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Heels of Wrestling Episode 17: Can WWE Be Elite Again?

Episode 17: Can WWE Be Elite Again?

The Heels give their final opinions and predictions for WWE’s Survivor Series 2017 and NXT Takeover: Wargames card. We then debate if WWE can compete with the juggernaut of Bullet Club and The Elite.

If you want to support Heels along with us, make sure to subscribe to our channel @TheHoWPod on Twitter Instagram and  Facebook.

Heels of Wrestling Episode 16: Jericho and Omega

Episode 16: Jericho and Omega

A dream match between Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega will take place at Wrestle Kingdom next year. Will it live up to the hype? And what last-minute changes to Survivor Series are WWE contemplating?

As always, like, share, and leave a comment or argue with me below. Then make sure to subscribe to our channels @Baselinetimes and @TheHoWPod on Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook.

Heels of Wrestling Episode 15: Surviving the Wargames

Episode 15: Surviving the Wargames

Next weekend all of WWE will be at war. We’ll have the battle of the big brands when Raw and Smackdown collide on WWE Survivor Series, and NXT Wargames looks to put the best of NXT against one another. The Heels go into their predictions for Survivor Series and NXT Wargame cards and whether the cards will live up to expectations. The Heels also air their grievances with WWE creative. Who will come out victorious over the weekend of Wargames?

As always, like, share, and leave a comment or argue with me below. Then make sure to subscribe to our channels @Baselinetimes and @TheHoWPod on Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook.

Heels of Wrestling Episode 14: WWE TLC 2017 Review and Survivor Series Intro

Episode 14: WWE TLC 2017 and Survivor Series Intro

WWE TLC 2017 has now come and gone. It was a night that had drastic changes due to superstars Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt being out for the night due to medical reasons. We were gifted with last-minute substitutes in AJ Styles to step in for the latter and WWE Raw GM Kurt Angle to step in for the former.

Tables, Ladders, and Chairs 2017 also had the debut of Asuka to the main roster. Did her debut go well? Were Styles and Balor match too sweet? Was Angle able to survive the carnage of a TLC match after all those years gone from the ring? Find out on our weekly show.

 

Highlights from WWE Raw TLC 2017

The Shield at TLC 2017

The Shield is victorious at TLC 2017

Finn and AJ at TLC 2017

Too Sweet!

As always, like, share, and leave a comment or argue with me below. Then make sure to subscribe to our channels @Baselinetimes and @TheHoWPod on Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook.

 

Heels of Wrestling Episode 13: Hell in a Cell 2017

Episode 13: Hell in a Cell 2017

Hosts Markus, Bobby, and Wes cover WWE Smackdown Live’s 2017 Hell in a Cell PPV. We then breakdown The Shield reuniting on raw this week, Asuka’s debut opponent, more questionable choices involving the Wyatt family, and the future of 205 Live.

Follow the Heels of Wrestling on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @TheHowPod. Make sure to like and subscribe to our content, and leave any comments you have on the channel below. Support your local Heels!

Hell in a Cell KO and Shane McMahon

Shane McMahon and Kevin Owens fighting in Hell in a Cell

Polynesian Prince Interview

Polynesian Prince Interview

The Heels are back with another interview, this time with Polynesian Prince, a wrestler out of the Coastal Wrestling Federation in Pensacola, FL. Prince talks about growing up in the Anoa’i family, starting his wrestling promotion CWF, and his opinions on the current state of wrestling.

Make sure to subscribe to The Heels of Wrestling Podcast on iTunes. Then follow us on Instagram and Twitter @TheHoWPod.

Markus X. Murden

Senior Editor/ The Heels of Wrestling

Heels of Wrestling Episode 12: WWE No Mercy 2017

Episode 12: WWE No Mercy 2017

WWE No Mercy 2017 is Tonight September 24, 2017, on WWE Network Live.

Heel Predictions

Adam Gregory: Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, Nia Jax, Jason Jordan, Neville, Finn Balor, Elias

Bobby Nagel: Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, Alexa Bliss, Jason Jordan, Enzo Amore, Bray Wyatt, Elias

Markus Murden: Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, Nia Jax, Jason Jordan, Neville, Bray Wyatt, Elias

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WWE’s Aesthetics Need Desperate Help

WWE’s Aesthetics Need some Help

I remember when I was younger watching The Undertaker and Kane come down to the ring. Their entrances made me think these guys were talented, and more importantly, bigger than life. Whether it was the haunting silhouette of Undertaker skulking down the ring, or Kane igniting the arena, these entrances mattered. There was a point that WWE knew aesthetics matter to the business, and it’s now time for some changes in that department. A Superstar’s entrance can take the average and make it extraordinary.

