I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a company as self conscious about their image as WWE.
You’ve got Brock Lesnar, who in addition to being a WWE star is one of the biggest attractions in MMA history, under contract. You allow him to have one more fight, and it becomes a huge mainstream news story. You find yourself with a huge opportunity to rub shoulders with an organization that has the mainstream attention and legitimacy you so desperately want. So what do you do?
If you’re WWE, you don’t even mention it on television. Not a promo, not a commercial, not a mention from the announcers. Not one word.
Then on top of that, Stephanie McMahon does an interview with Business Insider and says…
“We are not supporting the fight necessarily but…it’s not a competitor to us and the more that our superstars, that’s how we refer to our talent, the more they do outside of WWE, the more awareness it generates and the broader the audience can be that is then brought back into our properties. So we recognize the value of that.”
Do you? Because you haven’t said a word about it on television. They’ve had weeks to figure something out. They couldn’t have slipped in a mention? Why even let Brock fight if you’re not going to use the extra exposure to your advantage? It’s downright bizarre.
By the way, Brock had the perfect response to Steph’s comment about “not supporting” the fight: “I don’t care what she thinks.”
Ponderings From Raw:
The show begins with a Fourth of July food fight. Honestly, to me the only thing interesting about this was that Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio were standing together when the segment started. Aren’t they still enemies?
Rusev def. Titus O’Neil to retain the United States Title. Did they have to dress Titus O’Neil like Uncle Sam? How hokey can you get…
“Go ahead, celebrate with your hamburgers and little weenies.” Great line. And the right result for this match. The dominant champion wins with his finisher.
Enzo & Cass interrupt the Social Outcasts, defeat Bo Dallos & Curtis Axel. The crowd didn’t react nearly as much as they should have to Enzo reciting all the presidents like that. Bob Backlund must be proud.
Charlotte and Sasha Banks come face to face once again. This was really good. Charlotte came off very natural, and every bit as conceited and self-centered as she needs to be. From a talking standpoint, Banks wasn’t as strong. But she still held her own. And of course, she came out on top in the end. They also didn’t stay out there too long. It took just the right amount of time. Lovely work from both ladies.
WWE Champion Dean Ambrose def. Intercontinental Champion The Miz. WWE should be careful about how they book Dean Ambrose while he has the title. He needs to look strong, and not like a fluke champion. Clearly, he’s not their first choice to be WWE Champion right now. But champion or not, Ambrose will be one of the top stars on Raw or Smackdown. Having him win the title was a great step toward establishing him not just as a player, but a major player. But they need to keep him strong. Putting him at the top of hour two isn’t the spot I’d have him. In a champion vs. champion match, no less.
Still, at least he won. I’m not a fan of champions getting pinned. But if somebody has to beat the Intercontinental Champion, the WWE Champion is the man to do it.
Seth Rollins def. Dolph Ziggler. Steve Austin said on a podcast recently that one of the things wrong with Raw nowadays is there’s no continuing plot thread that holds the show together. They’re just throwing matches out there. That’s a great point, and one of the factors in the ratings plummeting for that third hour.
This match had backstory, at least. The idea was these guys may end up on different shows after the draft. So Ziggler wants to prove himself against Rollins just in case. Fair enough, but it would have been nice to see Dolph make that challenge. And of course he lost, because that’s what he does.
Also, Ziggler’s transformation into ’90s era Shawn Michaels is almost complete. He just needs to grow out his chest hair. Better get on that.
Vickie Guerrero returns, vies for Smackdown Chief Operating Officer job. You’ve got to give Vickie credit. Her mic skills weren’t rusty at all. She was never a great performer in the purist sense of the word. But she got more heat than most of the wrestlers she worked with.
So they’re not calling them general managers anymore. Instead, they’re chief operating officers. Isn’t that Triple H’s on-screen role? So what does he become now?
Golden Truth def. The Vaudevillians. Has anyone ever had that kind of “follow the bouncing ball” entrance before? Golden Truth might have made history tonight…
Hopefully The Vaudevillains will get a jumpstart when the roster splits. They may be getting TV time, but they’ve lost the cruel edge that set them apart. That’s not good news.
John Cena calls out The Club. Enzo & Cass come to his defense. A six-man tag is booked for Battleground. Styles talked about Cena “burying” him again in this promo. At least tonight we got a bit of insight into what he means by that. He talked about the “powers that be” who didn’t want him in the company. The implication seems to be that Cena can get WWE to push Styles out of the title picture. I wish he’d just come out and say that already.
I wish The Club hadn’t done the whole mount and punch routine for so long during the beat down. The fact that Cena didn’t come up a bruised and bloody pulp crushes your suspense of disbelief like a bug.
So Enzo & Cass are aligned with Cena now. I’m not sure what that’ll do to them in the eyes of the Cena haters. But I’m interested to see how they match up with The Club.
Becky Lynch def. Summer Rae. Happy to see Becky and Natalya getting a pay per view match. They both absolutely deserve this time in the limelight. For that matter, so does Summer Rae. She’s been part of a few bad storylines. But she’s a good performer, and can be a solid asset to whatever show she’s on after the draft.
I’m surprised it’s taken us this long to get a confrontation at the Wyatt Family compound. It seems like a no-brainer to me, and maybe an opportunity to learn more about who these guys are. This would be a cool selling point for Battleground.
The Big Show and Zack Ryder survive a “Team USA vs. The World” elimination tag match. An utterly skippable main event. Why not put this at the top of the first hour, instead of the damn WWE Champion? On the plus side, WWE seems to have embraced Zack Ryder as their new resident underdog. That’s not a bad spot to be in. I just wish we hadn’t had to sit through this match for his latest feel-good moment.
Tuesday Morning Talk Points: NONE.
Image 1 from foxsports.com. Remaining images courtesy of WWE.
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