WrestleMania 36 will take place at the WWE Performance Center over the course of two days in a pair of historic firsts for the Grandest Stage of Them All. How exciting are either of these developments?
All Elite Wrestling has grown its roster by two with the debuts of Brodie Lee and Matt Hardy this past week. Are Lee and Hardy good fits for AEW Dynamite?
And, with Covid-19 drastically changing life around the world, we’ve got plenty of recommendations to pass the time in self-isolation.
Join us for this week’s Gimme Five!
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1. WWE will hold WrestleMania 36 at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida over the course of two days. Are you excited about an entire weekend of WrestleMania?
Steve McCleary (@SJMcCleary):
One percent, and that comes from being curious about how they’re going to try to do it. If it’s anything like their programming of the last week… yeesh. Logistics aside, I maintain that WrestleMania should be the first audience show back from the coronavirus.
Grady Hooker (@GradyHooker):
WrestleMania is 20 percent wrestling and 80 percent atmosphere. With that atmosphere pulled, it’s going to be hard to be as invested as I have been in years previous. I’ll still watch, but I’m not going to be running around hyped like Mojo Rawley.
Mister J (@misterjcomics):
To say I was excited at all would probably be an overstatement. But what I am is very interested. In part, just to see how they do it, and in part to see if they add any matches to the card to make up for all the time they’re going to save with entrances, crowd interactions, etc. Mike Johnson from PWInsider suggested adding Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa and Adam Cole vs. Velveteen Dream from the planned TakeOver card, and I for one would be all over that idea.
Sammy G (@RealSammyG):
I’m on board 100 percent. In these trying times, I appreciate WWE is doing its best to keep its fans sports-entertained. Pushing ahead with “The Show of Shows” is a big part of that.
Plus, in the spirit of breaking attendance records, having a grand total of zero will be something for the record books!
David Dunn (@david_dunn):
WrestleMania 36 will pale in comparison to previous offerings in terms of grandeur but could be a trailblazer when it comes to future events. Don’t forget NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom was also split across two nights earlier this year. If WrestleMania 36 is as well-received as it can be (given the circumstances) it wouldn’t shock me to see another two-day event promoted in Los Angeles in 2021.
2. Both Brodie Lee and Matt Hardy made their debuts on AEW Dynamite. Are these two a good fit for All Elite Wrestling?
Definitely. Hardy needs creative control in order to best use all of his gifts, and Lee just needed the platform and trust. I’m excited.
There were inklings of Brodie Lee, Lance Archer, and Matt Hardy arriving, and then we had these roles of The Elite’s fifth member, The Exalted One, and Jake Roberts’ client. I think everyone fits well in the role they ended up. I’m excited to see how they go, and what Hardy does after Blood and Guts.
To be honest, I would say both guys are past their prime… but you know what? So is Jericho, and he’s one of the best guys on TV currently. Both have much to offer in name value, creative, and in-ring. I think they will both be great fits, and cannot wait to see what they have in store for the AEW audience.
I admit I haven’t seen much of AEW Dynamite or Dark. That said, I still keep up with hirings, firings, etc. I’m excited to see The Exalted One will finally get the chance that we have begged for him for a long time, so he’ll fit right in. As for the newest member of The Elite… honestly, his arrival doesn’t do much for me. AEW has piqued my interest with Lance Archer as Jake Roberts’ client though!
I’m happy to see both Hardy and Lee arrive in AEW, and thought their introductions were handled brilliantly – especially without any sort of audience in the building.
3. Many wrestling events are moving behind closed doors in the face of Covid-19, with no audience in the building. What’s your take on these forced-empty arena matches?
It’s obviously smarter than having a crowd. I was pretty shaky on WWE’s attempts, but AEW knocked it out of the park on Dynamite. Perhaps a necessary evil for a while. And imagine how excited crowds will be when they’ve had a break!
It is a shame, but you have to make lemonade out of these lemons. Wrestling is staying strong and putting out content on the weekly and that is admirable if it isn’t impacting on anyone’s health.
I like the idea that they are still happening. I do wonder if – with the cancellation of baseball, basketball, hockey, etc. – this might be the chance for wrestling to claw back some of the TV ratings and interest it has lost over the past few years, purely on the basis of being the last ones left producing new content.
The best performers know how to work an empty room, so it’s interesting to see how wrestlers are adapting to this new environment for TV. Sure, some of the “wow” is gone from live crowd reactions to promos, but again, I appreciate the effort going into running these shows given the circumstances.
I loved Stardom’s No People Gate and WrestleTalk’s No Fans Monday. Obviously they’re happening for very different reasons to empty arena matches of the past, but pro-wrestling is second-to-none at making the best of a bad situation.
4. As pro-wrestling looks to have its first mandated off-season, what’s your frontrunner for 2020 Match of the Year so far?
The Young Bucks vs. Kenny Omega and Hangman Page from AEW Revolution. Once that picked up, it was glorious. The levels of storytelling and future teases – and the continued ascension of Page – were exhilarating.
You can’t look past Omega and Hangman vs. The Young Bucks.
I probably haven’t watched enough “new” wrestling this year to make an informed choice… but I certainly enjoyed Ciampa vs. Cole from TakeOver: Portland.
I’m playing my cards close to my chest and keeping some judgement for now… I don’t think we’ve seen it yet. Optimism says the best is yet to come. If pushed for an answer: The 2020 30-Man Royal Rumble is up there for me!
January 4 historically sets the bar super high for any given year, and 2020 is no exception. It’ll take a lot for any singles match to push past Will Ospreay vs. Hiromu Takahashi at the top of my list.
5. With Covid-19 forcing people around the world to practise self-isolation and social distancing, what hidden gems do you recommend wrestling fans discover over the next month or two?
I’m really bad with memory stuff. At the moment I’m just going on WWE Network and picking random Raw episodes from the ‘90s and having fun with those.
I’ve been watching the run of ECW on TNN, and while I can see why people who weren’t around when ECW was doing their thing are kind of down on the product now, there’s still much to recommend in how they put together a TV show. I’ve also got a bunch of OVW ready to go from the year or so prior to them losing the developmental deal with WWE. Finally, Kassius Ohno, who is easily one of the best in the world currently, has put together a playlist of many of his matches on YouTube. You’re welcome.
Honestly, there’s so much wrestling content available out there right now. Anyone with a computer can literally become a wrestling blogger or vlogger or podcaster through the wonders of technology. One of my go-to podcasts is Eric Bischoff’s 83 Weeks, sharing stories from behind the scenes of Bischoff’s time in WCW and WWE. Bruce Pritchard’s Something to Wrestle also provides some insight into some of the big decisions in WWE’s creative from years gone by.
Why not take a look at a Wrestlecon Mark Hitchcock Memorial Super Show? As a past attendee, I can recommend them highly.