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  1. The concept is a bit trite, but they're playing the cards as well as they can and the work of the 5 main wrestlers will carry the day. Toni and Saraya were indeed awesome heels as expected, but I think Britt and Jaime as true babyfaces is really gonna blow the roof off. You have Ruby and Shida lurking in the background already, and if they can weave a couple more women a side, we'd have the makings of very nice blood and guts match this summer.
  2. If I had a wrestling time machine, I would book Darby Allin vs. 2003 Brock Lesnar so fast. Great show all around. I think Mox brings the best out of Hangman who is better as a gritty fighter than epic match guy. Danielson/Thatcher was great, hopefully they can go again without having to work around storyline injuries. Jade had her best match. Red Velvet is a great opponent for Jade to make her offense look devastating, and Jade seems to be getting a lot better at all the in between stuff too. I can't wait for full on babyface Britt and Jamie. Also I'll probably tune into to Rampage just to watch heel Saraya and Toni kill some jobbers. Ruby being in the "Christian during the Main Event Mafia vs. Frontline feud" role is interesting. What else can be said about Joe/Darby? Other than Mick Foley, who has ever been better at making everyone they step in the ring with look more violent through complete disregard for their own body? I mean Joe has an impressive body of violent work, but Darby has him looking like he hasn't lost a step since 2005.
  3. I think a returning Wardlow with a fresh cut will help Darby retain his title. Darby having a "candle that burns twice as bright" title run is a good story, but there's a bunch of guys who would benefit more from the heat of picking his bones than Joe. Swerve would be at the top of my list.
  4. This was the most I've enjoyed a Rumble in some time. The men's Rumble just felt really fresh because of the focus on next generation stars. Booker had a minute-long cameo, and Edge is there but he's still a weekly active roster guy at least. The final 4 of Cody, Seth, Gunther, and Logan was so refreshing. The standard Rumble tropes were all there, but using them to make new stars instead of trying to give established guys more resume filler really rekindled my love of the match. Gunther's stock skyrocketed and he didn't steal all of Cody's thunder. Also, that Logan/Ricochet spot was beautiful and Kofi's attempt at a new save turning into the nastiest elimination of the night was the rare good kind of botch. I could still do without the Bray Wyatt stuff. No matter how many times they try to re-invent him, it still feels the same. He's definitely no Taker or even Kane when it comes to adding new wrinkles to the gimmick. I do, however, think there was a lot of untapped potential with evil Alexa, so I don't mind a reboot there. Women's rumble was solid. I wasn't a huge fan of both #1's making long runs, but Rhea is credible coast-to-coast winner and she deserves it for her work in Judgment Day. The main event... Now that's the good shit. Best WWE segment since WM 30. Long-term I'd hate to see them waste Jey's work the past week just having him run back to the bloodline, but Steenerico ending the Usos run would be a nice enough consolation moment for Sami. There are a lot of interesting ways to go from here, and it's easily the most compelling Mania season in 9 years.
  5. It didn't make Ric look real bright when you consider Hennig turning on DDP right out of the gate, but there was the whole Arn "spot" promo that Nash so famously overshadowed with his parody, both of which clearly established Hennig as a babyface, however briefly it may have been.
  6. I think the cruiser segregation ultimately worked in his favor. He was a big fish in a small pond, but the top cruisers who "moved up" around that time never got much to show for it. Thinking of Malenko as US champ being an afterthought in the Jarrett/Mongo feud (and getting beat by both) and Rey getting a (midcard only) giant killer gimmick that ended with him losing his mask and the blowoff match with Nash anyway. Jericho dodged a serious bullet with Goldberg not wanting to do business with him. Never working (and losing) to the likes of Nash, Goldberg, Steiner, etc gave him an aura of "can't wait to see him work with real top guys" that made his WWE debut so anticipated.
  7. Andretti had to take the L because otherwise he'd be #1 contender. I do agree they need to take a step back with him, though. The win over Jericho was great, but no way he should've beaten Garcia. Andretti is extremely average (which puts him in like the bottom 10% of the AEW roster) and they need to figure out something sustainable for him long term besides leeching off Starks. Seems like a guy that could really use a developmental ROH right now.
  8. I don't think Jericho really got buried during his WCW heel run. Definitely wasn't elevated to his potential, but he still had a ton of credibility going into WWE. Once he won the belt from Mysterio, he didn't lose for like 5 months, and got pretty much all of his wins clean too. Eventually, he had to give the wins back to the top guys like Dean, Rey, and Juvi, but then he moved on the TV title and got a decent amount of wins there before dropping the belt to Konnan who was super over at the time. He then did a reasonable 50/50 feud with Saturn who went over in the end as the face, but nothing out of the ordinary. Then he pretty much disappeared until his contract was up. WCW could've done him way dirtier. I think 98 Jericho was the first heel I ever cheered for. He was so perfectly obnoxiously funny. He had all the good qualities of heel Shawn without any of the negatives.
