WWE's Logan Paul Issue, AEW's Wardlow About to Explode, More Friday Wrestling Takes
Friday's episodes of SmackDown and Rampage were filled with some fun action, a few key storyline developments and some other interesting tidbits.
Logan Paul is officially back on the scene in WWE, but he may have crossed the wrong person this time by entering into a feud with Roman Reigns and The Bloodline.
We also saw a trend continue in WWE with announcers being allowed to mention other promotions on the air in a limited capacity.
Over on Rampage, Samoa Joe put the Ring of Honor Television Championship on the line against a man known to many ROH fans, Josh Woods.
No Matter What WWE Does, Logan Paul Will Never Be a True Babyface
WWE has brought the eldest Paul brother back for a new storyline this week, and this time he has been paired with Reigns in a program that will see him challenge The Tribal Chief for the Undisputed Universal Championship at Crown Jewel.
This will be the third feud for Paul, and the second that will put him in the position of the babyface after his storyline with The Miz, but no matter what WWE does, the crowd is never going to universally cheer him.
Paul has a lot of things working against him. He has earned a lot of criticism for some of his content on YouTube, and the fact that he is considered a social media celebrity is not going to work in his favor with the WWE Universe.
Paul seems to understand how the crowd is going to react and does his best to play into it, but WWE would be better served using him as a pure heel to play into how the crowd responds to him during most of his appearances.
WWE could build an amazing story by having Paul beat a series of midcard babyfaces the crowd loves before some underdog finally beats him and uses that to catapult himself with a big push.
WWE Mentioning Smaller Promotions Is a Good Thing
This week, Michael Cole made reference to Pro Wrestling Guerrilla during the match between Sami Zayn and Ricochet. That by itself might sound odd since WWE rarely acknowledges anything outside of its own history, but we have seen a steady shift in how that stuff has been handled ever since Triple H and Stephanie McMahon ascended to their current positions as head of creative and co-CEO respectively.
We saw footage of Drew McIntyre working for companies in Europe during the buildup to his Clash at the Castle match against Roman Reigns, and we have heard a few other smaller companies mentioned on commentary recently.
This trend may date back as far as The Royal Rumble, when management allowed Mickie James to use her Hardcore Country entrance music and carry the Impact Women's Championship to the ring for her appearance, and NXT UK has also been more willing to acknowledge certain European promotions in the past, but the frequency of this kind of stuff has definitely increased in recent months.
This suggests WWE finally understands that indie and international promotions are not taking business away from them. WWE is still the top dog in this fight and likely always will be, but that shouldn't stop the Superstars from being able to benefit from the popularity they built up outside of WWE.
If anything, people who don't like WWE are more likely to tune in on occasion if they know one of their favorite indie stars is going to be acknowledged for who they are before they got there. Licensing footage from these companies to use in video packages will allow WWE to give characters a richer backstory and expose young fans to more pro wrestling. It's a win-win for the entire industry.
AEW Has Found Balance with ROH Champions, but Still Has Too Many Belts
With Tony Khan owning both Ring of Honor and All Elite Wrestling, we have seen the ROH titles appear on Dynamite and Rampage periodically to keep them relevant until the promotion finds its own TV deal.
This week featured a promo from Claudio Castagnoli and a match with Samoa Joe defending the ROH TV title against Woods.
The great thing about most of the ROH champions being AEW regulars is that it doesn't feel forced to use those belts on TV most of the time, but the problem of having too many titles floating around is still an issue.
With other championships from AAA and NJPW appearing on television occasionally, it feels like more matches have some kind of champion involved than don't, and that makes every belt feel a little less valuable.
Mixing in titles from other promotions sparingly creates a sense of fun. Doing it too much is going to lead to burnout. AEW should begin putting a heavier focus on its own titles while only using belts from other promotions here and there to add some variety. The door isn't forbidden if it just stays open all the time.
Wardlow Is About to Be a Major Player in AEW
Friday's episode ended with Samoa Joe being attacked by Mark Sterling, Tony Nese and Woods, but another powerhouse came to the ROH TV champion's rescue.
Wardlow sent the trio scurrying, but the real thing to note from this segment was how loud the pop was for The Wardaddy.
The TNT champion gave a brief promo on last week's Dynamite about not believing anyone who says he has lost momentum. He has declared AEW as his territory and is challenging anyone to knock him off the top of the mountain.
Management seemed to use Wardlow a little less after he won the TNT title, but that appears to be changing and for good reason. Not only is he a popular babyface, but he is one of the most physically imposing men on the roster.
As long as he stays healthy and AEW books him well, there is no reason why this guy shouldn't win the world title within the next year or two. You have to strike while the iron is hot, and Wardlow is red-hot with the AEW audience.