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Posted in: The Eternal Optimist
The Eternal Optimist Presents - 10 Things I Liked in WWE This Week
By Dave Fenichel
Jun 24, 2017 - 6:19:33 AM

Hi kids.

I’m back with another edition of “10 Things I Liked in WWE This Week”. Raw was a great show from top to bottom. It was a struggle for me to rank the moments that enjoyed the most. Fortunately for me, Smackdown was a largely forgettable show. Be prepared for a Raw heavy countdown. Without further ado, here we go.

10. Big Cass is a Star.

I need to provide full disclosure here. I had begged the WWE to let the Cass/Enzo storyline play out over a long period of time, but they chose not to go in that direction. Instead, they had the blow off this week on Raw. The entire segment was booty. It was poorly done and was not compelling at all.

But hey, I’m the Eternal Optimist and I only talk about what I like. Despite the poor booking and nonsense that proceeded it, Cass hit an absolute home run with his promo. It was passionate, well delivered and incited the crowd. Big Cass has the size and natural charisma to be a huge star. What I didn’t know until this week’s Raw was that he can cut a great promo as well. The sky is the limit for him. I think we’ll look back on this as the jumping off point for a World Title winning career.

9. Titus O’Neill is a Star.

Speaking of superstars, Titus O’Neill continues to shine on a weekly basis. I simply cannot understand why the WWE doesn’t see what I see. He’s massive and has a great look. The charisma drips off him and he has fantastic mic skills. He should absolutely be main eventing Wrestlemanias.

Much like his relationship with Apollo Crews, Titus is the perfect mouthpiece of Akira Tozawa. Tozawa is a great wrestler, has a solid “catchphrase” and has natural charisma. What he doesn’t have is the ability to cut a promo. Titus can handle that for him. Titus as the bridge to Tozawa’s cruiserweight title shot is a great idea. As solid as Neville’s title run has been, I’m looking forward to this storyline more than any other he’s been involved in. Titus is the single biggest reason for that.

8. The Right Way to Push Finn Balor.

I don’t hate Finn Balor. I’ve been critical of him in the past, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope for him. My anger stems from my perception that his upside doesn’t warrant an insta-push to the main event. The WWE seems to agree, as they have begun a slower build for him.

Elias Samson is a perfect first feud for Finn. Both guys are young, hungry and talented. Finn cut a strong promo on Raw this week, better than what I thought he was capable of. Samson has impressed me since his debut. I like his gimmick, he seems comfortable on the mic, and he’s a solid wrestler. I think he and Finn can do great things together, and this feels like the right spot for both. I am happy that Finn is being put into a storyline that should benefit him rather than make me feel like he’s being shoved down my throat.

7. Randy Orton Brings the Goods.

Week after week, I’ve sung the praises of Jinder Mahal. This week, I’m giving some love to his counterpart. Orton carried the feud this week. He excelled on multiple levels. First, his backstage sit down interview was strong. He conveyed tremendous passion not normally present in his words. He stressed the personal nature of his feud with Jinder and really put over how important the world title was to him.

Second, his attack on Jinder and the Singh brothers to close the show was well received. Similarly to Brock Lesnar, you can always tell whether or not Orton is motivated. When he’s not motivated, he seems lackadaisical in everything that he does. When he’s motivated, he’s capable of compelling television. Right now, he looks like a guy who is tired of being told that he isn’t a main eventer anymore. I’m feeling the tide turning on Orton, and that the fans are once again getting behind him. This is good news for the blow off title match coming up at Battleground.

6. They Still Have It.

Goldust and R Truth have largely been afterthoughts during their current WWE tenures. I’m glad that their breakup has allowed newer fans to see what tremendous talents they both were and are. Their promos on a weekly basis have been nothing short of spectacular.

It's not an easy task to last twenty years in this business, and both have. There’s a reason for that. Both are incredibly entertaining. Goldust in particular, has turned back the clock and found his character again. This week, R Truth was the one who cut the better promo. It was intense and conveyed the message that was needed. I’m not sure if their encounter next week will be an actual match or a spectacle, but I find myself looking forward to it.

