Tag Archives: The Social Outcasts (WWE)

The Brock Lesnar Blunder, Plus Ponderings From WWE Raw

Brock Lesnar, UFCBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

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.”

Stephanie McMahon, WWEDo 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.

WWE Raw, July 4, 2016, CharlotteCharlotte 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.

Seth Rollins vs. Dolph ZigglerThis 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.

WWE Raw, July 4, 2016, AJ Styles, John CenaJohn Cena calls out The Club. Enzo & Cass come to his defense. A six-man tag is booked for BattlegroundStyles 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.

The Wyatt Family, WWE Raw, July 4, 2016The Wyatt Family invites The New Day to their compound. This has turned out to be the feud I never knew I wanted. The whole positivity vs. darkness story really works.

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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Dean Ambrose to Play the Game, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Despite not having Shane McMahon, Roman Reigns, or Brock Lesnar to contribute to their respective stories, Raw was better than usual this week. As the ever popular Dean Ambrose took center stage this week, perhaps that’s not a coincidence. I’unno, he sure looks like a lead babyface to me.

We’re trying a chronological format this week. Unlike Vince McMahon with Wrestlemania, I’m willing to try different things once in awhile.

Pondering From WWE Raw:

WWE Raw, February 29, 2016, Triple H, Dean AmbroseDean Ambrose interrupts Triple H at the top of the show, challenges him to a title match. There’s really no comparison between the reactions Roman Reigns gets, and ones like this crowd gave Dean. What’s more, Triple H/Dean Ambrose is a program we haven’t seen before. While they didn’t have a match, we’ve seen The Authority feuding with Reigns for months now. The fact that Roman wasn’t even on the show this week didn’t do him any favors, either.

It’s really not rocket science, is it? The fans want Dean. But Vince McMahon wants Roman. He may not like it, but that Wrestlemania crowd is going to let him know that loud and clear.

Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch ends in a double pin. Awesome match. Probably the most physical women’s match we’ve seen on Raw in years, and certainly the best encounter Sasha and Becky have had on the national stage. And the crowd was really into it, which made things that much hotter. The only flaw, for my money, was that I didn’t buy Sasha simply going limp after that sunset flip from the top rope. Still, they’re obviously shooting for Charlotte vs. Sasha vs. Becky at Wrestemania. That works just fine for me. All three of these ladies have earned the right to be there.

The Miz, WWE Raw, February 29, 2016The Miz def. Dolph Ziggler. The announcers tried to play up the idea that these two have “long-standing animosity.” But a few weeks ago, we saw them riding together on a commercial for WWE Ride Along. Yes, I know kayfabe is dead. But sometimes little things like this matter.

In any event, Miz becomes the latest guy to beat Dolph Ziggler. His descent continues.

Stephanie McMahon cuts a promo on Shane McMahon and the WWE fans. This came off extremely rehearsed. But by scripted promo standards, this was pretty good. It was very personal, which is how this McMahon family stuff should be. When you give Steph something to be passionate and angry about, she can be really great out there. While I wouldn’t call this great, it was certainly better than your standard Authority promo.

Sheamus & Rusev def. The Lucha Dragons. So Rusev pins Kalisto, the United States Champion, to help build momentum for what I assume is going to be a tag title match against The New Day at Wrestlemania. Here’s my question: They had to beat The Lucha Dragons? They couldn’t have beaten say, Mark Henry & Jack Swagger? Hell, what about The Usos? Or if you do have to go against the Dragons, why not pin Sin Cara? I understand Kalisto has a history with the League of Nations. But why pin him when you don’t have to?

WWE Raw, February 29, 2016, Ryback Ryback def. Adam Rose. Like The Big Show and Kane, the Social Outcasts switch between heel and babyface based on who they have to job to. This week, Adam Rose was seemingly a babyface by virtue of being against Ryback. “The Big Guy” is once again being pushed as a monster heel. That, combined with his new ring attire, makes me wonder if WWE has somehow gotten Bill Goldberg to come out of retirement…

Nah. They’ll probably wind up putting him with Kane.

Chris Jericho & AJ Styles def. Big E. & Kofi Kingston. The question of whether we’re supposed to be cheering or booing The New Day is more confounding than ever right now. They’ve got something going with the League of Nations, who are definitive heels. And they’re most certainly entertaining, which indicates they’re babyfaces. But then tonight, they acted like heels against Jericho and Styles. Either way, I suspect an official babyface turn is coming.

