It’s pretty interesting doing what I do and seeing the complaints that wrestling fans have. Let’s take John Cena and Roman Reigns as an example and how it relates to last night’s WWE No Mercy event (read my recap here) and their booking in general.
On August 1, Cena faced Shinsuke Nakamura on Smackdown for the first time ever. Good match for about 14 minutes and Nakamura won clean with Kinshasa while Cena had a rough landing on his neck taking a suplex. I had people bitch to me about how it “only” took one finisher to beat Cena. They said it made Cena “look bad” apparently when really it was done to put over Nakamura strong.
Last night at No Mercy, Cena did the Attitude Adjustment four times, went for covers three times after it and Reigns kicked out while Reigns only had to hit his Spear once to win. Actually it was two times because Reigns hit Cena with a Spear on the announce table. I’m seeing people bitching about how Reigns was booked to look too strong because of that. They went nearly 25 minutes, had a great match and the crowd was into it. That’s what matters more than anything. The funny thing is for the last 12 years people would bitch to me about Cena kicking out of every finisher. I don’t recall every Cena match off the top of my head that well because I’ve reviewed hundreds of them, but I’m pretty sure that Cena has kicked out of four finishers in a match before. I think four is probably too much, but for all we know it could have been a Cena suggesting too. We don’t know the details of that and likely never will.
The reality is this: Kicking out of finishers is a WWE booking strategy since Austin and Rock made it cool 16 years ago, my friends. It probably started before them, but those two along with Triple H really made it a regular thing in big matches. Cena has kicked out of more finishers than anybody in WWE history, if I had to guess.
Also, if you want to be really picky, Cena vs. Reigns should have ended in a countout because they were out of the ring for over a minute, but the ref didn’t count it. That would have been a shitty finish, so of course it wasn’t the end. The ref ignored it and the announcers didn’t even mention it.
Cena did the “I’m old, so let me soak in the atmosphere” post match walk. People think he might retire. He’s not. He’s going to film movies probably for the rest of the year or whenever. Cena is not expected at Raw tonight. I don’t know his movie schedule and you probably don’t either, but we do know he has several movies in the works. The slowest period in the WWE calendar is in the next three months, so if Cena takes time off then now is the best time. Maybe Cena will be a part of Survivor Series. Not sure yet.
When it comes to Reigns, do you know what his PPV record is in 2017? I put it in my review: 3 wins and 6 losses. The three wins were at Fastlane, WrestleMania and No Mercy. The losses were at the Royal Rumble (twice), Payback, Extreme Rules, Great Balls of Fire and SummerSlam. Some of those losses were cheap, but not all of them. This is not something WWE is going to mention to you because they always want Roman to look strong, but that’s the reality.
Last month was SummerSlam with a 4 way main event match. Who got pinned clean after a F5? Roman Reigns. That move happened after Reigns hit Lesnar three times with Superman Punches and Lesnar just hit him with one F5 to win the match.
I had no doubt that Reigns was going to win over Cena at No Mercy. Cena is going away, he’s 8 years older and Reigns needed the win after getting beat clean at SummerSlam. What’s the bigger show: SummerSlam or No Mercy? The answer is SummerSlam and that’s not even close.
With all of that said, I don’t love the booking of Reigns at all. I think they should have turned him heel two years ago and see what happens from there. Instead, Vince McMahon has become a stubborn old man with his booking of Reigns as a face. In WWE’s mind, Reigns getting loud reactions (even though they are boos) is what they want and they celebrate that even though it’s not exactly good for ticket sales of late.
As for Lesnar/Strowman booking, I wish that was better. I did go into it in my review where I wrote that it should have taken more for Lesnar to win and if it was up to me, I would have had Strowman win.
Long term, as Dave Meltzer reported back in March and we posted on this website, the plan has been Lesnar vs. Reigns at WrestleMania 34 in April 2018. That means that Lesnar will likely hold the Universal Title for one year, beat every big name on Raw and then lose to Reigns at the next WrestleMania. Is the best booking decision? Probably not, but it’s what the plan is unless they change their mind.
As for the future, the rumor is that Reigns will reunite with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose to re-form The Shield at the TLC event next month, so most of the people bitching about Reigns will probably mark out when he sees him back with his old buddies. Funny how that works.
Lastly, what I wrote above was not a defense for WWE booking. I’m just saying I understand where they are coming from. I think 2017 has been a disappointing year for WWE in part because of the booking. I liked last year better especially on Smackdown.
Anyway, that’s my take in about 1000 words. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I’ll be back on Tuesday with the Raw Deal.
My contact info is below. I’ll be back during the week with Raw and Smackdown reviews as usual.