Pro Wrestling

A Rocky Start: 10 Observations As Raw Enters WWE’s ‘New Era’ Source:

Following directly on the heels of WWE Payback, the ‘New Era’ continued on an episode of Raw that saw both Shane and Stephanie McMahon in equal control of the flagship show. The power struggle on top seemed emblematic of the chaos that ensued, as Raw veered wildly between segments containing quality wrestling and intriguing possibilities, and other parts of the show which had a dreaded aura of things we’d already grown tired of in the previous era. But with the Extreme Rules PPV only three weeks away (thanks, WWE schedule-makers!) there was very little time for reflection, and a whole bevy of (re-)matches to book. Overall, Raw was an uneven show that both offered hope for future success, and concern about some important things that just don’t seem to be changing. Let us explain in more detail…

10. Division of Labor

All right, so Shane and Stephanie are both in charge of Raw, with equal power and, presumably, equal levels of responsibility. However, that certainly didn’t happen for their first night in power. After the opening segment, in which Shane and Stephanie co-agreed to make Cesaro and Kevin Owens fight to become #1 contender to the Intercontinental Title (and bless them for that), Shane disappeared for the rest of the evening. Meanwhile, Stephanie was all over the show, making matches, cancelling beloved interview segments, pretending to be a nice person that we all know she isn’t, but the important thing is that she was visible. Meanwhile, where was Shane? Did he just wander off after the first commercial break? We’ve talked before about how Shane’s absentee authority figure would be a nice change, but if Stephanie’s showing up in every third segment without Shane counter-balancing her act, we might as well be back in the Authority era all over again. Source:

9. How To Effectively Prolong Great Feuds

We already know that Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are going to fight each other pretty much any time they’re within visual range, and we’re okay with it. The problem is, you can’t just keep pitting them in one-on-one matches because even when it’s a great match, people will get tired of it if WWE Creative doesn’t keep coming up with logical reasons for them to keep fighting (especially when Owens already won cleanly). Things like the ladder match at WrestleMania and the (presumably) upcoming Fatal Four-Way at Extreme Rules are perfect ways to extend this feud without searching for reasons to have endless rematches within a short time period (see also: Kevin Owens vs John Cena from last year, where they had three straight one-on-one matches and were done feuding within six weeks). This way, we’ll get to see Owens and Zayn fight in a PPV match, but it feels fresh because it’s in the context of a larger match (also, Cesaro will be there, and if you watched early NXT, you should be absolutely salivating to watch Sami and Cesaro square off again). This way, they’ll still manage to have epic confrontations where they screw each other out of things, and new material can be added to the highlight video for their next one-on-one match.×5-lo-mejor-lo-peor-wwe-payback-2016/ Source:

8. WWE’s Longest-Running Story

Seriously, though, this whole thing between R-Truth and Goldust has been going on since before the Royal Rumble, and while we thought they might have given up on it entirely, it appears to have not only survived, but drawn in other wrestlers in the process. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Once it became apparent that Goldust and Truth should never form a team, we got worried that they’d just end up shoehorned into a team of two guys who end up teaming anyway and bond through the act of being together. Instead, now they’ve each found tag team partners (we question why on Earth Tyler Breeze appears to tolerate Truth, but whatever works) that seem to make them happier, and that’s actually an interesting direction for the never-ending story to go. Also, it gets points for giving four guys with no career direction something to do that gets them on TV semi-regularly, as well as allowing Tyler Breeze to actually win a match for once. We’re still pretty sure that Golden Truth will end up together (and possibly put Tyler Breeze and Fandango in a team in the process, which makes far more sense), but at least we seem to have moved past the awkward jokes and crazy costumes that made the early part of this tale so incredibly uncomfortable to watch. Source:

