Craig’s Musings: Mae Young Classic stakes, New Japan’s opportunity in the U.S., Ross & Barnett, Becky Lynch’s lost opportunity

By Craig Elbe, PWTorch contributor


Daniel Bryan (photo by Wade Keller © PWTorch)

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In no particular order…

•New Japan has an awesome opportunity. Both Okada-Omega matches have been so well received with perfect booking. The first match went 46 minutes and the second going a full hour. Putting them in the same block for the G1 Climax presents this chance.

There is a 30 minute time limit to the G1 matches, but how about they go 15! Have Omega win via small package. But have Okada win the G1. That will create more appetite for the fourth installment, but save it for the next U.S. show. The usual G1 winner getting a title shot at Wrestle Kingdom will be thrown off, and would be cool to see how creative New Japan can be to set up that contender.

Omega and Okada should defend their titles valiantly and making them as strong as possible, compelling New Japan to book the match as there won’t be a better contender than U.S. champion Omega by then. Omega should win the IWGP Heavyweight title for New Japan to vacate his U.S. title. Heck, make it known ahead of time if Omega wins the U.S. title will be vacated to create more appetite for another great tournament we were just privileged to watch. Enough time will have passed since then and a strong tournament will keep the title strong. A great story arc, patience, and payoff is what makes wrestling great and will teach WWE how to do wrestling better than they have in a long time. Mine is just one of many options.

•Bryan Danielson is sure setting himself up for a payday somewhere or many somewheres. My take is he is speaking so honestly about wrestling after his WWE deal is up because he knows he can’t help himself. He’s basically compelling WWE to give him an offer he can’t refuse. He has interests and a lifestyle that don’t require a lot of money, and believes very much in living a sustainably and responsibly.

However, he loves wrestling and would do anything to help the genre. I believe he’s unhappy in WWE and will turn down whatever WWE offers as a demonstration of what he turned down to do what he loves instead. He will help whatever companies he works for by becoming one of the biggest drawing independent wrestlers of all time with that sentiment. Being very selective with his opponents and wrestling two or three times a month would resemble a solid schedule to accomplish that, as well as longevity.

To go along with that, Bryan claims to be creating a safer and minimal/non-bumping wrestling style. I sure hope he does. The world needs more healthy Bryan Danielsons, most important of which are his wife and daughter.

•I love that women’s wrestling has become one in the same to men’s wrestling. This year’s WWE Mae Young Classic should be great to watch, but what exactly are the stakes? Did I miss something?

Last year’s Cruiserweight Classic didn’t have its stakes announced until the final two competitors were known. Now it’s looking to be the same crap this year. I despise not giving fans a reason to invest their energy into something. Sure, we all love great wrestling and different personalities, but without something to look forward to more than a great match and a hand raised, what’s the point? Storyline wise, how dumb do these women look to sign on to something they don’t know what’s at stake?

Honestly though, what would a realistic stake be? A title precedent was made last year, and anything less will be deemed not as important both in storyline and reality. Looks like they were so busy patting themselves on the back a major detail was forgotten. At least we don’t have to endure Stephanie on commentary! Well, that is unless she’s producing commentary.

•Having attended a variety of wrestling shows in my life – from independent shows, House of Hardcore, ROH, WCW, and WWE – I’ve always noticed how each ring sounds and looks to feel different when wrestlers are bumping on them. It’s been noted by many long-time wrestlers that WWE has had the softest rings for about 20 years.

Take Matt and Jeff Hardy. They haven’t been in WWE for many years, and have done a lot of damage to their bodies for their entire careers. Since their last WWE tenures, they wrestled for many independent companies that may not have had the best rings and TNA with their dreaded six-sided ring. Now, being older and feeling those lingering issues even more, I wonder if they feel any better in a softer WWE ring since returning to WWE or if the damage is done and it’s barely noticeable.

•It’s too bad AXS TV probably can’t fully capitalize on the criticism Jim Ross and Josh Barnett garnered for their commentary on New Japan’s G1 Special. The way Barnett more or less buried the Young Bucks the first night and their reply the next night has makings of an announcer heel turn. Ross was criticized for not knowing all he should ahead of the show. He seems to have built in equity with most fans for less than stellar performances, and that was before his wife tragically and suddenly passed away earlier this year.

For me, Ross has always been at his best when playing off a great antagonist. He and Barnett have done good to great work, but it’s too jovial. Gone is the element of Ross reacting to having his buttons pushed by a heel color commentator. It’s like taking some colors from the best painter of all time. Barnett should still go heel to set up Ross’s replacement and make the show more must see. I wouldn’t doubt it if that’s the plan as it’s highly doubtful Vince McMahon will let Ross re-sign with AXS TV when that deal is up early next year.

•WWE missed an opportunity on the Land of Opportunity show. Becky Lynch is arguably the most over babyface women on Smackdown, and perhaps all of WWE. She has been stale lately and could use some freshening.

The Money in the Bank rematch should have seen Becky victorious after she crotched James Ellsworth from his ladder perch. It was perfectly set up for that. But, the MITB is best on a heel with how it’s been used and arguably abused. Over the years, that MITB approach has done a lot to water down title wins, but hasn’t been able to turn someone heel in a long time. How about fixing both?

WWE could easily tell the story of Becky saying she’ll cash in her MITB contract for WrestleMania 34, then stop carrying the briefcase. Then she and Charlotte become closer and have each other’s’ backs while Charlotte is in the title chase. Have a few months lot of time go by, then finally have Charlotte win the title and have Becky turn on her like Ciampa did Gargano, cash in with the briefcase hidden under the ring, win the title and become the heel we haven’t gotten to see in WWE. Finally, Charlotte will have some fan sympathy to get her to the next level of being a babyface. Hopefully she would be able to put it all together, i.e. face promos and in-ring, but this scenario will give her a good head start.

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