How Detrimental To WWE Television Is Stephanie McMahon?

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The billion dollar princess with the trillion dollar body. One of the principle owners of WWE. Whatever title she goes by, Stephanie McMahon will always forever be a person of utmost importance in WWE. She’s a McMahon after all, being the only daughter of the one running the ship in the WWE. Why wouldn’t Stephanie’s “character” be as protected as it is? If you were running the WWE and one of your family members was interested in an on-screen role on the show, wouldn’t you do all you could to protect their image? It makes sense for the powers-that-be to portray Stephanie as a person of power. However, does Stephanie’s role as an authority figure do more harm than good to the product?

One of the biggest factors to take into account is the fact that WWE is currently a PG product… most of the time. There are limitations to what the WWE can pull off in terms of beatings and types of revenge dished out by their talent. It’s not like the top babyfaces of the WWE could just casually attack the women authority figures of WWE in response to a ruling that they didn’t like. Roman Reigns’ spear to Stephanie at WrestleMania 32 was one of the rare exceptions to this, in an instance where Stephanie was inadvertently attacked. People don’t like it when men attack women, especially when the men are supposed to be heroes that send out good messages. However, people also usually don’t like it when an authority figure can abuse their power and bully around the good guys who are supposed to stand up for themselves

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When dealing with a heel Stephanie McMahon, options are limited. If this was a heel Mr McMahon or Shane McMahon, who are capable of taking hits from men with no real issues in terms of their PG product, it’s fairly simple for the knight in shining armour to get their revenge. However, the good guys of WWE are limited when it comes to Stephanie. The best way that the good guys can get revenge is through a verbal “beatdown” towards Stephanie. Then again, this also has its setbacks. First and foremost, a lot of the fans that show up to RAW paid their money to see people settle their differences through combat. If they wanted a debate, either tune into a political show or watch Prime Minister’s Questions every Wednesday.

Secondly, not everyone on the roster has the ability to throw down on the microphone. Roman Reigns is better at hurling punches than hurling insults. Putting these people up against Stephanie, only to have them get verbally emasculated, leaves a severe mark on the credibility on the babyface hero. Seeing the John Cenas and Roman Reigns’ of this world not being able to do anything cool in response to Stephanie making them feel inferior doesn’t spring you with confidence.

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Not to mention that even the women of WWE are not in a position to touch Stephanie either. These girls can theoretically beat up the boss and it would come off as much better than if a man were to do it. Despite this, these women are prevented from doing so by their lack of relevancy. It’s not like Natalya or Paige are over enough at the moment to be able to do a program with her. You can make arguments for the likes of Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch but the power lies with the McMahons, according to the storyline. Since these McMahons are running the show, they’ll be a big part of it. Heck, Shane and Stephanie were a big part of the Payback main event between AJ Styles and Roman Reigns. The point is that the likes of Stephanie and Shane are already considered as main event talent. With the exception of a few half-hearted “main event” segments on RAW, the women haven’t come even close to producing a true main event female star. The only women, since the Authority angle started, that have been able to physically attack Stephanie are Brie Bella (who was part of a “big” main event program with Stephanie, due to her affiliation with Daniel Bryan), Vickie Guerrero (who was leaving the company anyway) and Ronda Rousey (who is not even employed with the WWE).

There is actually one woman that is being promoted and presented as a main eventer by WWE, in the hopes of finally achieving true relevancy for the women’s division. That woman is Charlotte, which brings me to my next point. Since it’s pretty obvious that a heel Stephanie does more harm than good, the next best solution is to turn her into a babyface. It’s very difficult to say what Stephanie is now. One week, she is humiliating the babyface Teddy Long. On the next week, she’s standing up to the heel Charlotte. The chances are that Stephanie probably will slowly transform into a full-blown babyface and I think that it’s probably going to be Charlotte vs Stephanie at Summerslam. I’ve predicted this before. Now the verbal tirade that Stephanie gave to Charlotte on RAW a few weeeks ago actually comes off better than if she would have done it to Roman Reigns.

Now that Stephanie’s a babyface, her speaking out about it is presented as a positive thing. Charlotte had humiliated Ric Flair and so Stephanie completely tore into Charlotte. I’m sure that there’s a lot of people that’ll argue that the whole “eye for an eye” thing is not a 100% babyface move. However, at least she’s pointing out that what Charlotte said was a disgraceful thing.

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I’m not a fan of the idea of this Charlotte/Stephanie angle in the slightest. I’m not a fan of the idea of Stephanie McMahon possibly winning the WWE Women’s Championship. However, the WWE had already done a great job in killing the momentum of the women’s division anyway. There’s literally nobody that is in a position to challenge Charlotte, other than Stephanie and Sasha Banks (who has only worked house shows and Main Events since April). Therefore, I don’t think this feud is detrimental to product as the division is already in a bad shape. If the women’s division after WrestleMania stayed exactly like it had from the Royal Rumble until WrestleMania 32, I’d argue that it would be detrimental. Since the WWE did dig its own grave with the Charlotte/Natalya program and all the other bad aspects of women’s wrestling in WWE in the last few months, I’m really not as concerned as I should be.

However, at least what Stephanie’s doing is all directed at the heels. If the heel does a bad thing and Stephanie responds, it suddenly has a much less detrimental effect. If the heel then followed that up by attacking Stephanie, then that gives the heel more heat as he or she just attacked somebody that’s not even an active wrestler. A lot of the fans would argue that it would still make the male heels feel emasculated for Stephanie to verbally attack them, but I still think it wouldn’t have been as bad as if it were a babyface being emasculated.

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Personally, I don’t think any of your stars should be emasculated at all as you should be doing your best to present your stars as superstars. They should all be presented as positively and as star-like as possible. However, at least when Stephanie does it to a heel, it’s presented as a good thing and it’s the babyface that’s sending the positive message. Whether the message is women standing up to men or standing up for the defenseless, Stephanie can send that message better as a babyface.

