Pro Wrestling

10 Baffling Decisions That Turned Raw Into A Trainwreck

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/01/19/tensions-rise-as-roman-reigns-and-brock-lesnar-appear-on-the-highlight-reel-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=33 Source: pl.wwe.com

Professional wrestling, like life, is all about the decisions you make. Of course, the decisions made in WWE will affect the lives of hundreds of employees, millions of fans, and the future of a billion-dollar industry, so it’s not quite the same thing. Which is why most of the decisions which WWE made in regards to the booking of the final Raw before the Royal Rumble were confusing at best and highly questionable at worst. At every turn, it seemed like WWE was determined to make the strangest choice possible whenever they were presented with the option, and the result was one of the most underwhelming go-home shows for a major Pay Per View that has been seen in a long time. Read on to find out the biggest issues we had with last night’s show.

10. Everyone Hates Chris Jericho

It’s fair to say at this point that Chris Jericho’s latest return to WWE has been painful to watch. At some point, Jericho became that guy who can’t let go of the past and still tries to live like it’s the good ol’ days when he was a big deal. He literally said on Raw that he wished it was still 1999, and while he was doing it to set up a joke (one which Stephanie McMahon absolutely buried him for attempting, and rightly so), the statement rings true in everything he’s been doing since he came back to announce his entry into this year’s Royal Rumble. Now, this being Chris Jericho, it may all turn out to be another bit of performance art, and at some point he’ll snap and turn heel over people constantly pointing out that he’s living in the past, but that might actually be worse, because it means that we’re deliberately being given weeks of terrible TV to set up yet another Jericho heel turn. This week was pretty much the lowest point, because Chris Jericho was all over the show. He interrupted the opening segment, he refereed the first match and made himself the center of attention, he got in a war of words with Stephanie, and he closed the show with The Highlight Reel. Plus, he’s still apparently feuding with The New Day over Francesca. Maybe if he were actually wrestling, we’d have that to fall back on, but he isn’t. Oh, and someone tell him to put a shirt on underneath his blazer, because he looks like an idiot who can’t dress himself.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/01/19/roman-reigns-wants-payback-against-brock-lesnar-photos;jsessionid=F10B5AEF73AB5895217C93AA9B0AAD42?r30_r1_r1:page=3 Source: pl.wwe.com

9. The Total Divas Time Paradox

Well, Total Divas is back, and no matter what strides WWE has made in women’s wrestling, they showed that they can’t help but fall back into old habits. We’re not against promoting Total Divas, or having the women involved in the show wrestle on Raw. However, WWE always has to take things a step further, and try and tie in story lines from the reality show into what’s happening in the match. Which would be fine, normally, but you need to remember that episodes of Total Divas were taped months ago, and any issues presented by the most recent episode have likely been discussed, fought about, and likely resolved sometime long before now. Not to mention that WWE undid all the character progression Paige did over the past six months because she’s got to go back to being the vapid character she is on Total Divas instead. Because otherwise it might confuse people why Paige, the person on the Total Divas reality show, is acting so completely different from Paige, the character she plays on WWE television (of course, Total Divas is just as scripted as Raw, if not more, but that’s a whole other issue). Sure, you might be smart enough to understand the difference, but the important thing is that WWE doesn’t think you are!

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/01/19/natalya-vs.-brie-bella-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=15 Source: pl.wwe.com

8. Vince Can’t Handle His Balls

The segment where Vince and Stephanie attempt to draw Roman Reign’s name out of a tumbler was just death, and more importantly, it was horrible both as a scripted segment and because everything went terribly wrong, which is quite an accomplishment. Despite having run the exact same scenario 18 years ago when Vince McMahon was trying to screw Steve Austin out of winning the 1999 Royal Rumble, WWE somehow managed to take what had been an interesting premise and turn it into something that was three times as long, a fraction as entertaining, and contained absolutely none of the spark of the original. Back then, Vince was in his element as the scheming evil overlord of WWE, with incredible comic timing and the ability to rile up a crowd. Here, he was just going through the motions with the air of someone who knows that the audience has already figured out the punchline, and just tried to get through it as fast as possible. There was no drama to the reveal, or the secondary reveal that it was all set up to screw over Reigns. But if you enjoy watching Vince McMahon struggle to open tiny plastic balls while the crowd watches in silence, man, do we have a segment for you!