  9. Extremely classy tribute to Jay. It was very genuine, but not overdone. I would not be opposed to a Mark/FTR trios run when the time is right.
  10. Shayna had that character working for her on the indies before she got to NXT. I got to see her work on Mania (32) weekend, and you could see she had next big thing potential. She's just a natural when it comes to pro wrestling.
  11. I think a rematch happening just because Hogan lost the title would have sufficed. The Sting/NWO feud had more than enough momentum for multiple ppv matches. In a perfect world, you have a Sting semi-squash at Starrcade, then Hogan comes back much more prepared and they have a longer, more competitive match at Superbrawl. They could even get away with a screwy finish in the rematch to transition to the NWO breakup angle while Sting moved on to other feuds. I know, good luck getting Hogan to job in 2 straight matches at that time, but one of the biggest problems the Starrcade match exemplified was Hogan's outsized influence in creative when he should've been made to pass the torch. On the second point, there has to be some nuance when using the phrase "killed the company." Sting/Hogan was the first obvious crack in the dam, not the final break that sent WCW on its death spiral (that would probably be the finger poke if I had to pick one thing). WCW still had inertia to be viable despite one bad show, and along with the general growth in the wrestling market at the time, it's no surprise they hung on a bit longer. Worth noting, however, they never had a ppv that approached the Starrcade 97 buyrate again, which supports the idea that a good chunk of the fanbase did feel burned by the show itself. Wrestlemania 14 and 15 (both of which delivered supreme triumph for the top face if nothing else) surpassed the Starrcade 97 buys for comparison. Also with the benefit of full historical hindsight, we can safely say that WCW did in fact fold just over 3 years after Starrcade 97. Obviously the same did not happen after Flair left.
  12. I don't buy that at all. The same company ran Hogan/Piper twice in the same time frame the year before, and ran Hogan/Luger twice in one week earlier that year. They could've easily written a "Hogan uses his connections to pull some bullshit and get a quick rematch" angle. Sting vs. Hall should've gone on the lesser Souled Out ppv in between with like Bret vs. Savage while he was still in "dream match" mode (I agree that Bret vs. Flair should've happened at Starrcade). Yeah there's a million other reasons WCW folded, but the finish of Starrcade 97 consolidates a few of the big ones into a singular extremely hate-able moment. Also, the rest of the show sucked too. Didn't even deliver quality undercard action like most WCW ppvs from the time. There was a 15-minute Luger/Bagwell match for god's sake. Just a total choke job when the company had the most people watching that they ever had.
  13. What about a Low/Ki Taker reluctant partnership and eventual feud where Michelle McCool plays 1997 Debra?
  14. Very happy to see Top Flight get a big win this week. They've been featured heavily, but wins on tv are pretty much all that matters for perception. Notice how Ricky Starks is looking a lot more like a superstar instead of a guy who could be a superstar over the last couple of months. Definitely the right move to turn Toni and Saraya now instead of drawing it out. Ruby and Willow got a big boost from the street fight, the crowds have been dying to cheer Britt and Jamie, and the women's division could use a fresh heel act, even if there's "I'm better than you because I was in WWE" undertones. Bryan/Bandido was an excellent technical match, but I wasn't digging it due to the booking. Bryan has completely impenetrable plot armor right now, to the point it's nearly making him a heel against these fighting spirit babyfaces. It's way too much suspension of disbelief that Bryan/MJF won't happen, and I don't see a lot of value in someone like Bandido getting all their finishing moves kicked out of along the way. I think Cage is a much better type of opponent for this angle, where Bryan should still be a strong face out for revenge on MJF. I like the idea of Takeshita as a heater for MJF on the road to Full Gear in a vacuum, but he's another guy who needs a TV win against a lower-ranked guy way more than another competitive (but obvious) loss to a higher-ranked guy. Darby/Kushida was a lot of fun, and I really hope this TNT title run primes Darby to take the belt off MJF later in the year. He's the babyface that represents everything MJF isn't, and from a practical standpoint, AEW really needs to get mileage out of Darby while he's still young.
  15. Tony Khan would be the only good billionaire in history if he used his fortune to produce endless fan-service pro-wrestling shows and hosting every unedited historical show available.
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