Hello and welcome to My Pinterest Is Piledrivers. I’ve actually had a lot on my plate as far as practical life moves, and somewhat paradoxically want to take a brief time-out to do a column in order to de-stress. My last article was something in a positive vein, and this is… less so. But only because the WWE has had some pretty big whiffs lately.
Edit- And I’ve been so busy that I’ve had this column in the draft folder for three weeks, so permit me to begin with talking about something I’ve long since dreamed. Or at least since my first NXT show in May.
So “The Boss” Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Charlotte have finally debuted on the main roster. It’s about damn time.
I didn’t really get where they were going with the Bella Twins dominating the Divas division, and turning from face-to-heel-to-tweener-to-heel all the time, but what I did get was an itch to see anyone else at the top. My initial wish might’ve been to have a three-woman clique (maybe a continuation of Team BAE- Best At Everything) of Banks, Lynch and Evil Emma to come out and absolutely destroy the Bellas. I’m talking a first-appearance-of-The Nexus-style beatdown. How satisfying would it have been to have Brie attempt Twin Magic, only to be pulled out by Emma and Lynch and run through the steel steps, and to leave Nikki with no option other than to tap out to the Bank Statement? That’s what wrestling is about, sweet sweet comeuppance.
But what they did was pretty cool, too. Now there’s three three-women factions, with about five-and-a-half talented superstars between them. I’ll leave you to figure out who those are. Hint- the half is Nikki. Just imagine if they replaced Tamina with Natalya- who is one of the better wrestlers and yet her value seems to be all tied up in Total Divas for reasons unknown. Between Becky, Charlotte, Paige, Sasha and a called-back Evil Emma and Natalya we’ve got ourselves a female, RAW-version of the Smackdown Six. I’ll even be generous and allow that Nikki and Brie make decent heels that you want to see get beat, if not first-rate workers, and that I was a big fan of Alicia’s run as a wildcard last year.
Onto the whiffs. Probably the biggest as of late has been the Ziggler-Rusev-Lana storyline. They’ve somehow managed to cool off two white-hot superstars in Dolph and Lana, which would be absolutely brilliant if that is what was purposely trying to be accomplished. I have a feeling it was not. Somehow the ‘E has managed to make the previously strong, smart Lana into a boy-crazy female who lets her emotions get the best of her. Poor Dolph has lost any sense of direction and audience interest, even beginning to get booed as of late. And weirdly, the most sympathetic face in this is the emotionally abusive, anti-American heel Rusev.
It’s like James Franco is booking this thing, and looking to fuck with audience expectations just for the “art.”
How to recover from this? Blow this feud off ASAP. Ziggler w/Lana beats Rusev w/Summer Rae at the next PPV. Ziggler and Lana mutually decide to just be friends and end on a handshake. Lana can go on as a GM or manager of Divas and Rusev can disappear for a bit before his reemergence as a face. That’s right. Rusev will, despite himself, come to love America, and in every city he will have a segment where he goes to some tourist trap. Rusev is actually a pretty strong comedic actor, he sells well, has legitimate skills… give him a shot at being a face. It’s better than being beaten by John Cena three PPVs in a row. As for Ziggler, check my column next week (or whenever I write it and it gets posted).
If you had told me a year ago that one of the most sports-entertaining things in sports-entertainment would’ve involved both The Miz and Damian Sandow, I would’ve thought you had gotten ahold of that RVD-level chronic. But lo and behold, you’d have been right.
I admit to being a mark for out-of-context video humor, like Kurt Angle’s fake interview with The Rock. But this one implied Miz has Erectile Dysfunction!
Physical humor that’s not completely immature or forced.
Ok look what happened, they found themselves with a tag-team that was half-face, half-heel. I’m sure it’s not the first time that’s happened, because everything in wrestling has already happened before, even our beloved Summer of Punk ’11, but I think it’s the first time that’s happened in a while. It’s original, different. What happens when they go up against a face team, like the Usos? Or a heel team, like the Ascension? The audience is torn between wanting the team to succeed for Mizdow, and fail for Miz.
And they also found themselves, either accidentally or purposely depending on how much credit you want to give Creative, doing a take off a classic wrestling trope: the beleaguered, disrespected employee being bullied by the dickhead boss. Last time I remember this happening was HBK having to work for JBL because he lost all his money. Fun fact: HBK retired shortly afterwards. Guess he’s on the streets now. Anyway, part of the appeal of wrestling is the vicarious thrill of it. We live in a world where you can’t, unfortunately, powerbomb Mitch the passive-aggressive office manager, but you can certainly cheer yourself hoarse when you watch Sandow do it to Miz. How many viewers, or hell, how many everyday Americans deal with various assholes and scumbags at their job that they’re powerless to do anything towards? A lot. Office Space was pretty popular for a reason.
