So the show opened with Cena explaining to Roman Reigns that they have to “take care of” the authority before settling their burgeoning rivalry at next Sunday’s Battleground pay-per-view.
There’s No Way Cena Goes Over Roman Reigns Cleanly
So the show opened with Cena explaining to Roman Reigns that they have to “take care of” the authority before settling their burgeoning rivalry at next Sunday’s Battleground pay-per-view. The idea being that Cena and Reigns will clear the ring of Orton and Kane before going at each other for the title. I liked this segment because Roman got to say “get to the damn point, John” in a way that made John Cena look like a little boy lost in the mall, and while there’s a pretty good chance all this stuff won’t go down and Cena will end up tapping out Orton to retain, it is interesting that they’re teasing it.
Because I’ll tell you this, there is absolutely no way Cena is going over Reigns cleanly. The past few weeks have shown that the WWE is very, very dedicated to making Roman one of The Guys. One of those company-carrying faces that’ll end up with title runs in the double digits, and there’s no way they’re going to squander the momentum they’ve built with a guy like Cena. I mean, can you even imagine Reigns getting pinned off the AA or something? There would be a riot. We saw Reigns clear Cena out of the ring at Money in the Bank last month, there’s only one way this can go down.
My prediction? Reigns and Cena clear out Orton and Kane, face off against each other, and Reigns gets a clean superman punch. Right before he gets the pin Kane and Orton run back in and knock Reigns around a bit. Cena recovers, Overcomes the Odds™, saves Reigns from the authority, and retains. Reigns and Cena is saved for Summerslam, where Reigns goes over clean.
Or Brock Lesnar shows up, I don’t know.
Ambrose Sells Like a Champion, But When You Know the Curb Stomp is Coming it Kinda Looks Silly
But let’s talk about what really matters, and that’s Dean Ambrose getting beat to pieces backstage by Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, and Kane. I judge a man but how violently he’s willing to bounce off a slab of metal, and goddamn does Ambrose give it up for the art.
One thing though, the culmination of the savagery was Ambrose taking a jumping curb stomp off a wooden box. Naturally this looked really awesome, but listen Dean, when you say “that’s all you’ve got” and then put your head in PERFECT POSITION to get curb stomped, it’s a little bit your fault. Seriously, I called it as soon as he gave the line and turned the back of his head towards Rollins. I guess that’s the curse of having a situational finisher, occasionally you look super gullible.
Okay, Maybe The Miz Thing isn’t as Depressing as it Seemed
I like it when the Miz is given something to do. I like watching him talk, I like watching people hate him, I like his stupid smug face, I like how he put up a giant picture of his stupid smug face during his entire match and continually referred to it as “the money-maker,” and there’s nothing I love more than watching him dodge a Brogue Kick and score a cheap little roll-up win and mean-mug the camera. Seriously, I really enjoyed Miz/Sheamus, I’m actually sorta bummed they’re not going to be given a singles match at Battleground and will instead have to settle something during the Battle Royale.
I also love this new thing with Miz being deathly afraid of getting hit in the face. I think there should be a months-long storyline of him almost getting hit in the face. I want him to be paranoid about it, I want him to leave matches when someone gets too close to his face. Sorry I don’t mean to fantasy book but GODDAMN THAT WOULD BE SO GOOD.
The Summer and Layla Thing is a Huge Missed Opportunity
This actually kinda bummed me out. In case you missed Smackdown (which, if you have a life, you probably did,) there was a match between Summer Rae and Layla with Fandango serving as the guest referee. Great! Another chapter in this increasingly embarrassing feud! But not so fast, the match ended with Summer and Layla locking eyes, and sorta collectively inferring a “hey wait a minute, f*** this guy,” and both turning to beat Fandango to the mat, and then out of the ring. It honestly got the biggest pop of the entire storyline, and the two ladies danced the angle to bed in the center of the ring. It was actually a fairly heartwarming end to a very silly bit of WWE programming.
But no, we’re apparently not done, because Fandango and Dolph Ziggler were interrupted halfway by Layla and Summer. They danced together, and for a moment I thought the WWE was going to go all in on a burgeoning romance between the two divas, which would’ve been awesome and no bigger kiss off to Fandango’s miserable existence.
But no, they entered the ring and started kissing on Dolph. Really? So they still want to make Fandango jealous? Why squander the beautiful moment of them beating Fandango into the ropes? In Kayfabe that happened LAST FRIDAY. WHY DO THEY EVEN CARE ABOUT FANDANGO ANY MORE? WHY DON’T YOU GIVE US THE SUMMER/LAYLA SISTERHOOD ANGLE WE ALL DESERVE?
That’s One Way to Get Me to Care About a Played-Out Feud
I complained last week that having the Usos run into Harper and Rowan again at Battleground reeks of the sort of panicked booking born out of a weak tag team division. We saw these guys fight at Money in the Bank, it was awesome, and now they’re working the exact same angle. The Wyatts scored a victory and got taken out at the pay-per-view. Two weeks ago the Wyatts scored a victory, and I almost guarantee they’ll be taken out at the pay-per-view.
However sometimes you can destroy those nerdy complaints with absolute brutality. Like, perhaps, one of the Usos taking an absolutely wicket Harper kick off the ramp. I popped harder at that than anything else at the show. “Alright, WHEN I SAY OOS, Y’ALL SA- *KA-BOOM.*” So yeah, the Wyatts clobbered the Usos for a bit and now I’m totally excited to watch them brawl on Sunday. You win again WWE.
