Raw Royal Rumble Ramblings: Wrasslin’ Wednesday 1/21/15

Wrasslin Wednesday Header

Derek: We’re coming to you live (two days later) from Dallas! We had an action-packed Raw this week, and the Royal Rumble is this Sunday. We shan’t waste any time getting into the proceedings. So Will, my first question is—

Bah gawd! Wait a minute. Wait just a gosh darn minute! Th-that’s Spencer Davies’ music! We have a third man! WHOSE SIDE IS HE ON?!

Ahem: Spencer Davies will be joining Will and me to talk some extra wrasslin’ this week. Care to introduce yourself to the people, Spencer?

Spencer: Hi everyone! My name is Spencer (my nickname is Spin, if you prefer). I’ve always wanted to contribute to a blog that focuses on wrestling, especially the WWE. I’ve been nearly a lifelong fan and love the business. I am pretty in-touch with many promotions (Ring of Honor, TNA, the indies) and just appreciate the pure art and storytelling of a match. I look forward to contributing to Wrasslin’ Wednesday and I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts! 

Derek: Right on. Let’s talk wrasslin’. As much as I was looking forward to dedicating the first 1,000 words of this week’s installment to the Ascension getting their asses kicked by the nWo, the New Age Outlaws, and APA, I guess we have to talk about the ending first.

While I, for one, expected the obligatory impromptu Royal Rumble to break out at the end of the show, WWE threw us a curveball with the first appearance of Sting since Survivor Series.

WWE, Inc.

WWE, Inc.

Sting (who is apparently a vigilante) has a bit of a problem with Triple H. That problem remains to be seen, but ol’ Trips is the gentleman Sting is pointing at in that photo. His appearance allowed John Cena to pick up a victory in his 3-on-1 Handicap Match against Rollins, Kane, and Big Show. His victory means Ryback, Dolph Ziggler, and Erick Rowan all get their jobs back. Just in time for the Royal Rumble, too! I was getting worried.

At this point, all signs point to a Sting vs. HHH match at Wrestlemania. Gentlemen, what are your thoughts? Why is Sting targeting Triple H? Are you satisfied with Sting’s (likely) final match being against him?

Spencer: Sting is messing with Triple H so that he can persuade the Game to take him on at WrestleMania in what will probably be the Stinger’s one and only match in WWE. I think that although Bray Wyatt would have been a better storyline down the creative route, a program with “The Game” will be an epic meeting of two major players in the Monday Night Wars.

Will: This week made it exceptionally clear that Sting has his sights set on Trips, though it is unclear why. They will reveal his motives at some point, and it seems to be that Sting takes issue with Triple H’s reign of terror. But perhaps they will employ a long-simmering bitterness over the Monday Night Wars instead. Maybe Sting has always had it in for Hunter? Who knows?

Derek: They’re calling Sting “the vigilante” at every conceivable turn, which I imagine is calculated. He shows up to interrupt two separate instances of Triple H shenanigans, and never appeared during the brief time the Authority was out of power. Sting looks to be positioning himself as the Batman to HHH’s corrupt police chief. If Sting ever says anything (and I kind of hope he doesn’t), I think it will be something to that effect.

The only thing that sucks about him facing Triple H is the ending is pretty much already decided. There’s no way they book Sting to lose to Triple H at Wrestlemania in his only WWE appearance. I think Sting would only accept a Wrestlemania loss to a young up-and-comer or the Undertaker. He wouldn’t care who went over in a match with Taker.

Will: They have resisted the urge to use Sting too much, which has maximized his mystique and thus his pops. We have not seen his trademark bat, and he has yet to enter from above. This week, he just showed up on the big screen and then emerged from behind the curtain with little pyro or ceremony.

What did you think of his entrance? And should he have actually intervened, or did his silent appearance work for you?

Spencer: I think that the lights should have gone out and then he should have made his entrance with the music without appearing on the Titantron first. That would have made the pop more epic.

The bit was perfect in my opinion because it furthers the suspense. Sting is playing mind games with the cerebral assassin.

WWE, Inc.

WWE, Inc.

Derek: This is probably an unpopular opinion, but I’m still firmly in the camp of folks who think he should have come down from the rafters. Yes, Owen Hart died doing a similar stunt. I’m aware. But do you know why Sting is associated with coming down from the rafters? Because he did it (safely) all the time! Lots of people did! Owen Hart’s death was tragic and preventable, but it was also an isolated incident that was nearly 16 years ago. I’m not saying he has to do it every single time he shows up. Just one time. I’m sure the technology has improved enough that they could set it up one night.

