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Wrestling Wrecap: Damn Your Fantasies

Welcome to Wrestling Wrecap, a column focused on discussing and dissecting the week in pro wrestling.

I’ve discussed Becky Lynch and her quest to face Ronda Rousey at Wrestlemania a lot in this column. I’ve focused on Becky and how the company has hitched their wagon to her rise in stardom. I’ve discussed Charlotte and how her addition to the match adds to it in ways that have only recently become more apparent, but in all of that I haven’t really discussed the Raw Women’s Champion, Ronda Rousey.

Now, part of that is because I personally view Ronda as a means to an end, a way to build up hype and main event status for two of the best female workers on the planet. Another reason is that Rousey has played a very passive role in the story so far. All of that changed this week, however, after a trading of Twitter barbs between Rousey and Lynch led to Ronda “shooting” on Becky and calling out the scripted nature of their chosen profession.

Obviously, on some level this is a work, another part of the story being told. That’s not really my problem though, my problem is that it is pointless and bad. Rousey calling out the whole of wrestling as fake is something I’d expect from 2000s WCW not a company that is about to be airing a weekly show on network television. Similar to those countless “shoots” in WCW, this one does nothing but undermine the storyline by reminding the viewer that what they are watching is fiction. It is the equivalent of going to see Captain Marvel and seeing a minutes-long diatribe where Brie Larson tells you that she doesn’t actually have super powers, this isn’t really the 90s and Samuel Jackson is actually 70 years old. You would be understandably taken out of the experience.

The worst part is that this wasn’t even the end of it. I woke up this morning (Friday) to write this column and discovered that Ronda had gone even further into Vince Russo territory. To try and recount it would do a disservice to how bad it actually is so here is the transcription of the most damning part of her statement.

“I’m not going out there and doing their f***ing act anymore, I’m going out there and doing whatever the hell I want. And they can explain it however they want, but … f*** em. Everybody. WWE Universe included. I meant that I’m going to disrespect the sport that they all love so much. ‘Ohhhh don’t break kayfabe Ronda!’ Wrestling is scripted. It’s made up. It’s not real. None of those bitches can f***ing touch me. The end.”

Perhaps the most disappointing part of this is that, on a certain level, I see what she is trying to do. On Monday, Rousey officially turned heel by going off on the crowd for their continued booing of her and laying into both Charlotte and Becky Lynch. The segment itself was fun and Rousey did a solid job on the mic. So, I can see this as her way of trying to play up a new heel persona. Again, the problem is that it is not a good idea. This story should have been simple. Becky Lynch wants to fight Ronda and prove that she is the best. Ronda believes that she is the best and that Becky cannot touch her. Charlotte is added in due to her legacy and privilege and fuels the fire between them while also making Lynch paranoid about her opportunity being stolen. It was a story that easily could have been hyped and built to a culmination at Wrestlemania.

This isn’t to say I’ve given up on this story, after all, Ronda hasn’t actually said any of these things on TV. It does beg the question of how much social media should play into a feud?  How much control should we as viewers should give it in letting us decide what we enjoy and dislike about wrestling? It is a topic way too big for me to tackle in the rest of this column, but it is one that will be in the back of my mind in the coming weeks as this feud continues to march toward Wrestlemania and, hopefully, some sort of worthwhile conclusion.

Getting the Band Back Together

The Brotherhood of the Beard reunites.

With Roman Reigns back in the company and Dean Ambrose still reportedly leaving next month, the era of the Shield seems all but over post-Wrestlemania. It only makes sense then, that we got one final Shield reunion this week on Raw.

Continuing to stick to the heartfelt and earnest promos, Reigns called out Rollins with one simple request: get Ambrose back into the fold. Reigns’ time away put things into perspective and he doesn’t want to waste a single moment without his brothers by his side. It is touching in a way that I was not expecting from Roman, who is typically the least emotional of the trio.

As expected Ambrose proved to be a little reluctant, but after being saved from a beatdown courtesy of Baron Corbin and his collection of heels with nothing better to do, he reconsidered. Pacing around the ring and muttering, Ambrose eventually put himself, and his fist, back into the group.

While the reunion is sudden, especially considering Dean’s flop of a heel turn, I like the undercurrent of emotion running through it. Ambrose as the emotionally volatile fuse waiting to blow, Rollins as the weary but excited face and Reigns as the glue keeping these two men from tearing each other apart. It is at once the same Shield as before and a profoundly different one. I look forward to seeing how this, potentially final, reunion plays out.