 

Main Event 31/05/16 Review: Sasha Banks vs Summer Rae – The Return Of The Boss

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express, with a small review of the women’s match from this week’s episode of Main Event. This episode featured the return of “The Boss” Sasha Banks to television, as she defeated Summer Rae upon her return. The main point of the match was for Sasha to return in triumphant fashion and beat her former BFF Summer Rae. No mention of their previous relationship by the commentators for this match. SPEAKING OF WHICH…

The commentators for this episode of Main Event was Tom Phillips, Jerry Lawler and guest commentator Dolph Ziggler. I know that there’s a lot of fans that love Dolph Ziggler but I have to be honest – this was a pretty bad outing from the man. In a way, I do feel bad for Dolph as this was probably just a last minute deal for him to be on this show as a commentator. I also think commentary is probably a lot more difficult than people realise. With that said though, he was just so hard to deal with on commentary. He started out seemingly lost and not having a lot to say. He and Lawler started cracking jokes about the women, including about how Ziggler apparently couldn’t remember Summer Rae’s name despite the fact that Ziggler and Summer were involved in one of the most promoted angles of 2015. We all know how that turned out…

Then, as Jerry Lawler was making jokes, Ziggler started talking and becoming a lot more active. He began raising his voice more and more until the closing part of the match, where all Ziggler did was just screech at the top of his lungs. All of this was just a complete channel-changer when it came to the commentary. Tom Phillips was average, Jerry did everything but talk about the match and Ziggler was just not a fit out there in the slightest. The thing that was most alarming and worrying about all of this though was their treatment of Summer Rae…

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Summer Rae came out to cut this promo and she’s trying her best to build up anticipation for the WWE Brand Extension. Even though she’s on the fourth most important show WWE has to offer, she’s doing the best with what she’s got. While she’s cutting this promo, the Main Event commentary team couldn’t help but laugh and mock her while she was talking. You could hear all of this sniggering from Jerry Lawler and Dolph Ziggler while Summer is cutting this promo, which was not actually that bad considering that there are far worse promo-cutters on the main roster than Summer. Actually, her delivery and her poise is pretty great. She carries herself around as unique and as a star, even if she isn’t one. She’s like the women’s division’s version of the Miz, who does such a great job in playing the heel that you love to boo.

Summer claimed that mainstream media were talking about where she would be going in the draft when Sasha Banks came out. Sasha was talking about everyone talking about the other women on the roster, when they should be talking about Sasha. Summer did mess up a little when she was talking about Sasha competing in the triple threat at WrestleMania, really just in the delivery. The announcers couldn’t help but laugh in order to hurt Summer’s credibility. She claimed that she would have won the Women’s title if she was in the women’s match at Mania and Sasha claimed that Summer couldn’t even catch Sasha’s mic. Sasha threw her mic at Summer and SUMMER CAUGHT IT! This led to a brawl to kick-off the match.

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The two girls brawled on the apron which led to Summer booting Sasha off it to take control. Summer did the submission that a lot of women do, where she gets behind her opponent and traps Sasha’s arms with her legs. To make a complete joke of the situation, Dolph asked Jerry if he’d ever been in that position. Jerry’s answer was “I wish.”

Summer hit some moves including the “Super Model Kick” which got a near fall. They went back-and-forth until Sasha won with the Bank Statement.

The match itself was OK but the commentary was the real highlight of the whole ordeal, although this was quite the opposite of a highlight in all honesty. It was memorable because in case you’ve missed it, WWE have spent the last year pushing the women’s division and attempting to give the women a new-found purpose. They wanted the fans to treat this more than just filler in between the angles involving the men. They wanted to make them seem as genuine commodities to the roster. On RAW, they made this big video package about Charlotte’s supposedly shocking turn on her father Ric. They had the likes of Dean Ambrose and ironically Dolph Ziggler talking about this big angle, in an attempt to make it seem like the Flair stuff was a major angle for the product. That’s how much they wanted this to work.

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Then I listen to this commentary and any faith in the idea that WWE are giving it their all to make this division vieable again is just quickly undone. If you want to build up someone as a top star in your company, then you need other wrestlers around in order to help elevate that person. You need “stars” in order to try and make a superstar out of your proposed champion. Sasha Banks is reportedly in line for a program with Charlotte, which is expected to be for Summerslam.

I personally don’t believe that these plans will stay the same and I’ve mentioned this a few times on the blog (I’ll leave the links for these posts at the bottom of this post). If these plans are legitimate and they ended up going with Sasha, they need to build her up right. Sasha beating women cleanly is fine. However, the announcers spent the entire segment and match burying Summer and trying to make her out to be a complete joke. Perception is reality, as the old saying goes, and how the fans perceive these acts will have a bigger effect than what everyone thinks.

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If the commentators are making Summer out to be a joke, the fans will perceive Summer Rae to be a joke. If the fans perceive Summer as a joke, they will perceive Sasha as a joke for not taking out this joke a lot sooner into the match (keep in mind that Summer had the majority of the heat too). If they perceive Sasha as a joke, they will perceive Charlotte and her title reign as a joke as only jokers are competing for her championship. If they perceive Charlotte as a joke, they will perceive the entire division as a joke as their champion has no legitimate challengers to pose as a threat as the whole division is filled with jokes. In fact, the announcers were laughing at the possibility of anyone caring about Summer Rae!

THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE LEGITIMATE MAIN EVENT OF THE SHOW.

I don’t care if this is the least most important show that WWE have to offer. This match is supposed to be the main attraction for the viewers of this particular episode and the announcers are telling you not to care by laughing at these talents. If I was a commentator, I’d be doing my best to tell you that these girls… ARE STARS.

It may seem as a small match to complain about but this was just one of the greater examples about how this division cannot possibly “evolve” with the direction they are taking it.

 

Related Links

WWE Not Banking On Sasha?

16/05/2016 RAW Review – Women’s Title Contract Signing Closes RAW Once Again

SLTD: The Women’s Devolution

 

WWE Not Banking On Sasha?

 

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“We want Sasha.”

How many times have we heard that chant in WWE since July 2015? Almost every segment  involving a woman. When Charlotte comes out? We want Sasha. When Becky Lynch wrestles? We want Sasha. When there’s a segment involving the Total Divas? We want Sasha. It’s the same process for almost every women’s segment not involving Sasha. What does that tell you? What’s the secret behind this chant? Why are the WWE fans chanting this and not chanting for Charlotte? The answer is quite simple… THEY WANT SASHA!

The WWE is a very weird company in the sense they expect you to get over, only if you have a specific look or a specific set of skills that others lack. Zack Ryder was never meant to get as over as he did, which forced WWE’s hand. After having him win the United States Championship in 2011, they did everything in their power to send his career in a huge downward spiral and they succeeded. With the exception of his big WrestleMania 32 victory, Zack’s never been in the same realm of popularity that he was in 2011. And funnily enough, there was a “we want Ryder” chant which was prominent throughout the shows in the same way that “we want Sasha” is prominent in 2016.

