobby Lashley and for some reason creates videos to show Rusev of Lashley and Lana sleeping in their marital bed? Why? Why does she go through this trouble for seemingly no reason? I have no idea, but I laugh at the absurdity of it all and it’s far more entertaining than a random 6 man tag with Ricochet, Humberto and Rey Mysterio against the O.C.
The internet would have you believe that this is “out of touch” Vince McMahon throwing out Attitude Era-level trash, ignoring that all of the troglodytes on Reddit wistfully fawn over that Era constantly. Meanwhile, watch an episode of Monday Night Raw. Lana is drowned with boos. Bobby Lashley, as generic and unexciting as can be as recently as a month ago, is also met with vile hatred from the crowd. And you can argue that Rusev is the #2 babyface on the entire show besides Kevin Owens (thanks Shane-O-Mac!). So tell me again how this was an ineffective storyline?
So that brings us to Wednesday nights. This is where we are supposed to believe the “true wrestling” lives. AEW Dynamite vs NXT. “God, it’s never been better to be a wrestling fan!” the zombies screech. Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to NXT and AEW, both are fine. But nothing here is higher quality than regular WWE programming and I’m happy to tell you why.
NXT: No B.S. = No Fun
The advertisements for NXT love to screech about “No B.S.”. This isn’t that WACKY WWE! This is actually PROFESSIONAL WRESTLERS, not SPORTS ENTERTAINERS, buddy! We have Johnny Gargano, Adam Cole, Matt Riddle, and they will put on actual WRESTLING MATCHES with real SELLING. None of that Randy Orton vs Shinsuke Nakamura sanitized corporate PRODUCT!
I’m sorry to inform you of this – but wrestling is built on bullshit. That’s what makes it fun.
We all use to wretch at the term “Sports Entertainment” as such shitty corporate speak. But it’s incredibly accurate. This isn’t sports. The Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots could play in the Super Bowl, but they have absolutely no obligation to entertain you. If it happens, it happens. But they are just playing the game to win. The appeal of professional wrestling is that they are trying to entertain you. It contains elements of craziness that other sports do not. We expect wacky shenanigans.
I love a 5 star match as much as the next guy. I understand and believe that this is true performance art from graceful athletes/actors who are doing wholly unappreciated work. But if I only cared about match quality, I’d watch NJPW, or I’d just stick to UFC.
I love UFC. I enjoy Mixed Martial Arts as a whole. There’s no b.s. there. Sure, there is WWE-lite trash-talking and what I would argue is a dash of kayfabe, but at the end of the day, it’s just two dudes in a cage fighting to knock the other unconscious with their (almost) bare hands. Now that is truly no “b.s.”.
I watch WWE for the bullshit. I fell in love with this as a child from the bullshit of Ultimate Warrior talking to his mysterious gods for guidance and threatening to hijack Hulk Hogan’s plane and crash it into the mountains. I fell in love with the bullshit of the Undertaker being murdered and thrown in a coffin by Yokozuna and having what seemed like his ghost rise of the Titantron at the end of the show. I fell in love with the bullshit of The Rock sending British Bulldog crashing into a plate of literal dog shit. And I fell in love with the bullshit of Triple H seemingly kidnapping the boss’ daughter, implying he drugged her, raped her and married her without her consent.
Bullshit is the very foundation of this show and this sport. Without it, you get NXT.
Outside of Velveteen Dream, not a memorable character among them. And I like them! I like Keith Lee. I like Matt Riddle. I like Johnny Gargano. But this is not the essence of what makes this show great. Without bullshit, this is a borderline gymnastics routine crossed with a white trash Broadway production. NXT is not the pinnacle of what WWE can be at its best, NXT is what WWE is at its most watered-down.
What Rusev, Lana and Bobby Lashley are doing is a masterclass of trashy WWE entertainment, and it’s in a way better than anything NXT is capable of doing.
AEW Dynamite: Explodes Like a Dud If You Expect Freshness
“Oh gosh, I swear to CM Punk that I have never realized what it is like to fall in love with wrestling again, until now!” cries the Redditor in his mother’s attic. “Finally, a show that doesn’t insult our intelligence!” he said, having no idea what that even means.
AEW Dynamite is no different from Monday Night Raw, Friday Night Smackdown, WCW Monday Nitro, TNA Impact or any other wrestling show in history. You, not unlike a precocious cat, are being seduced by the box and not what is inside. This is new. That’s all. The shine is going to wear off. It already is, as you see NXT instantly catching up in the ratings.
