Quick Takes: Adam Page as AEW Champ, WWE Burying Baszler, SmackDown Depth, More
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Credit: All Elite Wrestling
It’s always been more of a question of when and not if Adam Page would dethrone Kenny Omega as AEW World champion, and in light of loud crowd reactions he’s received recently, AEW should pull the trigger on that title change sooner rather than later—specifically All Out on September 5th.
Hangman is fresh off another victory on Friday’s Dynamite, teaming with Preston “10” Vance to defeat the duo of Brian Cage and Powerhouse Hobbs in tag team action. Without any obvious direction in the immediate future, Page rekindling his rivalry with Omega in time for the Labor Day weekend spectacular might be the best course of action for AEW.
While Hangman’s stock continues to skyrocket, Shayna Baszler’s has unfortunately never been lower. The former WWE Women’s Tag Team champion was involved in arguably one of the worst endings in recent Raw history and has officially hit rock bottom as far as her booking is concerned.
Over on SmackDown, every division could benefit from an influx of fresh faces. That was evident than ever before on Friday’s episode, which featured most of the same several storylines continuing despite already having run their course.
This week’s installment of Quick Takes will tackle the lack of depth on the blue brand at the moment, WWE reportedly passing on Bobby Lashley vs. Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam, Kofi Kingston’s overdue singles spotlight, and more.
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WWE’s booking of Shayna Baszler on the main roster has been questionable since the get-go, dating back to her Raw debut in February 2020 when she bit Becky Lynch’s neck and emerged with a bloody mouth. Despite her many pay-per-view losses last year, she still had a shred of credibility thanks to her largely dominant reigns as WWE Women’s Tag Team champion alongside Nia Jax.
The last two weeks have done enough damage to Baszler to where it may be impossible for fans to ever see her as a threat to a top title in WWE again.
She lost to Carmella’s ex-sommelier Reginald on the May 31 edition of Raw before being invited onto Alexa’s Playground this past week on the show. That was where she was chased backstage by a doll and screamed into a broken mirror as the show went off the air.
It was the complete opposite of everything the Baszler character has stood for since signing with WWE four years ago. Her reign of terror in NXT feels like an eternity ago and now she’s subjected to supernatural silliness that’s doing more to hurt Baszler than help Alexa Bliss.
It would have been an all-time terrible ending to Raw regardless, but Baszler’s involvement specifically was disheartening for fans who know what can brings to the table. Additionally, the timing couldn’t be worse with Raw needing new blood in the Raw Women’s Championship picture.
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As rumors continue to run rampant regarding what WWE has in store for SummerSlam this August, a new report from Dave Meltzer in the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Paul Davis of WrestlingNews.co) indicates Bobby Lashley vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship won’t be happening at the event after all.
All signs seemed to point to the match being a perfect fit for what’s sure to be a star-studded card. There’s no reason to take the title off Lashley any time soon and he’s never been more of an ideal opponent for Lesnar than he is right now.
Lesnar coming back to face anyone else but The All Mighty at SummerSlam would be a waste. That said, it looks like Lesnar won’t be returning for the pay-per-view at all, and by next year’s WrestleMania, Lashley may no longer be the top heel on the Raw brand.
With the Lashley vs. McIntyre feud set to wrap up at Hell in a Cell next weekend, there isn’t anyone else remotely ready to contend for the WWE Championship this summer. Lashley vs. Lesnar is a marquee matchup worthy of the SummerSlam stage, despite WWE apparently not being as interested in booking it as fans are in seeing it.
Lashley has been very vocal over the years about wanting to square off with The Beast in a WWE ring. He’s one of the few people left on the roster that would be a believable opponent for Lesnar, so to pass on the opportunity to do it at the biggest party of the summer would be a massive mistake.
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There can be no doubt that SmackDown is far superior to Raw right now in almost every respect, but that isn’t to say the blue brand is without its own issues.
Much like Raw, SmackDown suffers from a stagnant landscape. The show has its fair share of stars between Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair, but viewers have been subjected to the same storylines for a few months now.
Each division on the Friday night program would massively benefit from an influx of fresh faces, regardless of whether they’re coming from Raw, NXT, 205 Live, NXT UK or elsewhere.
The Roman Reigns and Usos angle continues to be the best thing on the entire show (not to mention WWE on the whole), but the SmackDown well runs dry beyond the Universal Championship scene. There are only a handful of tag teams vying for the tag titles, while the Intercontinental Championship picture has featured the same four people since the beginning of the year.
Meanwhile, Belair and Bayley have had to continue their feud so WWE can wait to do the WrestleMania rematch between Belair and Banks at SummerSlam. The rest of the women’s division on the blue brand is nearly nonexistent due to the departures of Billie Kay, Ruby Riott, Mickie James and Chelsea Green.
A rumored WWE Draft could solve these problems, but until that happens, a handful of call-ups from NXT (Finn Balor, Io Shirai, Adam Cole, etc.) would be helpful in the meantime.
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Kofi Kingston’s short-lived stint in the WWE Championship picture last month was a breath of fresh air and proved that he belongs among the elite right now at a time when Raw could use more talent on top.
After failing to become number one contender against Drew McIntyre, it looked like he was set to resume his rivalry with R-K-Bro as part of The New Day. It’s been one of the better parts of Raw recently, but once that’s over, Kingston should be slotted back into a singles role.
That was teased when MVP confronted him backstage this past week on the show, attempting to motivate him to return to the heights he was once at while WWE champion. The chances of Kingston actually turning heel and aligning with MVP are fairly slim given his longstanding friendship with Xavier Woods, but at the very least, the storyline suggests that he may soon be back in a prominent position on the program.
As 11-time WWE tag team champions, New Day have accomplished all that they can together. There aren’t many fresh feuds left for them as a team, and with Big E finding success as a solo competitor on SmackDown, it’s high time Kingston branch back off on his own as well for more than a few weeks.
New Day wouldn’t have to break up necessarily, but the WWE Championship scene needs names at the moment and WWE revisiting the Kingston and Bobby Lashley rivalry for the summer could have potential.
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It was clear the moment that Kenny Omega became AEW World champion back in December that the only person who made sense to take the title from him was “Hangman” Adam Page given their history and how their partnership ended.
Omega beat Page at Full Gear in November to become the number one contender and, despite amassing more wins than losses since then, Page has struggled to find his confidence as a character. His current arch must see him become champion eventually and All Out in September would be the best place for it to happen.
Following Omega’s successful defense of the AEW title against Orange Cassidy and Pac, Jungle Boy is waiting in the wings for the next shot later this month. Christian Cage and Darby Allin can be built up for opportunities at All Out as well, but Page makes the most sense after the raucous reaction he received in front of the full capacity crowd at Double or Nothing.
Similar to Bobby Lashley vs. Brock Lesnar, AEW has to strike when the iron is hot with Hangman. His popularity could die down by Full Gear in November (or later if AEW decides to hold off until next year), so it’s imperative the trigger be pulled on a Page title win when fans are still emotionally invested.
It was at All Out in Chicago two years ago that Page originally fell short of becoming the inaugural AEW champ against Chris Jericho. He wasn’t nearly as ready then for that top spot as he is right now and thus the story essentially writes itself for it to happen at this year’s installment.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham “GSM” Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.
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