Talking Dead, and Other Ponderings From WWE Battleground and Raw

The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, WWE Raw, 07/20/2015By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From Battleground and Raw:

The Undertaker costs Brock Lesnar the WWE Championship at Battleground. Wrestlemania XXX rematch to take place at Summerslam.

How ironic. The way to breathe some new life into Raw was to bring in the Dead Man.

I’m not sure how much fan desire there’s been to see The Undertaker face Brock Lesnar again. A potential Undertaker/Sting match is what’s been on a lot of people’s minds. But for my money, an Undertaker/Lesnar rematch was inevitable, so long as ‘Taker is healthy enough to hang with the ultra-physical Lesnar. From a storyline perspective, Lesnar took something from The Undertaker that he can never get back. Something that defined ‘Taker’s legacy more than anything else he’s done. So at some point, we needed a revenge angle, or at least something with ‘Taker and Brock before one of them left.

Having Undertaker cost Lesnar the match with Rollins at Battleground was probably the best non-finish they could have done. Rollins was leaving with the title either way. And Undertaker’s promo on Raw was excellent. Oddly enough, the best part was that little growl he let out at the very start. Bone chilling.

The Undertaker, Raw, 09/20/2015The brawl between Lesnar and ‘Taker was classic WWE. It’s something we’ve seen a million times. But I won’t complain. Hearing Lesnar shout “I’ll kill you!” at ‘Taker a few times was hilarious. And you know what? I believe him…

Going into Summerslam, my question is: What’s the finish? Who wins? It doesn’t make much sense to have Brock, the biggest babyface in the company, lose to ‘Taker. So I’d have to assume that someone’s going to cost ‘Taker the match to set up a Wrestlemania bout. So we may know more about ‘Taker’s Wrestlemania XXXII match sooner than we thought.

In any event, the presence of a healthy Undertaker brings a much needed epic feel to both Raw and Summerslam. But now the question is, how do they keep some of that momentum going as we head into fall?

Charlotte def. Brie Bella, Paige & Becky Lynch def. Sasha Banks & Naomi. I haven’t had a chance to talk about the “Divas Transformation” yet. So let’s get into it…

Charlotte, Brie Bella, Raw, 09/20/2015Tonight was the first time I had any interest in not one, but two women’s wrestling matches on Raw in quite some time. That’s not because women’s wrestling isn’t interesting or fun. It’s simply that I, like many others, have simply been waiting for good women’s wrestling in WWE. Not to mention some new faces. For months it’s been The Bella Twins, over and over again.

The additions of Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch to the main roster have the potential to be a huge breath of fresh air. It’s obviously something NXT fans have been clamoring for over the last several months. It adds a great deal of intrigue to a division that has been void of it for the longest time.

Between her victory in the triple threat match at Battleground, and her solid match with Brie Bella this week, the world has definitely gotten to see what Charlotte is made of. That’s a great thing, as she’s potentially the diamond in the rough here. I’m not sure what WWE is aiming for with these teams of three. But either way, we’re introducing new faces, and attempting to make new stars. It’s hard to find much fault in that, at least at this juncture.

WWE Raw, 09/20/2015, Seth Rollins, John CenaJohn Cena confronts Seth Rollins on Raw. So this is what they’re doing with Rollins at Summerslam, huh? A title unification match with Cena. Eh, that’s fair enough, I guess. Having two midcard titles isn’t the end of the world, but I’ll admit it is a little redundant. It’s a bit of a shame, though. After so many years, the United States Title finally means something. A World Title vs. US Title match actually has a big match feel to it. And now the latter is going away…

I suppose the upside here is that now WWE will have a chance to finally add up the importance of the Intercontinental Title. Though to do that, I suspect they’ll have to get it away from Ryback and The Big Show.

Cesaro positioned as babyface in Raw main event, teams with John Cena and Randy Orton. Gee, we’re only a year and a half late on this one. Cesaro doesn’t fit the traditional WWE superstar mold, in that he isn’t an amazing talker. But what he lacks in vocal skills, he makes up for in wrestling skills. To use a very broad analogy, he’s in the same category as guys like Ricky Steamboat, Bret Hart, and Daniel Bryan.