Sasha’s chants are not like the whole Daniel Bryan deal, which completely hijacked shows. However, these chants have been hijacking nearly every segment on RAW involving women. They’ve been pretty powerful chants and even after WrestleMania 32, where they got Sasha Banks in the Women’s Championship match, Sasha is still the woman the fans want to see. I’m pretty sure that if any one of the women are huge draws in terms of merchandise, it’s Sasha. She is a marketing company’s fantasy. She’s got the look, the fashion sense and the personality of an entertainment superstar. In fact, she’s actually related to an entertainment superstar in Snoop Dogg!

Despite all of this, the WWE are still banking on Charlotte to be their top woman in the women’s roster and the big guy calling the shots is now reportedly putting Sasha on the back-burner. According to Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Sasha is getting a reputation from WWE management for being injury-prone. Vince McMahon has reportedly told officials that Sasha only knows one speed in the ring and that is to go all out.

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Now there were reports in the past of Vince comparing Sasha to Daniel Bryan in the injury-prone and work-rate categories, which are actually pretty absurd comparisons to make. Long before his run in WWE, Daniel Bryan tore his body apart while wrestling around the world. Daniel’s even admitted that he and several independent guys like CM Punk had that old-school mentality of leaving it all in the ring no matter what. Whether Sasha has that much of a similar mentality of Bryan and Punk is up for debate, but I don’t see Sasha going all out THAT much. She does perform well but it’s really the big matches were she actually goes all out there. I don’t remember seeing a lot of RAW matches where Sasha went all out. Maybe it’s a different story on the house shows.

Not to mention that her most recent injury was actually just a legitimate freak accident involving a referee at a house show, who accidentally kneed her in the face and gave her a concussion.  It’s not like it’s a recurring injury for Sasha and this is the first time which I’ve seen Sasha out of action with injuries this often. I don’t think that makes her injury-prone. I would hardly call any of the WWE superstars injury-prone, with the exception of a small few. For those that are deemed “injury-prone,” I feel that it’s mostly due to the intense WWE schedule that sees the talent on the road for 300 days a year. Not to mention that outside projects with the WWE Network as well as other endevours will also not doubt be taking their toll. The wear and tear they get from the ring as well as other things will all build up, leading to them striking out eventually.

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Let’s take Nikki Bella for example. I know there’s not a great sense of respect for Nikki from a lot of fans, but I do respect a lot of aspects about her record-breaking Divas title reign. Think about it. She was working for months with an injury, which all lead up to neck surgery once she dropped the belt. During those months, she’d been working out like crazy (as her Instagram will prove) and taking bumps for nearly a year as the heel champion. Imagine how much strain every one of the Rack Attacks that Nikki did as she hoisted woman after woman onto her shoulders, only to drop them down. Not all of these women are easy to move either. Think about tall women like Charlotte or muscular women like Natalya. All of those strains eventually built and built to the point where Nikki’s career is looking in serious doubt.

It’s an essential part of professional wrestling for injuries to occur. After all, you’re putting on shows where the aim of the competitors is to hurt each other as much as they can. That’s the kayfabe goal of these workers and that involves people taking hits and taking punishment. It’s all part of the gig.

I kind of understand WWE’s mentality for not pushing the wrestlers that they think are “injury prone” as guys like Wade Barrett were hardly pushed again when they kept picking up injury after injury. However, this is Sasha Banks. She is still a brand new face in the company, particular as the top female on the roster. Guys like Wade Barrett, Rey Mysterio and Mark Henry have had opportunities in the past, making these decisions make a lot of sense. For Sasha though, it is upsetting to see her black-balled like this.

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Despite this, I believe that there is a lot more to this story than “injury-prone” concerns. I actually think RAW this week actually confirmed my suspicions. Remember on RAW two weeks ago, when they had the segment with Stephanie McMahon slapping Ric Flair? If you don’t, then no worries as I did write a review of the entire episode (that you can see at this link). There was a shot of Charlotte getting angry at Stephanie as she was supposedly about to charge her until Natalya cut her off. This was a tease of a confrontation between Stephanie and Charlotte.

Following this RAW, I mentioned that I believed that we are more likely to get Charlotte vs Stephanie at Summerslam than Charlotte vs Sasha (which was the reported plan for Summerslam for weeks). Then they did a segment on this week’s edition of RAW. In a backstage segment, Stephanie berated Charlotte in a babyface manner in order to add fuel to the fire. If this segment didn’t show that they are looking at other options, think again.

I don’t think that Charlotte vs Stephanie is the right move for Summerslam, but I’m still convinced that WWE would put more effort in promoting  that match as opposed to a potential Charlotte/Sasha match. Stephanie is doing her memoirs and her public perception is a big factor. Stephanie wrestling for the women’s championship one more time is a more appealing option to WWE than for Sasha to get her big title victory. Unfortunately for fans of The Boss, I don’t see a title reign for her in the near future.

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It’s a shame because Charlotte is not the woman that the WWE Universe want to see as the champion right now. The months and months of chants have given the WWE a fresh insight into the mindset of the fans. Sadly, it’s not strong enough to convince Vince to change his mind. My advice for wrestling fans that are hoping for a Sasha title reign to just keep up the “we want Sasha” chants. Just keep it up. At the end of the day, they’ll EVENTUALLY listen if things get crazy. If they did another main event women’s segment and these fans are chanting for Sasha, maybe that could be the deciding factor. The WWE will eventually listen… and you can take that to the bank.

WWE Announces 2016 Brand Split And SmackDown! Goes Live

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express. BIG NEWS coming from the WWE, with the official announcement that the WWE brand split is coming back. RAW and SmackDown! will once again receive different and unique rosters, with SmackDown! also additionally becoming a permanent live show on Tuesday nights. This may be obvious, but there’s a lot to talk about with regards to this news and we’ll delve right into all of the speculation regarding how many titles we’ll have, who’s going where and the reasons for the brand split in the first place.

Dave Meltzer from Wrestling Observer, addressed this on the Wrestling Observer Live radio show I believe. He explained that one of the main reasons for WWE bringing back the brand split is to help generally increase television ratings, particularly on SmackDown! With SmackDown! previously being taped, the incentive to watch it dropped as wrestling fans could simply read what happened online and lose interest to actually see the show as it airs. This was obviously a big reason for why the decision was made to make it a live show. Jerry Lawler hinted at SmackDown! going live earlier on in the year and now, it’s actually happening.

