Marred by a Tug of Bore: Wrasslin’ Wednesday 3/25/15

Wrasslin Wednesday Header

Derek: We’re coming to you live (two days later) from Los Angeles! This is how Raw ended:

they quit trying

Yes, with their last chance to drum up even the tiniest bit of excitement for Wrestlemania’s main event, WWE elected to close the show with Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns having a tug-of-war for the WWEWHC Belt.

And really, Raw wasn’t that bad. I enjoyed the opening. The Divas got a decent match. Bray Wyatt managed to be entertaining despite my “Undertaker or GTFO” remarks last week. Axelmania ran wild.

Michael Cole: THIS IS SHAPING UP TO BE THE GREATEST WRASSLIN’ WEDNESDAY OF ALL TIME! WHAT A MOMENT!

Derek: But my lasting memory of Raw is openly laughing at this Sunday’s main eventers. I can’t remember the last time that happened. I’ve been disinterested plenty of times, and I’ve been occasionally embarrassed, but I can’t remember bathing in unintentional comedy like that. I think I’m more interested in the main event crowd than the main event match.

How excited are you for Wrestlemania? Is the main event the least interesting match on the card? Is it even close?

Will: It’s a real bummer they ended the strongest Raw in weeks on such a down note. I had the same reaction to the WWE credits rolling that I did to the screen cutting to black in the finale of The Sopranos: That’s it?!

I can’t even pretend to defend this one. WWE had one last (non-Smackdown) chance to build up the Reigns-Lesnar feud, and they have The Man Who Would Be Babyface grab the belt out from Brock like a child. No part of it made sense.

Why would Reigns—who comes from as prestigious a wrestling family as there is short of the Harts; who presumably has respect for the title and the work it takes to get it; who has cried up and down about how he will win the title—pull a move out of the current Intercontinental Title picture? I don’t know if snatching the belt before you’ve won it is as sacrilege in wrestling as touching the Stanley Cup is in the NHL, but it seemed like a really weird move.

And didn’t it seem out of character for Brock to just stand there? Heyman has told us that the belt is Brock’s until he decides it isn’t, whether he leaves WWE or not. It is his prized possession, his talisman, the object signifying his dominance. He’s just going to let a dude take it right out of his hand without putting up a fight?

So yes, that blew, and Reigns-Lesnar will rightly be graded on a harsh curve. The good news is that most every other segment got me pumped for Mania.

Let’s start with Rusev and John Cena. Rusev beat Jack Swagger in a surprisingly competitive match on Raw, and held in the Accolade on a passed-out Swags until Cena came out to confront the sort of Russian. A donnybrook ensued, with Rusev claiming the upper hand after sending Cena back-first into the barricade. Rusev beat Cena down with delightful menace, and finished the segment with an Accolade atop the announce table, a clever change from the slams through it that we’re accustomed to.

I’m more than a little insulted by Cena’s wrapping himself so tightly in the flag lately, but I’m all in on this bout. We were down on Rusev for a good long while. What do you think of this match now?

WWE, Inc.

WWE, Inc.

Derek: I’m used to it! Not exactly a ringing endorsement, I know, but this feud was actually done in a fairly entertaining way. Rusev has finally made me care about seeing him get his face mashed in, and Cena is excellent as our All-American representative. One of the reasons Rusev bored me so much was because he was beating up on mid-carders and everyone was talking about how unstoppable he was. And, well, I didn’t think he looked particularly unstoppable because he could beat R-Truth, Xavier Woods, Big E, and Jack Swagger. Ever since Rusev finally got a top face to feud with, he’s been much more interesting.

I’ll be shocked if Rusev wins, though. It’ll be such a beating the crowd won’t know if they’re watching a wrestling match or a 49ers game.

Michael Cole: Oh! A shot at the 49ers! Vintage Derek!

Will: Let us move on to the crowded Intercontinental Title belt picture, which will be decided in a seven-man ladder match featuring Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Zigger, Luke Harper, Stardust, R-Truth, and champion Bad News Barrett. 

The more I think about this match, the more excited I am for it. The Bryan-Ziggler match on Raw wasn’t as great as one might think, but the ladder match will be dripping with talent with those two and everyone else in the fold. I loved R-Truth’s ring work Monday, Harper is quietly one of the best on the roster, and the rest of the guys are all at least solid. With this many capable wrestlers, in a ladder match, at Wrestlemania, I have to think we’re in for a great show.

Also, I thoroughly enjoyed Kane pulling rank to take BNB’s belt for safe keeping until the match, if only for Barrett quietly saying, “It’s my bloody title” before the camera cut away. Sad Brits are always funny.

Anywho; you in on this thing? Is seven guys too many? Should we ask why and how they settled on seven instead of an even number? Will the ladder fall on anyone’s leg like it did Harper’s Monday?

Derek: Oh, I’m all-in. I’m most excited for Sting-HHH, but this is a close second. It’s tough to screw up a ladder match. Considering four of my favorites are involved, I’m psyched. Bryan’s probably got it locked up, but Ambrose, Ziggler, and Harper will do something insane. Stardust has been known to take some chances as well.

I’d be fine with seven, but I think Sheamus is going to be a surprise entrant. His vignettes went on for weeks, and he still hasn’t shown up. That leaves three options: 1) He’s in this match. 2) He’s in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. 3) He’s not showing up.

I think the first is the most likely because of the aforementioned odd number. I think the battle royal is going to belong to Ryback or Mizdow, and I’m not sure why they would show the vignettes if he’s not going to be at Mania. Also, I don’t know why they would give him vignettes if he’s just going to be one of 30 men in a battle royal. I think he’ll give us our eighth man.