Driving Slow in the Fastlane

Even Daniel Bryan is unhappy with this event existing.

The Road to Wrestlemania takes one last stop to ensure the wheels aren’t falling off at Fastlane! Previously used as one of two brand-exclusive events before Wrestlemania, the PPV has become a little unnecessary with the return of dual-brand events. WWE certainly hasn’t done much to make it feel necessary either, giving us a card that, until this past week, had 3 confirmed matches. Nevertheless the show does have a few good matches on the card so, here’s hoping it delivers!

The New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods) vs Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev

A match that is as thrown together as Nakamura and Rusev’s tag team. This is actually a tough one to predict as both teams could use a win, but I’ll give it to the New Day, potentially setting them up for a Wrestlemania tag match. Nak and Rusev meanwhile will continue to do nothing of value. Winners: The New Day

Rey Mysterio vs Andrade

Filling the standard cruiserweight pre-show match slot, Mysterio and Andrade are likely going to burn the house down. Shockingly, this is Andrade’s first singles match on a PPV since July. Hopefully he shows the folks in the back he deserves to be elevated. Winner: Andrade

WWE Smackdown Tag Team Champions The Usos vs The Miz & Shane McMahon

This match was mostly fine at Elimination Chamber and I imagine it will be fine here as well. Shane will get gassed five minutes in and do another table spot before Miz turns on him. Hopefully the Usos get a good match-up at Wrestlemania. Winners: The Usos

WWE Champion Daniel Bryan vs Kevin Owens

I am a big fan of KO, tracing back to his days as ROH champion. I’m happy to see Owens come back and get this match and I’m very excited to see what he can do with some renewed passion and momentum. The fact that it is against Daniel Bryan only further fuels my excitement. As fun as an Owens win would be, Bryan has a date with Kofi at Wrestlemania that he can’t miss. Winner: Daniel Bryan

WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions The Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection (Bayley & Sasha Banks) vs Nia Jax & Tamina

This match doesn’t have much heat to it but should be a passable affair. Jax will get to look strong while Bayley and Sasha look like amazing underdogs by overcoming the bigger opponents. Winners: Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection

WWE Smackdown Women’s Champion Asuka vs Mandy Rose

Asuka had all but disappeared from TV following her win over Becky at the Royal Rumble and returned only to lose to Rose. That was used as the set-up for this match which I think will surprise people. Mandy is pretty handy in the ring and Asuka can do no wrong. In the end, of course, nobody is ready for Asuka. Winner: Asuka

The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins) vs Baron Corbin, Drew McIntyre & Bobby Lashley

This is a pretty straightforward affair, The Shield get one last run together and they’re going to run through this random trio to do it. I suppose there is always the possibility that Corbin and his crew sneak a win to officially end the group, but I really doubt they’ll do that with this being Reigns’ first match back. Winners: The Shield

Charlotte Flair vs Becky Lynch

If Becky wins this match she is added back into the Women’s Championship match at Wrestlemania, which makes the winner seem as obvious as possible. Given how needlessly complex this feud has been I could see them going for the SWERVE and having Charlotte win, especially when you look back at this feud and see how much Lynch has dominated it. Still, I’m gonna go with the safe bet. Winner: Becky Lynch

WWE Raw Tag Team Champions The Revival vs Aleister Black & Ricochet vs Chad Gable & Bobby Roode

Originally, this was suppose to be a fatal four-way before Ciampa’s untimely injury, this three team match still looks like a banger if given the proper time. Expect The Revival to get the win here and head into Mania as the champions. Winners: The Revival

Performer(s) of the Week: DIY

Papa Ciampa gives a stern talking to to Johnny Nobelt.

First off, this was a tremendous week for wrestling. We had a great four-way on Smackdown, Jordan Devlin and Travis Banks gave us an incredible Falls Count Anywhere match on NXT UK and New Japan gave us two great bouts this week with Taiji Ishimori/Jushin Liger and Jay White/Will Ospreay. And all of that isn’t even counting the stellar episode of NXT we got this week, where every match was worth watching in some way. Of those matches, the main event between DIY and The Undisputed Era stood out the most. Playing up on the drama of DIY’s reunion, Ciampa and Gargano continue to bring out the best in each other. It’s a shame that Tommaso recently had neck surgery, potentially shuttering the conclusion of this long, amazing storyline. At least we still have another DIY match in the coming weeks.

If you made it down here, thanks for reading! Tell me what you thought about this week’s events in wrestling in the comments and, as always, any feedback is appreciated. Cheers