So WWE Payback is in the books and it was pretty amazing, all things considered. The main event pitting the Shield against Evolution was kind of disgusting at a few points (In my old age I apparently have a queasy stomach, and the lets beat the shit out of Roman Reigns with sticks when we’ve clearly won the match point in the proceedings made me angry). Bray Wyatt and John Cena had the bout they should have had last month and Dave Meltzer called it a match of the year candidate. So that’s good. Both these matches made no sense based on the rules involved but hey, complaining about wrestling making sense is a fool’s errand.
Except in NXT.
NXT Takeover, from last Thursday, was almost from bell to bell just the best thing I could possibly imagine as a wrestling fan. The worst part was how it made me angry.
NXT, if you don’t know, is WWE’s developmental program, which used to air on Hulu and (I think) currently airs exclusively on the WWE Network. It is pretty great, because it is just a wrestling show. Guys and gals will be introduced, you learn their motivations (above and beyond winning the NXT Championship, motivations they always have), and then they fight about it. No one is ever firing anybody’s wife. Every competitor wants to be the best, and if they are given the opportunity they fight to do so.
Natalya (who lacks a last name for no reason) and Charlotte (who lacks a last name for reasons that border on insane) had an NXT Women’s Title match that had (the admittedly loyal) crowd on their feet because it was a great, great match. See this match. Find it. Women should have last names because of it. Sami Zayn (the former El Generico) and Tyler Breeze had a match that broke me like three times with happiness. I actually stood up with glee and shouted watching it. Tyler Breeze also now has a 21st century Sexy Boy theme I can’t yet buy, but I will. Adrian Neville and Tyson Kidd went almost thirty minutes and it was good stuff.
The whole fucking time it just made me angry. WWE developmental at this point is training wrestlers for a sport that does not exist. When they call these people up they just put them right in to four-minute RAW matches, at a time when they have no depth and everybody on that show sans like five guys (all male) have no credibility. They’ve called up Paige (current Divas Champ) and inserted her right into this rotation and they’ve called up Emma and inserted her right into Santino. Both these women were having consistent high level matches on NXT, and both of them are flailing at different levels on the main roster because the main roster doesn’t value wrestling in general, and it fucking hates it for their women. Getting Paige over is simple, and it involves her dominating women in competitive matches. Instead she has been winning in boring flukes near the end, and I’m confident we’re about to hear how Paige failed to get over.
This is awful (and stupid) for the women, but it isn’t much better for the men. Actually, screw the men. They have a women’s division. They now have a number of credible women wrestlers thanks to Sara Del Ray (former independent wrestling god and current WWE trainer). They have five hours of television to fill just ignoring Main Event or whatever. The fact that they keep their last name lacking women from any prominent role on their programming isn’t just sexist, it is idiotic and wasteful. Paige and Emma could fill twenty minutes of a RAW just fine. If they built them up they could do that and it would work, but they don’t do that and they have no intention of doing that.
Their intentions were the bug in the boo of this whole show. The four guys in the important matches were Tyler Breeze, Sami Zayn, Tyson Kidd, and Adrian Neville. The things necessary to get any of these (small) guys over will almost certainly not happen, so them working to give me great matches just felt sort of sad and empty. In Tyson Kidd’s case he’s already failed despite his talent and is probably only still here due to Total Divas (they are reportedly repackaging him as some kind of Canadian luchadore. I do not feel like I’m going out on a limb to say they will not get behind this). The other three guys are all most likely gonna flounder, though Sami Zayn is just so great that they might bring him in with something, and even if they don’t he might Daniel Bryan if he sticks around.
This is the problem though. Developmental currently rewards the wrestlers for developing their skills as both wrestlers and characters and then almost invariably it thrust’s them on the roster without letting them wrestle on the roster (and thus on TV), and then creative blames the wrestlers when their characters flounder. When I watch NXT I consider it a wrestling company because that is what they offer me. When I watch RAW… I’m not sure what RAW is. But it is definitely a show that gives Paige no offense and fluke wins to get over and this in a microcosm is why RAW does an inferior job getting her over. The developmental show often feels like they are developing people for nothing, and that leads to poor Big E (no Langston) wondering what the hell happened.
The larger point is that RAW is almost invariably devoid of wrestling. They almost never let new guys have long, competitive matches, and without that they have to get over based on their characters, and because their characters are broad WWE writer based shit, hey, NOBODY IS OVER. Yet then they act surprised they need Kane to feud with Daniel Bryan. WWE is sad when they give guys who have suffered through even steven booking decent match time and people turn the channel, but they never blame themsevles for the months or years they teach the audience these guys don’t matter. Let us not discuss distraction roll ups.
If Sami Zayn is allowed to wrestle anyone for 12 minutes week after week he will get over. This is unlikely to occur.
Anyway, if you like Cesaro go out of your way to watch him and Zayn make each other look like a million bucks on NXT. Also, Paige is good. You probably don’t know that.