The Authority is back, and Bad News Is Best For Business: Wrasslin’ Wednesday 12/31/14

Wrasslin Wednesday Header

Derek: We’re coming to you live (two days later) from Washington D.C.! The Authority is back in power and Daniel Bryan is back in the ring. Yes sir, wrestling just might start to get fun again.

Let’s start with Daniel Bryan, who gave a heartfelt speech about his past. (It was, strangely, our second of the night, as Ryback gave one earlier in the evening.) He did a really good job of making it seem like he was going to retire up until the very end. He was tearing up and talking about his phone calls to Raw’s co-host, Edge, who retired three years earlier due to neck injuries. So … is his career over?!

bryan no gif

Will he return to action as an entrant in the Royal Rumble?!

bryan hhh yes gif

And if that weren’t fun enough, The Authority has returned! As you may recall, Vince made a stipulation before Survivor Series that only John Cena could bring The Authority back. So, as part of a stretch of heel brilliance, Seth Rollins surrounded Edge with as many Authority lackeys as he could. Then he put Edge in position to receive a Curb Stomp which, if executed, would “paralyze” Edge, who was forced into retirement by real-life neck and back injuries. Cena, thinking of Edge’s wife and child, reluctantly agrees to put The Authority back in power. After a brief skirmish in the ring, Triple H and Stephanie waltz out, champagne glasses in hand, ready to do what’s best for business yet again.

And I haven’t mentioned the return of Bad News Barrett yet! How is that the third most important thing from an episode of Raw?

Are these enough reasons to get excited again? The return of Daniel Bryan and BNB are great, but is the return of The Authority a step forward or backward?

Will: So, so, so many good things this week. Top Raw, everyone.

The Rollins-Cena-Edge segment was really dark, and I loved it. It was a legitimate hostage situation. Rollins spoke pointedly about crippling Edge and leaving him unable to lift his child. He sold it well, and Cena did some terrific non-verbal acting. And even after Cena relented, Rollins went to Curb Stomp Edge anyway, and was stopped only by Cena’s intervention. Holy crap.

WWE, Inc.

WWE, Inc.

It seems a little odd to bring the Authority back so soon. It would be better if that payoff came as the result of a big match, ideally at a pay-per-view. That said, I have no problem with it. The Cena-Rollins staredown was awesome. More than that, we have lamented the thin state of the WWE roster and how hard it is to fill up three hours. Bringing Triple H and company back into power means there will be more quality talent—namely Trips and Steph, and maybe Vince—available for any given show. I know that those three entertain well above replacement level, so I’m in on the Authority’s return.

But man, what a show. There was a promo devoted entirely to showing Ryback’s human side, and it wasn’t bad! Who knew that The Big Guy was so sensitive? He was real-life voted out of the show Tough Enough, and he spoke of the ensuing depression and avoidance of his family. He claimed to have turned it all around thanks to The Secret, a self-help book. I can’t quite believe it, but I really enjoyed the whole thing. The Big Guy put a bow on it by saying that his feud with Rusev is not a US-Russia thing; it’s just one-big-guy-kicking-another-big-guy’s-ass thing.

It was just weird and awkward enough to be perfect. Oh, and he also said this, “I take negative things, negative people, negative things that people say, and I eat them. I put them in the pit of my stomach, and I turn them into positives.”

WWE, Inc.

WWE, Inc.

He’s the best. Did you love it? Tell me you loved it.

Derek: It started to grow on me after a few minutes, as I think it started to grow on the crowd. At first, they were punctuating his sentences with the typically disrespectful “WHAT?” chants, before settling into applause by the end. I was also only partly invested in it, thinking it was weird and out of nowhere. After attacking Rusev, he ended up just standing in the ring for the entire commercial before launching into his life story. It was a bit perplexing.

Our readership might roll their eyes at me inserting CM Punk into this, but I thought Ryback’s promo would have been way less meaningful had Punk not ripped into him for being an idiot and a bad worker. We wrestling fans tend to be huge Punk supporters, and I’m certainly guilty of that. It’s a bit of a knee-jerk reaction (at least for me) to side with Punk whatever he says. I can’t be the only one. When Ryback shows himself as a human and not a cartoon character, you can’t help but feel for him.

I obviously have no inside information, but I wonder if that was the reason why he did it in the first place. As rabid as Punk’s fan base is, can’t you imagine random fans ripping him constantly? What do you think his Twitter mentions looked like after Punk’s interview? I wonder if he was directly addressing dumb internet trolls and telling them what to do with their negativity. Good for him.

As fun as Ryback has been lately, he’s no Bad News Barrett. What are your thoughts on his return?