Bring Back Pyrotechnics for Superstars

Shawn Michael's Wrestlemania Entrance

This entrance is completely different without the fireworks

WWE currently has some budget concerns for the company, and one of the first things to be cut was pyrotechnics for their superstars. No more mortars are going off during your ring entrance, a tremendous shame.

It’s awkward watching Superstars who once had pyro behind them pause at that moment, and nothing happens. Could you imagine the Dudley Boys coming down to the ring without their signature rocket going off? Goldberg just walking out onto the ramp, boringly? Well, I didn’t want to, but it’s 2017, and I’ve now had to experience these uninspiring entrances. It’s worse now that no WWE superstar comes down to the ring with fanfare. I can understand removing them from weekly shows. There have been burning, and fire incidents in the past and consistent use is expensive.

However, removing them from PPV entrances only plays into the feeling of normalcy that many of the B show PPV’s have felt like this year. No amount of neon computer graphics and L.E.D.’s can make up for the epic visage of coming out to explosions.

Bring Back Titantron Videos

WWE used to play video of their Superstars on the Titantron before their matches. These highlight reels could be used to remind fans of the greatness of their favorite superstar. They get people hype, so why take them away?

Plus they just reinforce the already iconic entrance of some superstars with their memories. WWE superstars are feeling more mannequin by the year, give them back some personal flavor in their entrance.

 

Move the Raw Announcers’ Table Back Ringside

WWE Raw announce table

Why is this over here now?

I don’t know whose idea it was to move the Raw announcers’ table to up and alongside the ramp, but they need to get the ax. The announcers are no longer near the action, the ring feels shallower, and now there’s a critical piece of the “ring” missing. Aesthetically speaking, ringside feels empty, and there’s a lack of depth to the arena without the table at ringside.

Putting someone through the announcers’ table is a great spot. Banging someone’s head against the announcers’ table is a great move, and brings the action closer to the crowd. Without the announcers’ table at ringside, the Raw ring feels a lot smaller. And now the action has to stop and walk all the way up the ramp for the same spots that used to feel organic? No thanks.

Let’s move the table back to its natural position and bring back some natural ringside interactions. The announce team doesn’t need to feel like a separate entity than the wrestlers and the action inside the ring.

Make Promotional Posters Fit the Event

I already know who these people are, I don’t need constant reminders.

There was a time when WWE put out promo posters that weren’t just pictures of the roster and a date on it. Facial recognition is probably at an all-time high in WWE. Everyone’s gimmick is themselves, so having a little mysticism about the event itself can’t be so bad.

Not every match on the card is a marquee affair, and cramming everyone on the poster means that nobody on the poster is exceptional. WWE is taking the Disney Marvel approach to making posters. It doesn’t take that far back to find creative posters for PPV’s like Judgement Day, Armageddon, and others that bring intrigue to the event.

Chris Jericho Armageddon Poster

Y2J Ending the World? I’m okay with it.

See? Why is Jericho pressing that button? Nowadays it would just be Jericho and the 15 other superstars on that poster. No intrigue, no theme, just the presentation of wrestling.

 

As always, like and share, and feel free to leave a comment or argue with me below. Then make sure to subscribe to our channels @Baselinetimes and @TheHoWPod on Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook.

Markus X. Murden, Esq.

Senior Editor/Heels of Wrestling

@MXMurden on Twitter and Instagram

 

 

 

WWE’s Midcard Hell

WWE’s Midcard Hell

Back in the day, being in WWE’s Midcard was just a test to see if a WWE Superstar is ready for a title push. It used to be obvious what direction a Superstar is heading in the company based on how they are performing in the ladder leading up to a title shot. That’s how the system used to be set up.

The current state of WWE’s midcard is a crapshoot. Superstars like Tye Dillinger, Baron Corbin, and Rusev seem to be perpetually going nowhere in the midcard. While other superstars are given a fast track or skip it all together like Jinder Mahal, AJ Styles, and the obvious next up Bobby Roode. The choice to propel a superstar can be because a Superstar’s talent and overness with the crowd is undeniable, such as with Styles and Roode. However, these same qualities can leave someone forever wandering the midcard like Zayn or Rusev.

How can WWE fix this?

Introduce and Maintain Strong Characters

Braun's hand raised standing over James Ellsworth

Strowman destroys James Ellsworth

Currently, WWE has a lot of excellent wrestlers. The current WWE rosters may be the best collection of pure wrestling ability WWE has assembled. However, this has lead to probably an era of less than stellar characters. And like it or not, character plays a huge part in how Superstars get out of the midcard.

