Getting off to a start of a different sort today, let’s talk about someone we haven’t seen in some time, until now. The former Damien Sandow, real name Aaron Haddad, has signed and debuted for TNA Impact Wrestling. The same program which has Bobby Lashley holding all three of the major singles championships. I didn’t even know TNA had that many singles titles, or why they do.
In any case, now going by the name of Aron Rex, the opening promo was certainly a bit of an eyebrow raiser. What sounded like a shoot on WWE and their lack of faith in the Sandow gimmick, as well as their “authority” only giving opportunities to certain stars. The constant crowd interrupting chants of “TNA!” seemed a bit odd, since I would have thought chanting for Rex or Sandow would have been a bit more welcoming. I can’t tell if they just have plants in the audience or someone cues the TNA chant itself. Either way, I felt his speech was well spoken and well articulated, but ultimately fell on deaf ears.
Here’s why. Christian. The Dudley Boys. Rhyno, and any other future endeavored WWE wrestler who was let go, shows up in TNA/Impact, gives the obligatory “I’m here to break away from the norm and do things my way” speech, followed up by a challenge towards the current champion. By the end of the program, Aron Rex was staring off at Bobby Blashey who just defeated James Storm, in a good match by the way, for the King of the Mountain Championship, adding it to the TNA Heavyweight and X-Division Championships.
Then you have announcer Josh Matthews, who is one angry guy. He feigned having to hold back obscenities directed towards his former employers, while even adding names like Stu Bennet (Wade Barrett) to his commentary about underutilized talents who would be welcomed by TNA. Because of Matthews’ incessant pushing that Rex’s promo was a shoot and that “he means business in TNA” I unfortunately feel that while his initial promo in TNA was partially from the heart, it also comes across as the routine for ex-WWE stars.
He upside, is like many former WWE wrestlers, they may come back, such as Christian, Rhyno, Dudleys, etc.
In WWE-land, all on my mind is this week’s Cruiserweight Classic. If you have not watched, then spoilers ahead. The match between Cedric Alexander and Kota Ibushi was one of the greatest matches I have ever seen. I can’t compare it to the Best 2-out-of-3 falls between Dean Malenko and Eddie Guerrero, but in terms of moment where you just did not know what would happen next, this just took it all. While Ibushi was at first perceived as the one who was the easy standout, Alexander put on the show of a lifetime. It was incredible.
I have a hard time watching RAW and SmackDown after watching the CWC. It is amazing how this is a program produced by WWE, yet, like NXT possesses the indy feel.
In NXT, Bobby Roode arrives, and it was GLORIOUS. He will not rest until he is VICTORIOUS. This might be the greatest theme since Christian’s raining sparks. Starts off warming up the live crowd before dropping the heel-hammer in such fluid fashion. My take is he will portray some sort of corporate exec role, ridding NXT of the common man and bringing in the 1% sponsors, high paid corporate moguls, and all around jerk. I like it, this would fit well with NXT since the whole premise of NXT is to be the minor league of WWE, wrestlers fighting their way from the grass-roots ground to make it up into the main roster. I wonder if a faction could develop from this angle?
Speaking of the mainstream program, the feuds between Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler, and Seth Rollins and Finn Balor are certainly shaping up to be great contests next Sunday at SummerSlam. With respect to the WWE Championship, I do not believe anyone would have thought WWE would have trusted a major main event title bout to Ambrose and Ziggler. Perhaps the times truly are changing. I see this as a great match event. Dolph Ziggler is a former world titleholder, and Ambrose has been the guy teased to get a WWE Championship for the better part of a year. He faced Reigns in the finals of a tournament, faced Reigns again later that year and both times came up short. Many have compared him to being the Mick Foley of our era, I am one of those people, and I stand by it. Now, this isn’t the Attitude Era where the title changed hands every other week, but the feel for Ambrose is similar. Foley, as Mankind was an ultimate underdog during his title run, always being beaten by superior forces, coming to a point where matches had us believe this was it, this was the win, but then something happened, a DQ, interference, sabotage, and it was not meant to be. Granted, this was the plan for Daniel Bryan, having The Authority constantly trying to keep him away from the belt, but with Ambrose it was more subtle, not thrown in our faces like a brick to the skull, and this is probably why his run as WWE Champion is more appreciated by fans and critics alike.
Dolph Ziggler is someone in that same position. Having been the champ twice, the last time with huge ovation and fanfare. Sadly, it came to a crashing halt due to injury. Will he win the title? A win for Ziggler would be huge, much like Ambrose, unexpected too. My fear is a loss for either knocks them back down to sitting in the waiting room for another chance. I would like a feud to really develop, having Ziggler win the title at SummerSlam, then Ambrose win it back at the first SmackDown brand pay-per-view. This way both remain on equal ground.
On the RAW end, Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins should be huge. Bigger than Randy Orton vs. Brock Lesnar for one simple reason. Fans CARE about Rollins vs. Balor. This match is money. This match is another perfect example of what the future of WWE looks like. To be honest, I do not care who will win the Universal Galactic Space Ace Championship, but I care about seeing a phenomenal match. Balor’s call up to the main roster was great, and putting him in matches to earn a spot at the top is a sign of building his character into main event material.
I don’t care about Orton/Brock because Orton/Brock is not a novelty. It’s only a novelty because WWE is shoving it down our faces and making it seem like this is the final match of WWE forever. 15 years in the making? So was Hogan/Rock, Cena/Rock, Backlund/Hart, Khali/Unemployment. Orton and Lesnar faced each other over a decade ago when they were younger and relevant. Brock will Suplex, and Orton will RKO. Yay. Whee. Brock wins, he wins. Orton wins, he wins. So what?
The Reigns/Rusev angle bothers me. I don’t know why it does so much. I should be happy seeing Reigns in a mid-card role, but I’m not.
The angle between Titus O’Neal and Darren Young should conclude with them once again coming back together as The Prime Time Players, but with Bob Backlund as their manager, only for them to kick him to the curb in their transition to full heel mode. It’s the only way either one of these guys are going to get traction again.
Enjoy this week, because next week is the Slam of Summer. You know, SummerSlam.