The WWE strengthens its programming while shadow boxing with AEW
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 and the sister show Ball Control. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio shows at www.nerdthugradio.com or www.facebook.com/nerdthugradio!
This week some interesting information came out in the form of rumors. Rumor one, the WWE offered the Young Bucks a top money deal along the lines of WWE Smackdown headliner AJ Styles with a penalty free exit clause in the first six months – which is unheard of in the industry, the purpose of a contract is control - trying to cripple the All Elite Wrestling deal before it ever happened. Obviously they declined the offer. The other big rumor is that the WWE has shifted strategy and is trying to give pushes to their unhappier stars in an effort to convince them that there's no need to find greener pastures. Already All Elite Wrestling is having an effect on WWE with wrestlers even taking their gimmick names off their twitter accounts and making veiled comments about where they'll be in the future.
RAW continues its trend of putting forth strong programming although Vince McMahon's lack of faith in Finn Balor is as subtle as a sledgehammer as they build up to what is likely a Brock Lesnar title loss at Royal Rumble this coming Sunday. The Revival, one of those allegedly unhappy WWE acts, received some solid programming and also found a way to give Curt Hawkins a good push as a special guest referee- this is the kind of creativity WWE needs to harness in this coming wrestling "talent" war. Ronda Rousey still shows her amateurish nature by having one or two botched spots in her matches, having an odd beat with Bailey during the Sasha/Bailey vs Natasha/Ronda tag team match. The announcement of Alexa Bliss entering The Women's Royal Rumble was a pleasant surprise, as her mic skills are amazing and she is a great heel for the women's division and her absence has been felt.
Smackdown lead again with Becky Lynch, being The Man has it's perks. The build up for Asuka vs Becky has been great and this is the future of women in the WWE, it's a main event worthy match and the screen time has been amazing. If you assume that you lead your programming with your strongest draw, it's intriguing that the women's title and not Daniel Bryan's championship programming is what they lead with. Naomi and Mandy Rose finally fought and the payoff was terrible, hopefully they are done with this storyline and they an use Jimmy Uso and Naomi somewhere else. The Miz and Cesaro are steady superstars and their match saved the momentum of Smackdown in the middle half of the show, giving some hope to the Shane/Miz vs The Bar tag match at Royal Rumble, especially with the post match action ending with The Miz and Shane going through the announcer's table. The entire second half of Smackdown featured another annoying Daniel Bryan promo, a terrible Samoa Joe vs Mustafa Ali match, and an uninspiring Rey Mysterio vs Cian Almas match, with not one but two surprise interruptions, cue the eye roll. Essentially if your power was out the last hour of Smackdown, you didn't miss anything but a decent New Day promo.
Over the next few months in the build up to All Elite Wrestling's event in Vegas, the rumors will continue to swirl and the WWE has to struggle with a threat that sort of doesn't exist, because just the promise of AEW's success will force WWE's hand in programming and handling of talent. All of this pressure will hopefully cause stronger programming over that time.