Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Roman's Suspension and the Shield Triple Threat

The big news today was that Roman Reigns -- the WWE's golden child/pet project/face of the company -- was suspended for his first wellness violation.  While this makes SOME sense out of his clean loss at Money in the Bank and the switcheroo to the pepetually overlooked Dean Ambrose, it did seem at odds with the fact that they booked a three way match at Battleground (just three or so days after Reigns' suspension ends) knowing full well that he had failed a wellness test.

Personally, I thought the booking at Money in the Bank was perfect.  I thought the clean win helped Rollins far more than it hurt Reigns (and it added a new dimension to both of their characters, which is desperately needed in Reigns' case), and putting the title on Ambrose was (a) something the fans wanted, (b) something Ambrose needed, and (c) a great comeuppance to Rollins' role in the Shield breakup.  I was on Cloud Nine after Money in the Bank.

I was overall disappointed with the booking of Raw, though.  Rollins and Reigns seemed poised for a double turn based on their in-ring behavior at Money in the Bank.  In the opening promo of Raw, Reigns was back to his pseudo tough good guy, and Rollins was back to his conniving, complaining heel ways.  And then the pathway to get to the triple threat -- opening promo with both guys complaining about being #1 contender, authority figure coming out and making a match between the two, match ending in no contest leading to a triple threat -- was about as lazy and by the books as it gets.  We've ALL been waiting for the Shield triple threat....and they're doing it at a good time (with all three being a World Champion).  But it all felt very rushed and unnecessary.  Do a month of Rollins vs. Dean (if Rollins is staying heel) or Dean vs. Reigns (if Reigns is going heel) before inevitably going to the Shield triple threat (at a perceived bigger event, like SummerSlam).

With what we know now, I REALLY wish they didn't go the triple threat route.  Why?  You can only do a big match for the first time once, and that moment really shouldn't be wasted.  As we've seen countless times, it is incredibly difficult to effectively build up a match with one of the competitors not appearing on TV.  Remember how big of a match Brock vs. Goldberg was supposed to be?  And that basically ended up being Brock vs. Austin because they needed to save Goldberg's appearances?  Or how Brock vs. Undertaker was basically single handedly built by Paul Heyman, a non-wrestler?  If Reigns' suspension ends July 21, it means he won't appear on a single Raw or Smackdown before Battleground.  That means he won't play ANY physical or verbal role in the build of the Shield three way.  This huge match that we've been waiting to see for years -- FOR THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP -- will not even have a full, proper story behind it.  How sad is that?

Knowing then what we know now, wouldn't this have been a better route?  Ambrose comes out to open the show and after some celebrating, says he needs to talk to Reigns to make sure there are no hard feelings.  He calls out Reigns and waits, but Reigns doesn't come out.  This gets the announcers talking -- is Reigns happy for Ambrose or not?  They can even mention the fact that Ambrose congratulated Reigns after defeating him for the title at Survivor Series and continued to support him after the three way at Fastlane.  Considering Reigns' general heelish behavior during the match with Rollins, this will get the fans wondering if Reigns is going to turn on Ambrose.  While the announcers are discussing all of this and Ambrose waits, Rollins' music plays and he comes out.  He can complain about how Ambrose stole the title from him and blindsided him, and Ambrose will bring up the obvious hypocrisy (Rollins won his title by cashing in as well, and he blinded the Shield when he turned on them).  To build Ambrose as a fighting champion, Ambrose offers him a rematch at Battleground.  Throughout the month, Ambrose and Rollins (who have always had great chemistry) can build a fun story that doesn't involve green slime (and they can decide what route they want to go with Rollins, as far as face/heel alliance goes), all the meanwhile the commentators, other wrestlers, and fans can have a conspiracy theory over where Reigns stands.  Why hasn't he appeared?  Does he support Ambrose?  Is he bitter?  And then the Raw before Battleground, have the announcers tell the audience that Reigns just tweeted that he's going to be at Battleground and he'll show where he stands.  Then at the event, have Reigns appear at the end and either turn on Ambrose or support him, depending on what they want to do with his character.  But I do actually believe that this will create more interest in his character, it will give the audience the space they need from him, and he'll actually get a mostly positive reaction upon his return because people will actually be interested in where he stands.

That's what I would have done, anyway.  The Shield match can wait until it can be done right as HOPEFULLY all of their equity is only going up, so it will always be a big deal.  if they're not all going on the same brand, wait a year until they are (or until you have an excuse to do an interpromotional match).

What do you think?