Will: Brief aside: You know who had an awesome time on Raw? Snoop. He was superb, and it was great to see the Hulkster on the show while not aggressively pimping anything. I love that we live in a world in which Snoop Dogg and Hulk Hogan are bizarro peers.

Derek: Axelmania, brother! That segment was surprisingly entertaining. They even got a drug reference in! I didn’t think those were allowed anymore. He should manage New Day.

Will: The match I’m most excited for is also the one I’m most worried about: Bray Wyatt-Undertaker. The buildup has been superb. I rarely know what Bray is actually talking about in his promos, but they feel very large and important and mysterious, and they’ve grown more intense as he and Taker have come closer to clashing. I’ve been okay with the Dead Man not showing up in the flesh, if only because he’s one of the few legendary characters who can pull it off.

The concern is how these guys will actually do in the ring. We haven’t seen Taker in ages and have no idea what kind of shape he’s in. Bray is a fine wrestler, but not the sort of guy who can carry a match on his own. Neither is especially quick or graceful in the ring, but I suppose that’s the idea.

Whether their entrances are the best part or not, you will not be able to tear me away from this match no matter what. If you’ve been waiting for the chance to kidnap my whole family, Bray-Taker is the time to do it.

Do you reckon these guys can actually perform together for 15-plus minutes?

Derek: I’m not out on Taker just yet. He didn’t look great last year, but he was concussed. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s probably got two more matches in him, so I think he’ll go all out. Like many others, I’m really excited for the entrances–

Michael Cole: He calls them his fireflies!

JBL: The movement is spreading, Maggle!

Derek: Ahem. So we at least have those to look forward to. I think this match will mostly come down to theatrics. Maybe it won’t be the best match in the world, but what if Bray takes a Tombstone and totally no-sells it? What if, right before Undertaker crosses his arms, Bray does the Undertaker sit up? Then he does his creepy spider walk, as Taker gets the same look on his face that he had when Kane debuted? That would be incredible regardless of how the rest of the match turned out.

WWE, Inc.

WWE, Inc.

Will: We oughta talk Triple H-Sting. Sting, in an immediate declaration of this won’t be another crap Raw, opened the show with an in-ring promo. He was interrupted by Stephanie, the two bantered back and forth, and Steph took a swing at Sting. He grabbed her hand, at which point a displeased Trips came out to defend his wife’s honor.

Nothing really came of it, however, as a sledgehammer-wielding Triple H decided against climbing into the ring with Sting and his bat. It would have been a thrill to see them come to blows, but ramping up the tension with a little you put your hands on my wife?! works as far as a feud-builder.

We did, however, get this immediately legendary GIF:

Reservations about the premise of the feud aside (…has Sting been plotting his revenge for the past 15 years?), this is about as big a clash of yesteryear’s titans as you can get without the Rock involved. What do you hope to see out of these two?

Derek: Props to Sting for shooting down the WCW stuff. He’s done a great job of redeeming himself after that abominable taped promo they ran for him a couple of weeks ago.

I don’t think it will be difficult for this match to please me. These guys have so many trademarks and they wrestle so rarely that I think this will be dripping with nostalgia. The bat and sledgehammer should make an appearance. We’ll see some Pedigrees mixed in with an assortment of Scorpion Death Drops, Stinger Splashes, and Scorpion Deathlocks. I don’t ask for much.

Will: I can’t muster up much to say about Rollins-Orton. I think it will be a fine match. I don’t really care who wins. I’m not sure why. I suppose it’s because I wasn’t watching wrestling closely when they had their initial tiff before Orton’s injury. 

You’re more privy to their collective backstory than me. Does that mean you’re also more excited for their match?

Derek: Not particularly. I’m excited for the match, but not because of the story. It’s nice to see a Bad Guy vs. Really Bad Guy match on the card, but the most interesting part of this feud is Rollins’ briefcase, and he obviously can’t cash it in on Orton. Maybe I’d be more interested if they didn’t spend so much time on the facade that was Orton rejoining The Authority. It’s tough to say. Either way, Rollins has me excited for this one. He’s had some killer matches in the last year. Add some outta nowhere RKO’s and I won’t be surprised if this is the best match of the night.

Will: Hey, the Divas were given a chance Monday! Nikki and Paige had a lengthy, well-done bout that the champ won after AJ Lee mistakenly clocked her Wrestlemania teammate outside the ring. That incidental interference was apparently meant to foster discord between AJ and Paige ahead of their tag match with the Bellas at Mania. I wasn’t wild about that angle, but it was the best Divas match in recent memory, and I was just happy to see them treated with a little respect.

Derek: Looks like AJ has enough to worry about as it is.

I thought the discord was a bit strange as well. It would be more interesting if this turned out to be the Fatal Four Way match that I have been clamoring for. They were already reluctant allies, so I was surprised they went that way with it.

Will: No matter how much they try to make it matter, I’m out on the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Maybe it will turn out well, and it will likely be Miz/Mizdow-centric, but meh. I’m out! You out?

Derek: Yeah, mostly. It would be better if it were Royal Rumble style instead of everyone starting in the ring at once. That would take forever, but it would be more entertaining. Like I said, it’s probably Miz/Mizdow or Ryback’s match unless Sheamus appears.

Well, that concludes the final Wrasslin’ Wednesday before Wrestlemania. I can think of only one way to end it:

they quit trying 2



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