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/01/19/the-mcmahon-family-reveals-the-no.-1-entrant-in-the-2016-royal-rumble-match-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=12 Source: pl.wwe.com

7. Once Again, It’s The Big Show.

Hey, do you like the Social Outcasts and want to see what happens when four underutilized Superstars band together to form a group and try to change things up? Well, too bad, because they’re getting used to remind people that The Big Show is a really big guy who could be a force in the Royal Rumble, a couple of weeks after we already did that, and nobody cares anyway, because it’s The Big Show and he’s not winning the Royal Rumble! But at least they have matching shirts that they can wear while getting beaten up 1 vs 4! It’s not that we want Heath Slater to be WWE World Heavyweight Champion, but you’ve got a tag division that’s once again so short on teams that The Usos have a better-than-even chance of becoming Tag Team Champions against this Sunday simply because they’re the only face team left, so would it have hurt to let someone who isn’t in a newly formed stable that the crowd seemed interested take the fall against The Big Show? As the eight-man tag which closed the show proved, it’s not like there’s a shortage of jobbers on the roster right now.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/01/19/big-show-vs.-heath-slater-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=18 Source: pl.wwe.com

6. A Three Day Title Reign Counts As A Push

We will admit to being a little confused by WWE’s treatment of Kalisto. He won the United States title last week in a big feel-good moment that could have pushed him to new heights as a singles star. Then he lost the title back to Alberto Del Rio on Smackdown, and they’re having a “rubber match” (if you don’t count all the matches they had before last Monday that got Kalisto the title shot in the first place) at the Rumble, which Kalisto might win, but probably won’t. Why not? Because it really seems like WWE doesn’t want to break him out of his tag team with Sin Cara, so this was just some kind of “test” for farther down the road when they actually break up. In the meantime, Kalisto apparently can’t be holding a singles title whenever his partner comes back and they resume feuding endlessly with The New Day. After so many years, and so many injuries and disappointments, why does WWE continue to try and make Sin Cara part of the show? Wouldn’t there be far more value in letting Kalisto go out on his own without the anchor of Sin Cara’s many previous failures dragging him down? Dean Ambrose, who has never teamed with Kalisto, showed more chemistry with him in their single match tagging together than Sin Cara ever has. If they so badly want Sin Cara involved, have him come back as Evil Sin Cara, be mad that Kalisto left him behind, and let them feud for a while, but please, let Kalisto be his own man for a while.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/01/19/dean-ambrose–kalisto-vs.-sheamus–alberto-del-rio-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=24 Source: pl.wwe.com

5. Chipotle Isn’t A Sponsor, Right?

The New Day, of course, were a bright spot, somehow working a Chipotle/e. coli-related poop joke into a solemn funeral for a trombone, which is a sentence never before written in the history of mankind. They also get extra points for “serious” clapping during the entrance for their match, because of course, a match fought to honor Francesca is serious business. Except, The Usos didn’t break Francesca, that was Chris Jericho. There was a potential issue over The Usos being named Tag Team of the Year instead of the (far more deserving) New Day, but that basically got dropped in favor of The Usos somehow acting as wrestling proxies for Jericho. And The Usos are fine, they’re decent wrestlers, they’re high energy, and they can get the crowd to chant along with them. But that’s all they are, there’s nothing more and nothing less, and they’ve been that way for a very long time. It’s reached about where you can tell the health of the current WWE tag team division by The Usos’s place on the card. If they’re wrestling for the Tag Team titles, that means there’s literally no one else interesting enough to do it, and that’s bad. Especially when you consider that there are at least two or three tag teams on NXT who should probably be on the main roster at this point, all of which are more entertaining and fresher than The Usos.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/01/19/jey-uso-vs.-big-e-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=3 Source: pl.wwe.com

4. Oh, Tyler Breeze. You Don’t Deserve This

We’re not even going to get into the implications of WWE putting three of their black Superstars (and Neville), all of whom are basically enhancement talent, in a team so they can win a match this week because it happens to be Martin Luther King Day (we’ll only ask, why can’t they win any other day, WWE?) because it’s not an argument worth having. Instead, we’re going to focus on Tyler Breeze, who might wish he’d never left NXT at this point. On the season finale of Breaking Ground on the WWE Network, Triple H announced to the entire NXT roster that because of his hard work and dedication, Tyler Breeze was being promoted to the main roster, and everyone applauded, because supposedly, graduating from NXT is the ultimate goal. But here we are, roughly three months since Breeze made his debut on Smackdown (which probably should have been a sign), and the word is out that Vince McMahon has killed his push for the usual variety of possible reasons, including “he didn’t get over right away” and “Vince doesn’t actually understand the gimmick”. And so, on Raw, there was Tyler Breeze, teaming with Stardust and The Ascension (three more Superstars who deserve far better than they’re getting), facing another team of losers, and losing. Not only that, Titus O’Neal nearly killed Breeze by attempting to toss Breeze over his head into the arms of Mark Henry without looking, a move that clearly required talent and timing that were both far beyond O’Neal’s capabilities. No wonder Finn Balor keeps telling people he doesn’t want to leave NXT.

