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Posted in: Requesting Flyby
REQUESTING FLYBY: Did The Summerslam Rematches On Monday Night Raw Deliver?
By Maverick
Sep 9, 2014 - 5:38:31 PM

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Did The Summerslam Rematches On Monday Night Raw Deliver?



With the return of Monday Night Football, WWE inevitably stacked the Raw card in order to persuade viewers to stick with them for the evening. Two big Summerslam rematches were announced a week ahead of time; Bray Wyatt vs. Chris Jericho inside a steel cage and Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns in a straight up singles match. Both bouts had been something of a disappointment on the night at the most recent pay-per-view, so I was looking closely at both bouts to see if the wrestlers involved would make the necessary improvements. The main issue I had with both these pairings at Summerslam was the grimly methodical pace both adopted, which seemed all the more bizarre given how much better Reigns and Wyatt are when given room to move and be explosive, their main strengths as physical competitors. That veterans of the stature of Jericho and Orton didn’t realise this is a head scratcher for me, and similarly, it seems odd that Joey Mercury, who has worked so closely with Roman from the beginning (see WWE.com for a very nice candid interview where Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns credit agent Mercury as “the fourth Shield member”) didn’t step in to advise on how best to play to his protege’s strengths.

The evening kicked off with the Wyatt vs. Jericho cage contest. Can I just pause for one moment to appreciate the “cage descending” music. I do love the sense of occasion that brings to what should traditionally be a feud ender. Bray, happily, seems to have regained some aura, as he got his full entrance with Harper and Rowan in tow. That was good to see again. I thought that, for the most part, Jericho and Wyatt got it right in terms of timing, ebb and flow, and pacing, which were the three issues that troubled their two previous outings (I wasn’t as down on the earlier contests as most were, but there’s no denying that they lacked a little something). They started fast in a heated toe to toe exchange of blows, with the idea being that Jericho was fighting fire with fire. There were some neat counters by the older man, and he seemed to be controlling the wildness of Wyatt in kayfabe terms by keeping on top of him as much as possible and then trying to take the opportunity to escape whenever it presented itself. Several times, Y2J made it to the roof, only to be hauled back down when Rowan and Harper’s malevolent presence outside gave him pause. I like that they sell the fear factor of the Family. Those are two big, bad, weird dudes. Wrestlers SHOULD be scared of them. I liked also how the two men sold their exhaustion and fought through it in their desire to win. With the lack of blood nowadays, and a general safety first approach in TV matches especially, most of the time, the psychology has to step up to make up for the lack of true brutality, and I thought it did on Raw.

There were a couple of impressive spots, particularly towards the end, with the Wyatt superplex followed by him almost spider walking all the way out of the cage- just a great visual and a reminder of why people fell head over heels for him in the first place- and then a little later the Y2J crossbody off the top of the cage, very impressive for someone of Jericho’s advancing years and a nice sell job of the knee afterwards. It also made sense, from a cerebral point of view, for Wyatt to go after that body part, and his commitment to doing so ultimately earned him the victory, as it should. The beatdown afterwards bore the customary hallmarks of viciousness you expect from the Wyatt Family, and after their comprehensive dismantling of the legend, I think we can cautiously say that Bray has begun rising again after plateauing in the post-Mania landscape. What is next for Bray? Having disposed of Jericho, it would seem that Bray has nothing to do for the next few weeks, and almost certainly, no match at Night of Champions. That might be a good thing. It was suggested to me by a reader a few weeks ago that the Eater of Worlds should be used more sparingly so as to enhance his mystique, and I have to say, it is a good suggestion. Bring some mystery back to the character and make his feuds less generic than they have been of late. Above all, only use him when you have a clear plan in place regarding how to make it spectacular and memorable. Go back and watch the Bryan angle for evidence of how that should work.

While Jericho and Wyatt had their best match to date with each other, I found that The Viper and The Roman Empire made many of the same mistakes in theirs. I was optimistic at the beginning, as a faster pace seemed to have been adopted from the get go, with Reigns’ explosiveness showcased, but unfortunately, things slowed right down again, and we went back to Orton slowly controlling his younger opponent, essentially the same story they told at Summerslam. I’m convinced that this is the wrong way to sell Reigns as the next big thing. WWE should be looking at him as an active ALTERNATIVE to John Cena, not his second coming. Booking him in matches where he gets a shoeing and then comes back strong is going to turn people off. I’ve said that before, and I’ll say it again and again as long as there are still people there to listen to me. The fighting on the outside was good, if not exactly ground breaking, and there were moments where they showed flashes of chemistry- the Superman punch counter was a decent flash photography moment- but I feel like there was a lot more in the tank than what they used. We should also briefly pause to condemn Orton for using that chinlock of doom again. Seriously, someone backstage tell him to stop doing that, please. It truly does sap one of the will to live.

Fortunately, a bout that was becoming increasingly generic and directionless was saved by some distinctly Attitude Era tinged shenanigans, where Kane and Rollins brought in the ring crew to lower the cage, trapping Reigns and leaving him to the three on one assault. Now, this is the kind of thing that needs to happen to the hot young babyface more often. Rather than facing down the odds, he was sadistically destroyed and dissected by two calculating heels and a monster in a suit. It was a great visual, and goodness gracious me, how great was Seth Rollins in that closing segment? The kayfabe idea of him being The Architect of The Shield has proven to be a brilliant boon to the storytelling, first with Ambrose and now with Reigns, as Seth railed in his face “I gave you your entire career and now I’m going to destroy YOU!” just before the kerb stomp on the chair. That is some superb heel work. All the people who moaned about Reigns not being involved in the fall out from Rollins’ betrayal must surely be satisfied now? It would appear that a match with Reigns is on the agenda for Night of Champions, which will be an excellent filler feud before the explosive return of a revenge crazed Dean Ambrose to make Rollins’ life impossible again. Randy, meanwhile, seems to be moving onto Jericho after the Highlight Reel remark about Orton being handed everything resulted in the trainer’s room assault segment last night.

While Reigns and Orton didn’t deliver a good match, the way that the segment ended made sitting through it worthwhile. That was some excellent writing at the end there. Meanwhile, Wyatt and Jericho seemed to click just as their interaction was at an end, which is a pity, but hopefully WWE will take a long look about how they’ve used him since ‘Mania and resolve to book him more creatively and more productively.

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And until next time, this is Maverick, requesting flyby!