WWE Raw, 07/20/2015If they’re looking for a pair of guys to reinvigorate the Intercontinental Title this fall, they need look no further than Cesaro and Kevin Owens. They can do what Daniel Bryan was supposed to do after Wrestlemania, and make that belt the “worker’s title” again.

Bray Wyatt reunites with Luke Harper to defeat Roman Reigns at Battleground. Not a huge surprise, here. After all, Harper and Erick Rowan had already reunited before the latter got injured. Why they even broke The Wyatt Family up to begin with is still a mystery to me. What did these men do as individuals that they couldn’t have done as a group?

The buzz is that at Summerslam it’ll be Wyatt, Harper, and someone else against Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Sting. That’s a hell of a six-man tag, and a chance at some redemption for Sting. Yet another unsolved mystery is why he lost to Triple H at Wrestlemania. What good did that do for either man?

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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The Undertaker Rises? Plus, WWE Battleground 2015 Predictions

The UndertakerBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The question of whether Battleground is worth watching largely boils down to this: How much credence do you give to a rumor?

This week the rumor mill is aflame with word that The Undertaker, (Yes, The Undertaker!), will be showing up at Battleground to start an angle for Summerslam. Adding fuel to the fire are the number of mentions ‘Taker has gotten on WWE TV lately, including this past week on Raw when Paul Heyman taunted Kane for being “The Undertaker’s baby brother.”

A potential Undertaker appearance obviously heats Battleground up tremendously. And let’s be honest: Battleground is, and always has been, a fairly useless filler pay per view. This year’s show has a bit more going for it, with the much-anticipated match between Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins, and the rubber match between John Cena and Kevin Owens. But the undercard was so cold that icicles were forming around my TV screen. These past few months, WWE as a whole has been almost unbearably stagnant and boring.

Wrestlemania XXX, The UndertakerAn Undertaker appearance has the potential to give the show, and WWE as a whole, a much-needed shake up. But if I’m still on the fence about watching Battleground, I’m not letting a rumor push me one way or the other. You set yourself up for tremendous letdown that way. TELL me ‘Taker’s going to be there, and you’ve sold me. Hell, he’s even got a built-in opponent waiting for him…

But more on that later. First, let’s sift through the mediocrity…

WWE Battleground 2015, King Barrett, R-TruthPRE-SHOW MATCH:
King Barrett vs. R-Truth

I talked about this a couple of weeks ago, but it’s worth noting again: Does Barrett have to wear a crown and robe to the ring? Yes, it’s been done in the past. And yes, we all know he’s English. But he just looks so…stupid! Where did they buy that stuff? Target? I can only assume Barrett is winning this one. But does it really matter at this point? Despite their many talents, both of these men seem to be permanently relegated to jobbing or bad comedy skits.

PREDICTION: King Barrett

WWE Battleground 2015, Prime Time Players, The New DayWWE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Prime Time Players (c) vs. The New Day

The Prime Time Players are great babyface champions, and I’m a big fan of theirs. But The New Day had a good thing going as heel tag team champions. When they dropped the belts, they lost a lot of momentum. So it seems like the right thing to do here is put the straps back on Kofi, Big E., and Xavier. If they’re looking for something to do with the tag belts at Summerslam, I wouldn’t be opposed to a 2-out-of-3 falls match, similar to what they did with Tyson Kidd and Cesaro. In the end, The New Day having the titles makes for more compelling television.

PREDICTION: The New Day

WWE Battleground 2015, Randy Orton, SheamusRandy Orton vs. Sheamus

*yawn*

Look, I’m sorry! But these guys just don’t do it for me. From a character perspective, they just don’t have a lot of chemistry. They’re not exactly magic in the ring, either. That’s not a slam on either of them. But at this point, when they’re together it’s like Nyquil. I’m never one to count out a pleasant surprise, but…well…let’s just get this one overwith. I’m going with Orton here, as traditionally the guy with the Money in the Bank briefcase tends to lose a lot before cashing in. Plus, this is kind of a filler match anyway, right? So in the end, does it matter who wins or loses?

