Wrestling Grab Bag – Triple Threat POV | Smark Out Moment

Wrestling Grab Bag – Triple Threat POV

Posted by Robert DeFelice Monday, August 7, 2017
Welcome to another edition of Triple Threat from Smark Out Moment, where three of us get together to discuss three questions based on one big topic going down in the week of professional wrestling.

This week, Robert DeFelice, Wes Keefer and Callum Wiggins will be giving their opinions on a potpourri of wrestling news.

Hallelujah! We have a non-PPV week. Because of this, we get to talk about a variety of things including: WWE 2K18, NJPW, and SummerSlam.

Question 1: With WWE 2K18 heading to shelves this October, what, if anything, are you looking forward to the most from this year's WWE video game installment?

DeFELICE: I've never missed a single video game. Ever. I'll be 24 in August and I got every up-to-date American wrestling video game as they were released. When THQ went out of business in 2013, it was the end of an era. They had been handling the WWE video games since 1999 and things were about to undergo a serious change because it was announced that the industry leader in sports game developers, 2K, was taking over the reigns of the WWE video game franchise. I'll keep this short and sweet. I have hated the changes that 2K games brought on to this franchise. They've had great concepts but THQ worked so hard to get to the point that they got to you and I feel like 2K stripped away all of that and started from scratch and that's not always the best thing. Here's a compilation of one particular night of tweeting when I went off on the WWE Games profile on Twitter because of the lack of basic things in the video game: tweets.

To date, we have yet to hear see any in game footage or screenshots for this year's installment. Therefore, I am holding out hope that we can get a cleaner display by once again eradicating the huge HUD displays for something more subtle. From my gameplay perspective, I really hope we get rid of that stupid reversal system, because in no way, shape, or form . should you be forced to leave yourself open to attack just because you're trying to overdo the perfect simulator style game. Also, on a personal note to 2K, Fire Pro Wrestling World just been released on Steam Early Access and will be coming soon the PlayStation 4. This means that you no longer have to fill the role of a pro wrestling simulator and should probably focus more on the casual audience that you can gain with a more arcade style of gameplay. We also do not have that much news announced for the game, so I'm holding out some hope for a Seth Rollins curated in game soundtrack, maybe some match types and that are new to WWE video games altogether, and I really want to see vast improvements to online gameplay.

Of the things that have been announced, I'm most excited for the return of Kurt Angle, and his epic move set. The expanded backstage brawling area is also a welcome addition for a long time fan like myself. I'm excited about our story-driven My Career because the last few iterations were so confusing that I stopped trying with them almost immediately. The new match creator actually addresses a few of the problems that I had ranted about earlier this year in the tweets I show above. Most importantly, however, I am excited for the increase that will allow eight people to be competing at one time. This is something that the aforementioned Fire Pro has beer n able to do for quite some time and other games in the past have allowed this as well but never WWE. I am counting down the days till October 12 when you can play the pre-ordered Digital Deluxe version and perhaps I will have a full review for Smark Out Moment

KEEFER: There is one thing I look forward to any video game, more specifically WWE and that is the roster. The roster of any WWE video game is what makes the game: playing as your favorite superstar. I'll get to the roster but one other thing that intrigues me as much as the playable characters is the concept behind the video game's story. Seth Rollins graces the cover this year and he is portrayed as a hardcore heel who goes on a rampage and tramples the legends of the company. This character is who Rollins should be in real life. His current run as a face with Dean Ambrose is good, but he is better as a heel.

Now the roster: Kurt Angle is a playable character this year and players can get a look at what it will be like of and when Angle returns to the ring to wrestle once more.Since the previous game was released, there have been a few roster moves. The Hardy Boyz returned. Paige and Eva Marie are away from the company. Many superstars were called up to the main roster. The full roster hasn't been released yet but WWE needs to change the way they do things. Take the jobbers off the roster. Curt Hawkins takes a spot that could be filled by Tye Dillinger, who anyone would much rather play as. The NXT talent needs to be playable as well, which means not as many Legends. More current talent. WWE must stop relying so heavily on their past.

WIGGINS: I've followed the WWE video game series for well over a decade, starting with the glorious game that was SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth on the PlayStation 2. Today, I mainly buy it out of habit and enjoy it for a month or two, before it finds its rightful spot on the shelf and stays there, only venturing out for cases of extreme boredom. It's a shame because the theory behind a lot of aspects of the 2K series are really good on paper, such as an ever-changing and controllable Universe Mode and in-depth career mode. However, the actual product itself is just not worth playing. The nature of these game modes and the matches themselves get repetitive very quickly, and it means that after a couple of weeks you feel like you've done everything worth doing and you sit patiently for next October when the whole process starts all over again.

