OK no flowery introductions, let’s get right to it.
The Takeover Show
They know their target audience and they give them what they want. I’ve spoken before about how that’s easier to do because of certain structural differences, but I won’t rehash that here. I thought the show was very good overall, but I do have a few quibbles with the match length for the two men’s singles titles. Gargano and Ricochet went 23:36 while Ciampa and Black went 26:30; the former could have shaved off five minutes and the latter could have lost seven or eight easy, allowing time to fit in one more match instead. I could be wrong but I don’t remember ever having more than one women’s or tag team match on a Takeover show. I know they tape some matches to fill the next two weeks of TV but the NXT roster is deep enough to give somebody else a spot on the main show. Nobody really needed almost 30 minutes of Black vs Ciampa when we knew who was winning. Lastly as much as I was rooting for Bianca Belair I am hoping that the defeat will serve her better in the long run. She went out heroically and trust me, she’s better off losing the undefeated streak sooner rather than later when it becomes some unmanageable thing that can’t be ended to anyone’s satisfaction. We went through that with Asuka and we don’t need it again. And oh yeah, f@#! you Sam Roberts. I don’t care if it was a work or not.
NXT! NXT! More, more more!
The NXT influence needs to be recognized here. By my count 15 of the 22 people who were in non-Rumble matches started in some iteration of NXT before hitting the main roster, 19 of the 30 Women’s Rumble participants, and 14 of the 30 Men’s Rumble participants. That’s over half of the show and the percentage goes up if you take out the Rumble participants who are currently in NXT. Your two Rumble winners both this year and last year started in NXT. The previous pay per view was main evented by three ladies who were in NXT before hitting the main roster. And 6 out of the 11 belt holders on the main roster started in NXT. And on top of that the most heavily felt absence, Roman Reigns, was in NXT first. The whole narrative of NXT call ups getting ruined on the main roster is a fallacy that needs to stop being pushed. There are certain people there that have devoted followings, and when they get called up those fans get really impatient if they aren’t given all the things immediately, while completely ignoring or downplaying when anyone they aren’t so high on does well.
You can’t say NXT call ups are failed by management when Alexa Bliss is right there staring you in the face. Or the Shield, Xavier Woods, Big E, Carmella, or Buddy Murphy for that matter. They weren’t Wrestling Twitter darlings but their successes count like anyone else’s. On the other hand it is not a failure when Kevin Owens has held every title except the World Title but hasn’t been crowned King of the World, or enhancement talent like Tye Dellinger becomes enhancement talent on the main roster, just because they were favored children of the internet before they were promoted. A lot of y’all didn’t give a damn about Elias the whole time he was in NXT but won’t give the bookers any credit for how he’s succeeded away from it. Ultimately the same people run everything; the successes and the failures all fall on them and not just the ones you care to assign.
If you can’t see how things have shifted over to the women’s side of the roster then you aren’t paying attention. On a seven hour show they were the ones who got the favorable card placement so that none of their matches would have to get cut for time and the most talked about moment of the Men’s Rumble match was Nia Jax coming in at number 30 after taking out R-Truth.
The big turning point as far as whether the crowd was going to go home happy or not was the end of the Women’s Rumble match. On the flip side, the Men’s Rumble got the hurry up treatment with guys getting eliminated super quick left and right, the Universal Title match went less than 10 minutes and the World Title match got the cool down spot after the Women’s Rumble. However long this lasts, it’s clear which side is driving the train here. By the way, please call Rhea Ripley up now. She’s ready to go kick some ass on the main roster.
That hasn’t been reflected on the weekly TV yet, particularly RAW. Some weeks they have gotten more time but the weekly main focus still hasn’t shifted away from what the guys are doing, and that should change (note: since the Rumble what the women are doing is the focus now). Roman being out has left a big hole as far as people who get everyone’s attention just by walking through the curtain, John Cena is a part timer, and Brock is Brock. So long as Lesnar is Universal champion writing an entire show around that title makes for a lot of space filled by guys fighting over the right to fight a guy who isn’t there all the time instead of just confronting him directly. But with the Women’s Tag Team Title about to go live and what is likely to be the WrestleMania main event involving the women it’s time to change to settings a bit. If Seth Rollins chooses Brock (he did) for an opponent I don’t want to see him yelling ‘where’s Brock?’ every week throughout February. He’ll need something to do of course but I’d rather see the ladies get some more time instead of hanging him out to dry.
The Women had the best matches on the show in my opinion. Becky Lynch and Asuka tore it down to start things off, and Sasha vs Ronda followed it up great while reminding us just how great Sasha Banks is. More of that in 2019, please. Becky entering and winning the Rumble, while predictable, was the easy money play to make the most people happy. I just hope the ‘Charlotte wins everything!’ crowd will pipe down a bit for once. Who am I kidding, we know that’s not happening. Also, I’m really hoping for a Naomi vs Asuka women’s title match on the Smackdown side at WrestleMania.
And finally, to the guy who tried to come in to the venue with an All Elite Wrestling T-shirt on……..
Seriously dude, we know what you were trying to do. Either you wanted to get on camera in an AEW T-shirt or you wanted to get filmed when the minions of Evil Vince McMahon made you take it off. You had a shirt on underneath so you came prepared. You were pulling a stunt for clout and we all know it. Listen, you’re not fighting a revolution here. WWE is owned by a billionaire and so is AEW. WWE is on a major cable network and by all accounts AEW is shooting to get on one, too. You are not striking a blow for the little man against the evil conglomerate when you do that. You’re especially not doing that by BUYING AN EXPENSIVE TICKET FOR A SHOW BEING RUN BY THE PEOPLE YOU’RE TRYING TO TROLL. Next time you want to spend your money to do something for the little guy find a worthy charity and donate it. Or you can just give it to me so I can buy more comic books.
Very good show in my book. Who won and lost will drive a lot of people’s opinions here but no matter where you fall with that I think you’ve got to at least give credit for the execution. They definitely made the right choices of Rumble winners in my opinion with Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins. A most excellent way to kick off 2019.