So of course they have Summer Rae turn on Sandow, have Miz win the feud and give Sandow a gimmick where he opens shows pretending to be the Macho Man while Miz is rewarded with Intercontinental title shots. Makes perfect sense.
Not to mention the fact that they neglected to do the one thing that would’ve made The Marine 4 watchable. Have a special “sweded” version of the movie, or at least a good amount of scenes, with Sandow as The Marine. I would’ve bought the Blu-Ray for that, and all they needed was Sandow, a green screen and a camera from 1997.
Sheamus won Money In The Bank 2015 and the reception was… muted. I guess the thinking was “we don’t really have any big plans, and if Roman wins it we have a Royal Rumble situation all over again… eh, give it to Sheamus and feed him to Brock.” That’s really the only thing I can think of, that they’ll have Sheamus pull an unsuccessful cash-in against Brock, wherein Brock turns him into fuel for more car door throwing shenanigans. (now made moot after this week’s RAW where Brock is nowhere near the title-picture)
How to recover? Well, I was fooled with the early Beast In The East card reveal into thinking it’d be Kofi, and I still wish it had been. Kofi has been in the WWE for almost a decade. He’s often the best thing in battle royales, ladder matches, any matches he’s currently involved in. It’d be a nice thank you to the guy to give him a big win. Then on a special RAW, he cashes in against Brock with some kind of “Freebirds” or handicapped stipulation allowing frequent interference from Xavier and Big E. Brock versus three incredibly talented, microphone-gifted sports entertainers is a lot more sports entertaining than anything they could pull with Sheamus. So… I dunno, have New Day challenge Sheamus for the briefcase and beat him like Edge beat Mr. Kennedy that one time.
C’mon. That alone is better than 98% of what actually airs on RAW, and 100% better than anything on Smackdown.
Edit- And now that Brock is out of the title hunt and it belongs to… sigh, Cena, this still could work. Just sub in Cena for Lesnar. God knows Vince would have no problem whatsoever having Cena go over three wrestlers at the same time.
And actually, let’s talk about LOLCENAWINS.
No one was more shocked than I was that SuperCena lost, cleanly, to Kevin Owens at Elimination Chamber. And no one was more bummed when he proceeded to choke the next two matches. And then to have Cena move onto the WWE championship while Owens… I dunno, becomes a Rosebud or starts tagging with Heath Slater.
I go to /r/SquaredCircle a lot (it’s also where I got the two funny pictures above) and because of that, I’ve learned Dave Meltzer has made some unfortunate claims about how WWE might be seeing Owens, here, here and here. Basically when Owens beat Cena, John’s merch sales started trending downward. Panicking about a world in which John Cena isn’t the best selling superstar, Vince and/or Dunn quickly overrode anything Triple H might have planned and threw Owens underneath the subway. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard there’s an invisible hand guiding Cena’s merch. Punk, on his infamous Art of Wrestling podcast appearance, claimed Konnan told him about WWE under-stocking Punk’s clothing. Someone else on /r/SquaredCircle also claimed that Randy Orton’s shirts were very limited during their last UK tour.
If this is true, then this seems like some classic short-sighted booking that will come back to bite them in the ass once Cena retires or gets hurt. They’ve built no face up to his level, so when he leaves to make well-liked cameos in hit comedies, the WWE is going to struggle so so hard to get fans to reinvest in a Ziggler, a Cesaro, an Ambrose, anyone to take his place as number one shirt-seller. It’s not that they’re lifting Cena above water, but that they’re doing it by holding everyone else under water.
How to fix this? I don’t even know if they can. Just have Cena beat everyone. Bring Bryan back early and have Cena AA the guy off a ladder and through the Spanish announce table. Sure, it’d permanently end Bryan’s career… but Cena will have gotten his win back. Kidnap AJ Lee, blackmail Punk into making a one-night only appearance, and agree to release his wife unharmed if he agrees to tap out to the STF after being in the hold for 3.7 seconds. Sell the WWE and shut everything down. Use the money to fund a time machine. Go back to Wrestlemania 30, and take Brock off the card. Have Cena beat Wyatt, then break Undertaker’s streak. Then, have Bryan stretchered out of the main event, only to be replaced by Cena. The next night at RAW, have Cena reform Legacy, destroy it all from the inside, then beat The Shield forcing them to disband. All before the first commercial break. Then go back to the present time. Enjoy all those sweet, sweet armband dollars. Guess what? Thanks to Cena, Linda won her Senate race.
James A. Sawyer graduated with a degree in English/Creative Writing in 2011. He had a hardcore match with a car, and moved to New York in this economy. Clearly Daredevil is not the only man without fear.
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