Table of ContentsMonday Pre-Raw Thoughts
Live Raw Blog
One of the best parts of writing is the discussions that come out of it. My hope is that your response could be used in a column to publicly discuss your comments.Monday Afternoon Pre Raw Thoughts
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Brock Lesnar As Champion
Never before has WWE ever had a champion that created such convoluted havoc in the main event. It's entirely entertaining, and refreshing, so I'm in no way complaining. Having a champion who only appears a handful of times a year, and communicated with the audience through mostly taped interviews can be dangerous, but WWE is doing a remarkable job. It's a throwback to the 80s, when Hulk Hogan would have his name on every episode of Superstars, but would rarely wrestle, and would only have highlights repeated to hype up the big appearances on Saturday night's Main Event, or PPVs. In 2014, with several WWE programs on a weekly basis and PPVs monthly, Brock's schedule is going to help the rest of the roster extensively. His appearances and matches will be draws more than ever, and therefore making the wrestlers who are vying to take him on an even bigger deal.
If only WWE thought of this with their recent champions, we wouldn't have had so many talents shoved down our throats, creating resistance from the WWE Universe who is supposed to be pulling for the John Cenas of the world. Imagine if Cena wasn't on TV weekly, but only when needed? I'm not saying ratings would be better (though I wouldn't be surprised), but I think the fans that have become tired of him wouldn't have reached their breaking point nearly as fast.
At this point on Raw the draw is no longer who will be champion, or the champion himself. If Brock isn't there every Monday, it means someone else needs the spotlight. Forget that it's Cena for a second, and look at how important his TV time is now that he's the sole star while not the champion. It makes his impending title shot all the more interesting. It's hard to see since it's the guy we've seen on TV for a decade doing basically the same thing over and over again, but think for a second about how this will help whoever needs to challenge him next? Or, if I were to continue the analogy to the 80s, think about how essential the TV time was for Hogan's opponents to carry the angle. I remember Earthquake's attack on the Brother Love show much more than anything about Hogan exacting revenge. I remember the Macho Man attack in the medical office after Hulk carried Elizabeth back there, and not whatever Hogan said about getting his hands on Savage at WrestleMania V. I remember the twin referee screwjob on The Main Event that led to Andre winning the title, and then handing it over to Ted DiBiase, and not the Hogan chase to get into the tournament at WrestleMania IV. Right now, it'll be Cena's time to shine (for the zillionth time), but he'll fail at Night of Champions, leaving the door for the next person to rise up.
Now, that leads to the question of who will take on Brock along the way. The safe assumption is that Roman Reigns will eventually be the man to dethrone Brock, most likely at WrestleMania 31. I'm not trying to dispute the quality of that potential storyline, but just setting the scene for how the next few months will likely go.
Many people think that along the way to Mania Brock is going to need to defend the title against the top guys. This makes sense, and I agree. Where I disagree is who will get those opportunities.
One commonly mentioned name is Daniel Bryan. I'll say it flat out: No, Brock and Bryan should not cross paths.
There's no good ending to that scenario. One argument is that Bryan should be the one to take on Brock at WrestleMania 31 instead of Roman Reigns. I'm sorry, but if Bryan were to win, it would spit in the face of logic. Lesnar is pushed as an even bigger monster now than ever, especially bigger than when Eddie Guerrero defeated him in 2004. I hate to bring size into the argument, but facts are facts. Daniel is much smaller than Eddie was at No Way Out 2004. The difference in size would be too monumental to take seriously. It just won't happen.
The other option is that Brock takes on Daniel along the way, and defeats the Yes Man. If this were to happen, it would need to be a dominant victory for Heyman's Beast, and that would stop Bryan's momentum. If Bryan is ragdolled by Brock, that upstart energy from the audience will dip, and I would predict it would be severe.
There's absolutely no reason to have them face each other at this time. In the future? Maybe, but certainly not in the next 6 months.
If Bryan returns, he should either be taking on HHH, or he should return at the Rumble and be eliminated by someone major to have a Mania feud with. Maybe Cena would work if a heel turn is in the plans (it's not) or Seth Rollins, Bad News Barrett....etc. Bryan gets eliminated from having a shot at the title, feuds with whoever took him out. It's basic storytelling. After Mania, move him into the title hunt when Brock has stepped aside.