With a Little Bit of Jingoism, People Are Excited About Jack Swagger For the First Time of His Career
This is the most over Jack Swagger has ever been. All he had to do was wave an American flag and catch Rusev’s unstoppable kick in the patriot lock.
I’m happy for Swagger, the dude was a textbook example of when pushes go wrong. He was the other guy in The Real Americans, he was losing to Adam Rose a few weeks ago, a guy who’s now selling Twisted Tea and Sonic cheeseburgers. But now, out of nowhere, the two biggest pops of the last three weeks came when he was on the screen. I’m happy for Lana and Rusev, as all their hard work seems to finally be coming home to roost, but I’m happier for Swagger. Dude must feel on top of the world right now, and I really hope the fight at Battleground won’t be the last we see at this feud.
Speaking of which, is there a chance Swagger goes over? He seemed like meat for Rusev to chew trough on the way to the top, but now I’m not all that sure. Swagger clearly wasn’t the guy they imagined Rusev’s first loss coming from, but now it seems like it’d be a great moment, and that might be the sort of excitement they need out of the mid-card with Daniel Bryan’s injury and CM Punk’s absence taking the steam out of the headlining slots.
The “I Guess I Should Cook Dinner” Match
Rob Van Dam and Alberto Del Rio? Facing off in the go-home show before Battleground? Flanked by no real storyline justification and entering a battle royale that neither of them have any chance to win? I guess I’ll go cook dinner!
I Don’t Get The Point of This Nikki Stuff Anymore
Just let her win! That’d be exciting. Do we need another reminder that Brie left the company and the Stephanie is punishing her twin sister by putting her in handicap matches? We get it. Nikki loses because she’s outnumbered.
I guess it might be working though, because for the first time in this string of matches Nikki mustered some offense and I was marking out right alongside those Nikki chants. I wanted to see her win, I wanted to watch her stand tall against The Authority, and I wanted to get hyped for that rumored, increasingly plausible match between Brie and Stephanie. But no, she lost, and the storyline continues to tread water.
Cesaro Never Should’ve Been a Heel, and I Hope Heyman’s Absence is a Precursor to a Face Turn
Firstly, it’s good to see Big E win a match again, and watching him ragdoll Cesaro was certainly a treat. But the real story here was Cesaro entering the ring without Paul Heyman, who would later tease a Lesnar return in a promo towards the end of the show. Cesaro was great, as usual, and it’s wonderful watching him work with athletic guys like Big E because it lets him show just how strong he is, and it looks like we’re planting the seeds for a few more of these clashes which, at nothing else, gives a venue for a couple ripped dudes to prove how ripped they are to a crowd of people.
But yeah, the Heyman thing. The crowd has been trying really hard to turn Cesaro face since before Wrestlemania, and when he broke up the Real Americans it felt like we were finally going in that direction. But instead we got a lot of Heyman monologues and a lot of him beating the crap out of guys after the bell. Now the cheers have cooled and you can’t help but feel like this was a missed opportunity. But him coming out without Heyman should be the start of the WWE fixing those decisions, and starting a gradual face turn. It’s just too easy to cheer for that guy. He’s got a kind face, he speaks five different langauges, he can body slam The Big Show. Let’s live in a world where Cesaro is a good guy.
This Jericho/Wyatt Feud is so Transparent it Hurts
The WWE has no idea what they’re doing with Chris Jericho and Bray Wyatt. The storyline is this weird regurgitation of the false-prophet accusations Wyatt was chucking at Cena, even though that sort of rhetoric doesn’t really fit with Jericho’s character at all. Kayfabe Jericho, rightfully, has no real idea why Wyatt is targeting him, because Wyatt hasn’t made it clear, like, at all. What Kayfabe Jericho does now, however, is that real Jericho was watching Raw and really liked Bray Wyatt’s work and thought “man, I’d love to job to that guy.” The WWE knows a surefire way to get Wyatt his boos is by tossing him against a beloved semi-retired icon like Jericho, and here we are. It’s messy, but it will accomplish its goal, and I will get to see Jericho gleefully sell the Sister Abigail, probably multiple times.
Hooray! We Get to See Paige and AJ Lee Work
There’s a whiff of a storyline here, something about Paige and AJ being “frenemies” (her word, not mine,) but mostly I’m excited because I get to see two of the best women in the business work at match at a pay-per-view. Hooray! No extraneous bullshit, no Fandango, no cuts to Cameron looking listless in the corner, just some wrestling. WWE writing often gets in the way of simply letting their female talent work, this should be one of the bright moments.
Roman Reigns Stands Tall at the End of Raw, Also You Will Die Someday
It was a 3v2 tag between Reigns, Cena, Orton, Kane, and Rollins. It ended in DQ. Orton RKO’d Kane for some reason. That’s all stuff you could’ve guessed. But there is something else I want to talk about.
Look, I love Roman Reigns. He looks really awesome, he says cool-sounding things, his spear is off the chain, but are you ever worried he’s being protected from his, you know, lack of wrestling moves?
His best moments in the WWE came when he was hot-tagged by a Shield member and delivered a series of Superman Punches to anyone who was standing in the ring. Then he’d get a spear, then he’d get the pinfall. The end.
My point is this. We’ve seen Rollins and Ambrose work extended solo matches, we’ve never really seen Reigns in that context. Can he do it? Sure. Is there a chance the idea of Roman Reigns is superior to his actual talent? Quite possibly.
He is the big guy now, he’ll probably be headlining a Wrestlemania in the near future, but someday the kids will be bored of those two moves, and he must adapt or perish.