ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?
Those were my words at the end of the premiere of WWE Friday Night Smackdown on Fox. Brock Lesnar had just defeated Kofi Kingston in about ten seconds for the WWE Championship.
Sometimes you have those moments when you’re watching something and you go “what the fuck”. The Fonz water skiing over the shark. Indiana Jones hiding in a fridge to survive a nuclear blast. Brock Lesnar beating Kofi Kingston in ten seconds.
You know that wrestling is choreographed. The participants have to work together, right? Watch the video. See the problem?
Kofi jumps right into position where the guy can do the move that finishes him off.
A wrestling match is a little story. Some of them have a backstory. In this case, the backstory is the champion (Kofi Kingston) is the underdog against Brock Lesnar who is taller, stronger and most crucially a former UFC Heavyweight champion. There’s a strong chance that Brock will beat Kofi and become the new champion. David vs. Goliath, except this time David has championship gold.
This is the first time pro wrestling has aired on an over-the-air network in decades. One of the big four. Not basic cable. Fox, home to The Simpsons, Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers. Mostly known for their Fox Sports package because they show NFL and MLB games, as well as NASCAR. This was perhaps for the biggest television audience WWE has had in years. . . and this is the shit they pull? A ten-second main event?
The great thing about wrestling is the participants’ ability to bend reality. There’s a chance that the underdog might pull off an upset. They give you a reason to believe. You root for them, you begin to hope for something to happen against all odds. You’re sad for the underdog when that belief is snuffed out and the inevitable conclusion is reached.
You could say that this was an UFC-esque surprise finish (a recent UFC fight ended in five seconds by KO). In this case, a guy who successfully defended the world championship for six months was ragdolled for one move and then pinned. That’s not even a UFC-style surprise. It’s just lazy.
You could excuse them for having to be out in time for the local news. Brock vs. Kofi had to be over in time to do the thing where Cain Velazquez comes out to challenge Brock after the match.
That is 100% not my problem. They’re the professionals. I’m not going to bend over backwards and make excuses for them or try to justify the bad creative decisions they make. There’s no set minimum on what a full match has to be, but I can tell you it sure as hell isn’t ten seconds.
WWE would like to have me back. I’m a lapsed fan. Sometimes I check in just to remind myself what drove me away in the first place.
The McMahon family was all over the first Fox Smackdown. From Vince and Stephanie in the opening to Shane’s match. Vince and Steph said “hi” and if they could have they would’ve taken longer to do it.
Shane lost to Kevin Owens in a loser-gets-fired ladder match, which means he’ll be back before the end of the year. I’m waiting for a loser-gets-attacked-by-pitbulls match.
Speaking of suspension of disbelief, watching Shane wrestle means having to pretend that the 50-year-old son of the owner of the company can actually go toe-to-toe with real professional athletes despite looking like his heart could explode any minute.
So what does any of this have to do with Kofi Kingston and Brock Lesnar? Maybe if the family that ran the company could ease off their ego trip just a teeny bit, maybe two things: maybe last night, Kofi and Brock could have had a actual match instead of the wrestling equivalent of tipping the king over. AND maybe in the long term they could actually create new stars (like they used to in The Rock, John Cena and Batista) instead of bringing in ex-MMA champions like Ronda Rousey and Cain Velasquez to get some buzz for the product.
But that’s overly optimistic. And in two years when they’re kicked down to Fox Sports 1 like a shitty Spanish football team, mark my words that October 4, 2019 was WWE’s high water mark and the beginning of the end.