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This picture was already clearly painted with the announcement made by Stephanie and Shane McMahon, but it is expected that Stephanie and Shane will run each show separately. The interesting thing is that both of them are reportedly expected to be babyface authority figures at first, which is a very unique direction for this brand split. Past brand splits usually saw one brand with the babyface authority figure and one with the heel authority figure. When the first brand split started, Ric Flair (the babyface) controlled RAW while Vince McMahon (the heel) controlled SmackDown! When the general managers were introduced, Stephanie ran SmackDown! as a babyface and Eric Bischoff ran RAW as a heel. Having two babyfaces controlling the show is different and it is a fresh change from the dictatorship we’ve seen since August 2013. I’m not sure whether it is wise to have BOTH brands being run by babyfaces. The purpose of having two different shows and a brand split is to make the audience seem like both shows are unique, in talent and in storylines. I could see why at this stage, they wouldn’t want Stephanie to be a heel going forward. With her upcoming memoirs, it is understandable why the WWE want Stephanie to be perceived better by the public. Turning Shane is possible, but Shane is still a popular babyface authority figure. That would be a hugely risky endevour. I would suspect that if there’s going to be any heel authority figure around, it will be Triple H.

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There are two big names earmarked for being the top guys on both shows, with John Cena and Roman Reigns ruling the roosts. No surprises here. Which superstar will go where is a big question. If the WWE are still banking on Roman Reigns, they may want to keep him on RAW and portray him as the top guy on the main show. However, it is possible that WWE would want John on RAW to get the RAW ratings right back up. John’s got a better ratings track record than Roman, so it would make sense. If Roman is also on SmackDown!, then there’s a lot less pressure on him to succeed on the “B show.”

An interesting note which came out is that it’s not a sure thing that Brock Lesnar will end up on RAW. I wouldn’t have assumed that Brock would be on RAW either as he appeared on SmackDown! a few times in the build up to WrestleMania. I think it is better for Brock to be on RAW than SmackDown! as he does do wonders to the ratings on that show. It’ll be interesting to see where all the part-timers go.

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There is reportedly a plan in place for two world championship in the WWE, one for each show. A lot of people will argue that there should be one main belt but I personally think that you’ve got enough diversity for their to be one for each brand. I argued way back before the titles were re-unified that the roster had become too integrated in order for two world titles to be around. Now though, you have enough talent to be able to keep these two shows separated. Now everyone can have their chance at each of the titles.

The one thing which will initially drive me nuts I think is the proposed idea that the Women’s Champion would be on both shows. I kind of agree with this as there’s not enough depth on the women’s side of things to be able to do two titles. However, I am very much against the idea of seeing Charlotte on both shows. To see her this much would really drive people away, knowing that all you’ll get in women’s angles from now on is just her. I don’t think she’s talented enough to able to undertake that kind of responsibility and pull it off. If Sasha Banks wins the title shortly afterwards, it’d be much more tolerable I think.

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So another big question is when the date of the draft will be? It’s highly expected at the moment that the draft lottery/selection will take place on the July 11th edition of RAW, which will be taking place in Detroit. Funnily enough, it’s a show that’s currently scheduled to feature Brock Lesnar.

I actually think that this makes a lot of sense, considering that this will follow the July 4th edition of RAW, with reportedly a lot of belief within the company that the July 4th edition will see a serious decline in viewers in a similar fashion to a lot of the past Christmas episodes. It’ll be good for them to want to show off a huge increase in the ratings for this big draft, and I think the ratings will be quite huge for this one.

It’s actually interesting, as it’s been reported that a lot of the talent were taken back by this. According to sources, they have no idea what’s going on or where they’ll even end up in the draft. This wouldn’t be the first time, as a lot of the wrestlers had no idea about the draft selections in the past. I remember the 2008 draft, when Jim Ross was drafted to SmackDown! He blogged about it the next day, saying that he had no idea beforehand. This draft may end up causing a lot of morale issues backstage, especially if certain acts are split up. I don’t think acts like the New Day will be broken up, but maybe some of the smaller teams could be done. I can even see a team like Enzo Amore and Big Cass being broken up. They’ve surprised us in the past.

Lastly, Vince McMahon is said to be “really pumped” about the brand split and I’m pretty much pumped up too. I remember blogging about bringing back the brand split last year and how much good it’ll do. Do go back and check it out at this link as there’s a lot of advantages to this.

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Overall, great news for the future of WWE in my opinion. Short term hard work for a long term gain, as Jim Ross once said. What do you think of the news? Tweet at me @TomRobinson5199 or the @ArmbarExpress, or leave a comment below.

 

16/05/2016 RAW Review – Women’s Title Contract Signing Closes RAW Once Again

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with a RAW review, re-capping the go-home show for Extreme Rules 2016. Three weeks to promote a pay-per-view is never healthy, whenever WWE does this. I’ve seen them promote pay-per-views in the space of two weeks previously and it’s just not enough for the fans to digest new developments or just new storylines in general. It’s going to be very difficult to convince the fans that this pay-per-view is going to be different than the last one you just watched, and the WWE haven’t done a great job in giving you that feel with this one.

Scheduled for Extreme Rules includes a rematch from the main event of Payback, a rematch from the women’s title match at Payback and we’ve even got a Payback rematch between Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho. To be fair, the Payback show was actually pretty good. There was little wrong with that pay-per-view but there’s a whole lot wrong with the build to this one. With three weeks to build up this show, the WWE have struggled to make it seem like this show isn’t anything more than a continuation from what happened at Payback. Many will argue that every single pay-per-view is essentially a continuation of WWE storylines, but each pay-per-view should also stand out on their own merit. I don’t want to see the same matches that I saw last month. This RAW suffered in the same way that their pay-per-view will.

This RAW saw SO MANY repeats of what we’ve seen in the last few weeks of RAW and essentially what we’ve seen in the entirety of 2016. Did we not see Alberto Del Rio and Kalisto fight over and over again at the start of the year on RAW, SmackDown! and pay-per-views? Did we not see Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows fight the Usos on SmackDown!, as well as in the many six man tag team matches between “The Club” and Roman Reigns’ crew? Did we not see everyone in the mix for the Intercontinental Championship at Extreme Rules in a tag team match together on SmackDown!? Did we not see Becky Lynch fight Dana Brooke on SmackDown!?  What was so damn special about RAW this week that will cause viewers to stick around to watch Extreme Rules on the WWE Network?

