What time is it?!
Last month, we had WWE Payback, and if you don't remember my thoughts ... they weren't great. BUT the amazing Wrasslor Monkey is back, and I'm gonna use the fantastic gifs he made to have a lot more interactive wall of text than just standard ole wall of text. Let's get this thing going!!
Kick-Off: Bo Dallas inspires Daniel BryanDaniel Bryan took a quick minute to address the fans. It was nice to see him, to see his smile. To see how much he loves the business, and loved the fans. The most important thing was that he told us that his goals upon his return are for the title. That might sound like standard stuff, but it could have been ignored entirely. That determination helps me believe that despite the setback of his stripping of the title and the heel Authority spending every moment they can burying Daniel Bryan verbally, despite all that he will continue to stay on top.
Then Bo Dallas appeared to give some inspiration messages to Daniel Bryan, who quickly turns the fans on Bo, and that's the end. Nice, simple, and it worked. It also had an air of legitimacy, a sports-feeling, which is necessary in making wrestling special. Nice way to open things.
The Usos retained the Tag Team Championship versus the WyattsWe open with our tag team match. It was a kicky-kick-doo-da of a match. Dropkicks all over the place, smacks and kicks to every gut and head. It was also a perfectly fine match. I went in really expecting the Wyatts to take the gold (copper?) from the Usos, but the Usos retained. I suspect the reasoning is to build the Usos as the lynchpin of the Tag Division. It is pretty classic WWE thinking nowadays - pick a horse, and stick with it. I was hoping to see the Wyatts, because I am much more interested in a contested tag division, one where teams traded wins and championships, much like how the glory days of the early 2000s were for the tag belts. But that is neither here nor there. I look forward to the Ascension coming and cutting everyone in half with the Fall of Man and YAHing their way to the Hall of Fame.
Look at that kick. Harper is a BIG man to be flying at your face.
Paige retains the Divas Championship versus Naomi
Remember what I said about "lynchpin" in the tag division above? Yeah, seems that the memo went around. Paige has been a fighting champ, in that she keeps having matches, for the title, and keeps defending it. She's been on every Special Event, and almost every episode of Raw or Main Event each week. It has been nice, because Paige is fantastic at wrestling. She does not waste time, she just tries to get into a really good match.
In fact, the best thing about THIS match is that it isn't a "Divas" match. See, the term has had a terrible connotation for years. But this was just a really solid championship match, featuring Divas. The moves weren't always perfect, but the energy was there, the storytelling was there, and the ringwork was there.
Paige just keeps getting better and better. I ... I'm pretty sure I am crushin'. Just like Naomi's head. OOOOOOOOOOOHHH!!
Naomi is a very athletic and talented performer, and has easily been Paige's best opponent on the main roster so far. Even better, there is a story brewing between Naomi and Cameron, her partner and butt-toucher. And that is great news. It shows a great trend for the Divas. But I think I'll get to it later. This match was fun, well-worked, and continues the trend of getting the Divas division to be a real one. The fans knew what to expect now, and were onboard the entire time. This was not a bathroom break, this was a real match on the card. And that's awesome.
Verdict - I loved it, though I know it wasn't amazing or anything. There is room to improve, and I cannot wait.
Damien Sandow continues to be punished by losing to Adam Rose dressed as Paul Revere
Exactly what the heading up there says. Time was wasted to fill up the very thin PPV that didn't actually have a lot of stories brewing. I'll talk more about that in a minute. Oh, here's Sandow being kind of awesome.
Take that, easily spot-able spot. You're welcome!
Verdict - Fast forward, and feel really bad for Sandow, who is being punished real hard.
Seth Rollins gets the briefcase
Money in the bank, let me be frank here, is a concept I do not care for. It was created with an interesting set up in mind: a guy gets a contract he can actually use whenever he wants to get a match at any point for the title. We then saw it basically work the exact same way every time its been used for the past nine years. It isn't bad, I just do not care for it. I wrote a lot about it during the Payback review, and I won't retread my steps much here, but I feel gimmick matches need to build to a story. But the Money in the Bank story is just the same thing every time ... and it has gotten worse in the past few years. But anyway, let's talk about THIS version.
You see, the glorious Dean Ambrose is out to get revenge on the backstabber Seth Rollins. He was going to ruin the match when he didn't qualify until Seth told HHH to let him in to not ruin it. You see, Seth turned on the Shield, breaking them up. Roman Reigns is feuding with Triple H and the Authority specifically, but Dean has gone a bit screwy, and is focusing all his rage on Seth himself. Beyond that ... there are also 4 other guys in the match.