7. Turns Out, Big Cass Is Also Not SAWFT

When Enzo and Big Cass were just starting to take off in NXT, Enzo suffered a major injury at the worst possible time, breaking his leg and disappearing from TV for months. In the meantime, Cass was kept on TV as a singles competitor, given TV time to develop his character, refine his in-ring work, and take the lead on the mic. When Enzo finally returned, Cass had become a better wrestler, talker, and character, and the result was hot fire that turned them into NXT’s favourite tag team. Now that Enzo has suffered another horribly timed injury, people might have worried about Cass’ ability to carry the load without his motor-mouthed partner. As Raw showed, Cass is no slouch on the mic himself (frankly, next to Enzo, anyone would look quiet and reserved by comparison, but Cass can smack talk with the best of them), and he can hold up his end in the ring as well. Hopefully Enzo isn’t out for an extended period of time (or can potentially return in a non-wrestling role while he recuperates), but we’re pretty sure that Cass will keep their spot as one of the hottest acts in WWE warm for his buddy until then.–colin-cassady-vs.-the-vaudevillains–the-dudley-boyz-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=8 Source:

6. It’s All About Having Choices

While the Women’s division has raised the bar for in-ring competition in the last year, it has still suffered from the same problem it always has, which is a lack of secondary feuds not revolving around the title. In the past, there was no real reason to do so, because most of the division was full of terrible wrestlers, but now, it’s ridiculous to not put wrestlers like Becky Lynch and Emma on TV even if they’re not feuding with the champion. Heck, NXT runs shows with multiple women’s division matches, and they only get an hour a week! That’s why getting to see Emma and Becky have their own separate feud that actually has a backstory and seems to be getting an extended run, because it gives fans of the women’s division a secondary option for those times when they get tired of watching Ric Flair save Charlotte’s title. The whole reason why the men’s division has multiple feuds that don’t revolve around the World title is to give the fans a veritable buffet of viewing options during the same show. Now, the Women’s division has the depth of actual talent to do the same. Source:

5. How Can We Forget About It If It Never Goes Away?

Someone, a few weeks ago, pointed out to us that the League of Nations is a ridiculous example of a group being less than the sum of its parts, and we have to agree. On their own, they won titles and matches with regularity, but once they banded together, they became the Keystone Cops of WWE, only it wasn’t particularly funny. In fact, the group was so irrelevant that they literally broke up on Smackdown, which, even with Smackdown becoming a better show in recent weeks, still tells you something about how much anyone cared. And to the shock of nobody, now that Sheamus, Rusev, and Del Rio are on their own, suddenly they’re far more competent, ending up as three of the final four competitors in a battle royal to determine Kalisto’s next opponent for the United States title. And when the fourth guy is Zack Ryder, it was pretty much a guarantee that a former League member was walking away the winner. To WWE’s credit, they chose the best option in Rusev, which should lead to a series of good matches (that hopefully we’ll be able to watch without having to tune into the Extreme Rules pre-show). That said, could this week be the absolute last time we mention The Lads on TV? They were a dismal faction that deserves to fade away unremembered, much like Wade Barrett’s career.;jsessionid=10D657F4C8C6E5A5365DA0664C5FEFA2?r30_r1_r1:page=24 Source:

4. Mitch Didn’t Deserve That

We’re not saying that we wanted Dean Ambrose to continue having a talk show, because for all his skill on the mic, he’s probably one of the worst interviewers in the world (which is part of the charm). That said, we’re finding it hard to get into Chris Jericho still being around, although that’s mostly because his match with Ambrose at Payback was the literal definition of “a very good match that no one will remember the next day”. Presumably, weapons will be involved in the rematch at Extreme Rules (if there was a way they could fight inside a greenhouse and hit each other with potted plants for ten minutes, we would be okay with that), but after that, we can’t help but feel like we’d be okay with Jericho going away for another Fozzy tour or something. Chris Jericho’s recent incarnation is like drinking expensive alcohol: it takes a bit to get used to, when it’s good it’s really good, but you just can’t have it all the time or your liver will explode. Also, the cancellation of the Ambrose Asylum highlighted one of what we’re sure will be many plot holes in the McMahon story, because if Stephanie can just cancel something Shane decreed, can’t Shane just come back next week and reverse her decision as well? Why wouldn’t he? She was clearly being unreasonable and petty after agreeing to let Ambrose ask her any question he wanted, then discovering he actually had real questions. Source:

