1. Jack Swagger vs 2014 Superstars MVP Titus O’Neil – Here is a match that i’d like to see get 20 minutes on a Big Japan show, so they could pummel each other like this. Unfortunately we’ll have to settle for this four minute nothing match on a WWE D-show. Even in a lousy four minute match, Titus managed to shoehorn in a reverse chinlock (no)heat spot. The finish was decent enough, with Swagger going for the Vader bomb, Titus getting the boot up, but Swagger catching it and attempting a FOX News Lock. Titus evaded, and moments later hit the Clash of the Titus to score a minor upset that won’t mean anything because nobody watches this show. How the hell do you star rate a four minute match with a thirty second rest hold? *1/2
2. Luke Harper vs R-Truth – R-Truth is the kind of guy who is at the D-show stage of his career. He’s pushing 45 years old (but looks great, because black don’t crack). He has no upside. His gimmick is tired. But he’s a fun enough undercard act who is still over (clearing whatever low bar constitutes being over in 2015 WWE), so there is a place for that, and that place is filling up slots in battle royals and putting over heels on the D-show. Luke Harper, on the other hand, has no business rotting on Superstars. He’s older than you might think (35), but his age doesn’t matter as much as the fact that he’s underexposed. Plus, mid to late 30’s are really the peak years for a pro wrestler. He’s a great worker, he’s big, he has a great intimidating look…if only they had a role for a guy with his size, look, and skill set. A role such as, I don’t know, maybe a henchman for the suit wearing heel authority figures? The kind of role where you can groom a good, young, underexposed talented big man while giving him the rub of hanging out with main eventers. A role currently badly miscast and occupied by two dudes who have been around since the Clinton administration. Here is a list of contracted WWE talent that would be better served flanking Trips & Steph than tired old Kane & Big Show:
- Erick Rowan
- Big E
- Titus O’Neil
- Jack Swagger
- Roman Reigns, who should be a heel until he’s ready
- Baron Corbin
- Bull Dempsey
Exactly one of those guys is doing anything of note these days (Cesaro), so it’s not as if the company has better ideas for any of them or is even putting in any sort of token effort to get any of them over. Pick any two of the above, put them in the henchman role, and have them beat babyface Kane & Big Show every week on RAW. Kane & Show are a much better fit at this stage as respected veteran faces putting over fresh new heels, as opposed to heels with no upside who almost never lose. Big Show beat Roman Reigns on RAW the week after the Royal Rumble, for fucks sake. WHY?
Decent enough little match here with Harper winning it with the big discus lariat. **1/2
The RAW match featured here was the demon spawn of the two worst WWE television match tropes this side of Beat the Clock. Feuding HOW WILL THEY CO-EXIST?!? tag partners (Daniel Bryan & Reigns) vs The Entire Authority (handicap match). I genuinely wonder what kind of mouth breather enjoys shit like this, but then I remember that years upon years of absolute utter shit like this is why the overall wrestling audience in America continues to shrink the longer Vince McMahon is the the only relevant game in town.
I’m really, really grumpy about this company. I just watched a ton of awesome and fun wrestling over the last two days, including a really good ROH PPV and two super fun Dragon Gate shows, and watching fun wrestling really puts into perspective how shitty the WWE is right now.
1. Fandango vs Adam Rose – Rich Brennan stinks. I want Tom Phillips back. Brennan is super generic and nondescript, and doesn’t do the cool call backs that Phillips liked to do. Rose is still having problems with the Rosebuds (which included Mia Yim and Leva Bates this week), which led directly to the finish as Fandango defeated him for the second time in three weeks. Fandango is going nowhere fast. He is in dire need of a true repackaging, and I think they could really have something in Rose if they go all the way with him as a creepy heel. Of course, they only seem to feature the same dozen or so people from their enormous roster every week on the THREE HOUR AND TWENTY MINUTE RAW, so apparently the show still isn’t long enough to get any fresh faces over. You know, because we need multiple segments with Kane. **
Triple H says he watched a bleached blonde punk kid take Ric Flair 60-minutes at Clash of the Champions. First of all, that match was 45-minutes. Second, that means Trips watched Clash I instead of WrestleMania IV. So much for Mr. WWE.
