Breaking Down WWE's Most Controversial, Shocking Stories for the Week of Sept 15
A wild week in WWE carried a certain theme that also poses as a threat to the promotion's scripted product.
WWE is getting too darn real.
From shoot headbutts to shoot promos, recent booking has all the ingredients of a reboot of Vince Russo-era Nitro. Is WWE having a mid-life crisis at age 65, feeling the need to prove it can be as edgy and real as the UFC? Because pro wrestling is fake. It always has been and typically thrives within that connotation.
There's a scripted narrative of winners, losers and character development.
The more WWE accepts that, the better its overall product will be.
Kevin Owens Headbutts Vince McMahon in Compelling, Yet Foolish, Segment
After being the apple of Triple H's eye on Raw en route to the Universal Championship, Kevin Owens is once again involved in a major storyline with the McMahon family.
Owens stood opposite WWE chairman Vince McMahon on Tuesday and built upon his compelling exchange with SmackDown Live Commissioner Shane McMahon from the previous week.
The climactic moment, when Owens headbutted McMahon and appeared to make him bleed "the hard way," was just as impactful to the angle as it was idiotic in real life.
In a landscape where concussions are among the most serious concerns among highly physical sports like football and pro wrestling, it was befuddling to see the 72-year-old WWE chairman make an exception for himself.
The borderline war zone that is New Japan Pro Wrestling recently lost one of its biggest stars to what is thought to be a career-ending injury when Katsuyori Shibata headbutted Kazuchika Okada, per Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Raj Giri of Wrestling Inc). It was a similar spot to that between Owens and Mr. McMahon, and while it made for good television, it's difficult to justify taking such a grave risk.
John Cena and Roman Reigns Continue the Battle of Inside Baseball
Roman Reigns and John Cena seemed to wrap up their trilogy of uninterrupted verbal showdowns on Monday, and their exchange once again took an uncomfortable, real-life turn.
Cena was awarded the "drop the mic" spot, but not before bringing attention to Roman Reigns' past drug test failure—which was a result of having Adderall in his system, per Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Giri of Wrestling Inc).
WWE has fallen in love with appeasing a niche genre of fans who read dirt sheets in ways that casual fans do not. The problem is that audience will watch WWE regardless, and with Cageside Seats reporting WWE Network has shown diminishing returns over the past few quarters, it's no wonder the promotion is having trouble connecting with people who aren't already in on their inside jokes and obscure terminology.
The Miz Drops Heel Gimmick to Get Real in Useless Promo Against Enzo Amore
WWE continued its peculiar booking Monday, when the "let's make Enzo Amore look foolish" vanity project resumed. This time around, The Miz—arguably the top pound-for-pound heel in the promotion—ran down Enzo—arguably the most popular pound-for-pound babyface in the promotion.
Miz, who announced he and Maryse were expecting a child, pointed out Enzo's unfavorable reputation in the locker room, which seems to be where most storylines begin these days. He went on to praise Neville for his work rate and scold Enzo for his general lack of respect for the wrestling business. The only thing missing from this promo was a dog whistle that only members of wrestling forums can hear.
WWE's obsession with invoking real-life issues during a scripted show is hardly entertainment as its own political minefield continues to bleed into its television product.
Ronda Rousey: Coming to a Squared Circle Near You?
Ronda Rousey stood ringside as she cheered on Shayna Baszler during her matchup against Kairi Sane in the final of the Mae Young Classic. With the Four Horsewomen from both WWE and the UFC all in the building, viewers and fans waited anxiously for an angle of some sort.
Unfortunately, nothing happened.
With Rousey continuing to dip her toe in the pro wrestling waters, however, it seems like only a matter of time before she gets physically involved with a WWE women's division that could use a spark.
Rousey would be a welcome addition to WWE beyond the women's division, as her involvement with the product would attract mainstream attention that could translate to a broader reach of WWE Network subscribers beyond fans who are between message board rants.