Doctor's Orders: Internet Wrestling Community...Will You...Order WWE Battleground?
By The Doc
Oct 1, 2013 - 7:22:57 PM
The Snowman is a genius
Follow me @TheDocLOP on Twitter for wrestling/sports discussion or friend me on Facebook (TheDocLOP)
QUESTION OF THE DAY: Who do you think comes out of the Ryback vs. CM Punk feud the better: Ryback, Punk, or both?
Another Monday Night Raw is in the books and Battleground is upon us. The last three weeks have continued a generally entertaining post-Summerslam WWE product heading into the second of a rapid fire series of PPVs in a six week period. I will be honest, though, in stating that the post-Night of Champions shows have not instilled the excitement necessary to order PPV #2 as the four weeks after Summerslam did to prompt my order of PPV #1. Good television, indeed, we have seen, but it has been of the variety that has left me happy to have tuned in for Raw without a sense of urgency to see what happens at Battleground. Night of Champions was presented as filler material for the next episode of Raw. Some fans apparently complained and received a refund for a reason that I actually somewhat agree with: “the WWE used the PPV to set-up the TV show.” The old “Dusty” finish, of sorts, rendered the last PPV virtually unimportant in the grand scheme of this story. The WWE had some serious work to do to entice people to drop another $45-$55 for Sunday’s event. They did not win me over, though I feel that the strength of the main storyline has been strong television and will continue to make Raw a weekly must-see program during a time of the year when there are plenty of other sport and entertainment avenues to occupy a wrestling fan’s time.
Let’s touch on a few things:
Triple H and Stephanie’s Secondary Angle
The most compelling television produced by WWE in the last three weeks has been The Establishment's power play against the Rhodes family. Starting with the fallout from Cody's perfectly acted emotional response to being fired (both the initial sadness and the anger that followed) that led to Goldust's touching (albeit shortlived) return in an attempt to win Cody his job back on the Raw before Night of Champions, what started as a random way to both temporarily write a wrestler off TV and fan the flames for the Triple H and Stephanie McMahon Corporate Coalition has quietly overtaken Daniel Bryan's WWE Championship quest as the best written, most balanced plot heading into this Sunday's PPV.
You will not find a bigger Cody Rhodes supporter around these parts than me. I am a fan of any move that more prominently features him. Of all the wrestlers on the roster, I believe that he is the most able and ready star, not yet pushed to the main-event, that can break out in the way that the WWE wishes all its top talents could. I think that there is some potential there for movies. I believe that he would do an outstanding job in representing the WWE in various media appearances. Obviously, the pedigree is there given his 2.5 generational status. He has the desire to become the top guy, as well. One of the little details that fans like me love to see is a wrestler that comes in with an obvious, "it might hold you back" kind of flaw, recognizes and understands the flaw, and fixes it. Cody came in with a lisp that hid his considerable charisma. He worked at ridding himself of it and, today, it is barely noticeable as compared to the past. There's a lot of money to be made in Cody Rhodes, in my opinion. Speaking of little details, last night’s Raw made it clear to me that Cody is not in line for a monster push. When the Rhodes family came out, they were played to the ring by Dusty’s theme music. If the WWE was serious about elevating Cody to the upper echelon, then his music would have been a better choice. Nevertheless, Cody will have an opportunity in this storyline to show his range as a talent. I am all for that.
Am I prepared to spend either my money at home or the time (and less money) at the bar to see him and his family fight The Shield on Sunday? The angle last night was solid and did its job well in further establishing Triple H and Stephanie as public wrestling enemies #1 and 1A, but is their set-up of Cody and Goldust vs. Rollins and Reigns making people think that there is a must-see match on deck? I really do not believe that there is. My hope is that what we have seen in the last 7 weeks of the WWE building a mid-card to add layers to their primary storyline will be the lit match that blazes a new trail for non-WWE main-eventers. At this point, though, Cody has been treated as a relevant roster member for all of 10 weeks dating back to a few strong nights of TV during his feud with Damien Sandow. Looking at him from the casual fan, majority PPV buyer perspective, he is not someone who can yet be expected to carry the load as a secondary reason to purchase a 3-weeks-ago-there-was-another-PPV-kind-of-PPV. Personally, as a big a fan as I am of Rhodes, I do not see any statistical reason to think that my decision not to order would reflect poorly on Rhodes. In fact, the WWE knows that this PPV is going to bomb financially. It always does. Its purpose is to add cushioning for the economic blow that the WWE takes on the chin every 4th fiscal quarter. If 100,000-130,000 people end up buying Battleground, they will probably look at it as a good thing on their end considering that expectations are set lower to begin with. They know what we know…that this PPV is a throwaway put out there purely for financial reasons. As good as Establishment vs. Rhodes has been, it is unlikely to change that.
