Welcome wrestling fans to this week's Slammer Jabber, your look at the big news in the past seven days in Pro Wrestling, as well as my views, reviews, and general waffle on where everything is since last Thursday. It's been a relative quiet week, but I suspect this is the dreaded calm before the storm. Lets kick off with Raw from this past Monday...
In a fairly slow news week, Raw has been the big focus this week. It’s really interesting that in the wake of Roman Reigns’ wellness violation and subsequent suspension that the company decided to acknowledge this on Raw. Seth Rollins had his apology tweet on the Titantron, calling it an embarrassment, with Stephanie McMahon reinforcing these remarks, and Dean Ambrose essentially half-heartedly defending him by insisting Reigns stay in the title match at Battleground. This really is an unprecedented approach from WWE, as normally wellness violations are not acknowledged within the kayfabe world of the WWE Universe. As such, this is pretty much uncharted waters for the company, and it remains to be seen how they move forward with this. There’s surely no way they can keep him from being a defacto heel at this stage, and his reception on his return is likely to be even more ferocious then when he left. As such, I’m hoping the company decide to steer into the skid, and let him be a bit more of a bad-ass. I’m not suggesting a full out heel turn, but maybe a more ruthless, remorseless tweener Reigns who doesn’t care what the fans think. Bizarrely, that sort of quasi-heel behaviour could be exactly the thing to endear him to the audience, although the cynic in me suggest that they will try and paint him as the reformed citizen and the victim of a hectic schedule. I hope not, but there has been no sign thus far of them giving up on Reigns as John Cena v2.0.
In other news coming out of Raw, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins were both made to look really strong, picking up wins over AJ Styles and John Cena respectively. I know both of those victories were the result of distraction finishes designed to keep the AJ Styles vs John Cena feud ticking over, but I’m glad they are keeping both strong and not messing around with DQ finishes. Cena and Styles also both looked good here, which is nice and helps forward all the big feuds ahead of Battleground.
The other two major talking points for my money were the return of The Miz with Maryse, and a surprise title match with Kane. The angle was good, and Miz continues to be the best pure heel on the roster, but at the same time this match may have been the worst match on WWE television this year. I honestly believe Kane should retire, as he is nowhere near the worker he once was, and these two are totally incompatible.
Finally, we have The Wyatts and New Day feud. I really enjoyed New Day at first, but they are so overexposed at this point that I would happily never see them again. I touched last week on the issues with this feud, but it seems we are actually going down the route of Xavier Woods being possessed by Bray Wyatt, which is really hokey and cartoonish, and something I hoped we would avoid. This either ends with The Wyatts looking silly as Xavier was faking, or the whole story being utter garbage, and featuring in the annals of wrestle-crap.
Suplex City 2k17
Earlier this week Brock Lesnar, current WWE and at least for now UFC competitor, was announced as the cover star for WWE’s next game in its 2k franchise, WWE2k17. This presumably explains the signs for Suplex City on the Goldberg promo a few weeks ago, although I can’t see there being much call for a match between the two given their stinker at Wrestlemania 20, and Goldberg's age/limited abilities. However, one thing this does signal for me is that the UFC deal is definitely a one-time thing and Brock is clearly still very much in WWE’s plans for the near future. Being a cover star for the game is no guarantee of anything, but if you are WWE there is no hope in hell you are putting a guy on the cover of one of your biggest revenue drivers without him being someone who is going to feature prominently moving forward. Presumably, this also means WWE have no concerns on Lesnar losing to Mark Hunt at UFC 200, or certainly no concerns on how such a loss might affect his gimmick in WWE.
The man they call Vader, he feels no pain, he fears no Osprey
Ignore the misleading title, this is going somewhere. As I noted a few weeks back British sensation Will Osprey, winner of this year's NJPW BOSJ tournament, came into some flack from wrestling legend Vader after his acrobatic match with Ricochet. While I covered this controversy in detail a few weeks back, I suspect we all thought that was the end of that. However, Revolution Pro Wrestling (RPW) have gone ahead and made the match for their August 12 show at the York Hall in London, Osprey vs Vader. Now, while I doubt there is legitimate heat between the two it is very interesting to see a company innovate in this way, and experiment with building a feud via Twitter in order to draw fans. RPW promoter Andy Quildan has built the company into one of the biggest organisations on the British scene, and I for one hope this draws even more eyes onto a fantastic product. Also, if Vader is able to pull out some of the old magic this match could be both brutal and spectacular. Certainly one to get along to if you're in the London area that night.
Brand Extension speculation
As we edge closer and closer to the WWE Brand extension, and the draft to split the rosters there has been an increasing amount of speculation about who will be in charge, what we can expect from the split and how this is all going to tumble out. What we do know, as of this week is that there are indeed plans for a ramp up in the number of PPV-style events to almost two a month, including the return of events such as Backlash, and Clash of the Champions (replacing Night of Champions); and that there will also be two Chief Operating Officers (in story line at least) running each of the two shows similar to the old General Manager roles. I’m still not 100% sold, but I’m glad we are getting more information as the weeks come along, even if some items such as the PPV schedule came from leaked documents. It should also be noted on Raw this week Dean Ambrose’s title was no longer referred to as the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but the WWE Championship. This might be nothing, but it certainly seems odd for a company so focused on branding to make this change without any deliberate direction, which may mean we are indeed getting a second world title for the blue brand. I’m sure we’ll have more on this in the coming weeks.
Well that's it for this week, keep an eye on Screenjabber for all things movies, games, DVDs and Blu-rays and I will be back next Thursday with all the biggest stories from the world of professional wrestling. Until then, in the immortal words of Leo Kruger, Ta-Ta.