Over the past year, Braun Strowman has exploded onto the Raw Main event scene. Before this major push, Braun was just a lackey to Bray Wyatt and wasn’t getting any character development. When Braun was finally able to cut promos well enough, and show who the Monster Among Men is, did he become a fan favorite? Yes, and this was accomplished through great backstage segments with Reigns, great in-ring monster work, and other antics that set him apart from the crowd.

If you look at the midcard now, it just seems to be guys who are good at wrestling. It’s hard to differentiate Dillinger from Aiden English when all their main card duties consist of quick matches and even faster promos. Even strong characters coming in get washed down like the Kanellis couple. Without a strong impression of who these wrestlers are, fans aren’t going to be clamoring to see them holding titles anytime soon.

No Natural Flow

The Maharaja

There’s no natural flow to the midcard in the current WWE landscape. Superstars get inconsistent motivations, pushes, and angles that hinder their character. For example, someone being never pushed, such as a Zayn or Cesaro. Or it could come in the manner of a superstar reaching the main event and then get buried back down to the midcard, ala Bray and Rusev.

Currently, there seems to be a tight bottleneck on the titles in WWE. Even after the superstar shakeup earlier in the year, the upper echelons on each Brand mostly stayed the same. Of recent times Jinder Mahal, of all Superstars, is the only undercard superstar to break into the title scene and not just be a put over the star. There’s been such a tight ceiling on the WWE main event that most guys who would be in the title picture have been paired off into tag teams.

WWE needs to restore a natural pipeline to the title picture. With the current bottleneck access to the main event, the once decent flow of WWE’s midcard is a thing of the past. I would love to see the King of the Ring return as a signpost for Superstar ascension. Anything at this point to show the progression of a Superstar into a title match, aside from a multi-man match win, would be a vast improvement to the system.

Abandonment

On top of things on screen being confusing, some storylines and superstars are either abandoned or go straight up missing.

Do you remember when Breezango’s office was left a mess, and Breezango was going to reveal who did the crime? Well, who was it? We as the audience will probably never know. Remember Curt Hawkins who they made a huge deal about coming to Smackdown? He’s jobbing somewhere. What about the recent Zayn and Mike Kanellis feud? That went on for two weeks and was then just left flat at the end with no payoff.

The Wyatt family’s break up at the beginning of the year was a hot angle. The fans were begging for Luke Harper to get a push, and he gets one match against Erik Rowan, and we haven’t seen either of them since. Dillinger was off TV for months, and it’s happened with Apollo Crews, The Ascension, American Alpha, and countless others. Writing either takes them into corners that go no where or they just get dropped from the scene, sacrifices to the midcard maw.

WWE needs to realized abandoning superstars kills them for a long time. A simple repackaging can keep their heat up, just look at the Miztourage. If done correctly, this can even be used as a package to catapult a Superstar to the main event scene, think what Evolution did for Randy Orton and Batista. The point is, it’s better to be a lackey on screen, then to be dropped altogether and have nothing to do, ever.

What to do?

WWE's Midcard in one match

WWE’s Midcard in a battle royal

Some fans have argued that it could be WWE just has too many superstars, and this jumbled midcard is just the result of this. There’s some merit to that, and the brand extensions have only seemed to exacerbate the problem somehow. Making NXT a third branch could free up some space, but then that pushes out their midcard. The problem would only become worse from there as then how do you showcase the new talent properly?

I believe that WWE can turn this sandpit of a midcard into something if they just tightened up their writing and realized the pitfalls they create for some of these guys. In an era where characters are weaker than before, it takes a real motivation for the fans to get behind someone. But if WWE continues to abandon, given no character, and bottle-necked the midcard from title opportunities the Hell will just continue.

As always, like, leave a comment or argue with me below. Then make sure to subscribe to our channels @Baselinetimes and @TheHoWPod on Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook.

Markus X. Murden, Esq.

Senior Editor/Heels of Wrestling

@MXMurden on Twitter and Instagram

 

 

Shinsuke and The Club in WWE: A Retrospective

Has WWE Done a Good Job with the Signees from New Japan?

Last year, after Wrestle Kingdom 10, it was announced that AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson would be leaving the New Japan Pro Wrestling promotion and heading off to WWE. The superstars would eventually be phased out of the promotion, each in their distinct way.

AJ Styles debuted as the third entrant in the 2016 Royal Rumble match. Shinsuke would make his debut on NXT later that year in a classic against Sami Zayn. Gallows and Anderson debuted on Raw later that year jumping The Usos after a match. So how have their journeys progressed since then? Let’s look at a quick review of each and see where WWE can move forward with these superstars.

