Week in Wrestling #22
By: Larry Causion Jr. CausionCreations.com
Posted: Thursday, December 24, 2015
Credit: Dave Meltzer
Posted: Thursday, December 24, 2015
Credit: Dave Meltzer
Wrestling News From the week of
December 19 - December 24, 2015
Slammy Awards Sucked
The Slammy Awards, a tongue-in-cheek spoof on awards shows that WWE has taken more seriously in its rebirth seven years ago, has in the past been a ratings success for Raw. This year is was a waste in may ways, as many of the big stars didn't even get booked on the show.
See my full coverage with all the award winners here.
The voting was legit, with Seth Rollins nabbing the big honor of Superstar of the Year, but for whatever reason, what should have been considered the big award was put on early in the show. Match of the Year, won by the 10/25 Hell in a Cell match between Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker, was the award built to late in the third hour.
There was a lot of recognition over problems, most notably so many of the awards are so similar, between This is Awesome Moment of the Year, OMG Shocking Moment of the year, Extreme Moment of the Year, LOL Moment of the Year and Tell Me You Just Didn't Say that Moment of the Year.
Possible Changes to make Award Show Better
There are two things they can do, which have both been proposed after the show. The first is to do the voting a week ahead of time, thus all winners are known before the show and can be brought in, and if it's someone who is on a movie set or unavailable, they can go to them and tape them accepting the award.
The second is to move the show to WrestleMania week, where everybody is already there. But WrestleMania week is already busy enough, and putting the Slammys on the Raw after WrestleMania would totally change the dynamic of what is now the biggest Raw of the year.
Because the awards are a shoot, voted by the fans, there are surprises, most notably this year when Neville beat out Kevin Owens, an Internet favorite expected to win, for Breakout Star of the Year. They had set up an Owens angle with Dolph Ziggler for that segment, so Owens had to interrupt Neville's speech, Neville had to leave to get out of the way, and then they had to shoot their scheduled angle.
While Rollins probably deserved Superstar of the Year more than anyone in the company, given how much he was carrying the heel side as a performer, and having so many great matches this year, it was a surprise that Roman Reigns didn't win. Reigns did win last year, and this year's vote came at a time when his two biggest rivals for the award, Rollins and Cena, had both been off television, while he just won the title the week before voting and had been the focal point of television for the past few months.
The Boys Behind Roman
One thing that should be noted with Roman Reigns as management's choice to be the top guy, particularly when others can very rightfully believe they are better and haven't had the same opportunities is you'd think that would breed a lot of jealousy. But that really isn't the case. Most guys like him and were very happy for him winning the title. That really speaks to him being a nice guy to everyone.
Coming off the Takeover show, the next title programs in NXT have Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin for the singles title and Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder vs. Jason Jordan & Chad Gable for the tag team title. The tag title matches should be excellent. Just as Jordan & Gable each provide the thing the other needs, Wilder & Dawson should make Jordan & Gable even better. There is talk of peaking with Balor vs. Sami Zayn for WrestleMania weekend. That show will be on 4/1 and was originally scheduled for a 9 p.m. start time although later I've seen the start time listed at 7:30 p.m. It won't be at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, but they are booking the smaller Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, which will hold about 7,000 fans and sold out immediately. The presale on 12/18 sold out in about 30 minutes although they still were holding back tickets to the public. The public sale with limited tickets sold out in 15 minutes the next day.
Not sure why they booked a smaller arena. The American Airlines Center, the larger and nicer arena, doesn't list anything on its schedule for 4/1 and I can't imagine that with all the people coming into town that they couldn't fill that arena. Not sure how much of this was to fans or ticket brokers, but Stubhub didn't have a lot of tickets for sale, as after the sellout there were less than 150 tickets up and most of the other shows had even less than that. The only major NXT show that isn't knocking them dead is the 1/22 Orlando show where the lower portion is sold out for the TV taping the weekend of the Royal Rumble but there are plenty of seats left.
Some notes for the next season of Total Divas based on the press release for the show. Some of the major stories that Nikki and Brie Bella not getting along (haven't we seen that before?), having problems on a huge business venture and Nikki's career being in question after an injury (I know we've seen that one before). A storyline is Nikki trying to figure out how to tell Cena that Ziggler is making moves on her again, and bringing up that she and Ziggler were together before she was with Cena. Brie debates what she is going to do after wrestling.
This is a good one. The storyline is how Eva Marie's wrestling ability has gone through the roof while the other Divas still don't like her. Paige is engaged now but has issues with her feelings. Rosa Mendes is preparing to give birth to her first child. Fox gets a new boyfriend. Natalya still has her marriage problems and frustrations with the idea that they are pushing the younger Divas and she's on the back burner. And everyone gets introduced to Mandy, who joins the cast after finishing second on Total Divas.
Ring of Honor Issues
ROH completed its most successful year in its history with its Final Battle show on 12/18 in Philadelphia's 2300 Arena, and a TV taping the next night.
But the new year brings a lot of questions, including who will and won't be with the promotion when contracts expire between now and over the next several months.
Michael Bennett and Maria Kanellis were the first to officially leave, with Bennett & Matt Taven dropping the ROH tag titles to the team of War Machine, Ray Rowe & Hanson, in a 3:00 match.Bennett and Kanellis were telling people they were headed to TNA. The two were reported to have each gotten a guaranteed contract, in the sense it's not the per show deal that most TNA talent is on, and with TNA's limited schedule, they'd be able to continue independent bookings. The guarantee was believed to have been significantly higher for each than what ROH has been offering talent, with the exception of The Young Bucks. Whether they'd be able to continue New Japan is unknown, but the belief is they wouldn't be. ROH would be out of the question. Taven's contract has a few months left.
