Negotiating your way through day-to-day activities can often feel like a rollercoaster ride. Even a simple task of filling up your car, organising a night out with your mates or a holiday with the family now seems to take planning of a military standard.
In the world of wrestling, things are moving faster than ever. Superstars can be with a company one day and a free agent the next. Championships swap hands, reputations ruined or new favourites crowned.
So, what’s going on in the weird, wonderful world of wrestling right now? Rushonrock’s King Of The Ring, Andy Spoors, is on hand to give us the low-down on all the latest goings on…
WWE Returns To The UK
After an enforced and extended absence from our fair shores, WWE Superstars returned to action on a mini-UK tour last month. Calling at Newcastle, London, Cardiff and Glasgow, the British chapter of the WWE Universe packed all four arena shows to show exactly what the company has been missing.
Rushonrock was lucky enough to attend the Newcastle show, taking in action from some of the best Superstars SmackDown has to offer. With no sign of Universal Champion Roman Reigns, SmackDown Tag Team Champions, The Usos, or Big E, fans would have been forgiven for worrying about the lack of top stars.
Those fears quickly vanished with the likes of Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, Shinsuke Nakamura and The Street Profits all visibly champing at the bit to impress. However, the biggest cheers of the night were reserved for Irish and Scottish Superstars, Becky Lynch and Drew McIntyre.
Social media posts suggested this was not exclusive to the North East with McIntyre, in particular, making an emotional return to his native Scotland. The Scottish Warrior made an emboldened claim each night that his goal is to make sure WWE brings a major PPV to the UK. Rumours soon surfaced that this could come as soon as 2022, an interesting proposition as August will see the 30th anniversary of SummerSlam in Wembley Stadium.
In related and welcome news, rival promotion AEW also signalled their intent to bring a PPV event and tour to the UK next year. As company president Tony Kahn has strong ties to Fulham FC, it’s a fair bet that Craven Cottage will be going All Elite in 2022…
AEW Makes Waves
Speaking of AEW, the last few months have seen a surge of support for the fledgling promotion. The additions of Bryan Danielson (FKA Daniel Bryan) and Adam Cole to their swelling ranks, instantly boosted an already talented roster. These new recruits come quick on the heels of a returning CM Punk and one of the loudest moments the franchise has enjoyed to date.
All of this adds up to the prospect of multiple mouth-watering matchups. Fans didn’t have long to wait for the first of these to become a reality as Danielson faced off against AEW Champion Kenny Omega. Critically acclaimed, the match ended in a draw due to the time limit expiring but a rematch is sure to happen sooner or later.
Tellingly, both Cole and Danielson spoke highly of their time in WWE and their relationship or discussions with Vince McMahon. A refreshing change of pace from two professionals who just wanted to a new challenge and the chance to be part of something different.
One of the biggest obstacles both AEW and WWE must face is the toxic tribalism that threatens to rip large parts of their respective fanbases apart. Not since the days of peak WCW has another promotion challenged WWE. From that particular war, a golden age of wrestling was born and the industry was better for the competition.
The constant sniping from fans stoically attached to one company or the other on social media, detracts from the product itself. As a result, less vocal fans may turn away from a landscape that is offering something for everyone.
Big E Takes His Big Chance
One of the brightest sparks in WWE right now is the ascent to the top of the mountain by Big E. Split up from his New Day brothers during the last WWE Draft, hopes were high that Big E could embark on a singles run and eventually become the face of the company.
It may have been a slightly slower journey then many fans expected, but after winning the Money In The Bank briefcase just a few short months ago, E cashed in his guaranteed title shot on Bobby Lashley to become the new WWE Champion.
Some may speculate that WWE pulled the trigger a few weeks earlier than planned as a ratings grab for a flagging Monday Night Raw, but the end result remains the same. After receiving criticism for being too jovial and not being serious enough for the main event picture, Big E has proved he deserves every moment with the company’s main title.