Furthermore, how did the go-home show for Extreme Rules actually promote the pay-per-view? You had the same AJ Styles teasing angle that you’ve been pushing for nearly two months now. You had the closing segment of the show featuring the contract signing for Charlotte and Natalya, with the focus being on Ric Flair and the McMahons. You had the most entertaining segment (the Golden Truth video package) being centred around a feud which is not even a part of the pay-per-view. You announced the pre-show match (which is also a rematch from Payback) with none of the competitors even being on RAW to build towards that match, which could have helped pop a rating on YouTube if you really tried hard enough. They even had a post-RAW segment with Dolph Ziggler on the WWE’s YouTube page, which would have been better suited on RAW to build towards the pay-per-view.

This show was NOT one of the worst RAWs I’ve ever seen. It’s the farthest thing from but I’m just completely baffled by it. To be fair, the first two hours were not that bad. However, that third hour just completely drained me of life. I don’t mean any disrespect to the likes of Del Rio, Kalisto, Rusev, Big Cass, the Dudley Boyz and the women involved in the final segment, but this was just another reminder of the painful truth that this show is WAY TOO LONG. It’s not like the WWE attempted to save their best stuff for last, which is probably what they should do. They gave us the content that would be better suited for an episode of Main Event or Superstars and they put it on the final hour of RAW leading into their next pay-per-view.

I will go into further detail about the infamous closing segment for RAW as I’ve got a LOT to say about that segment. However, let’s just dive right in.

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AJ Styles came out for a promo. He discussed the apparent talk on social media about himself conspiring with Gallows and Anderson as part of “The Club.” He showed all of these tweets about the storyline and these tweets were not derogatory of AJ and the Club at all. As a matter of fact, it was a number of fans tweeting about how cool the idea of the stable is!

And AJ, god bless his soul, is trying to sell that this tweets are so hurtful to him. This entire segment just goes to show to where the wind has blown in terms of support in this storyline. The WWE are trying to portray and hint at this idea of AJ, Gallows and Anderson being mischievous and dastardly, and this crowd is not buying into any of it. The fans think everything they do is cool and everything Roman Reigns and the Usos do is lame. Speaking of which…

Roman Reigns comes out to thunderous boos and he said that everything AJ’s done in the past meant nothing as he’s never won the WWE Championship. Let’s think about this line for a second. With the rare exceptions of the Giant when he won the WCW Championship in his first match, how many wrestlers have actually won a world title in their first match? A very small few. This seemed like a completely burial of nearly everyone on WWE’s roster, as probably 75% of the roster has not won the WWE Championship. About 50% of them have never been given a WWE Championship match. AJ was trying to put himself over by talking about headlining the Tokyo Dome and Roman Reigns claiming that those things don’t matter just completely derailed AJ as a threat. If AJ were to win the championship at Extreme Rules, I wouldn’t have had a problem with this line as it meant that AJ silenced his critics. However if AJ loses clean, who could possibly want to care about AJ after being insulted and beaten by Roman?

This was not the greatest of back-and-forths on the microphone. Roman Reigns is not too good on the mic. AJ Styles is not too phenomenal either. At least it wasn’t THAT LONG until Gallows and Anderson came out. The Usos came out to have Roman’s back, which led to Roman cheap-shotting AJ.

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Sami Zayn was scheduled to face Cesaro. Currently Zayn, Cesaro, Kevin Owens and The Miz are embroiled in a four way feud for the Intercontinental Championship. We’ve seen matches between the faces and the heels, with Cesaro fighting Miz and Owens and Zayn fighting Miz and Owens too. The mouth-watering prospect, as a fan, must surely be to see Cesaro and Zayn go all-out as big time babyfaces in a match against each other. That match going into Extreme Rules would have been a killer way to get people invested into the four way match. However, they had to have Miz and Owens break it up early on to cause the no contest.

This led to Cesaro and Zayn vs Owens and Miz being announced by Shane McMahon, who clearly never watched SmackDown! as that match actually happened. In fact, Stephanie McMahon came out and pulled him up on this! She made things interesting by having Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn fight Cesaro and Miz in a tag team match instead. Unless the big plan is to turn Stephanie McMahon into a babyface, why would have the heel authority figure ever out-do the babyface in terms of match-making?

I know a  lot of people are going to disagree but I felt that passing up a Zayn/Cesaro match for just another tag team match was a huge misjudgment by the writers. The whole storyline for this match was that everyone has been fighting each other anyway and they’ll fight each other at Extreme Rules, so why would you have them all fighting each other on RAW? At least if you did Cesaro and Zayn, you could have sent fans into Extreme Rules thinking “Wow. They went all out for this non-title match on RAW. Imagine how far they’ll go to win the Intercontinental Championship!” Another added benefit was that you could have also addressed the incident on SmackDown!, where Zayn accidentally hit Cesaro with the helluva kick!

The tag match was actually pretty good. There was obvious issues between the two sets of teams. In a surprising move, Kevin Owens got the hot tag in this match. A unique choice, especially when there’s two babyfaces already in there that could have had the tag. However, Kevin running wild was great to see and the fans were into it. Cesaro then tagged himself in and hit a series of uppercuts on Owens. Miz tagged himself, threw out Cesaro and then attempted the Cesaro Swing on Zayn. Cesaro broke it up and hit Miz with the Skull-Crushing Finale. Zayn hit the helluva kick on Miz to pick up the win. Owens laid out Zayn with the superkick and claimed the victory. This was a fun tag team match and I do have high hopes for the match at Extreme Rules. I think it could be incredible stuff, even with the Miz involved.

Renee Young interviewed Chris Jericho. Jericho whined about his $15,000 light-up jacket being destroyed by Dean Ambrose and that he demanded an apology. He said that the jacket was worth more than Andre The Giant was to WWE.

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Next up was the re-debut of the “Shining Stars” Primo and Epico. I don’t know how many people picked up on this, but Vince McMahon mentioned something last week during the conference call following the release of the financial numbers for WWE’s first quarter. He talked about how there would be even more talent on their roster than ever before, with new and returning superstars coming back. After this whole deal about bringing in more talent, the WWE had the “Shining Stars” take on two local talents! They couldn’t have Primo and Epico beat at least a recognisable tag team? They couldn’t have faced the Social Outcasts or maybe a tag team of Titus O’Neil and Zack Ryder?

Primo and Epico called the ring their paradise and they beat the enhancement talent. I’ve got to say that Primo and Epico really have to make this gimmick work. I don’t want to say that they’re doomed but it’s going to be very difficult to get this gimmick over. They’ve had several incarnations of this tag team, including a matador team where they were over-shadowed by a mini bull who is now no longer with the company. I don’t see this having a major impact but you know what, please prove me wrong. I actually think that these two are good workers and the New Day are proof that any bad gimmick can be turned into a hugely over act. My advice would be to get as crazy and over-the-top as possible with this gimmick as it’s going to be difficult for them to get over by just playing a generic cocky heel, as there’s plenty going around in WWE at the moment.