But many others on this show are in question long-term, including Michael Elgin, Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly, whose contracts have all expired and the latter two were at a contract impasse. They haven't made moves yet since all are booked for the Tokyo Dome show. ROH champion Jay Lethal's deal is up shortly, and everything is up in the air regarding A.J. Styles, who is not under an ROH contract, due to his severe back problems. Styles has been one of the keys to the company's increase in attendance this year.
ROH Final Battle
Final Battle would have to be considered a good show, paced by the main event and a singles match with Adam Cole vs. O'Reilly. Coming out of it there weren't obvious matches except War Machine vs. The All Night Express, who, to the crowd's total unhappiness, won a three-way match to become the top contenders over the Briscoes and Young Bucks, a collection of great moves but completely rushed.
Styles still had an excellent match with Lethal in the main event. He took some crazy bumps including being thrown over the top rope through a table near the end. The finish saw Lethal use a Gotch piledriver, which was called the Jerry Lynn piledriver. Lethal then scored the pin after a Lethal injection, which I believe was only the second singles match loss by Styles (the other was to Matt Hardy) in the U.S. since he became a top star in Japan.
In what sounds like complete insanity, TNA is contracted for a live PPV on 1/8 from Bethlehem, PA called One Night Only Live. This has not been announced by the company, nor confirmed at press time, but it is listed on the inDemand web site. Essentially this would mean that on its first Tuesday show on Pop, built around a world title tournament, they'd also have to create angles ready for a live Friday night show. Even though ROH has moved PPV to Fridays, it has not done the business of the traditional Sunday night time slot, so you've got a product moving stations, moving nights, with zero momentum, that has done poorly on PPV, trying to sell a PPV with angles all shot three days before the show.
This could be miscommunication since TNA does One Night Only shows, and there were plans to tape a show called One Night Only Live on the tour of India that got canceled, so there is a very good chance this was the date that show would air. However, one person in the company said that he didn't know it was true, but had heard something about it and believed they were doing a PPV that night.
TNA on POP TV Early
With almost no warning, TNA debuted on POP TV in its new time slot of Tuesday's at 9 p.m. on 12/22 with the episode of Impact that was originally expected to air on Destination America. While the word was Destination America would carry Impact until the end of the year, in actuality, the deal was up on 12/16. At the time, the idea was dark for two weeks and to start on POP TV, but for whatever reason, TNA didn't want that out. However, since they have to produce episodes of Impact anyway, the feeling was from the POP TV side that they'd start it up early with the idea of building the audience for the 1/5 debut, so that part of the deal just got done.
Destination America moved the 12/16 show out of prime time. Both the 12/22 and 12/29 shows were "Best of 2015" shows since they had run through all the material from the July tapings. While there is a positive in the sense it gets some fans used to the time slot, it's a negative because I was told these are not good shows and are not the kind of shows that will do ratings. You don't want the first impression on a new station to be a bad impression, both to the new audience, if such an audience even exists, and also to the new station which is talking about drawing ridiculous numbers like 1.3 million viewers once they get going, and they are bound to be very disappointed if expectations are even close to that.
Also, while they are pushing 1/5 as the real debut, the fact is, as we saw from Destination America, if they debut with a terrible rating and there is a chance of that, given wrestling is always controversial programming, there will be those at POP TV who will start out with a sour taste in their mouth before the first new episode airs. There will also be a 1/1 special at 1 a.m. which will be a preview show for 1/5, looking at the history of TNA and building the world title tournament.
The 1/5 show is still the heavily promoted "debut" show with the semifinals and finals of the TNA title tournament with Bobby Lashley vs. Ethan Carter III and Matt Hardy vs. Eric Young. When it comes to the move, while they should get a 29 percent increase in viewers based on more availability, that's going to be offset by the move to a new night, as every time TNA moves nights it loses audience, plus the move to a new station and as we saw from Spike to Destination America, even the loyal Spike viewers that had Destination America, many of them never found it or didn't care to follow it any longer.
Jeff Hardy wants back in WWE, Matt may Not
Jeff Hardy's contract expires on 2/28 and he was on Ric Flair's show and while not outright saying it, gave the impression that he has signed his last TNA deal. He outright said that he wanted to end his career in WWE and has been telling friends of his desire to go back. He won't be able to wrestle again for months, and with him not on the U.K. tapings because of a past felony for drug trafficking that doesn't allow him to go to the U.K. He said he is going to try and wrestle with a knee brace on in January, which means he may attempt to work at the upcoming tapings, but said he does need major knee surgery, and after surgery would be out most of 2016.
Matt Hardy's contract is also coming due. There's actually a lot of reasons Matt doesn't need WWE, in the sense he's saved money, has a young son, and makes real good money on the indie scene. He also has years of a tough style and he can work a style that doesn't hurt his body and controls the number of days he works on the indies. In WWE, the travel is a lot harder. Still, WWE makes you relevant again, although Matt in WWE will mostly be putting guys over I'd think while Matt in TNA will be one of their top stars and he can make his own schedule.
Mike Tenay Done?
Mike Tenay, who has been with the company since day one, but hasn't been used in months, has his contract expire at the end of the year. He's mostly been focusing on a sports betting podcast called Professor Vegas.