A Rowdy Wrasslin’ Wednesday 8/5/15Posted: August 5, 2015
Derek: We’re coming to you live (two days later) from San Jose! Before we move on to this week’s Raw, we must once again bid farewell to a legend.
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper died of a heart attack Friday at the age of 61. Roddy was a bit before my time, as my memories of watching him live are from his WCW run and his sporadic WWE appearances over the past several years. In fact, I mocked him a bit in middle school, because WCW/nWo Revenge made him look like a weirdo.
Thanks to YouTube, I grew to enjoy him much more. I think he would have been one of my favorite wrestlers if the majority of my time in the 80’s wasn’t spent as an infant.
WWE released a video tribute for Piper …
… but, as usual, the best work came from David Shoemaker.
Will: Amen. I didn’t watch much of Roddy growing up — he was a bit before my time — and I’m sorry I didn’t. He is described as a real trail blazer in wrestling, a pivotal figure in the world of tweeners and antiheroes, and that holds up based on everything I’ve watched and read about him. Like all the greats, his love of the business shone through every time he stepped in the ring.
It’s a bit distressing how these in memoriam portions of the program feel like they’re becoming routine rather than rare. The entire montage and treatment was appropriate and respectful; it’s almost frightening how good WWE is at churning such content out. I will say that the song choices are always a little weird. I’m not sure what the appropriate tune is for a postmortem wrestling montage, but the folksy acoustic ballads that accompany them feel weird compared to everything else in a Raw telecast.
And speaking of Raw telecasts, this week’s show was…fine? I think it was fine. It started off with a bang, with Seth Rollins leading a superb opening segment. Everything after that? It was fine. Plenty of familiar ground was trod, and in some cases that was a good thing. It was a holding pattern sort of show. How say you?
Derek: I’m struggling with this week’s Raw. I guess it wasn’t necessarily bad — there’s just nothing new to talk about.
I watch Raw a little differently than I did before I started writing about it. I root for it to be interesting more than I root for it to be entertaining, if that makes sense. Take Paul Heyman’s excellent Monday night promo, for example. It was pure gold, as always. But Will and I are both card-carrying members of the Paul Heyman Fan Club, and you’ll find no shortage of Heyman praise on this site. So we can’t really go that route yet again, even though I really liked it.
Will: Can confirm. Heyman was as good as ever Monday, but spending time on it would be like praising a sunrise.
Derek: Same for the perfectly serviceable main event featuring Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, and Sheamus. (He’s Mr. Money in the Bank, if you forgot. No one would blame you if you did.) The match was fine, but there was nothing good or bad enough to comment on. And that’s Raw in a nutshell this week, and my ahead-of-time excuse for not having much to say. But we soldier on!
Seth Rollins kicked off the show with his A game, showing no remorse for quite literally rearranging John Cena’s face last week. He showed some photos on the Titantron, and they were … pretty gross.
Rollins also officially announced their match at SummerSlam, in which the winner will take both belts. No word on if the belts will be unified (meaning three belts will have been unified into one since December 2013) or if they will remain separate titles. It would be a bit surprising if the US Title is done away with. That would have to be the fewest number of championships since I was a kid. There was no US Championship during the Attitude Era (it was a WCW belt) but there was a European Championship and later a Hardcore Championship. Perhaps the European Championship will return if the US Championship is discontinued, and WWE will have a huge celebration for discontinuing all of the old WCW titles.
Anyway, since Cena couldn’t appear (and had surgery) Rollins decided to have a WWE World Heavyweight Championship Open Challenge, but with one caveat: the man answering the challenge must be under 6 feet tall and 200 pounds. Rollins apparently thought the only person who fit this criteria was El Torito, but unbeknownst to him, The Man That Gravity Forgot, The New Sensation, Neville, also fit that criteria.
The two had a good match, which Neville was just a rope break away from winning. The fans seem to be really into him, even though he’s made a bit of a habit of losing these notable open challenges.
What did you think of the opening segment? Do you think Neville has a bright future?
Will: I like Neville. He was awesome at first, what with the high-flying flippy shit, and then I feel like he plateaued while trying to figure out his next move. He still looks kinda funny — his ears will always be big, but that cape can go yesterday — and he isn’t exactly a natural on the mic, but he’s acquitted himself nicely. I can’t pretend to be any sort of expert on ring psychology or any such jargon, but Neville looks like he belongs, and like he knows he belongs.
As for his future: I have no idea where he’s going. He’s feuding with Stardust at the bottom of the ladder one day, and then he’s thisclose to knocking off the champion the next, and delighting the crowd in the process. I don’t expect him to make any major move just yet. I think he’s going to get steady work and make the most of his matches, and in the meantime he can smooth out the rougher edges of his game and hopefully find someone he can really work with. For now, he’s Neville: Jobber to the Stars.
All that said, the crowd went fucking nuts when it looked (impossibly, of course) like he was going to pin Rollins after hitting the Red Arrow. If that was his main event trial, he passed — nay, soared! Gravity forgot him, you see! — with flying colors.
Derek: Naomi, Tamina, and Sasha Banks named themselves Team BAD a few weeks ago, earning themselves a fair bit of mockery from your esteemed wrestling commentators. But there may be a new sheriff in town.
Paige, Naomi, and Becky Lynch decided they needed a name, too. The best they could come up with: The Submission Sorority.
Because they all do submission moves. And they’re girls.
It was rather amusing to see Team BAD feeding self-awareness into a wood chipper and mocking their opponents’ new name later in the show. Somehow, these teams’ stupid names could actually become part of the feud. “Team Bella” is the best name of the group. Let that marinate for a bit.
Will: Everything has been great in the women’s division except for…everything. They have talent, they have looks, they seem to have characters, and yet we get Team BAD and The Submission Sorority? It’s stunning, frankly. On the faux-bright side, they’re being treated equally. As The Man That Gravity Forgot, the New Sensation, Neville — or the Lunatic Fringe, Dean Ambrose; or the Swiss Superman, Cesaro; or the Viper, the Apex Predator, Randy Orton — could tell you, sometimes WWE just can’t help itself when it comes to names. How Shane and Stephanie got normal monikers, we may never know. Maybe Vince wasn’t in the room.
Anywho, I’ve enjoyed Paige since she came on the scene, and the new blood is making it better. I want to embrace the unfortunately named Divas Revolution. WWE is just making it awfully hard to take it seriously.
Derek: Speaking of Paige, she made an appearance on Stone Cold’s podcast Monday night. The folks at Wrestling With Text did a good job of summing up the appearance in a GIF.
Somebody get these two a reality show.
Will: Just don’t let anyone at WWE name it.