Craig Wilson & Brian Damage
It’s that time again as we look back at This Week in Wrestling. In this edition Craig discusses the unpredictable nature of NXT and why that works so well while Brian talks David Otunga and shares some of the more interesting pictures he’s stumbled upon this week and more.
NXT: Anything Can Happen
Like the majority of fans, there were a multitude of reasons that I tuned in each and every week during the Monday Night Wars.
One of those was undoubtedly the fact that you often felt that anything could happen. Titles would change hands, top matches would take place and there was always a chance that a WCW superstar could appear on WWE and vice versa.
It grabbed viewers and kept them hooked. You couldn’t not watch Raw and Nitro – or the individual one you preferred – in case you missed something big.
What better way to describe a show as unmissable. It’s what everyone producing TV, or any form of entertainment, strives to achieve.
That’s not to say that predictability is a bad thing, it too has its place particularly in the world of wrestling. In fact, too much of either can have a negative effect.
One of the many attributes you can increasingly attribute to NXT, the WWE’s third brand, is unpredictable.
If you manage to avoid spoilers, you don’t know who will appear on our screens. I managed to avoid the news of Austin Aries joining and when he appeared it was a cool moment. It’s the sort of thing that NXT has consistently provided: cool, exciting and good fun moments for fans to savour live or at home.
And it was those in attendance this week at a house show in Lowell, Massachusetts that benefited from that unpredictability. In the much hyped main event between NXT Champion Finn Balor and Samoa Joe, the former TNA star won in the end to capture the title.
A lot of the fans there would have been shocked by this outcome. Going to a WWE house show, and living in the UK I’ve been to plenty, you have minimal expectations. Occasionally you’ll get a funny spot in a match and the superstars are more OTT in their appreciation to the fans, but anything meaningful? Rarely.
It doesn’t mean nothing ever happens on a house show but it is few and far between. But what a great way to pique fans interest in the house show circuit when you could be going to what you think could be an inconsequential show but are left wondering what you might end up viewing.
It’s exactly what hooked millions during the Monday Night Wars and is a tool, one of the many more old school tools used, that has resulted in NXT becoming, in the eyes of some, the best WWE brand. It, coupled with the influx of the hottest up and coming stars from around the world and established acts, is what will allow NXT to continue to go from strength to strength.
Last week Austin Aries was on Jim Ross’ always excellent podcast and, when the notion was put to him, dismissed the idea that it was a step down going from TNA to the WWE feeder brand when you factor in the tours and playing to thousands at every show.
Every week I tune into NXT – it’s something that can’t be said for Raw – and the only thing I know I can expect is a stellar show. Long may that continue.
Xavier Woods Responds to Someone who Called Wrestling Fake and It’s Amazing
The Mysterious Case of David Otunga
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” or is it “Outta sight, outta mind?” Either way, while flipping channels I saw David Otunga on a talk show. Yeah, David Otunga…remember him? Former two time WWE tag team champion, a member of Nexus and Johnny Ace’s sidekick when Ace was running both Raw and Smackdown. Anyhow, I was shocked or rather surprised to hear Otunga being introduced by this said talk show host as a WWE superstar. Not a former WWE superstar mind you…but current. I had to see for myself, so I went to WWE’s website and sure enough, Otunga is still a member of the active roster!
Keep in mind, Otunga hasn’t wrestled consistently since 2013. As a matter of fact, his last televised match I believe was in April of 2014 and that was at Wrestlemania XXX as he competed in the Andre the Giant Memorial battle royal. Since then, we have seen Otunga fleetingly as a Raw pre show host. It makes me scratch my head that this guy still collects a WWE paycheck and is never used. So what has Otunga been up to the last couple of years? Well, according to Otunga himself, he took time off to be a family man and spend time with his girlfriend Jennifer Hudson and their 5 year old son.
