We publish a whole lot of content here at Cageside Seats. We’re also [looks around and whispers so the bosses can’t hear] not the only place producing wrestling content on the internet. So, as a service to you on the weekdays, we’ll be producing a wrestling newsletter, "Rude Awakening." Well, it will be a newsletter eventually: for now, it’ll just be part of your experience here at Cageside, collecting the news, recaps, and social moments from the greater wrestling universe daily so you won’t fall behind, with a newsletter format to come.
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SmackDown is the best thing WWE has going right now, but it’s not without its faults. There is a real lack of faces in the main-event scene, especially since Dolph Ziggler recently turned heel. Look no further than the Elimination Chamber match coming up this Sunday for the WWE World Championship, which features four of the six competitors — AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Miz, and Bray Wyatt — aligned as heels. Then, you’ve got Ziggler, as well as Royal Rumble winner Randy Orton on the side of the baddies. As for faces, there is current Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose, as well as current WWE World champ John Cena — Cena is essentially a part-time wrestler, though, even if, right now, the champ is here. That’s where Luke Harper comes in.
Harper has recently turned on not just Orton, but also his leader, Bray Wyatt. He certainly doesn’t look like a babyface, not with his unkempt and large beard, unwashed shirt, and historic penchant for evil. However, Harper was basically a face down at NXT where the Wyatt Family was worshipped by the crowd on a weekly basis. The SmackDown crowd has been thrilled to see him turning on Bray and becoming an independent force to be reckoned with. Plus, Harper might be a big dude, but he’s capable of wrestling like a much smaller man, and that would be to his benefit as a face. Plus, his being a little odd to be a face fits in fine with SmackDown’s quirks: Ambrose is unhinged and goofy, and also a champ. Heath Slater went ridiculously over for having kids and wanting a bigger trailer. Everything about James Ellsworth.
Having Harper opposing Wyatt, Orton, and the rest of the heels would be a boost to the good guys at the top of SmackDown’s card, and also would be something entirely new for WWE given Harper’s previous main-roster alignments. All the previous talk was about making Bray a face and what that would look like — and that’s still something that should inevitably happen — but it looks like Harper is the one going that way for now. He has the mic skills, he has a unique look, and he can go in the ring in the way he needs to as a face. SmackDown is going to be the better for Harper turning on his master, and seeing how that all plays into the lead-in to WrestleMania — and maybe at Mania itself — is going to be something.
- Thursday’s Rumor Roundup includes a potential return time for Paige.
- Nikki Bella impersonated Natalya and it is glorious.
- This week’s NXT is the first of a new era, as Corey Graves is off of commentary and replaced by Nigel McGuinness.
- Here’s Kyle Decker’s weekly preview of TNA Impact.
- That movie about Paige’s family? Lena Headey and Nick Frost are slated to act in it, so we know it won’t just be full of rando actors.
- The United Kingdom Championship will be defended at Full Sail next week on NXT, as Trent Seven takes on tournament winner and current champ, Tyler Bate.
- Let’s talk about James Ellsworth. Specifically, let’s talk about the “Big Hog” portion of the James Ellsworth’ character arc.
- Speaking of Daniel Bryan, he hasn’t 100 percent given up on returning to the ring, but he seems to be getting closer to accepting that is isn’t going to happen.
- The Revival take pride in being “top guys” regardless of where it is their career brings them.
- Want your own List of Jericho? That’ll be $25.
- Darren Young’s elbow injury is a serious one, and there is no timetable for his return to WWE.
- Here’s the final card for this Sunday’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view.
- The retro Best and Worst of RAW is now up to the point in 1997 where Bret Hart was heeling from a wheelchair and Brian Pillman was leading the crowd in prayer.