So, Daniel Bryan is not an option, no matter how popular he may be. And while his popularity will be huge when he returns from injury, there's a couple of obstacles in the way for him to be as popular as he once was. When Bryan rose to Mania 30, there was a lot of help from having CM Punk depart from the company. A lot of Punk's fans jumped to the Bryan bandwagon, or if they were already onboard, they got louder.
By the time Bryan gets back, WWE will have new names for the Universe to be chanting for. With the rise of Reigns and possibly Dean Ambrose, the interest won't be as high for Bryan. Wrestling fans are fickle, and we love freshness, almost to a fault. The people tired of Reigns already aren't really tired of the performer; they're tired of the push and what he'll become. Sure, he's not all that varied with his in-ring work, but just like how crazy fans were for Batista, Ryback, Brock, Cena, and several other meatheads, he's interesting now because he's fresh. Yes, he's likely going to be the next Sheamus or Cena failed megapush, but he hasn't failed yet.
Bryan hasn't failed, but there are fans out there who will no longer buy into his underdog gimmick because they have moved on to Reigns and/or Ambrose. The fun of being a fan of the Flying Goat won't what it used to be. And there are going to be fans that move on. They'll cheer, and be happy when he returns, but there will be fans thinking "I hope he doesn't take Dean or Roman's spot", or kids thinking that he's no longer all that great because Roman and Dean are much cooler. You and I might not like it, but facts are facts.
Bryan can win them back, but will WWE let that happen? I'm skeptical that WWE will do anything to derail the Roman Reigns train. I am confident that it won't pan out as they planned, but it doesn't mean they'll just revert to Daniel Bryan.
Who will WWE revert back to along the way? Or who will WWE go with instead of Roman if he fails? It won't be Daniel Bryan. Cena, Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, and Seth Rollins would all have to be out of the picture for Bryan to be the pick to win the title from Brock.
Now, you might be scratching your head as to why Wyatt or Rollins might get that nod. Wyatt turning face is always going to be a possibility with the following he has. I'm not saying it would be smart of WWE to let happen, but it would be easy, and it would work. You know the WWE Universe would love to cheer Wyatt. And the Architect of the Shield, Seth Rollins, has a guaranteed WWE title match whenever he wants it. If Rollins takes on Brock, it won't be a one-off; it'll be him breaking away from the Authority to do it, or if Brock turns face and HHH needs someone to get the title back. It'll be a serious push to the championship level, and not a single match the way the Damien Sandow cash-in was.
Both Wyatt and Rollins are more likely to take on Brock than Daniel Bryan.
And, there's always Batista. The Animal vs The Beast will headline a PPV.
Another positive of the WWE Tag Team division. Ryback's singles career was a complete mess after the rushed push to take on Cena after WrestleMania 29. He might have been spinning his wheels tagging with Curtis Axel, but at this point he can return into the spotlight very easily. I was just thinking yesterday about what would happen if Brock and Heyman were making an open challenge on PPV, and the music hits with the babyface version of Ryback's "Feed Me More."
It's this sort of action that could turn Ryback back into the monster he should have become before they ruined his momentum vs Cena.
Will it happen? Of course not. It does show the options that are there for every wrestler, even limited hosses like Ryback. The tag division works.
I have heard a lot of complaints about Sheamus has his “failed face run”. Sheamus is a great babyface. The problem is that WWE doesn't work with it. A very typical WWE move with their top guys is to make them all too human, and not a character. What made Sheamus popular, be it as a heel or face, has been stripped away. They added the "fella" line, which is more like a work in progress than a failure, but nothing else. He suffers from the same issues as Kofi and Cena in that everything that was interesting has been reduced to a very common denominator as a babyface.
I still stand by the idea that if WWE paid attention to Sheamus, and did more than just shoved him in the ring, he'd be even more over than he's ever been. Even as World Champion, all his feuds were rather basic - champion defending against challengers. There was never a real grudge feud. Sure, he had some heated rivals, but it was never truly personal. At least with Cena, the booking made his feuds seem bigger than the standard champion vs challenger story.
The real problem is that as amazing as I believe him to be as a face who hasn't been given the right stuff to work with, we know he would be strong as a heel, and it would be seamless. I won't say he'd be better as a villain, but it would be such a logical transition that no one would balk.