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Dean Ambrose appeared to call out Chris Jericho. He just wanted to talk to him. Jericho came out and said that since he’s a millionaire, the money that the jacket cost didn’t mean anything to him. He wants an apology because Ambrose destroyed a part of his legacy. Ambrose instead challenged him to a match at Extreme Rules, to  which Jericho accepted. Dean then revealed that Shane McMahon gave him the choice to have any type of match he wanted at Extreme Rules. Dean then lowered down a cage, with a platform above it with different weapons hanging off it. Dean declared this to be an Asylum match. This really was just a Lethal Lockdown match, except that it’s simply just one on one. The weapons that were hanging off this platform including leather belts, kendo sticks, barbed wired 2x4s, straitjackets and a fire extinguisher. There was also a couple of mops hanging up there, which Perry Saturn apparently gave the OK to.

So Dean started cutting this promo as the cage came down and the production crew played this horror-film like music as Dean cut this promo. Dean was doing his best to sell this match and you couldn’t take it seriously at all, as the music was almost comical.

Let me just state that I’ve not been the biggest of fans of this feud between Jericho and Ambrose. It started off as a feud over talk shows, then moved into a feud about plants and there was little seriousness to any of this. However, I still thought that the WWE had turned the corner last week with the attacks from both men. When Jericho attacked Dean while he was in a straitjacket, I thought that was really well done. When they revealed the asylum match though, it’s almost as if the work done to try and redeem the angle just went up in smoke. I know some people like the goofiness of this all but at the end of the day, these two men are both supposedly main-eventers in WWE. The fact that they’re having this feud over daft things like plants, talk shows and jackets is just not the way to get Ambrose over to a main-event level. I’m not a fan of the match stipulation as I felt that an I Quit match would have been much more appropriate for the feud as it was building up in intensity. 

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Becky Lynch took on Dana Brooke, in a SmackDown! rematch. No Emma at ringside as she was unfortunately sidelined with a back injury. This match was OK. Dana didn’t really screw anything up. Dana seemed a bit hesitant with her work, which is understandable considering that this is her first match on RAW. Becky was able to get a decent match out of her but Dana ended up going over. I mentioned this for SLTD Wrestling but it’s going to be rather difficult for Dana to get herself over without Emma being there but it seems that they still want to do stuff with Dana, as she got the win again on RAW. Becky had to lose twice in a row to Dana but at least it wasn’t your typical 50/50 booking from WWE. They want to try and do something with the new girl which is totally fine.

We had a “Make Darren Young great again” vignette with Darren Young and Bob Backlund. Bob was appalled by Darren’s use of the phone to do simple things such as checking the time and setting the alarm clock. He demanded that Darren did squats for him. I actually think that this angle could be a huge success and I’ll explain why. The ones that are running the ship like Vince McMahon have been in the wrestling industry for years. They have an old-school look at life and wrestling, as is the case with Roman Reigns’ push. There’s a lot of aspects about the wrestling industry that they don’t understand. They don’t understand why some guys are more over than other guys and why things like NXT are such a huge hit. Using Darren Young and Bob Backlund as a means to get across their mindset is a great way to do it. Bob’s disgusted reactions at Darren for using a phone were great to see and I actually think that this will be an angle that’ll get more over than it probably should do!

With that being said, what came next was rather interesting. The Dudley Boyz appeared before Stephanie and Shane to remind that while this is the “New Era,” the Dudleyz were from the Attitude Era and still had something to offer. It’s funny because after they named-dropped the Attitude Era, everybody cheered! They wanted a tag team match but the McMahons refused. They allowed them to decide among themselves about which one of them would be a singles match later. That match would be against Big Cass.

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Next up was something utterly tremendous. It was a video package to commemorate the “Golden Truth” storyline and it just goes to show you that those who put together the video packages for WWE programming are some of the best in the world at what they do. This was essentially a comedy storyline but by the end of it, it made you care so much about the direction of R-Truth and Goldust! This was portrayed as the greatest love storyline in the history of the WWE and it featured two men going back and forth about whether to form a tag team! It showcased the struggle of both these men as Goldust wanted to be Truth’s partner but Truth refused. Truth eventually broke up the entire relationship and Goldust went with someone else in Fandango. Truth tried to make him jealous with a new tag team partner of his own in Tyler Breeze. Fandango and Breeze then realised that both men were just using them to get over this break-up. They turned on their partners, with Goldust sacrificing himself to try and save Truth. This was the moment where Goldust realised that he and Truth were meant for each other. And now, AT LONG LAST, these two were now officially a tag team! It was beautiful. This was like a much better version of the Shawn Michaels “Tell me a lie” video from 1997, where Shawn Michaels lost his smile. True emotions were showcased here!

The Golden Truth took on Fandango and Tyler Breeze with a team which myself and everyone but WWE dubbed “Fabreeze.” Even Fandango mentioned this name on Instagram! It was a brief back and forth match before Truth accidentally nailed Goldust with a kick which led to the heels winning. It was heart-breaking to see Golden Truth lose after that amazing video package but all is not lost with this angle. Backstage, Golden Truth were devastated and mocked by Fabreeze but they decided to stay together and continue to team together. This actually got quite the applause and cheers from the crowd! I’m personally looking forward to the future adventures of Golden Truth. A THUMBS UP FROM ME!

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The New Day came out with a giant object being covered up in the ring. Xaiver Woods revealed that he had brought a time machine to RAW, which was essentially a box with things stuck to the side! This is the sort of stuff that children do so it’s great that the WWE allowed the New Day to embrace their inner-child with this time machine! They went in to turn back time and go to the by-gone era. After a while, Kofi Kingston’s old theme played. Kofi came out, was in full-Jamaican mode and reliving his old gimmick when Xaiver Woods declared that they didn’t go back far enough. Kofi protested by saying that 2009 was his best year! He was pulled back into the time machine and they eventually came out to enter the by-gone era. It was all in black and white and the New Day had mustaches. They mocked the era and declared that they would always be WWE Tag Team Champions when the Vaudevillians jumped them. They destroyed the time machine and stood tall. A good way to get the Vaudevillians over by having them beat up three men and a funny little segment to sit through. This also gets a thumbs up from me!

