PWTORCH LIVECAST TUESDAY
HOSTS: WADE KELLER & JASON POWELL
AIRED LIVE: OCT. 13, 2015
By Nick Gould, PWPodcasts Reporter
TOP SUBJECTS COVERED
– Raw sticks at 2.33 rating. Viewers continue to turn off in the third hour. Third hour viewership continues to hover worryingly close to fewer than 3.0 million viewers.
– Corporate Kane and Demon Kane. You know they’re different people, right?
– If WWE is a universe, how do the galaxies fit with each other? Wade doesn’t know, and apparently WWE doesn’t care enough to make it clear.
– The un-ending demise of Roman Reigns, vol. 2
– Lana and Rusev and Summer. Nothing goes to plan, if there even was one to begin with. And anyway, where did Dolph Ziggler go?
– Will Vince McMahon be pushed out? If not, will he hand over, sell out, or take WWE down with him?
– The case of Damien Sandow.
– Everybody loves Bayley, and they always will (as long as she stays on NXT!).
– Sheamus, Del Rio, Flair, ESPN and more.
SUMMARY OF SHOW
(0:00) Intro Theme
(0:29) Wade welcomes listeners to the show. Introduces himself, PWTorch.com (featuring a redesigned website), and the format of the show.
(2:36) Wade reports that Raw ratings are in. Raw scored a 2.33 rating this week. Wade notes an alarming drop in viewership as Raw wore on – fewer than 3.1 million viewers watched the last hour of Raw, with one segment possibly dipping below three million viewers. Wade invites callers to respond on air to his poll question: Who should WWE be getting behind, giving a stronger push to or positioning better?
(11:19) Wade introduces Jason Powell from Prowrestling.net. Wade notes polls from both PWTorch.com and prowrestling.net readers show negative responses to this week’s Raw. Wade feels he definitely had his fill of Corporate Kane this week, and jokes about Triple H and Stephanie’s great timing of their phone calls to Kane! Wade feels the cheesy and corny nature of these segments won’t help WWE Network subscriber numbers this month, particularly as the viewership figures suggest fans aren’t interested in the Kane-Rollins program, which WWE are positioning of one of the top matches at Hell In A Cell. Wade feels the presentation of the Kane-Rollins program suggests WWE are embarrassed by the program their World Champion is in, which doesn’t bode well. Jason agrees, and argues that WWE is actually positioning this program as their top feud given the lack of build for the Lesnar-Taker feud. Jason feels WWE needs to have something big lined up for next week’s Raw in Dallas.
Jason feels WWE continues to make mistakes week after week, and points to a lack of momentum throughout the roster, and the resulting holding pattern that Raw is in, although can’t explain why WWE would not be looking to make some sort of change. Wade feels there is no quick fix to get ratings back to 2.7. Wade feels the WWE is in it’s current ‘hole’ due to several flawed philosophical approaches/decisions to the product over the past 3-4 years, and so a much broader change is needed. Wade notes that the majority of characters seem to each be stuck in a defined role, which kills any sense of movement (upwards or downwards) on the card, which doesn’t get viewers on the edge of their seat. Jason notes the lack of follow-up on New Day’s dominance to end last week’s Raw, and so feels it might as well have not happened. Jason feels that the general lack of follow-up on each week’s Raw doesn’t reward fans for watching.
Wade and Jason both agree that WWE’s approach to framing Corporate and Demon Kane as two separate characters is ridiculous, and makes the announce team look stupid for reacting to Demon Kane’s appearances as legitimate. Jason notes the ‘C.M. Punk’ chants from Raw, and Wade feels this was the fans saying ‘we liked this better when C.M. Punk was around.’ Wade points out that without Punk around, the WWE has lost a sense of an ‘outlaw’ character, which Randy Orton and/or Dean Ambrose could be, but won’t be allowed to be by WWE.
