Welcome, friends and fans, to another round of Geek Versus Pro Wrestling. In spite of all the wonderful things that happened in the wide world of wrestling this week, I spent 30 minutes playing a twitter hashtag game called #WrestleABand (where you you combine a band name with a wrestler), and it completed my life’s work. I will miss you all dearly. More important wrestling stuff may have happened this week, but none of it will be as exciting as “The Great Mutallica” or as beautifully obscure as “The CocteaUsos Twins”, so we’ll just have settle for some great high spots.
Unlike many of my other colleagues that opin about the WWE in consistently negative fashion, I’m actually enjoying current offering on Raw and Smackdown. There’s a lot of subtle storytelling. Addressing the spectre of Roman Reigns via exchange between his Shield brethren answered our question about Reign’s suspension affecting the main event of
Battleground, reestablished Seth Rollins as a whiney brat without rendering him a proper heel, and refined Dean Ambrose’s position of “I’m the champ now, I don’t care, I’ll fight everybody”. I really hope the looming brand extension keeps Ambrose and Rollins together fighting over the WWE title until at least Survivor Series. They’re top level talents and have an entertaining report. Ambrose’s seemingly throw-away “It’s fun to beat up Seth” comment at Money in the Bank speaks directly to that.
Incidentally, Ambrose got a significant feather in his cap this week. They began referring to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship as just the WWE Championship, also changing the wording on WWE.com. This is a pretty clear indicator that we’re going to get a second world title after the brand extension. It appears that they’re positioning John Cena and AJ Styles to compete for the new title, which is the kind of opportunity that turns a dream match into a classic feud. For Ambrose, however, it means he is the final WWE World Heavyweight Champion and, if he retains at Battleground, the de facto winner of the Shield story. At least for this chapter. I hope the new belt has an eagle on it.
We got a new chapter of another long story this week, as we caught a sudden glimpse of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn being on the same page for a brief moment when they hit Chris Jericho with a double superkick on Jericho’s talk show, “The Highlight Reel”. Owens originally turned on Zayn the very same night he debuted in NXT, so we’ve yet to see their relationship be anything but contentious on WWE television. The Kevin Steen/El Generico story is long and complex. Furthering their story beyond the ominous “you and I are destined to fight forever” subtitle is not only exciting, but necessary in a story that’s definitely due for some fresh paint and story juice. The depth of this rivalry is it’s key component. The WWE universe previously unfamiliar with Steenerico prior to being on the WWE main roster deserve to feel as excited about these two as those of us that have already vested interest in the two ring veterans. Hopefully they’re giving Owens and Zayn the space they need to tell the story properly.
Another wrestling story with likely historical significance is being told on NXT television right now between Shinsuke Nakamura and Finn Balor. I’m likely criticized for being a mark for certain guys and glorifying NJPW while it’s trendy, but the story being told is a distinctly non-WWE story. Shinsuke Nakamura came out two weeks ago and challenged a clearly main roster bound Finn Balor to a match simply to see who’s the best. His motivation? He’s compelled by his fighting spirit. No crazy baggage. No heel or face drama. No one being hypnotized (although Xavier Woods’ work right now is legit). No belt. To be the man, you have to beat the man as The Nature Boy says. It’s simply a Japanese-style fighting spirit story, and it’s unfolding beautifully.
Nakamura and Balor don’t have exclusivity over this type of story, obviously, but I really wanna see these two tell it. It’s the perfect challenge for both, and if anyone is gonna translate what makes Shinsuke Nakamura one of the best wrestlers of his generation, it’s gonna be the former Prince Devitt. The dueling talking head segments, which saw Nakamura doing a full two minutes of uninterrupted English promo without subtitles, was a solid way to get us vested in the story. I feel like Dusty Rhodes would be proud that it’s happening on NXT Television.
King of the Week: Jay Lethal – Ring of Honor World Champion
Last Friday, at Ring of Honor’s Best in the World event, Jay Lethal retained his Ring of Honor World Championship against the man he originally won it from a year ago this week, Jay Briscoe. Carrying the Ring of Honor title for a year is not insignificant.
Lethal is one of those guys that seems like he’s been around forever because he started so young. When the time came for ROH to put the belt on him, there wasn’t anyone else more qualified to carry it than Lethal. It will be exciting to see how long he will continue to hold it with Kyle O’reilly on his horizon.
By crowning Lethal my King of the Week, it’s only appropriate we celebrate the occasion with Lethal’s masterful performance art piece dedicated to the Macho King, himself. They call him Black Machismo. Enjoy!
Geek Versus Pro Wrestling is an esoteric weekly editorial column reviewing the vast world of professional wrestling. That’s right. The word “esoteric” was just used to describe a series of internet articles about wrestling. Hang that from your turnbuckle and chop it.
J. Aaron Poole is a 21st century writer, musician, and geeky thing liker. He is a member of the American Sociological Association with an academic interest in the relationship between media, technology, and modern culture. Currently residing in Fort Walton Beach, Florida by way of Atlanta, Georgia, he’s recently begun archiving his work at Station146.com. Aaron can be found making absurd comments on Twitter, PSN, and other social media platforms as @JAaronPoole.