A Farewell to AJ: Wrasslin’ Wednesday 4/8/15Posted: April 7, 2015
Derek: We’re coming to you live (two days later) from Austin! First and foremost, we need to pour one out for AJ Lee.
AJ retired last week, which was surprising, except not really. It was just a matter of time, what with her husband’s well-publicized departure from the company last year. I just didn’t think it would be so soon. Word on the street is she didn’t inform WWE until after her ‘Mania match, since she thought they would make her lose if they knew. That was probably a good call.
Will: AJ lee-ving (ugh, sorry everyone) WWE makes sense given the acrimonious end between Punk and the company, but it still caught me by surprise. She jumped back into the ring not so long ago, and it’s a bummer to see her go. She and Paige have been a delightful tandem over the past few weeks, and now the Divas division is bound to see a few shake-ups. AJ seems like a sweetie. I’m gonna miss her.
Ugh, let’s move on before this turns into a tear-filled group hug.
Derek: Agreed. Let’s run through this week’s Raw before jumping into some of the lingering WrestleMania storylines.
Will: Great idea, and I’m totally with you. One minor caveat: I only caught the last 45 minutes or so, as I was at a very exclusive event at Progressive (née Jacobs) Field checking out the new renovations, particularly a two-story bar called The Corner that they’ve built in right field. It’s all very nice, and most important, it has self-serve beer taps. Remember this when Cleveland implodes.
But, yes, I missed the first several segments, so I’m going to lean on you to walk me through what happened.
Let’s start with something I can actually talk about, which is the night’s final match. Roman Reigns, Randy Orton, and Ryback squared off in a triple threat match to decide who would get a shot at Seth Rollins and the WWE title at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view. Reigns defeated Big Show earlier in the night to get gain entry into the Raw main event. Orton hit Ryback with an RKO after some Authority-related shenanigans took place, including Reigns being taken out by a Big Show KO punch.
Simple question: you cool with Orton winning? And do you think that match will still be the main event when the PPV takes place in three weeks?
Derek: I’m down with it. They had a good match at WrestleMania, and I want to see where they’ll go with it when they throw in the WWEWHC belt, some extra time in a main event spot, and a bunch of weapons. Well, they haven’t announced there will be weapons, but it’s the main event at Extreme Rules. There should be a whole buncha weapons. Last year’s Extreme Rules main event had a forklift! And some fire.
To answer your second question: yes, I do. Triple H will presumably return next week, so he will reclaim his power from Kane (who we’ll touch on in a bit). I don’t see him inserting Ryback or Reigns into the match, as it would conflict with the interests of Rollins. Hell, Rollins seemed pissed that he had to be in a match at all at Extreme Rules.
The dark horse third man in the match: Triple H. Trips took part in each of the first two pay-per-views following WrestleMania XXX. That was back when Triple H got the Evolution band back together to take on The Shield. The logic seemed to be that he was in ring shape, so they might as well put him out there to raise interest during the post ‘Mania lull. Perhaps he would insert himself into this match to watch Rollins’ back and get some revenge on Orton.
Thankfully, Orton is the one they chose. He’s the best of Monday’s main-eventers in the ring. I want to like Roman Reigns. I really do. But I’m not sure how I’m supposed to do that when he keeps cocking his arm.
Will: As long as we’re talking Reigns, let’s also talk about his folks. Reigns is part of the famed Anoa’i family, which counts The Rock, Rikishi, and the Usos among its members. Reigns’ dad and uncle were reportedly very unhappy that their boy didn’t win at Wrestlemania, and some reports say that they wanted him to up and quit WWE altogether.
Now, I don’t know any Anoa’is personally. I’m sure they’re lovely people. But Reigns has been in WWE for less than three years. He has already headlined ‘Mania. He faced as unstoppable a force as we’ve seen in pro wrestling. Is the Anoa’is’ anger justified? Do they have any leg to stand on here?
(My take: No. Not at all.)
Derek: No, he doesn’t. No doubt it would suck to get that news, but he still main evented WrestleMania. As we’ve mentioned before, many great wrestlers never did.
I also don’t think it was personal, though the Anoa’is are kind of acting like it was. I think they were just scared of the finish leaking, as has happened so many times before. It sucks, but it’s not worth quitting over. Besides, if Roman ends up being as good as everyone seems to think, he’ll have a few more chances to win the main event at WrestleMania.
Now, let’s talk about Kane. I’ve been waiting for a good week to discuss him, and this was a fairly eventful week for the Director of Operations. He played the part of Triple H this week, and teased a face turn when Rollins complained about making him defend his title at Extreme Rules. The nerve!
I hate the way Kane is used. Kane used to make the Undertaker afraid. Now, the Undertaker is mythological. He’s revered by everyone. He’s automatically the babyface in every match simply because he’s the Undertaker. Contrast that with Kane, who is pretty much a jobber. If this website is to be believed, Kane lost the sixth most matches in WWE in 2014. More than Fandango!
And that’s just losses. I’d like to see his winning percentage. I remember him beating Adam Rose a couple of months ago, and that’s about it.
