Day 257: And They Shall Be Freed From Vince’s Basement [Wrasslin’ For Lunch]
On the first leg of the Road To Wrestlemania, probably like a mile or so in, it seemed like Keith Lee was going to be shot to the moon. He had a wonderful title match against Drew Mcintyre, the WWE Network made an inspiring documentary about his rise to prominence and he was the obvious favorite to strip Bobby Lashley of the United States Title at Elimination Chamber. And then, out of nowhere, he disappeared. At first, we all feared that it was Covid, but nobody in Stamford was willing to make a statement about it. Days turned into weeks, which turned into months and we now haven’t seen Keith for over 4 of them. Every now and then, he’ll make a cryptic tweet to assure the fans that he’s okay but is definitely not okay. Sometimes, he questions if he’ll ever wrestle again. But in this age of absolute transparency, we have absolutely no idea what’s going on with him. He’s just…gone. The best case scenario is that he’s being buried and that’s just plain sad. It’s happened to so many immense talents in the WWE. Guys and gals rise up through the ranks of NXT, get promoted to the main brand and then get locked in Vince’s basement, never to be seen again.
The way Vince is running his company is like some twisted foster home. For appearances sake, the Good Kids seem to be prospering. They get good grades, they’re staples in the community, they’re good athletes, they paint a picture that Vince is the Father of the Year. But then there’s The Other Kids. The ones that people don’t see very often. They’ll show up for family photos or to fight Sheamus, but they spend 90% of their lives locked in a cage, being fed scraps. But because Randy and Roman are such good kids, nobody bats an eye when Vince keeps adopting more to live in his mansion. Because these kids have no better option, and in their minds, this is their one-way ticket to the good life. They may even know about the basement and challenge themselves to never be sent down there, but it’s not in their control. If they aren’t vascular enough, they get sent down. And the basement is getting full.
You can see the desperation in their eyes in the rare cases that you see them. Ricochet seems to be completely dead inside. The Lucha House Party act like excited dogs anytime someone mentions their names. And on Raw, we’ve been subjected to countless fights between Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin, where the ultimate loser gets sent to the basement. Little do they know, they’re both getting sent to the basement. Once you’re in the basement, there’s not much hope of ever moving back upstairs. What they’ve done to Nikki Cross in the last couple of weeks has made me downright sick to my stomach. They’re tricking this poor woman into thinking she has a way back upstairs, when really, they’re just inviting her up to make fun of her. She’s getting credit for staying in the match for 2 minutes like she’s some jamoke they picked out of the crowd. Once they’re done toying with her, she’ll go back in the cage. That’s just how life is in Vince’s House. And they’re all brainwashed to believe that this is the only home for them, because for a while, it was.
But it’s not like that anymore. One by one, people have been escaping the basement and found success elsewhere. They’ve become champions, executives, fathers and mothers. For some, leaving Vince’s house was the best decision they ever made. However, there’s a huge difference between leaving on your own accord and being exiled from the house altogether. That has to be a huge mindfuck, to know that you weren’t even good enough to take up space in a cage. And today, 6 more people were freed and booted out into the real world.
Aleister Black – I really know nothing about this guy. He was already being sent to the basement by the time I started watching in early 2020. I saw his brief cameo, where he randomly threw Rey Mysterio off the roof of Titan Tower, but that was it. The twisted thing is that he was just on his way to make a comeback. He had been wholly unused for almost a year and then suddenly, these high-budget vignettes started airing on Smackdown. They were weird and intriguing. After hearing so many great things about him, I was excited to see him step into the spotlight again. It all led up to him randomly attacking Big E and was never seen again. He got his walking papers less than two weeks later.
Buddy Murphy – He was apparently a great wrestler before he became Seth Rollin’s disciple. Unfortunately, that’s all I ever saw of him. He was entrenched in an awful angle in which he was wooing Rey Mysterio’s 19 year old daughter. When it was finally decided that he was welcome in the family as her boyfriend, she went off to school and he got locked in the basement. It almost seemed like a punishment for being in the storyline, even though he had no part in booking it. That’s now 2 for 2 on people that cross Rey Mysterio getting fired.
