By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
On the whole, Raw was more watchable this week. In the absence of The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, and Paul Heyman, we got a video package hyping the main event of Hell in a Cell. I’m not sure if that’s what you want, considering this match is headlining the damn pay per view. There’s not nearly as much buzz about this match as there was about their Summerslam encounter. And this is supposed to be the blow-off!
But while there were plenty of negatives, the show did have one obvious bright spot.
John Cena faces Dolph Ziggler in his weekly US Open Challenge. So, um…I guess that was a legit marriage proposal that happened during the opening moments of this match. I’ll always give Cena credit for rolling with whatever the crowd gives him.
With Cena about to take some time off, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he picked Ziggler to drop the title to. Dolph has been as big a victim as any of the WWE “start and stop push.” But he keeps putting on matches like the one we saw with Cena tonight, and he refuses to be forgotten about. Does it even need to be said that this was the match of the night?
Was really interested to see Ziggler pay homage to Shawn Michaels with the stomps in the corner leading up to the superkick. If you look at how Ziggler has updated his gear as of late, with the long tights and the white boots combined with his overall look, he almost looks like he’s trying to morph himself into the HBK of the early ’90s.
Roman Reigns cuts a promo before beating Braun Strowman via count-out. Roman Reigns really needs to be a heel. Much like his “cousin” The Rock, he’s got a swagger and a personality that’s dying to get out. That “Y’all can’t hear me or somethin’?” line he gave in response to the “What?” chants was good. But he was playing nice because he’s supposed to be a babyface. This guy has had enough experience on the mic now that if you just let him say what’s on his mind, the fans would probably get behind him eventually.
But instead, he’s being forced into a babyface role. I cringed when I saw him next to John Cena in that Susan G. Komen segment last week. If you’re trying to build a guy up as your next top star, the one person you don’t want to put him next to is Cena.
I can appreciate what they’re doing with Braun Strowman. He’s cast very well as a seemingly invincible giant. If only The Big Show had been lucky enough to be cast in such a role. But as was the case with Rusev, and a lot of other once invincible talents, it becomes a question of what you do with the guy once they’ve been humanized. Once the giant has been slayed, what do you do with him?
WWE plays off online revelation that Rusev and Lana are engaged, has Summer Rae turn on Rusev after a match. So Summer Rae does the logical thing and ends it with Rusev. But this match left Rusev looking like a heel. But the crowd might still be inclined to cheer for Lana. Where does that leave us…?
Sheamus & Wade Barrett def. Neville & Cesaro. Wasn’t tough to predict a winning team for this one. Cesaro, a recent victim of yet another start and stop push, teaming with Neville, the guy who lost in 30 seconds last week.
How is Neville’s huge loss last week not the entire basis of what they’re doing with he, Sheamus, and Barrett? These guys made Neville lose a match in less than a minute. They humiliated him. I’m not that big a Neville fan, but I”d sure as hell root for him to get his win back if they played it up.
In the main event, Kane def. Seth Rollins in a Lumberjack Match. This program with Rollins and Kane has fallen flat. It’s such a shame, as with the right story it could have been compelling. But this whole multiple personality thing with Kane killed it. Now they’ve reached the point where they have to actually give us the match to try and entice us to buy another match between the two at Hell in a Cell. As always, that strategy is lame.
The New Day def. Randy Orton & Dean Ambrose. This match had the right finish. The New Day should stay dominant. They got to brag about beating up Cena, Ziggler, and the Dudleys, and now they’ve beaten Orton and Ambrose.
If Big E., Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods are going to remain heels, then what I’d like to see from them is more of a mean streak. It seems like they’re slowly moving in that direction, but I want more. I love that they’re entertaining, but we also want these guys to be villains. Especially if they’re going to be placed in such important spots on the show.
Nikki Bella def. Naomi, as the crowd (and Brie Bella) chanted for Sasha Banks. I get what they were going for with this one. The Bellas drive a wedge between Team BAD by playing up Sasha’s much-heralded match with Bayley at the latest NXT Takeover. In that respect, it worked.
But after such an awesome match between two women in the development system, what does it say that this match, on what’s supposed to be the promotion’s flagship show, was such a snoozefest? You’ve got arguably the best female wrestler in the world standing on the outside, and then you give us that match. Ugh.
Brie Bella pins Charlotte in a tag team match. I don’t even want to acknowledge this. Again, the only word I’m left with is: “Ugh.”
James Storm appears at NXT taping. Storm is a nice get for WWE, and ultimately a win-win for everybody. He’s been around for over 15 years now. So like Samoa Joe or Rhyno, Storm can work with newer wrestlers and help them up their game. Plus, no whether they ever call him up or not, time under the WWE umbrella makes will make Storm a more attractive prospect for other promotions when he leaves.
Matt Hardy vacates TNA Heavyweight Championship. Promotion holding tournament to crown undisputed champion. This was an eye-roller, following the feel-good moment TNA ended Bound For Glory with. My understanding is TNA is going to compile part of this tournament together with matches taped in July. That’s fine, I suppose. At this point it’s all about getting fresh content up, as they have no new Impact episodes taped. As for who wins, my money’s on Ethan Carter III. In many ways, he’s the crown jewel of TNA. What exactly that spot is worth these days is up for debate.
Images courtesy of WWE.com.
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