FANN’S TAKE: WWE and Logan Paul, G-1 Thoughts, Triple H in the big chair kick the week off

BY RICH FANN, PWTORCH COLUMNIST

Logan Paul wants WrestleMania match
PHOTO CREDIT: WWE

SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

Logan Paul’s Movie Review (Warning, contains slight thematic spoilers of the movie, “Nope”) Reflects his WWE character being miscast:

As Maryse and Logan Paul argued over the Miz’s balls and the state of the feud they’ve cultivated headed into SummerSlam on Raw Monday, I was in a state of shock by end of the show. First, because in this story, we’re supposed to side against a wife that wants to defend the name and virility of her husband in favor of the Youtube star turned fighter turned wrestler. Second, because earlier in the show, AJ Styles declared he may not like Logan Paul, but Styles liked Miz less – which is far from a ringing endorsement as a desired face. And finally, because Tommaso Ciampa (more on him later) gives this impassioned promo for himself, Maryse and Miz:

https://twitter.com/WWE/status/1551770801984208896

But then, thanks to a few friends pointing me to Logan Paul’s review of the recent Jordan Peele film, “Nope”, I get it now. Take a look at the first and last tweets in the thread Paul created after seeing the movie (note spoilers are rife throughout the tweets between):

I’m going to take some broad strokes with the plot to prevent this from being a spoileriffic column, but at its heart, Nope is about the question of fame – what you’d do to acquire it, the continued tax to maintain it on your life and the aftermath of its loss. When Wade and I discussed this topic last week during “Everything with Rich Fann and Wade Keller”, I mentioned that in my opinion Logan had progressed past the incident at Aokigahara Forest and made steps to be less of a jerk in the public space. However, the fact that Paul can’t see the forest for the trees in the case of a film that essentially depicts his and his brother’s rise into notoriety is a big red flag. In order to completely miss the main point of the film, as mentioned by a character who has been to the highest heights of Hollywood:

“This dream you’re chasing, we end up at the top of the mountain. It’s the one you never wake up from.”

It’s right there. Like I said, I don’t want to spoil a ton of the great Peele movie, but Paul missing this beat is why he allegedly came into WWE wanting to be a face. Why, even now as Tommaso Ciampa roasts him with less than two minutes’ time to speak on the upcoming match for Miz and you feel for Ciampa, not as a toady, not as a minion, but as a man who sees someone not welcome in their home throwing their feet on the couch. The fact that Paul cannot see that his fame in one arena does not guarantee love and positive emotions in another is startling, given how well the Paul brothers have leveraged collective dislike and need to see them punched in the face into PPV buys.

When Paul last week mentioned how hard he worked, how hard he scraped to hit his SEOs and become the influencer he is today, that doesn’t resonate with fans. You’re not going to get cheered because you have over 4 million followers on Twitter. And for Paul’s feud as a single to be against Miz – who, as Ciampa detailed in the above tweet has fought and clawed beyond his Real World / MTV persona into a 15+ year career, and Maryse – a woman who began as “just” one of the “Diva Search” ex-Playmate folks currently suspended and/or retired from WWE recently wanted on screen. That “diva” has become not only a businesswoman of her own fate beyond those men, but as shown on Miz and Mrs, a stalwart for her family and a character with her own fanbase as well. So, in a way, I’m grateful for that blindspot-laden thread Paul made – it helped cement, much like Billy Madison, no points were awarded, and we should feel dumber for having sat through it – and his current face run.

Paul Levesque’s return can bode well for OG NXT alum:

As mentioned above, the spotlight on Ciampa as a mouthpiece as well as muscle for Miz was a nice turn of events, especially given the cold open brawl between Miz and Paul. Coupled with a longer form method of transitions for matches, promos and a key story of the night, people in the back looking at the camera like humans would, Roman’s “Your Daddy’s not here anymore” line to Austin Theory, and a few little notes here and there, change was subtly present on Monday’s post-Vince McMahon Raw in MSG.

We still saw multiple camera angles in scenes of action, Bianca Belair still had to stand in the ring with her music as Rey Mysterio was wrecked by Judgment Day, and we have no clue what’s going on with Alexa and her doll. But, if there’s anything to the reports via Fightful, here at the Torch and elsewhere regarding Levesque’s chat with talent, it may bode well for NXT alumni that felt unseen in the past. Ricochet, Ali, Ciampa, Shayna Baszler are the first that come to mind as people that have been made a bit lesser compared to the possibility they’ve shown outside of WWE and particularly in NXT. While it is still early days, those sorts of folk will be my focus more than anything – the people that were his go-to’s in NXT, as well as how NXT 2.0 is built/re-built based on Levesque’s vision for WWE.

Also, whether or not “Pop” gets to go against the Feds one more time as a septuagenarian.

G-1 Thoughts:

I’m not going to go too deep into the G-1, but I do want to talk about four stories for me so far – Naito’s quest for the Tokyo Dome, Tom Lawlor’s fashion assault, Pieter Rabbit and the hustler that is Kenta.

First, Pieter. A traditional Bullet Club “I’m gonna cheat, no I’m gonna cheat YOU brother brother” matchup between Yujiro Takahashi and EL-P took a weird turn when Yujiro offered Pieter in exchange for a win. After Yujiro lost, Pieter left with EL-P anyway to the chagrin of the Tokyo Pimp. Pieter now has a story of her own – to whom does her loyalty lie? And does the journey give Yujiro more to work with as he either tries to win her back, or learns that it ain’t easy having a heart in the pimp game?

(Also, a listener asked the question of how a pimp can gain weight during a pandemic. Hey, we’re all trying to cope as best we can!)

This leads perfectly to Tom Lawlor, who has been a treat so far in the G-1 even in tag matches. Tom, former UFC fighter and great wrestler here in the States for New Japan Strong currently has usurped the “Maria cam” shots that were so prevalent during Maria Kanellis’ run in the promotion. The level of focus Tom has gotten onto his Daisy Duke ring gear has belied the fact he’s fitting right in as a solid competitor in the group. If this keeps up, I hope that he’s a mainstay in the tournament and gets a few tours to show that as funny as he can be, Lawlor is equally adept at making you want to throw stuff at him or cheer him on. Check out today’s matchup against Lance Archer as a great illustration of what I mean – his first outing in the G-1 as a singles needs to be seen.

Speaking of needing to be seen, take a look as the hustle levels of my man Kenta:

https://twitter.com/AshLovesPuro/status/1551446260111925249

Stupendous.

As always, feel free to follow up on twitter (@Rich_Fann) or via email – everythingwithrich@gmail.com.


CATCH-UP: HEYDORN’S TAKE: Vince McMahon dictatorship collapses, power trio to shepherd in true new era of WWE

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