Please stop doing this, WWE
Every year around Royal Rumble/Big Battle Royale time, The Big Show earns a cynical little push as that UNBEATABLE MONSTER that simply cannot be put over the top ropes. That way, Roman Reigns/John Cena/Cesaro(!) can show up to do the impossible.
That’s okay, I guess. But in this case it means that Big Show is beating Erick Rowan clean. I’m not saying Rowan is a gangbusters star, but it still made me kinda sad. I mean, it’s The Big Show. He’ll be retired this time next year.
Just know what you’re defending
I understand the weird apprehensions you might have towards people “hating,” or whatever. Professional wrestling has long been one of the most misunderstood art forms in the world, so meddling, self-satisfied posers obsessed with pointing out every inconsistency they can find in Raw is, understandably, annoying. If you read this column, I pray you understand I never go for that sort of heat. My gripes are my own, not the desperate posturing for some bizarre pseudo-intellectual standard.
But here’s the thing. If you really thought Jericho's and Lana’s segment was fine, then you at least need to know what you’re defending.
This isn’t some flaccid SJW flop, we’re talking about a dude asking a woman if she’s seen another dude’s “Sputnik” while she looks around nervously. “She’s a heel!” "She’s evil!” “It’s okay to be a bully if you’re bullying a heel!” Fine, that’s your hill to die on. Your ferventness to defend something so cringe-worthy only confirms that you had a hard time with it, too. If you really think that condemning this segment amounts to some puritanical worldviews tearing into wrestling’s core, well, just remember that what you’re defending is a guy calling Rusev and Lana “the U.S. Champ and the Communist Tramp.”
If you think that’s worth your protection, all right, I guess.
At least he got his comeuppance
Earlier in the show, Chris Jericho challenged Paul Heyman to a wrestling match… for some reason. Apparently it’s over $200 Paul still owes him? I don’t know. Paul saunters out and timidly makes a peace offering, going as far to write a check for the $200, and makes some very salient, relatable points about how he’s an executive not a wrestler, and partly responsible for Jericho’s success once he brought him into ECW.
Instead, Jericho is like "NAH LET’S GO." And to the surprise of absolutely no one, out comes Brock Lesnar. He circles the ring, jumps in, and disintegrates Jericho in about three moves.
Forget that this didn’t make any sense because the match was quite literally supposed to be between Paul Heyman and Chris Jericho and Brock Lesnar wasn’t even mentioned -- this was still awesome. Jericho had been a huge self-obsessed bully all night, forcing The Most Powerful Human in the Universe to break a months-long hiatus to put him back in place. It was great! It’s the only babyface moment Brock has had since 2012! This was the only saving grace in an otherwise awful three hours.
The New Day continue to struggle hard
Fun tag match between the Dust Brothers and Xavier Woods and Big E. It’s cool to finally see Xavier in a WWE ring with something to do, and I liked what Kofi Kingston was bringing on commentary. The people complaining that The New Day aren’t suddenly pulling moves at the top of card are horribly misguided, because that implies that we want to see Kofi Kingston springboarding with the title. They’re a three-man stable of people nobody cared about, and if they get over, great! If not, well, that’s how the business works man.
It seems clear that the WWE realized that sending these dudes out to die with no context was a horrible idea, so it’s good they’re getting some mic time. Unfortunately, we were stuck in the second-hour doldrums of “CM PUNK” chants from a very, very bored crowd. It probably didn’t help that they were repeating the exact same match as last night, but you could say that about the entirety of this show.
I hope that starts to change. These are talented dudes, and its unfortunate WWE is trying to clap this thing into relevancy. It’ll never cease to amaze me how you can spend months repackaging someone and only come up with “I don’t know, just talk about positivity!” Like, shouldn’t the thoroughness of the creative directions be the literal most important thing to the company? Oh well, they’ll sell it. It’s their only hope.
Fandango’s brief return ends… now
Fandango won a match a couple weeks ago. Now he came out to the ring and Roman Reigns killed him. Bye Fandango! Was nice seeing you again! Good luck next May or whatever!
Hold on… Where was Ambrose and Wyatt?
So apparently Wyatt and Ambrose wrestled the dark main event after Raw, but they weren’t anywhere on the televised portion of the show. Remember, these dudes headlined last night’s Pay-Per-View, and it had that really, really dumb finish involving an exploding TV.
I don’t ask for much, but when one of your tippy-top babyfaces loses because he unplugged a TV and it exploded… I think you owe us an explanation on the next Raw. That only seems fair! Is this the end of the feud? Does Wyatt/Ambrose conclude with an exploding television? You know what? Fine. That sounds like the perfect medicine to put 2014 out of its misery.
John Cena wrestled Seth Rollins and it was good
These two have been in the ring together a ton, so this was mostly a house-show clash with some fireworks at the end. A pretty solid steel cage match! Some solid bumps, some briefcases, Noble and Mercury, you know how it is.
Also, Brock Lesnar showed up at the end for a few German Suplexes and an F5. Rollins and Heyman shake hands (sure), and a final Curb Stomp is dropped on Cena’s poor, rectangle head.
It’s so, so good to have Brock back you guys. Just his presence, the idea that there’s this ancient, indomitable evil constantly lurking backstage; it’s great. This was a pretty awful show all around, but Lesnar has returned to the throne, and I couldn’t be more excited.
And hey, at least no one had to pretend to get squished by stairs.