In an attempt to be the bigger, more blockbuster WWE brand, Monday Night RAW trotted out two monumental developments: Sasha Banks and Charlotte are ending their storied rivalry (for now) inside Hell in a Cell in the main event of, uh, Hell in a Cell; and Goldberg.
Goldberg is still scheduled for Survivor Series next month, but he’s still worth discussing. Here you have a man—a 49-year-old man, might I remind all of you—that people still want to see wrestle. He’ll be wrestling Brock Lesnar, of all people, a man who plows through everyone else because he feels like it. A man who completely destroys people in his path, even more so in his matches now.
Let’s get this straight: because of nostalgia, a lot of you want to see a 49-year-old Goldberg be destroyed by a still-dominant Brock Lesnar.
I understand that this thing has to happen because you’re promoting the new WWE 2K17 video game, which heavily features Lesnar and Goldberg. It’s a totally acceptable marketing ploy, and one I would have made had I been in the same position.
But in reality, it’s another lame-duck matchup in the making, and one we should have all learned to expect after the travesty that was Brock Lesnar vs Randy Orton at this year’s SummerSlam. If you’re expecting a Bill Goldberg who’s still a force of nature like he was more than a decade ago, one that could easily keep up with Lesnar like he did at WrestleMania XX, you’re sadly too naïve for this business. There’s a difference between being a mark and naivete.
I hate to be the killjoy here, because Goldberg is rightfully a force of nostalgia, but the inevitable main event placing of their matchup requires a lot of criticism. It would’ve been okay if Lesnar/Goldberg would be a midcard sideshow at Survivor Series, but you and I both know that that’s just not gonna happen with how big they are. Once again, two legends are going to take a space that should be reserved for a couple of young lions who need it. It’s a legend’s slot, too, but if John Cena, AJ Styles, and Dean Ambrose could start a PPV, then why can’t Brock Lesnar and Goldberg work the middle of a show (theoretically)?
Feel free to get hyped for Goldberg vs Lesnar, but if it turns out to be the middle-aged trainwreck that most sensible people are predicting it would be, just remember who told you so.
Hell hath no fury like two women fighting
So… here we have the other big news going into Hell in a Cell.
First, they announced that Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte for the Women’s Championship for the last time was gonna be inside Hell in a Cell. That’s cool. These things have been a long time coming—in fact, I wanted them to start with a Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match. Or any hardcore-ish match involving women.
But then they took it a step further, having Mick Foley announce that this particular match is closing the PPV. So it ended up being ground breaking for women’s wrestling for two important reasons. That’s nice and all, but I really can’t help but feel that this is all a cheap gimmick, for the glory of being progressive, and not exactly for the actual benefits of being progressive.
Of course, it’s easy to argue that the feud between the two women has escalated enough to get to this point. That it’s been built up enough to actually warrant a Hell in a Cell match involving women for the first time in history. That might be true, but given the propensity of the WWE to overhype their legitimate biggest moments, it all feels like a cheap ploy to hijack true progression for ratings and buzz. That’s what I’ve never liked about the company, especially the version of the WWE that’s a little too self-aware of its place in the meta, all too eager to talk about the brand and not the story. It’s too willing to use what happens in the ring to toot its own horn, instead of just being a story about people hating each other and fighting.
I’m not saying there isn’t a place for people like Banks and Charlotte to wrestle inside Hell in a Cell, or for them to be the main spectacle closing the show. I just wish there was a better way for the promoters to go about this, to really sell the match through ferocity and passion and not because it breaks new ground. I mean that’s okay, but let’s not overdo it.
Pressure is mounting now on the two women to deliver, but if they’re as great as they say they are, they’ll find a way to pull it off. And they’re both Women’s champions. If they want this spot, they better know how to earn it.
Do you listen to podcasts? Would you want to listen to a local podcast about pro wrestling? If the answers to those questions – especially that last one – are yes, then you should check out the cleverly-named Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast, featuring Mellow 94.7 DJ and PWR General Manager Stan Sy, wrestling writer and Wrestling God Romeo Moran, and all-around multimedia person and former voice of PWR Raf Camus! This week, Rappler’s very own Michael Bueza reviews the recently-concluded PWR Renaissance! – Rappler.com