Features

Thoughts on the WWE Evolution PPV, Randy Orton heel turn and Paige as Smackdown GM by Mike Sanchez

There are weeks in WWE when I have a plethora of subjects to mull over and give my two pence/cents worth to those who care to read my musings. Sometimes there are weeks where nothing happens and I’m left floundering for something to write about. Then there are weeks like this where lots of things happen, but I can’t stretch out my thoughts to a thousand words or thereabouts. For one thing, the announcement of a women-only PPV, Evolution, would normally keep me going for weeks, but a lot has been said by other outlets as well as our own fearless leader, John Canton, so I’ll resist regurgitating what others have already said.

For what it’s worth, I really hope the PPV is a massive success. Its poor form to will something different to fail so you can say ‘I told you so’, and lest we forget that many in the WWE Universe perpetually cry out for new stories, angles and feuds – continually berating the tried and tested in the company. This is new. This is big. This really is a moment in history for professional wrestling.

I won’t go into too much detail on how I want the event to pan out, or what matches I believe should be on the card, but there is one point I would like to raise. On Monday Night Raw, when Stephanie (surprise, surprise) reveled in the spotlight of everything that is women’s wrestling, stood in the ring and spoke passionately about the upcoming PPV, she said it was because of us, the fans that this had happened. It was down to our support of the female stars that WWE put this show on. I have to disagree. Though I don’t doubt the support from fans all around the world has been a contributing factor, I think the reason lies with the female talent themselves. Over the past few years, they’ve simply become that damn good that a women-only PPV was inevitable. True there have been other talented stars in recent times (Trish Stratus, Mickie James, Lita etc.) but the depth wasn’t there back then, nor could the women’s roster carry a full PPV. Now, the talent is deep and more coming through every year. I believe that though fans have played their part, it’s been the unwavering support of WWE and the hard work and talent of the female wrestlers that have enabled the Evolution PPV to come about.

Evil Randy Orton is Back

From one new Evolution, to an older one in Randy Orton. I’ve always liked Orton, even though he’s wound down his career of late, and who can blame him? He’s achieved all there is to do in professional wrestling, has a young family and likely made enough money to retire. Check out his accomplishments: 4 x WWE Heavyweight Champion, 9 x WWE Champion, 2 x Tag Champion, 1 x Intercontinental Champion, 1 x United States Champion, MITB Winner, 2 x Royal Rumble winner. What’s left for him to do? Though it would be easy to walk away from professional wrestling, I have to admit that I liked seeing him cut a good promo on Smackdown Live. I’ve always felt that Orton knows how good he is and perhaps doesn’t feel the need to go over the top week after week. He’s not renowned for leaping off cages, performing death-defying aerial assaults or the like. He’s a solid wrestler, supremely talented who always seems to bring out his best form when paired with a talented opponent. His matches with Seth Rollins, Mick Foley and Jeff Hardy were highlights in his career – much like his ascension to main-event status when he broke away from Evolution, famously dissing Triple H in the process.

I’m hoping Orton’s involvement in the coming weeks will enable him to have some more high-level matches and bring out the best in him. His finisher, the RKO, is among my favorites of all time and I love the delivery when he hits it. Be it the Viper, the Legend Killer or just plain old Randy Orton, I’m hopeful this run will see him back to what he does best in the ring on Smackdown Live.

Paige’s Role as Smackdown GM

Speaking of Smackdown Live, I couldn’t talk about the show without mentioning my fellow country(wo)man, the Smackdown GM, Paige. I have to be honest in saying that I feared for Paige when she got the GM gig. I thought it would be a stopgap to have her on WWE TV until she moved on to pastures new, or became disillusioned with wrestling itself. I’m pleased to say that hasn’t happened and she’s embraced the opportunity with relish.

Her work is improving week after week and her talking is coming along nicely. As has been mentioned before, she’s performed a fine balancing act between the playful, cheery soul we know she is and the stern GM when called upon. Her response to James Ellsworth this week summed it up quite well. Though she can walk around with a playful smile on her face from time to time, she can draw upon a grimace and snarl when dealing with talent who dare to question her authority. With the backdrop of WWE’s push for women’s wrestling and the upcoming Evolution PPV on the horizon, it makes sense that Paige should be one of the focal points for the blue brand and her involvement should be celebrated. I get the impression when watching Monday Night Raw that Kurt Angle has little sway or real authority on the show – as Steph or Triple H will soon appear to denounce him or reverse his decisions. Paige on the other hand, carries an aura about her that Smackdown Live is her show and she has full control – something that is a basic requirement for any GM. Hopefully she can continue to blossom in her new role now that she is retired. I sincerely hope she does well and is in WWE for many years to come. It came as a cruel blow to have her in-ring career cut short so young, but with any luck she can carve out a new niche for herself and still be as successful whatever the future may hold.