1. Age Is in the Eye of the Beholder
Mickie James can't seem to escape from poor writing.
Eight years after being dubbed "Piggy James" by her enemies despite her not being overweight in the least, the former women's champ finds herself deflecting verbal shots about her age. After stepping up to Raw women's titleholder Alexa Bliss, the upstart heel began to dismiss her as too old to compete with her.
The story has since gone far further than that.
Bliss has joked about James breaking her hip. Nia Jax told her she needed Life Alert. And James received adult diapers as a gag gift.
Some fans will argue this is simply a case of heels saying heel things, but the best digs are the ones lined with truth.
Paige called Becky Lynch the least-relevant person in the Divas Revolution. AJ Lee labeled the stars of Total Divas as replaceable. These were gut-punch insults that clicked. They stung because they touched on real issues.
James vs. Bliss is nothing like those situations. It's a storyline that's hard to swallow because it's far removed from what we know to be true.
James is 38. That may be ancient in tennis and gymnastics but not in wrestling. And Bliss is acting like James is Abe freaking Coleman.
Anna Bauert of Fightful is among those baffled by all this:
It's hard not to think a double standard is at work here. James is the same age as Samoa Joe. She's a year older than Karl Anderson, who, along with Luke Gallows, joked about putting old wrestlers into retirement homes during their feud with The Dudley Boyz.
AJ Styles is 40. As is Brock Lesnar and Bobby Roode. There's no mention of their age during their rivalries.
Regardless of what kind of heel opponent they face, they aren't made to look a senior citizen of the squared circle.
This is cheap, lazy work from WWE Creative. John Canton pointed out the asinine nature of this tale. He wrote for The Comeback: "I don't know why they insist on going with the 'old' route for this feud especially when Asuka, a debuting 'new' Raw star, is a year younger than Mickie. Once again, that's WWE writing hurting a feud."
Bliss could be claiming that James is rusty after not being with WWE for several years. She could point out how long it's been since she won a big match with the company. She could say that James only succeeded in the past because Little Miss Bliss wasn't around to smash her into the ground.
Any of these angles would be more sensible and effective. The choice to play up James' age instead is ill-advised.
It has to be frustrating for James that her first major opportunity in months is to be the star of a story where the audience is too distracted by how off-base the narrative is to be engrossed by it.
2. Success Outside of The Shield
Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose were busy after parting ways.
The trio reunited on Monday's Raw after being solo acts for more than three years. In the time between The Shield's dissolution on June 2, 2014, to when they reformed in Indianapolis, all three men have been stockpiling gold.
Their title reigns in that span, per WWE.com:
- Ambrose: WWE Championship, Intercontinental Championship (2), Raw Tag Team Championship
- Reigns: WWE Championship (3), United States Championship
- Rollins: WWE Championship (2), United States Championship, Raw Tag Team Championship
That adds up to 12 total reigns, including six WWE title wins. Rollins won the Money in the Bank contract in 2014; Reigns was the Royal Rumble winner in 2015. Each man has been a headliner; each has collided with the company's biggest names.
WWE let The Shield loose, and they all become stars.
3. Throwback Video of the Week: The Usos
The Usos are getting rather familiar with the sensation of winning gold.
At Hell in a Cell, The Usos again won the SmackDown Tag Team Championships. They are now in the midst of their third reign with those belts. Jimmy and Jey Uso have also held the WWE Tag Team Championships twice and claimed the Florida Championship Wrestling tag titles.
When the brothers became champs in WWE's former developmental territory in 2010, Jey was still known as Jules, they didn't have nearly as many tattoos and Tamina stood in their corner:
A lot of the smaller details have changed, but not the end result. The Usos remain a championship-caliber squad.
4. Marveling at McIntyre
If WWE handed out a trophy for most improved Superstar every year, it would have already starting engraving Drew McIntyre's name on it for his work in 2017.
The NXT champ has been a revelation since rejoining the company. He has more presence. He's more vicious. He has gone from rising star with potential to the total package.
His latest performance, a thriller against Roderick Strong for the NXT Championship last week, is proof of that:
McIntyre has had more great matches in his six months with NXT than he did during his five years on the WWE main roster. War after war, slugfest after slugfest, he's been an enthralling figure between the ropes.
