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Posted in: Just Business
Just Business: The Preview Side of the Pond – Covering Every Quarter of a Busy News Week
By Samuel 'Plan
Oct 13, 2017 - 6:53:49 PM

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Don’t forget to pick up your copy of my book, 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die, from the LOP Store or Amazon today! Simply click here to find mine and a host of other books and merchandise on offer, all courtesy of LOP, or on the icon to the left to be taken directly to Amazon!

Just Business: The Preview Side of the Pond – Covering Every Quarter of a Busy News Week

Well the last seven days have certainly been a whirlwind of news in the world of professional wrestling, and most specifically WWE. That’s why this week’s episode of The Right Side of the Pond, airing in just a couple of hours, will see Mazza and I run through a plethora of the biggest news items of the last week in another edition of Bring It To The Pond – our riff on WWE’s similarly titled Network show.

We cover plenty in the hour - the two Cell matches from Sunday; the Shield reunion; the Zayn / Owens story; the rumours surrounding Neville; the sorry state of Wyatt vs. Bálor; and more besides. But I’m here now to kick things off with a look at some of the smaller news items that broke in the last few days, as a little bit of a warm up as we prep for some Pondian hot takes.

WarGames Returns

Although it was announced a couple of weeks ago, the return of WarGames remains hotly anticipated as we head closer towards November’s Survivor Series weekend. As a lifelong WWE fan, without any real exposure to WCW’s product outside of that sponsored by WWE, I had no idea what to expect. I must confess too that the idea of two rings side by side seemed rather silly.

But rather than depend on my presumptions, I decided to survey social media and go to the fans who would know their stuff for a recommendation: give me the best WarGames so I can get a handle on what to expect. I wound up watching 1992’s Dangerous Alliance vs. Sting’s Squadron and, sadly, it left me feeling rather cold. Happily, though, I can say that it felt undeniably like the reason for that was rooted in watching the match entirely out of context. It was clear this was the culmination of something big, and the atmosphere if nothing else was palpably intense. Come Takeover, watching in story context, I find myself feeling hopeful.

It’s going to be mighty interesting to see what those entering the cage at NXT Takeover do with this well-rested stipulation, especially in an age where I can’t help but feel many of WWE’s own genres are in desperate need of a temporary retirement – Hell in a Cell chief among them. If it’s a success, who knows; maybe it can make its way to the main roster someday after all?

That it’s three sets of three, rather than two sets of five, is equally intriguing to me as a ‘WWE homer.’ I’ve been warned off watching the 1998 version that offered the same format; perhaps some other well versed WCW vets can advise me if that’s a warning worth heeding.

Jimmy Jacobs Released

It’s a pretty harsh world where a backstage writer loses his job in the marketplace leader of his chosen profession simply for, firstly, having to deal with a personal issue and, secondly, taking a photograph with some friends. This is hardly the ‘Monday Night Wars’ anymore. I doubt a picture of a WWE writer with the vastly-popular-anyway Bullet Club was going to do any damage to WWE’s business, nor worsen a reputation that, for a vast number of fans, couldn’t be any lower in the first place.

I’m the first fan to leap to WWE’s defence when it comes under fire from other quarters, especially when it comes to the better parts of their creative output. I’m not blinded by a lifetime of loyalty, though, and it’s difficult to defend a company’s actions when petty point scoring like this, that can adversely affect lives, seems to take place.

Having said all that, I’m hardly in a position to judge. It’s not like any of us know the full story anyway, of course. It’s just a little galling to read, is all.

Apparently, news items doing the rounds claim Jacobs was well-liked among the locker room, and possessed, as one would expect, of an ability to understand ideas from a wrestler’s perspective. In an overly produced, Hollywood WWE that might yet prove to be a sorer loss than the promotion might expect; especially when their creativity hasn’t exactly been on fire recently.

Jinder Injured?

News is starting to emerge that the WWE Champion Jinder Mahal may be working with an injured shoulder. Rumours are abound too that WWE are attempting to downplay the injury somewhat.

It’s no secret here, or anywhere in the IWC for that matter, that Mahal’s championship reign has been viewed as something of a disaster. Even as somebody who doesn’t regularly watch Smackdown Live (SDL), this couldn’t be clearer. I still read results; still check out the odd clip on Youtube; and still see his work during Big Four cross-brand events. The Summerslam title defence was laughably forgettable and barely registered with me as an event in the first place.

In recent weeks, matters have escalated beyond heated conversations between fans too. Pictures have repeatedly emerged online from various events across the US documenting quite undeniably falling audience numbers at SDL shows. Who can blame them? The one positive some could have argued about Mahal’s title victory was that its controversy sparked a talking point that, in somewhat cynical fashion, might be relied upon to maintain interest. If that was the intention – and there is no evidence to suggest it was – it is clearer now than ever that it was sadly misguided. If it wasn’t the intention, well, then, what on earth was?!

Misguided, too, is the notion to keep the championship on the man simply for the sake of an Indian tour. There’s no arguing that Mahal has tried his best. Sadly, though, nor is there any ignoring the pragmatic reality that his best is clearly not good enough, either creatively or financially. That might be the reason he was an enhancement talent, and no amount of musculature can hide a general absence of ability.

I’m sure the man has a role to play and something to offer. An ethnocentric villain visiting from a by-gone age without the talent to back up his roster spot, though, is not that role. If this injury news is true, and not an exaggeration, it’s hard to imagine a situation where Mahal could overcome the disadvantage of an injured absence wrought upon this already disadvantaged champion.

It might be time to call it a day, WWE.

Brock Lesnar’s Future

A major part of my column last Tuesday regarding the reformation of The Shield, which Mazza and I will discuss in greater depth on tonight’s show airing in just a couple of hours, was the sense that maybe, this time, they can be the force that puts the ‘OVW Class of 2002’ to rest for good.

Then news cropped up this week, which has slipped somewhat under the radar it seems, that many in WWE believe Brock Lesnar is going to re-sign with the company once his current contract expires in the spring. If this is true, it might mean us having to baton down the hatches for a few more years yet and endure even more of the presumptive, overly privileged and creatively disinterested act that the Beast Incarnate has become ever since the completion of his programme with The Undertaker in 2015.

It’s hard for me personally to estimate what impact Lesnar has on WWE’s box office – I’m no financial analyst – but creatively the character has little to offer, and even less life left in its arc. Suplex, Repeat isn’t just true of his matches anymore; it is quite literally all he does. The notion that it’s all he needs to do is ludicrous. He should do more, or just leave. In the really real world, hopefully The Shield can make one of those two things happen indirectly.

But I’ll save that for later on, when The Right Side of the Pond hits LOP Radio’s airwaves very shortly.

Is the WarGames Match a favourite of yours that you’re happy to see return?

Was WWE in the wrong to apparently fire a talented writer for taking a photo with friends?

If Jinder Mahal is injured, will he ever be able to reclaim a spot he barely warranted the first time?

And how would you feel if Brock Lesnar does stick around after WrestleMania?

Please share with me your thoughts on the issues in this preview! And then tune into the show whenever you can and do the same about the issues Mazza and I run through then as well!

The Right Side of the Pond airs only on LOP Radio every Friday night, 9pm BST / 4pm EST, or can be listened to on demand at any time via BlogTalkRadio or on iTunes!

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of my book, 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die, from the LOP Store or Amazon today! Simply click here to find mine and a host of other books and merchandise on offer, all courtesy of LOP, or on the icon to the left to be taken directly to Amazon!

Click here to add me on Facebook!

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