WRESTLING REPORT

Solid RAW followed by shaky Smackdown highlights WWE; All Elite makes a move

WWE.com

…And Polyphemus shouted "Nobody kills me!"

As the first complete week of 2019 came to a close for WWE, the other shoe dropped and All Elite Wrestling made itself known.

RAW went over fairly well, the six man tag brought excitement to the opening and while Brock Lesnar and Braun Stroman's stare off wasn't exactly everything advertised it at least happened. Which is an improvement considering usually Brock can't be bothered to come the regularly televised show he is the champion of. It's like a movie star being talked about on a sitcom every episode but only showing up for the premieres and finales; it's exasperating. Hopefully this is something they're going to work on over this year and either book him more or have him drop the title and take some more time off.

Smackdown however ended all possible momentum that one good show could have given them, with the opening four man tag match just being completely botched and the Daniel Bryan angle is still obnoxiously unwatchable. It's one thing for a heel champion to be elitist, it's another for him to criticize American fandom in a fan driven sport; it's cannibalistic in a way. Miz and Shane vs. The Bar for the tag titles is the match no one asked for. Are people asking for more Shane McMahon matches in lieu of actual wrestlers? Where is this coming from? The saving grace is still the women's division, although the hyper insulting Mandy Rose wants to bang an Uso storyline continues. The triple threat match was awesome and surprisingly Carmella came to play and landed some great spots with the big dogs Becky and Charlotte. For god's sake give this division REAL screen time.

Now the elephant in the room: All Elite Wrestling chose Tuesday in Jacksonville, just down the road from the Smackdown taping in Orlando, to announce a bunch of things. For starters, they announced a May event in Vegas, Double or Nothing, building off the homerun that was the first wrestler owned event of this scale - All or Nothing - that ran last year. Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks also announced some new behind the scenes talent and some new in ring talent, WWE pros like Billy Gunn and Chris Jericho are going into the office to help shepherd this thing in the right direction and former WWE cruiserweight champ, Neville, is coming to AEW as PAC and some other top indy guys like Hangman Page also announced signing with the brand. This is the worst possible time for the WWE to have competition, with the Fox Sports deal kicking in later this year and there being clear directional issues internally at WWE. A young upstart with talent, structure and money could steal some thunder from the big brand.

2019 is shaping up to be a rather interesting year for sports entertainment, and how all this plays out is up in the air.

ALL ELITE WRESTLING PROMO IMAGES

Born with a comic book in one hand and a remote control in the other, Cory DLG is the talent of Conroe's very own Nerd Thug Radio, Sports. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio shows www.nerdthugradio.com!

All Elite hosted its first pay per view since launching into its weekly format, now running the old school WWE/WCW format that did work for so so long. The method that WWE pumped up and turned into the nationally traded financial juggernaut it is now, it's got a good history. The event went very well, AEW's booking continues to be bold and exciting, with their stars dropping matches and elevating second tier guys to the top of the ladder. I am honestly excited by how AEW has handled itself and its stars, I wonder how long this sort of good will within the company will continue but so far it looks like they are making all the right moves and putting real pressure on WWE.

In contrast to Full Gear from AEW coming off without a hitch, a little over two weeks ago WWE sent the rosters of both Raw and Smackdown to Saudi Arabia in an effort to keep making lots of money. The matches went off without a hitch and the bookings weren't too bad but it was a surprise to see Seth Rollins lose the title and the Brock Lesnar, Cain Velasquez match was very dissatisfying making the Kofi Kingston title drop even more questionable. To make matters worse, there were plane issues and suddenly only certain guys were able to get back and most of Smackdown's roster wasn't in the country for Friday night Smackdown. After the brand split and the networks making their cases that there wouldn't be crossover of roster between Raw and Smackdown this further complicated the travel issues and suddenly you get the NXT invading Smackdown. Clever bit of writing and of course Triple H makes great television, but the invasion was a totally unnecessary maneuver created by WWE's poor decision to stay in the Saudi Arabia game.

Ultimately perhaps the biggest piece of news this week was the announcement of the return of CM Punk, kind of. He's now signed on to WWE Backstage through Fox, not with WWE and perhaps might even be one of the best things to come out of this whole Fox-WWE relationship. With the ratings not being what everyone expected over at Fox, WWE hasn't had the kind of control they're used to and the rumor mill is running rampant that WWE is probably unhappy with the hire considering the long cold relationship between McMahon and CM Punk. Overall WWE hasn't been the major maneuver FOX probably thought it would be and coupled with AEW's success on TNT, it has to lead other networks to realize that while live events are good, it matters what you buy.

Feel free to check out my brand-new comic book Another Day at the Office email me for details or buy a shirt from Side Hustle Ts where some proceeds help people struggling with cancer or listen to Nerd Thug Radio. Thoughts, complaints, events and comments can be sent to corydlg@gmail.com.

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