The Delco Elbow Drop

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Last Raw before WWE Battleground leaves a lot to be desired

This started as a very negative look at the Battleground “go-home” episode of Raw but while I was writing it, I decided to add a segment looking at the positives aspects happening too. Unfortunately, the negatives outweigh the positives in WWE right now. I hope things can turn around after Battleground but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Rollins injured I’m a mark
I was gonna start off with a bit about how it looked like Rollins got injured on Monday, with all this stuff about how legit it looked, how the refs were throwing up the X sign and how the trainers rushed over to him as soon as it happened and what a terrible omen it would’ve been to have yet another popular Superstar injured (more on that later). But apparently it was all a work and I’m just a mark.

My next point is a big one, though.

Cesaro is dead in the water
With Paul Heyman not at his side (indicating that the build up to Brock Lesnar’s return is beginning), Cesaro’s momentum is all but gone and the Swiss Superman is back to square one.

He was starting to gain traction with the Real Americans, was getting a great reaction with the giant swing then won the Andre the Giant Battle Royal Memorial at Wrestlemania 30 and it seemed that a face turn was inevitable. But then WWE swerved us. They paired him with Paul Heyman out of nowhere, made him stop using the giant swing and now even Heyman is gone.

What the logic behind these moves is, I could not say. The giant swing was super popular and the crowds really loved it. He was getting cheers with the Real Americans (when they were heels) and even freaking SHOOK BIG SHOW’S HAND after tossing him out of the WM30 battle royal. A face turn seemed inevitable but instead, they insisted on keeping him heel, took his popular move, took his popular manager and now he’s losing to guys (Big E) who couldn’t even beat a brand new guy on the roster (Rusev). Hell, they took the giant swing from him almost as soon as they started calling him “The King of Swing.” I understand that “heels don’t do popular moves” but when the crowds show they really enjoy something, like the giant swing, where’s the sense or logic in taking that away?

Whatever momentum Cesaro was gaining in the past year and a half is gone – and for what? Even with one of the best managers of all time, Cesaro took a backseat to Heyman doing his “My client Brock Lesnar” spiel. I hope to god he wins the Intercontinental title battle royal at Battleground, brings back the giant swing and turns face because if he stays a heel, he’ll continue to be directionless and eventually irrelevant.

At least he can wear knee pads now.

Paige explains “frenemy” as I cringe
Whatever happened to the “Anti-Diva?” Whatever happened to the badass, take-no-crap Paige from NXT who didn’t let anyone push her around? I want her back because this Paige who sits idly by and applauds the person who took her title isn’t working for me.

When Paige came to Raw and beat AJ for the Divas title, I was excited because it was so unexpected. But then every match after she won the belt went something like this – enter, get beat up for 5-10 minutes, win out of nowhere with no build up or story. Then AJ comes back, beats Paige for the title in two minutes and Paige is just sorta OK with it. WHAT?

I’ve seen people defending the current AJ/Paige storyline saying “this is how women fight – being catty and disguising what they really mean.” Which is essentially saying the WWE is injecting some subtlety into this feud…which is utter nonsense. When was the last time WWE was ever subtle about anything? Vince thinks his audience is all children who need to be heavy-handedly told everything. Plus, AJ and Paige, at one point, were not your typical Divas division wrestlers – so where’s the logic in making them typical, catty ladies trading back-handed compliments instead of forearms?

If Paige doesn’t have a hard heel turn at Battleground, chalk this up as another missed opportunity to actually create an interesting Divas feud.

Bray gets “boring” chants
I understand that Bray Wyatt doesn’t necessarily connect with everyone. There’s a segment of the WWE audience who doesn’t care for his promo style and doesn’t quite get his character. But I never expected he would draw “boring” chants.

I can only imagine the grin on Kevin Dunn’s face as one of the bigger personalities to come out of NXT is starting to falter with live crowds. But it’s not entirely Bray’s fault – it’s the booking.

Bray and the Wyatt Family started out as creepy, almost other-worldly personas. They acted like a cult and seemed to be indoctrinating the crowd with their message of destroying the old guard. Then his campaign against Daniel Bryan went off the rails and fizzled. After that, he had a lengthy program with John Cena where he won…maybe one match against Cena? And in that contest he needed all the outside interference he could muster and then some to win.

What I’m saying is, Bray hasn’t exactly been booked to look very strong and I think the crowds are starting to lose interest. Where he should’ve been being booked to be unstoppable, able to abduct and brainwash Superstars to his cause, he’s looked inept and ineffectual. I’m really hoping that his current feud with Chris Jericho goes well for him because if it doesn’t, Bray will have some serious ground to make up.

Ric Flair puts over Cena. Again.
Because if there’s anyone who needs a rub from the 16-time World Champion, it’s the 14-time World champion. C’mon, man.

And Cena gave Flair the Big Gold (the former WCW and World Heavyweight Championship belt) before the main event, which is how many are speculating the belt will be written off. I didn’t hate having two titles to represent the now unified WWE and World Heavyweight Championships but I was kinda hoping they would introduce a new unified belt. But considering how recently they introduced the WWE Championship belt, that was probably a pipe dream.

Sandow and Rose shill Sonic
Remember when Damien Sandow had promise? When he won the Money in the Bank and had an interesting feud going with Cody Rhodes? I’m starting to think I imagined all that because Sandow is a shadow of his former self. Who’s jacket did he lean on to get this kind of treatment?

And Adam Rose being relegated to in-house advertising isn’t that surprising - just disappointing. It seemed like crowds were starting to get on board with the Exotic Express and being Rosebuds, but it just never amounted to anything substantial.

I still don’t know why they hot-shotted Adam Rose to the main roster. The guy spent YEARS as Leo Kruger but after maybe six months of doing Adam Rose, they bring him up to the main roster…to shill fast food? I don’t get it.