The Usos took on Anderson and Gallows. It was your standard tag match between these two, with Roman Reigns and AJ Styles being in the corners of each team. The Usos won cleanly and this led to a staredown between AJ and Roman. Roman used the chair on AJ and then beat up the rest of the Club when AJ took over. He whacked Roman with this chair over and over and eventually hit the Styles Clash on the chair. This was a really good segment that really should have went on last. The Styles Clash looked nasty for Roman and I give AJ credit in getting the big man up for the move. Although this was the same sort of angle that we’ve seen in the last two months now, this was probably one of the stronger segments.

NOTE: It was announced after the show that the Usos would take on Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows again at Extreme Rules in a tornado tag team match.

Then we got into the third hour. Big Cass took on D-Von Dudley with Bubba Ray in D-Von’s corner. It didn’t even last minute until Big Cass overcame both Dudleyz and won. What was the point in putting this match on RAW? It’s not like any of these three people will be featured on Extreme Rules so unless it was just to get Big Cass on television, I don’t really know. I will say that Big Cass cut a really good promo before the match started.

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Kalisto took on Alberto Del Rio in a non-title match. Sin Cara was watching on from backstage when Rusev jumped him. They showed this on the big screen and Del Rio forced Kalisto to watch it. Rusev brought Sin Cara out to the ring as Del Rio hit Kalisto with the backstabber and won. Rusev then crushed Kalisto with the Accolade. It’s the same Del Rio/Kalisto match that we’ve seen throughout 2016 but the big issue is the fact that the US Champion lost in the go-home show before his big title defense at Extreme Rules. Rusev also lost to Sin Cara last week, so none of these guys have been able to get over on RAW in the last two weeks. I actually did the research and it turns out that Kalisto has not won a match on RAW since the episode BEFORE WRESTLEMANIA! Kalisto hasn’t won on RAW since March 28th 2016!

If Kalisto retains the US Championship at Extreme Rules, I’m just going to be baffled. What incentive is there to keep the title on Kalisto if you’re just going to treat him as a joke on television? Can we have these two guys win so maybe you could get people interested in their match? The US Championship has went from John Cena and Kevin Owens having one of the best programs of 2015 to the two challengers losing all the time leading into a pay-per-view.

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Then came the main event segment of the show. It was Charlotte and Natalya’s contract signing for Extreme Rules. Ric Flair got a big North Carolina pop as he introduced Charlotte. Charlotte got some mild woos. Natalya got a very light reaction. Stephanie and Shane were over-seeing the contract signing. Natalya ran down Charlotte and said that she wanted to face the Charlotte that she faced at NXT, who didn’t have Ric Flair watching her back. This is funny because in the NXT Women’s Championship match where Charlotte won the title, Ric Flair was in her corner!

Charlotte responded by claiming that these fans weren’t hear to cheer Natalya. She said that all of Charlotte, North Carolina treated her like a god before she told the crowd to shut up. Charlotte was about to sign the contract when she noticed a new stipulation. It was decided that if Ric Flair ran down and ignored the stipulation of him being banned from ringside, Charlotte would lose the championship. Charlotte angrily signed the contract and Ric Flair berated Stephanie, calling her the worst business person ever. Ric was going nuts and Charlotte tried to calm him down. Shane didn’t want to fight Ric out of respect for him. Stephanie stepped in and said that while Shane had respect for him, she didn’t. She slapped Ric to a big babyface reaction and even to “Stephanie” chants. Charlotte got angry and it appeared that she was about to attack Stephanie when Natalya got involved. She locked on the sharpshooter and Charlotte tapped. Natalya hoisted up the championship.Charlotte then rolled out of the ring and made no attempt to sell Natalya’s finisher. And all of this was supposed to promote CHARLOTTE VS NATALYA!

This was not as big a train-wreck as the infamous Charlotte/Paige contract signing which saw Paige speak ill of Charlotte’s deceased brother, but this was an awful attempt of promoting their women’s title match for Extreme Rules. The closing segment of the go-home show for Extreme Rules was centred around Ric Flair and the McMahons! The WWE instead decided to tease a confrontation between Stephanie and Charlotte!

The reported plan for Summerslam was for Charlotte to face Sasha Banks and drop the championship to her but I’m truly convinced that Sasha Banks will not be anywhere near that women’s match at Summerslam. The WWE, for whatever reason, clearly doesn’t want Sasha to be the women’s champion. Sasha being the champion is what the fans want as the “We Want Sasha” chants are still continuing. We got those chants during the Becky/Dana match. However if they wanted Sasha to be champion, she would have been by now. We wouldn’t have had to sit through an eight month title reign with Charlotte as the champion. If Sasha was truly being groomed to be the champion, she would have won it at WrestleMania 32 as she should have. But she didn’t.

I have no desire to sit through Charlotte as the champion until at least Summerslam, but that’s what we are going to get. My theory is that Sasha is being kept of television because they are looking out for other alternatives for Summerslam. They want the right woman to step up and face Charlotte instead of Sasha. This may make me sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I truly believe that we’re more likely to get Charlotte vs Stephanie at Summerslam than Sasha winning the championship at Summerslam. I don’t want to believe that but this segment didn’t feel me with a lot of confidence.

I don’t believe Natalya has any hope of walking out the champion at Extreme Rules either. I want her to do but again, she would have won it much earlier if there was any interest internally in Natalya being the champion.

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So this RAW was not terrible as an episode of RAW but it was terrible as a go-home show for Extreme Rules. This was not the way to promote this pay-per-view. I think Extreme Rules might still be a good pay-per-view but I don’t think the numbers will be strong enough for it to be an effective pay-per-view in terms of pay-per-view buys and network subscriptions.

Do Triple H And Stephanie McMahon As Heels Make Sense?

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I love a good old heel dictatorship being in charge. It gives the heroes an authority to rebel against. For every ying, there’s a yang. For every hero, there’s a villain. Stacking the deck against the good guys is supposed to help the careers of those put against the bad guys. Every win for the good guy is meaningful and every win is a win for the fans. However, does the Authority truly make sense as a heel faction and have they actually hindered the rise of babyfaces more than it’s helped?

The whole dynamic of Triple H and Stephanie as heels is very confusing in itself. Sometimes, this leads to the Authority being more balanced in it’s decisions therefore damaging the image of them as a evil dictatorship. When Randy Orton and Seth Rollins were both the hand-picked champions of the Authority, little was done to actually help them remain champion. The only time Triple H ever got physically involved to try and help Randy was at Wrestlemania 30 and he failed. Triple H and Stephanie never did anything to help Seth Rollins, even when he was against Sting who they clearly didn’t want as champion… or did they?