3. Information That Would Have Been Useful Yesterday

So, good news for all you younger fans who either didn’t know what the Montreal Screwjob is, or why the heck Charles Robinson would suddenly help Charlotte and Ric Flair out of nowhere, as WWE made sure to take the time to explain everything on Raw, through the use of footage of Robinson as “Little Naitch” in WCW. Of course, when you have to literally sit your viewers down and explain an angle using footage of a different wrestling company from fifteen years ago, maybe it wasn’t the best idea in the first place. As we mentioned after Payback, it says something when one of the big angles for the first PPV of your supposed “New Era” references angles from nearly two decades ago. It’s one thing to copy an angle from the past and present it as a new idea (this is covered under the “Seven Year Rule” of wrestling booking, which states that any angle from more than seven years in the past is fair game for re-use, because the fan base has theoretically turned over in that time and new fans won’t realize it isn’t an original idea, ignoring the fact that fans these days have the Internet), but this is running a “shocking swerve” angle and expecting everyone watching to already understand what’s going on because everyone remembers WCW angles from 2000, right? Source:

2. The Usos Ruin Everything

The decision by WWE to insert The Usos into the main event storyline involving Roman Reigns and the former members of some Club that JBL keeps referencing makes sense on the surface. After all, they are Roman Reigns’ cousins and have shown in the past that they have his back. The problem lies in the execution, where the crowd actively doesn’t care about the Usos, because their gimmick has been “happy Samoan guys” for so long that it’s literally the only thing that defines them, which makes them one-dimensional caricatures who say “Uce” a lot, instead of actual personalities. And while that might not matter if Roman Reigns were over as a white hot babyface, all it does in this case is shackle a guy who’s struggling to deal with poor crowd reactions with a tag team that also gets unfavorable reactions, while the booking treats them like beloved good guys. Last night, the Usos actually ended up responsible for all the bad things that happened to AJ Styles (who is actually a beloved good guy), by hitting him from behind with a chair after he’d already made the (relatively) virtuous decision not to escalate things to that level. The announce team yelled about how “turnabout is fair play”, but AJ Styles didn’t actually do anything, and he’s the one who ends up getting beaten up because of it! Of course, this leads us to the bigger problem… Source:

1. WWE Is Doing ‘The Guy’ No Favors

After a few weeks of believing that WWE might have a handle on Roman Reigns, to the point that he was actually becoming a character we didn’t want to see banished from our TV screens, it’s once again apparent that they still really, really want The Guy to be a good guy, despite his protestations to the contrary. Everything he does, even though it makes him look somewhat like a jerk (a character that is totally working for him), gets retroactively justified by the commentary team in ways that make it clear that anything Roman Reigns does is the right thing to do, because Roman Reigns did it. Even when he flies off the deep end and beats up a blameless AJ Styles, driving him through the announce table in the process, Michael Cole screams about how Reigns did what he thought was necessary and right in the situation. Meanwhile, Reigns is literally doing an arrogant pose with his foot on AJ Styles’ neck while boos rain down around him. There is a perfect “tweener” character for Roman Reigns, which would probably erase two years of futility if WWE would just embrace it and run with it. He’s shown he can wrestle well in big matches and carry himself as a main eventer, and the audience has been willing to accept him, if only WWE would stop trying to make him something he isn’t. Roman Reigns isn’t a good guy, and no, he isn’t a bad guy. But if WWE doesn’t stop ignoring what’s right in front of their face, Roman Reigns has no chance of being The Guy, either. Source:
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.