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  1. I really felt like OC/Stat should've won. OC is supposed to be the non-jobber in Best Friends and even he's getting dominated in this feud. The finish with Adam raging over Britt going through the table was ripe for an overzealous mistake leading to a flash pin. I guess the other option is maybe OC goes over in the unsanctioned match so Cole can take a loss and not have his title push derailed much like Britt with Rosa. I liked the way Hangman was booked in the post-match with Archer. Lance is obviously a filler program, so don't have him beat up Page every week to pretend he has a chance. Book it as a big man taking his shot, but the champ is the champ for a reason. AEW needs women's tag titles, because a Serena/Leyla team would rule. Caster's line about Starrcade 97 was great. Sting/Darby team continues to deliver.
  2. I only meant to compare the aspect of Bate/Ilya being able to get high-impact offense on Walter. Overall quality wise, I would look at Walter's matches vs. Ciampa and Kushida that were more sprint-y. The quality of the Kushida match in particular would be about what I expected from this one, but it fell short imo, largely because they didn't let Roddy do much.
  3. The best NXT match from last year imo was the Dunne/Dragunov match that was just build-up to Dragunov/Walter. Dunne vs. Melo and The Way vs. Bronson/Dexter/Shotzi/Ember were two of my other favorite NXT matches from last year. The Thatcher/Ciampa fight pit and Finn/KoR rematch happened on weekly shows. They had build in the sense that they were longer feuds, but I don't think either match was hyped for more than a couple weeks and weren't on "Halloween Havoc" type shows.
  4. Because that happened frequently over the last 6 years?
  5. I think he's mostly just leaning into the "stoic German (Austrian) professional" stereotype. I think a good question to ask here is what would a non-comedic German heel have to do to not draw nazi comparisons from an American audience? Also, all this Imperium talk has reminded me of another question I've been pondering: Is "Dresden Hatchetman" Alexander Wolfe the coolest nickname ever wasted on a jobber?
  6. So I went out of my way to see Walter/Roddy and ended up watching the second hour. Tony D'Angelo is a really bad gimmick. Totally dated stereotype that seems like a trick question for the game "Is this gimmick from 1992 or 2022?" And the guy playing it totally lacks the presence to make anything out of it. Melo, on the other hand, comes across as a real star. Took me a while to realize KLR is a face now. Despite not being super-imposing, she has a naturally surly aura that makes it hard to be a face without a lot of work. Kind of like Randy Orton or Kyle O'Reilly. Ivy came across as lot more babyface here, although I guess Diamond Mine is kind of tweener now. Kinda feel for Mendoza/Wilde. That's a team that deserves a run, but just keeps on jobbing. At least Santos is getting a title shot I guess? Kacy/Kayden as mid 20s party girls instead of the pure babyface work ethic team feels pretty wrong, but at least they're still around. Walter/Roddy was ok, but exposed the big flaw with bringing NXT into full WWE style. It's not the new people not being able to work up (they seem mostly ok despite some awful gimmicks), it's the elite wrestlers having to work down. Roddy and Walter are capable of a match 10x better than this, but neither guy really got to show their best stuff. Roddy not being able lift Walter when Bate and Dragunov could suplex him made no sense. There was way more to be done building around the two best choppers in the company. Walter's mid-match control is usually way more intriguing than a chinlock. Just felt like a lot was left on the table because ultimately, these two aren't gonna be that important in NXT. And Gunther reminded me of the talking monkey in Futurama, which I guess is at least a couple steps up from a literal nazi.
  7. Given WWE's aversion to people with the same name, I can only assume Gunther Stark will be Zoe's dad or brother.
  8. I mean, that's obviously a heel gimmick even if most of his points are true. It's literally Muhammad Hassan 15 years later, except at least played by an actual person of the culture being depicted. A face or even a true tweener can't be openly hostile to the audience. Once the fans start booing your smug superiority, any good points you make will not only be lost, but seen as wrong and bad. Then you get an established face coming out and saying "I know the people of (insert city) aren't racist" and it's all over. If you want a successful anti-racist angle in wrestling, the character has to be an unambiguous face, then you use established heels to be the racist assholes. The announcers and other established faces should also denounce the racism. Nothing undercuts a "nuanced" gimmick like the announcers saying "Well, I don't agree, but it's America, so he's entitled to his opinion." Basically, you can't expect one PoC to make an anti-racist angle work, it has to be a company-wide effort.