He was solid during his last WWE run, but he's now worlds better.
5. Just Picture The Brahma Bull
You know 2017 has been a weird, weird year when The Rock emerges as a potential key to preventing sexual harassment.
On Medium, Anne Victoria Clark penned a funny guide to avoiding harassing women. The basic idea is that men should imagine that their attractive female co-workers look like The Rock and act accordingly.
The Great One approves of the approach:
The method probably works if you switch out The Rock for Stone Cold Steve Austin, but more experimentation is needed.
6. More Sami on the Screen
We may be seeing more of Sami Callihan (who worked as Solomon Crowe for NXT) on TV.
After leaving the WWE developmental brand in 2015, the snarling bulldog of a wrestler has been making the rounds on the independent circuit. He's also appeared on Lucha Underground. And now more airtime may be coming his way.
According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Wrestling Inc), there is currently some talk about Callihan signing with Impact Wrestling at some point.
That would be quite the intriguing development. Callihan was vastly underused during his WWE run. He's a nasty, hard-nosed predator with a creative offensive toolbox. He's one of the more versatile grapplers around as a guy who can thrive in a Street Fight as easily as a technical exhibition.
The more exposure and opportunities that come his way, the better.
7. Lengthy Stays in Hell
Even with a sneaky assist from Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens' victory over Shane McMahon at the Hell in a Cell PPV on Sunday was well-earned. KO and the SmackDown commissioner battled for a long time in and atop that steel enclosure.
In fact, their clash was the second-longest Hell in a Cell match in WWE history, clocking in at 39 minutes, per the Internet Wrestling Database. Triple H and Shawn Michaels' marathon match (47:23) remains the longest.
Before Owens vs. McMahon, only five Hell in a Cell bouts had gone over the 30-minute mark. And Sunday's main event was only the second half-hour-plus clash in The Devil's Playground not to feature Undertaker.
Strangely enough, McMahon's other Hell in a Cell trip was a long one, ending after 30 minutes and eight seconds' worth of action. Add the fact that Shane-O-Mac has now twice dived off the towering cag,e and it's clear WWE is getting its money's worth with him.
8. An Introduction to Ospreay
The athletic dynamo is one of the most-talked-about wrestlers outside of the WWE bubble.
Many are split on him, as some see him as an overrated spot monkey and some see him as an in-ring wizard. Decide for yourself by digging into some of his best performances in Japan and elsewhere:
- Will Ospreay vs. Fenix: Pro Wrestling Guerrilla Battle of Los Angeles 2016
- Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurll: RevPro High Stakes 2016
- Will Ospreay vs. Ricochet: Evolve 59
- Will Ospreay vs. Katsuyori Shibata: NJPW The New Beginning in Osaka 2017
- Will Ospreay vs. Kushida: NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 2017
Even if your favorite wrestlers are more the old-school hoss type, it's hard not to appreciate Ospreay's creative, high-octane offense.
9. Bring on the Brothers
Luke Harper and Erick Rowan are back together again. The former Wyatt Family members appeared in a vignette on Tuesday's SmackDown where they introduced themselves as The Bludgeon Brothers.
The oversized hammers they wielded and the cowls they wore were a bit corny, but this pairing is going to be a boon for the tag team division.
Harper and Rowan had a strong stretch in 2014 that included several top-notch matches against The Usos. Reuniting will lead to them flashing back to their best days.
They are big, unique-looking wrecking balls who had been riding the bench for too long this year. Their re-emergence gives the blue brand a number of intriguing matchups to plug in now. The New Day vs. The Bludgeon Brothers, for one, is going to be mighty good.
And SmackDown's tag scene needed some depth in a bad way after having to lean on its top teams so much for so long.
10. The Gentleman Weighs In
As the rumors of Neville possibly quitting WWE—reported by Joseph Currier of Figure Four Online, among others—begin to get louder, a fellow cruiserweight offered some poignant thoughts.
Jack Gallagher tweeted a message that seems to be referencing The King of Cruiserweights:
If Neville is gone and it's because he was unhappy with his place in the company, good on him for heading elsewhere. If your worth doesn't match up with what your employer thinks of you, it's time to start job hunting.
Cody Rhodes is a perfect example of a wrestler finding a more fulfilling existence outside of the WWE world. Neville will be able to do the same.