The outpouring of affection from wrestlers all over the world and across a number of major promotions, speaks volumes of the man’s character. A genuinely good guy, the new champion would continue to impress for his honesty during a discussion on mental health with his New Day partners via their podcast. From suicidal thoughts to winning the WWE Championship, it’s been a hell of a ride for Big E and one we want to see continue to reach new heights.
Extreme Rules Gains Extreme Reaction
Under more scrutiny than it has received in decades, WWE can more often than not, silence critics by the end of one of their monthly PPV events. Awkwardly positioned in between SummerSlam and Survivor Series, Extreme Rules had already faced social media ridicule for its lack of…well, any extreme stipulations.
Billed as ‘the one-night WWE gets Extreme’, only the main event between Roman Reigns and Finn Balor was billed as an extreme rules match. Not the greatest start for a fanbase renowned for their criticism.
The PPV itself contained some excellent matches. The hastily arranged six-man tag match between The New Day and Bobby Lashley, AJ Styles & Omos, was a surprisingly entertaining affair to open the show. A straight rematch for the WWE Championship between Big E and Bobby Lashley would have been a logical choice but seeing The New Day back together as a trio more than made up for decision.
A hard hitting and action-packed triple threat match for the United States Championship saw current title holder Damien Priest defend against Jeff Hardy and Sheamus. One of the best and most recent examples of an NXT graduate finding his stride on the main roster, Priest retained. Unsurprisingly, the popularity of Hardy seems to continue nearly 30 years from his WWE debut to the point he remains one of the company’s most loved Superstars.
Done right, Hardy could have one last tilt at the title left in him. Never destined to be the face of the company for a multitude of reasons, fans have always remained firmly behind the aerial daredevil. Possibly the most influential highflyer the industry has ever had, it is astonishing to see Hardy performing at such a high level in 2021 and heart-warming to hear the adulation he continues to receive for an illustrious career.
Unfortunately, the main event between WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns and ‘The Demon’ Finn Balor did not receive the same level of adulation. Undefeated on the main roster, Balor’s ‘Demon’ presented the biggest challenge to Reigns’ impressive near 400-day run as champion.
A back-and-forth match seemed to be heading to a relatively easy victory for Reigns when Balor’s music began to play, seemingly rousing The Demon to a new level of aggression. Beating the Tribal Chief through a table and setting up for his finishing manoeuvre, the Coup De Grace, the top rope snapped sending Balor crashing to the mat below. One spear later and it was Reigns who emerged victorious.
Certainly, something new and from a technical viewpoint, risky, the finish did not go down well with a vocal section on social media. The match itself was solid, but the majority of the ire seemed to be directed at Reigns defeating a previously undefeated opponent in bizarre circumstances.
As with any screwy finish to a match, the thought process is to ensure fans tune in to the weekly TV shows to understand what happened. Fingers crossed, this one is explained otherwise it could become open season on Twitter for a section of wrestling fans already baying for blood…
The black and gold brand of NXT has long been a favourite of Rushonrock. A combination of metal and the Superstars of tomorrow, what’s not to love? Well, if the recent re-launch is any indication, quite a lot apparently.
Although NXT has made changes to its format multiple times (starting life as an almost gameshow style programme) the latest reincarnation looks to return the brand back to a conveyor belt of new talent for Raw and SmackDown.
Ditching Poppy’s deliciously heavy theme in favour of a track by hip-hop artist Wale and a bright new logo are just two decisions pointing to a change of direction. A new open and brighter look for the CWC completes the drastic makeover.
In the ring, multiple new names have not only been introduced but thrust into competition against some of the remaining veterans of NXT. One such vet, Tomasso Ciampa, emerged victorious to win the NXT Championship and lead the locker room into the brave new era. His latest challenger might be new to the WWE Universe, but belongs to one of the wrestling dynasties. Bron Breakker, son of Rick Steiner and nephew of Scott Steiner, stepped up to claim a couple of huge victories in the space of two weeks.
A shot at Ciampa’s NXT Championship may be the next step but, for now, Breakker is capturing headlines and impressing when all eyes are searching for the next WWE Superstar…