PREDICTION: Randy Orton

WWE Battleground 2015, Roman Reigns, Bray WyattRoman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt

These two have a nice hero/villain chemistry, so I enjoy seeing them work together. I just wish their program was a little more focused. At first it looked like it was going to be about Bray getting in Reigns’ head by talking about his family. Then they moved away from that, and it became about Wyatt simply wanting to keep Reigns off the top of the mountain. These past few weeks have been more about general mind games. For the sake of both Reigns and Wyatt, I wish this program had more meat to it. I can only assume they’re going to take this to Summerslam. So we’ll go with Wyatt as the winner here, for the sake of giving Reigns the revenge motive next month.

PREDICTION: Bray Wyatt

WWE Battleground 2015, John Cena, Kevin OwensWWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
John Cena (c) vs. Kevin Owens

I imagine this must be frustrating for fans who live to loathe John Cena. WWE intentionally pushed him to the middle of the card to make room in the main event picture for guys like Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. But this feud with Kevin Owens has pushed him right back into the upper card.

At the end of the day, this whole John Cena/US Title scenario has always been about elevating the championship, and the individual who beats Cena for it. So as far as I’m concerned, there’s no way this program doesn’t end with Owens getting the title. The question is, do they pull the trigger now or at Summerslam? These two have been working together several months, but I can’t say I’m tired of them yet. Plus, there is a way to add a fresh new element to this rivalry: Cesaro. Cena and Cesaro have have two really good matches on Raw recently, so he’d be a natural addition to the proceedings. Given the quality of matches these two have had recently, you’ve got to think a triple threat match be a heavy candidate to steal the show.

As for Battleground…I say give it to Cena via a Cesaro interference that costs Owens the match. That way they can start paving the road to a three-way at Summerslam. Another loss won’t hurt Owens. Especially if he’s due to come out on top in the end.

PREDICTION: John Cena

WWE Battleground 2015, Seth Rollins, Brock LesnarWWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Brock Lesnar

This was easily the match I’d have picked to headline Summerslam. The fact that they bumped it up to Battleground might very well be an indicator The Undertaker is returning. There hasn’t necessarily been much fan interest in a Wrestlemania XXX rematch with Brock. And as the biggest babyface in the company, that match might put Brock in an awkward position. Still, I’d pay to see it. It’d also be easy to put ‘Taker with Rollins, as he’s the biggest heel in the company.

But with or without The Undertaker, I see Rollins going over here. If they’re going to switch the title, it’s going to be at Summerslam. This match is either part of a build up to some sort of gimmick match main event next month, or it’s a blow off to put either Lesnar or Rollins with ‘Taker. Either way, there’s little benefit in putting the title on Lesnar at Battleground.

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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Webcomic Wednesday: Mare Internum

Mare IntervmTITLE: Mare Internum
CREATOR/WRITER/ARTIST: Der-shing Helmer
ONLINE DEBUT: January 4, 2015

By Levi Sweeney
Staff Writer, Grand X

For a webcomic that’s only been up and running for seven months, Mare Internum manages to impress me even in its early stages. I came across this little gem on Twitter, another tell-tale sign of the great importance of social media in comics today. Der-shing Helmer, a freelance game artist by day, serves as the creator, writer, and artist of this webcomic, where she shows her creative mettle on all fronts. Mare Internum combines professional art, an inventive premise, and memorable characters to communicate a story worth reading.

The story starts off on a grim note, with our anti-hero hero, Michael, attempting to end his own life. Thankfully, he doesn’t go through with it. Michael is a member of a team of scientists on Mars, apparently working on some kind of pre-colonization effort. His melancholy and ambivalence toward his boss is interrupted by the arrival a new coworker, Dr. Rebekah “Bex” Egunsola. The story slowly unfolds, revealing more about the world of Mare Internum, and explaining why Michael is in such a bad spot.