But I understand why they won’t do it. WWE lost a ton of money when the Harts sued them, and I doubt they’ll take the risk again. I don’t think it’s ruining Sting’s run. But here’s a fair compromise: could he just be lurking in the rafters? I think that would have been a better way to spook The Authority. Or the lights go out, and when they come back on, there’s a baseball bat on the ground in front of Triple H. The Authority freaks out, Cena wins the match, then Sting shows up on the Titantron. I didn’t hate the way they did it, but I would have marked out if they had used any of those scenarios instead.

Will: Derek, sir, I wish you choreographed all of the world’s entrances. I love the idea of Sting hanging out way up high, even if he never descends. Imagine him striding back and forth on a catwalk with the spotlight on him? Perhaps with the bat resting menacingly on his shoulder? Ah, imagination is wonderful.

Let’s move on to the Triple Threat match at the Rumble. How do you see it unfolding?

Spencer: This I truly can’t answer because there are so many possible outcomes. Contrary to what most think about Brock retaining and holding the WWE World Heavyweight Championship until ‘Mania, I see John Cena winning his 16th world title. Seriously.

cena wins

Will: More importantly: how do you want it to go?

Spencer: I think that the best way to book this would be to have Brock come out on top over Cena, but I have an alternate scenario. What if Seth Rollins won it after a curb stomp on Lesnar? That, of course, would come after Cena is out of the match because of an F-5 through the announce table or some such. Seth Rollins would then become the first superstar to ever hold the MITB briefcase and the WWE WHC. THAT’S how you book an up-and-coming talent to ensure he truly gets over (even though he already is).

Derek: I think Rollins will (and should) come out on top. I think we can all agree another Cena victory would be unsatisfying. I want it to be Rollins because I have no idea what would happen then. If Lesnar wins, he’s probably holding on to the belt until Mania, where he will in all likelihood drop the belt to Daniel Bryan. That sort of already happened last year. Rollins winning would be way more intriguing. I sense he will not be leaving the arena with his briefcase.

Will: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Brock lately, and I would like to see his run of dominance continue. The good news for WWE is that we all disagree on this. There are a bunch of possibilities for how this could all shake out, and I am not especially confident in any one of them. Cena winning would be lame, and thus it seems likely, but Rollins and Lesnar are both hot now. Any of those three holding the strap would make for good theater.

Let’s move on to other Raw matters. Which returning legend made you the saddest? Who was in better shape than you expected?

Derek: I really enjoyed Ric Flair’s appearance at first. Then he started throwing punches at Big Show. I’ve never been a big fan of wrestling punches due to their clear fraudulence, but this was something else.

I wish Show had just hit him first. It would have been the heel thing to do anyway. Everybody wins.

I thought Shawn Michaels looked pretty good. He still did his little kneeling flex thing in the ring, which makes my knees hurt just looking at it. He was great on the mic, too. Of all the legends, he looked most capable of having a match right now. Well, except the New Age Outlaws, I suppose.

Will: I was excited when Shawn hit that flex. I was bummed that he didn’t do it when he came down the ramp, but it turns out he was saving it for the ring. Well done, HBK. That almost made up for choosing Ted Nugent as your personal stylist.

Just about everyone else made me sad. Not everyone was in bad shape per se, but most everyone looked rough. Flair is 65, which is like 200 in wrestling years. The Hulkster is around a little too often, and that has dampened his aura. Mizdow impersonating X-Pac was a good gag. Hall and Nash can still work the mic alright, but it hurt to see them walk. I marked out for the APA reunion, and I enjoyed seeing all of the tag teams. Speaking of which—

Derek: Can we make fun of the Ascension now?

Will: Absolutely. Why does the Ascension exist? Spencer, you say they were good in NXT. What’s different about now and then?

WWE, Inc.

WWE, Inc.

Spencer: In NXT, their gimmick was phenomenal. They had awesome music, but their entrance and attire were completely different. They came out to a pitch black arena and there were basically strobe lights everywhere. What they’ve done to them is a joke. Their face paint is nothing more than a recycled gimmick of LOD and Demolition combined. Maybe this is just Vince destroying HHH’s hard work in NXT.

Will: Will they be around in six months? Two months? I don’t get it.

Spencer: I hope so. They have excellent in-ring chemistry, it would be a shame if this gimmick leads to their demise. They have a match at the Royal Rumble with the New Age Outlaws, so I suspect Road Dogg and Billy Gunn to put them over well.

Derek: Why involve the New Age Outlaws at all? I want to see them wrestle some “local competitors” (read: jobbers) again.

I think when the bigger one (I can’t remember which is which anymore) said “We were born and bred to rip and shred,” they lost me forever. I don’t have enough time to list all of the stupid things about them. I enjoyed watching all of the legends slap them around.