Also coming? A Chris Jericho heel turn, most likely next week during this tag title match against The New Day. They’re doing Jericho and Styles at Wrestlemania. It’s just a question of how they get there. My guess? Chris Jericho’s sudden but inevitable betrayal.

The Undertaker, Vince McMahon, WWE Raw, February 29, 2016The Undertaker has a very brief confrontation with Vince McMahon. This segment was a huge disappointment. We got nothing in terms of The Undertaker’s motivation heading into this match. That was the one missing piece to this whole story. What motivation does The Undertaker have to be Vince’s “instrument of destruction?” Why should he care if Shane takes over Raw? There’s a lack of depth here that leaves much to be desired. If this were anybody but Undertaker, going against Shane would turn them into an instant heel. I doubt we’ll see a majority of fans booing ‘Taker at a Wrestlemania. But why exactly should they be cheering him here? He’s Vince’s pawn! This was a major missed opportunity by WWE to up the intrigue for Wrestemania.

Bubba Ray Dudley def. Jey Uso. This program with the Dudleys has been good for Jimmy and Jey so far. It gives them a chance to show their toughness, and shake off a little of that white meat babyface vibe. I’m not sure if these four are going to Wrestlemania, but they’ve got a good thing going thus far.

The Big Show def. Kevin Owens via count-out. There was some buzz leading up to Wrestlemania season about Kevin Owens possibly facing The Undertaker, or maybe even his old rival Sami Zayn. Looks like he’s getting The Big Show instead…ouch.

WWE Raw, February 29, 2016Dean Ambrose gets a beat-down from Triple H and the League of Nations, but is granted his WWE Title shot. This is most likely our main event for the WWE Network special later this month. That’s a shame, as it should really be the main event of Wrestlemania. In theory, they could switch the title to Ambrose and have him wrestle Brock for the title. That wouldn’t be the worst main event in the world. But I don’t see it happening. Roman Reigns vs. Triple  H seems to be inevitable. Those guys won’t be in a fun position, though. They’ll have to follow Shane and Undertaker, Dean and Brock, and whatever else WWE throws at us that night. And that’s not even taking the likely unforgiving Dallas crowd into account…

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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Wrestlemania Seeds, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

There’s not a lot to be excited about on WWE TV lately, and unfortunately, the crowds are starting to reflect that. It’s now noticeable on TV. When Vince announced Roman Reigns’ number in the Royal Rumble match, the crowd went “meh.” When the Wyatts, the Dudleys, and Ryback were out there, the crowd went “meh.” Even when Chris Jericho is out there nowadays, the crowds tend to go “meh.” It’s certainly a far cry from the crowds of the ’90s and early 2000s.

I think the bottom line is, things add up. Not just the injuries to top stars, but the inability to create new stars, overly scripted promos, 50/50 booking (ask Kalisto about that one), etc.

Sadly, there’s no quick fix. But it’s not all bleak…

The Wyatt Family, Raw, January 18, 2016Ponderings From WWE Raw

The Wyatt Family interrupt Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel, laying out Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. This seems to confirm rumors that Brock Lesnar and Bray Wyatt are working a program heading into Wrestlemania. I’m not necessarily a fan of them facing off at ‘Mania. This seems like more of a Fastlane match, as a double main event with Roman Reigns and Triple H. Then you have the two winners headline in Dallas. At this point, I think the money is in a Reigns/Lesnar rematch. After all, we never got a clear cut winner last year.

The show opens with a Roman Reigns/Chris Jericho in-ring segment, which becomes a match between Reigns and Rusev, with Jericho as the guest referee. Nothing to write home about here. Reigns was the obvious winner, as they weren’t going to let Rusev beat the top guy in the opening match. It’s a shame Rusev has been relegated to just another guy on the roster. He’s clearly got his character down pat, and is able to inject some nice wit on occasion. Incidentally, where has Lana been since the League of Nations formed?

WWE Raw, January 18, 2016, Chris Jericho, Roman ReignsI was pleased they followed this up with a backstage segment addressing how Jericho was able to spontaneously make a Raw match. That’s not to say I wouldn’t buy him as a matchmaker, though. God knows they need to get Triple H and Stephanie off TV on a regular basis.