Santana Garrett – I don’t know who she is, but I’m sure she crossed Rey Mysterio.
Ruby Riott – I’m going to state an unpopular opinion: she’s not that good. She’s been my bathroom break for months now. Everything she does is extremely stiff, hesitant and sloppy. A lot of her recent matches have been downright cringe. And somehow, she was never in the basement. Because if she was in the basement, I wouldn’t have an opinion of her.
Lana – This one also makes a whole lot of sense. She’s been basement-adjacent ever since her husband left the company. Her whole shtick for months was that people couldn’t resist throwing her through the announcer’s desk. She won the Survivor Series match by standing in the corner and crying. She was a literal human punching bag. I wish I was making that up. No human should be treated that way, even if they are getting paid 6 figures to do so. What’s disappointing about this firing is that she and Naomi were probably getting pushed in the women’s tag division. Actually, let’s just back up the fun bus for a second and talk about the women’s tag division.
You have the current champs, Nattie and Tamina. Cool. The former champs are pretty much broken up now because a sommelier got in the way. What other women tag teams are there? You have the Riott Squad, which is now obviously defunct. The odd pairing of Lana and Naomi is now dunzo and Naomi will unfortunately go back to the basement. The only non-champion team left is Mandy and Dana Brooke. So the champions literally have one challenger. This feeds into the weeks-long speculation that Alexa Bliss and her doll, Lilly, are going to go on a title run. That’s right. Your future tag champs are going to be a woman who hasn’t fought in an actual match since January and a doll.
The fucking state of it.
They had their chance to bring the women’s tag championships into NXT and they completely punted it. Instead, they made their own belts for NXT and it’s one of the most highly contested belts on the brand. It’s just a joke. All of this is a joke. I don’t even know what else to say about it.
Lana, on the other hand, will be just fine. Her husband, Miro, is finally breaking ground in AEW as the reigning TNT Champion. She could easily be slotted in as his manager and get involved in some mixed tag action with Kip Sabian and Penelope Ford. Or she could be a midway headliner on one of the hundreds of YouTube shows. And honestly, I think that’s where she belongs anyway. She’ll be a lot happier knowing what’s coming next.
Braun Strowman – WHAT THE FUCK?!? How?!? Why?!? What?!? This dude was in a title match on the last PPV. He’s a decent worker. He’s basically over, kind of! He’s been one of the top guys for a grip. He main evented Wrestlemania last year for fucks sake! And they dumped him because he was “too expensive”. I don’t get it. I just don’t. The company is not doing bad financially. They just made a king’s ransom on the Peacock deal. Why should they be worried about money?
But at least now Braun is free to follow his dreams and not be worried about getting slimed. I think he’d be a really good fit in Japan. They have a whole division in NJPW for hosses like him. He could have plenty of dream matches and make some good money in the process. The world is his oyster. And the world is gonna get These Hands. Unless Vince trademarked “These Hands”, in which the world will get Deez Mittz.
And in an instant, they were all freed. Some came from cages, some came from the penthouse. They all gathered outside to get one last look at the mansion. Murphy noticed Bray and Humberto waving in the cellar window. He waved back, wishing he could take them with him. They stepped over Katie Vick’s corpse and navigated around the mountains of unsold Al Snow action figures to get their way off the compound. Where they’ll go from here is their choice. Maybe they’ll go to Jacksonville or Atlanta or overseas. Maybe they’ll get paid to play video games online. Or maybe they’ll go back home and make amends with the people that they think they wronged but actually didn’t. While a major chapter in their life has ended, today is the start of the rest of their lives. And I have a feeling that they’ll all make the most of it.
But seriously, WHERE THE FUCK IS KEITH LEE?!?