Will: That line stuck with me too. The moment I heard it I thought Oh, Vince wrote this. I can absolutely see Vincent Kennedy McMahon sitting behind a large mahogany desk, leaning back in his big leather chair, and thinking out loud: Let’s see, how about “we were born and bred to…rip…and…shred. Rip and shred. Hey! BORN AND BRED TO RIP AND SHRED! That’s genius!

Derek: They suck. The Royal Rumble does not. Let’s get to some Royal Rumble quick hits.

  • Who’s gonna win it?

Spencer: I’ve got my money on Daniel Bryan. He didn’t get in the Rumble last year after being more over than any other superstar in the past two years (a big miss by WWE at the time) and deserves to have his moment. Creative has obviously made Roman Reigns look strong (insert CM Punk joke here), but I don’t think he’s ready for the big stage just yet (work on those mic skills, buddy). My dark horses to win are Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose and hell, Dolph Ziggler!

Derek: Yeah, probably Bryan. I want it to be Dean Ambrose, but it’ll probably be Bryan or Roman Reigns.

Will: I agree that those are the most likely candidates. I would bet on Reigns just by virtue of being the apple of management’s eye, though that would not sit well with many fans, as Reigns’ promos have been brutal.

  • What surprise entrant are you hoping for?

Spencer: Randy Orton’s return would be epic.

Derek: I’ll be shocked if Orton and Sheamus don’t make an appearance. Rey Mysterio could be back. The Great Khali will probably make a brief appearance. There’s always an old-school wrestler, like Kevin Nash and JBL last year. It’s impossible to predict since we don’t know their health situations. Dean Malenko is only (visits Wikipedia) 54 years old! He’s younger than Sting!

Will: This is beyond unlikely to happen, but imagine this curveball: Seth Rollins is the final entrant. The remaining competitors lay prone as he enters the ring, and he delivers a couple curb stomps before expelling them. The WWE Universe might get sucked into a wormhole if that happened. Rollins could conceivably hold the title, the MITB briefcase, and the number one contender spot at Wrestlemania. Whoa.

  • An NXT wrestler could appear in the Rumble. Do you think it’ll actually happen, and if so, who?

Spencer: If I see any of these three in this year’s Royal Rumble: Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville or Kevin Owens, I will completely mark out. Seriously, if you haven’t seen NXT Takeover, you need to watch it. And NXT. Every Wednesday. N-X-T.

Derek: Bo Dallas.

Oh, he’s on the main roster now? He’s just never on TV because we need to see the Ascension? I don’t know, then.

Will: I’ve not seen much of NXT, but Kevin Owens would be my pick. He’s kind of a doughy guy, but I could see that appealing to fans. His name lends itself to a lot of attractive K.O. puns and branding, and his simple “Fight Owens Fight” brawler gimmick is as good a starting point as any.

  • What’s your favorite Rumble trope?

Spencer: I think that John Morrison’s landing on the barricade and long jumping to the stairs was amazing. I think that Kofi Kingston’s non-elimination from the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 30 was the craziest one I’ve ever witnessed.

Derek: Definitely how often the rules are explained. BOTH feet have to touch the ground.

Will: I’m going to be looking out for fans holding “REST HOLD” signs. I always enjoy watching the guys killing time in the corners while more interesting action is going on in the middle of the ring. I’m also hopeful that someone gets tossed immediately, like Santino did in the 2009 Rumble.

  • Is it your favorite PPV? Do you bet on it and/or do a Rumble party? Should everyone?

Spencer: The Royal Rumble is probably my third favorite PPV after Money in the Bank and Wrestlemania. There are just so many moments that come from it. The anticipation with the clock counting down along with the crowd’s chanting just gets me jacked up. I’ve never bet on it, but I definitely recommend watching it at a bar with other fans, which I’ve done for years.

Derek: It is! I have no logical reason to pick the Royal Rumble over Wrestlemania, but it’s a lot more fun for me. Wrestlemania is just so long that it’s tough to completely keep my attention. Besides the Royal Rumble itself, there are usually three or four really good matches. It’s much more enjoyable for me.

Will: Wrestlemania will always be the granddaddy, but the Rumble is my baby. It can get dull during the middle of the match, but there’s just so much going on that it’s hard not to like. You get to see the whole roster, a couple surprises, and a whole lotta action.

And of course, betting on it only ups the ante. I strongly encourage everyone to have some friends over and watch this thing. Number 30 pieces of paper and have everybody pick out of a hat. Whatever numbers you draw, those are your entrants. Put a few bucks down on it and watch yourself get sucked in.t

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