Roman Reigns gets the number 1 spot in the Royal Rumble Match. I can’t decide how I feel about this. I get it, and it’s not really a surprise. And of course, we know Roman always has to REALLY strong… But really? Let’s not venture into ridiculous territory, here.

And yes, in this segment Vince McMahon, the chairman of a multimillion dollar corporation, was having trouble popping open various plastic balls. No wonder this show has been in so much damn trouble lately.

The New Day mourn the loss of “Francesca the Trombone.” This little pre-tape was funny. We need to get us a new heel tag team, and fast. The New Day are a lot of things, but they’re not heels.

Becky Lynch, WWE Monday Night Raw, January 18, 2016Becky Lynch gets a shot at Charlotte’s Divas Title at the Royal RumbleFor the second week in a row, Becky steals the show with a passionate, emotionally charged promo. I think we can say she’s officially broken out of the pack, and established her own identity. This exchange between Becky, Charlotte, and Rick Flair was the only damn thing that felt real on this show tonight. I’d love to know how much of that was ad libbed. Particularly the part about her “wheelin’ dealin’, title match stealin’, catch phrase spewin’, obnoxiously wooin’, scenery chewin’, hasn’t a clue-in’, father. That was amazing.

Sheamus & Alberto Del Rio def. Dean Ambrose & Kalisto. I’m beyond disappointed that Kalisto lost the US Title back to Del Rio on Smackdown. Why? Why even give Kalisto the title in the first place? It’s like they somehow realized they had a chance to do something exciting and special with this guy, so they made sure to squash it the very next night. Unbelievable.

On the plus side, Kevin Owens was great on commentary during this match. Most guys are just background noise when they join the announcers. But Owens actually used his mic time to make himself look like more of a prick. His Last Man Standing Match with Ambrose should be a hell of a semi-main event for the Rumble.

The Dudley Boyz, Ryback, WWE Monday Night Raw, January 18, 2016The Wyatt Family def. The Dudley Boyz & Ryback. I’m not sure why the Wyatts and the Dudleys are still being booked against each other. Isn’t there anybody else we could put with the Wyatts to build them up a bit more? Ryback isn’t exactly a new frontier for them, but at least he’s somebody different. The Wyatts beat the Dudleys, Tommy Dreamer, & Rhyno pretty handily. It feels like they’re beating a dead horse here.

Natalya def. Brie Bella. I swear, when those first two notes of Brie’s song hit, my skin always crawls. But hey, at least Nattie got to win.

In the spirit of promoting Total Divas, what this entire match was designed to do, they put Paige in Natalya’s corner. Even though Paige beat up Nattie backstage a few months ago, and may or may not be a heel. Perhaps she’s slipped into Team Bella land, i.e. they flip her back between hero and villain depending on what week it is. And on that topic…

The Big Show punches out all The Social Outcasts. Yep. Smilin’ Big Show is back. And he made absolutely sure this new Social Outcasts group is the reincarnation of 3MB by knocking them all out. No wonder the fans resent this guy so much…

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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John Cena’s Injury, Sting in the Hall of Fame, Plus Ponderings From WWE Raw

John Cena, shoulder surgery, January 2016By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

So yeah…John Cena went down with a turn rotator cuff last week, and underwent surgery to repair it. He’ll definitely be missing Wrestlemania.

So let’s tally this up. These are the stars who WON’T be competing at Wrestlemania XXXII in Dallas: John Cena, Randy Orton, Sting, Seth Rollins, Cesaro. There’s also been some buzz about Paige and Sasha Banks being hurt. But to my knowledge nothing is confirmed.

The biggest WWE superstar of the last decade being out of what they were hoping to be the most attended Wrestlemania of the last decade is undoubtedly a big deal. But it’s not the end of the world.

Obviously, Wrestlemania isn’t going to be as stacked as anybody hoped it would be. But as was the case when Seth Rollins went down with his injury, WWE simply has to play the best hand they can with the cards they’ve got. And thankfully, they’ve got better cards now than they did at Survivor Series. Thankfully, Roman Reigns seems to have turned the corner as their new top guy. That’s not to say he’s completely out of the woods, but he’s in better shape now than he was in the fall. If they keep his storyline strong, Wrestlemania should at least have a good backbone. A Roman Reigns/Brock Lesnar rematch seems to be the likely main event at this point, especially considering how Raw ended. That works for me. They had a really good match last year, and hopefully they can top it this year.

