This Week In Spandex: World’s Greatest Director Of Operations
Here at ComicsAlliance we’ve noticed a huge overlap between superhero comics fans and wrestling fans; wrestling is basically superhero theater. This Week in Spandex is a new weekly feature, in which longtime wrestling fan Kieran Shiach and enthusiastic recent convert Elle Collins summarize the week that was in WWE.
This week (in spandex) another former authority figure returns, Kofi Kingston gets roasted for his weak shoe game, and Shinsuke Nakamura makes an entire building explode with the utterance of one world.
Elle: I’m about to express my most unpopular opinion yet, I’m pretty sure. But do you know who I was excited to see this week? Corporate Kane. It’s clear now that bringing on aspiring SmackDown managers is a running gag, and whereas last week’s was somebody I’d never seen before, this time it was someone I actually remember, because he was around (in this form) just last year. Anyway, I like Kane as a comedic performer, and his Corporate persona gives him a chance to play that up. I wouldn’t want him to actually run SmackDown, but I liked having him around just for this episode of RAW.
Kieran: I’m right there with you, Elle! I’ve even got the World’s Best Director Of Operations mug from WWE Shop. Kane is a highly underrated comedic performer, and I love seeing him get to flex those chops.
Elle: And by the way, the fact that all the buildup to the new SmackDown is happening on RAW is a pretty direct admission that nobody in the world watches the current version of SmackDown. Nobody except those of us unfortunate enough to write weekly columns about WWE, that is.
As much as I like everyone involved, I wasn’t all about the New Day/Enzo and Cass segment. I didn’t really get the sneaker jokes, and the whole bit about Enzo playing Francesca behind Xavier’s back was a lot more weird than it was funny. It’s one thing for Xavier to treat a trombone like it’s his girlfriend, but Enzo and Cass going along with that was a bit much for me. Aren’t these guys supposed to be realer than everyone else? That’s what they keep saying anyway.
Kieran: My favorite thing about this segment was the Vaudevillains, just because I love seeing them get to show way more personality and charisma that they ever did in NXT. Aiden English has the singing back, which I always loved and generally they just seem like way more of a threat than they ever did before they got to the main roster.
Elle: I’m curious how you felt about the segment with all three former members of the Shield. I’ve seen a few Shield matches on the Network, but I wasn’t watching when they were actually together and a huge deal. So to me it just seems like these three guys being who they’ve been all along (at least some of which I enjoy), but I know some people get extra excited anytime all three of them are near each other. Did it do anything for you?
Kieran: I love The Shield so much, and I do get excited when they’re all together. I loved this week’s Ambrose Asylum because I love some continuity in my wrestling, and The Shield are a great source for that. It made me really want to see Ambrose win the Money In The Bank briefcase too, although I still think they should hold off on that triple-threat match for a WrestleMania.
Elle: You know what I wish? I wish WWE would give us a chance to be positive about women’s wrestling. Charlotte and Paige are bursting with potential, and Dana Brooke’s one of my favorite characters in wrestling, and Natalya’s a fantastic in-ring worker, and Becky Lynch is just the all-around best. But all five of these amazing women were crowded into one four-minute match, during which Nattie and Becky plugged Nattie’s cat’s Instagram account.
After all that “Diva’s Revolution” stuff, the new Women’s Championship Belt, and the best match of Wrestlemania, I’m pretty sure the state of the WWE women’s division is as bad as it’s been since I started watching. I can’t even really say that it was exciting to see Paige back, because we all know there’s no room for her to do anything. I’m going to be really honest here for a second: The fear that this might not get better is the only thing that ever makes me think about just walking away from WWE.
Kieran: Yeah, it’s so disheartening. I’ve written about my frustrations pretty much every week, and they haven’t changed. I’d like to think the Brand Split might make things better, but I’m not hopeful.
I’m finding it hard to talk about the Money In The Bank participants this month, because there’s no real forward momentum, they’re just having good matches with each other. Sami Zayn v Cesaro was as great as those two already are, and I loved the odd couple pairing of Kevin Owens and Alberto Del Rio, including the backstage stuff before the match. I’m excited for the ladder match this weekend, it’s going to be great.
The match I’m most looking forward to, however, is AJ Styles v John Cena. They’ve got me to buy into this “15 years in the making” hype, and Cena has always been a wrestler who rises or sinks to the level of the person he’s facing against, so seeing him against Styles is going to be something really special. If there’s one thing I really want to see this Sunday, it’s that match.
