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Thoughts on WWE Doing Unique PPV Matches and “The Man” Becoming The Mother – by Mike Sanchez

When WWE announced they were continuing to show Raw, Smackdown and PPVs during the ongoing crisis, I was in two minds; I applauded the notion that WWE wanted to continue providing content for fans and like Triple H said before the first Performance Center show aired, it was about escapism and providing some respite for people who had their worlds paused or in some cases, turned upside down. Companies like WWE and the entertainment business in general, live by the old mantra that ‘the show must go on’, and WWE has certainly lived up to that over the years. Through national tragedies, deaths in the company and even during global pandemics, they will always endeavor to put on a show for the fans.

That being said, I do have reservations and the main one being the health and well-being of the talent and crew. It’s no secret that this current crisis isn’t going to be over in a few months. This could well be something we’re going to have to live with for years to come. I believe life for all of us will get better, and I long for the days of ‘normality’ when crowds are allowed to attend sporting events and concerts once more, but that’s not going to be anytime soon. WWE’s insistence on pushing onward has meant that the talent has found themselves in difficult circumstances. Roman Reigns quite rightly has been absent from our screens (Roman is a father of five now) and now Sami Zayn has declared himself unwilling to risk his health (and that of those around him) at this time. This resulted in him being stripped of the Intercontinental Title and although WWE will insist it won’t hold a grudge against Zayn for his stance, history tells us not to bank on that.

The change to WWE’s product has seen the reintroduction of recorded or taped matches. This isn’t a new thing and has been done in the past, although not this many times. I was skeptical going into Wrestlemania when I read about the AJ Styles vs Undertaker Boneyard match, but it was an undoubted success. I think in part because it exceeded expectations and also that fans appreciated the bind WWE found themselves in and enjoyed the effort and high production put into it. The success of that match has given WWE more confidence to do more and we saw more positive feedback from the recent Money in the Bank matches that were filmed some weeks ago.

So is this going to be the norm for the foreseeable future? I believe so. The option of pre-taping matches gives WWE some valuable options. They can construct a match scene by scene and complete different takes, essentially like a mini-movie. They can edit out errors or mistakes and have the wrestlers redo their spots. They can utilize production and direction expertise from outside the company to put a gloss on the match. They can also trim down any parts that don’t add to the overall match or story. I’m not sure if the wrestlers themselves are supportive of this, but I’d imagine it gives them more options in a match and also opportunities to try again if they make a mistake.

I see this becoming a permanent fixture in WWE, even after this crisis has subsided and fans are once again permitted to attend shows. Yes, I understand that the live experience is fantastic and fans won’t want to watch the show via the titantron, but perhaps one or two per year would be sufficient? They could be saved to showcase special, one-off matches, particularly for those who benefit massively from a change of scenery such as the Undertaker or The Fiend. Fans would look forward to these matches as they know WWE invest time and money into them and would treat them as the spectacle they could become. Then again, perhaps WWE will focus on the in-ring action and drop the pre-recorded ones? The limitation for pre-recording was always suppressing spoilers, but if WWE can do these matches away from prying eyes, I believe they could be a positive in the future.

Becky Lynch Announces She Is Pregnant While Asuka Becomes The Raw Women’s Champion

Speaking of Money In the Bank and absent talent, Becky Lynch shared the ring with the Women’s MITB winner, Asuka this past Monday on Raw. Asuka – who I’m a massive fan of – found out that the MITB briefcase didn’t contain a contract, but the Raw Women’s Title. Becky Lynch surrendered the title and announced she would be leaving WWE for a while as she was pregnant. This was awesome news, and a bright spot for what is becoming a conveyor belt of depressing news around the world. Lynch has undoubtedly been the top women’s wrestler in the last year, perhaps the top wrestler overall in WWE. Her title reign has been impressive and now it becomes clear why she hasn’t been in action in recent weeks. So what does this mean for the Women’s Division going forward?

First of all, the division and WWE as a whole are going to be poorer for not having Becky Lynch on the show. She has some detractors, but the majority of fans love her and her in-ring work and mic skills are terrific. Her persona, attitude and commitment are plain to see and she will be a big miss. I wish her well while she’s away and also hope her and her fiancé Seth Rollins enjoy every moment. The hole she’s left looks like it’ll be filled by Asuka for now. I’m more than happy with this as I believe Asuka has the credibility to carry the title forward. She’s a legit top athlete and a popular champion. Her WWE record is second to none; NXT Women’s Champion, Smackdown Women’s Champion, Raw Women’s Champion, Royal Rumble winner, MITB winner, Tag Team Champion. That’s damn impressive and shows how much faith the office has in her.

Asuka being champion opens the door for some fresh matches. She’s had limited interactions and feuds with the likes of Shayna Baszler, Nia Jax and Lacey Evans. Sure, their paths have crossed, but now she can get into a real feud with some challengers for her title. I’m sure she will be more than capable of carrying the Raw division over the coming months. This also leaves a return for Becky Lynch open sometime in 2021. Though not certain, and I doubt she’ll return to being a full-time performer anytime soon, fans will love her coming back and having some more title runs. I’m not saying that motherhood will mean the end of Becky Lynch, but it will have a long-term impact on her character. She may want to be part time or perhaps not return at all. Regardless of her choice, I wish her well in what she does and would one day love to see here reclaim the title she never lost.

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Not to put a dampener on things, but I just wanted to briefly write about how the ongoing world crisis has impacted me personally. Two weeks ago, a dear friend of mine passed away from Covid-19. He was 60 years old and had no underlying health problems. He was a wonderful, generous and kind man, with a passion for rock music and tattoos. I had to watch his funeral via Zoom along with hundreds of others, as only 10 people were allowed to attend the service. We’re planning a proper send off for him once things are safer. Look after yourselves, your families and stay indoors if you can. Be smart and stay safe. There’s a long road ahead and we will get through this. – Mike S.