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Posted in: Just Business
Just Business: The Performance Art Raw View
By Samuel 'Plan
Jan 21, 2018 - 9:55:11 PM

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Just Business: The Performance Art Raw View


We are just around a day away from the big 25th Anniversary episode of Monday Night Raw (MNR), and tensions seem to be rising swiftly.

Welcome to the first Performance Art Raw View – a riff of my Performance Art Reviews looking exclusively at the developing arcs found on MNR every week (though, truthfully, my fandom follows wherever my favourite goes, so if Rollins ends up on the Blue Brand at any time you can expect me to abandon my principles hastily and jump ship with him!). I shan’t be covering every aspect of the weekly flagship show here; just those that jump out to me as being interesting in their development.

I ask only one thing: remain aware that, in these columns, in line with my performance art theory, I will be referring strictly to the fictional characters, not the performers, and to the fiction and not the ‘booking.’

My name is Samuel ‘Plan, and this is my Performance Art Raw View.

Strowman’s Jeopardy

Unfortunately for Brock Lesnar – and the Big Red Machine Kane – it seems Braun Strowman’s ferocity continues to increase exponentially. We’re a long way from tipping ambulances now, believe it or not, and it seems that not even the most powerful entity to walk in WWE’s ring since The Undertaker has any hope of getting past the motivated Monster Among Men come Royal Rumble 2018.

But Braun Storwman needs to be wary.

In 2012 Brock Lesnar was what the Monster Among Men is now – a force of nature capable of unknowable destruction; but, importantly, imbalanced and directionless. It was that lack of direction that allowed John Cena to escape with an unlikely victory over Lesnar at Extreme Rules that year. It took the re-emergence of the maleficent Paul Heyman to maximise the efficiency of Lesnar’s capabilities afterward, and ensure the string of victories he has since enjoyed; and a Heyman is something Strowman does not have.

More importantly for Strowman, however, he has caught the attention of the former Authority and, as Chris Jericho once warned Randy Orton in 2009 “the McMahons are vengeful people;” and if it is through cunning that, both tomorrow night and at Royal Rumble 2018, the Beast Incarnate proves capable of defeating an untameable Strowman – who now seemingly poses a nuclear threat to the very existence of Monday Night Raw - then it’s worth remembering there are none more cunning than the vengeful Cerebral Assassin.

Considering what transpired at Survivor Series 2017 between Braun Strowman and a smug Helmsley – whose reputation and standing has been severely compromised in the wake of his humbling at the hands of the Kingslayer back at WrestleMania 33 – and considering that Stephanie McMahon will not be happy with the public relations disaster of Strowman’s rampages these last two weeks, I see storm clouds on the horizon for the Face of Destruction; especially because both halves of WWE’s foremost power couple are liable to be on hand tomorrow night.

Seth Rollins’ Ticking Clock

Seth Rollins is in danger.

“Some days, I can’t even trust myself, a’right?!” he once exclaimed to his brother Dean Ambrose, hinting towards the ever-present addiction to success he had been enslaved to for two years thanks to the abhorrent manipulations of his fearful tormentor, Triple H. Like any addict, Rollins lives with his addictive instincts every day; must combat them every day. It does not help, in such a fight, to be surrounded by those who feed one’s worst impulses rather than help you check them, like Jason Jordan currently seems to be doing with Seth.

Jason Jordan is a man not averse to playing upon his relationship with the General Manager for shortcuts to success, just as Seth Rollins was not averse to playing upon his relationship with Triple H to do likewise in years gone-by. Jordan, then, as Rollins’ tag partner, is a dangerous enabler; a gateway back into a world Rollins fights every day to resist and rise above.

I cannot help but wonder, but fear whether Rollins’ scurry from the ring, along with his smug smile and apparent lack of regret upon realising the controversy that mired the conclusion of his outstanding match with Finn Bálor this last week, was an unwelcome shadow of a former version of the Kingslayer we had hoped, right alongside Seth, was long since dead.

His resurrection of his Blackout curb stomp finishing move felt like the reclamation of a lost secret weapon for sure, and one that helped him defeat an opponent he has historically struggled to overcome between the ropes. What has me worried is the fact that the resurrection came only after a controversy clearly indicating another defeat, another denial of another quick hit of success, for the Architect….

His new found partnership, one that was thrust upon him and never asked for, is a ticking clock. Seth Rollins must distance himself from the murky influence of the entitled Jason Jordan before it becomes too late for him, and before scenes like that which closed this last week on MNR, and will likely come with escalating consequences this next week, become all too common.

I suppose now is the time for us to see if the lessons of humility Rollins learned opposite Bray Wyatt have stuck or not. I desperately hope they have.

The Kingslayer vs. the Demon King

Worth accounting for separately is the developing situation itself between Kingslayer and Demon King.

At Summerslam 2016, the Demon King defeated the Architect in clear fashion to become the first ever Universal Champion. Despite competing in his augmented state that night, the Demon King Bálor was able only to squeak past the incomparable sheer force of will of Seth Rollins to a pyrrhic victory, suffering an injury that forced him into rehabilitation for months.

Since his return, augmented state or not, Finn Bálor has failed to clamber back to those same heights, robbed of opportunities and frustrated in his efforts to progress upward. Yet, with the same force of will that saw Rollins injure Bálor even with the heightened physical endurance of his demonic side, the now-proven Kingslayer has gone on to fresh championship success! It stinks of the injustice of fate.

The controversy of this last week on MNR, then, can only have stoked the growing tensions between these two otherwise amiable individuals all the more, as Bálor’s (latest) obvious victory was mysteriously waved off by the referee before Rollins’ partner caused a distraction that allowed Rollins to deploy his Blackout curb stomp, and walk away with the win; much to the near physical injury of Bálor once again.

The stage, it seems, is set for a showdown between these two men sometime in the future. Rollins is a man who seems unable to get a clear, clean competitive victory over Bálor. Bálor is a man who, despite having proven himself unbeatable to Rollins, has found his career derailed because of him. Their latest encounter could be the spark to turn their cold war hot. Should that prove the case, so small is the margin of difference in capability between Rollins’ force of will and Bálor’s demonic augmentation that the fresh revelation of the power of the Blackout could be the all important nexus of their conflict.

With the heightened emotions of WrestleMania season looming, the mitigating factors of Jordan’s toxic influence on Rollins and the good brothers backing up Bálor, and with the unique atmosphere of MNR’s 25th Anniversary mere hours away, I have a feeling this is one war that’s only just getting started.

In Closing

That’ll do it for this week’s first instalment of the Performance Art Raw View. If you have any thoughts on the events currently transpiring on WWE’s flagship show, any predictions for what you think these characters may do tomorrow night, or thoughts on anything I haven’t even covered, feel free to share them in the comments below, over on social media or even by signing up to our own LOPForums; just click here to sign up!

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of my book, 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die, from the LOP Store today! Simply click here to find mine and a host of other books and merchandise on offer, all courtesy of LOP’s own!

For more of my thoughts on the rest of the show, and WWE in general, click here to add me on Facebook!

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