Wednesday, February 14, 2018

WWE: Home of Copycats and Overcrowding

There are two rather infuriating trends taking hold in WWE these days.  The first is that Smackdown seems to be stealing all their ideas from what happens on RAW, while the second is the overthinking and overcrowding of PPV main events.

I'm not sure when the Smackdown writing team decided to just start copying whatever Team RAW does, but I first noticed it when they booked a trio of heel NXT call-ups to debut on Smackdown exactly ONE NIGHT after the same thing happened on RAW (minus Paige of course, who wasn't a call-up but a returning star).  Absolution, led by a black-haired gothy chick and featuring an eye-catching blonde and a tough-looking brunette, shows up on RAW and attacks a buncha women mid-match.  The very next night, The Riott Squad, led by a black-haired gothy chick and featuring an eye-catching blonde and a tough-looking brunette, shows up on Smackdown and attacks a buncha women mid-match.  Has WWE combined the writing teams or have they just not been talking to each other during the week to ensure there's no duplication of efforts?

No, you're not seeing double.  WWE did the same angle two nights in a row.

This copycat trend continued at the Royal Rumble, when both the WWE and Universal Title matches involved three men.  Yes, one of them was a handicap match as opposed to a Triple Threat, but come on, did we really need Kane added to the Lesnar-Strowman match?  The fight everyone wanted to see was Brock vs. Braun.  Adding Kane to the title picture diluted a potentially huge rematch (not to mention Kane hasn't been relevant since the Dubya administration), and it doesn't appear we'll be getting another one-on-one Lensar-Strowman encounter, unless WWE swerves us all at Elimination Chamber and has Braun go over instead of Roman.

And speaking of the Chamber, this week on RAW they held a Second Chance 4-way, errr, 5-way to determine the final participant in the men's Chamber match.  It was originally slated to be Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Matt Hardy vs. Apollo Crews, but midway through the show they added Seth Rollins to the match (since his program with Jason Jordan just evaporated due to Jordan's neck issues).  And thanks to a double-pin on Wyatt (which a referee with any experience wouldn't realistically count since two guys were pinning him), the match had co-winners in Balor and Rollins.  And rather than schedule a run-off match next week for the coveted Chamber spot, they just said "Fuck it, both guys are in!"  Huh??  So this Elimination Chamber is gonna have seven guys instead of six.  Does that mean three dudes start the match?  The Miz (who lost a match to determine the #1 entrant) and both Finn and Seth, since they back-doored their way into the Chamber?  This is just fuckin' goofy.  Why are these GMs taking such an "anything goes" approach?  How weak does it make the authority figure look when their solution to every booking conundrum is to simply throw their hands up?  How cheap does it make the title in question look when they keep adding contenders to every match?  Turns out you don't have to beat people to earn a title shot, you just have to not lose.  This is 50-50 booking gone berserk.

"Guess what Seth, we get to SHARE the 6th Chamber spot!"

Whatever, at least the Chamber match is pretty stacked (except for Elias, what the actual fuck is he doing here??).  The latest instance of Smackdown copycat booking however truly vexing.  The stage was set for AJ Styles to defend at Fastlane against either Sami Zayn or Kevin Owens, pending a #1 Contender's match between the two.  When that match went to a no-contest, what did they do?  You guessed it, they had the GM throw his hands up and say "Fuck it, BOTH guys get a title shot."  What is this, fuckin' Oprah?  "YOU get a title shot, and YOU get a title shot!"  So Owens and Zayn are both in, fine.  AJ vs. KO vs. Zayn would be a great triple threat match.  But wait.  A couple days later it's announced that Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin will have a match the following week to determine the fourth guy in the Fastlane main event.  Wait, what??  Ziggler and Corbin have no beef with AJ or Owens or Zayn, and have done literally nothing to earn a WWE Title shot.  Adding either of them to the match is nonsensical.  Know what's even more nonsensical?  Rebooking Smackdown so that it won't be Ziggler vs. Corbin at all; instead it'll be Corbin vs. Owens and Ziggler vs. Zayn, where if Ziggler and/or Corbin wins, he/they BOTH get added to the Fastlane main event.  Gee, I wonder what's gonna happen.....  What a shock, both guys won their respective matches and now it's a 5-way at Fastlane.  What is wrong with this company?  Shoehorning more guys into every PPV main event doesn't make them better.  Know what makes main event matches better?  A clear conflict between two participants, that the audience can get invested in.  Cluttering up the main event picture with guys who shouldn't be there creates unneeded parity and undermines the very idea of a main event, not to mention it leaves basically no one for the undercard matches. 

Quick name me a great 5-way match, ever.  I'll wait......

And isn't it a crazy coincidence that every #1 Contender's match lately has ended in some kind of indecisive scenario that necessitates BOTH guys getting what they want?  They may as well just hand out participation trophies at the beginning of every episode.  Let's just throw out the belts altogether, now every WWE Superstar is special!

The Royal Rumble gave me a real sense of optimism for this year's WrestleMania season, for the first time in years, but this wishy-washy booking is not instilling me with a lot of confidence, nor is the idea of Smackdown repeating everything RAW does.  Knock it off, jerks....

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