Will: I was so happy to see Bad News Barrett back. What a nice surprise. Just imagining him saying I’M AFRAID I’VE GOT SOME BAD NYEWS makes me smile. I am not a fan, however, of him saying “It’s me, it’s me, it’s B-N-B.” Like, bro, Road Dogg much?

WWE, Inc.

WWE, Inc.

Still, it’s great to have him back in the fold, and he and Cesaro put on a fine match. I’m keen on Cesaro’s disillusioned professional schtick, and it’s a nice nod to his smark fans when he alludes to everyone knowing that he’s the best. He and BNB pulled off some nice spots, and I was especially impressed with his ax handle smash off the top rope; he got some real air on that baby.

I was disappointed, however, that Barrett’s finisher is an elbow, which is basically a punch. That makes three guys with a punch as their finishing maneuver: Barrett, Big Show, and Roman Reigns. In Reigns’ case, I suppose the Superman punch sets up the Spear, but what happened to finishing suplexes and powerbombs and top rope attacks? I would have liked to see a bit more creativity there.

You were aboard the Bad News train before I was. How’d it feel to see him in action?

Derek: It was glorious. It’s really inexcusable that they haven’t used him at all during his recovery. His work in the ring is fine, but it’s his work on the microphone that makes me such a big fan. Him popping up each week to deliver bad news would have been the best part of Raw for the last month.

Now I’m wondering how they’re going to use him. He was the Intercontinental Champion when he messed up his shoulder six months ago, so I imagine they’ll have some sort of storyline for him. A feud with Rusev would be fun, but they won’t go that way since Barrett isn’t American. Maybe Ziggler? If Ziggler dropped the belt to Barrett, then Ziggler could be freed up to feud with the top guys in the company, as it seemed he would after being the biggest winner at Survivor Series.

Either way, thank goodness he’s back. The bad news and smug smiles were sorely missed.

Will: I never thought I would say this, but let’s talk about the Usos for a minute. They put on a tremendous match against Miz and Mizdow, the best that I can remember involving those parties. The crowd was predictably dead early on, but some inspired moves and back-and-forth action livened them up. There was a deserved “This is awesome” chant, and a solid finishing splash. For once, Mizdow’s pantomime was not the unequivocal highlight of the match.

WWE, Inc.

WWE, Inc.

Are you with me on this? I know that I was surprised by how much I dug it.

Derek: The last few minutes of the match were definitely pretty cool. As Ready to Rumble taught us, you rarely see someone kick out after a finisher in a non-PPV match, as one of the Usos did after Miz’s Skull Crushing Finale.

I have to disagree on one point, though: Mizdow’s pantomime was still the unequivocal highlight of the match. It never gets old. The bump he took slamming himself looked harder than the one Miz took when the Usos actually slammed him. He’s the best.

Will: The Ascension, which did not even try to be anything other than a Road Warriors reboot, debuted this week. Did they move the needle for you at all?

WWE, Inc.

WWE, Inc.

Derek: Not at all. You’re exactly right. Like you and probably many others, I looked at them and saw a shameless ripoff of the Road Warriors. They were trying really, really hard to look intimidating, which was having the opposite effect. Granted, that double finishing move they had was pretty cool, but at this point I’d say there’s nothing to see here.

Will: One guy we haven’t mentioned: the reigning WWE champion, Brock Lesnar. He showed up a few times Monday. He appeared at the top of the show to intimidate guest hosts Edge and Christian (who aren’t awful as a comedy duo, by the way), and at the bottom of the show alongside Paul Heyman, who came out to congratulate Rollins.

Lesnar is a Heyman guy, but he hasn’t shown any allegiance besides that. He just shows up and terrifies people, which I enjoy. Did you take anything away from his presence?

Derek: Nah. This has been his deal for a while now. Even dating back to last year, when he had that Royal Rumble “match” with Big Show and beat him with a chair for 15 minutes, he has mostly been motivated by violence. That’s cool with me, but there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of depth to his character.

WWE, Inc.

WWE, Inc.

I’m more interested in Paul Heyman and Seth Rollins. Those two are probably the sneakiest heels in WWE, and Rollins still hasn’t cashed in his Money in the Bank contract. To me, that’s the dynamic to watch. Probably nothing will come of it, though. There’s a reason why Heyman does all of Brock’s talking for him. As interesting (and fitting) as it would be to see Heyman turn on Lesnar to team up with Rollins, it would probably be seen as a bad allocation of resources since it would mean Lesnar talking more and Heyman talking less. It would be a lot of fun, though. A more realistic expectation would be planning for life after Brock, since he’s still labeled a part-timer. Maybe after Brock is gone, Rollins is in line to be the next Paul Heyman guy?

I’m just glad we have stuff to talk about again. December has been an excruciating month for wrestling. Just four weeks to go until the Royal Rumble, too!

‘Tis the season.

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