Thursday, May 3, 2018

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 233

What can WWE do to make Reigns at least as liked as Cena?
Photo Credit:
It's Twitter Request Line time, everyone! I take to Twitter to get questions about issues in wrestling, past and present, and answer them on here because 140 characters can't restrain me, fool! If you don't know already, follow me @tholzerman, and wait for the call on Wednesday to ask your questions. Hash-tag your questions #TweetBag, and look for the bag to drop Thursday afternoon (most of the time). Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers:

To address the first part of the question, before WrestleMania 34, I wasn't so sure that Reigns was so universally hated as his crowd reactions might suggest. He's a top merchandise mover, and people in the audience do cheer for him. The dynamics changed though once Reigns again failed to beat Brock Lesnar not only at WrestleMania, but at Greatest Royal Rumble as well. I'm not sure how you can keep dragging him down the line if you're not going to pull the trigger on him as a guy who can get it done against the best competition on the biggest stages. Things might be different now if WWE had pulled the trigger on him in Santa Clara at Mania 31, but I covered that already. So how would I go about salvaging him? This topic is a favorite among other writers who like to do brainstorming sessions on a daily basis on the problem of WWE not getting its supposed "top guy" over. If you view Reigns as the ace, then yeah, this is a failed experiment, but honestly, a bigger picture view would reveal that WWE is probably past the idea that one singular top guy is needed, whether or not Vince McMahon knows it or not. Does one person sell the Network, or is it the brand? Has wrestling reached a stasis level where its popularity has leveled off to where people just watch wrestling to see the wrestling? It's all hard to say from a business standpoint.

From a creative standpoint though, Roman Reigns is a failed state as a top guy in the same way John Cena is one right now, so from a storytelling standpoint, the only route is probably to turn him heel and feed into his character's innate frustration at not being able to conquer Lesnar and his inability to turn wins over Triple H, Undertaker, and Braun Strowman into some kind of connection with the crowd. If I'm being honest, Reigns would be "fine" right now to people who are troubled by his reactions if he'd turned heel instead of Seth Rollins to break up The Shield. But I mean, I can't think of a guy who gets reactions and pushes shirts as someone who's a business failure. The temperature of the fan reactions isn't as important nowadays. The creative side, however, needs some rehab. So flip his script. He'll make more sense, and hell, knowing the contrarian dickhead nature of the hardcore fan who drives the volume at the arena, they'll probably end up start cheering him.

It is my favorite of the conjunctions, one thing I have in common with Finn Bálor.

I'm biased, but making the finals or even winning the Cup would be at best second behind the Eagles winning the Super Bowl at least. Did you know that? The Eagles won the Super Bowl. People seem to forget it already. Anyway, this year has had a lot of really good sports stories, but what's really got more pop than a first year team making a big run to the final round of its sport? I think win or lose, it's a huge story. If they win, it might be able to overcome the lethargy that hockey has amassed on the American sports landscape over the last couple of decades. Vegas would get bonus points for being an incredibly fun team. Gun to head, if I had to rank the "good story" quotient of teams, it'd be like this:

  1. Eagles - I'm a homer, but they were a really fun, socially conscious team that knocked off the Evil Empire in the biggest sporting event of the year
  2. Golden Knights - If they win, again, the cache of being a first-year expansion team winning it all would be pretty good.
  3. Astros - In addition to winning their first title, the 'Stros have the cache of winning "for" Houston after the floods.
  4. Sixers - Again, I'm a massive homer, but The Process Sixers are a fun team of youngsters who, if they win, would be an incredible story for how early they did after being competitive.
  5. Any other NBA team other than the Warriors - The Rockets would have the "transcendent superstar winning his title" in James Harden and also Chris Paul getting over the hump. The Jazz are a fun team in a small market. The Pelicans have the weird guy Anthony Davis dominating without his secondary superstar. The Celtics normally would be in "ugh" status, but they're too injured to be too hated if they make an unlikely run to the title. The Raptors would be overcoming a jinx, and unless you're Skip Bayless or a shitty White dude, you wanna see LeBron James win a title with the worst team that could possibly surround him.
  6. Any other NHL team, even the Penguins - This one would be the sort of baseline reaction, because again, the NHL doesn't really have the cache anymore, and no other team except maybe the Jets because of their Canadianness would register outside of the Knights.
  7. Sports ending - I mean, it would suck, but everyone would get used to it.
  8. Warriors - It's not that they're a bad team, but winning another title, third in four years, while being owned by tech dipshits, would be exasperating.
I think that's a pretty definitive ranking. go birds.

They could produce a standalone show theoretically, especially if the conglomerate got some kind of major financial backing from Sinclair/Ring of Honor or another really rich person who wanted to provide a tentpole for wrestling not under the Titan banner. However, I'm not sure you could really get that many egos together to run their shit together. Most indie promotions can barely function on their own as it is. You would need some kind of strong backing to get it together. New Japan can run a biggish show on their own because they're New Japan Pro Wrestling, with almost 50 years of history and corporate backing. Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks can run their show because they're entrepreneurs who have some money stashed away and also the numbers of the Bushiroad and Sinclair corporations in their phones. Asking a bunch of indies to get together to run their shit without any strong, singular backing would be asking for trouble.

I'm not with State Farm, so I don't have to call Jake late at night.

Oh, oh, oh, you mean Jake Arrieta. He's not been bad, posting some decent numbers. Obviously, he's not at his Cy Young levels from a few years ago, but something happened to him since them, maybe regression, maybe injury. I'm not really expecting him to be a secondary ace after Aaron Nola appears to be right now. But as long as he's keeping the ball down, getting strikeouts, and maintaining some semblance of luck behind a lineup slowly starting to find its groove, I'll be happy with him going forward.