Hello everyone. Happy New Year. It's the first edition of Planet Kayfabe of 2019 and there's a bit in the news to discuss. Some good, some bad and some sad. I hope you enjoyed your new year and whatever. I don't know. Let's just get into this.
RIP "Mean" Gene Okerlund
On January 2, I woke up, like many of you did, to the news of the death of Gene Okerlund at the age of 76. It was a sad day for wrestling fans of all ages. I know people who started watching WWE well after Gene's run who were still very much upset by the news since Gene was such a major figure in the company's golden era. Gene in many ways was the face of the WWF in the 80's. The non-wrestling face. The guy who welcomed you. The man in a world of cartoon characters who let you in every show.
It goes without saying and as cliche as this sounds, it is true. There will never be another Gene Okerlund. Not only because of his talent and charisma, but also because the business has changed so much. WWE will take their pretty robots who are fed ridiculous lines and dumb questions over a bald guy with a mustache who is actually good at his job and not a complete waste of time on the show. WWE is really hurting for a guy like Mean Gene today. Unfortunately if Mean Gene was in WWE today he would be produced in the same awkward way they all are today with all their personality stripped away from them.
WWE put together a great tribute video package for Gene which aired both on Raw and Smackdown. On Raw this past Monday Hulk Hogan came out to say farewell to his friend. You know they were close on TV, but they were close in real-life as well so regardless of any outside controversies I've already written about in long-form Hogan was the right guy for this. You could tell he was emotional and how could he not be? Not just in saying good-bye to Gene but when he started running off all the guys Gene is up in Heaven with they are most of the names you think of when you think of that Hulkamania era. Warrior, Andre, The Brain, Macho Man, Piper and now Okerlund are all gone from that era and I feel like for a moment we saw "The Immortal" Hulk Hogan see his own mortality stare him in the face after watching that video package and rolling off those names. It was well-done so here's to a true legend in Gene Okerlund he will be missed, but the fact is wrestling has been missing a guy like Gene for almost 20 years now.
The Return of John Cena:
New era. Fresh faces. Fresh match-ups. Enter John Cena. Cena is back in WWE for the time being. It almost sounds like we are getting that lame "I have no path to Wrestlemania" story again. Hopefully not. That shit sucked last year. He's f***ing John Cena. We know if he's on TV he's going to be in a match. He's a little smaller and has a bad haircut. In fact his hair looks like shit especially after he wrestles. I don't know if he puts a ton of hair spray in it or what but looks like Ace Ventura in the mental hospital when he's done working. Its funny because back in Cena's prime run when he was his most stale I would call for him to change something up. Since he always had that same haircut and pretty much the same ring attire maybe do something like grow his hair out? I guess I was wrong. This hair style very much ages him. He doesn't look like John Cena. He looks like someone's dad who works out.
I'm pretty much indifferent to this. Not entirely though. I can tell you right now I do not want to see John Cena hold a world title or main event Wrestlemania in 2019. John Cena in his 40's is not the answer to WWE's problems now. Plus, he's been so over-exposed over the years that fans don't really see him as a nostalgic legend. The fans on Raw showed respect to John, but WWE's making a big push for calling him the "greatest of all time" like Drew McIntyre said in his promo and no one buys it. They could make John Cena a 20 time world champion and it wouldn't change their minds. John has had a great and lengthy run as a or THE top guy in WWE but that's about it. Is he the best worker? No. Is he the biggest draw? No. What is he really the "greatest" at other than being a guy who has been there and been on top for a very long time? I guess why they say he's the greatest but the fans don't buy it. If they called Ric Flair, Steve Austin or Shawn Michaels the greatest people would cheer With John they kinda groan and giggle.
John came out and if I did miss him it wouldn't take me long to want him to go away. It was more of that typical no-sell silly Cena bullshit. The heel is being super serious and on script while at the same time John is there grinning and making bad jokes completely no-selling the guy as a legitimate threat. It's shit like this that got him booed because it made him ver unsympathetic as a babyface. This was prime Cena here. Smiling, shrugging his shoulders at the camera, not taking anything seriously. I'd hate to be a heel trying to get over against him even today because he doesn't give you shit... but OH he said the word "promo" so I guess we are supposed to think he was shooting right? Ugh, seriously... f*** this John Cena. Did not miss him at all.
New Year; New Era?:
This week featured the first week of non-taped TV shows for WWE in 2 weeks since Christmas week. What do I think? I think Raw was an awful program that fell sharply off a cliff after the Okerlund tribute and I think Smackdown was its usual worthwhile self.
