DARREN YOUNG VS. TITUS O’NEIL
What Nick Wants to Happen: Something closer to Alex Riley and The Miz’s than Marty and Shawn Michaels. Except, no one has to be Alex Riley. Ever.
These are the type of matches that need to keep happening. Not, of course, a best-of-seven series between Titus and Darren, but serious feuds that make SOMEONE look good. 50/50 booking has its benefits, especially when someone breaks out, but for mid-card feuds, it’s been the Plague because if no one is ever made to look bad, no one ever gets to look good.
That this leads to guys like Daniel Bryan looking extra great when they burst out and start beating people they normally “tied” from a booking perspective, is great. But it also makes anyone who doesn’t have a rocket strapped to their back look even worse than they would have without the even-steven/”get back your win”/back-and-forth booking that has been a major part of the WWE for much of the last 15 years. The WWE needs to start making choices about who they want to be successful and who they don’t. And while some of that comes down to performers standing up for themselves — Titus reportedly begged Vince for this chance to turn heel against Young — it should at least sort of be a two-way street, especially in a business as politically complicated as professional wrestling appears to be from the outside.
As for the match itself, it showed both the promise and limitations of Young and, especially, O’Neil. Subtle pieces of business like punching Young during the abdominal stretch show someone who understands that success in professional wrestling is just as much about the big things like look, charisma and physical abilities (in that order) as the little bits of performance and stage craft that help to create a holistic performance that completely transports viewers from “guys in underpants pretending to beat each other up” to “wrestling match”. And, if nothing else, this match — for brief moments — felt like that. Which is all you can really ask for from something like this.
Match .3 | PPV 1.1