(18:05) The first caller, Mike from Brooklyn, feels Raw was a “stupid show” and asks what the hosts felt about Roman Reigns’s promo, and who will be John Cena’s last opponent before his sabbatical. Jason feels Rusev will end up taking the U.S. Title from Cena after Lana returns to give him a boost. Jason notes the item on Lana on WWE’s website today in which she confirms that Rusev asked her to marry him, and her comments that Rusev was unstoppable when they were together, which points to another round of the Rusev-Cena program. Wade asks Jason whether he thinks WWE had planned this a week to ten days ago. Jason doesn’t think so, and feels that WWE panicked in response to TMZ’s article this week. Wade feels that WWE should have the resources and the organizational ability to be able to co-ordinate the presentation of its talent across multiple formats/outlets, but consistently fails to do so.
Jason comments on the presentation of Rusev on Raw this week being destroyed in his match then humiliated by Summer Rae afterwards, and wonders whether this signals an unlikely Rusev face turn. Wade and Jason both feel Ziggler should turn heel, and Wade notes that the majority of responses to a poll on PWTorch.com agree, and that the second most popular answer is ‘maybe, but Ziggler might be beyond fixing.’ Wade doesn’t feel that there has been a worse WWE storyline than the Rusev/Ziggler/Lana/Summer storyline. Jason questions why WWE couldn’t find any room on Raw to get Ziggler’s comments on the Lana/Rusev situation. In regard to Reigns, Wade notes recent interviews with mainstream media in which Reigns continues to make comments which come across as oblivious and self-entitled. Jason wonders whether WWE were deliberately sabotaging Reigns by sending him out in front of a Chicago crowd to verbally recap his program with Bray Wyatt. Jason describes the segment as a disaster, and feels Reigns was lucky to get away with acknowledging ‘what’ and ‘boring’ chants.
(29:53) D’rell from Georgia answers Wade’s poll question by saying he feels Seth Rollins needs to be better protected and made more relevant as a heel champion. D’rell asks whether the hosts feel that there would be enough evidence to support a demand for Vince McMahon to step down, and also asks whether the failure of Reigns current push would make WWE take him off TV for a while and bring him back as a heel. Jason wouldn’t be surprised if Reigns gets pushed into the World Championship program after Kane as there doesn’t seem to be any other viable challengers, although thinks this is a bad idea. Wade agrees. Wade doesn’t see Vince being forced out, even creatively, as being likely. Jason doesn’t either, but feels that someone, perhaps in Creative, needs to ‘rock the boat.’
(34:45) D.J. from Miami thinks Kevin Owens should be the guy WWE gets behind. He asks where Owens goes after Ryback, and wants to know whether the hosts feel a that teaming up with Neville is a good role for Cesaro. Jason thinks Owens will run with the IC Title for now, but isn’t sure who would be his next challenger. Jason thinks Neville and Cesaro are both better off as singles wrestlers.
(41:31) Jake M. from Aurora thinks WWE hurt Paige last night by making her backstage segment a Payday commercial instead of using the fans to build her up. He asks what it says about the Divas storyline that fans still side with Paige despite her turn. Jason wonders whether Paige has really turned based on the presentation of the turn by WWE. Wade notes that he’s irritated by wrestlers acting in-character as if they’re making it up as they go along, when really there’s a clear punchline coming as a way to advertise a sponsor’s product. Wade notes that an anti-corporate character like Paige pitching a candy bar points to a lack of understanding of the genre of pro wrestling by the writing team (or a lack of respect for the genre by Kevin Dunn).
(44:02) Eric from Grand Rapids asks the hosts to rate the chances of Rollins remaining World Champion through to WrestleMania, and wonders whether a Sheamus face turn would work. Jason feels Sheamus is a character who has been turned too often, and feels the character is really too damaged to work in any form at present. Jason feels that Sheamus as a bully had seemed to work initially, but feels he soon became the victim of the even-steven booking. Wade feels WWE doesn’t know how to approach the more legitimate/sporting aspects of Sheamus’s style in a way that would balance out the goofy-heel aspects of his presentation. Wade feels Seth Rollins’s reign has suffered from WWE’s tendency to present him as subservient to The Authority. Jason notes that Rollins’s record against John Cena has positioned the U.S. Champion as being a better wrestler than the World Champion, and recent loses to Kane (amongst others) hurt him even further. Jason is ready to see Rollins drop the title, although he worries that this will be because WWE scapegoats him and his performances for their poor ratings. Wade feels that this would be a shame, and notes that Creative seem to write to the strengths of performers (particularly Rollins) as actors rather than how they fit best in the narrative of a wrestling show.