Mare IntervmFollowing the road not taken, we have a protagonist who has already hit rock bottom at the beginning of the story. But instead of showing him shrugging his way through it, Helmer instead shows us the consequences and logical results of someone trying to get through personal tragedy all by themselves. The truth is, those who don’t value the company of their fellow man are bound to fall into despair and loneliness. The comic hasn’t gotten far enough into the story to draw out the full ramifications of Michael’s bond with an A.I. he created, but I wouldn’t be surprised if things went that way.

Aside from this particular innovation, Helmer writes her characters well, demonstrating that this isn’t just another science-fiction story insomuch as it is a character drama. Michael is melancholy and emotionally imbalanced. Bex is chipper and sardonic. Michael’s other coworkers each have their own personalities and quirks that make them unique and fun to watch. The cast of Mare Internum are all distinguishable from one another, each bringing something different to the table. Above all, the story puts the characters first, the mark of any truly great work of fiction. The natural, smooth dialogue only bolsters this element of the story.

I especially like how Helmer patterns her art to tell the story in sync with the words. Comics, being primarily a visual medium, require imagery which catches the eye’s interest. Helmer does this expertly by focusing on the beauty of the mundane, such as Michael scarfing down a box of blueberries, or an insect floating on its back in a pool of water. She’s really good with facial expressions too, finding a middle ground between the exaggerated facial expressions of Manga-style comics and the more realistic depictions found in western comics. That’s all without mentioning her lovely art featuring the Martian landscape.

Mare InternvmAs stated, Helmer is a freelance video game artist by day, but her background is in biology and education. According to her bio, this knowledge helps her with things like anatomy and physics. Following the philosophy of write-what-you-know, I would guess that an understanding of anatomy would help her when drawing characters, while an understanding of physics would help her in writing a sci-fi story like this webcomic.

Mare Internum is still young, but I think it has the potential to grow a large following. Helmer also works on another, more long-running webcomic called The Meek, which I might take a look at some time in the future. As it is, Mare Internum has an abundance of good qualities, namely professional-looking art, innovating writing, and strong characters and emotion. A word to the wise, however: This webcomic may not be visually graphic, but it contains instances of incredibly strong language. Parents, be warned.

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A We Are Robin #1 Review – Remember When He Dropped His Fish?

We Are Robin #1 coverTITLE: We Are Robin #1
AUTHOR: Lee Bermejo
PENCILLER: Jorge Corona. Cover by Bermejo.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: June 24, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I must be getting slower in my old age. It took me a little extra time to realize that Duke Thomas was the kid Batman said “You dropped your fish” to in Zero Year. (As I recall, he may have done a little more than that.) But the fact that we’ve now followed this kid from that story, through Endgame, and now to We Are Robin, is pretty cool.

That being said, the debut of We Are Robin would have been great with or without an established main character. It’s the kind of street-level Gotham City book that should always have a place on the stands. I found myself having happy flashbacks to Gotham Central while reading this issue. While the two books are different in almost every way, We Are Robin strikes me as the kind of story that will, like Gotham Central, help us get better acquainted with the city and those who live there. It’s tough to argue appeal that has.

We Are Robin #1, opening pageWe Are Robin stars Duke Thomas, an inner city kid whose parents were infected by the Joker virus released during Endgame. Subsequently, they’ve disappeared, and Duke has become obsessed with finding them. As we see early in the issue, his quest has a penchant for getting him into trouble. Luckily, he’s about to get some help. It’s unexpected, and most certainly unconventional. But through these new allies, Duke may become part of something bigger than he ever thought possible.

I’m always partial to books with a good lead, or opening line. We Are Robin #1 has one of the best leads I’ve read in awhile…

“Someone told me that the problem with youth is the inability to accept your own mortality. I wouldn’t consider this one of my problems.”

I feel like this should have been the opener for a teenage superhero book a long time ago. We’ve certainly had no shortage of dead kids in our escapist picture books over the years. And of course, it’s a great introduction to the Duke Thomas character, who comes off pretty likeable here. He’s intelligent, witty, virtuous, and isn’t short on moves. It’s just a shame his history is tied up in something as…irritating, as Zero Year.