2. Jack Swagger vs Curtis Axel – “Take a look at former World’s Heavyweight Champion Jack Swagger!”. Much like former world welterweight champion Matt Serra, you can’t help think to yourself “yeah, but…” when announcers say that. I believe in AxelMania, but i’m scared to go all in because REAL MAN Curtis Axel, who would have been my favorite WWE wrestler had he lasted more than two weeks, was dropped far too quickly. My favorite moment in this match was Swagger tossing Axel out of the ring, and then taking a hard glance at the WrestleMania sign. They even switched camera angles so they could show Swagger gazing at the sign from over his shoulder. LOL AS IF. Swagger won the usual boring Axel match via the Tea Party Lock. I zoned out three times during this snooze fest and had to keep rewinding to see how it finished. *
Third straight ep with no Divas, which is strange. #GiveDivasAChance.
They might want to shed Cameron, Summer Rae, & Eva Marie, or at least reassign them as they did Rosa Mendes & JoJo, and call up the NXT crew before they give this group of Divas a chance, because if you feature some of the current crew heavily it’ll be next to impossible for some of them to get over. I don’t buy for one single second that this company will ever give the women a legitimate try with equal push as the men, but if they do, it’s only fair to hold the girls to the same working standard as the boys. And really, that would actually be to the benefit of the women, because putting on long, bad matches isn’t going to help the cause and will only serve to expose a division that is vastly weaker than the men as it is currently constructed. Even improved women like Nikki Bella work at a level that would never get a man out of developmental unless they had incredible star level charisma, which she does not. And work is only one facet of this. Is there a woman on the current roster (or in NXT) with the potential star power to headline & draw in the biggest company in the world? How many women historically have gotten over at that level? Let’s leave Japan out of this for now. Mildred Burke? Yes. Sable (who couldn’t work anyway)? Probably not. June Byers? Not really. Wendy Richter had the full promotional muscle behind her and it failed. Madusa never came close in WCW or WWE. In terms of drawing money, non wrestlers like Cyndi Lauper and Stephanie McMahon might belong near the top of the list if we’re being fair.
How much of that is self fulfilled due to lack of opportunity, and how much of that is a culture that simply prefers to watch men when it comes to athletic events at the highest level? Women’s team sports have never gotten over even close to men’s sports at the pro level to the point comparisons would be ridiculous, and women’s sports would have died outright at the collegiate level had Title IX not saved them. Ronda Rousey is the only woman to ever get over at a true superstar level in the history combat sports (I suppose Gina Carano did as well, at least as a live draw), which is more of an apples to apples comparison to wrestling as the drawing priciples are nearly identical, but even with Rousey that may be due to being freakishly ahead of her inferior competition to the point her fights are more like early Mike Tyson-like spectacles than sport. Would she be nearly as popular if the rest of women’s MMA wasn’t so far behind her in skill level? Personally I don’t believe she would be. She’s charismatic, don’t get me wrong, but her utter and complete domination is her biggest hook.
On top of all of these barriers, the Divas would have quite the uphill battle in order to overcome decades of shitty booking and the conditioning that has been pounded into fans brains that women aren’t really an important part of the show. Besides, this is all wasted bandwidth because I don’t believe this company will ever give it an honest go anyway.
1. Erick Rowan vs Adam Rose – This was a total squash, and it was one of the best squashes you will ever see. In fact, this was the best Erick Rowan singles match I’ve ever seen. Rose bumped all over the place like a maniac, and Rowan was super intense. This was so good that I implore everybody reading this to go watch it. **3/4
2. Luke Harper vs Kofi Kingston – This was a lot like the above match, except it wasn’t a squash. Kofi bounced all over the ring for Harper’s offense, and did his usual smooth flying. Harper cut off the comebacks with power moves and looked like an untamed beast in the process before killing Kofi with the big lariat to pick up the win. It really makes you wonder why they can’t find room on a THREE HOUR AND TWENTY MINUTE RAW for matches like this that make people like Harper look like a million bucks. Harper was getting over just fine after the Wyatt Family break up, and had a nifty little feud with Dolph Ziggler, but because RAW is only THREE HOURS AND TWENTY MINUTES, there simply isn’t any room to keep him relevant. Maybe USA will give them a fourth hour, but let’s face it, they’d probably just add two more Authority segments.