Why can’t Kane be on the same level as some of the other Attitude Era greats? Is he just going to job for the rest of his career like Dr. Isaac Yankem? He deserves better.
Will: It’s weird to think of Big Red Machine Kane and Corporate Kane as the same person. There were a bunch of years when I liked Kane way more than the Undertaker. He was incredible. Then he took off the mask, and that was kinda weird, and then he lost the costume altogether, and then he became a big toadie. They’ve neutered the biggest steer at the ranch.
I welcome a face turn for Kane, and I welcome anything that will shake up the Authority. There has been friction, and they’ve gotta break it up sometime, but they’ve kept the core pieces together for quite a while now, and it isn’t that much fun. Kane is quite the workhorse for a guy with so many years under his belt. He deserves some victories, or to get some cheers as Director of Ops.
Moving down the card a little bit, what were your thoughts on the Miz-Mizdow match? They were shoehorned in before the main event and thus had a fairly short match, with The Miz winning on a semi-shady rollup pin. These two are finally getting to feud in earnest, and it would seem that this is the first of many tiffs that will take place before Extreme Rules.
I’m still all the way in on these guys, but I worry that things could grow stale over the next month. Will the Miz/dow pairing be able to keep up the momentum?
Derek: I think so, as long as they don’t do what they did on Monday. I didn’t quite see the point of that five minute match with neither of them saying anything. This is a feud that will be vastly improved with both guys on the mic. I didn’t really like how they were tucked in as an afterthought right before the main event. There won’t be another premier pay-per-view until Money in the Bank in June (in Columbus, Ohio!) so this is the perfect time to give them a bigger spotlight. Give Miz/dow a chance.
John Cena continued his US Open Challenge, which was accepted by Stardust. Cena, naturally, won. What do you think of this weekly open challenge gimmick? Is there anyone you’re hoping will answer?
Will: I dig it. It gives Cena a weekly platform, the crowd gets to boo him, he gets to crack wise about it; everybody wins. It’s a different look, if nothing else, and it adds a little intrigue to every show. I enjoyed Dean Ambrose meeting the challenge in its first week, and it’s an excuse to see Cena work with a bunch of different opponents.
As for who I’d like to see answer the challenge, I wouldn’t mind seeing this next guy…
We had a new Bray Wyatt promo, again directed at an as-yet-unknown “you.” He showed no ill effects of his WrestleMania loss and was his usual creepy self. He spoke of a man (presumably a man, at least) who has spent plenty of time training and preparing, but who knows little of how to deal with Bray’s brand of fear.
He isn’t talking about the Undertaker anymore; I don’t think so, anyway. So who is he talking to?
Derek: I have no idea. I’ve been thinking about a wrestler that could make a comeback, and I’m drawing a blank. Again, Triple H could be involved for the same reason he could be involved in the main event. Maybe Batista? He “quit” after Payback last year (paving the way for Rollins to take his spot) and I thought he’d be back by now. Regardless, it’s nice to see Bray handling the Undertaker loss so well.
You may have missed this, but the New Day could finally be embracing their heel status. I believe it was Kofi Kingston who said, in response to fans booing them and saying they suck, “if we don’t clap, we snap!” So that could be fun. Are you in on the outwardly peppy but inwardly psychotic New Day?
Will: Well, I certainly did miss this. I’ll give them a shot, and my expectations won’t be very high, so maybe they’ll be alright. Maybe.
Speaking of iffy gimmicks, Sheamus and his curious hair choices were back, and the so-called Celtic Warrior heeled it up by declaring his superiority to all foes and calling out Dolph Ziggler. He referred to The Showoff an insect that needs to be weeded out, and it was only a matter of time until someone came out of the tunnel.
Mark Henry emerged, he and Sheamus had a match, Henry beat him down for a little while, but the Irishman won. To borrow from one of David Letterman’s long-running segments: Is this anything?
Derek: No. Mark Henry hasn’t had anything lasting since he was on the conga line of folks who jobbed to Rusev. Unless you count his embarrassing showing as a member of Team Authority at Survivor Series. Everything I said about Kane could go for him as well. He’ll disappear until someone is talking too much. He’ll come out to silence them, and probably lose.
Let’s close with one last lingering WrestleMania storyline. We talked about Roman Reigns and his family bitchin’ and Samoanin’ (sorry) about Roman losing, but we didn’t talk about Seth Rollins. He didn’t know he would be cashing-in until the Ronda Rousey segment, so his shock at winning was actually pretty genuine. Were you down with that decision? Was it unfair to any of the men involved to do it that way?
Will: I’m not sure how these things are usually decided. If the standard operating procedure is for the whole program to be finalized before the show kicks off, then it seems like a slap in the face to Lesnar and Reigns.
Learning that after the fact, however, made Rollins post-win ecstasy that much sweeter. Winning the heavyweight title belt for the first time in the WrestleMania main event (or immediately after it; whatever) would be a whale of a moment even if you knew about it all year long. To learn that you’re going to get the belt less than an hour before doing so only magnifies the thrill.
You might even say
That it was a