Everything always happens on Mondays. If I moved to the NJPW on AXS beat maybe all of life’s problems would come at me (bro) on Fridays. But I do not and they do not and so it is.
Mrs. Spiffie and I reunited for 48 hours before she had to go back out of town, which is why I’m writing this on Tuesday night. Part of that time we were away from home, celebrating a dear friend’s first full length book of poetry being released. A great party was thrown, many good words were said. Three truly beautiful short films were shown with Mr. Ryan Collins reading his work set to beautiful images and sounds. These will be shown in here at points. Buy his book at http://www.h-ngm-n.com/new-american.
This is going to be done a little differently tonight, given that everyone in the world has already said their piece about Raw. Instead of the usual real time commentary, allowing for hilarious contradictions within sentences of each other, it’s going to be summaries tonight.
Seth Rollins promo
The former Shield members are among the few people in the company who seem like they actually know things that are happening outside of the WWE bubble. The reference to the “Straight Outta” meme that everyone loved and grew tired of in 24 hours speaks to that. It is that sort of genre savvy is why I enjoyed the Clutch Cargo homage. Seth has seen Cena do that sort of juvenile humor against everyone from Heath Slater to Randy Orton. He knows that Cena speaks on the level of a child, so he spoke to him as a child. I figure that’s the way to really hurt Cena.
I didn’t much like the way any of the supporting players in this segment were treated. Cesaro’s suit was ill-fitting and that should never happen. He is way too smooth for that, and his look should always be perfect. Kevin Owens did some nice heeling, but I just don’t think that Cesaro’s popularity is deep enough to be claiming it is astroturfed yet. And Randy Orton came out and called Kevin Owens fat. I don’t follow every tidbit about the internal workings of WWE, but even just as an observer of the product it is obvious that there are people in WWE who really want Owens to succeed, and others who want to torpedo him. He has become Afghanistan, the proxy war being fought by old guard and new guard WWE. I feel like we’re going to see a lot more of these sorts of tugs o’ war going forward. Also Randy Orton was allowed to talk, and that always makes Randy look and sound bad.
The continual abuse by Papa Paul eventually has to be leading somewhere for Rollins. Maybe a face turn. Maybe a humiliating losing streak gimmick. Maybe the goddamned Shield reunion that the world cries out for every night. I like the slow burn approach, but I wish the path was a little clearer, even if just in hindsight.
Bellas vs. Team BAD
It is very hard for WWE to break old habits and as is often the case the worst parts of the segment are the ancillary bits. Like the inset interview with Team BAD. No matter what, they have to have women feuding with other women mention how they’re the better looking ones. Though Sasha Banks talking about the Belladashians was fun, and almost certainly gave someone at E! Network a great idea. Having Team PCB (something something Google something something BDSM) at the announce table was rough. I know people have their issues with her, but I credit Paige trying to save the announcing by speaking in WWE speak because Charlotte sounds like an android and Becky Lynch may have forgotten the English language as you could actually hear each word taking tangible form in her mind before they left her mouth. I know Becky has trained at acting and improv so I’m kind of surprised at how she’s handling herself.
I’ve said before that Becky would eventually be the breakout star. I should clarify that I mean out of Paige, Charlotte, Becky. Because Sasha Banks is going to be the breakout star of the whole damn company in the next 12-18 months. Legit pop for Sasha tagging in after the “We Want Sasha” chant. Everything she does demands attention. She’s already the best promo in the division, and at worst number 1a in terms of in-ring talent. If/when the mainstream catches on to her, she’s going to be huge.
The in-ring was fine. Being in Seattle kind of threw off some of the face/heel stuff, which is a problem since the Bellas are already totally confused about how to play their alignment. Tamina’s clothesline on Brie was the best thing I’ve ever seen her do. Maybe her future is to be the Roman Reigns of the division. Just run in, hit someone really hard, run into someone else, and move along. And stop trying to superkick. It is a bad thing.
