Hey! Ryback Matters Again!
Not too long ago, we were watching Ryback wear stupid beanies and tag with Curtis Axel. Now he’s treated like the most important commodity in the whole organization. The primary storyline for this Raw was the competing interests to hire Ryback either to Team Authority or to Team Cena. Cena’s pitch is something like “THEY’VE BEEN HOLDING YOU BACK, WE CAN DO THIS.” Triple H’s pitch is essentially “I CAN BURY YOU LIKE I BURIED THAT MIDGET DANIEL BRYAN, JOIN ME AND I’LL GIVE YOU MAIN EVENT MATCHES.” Ryback just kinda shrugs and says “you know, he has a point,” and immediately Shellshocks John Cena. Our main event? John Cena/Ryback.
Now this might seem like an obvious heel turn, but! We get a series of backstage vignettes of Ryback haughtily disrespecting The Authority which culminates in a Kane interference during his (actually pretty good!) Cena match. That makes Ryback mad, so he Shellshocks every member of The Authority and storms out of the stage looking like the biggest James Dean ever. It was cool! And also weird! He didn’t turn heel, I guess he just kinda… turned grey?
More interesting though is his trajectory since his return a couple weeks ago. We got some flat-out jobber squashes, and now he’s the Man. Yes, he’s big and strong and can kill people with his muscles, but he was tough before, when he was getting beat up by Goldust every week. The whole thing just lacks some consistency, which you know, wrestling, but still!
Still happy to see The Big Guy back at the top of the card though.
Babyface Paige Returns for At Least One Night
Paige is British. Tonight’s show was in Liverpool. That means Paige gets to hang up her heelishness for one night and go over like total gangbusters. I was totally into it – she got to have a full underdog comeback over a vicious heel, and there was a great moment when Alicia Fox did a “THIS IS MY HOUSE VAMP” only for Paige to counter and immediately yell “THIS IS MY HOUSE.” It was seriously heartwarming, and now that the A.J. Lee feud is ostensibly finished, you start to wonder whether or not we’ll see a return to babyface Paige on a more consistent basis? Naturally, I’ll be rooting for her no matter what.
There’s No Way John Cena Thinks Jack Swagger Can Help Him
So yeah, Cena’s second addition to his Survivor Series squad is… Jack Swagger. That big guy who used to be kayfabe racist until he was in an inexplicably over Rusev feud for a couple months. You know, that guy who can’t really wrestle and seems ready for contract termination? Yeah, him. He’s in a match against Seth Rollins so Rollins can SEND A MESSAGE which is about as boring as you might expect. Swagger chucks out his boorish, hossy offense, and Rollins waits around to hit his curb stomp. It’s the only clean finish on the show that has any implications for the aforementioned Survivor Series match, which seems really weird. I mean, Ryback was slumming it in Rybaxel not too long ago, but now he’s presented as a man of great consequence. Why not do the same for Swagger? Make him look important like you’re doing with Dolph Ziggler, then let him gracefully slide down the card. It just feels like a pointless excursion. It’s like, you’re right WWE! We don’t care about Jack Swagger either!
We’ve Officially Instated a No-Bella Policy at Extra Mustard
Sorry to the few of you who were excited to hear about why the latest Bella segment was boring. I’ll give you a hint, it was similar to all the other Bella segments.
Ambrose and Wyatt, Still on the Backburner
Man, these two have had NOTHING TO DO since their VERY HOT FINISH at the last pay-per-view. This week we’re just getting pre-taped promos from each of them? What?
Sure, they confirmed their match at Survivor Series, but what gives?! This is ostensibly the second biggest storyline in the entire company. Shouldn’t we get something more concrete? There’s some really interesting psychology at play. The logic is easy: Wyatt “healed” Harper and Rowan, now he’s got his eyes set on Ambrose. Ambrose scoffs at anyone who claims to be his savior and maintains that he’s perfectly happy in his suffering. It’s emo but effective! It’s something the crowd can get behind! So why has it been treated with such a cool build? I want this to be an all-out war; it should be an all-out war. I guess the WWE are just awful at multitasking.
