By Luke Winkie
October 07, 2014

It Won’t Be Long Before We All Have to Stop Clowning on Seth Rollins

When Seth Rollins was first tapped to betray the other members of The Shield with the chair-shot heard ‘round the world, it seemed like a decision reached by process of elimination. Reigns was the muscular, tall-dark-and-handsome superduperstar here to lead the company out of the Cena era, and Ambrose was working with more charisma than everyone in the company combined. Seth Rollins was more technically gifted than his Shield brethren, but was left out in the cold in terms of character development. Heel Seth was a creation of necessity, a gimmick reset, and an easy way to give a top star something meaningful to do.

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It wasn’t all smooth. Rollins will never be a great talker, but he’s been getting much, much better. That opening promo? Where he huffed out to the ring to shout down the crowd in his best 4th-grade teacher voice? Absolutely brilliant! In a world where so-called monsters like Bray Wyatt and Cesaro can’t help but get pops, Rollins might be the only guy getting legit heat. That annoying, entitled, rich-kid heat. The “oh my god if I could just get my hands on you” heat. With Brock Lesnar taking his routine part-time sabbaticals, Seth has been left to make himself as hateable as possible, and he’s doing a great job.

I mean, sure this segment ended with The Authority putting Cena and Ambrose in yet another match with Kane and Randy Orton, but whatever, I’ll take it.

Those Guys Who Have Been Fighting Each Other Fought Each Other Again

If you’re not a main-eventer, your storyline is simple. You have a belt, and the person you’re feuding with doesn’t have the belt. You will wrestle each other at every RAW with minor stipulation changes until the pay-per-view, at which point you will wrestle each other for a slightly longer period of time. Does that sound stupid? You think that with a three-hour show we should be able to build these minor feuds into something more meaningful? Nah, we need that time so John Cena can show off his dish towel.

WWE can’t even be bothered to divide Intercontinental Title feud and the Tag-Team feud into separate segments, so instead we just get a big messy three-man tag between the Ziggler/The Usos and Cesaro/Dust Brothers. Moderately entertaining, sure, but with absolutely no stakes. Vince McMahon once made it clear that he wasn’t in the wrestling business, he was in the Sports Entertainment business. Booking like this makes you feel like he might need to remember that modus operandi.

The Worst Segment Ever?

Usually when I write these things I skip over the meaningless chaff in order to get to the slightly less meaningless chaff as an effort to save us all some time and sanity. So, on most occasions I would pass by the Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb segment much in the same way you wouldn’t make eye contact with a beggar standing on the street-divider.

But this time...  Oh, man.

Here was the booking for something that was actually greenlit to go on television. Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb bounce out to the ring with Adam Rose. They sit down on some makeshift picnic chairs, while Adam Rose’s music plays on a continual loop. For some reason they start talking about their “crazy dance moves” and then break some bottles on each other. A few more painful, semi-improvised moments go by, and they both trust-fall into the arms of the rosebuds. Except Kathie misses her cue, and the playfully antagonistic boos turn straight-up “WHAT IN GOD'S NAME IS THIS?” nuclear.

This, again, is a marquee wrestling show shown live in New York City.

Bo Dallas, Smartest Wrestler of All Time

Bo Dallas is fighting Mark Henry again because the writers room assumes anyone watching professional wrestling lacks the capacity for a short-term memory. In their defense, Mark Henry is literally four times the size of Dallas, so the whole “HOW IS THIS VANILLA MIDGET ABLE TO WIN THESE MATCHES” angle actually has some credence. Bo spends the entire match getting bullied, and eventually they spill outside the ring where Henry is about to World’s Strongest Slam an ostensibly-lifeless Dallas through the announcer’s table. But Bo slips out of Henry’s grasp and wiggles back onto the mat right as the referee’s count hits 10. Mark Henry is DQ’d, and Dallas is still undefeated against hosses.

Those are some next-level tactics! Like, I know this is all fake, but the “goad the giant slow guy outside of the ring and get him disqualified” should be a staple for guys working outside of their weight class! How did we not think of this sooner? The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak would’ve been conquered years ago.

Douchebag Tyson Kidd Should Be Here To Stay

Tyson Kidd is that squirrely, lucha-esque Canadian guy who can really tear it up in the ring but could never get over on the mic, which earned him a one-way ticket to the bush league. Luckily he found a niche as a perfect foil for the rest of the high-flyers down in NXT, a natural veteran heel who showed the staunch developmental supporters that he can look just as good as all that wonderful upstart talent.

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He is also Natalya’s husband. And Natalya is a big deal on Total Divas.

