Latta’s Lariat #60: 8 Pressing Questions Hanging Over WWE This Summer

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As summertime approaches, we’re getting deep into the year with a number of questions facing WWE creatively and as a company. This year has been filled with questionable booking and less than stellar matches on PPV from the WWE Roster. For the company overall had it not been for NXT, this would go down as one of the most empty, barebones years in WWE history. Actual MOTY candidates on WWE PPV’s have been scarce, as feuds have been overrun with overbooking, and great wrestlers are kept away from each other like the plague. While there are probably more than 8, let’s start with these. Feel free to add your own in the comment section.

  1. Will Daniel Bryan Re-sign with WWE?

As of this writing, Daniel Bryan has not re-signed with WWE. While anything could change it seems like a foregone conclusion that he will do so when the times. He’s expressed his appreciation for their medical staff that looked after him as a human rather than a wrestler in the past, but since that’s all cleared up I ask, what about the wrestler part?

Aside from Wrestlemania 30, you can argue WWE has rarely had a clue what to do with Daniel Bryan. He’s gotten over in spite of a lot of MUCK. His most recent return in 2015 was him getting shoved out of the way and positioned in a secondary role, and the recent development of him getting put in a Tag Team and wrestling Big Cass for months feels like more of the same.

Despite his TV main event excellence (Rusev, Joe, Big E, Jeff Hardy, AJ Styles), and ironman performance in the Greatest Royal Rumble he’s being linked to a washed up Kane and put in the tag team division that WWE themselves is responsible for burying via the Bludgeon Brothers. I’m feeling like from a wrestling perspective, Bryan should look around at the hottest independent scene of all time and go be the top star that his fans see him as. Bryan vs Okada anyone? Maybe the tag team this is a diversion, and I’m not calling for him to be the WWE Champion right away, but how about Andrade Cien Almas? Is that too much of a request?

  1. Will Anyone Beat Brock Lesnar?

As far as I’m concerned, WWE can gift the Universal Championship title to Brock Lesnar as a lifetime achievement belt and end his reign that way. The Universal Title has been cursed from the second it was unveiled, and its latest development has turned it into a complete missing entity. WWE’s has turned a special attraction into a source of resentment, in their never-ending quest to get Roman Reigns cheered.

Despite Reigns getting his head bust to the white meat at Wrestlemania, WWE has trucked ahead with the uncrowned champion narrative, and the plan seems to be to get Lesnar so detested fans will eventually cheer a Reigns win. There is nothing that will make that happen. The hi-jacking will continue, as Strowman walks around with a consolation briefcase for a title he should have won a year ago. Seth Rollins has been mentioned by many and seems to be the people’s pick at this moment, but I’ve given up on trusting WWE to capitalize on hot energy, and you can look all over the roster for proof.

  1. Where Has The Women’s Revolution Gone?

While Ronda Rousey looks like the no doubt newcomer of the year, and shown she’s much more ready than most of us knew, the actual women’s revolution in WWE and the women who changed the face of North American women’s wrestling have been moved to the side or booked into complete oblivion while the likes of Alexa Bliss and Carmella represent WWE as the champions of a roster with Ronda Rousey, Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Bayley and Asuka across the brands. The ladies had a really fun Royal Rumble, but the landscape looks like it is returning to the days that sparked a revolution. The matches happening now compared to 2014-2016 are a stark difference in quality and importance.

Sasha and Charlotte literally became main eventers as each match raised the stakes and performance from the last. They heavily lean on tired formulas and screwy finishes to bring up lesser performers in the eyes of fans, while at the same time dimming the lights of the stars. Asuka’s streak was given to Charlotte who promptly lost to Carmella twice, while Asuka has gone 180 degrees the other direction from when she was NXT.

Carmella and Alexa both excel with their ridiculous hyperbolic statements, but when the bell rings it’s average or bad. On Raw, Alexa Bliss has essentially broken my will as she’s repeatedly gone over everyone in such eye-rolling fashion. I even produced a Dan Lebatard style rant about it. I’m scared to death WWE will find a way to ruin Rousey because looking around, it’s happened to almost everyone else. I hope it doesn’t happen because she’s probably our last hope.