5. The Return of a Great Gimmick.

The U.S. Title Open Challenge was one of my favorite gimmicks of the last five years. I give this storyline credit for bringing the IWC crowd around on the greatness of John Cena. The premise was simple. The champion defends his title every week against all comers. It allowed for Cena to work with a ton of the younger guys, provide us with fresh matchups and gave a tremendous rub to many.

I am beyond ecstatic that Kevin Owens is reviving the challenge. Judging by the selection of Chad Gable as the first opponent, it looks like he will go down a similar path as Cena with regard to working with the younger guys. This gives me something to look forward to every week on Smackdown. I have a feeling that this will ultimately lead to Cena and Owens writing another chapter to their storied history, and I’m on board.

4. A Miz Stable is a Great Idea.

I’m pretty close to calling The Miz the most valuable asset on either roster. Seriously, everything he touches turns to gold. Every feud that he is in is must see TV. Everyone that works with him is better off for having done so. His feud with Dean Ambrose is arguably the best of the year and was excellent once again this week.

That’s not what I want to talk about. What had me excited was the formation of a new stable consisting of The Miz, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel. Dallas and Axel are two talented guys with tremendous pedigree. Neither one is doing anything with his career at the moment. An alliance with The Miz will do wonders for them and allow both to shine. If they can’t make it while aligned with The Miz, there isn’t any hope for either one. I believe that they will thrive. This was a smart decision on the part of the WWE, and I look forward to seeing where the stable leads to.

3. Roman Reigns Gives The Rub.

Plenty of those reading this hate him and that’s fine. You need to recognize his value. He’s a huge star and while you may want him to be jobbing on Superstars every week, that’s not going to happen. He’s a big enough star where beating him matters. That’s why he’s booked so strongly. If he was doing jobs every week, it would no longer be a special moment for a wrestler that beats him.

Samoa Joe choked out Reigns this week on Raw. That’s an incredible rub for him. He already had a tremendous amount of momentum leading up to his Universal Title match against Lesnar. Taking out Reigns has taken it to the next level. It matters. I’m not advocating for Roman Reigns to be superman all the time, but I strongly believe that his losses should be sporadic enough that when they happen, it’s a big deal for his opponent. Such was the case with Samoa Joe this week. He was put over in a big, big way.

2. Braun is BACK.

I was wrong. The internet was right. I couldn’t be happier about it. I thought Braun’s injury was as legit as first reported. I thought he’d miss out on his monster push and be gone for the remainder of the year. Instead, the extent of his injury was exaggerated to build intrigue for his return. Did you hear the pop he received when he opened the ambulance doors on Monday? It was MASSIVE!

I fully expect the Reigns v Strowmann’s Ambulance Match at Great Balls of Fire to be turned into a #1 Contender’s match. Strowmann will win and challenge Lesnar at Summerslam for the title. As an attendee of Summerslam this year, I couldn’t be more excited about the prospect of a Lesnar/Strowmann main event.

1. The Smackdown Women are Compelling at Last.

How could anything but this be #1 this week? I was wrong again. I thought the Female Money in the Bank storyline was a short term one without legs. I thought Carmella couldn’t win because she wasn’t ready. Instead, she spit absolute fire on Smackdown this week. I never thought I’d say this, but she and Ellsworth as a duo are a main event level act right now. Isn’t that unbelievable?

On Chad’s podcast this week, I advocated for a second Female Money in the Bank match. It was more of a pipedream than anything I thought would be a reality. I am beyond happy that the WWE decided to go in this direction. Ellsworth will be banned from ringside, but I fully expect Carmella to once again be victorious. She simply has too much momentum to not come out on top. The women carried Smackdown this week, and forced me to eat crow as a result. Bravo ladies. Job well done.

That’s a wrap kids. I’d like to take this time to announce that I will be dropping a column series starting next week. I’ll be ranking the Summerslam main events as a lead in to the biggest show of the summer. I am beyond excited about this. I did a similar column series where I ranked The Wrestlemania main events last year. It was without question the best writing that I had ever done. I truly believe that the Summerslam series is better. I am excited to put it out there, and I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

As always, thank you for reading. I can be reached via Facebook at David Fenichel or on Twitter @FFFightLeague.

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