Dave Fenichel, aka The Eternal Optimist, is a kitty punching, baby stealing, abominable excuse for a columnist. His excessively Optimist views on the world of professional wrestling are nauseating at best and deplorable at worst. If you hate yourself and are a glutton for punishment, can you follow him on Twitter @FFFightLeague
QUESTION OF THE DAY: Did Summerslam 2018 Exceed Your Expectations? Why or Why Not?
What a crazy weekend eh? I’d love to do a deep dive into NXT Takeover Brooklyn, but I’m not going to do that today. Telling my readers that I thought it was one of the best shows in North American Pay Per View history isn’t a novel take and I don’t think I’d find many people who would be willing to disagree with me.
Instead – I’m here to talk about Summerslam. The degree of vitriol that the IWC in large is spewing towards this show is a complete head scratcher to me. I thought it was an absolutely tremendous spectacle, an event that should serve as the blueprint for all Big 4 shows going forward.
Without further ado:
The Eternal Optimist Presents: Summerslam 2018 Was Spectacular – Now Eat Your Boogers Jerks.
I’m not really hear for your insane arguments about why every single match isn’t an epic barn burner from bell to bell. If you’re looking for that in your wrestling product, the WWE is not for you. NXT and NJPW are both doing that as well or better than any company has ever done it before.
Allow me to draw you an apt comparison. I’d like to think that I’m a pretty popular columnist in this neck of the woods. My comments section is a banger for each and every article that I write. My articles get far more comments than the news stories that LOP posts.
That would lead one to believe that my articles are more popular than the news articles on the site. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The news articles get TWENTY TIMES the hits that even my most popular articles get!
The reason for this? While my articles attract a super diehard group of wrestling fans to make their voices heard, they still represent a vocal minority. There are MASSES of site supporters who simply come to read the news, then leave without commenting. We’ll call this group the silent majority.
If you don’t see where I’m going with this already – here it is. The crazy passionate fans that hijack shows and complain about the product online are the WWE’s equivalent of my crazy readers. They make a lot of noise but don’t move the needle in the same way that the casuals do. For every diehard person ruining at event, there are twenty people who love the idea that Roman Reigns just overcame all of the odds. The truth hurts, even for me.
Thus, the WWE has to do more than just put on eight 20-25 minute mat-wrestling classics. They need to entertain the masses. Last night’s show did just that.
The Great 2018 Universal Title Heist.
How can I possibly start anywhere but here? The WWE pulled off MAGIC last night. After years of trying to tiptoe around the issue, they successfully put Roman Reigns’ over Brock Lesnar. Not only did they do so, but they were able to get to the finish line with little to no hijacking from the Mom’s Basement Dwellers.
The inclusion of Strowman at the beginning was simply brilliant. His presence allowed the idiots to buy into the idea that they were getting anything other than a clean Roman victory and celebration to end the show. This kept the noise down to a minimum. Sure, there was a short-lived “You Both Suck” chant, but the majority of what I heard were a) cheers for Roman, b) boos for Lesnar and c) a dueling “Lets Go Roman – Roman Sucks” chant. Mission accomplished.
The match was an entertaining ten minutes that provided every bit of the spectacle that one should expect from a show of this nature. Where Roman Reigns goes from here is a question for another day, but it CANNOT BE ARGUED that the main event product last night was anything other than a smash hit.
The Women Provided the Wrestling, the Storyline and The Spectacle.
I want to see three things on all major shows – great wrestling, solid storylines and tremendous spectacle. The WWE Women provided me with all three last night.
Going into the Smackdown Women’s Triple Threat Match, I felt that it had a chance to overachieve but would ultimately be undone by unnecessary shenanigans. I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. Instead of ten minutes of Charlotte and Becky not being able to get out of each other’s way prior to a dusty finish, we saw some of the best wrestling from the Women’s Division in the last two years. Carmella is limited in the ring, but the WWE did a great job of hiding her last night while Charlotte and Becky were allowed to tear down the house. Charlotte’s spinning plancha onto the floor was absolutely breathtaking, but this match was much more than high spots. It featured great chain wrestling, tremendous false finishes and had me on the edge of my seat the entire time.