Admirable yes, but odd none the less. Otunga who is employed by the largest wrestling/Sports Entertainment company in the world was allowed off to be a Dad. Definitely a far cry from the days of old school wrestlers like Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair and countless others who had to miss birthdays, graduations and holidays to do what they did for a living. Keep in mind, I am not criticizing Otunga for being a father, just find it…different. In the same world where internet fans cried and made memes about how a guy like JTG survived countless roster cuts, not a word about David Otunga. Is it because people forgot he even existed? Did the WWE forget he existed? Regardless, Otunga is still getting paid by the company.
He may not be a great wrestler or for that matter even a good wrestler but surely he could offer something, right? One thing Otunga was especially gifted at was his gift of gab. Maybe transition him to a manager or color commentator on Raw, Smackdown or NXT. David Otunga right now is the JTG of this generation. A wrestler with no direction what so ever. It’s not even that David Otunga doesn’t want to wrestle as he said in an interview back in 2015 that he wants to. Maybe, just maybe the WWE keeps him on the payroll with the hope that he can convince his girl Hudson to perform at a WrestleMania?
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…and again?! How about three time’s a charm?
Sooooo THAT’s what happened to him!
Makes sense to me…
Rhianna a closet wrestling fan or just has a closet filled with wrestling outfits?
A cool little map of pro wrestlers home states…
No wonder why the Lord Tensai character didn’t pan out…
Here is HBK Shawn Michael’s unused entrance theme sung by Vincent Kennedy McMahon.
Since Last Time…
Craig: I watched this week’s excellent episode of NXT. Enzo & Cass versus American Alpha was always going to be top class, and it was. Curious to see how ‘No Way Jose’ will work in the WWE. It doesn’t scream the sort of gimmick that has a lot of shelf life. Also started working my way through the old NWA episodes on the WWE Network. Randomly also stumbled across ‘Biggest Stars from the 90s’ on the Network. Fun couple of hours of viewing in that show. ‘Most Powerful Wrestling Families’ is worth a spin as well, looking back at some of the many wrestling families that have left their mark on the sport.
In terms of listening, Austin Aries on Jim Ross’ podcast last week was excellent and once that’s done it’s on to Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson on Talk is Jericho. Us wrestling fans are really spoiled when it comes to podcasts, aren’t we?
Brian: There was a time during the Monday Night Wars when I would watch Raw live and tape the replay of Nitro…that way I wouldn’t miss a thing. Nowadays, I don’t watch Raw live, I DVR it. Why? Simple, to fast forward through all the nonsense. I use to fast forward a lot during a three hour broadcast of Raw. The last three weeks, I have noticed myself doing it less and less.
The show overall has become better with new talent and different match ups. I find myself watching more of the product than I have in years. Do I still fast forward stuff, sure…I mean it is still a three hour program after all.
That brings me to the *other* show I watch TNA’s Impact Wrestling. I have to admit, it isn’t that bad of a show. If you compare it production wise to WWE, you will probably hate it…but the talent and the matches aren’t bad at all. The one thing that irks me about TNA is the fans in attendance. I still haven’t figured out fully if they are real fans or plants that were plucked straight off the street and paid to cheer? The signs they “bring in” are made by a TNA intern no doubt…it’s just the fans they seem to be the one thing that feels overly scripted.
Lastly, I try and watch NXT every Wednesday on the WWE network and have been finding myself bored with it. Is the talent tremendous? Most of it is, but unless the show is live, it just doesn’t have the same feel or cache as one of their network specials.
Last Week on the Blog
In last week’s Sunday Sermon we looked at the storyline flaws on WWE TV since WrestleMania 32; on Monday we had part 69 of ‘Wrestling with Sin‘, ‘Icons of Wrestling‘ returned on Tuesday with a look at Kwang, the Billionaire Ted Skits were the focus of Wednesday’s piece; on Thursday we remembered Chyna and then we rounded off the week with ‘The Way We Was‘ looking at Raw and Nitro from 20 years ago this week.
Next Week on the Blog
All previous ‘This Week in Wrestling’ pieces can be read here.