PWTorch Livecast w/James Caldwell (Sept. 14, 2015)

AIRED LIVE: SEPT. 14, 2015


Report by Mark Golden, podcast reviewer


“Cesaro beat Rusev tonight! I should have headlined with that, but I didn’t because, no one cares.”  ~James Caldwell


0:00 – 3:38 – James opened the show by briefly summarizing the primary moments from the go home Raw, that being Sting’s unadvertised in-ring Raw debut, and the Diva’s title match. He then went to the phone lines.

3:39 – First caller talked about the bait and switch of the Diva’s title match tonight. James said they are trying to emphasize her as a heel, and mentioned other heels on Raw, and echoed the sentiment of “what makes a heel a heel today?” as WWE apparently doesn’t know how to, or care to, establish solid heels. He likened Raw to Nitro in 1998, for more than one reason. (3 hours, poor quality, diminishing ratings, Sting vs Big Show) James explained that if Sting was going to be wrestling on Raw, Show was really the only rational choice from the roster at the moment.

14:27 – Next caller commented on the odd way the Authority is portrayed on Raw. James said they haven’t been the same since their deal with Daniel Bryan, as since he left/that ended, they’ve been “wishy-washy” without a clear objective, and how Sting’s initial storyline was that he came to WWE to eliminate the Authority, and that seems to have just stopped. James gave credit for that mess to Vince McMahon, who is washed up creatively, and is either oblivious, or careless, or both. The caller asked if the ratings will be up at all this week. James basically said there’s not much to make it go up, but it can’t get much worse than recent weeks. 

25:02 – Next caller said the Attitude Era changed the heel vs face dynamic. James disagreed, stating that regardless of Attitude Era chaos and edginess, the heel and face lines were still clearly defined, unlike today. The Attitude Era, while quite flawed creatively, was as successful as it was, primarily thanks to the tremendous star power of the time. James suggested that WWE needs to rebuild stars today that people care about, but instead are still relying on stars and certain methods of the 90’s. 

34:36 – The next caller talked about WWE’s inability to “capture moments” today. James defended Michael Cole for having a lot to do, while getting over a nonsensical product. He’s certainly no Jim Ross, but Cole is somewhat a victim of circumstance. The caller talked about how there aren’t enough top tier stars, while most of the roster is mid-card. James said it again goes back to weak booking, and WWE’s inability or unwillingness to create new stars. WWE doesn’t have much in the way of long term plans, but rather, they book on the fly. 

45:59 – James talked with the next caller about how there’s no solid main eventers today, because of a lack of attention to this dating back a number of years. No long term planning. A mistake WWE continues to make, a lack of commitment to the process. James said, at some point, Vince McMahon needs to choose between being CEO and head of creative. There’s no accountability to make a change, so consequently, there won’t be a change.

53:14 – The next caller talked about Sasha Banks, who James said could be the centerpiece of the division, and probably will be soon, if not Charlotte. The caller talked about NJPW, and how they build new feuds, and he asked which was first: the Tokyodome Briefcase, or MITB. MITB was first, but NJPW has taken that concept, and made it better, as NJPW has a clear vision. NJPW takes the time to build, also, as opposed to WWE, who doesn’t. 

59:59 – The next caller pointed out that on Raw, during the Starrcade ’97 flashback, they omitted the reference to Hulk Hogan, but mentioned the Steiners. James thought it was interesting, especially considering that listed the top 5 wrestlers that should make a come back, with Scott Steiner making the cut, but he went on to say that it’s neither here, nor there. The caller mentioned that GFW has a distributor in the UK. James said the announcement is not much, but it’s something, and something is better than nothing. 

1:03:22 – The next caller commented on the fact that the storyline feuds are overly produced, when they could get a lot more out of a lot less. He listed a number of quality television series with definitive protagonists, antagonists, and narrative. James said that has to do with disciplined planning, which show runners adhere to, while WWE flip flops on a dime. Raw’s badge of honor being 52 weeks a year is also their detriment.

1:08:26 – The next caller touched on the previous topic of heels vs faces, and recalled the December 1997 segment where Vince McMahon talked about the new era in WWF. Caldwell said it was shocking at the time, specifically because most people didn’t see him as the owner, because for years, he was just the commentator. The intention was to shock the audience. Fast forward 18 years later, and there’s nothing left that can be done to shock the fans, so the time is now to get back to the basics. 

11:12:27 – The next caller talked about McMahon having a lax mentality, resting on his laurels, and thus, having no concern over fan opinion. Caldwell agreed, and said McMahon is more concerned about the stockholders. He said the Torch is in the business of covering the wrestling business. They report the numbers, and the numbers don’t lie: WWE isn’t doing well, ratings-wise.      


6 out of 10: The Torch team always delivers a very conscientious, insightful take on the condition of the industry. This, of course, was no exception. I’ll give this a hard 6, especially considering James was feeling under the weather, and worked alone, all the while covering a bad episode of Raw.    

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