The news around Stamford lately hasn't been good. In fact, it's been downright awful. Really awful. Really, really awful. I mean, it's abandon ship awful.
In a sea of awful news and notes, there are good things happening at the worldwide leader in sports entertainment. No, really, they are. Really good things. Things you should watch and keep an eye on. Here are some breaks in the clouds of the state of WWE.
NXT Arrival and NXT Takeover: I know this may be looked upon as "prisoner of the moment" stuff, but in my humble opinion, two of the five best WWE shows this year have been put on by their minor league system. Don't discount it as minor league though, as the match quality can (and have) rival the stuff you see on Monday and Friday night. From Arrival, check out the big three matches including the final (at least for now) CESAROTM vs. Sami Zayn match, the Emma vs. Paige women's (yes, I said WOMEN'S) title bout and the NXT title ladder match between then champion Bo Dallas and Adrian Neville. From last night's takeover, once again the three big singles matches delivered in spades: Charlotte vs. Natalya for the NXT Womens title, Adrian Neville vs. Tyson Kidd for the NXT Mens title, and Tyler Breeze vs. Sami Zayn for the right to be next in line for said men's title. There's a lot of good stuff happening down there in Orlando, and it's only gonna continue. Triple H, your baby did good. It did real good.
The Shield: Aren't you glad this trio of awesome didn't break up? They still are gonna break up; it's only a matter of time, greed, and mathematics. The WWE's hounds of justice are on (in a perfect world) on their way to BREAKING UP their second stable in less than three months (the New Age Outlaws were sent packing in swift and severe fashion following Wrestlemania XXX, and Batista will probably be written off via HAMMER OF JUSTICE by the end of RAW Monday, essentially ending Evolution). And Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose are just as awesome now as they have been when they debuted almost 20 months ago. Believe in the Shield and their future. Or end up like them.
Alicia Fox: Holy hell, what happened to Alicia these last few weeks? One month ago, Alicia was just another faceless, nameless diva on the roster. Because she wasn't a "Total Diva" or the champ, she's lost in the shuffle by default. Then Beyonce's sister threw hands at Jay-Z. And the next night, Alicia Fox following yet another loss completely lost her shit. And the crazy thing was we couldn't look away. Train wreck Alicia Fox is easily the best Alicia Fox. Even in victory (of which she has one since February 25-that one being Paige's only loss since coming to the main roster), Alicia went full-on Solange. At least it's consistent. Of course, it helps that she's improved in the ring. Granted she's still only has two moves of importance (a vicious as hell backbreaker and that scissors kick), but hey: it's better than a rollup. This Sunday, she gets to play "bum of the month" to WWE Divas Champion Paige. Yeah, I said it. I fully expect Alicia to lose. Because Alicia losing her shit on PPV following what will probably be a good match will be damn compelling.
The Wyatt Family: Granted, he's probably gonna see the lights (or the floor) for a ten count thanks to LOLCenaWinz, but Bray Wyatt (safari hat) and his cohorts Luke Harper (dirty shirt) and Erick Rowan (sheep mask) have bright futures and almost unlimited ceilings in WWE. Erick can be your typical HOSS FIGHTER who gets in HOSS FIGHTS, and Luke Harper has a Mike Awesome vibe about him (without the whole kill opponent with unsafe moves to get yourself over vibe), and Bray Wyatt can captivate audiences the way The Undertaker did for a generation (a literal generation, not a wrestling generation). Oh, and Bray's only 26, so barring injury or creative completely ruining him, IRS' son will be around for a long time.
Bo Dallas. So will IRS' other son for that matter. The Bo Dallas gimmick is quite a simple one really: he's the living embodiment of those annoying motivational posters you see at work every day. You hate them, you snicker at them, you roll your eyes at them. But deep down, you know the message is probably a good one. In Bo's case: Bo-lieve in yourself and good things will happen. He had a one-off with Wade Barrett following the 2013 Royal Rumble, but his generic babyface character rubbed people the wrong way much in the way Rocky Maivia did back in 1997. Rocky became The Rock and the rest is history. NXT creative smartened up and tweaked Bo to be wrestling's version of Tim Tebow...without the whole religion thing. And with way more talent. His 280 day run as NXT Champion nearly surpasses the previous two titleholders, Seth Rollins and Big E Langston combined, so somebody must think highly of him. Bo's character smacks of insincerity, but it's so convincing one can't help but love him or love to hate him or love to see him get his face caved in. The weird thing is we're not totally sure which one it is, and that's cool. Stop doing that thumbs up gimmick. That's my gimmick, tool.
Adam Rose and the Exotic Express: I know I'll be in the minority here, but I like Adam Rose, and the reason is simple: it's a stupid fun gimmick. Look, wrestling can't be serious all the time (looking at you Lance from Calgary...Alberta, Canada). Even if you're more lemon than rosebud, his crew that make up the Exotic Express has more than a few faces you'll have to get familiar with. There's the bunny, who may or may not be Zack Ryder under the costume, Becky Lynch (the hot one in blue), Braun Stowman (with his epic beard), and Interspecies champion via technical decapitation (it's true. There's video of it and everything) Simon Gotch (whose Twitter is loads of fun if you like puns). Oh, and don't forget the lemon of the group, who works down at the Performance Center in Orlando and is at least somewhat important to the development of the NXT folk. Three big negatives: (1) Rose doesn't work in crowds that sit their hands all night (which has been most crowds since the night after Wrestlemania XXX), (2) time's not exactly on his side: he's 35, meaning he's probably on a short leash to get over or get out, (3) he's feuding with Jack Swagger. Ask Alberto Del Rio how that worked out for him.
WWE Network: Remember when WWE Network was having problems up the wazoo during that first week? Remember when subscribers were in an absolute panic about the prospect that the stream will fail on the night of Wrestlemania XXX? Seems as though those days are gone, but the WWE's new 24-hour streaming service still face numerous challenges ahead. At the moment, it's still only available in the US (legally), and it won't be available internationally until next year, by which point, some of the 660,000+ American subscribers will have decided to not commit another $60 (maybe more) to the service. Even with the prospect of a subscription price increase or even ads to increase revenue, one thing's for sure: WWE's all in on it, and though Vinnie Mac's lost more than the net worth of the Milwaukee Bucks in the last few months (and stand to lose millions more before the year's out), it looks as if they'll bite the bullet if it means it'll be a home run down the road. Let's certainly hope it is. For all its faults, a streaming service with every major PPV ever is a pretty good deal at $10 a month, and you probably should jump on it before they go Amazon Prime or Netflix on the price.
Paul Heyman: You know Paul: manager of the man who conquered the Undertaker's undefeated streak at Wrestlemania, Brock Lesnar. Manager of the winner of the Andre the Giant Battle Royal at Wrestlemania, CESARO. Greatest manager in wrestling today, maybe ever. Yeah, his constant mentions of his client's greatest deed will be grating on some, but there's a science to it: until you pass on in this mortal world, you will remember what Brock Lesnar did at Wrestlemania XXX. And he's still a better promo in the game than just about everyone else. Bonus: check out his work last night during the NXT Takeover pre- and post-game shows.
Keep calm and enjoy WWE everyone. There's still good out there. It's not as bad as it was during post-Mania runs of recent memory (R-Truth, PPV main eventer, anyone?).
What are you feeling good about in WWE right now?