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Monday, June 20, 2016

LIVE Raw thoughts - June 20, 2016

10:26 - I think i'm going to watch the rest of this episode from my (much cooler and more comfortable) bedroom.  For additional thoughts, check out my Twitter feed.

One more observation, though:  They keep promoting Rollins vs. Reigns as a WrestleMania caliber main event.  They did this last night as well.  Don't get me wrong, it IS.  But I don't understand how they can promote this as more prestigious -- or even just as prestigious -- as last night's match.  How could a match to determine who gets to face the champion be just as big and important as a match for the title?

Anyway, interested if we see any signals for a double turn or if last night was just a random thing.

10:23 - Did this feud really need to continue?  Rusev won decisively.  If Titus isn't winning the title, why not just move on to a new feud?

10:15 - Well, I guess that answers the question of whether or not the Wyatts would remain face.  I don't have much of an interest in a New Day/Wyatts feud but I will admit that the difference in their presentation may be fun to watch.  I'm really hoping the Woods/Wyatt/trance thing was just going to be revealed as the New Day making fun of them.  I'm severely hoping they're not silly enough to go the mind control route, especially with their most popular act.

10:03 - This is now the second time they've had Sasha make a "surprise" face appearance to challenge Charlotte (the first being Royal Rumble).  While it was probably the right decision to forge ahead with Charlotte to allow her to establish her heel character and the WWE Women's Championship.  But now they need to crap or get off the pot and put the title on Sasha.  She still gets a great reaction and they need to strike while the iron is hot.

Did Bray Wyatt just blow out an unlit lantern?

9:43 - I do hope that the Wyatts return as faces.  I thought they were gaining some renewed energy and interest as babyfaces against the League of Nations.  They seemed to be going in circles as heels, doing the same old routine over and over again.

9:37 - Can we now finally move past this Ziggler/Corbin feud?  Please?

9:21 - And now JBL is defending AJ Styles about the very thing that he was screaming about last night?  This is ridiculous.

The post match beat down was good but I'm surprised they had Cena so clearly dominating Anderson.  Cena is typically pretty generous in the ring, I'm surprised he so blatantly squashed somebody who has so much potential.

9:14 - I have thus far enjoyed AJ Styles throughout his entire WWE run, but he's really been fantastic (phenomenal?) since turning heel.  Just so much more natural on the mic.

9:06 - This is why I can't stand JBL as an announcer.  Last night, he goes on an angry and loud rant about how AJ Styles cheated to win (which makes no sense considering his career and the fact that he's the lead heel announcer) and then he calls AJ an upstanding man when AJ is clearly being insincere during this apology.  He is the least consistent announcer there is.  He drives me crazy.

8:43 - "We can't have a corporate yes-man running Smackdown."  "I completely agree!!!"  Great line and I'm glad they didn't hit us over the hammer with it.  But didn't Shane just announce last week that he's running Smackdown?  Why is it "news" this week?

8:17 - So based on everybody's behavior in that opening segment, I'm guessing we're going the "forget what happened last night" route.  Reigns was back to the tough guy face and Rollins was back to the complaining heel.  Also, I really do hate the cliche of two guys arguing over who's the #1 contender only to get interrupted by the authority figure, who says "you'll fight to figure it out."  Just seems like a long way to go for such an obvious conclusion.

8:06 - I have to wonder why WWE is so resistant to somebody like Dean Ambrose (or before that, Daniel Bryan) when the vast majority of fans so clearly want to see him win the title, but will go so out of their way (at the expense of others) for somebody like Roman Reigns, who fans don't seem to enjoy.

7:56 - I only caught the last two or so hours of Money in the Bank last night, but I really liked what I saw.  I especially loved the Rollins/Reigns match (and the Ambrose follow up) not only because of their obvious chemistry, but also because of the intriguing booking.  Were they actively trying to turn Rollins face and Reigns heel?  Or is it something that will be forgotten about by tonight?  Because the nuances of the match were pretty damn telling.  And of course, I LOVED the Ambrose cash in and win.  This guy has been sacrificed and overlooked since the Shield breakup, but they've actually done a great job with him (for the most part) in 2016.  I hope Ambrose ends up being an Edge/CM Punk/Rollins winner here, where the win truly puts him in the main event or at least opens up everybody's eyes as to what he has to offer (more similar to Bryan) and not just a Ziggler/Miz/Swagger "here, have fun with the title for a couple weeks/months" before dropping down the card.

Anyway, I'm excited to see what the shows has to offer.  Let's find out.

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