Raw started out promising enough with a brawl, which is pretty much a cheap pop now, but at least its not a boring authority figure promo. I gave you my piece on the Cena stuff. WWE still feels late-era WCW-ish to me. At least on Raw. You're loaded with gimmicks and bait-and-switches. You got Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose in the main event in a falls count ANYWHERE match. ANYWHERE!!! Cole teased the match saying it could end on the roof or even end in Disney Land. The moment the match started I said to a friend, "I guarantee this f***ing match ends in the ring." and lo and behold the f***ing match ended in the ring. Really? On one night they can't put over a match stipulation we rarely get to see by not at least having the fall count on the outside of the ring? That was just the icing on the cake. We also saw a terrible promo segment with Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar which only buried the guy. Seriously, he came off as such a geek. We had our "Moment of Bliss" segment, that I went in with a very closed mind knowing it would suck based on the two Open Forums segments and the "Bayley, This Is Your Life" segment both hosted by Bliss also sucked and, what do ya know -- this sucked, too. Alexa is a fine talker, but segments like this don't do her any favors. If she is injured and they want to keep her on TV they should have her manage someone. It's that simple. We also had to hear Nia Jax top her worst promo ever. Amazing how every week it seems she gets worse and worse. Before a long and boring match with Sasha Banks she cut the type of promo that made me embarrassed to still be a wrestling fan. Nia comes off as someone who does not belong on television at all. It's bad enough that creative hands her shit material, like they did with everyone else who cut a promo on this show, but damn... When Nia sucks she f***ing sucks. Awful, cringe delivery. No intimidation at all for someone her size. No aura of star power. Nothing. She's just a huge, talentless mid-30's year old broad with a famous cousin. Seriously. I know she had a career as a plus-size model before WWE but if her cousin wasn't The Rock I'm convinced she'd be fitting old ladies at a JC Penny in some dead mall in Florida.
AEW and Chris Jericho:
This past Tuesday in Jacksonville, FL (coincidentally the same city as WWE Smackdown Live that day) All Elite Wrestling held a fan rally/press conference to announce the start of a new wrestling promotion. What really put this over was the signing of Chris Jericho. Since the Tokyo Dome there was a question as to where Jericho would land and he was in talks with WWE, so he was a hot free agent. Jericho's stock has only risen since leaving WWE as well. Chris Jericho himself has humbly compared his signing with AEW to Hulk Hogan signing with WCW and... he's not entirely wrong. Depending on how history turns out he could end up being an even bigger signing than Hogan. In the short-term though he does legitimize the promotion. They have a legit big name. A "legend" of sorts, but also someone who is still working full-time and capable of putting on 5 star matches.
Like anything opinions of this are runnin' wild on the internet. Its weird. I see two camps on opposite extremes. Some already declaring this a "war" and some saying this company wont last a year. To both I say... f***ing chill. First of all, you shouldn't be wishing for this company to fail. There's no reason right now to think they will and there's also no reason to think they'll be bigger or as big as WCW. It is a new wrestling promotion building from the ground up. It could be 5 years, maybe even more, before it really starts gaining traction and developing a reputation and a real presence in the wrestling market. AEW is off to a good start with all this momentum from All-In and with strong financial backing from the Khan family but its going to take a lot of work for this company to reach WCW level big. There's also still iMPACT, NWA and ROH who aren't just going to willingly give up the #2 spot without a fight.
There's also people who think that just because the Khan's have more money than Vince McMahon that they will automatically be able to wave their magic wand and create a huge wrestling promotion just by tossing money at it. It's not that simple. Ted Turner always had a lot more money than Vince McMahon, too. AEW is going to need a superstar that pops the promotion. Chris Jericho is a great start, but the true land will be Kenny Omega who is much younger and a current star. You need a star to light up the territory. That's something TNA always lacked. They built TNA on the nostalgia Band-Aid. WWE is also very guilty of that as well in the 2010's but they can get away with it because they are their own old guys they are bringing back. In TNA it often came off like they had no confidence in their own talent and any ex-WWE mid-carder or 'legend' would get a top spot in TNA. AEW needs to avoid that and develop their own identity which they are already well on their way doing with the faces of the promotion as of right now pretty much being Cody Runnels and the Young Bucks. The money made this all possible, but its going to take a lot of work and a big star to build this as a legit brand. Don't expect this multi-billionaire family to just throw all their resources at AEW. The foundation is being laid right now. Its going to be up to the talent and those booking to truly create a 2nd major wrestling promotion.
The wrestling fan base is starving for something different. Some say AEW should be more adult oriented. I'm not sure that will matter. I don't care if this is a PG promotion as long as they get back to the basics that made wrestling big in the first place. No bloated creative teams. Just a few guys booking is fine for a clearer vision. No 3 hour weekly shows. Allow more creativity from the workers in their promos and matches. Don't over-produce commentary. Allow the announcers to have personalities. If you give me all of those things I'm not going to say "yeah... but they're PG". Learn from what turned millions of fans away from WWE. They're still out there and a shorter weekly program someday is certainly more accessible to younger fans and casuals. Say what you want about going PG and pushing guys as babyfaces that the fans aren't really into but nothing has turned off more fans from WWE than moving Raw to 3 hours and every year the numbers continue to fall. So, good luck to All Elite Wrestling. Don't be TNA.
There's some scattered thoughts for you as we are now into a new year. It's January so of course that means Royal Rumble season which of course I will be getting into at a later time. As of right now I'm not sure who I would pick to win. Maybe Drew McIntyre for the men and Charlotte for the women. I'd much prefer Charlotte wrestle Asuka again at Wrestlemania for the title this time with the tables turned than this heavily rumored Triple Threat. Yes, I know Charlotte is great and a triple threat between her, Ronda and Becky would be a good match, but she doesn't belong there. She would water down the match. The match is Becky vs Ronda. Is was them two who got it hot. Becky is the hot hand on the women's side. Ronda is the undefeated champion. When Ronda is out there do you ever hear 'Charlotte' chants? No. You always hear 'Becky' chants. That's what they want. One-on-one.
Thanks for reading, everyone. Its good to be back after a wild holiday season. Happy new year, once again. Thank you for reading. For NoDQ, this is Planet Kayfabe, I'm KC. God bless and see you next time. Enjoy your weekend, everyone.