A Candid and Controversial Wrasslin’ Wednesday 3/18/15Posted: March 17, 2015
Derek: We’re coming to you live (two days later) from Des Moines! Wrestlemania is just 11 days away, and I’m really excited for two of the matches! Yeah!
Monday gave us another chapter in the “Why Raw Shouldn’t Be Three Hours Long” encyclopedia. Though like most great WWE shows in the last five months, it ended with an appearance from (cue Michael Cole) the vigilante … the franchise … Sting!
Seeing Sting and Orton together made me mark out more than I have in months. Until Cole opened his mouth again, that is. He called it “one of the greatest moments in Raw history.”
I was debating whether I should unload on Michael Cole this week or take a break from beating that dead horse again. Luckily, a gentleman over at r/squaredcircle took care of it for me.
Derek: Anyway, let’s run down how we got to Orton and Sting standing side-by-side with weaponry.
The show opens with a brutal, pre-taped interview in which Cole asks Orton about being “excommunicated from The Authority.” This could be a long night.
Will: At this point I slunk low in my seat and did the sort of soul-searching that comes with being a grown man watching three hours’ worth of wrestling programming.
Derek: Seth Rollins and The Authority (sans Triple H and Stephanie) are waiting in the ring, and they make amends after Rollins received a savage beating from Randy Orton last week. Rollins accepts Orton’s Wrestlemania challenge, but only if Orton agrees to meet Rollins in the main event that evening. Orton emerges from backstage and, despite having the “dack stecked” against him, he agrees.
Will: Setting up the five worthwhile minutes of the night, which are inevitably the show’s last, in the first five minutes. A Raw tradition unlike any other.
Derek: Our first actual in-ring action is … a Divas match? A.J. Lee faces off against Nikki Bella, with Nikki coming out on top. A.J.’s buddy Paige also got into it with Brie Bella outside the ring, which also featured a victorious Bella. Any excitement at all for their ‘Mania tag match? Would it be better or worse as a Fatal Four Way for the Divas Championship?
Will: I was super excited when A.J. returned, and I enjoy the interactions between she and Paige, but I’m not all that in on the ladies tag team match. The Bellas are supremely unlikable, but not in a good heel-y way. Their characters feel lazy and stereotypical. Bullying has a long, proud history in wrestling, but the Bella brand of bullying leaves me cold. Making fun of a pale girl and then spray-tanning her; that’s their thing?
I also think that A.J.’s stature (she’s only 5-foot-2) hurts her in the ring. It’s harder to look good running the ropes when the top one is at neck-level, and that tarnishes her matches a bit. I thought Monday’s A.J.-Nikki match was a good one, and I was glad that they actually got some time to work with, but something about the A.J & Paige vs. Bellas matchup doesn’t quite click for me.
So sure, why not make it a Fatal Four Way?
Derek: Kane and Big Show meet backstage and bicker over what appetizer to order at Cracker Barrel. It is eventually decided that neither will accompany Rollins to the ring during the main event. Too many feelings are hurt. We all need time to heal. Or should, I say heel? Get it? Because they’re heels?
Will: Any time those two start bickering, my immediate reaction is a string of all-caps expletives.
Derek: Next, Ryback makes quick work of Miz. Ryback had set Miz up so Mizdow could take a free shot at him, but Mizdow was indecisive and missed his chance. Miz took the loss out on Mizdow, delivering a Skull Crushing Finale to him after the match. Any chance Miz and Mizdow are the last two in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal?
Will: I reckon there’s a strong chance of that. This week was probably the pair’s weakest in a while, but I’m still interested in them. One kayfabe question: how does Miz conjure the strength to hit Mizdow with his finisher moments after being half-dead on the mat? I know this is wrestling, but geez.
Derek: John Cena and Rusev follow with their contract signing. An interesting segment for accents. Cena perfected his occasionally southern accent while Rusev’s “lawyer” had a “Russian” accent that made him sound like Christoph Waltz’s black sheep brother. No one gets thrown through the table, and the contract is signed. The match will take place on Christmas Day, in Russia, for no money.