Elle: Andrade “Cien” Almas is handsome and talented and quite possibly going places, but I’m just never going to support a man in a trilby, and that’s just how things are. Tye Dillinger continues to be spectacular, although I don’t know why we needed to see these guys fight each other again, two weeks in a row. That’s some main roster crap, NXT, and you’re better than that.
Kieran: I don’t know why Dillinger isn’t a face yet? He’s way more than ready to be. I like Almas a lot, but I hate his entrance gear also. I’m excited to see what he can do, but I’m starting to think NXT might need its own Intercontinental or United States Championship for everyone that isn’t in the main event. Something to give guys like Almas, Dillinger and Aries something to fight for.
Elle: I’ve mentioned before that my favorite old stuff to watch on the Network is 1980s NWA, and that’s why Paul Ellering is probably the first old man to reappear out of the blue who I’m genuinely excited to see. The Authors of Pain themselves don’t seem that interesting so far, but Ellering is one of the greatest managers of all time, and he looks great for his age, and I can’t wait to see where this goes. All he’s said so far is “In due time,” and it left me on the edge of my seat for the next time he talks.
Kieran: I love big man tag teams with fast-talking managers, just look to my love of The Devestation Corporation and Sidney Bakabella for proof of that. It’s something NXT has been missing since The Ascension, and arguably they didn’t really get it right, so I’m excited to see what the Authors of Pain can bring to the table.
Elle: I have complicated feelings about Carmella. I think she’s adorable, and I really like her as a character and a performer, which makes me want to root for her in the ring. But her ring work is just pretty profoundly not quite there yet, and that’s been the case for so long now that I start to wonder how much progress she’s making. But until something big changes, there’s certainly nothing waiting for her on the main roster, so I guess she can take as long as she needs in developmental and hopefully get to where she needs to be.
Kieran: Yeah, I spent the entire match thinking “Why haven’t they signed Tessa Blanchard yet?” I love Carmella’s energy, but I’m not on the edge of my seat to see her wrestle.
Elle: Finn Balor’s in-ring promo basically boiled down to “I’ve done everything I can do here. I’ll see you guys on RAW. Oh wait, I get to wrestle Nakamura on my way out like Sami did? Cool.” I liked how openly Finn and Shinsuke talked about knowing each other from NJPW, and there’s no way that match is going to be anything but amazing.
Kieran: You know you have charisma when the crowd knows exactly what you’re going to say, and they still pop big time when you say it. I don’t think Balor v Nakamura will quite be on the level with Zayn v Nakamura, but it’s going to be a heck of a match, presumably at Takeover Brooklyn.
Elle: SmackDown literally opens with Chris Jericho talking about how expensive his new carpet is, and then Dean Ambrose comes out waving around a cup of coffee with no lid on it. Wrestling is literally The Odd Couple now. Fortunately, Kevin Owens interrupts. Unfortunately, Alberto Del Rio interrupts Kevin Owens. Fortunately, Cesaro interrupts Alberto Del Rio. Unfortunately, Cesaro gets interrupted before he even says anything. Fortunately, it was Sami Zayn who interrupted him. And after all that, Dean Ambrose finally spills the coffee on the carpet. Tune in to Money in the Bank, everybody!
I didn’t have much interest in the fatal fourway between representatives of the four tag teams fighting on Sunday, until they announced that Xavier Woods and Enzo Amore were on commentary. Those guys are such good talkers that I’d listen to them call a Dolph Ziggler/Baron Corbin match.
The women’s match was more of the same from Monday, and I said everything I can possibly say about it already. The tag match between the guys who are going to be in the Money in the Bank ladder match wasn’t exactly fresh either. The only thing on this show that really grabbed me was Xavier Woods wrestling A.J. Styles. You could tell that Xavier was excited to have a singles match, especially against somebody of A.J.’s caliber. A.J. winning was no surprise, but Xavier sold like a champ, and got some great moves in along the way.
Kieran: Yeah, I don’t have much to add for SmackDown at all, you’ve nailed pretty much all of my thoughts. I’m just counting down the days until it becomes must-watch TV again, because when I was growing up everyone watched SmackDown, and only the rich kids could watch RAW, so SmackDown was the show everyone liked better. Then in the early 2000s there was the first brand-split and Paul Heyman ran SmackDown so efficiently that it was actually beating RAW for a bit. There’s no reason for SmackDown to not be as good as RAW, I just hope it can get back there.