Hello everyone and welcome to Planet Kayfabe. The ratings have been falling in WWE and they have busted out a few gimmicks in desperation to try and sway the audience back to them. First was the "Wildcard" rule and this past Monday we were introduced to the new 24/7 Championship, that can be defended 24 hours a day, 7 days a week... Or just the 3rd hour of Raw if Mick Foley's promo means anything...? Also, things are heating up in AEW. Their first official PPV is Saturday, May 25 (tomorrow if you're reading this the day it's posted) and this October they will premiere a weekly 2-hour television show on TNT. These are all the topics for this week's edition of Planet Kayfabe.
** 24/7 Championship Thoughts **
Is it the worst thing ever? No. Is it a great idea? No. Is it a desperate attempt at gaining some sort of interest in the product right now? Yes. Yes, it is. A Mick Foley appearance on Raw was promoted during the Money in the Bank PPV notifying fans that he would be there live to introduce a new championship.
Hmm... Mick Foley. The "hardcore legend" and first ever Hardcore Champion... Could it be?
Mick Foley came out on Raw to a rather mild reaction. Actually, everything about this was pretty sad. I say this as a huge Mick Foley fan it was sad to see him limping out there, having put all that weight he lost back on and perhaps then some, and stumbling over his promo. It was almost like he was sent out there by WWE to die a death, but I'll get into that soon.
At the top of the third hour, Mick Foley came out after a bit of a build up with a new belt wrapped in a sack. He talked about losing his teeth and losing an ear just to become a superstar. Most fans were not really expecting the Hardcore Championship to come back, but with the way Mick Foley was speaking and, shit, having Mick Foley himself out there to present this new belt sure lead fans to believe he was bringing back that title. Instead, he reaches in his sack and whips out a green, generic looking belt that says "24/7" in the middle of a plain round centerpiece. The fans booed and reacted almost as if they were either disgusted or tricked into thinking they were getting something else.
I know it is somewhat popular to say "these self-entitled fans should just boo because they didn't get what they want" and I understand why some might say that, but let's go over this again... They promote this shit by bringing back the HARDCORE legend and first-ever HARDCORE champion to bring out a belt and he starts cutting a promo about losing his ear and teeth. What were people supposed to think? This had every reason to be booed and I agree with the fans for shitting on it. Think about it, they could have had any other legend outside of Terry Funk present this belt and it would have gotten a different reaction (maybe not cheers, but at least not a sour reaction) because fans wouldn't be so far lead to expect the Hardcore Championship. Shit, even in storyline it was Mick Foley as commissioner who put an end to the 24/7 rule saying it made a mockery of the Hardcore title so why is he even out there presenting this? It really felt like they just built this up to retain viewers in the 3rd hour and then when they knew they were tricked they booed.
The reason why it's not the worst thing ever is because this little belt isn't really supposed to be that serious. Foley put the title down and every geek in the back came out to grab it to become the first champion. Some are calling it a PG version of the Hardcore Championship. I wouldn't even give it that much credit. Look, I get the whole "give it time" / "wait for it to develop" bullshit, but this is what it is. Another gimmick for Vince to have fun with until he gets bored. A few months from now a couple of weeks will go by without any sight of this belt and everyone is going to ask whatever happened to it. Much like the cruiserweight championship. Also, the women's tag titles which have just been a nothing prop since Bayley and Sasha dropped them to the IIconics. It is what it is and it's not worth getting that upset about... but yes the belt looks like shit and it is obvious that this is some random idea that Vince McMahon came up with on Friday, had a belt designed on Saturday, promoted it on Sunday and debuted it on Monday.
Call me a negative smark if you will, but excuse me if I think a bunch of grown men playing cat-and-mouse with a belt and losing on backstage surprise roll-ups isn't exactly thrilling television. Enjoy your jobber roll-up spree.
*** The Wildcard Rule ***
WWE's other gimmick ratings ploy is the "Wildcard" rule, which has pretty much, but not really ended the brand split. A few weeks have gone by and it's clear that they might as well call it the "Big Dog" rule since it's just to get Roman Reigns on both shows after getting drafted to Smackdown. (Yeah, thanks for stealing my line, by the way, Aaron ;) )
I applauded Roman's move to Smackdown because with WWE doing taking ZERO effort to try anything new and fresh with the presentation of Roman Reigns, he is back to being as stale as ever a mere couple months since returning to action. WWE's plan is apparently to take their most over-exposed wrestler and double his exposure. Now he is pretty much back to where he was, getting booed, but not with the big, emotional reaction he used to get. A feud with Elias and Shane McMahon isn't helping either. Its the same stale WWE storytelling that all the fans have seen a thousand times. Once again they are trying re-create the magic of Austin vs Vince McMahon and once again they will fail. Roman Reigns is one of their hardest pushed wrestlers ever. He is not seen as a rebellious outsider for fighting Shane McMahon or punching Vince. Steve Austin was a 6'1" bald guy with plain black trunks who had a southern accent and was seen as a man of the people and isn't usually what we get from a McMahon promotion. Roman Reigns is 6'3", tan with a great head of long hair and a family legacy in the business. Vince McMahon is in love with him, his look, and the fans know it. So, the guy who always had a career in WWE as a reliable backup plan due to his family ties can call Shane a "spoiled rich kid" all he wants and it is not going to get over.