Will: I am convinced that Cena’s promos are subsidized by the United States government. I get that they’re pot-committed on the US-Russia thing, but when Cena said that he can barely look the troops in the eye when he Rusev holds the United States title, I kind of wanted to dump an apple pie in the trash and let a corner of Old Glory touch the ground.
Derek: New Day vs. Kidd and Cesaro. Whatever.
Will: I think the word whatever was created for all of these guys. Kidd and Cesaro ostensibly smark favorites—at least Cesaro is—but they don’t do a thing for me. I think the New Day falling under a dump truck could make for a compelling storyline.
Derek: I’m fine with Kidd and Cesaro. I just have zero interest in their feud with the New Day (feat. Los Matadores). It looks like the shoulder injury Jey Uso suffered on Smackdown is legitimate, so the Usos are out. So the reason we don’t get a Stardust-Goldust match or a Miz-Mizdow match is because the world needs to see Kidd/Cesaro vs. New Day vs. Los Matadores. FACT!
Cole promises a CANDID AND CONTROVERSIAL Brock Lesnar interview. It was candid, I guess, but that’s kind of how Brock Lesnar talks all the time. It was also controversial, because he said “ass” four times, and it was never censored. Won’t someone think of the children?
J&J Security then quit the Authority, leaving Rollins to face Orton alone. Afterward, Show beats up Erick Rowan for some reason. We gt to see Show perform a clumsy elbow drop from the second rope, but it’s otherwise pointless.
Will: SHOW IS ANGRY! THE GIANT IS BACK! HE’S UNSTOPPABLE! (But please don’t ask why Rowan was the object of his scorn, just be amazed—look, he’s really big!)
Derek: Larry Zbysko to the Hall of Fame! Would it have been in poor taste to induct both him and Connor “The Crusher” Michalek last week? They were in Zbysko’s hometown of Pittsburgh, but I believe Connor’s family was in attendance and I could see WWE not wanting to share the spotlight.
Will: Is there any rhyme or reason to WWE HoF inductions? Is there any set time or number of people to be inducted? I suppose it was cool. Rock on, Larry.
Derek: Now’s the time for the pre-battle royal pissing matches. Mark Henry is the last man standing, which almost guarantees a loss. Did you see him come back to put Reigns over on Smackdown last week? What are your thoughts?
Will: I only saw the highlights of Smackdown. My thoughts are hey look there’s Mark Henry trying to do what a hundred other guys couldn’t. Good luck, Mark. I guess I’m happy to have Henry back in the fold, but I don’t understand why he’s been thrust into the Battle Royal picture so suddenly.
Derek: WWE announces the following match on this week’s Smackdown:
Derek: Women are another species, amirite?
Derek: Ugh. I give this company $10 a month. Anything you can say that will help me sleep at night?
Will: Um. You’ve probably done worse?
Derek: That didn’t help at all.
Paul Heyman comes out to do Paul Heyman things. Roman Reigns responds with Roman Reigns things. I mainly just want to talk about Heyman’s mic constantly being cut and Reigns’ eye color constantly changing. Any theories on those?
Will: I’m kind of baffled by Heyman’s microphone issues. My theory would be that it was an actual accident the first time it happened, and then WWE figured hey, Paul handled it well and people liked it, so let’s do it to death! Heyman plays indignance very well, so it isn’t a wholly bad thing, just weird.
Another thought is that it’s a passive-aggressive move by Vince to needle Heyman for mentioning UFC so much.
As for Reigns’ eyes, I have no idea. I would guess that somewhere in WWE headquarters there’s a glass case with blue contacts in it that says “Break in case of emergency,” and Reigns’ inability to get over is such an emergency.
You’ll note that this explanation doesn’t make sense. I don’t get it. Are artificially icy blue eyes supposed to make him look tough? He looks like he’s on his way to becoming a White Walker or something.