Honestly, it's all very similar to Randy Orton. As a babyface, Orton was over and popular, but never really had a storyline outside of champion/challenger. even the feud with CM Punk in 2011, there was no real grudge there, just one wrestler costing the other a title shot, so they feuded instead. After that, he was just someone cheered who took on someone who was booed. But as a heel, he had stories to work with, be it working as a favorite of the Authority, or earlier as the leader of Legacy.
WWE falls on their babyfaces to be interesting almost by default. The exception is Cena, who certainly gets some occasionally varied storylines, but they tend to all be the standard underdog angles (that less and less people seem to be understandably buying into). It's like a limbo for babyfaces to do whatever they need to do to be cheered, while the heels do all the work.
Consider the Rollins vs Ambrose feud. Who gets most of the camera time? Rollins gets the in ring promos and the backstage segments with the Authorities, while they share ring time and a few attacks. But how often have we seen Dean Ambrose get the time to promo and not be interrupted or attacked? As interesting a character as Ambrose has, the angle is carried by Rollins. Heels get all the creative work.
So, yes, of course Sheamus would be more interesting as a villain. But it doesn't mean he should be. If Sheamus was working with Bray Wyatt, I'm confident that the multi-layered character that is Bray Wyatt would bring out more aspects of Sheamus than most would expect. Faces need challenges and obstacles - real ones unlike what Cena seems to face (other than CM Punk and Brock Lesnar). If Sheamus had to work with/against Bray, he'd be a lot more sympathetic, and show more range as a character. I would guarantee it. As bland as the feud with Jericho has been for Bray, it's only because our expectations were so high. From the surprise return, to the amazing original segment attack, we expected huge things from the angle. After that, it felt forced. But that's because we expected more. Had we seen Sheamus show the character side more in the sit down interview segment, it would have been more effective than it did with Y2J. It would have allowed the Celtic Warrior to demonstrate something we have yet to see.
Sheamus doesn't need to turn heel, he just needs to be given more to work with as a face.
NXT Call Ups
WWE have done a terrific job in developing their 3rd brand at Full Sail University. The problem is the gap between NXT and the main roster. Some gimmicks have worked, and some need to be molded for being showcased on Raw. If something works in NXT, it can work in WWE; there's no exception to that.
Nothing is wrong with Adam Rose, or the Vaudevillains on the main roster. Both acts can work, but not as exact replicas of the NXT versions. They have to be tweaked, worked with, expanded upon... Rose for example would be a great 80s style babyface that is friendly for the kids. Have Adam Rose bring in front row kids to join the party in the ring after a victory, or giving out lollipops as he walks down the aisle. I would also cut down on the *ahem* effeminate acting. Gay characters can be fine, but when it's somewhat hinted at by Rose's actions, the fans are confused. It's not that they don't know if should cheer a gay man, it's more that they don't know if the point of the character is whether or not he's gay. And I've said it before, and I'll say it again: make his party bigger. When he arrived with 20 people in NXT, it looked like a quarter of the audience was joining him. It looked like a massive party. It looks tiny on WWE. Make it bigger. Or, he should convert someone to join him, and be in a tag team.
As for the Vaudevillains, this act could certainly work on the main roster, just not as heels. They are too goofy and likable. If anything, it would be best if they tried to be dastardly all the time, but were frustrated with how much they get cheered.
The basis for many of these NXT gimmicks could certainly work in WWE. But they have to be adapted. Just like a book needs to be rewritten to make for a movie, these gimmicks need to be reworked to fit the 12,000 seat arenas they are performing in front of.
Let's use Bailey as an example. When she started out, NXT weren't sure how to take her. Over time, now, she's one of the most beloved. The entrance with the inflatable things is a great touch, and probably a relatively cheap one compared to pyro. But had they given her those inflaties when she started... it wouldn't have worked. She'd just look stupid. The NXT audience had to get used to her to accept her.
But, if WWE ever brings her to Raw, they won't think that way. They'll give her the inflatable friends, and expect instant results. It doesn't work that way.
Think back to the territory days. If a monster heel came into a new area, he had to start over. He had to squash some people, ragdoll a hometown favorite, and build up the mystique needed for him to be a threat. This isn't any different. Rose shows up, parties, people cheer a bit = failure to WWE. Which is bullshit.
