It’s hard to not find most of attempts by corporations to “commemorate” deceased former employees as somewhere between exploitative and tone-deaf, but there’s such a genuine affection for Bruno Sammartino within wrestling — and awareness of him outside of it — that WWE actually managed to make most of the (very deserved) ten-bell salute and accompanying video package feel like it was made with the idea of simply celebrating his legacy and not trying to make money of it.
I’ve often said (mostly when discussing THIS BUSINESS with friend of the column Daron “Action” Jackson) that what makes Paul Heyman (the character) work is that he’s constructed entirely out of professional wrestling. There’s no piece of him which doesn’t come from the fundamental goal of “getting over” within the context of a pro graps show. That’s not to say that his character couldn’t exist outside of wrestling — I’d happily write a part in a non-wrestling show for Paul Heyman to appear in — but that it’s one that could have only come from professional wrestling. Even the Heralds of Galactus don’t have the predictive power that Paul Heyman does with Brock Lesnar, as they simply just tell you what the plan is going forward. Heyman manages to be able to give away how the story ends without diminishing its impact as a fundamental aspect of his character. And that only happen in a world (or “Universe”) where an lack of ultimate ending, by its nature, means that the only thing of significance is the journey itself. Which isn’t bad work, if you can get it.
There are a thousand different reasons why it makes sense for Roman Reigns and Brock to not touch before THE GREATEST ROYAL RUMBLE from a storytelling perspective, but they seemingly used not a single one to explain why Roman came to the ring and did absolutely nothing to a dude who has spent the last two months viciously and unscrupulously attacking him in an escalating series of events. The Big Dog didn’t even get in Brock’s face, just mostly stood on the other side of the ring to say essentially “you might literally turn me into mincemeat, but I’ll be championship quality mincemeat.” If you insist, smartly, on making his promos as short and sweet as possible — A) because he’s not the *best* talker and B) because the toxically masculine section of the audience whom his presence frightens on a existential level treat him like he’s barely able to form complete sentences — it needs to be way less “please, sir, I’d like some more (shots at your title)” and way more face-punchy.