Derek: Heyman promises Lesnar will be on Raw next week to talk to Reigns face-to-face. This could have gone down last week, but whatever. Wizdow is important.
Derek: Intercontinental festivities ensue. The team of Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, and Dean Ambrose faces the team of Bad News Barrett, Luke Harper, and Stardust. Despite R-Truth continuing his theft of the Intercontinental Championship Belt, it was surprisingly entertaining. Is this the premier match at Wrestlemania?
Will: It is in the sense that it’s the one match with the most WWE talent that is sure to be around for more than three months. Reigns-Lesnar is the on-paper main event, but the masses have rejected its validity. Triple H-Sting is two dinosaurs battling for a hundred million year-old bone. Bray Wyatt-Undertaker will either be the Dead Man’s final match period, or at least his final match until next ‘Mania.
Cena-Rusev or Rollins-Orton are probably the best of the bunch in terms of current star power and in-ring ability, but the former is rooted in the Cold War and the latter is a grudge match that feels destined to continue for a while.
So yeah, I guess the Intercontinental title match is the showstopper. It has two of WWE’s finest workers in Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler, some reliably enjoyable guys in Stardust and Luke Harper, the still-very-over Dean Ambrose, a wildcard in R-Truth, and the apparent straight man in the whole thing, champion Bad News Barrett.
Putting that much talent in the ring, and in a ladder match, is a virtual guarantee of a good show. We’ll see some wild spots and exciting sequences. I can’t imagine Bryan letting this match be anything less than an 8/10, even if he doesn’t win.
That said, jamming so many guys into this match and doing the same thing with the Battle Royal feels like tossing every ingredient into the soup. Why not be more selective and make each match a little more special? Why not let Bryan and/or Ziggler shine in singles matches? Why not see Goldust-Stardust all the way through? Even a Miz-Mizdow singles match would be ideal for the undercard.
I understand and appreciate the desire to get everyone on the ‘Mania card, but the whole point of ‘Mania is that it isn’t for everyone. How would you prefer to see some of these guys used?
Derek: R-Truth probably shouldn’t be involved at all. If memory serves, he has competed at one PPV in the past year. That was his four minutes in the Royal Rumble.
While it would be nice to get some singles matches out of the six remaining guys, I’m actually okay with throwing them all in a Ladder Match. It has a Money in the Bank feel to it. I do wish they would be more angry about not being part of the main event. They could say stuff about how this is the “real” main event of Wrestlemania, and they’re all going to prove that they’re number one. Vince would never allow it because it would undermine The Great Roman Reigns, but it would make for a good story.
After Bray Wyatt babbles for a bit (Undertaker or GTFO) we come to find that the Authority leaving Rollins’ side is all a ruse! Rollins confronts Orton with his entire gang. Orton snags a chair and waits as they surround him. Lights cut, Sting appears with the bat, and it’s awesome.
Will: Amazing moment. It was tarnished a little bit by the preceding 175 minutes of drivel and the crowd knowingly chanting “We want Sting” before the man himself appeared, but it was still superb, which is a credit to Sting’s character. I’m not sure if I totally buy into underlying premise of the Sting-Trips feud, but those guys don’t need more than a seed to make lemonade.
Derek: I do wish the chants would stop. I had a good idea Rollins was just setting Orton up, but I had no idea Sting was supposed to be there. I’m assuming word leaked that he would be there, much like A.J. Lee’s return a couple of weeks ago. It would be nice if they could keep it to themselves.
Sting gave a Network-exclusive interview after the show, and it was good to finally hear him speak. It was brief, but much more effective than that atrocious “Sting” voice-over from last week. He didn’t say anything about WCW, thank goodness. He just said that he’d been waiting 14 years to get in a WWE ring and he couldn’t wait to take Triple H down a peg. He also said it with an intensity that would make Ric Flair proud.
And hey, who cares that JBL apparently doesn’t know the name of Sting’s finishing moves? It’s just Sting. He’s no Roman Reigns.