By Luke Winkie
January 06, 2015

Get that heat, Bad News Barrett!

Ol’ Bad News has run into a classic heel problem: when you’re great at wrestling and seem like a fun guy to hang out with, all of a sudden it becomes really hard to boo you. Bad News Barrett walks down the ramp yelling “I'm afraid I've got some bad news” and it is literally always awesome. WWE addresses this in his latest return by introducing him sans entrance music, and having him beat Dolph Ziggler to death in the interim of a cheekily announced 2/3 falls match. Dude was earning some legit heat, without sacrificing any of the pure ability that got him over in the first place.

So yeah, it appears we’re on the way towards a BnB/Ziggler Intercontinental Title clash at the Royal Rumble, and that’s awesome because if you remember, these two are awesome together. And hey! Generally I think staunch old-school philosophies on face/heel divisions are overrated, but if you’re going to have a great match, you might as well have a great match with stakes.

The Ascension aren’t beating around the bush

When WWE decided to call up The Ascension from NXT, the newcomers were given spiky shoulderpads and facepaint. They looked like the Road Warriors, so everyone on the internet said “haha, it’s like the Road Warriors.”

WWE, which continually refuses to leave well enough alone, told The Ascension to go out to the ring and say “The Road Warriors Suck! More like the LOSER Warriors!”

Whatever, it was pretty funny. Then they killed some bottom-of-the-barrel tag-team jobbers in about 10 seconds. I could watch something like that every week and be happy.

Roman Reigns vs. The Big Show is purgatory

Roman Reigns is an okay professional wrestler.

Roman Reigns can sell, he can look tough, he can jump in the air in a cool way. Those are all fundamental qualities you like to see on television. The people on the internet calling for his head are mostly the worst kind of wrestling fan, and absolutely deserve the derision of those of us willing to put long-term perception ahead of the joke.

However, Roman Reigns wrestles for approximately five seconds of this match. He gets pushed around the ring by Show, absorbing all sorts of slow-moving punches and kicks, before powering up into a Superman Punch, eventually getting stymied by (sigh) the ring stairs leading into a (sigh) DQ finish. Then Roman spears Show’s head off so he can look STRONG.

If WWE cares enough to answer its squawking critics (and I don’t blame the organizers if they don’t,) you probably want to pair Roman up with someone like, I don’t know, Cesaro. Or Bad News Barrett. If the final push into the “Roman Reigns is now a potential title winner” era involves The Big Show, you’re risking a full-throttle Batista-esque backlash.

Can we please let the Divas have an arc? Please?

I don’t watch Total Divas, so maybe I’m out of the loop on a bunch of this stuff explained in the extended universe, but last night I watched Paige work as a face and Alicia turn heel for no discernable reason whatsoever. WWE seems to believe that once someone is off TV for a couple weeks, he or she can show back up and work an entirely different angle. Paige is friends with Natalya now? Alicia Fox is all craaaazy again? But, but why? I guess if you’re trying to convince me to watch Total Divas, it’s working.

Jamie and Noble as guest refs might’ve been my favorite thing of the night

Both of them standing around listlessly as Rowan went for the cover was incredible, as was that SUPER fast count after Harper hit the clothesline.

It reminded me of this:

It’s probably the one thing Jamie Noble has in common with Mike Tyson.


I liked this. It was probably the best we’ve ever seen Wyatt and Ambrose together. I was pretty hot on that feud going in, and unfortunately it won’t ever be something we point to in wrestling historiography. But, they put a bow on it pretty nicely as the feature match in the middle of Raw. It was brawl-y and sloppy, but that’s also just kinda how they work. You can complain, or you can enjoy them tearing through the crowd, sharing sweat with everyone and everything. I’ll always love Ambrose’s elbow drop; it’s just so gawky and haphazard. Like if Dean Ambrose were a real person, he’d totally throw elbows like that, wouldn’t he?

I also like how they didn’t waste anytime getting into the business with the gimmick. This is an ambulance match; you should be bouncing skulls off of an ambulance within the first two minutes. It’s always bugged me how tables matches boil down to “wrestling in the vicinity of a table,” or how ladder matches don’t immediately start with everyone scrambling to put up a ladder.

Is it a little sad to see Ambrose get swept by Wyatt? Well, kinda, but an exploding TV and a DQ kept it from being totally clean. It’s a shame when great young guys have to lose to other great young guys, but that’s the roster WWE has right now. Ambrose will be fine; this Wyatt thing was meant to be a diversion anyway.

Wyatt, on the other hand, is on a pretty solid winning streak, and rumor has it he’s going to be staring down the Undertaker come WrestleMania season. No complaints there.

I liked how Seth Rollins needed to curb stomp Ryback twice to win

That’s all I got on this one. Please don’t make me watch Ryback and Kane again. Please.

The sadness train and a brief moment of sunshine

The New Day, man. I’ve not seen a gimmick so dead on arrival since, well, since Adam Rose, who they faced last night. This was a quintessential nothing match, but there is a moment of sunshine when Cesaro and Tyson Kidd, disguised as Rosebuds, sneak attack Big E to help Adam Rose go over. It means that the WWE sorta-kinda believe in this Cesaro/Kidd pairing (tentatively known as the Uppercats?). I say kinda-sorta because anyone involved in an Adam Rose storyline certainly isn’t getting the Reigns push, but progress is progress! In 2015, Tyson Kidd is something I genuinely look forward to every night on Raw. That’s something I definitely didn’t see coming.

Hustle, loyalty, and consistently destroying everyone’s livelihood

This was good! Steph and Triple H come out to close out the show, because The Authority are back in power and everything is right in the world, and they summon out John Cena to celebrate his decision last week to reinstate the regime. If you missed it, Cena mumbled that fateful “I’ll bring back The Authority” because Seth Rollins was threatening to break Edge’s neck, which, okay, decent reason to do something out of character.

Stephanie is just freaking vicious here. She puts over Cena as the worst kind of two-faced sellout with her trademark saccharine catty-mom scolding. Then she invites every other member of Team Cena, Ziggler, Rowan and Ryback, and ruthlessly fires each of them. It’s Cena’s fault. Yeah, he had to do it and was put in a bad situation, but he’s still the guy that put the bad guys back in power. There’s no going back from that. Cena is the exact sort of character that holds himself to a higher standard, so watching him fall was genuine. He can’t blame anyone else. He wasn’t good enough. And you know what? I think having the invulnerable superman fail to meet your expectations (and his own) counts as some pretty good writing.

Also, after the three get fired, confetti falls and freeware graduation music plays. It’s Cena Celebration Day! WWE plays it fast and loose with these sorts of storylines and there’s a definite chance we still see Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan back by the Rumble, but it was still a great moment.

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