(49:46) Larry from Wilmington watched NXT Takeover right before Raw last night. He compares the two as being “night and day.” Larry notes that he doesn’t subscribe to the Network as he likes NXT and watches this on Hulu. He asks the host whether WWE would pull their shows from Hulu. Wade thinks NXT being on Hulu might hurt Network subscriber numbers, but might also bring in enough money for WWE to not be worried, and may help attract new fans to the product, although he does feel most Hulu subscribers go to watch specific shows rather than ‘stumbling across’ something to watch. Jason feels WWE should keep NXT Takeover specials off Hulu from now on. Larry then asks whether he’s the only one to have a ‘shut up’ moment when Michael Cole credits the Bellas with starting the Divas’s Revolution. “Of course not!” says Wade. Jason reports cringing more and more when he sees the Bellas on TV, and feel they both need to go away for a period.
(54:20) Kylin from New Jersey raises three questions. How will WWE use Alberto Del Rio if he returns? What do the hosts expect the ESPN and WWE announcement to be? Why doesn’t WWE use Ric Flair in a more substantial non-wrestling role, given he reports having passed a four-hour medical test recently? Wade doesn’t want to see a wrestler in his mid-60s doing anything physical in the ring no matter how many tests they’ve passed. Jason doesn’t either although wonders whether WWE will bring in Ric Flair for WrestleMania. Wade hopes not, and feels that a little of Flair at this point is far better than a lot. Wade points out the average age of the four special attractions on Raw next week, whom WWE hope will boost ratings, is 51. Wade feels that, at some point, WWE needs to focus more on building a younger group of talent.
Wade doesn’t feel Del Rio would be a difference-maker. Jason thinks he could be if WWE let him be himself, based on his performances in ROH and AAA, and could be a good option for the U.S. Title in Cena’s absence. Jason thinks it says a lot that WWE promoted Seth Rollins as appearing on ESPN SportsCenter, when in fact he will be appearing on ESPNews SportsCenter, meaning WWE were more comfortable with saying that Rollins would appear somewhere more prestigious rather than telling people the correct place to see it. Wade makes the argument that, given the low number of people who would tune in anyway, it may have been worth WWE making the deliberate error.
(1:03:32) Steve from Fresno asks why WWE haven’t allowed Damien Sandow to go back to NXT to reinvent himself, and asks whether Bayley should ever be turned heel. Wade agrees with Steve’s argument that Bayley should always be positioned as the ‘super-face’ inspiration for young girls across the country. Wade notes that, in wrestling history, a character turning multiple times, or even at all, was not to be expected, and that when this happened it was more often than not an indictment on the booking not positioning the character correctly. Jason also agrees with Steve, and wants Bayley to be kept away from the main product for as long as possible and feels WWE should be looking to approach Bayley with a view to keeping her as a face throughout her career, or at least until the next big babyface comes along in ten years time.
Wade feels it might be good for Sandow to take some time away completely rather than turn up in NXT next week. Wade feels Sandow doesn’t need a new character, but does feel WWE need to think about how best to present the aspects of Sandow as a persona that fans already like and connect with whilst also presenting him as a legitimate top-tier threat. Jason feels the ‘Intellectual Savior’ gimmick could work well, with a little tweaking. Jason notes that he’s heard that Sandow had put on some weight after winning the MITB Briefcase and may have ended up in the proverbial doghouse because of it, leading to the unspectacular push Sandow received after this.
