Wayne Utterback writes about the WWE and sports entertainment at large for We Are Regal Radio
It feels like WWE’s Monday Night Raw is finally starting to realize that it has a lot of talent that can put in a more prominent spotlight. This week felt like a refreshing change of pace.
Barring the sibling squabbling between Shane and Stephanie McMahon, which feels like it will never not be a part of their story, I liked the idea of Kevin Owens taking control of his own destiny by interrupting the two products of Vince and Linda’s maritals.
Owens has everything a talent needs to reach the top of the mountain and with all the talk a while back about “grabbing the brass ring,” he’s doing it night in and night out. He had a perfect night at Payback battling Sami Zayn and doing commentary in the Intercontinental Title match. I find it curious that he is still pushing for the Intercontinental title, but it almost feels like they need for him to close that chapter of his career before moving on to bigger and better things.
Cesaro came out to confront Owens, setting up to an impromptu match between them. These guys have chemistry and it always shines when they get in the ring. Sometimes hard-hitting, sometimes incredibly athletic, other times technically sounds, it feels like they click at almost every level.
Of course, a good Raw match often deals with shenanigans in the end, and Miz attacked Cesaro to cause a DQ. Sami comes out and evens the odds and then held up the IC title. The crowd was electric for Sami and I feel like that has to translate well backstage. I think he is such a good guy that fans buy into everything he does. They want to love him.
I’m digging the WWE’s teasing of the emergence of the Bullet Club and I’m loving the idea that erstwhile Bullet leader AJ Styles is turning to Gallows and Anderson more and more as friends and partners. The Usos are also benefiting from being a little more serious and fighting in matches with more violence throughout them. Champion Roman Reigns, though, is still just not clicking the way WWE wants him to. Fans love booing him, fans don’t want him as a face. I want to see him continue to slowly become a worse person, eventually leading to his turn to the dark side.
Seeing the Totally-Not-Bullet-Club go toe to toe with Roman and the Usos was great and gave me some recollections of old Shield matches. Let six guys go out and tear the house down — this was a fun match that kept me excited. Roman and AJ are clicking, and the fans are feeling more behind AJ right now. Having Reigns chuck Styles through a table continues to make Reigns look like a bad ass, but I want to see him do it as a full-fledged heel. It’s got to happen soon, the crowd is ready for it.
Hot tags, Hot Tags for Everyone!
The tag division is hot right now. It was sad to see Enzo get knocked through a loop at Payback, but it felt good seeing Cass get out there to fight for his honor. When Enzo comes back, he’s going to be hugely over with the crowd. They love him much like they love Sami.
Glad to see the Dudleys inserted into the mix again. There is such an explosive combination of talent in the ring with The New Day, The Dudleys, Enzo (when he returns) and Cass and The Vaudevillains. Enzo’s injury might be a blessing for The Vaudevillains because it actually gives them some semblance of a story. Cass took the win, alongside The New Day, against The Dudleys and The VaudeVillains.
Evolution of Emmalution
Emma is moving up the ladder right now in the women’s division and I support it. She had some great matches in NXT and I think she is a benefit to the women’s division if promoted as a serious threat. She’ll add a nice wrinkle to the current group of women being promoted and her win over Becky was great. I’m always glad to see a good eye poke lead to a win.
Same ol’ From Ambrose
Dean Ambrose is entertaining, he’s so entertaining he can make me anticipate seeing a plant named Mitch as part of his in-ring show, the “Ambrose Asylum.” Sadly, Mitch and the Asylum had to die this week, which was a shame seeing as Mitch was more over than Roman Regins on this show…seriously, a plant was more popular.
Nothing much to say about his segment. Chris Jericho came out in the end and hit him with the Codebreaker… I’m tired of this feud, it should have ended at Payback. Ambrose is just spinning wheels and never seems to progress with his storylines.
Back in the Hunt
Rusev won a battle royale to become the #1 contender for the United States Title. This was a good move. After a great match with Ryback at the Payback pre-show, I want to see Kaliston in more big guy-little guy match-ups. Rusev was a phenomenal U.S. Champ when he had that strap so I’m happy that he’s in the hunt for it once again.
WWE vs. Social Media
Speaking of Ryback, he was absent from social media recently only to post up on Tumblr this week about his frustration with how WWE rewards talents and how he has been handled creatively. It’s a fascinating look behind the curtain we don’t get, and I’m curious as to how this will all fall out.
On the same day as the Ryback Tumblr post, the recently suspended Adam Rose posted a note from his doctor stating that he was prescribed Adderall XR and has been compliant in treatment. Seems odd that the WWE would bust him for this but allow some talents to work with a plethora of strikes against their record.
Tyler Breeze beat Goldust -– Don’t care much for the Goldust/R-Truth storyline. Feels like a writer just wants to squeeze some campy lines into the show every week.
Natalya put Ric Flair in the sharpshooter as the run-up begins for her match at Extreme Rules against Charlotte. Stephanie has stated that it will be a submission match. At the very least, it’s something we haven’t seen in a women’s match in a long time, if ever. Glad to see that Ric will be barred from ringside. Let these women battle one on one.
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