My question is, who do they put with The Undertaker now? Cena seemed like the man for the job…

Sting, Raw, September 14 ,2015Pondering From WWE Raw:

Sting announced as the first entrant for WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2016. Not really a surprise, and he’s definitely deserving. It’s probably been in the works since Sting signed in 2014. But for me, this is a disappointment. Sting never even got to win a one-on-one match in WWE. You’ll notice they didn’t mention THAT in his video package. Ending THAT run with a Hall of Fame induction is about as anticlimactic as it gets. Sting deserved better. The best we can hope for at this point is one more match.

Roman Reigns competes in “One vs. All” Gauntlet Match. Brock Lesnar cleans house, then attacks Reigns. Having Reigns spend most of the ring time with Kevin Owens was a nice spotlight for KO, and hopefully a sign of the faith they have in him.

Obviously this match was done to make Roman look strong. It’s an eye-roller on paper. But at least they didn’t have him lay out all 10 guys before Brock came out.

Paul Heyman’s involvement in this week’s show was sadly limited to backstage segments. That’s disappointing, but fine at this point. We are going to need another classic Heyman promo before the Rumble gets here, however.

The Undertaker, Wrestlemania XXXIAll 30 Royal Rumble Match participants appear at the top of the Raw set to start the show. Conspicuous by their absence among the participants were The Undertaker and Kane. They didn’t have to physically be there, but Vince or Stephanie could have easily mentioned them. While things can certainly change, I can only assume this means they’re not in the match. That’s a downer. Their presence in the match would help make it as special as WWE seems to want it to be. In ‘Taker’s case, one can argue the pros and cons of bringing him in just to be eliminated. But eliminating The Undertaker from the Royal Rumble would be a big deal for somebody, and might even help kick off a program for Wrestlemania. They made sure all the members of The New Day, The Wyatt Family, and The Social Outcasts got in. But they can’t at least bring Kane in? What the hell?

It was interesting to see Vince highlight Dolph Ziggler the way he did, mentioning his 10 years of “reaching for the brass ring.” But one week after losing to Heath Slater, what did it really mean?

Kalisto, Alberto Del Rio, Raw, January 12, 2016Kalisto def. Alberto Del Rio to win the United States Championship. I love this. This is something Raw desperately needed. A jumpstart for a new singles star. I’ve been saying for months that Kalisto has what it takes to be the Hispanic star WWE has been looking for. Now he has that opportunity. This is something to look forward to on Raw in the weeks to come.

Becky Lynch attacks Charlotte before her match, cuts an impassioned backstage promo. I’m sure that promo was scripted. But to her credit, Becky made it feel very real. Considering we know so little about her something with such a personal touch, performed that well, really goes a long way.

Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel returns to Raw. At the risk of sounding like every fickle wrestling fan out there, Jericho’s cool factor has, well, cooled. I’m not sure if that’s what he’s going for to lead to an eventual heel turn. But between the vest and the stomach, the stupid “rooty tooty booty” line, the scarf and the jacket this week….I just don’t get it.

Also, Star Wars was number one at the box office before you came back, Chris.

I’m actually really surprised this segment didn’t lead us into a six-man tag between The New Day, Jericho and The Usos. But saving Jericho’s in-ring return for the Rumble, or at the very least advertising it beforehand, is the smarter move.

The Social Outcasts, WWE Raw, January 12, 2016A match between The Wyatt Family vs. The Social Outcasts is interrupted by Ryback. So…are The Social Outcasts babyfaces? Everybody in this group was a heel before, weren’t they? But they acted like underdogs looking for a fight here. Then of course, you had Ryback coming out to attack the Wyatts, following up on an angle last week that no one remembered or cared about. So who benefitted from this segment? Nobody, that’s who.

Sheamus vs. Dean Ambrose goes to a double count-out. Kevin Owens attacks Ambrose after the match. Nothing against either man, but this match didn’t do anything for me. It didn’t really do anything for Sheamus either. At least Ambrose and Owens got to further their program. Sheamus simply looks like even more of a lame duck after this one.

Titus O’Neil def. Stardust. I liked this. Pretty basic psychology. Titus wins, celebrates with the fans (including one kid who didn’t seem into it at all), and Stardust is a sore loser and attacks him. Simple, yet effective.

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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