Paul Heyman is Brilliant
I sat at my home last night with the biggest smirk on my face when Paul Heyman “proposed” that Ryback become a “Paul Heyman Guy.” Heyman has been back for well over a year, but his presence still seems fresh because of how good he is at taking everything that he is given and making it entertaining. Dare I state that he is one of the most naturally gifted talkers that the wrestling business has ever produced. Perhaps that statement is a by-product of an environment in which there are so few gifted stick men, but it seems so very true at the moment. Every week, Heyman delivers one of the top two most entertaining segments on WWE TV. Much like the Rhodes storyline, I do not think that it necessarily sells Battleground, but there is no question that it quite entertainingly fills a quarter hour of Monday Night Raw. He is even managing to make Ryback interesting (though, I will admit, Ryback is speaking more coherently and fluidly than ever before).
I do not believe that it benefits CM Punk to be involved with Ryback, but the continuation of the Heyman-Punk angle is good for all of us. It is just that good. There has been no better storyline this year than Punk vs. Heyman (and his “Guys”). Ryback benefits greatly from being involved with Punk, however. Last year, Ryback’s push opposite Punk’s WWE title reign was compelling enough to make a wrestler that had done little more than squash opponents to the tune of “Goldberg” chants into a bonafide top star-in-the-making. Being back in a feud with Punk will do him a world of good again. I’m not buying him as a contender for the Streak or anything like that (to me that’s a ridiculous internet rumor), but Ryback is in dire need of a story to bring him back to the forefront where some (not named Doc) believe that he belongs. Consistently and persistently working with Heyman and Punk will accomplish that. I think it may also make for a logical, second Hell in a Cell match for the next PPV given their history. I have no intentions of paying for Bryan vs. Orton and Punk vs. Ryback, but I might consider paying for those two matches giving us the first Hell in a Cell at the Hell in a Cell PPV in a few years that actually makes sense for the gimmick’s use.
The other top storylines have taken a step back in the last three weeks. Daniel Bryan may now be flanked by a band of merry men, but that is the type of thing that makes for interesting television while, at the same time, failing to draw any further interest in the PPV. Bryan and his merry men vs. The Establishment is not the PPV main-event for Sunday. It was a necessary step for the locker room to step up and revolt against Triple H, but I’m unsure if it was done at the right time. Fast forward a month when we’re on the “Road to Survivor Series” and it would perfectly fit our instant gratification society’s need for relatively quick (in the grand scheme of things) revenge for the babyfaces and fit the theme of what was once a gimmick-PPV. It would surprise me if that were not still where this angle was heading – for a traditional Survivor Series match – but it would have been a powerful start to hyping such a match if it took place before a PPV that would actually feature it. I would be happy to be wrong on that. For all I know, the WWE knows exactly what it is doing and will use what happened the night after Night of Champions with the babyface locker room revolt and apply it a month from now. I do not get that impression.
The interesting thing, to me, about what actually has happened in the Bryan-Establishment plot over the last few weeks is that the build-up has been pretty much opposite to that of Night of Champions. For three weeks, Orton dominated Bryan (w/ assistance). Bryan got the upper hand on the go-home shows and then actually won the PPV main-event. Traditionally, Booking 101 suggests that the guy that gets the upper hand last loses at the PPV, ultimately rendering the go-home show results as an exercise in saving face. For two weeks leading to Battleground, Bryan got the upper hand, only for Orton to fully reestablish the PG version of his ’09 persona with a fairly vicious assault to end last night’s Raw. Does this mean that Orton will win, even though Booking 101 suggests a Bryan win? It will be interesting to read the results…
-Orton defeats Bryan despite Booking 101 suggesting otherwise, albeit through some sort of shenanigans so that Bryan can save face
-Ryback defeats CM Punk via heavy Heyman hustling
-Rhodes and Goldust beat The Shield, leading to a tag title rematch in 3 weeks
-Alberto Del Rio retains in a very good match (that’s what ADR does); amazing, though, that I thought of this match after all the others
Join me on Wednesday evening at 6PM for the next edition of “The Doc Says…” on LOP radio. I will be dissecting the Summerslam buyrate, verbally previewing Battleground, and breaking down the recent Wrestlemania rumors in my weekly segment “The Doc’s Wrestlemania Moment.”