There's a huge problem here. There is only one story here to be told. What could be the culmination or continuation of a lot of stories, with people crashing into each other, or new stories being made, it is just a spotfest match filled with good workers (and Jack Swagger) doing the job so that the real story can continue. Why is that so bad? Because it means that of the 6 people in the match (Wade Barrett got injured by Jack Swagger in real life and missed the PPV), only two matter in anyway. So as much as I wanted to jump up and cheer and applaud when I watched RVD prove his credibility by just continually ruining Swagger, or the huge comeback the Ziggler made to almost win near the end, or Kofi ... jumping around ... I couldn't. Because it didn't matter. None of those guys had a single chance of winning, because the 'E only wanted to focus on the Seth/Ambrose story. It is a good story, and they had some incredible spots ...
Fifteen foot superplex ... just wow.
But ultimately, there was no belief that anyone in the match could win it but them. Even when Ambrose was sent to the back with a very real looking separated shoulder, it didn't matter, because Seth wasn't going to win like that, Ambrose was going to have to comeback.
Now, knowing the outcome to a story isn't necessarily a killer. I'm one who doesn't care about spoilers, because it is about how the story is told, how it reaches its culmination, that is where the art is. That's where I get interested. But then we have another small problem ... the way this match ended was just ... sad. Kane came out for the Authority and cleared out Ambrose so that Seth could win. *sigh*
It wasn't a bad ending. Just a ... ho-hum, disappointing ending. Shenanigans were not necessary, but they were inserted. The idea is that it protects the good guy because he didn't lose clean. But really, it just muddles the water. And Kane has been ruining storylines since Daniel Bryan won the championship at Wrestlemania. Deus Ex Kane. It is boring. So in a match that already was basically predicatable, they used an ending shenanigans that is super predicatable, and ultimately just deflated all the great work they did. Everyone worked hard, but the actual story left me wanting.
Verdict - Pretty good big ole spotfest that was mostly fun, but ended sad.
Goldust and Stardust defeated Rybaxel
So Cody kept losing, remember, and said he'd find Goldust a new partner. That new partner is Stardust, who is Cody Rhodes, and is everything great. And this match is perfectly fine. My personal favorite part was when Ryback was getting into it, the fans started to chant for him "Feed Me More" like they used to ... and Ryback turned and smiled, yelling to them "I still got it!" The pride he felt made me a mark again. I remember why I liked the guy. I hope he gets another chance now that his ego has been deflated some to try to ride back to the top as a big ole Babyface.
Also, Gorilla gimmick like when you were the Silverback, PLEASE!
The match just continued the story of Stardust, and his weirdness, and was perfectly fine. Cody works crazy hard to be an entirely different wrestler, with an entirely different moveset as Stardust, which is fun. It was another predicatable win in a PPV filled with predictable wins and no surprises. But it was perfectly fine.
Verdict - Perfectly fine. And I still love Ryback. He should have won the 2013 Rumble.
Rusev did the same thing he always does to Big E
Rusev did the same thing he always does, this time to Big E. Again. Just like last month. Sure, there was more "fervor," bigger flags, angrier Lana, and a longer match. But who are we kidding. This was exactly the same as last time.
Verdict - Yawn.
Layla defeated Summer Rae to prove that Fandango chose the right dance partner
Summer Rae is a natural heel. And there is no way we are going to believe she is a face. They tried though. This story is all about a besmirched ex trying to get back at her former partner and beau who has a new partner ... and failing. Fandango got to oogle both girls as the ref, but Layla and Fandango shows their dominance, and Summer Rae was left crying after the lose, which was humanizing.
But if I may, let me talk about the fact that this is the FOURTH Divas storyline on this PPV. We saw a regular old match with Paige and Naomi, we saw Cameron's reactions during the match that were heelish and backstabby though she hasn't completely turned on Naomi yet, we saw the Bellas dealing with Stephanie, continuing the firing angle we say at Payback, and we had this. Yes, this match was more like your standard piss-break Divas match. But look! Four storylines for Divas. That is a huge deal! NXT has been doing great things with its Divas, and finally those kinds of things are moving up. Yes, this match was shallow, vapid, and pointless, with very little worth ... except when you realize that it is another storyling on a PPV that has had three others, and all have been built up to continue beyond this in different ways. I'm pretty excited about those facts.
Verdict - This match was worthless, but what it stands for is GREAT!
John Cena proves that the WWE is creatively bankrupt
I'm going to go through each of the participants in the match and just fantasy book a little bit on what could have happened with each one winning the main title that has been vacated by the evil Authority.
1) Randy Orton
Awesome RKO should go with the guy who did it. Cesaro ... crap. Ah well, it can live here.
