Wayne Utterback writes about the WWE and sports entertainment at large for We Are Regal Radio
WWE actually did it. WWE talked about Roman Reigns.
They actually managed to address the elephant in the room that is Reigns’ 30-day suspension for violating the ‘E’s wellness policy before hurriedly sweeping it back under the ring Monday night on “Raw.”
Now, they didn’t say just what he did, but they used it as a way for Seth Rollins to antagonize the fans. Problem is, the fans like Seth. So, here we are, the supposed main heel of the show, running down THE GUY for getting popped on a wellness violation, and the crowd isn’t rallying for Roman.
This has to be the nail in the coffin of the mega push Roman was getting. It HAS to. Can he just come back and get booed already?
Back to the storyline — Seth demands a one vs. one match against Dean for the title at Battleground. AJ Styles comes out (who is having the best career trajectory in WWE outside of Roman before said violation) and says he wants in. Cena comes out and says he wants in. Stephanie comes out and predictably just gives them both a shot to compete for the title…if they win their respective singles matches. AJ faces Dean, Seth faces Cena.
This is one of those situations where I wish there was a build to these fights. Both matches are incredibly entertaining. Cena and Seth have the regular song and dance they’ve done before and AJ gave Dean one of his best singles matches since moving to the main roster. AJ and the Bullet Club distract Cena long enough to make him lose. Cena comes out and distracts AJ so he loses. Triple Threat at Battleground remains. Expect Cena and AJ to go toe-to-toe again at the next PPV, but I really believe the winner should get a shot at the title at Summerslam. I feel like they need the top tier feuds to come with reward, or at least some progression up the ladder to the title.
I do appreciate that the show closed with Seth dropping Dean with a Pedigree and The Club dropping Cena with a Magic Killer on the steel of the entrance ramp. I like knowing that the good guys are in peril and now they will have to get their revenge.
Sasha doesn’t need you, she doesn’t need anybody
Paige teams with Sasha in a tag match and they get to essentially whoop Dana Brooke before The Boss locks in the Bank Statement to tap out Brooke, taking the win from Team Charlotte. I don’t think Sasha needs to be aligned with anyone. They need to make her the badass that she was during her title run on NXT. She was just putting challengers down left and right.
What’s worse than Miz? Kane.
Kane comes out as a surprise opponent for the returning Intercontinental Champion Miz and I don’t think anyone cared. Any day that Kane is off WWE programming is a great day for me. Miz loses after Maryse fakes an injury and he carries her backstage.
Rise above shameless pandering
Enzo and Cass face off against local talent, but prior to the match Enzo tells the crowd to do the wave for the duration of the match. This goes against what Enzo and Cass are good at. They talk on the stick, rile people up and then wrestle a match. This just serves as a distraction to the match. Just let them grow organically, don’t make them force dance moves on the audience (see Fandango).
The feud that never ends…or will it?
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens were guests on the Highlight Reel with Chris Jericho. Sami cut what might be his best promo since coming to WWE and more than likely his best promo of his career (barring the ever amazing “Good Promo” he cut with Colt Cabana. YouTube it). Sami felt real here and he showed a passion that is always perfectly rivaled by Kevin’s utter contempt for anyone trying to tell him why he does what he does.
Jericho spends the majority of his time here trying to antagonize each guy until they mutually agree to kick his face off. This feud is hot. It has all the makings of something special, but they need Battleground to be a blow off…at least for the remainder of this year. Let these two square off at Wrestlemania for a title. The crowd will eat it up.
Running in place
Cesaro and Apollo Crews defeated Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio. Match started out very competitive and fast with the usual impressive offense of Cesaro. Del Rio betrays Sheamus (thank God) and it leads to Apollo Crews busting out the strongest move of the night by lifting the Celtic Warrior in the air only to spin him around into a sit-out powerbomb for the win. While the match was just a way to spotlight all four guys, I have hope that they will find better positions for Cesaro and Crews in the near future.
Fresh feuds for trios
New Day came out and talked smack about The Wyatt Family. What I love about this is that it presents The New Day as unafraid of the once formidable Wyatts. Let’s be honest, the Wyatts haven’t done much in the past year of note, so having The New Day laugh and mock them feels great. It forces the Wyatts to focus and be serious. Once the Wyatts show up, Xavier Woods immediately becomes afraid. Seeing his reaction to the actual materialization of the Wyatts adds a fun wrinkle into this feud. Will he be unable to stand up to them? Is he being positioned for greater things? I hope so. Woods is money.
I found Raw to be entertaining from start to finish, however I do worry about the brand split and what that will do to what feels like an already thin roster. Then again, chaos sometimes is what brings about change, so I guess we should just let all hell break loose.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Finn Balor is on. This will be a great match. Winner should move up to the main roster.
Oney Lorcan defeated Tye Dillinger. Tye is the new Tyler Breeze and Oney is an independent standout who hits hard and looks crazy.
No Way Jose beat Josh Woods. Already tired of No Way Jose and not excited about him feuding with Austin Aries. We’ll see if Aries makes Jose bring his game up to a higher level.
Bayley and Nia Jax both had squash victories in separate matches. NXT is rebuilding their women’s division again, which is a good thing.
Nakamura destroys Buddy Murphy.
This was an enhancement show with every match serving as just a way to elevate a talent. Only Jose’s encounter with Aries felt like something that will continue on for the future.
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