WWE and AEW Overreactions: Riddle, Jon Moxley vs. Kenny Omega and More
When AEW world champion Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega do battle in the main event of AEW Dynamite: Winter is Coming Wednesday night on TNT, will they do so in the biggest, most important match in the young history of the company?
It's a question posed among this week's overreactions, which also take aim at two of the most polarizing WWE Superstars in Lana and Riddle and their sudden ascent in the Raw ranks.
Overreaction No. 1: WWE Is Ruining Riddle's Character
Riddle wrestled his biggest match to date as part of the Raw brand Monday night, a Triple Threat contest against AJ Styles and Keith Lee for the right to challenge Drew McIntyre for the WWE Championship at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs.
Despite a fantastic performance against Sheamus a week ago and a strong followup Monday, the buzz was less about his in-ring exploits and more focused on the silliness of his character beyond the ropes.
Riddle appeared to be doing an over-the-top impersonation of The Original Bro, down to the pizza-yogurt comments and rabbit talk with Styles.
The problem with the assertion that WWE is somehow ruining the character is the lack of attention paid to his NXT run.
On the black-and-gold brand, Riddle played dating games with Pete Dunne, rode down a lake with his Broserweight tag partner and sang songs about Bobby Fish. Nothing he did there was any less over the top or less true to his personality than what he has been on Raw to this point.
It's a bit silly, sure, but not every character can (or should) be a wholly focused, one-note badass.
Although WWE has been guilty in the past of taking something that worked well elsewhere and dumbing it down to the point that it is a shell of its previous self, this is not one of those cases.
Overreaction No. 2: Jon Moxley vs. Kenny Omega Is AEW's Biggest Match Ever
Wednesday night, All Elite Wrestling presents a special episode of Dynamite entitled "Winter is Coming," with an AEW World Championship defense by Jon Moxley against Kenny Omega, which the company has repeatedly referred to as the "biggest" in its history.
While there is no denying just how significant and important it is, to suggest it is somehow more important than the matches that laid the foundation for AEW is comical.
There is no more important match in the promotion's history than Cody vs. Dustin Rhodes in May 2019.
The brothers brought attention to the start-up promotion. They made Double or Nothing the hottest ticket in Las Vegas and a must-see spectacle for fans begging for something fresh and exciting. The raw emotion that accompanied the match, and the performances from Cody and a bloodied Dustin, earned it Match of the Year recognition.
Without it, and the critical acclaim it earned on AEW's first night, there is no telling what the company would look like today or what kind of success it would have achieved early on.
There is a real possibility Moxley and Omega have their own MOTY candidate Wednesday night on TNT. The back story is there, as is the intensity. But AEW is an established product now, with faithful viewership and a swarm of ratings victories over WWE.
This match will be significant to the history of the company, its championship and the two men involved, but it will in no way eclipse the meaningfulness of that initial battle between brothers that helped set the tone for everything that followed in AEW.
Overreaction No. 3: WWE Is Going into Overkill with Lana Push
At first, Lana’s push was a charming attempt at taking an underutilized talent and creating an underdog out of her.
The table spots involving Nia Jax were fun enough, as was counting along with every passing week, and the inevitable moment when The Ravishing Russian scored her first big win would certainly make all of it worth it.
Or something like that.
Instead, WWE has done what it always does, taking something that worked well enough as it was and exploiting it to the point that it is overproduced, no longer effective and grating on viewers' nerves.
At Survivor Series, the company booked Lana as a total fluke, when she became the lone survivor in the Team Raw vs. Team SmackDown women's elimination match against Jax and Bianca Belair failed to get back in the ring before the count of 10.
The next night, she challenged Asuka for the Raw Women’s Championship, then teamed with The Empress of Tomorrow against Jax and Shayna Baszler. A second tag team showdown this week suggests WWE is preparing to book her and Asuka against Baszler and Jax for the tag team titles at TLC on Dec. 20.
And therein lies the problem.
The push has become less about an underdog proving doubters wrong and more about overexposing Lana to the extent that she is now eclipsing both the tag champions and the top women's champion on the red brand. Her story is more important than theirs and that is a major flaw within the Raw creative team at this point.
Why not just book a tables match between her and Jax for TLC, where she finally gains a measure of revenge by finding a way to put The Irresistible Force through said table? That scenario does not subject Asuka to the story, nor does it threaten to take the tag titles off Jax and Baszler in the name of putting them on another thrown-together tandem at a time when the championships could use some serious strengthening.
Somewhere, Vince McMahon has become obsessed with this story at the expense of all other women on the roster and is destined to harm the credibility and effectiveness of his champions and top contenders more than it will ultimately help Lana.
Overreaction: Not at all