The 25th of August edition of Raw is in the heel books. Having just watched it, my initial feeling is that it didn’t blow me away by any stretch of the imagination. I saw good things, useful things, but also frustrating things.
Let’s look through the magnifying glass:
The eulogy segment, while not terribly original, was a good way to put Rollins over as a heel and launch the feud between the two former Shield members.
In my estimation, this is the feud that Reigns needs. Rollins will sell for Roman like a champ, he’ll look scared to death half the time, while still getting a lot of heat for himself.
Smart move from WWE and I’ll bet you the computer I’m writing to you on this feud will do waaay more for Reigns than his program with Orton did.
I won’t blow anyone’s mind if I write: Lesnar’s promo skills aren’t exactly Jake Roberts-like. There’s a reason he has Heyman.
But kudos to who had the idea to resort to pre-taped, edited segments of Brock being his cold-blooded, sadistic self, intercut with footage of his devastating matches.
The segments make Lesnar look strong, he can speak without jeopardizing his own stock and we roll on to the next PPV with sustained interest in his character.
I’ll get to the earlier part of their segment below, but this feud is a real testament to the fact that, while Bellas and Evas exist and are out there, some WWE women pack a real, legit punch.
AJ and Paige have been doing their thing for a few months now and have clearly secured their place on weekly WWE TV.
While Trish vs. Mickie comparisons may be inevitable, it’s still refreshing to watch a women’s storyline in WWE that is not only delivering, but is also surpassing some of the men’s programming on something that is getting more and more lost: the unpredictability.
Be it big things like the title changes, or small things like last night’s kiss on the hand, this feud has had more than its share of unexpected moments, which help the sustainability of a storyline so, so much – especially in a TV show where, unfortunately, we tend to spot what’s coming a mile away.
After months of vignettes talking about cosmic keys and God knows what else, I’ll confess I was enjoying the Dust Brothers’s rapprochement to the old school Goldust mannerisms and promos.
But, regardless of your like or dislike of said mannerisms and promos, their match on last night’s Raw confused me.
To recap, the fighting goes outside the ring and Jey Uso ends up being counted out after he throws Stardust back in, thanks to an unexpectedly injured knee.
Next thing you know, Goldust grabs the mic, asking for a rematch. Then, he accuses the Usos of deliberately going for the count-out to save their titles. At which point, the Dusts attack and leave the Usos layin’.
In less than 60 seconds, the Dusts go from their bizarre gimmick, to “all business” when they ask for the rematch, to (supposedly) heels by attacking the champions, who did NOT throw the match out on purpose and had one member of the team already injured and, therefore, in a disadvantage. Nicolas Cage couldn’t boost a car this quickly.
Why spend months on bizarre promos if you’re only going to have them cut a 20-second promo anyone could have cut? At least, Goldust could have kept his promo within the parameters of the character, going all strange and cooky with how he explains himself.
This looked and felt lazy. And, unless I’m missing something, it erased a lot of the work that was done until this point.
Don’t miss next week on Raw, when Lana and Rusev come out to Hacksaw’s theme.
If you’re not a fan of MMA or boxing, TKO is short for Technical Knock Out. It refers to the referee’s decision to stop a fight when one of the participants is no longer intelligently defending himself.
Twice now, Swagger has lost via TKO or, as WWE calls it, “Ladies and gentlemen, the referee has decided to put a stop to this match…”.
While I see the value of using such a finish – it builds up the winner, who has apparently beat the other guy so badly the ref has to step in… AND it also builds up the loser, who never quit despite being in so much trouble – the merits of its usage are doubtful in Rusev vs. Swagger.
Call me out on my nostalgia, but a TKO finish should be reserved for Hart vs. Austin scenarios. Incredible beatdowns, bloody pulps, screaming in pain, collapses in the Sharpshooter type stuff.
To have Swagger get the match stopped twice on account of a rib injury…
on the same card John Cena is steamrolled by 16 Germans, 2 F5 and more knees to the (wait for it…) ribs than Big Show has had face and heel turns…
and on the same year Daniel Bryan was viciously and repeatedly mugged at Wrestlemania to the point where he’s stretchered out…
… and neither get a TKO call… doesn’t feel authentic to be. Consistency is key.
This kind of finish only works if the entire card(s) is built to make it work. You can’t have a referee stoppage in the 3rd match and then a beatdown in the main event that is so bad, it makes Swagger rib injury look like a broken nail.
Before I get to the thing that puzzled me the most about Raw, we’re going to try something innovating. I’m going to go to a commercial about heel attire, but you won’t have missed any parts of the article when you come back. Huge, I know.
And we’re back to our article, and it’s a good thing we just called for a psychologist:
While the need to give Cena adequate momentum for Night of Champions is clear, did that momentum have to come at the expense of one of WWE’s fastest rising commodities?
Since coming back to WWE, Wyatt has been paired the likes of Bryan, Cena and Jericho and has looked strong against all of them, which shows the WWE’s commitment to putting over his character.
So, while I understand that Cena’s momentum charges up more effectively when he’s put over by 3 guys with such credibility, it seemed a bit too much for me, even given Big Show and Mark Henry’s involvement.
If WWE was hellbent on putting Cena over using the Wyatts, I’d humbly suggest that, at the very least, have Bray sell it from outside of the ring, looking on as Cena takes apart Rowan and Harper. They can take this kind of beating, but I’m unsure Bray can – or should.
Coming off an underwhelming storyline with Chris Jericho, the Wyatts seem to be getting a little offtrack from their previously steady rise. Hopefully, they get some heat back in the upcoming shows and this doesn’t do much damage. Buzzard fingers crossed.
A good piece of writing came about this week when WWE put Cena’s segments first and last.
In the opening segment, Cena is given his problem: no one thinks he can beat Brock in the rematch. Even Hulk looks hesitant, even though he’s in Cena’s corner. The segment wasn’t exactly a winner, but it served its purpose.
Then, in the final segment, he “solves” his problem: he sweeps the Wyatt Family with AAs, looking uber-strong (almost Cena-like, one could say…) against 3 more than solid guys.
This is actual TV writing: show us what the problem is, get it done by the end of the episode.
I’m sorry. I’m having difficult with this. Did Nikki’s last few minutes look actually (almost) up to par?
For my money, Brie continues her promo cheese-fest, with acting you just want to send to the Hell of Boiling Oil.
But Nikki actually came off solid, after a rough, Bella-like start. Her angry, revolted delivery actually started working for me, which almost gives me hope for something good to come out of this program. Almost. Judgement being held. But I wouldn’t mind having my pain eased.
With so many talented guys roaming around in WWE waters with no creative plans, it’s at least somewhat comforting to see Sandow has carved out a niche for himself, through his funny impersonations.
Even though he loses and loses and loses, I find myself waiting to see what he does next. If this is the road he stays on, I would only hope that get a little deeper with his impersonations, by having him get more detailed with them during and after his matches as, for now, the entrances seem to be the highlight (and only light, for that matter).
Mirroring Miz in the entrance ramp was hilarious, by the way.
And you, what did you think of Raw?