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THE STORIES BEHIND THIS WEEK’S HEADLINES

Posted February 23rd, 2019 by 1Wrestling News Team

The Week in Wrestling (Week of February 18, 2019)

By Don “The Predictor” Murphy (Twitter: @DonThePredictor)

February 22, 2019

Wait – there’s no pay-per-view event this weekend. Why is “The Predictor” showing up now? Well, in an effort to continue doing what I greatly enjoy doing, you’ll now be hearing from me on a weekly basis, as work and life allow, of course. The goal of this feature is to look at the top 3-4 headlines making waves in the wrestling world during a given week and provide my point-of-view while potentially educating some of you younger fans, based on my 30+ years of fandom. I promise to not make these overly long and invite any questions you may have. Feel free to contact me on Twitter (@DonThePredictor) with any topics you’d like included, and I’ll be happy to include in a future column. That said, here’s what on my mind this week.

Kofi Kingston Receives a WWE Championship Match at Fastlane: Poor Mustafa Ali, but realistically, I don’t think the angle would have come off as well as it has if you had Ali in Kofi’s role. The WWE has caught lightning in a bottle and if you’re going to give Kofi a serious push, the time is now. I don’t think you can go back to the days of slinging pancakes without destroying what you’re building. And, I think you need to either distance Kofi from the rest of the New Day, or break them up altogether. If I’m wearing my booker’s hat, I would play out the following scenario: Have Kingston defeat Daniel Bryan at Fastlane, giving the fans the opportunity to celebrate the big win and the crowning achievement of an 11-year journey. Then, you have Bryan demand and earn a rematch at WrestleMania. As Kofi is about to win, Big E. turns on him and costs him the title. If you wanted to fast track this and do the heel turn sooner, you could do the same thing on an episode of Smackdown, but I like doing this at Mania and have it play out on the biggest stage. Now, you have a sympathetic babyface who’s over with the audience and an instant heel in Big E. With Xavier Woods, he can either serve as Big E’s wrestler/manager (similar to Lio Rush), or you can tell a story where he’s conflicted and make that to hook going into events over the next several months. Whatever path they choose, if they’re going to elevate Kingston, the time is now.

The WWE Announces Several Releases: On Friday, the WWE announced the releases of TJP, Tye Dillinger, Hideo Itami and Hall of Famer Arn Anderson. For the three performers, neither come as a surprise. To me, the “one that got away” has to be Hideo Itami, who has a wealth of untapped talent, but was bitten by the injury bug too many times to be given a serious push. I think they could have done more with TJP, as I liked his arrogant heel persona on 205 Live. It just never seemed to take off. With Dillinger, he had quite the following about a year ago, but I always felt that he needed to evolve beyond the “ten” gimmick, as it was too one-dimensional with a short shelf-life. The good news for them and for us is that there are now more places than ever to work and I look forward to seeing how and where they land next. All Elite Wrestling would seem to be the odds-on favorite, but don’t count Ring of Honor or New Japan Pro Wrestling out of the mix. Both are in rebuilding mode, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or two of these guys end up there. As for Arn, I think that speaks to the belief that the WWE “old guard” isn’t in touch with today’s audience. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of these releases, but I do think someone like an Arn Anderson still has plenty to contribute to a business he helped build.

The WWE Debuts Four NXT Call Ups on Raw and Smackdown: The NXT universe had a collective heart attack this week, when Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, Ricochet and Aleister Black debuted on both Raw and Smackdown. Not surprisingly, much of the live crowds weren’t sure of who they were, so the reactions weren’t as strong as you would think or expect. To me, it did seem a bit disjointed to debut them with little buildup or explanation as to why they essentially abandoned current NXT storylines. We know that these guys can work and that fresh matches are on the horizon – so that’s a good thing. The main concern is that wherever these guys land, you have to hope that the creative team knows the characters and how to book them. For example, Ciampa is easily one of, if not the best heel in wrestling and unfortunately, there’s a track record of performers being red hot in NXT, only to fizzle once they’ve moved on. Is it the talent’s fault or does that lie with the creative team? That’s a matter of debate, but the concern remains nonetheless. Hopefully, Triple H stays close enough to these guys, so that past mistakes aren’t repeated.

Roman Reigns Set to Appear on Raw This Coming Monday: This was announced late Thursday and hopefully we get some good news. If he’s making good progress, I still don’t think he’ll be ready for Mania, but we may see a scenario where he appears, either in Seth Rollins’ corner, or has some interaction with Dean Ambrose, who is set to leave the company at the end of April. As many have said, no one has ever had a problem with Roman Reigns the wrestler. It was how he was booked and forced into spots that seemed unnatural to him. While it’s unfortunate that it took an illness to get the reaction that Vince McMahon so desperately wanted, if and when Reigns returns, he will likely be one of the hottest babyfaces in the company. What the WWE does with that remains to be seen.

Until Next Week!

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