What is the feud of the year so far? Is the WWE back on track? How great was CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan? Does CM Punk and John Cena feud already major heat? Do the Money in the Bank matches lack something? Read this to uncover all the answers and more.
I planned on doing a column about why wrestling was better without Vince McMahon, but I am still in the process of how I want to present it. And there’s too much newsworthy stuff to not discuss it as Money in the Bank is a less than 24 hours behind us and the road to the 1,000 Raw and the 25th Summerslam are one step closer.
Feud of the year so far?
As we approach a little over the halfway point of the year, there have been a handful of quality selections for feud of the year. If I had to guess, the most popular pick would be Rock vs. Cena. I had gigantic expectations for it, but I cannot say they came close to fulfilling them. The worked shoots, as many of you already know, weren’t my favorite way of building the match to say in the least. While Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena, Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk, and Undertaker vs. Triple H were all great feuds, not one of them entertained me more than this certain feud. Every feud that I’ve mentioned took place in the WWE, but this one isn’t even in it. In fact, this feud isn’t a main eventing one, either.
The feud I am talking about is Bully Ray and Joesph Parks. There’s no doubt that the writing for it has been good, yet it isn’t the main reason this feud’s sticking out. The reason is because of the performers. Bully Ray plays a ruthless old school bully whose bark is larger than his bite, while Park plays a quirky but yet sympathetic likeable babyface, and both these entertainers exactly know how to play off the other’s personality.
Bully Ray always has been someone who knew how to get under the fan’s skin as well as get white-heat, but his new gimmick has made him evolve. And even though Ray has gotten nuclear heat for almost his entire run as a heel, he did a lot of cheap heat tactics to get it. It’s not that I have a problem with cheat heat, it’s just the mere principal that he’s getting just as much heat not doing it.
Meanwhile, Joseph Parks is showing a good example of it’s not what you say, it’s how and when you say it. His facial expressions and mannerisms sell the drama more so than any words could. Another example of “it’s not what you can do, it’s when and why you do it” was their match on Impact. Nothing about the match was pretty, but it was still surely effective. They both exquisitely told several different stories in their match and topped it off with an added twist that reveled Abyss and Parks are the same person (which is the best idea that they could’ve done imo).
Ultimately, this feud has been just so well put together and performed brilliantly. Not to mention, everything has escalated every week and added something to keep you intrigued. If they blow this feud off just as good as everything else’s been, there’s no doubt this will be my feud of the year if nothing comes along that’s better. And, frankly, it’s not even difficult to blow this feud off, either; all they have to do is have Abyss get his revenge and Bully Ray get his comeuppance. If they get more sophisticated than that, even better.
The MITB PPV adds much-needed structure to the WWE
For about a month, there have been two big problems with the WWE’s show, one of which being the aimless feeling the shows have and the other being the lack of continuity. However, because of the MITB, it feels as if there’s some much-needed structure and hopefully some continuity in the product.
Dolph Ziggler winning the Smackdown MITB briefcase but failing to cash it in successfully against Sheamus adds momentum they can build off for their feud; the finish of Daniel Bryan and CM Punk didn’t solve who AJ wants, meaning the feud still isn’t settled; and John Cena winning the MITB is probably going to set up a marquee feud with CM Punk.
Consequently, MITB has finally built some has created some intriguing news that they can utilize to build on. In fact, I believe MITB is the beginning of the hot summer WWE is going to have. Even though the show didn’t set the world on fire, it did indeed plant much-needed seeds that can grow into interesting angles.
CM Punk and Daniel Bryan do it this time on a mainstream level
There’s no doubt that their first match wasn’t great, but it was just a small sample of what they are capable of. Last night, in spite of the Days of Our Lives booking that cascaded their feud, they had their best match yet. I am usually critical of WWE’s massive schedule, because it makes its wrestlers work a lighter and looser type style (and the damage it does on its wrestlers), but the style presented here was the polar opposite of that. It was a pure unadulterated, hard-hitting match.
There were also a lot of things in here that most matches do wrong. For one, the usage of weapons. Due to there being so much garbage wrestling around these days thanks to ECW, many matches that have weapons make them make them seem meaningless. This match, however, made them feel important. I mean look at how well they teased cane shots, which subsequently made the crowd become unglued and filled with emotion when they finally did use it; look at how they battled for the chair, which demonstrated the magnitude of the impact it could have on the match’s outcome; and even though it was just a backwards superplex, it’s the fact that someone went through a table made it enough to finish someone off.
Another example of wrong vs. right were the striking exchanges. Usually, you never want to book something even-handily, because it doesn’t get anything over and everything just stays the same (per se). Punk and Daniel’s striking exchanges led to something. Sometimes they led to Bryan getting heat and other times led to Punk staying in control or making his comeback. It didn’t matter where it went. It just mattered that it somewhere, something most matches don’t do.
Still, the most freaky thing about this match was – even though it was well put-together and subtlety wrestled – these two could do better. It felt as if they could’ve shifted into a higher gear or turned up the volume louder. Due to the finish though, it feels like they’ll have another match on the big 1,000 Raw. One could only hope that the commercial breaks or WWE limiting them doesn’t hinder what could be one of the best matches in a long time.
John Cena and CM Punk’s feud already has heat
By no means do I approve the title not being in the main event because a wrestler who doesn’t hold the title, but the WWE, maybe even by accident, created an intriguing angle they can build off. Despite CM Punk being one of the longest reigning champions ever, the limelight has been on John Cena on practically every PPV, which plays along the story of CM Punk’s rant last year about the WWE.
The story can be about CM Punk having to prove to the world that he’s indeed a solidified champion and is the top star in the WWE, despite what they think. Like I said earlier, I dislike that Cena’s been in the limelight without the belt on just about every PPV, but if they had Punk and Bryan main event Money in the Bank, it would’ve ruined an angle that has a lot of genuine meaning behind it.
The Money in the Bank matches need substance
If you’re one of those people who like a happy ending to something, I recommend you to not read this part. I’ve been nothing but positive so far, but it’s time to get negative.
If I were to tell you I enjoyed the MITB matches, I would be lying. I surely enjoyed some parts of the matches, but I thought the matches were mediocre. The reason I enjoyed some parts of the matches was because they were spotfests. Don’t get me wrong: spotfest, just like anything, have a purpose on a card. A spotfest’s purpose is to get the fans into the PPV.
However, I believe the MITB matches are supposed to have more significance behind them than to be a run-the-mill spotfest. By adding some psychology and storytelling, it would feel more than a connect the dots type of match and more importantly the story and realism would overshadow the fact that there weren’t any breathtaking spots.