We Are Robin #1, Leslie Thompkins, Duke ThomasThe appearance of Leslie Thompkins in a counselor role for Duke is encouraging as far as future issues are concerned. Leslie has largely fallen by the wayside in recent years, especially since the New 52 started. A street-level book like this is tailor-made for her, and will hopefully flesh out her role a bit more.

The issue has a more cartoony, animated feel than you might expect from a book like this, especially given the Bermejo cover. But given what I can only assume will be the youthfully exuberant tone of this book, I expect it’s a justified approach. Obviously we’ll know more once issue #2 hits the stands. My only real complaint regarding the art here is a panel we see early on, where Duke is throwing a kick with a leg that looks a little too stretchy. Maybe he’s been drinking Gingold? (Look it up, noobs.)

We Are Robin #1 is encouraging. From a marketing standpoint, it’s got a lot of what DC is looking for right now. A youth focus, much like the revamped Batgirl, as well as Gotham Academy. We’ve also got a non-white lead to help fill the diversity quota. But more importantly, this book feels compelling and fun. For so long, DC seemed to forget that comics are, ideally, supposed to be fun. Thankfully, that little factoid seems to be a priority for them again.

Image 1 from washingtonpost.com. Image 2 from comicvine.com.

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Cena and Cesaro Go Again, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

John Cena, Cesaro, Raw, 07/06/2015By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

John Cena def. Cesaro in latest open challenge. What more can we say about John Cena and Cesaro at this point? They’ve now given us two awesome matches on back-to-back episodes of Raw, and this week they main evented the show. It’s just a shame that as far as Cesaro is concerned, it may all be for naught.

There aren’t many men on the main-event roster capable of delivering consistently great matches the way Cesaro does. But ultimately, that’s really not what WWE is looking for as far as their top-tier talent is concerned. WWE wants to create characters that can have box office, merchandising and licensing appeal. And no matter how many great matches Cesaro has with John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, or whoever they put him in the ring with, he doesn’t fit their mold for what a top talent should be. Does that mean he can’t be a top talent? Of course not. In the eyes of many, including mine, he’s earned his right to at least have a shot at it. But WWE clearly doesn’t see that in him right now. It also doesn’t help that WWE wants their main event stars to go out there every week and deliver extensive monologues. Clearly, that’s not Cesaro’s strong point. Cesaro’s passion, his uniqueness, is on display in the ring. It’s just a shame that’s not really where WWE always looks when choosing who gets those main event slots.

Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, WWE Beast in the East, July 4, 2015Kevin Owens loses NXT Title to Finn Balor in Japan, attacks Cena after Raw main event. Not at all a surprise to see Owens lose the title to Finn Balor. That has seemingly been in the works for awhile now. The question is, do they pull the trigger at Battleground, and put the United States Title on him? I’d say eventually the answer will be yes. The question is, do you hold off on doing it until Summerslam? If I’ve got the book, they’d hold off another month, and try to put Cena and Owens in some kind of gimmick match to blow this off. Whether they can find a creative way to extend the program another month is a different story entirely.

Brock Lesnar intimidates Seth Rollins two weeks before Battleground, destroying J&J Security’s new Cadillac with an axe. Seeing Brock pull out that axe was chilling. For a moment, I honestly believed he was going to chase Rollins out of the ring with a friggin’ axe. But of course, the axe was meant for the car. Fair enough, I suppose. On one hand, it’s cool to see Lesnar wielding a weapon like that. On the other hand, Brock Lesnar is someone who destroys people with fists and suplexes. It’s more fun to see him to that kind of stuff, especially now that he’s a good guy.

Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman, Raw, 07/06/2015I’m still getting used to Paul Heyman cutting babyface promos. Granted, he hasn’t changed much about his delivery. He’s simply not going out of his way to insult people. But the fact is, the character is a fan favorite now. I can only assume this is temporary, and that Heyman will turn on Brock at some point. Heyman is in his element when he’s a heel. He’s always been that way. So I’m looking forward to the day he gets to show his true colors again.

