Quick Takes: WWE's Bizarre Finishes, Naomi Deserves Better, Sammy Guevara, More
Even with WWE Extreme Rules in the books, the aftereffects of the event are still being felt on Raw and SmackDown. Meanwhile, All Elite Wrestling continues to put out some of its best content to date.
All things considered, The Horror Show was solid despite what its name suggested. However, some of the match finishes were questionable, to say the least, and illustrated a bigger issue in the company.
That's in addition to a few Superstars not getting the spotlight they deserve, with Naomi being chief among them. She trended worldwide on Twitter recently and went on to appear on Miz TV during Friday's SmackDown, though it remains to be seen whether WWE will use this buzz to its advantage and push her at the level she belongs at.
Thankfully, the promotion started the process of transitioning Big E into a singles competitor Friday night and built up Gran Metalik with a win in Fatal 4-Way action. Both would be fresh faces in the Intercontinental Championship picture and deserve shots to show what they're capable of.
AEW kept things rolling Wednesday with Sammy Guevara's return and the announcement of the Deadly Draw women's tag team tournament. Both incidents got fans talking coming out of Dynamite and will be worth keeping an eye on going forward.
This installment of Quick Takes will discuss the consequences of WWE's recent Attitude Era-esque booking, Naomi's disappointing 2020, what Guevara's comeback means for Inner Circle and more.
Pros and Cons of WWE Running Attitude Era-Esque Match Finishes
Extreme Rules earlier in July hosted a ton of excellent in-ring action, though it seemed the silly match finishes were all fans could talk about coming out of it.
Drew McIntyre vs. Dolph Ziggler featured a straightforward ending, but the same could not be said for Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins or Asuka vs. Sasha Banks. Both bouts were terrific up until the unsatisfying conclusions that left fans with a sour taste in their mouths.
With the Raw Women's Championship match specifically, it was clear that WWE intended to stir up controversy so that interest would be high going into Monday's Raw. Unfortunately, viewership barely improved from where it was the week before, and that can't be considered anything but a disappointment.
In other words, the backlash the polarizing finish received online wasn't worth it and did more to drive away fans than it did to entice them to tune in.
That type of stuff was par for the course during the Attitude Era, but it's been done to death and has no place on the product today. Although it was successful in setting up a rematch between Banks and Asuka, there were other ways that could have been done without having their original encounter end in a no-contest on pay-per-view.
NXT and AEW are two examples of wrestling brands that rarely utilize overbooked finishes and tend to reap the benefits as a result.
Reverting to Attitude Era-esque booking and insulting the intelligence of the audience isn't the answer to WWE's Raw rating woes. Continuing to create compelling programming and giving fans what and whom they want to see just might be.
Women's Tag Team Cup Isn't the Answer to AEW's Women's Division Woes
With Britt Baker and Kris Statlander out injured and others unable to appear because of travel restrictions, AEW's women's division could use all the help it can get. Having Hikaru Shida as the champion is a great start, but a women's tag team tournament likely won't end up being much of a difference-maker.
On the surface, the only storyline purpose this tourney seems to serve is furthering the story between Brandi Rhodes and Allie. They have been reluctant partners for weeks, and all signs point to Allie turning on her main squeeze, QT Marshall, and the rest of The Nightmare Family.
The upside to the Deadly Draw is it could result in some fresh faces being brought in to compete for the cup.
Ivelisse and Diamante, who are two of the better unsigned wrestlers out there today, faced off on Dynamite on Wednesday and should be used more after their showing. MJ Jenkins has also popped up on AEW programming recently, and fellow ex-NXT star Taynara Conti would be a good pickup as well.
If the endgame is to build to the introduction of women's tag titles, the idea is bound to fail, at least until more women are signed. There isn't enough depth in the division to warrant tag team gold, especially with so many wrestlers out of commission.
The focus should be on making the AEW Women's World Championship scene as exciting as possible, not on a tag team tourney that doesn't have anything of importance at stake.