CM Punk on the Alumni page
Hopefully this stops the CM Punk chants. But I doubt it will.

Bad News Barrett out/IC title battle royal
You gotta feel for BnB. He seemed to be on the verge of the main event scene with the Nexus but that fizzled (because surprise, surprise CENAWINSLOL). Wade Barrett had a decent Intercontinental title run but he really hit his stride with Bad News Barrett. It took some time but crowds really started getting behind him, even though he was a heel. But a few weeks ago he hurt his shoulder and got stripped of the IC title. I'm hoping the battle royal for the IC belt at Battleground will rejuvenate the mid-card but with talk of Sheamus winning and unifying the United States and IC belts, things don't look promising.

I hope that when he comes back BnB can pick up where he left off but crowds are fickle and popularity now doesn’t necessarily ensure popularity in the future.

The situation is the same with Daniel Bryan, though it looks like he’s going to be out a lot longer than Barrett. I already did a piece about how detrimental and unfortunate it is to the WWE product that Bryan is out “indefinitely” so I don’t want to dwell on it but it’s just really rough for the fans (and obviously the performers) when a wrestler really starts to connect with the audience but gets sidelined for months with an injury.

Indifference to Ambrose mugging
Umm…was everyone at the concession stands? How come when Dean Ambrose got attacked by Randy Orton, Kane and Seth Rollins, the crowd couldn’t seem to care? No boos, no gasps…just relative silence. Ambrose being the badass he is managed to get a small reaction with his “Is that all you got?” line, but even still, the lack of reaction was pretty surprising to me.

Cameron and Alicia are friends?
That’s weird. They never had ANY connection before but now are teaming together? Well…maybe a little connection.

The pairing is almost as odd as Kofi Kingston and Big E suddenly watching each other’s backs. But I guess it’s a step forward that Rusev isn’t just squashing black wrestlers anymore – even though it is a bit strange that he ran roughshod over Xavier Woods, R-Truth, Kofi Kingston and Big E and now WWE is booking Jack Swagger, a white guy, to be a credible threat to Rusev. I’m not say WWE is racist, I’m just saying sometimes their booking is a bit…odd.

Sting returns! (in a commercial)
He’s back you guys! Sting is finally going to be in the WWE! (He hasn’t been in the company since it changed from WWF to WWE)
Wait, no, sorry – it was just a commercial for a video game.
And for the record – blonde Sting is way better than Crow Sting.

Flo Rida on Raw next week

The Good
I don’t hate everything going on, though. Here, I’ll prove it

Usos vs Harper and Rowan
These two teams will be meeting in a 2-out-of-3 falls match at Battleground for the tag belts in what should be a great match. They’ve been killing it in the ring lately and this match should be another epic encounter. I just hope this time the Wyatt Family comes away with the gold.

The Miz is…actually pretty entertaining
I’ve never been a huge fan of The Miz. I didn’t care for the fact that some reality show kid got a job in WWE just because he was a total mark on the show. And in the past few years, his face persona just gave me douche chills.

But “Hollywood” Miz? This guy is great. He’s embracing all the elements of his persona people seem to hate, turning them up to 11 and it’s really working. His victory over Sheamus on Raw was surprising and it looks like he has a legitimate shot to win the IC battle royal. Even if he doesn’t come away with the gold, this Miz, always telling people to stay away from his “money maker” (his face) is, dare I say…awesome?

Ziggler, Fandango, Summer and Layla
The feud between Summer Rae and Layla El over Fandango which in turn has involved Dolph Ziggler is pretty entertaining. I didn’t see Summer and Layla working together coming and the duo using Dolph to make Fandango jealous is really great. But really, anything that gives these four more screen time is best for business.

BoLieve in Bo Dallas
If you ask me if I like Bo Dallas, I’ll say I hate the guy. But that’s only because he’s a heel and I’m not supposed to like him.

The truth is, Bo Dallas is excellent right now and easily one of the best parts of any show he’s on. His pseudo-inspirational speeches, the way he celebrates after winning, the way he talks down to the people he’s wrestling, announcing his winning streak as being “15 and Bo” instead of  “15 and O” – it’s all genius. I legitimately laughed out loud for minutes on end when he recently interrupted Daniel Bryan and told him his current situation must be “such a pain in the neck.”

After the Rhodes Brothers stopped tagging and Cody was getting a new partner for Goldust each week, I was a little skeptical that the duo would be on TV for much longer. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how amazing Cody’s “Stardust” gimmick is. You can really tell that Cody is embracing the weirdness of the gimmick too and it’s paying off with great segments and even better matches. They’re highlights of any show they’re on, regardless of how long they’re on screen, and I can only hope we get more of the pair of Stardust and Goldust going forward.

Swagger vs Rusev
Who would have ever thought the crowd would get behind Jack Swagger as much as they have recently? Toward the end of the Real American tag team, the fans seemed to be embracing the gimmick, especially the “We the people” chant, but I never thought it would be as popular as it’s become. The current feud between Swagger/Zeb and Rusev/Lana is being built really well and is one of the most anticipated matches at Battleground. With the kind of reaction they’ve been getting, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see this feud extended to Summerslam as well.

Many stars NXT bound
This isn’t related to Raw but I wanted to mention that even though some of the main roster stories aren’t working for me, NXT is looking brighter and brighter every day. Their current roster is firing on all cylinders, especially Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville, Tyler Breeze and Tyson Kidd and with rumors that KENTA and Prince Devitt will be on the roster by September and guys like Kevin Steen and Willie Mack not far behind, the future is looking very good for the NXT brand.

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An avid gamer and long-time pro wrestling fan, stay tuned to Grizzly Gaming and the Delco Elbow Drop for game reviews and pro wrestling news.

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