Ménage à Stomp: Wrasslin’ Wednesday 1/14/15

Wrasslin Wednesday Header

Derek: We’re coming to you live (two days later) from New Orleans! There were two big stories from this week’s Raw. The second most important one involved this:

lesnar rollins staredown

We’ll get to that later. Because the most important story involved this:

macho man

At long last, the Macho Man is in the Hall of Fame! Upon my return to wrestling about 14 months ago, I was shocked to learn that Macho Man wasn’t in the Hall. I wondered how any wrestling Hall of Fame could be legitimate without him. It would be like leaving Larry Bird out. Why are they making such a big deal out of the Hall of Fame when they haven’t even let Savage in yet?!

As they kept unveiling last year’s class, I met each selection with disappointment. Sure, guys like the Ultimate Warrior and Scott Hall were deserving, but they weren’t as deserving as Macho Man. I began to grow more and more incredulous. They know he’s not there, right? They’re aware they have a Hall of Fame without Macho Man?

I ended up reading about how Vince and Savage stopped speaking for many years, and the popular rumor was that Savage had a fling with Stephanie when he was 40 and she was 17. That has never been confirmed.

Anyway, Savage was one of the most iconic wrestlers of his generation, and for him to be left out without explanation was perplexing. He had legendary matches and legendary promos.

And, on a significantly less important personal note, he was one of my favorite characters on WCW/NWO Revenge because when you made him taunt he would actually say “Ohhhh, yeeeah!” and 10-year-old me thought that was the coolest thing ever.

Will, what are your thoughts on the Macho Man? How will you celebrate now that this horrible wrong has been righted?

Will: I never thought I cared that much about the WWE Hall of Fame, but I think you just talked me into it. The more I think about it, it really was outrageous that Macho Man wasn’t a first-ballot guy. He’s in the absolute upper echelon, right? Who’s better than him? Like, he made people aware of Slim Jims. That counts for something in this world.

I don’t want to say that the Stephanie story makes total sense, but they did include a clip of him saying “Maybe I am insane” in the montage footage. Who knows?

It’s always fun to have Macho Man involved, and I enjoyed the tributes Monday night. The current superstars doing impressions of him was kind of sweet, and they ended on a nice comic note when a record scratch interrupted Kane before he could try. It ain’t brilliant, but it fit. The crowd chanting his name was touching, too—the crowd is what wrestling is all about, isn’t it?

Derek: I think the only really dumb thing about it was how TMZ broke the news before the show, and WWE kept acting like they didn’t have total control of the situation, saying “WWE is expected to announce Macho Man Randy Savage is in the Hall of Fame.” Why were they acting like the WWE was some other company and they were able to get the scoop? That was baffling. Moreover, why did they have to mention it at all? Why were they addressing news like that? News broke about Sting showing up at Survivor Series well before the show, and Michael Cole didn’t spend the entire show saying “the WWE expects Sting to make his first appearance later this evening.” That was weird.

Will: I noticed that as well. My take is that WWE sought to make itself sound more important and/or like a real sports league by having news about the company broken by an outside source. I’m guessing The New York Times was not interested in playing this role, but a pseudo-news agency like TMZ fits perfectly into the pseudo-sports world. I wouldn’t be shocked if WWE paid TMZ to get the alleged scoop.

Derek: Let’s jump into Rollins and Lesnar. Cena has feuded with both of them recently, so he fit into this easily, but the question remained of how they would inevitably end up hating each other as the long history of triple-threat-but-secretly-two-on-one championship matches dictates. We got some good staredowns, which finally culminated in a Curb Stomp during the excuse to throw someone through a table contract signing at the end of the show. The Curb Stomp appeared to draw blood, which was something you’d think the announcers would have mentioned seeing as Brock is being billed as an unstoppable monster. A rare miss for those fine gentlemen.

WWE, Inc.

WWE, Inc.

While there have been a few recent examples of heel-on-heel violence, such as Randy Orton and Batista going at it last year, this is a million times more interesting. I think Rollins gets better every week, and while he’s probably going to lose most microphone matches with Paul Heyman, it was still fun to watch. Well, at least until Lesnar took the mic from Heyman, calling Rollins “Mr. Curb Stomp” and reminding us why he’s not allowed to talk. Anyway, now that they’ve had their first confrontation, how do you see it playing out?

Will: It was great, and I was shocked at how well Rollins acquitted himself on the mic against Heyman. He isn’t always great on his own, leaning too much on smirks and not enough on words, but he was able to trade barbs with one of the best wordsmiths in the game right now. Throwing Heyman’s pithy “I wasn’t finished” was an excellent touch.

I’m all the way in on this, and I’m especially interested to see what two superstars form a soft alliance against the third. My thought was that Cena and Rollins should team up on Lesnar, as he is the most dominant wrestler in the match. It was fun for me, then, to see the other two combinations floated. Any one of them would make for great theater, as does the potential Authority vs. Heyman angle.