There are aspects of WWE 2K18 I am very much looking forward to. Having a playable Kurt Angle character back in the fold for the first time since SmackDown vs RAW 2007 is very exciting, as it means I can finally play as my favorite wrestler of all-time without having to download a pale imitation off of the community section. The Hardy Boyz also being part of the new game will be another great throwback, as will be the prospect of Bobby Roode, Drew McIntyre and Sanity as NXT roster members. And hopefully, after all these years of failing to address this standout flaw in all WWE games, they have found a way to fix the commentary to actually enhance the matches as opposed to ruining the whole experience.

Above all else though, WWE 2K18 will allow me to escape to an alternate reality where Jinder Mahal is not and never has been WWE Champion, and that makes it well worth the wait.

Question 2: New Japan Pro Wrestling is on the rise. Throughout the years, Japanese Puroresu has always had brief stints of flirtation with success in the United States. Do you think that New Japan Pro Wrestling he can become a true number two promotion in America? Who do you think is the face of that promotion?

KEEFER: NJPW is not the number two in the USA and that is a good thing. It wouldn't be as big of a deal when talent switched from them to WWE. Being the number one overseas is best for that company. WWE kills every other promotion over here in the States. The USA number two? Most likely ROH or even Lucha Underground. GFW is still working through things to be a contender.

As for the face of NJPW as this moment, Kenny Omega and I do not believe that should be true but it is. Why? It's the same issue over here: the problem of "white-washing". Omega is great and has done a lot for NJPW, but they should be led by an international star and not by American wrestlers. People know little about Kazuchika Okada, but Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks are known by all.

WIGGINS: I would argue that NJPW is already the number two promotion in the USA, seeing as how its events tend to receive far more attention than anything taking place in GFW, Ring of Honor, Lucha Underground or other alternatives. Does this mean it's anywhere near ready to challenge the WWE's monopoly over wrestling? Not at all: the WWE style of wrestling is deeply ingrained among American and European wrestling fans, and the NJPW Puroresu can be a massive culture shock for fans only familiar with a WWE layout. I know it took me months to fully appreciate "strong style" and the storytelling aspects of NJPW matches, but now I'm past the initial translation issues, I find myself more consistently entertained by these than WWE contests.

As for who the face is, if NJPW are serious about mounting an attempt at recruiting American fans away from WWE, they should place their eggs in Kenny Omega's basket. While most believe the Cleaner is destined to make a splash in WWE in a similar fashion to AJ Styles or Shinsuke Nakamura in the next few years, Omega has the charisma, in-ring ability, promo skills and unbridled imagination to push NJPW to the next level. While I would argue that he is still a step below Kazuchika Okada in terms of look, technique and presentation, to appeal to the American wrestling audience at large, they would need someone that speaks English fluently and can form a bridge between the WWE and NJPW styles of wrestling. Omega fits that bill, but a lengthy feud between him and Okada will be crucial to the growth of NJPW into the American consciousness.

But, if an alternative is required should Omega chase the money and fame a WWE contract would provide, NJPW could be sitting on the next big babyface in wrestling: Juice Robinson. Yes - the man most NXT fans would recognize as CJ Parker the tree-hugger, is poised to be one of NJPW's biggest stars in the next five years. If they need a big American star that is easy to get behind, Robinson is the best option they've got.

DeFELICE: NJPW has always been a cult phenomenon in the United States for as long as I can remember. You always hear stories about how great Japanese wrestling or Puroresu was in the 90s and the legendary story of Dynamite Kid and his rivalry with Tiger Mask in the late 70s/early 80s. The appeal of Puro to American fans is simple, whatever is popular in our country is lame and this is cool because it's foreign and somewhat underground. I'm sure I will be disagreed with here, but in my eyes that is the base of the brand's popularity. For some reason, there is a fascination with trying to be cooler and more informed than whatever is popular, however, at the end of the day we know we want to see our favorite underground stars reach the big stage and no matter what anyone says, the big stage is WrestleMania.

