A Surprisingly Good Wrasslin’ … Thursday?! 5/7/15Posted: May 6, 2015
Derek: We’re coming to you live (three days later) from Montreal! One half of the Sports Monocle team is heavily invested in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ playoff run, so we decided to push this one back a day so everything could be adequately absorbed.
Now, if this was your run-of-the-mill crappy Raw, we would have thrown something together on Wednesday. But, against all odds, Raw was actually good! Stuff happened and everything! I’m starting to get a little offended that Raw is only good when it’s outside of the US.
The big story of the week is my man Dean Ambrose being added to the main event at Payback. It’s become a bit fashionable to crap on Dean, and some of it is justified. I will certainly concede that his finisher sucks. But he’s fearless, he’s my favorite interview of any current wrestler, and he’s dating Renee Young. The man has it all.
My fear is that Dean is only here to take the fall. I could see Vince arguing with the writers over who’s going to get pinned in the main event, failing to come to an agreement, then just tossing Dean in because they’re not doing anything else with him and they don’t want to taint the honor of Reigns, Rollins, or Orton.
We also get the closest we’ve ever come to the inevitable Shield triple threat match. Ambrose and Reigns have remained friendly since The Shield disbanded last year. Indeed, Ambrose gave Orton a Dirty Deeds after he attacked Reigns. I’m curious to see if/when the two come to blows before or during Payback.
How do you feel about the inclusion of Ambrose? Does it matter even though he has pretty much no chance of winning?
Will: I like it, if only because it’s a chance to see if he can be a legit main event player. He isn’t going to get the Reigns treatment. He has to earn it. His match against Rollins Monday was encouraging in that regard. Theirs was one of many matches that had time to fully develop, and they made every second count. The four-way feud probably won’t go down as classic stuff, but I’m very much enjoying the heavyweight title picture right now.
Derek: Agreed. I’m sure Ambrose doesn’t have a shot at Payback, but I do have a scenario that I would thoroughly enjoy watching. What if Ambrose becomes the new Mr. Money in the Bank next month? I can’t think of a better person to torment Rollins with the ever-present threat of cashing in.
In honor of the Second Amendment, let’s put the rest of this bad boy in bullet points.
Will: They were vocal and smarky and French-Canadian, and they were great. They enhanced the Rollins-Ambrose match along with every other one on the card. I thought it was like a soccer crowd even before they started Olé-ing. I worry that some crowds try to steal the spotlight too much, and there was a little bit of that going on, but the atmosphere elevated the action even further. Bien fait, Montreal.
Derek: They were in a bit of a hijacking mood, weren’t they? The energy was certainly welcome. It would have been a shame to waste such a great show on a weak crowd.
Will: So Sami Zayn is getting a Push with a capital P, eh? Bret the Hitman Hart introducing him?! In his hometown?! To debut against John Cena?! For the title?! He was never going to win it, but it was a huge spot for him. It sounds like his shoulder injury was legit, which makes his performance even better. Perhaps most impressive is that he got to keep his first name. Lucky for him SAM-EE! SAM-EE! makes for a better chant than Zayyyyyyne!
Derek: What could be worrisome is the rumor that he hurt is shoulder while pumping the crowd up before the match. That’s a Greg Oden level of frail. Though, in fairness, Greg Oden couldn’t do stuff like this:
Will: He’s the best. He’s doing legitimate crowd work now. He can handle a room a bit like a comic because he lives on the same schedule: On the road, talking in front of people 150 to 200 times a year. Do you think the people he pointed out in the crowd could have been plants? He can really spot a Quebec Nordiques jersey and quote their history, chapter and verse, while mixing in bits about the Canadiens? He was spot the fuque on.
Derek: It’s just about the only explanation. It’s like how people would always claim the actors on Whose Line Is It Anyway? had some kind of script because no one could possibly be that good. One minute he’s getting his weekly “John Cena suuuuuucks” serenade, and the next he’s got the entire arena in the palm of his hand. He’s practically a hypnotist.
Bad News Barrett
Will: King Barrett is so fun. I’m sad to see the Bad News name go, but he hadn’t delivered any bad news in ages, anyway. I also love that his way of sneaking up on opponents for the Bull Hammer elbow is sneering and shouting “Come on!” from ten feet away. Long live the king.
Derek: Is “Bad News” permanently gone? That would be a shame. They still introduced him as “Bad News” on Monday, but he didn’t do any Bad News stuff. In fact, he hasn’t done any Bad News stuff in a while. I heard it was because the fans liked him too much and he’s supposed to be a heel, which is obviously idiotic. Nothing was better than Bad News Barrett stepping behind his podium to hand out some bad news. Still, he’s a great choice for King of the Ring. Every King of the Ring should be British.
Will: I wish I liked Neville’s entrance, but I really don’t. I can live with the “Man that gravity forgot” nickname, especially with how good he is in the ring, but the music and Titantron video and cape just don’t, um, fly for me.
Derek: I fear the love for Neville won’t last if this keeps up. His matches are entertaining, but the sad truth is that can only take you so far. At some point, the other parts of his gimmick are going to start mattering. Let’s hope he gets those straightened out before then.
Will: The New Day has been a revelation. The Ascension has, um, not. And how about Cesaro and Kidd? They are all the way over. Cesaro’s corner-to-corner uppercuts were excellent, and I thought they set the tone for the night. Have they ever explained Kidd and Cesaro’s headphones? I think it’s better if they don’t.
Derek: How are The Ascension still on TV? Have they had a single entertaining moment outside of that time they got their asses kicked by a bunch of legendary tag teams? I think I’d rather watch half of The Usos in a match than those two. I continue to be baffled by the notion that these two were over at one point.
Will: She’s terrific. She and Fandango make for a perfect pair; props to whoever in WWE came up with that. Is Fandango the closest thing there is to a modern-day Val Venis? Also, do you think Rusev is actually saying Russian words or just slobbering out words that were in his bowl of Alpha-Bits?
Derek: Rumor has it that WWE has big plans for Lana. It seems her face turn is inevitable, and they likely see a brighter future for her than Fandango. We’ll just have to enjoy it while it lasts. Much like we’ll have to enjoy Rusev’s incoherent babbling. What’s going to happen to him after he loses to Cena yet again and eventually loses Lana?
Will: I’m so happy to see Kane re-masculated. He’s basically taken over the Triple H role while Hunter apparently kicks it backstage, and he’s handling it well. The crowd won me over when they gave Kane a nice ovation after his first segment with Rollins.
Derek: He’s been very good in the role. If only they didn’t have him lose every single match he’s in. I’d rather he got the Triple H treatment, where he doesn’t wrestle all that often but it’s a big deal when he does. He’s showing more and more that he’s too good to be a glorified jobber.
Will: Great night. Great show. The only thing tarnishing it is that Raws like this make me wonder why so many others are so bad.