An apparently healed Rusev brutalizes Dolph Ziggler. So now Rusev is back, right? Does this mean we can put him back with Lana and finally move forward? Maybe that’s why I’m so short tempered with this angle. We can see the destination a mile away. I know people really like Lana, but she’s out of her element without Rusev. She’s not a wrestler, and I don’t anticipate she’ll be a wrestler any time soon. So I don’t see how she can be a franchise player for them.

Stone Cold Steve Austin, WWE 2K16Stone Cold Steve Austin announced for the cover of WWE 2K16. They’re on a roll with these video game commercials. Last year they had Sting, now this year they’ve got Steve Austin digging up the old “Smoking Skull Belt.” Awesome stuff. It’s pretty tough to go wrong with Austin. I imagine that’s something they’re keeping in mind for Wrestlemania.

King Barrett def. R-Truth. Can we have Barrett not wear the damn crown and cape anymore? I understand that he’s a heel, but that look isn’t helping him. Can’t we do something a little more subtle? Have him put a crown on his tights or something. He doesn’t literally have to go out there and dress like a king every week, does he?

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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Superman Against Police Brutality – An Action Comics #42 Review

Action Comics #42 coverTITLE: Action Comics #42
AUTHOR: Greg Pak
PENCILLER: Aaron Kuder
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: July 1, 2015

Miss last issue? Check out Action Comics #41.

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Superman vs. The Cops. Yeesh. Well, it’s timely. You can’t fault them for not being relevant…

Indeed, in the year that the town of Ferguson became synonymous with racial prejudice and police brutality, and headlines continue to pop up about cops going too far, Superman finds himself standing between the police and innocent people. While I’m still not a big fan of the de-powered “Tough Guy Superman” approach, this is very much in line with what a Superman comic should be. The Man of Steel taking on issues that effect real people.

As Superman, whose identity has been exposed to the world, battles a monster made of “solidified shadow,” the Metropolis police descend on the citizens assembled in “Kentville.” Now the question is, can Superman protect these people? And what will he have to do to accomplish that?

Action Comics #42, chainsGreg Pak and Aaron Kuder return Superman to his roots here as a champion for the oppressed and defenseless. As we see police in riot gear attempt to tear gas civilians, our hero is set up in a somewhat contrived, yet visually arresting scenario. He wraps himself in a giant chain and creates a barrier between the police and the citizens. He then takes repeated shots to the face from gimmicked up S.W.A.T. team guys. It’s hokey, but it creates the sense of drama and sacrifice they’re going for. And of course, the chain harkens back to the tried-and-true image of Superman snapping the chains off his body.

To be fair, the police aren’t completely demonized here. We see reluctance among the cops, and some of them acknowledge how Superman has saved them in the past. But the bad apples spoil the bunch. We also see the civilians debating whether they should fight back, so the hostility isn’t entirely one-sided. But it’s fairly obvious what this issue is meant to be. The police are the bad guys. One can definitely argue whether this is in good taste, but I think much depends on how the in-story conflict is resolved. We end on a rather dramatic image, so we’ll obviously be seeing more of this next month.

Action Comics #42, splashAs far as Clark Kent himself is concerned, the man we see here is more likeable than the one we saw last issue. While issue #41 saw him using mild profanity, and at one point talking like he was in a gritty noir comic, he feels more like Clark here. He still has more of a cynical edge to him. But he doesn’t feel as darkened here. At one point they actually have him hogtie the big monster he’s fighting, i.e. “farm boy.” That’s a little on the nose, but I prefer that to what we saw last issue. Action Comics #41 felt like we were reading the exploits of a different character. This issue feels like a Superman comic. That’s a very welcome change. If it’s not Superman, this whole Truth thing doesn’t even matter, does it?

Pak and Kuder will have me back for next month. For my money, culturally relevant Superman beats sci-fi monster battling Superman any day. Tough Guy Superman? That’s another story. But the intrigue of how they’ll follow this issue is too much to resist.