His reward? A match with Jack Swagger. This might be the lowest the low-card can get.

But forget the kayfabe context, this was a fun match! Springboards, Sharpshooters countered into Patriot Locks, yes it was a low-stakes match designed to put over a reality show, but the rest of this RAW was so empty of any actual wrestling that we’ll take what we can get.

The highlight, of course, was Tyson Kidd shoving Natalya into Jack Swagger as a way to create some separation and set up his next spot. It totally reinforced Kidd as this selfish, grumpy, jealous heel, and I really hope we’re going to see more of him on the big show. As I stated with Rollins, the only way to get legitimate heat in 2014 is to mix petulancy with commendable wrestling skills, and Tyson is ready for his close-up.

Roman Reigns Gives Us an Important Medical Update

Michael Cole: “So, Roman, how have you been feeling since the surgery?”

Roman Reigns: “Good. Better.”

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Michael Cole: “Can we expect you back in the ring any time soon?”

Roman Reigns: “Believe that.”

Michael Cole: “Thanks for joining us Roman.”

Roman Reigns: “ROMAN SMASH.”

They were hyping this segment. Multiple times. God, this RAW was silly.

I Am Going To Write Exactly One Sentence About This Wrestling Match Between a Little Person Dressed as a Bull and Another Little Person Dressed as an Alligator

At one point the crowd started chanting “THIS IS STUPID,” and I hope that was a moment of deep self-reflection for everyone in the audience.

Save Us from Ourselves

So, uh. The Rock showed up tonight.

Rusev and Lana were cutting a promo on Big Show, they invited him out to the stage and… IF YOU SUH-MELLLLLLL WHAT THE ROCK IS COOKING. A volcanic pop ensues.

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Look I’m not going to talk mess about this because hey! It’s The Rock! I love The Rock! He’s going to bathe in five solid minutes of breathless cheers, and say his catchphrases. The sold-out Barclay’s Center got to shout “MILLIONS,” “ROCKY,” and “IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU THINK.” The beauty of the WWE family is that you never know when an old guy you used to watch is going to stomp down the ramp and offer the world some well-earned nostalgia. This is an industry founded on the poetry of absences and returns. Yes, we saw The Rock about six months ago when he opened WrestleMania, and that barely matters. A few cringe-y, 1999 comments towards Lana, and a flurry of punches at Rusev. The ring was cleared, and The Rock got to pose for another five minutes. At one point he chanted “DE-REK JE-TER” because apparently dude needs to get over even more?

I’m 99 percent sure this is some one-off thing. Rusev mounted no offense whatsoever, so there’s not exactly a score to settle. Also I don’t think Rock is in the business of jobbing out to a young, rising talent. Again, I’m fine with that. The show is three hours long, an awesome surprise should be treated as charity, no matter how irrelevant it might be.

But still, this does reek of a writing staff without much direction. The show has been in a rut since SummerSlam, and inviting a movie star back to the fold works for exactly one night. A week from now we’ll be in the midst of that Big Show program, and the show will be left even more rudderless. Like, imagine what a hellscape RAW would’ve been without this (admittedly fantastic) surprise? Actually don’t do that, because we’ll all witness it approximately six days from now.

The Stunt Double That Could

Damien Mizdow follows Miz around everywhere as his “stunt double,” copying every minor motion or inflection of his employer as silently and efficiently as possible. That’s the joke, and it hasn’t stopped being funny. Miz/Sheamus was a boring match for boring people, but you can count on Brooklyn for chanting Mizdow’s name through every rest hold. Will WWE finally turn one of their finest performers loose? A Mizdow/Miz showdown would be incredible.

Less Silly in Context

You know how over Dean Ambrose is right now? He rolls into RAW with a hot dog stand, squirts mustard and ketchup onto the chests of Randy Orton and Kane, throws sauerkraut all over a writhing Seth Rollins, and somehow it’s not the worst thing ever. If literally any other wrestler was pulling this Three Stooges stuff we’d all be in conniptions, but Ambrose is our favorite guy, and we don’t care what it takes to get him standing tall at the end of RAW.

Oh yeah, Triple H came out and announced that the primary match at Hell in a Cell will put Dean against Cena, the winner getting to go one on one with Rollins in the cage. Ambrose immediately gives the Dirty Deeds to his new enemy, and it’s the coolest thing ever. You know how we know the WWE is self-aware? Because a RAW can end with a finisher to the perennial top babyface, and it feels like the most heroic thing anyone could ever do.

Man. That was a pretty bad wrestling show. There’s still two weeks until the PPV? Uh oh.

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