This whole "rule" is dumb is pretty much spells the end of the brand split. It changed from 3 "wildcards" to 4 the day the rule was created and even then there were like 5 or 6 people from Smackdown on Raw. Apparently, tag teams count as 1 person, too. It has been pretty much the same people every week walking out as wildcards. How do you become a wildcard? I guess you just show up and appear on TV before the supposed maximum of 4 wildcards show up. Yeah, its f***ing stupid. Just end the brand split. It would make a lot more sense than dragging this out.
*** AEW Double Or Nothing / TNT TV Deal ***
The inaugural AEW event, a PPV called "Double or Nothing" is taking place on May 25 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. After the success of last September's All In event, it put into motion the largest non-WWE swing of wrestling momentum in the United States since the 90's when WCW and ECW were in business. In November of 2018 news broke about the trademarks for "All Elite Wrestling" and "Double or Nothing" being filed. Around this time WWE tried locking up Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks by offering them contracts with WWE, but they declined. On January 1, the new year began with the announcement of the Double or Nothing PPV and that the rumors of a new wrestling promotion were real and it is indeed called "All Elite Wrestling".
It has been a great run for the Elite crew. All In was the first non-WWE or WCW event to sell over 10,000 tickets since 1993. This got the attention of those in the television business and businessmen Shahid and Tony Khan. Tony Khan is the president and CEO of the company and a life-long wrestling fan. With this sort of financial backing the AEW crew has made no secret about offering competative contracts to what WWE stars are making and want to immediately be treated like a big deal.
This is a big deal. I think some people need to pump the breaks a little. I'm not saying AEW is going to come in and immediately be WCW huge. WCW was at one point the biggest wrestling company in the world. WWE is in no danger of going out of business either like they were in the mid-'90s. AEW getting a prime-time 2 hour slot on TNT this fall is also huge for them and the wrestling business. The timing could not be better too with WWE's Smackdown Live moving to Friday night's on Fox. You want alternative; you got it so I hope you at least give it a chance because if you're an older fan you know the immediate decline in quality that struck WWE the moment they had no competition to worry about. No other promotion for the wrestlers to use as leverage. No other promotion for fans to turn to when they feel their voices as a consumer aren't being heard.
The main even of Double or Nothing is Kenny Omega vs Chris Jericho. The winner will face the winner of the Casino Battle Royale to crown the first ever AEW World Champion. I predict Kenny Omega will win. He will likely be the face of AEW and is the biggest wrestling star out there without any WWE recognition, so it makes sense. The Casino Battle Royale is a 21 (like Blackjack) man battle royal and there are 5 names yet to be announced. I'm guessing one of those surprises will be the winner. Jon Moxley would be a safe prediction, but I don't know for sure if he will even be there and that's a good thing. It's nice that wrestling fans can still be surprised in this digital age. Moxley would also have instant main event credibility with these fans too, being a grand slam champion in WWE and the defacto leader of their biggest faction of the 2010s, The Shield. That's another reason to have Omega win instead of Jericho. If indeed Moxley wins this battle royal, we don't need a rehashing of what was a pretty poor WWE feud. Don't TNA this. Form your own identity and push Kenny Omega as your brand's top guy.
Thanks for reading this edition of Planet Kayfabe, everyone. I'll be back with more news and notes next week. No full review of the show in Saudi Arabia. Call me crazy, but it won't be "as big or even bigger" than Wrestlemania. I've seen WWE's shows in Saudi Arabia. They are sad and laced with gross propaganda. If something major happens, I'll include it in my thoughts next week and give my opinion on the Undertaker vs Goldberg match. Otherwise, I'm not going to waste my time with a show that isn't just going to be bad, but also insulting to their audience with some of the language they are directed to use, or not use and video packages they are forced to air to put over the Saudi government.
Follow me on Twitter @PlanetKayfabe Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend here in America and I'll be back right here next week on NoDQ. For Planet Kayfabe, I'm K.C. God bless you all and take care.