I hate how often IWC complains about creative. I can understand why people think we use that as an excuse for our indy darlings for failing. It's a common argument we make. But the reason it's so common is because there are numerous examples. If today's WWE creative team handled the 80s era WWF, we'd never have the Honky Tonk Man. He failed as a babyface so bad that he needed to turn heel. And that's when he became a star.
If NXT is being used to find the performers that they want to keep on the main roster, be it with or without their NXT characters, than certainly things look good. But what's the point of developing a character like Adam Rose in NXT, promoting him on Raw for a month, and then dropping him? It sounds like the main roster creative team has no idea how to use the gimmick that was created in NXT.
Tuesday Night Titans
Tomorrow night, your Tuesday Night Titans will be back, this time talking about what is stale in WWE. We will talk main eventers, midcarders, and even announcers. This time we're talking about what is stale in WWE. We will talk main eventers, midcarders, and even announcers. We have some fun along the way, usually at the expense of each other, and our favorite WWE cannon fodder.
More Wrestling Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with LordsofPain
We’ve gotten to know John Cena pretty well over the last 12 years, but we’ve never seen him unleash the kind of aggression he used to lay waste to The Wyatt Family last Monday night. Brock Lesnar, you’ve been put on notice.
As the Cenation leader remains laser-focused on prying the WWE World Heavyweight Title from The Beast Incarnate’s clutches at Night of Champions, what can the WWE Universe expect this week on Raw? WWE.com has some ideas.
1. “Reel” talk
Chris Jericho has a long and well-documented history with Randy Orton, making this week’s special edition of “The Highlight Reel” must-see television! What hard-hitting questions await The Viper? Can Y2J maintain control when WWE’s Apex Predator hits the ring for this anticipated interview? Jerichoholics, be sure you’ve got some fresh batteries in your light-up jackets for this one!
2. Beast wars
John Cena might be known as one of the most jocular and kind-hearted Superstars on the current WWE roster, but don’t forget that Cena has also embodied “Ruthless Aggression” since his 2002 SmackDown debut. Last week on Raw, we saw Cena utterly dismantle The Wyatt Family — yes, that Wyatt Family — with unprecedented ferocity. Those who criticized Cena’s decision to invoke his rematch clause against Brock Lesnar at Night of Champions were silenced as Cena stood tall over The Eater of Worlds and his formidable disciples.
Whether or not The Beast Incarnate got the message Cena delivered last week remains to be seen, but the Cenation leader’s just getting started. What will be Cena’s next message to the WWE World Heavyweight Champion?
3. Candy crushed
AJ Lee is like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re going to get. After confusing Divas Champion Paige with an awkward hug and an unusual kiss on the hand last Monday night, AJ presented her “friend” with a heart-shaped box full of sweet treats on SmackDown that ultimately left a bad taste in the titleholder’s mouth. The Divas Champion spit out one of AJ’s gifted goodies, which was met by AJ’s creepiest gaze since, well, Monday night. Just what the heck is going on between these “frenemies”?
4. Deconstructing The Architect
You’ve done it now, Seth. One week after taking out Dean Ambrose with a hellacious Curb Stomp onto cinder blocks, Rollins incurred the wrath of Roman Reigns, who crashed Kane and Rollins’ disrespectful “eulogy” for the missing former Shield member. Later in the night, in a poetic act of retribution, Reigns nearly beheaded Mr. Money in the Bank when he hurled a cinder block at Rollins’ skull! The Architect might have escaped the powerhouse this week, but there will come a time when Reigns will make Rollins pay for his treachery. Will we see Reigns get his hands on his former “brother” Monday night?
5. Twisted sister
“I wish you died in the womb!”
These are words that no sibling should ever say to another, but they crossed Nikki Bella’s lips with unsettling ease last Monday night when she lambasted her sobbing sister during a failed attempt to reconcile their crumbling relationship. Now, it’s clear the rift between The Bella Twins is far more severe than a mere family squabble, and neither Nikki nor Brie will ever be the same again.
This week on Raw, will we continue to see one of WWE’s most beloved families torn apart at the seams? Moreover, how will Brie move past her sister’s cruel words and actions that have thrown her life into turmoil since SummerSlam?
Live Raw Discussion
Intro – Highlight Reel
New Evolution with Kane and Rollins?