I hope six months from now that we’re no longer talking about the divas revolution and having to wonder if the WWE is really behind the movement or trying to intentionally sabotage it. I hope we’re just getting good quality women’s matches on Raw, with stories around titles or grudges that aren’t based on boyfriends or makeup.
New Day vs. Los Matadores
What can I possibly say about the New Day at this point? Big E licking his palms before getting into some spirited clapping? The refusal to be angered about multiple teams being in the tag title match? The fact that they succeeded in naming three black tag teams without seeming to have to think hard about it. Everything they touch is perfect. They are perfect. I hope Vince McMahon never sees or hears anything about what is happening in this little corner of WWE because he’ll give Titus a singles push, make Kalisto lose to El Torito, and give Los Matadores a new gimmick as the world’s first Dominican Samurai. Seriously, you could ignore this entire paragraph and just watch the gif of Kofi Kingston dunking a mini basketball on a backstage worker and being carried off like a king.
Randy Orton vs. Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens
Seeing Randy Orton in this match against Owens and Cesaro is, for me at least, even weirder than Cena’s feuds with either of these guys. This isn’t a knock on Orton’s in-ring skills, as he fits in just fine in this match. I’ve been trying to put my finger on it throughout this match. Maybe it is just the fact it is two indie darlings against perhaps the purest product of the WWE machine ever created. But I don’t think that is the reason.
Randy Orton is either the most unbeatable regular wrestler or the most beatable Legend in the company. He is a Hall of Famer without the induction. He has been around long enough to have feuded with Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Randy Orton, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, Edge, Rock, Goldberg, etc. So he is imbued with the magic powers that all long time main eventers get. The same power that would mean no one would bat an eye is Steve Austin came out at the end of the show and beat up everyone. Why anyone in their right mind thinks Undertaker should be able to hang with Brock Lesnar. But Orton only has a little bit of that shine on him. He still walks among normal men. He’s not quite Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson, but he’s still a guy you and your friends would agree not to use in a fighting game in order to keep things fair.
Cesaro and Kevin Owens do not have that shine or magic dust about them. They’re still unproven in the eyes of the fans. They are as likely to lose cleanly as they are to win. You would not become a rich man trying to bet on the outcomes of their matches every week. They’re very good, and would certainly be the odds-on favorite if either fought R-Truth or Adam Rose on a given week. But they’re not on the same tier as Randy Orton, even if on a given night WWE presents them as such. Really it’s one of the biggest issues facing the company, the way any time someone who is not of the previous generation or two is presented as being lucky when they beat a legendary figure.
Yet Orton doesn’t have the same amount of credibility as John Cena. Kevin Owens has been bragging about that one single win over Cena for months. Nearly beating Cena is still enough to make someone seem important. But with Orton there is none of that gravitas yet almost the same inevitability. It feels like Orton is always going to be the favorite when going against anyone we would call “new”, but if Orton loses it is pretty much forgotten next week. Randy Orton matches are high-risk and low-reward.
Letter to My Daughter on the 20th Anniversary of My Father’s Death
I write you today because you’re my all-time hall of fame heartpuncher
& from every day past this one, you are sure to have more days with me
Than I had w/ my father. For this I swell w/ gratitude & hope beyond
A shadow of a hope you will be grateful for however long you have me,
Or even a fraction of how grateful I am for you. But I am only a vessel
Through which god drones on incessantly. You know how I so bang &
Ramble w/ all my babblechat, tall on the inside though it often may be.
But you see me whistle while I work because my work is infinite & free,
Asks me to answer to one I wouldn’t rather, which is a surefire blessing
Since everything else in life could not give less of a fuck about what you
Or I would or would not rather. I would always rather be having a con-
Versation w/ you, over a grape soda & chicken wings, no sauce. Funny
Is the best sauce the same way hunger is the best spice. Stay hungry &
Keep your taste buds sharp—you only get one set. Weird, I know, but
I promise I’ll explain it to you a little later. Now that we have more time.
Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper
It took less than a year for Harper to end up in the position of “big guy there to look scary before being beaten.” And that’s frightening when the guy doing the beating is Dean Ambrose. Dean Ambrose is called a loser by the Washington Generals. Barry Horowitz sent him a telegram suggesting he just give it up. When you’re being fed to Dean Ambrose, the clock has struck midnight and you are no longer being pushed. You’re no longer a scary swamp monster with possibly supernatural gifts. You’re just a big beardy jobber to the stars.
Ambrose’s style in the ring can best be described as “Stumblebum.” I wish he had been in the old school UFC shows so he could have been announced as being a master in “Stumblebum Fighting and Drunk-Fu Technique.”
Tonight’s match is sadly not for the Bumfights World Championship.
All of the above were quotes from previous times that I saw this match.
Miz Tv w/Daniel Bryan
I watched this last night. I loved every single solitary second of this segment.
- Daniel Bryan getting the huge hometown reaction. In my heart I don’t think he’s ever going to wrestle again. I know what he says. But I just feel like this is the sort of segment a guy has in order to have that moment with the crowd in his home town. And it was beautiful
- Miz. His reactions to everything. Putting the hand up to demand silence. The pride in being in “Santa’s Little Helper.” His shit-eating grin when Ryback and Show are about to get it on. And that look when he got thrown in the ring.
- Turning the Daniel Bryan injury issue into a way to get more heat on the Ryback/Show/Miz angle.
- “The Greatest Show in the History of Shows. Tough Enough”
- “You want me to retire? Find someone to retire me!” Big Show has dealt with so many crowds in his career, he knows just how to turn them into being part of the story.
- Ryback lives, still loves bright colors, and is just as coked out insane as ever.
If they ended the segment with Titus getting a magma-hot tag to fight off New Day it would have been all the things I love mashed together.
Rusev vs. Mark Henry
Lana has dropped about 60 IQ points since the breakup with Rusev. She sounds like a teenager when she talks now. She’s excited about being seen many times on YouTube. I bet she sells her Adderall pills to seniors who need to pull all nighters studying for their SATs and uses Snapchat a lot. As usual the only redeeming part of the segment is Rusev’s Lithgowian acting prowess. Oh, and the Rusev Bulgarian flag. I assume he is already King of Bulgaria or High Chancellor or what have you.
Neville vs. Wade Barrett
I don’t know who Stephen Amell is, but he did a fine job of jumping from the floor to the ring. I’d watch modern TV, but I spend all my time watching this show. And Masterchef. I like how once Amell told HHH that he’ll sign all the legal paperwork to indemnify WWE that HHH became interested. HHH loves paperwork. Nothing makes him more excited than the chance to run something by legal.
Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins
I wish the WWE World title would never be defended on Raw, except on very rare occasions, the kind of moments where a title change would be feasible. That would be preferable to matches like tonight’s main event. Randy Orton is not winning the title on Raw. We know that because this defense is so routine and not going to lead to any changes to a major PPV card. So it becomes time filler. The bell rings at about the 2 hours and 53 minutes mark. Wrestling will happen for 9-11 minutes or so, then something will happen to allow Rollins to retain his title.
This sort of thing is not uncommon for WWE. They are so tied to the late 90s notion that every show has to be nothing but big name matches. That’s part of why only long-tenured legends get to seem special anymore as they have the benefit of not having suffered through an entire career of parity booking. Then we end up with ridiculous non-title matches where the challengers beat the champions multiple times in order to get to wrestler the same opponent for a title finally.
Something seems depressing to me that the only suspense is which person is going to interfere and ruin the main event of the night. The match is good enough but it is dragged down by its certainty of shenanigans.
At least the ending was interesting. The dynamic when a heel has the MitB case at the same time a heel is world champion is my favorite. Evil trying to find a way to out sleaze evil is one of my favorite stories in wrestling.
Hope this week, delayed as it was, had something fun for you in it. Next week is the last week before Summerslam, and possibly our final Raw before the new Cena reign of terror. Hit me up on Twitter @spiffie6123.