With Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt out of tomorrow’s Tables Ladders and Chairs event, something curious happened. At least for Bray, the cause seems to be a form of meningitis.
WWE replaced them with two names that instantly made the card more compelling.
To replace the Bray Wyatt, Vince & Co. opted to bring in the Smackdown prodigy: AJ Styles.
This means we’re going to see Finn Balor vs. AJ Styles. If you know wrestling, any explanation as to why this is a must-see affair is unnecessary.
Styles is one of the best wrestlers in the world, if not the best. Right now, I’m only tempted to put Okada and Neville above him, and that might be because of the way they were matched up and booked, which favoured them more than The Phenomenal One.
Balor isn’t AJ, but is still top-tier is terms of technique and crowd support. His only shortcoming, IMHO, is the strange psychology of his character, as The Demon’s body paint only makes Finn enter the ring differently. The moves, the body language, the antics, remain mostly unaltered.
It’s like American Bad Ass Undertaker still wrestling as slow-paced dead-man-like as 1990-91 Undertaker. If you’re into the whole “things should make sense” thing, it just doesn’t compute.
But that’s how good this booking is: pretty much all wrestling fans popped for the announcement. No one went “Gee, I’d be really excited for this if Balor played The Demon right.”
This brings us to Kurt Angle, who replaces Roman Reigns.
Talk about unexpected. Angle’s in-ring return has been heavily rumored as a special – perhaps one-time – attraction, which is the only way it even remotely makes sense: Angle’s days in wrestling are numbered, as the combined physical toll of years in olympic wrestling, pro wrestling and some heavy-duty substance abuse would suggest.
His joining The Shield at TLC is weird booking, at the very least. Even though he’s crossed paths with the participants of this storyline, he’s done so as an authority figure and, arguably, The Shield were the ones that came closest to putting Angle on his gold-medalled rear end.
This means that, as with many WWE booking moves, Angle’s inclusion in Team Shield has no setup. No story was told to justify his inclusion into this match.
The difference between this storyline and the many others WWE puts out, is that there is a kind-of-justification, even though (as of “press time”) it hasn’t been played much: TLC is tomorrow and the company has to scramble to keep the card compelling, even though two important stars are MIA.
Angle is a hot replacement that raises so many points of attention and anticipation:
My only gripe with this idea is that I hoped Kurt would never wrestle again (maybe he won’t and this is a ruse, but hopefully not). I’m not a doctor, I don’t have his exams on my computer, but it’s hard not to get a very uneasy feeling when you put together the general opinion of Angle’s condition and his willingness to give it his all in marquee matches.
And tomorrow, it’s TLC.
But, I digress. It’s Kurt Angle. It’s AJ Styles. Coming to the rescue. Making 2 big matches must-see.
On one match, we had the worst Halloween party of all time, which has now turned into a dream match. Could be worse.
On the other match, our Olympic Hero is in the match, making a strange, underwhelming 3-on-5 match get the compelling argument it was missing. Could be worse.
This is why I wrote the title I did.
In my opinion, this event is clearly made better by the fact that WWE had to scramble hard to keep the card intact. They had to be seriously pushed to make up for Reigns and Wyatt being on the shelf.
This isn’t what WWE strives for every day. Or, if it is, it’s not what comes up on TV. For the last few years, it feels like they’re coasting. Painfully so.
Therefore, I submit to you, Your Honor, meningitis is a better booker than Vince.