(1:08:48) Brian from Minneapolis. Brian notes that the Sting DVD preview on the Network last night was interesting, in that it gave viewers an insight into the disconnect between those creating the product and the product itself when Sting was shown talking about some the WWE ‘suits’ creating the advert, who seem to be unaware of what really makes Sting relevant. Wade goes back to the previous point about Bayley, noting that WWE still hasn’t really marked out the manner of the connection between NXT and the main roster. Does what happens on NXT count in the narrative of the main roster? Wade thinks NXT is big enough now that it should. Wade also thinks that, to a degree, the same should be said of the relationship with the main product and Total Divas, although again notes that WWE has no structure or discipline when it comes to linking-up the ‘galaxies’ that make up the WWE Universe. Jason notes that there seem to be times where Vince cares, in something of a backwards way, but in any case never maintains a clear direction. Wade notes that there have been times where he feels WWE have made the wrong move but can understand the motivation behind it, but can’t make any sense of WWE’s current approach.
(1:13:30) Matt from Louisville recalls a conversation on the Livecast from a few months ago where WWE’s tendency to mess with talent’s real-life relationships in their TV programming, and wonders whether Lana and Rusev leaked the news of their engagement to TMZ as a way of forcing creative to put them back together on-screen. Wade thinks it’s an interesting suggestion. Jason also thinks it’s possible, although he thinks that the news was out somewhere on social media some weeks ago anyway. The hosts discuss the need for on-screen talent to be presented consistently across all outlets, whether official WWE programming and products or on talents’ own social media outlets.
(1:19:54) Chris from New York asks whether the McMahons view of the current ratings is that this is just a storm for them to ride out, and whether there is a part of Vince McMahon that would want WWE to end when he left rather than hand over to a successor like Triple H. Jason notes that Court Bauer has previously stated his belief that Vince’s end-game would be to sell WWE rather than hand it over. Wade notes that, ratings-wise, WWE isn’t in a ‘storm’ created by being unable to compete with ‘real’ sports but is in its current position due to the poor quality of the show. Jason worries what WrestleMania season will be like if this is WWE’s view of their current difficulties. Wade notes there might be enough to get through to WrestleMania, but asks what then?
(1:24:42) Wade wraps up the show with details of PWTorch.com, future Livecasts, and PWTorch’s social media presences.
SCORE & REVIEW
(8.0): If you remember, last week I was critical of the Tuesday Livecast because of what felt like an inconsistent and perhaps unbalanced flow to the show overall. This week, though, I’m pleased to say Wade and Jason were back on track. The Tuesday Livecast this week flowed really well, I thought. Wade took control early on, politely reminding potential callers, and those already on hold, to ask their questions or raise their topics in a concise manner. The callers, to a man, duly obliged and so the flow of this week’s show felt much tighter.
Some of the hosts’s responses in the early stages were still a bit broader than I would have liked them to be, but in all honesty I say that now while looking back over the whole show reflecting on it. During the responses themselves I wasn’t struck at the time by a feeling that the responses were dragging on or had gone off on a tangent, and so the overall impact on my enjoyment of the show was negligible. The hosts also took more time at the beginning of the show to discuss the broader topics this week, which also helped them to be more focused later on.
Wade introduced a poll question for callers to respond to this week, and while most callers asked their own questions without answering Wade’s, I think that asking a key question at the beginning of the show each week and having callers give a one-word or sentence answer is a good innovation for the Livecast. Sometimes, I think that one or two listeners might zone out of podcasts or skip weeks altogether if there are a run of shows where the questions or topics they want discussed aren’t raised by the callers. Of course, they could call in themselves if they wanted something talked about that badly, but I do feel that a question that draws everyone in is a great idea. Although the Tuesday Livecast will always be about (and enjoyable because of) Wade and Jason’s engaging manner as hosts, the depth and breadth of their combined wrestling knowledge, and the ease and clarity they have in communicating their insights to the average fan, I know that I, for one, would love to know what Mike, D’rell, Steve, Kylin, and D.J. (and all the other ‘regulars’) would answer to the question ‘Which star would you bring back for Mania?’ or ‘Who would you have beat Cena before he goes?’ It would be an easy, but well structured way of having a bit more of a back-and-forth feel to some f the discussion with the callers, which I think the Livecast would benefit from.
Overall, I’d recommend you check out this week’s Livecast. It’s paced well, fits in a range of topics without ever feeling like it’s being to broad or to vague, and keeps to the topics of the current quality of Raw and the issues surrounding WWE in general, whilst also providing some interesting historical side-notes.