http://sixdegreesofsandow.tumblr.com/post/137603460719/draw-the-squad-raw-edition Source: sixdegreesofsandow.tumblr.com

3. Somehow Less Effective Than The Original League of Nations

And when we say that, we need you to understand that the original League of Nations was assembled after World War One, for the purpose of preventing something like that from happening again, and failed to stop Hitler’s rise to power. And yet, somehow, the WWE League of Nations is even more ineffective. It’s not even that they’re losers, it’s that WWE continues to pretend that they aren’t for parts of the show every week. They get set up as nemeses for Roman Reigns in the opening segment, and one of their members gets crushed so badly by Reigns that he doesn’t show up again for the rest of the show. They work like a well-oiled machine in a tag match and beat both the current Intercontinental Champion and the guy who was US Champion last week, then get absolutely wiped out by Brock Lesnar at the end of Raw, despite holding a numbers advantage and Lesnar being already softened up by Roman Reigns. Everything WWE has done in relation to this faction, from the moment Sheamus cashed in Money in the Bank, has been terrible. Granted, they did end the MexAmerica angle as a result, but that seems to have been a mostly lateral move for Del Rio.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/01/19/tensions-rise-as-roman-reigns-and-brock-lesnar-appear-on-the-highlight-reel-photos;jsessionid=B3598125960E1E8D15066D157C636C87?r30_r1_r1:page=25 Source: pl.wwe.com

2. What Happened To You, Roman? You Used To Be Cool!

Like him or hate him, it’s hard to deny that Roman Reigns has tried so hard to be the guy that WWE thinks he is. He’s still terrible at promos, but when WWE let him break loose and just wreck stuff, they found someone who the fans were willing to forgive for past sins and maybe get behind, and as a result, they made him the WWE World Heavyweight Champion they always wanted him to be. And then they forgot everything that had finally made Roman Reigns work with the fans and went back to what had failed so badly in the past. Last night was all the worst qualities of Roman Reign’s super-push, laid bare for the world to see. He cracked unfunny jokes, he talked way too much, he attacked Brock Lesnar to a chorus of boos (because there’s not a wrestling fan on the planet who’s taking Reigns’ side when the other side is Brock Lesnar), and he was booked into the absolute worst possible position heading into the Royal Rumble. Quite simply, if Roman Reigns enters the Rumble match at #1, wins the whole thing, and successfully defends the WWE World Heavyweight Title in a way that would have been impossible for John Cena at his most invincible, then all the small gains WWE made in the past month in regards to Reigns will have been for naught. He can’t win the Rumble, he shouldn’t win the Rumble, the fans almost certainly won’t accept it if he does win the Rumble, and yet, there’s a part of us that’s pretty sure that WWE has set this all up so that he overcomes the odds and wins the Rumble. If so, that could be the final mistake that they get to make with Roman Reigns as a main event talent.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/01/19/tensions-rise-as-roman-reigns-and-brock-lesnar-appear-on-the-highlight-reel-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=26 Source: pl.wwe.com

1. Re-building Bray Wyatt, Attempt #53

Remember how we were talking about the League of Nations being terrible and you forgot about it because they are terrible and also forgettable? Well, that’s probably why the last image of Raw was The Wyatt Family, who have spent the last two months repeatedly beating the hell out of the Dudley Boyz (and anyone dumb enough to team up with them), absolutely dominating both Reigns and Lesnar. If it feels like it came out of nowhere, you’re not wrong, but it almost certainly stemmed from the fact that WWE has no strong heels heading into the Rumble, and wanted to give the impression that there was some big organized evil faction that could subvert the expected Lesnar or Reigns victory. Also, they’d only announced 13 participants in the Rumble officially at that point, so when they tried to book the usual “all the announced Rumble entrants run in during the main event and brawl in a preview of what you’ll see this Sunday”, The Wyatt Family were the only ones they actually had available to send out there. In any event, the way the final segment went down seemed to suggest that Lesnar could face Bray Wyatt for his WrestleMania match, and as a result, WWE needed to build him back up so he’d be a credible opponent for Brock. At which point he’ll almost certainly lose to Brock, gain nothing from the experience, and require being built back up again for the next opponent WWE wants him to lose to. Optimists might suggest that beating Brock would give Bray a career defining win that would establish him as a force for years, and while that would be true, weren’t we saying this last year during his WrestleMania feud with The Undertaker? Or the year before in his WrestleMania feud with John Cena?

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/01/19/tensions-rise-as-roman-reigns-and-brock-lesnar-appear-on-the-highlight-reel-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=33 Source: pl.wwe.com
Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle is an avid wrestling and film fan. He's been writing about WWE, movies, and video games for Goliath since 2015.

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