The self-proclaimed face of the WWE once again on top of the food chain, the Authority's pick to win, their own horse in the race. The Authority stands tall, Seth with the briefcase, Orton with the titles, and HHH smiling, the bad guys on top. We now have insurmountable odds for our babyfaces feuding with those people, Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose ... as well as every good guy in the company to have to deal with an powerful force. What's to stop them from going for the rest of the titles, to make sure everyone is where they need to be so that it is "Best for Business." A dark ages where we need good guys to head to BATTLE(front) to see the dawn of a new age at Summerslam!
Not too particularly interesting, but a bold choice to build to the second biggest show of the year.
You got lots of options here: Sheamus, US champ, now holds two belts, making him the holder of three titles. Solidify them all together, or perhaps a tourny to crown a new US champ, with Seth and Orton chasing down fan favorite brawler Sheamus to take the gold for the Authority. OR ... what if Sheamus turned heel, joining the Authority himself right at the end of the match by blasting all the good guys and shaking HHH's hand. Now it is similar to above ... except they have one more title under their control!
Something different, and shocking, and would make people tune in to Raw, certainly.
3) Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt has done it. The Authority has their own problems, but Bray Wyatt does indeed hold the Whole World (Heavyweight Championship) in his hands. A new star is officially born, a man who doesn't care about the fans, who doesn't care about the company, and only cares about himself. A shocking, new main eventer is here, and on top of the world.
Now that would be awesome.
Orton is out. Kane is here to make sure the Authority has their title ... but he has to win it to keep it. But no one in the Authority is happy about it. Maybe Kane rebels, his friendship with Daniel Bryan coming back and bringing him his humanity. Kane might not be the most exciting champion, but the story is interesting. Also, this gif is from earlier, but it is hilarious, as the refs get Zeb Colter out of the way from Kane's "secret" pyros from going off before he makes sure Rollins wins.
The King of Swing, now the King of the World! Paul Heyman would have a field day with his client ... but then Brock Lesnar comes back for Summerslam. Who does Heyman support? There is a built in story here already, and it spreads out the stories away from the Authority, who are already dealing with Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose. Cesaro has reached the top, even if for only a month or two before Heyman turns on him to help BROCK LESNAR win the ultimate prize.
6) Alberto Del Rio
When has this guy been relevant? 2011 and that's it. Look at him.
He's basically heel Santino.
Where the hell does the story go from here?! I might not like Del Rio in the slightest, but the world that wrestling would be leading to Summerslam with a Del Rio here is crazy! One I wouldn't mind seeing where it was going.
7) Roman Reigns
He did it! He took his place at the top, another babyface who has defied the Authority. He was even supported by Daniel Bryan earlier. Reigns fights through the Authority, just as Bryan did ... but what happens when Bryan returns? How does the Authority deal with the Samaon Superman? This is the happy ending the fans want, without a doubt, built upon since the Royal Rumble this year ... hell, since Survivor Series last year! The new era continues as the new stars continue to rise!!
8) Any combination of two
Look, there are two belts up there. Have any two competitors get the belts. We need to solidify them, permanently. Melt down the two belts to finally debut a brand new, single WWE Heavyweight Championship, crowned at Summerslam? Or Battleground? What if it is ... Cesaro and Cena? Would Rollins immediately cash-in so that the Authority can try to make sure they win? What if Del Rio and Orton? What if Cena and Orton? Yeah, that last one is boring ... but at least this outcome would be intersting ... instead of ...
9) John Cena
Cena not only won this match, and became the big title holder AGAIN. But he also got the final word on the Authority, as he was the only one who could take out Kane and Orton. I just ... I have no words. This disappoints me more than angers me. I just don't know what to do. I've talked about Cena so much I just don't have more to say. That's not true, I have a lot to say. But what's the point? No one is listening. Cena will continue to dominate everyone and make every story about him.
I went into this match knowing Cena would win. And wanting anyone else. Even worse, the Summerslam poster got spoiled a few days ago, showing Cena doing just this thing to set up his boring Summerslam feud. I just ... last time I talked about comparing Cena's matches with the Rock's with his feud with Mankind. I challenge you to go check out the last few years of Shawn Michaels career in the WWE, after he returned from his almost career ending injury. Look how he was used. And you can spot a huge difference, even though Cena is in a similar spot as Michaels.
We had the chance to do something interesting. Instead, we get more of the same. This meme summed it up perfectly on tumblr:
Check out memegene.net, by the way. Pretty hilarious. Tell them I sent you!
We finished the Special Event over here at my place, and the most poignant perfect summation came from one of my roommates: "Every match was perfectly fine, and every finish was terrible." Yup.
Thank God for NXT.
See you at Battlegrounds.