New #1 contender is an unexpected twist. My original guess was that Cena is injured, but if he's showing up, I'm guessing not. Perhaps it'll become a multi man match? I wouldn't think so with Brock involved.
Having Roman show up here is not what I want, but it's a smart move. Keeping all these top guys in the mix and looking for a title shot is only best for business.
Sheamus/Dolph vs Cesaro/Miz
Looks like we are getting closer and closer to a unified midcard championship. I really hope not.
Miz and Sandow as a tag team could be a really good addition to the division down the line. Yes, I'm using a tag team idea as a solution again. Sorry.
Big Show/Mark Henry vs Wyatt Family
I found it odd that that this match, which is now taking place for the 3rd time on TV that I am aware of, is getting such promotion about the amount of weight in the ring. I might have jumped onboard had it been the first match, but by this point, it screams of desperation, and poor thinking on WWE's part.
At least they are moving the Mark Henry vs Rusev angle further. I thought it would be a single poorly thought out segment from 2 weeks ago. I think Henry vs Rusev can be a dark horse match of the night down the line. And if Rusev is at ringside, I sense interference leading to a win for Bray's cronies.
Or, a DQ loss for Rowan/Harper due to interference. Will this lead to Rusev vs Henry, and Big Show vs Bray Wyatt?
This is looking to be another disappointing Raw.
Jack Swagger vs Curtis Axel
Zeb Colter back by his side? Expect a heel turn for Uncle Zeb, and join forces with a new Real American.
A tap out win, very nice. Now for Bo Dallas to ruin the fun. He's just a terrible speaker, with an awful voice, but at least he has a face I want to punch. He should keep acting to a minimum.
Post Divas Segment
I cannot, for the life of me, understand why WWE is putting so much effort into this Bellas issue. It's been panned across the board, and receives disappointing reactions live on a regular basis. Yet, it's the top of the hour angle? Brutally bad. Adding Paige and AJ made it slightly more interesting, but it was still all about the overrated twins. This is going to be a terrible time to be a Divas wrestling fan.
Jimmy Uso vs Goldust
I'm still confused by this heel turn, but there's no doubt that the matches and performances will be great.
Wyatt vs Jericho – NEXT WEEK
I am glad they are booking ahead like this. It needs to happen more often. A Cage Match between rivals like Bray and Y2J is something that people will remember. It might not keep them from tuning in football, but it might keep them flipping channels. There's honestly no bad side to advertising ahead like this. It won't be a main event match, but it would be a great top of the hour match, or opening bout to boost ratings in the first block.
And Orton vs Reigns in a rematch? Why is this only done to combat Monday Night Football? I understand the matches can't always be this important, but you can still book matches in advance. No harm in advertising Cesaro and The Miz taking on Sheamus and Ziggler. It's not always about giving the biggest matches, but about giving attention to the future. Highlighting stars in the midcard ahead of time will make them a bigger deal.
I know they don't do it because a lot of it is booking on the fly, but if you know that you're going to go in a a specific direction, it shouldn't be hard. Are we going to see more interaction between Swagger and Bo Dallas? Then all WWE needs is to have a screen with their pictures and names up, with Cole talking about “And next week, what will Bo Dallas do to continue getting under Jack Swagger's skin? Or will we see Jack retaliate?” That way, with the vague hype, you leave the door open to pretty much anything since there's no plan yet.
6 man tag Main Event
Great stuff here, as predictable as it was. These are the types of matches that should take place with 3 hour Raws. You can't really say any of the people involved in the last match had too much camera time. Adam Rose was able to get a match on TV, so the writing team obviously weren't struggling with cutting down segments. Combining many stars into segments like they did all night will allow everyone to get a fair share of the spotlight, and keep the show flowing naturally. Tag matches like we saw with the midcard titles and the main event are the perfect way to extend feuds without overexposing them. It's a low risk match for the competitors since they aren't draining their bodies nearly as much, but still delivering excitement, and building up interest in the eventual showdowns on PPV. Did we get too much Rollins vs Reigns, and now we don't want to see the match between the two? Not at all.
There was a lot of garbage on tonight's Raw. The Bellas are ruining the show, and there were a few hiccups along the way, but in general this was a better show than last week, and more productive.
And on that note, Peace out