Inside Pulse 12

Metalhead’s Riff: Dissecting WWE Royal Rumble 2016 (Kalisto, Dean Ambrose, Charlotte, Triple H Wins 14th World Title)

First WWE PPV of the year and there is actually quite a lot that can be written about it, so let’s dive right in.

Pre-show match was pretty match like the pre-show itself, entirely skip-able. The fact that the eventual winners, Jack Swagger and Mark Henry, only lasted seconds during the Rumble match just highlighted how pointless all of this was. It is, however, worth mentioning how over Sandow was with the crowd. Despite WWE not using him at all, Sandow’s popularity remains high. Not if only WWE could see that.

I feel that gimmick s like that “Last Man Standing” match are a bit tricky for the performers involved nowadays, and that, of course, has everything to do with the limitations of the PG-era. That being said, I thought Ambrose and Owens made the best of that situation and worked a very entertaining, well-paced and well-worked match. I’ve said before that WWE made too much effort in presenting their feud like a mid-card feud, making it feel somewhat under-whelming at times, but the pay-off was certainly worth anyone’s time. Owens remains the best heel WWE has right now, and that has everything to do with his top-notch in-ring psychology and mannerism. It’s the little thing that separates true wrestling heels from the ones that are only playing at being an heel and KO understands that. When watching, my only complaint with the match was that it ended a bit abruptly, but that has probably more to do with me wanting it to go on than with any real problem with the finish. Great start of the PPV.

I’m fully aware I’m in the minority here, but I’m starting to get a bit tired of New Day’s antics and here is why. Over the top gimmicks and shenanigans can be very amusing, but then can also get on your nerves after awhile, especially if they kind of over-shadow everything else. Case in point, the tag team title match were the most over thing was… Xavier Woods and his trombone? Now most might find that very amusing but how the hell is that supposed to overcome the current staleness of the tag team division? Shouldn’t it be about the tag teams themselves? That aside both teams worked an entertaining match that was unfortunately marred a bit by the Uso’s being not over at all. Maybe they should have dressed like trombones. The fact that new Day now has zero potential opponents left going forward says it all about the way WWE has been booking this division.

On the plus side, I like the fact that WWE is at least trying to present somewhat different, in this case Lucia-influenced, styles on their cards. Unfortunately, one cannot say the Del Rio and Kalisto have really clicked in the ring. Not that their matches were bad, but it always felt something was missing. Same with this match. Can’t say it was bad, on the contrary, but some sloppy spots and a on/off chemistry between the two made it, perhaps, the weakest match on the under-card. As for Kalisto winning, sure, that’s great, it also opens opportunity’s for matches against wrestlers such as Neville, which could be great if WWE wants to go for that. But, to be honest, I’ll probably be a lot more enthusiastic about Kalisto’s win in a couple of weeks, when I’m sure Del Rio won’t simply regain the US belt on the next RAW or Smackdown.

During the event, I was discussing things with Widro and Darek Foreman on Inside Pulse Slack, and Darek made the following joke once the match ended:”Ric Flair retains the title in a good match”. I found this quite funny but also a rather depressing reflection on the current state of the Diva’s Division. Was the match good? Sure, both Becky and Charlotte worked their asses off to deliver an entertaining outing. Real question is, did Ric Flair’s action help the match or did they hinder it? And to that you have to wonder how having an old man kiss someone who could be his grand-daughter helps anyone (except, maybe the old man in question), or how Charlotte is supposed to ever connect to the crowds as a heel when it is The nature Boy that does all the actual heel work. So basically, Becky got screwed (again), Ric is still Diva’s champion and his next opponent will be Sasha Banks who received an hero’s welcome from the Orlando crowd.  And now all signs point to Charlotte vs Sasha at WM, while I still think the real money-match is between Becky and Sasha, for the simple reason nobody really cares about Charlotte. Why would they? As said above there is no connection between her and the crowds. Blame it on the booking, you wouldn’t be wrong.

And finally, some thoughts on the Royal Rumble match:

While expected, I was still, somehow, surprised to see AJ Styles. A very pleasant surprise, mind you, not in the least because I thought WWE did a rather good job booking him. OK it is true AJ Styles sort of disappeared in a sea of body after awhile, but who doesn’t in a Royal Rumble? Besides the Orlando crowd was very vocal in reminding constantly reminding WWE who their new favorite was. And no, it wasn’t Reigns. I also thought they made a very smart choice by having Owens eliminate Styles, as he’s one of the few guys on the roster that can use the heat that has generated to his advantage.

Speaking of Owens and Styles, teases were made about a potential feud between those two. And it didn’t stop there as tease were made about matches between Owens and Zayn (in a VERY heated segment), Styles and pretty much everybody who can actually wrestle, Jericho and Ambrose, etc. That should stem me hopeful for the coming months; Then again while all this was happening, arguably the most interesting part of the Rumble, WWE insisted on showing us recaps of what happened to reigns. Will they ever learn?

R-Truth and New Day tried to deliver some comedy (I wouldn’t even call the Social Outcast a comedy act at this point) but THE moment that really made me laugh is Rusev hugging McMahon while screaming “OK BOSS!”. Pure gold. So much more could be done with Rusev, I think.

Since we’ve arrived at the League of nations, how about them dismantling Reigns and then neglecting to actually eliminate him? A bit later the Wyatts would show how it’s done by basically repeating the segment, only they actually eliminated Lesnar. So the family that looks like they have a combined IQ of 55 is actually smarter than the league of nations? What the hell happened to you Alberto? You used to be so smart. I guess that’s what happens when you let Vince do your thinking.

Interesting reaction to the Bray Wyatt/HHH tease. It looks like Bray finally has some momentum going for him. Lets hope WWE doesn’t spoil it by having Lesnar beat them all in under 5 minutes.

Reigns got slaughtered by the Orlando crowd. there is really no other way to put it. I’m starting to really feel bad for Reigns as none of this is his fault really. It has even been suggested that WWE knew this would happen, that’s why it was Ambrose vs HHH in the end, but I think that plans were changed during the match, when WWE finally realized that the crowd was going to boo Reigns even if they had him cuddle babies, help old ladies cross the street and save kittens. It’s now clear we’re going to have Reigns vs HHH at WM, but WWE is still i a whole lot of trouble when it comes to Reigns and I really don’t see how they can rectify this. There are talks that they’re gonna put The Rock in his corner at WM and add Stone Cold Steve Austin to the match as Special Referee, but even then, won’t people just cheer for The Rock and Austin and boo Reigns? It’s time WWE stops being stubborn and turns Reigns, because, as things stand now, they’re murdering his career.

And lastly, last night, we all bowed down to the real King of WWE. That Triple H was going to win became more and more likely as the Rumble comes closer as HHH is one of their few remaining “big” names that is readily available and can deliver in the ring when asked to. Not really a good thing because it says more than any column about WWE’s failure to create any new stars.

Conclusion: Have to say I was mostly entertained by this, so there is that. But WWE’s creative problem remains and even worsen as time goes by. Ric Flair is the star of the Diva’s Division, Francesca The Trombone is the star of the Tag Team Division and WWE’s top heel (HHH) got more cheers than WWE’s top babyface (Reigns). Much more. As for Triple H being champion again, a lot will be written about that in the coming weeks, but i’ll just say that it seems to me WWE once again tries to move forward by going backwards.

 

That’s all from me this week, see you all next week and have fun!

 

 

 

 

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