If I Were In Charge – Episode 8 (Pitch Black, The Judgement Day, FTR)

It’s been quite the week of news, eh folks? The rumors, the drama, and the actual happenings sound like they’d be from a scripted TV show, but no, it’s actually all happening in real time at the corporate offices of WWE. Vince McMahon, with those bulky grapefruits, threatened his way back in charge. Stephanie McMahon said screw you guys, I’m going home (again) and left. Talks of a WWE sale happening are very, very real. How do people feel about all this? Well, you could read the toxic comments on every article, or you could realize that it’s a corporation’s job to make the shareholders money. Vince coming back = money, case closed. The stock market has spoken and it seems it’s what’s best for business, at least for now. Sorry haters, WWE will never die. Same goes for AEW. WWE has the name recognition and global roots system in place that’ll keep it going regardless who purchases it. AEW has loads of money and an extremely determined owner who’s providing an alternative style to the business that’s grown quickly in only a matter of a few years. But go ahead…keep clowning each other in the comments section. Now, onto the fun stuff!

The Royal Rumble match has been my absolute favorite match since it became part of and named one of the “big four” PPVs in WWE. It became such a hugely important match with massive implications, which made it an instant hit with fans. Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, most of my PPV watching happened because I’d rent every wrestling VHS possible at the local video rental store. If I was lucky, my neighbors, who had one of those giant satellite dishes, would get it on one of their many channels and have the neighborhood kids over to watch the PPVs while the parents had a few drinks. Some damn good memories! Back then, what was so awesome was the fact that it really seemed like almost anyone could win the Royal Rumble match. When the attitude era came along, the event truly paved the road to WrestleMania and made some really, really big matches that cemented legacies. Although, starting around 2008 and ending in 2017, things were pretty bland IMO. The winner was usually someone who didn’t need a Royal Rumble win in order to have a WrestleMania moment. It was someone who Vince would fall back on for safety. It wasn’t until WWE started to give the women their own Royal Rumble match that things got a little less predictable again. This year, I’m really rooting for some unpredictable winners who can make the most of the opportunity and hopefully create some new main event level stars.

The 2023 Royal Rumble card is coming together and we are being treated to a new concept called a Pitch Black match. A match that’s between two top tier promo guys, LA Knight and Bray Wyatt, who’ve been in a war of words and mind games the last several weeks on SmackDown. Not too many details have been thrown out about the match, but clearly it’s going to be somewhat of a mind f#%k with Wyatt involved. Remember how excited most people were about Bray Wyatt coming back to WWE? Now I hear so many complaints about “where’s the payoff?” I’m not one of those people who need instant gratification, so I’m still pretty interested to see where exactly his character goes. I’m still excited for Wyatt and what entertainment he has to offer us. I will admit, things have been pretty strange, especially with this Uncle Howdy guy popping up everywhere. But hey, I like strange. I guess you just need to Bo-lieve this will all have a great payoff! As for Bray’s character since returning, I’ve enjoyed seeing him struggle with his past actions. Having watched wrestling for 40 years, I’ve seen many, many recycled storylines, so at this point I’m a fan of anything “different”. This feud hasn’t been a negative at all for me, it’s been a positive, and what has made this even more interesting is the fact another great talker, LA Knight, is involved in all this. Another guy who could make it to the top, although a bit on the older side (not to be ageist, just realism). It reminds me of the early-mid 90’s when you’d have a huge feud built up strictly with promos. Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts wouldn’t even have to break a sweat in the ring to build up an important feud. Great promo skills are a gift, and LA Knight & Bray Wyatt are as gifted as they come. As for the match itself, I don’t expect it to actually be “pitch black”. I’m thinking we will see a bunch of black lights and some spotlights here and there. More than likely we’ll also see a few paranormal activities from Bray Wyatt. As weird of a combination LA Knight and Bray Wyatt might seem, I expect this match to deliver and really elevate Knight.

Shout out to The Judgement Day who’ve been firing on all cylinders recently. This last episode of RAW, The Judgement Day had what seemed like all the focus pointed in their direction. Rhea Ripley looks like a million bucks, in and out of the ring. Up against any other females on the roster, she looks like she could destroy them. When it comes to promo ability, she’s top notch. She believes in her character, and it shows. Ripley is a huge star in the making, and as her confidence continues to grow, so will her star power. You know what else? She deserves it – she’s earned it. What’s weird to me is I’ve seen a few people call for Ripley to start challenging men, even entering the men’s Royal Rumble. Hell, I’ve even seen some people mention Rhea should be challenging for the Intercontinental Title or US Title and win like Chyna did back in the day. How about no! Why don’t we just let Rhea Ripley bring more legitimacy and eyes to the women’s division? Having a mega star in the women’s division isn’t a bad thing. There’s no need to “upgrade” her to the men’s division, that’s crazy talk. Rhea being let loose in the women’s division and being the champ on either show would make everyone else in the women’s locker room step up their game. Whoever steps in that ring with her automatically looks great. Just think of what that means for her opponents in PPV matches – there’s huge potential to make more stars just by having Rhea in the ring with them. Hell, even Candice LeRae looked 10x more talented this last Monday in her losing effort against Rhea Ripley. There’s many people who like to shit on Candice, but she did her “job” really well and made Ripley look indestructible.

My guy Dominik Mysterio is also stepping it up a bunch. Whether it’s hilarious videos he’s posted online, or the character changes he’s made since being in “prison”, Dominik is showing a whole new level to what he can offer. The hard ass gangsta vibe he’s trying to push out makes me laugh. It entertains me – that’s the whole point! He doesn’t need his dads skills or uncle Eddie’s mega level of charisma. All he needs to do is entertain in whatever way he can, and it looks like he’s found his niche.

A huge shout out to Damian Priest who was a focal point of RAW and part of the show for a solid hour of screen time. Between the promos and the tag turmoil match, Damian’s mug was all over the TV. I see good things for Priest in the future, as he can move well and he can talk. One downfall – much like LA Knight, he’s on the older side. I’ve never actually read one negative thing about Damian Priest, in fact I’ve only ever read praise. All he needs is for the stars to align and it’ll be his time to make it to the top. Perhaps a Diesel/Shawn Michaels storyline with Finn Balor could elevate Priest to that next level. He’s a trusted talent who the writers can rely on – I wish nothing but the best for the guy!

For The Record, FTR will be sitting out the next few months of their AEW contracts as per Dax Harwood. After talking to Cash Wheeler, they’ve decided this is the best course of action to take until they decide what’s next. More than likely they told Tony Khan they didn’t plan to re-sign a new contract with AEW, and knowing Tony, he didn’t hold it against them. What’s the point of having FTR on AEW TV when Tony could instead give that precious TV time to build up others? Exactly. FTR dropped the ROH, AAA and IWGP Tag Titles way ahead of time and did the honors. Hell, they even put over the Ass Boys, errr Gunn Club. Due to the fact Dax is such a family man, I can see him and Cash signing one last big WWE contract as long as Triple H is still in his current position. A final run where they can have a little fun (without clown costumes) and make a good chunk of change doesn’t sound so bad. I wouldn’t hold it against them one bit, and in fact I think it’s the smart move. You can tell Triple H is rebuilding the tag divisions Vince destroyed, so it’s a great time to jump back in and help out. I can’t wait for the Unified WWE Tag Titles to be split up.

Appreciate the read and I hope there’s something positive happening somewhere in the business right now you can enjoy. I’ve asked a few friends what they think the Pitch Black match will consist of, so I’ll do the same with you, NoDQers…what in the blue hell do you think the Pitch Black match will consist of? Until next time.

James Bones