No, I don't believe that NJPW could ever be a legit number two in America. Don't get me wrong, i'm grateful for the company's growth into the United States, and so glad that I can watch weekly on AXS TV, but I do not think it will ever become a staple in American wrestling. For starters, just look at the name. They are first and foremost a Japanese company. That will never change, nor should it. One of the things I hate about the crossover into the US is that the style doesn't translate well. Also, I believe that the style work better when the US had their own style and Japan actually provided contrast. In recent years, most American wrestlers, even WWE Superstars, have adopted some aspects of the Japanese 'strong style' into every match and it makes the Japanese matches less special. Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega had two matches this year they were absolutely phenomenal but to a large scale they were just longer versions of matches you can see on every WWE extravaganza. That's part of the problem with the blending of the cultures. It doesn't feel as unique as it used to. I believe that Okada and Omega are both the face of the brand. Kazuchika is the traditional Japanese hero and Kenny is the American who is helping bring awareness to the brand over in this country. I believe that with these warriors at the helm, NJPW will reach new heights globally, but I don't think you'll ever see them steal any thunder from WWE in America.

Question 3: Of the announced matches for this year's SummerSlam, which are you most looking forward to so far and why?

WIGGINS: XSummerSlam is looking interesting this year, and I don't know if it's in a good or bad way. There's a great deal of intrigue surrounding the announced and rumored matches, which could result in one of the best PPVs in recent memory, or a complete disappointment. Obviously the biggest selling point for me is the Fatal Four Way for the Universal Championship, as it features four superstars that could realistically win and I'd be happy with it. Brock Lesnar is a proven draw as a part-time champion, Roman Reigns generates massive reactions from crowds whether you love him or hate him, Braun Strowman's popularity and ability is growing week by week and Samoa Joe has been the MVP of 2017 so far for me. All four of these behemoths battling for the title can't possibly go wrong - right?

Outside of this huge main event, the rest of the card has potential, but still needs time to develop. The thought of Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose combining to challenge for the Raw Tag Team titles, The New Day and The Usos clashing again and Shinsuke Nakamura potentially winning the WWE Championship are all intriguing options. Sadly, one match I have no excitement whatsoever for is Alexa Bliss vs Bayley for the Raw Women's Championship - when you make a rematch for arguably the worst WWE match of 2017 so far and Bayley has even less credibility now as she did back then, don't expect me to be too excited to see them fight again.

DeFELICE: SummerSlam is a wrestling tradition older than probably most people who work for this website. It's probably my second or third favorite show of the year. This year's event once again returns to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn New York. As I'm writing this, there are four matches announced. The Universal Title, the WWE title, and both Women's Championships. Without a doubt, I'm looking forward to the Fatal Four Way for the Universal Championship the most. All four of these men are absolute monsters and I'm looking forward to the destruction that they're going to cause in Brooklyn. I'm expecting Brock Lesnar to walk away with his championship still firmly in his grasp, but not before we see one of the best matches that the beast has ever taken part of.

Aside from that, I'm also looking forward to whatever they do with the duo of Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. These are two special guys who are absolute magic together no matter what they're doing. Reminds me very much of Shawn Michaels and Triple H and how no matter what they did, whether it was as enemies or friends, they were going to be the best part of the show in my eyes and that's exactly how I feel about the former brothers in arms.

KEEFER: The main event for SummerSlam will most likely crown a new champion, with Lesnar focusing back on UFC. It is the most predictable match of the night and that hurts the match's chances of being an intriguing story. The same can be said about Mahal's title defense. Rumors have it that Mahal could have his reign ended soon due to low ratings. Bailey vs Bliss would have been my choice, but Bayley is injured and doubtful. Of the announced matches, the Fatal 4-way intrigues me because I am curious on which way the company goes with the title and who wins it next. Will they try with Reigns again and probably fail or will Strowman upset and dominate as the new Beast.

Honestly, I am more intrigued about the possible matches that could be booked soon. The Miz vs Jason Jordan for the Intercontinental Championship could be one of the best matches of the night. The New Day vs. The Usos is becoming quite the feud with Usos being a great heel team. A promo from Breezango would interest me more than a few of the already announced matches. The rest of the card just seems predictable. It would be dumb to change the US title again. Natalya isn't a right fit to be the champion right now. Orton vs Rusev will be a nice new matchup, but not all too interesting right now as the feud is only days old.

Those are our thoughts on the issue, but where do you stand?
Let us know your answers to these questions in the comments below!

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Robert DeFelice is a journalist and marketing student. You can follow him on Twitter, Instagram as well as his apparel website Time Killer Apparel and his pro wrestling blog PandemoniuMania.


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