NEWS ANALYSIS: Cena-Owens botched spot last night, help needed for Smackdown after 1.42 rating, Bret out of line regarding Hogan

-A lot of us held our breath and maybe even gasped a little watching that botched landing in the John Cena vs. Kevin Owens match at last night’s WWE house show that was captured by a fan recording it on their phone. This morning¬†Cena talked vaguely about it on Twitter referring to life hitting you hard and having to get up. I really enjoyed Kevin Owens’ response this afternoon, which was “That wasn’t life, that was me.” I assume he was in character and staking claim to being the one who gave him that hard blow. I really enjoy that type of use of social media that stays in character like that and enhanced the story WWE is telling. Some are wondering whether Cena or Owens was at fault for the move going bad – a sunset flip into an awkward dropdown by Owens after which Cena looked stunned from an awkward landing. I suppose a wrestler with a trained eye who has done the move before might be able to tell what went wrong. My view is that it went wrong when Cena agreed to do it. It wasn’t exactly a Styles Clash, but it looked like the Styles Clash in the sense that if something were to go wrong, it would go very wrong. From the angle we saw of the move, which wasn’t the best angle to see Cena’s impact, it looked like people with lesser musculature might have been much worse off afterward and unable to complete the match. Cena is too important to the WWE product for him to needlessly be doing moves with a high risk factor like that.

-I am glad Bret Hart was willing to speak out against Hulk Hogan’s racist comments that were recently revealed on tape/transcript on two occasions. I was disappointed Bret took it a step too far in saying Hogan was probably glad Roddy Piper died when he did because it changed the narrative away from Hogan and to Piper. Bret’s comments were, unfortunately, part of a pattern with him where he is often “right” and I’m nodding along with his premise until he takes it too far and speaks a thought that should be kept private. This might be related to his stroke causing him to not be as good at editing his comments, or maybe it’s just having a care-free I’ll-say-what-I’m-thinking attitude because he’s not beholden to anyone anymore. Whatever the case may be, Hogan in this case took the high road when he said Bret’s comments were out of line, and then adding he was “praying for Bret.” There is a pattern with Bret speaking bluntly and harshly, and I’m kind of at a point personally where I don’t really take what he says too seriously because the context is so unhinged that it distracts from the often valid points he’s making.

-The dreadful 1.42 Smackdown rating on Thursday night should get Vince McMahon’s attention. College football definitely played a big part in the near record low rating. (PWTorch Article Link / PWTorch VIP Ad-Free Link). There was a time not that long ago Smackdown was routinely above 2.0 and it seemed within reach of perhaps beating at least one hour of Raw in total viewership. The distance between the viewership of the two shows now, percentage-wise, is perhaps unprecedented, even with Raw only at 2.7 the last four weeks. The near two-to-one viewership margin should be a wake-up call to McMahon & Co. to do some simple quick moves to make Smackdown more relevant and then consider larger format changes to bring relevance back to the show. The move from SyFy to USA Network is scheduled for next January, but it’s hard to imagine USA Network putting up with two hours of prime time TV earning ratings under 1.5. One quick fix, which I talked about to VIP members¬†on my Wade Keller Hotline in great detail, would be to give Smackdown an identity by having it be the home of the Intercontinental Title and the Divas Title, and rotate weeks having each title defended in the main even position. Raw could feature contendership matches, but the titles themselves could rotate being defended every two weeks.

-Follow me on Twitter @thewadekeller. Follow our brand @pwtorch. And be sure to check out MMATorch.com for coverage of tonight’s UFC 191 including Frank Mir vs. “Comeback Kid” Andrei Arlovski.

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