  9. I think a DQ finish to cost Wardlow would've been better. That small package didn't look like it should beat anyone, let alone a fresh Wardlow. On the flip side, the semi-botched GTH at from Sammy still looked like a total killshot. I agree that Julia needs to turn and join the House of Black. Griff and BPJ have too much loser stink on them, and looked even worse here as Black laughed at their 3 on 1 beatdown. I'm torn on whether HoB or Red Dragon should dethrone Jurassic Express. RD is a safe bet with a clear story arc, but Malakai and Brody seem like a perfect new-age hoss team that could make for compelling matches with just about anyone.
  10. I'll concede that we'll never know for sure since we don't have the proper data, but I don't think you weigh the entire PC budget against two of the more "replaceable" parts. How much were they paying Tyler Breeze specifically? Probably the same amount they're paying Joe Gacy right now, and I'm betting Breezango moved more merch than Gacy ever will. Even then, I think you're undervaluing Breeze and using the wrong guy to make your point. Finding a steady guy to do the comedy matches on house shows, put over the bigger names, mentor new guys, and (as a bonus) build up enough good will with the fans to get a feel-good tag team push with some merchandising opportunities is worth 50-100k he cost in NXT. They spent the same amount on Tino Sabatelli and got way less for it. I think even a good developmental system is going to be close to 50% busts. Think about all those "new signing" group pics and how many actually even end up on tv, let alone successfully. When you weigh the PC budget, you have to look at it against the 4HW (by far the HHH era's biggest success), and huge merch movers (Finn, KO, etc). Maybe WWE thinks they can downsize and still get comparable results for the main rosters, but I'm leery of the effect the lack of actual talent and quality training in the pipeline will have over time. Not that it will put WWE out of business or anything, but I think it lessens their chances of finding that coveted cross-over star, since all their previous ones started out being good at wrestling first.
  11. I'll preface this by saying I disagree with your talent grouping there. The Rock is on a level all his own. No developmental is going to consistently pump out Hollywood A-listers who make 9-figure-grossing movies every year. Your metric for a developmental should probably be more like finding HHH/Orton/Roman level guys somewhat consistently, that can at least main event some Manias and have multiple credible title runs. By that metric, old NXT found 3 of those at least. Becky, Sasha, and Charlotte. There was a window for Finn, KO, and Keith Lee too, but ya know... Booking. On top of that, not everyone is going to be a main eventer and NXT has consistently churned out midcard talent for years, most of which can be considered upper midcard that can get occasional main event runs. Sami, Neville, Breeze, Bayley, Alexa, Nia, Joe, Nakamura, Shayna, Asuka, Corbin, Revival, Roode, Ricochet, Black, Riddle, Bianca. If that's not good enough for a few years of scouting, I don't know what is. I suspect in a few years when we can factor in success in other promotions, the talent level of 2014-2020 NXT is going to look even more ridiculous.
  12. I don't see how Jamie is an interesting challenger since her role so far has been "job to Britt's next opponent to build heat for the title match." That's a feud you run after Britt drops the belt, but even then Jamie needs some major rehab to seem competitive. Rosa and Jade are the only credible challengers left.
  13. Yeah, I'm really surprised they opted for a secondary singles title over tag titles for the women. I get not wanting to copy WWE too much, but some things just work. I don't know how you differentiate 2 singles belts in a division of about 20 people.
  14. KO's thoughts are basically "Yeah NXT sucks now, but WWE is paying me 3 mil a year, so I won't completely shit on it."
  15. I think Undisputed Era 2.0 vs. Bucks/Kenny is the correct route. Cole pushing the Bucks aside because of their silliness (and weakness losing to Jurassic Express) and replacing them with guys he can trust makes perfect sense. Kyle can easily do a "time heals most wounds" promo and put over Bobby Fish as the guy who got the band back together. The pop when Kenny comes back to save the Bucks, Cutler, and Nakazawa from a massive beating will blow the roof off. Malakai killing the Varsity Blonds was fun. Whoever decided to give FTR that super 80s theme is brilliant. I love Cult of Personality and Ruby Soho, but something about a good in-house theme just hits right. Darby's bowling ball dive was a thing of beauty, and I love seeing Sting getting to go out on his own terms. I like how he went from doing taped cinematic matches, to live 20-minute tags over the last couple of years.
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