Image 1 from nothingbutcomics.net. Image 2 from kotaku.com.

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John Cena and Cesaro Steal the Show, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

Jamie Noble, Seth Rollins, Raw, June 29, 2015By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Raw has been extremely frustrating in recent weeks. More frustrating than I can ever remember it being in the nearly 20 years I’ve been watching. It’s becoming tough to get through, even the help of a DVR. Even Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman haven’t been able to up my enthusiasm.

It’s not one specific thing that irks me right now. I’m sure if you talk to a lot of fans, they’d tell you a lot of the same things…

– The show is too damn long. Everything is so stretched and prolonged for the sake of time that it actually becomes boring.

– We don’t need a 20-minute monologue at the start of every show to get us invested. We’re already invested. We’re watching the show! And the casual fans that are tuning in at the top of the show are likely so bored by the long-winded promos and bad acting that they’re changing the channel anyway.

Mr. McMahon, Raw, Attitude Era– The Authority storyline has gone on too long. The whole “evil authority figure” story has been old hat since Vince McMahon himself perfected it in the late ’90s. Before the Attitude Era, we didn’t need an evil boss to drive the show forward. We just let the stories unfold. Why can”t we do that now?

– I hate to be this way, because I have no desire to see anyone out of a job. But this show desperately needs new faces. Big Show, Kane, Randy Orton, The Bella Twins, etc. These guys are all treading water. I imagine part of the reason NXT is so hot right now is because there are so many talents down there that fans haven’t seen before. Meanwhile, on the flagship show they’re still seeing certain talents that have been around for nearly two decades! We desperately need to mix things up.

Like the last several episodes, this week’s Raw was largely forgettable, and tough to get through. There were, however, a few bright spots. I’ll happily talk about them here.

Cesaro, John Cena, Raw, 06292015John Cena and Cesaro steal the show in US Title open challenge match. Cena and Cesaro have always had great chemistry. They’ve had some awesome matches, and while this wasn’t their best outing, it was definitely a breath of fresh air. I was pleasantly surprised to see Cena diversify his arsenal here. Mind you, that springboard stunner still looks like crap. But at least he’s trying. And in this match he definitely succeeded.

It’s tough to believe that in 2015, we’re saying a John Cena program is the creative highlight of a Raw. But these US Title open challenges, along with the story he’s telling with Kevin Owens have made him one of Raw’s MVPs in recent weeks.

As for Cesaro, this poor guy just can’t catch a break. Whether it’s the Wrestlemania battle royal last year, or being a tag team champion this year, the guy is becoming the poster boy for start-and-stop pushes. But if tonight proved anything, it’s that Cesaro deserves to play a prominent role on WWE television.

Bray Wyatt, Raw, 06/29/2015Bray Wyatt continues to target Roman Reigns, saying he’s the yin to Reigns’ yang. It seems like they’re trying to create a Batman/Joker dynamic here. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Reigns and Wyatt certainly fit those molds.

In his promo this week, Wyatt kept emphasizing: “Anyone but you, Roman.” That’s interesting, as that’s essentially the attitude the fans had toward Reigns at the Royal Rumble. I’m curious to see if Wyatt acknowledges that, and if so, how Reigns responds. It doesn’t look like they’re going the “family man” route anymore. That’s fine, so long as they know where they are going with this angle…

Sheamus def. Neville. I was as disappointed with Sheamus winning the Money in the Bank briefcase as a lot of people were. But he does have pretty good matches. I don’t have high hopes as far as how things will be if/when Sheamus cashes in and wins. But at least it’ll be something different.

Raw, 06/29/2015, Sheamus, NevilleAs for Neville, he’s usually fun to watch. I’m not really a fan of when he does those back flips in the ring for no real reason. But he’s starting to carve out a little niche for himself on the roster.

And that’s it. From a three hour show, I was able to list just three things I found appealing. Keep in mind, I’m usually a pretty optimistic wrestling fan. But right now, the show is just not good. Here’s hoping the build for Summerslam reinvigorates things.

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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