AJ Styles

Styles winning the US title in Madison Square Garden

AJ Styles current WWE Us Champion

Styles had arguably the best first year of anyone in a while to debut in the WWE. Debuting at number 3 in the Royal Rumble, it didn’t take long for Styles to catapult to the title scene in WWE and have strong runs with his belts. AJ to date has 1 WWE Championship title reign and 2 US Title reigns, 1 being his current one. Styles has racked up classic matches with Roman Reigns, John Cena, Chris Jericho and more. He’s also participated in important multi-man matches such as the Elimination Chamber, Money in the Bank and the Royal Rumble. 

AJ Styles is incredibly over with the fans. His incredible mic word and elite level in-ring abilities, have him in a special class in the WWE. No matter what he does, he just gets cheered. His current US title run has him as the face against Baron Corbin, so hopefully WWE has realized this.

Hopefully, this feud doesn’t drag out long, and I don’t see AJ dropping the belt to Corbin. I’d love to see to AJ drop the belt to someone like Rusev at the Royal Rumble to free him up for a WWE Title match at Wrestlemania against someone else on this list. AJ was the best WWE Champion since the brand split, and having him back in that main event scene is crucial, especially after this cycle with Jinder is over.

Aside from some weird reason that Styles and Kevin Owens can’t have an average match, Styles has had great feuds this year. His debut promos against Cena were fantastic with their meta references, and by giving Styles that freedom, WWE showed a lot of trust in their future mega star. There’s not much WWE could have improved on in his run. I just hope to see the WWE Championship back to him soon.

Grade: A

 

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson

The Good Brothers

Gallows and Anderson are former Raw Tag Team Champions…and their run was short and pretty much unmemorable. The current situation for these two is a shame because these nerd bashers are great in the ring and on the mic. It could be due to a crowded Raw team division, but I can’t buy that when the two teams at the top weren’t even together when The Club debuted.

The Good Brothers debuted as the backup to Styles against Cena and his burial powers. They appeared like they would be booked strong, but then The Club lost to Cena, Enzo, and Cass. It’s been rocky waters ever since for the duo. For months it appeared like they were meant to do nothing but lose to The New Day to extend their title run. Then after some wacky matches, they were finally able to win the Titles in a pre-show match with two referees. It’s as great as it sounds.

The Balor club needs to reunite and just become a dominant stable. If WWE wants to tease a shield reunion, they’ll need a dominant force to go against and what better than Balor Club? The Shield vs. Balor Club sells itself and could fill a good few PPV’s with fantastic matches. Currently, Gallows and Anderson may be creeping back into the title picture with Cesaro and Sheamus heading out. WWE may also be leading them into another losing feud with the newly reunited Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. This booking would make them yet another fodder for the more over tag team. I just hope the future looks better for these two.

Grade: D

Shinsuke Nakamura

Shinsuke Nakamura

The King of Strong Style

I’d like to start off by saying both of his nicknames WWE have given him are horrible. The Artist and The Rock Star? Nah, no thanks. The once King of Strong Style has appeared to be a mere mortal in WWE.

Shinsuke amazed the WWE crowd with a classic match against Sami Zayn in his debut. A bonified Match of the year Candidate out the gate showed the WWE Universe what Shinsuke could do. The question was how much of Shinsuke’s style would translate to the WWE?

In NXT Shinsuke put on spectacular matches with Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Zayn, and Owens. These are all guys who came up on the independent scene and are used to wrestling outside of the WWE style. You could tell their styles meshed well together and brought out the best in one another. Shinsuke was able to capture the NXT title twice during his tenure in the brand.

However, since coming to the main roster, Shinsuke has fallen flat in most of his bouts. His feud with Corbin was annoying, and his debut program with Ziggler was nothing to write home about. Recently his match with Randy Orton on Smackdown showed that he was ready for a title run. Maybe now that he’s got another title shot, we’ll see a rejuvenized Shinsuke? I’m just looking forward to his horizon of matches with the likes of Styles, Reigns, and more. After a dull beginning on the main roster, it can only go up for Shinsuke. Due to his natural charisma and talent, Shinsuke has the most upside potential on this list if WWE can finally awaken the beast he is.

Grade: NXT: A / Main Roster: D

Final Thoughts

WWE hasn’t exactly translated their huge signs into major players in WWE. Aj Styles has received the best booking of the group. The lack of sustained title runs and secure booking on the main roster has kept the rest of these guys from actually living up to where the fans know they could be. We could just be in a lull for the group as a whole.  And maybe WWE surprises us with a Balor Club reunion soon.

 

Markus X. Murden, Esq.

Senior Editor/The Heels of Wrestling

Follow @TheHoWPod and @MXMurden on Twitter and Instagram