Singles Pushes for Big E, Gran Metalik Indicate Change Is Coming to SmackDown
There was a lot to like about Friday's edition of SmackDown, but perhaps the most encouraging part of the show was seeing WWE taking the proper steps to feature more up-and-coming talent, namely Big E and Gran Metalik.
Granted, both men have been with WWE for several years and aren't nearly as new as someone such as Matt Riddle, but they haven't been afforded the same opportunities in singles competition. They have largely been positioned as tag team wrestlers and have done well in their respective roles, but the time has come for them to be utilized on their own.
Kofi Kingston gave Big E his blessing on SmackDown to fly solo while he and Xavier Woods are sidelined with injuries. Big E has long been projected by many to be a future breakout star, and if he can tap into his serious side, he can be a real player on the blue brand.
As for Metalik, he took the WWE Universe by surprise when he won a Fatal 4-Way on SmackDown to earn himself a shot at AJ Styles' Intercontinental Championship on Friday. The outcome isn't in much doubt, but what's important is that it will gives Metalik a chance to prove why he's among the best wrestlers in the world.
It's been ages since SmackDown was last referred to as "the land of opportunity," but only good things can come from the show spotlighting Superstars it wasn't before.
Sammy Guevara's Return Prolongs Inner Circle's Shelf Life
The past few months have not been kind to AEW's Inner Circle.
They started out strong on the night Dynamite debuted in October 2019 and have had their fair share of highlights, but it's been nothing but downhill since Chris Jericho lost the AEW World Championship at February's Revolution pay-per-view.
The group was unsuccessful in the Stadium Stampede main event at Double or Nothing, Jake Hager failed to become AEW TNT champion at Fyter Fest and Santana and Ortiz have hardly been a threat in the tag team ranks. They were also temporarily down a member when Sammy Guevara was suspended for inappropriate comments he made in 2016 that recently resurfaced.
Their lack of luck lately gave off the impression that AEW was in the process of breaking up the stable, but with Guevara's return on Wednesday's Dynamite, that doesn't appear to be the case. In fact, they could be more of a threat than they have been in months if they can maintain momentum.
The outcome of Jericho's inevitable rematch with Orange Cassidy should give fans a better idea as to what the future of Inner Circle is. If Jericho loses, he could blame the defeat on the rest of the group and plant the seeds for their dissolution, but if he wins, they could surpass The Elite as AEW's most dominant faction.
Inner Circle was missing something with Guevara gone, and now that they are back at full force, nothing is stopping them from fulfilling their potential.
Naomi's New-Found Buzz Shouldn't Go Unnoticed
Despite receiving an incredible crowd reaction upon making her return at the Royal Rumble in January, Naomi's 2020 hasn't been nearly as prosperous as it should have been.
She competed for the SmackDown Women's Championship at Super ShowDown and WrestleMania 36 and fell short on both occasions. However, she's been largely left off SmackDown in recent months and was overlooked for a spot in the women's Money in the Bank ladder match.
Naomi's loss to Lacey Evans on the July 17 episode of SmackDown was enough to get fans buzzing on Twitter about how she deserves better than what she's been given recently—and they aren't wrong. She has been with WWE for more than a decade but still has more to offer than karaoke competitions and meaningless matches.
Instead of ignoring the WWE Universe's pleas to push Naomi, WWE embraced the #NaomiDeservesBetter hashtag on Friday's SmackDown by having her talk about the audience's support of her on Miz TV. She'll face off with Evans again on the forthcoming episode, which should be where she officially gets back on track toward the title picture.
Once the angle with Sasha Banks and Bayley plays itself out, Naomi should be first in line for a shot at the strap, assuming she can stack up a few victories before then. Even without fans in attendance for the shows, her thrilling presence and awe-inspiring athleticism always make her one of the must-see members of the women's division.
Booker T's comments about how hashtags "serve no purpose" were misguided, especially since fans' clamoring to see more of a certain Superstar in the past (such as Daniel Bryan) has led to the company giving them more opportunities.
The two-time SmackDown women's champion and inaugural WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal winner has proved her worth time and time again and, hashtag or not, should be positioned higher on the card because of everything she brings to the table.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.