That same match brought with it a tremendous storyline – the Becky Lynch heel turn. It was executed FLAWLESSLY! Save your breath with the “Becky is so beloved she can’t turn heel narrative”. You’re a crazy person if you think that’s an issue. The only thing that should prevent a heel turn is the potential damage to merchandise sales. Becky doesn’t sell merch. It’s a non-issue. On the other hand, the BEST heel turns are done by people who were previously BELOVED. It’s supposed to hurt when someone turns heel. You are SUPPOSED to feel betrayed. People LOVE Becky and her heel turn is going to punch them right in the feels. I’ve heard nothing but good things about her pre-WWE work as a heel, and I’m looking forward to where the WWE decides to go with her.
And of course, there’s Ronda Rousey. I was wavering on what I thought would happen with the Raw Women’s Title Match. My biggest concern stemmed from the idea that it was too soon to make Rousey champ. I was wrong and I’m glad that the WWE knew better than I did. Having Ronda absolutely SQUASH Alexa Bliss was the no-brainer correct decision. Ronda’s entire aura is built around her legitimacy. Alexa Bliss is a cowardly heel – one who isn’t defined or affected by wins and losses. In a real fight, Ronda smashes her in two minutes. That’s exactly what happened last night. There was no reason to create something that just wasn’t there. Making Rousey a dominant champion is good for business, and doing so provided a scintillating moment that will be remembered for a long time to come.
Spectacular Outings From the IWC’S Favorites.
For those of you who want to b!tch and moan about the product, six of your absolute favorites were given ample time in featured matches to bring the noise. That’s exactly what they did.
Seth Rollins v Dolph Ziggler was the hottest of all hot openers. Much as was the case with the Smackdown Women’s Triple Threat Match, I felt that the outside happenings with Dean Ambrose and Drew McIntyre could overshadow the spectacular in-ring happenings between Dean and Dolph. Again, I was wrong. These two tore into each other and had a match that easily exceeded their previous efforts. My god, that inverted superplex/brainbuster combo from Rollins was a sight to behold. Ambrose and McIntyre factored into the finish, but their involvement came off more as the subtle finishing touches to a masterpiece rather than the defining strokes of a Paint Shop Pro creation.
I’ll never understanding the moaning and complaining about a non-finish either. Samoa Joe and A.J. Styles had the match of the night and quite possibly the main roster match of the year. Who cares that it ended in a disqualification? This was their first WWE encounter and it ALWAYS felt like the beginning rather than the end to a feud. If the story is going to continue, why would ANYONE be cheering for a conclusive finish? It comes off as illogical thinking from irrational people. Myself and the other rational people can see that match for exactly what it was – a superb athletic display that left me wanting so much more.
I’d be lying if I said that Daniel Bryan and The Miz reached the heights that I had hoped. That cannot be helped – Bryan simply isn’t the same in-ring worker that he was pre-injury. He’s still working off the ring-rust, and the standard has been raised since he was last an active competitor. Nonetheless, I thought that he and The Miz had a very compelling four-star effort last night. Most important of all, the right guy won. Why is it important that The Miz won? The feud is a LOCK to continue now. I’m going to treat their match as the appetizer in what I hope to be an outstanding five course meal.
Entertainment Over Wrestling is a Good Thing!
As I mentioned in my opener, the idea that every match needs to be a barnburner is insane and not realistic. Only a small portion of the audience cares about in-ring work. That’s why matches like Braun v KO, The New Day v The Bludgeon Brothers and Finn Balor v Baron Corbin were EXCELLENT additions to the card.
The layperson that watches wrestling will soon become exhausted after 4 or 5 classic matches in a row. There needs to be a few palate cleansers that provide entertainment value while giving the audience a chance to catch their breath.
The New Day handing out pancakes while the entire crowd chants “New Day Rocks” serves that purpose. Braun Strowman rolling over KO like he was Grave Digger at a monster truck rally does too. Finn Balor as The Demon? Sign me up – that is an act that kids will be drawn to.
Pacing is important on these mega shows, and matches such as these three are just as essential and important to the overall presentation as your Samoa Joe v A.J. Styles and your Daniel Bryan v The Miz. The only person who doesn’t realize that….is you.
That’s a wrap kids. NXT Takeover was amazing. Summerslam was awe-inspiring. All is right in the world of The Eternal Optimist. Thank you for reading. Sound off below!
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