A Moment of Happiness
Sheamus and Rusev was a fine match that I have nothing to say about. They can work, and they make sense in the ring together. They’re going to be on opposite teams in Survivor Series, so I guess we’ll get to watch this again. It’s mildly interesting that Rusev is in an explicit situation where he might get pinned, but that’s a mild amount of intrigue at best.
About as Bad as You’d Expect!
Sometimes when you get a fresh matchup you think, “Oh finally! This will be really interesting, I wonder how these two are going to work together?” Other times you get a fresh matchup and you think “wait what? No.” Mark Henry vs. Dolph Ziggler was the latter.
Look, Ziggler can sell anything, but it just kinda makes me sad when it’s wasted on Henry’s decrepit, aging husk of an offense. I love Mark Henry – he’s had some fantastic matches and he’s truly transcendent on the mic – but I’m not going to pretend I’ve enjoyed any of his work over the past few months. He’s a great heel up until the very second the bell rings. Also, he’s the justification Big Show needs to join Team Cena, so that’s strike one and two in my book.
Adam Rose Has His Angry Eyeliner On
Adam Rose was that “party time all the time!” guy who debuted in NXT and was quickly called up to the main roster so he could flounder in public. The last time he was on TV, he was walking out the women from The Today Show so they could break wine bottles over each other, miss spots, and get really indignant about all the booing.
He would also come out to the ring with a man in a bunny costume, and now Adam Rose is doing this thing where he loses a match and then beats up the bunny. It’s the dying breath of a gimmick that was born to fail, but I do hope we get to see this feud all the way through. I’d love for Adam Rose to come out next week with the bunny’s head on a bloody stake, with his theme and exuberance completely unchanged. Then maybe a bunny dressed in all black descends from the rafters like ’98 Sting? Then maybe the bunny IS STING??? I’m fantasy booking here, but I think we can all agree that that’s the right direction.
I’m Cautiously Optimistic About the “New Day” Stable
Looking for social awareness from the WWE is a fool’s errand. There’s a reason we’re running a “Worst Moments of the Attitude Era” story this week, and even in modern times I would venture to guess that perhaps 5-10 percent of the collective homophobic/racist/misogynistic content that passes through mainstream airways comes on WWE television. There’s been some progress lately; Stephanie McMahon is a legit feminist standing proud at the head of the company, NXT has nurtured plenty of diverse characters, and the WWE PR team has done a pretty solid job of presenting an equal-opportunity identity. But you know, we all once watched Trish Stratus bark like a dog for Vince McMahon, so it’s an uphill climb.
That makes this new gimmick for Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, and Big E questionable. They are three black men who have been issued orders to, essentially, preach in front of an all-black gospel choir. You can already see the myriad ways this could go wrong.
But you know what? I’m sticking to this potentially sinking ship. These three guys are great workers, and their blackness isn’t getting exploited in any objectionable ways… yet. We’re talking about a company that’s never given a black man the world heavyweight championship; it’d be weird to scrub away any Afrocentric vibes if they’re trying to get this stable over. I guess I’m just willing to believe that the WWE is self-aware enough in 2014 to not completely bungle this, and I know I’ve been hearing JBL scream about a midget dressed up as a bull for the last six months. Will I be eating crow in a couple weeks? Sure! But I honestly think this still has a chance to be great.
LUKE HARPER THO
Harper is supposed to be some deranged maniac, so I don’t know why he’d have any interest in hitching up with The Authority. BUT it was really great to have him just dead-drop an unconscious Dolph Ziggler at Triple H’s feet apropos of nothing. That guy has secretly been the most talented worker in the company for quite some time now, so any attention is good attention. I’ve been seriously missing Luke Harper superkicks, and it looks like they’re about to be EVERYWHERE.