I’ve watched some episodes. Chris Jericho is a gem, but that is not groundbreaking. He is truly one of the most entertaining pro wrestling superstars of all-time. It was brilliant for AEW to sign him as their initial ambassador and bridge to their first real stars. He made a very funny promo video a few weeks ago for his PPV match vs Cody. A totally rational Redditor commented: “This was not just one of the funniest wrestling videos I have ever seen, but one of the funniest videos I have ever seen in all of entertainment.” Seriously. Somebody said that, without a trace of irony, and then a bunch of chimpanzees upvoted it. This really was said.
I am not even going to spend that much time on AEW’s atrocious women’s division and embarrassing mid-card. For a fledgling promotion, their roster is servicable. But the show itself, which you are led to believe is so fucking “refreshing”, is as cookie-cutter as you get.
The structure of AEW is no different than Raw or Smackdown. They have their top stars trading the main event slots. They have their promo segments. You get the bullshit tags where the two singles feuds intertwine as the faces tag vs the heels. You have the meaningless 6 man tags to fill time. You have the dumb wrestling logic where the heels are all friends with heels and the faces are all friends with faces. There is the shitty “I pinned the champion in a tag match so I should get a title shot” crap. You have contract signings. AEW isn’t breaking the sound barrier here. This is how wrestling shows are produced.
Remember how “out of touch” WWE put the title on 40+ year old Brock Lesnar? Say hello to nearly 50 year old AEW Champion Chris Jericho!
It reminds me of my podcast partner Gabe “The Snake” who harrassed me about our fantasy football league this summer. He whined that my league is “too serious” and that his other leagues had “fun wacky rules”. After a heated argument resulted in me grabbing a microphone and saying “Gabe The Snake, you’re…FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRRRRRRRRRREEEEEDDDDDDD.”, he went to another fantasy league and realize the cold, hard reality: There’s only so much shit you can do with a fake football team. Same as with a fake wrestling promotion.
What has been different so far? Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley had a legitimately fantastic, overly violent, death match style brawl. This was a smart risk for AEW to put on, but I guarantee you won’t see anything like it again for years, if ever. You simply can’t risk your top talent for one match like that. And they won’t, just like WWE doesn’t. Hell, they even took away those chair headshots real quick.
AEW is sooooooo progressive that they have a transgender champion! Nevermind that this person literally looks like a fat guy in a wig and is legitimately one of the worst wrestlers on the planet.
They give chances to people Vince wouldn’t dream of, like Luchasaurus, Jungle Boy and Marko Stunt! Once that novelty wears off, you have a dope in a lizard outfit, a little boy in Tarzan undies and a even smaller boy who does whatever the fuck that guy does.
More Bullshit, Please
The Fiend is the hottest act WWE has had since Daniel Bryan circa 2014. At its core, it’s Bray Wyatt playing with puppets and then donning a scary clown mask. Not exactly Ric Flair vs Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat in 1987.
Rusev, Lana and Bobby Lashley are getting the exact reactions the company wants, and the crowd is eating up the segments. More, please. Go further over the top.
Speaking of bullshit, Kevin Owens literally said “bullshit!” on Raw. Keep that up too! Drop an F-bomb. Call somebody a pussy. Bleep it if you have to. Let’s have some fun.
R-Truth is good for a laugh every week with his 24/7 title.
Baron Corbin and his glorious King gimmick is booed out of the building weekly.
These are real characters and fun segments. AEW can’t compete. Kenny Omega is an artist in the ring but has the charisma of Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I am an enormous fan of Cody. I have a goddamn Stardust shirt buried in my bedroom dresser, for God’s sake. I think it’s amazing that he left WWE as a jobber and built himself up to the point that somebody invested in him to start his own promotion. But he is still a midcarder playing the role of main eventer. The Young Bucks are a spotty spotfest that does spots and dress like Elvis. Jon Moxley is always likable, but for me personally, doesn’t move the needle. If anything, I think the loss of his zany wacky humor has hindered him greatly. I’ll take Dean Ambrose inexplicably dressing like The Mountie over 3 hardcore matches with fake barbed wire beds.
Not one of these people holds a candle to Kevin Owens. None of them are in the same league promo-wise as Roman Reigns, and we all know it’s not Roman’s strong suit.
In a few months, it’s going to be painfully obvious to all and remember good ol’ “Cowboy” Bob told you first: Those awful, terrible Vincent K. McMahon produced wrestling shows have been on top for the past 20 years for a reason.
And no matter how many 5 star WarGames matchups or Young Bucks piledrivers you throw at them, WWE’s main roster is going over because it’s just plain better.