WWE in Damage Control: Wrasslin’ Wednesday 2/4/15Posted: February 4, 2015
Derek: We’re coming to you live (two days later) from Denver! I’m still reeling from the Super Bowl, but I’m here anyway! A big thanks to WWE for kicking off the show with some Seahawks mockery. That’s what I needed. But seeing as yesterday’s Super Bowl Recap was one of our most viewed posts of all time, you sick jerks are probably happy.
So let’s jump into the big story of the week. It appears that Vince was listening to the backlash after Royal Rumble. Triple H and Stephanie “manipulated” Roman into putting his Wrestlemania main event spot on the line at this month’s Fastlane PPV. Seth Rollins and Daniel Bryan had an enjoyable match to see who would face Reigns, with Bryan getting the win.
Spencer is joining us again this week, and I can think of only one way to celebrate: numbered questions and answers!
1. Is this just a curveball to make the Reigns v. Lesnar match seem less inevitable than it actually is? Does Daniel Bryan really have a chance? Do they even know?
Will: I’ll say this: I’m impressed with how much WWE altered its course on the fly. I suppose this has been going on for a while now, but adjusting the parameters surrounding the Wrestlemania main event is as high as the booking stakes get.
My gut still says Roman Reigns will be the one to face Brock Lesnar, but Triple H and company have at least shown that they understand how over Daniel Bryan is. Even if Bryan doesn’t get his shot in the ‘Mania spotlight, he’ll be closer to the big stage, and that’s something.
Derek: Reigns v. Lesnar is probably a done deal, and this is just a smokescreen to get everyone off of their back. They want to at least make it seem like they had Daniel Bryan in the plans all along. I’m sure Reigns will beat Bryan at Fastlane. The question is, if Reigns bombs, will they bring Bryan or Rollins to bail him out again?
Spencer: They made it clear to the WWE fans (I hate calling it the universe, just…no) that they’ve heard their displeasures and directly addressed them (see Triple H’s rib on the #CancelWWENetwork campaign using the NFL in place of it). Daniel Bryan facing Roman Reigns at Fast Lane gives him a meaningful position in this Road to Wrestlemania, but this also leads me to believe that his WM 31 opponent (Whoever that is, Ziggler maybe? Please, PLEASE don’t let it be the return of masked Kane) will cost him the match against Reigns.
2. Were you impressed with WWE changing its marquee storyline on the fly? Did their adjustments work for you?
Derek: I would have been more surprised if they hadn’t done something like this. I’m sure Vince is stubborn, but I would have been shocked if he hadn’t done something in the wake of last week’s backlash. Of course, I’m still shocked that Randy Orton and Sheamus still haven’t made an appearance, so what do I know?
Will: It’s been going on for a while, but I think it’s incredible how much they are able to adjust their stories and booking in reaction to the fans. WWE was facing an impossible lie after the Rumble, but they managed to pitch themselves back onto the fairway. Surely some people will thumb their nose at the mini-tournament that has been established to determine who will face Brock, but I thought it was a clever way to redeem a doomed approach.
Spencer: I don’t think that WWE is changing its course at all, to be honest. I believe that it is a decoy to make you believe that Bryan has a shot at doing the unthinkable again, but the reality is that they’re giving Roman the reigns, pun very intended. And honestly, Roman Reigns showed a whole other side to him last week. Monday night, he made a huge impact in the main event (that spear on Big Show was insane). Hopefully the fans get the Philly crowd reaction out of their heads and get behind Reigns again, even though I think he’s going to be turning heel soon (watch the fans cheer if/when that happens)
3. How great was that Rollins-Bryan match?
Derek: I really enjoyed it. I’m typically a bit underwhelmed by Raw/Smackdown main events, but that one was a lot of fun. I was really happy with how they used Reigns, too. They might even make me care about ol’ Roman by the time ‘Mania rolls around.
Will: Rollins-Bryan was dynamite. It almost felt weird that it was on Raw and not in a PPV. More of those guys together would be great. Perhaps they will square off if Reigns-Lesnar comes to fruition?
Spencer: Rollins and Bryan tore the house down. I was beaming when Triple H announced that as the main event of Raw. Their history goes back to Ring of Honor where they had some incredible matches as Tyler Black and Bryan Danielson. They need to be pitted against each other at Wrestlemania at some point in their careers because their chemistry is off the charts.
4. The consensus seems to be that Triple H fared very well on the Stone Cold Podcast. Did he address the company’s major concerns? Is WWE in good hands with him?
Derek: I was really interested by it. I just kind of wish Austin would have let Triple H talk a little more. They talked about the business and the fans and it was really interesting hearing their perspective. I’d like to have heard some more old stories, but it was worth my time.
Will: I didn’t listen to the pod, but everything I read said Trips gets it and is a wrestler/fan at heart. The cynic in me wonders if it could all be a work.
Spencer: Triple H was straightforward. Is he telling the truth about some things? Sure, and if he isn’t, he’s a damn good liar. I think that he hinted that Vince McMahon calls the shots on the main roster and that NXT (the greatest wrestling program in the company. Watch it, people.) is his baby. Triple H works with talent down there and prepares them so well. I think that his involvement in creative has been superb also. The storylines have been fantastic, the in-ring product has been top rate, and it’s only getting better. Watch it on the WWE Network on Feburary 11th at 8 p.m.; I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
So based on the spiel I just went on, I think we’ll be looking at an entirely different WWE whenever Vinny Mac hands to the company over to Paul Levesque.
