How about that for a tabloid-riffic run of alliteration, eh? To put it in more prosaic terms, pictures of Seth Rollins' penis (you can find them if you want) seemingly posted to the Web by his furious fiancée have made a bigger splash this Tuesday morning than any 450 Phoenix landing. Nope, still pretty alliterative. But you get the idea. Rollins' dick made him look like a dick. Which is too bad, because he and the rest of the boys put on quite a show where it counts.
So without erecting any further filibusters, or finding myself hard-pressed to carry on, here are the five things I took away (plus usual accompaniment of Twitter-friendly sidebar scuttlebutt) from this scandalous February 9 edition of Monday Night Raw.
5. Where the Eff is Randy Orton?
For real. The guy keeps being advertised for house shows, his image is still ubiquitous on USA advertising for Raw and there have been numerous opportunities to re-insert him (no pun on today's prevailing them intended) into several storylines. His momentum was red-hot before dipping out to film Leonard Part 7 or whatever sequel WWE Studios was prepping, but if they wait much longer, we'll forget why he re-assumed badass face mode to begin with. It's not too different from how recent weeks have killed a couple other top good guys' teeming buzz (see below).
4. So Much For Team Cena
Coming off Survivor Series, it appeared WWE had put together their choice coalition of superheroes to supplement Roman Reigns' run to the top of the food chain. With John Cena as spiritual leader, a returning Ryback, reenergized Dolph Ziggler and re-packaged (slightly) Erick Rowan were presented as the forces of rightness. And it worked. And then they were "fired." And then they disappeared. And then they came back. And then they started losing (or, in Ryback's case, being generally bullied). And then their pops began to fade.
Ryback barely registered indifference from a very hot Columbus, Ohio crowd when he emerged to face Seth Rollins (perhaps because they knew an inevitable, anti-climactic DQ would ensue), Rowan essentially made a cameo and Ziggler had to share sympathies with smark-approved Bray Wyatt during their rematch (which, incidentally Ziggler lost clean, just like the last time). You have to wonder if there'd be a bit less heat on Roman Reigns if the past month of Raw hadn't cooled off so many fan favorites.
3. Paige and the Bellas Have Legs
And they know how to use them…to perform modified scissor locks and execute precise dropkicks. There's some kind of magic happening between Paige and the Bella twins, and to borrow the above euphemistic motif once more, a triangulated feud between and among these three Divas could definitely have legs. As in extend beyond one PPV. And potentially lead to more screen time to flesh it out. But you got the metaphor. Point is, Brie looked great last night, Nikki's excelled as top mean girl and Paige is dynamite as the punk-rock ass-kicker striving to make her toxically tanned foes pale in comparison. It's also a trio that can be configured into several different fresh, adversarial angles, including a resurrection of the Bellas abbreviated sibling squabble. All due respect to Natalya, Alicia et al, but as far as the kind of draw that can return WWE's Divas back to upper-midcard must-see, Paige and the Bellas' characters and abilities mesh tighter than a pair of Paige's leggings.
2. So That's Sting's Beef
As the Internet began to roil with rumors of nude NXT ladies on Seth Rollin's social media accounts, Triple H came out to the ring and demanded to know whether Sting would say yes to his challenge for a face-to-face convo at Fastlane (cause nothing sells PPVs and WWE Network subscriptions like sanctioned sit-downs). After a creepy video package and some badly bewigged pseudo-Steve Bordens spooked the Game to his knees, Ohio State University's loaner TitanTron revealed his vigilante foe's response: "I accept."
It was corny and cool, the perfect little bit of theater to elevate their feud. But it was Trips' preceding monologue that really set the tone, laying out how (in his view), Sting had waited 14 years since WWE absorbed WCW to come and exact retribution for their corporate tyranny. This is sports entertainment at its simplest and most effective, with a tip of the hat to contemporary transparency. It suggests that Triple H has yet to pay for his father-in-law's sins, and that their efforts to revise history and close the book on what Sting and so many others built in Atlanta has one last chapter left. And Sting, deservedly, will have a hand in how it's written.
1. And Back to Seth Rollins' Penis
The details aren't all sorted, and frankly, that's between Seth and whomever he's seemingly involved in some kind of dangerous liaisons with. But once you head to Twitter (or someone in WWE social-media relations hits "Tweet" on your behalf) with a formal apology, one thing's for sure: That was definitely Zahra, and that was absolutely Rollins.
So what does this mean in the grand scheme? In most celebrity circles, not much. Or at least not publicly (privately, there's no shortage of embarrassment, and that's got to be tough). Spin is spun, damage is controlled and, outside of extemporaneous blog chatter and republication of said images, the celebrity in question is generally well guarded from any direct confrontation with the topic. But for many WWE fans, access to performers' real drama is something they weaponize to help close the gap between wrestling's façade and their desire to make its product a wholly democratic relationship between author and audience. In other words, Rollins might get major shit for this from those in attendance at SmackDown tapings, never mind next Monday's Raw.
So, as ever (and as they did so nimbly post-Royal Rumble), the onus is on Triple H – who may have never counted on this when detailing his industry's modern dilemma on Stone Cold's podcast – and those behind the scenes to either redirect that derision or have Rollins pull a Pee-wee Herman and hit first. Ultimately, it shouldn't really be a big deal, and fans may flock to Reddit to poke fun rather than derail a broadcast over Seth's personal shame. Though, if I'm wrong, maybe all that extra antagonism will only make the constantly improving heel an even bigger prick.
Below the Belt:
- Boy, the jokes are ready-made for this section today.
- Back to the wrestling, sigh, poor Kofi.
- Good, physical stuff with Cena and Rusev.
- Bad, silly stuff with yet another "tribute" to Cena.
- Well-executed tension between Reigns and Daniel Bryan, and a solid double-booking for them to open and close the show.
- Good Bray build, but still: less talkie.
- I love everything Stardust is doing.
- I love almost everything Cesaro and Kidd (which should also be their shortened handle) are doing.
- My wife, re: Hall of Fame inductee Rikishi: "What the hell is that?"
- Speaking of asses, loved Heyman dropping another “tuchus” in there.
- Ryback takes a solid curb stomp.
- NXT TakeOver: Rival should be pretty sweet.
- Fastlane really needs a strong inaugural show.
- Move of the Night: Jey Uso's crazy headbutt into a cornered, upside-down Tyson Kidd (these four do something great each week).
- Line of the Night: Who else? Heyman, on Reigns: "That yellow stream running down your leg was not pineapple juice." Not his best, but I’ll take it.
- In Case You Fast-Forwarded Through Commercials: Apparently, Die Antwoord is in the new District 9 guy's movie. And I gotta admit, the 50 Shades campaign is doing everything right.
- Noticeable In Their Absence: The Ascension, Luke Harper (are they en route to the live shows in Abu Dhabi, perhaps?).