  1. Will Roman Reigns Matches Keep Getting Hi-Jacked?

This depends strictly on the opponent, and structure of the match. Looking at everything since the epic high jack of the Wrestlemania 34 Main Event, he’s had matches against Samoa Joe and Jinder Mahal. With Joe, they had it main event over a title match with a bad finish and sit in a chin lock forever. With Mahal, it was Mahal, Chicago, and an outright rejection of both men who are seen as the poster boys of being over pushed, and the idea WWE had to book that match in front of that crowd like everything was going to be all good. When I say “that crowd”, it’s well-known that Chicago has been one of WWE’s best audiences for years.

I imagine they saw that match as utter disrespect, and a flat-out insult to their intelligence if WWE thought programming Roman with Jinder would get Reigns cheered. I think the best guys for Reigns to fight are great wrestlers who get cheered, that aren’t going to get told to use a headlock over half the match in the main event. This situation has gotten worse than I ever imagined, and Summerslam will be the next chapter. If Brock vs Roman happens, the match will drown in all the waves the crowd will be doing during it.

  1. Will AJ Styles Get To Main Event A Show With The WWE Title Again?

Quiet as kept, AJ Styles has been WWE Champion in excess of 220 days. He hasn’t had a signature match in that time, but he has proved to be a stabilizing force for the championship since the disaster of 2017 that was Wyatt-Orton-Mahal. However, I’m starting to wonder, exactly when will he get top billing on a big show with that title? Every co-branded event this year, (all of them except Fastlane) Styles has been out of the main event whether due to the finishes of the matches, or getting slotted underneath gimmicks or Brock Lesnar.

When the WWE title opened the Royal Rumble it was an eye opener, and everything since has made me think, “Yeah, Styles is never main-eventing over Reigns, Brock, a gimmick, or the Universal title.” Freed from his underwhelming feud with Nakamura, Styles has a new opponent in Rusev, and it would be a welcome surprise if they were given the main event at Extreme Rules. However, it doesn’t seem likely.

  1. Will WWE Allow Great Matches To Happen On The Main Roster Regularly?

The WWE MOTY discussion on the main roster has been desert dry. The environment for great matches to come from simply hasn’t existed for a few reasons. Great wrestlers, matching up with sorry ones puts a lid on top end potential most times, and the few times we’ve gotten the matchups, they’ve been booked a certain way. I never thought WWE could have 5 Styles vs Nakamura matches and not produce a single classic match. The much more compelling MOTY argument in WWE comes from NXT, where they have hit the ground running since Almas vs Gargano. NXT is smoking the main roster on every level like a pack of Marlboro Reds, and with these marathon PPV’s, time isn’t the issue. I won’t even bring outside companies into the discussion, look back at WWE 2016. Where is that now?

  1. Does Seth Rollins Momentum Mean Anything?

One of WWE’s great hopes of this year has been Seth Rollins. Freed from the restrictions of the tag team division, he’s been on a warpath in opening matches, producing the majority of the highlights from WWE’s main roster in 2018. With his momentum ready for the final push back up the card as a face, will WWE actually exercise striking while the iron is hot? The sad answer is we have so much to point to in recent history of WWE giving guys the green light past the peak of when it would have been most effective. A Dean Ambrose title win in June 2016 didn’t mean the same thing as it would have in Jan. or March of 2016. A Braun Strowman title win won’t mean what it would have in summer 2017. In WWE, momentum rarely interrupts plans, and that stinks.

  1. Will Any NXT Call-up Make An Impact?

The NXT Call-ups this year have been wasted, and barely even used on television so far. Andrade Cien Almas and the Authors Of Pain have been spending Vince McMahon’s money while being sidelined. Ember Moon has looked good in almost any opportunity she’s had, but I don’t see a storyline for her on the horizon. Drew McIntyre is being kept in the oven at the moment, the IIconics haven’t really done much, No Way Jose is an opening match geek, and if there’s someone I’m missing feel free to let me know. Who will break out among this pack? Why is the transition from NXT leading to so many of them ending up NOT BOOKED? While NXT the promotion is hotter than ever, a feeling is starting to sweep over fans that maybe they should stay there and be the alternative.

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Rich Latta is a writer for LordsofPain.net & host of the One Nation Radio Podcast on www.SocialSuplex.com  Check his Latta’s Lariato New Japan work out there. He appears monthly on Chad Matthews’ podcast The Doc Says after PPVs. GFX by @SirMikeFergus Give him a follow on Twitter, @RichLatta32 or drop him a comment below. If you like hip-hop, check out his music here. www.Soundcloud.com/RichLatta Look Him Up On Youtube As Well.

 

 

 

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