I wish, however, that Rollins hadn’t alluded to cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase. His carrying it around all the time is a constant reminder that he has a title shot whenever he wants it, but we’ve seen it so much that it has lost some luster. His mentioning the briefcase makes me think that there will be some real shenanigans afoot at the Royal Rumble. In a related story, I cannot wait for the Royal Rumble.

Derek: All-in-all, Rollins was the big winner of the evening. Not only was he standing tall at the end of the show, having vanquished both Cena and Lesnar, but he also took Cena down at the beginning of the show. Granted, it was a Lumberjack match featuring every heel in the company, but still. Rollins has been on fire, and he’s been the best heel that actually wrestles in the last year. Thank goodness for him. While Triple H and Stephanie are great heels, I believe they had three or four matches between them in 2014.

Will: It’s been great to see Rollins develop. That closing segment made him look very strong. He’s such a smarmy, punchable, entitled a-hole. It’s perfect.

WWE, Inc.

WWE, Inc.

I also enjoy that, when he lists his WWE achievements, chief among them are creating and destroying the Shield. I love that each is treated as its own accomplishment even though the latter was simply undoing the former. It would be like Donald Trump building a hotel, demolishing it a year later, and proclaiming his own greatness in newspapers across the globe. Wrestling is the best.

Derek: Now, let’s move on to the lesser storylines of the evening. While most of them were not memorable, I had a special place in my heart for Dean Ambrose’s psychiatric evaluation. They’ve been wasting him in all of this super dark stuff with Bray Wyatt, which looked to garner a collective yawn from wrasslin’ fans worldwide. Last week, I longed for the return of pre-Hell in a Cell Dean Ambrose, and perhaps my wish has been granted at last. He’s not in any kind of feud yet, but at least he was telling jokes and being a quirky psychopath again.

Are you excited about seeing this side of Ambrose again? Do you think he’ll be involved with the Royal Rumble main event when it’s all said and done?

Will: I absolutely loved the Ambrose evaluation. It fit for his character, it fit as something the Authority would make him do, it was funny, and it allowed Ambrose to flesh out his persona a little bit. He seems to be at his best when he’s a vaguely jovial nutjob. It was also nice to see him come out after Rusev

I was in on Bray’s promo as well. These guys are better on their own than they are together, which initially seems counterproductive but ultimately makes sense. They’re both the crazy guy, and crazy guys work best when juxtaposed against a non-crazy guy. Having them butt heads should work, with Bray like the Joker to Ambrose’s Batman, but it just doesn’t.

A couple notes on the undercard:

  • The Ascension showed up and beat two more literally anonymous jobbers. They cut a promo before that, and it was next-level atrocious. I don’t get it. WWE either has to pull off some incredible storytelling to redeem these guys, or just drag them out back and put them down. They have been really bad, and they’re kinda like goth lacrosse kids. Connor and Victor could be the names of two lacrosse kids, right?
  • Stephanie vs. Daniel Bryan on the mic was fun. The best part for Steph was when she pimped her workout DVD, as it felt like an in-character form of product placement. The worst part was leaving Bryan to answer a yes-or-no question. Vince would be disappointed. She’s better than that.
  • They’ve gotta be bringing Sheamus back for the Network’s UK launch, right?
  • Everything Miz and Mizdow is still wonderful, including their Golden Globe-themed promos. My single favorite part was Michael Cole saying earnestly, “I don’t think Miz was even invited to the Golden Globes.” Again, wrestling is the best.
  • I liked the Cesaro/Tyson Kidd tag team a little more than I thought I would. They’re heel-y enough, and they pulled off some nice double moves, including a Big-Swing-into-dropkick. WWE is at least trying to make the tag division interesting.

Anything catch your eye here?

Derek: The Ascension are the worst. Maybe they could get away with their horrible showing last week by coming out strong this week, but nahhh, they just did the exact same thing. I think I’ll hate-watch them a few more times before they get the Rusev treatment. They could at least change their music, which sounds like they stole it from the start menu of a beat ’em up game on Super Nintendo.

WWE, Inc.

WWE, Inc.

I did enjoy the Daniel Bryan-Stephanie stuff. They’ve always been good together. The whole segment made me really mourn the trajectory of Kane, though. He’s been little more than a glorified jobber at this point. He can’t beat anyone except Adam Rose, but they still treat him like a monster. He deserves better. Of everybody on the roster right now, Kane is most in need of a vacation. It did wonders for Ryback, and it would do wonders for him. The time will soon come when he can’t wrestle anymore, and I don’t want him to spend the entirety of his twilight years as the Authority’s lackey.

I imagine Sheamus, like last year, while make his surprise return at the Royal Rumble. That’s something we’ll have to tackle next week, by the way. The Rumble always has a few entrants that take us by surprise.

Will: Kane has turned into a bit of a sad character, hasn’t he? He should enter the Rumble as Bane and see if anyone notices.

Ah, the surprise entrants! I’m more excited for the Rumble than I was before watching this Raw, and I think that means WWE did its job. A nice return to form after last week’s abortion of a program. I’m already counting down the seconds until the first Rumble entrants are introduced.

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