Yawn-tourage: Wrasslin’ Thursday 5/28/15Posted: May 27, 2015
Derek: We’re coming to you live (two days later) from Long Island! Apologies for our Monday absence and being a day late on Wrasslin’. Memorial Day threw a wrench in the Monday plans and our resident Cavs fan was basking in the domination of the once-proud Atlanta Hawks yesterday.
We picked a good week to slack off, though. Both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference Finals were clunkers. Yes, Raw was a bit of a clunker too. We should really start watching more hockey.
Anyway, about that Raw clunker. I guess it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen. It’s just that nothing happened. Kevin Owens attacking Cena would be news, but that already happened last week. Dean Ambrose landing a championship match with Rollins would be news, but that happened last week. The guys from the Entourage movie would be news, but … oh, wait, no it wouldn’t. Celebrity guest stars are almost never news.
Will, did this one deliver?
Will: This show…not so much. I guess it was fine — there are bound to be some good moments in the course of a three-hour show — but I was thoroughly unmoved. It was destined to be something of a weird episode by virtue of the schedule around it: The Elimination Chamber pay-per-view was sprung upon us just a few short weeks ago.
WWE programming always doubles as a giant WWE commercial, but you’re not always aware of that as a viewer. Sometimes they’re able to mask that with good action, promos, and/or storytelling, but if those things aren’t clicking, you’re extra aware of the least authentic elements of a show.
Speaking of which, the boys from Entourage were there! All four of them, naturally, because I shudder to think of the embarrassment if only two of them showed up someplace. They got involved in the show, and most of it was truly awful, especially their introductory segment that saw them flirting with some ladies backstage before ducking into a locker room to talk shop with Zack Ryder.
Ryder later answered John Cena’s US Open challenge after being introduced by the Entourage gang. Kevin Connolly, a/k/a E, a/k/a the short one who isn’t Turtle, hails from Long Island, and that was reason enough to have him bring Ryder on. And actually, I thought Connolly was decent on the mic! Should he find himself looking for a new gig after the movie drops, he could do worse than wrestling manager. Aside from one moment where he let the microphone get too far from his mouth, he acquitted himself nicely.
Ryder gamely fell, because that’s how the Cena challenge goes. It’s still a reliably entertaining running feature — I found myself looking forward to it — but there is a minor bummer that comes with realizing that the feisty challenger will ultimately lose.
There was more intrigue, however: Kevin Owens returned, and he re-created last week’s Pop-up Powerbomb on Cena, complete with a stomp on the US title belt for good measure. WWE ran a nice Owens promo package earlier in the show, and he’s been given quite the runway to build up his momentum before facing Cena at the Elimination Chamber.
Beyond that, I have a tough time getting excited about this show. Dean Ambrose’s title shot was solidified via contract signing. It wasn’t any old contract signing, however. Ambrose was lured and taunted throughout the night, and eventually arrested after inadvertently hitting a cameraman, who was later shown to have been pushed into Ambrose by Seth Rollins. The Authority was set to finish the show without a Rollins opponent, only for Roman Reigns to show up to defend Ambrose’s honor, or something. Ambrose pulled up in a police van, he and Reigns cleared the house with the aid of a couple NYPD nightsticks, and the two closed the show standing triumphant in the ring.
The Reigns-Ambrose alliance is working for me right now, in large part because Ambrose is the star and Reigns is a complementary player. Roman has hung in there since his anointing gone wrong, and playing Ambrose’s sidekick just feels like a better role for him. It damn near forces the crowd to cheer, and it often feels like he’s thisclose to getting over until he loads up a Superman punch — that move continues to have a 1% approval rating.
I was pumped to see New Day vs. Kidd and Cesaro, only for it to turn into a 10-on-3 handicap match that quickly devolved into a donnybrook-cum-Elimination Chamber preview.
Let’s see, there was the Lana-Rusev reconciliation gone awry. It was a weird watch at first, with Rusev essentially begging Lana’s forgiveness, but it ultimately resulted in Rusev interfering in a Dolph Ziggler-Sheamus match. Sheamus capitalized on the distraction to beat Ziggler via Brogue Kick, after which Rusev beat the hell out of Ziggler and Accolade-d him right in Lana’s face. Also, Rusev is representing Bulgaria again.
It felt very much like a show conceived as a means to get people to watch Elimination Chamber, which means it felt like a large advertisement for the Network. WWE has shown us over the past month or so that they can put together some damn good programming. I just wish they’d let it speak for itself.
Derek: Agreed. Rather than give the constant advertisements, what say they give an actual reason to tune in? I didn’t think it would be possible for them to repeat storylines with only two weeks to build up a pay-per-view. I feel like I pay fairly close attention, but I couldn’t tell you who all is in the Intercontinental Championship match off the top of my head. That’s a problem. And the only thing added to the top two feuds was Kevin Owens stepping on the US Championship belt on Memorial Day (Hey kids, he’s a bad guy!) and Dean Ambrose celebrating his exoneration by committing several crimes.
Perhaps this is out of the question, but maybe a big name part-timer would have drawn up a bit more interest than the relentless advertising. An appearance from The Rock, Sting, Batista, The Undertaker, Stone Cold, Ronda Rousey … someone that would get people interested. Even an in-ring appearance from Triple H could do the trick. Since WWE loves putting tag matches in the main event so much, why not have a HHH/Rollins vs. Ambrose/Reigns match in the main event? Just leave the belt out of it. Ambrose likely doesn’t have a shot at winning, and if he does he’ll probably drop the belt two weeks later at Money in the Bank anyway. This way more casual folks might tune in to see Triple H in action, and Reigns can actually do something instead instead of being a glorified bodyguard. It’s also the kind of match that could get ol’ Roman some fans back. Especially if he (crosses fingers) turns on Ambrose at some point in the evening.
Since Raw was a bit of a snoozer this week, I’m gonna talk NXT for a bit. I’m trying to watch more NXT, and I managed to catch whatever that NXT pay-per-view was called. I had a blast. The NXT Women’s Division is so incredibly far ahead of the Divas division, and you CAN’T. TEACH. THAT.
No, really, watch it! Emma and Bayley had an actual history! And the longest match on the card? Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch! It was over 15 minutes! And it was awesome!
Like soccer and hockey, there’s really no reason why women’s wrestling can’t be entertaining. NXT continues to show us that. I hope the person who keeps putting one of the Bellas on guest commentary in Divas matches will start watching the NXT women.
Finn Balor pinned Tyler Breeze to become the number one contender for the NXT Championship, and Kevin Owens took Sami Zayn down in the main event before being confronted by the debuting Samoa Joe. I’ve never watched one of Samoa Joe’s matches, so I won’t pretend that I was super excited to see him. But I am excited for a Finn Balor-Kevin Owens feud with Samoa Joe possibly involved. They’re going to be delightful on the main roster.
Don’t worry, Kevin Owens. After CENAWINSLOL, you’ll be just fine.