Remember when Rusev used to crush? Now he just flops around and gets counted out against guys half his size. How about when the Wyatts were supposed to be insidious soothsayers with eyes on toppling WWE’s established order? Now they just gang up on 43-year-old giants because it’s supposed to provide goose bumps when their prey stands toe-to-toe with Braun Strowman (it doesn’t).
Last night was rife with rather inconsequential business, though the dangling carrot of promos with Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman and A.J. Styles was enough to have my tuchus planted and eager for prime-time entertainment. As it turned out, I hardly cracked a smile till Goldust showed up nearly three hours in. Go figure. But before I step into the metaphorical doo-doo of an unwieldy introduction, here are the five key things (in addition to the usual accompaniment of Twitter-friendly sidebar fodder) I took away from the February 1, 2016 edition of Raw.
5. Tyler Burden
Is it possible that Tyler Breeze was better off with Summer Rae by his side? Since the non sequitur that was he and Summer’s split, the former NXT hotshot has struggled to find his place amid a roster of hulking heavyweights and tenacious high-flyers. A ho-hum squash job to Titus O’Neil isn’t exactly what Prince Pretty pictured when he was called up to the major leagues. A la other over-the-top NXT gimmicks (e.g. Adam Rose), Breeze’s shtick hasn’t translated well to the relative verisimilitude of Raw, but there’s no doubt the guy is athletic and witty, so there’s absolutely room for a reboot. Remember, the man we know and love as Dolph Ziggler once debuted as a male cheerleader.
4. I’m All-In on Golden Truth
I’m also 100-percent behind the recent push to consolidate flailing solo characters into more entertaining duos and stables. The Social Outcasts are even starting growing on me, now that they seemed to have honed their personalities (i.e. Curtis Axel the rage-head, Heath Slater the frustrated leader, Bo Dallas the mimbo and Adam Rose the space cadet). But Goldie’s really locked in right now, channeling every tic and mannerism his character’s been known for over 20-plus years, delivering belly laughs and leaving you wanting more. Unless there’s a serious wave of fan support, he and R-Truth aren’t going to threaten New Day for the Tag Team belts any time soon, but they may yet prove to be can’t miss TV just the same.
3. The Miz Was Awesome
He may be racking up a lot of losses in competition, but that didn’t stop the Miz from winning the night. That was, genuinely, some must-see MizTV. Not only did its host protect A.J. Styles from having to talk a whole lot (not the new signing’s signature attribute), but he was crisp and pretty brilliant rattling off all the highlights of Styles’ career and then slowly growing sour and turning on his guest as the crowd roared in approval of A.J.’s credentials. Styles vs. Miz on SmackDown doesn’t scream ratings, and is merely a bridge to furthering the former’s beef with soon-to-be-heel Chris Jericho. But even on an evening when Paul Heyman opened the show, it has to be said that no one outdid the underappreciated Miz on that microphone. Not to mention I’d relish the chance to visit his Bikram Yoga studio.
2. Banks Is a Smart Investment
In retrospect, organizing the “Divas Revolution” around a trio of stables with appointed monikers was convoluted and silly. And the formality of Team B.A.D.’s demise was inevitable and a bit contrived. Having said that, bravo to WWE for executing Sasha Banks’ face pivot with haste after witnessing crowd reactions to both her presence and absence from live events. When Banks says she’s “legit,” it’s not empty bombast, and that’s why she’s a star. The 24-year-old has a swagger you can’t script, passion you can’t command and sex appeal that’s inseparable from her attitude. The only trick now is to not to rush her storyline with Charlotte, tempting as it may be to have them lock horns at WrestleMania. The Boss vs. Nature Girl, if given time, could be the finest women’s feud in more than a decade and worthy of headlining its own PPV.
1. Brock Bottom
Climactic F-5 on Dean Ambrose notwithstanding, that was arguably Brock Lesnar’s least impactful presence on Raw in recent memory. It’s no fault of the Beast’s, or Paul Heyman. Each man has done more to salvage many a so-so Monday night of late than anyone not named Vince McMahon. There really wasn’t a whole lot more that could happen than what we saw. We know the history between Lesnar and Triple H, and Lesnar and Roman Reigns, so it made sense to spend a few hours manufacturing some kind of heat between Brock and the Lunatic Fringe. With that accomplished, the next couple weeks would be best served planting the seeds for more rancor between Reigns and Ambrose, while Lesnar and Triple H compare cauliflower ears. Too late to coax Brock’s wife, Sable, to come out of retirement and challenge Stephanie McMahon?
Below the Belt:
- I’m good on Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens, thanks.
- Loved KO smacking the fan’s sign out of their hands though.
- Eva’s coming. Mwahahaha.
- Brie’s earned herself a title shot.
- No, not rushing to pick up the new American Way?
- JBL calling Kalisto a “mosquito,” Heyman saying Ambrose rode “the short bus”…Who says WWE is PC?
- Xavier Woods: Fan-fiction advocate.
- Help wanted: Good talkers.
- Get well, Bret.
- Sign of the Night: Re: “Hey Ken” – hey, how ya doin’?
- Line of the Night: “You got doo-doo on your foot” should be R-Truth’s new “Wazzup!”
- In Case You Fast-Forwarded Through Commercials: Hey, I didn’t need Clay Matthews to tell me to eschew delivery. Man, Subway’s really just throwing stuff at the wall right now. And these two might be my least favorite Coke brothers.
- Noticeable In Their Absence: Bray Wyatt, Stardust, Wade Barrett, Kane, Ryback, Vince McMahon.