5. What does the death of kayfabe mean for the future of wrestling? Do fans know too much?
Derek: The death of kayfabe has its disadvantages, but the existence of the internet is more problematic for me personally. It sucks having things spoiled for me a couple of days before they happen. Surprise returns are one of my favorite things in wrestling, and the internet has ruined them. I can stay in kayfabe if they can keep surprising me.
Will: One thing is for sure: booking is harder than ever. Fans know how the business works, they know which wrestlers have clawed their way up the ladder, and they understand what sort of booking has worked in the past. They think they do, anyway, and I think that has made WWE consumers a bit entitled/unbearable.
Spencer: The death of kayfabe makes the shows harder to write, especially with the use of social media. It also adds the sense of reality to the product, like Brock Lesnar legitimately decimating people in the ring and looking like an unstoppable force. That being said, I absolutely despise spoilers. Can you imagine if the internet would’ve been around during the Monday Night Wars? Think of scrolling on Twitter in 1996 and “Hulk Hogan to turn heel” catches your eyes on a dirtsheet account. There would be no element of surprise with most fans. Would the nWo make as much of an impact today as it did back then? Hell no. So I’m not a fan of that, and I wait until after I watch a show to log on to social media.
6. How do you feel about Dean Ambrose’s new home in the Intercontinental title contender midcard? He and BNB could be fun, right?
Will: I would prefer to see Ambrose in a bigger spot, but there are only so many big spots to go around. Lesnar, Reigns, Rollins and Bryan all need their time, and that’s crowding the marquee as it is. Maybe contending for the IC belt is a good thing for Ambrose. He’ll get plenty of solo matches and work on his character a little more. Fingers crossed that he and Barrett have good chemistry.
Derek: I called for this feud a while back, so I guess I can’t be too bummed. I’m with you on him in big spots, though. If it were up to me, he’d still be randomly assaulting Seth Rollins. But they’re all doing their own thing, and Ambrose needs to do something. If nothing else, they’ll cut phenomenal promos on one another. I’m in.
Spencer: Ambrose and BNB are a perfect match at this time in their careers. Barrett hasn’t been in a real mid-card feud since what, Randy Orton in 2011? And Ambrose, a main eventer just a couple of months ago, has been floundering around for direction since his feud with Bray Wyatt came to a close. This matchup elevates both of them and is a truly solid mid-card feud. Expect a solid story and good in-ring chemistry with these two.
7. We have drama in the tag division! Both Miz/Mizdow and Gold/Stardust seem to be on the outs. Are you excited to see former partners feuding? What would the dissolution of these teams mean for the tag team division in general?
Will: I’m in on whatever happens with Miz and Mizdow. I enjoyed the promo in which Miz fired and re-hired Mizdow, and I think they have given their eventual break a nice, slow build. I’m not sure what kind of staying power they will have when facing each other, but their first conflict should be delightful. Same goes for Goldust and Stardust, and I thought it was a nice touch when Goldust called him Cody. Good stuff from the Rhodes brothers.
Derek: All good points. I still worry about the impending death of the tag team division, as I can’t name any tag teams that do it for me. Let’s hope Cesaro and Tyson Kidd can be a good challenge for the Usos.
Spencer: Miz and—I guess we can call him this again—Damien Sandow are on a course to ending their story at Wrestlemania in a decent lower card clash. Sandow is incredibly over right now, and having him take out his frustrations on the Miz after how he’s been treated is a great idea. Let’s just hope Sandow doesn’t end up like Alex Riley, because his in-ring ability is very good (see his match with John Cena last year).
As for Gold- and Stardust, I’m thrilled that the Rhodes brothers are finally going to get their match at Wrestlemania they’ve been campaigning for on Twitter for years. I thought it was interesting that Goldust called him Cody backstage to make it more personal. This could end up being a very solid, underrated match, and it might be Goldust’s last ever.
8. The Ascension is still around. Anything on them? Anything at all?
Will: The Ascension still does nothing for me. They’ve been far more tolerable the past couple weeks, but their schtick basically amounts to yelling and a lame finisher. Meh.
Derek: Did they have a match? I must have been feeding the dog or something.
Spencer: The Ascension is being groomed into the next threat to the Usos tag team championship, but the real tag team that should get the belts is Cesaro and Tyson Kidd. They are great as a tag team and are smooth in the ring together.
Side note: THAT CESARO UPPERCUT THO (at the 2:29 mark)
9. Rusev’s Russian flag wasn’t unveiled properly after he beat Erick Rowan. Do you think that was on purpose, and if not, how about the big guy’s improv chops!?
Will: I think the flag legitimately got stuck, and thus I think Rusev did a terrific job of adjusting on the fly. His anger fit his character, and waving his personal flag around was quick thinking. I gotta say, the big Bulgarian is growing on me.
Derek: Rusev did a great job. I wouldn’t say he’s growing on me because his matches still always end the same way, but he doesn’t irritate me quite as much as he used to.
Spencer: Rusev’s improv after the Russian flag failed to display was amazing, especially with so many WWE superstars’ acting being awful. I’ve really taken a liking to the “Bulgarian Brute” in these past few months. He is truly a super athlete, as they call him. He is both athletic and a powerhouse, and they’ve built him up perfectly in my opinion. Even on the mic on Smackdown last week, he was much better than I expected. This upcoming battle with Cena at Fastlane and Wrestlemania will show that he belongs in the conversation with the upper card.