WOW struggles with storytelling in latest episode

WOW kicked off this week’s episode like every other week this season, catching up with the wrestlers in the world title picture. Last week, Jungle Grrrl and The Beast won—by disqualification—their main event match against Havok and Hazard despite their history of antagonism. Rather than embrace The Beast (the woman whose interference in a title match was responsible for the only pinfall loss of her entire career), Jungle Grrrl rejected her show of respect and smashed her back up with a steel chair. It was a tad impolite, I suppose, but well within the realm of face behavior, so I was surprised the show opened this week with Jungle Grrrl turning heel.

Recapping last week’s main event, WOW‘s tendency for self-congratulation reared its ugly head. David McLane claimed that unnamed “experts” had described Jungle Grrrl and The Beast’s victory over the Monsters of Madness as the formation of one of the most powerful teams in women’s tag team wrestling history. They won by DQ! It’s so patronising when wrestling writers pat themselves on the back so hard and expect us to eat it up.

Speaking of patronising, Jungle Grrrl’s heel turn arrived in the form of a surprisingly tacky promo about entitled millennials. She had to work really hard to get the crowd to stop cheering her, but they absolutely hated the cheap cracks about phones and lazy youth and continued booing her for the rest of the show.

Fury of the Psycho Sisters faced off with Fire in the first match of the night, a fun little scrap that saw Fire snatch a well-earned victory from the jaws of defeat, her first win since overcoming the Disciplinarian early last season. The Psycho Sisters ruined Fire’s big moment with a post-match beatdown, quickly interrupted by Adrenaline. Fire and Adrenaline made a big hullaboo building up to announce they’d be entering the tag title series, but, in a case of shockingly bad editing, the reveal was spoiled in commentary. As he was recapping the highlights of Fury vs Fire, David McLane mentioned the win would propel Fire and Adrenaline forward in the tag title series when they hadn’t even entered yet. It was sloppy and confusing and further undercut an already weak promo segment.

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Last week, Siren the Voodoo Doll and Holidead kidnapped Princess Aussie after Aussie’s loss to Nikki Krampus. This week, Siren cut a video package promo where she casts a rhyming spell that sounds like it’s supposed to kill Aussie by burning her bamboo staffs. Siren was in action in the second match of the show against Chantilly Chella. Siren was accompanied by Holidead and Chella made a big deal out of refusing to work the match without backup and headed backstage to avail of Sassy Massy. For all the buildup—and the pop for Massy—she played a limit role in a decent match that saw Siren snatch a win, but, thankfully, not her opponent.

Next up, we got a long, meandering video package recapping the relationship between Lana Star and the Beverly Hills Babe, newly returned to her roots as Amber O’Neal. Lana replaced Amber as her protege with Faith the Lioness, that’s the whole feud. Lana and Faith faced off with Amber O’Neal and Jessie Jones in another round of the tag title series whose structure and process remains completely unexplained. The character dynamics in the match were a bit weird, because Amber O’Neal is obviously the face in her feud with Lana and Faith, but Jessie Jones is the most despised heel in the entire roster. The show tells its audience very blatantly through the pre-match video package to cheer for Amber to defeat her shallow, scheming ex-mentor and the flavor of the month who stole her spot. But no one wanted to cheer Jessie Jones, even though she looked phenomenal in the match and stole the show. Her very protected armbar finisher, the Bourbon Stretch, forced Lana Star to tap out. Jones cut a promo after the victory asserting that she and O’Neal don’t care what the audience thinks. Usually, when Jones says that, she means she doesn’t care if people are offended by her casual racism. It’s not clear what that means for Amber O’Neal.

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The main event—like three of the four main events so far this season—featured Jungle Grrl and The Beast facing off with at least an implicit number one contendership on the line. It was a terrific, physical match, kicked off with a vicious spear from the Beast to Jungle Grrrl, who returned the favor later. The character dynamics of this match were also pretty confusing. Jungle Grrrl’s mild-mannered heel turn was treated like a massive transformation on commentary. David McLane described last week’s post-match chair shot as an “emotional breakdown”. When his colleague pointed out Jungle Grrrl had been a heel in the past, he went on a whole spiel about how motherhood had changed her. Then the crowd booed Jungle Grrrl, who’s been characterised entirely as a vengeful face this entire time, and cheered the Beast, an unstoppable monster heel who cheated Jungle Grrrl out of her zero pinfall streak.

I just couldn’t see Jungle Grrrl as the despicable psychopath commentary made her out to be and I felt no sympathy for the Beast, even when Jungle Grrrl pulled a few heelish moves in the ring, like wrenching the Beast’s arm over the top rope over and over. I had been thinking how nice it was that WOW finally did an episode without Tessa Blanchard this season after her gratuitous appearance last week, and then Tessa immediately ran in to smack Jungle Grrrl in the face with a steel briefcase. The main event picture is starting to get very repetitive: three of the four main events this season featured Jungle Grrrl and the Beast and ended in a DQ or no contest. The title scene needs to be shaken up or it’s gonna get stale.

It already kinda is, even if the in-ring action is still at a high level. I couldn’t review last week’s episode, but Reyna Reyes seriously impressed in her first singles outing since unmasking. Jessie Jones is undefeated. Give these women an opportunity to shine in the ring with Tessa Blanchard, one of the best wrestlers in the industry today. Even a hard-won loss will help put them over as rising stars. We can afford to take a break from the main event of last season’s finale. We don’t need to keep reliving it over and over again.

The women on this show turn it out every week. It’s a shame the show’s sloppy editing and muddled storytelling are undermining their hard work.