The goal is to supply readers with an alternative to the traditional review style. This column will be an overview of what happened rather than a blow-for-blow. It is intended for those who watched the show already. I would recommend reading Andy PG’s review if you have not watched the show.
Last weeks Raw provided us with a couple things to confabulate about: Paul Heyman cut another money promo. The WWE Champion will now carry around one title. And Dean Ambrose’s face was curb stomped into a stack of cinder blocks. Moreover, we found out later that Ambrose is missing and that Cena would invoke his rematch clause for the WWE title at Night of Champions.
Predictability and unpredictability are both important in wrestling. Predictability builds to unpredictably and vice-versa. They support and lean on one another, and would not exist without each other. The Undertaker’s undefeated streak, for example, ceases to exist without predictability, and thus breaking it would have never seemed to be insurmountable. WWE authenticated something that was fake so much that it seemed to be unbreakable, and they did it so well that people their eyes were deceiving them when Lesnar broke it. It was an archetypal specimen of how the predicable can make the unpredictable seem impossible, and how momentous it can be when it happens as well.
Furthermore, wrestling is an eternal conflict between good vs. evil with protagonists and antagonists, and not much in between. Shades of gray writing complexes the characters and fans can become in a quandary on whom they should like or dislike, so the majority like being told whom they should like/dislike. In most cases, good should always overcome and prevail over evil. Besides, the average person wants to believe that good always conquers evil, and wrestling is a place where they can live out their credence.
The sole purpose of building up a dominant antagonist is to make a protagonist into a savior and hero. In WWE, the best place for the protagonist to give the villain the comeuppance he deserves is at Wrestlemania. It is a show where long feuds are paid off and is where the masses finally get what they want: good triumphing over evil. Therefore, we know when Brock Lesnar’s reign of terror is going to end. However, we do not know who is he going to have to vanquish to get there. It is going to be interesting to see where it goes from here, to say in the least.
Cena has transformed into a more sympathetic babyface, and it is mainly because of Heyman and Lesnar being exquisite heels. Heyman predicted Lesnar to beat the Undertaker and then give Cena the beating of his lifetime. Both of those hypothesizes were on point. Since he accurately two bold predictions, this means Cena is in the most danger he has ever been in yet.
What makes this story work is that Cena does not alter his modus operandi. He always wants to overcome obstacles, and his never-say-die attitude and resiliency have been his fortes that have allowed him to stay on top. However, he might have veered from being fearless to downright ignorant for evoking his rematch clause, although his tendencies are blinding him from even contemplating that. His biggest strengths for over a decade could become his biggest weaknesses, as his bravery and pride might lead to his biggest downfall ever.
Although it has mostly to do with the heels, this story-arc has been reinvigorating for him. For most of his time on top, he has been booked as an irreverent Superman that had no weaknesses nor feelings of unhappiness (and it got to a point where he would brush off losing his WWE title the following night as if it was nothing). Now – in contrast to once being a cartoon character who had insufferably passive-aggressive and happy-go-lucky attitude – he is someone that is more relatable, and it has made him, as a whole, more tolerable. After all, a character is more humanized and interesting when it has weaknesses, as opposed to when it’s invincible.
A sense of hatred and well-defined roles are the two features a heated feud must have. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins are both well-defined in their roles and their repugnance for one another is essentially unparalleled (well, at least in the no-blood era). Ambrose is a psychopathic antihero, and he is not about moral principles. He’s just a resilient dude and does not care what he has to do to get revenge on Rollins – and it is a big reason why the fans love him. Conversely, Rollins is a pusillanimous heel who hides behind the Authority and allows them to do most of his dirty work – and it is a main reason the fans hate him. They are immaculate foils for the other.
Rollins’ promo kept the iron hot by progressing the story while Ambrose films his movie. They also smoothly transitioned the Rollins vs. Ambrose feud to a Reigns vs. Rollins feud. This is something Reigns’ character needed to do. After all, he lost some of his credibility and integrity for not seeking vengeance on the man who turned his back on him. Doing this feud now is better than never.
Swing and a Miss:
When the Bella Twins’ feud started, we just knew bad promos and segments were inevitable. Nobody could have guessed it would be this bad, though. Neither one knows how to cut a convincing heartfelt promo nor how to act. So why the fuck did they do this segment? There are ways WWE could have protected them and not allowed them to expose their weak points. Indisputably, this was not one of them.
The dialog and story were both a mess, and so were their promos and acting. They had no chemistry together as foes; they were not comfortable in their roles, and nothing they said felt realistic. Nikki’s promo had terrible segues and transitions, as it was long-winded and just meandered. She kept blabbering incessantly about nonsensical things like Brie marrying Daniel Bryan, stealing her boyfriends, and other clichéd reasons why a sister would hate the other. It’s almost as if they googled “reasons a sister would hate other” and “hurtful things they would say”, and then inserted the top searches into this promo. Laughably, Nikki also did not know whether she should be looking into the camera or at Brie, and Brie’s crying and acting skills were as contrived as it gets.
The acting, talking, booking, and dialog were all cringeworthy and embarrassing to anyone who calls himself or herself a wrestling fan. This company does not deserve anyone’s 9.99 when they have segments like this on their flagship show. This was an ugly amalgam of Jerry Springer and the Jersey Shore: trashy people with no class fighting about nonsense.
The Rhodes Family used to be the most over tag team in the company. They were talented, had superb chemistry together, were sympathetic, and the fans wanted to rally behind them. In the midst of one of the worst WWE PPV’s eras in the Fall of 2013, they were one of the few bright spots and stole most of the shows. But after they lost their titles, WWE seemed to just want to bury them. They gave them a losing streak gimmick, they turned Rhodes into Stardust, they had them wrestle Rybaxel a million times, and then they took them off TV. And, they still remained over in spite of that. Instead of WWE realizing they made a mistake, they decided tonight to turn them heel.
Both Goldust and Cody Rhodes are talented wrestlers. Therefore, they could be effective in their new roles given the opportunity. However, they were an incredibly over and sympathetic tag team who consistently delivered. The way they have been booked has been illogical from a business standpoint, ever since they lost the tag team titles.
This is a work-in-process experiment, so leave any constructive feedback if you have any.
What’s My Motivation Here?
Reality TV, Meet “Reality Era”
Back to Basics
Orton has improved as a worker; I enjoyed the way he worked his babyface moveset into his heel style in a way that downplayed his weaknesses. He’s always been technically and athletically proficient, but concerns about his boring in-ring heel work can wait another week after a good match with Christian in which, yes, he slowed down from his fast-paced, fired-up babyface style but didn’t keep going to the headlocks after the first couple minutes.