That’s the whole issue. On the night after Summerslam when Sting returned to WWE to challenge Rollins, Triple H was very angry over it. He was so mad that he gave Sting a WWE World title shot. As amazing as it sounds, that’s not the big thing as this could be passed off as Triple H making the decision in the heat of the moment. However, Hunter and Steph don’t seem to lift a finger to help Seth in his fight against Sting. In fact, they actually helped the good guy Sting at Night of Champions by putting their chosen champion Seth in a second match that night with somebody else!

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The Seth Rollins stuff is sort of passable if you want to go with the storyline that Triple H was just testing Seth the whole time. However, look at Seth’s opponents when he was champion. Randy Orton betrayed the Authority’s trust and attacked their golden child Seth several times. Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns have been constant enemies of the Authority since they attacked Triple H on the night after Wrestlemania 30. Brock Lesnar defied the Authority several times and violated Stephanie’s orders when he attacked EVERYONE on the night after Wrestlemania 31. John Cena helped to get the Authority out of power! Sting played a pivotal role in getting the Authority out of power as well and has feuded with Triple H. Kane was trying to work the Authority and Seth Rollins with the split personality deal. Everyone of these men would give the Authority reasons to help Seth, but neither Triple H or Stephanie made any effort to do so. It just creates a lot of plot-holes as the Authority shouldn’t want any of these men to be champion.

The reason for that is Triple H and Stephanie are trying to portray a two-faced authority figure that plays a corporate good guy but are heels deep down. That balancing act is detrimental to their character and the product itself. For example, on RAW the Authority teased a WWE World title match. They swerved the paying crowd by saying they’re going to get that match, but not that night. Lance Storm made a great point on Wrestling Observer when he pointed out that when the Authority teases the crowd for not getting more than they paid for, they go home disappointed. It’s almost like a giant middle finger to the paying audience that made the effort to come to your television show and it’s telling them to save up their money and go to bigger shows in the future where they might get more then they paid for. That’s detrimental to your live television show ticket sales as it turns a live audience off from ever coming back.

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A lot of you might be thinking “But Tom, they only say that to get some heat from the audience.” However, Triple H and Stephanie are both very active in making public appearances. They have to go to schools, conferences and sporting events and these promotional events are important in keeping up the image of the company. They are on the RAW segments talking about Susan G. Komen and talking about inspirational fans which is also confusing. Alright, I understand that there are certain times when the fans are supposed to tell the difference between kayfabe and reality. However, if these fans that you’ve told no to in kayfabe are the same people you have to encourage to donate to charity, it’s just going to send off the wrong message.

In the public eye, Triple H and Stephanie are well received and have a good reputation. On RAW, they are both going out of their way in segments to convince wrestling fans that they are assholes. However, in order to portray the two-faced gimmick mentioned earlier they still stack the deck against the heels. All of this makes their characters very difficult to understand. One week, they are mocking the fans and their favourites like Daniel Bryan. The next week, they are putting heels like Seth Rollins in tough situations. It’s almost like a guessing game every week over whether they’re faces or heels, which is not what they should be doing.

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That’s not even the worst part of Triple H and Stephanie acting as “heel” authority figures. The reason Vince McMahon worked so well as the foil for Stone Cold Steve Austin is because in the end, you knew Stone Cold was going to win. He was the ultimate hero that rebelled against the tyrant Vince McMahon and Austin would always win. The fans knew that either Austin was going to get his hands on or outsmart the evil boss that everyone hates.

On the other hand, the Authority doesn’t work as strongly as Vince did because they rarely actually lose. When the Authority has been in a feud, how many times have they won the war? Who has actually flat out won a feud with the Authority? Daniel Bryan? Sure, he beat the Authority at Wrestlemania 30 to win the WWE World title. However at the end of the day, Daniel got hurt and the Authority got what they wanted. Dolph Ziggler and the rest of Team Cena at Survivor Series? Nope. A month later, the Authority was brought back into power making those victories seem meaningless. He who laughs last laugh the loudest.

It’s detrimental as you’ll struggle to make stars out of these babyfaces because you’re sending the message out to the fans that these good guys will never beat the Authority. You wonder why the WWE’s top three babyfaces right now are Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Kane? You wonder why the top three babyfaces are two men that have never won a world championship and a 20 year veteran? You wonder why it’s three babyfaces that have already lost feuds with the Authority? Because the good guys hardly ever win against the bad guys. Good promoters shouldn’t be beating the good guys that are making money for them through merchandise.

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What’s weird about all of this is that this whole issue could be easily dealt with if they were babyfaces. That way, Triple H and Stephanie can be promoted as strong as they are and it wouldn’t hurt the product as they are making the popular decisions for the fans. It’d make it easier for Triple H and Stephanie to cut these promos on how great Be A Star and Susan G. Koeman are as they’re the good guys. They can give fans more than they bargained for and it’d make sense. They can stack the deck against the heel champions and it’d make sense. I’d prefer Triple H and Stephanie McMahon as heels I believe they are better in that role, but it’d make a lot more sense if they are babyfaces considering how obsessive WWE are at maintaining their image. It’s just interesting when you look at it.

07/09/2015 RAW REVIEW – A Great Day For The New Day, A Bad Day For Seth Rollins

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Hello everybody. Welcome to the RAW review. This RAW was a very special RAW for me. It was one of the rare occasions where I stayed up and watched this live. I’m from the UK and RAW is on over here at 1am and finishes at 4. I rarely get a chance to watch it live and I figured that I’d give it a watch. The last two episodes of RAW were actually good so I stayed up for this one because of a lot of things. I heard Sting was going to be on the show, which he was. I knew the New Day were going to be on and be the most entertaining act of the night, which they were. I was expecting a few surprises, and there was. However, all of that could not save this show from possibly being the worst episode of RAW in years.

I give credit where credit’s due. I usually try to maintain a positive outlook on WWE. I’m an optimist and I hope for the best. However, this show was a massive disappointment. This show was following great work from the last couple of weeks and this was supposed to be the “Season Finale” of RAW. I should be over the moon about how great the New Day were. However, everything else on this show really didn’t hit the mark. Let me cut to the chase. Seth Rollins’ promo at the start of the show just set the tone for this really embarrassing episode of RAW. Keep in mind, WWE had stars like Sting, Triple H, John Cena, Edge, Christian, The Dudley Boyz, Randy Orton and so many others in their disposal. Yet somehow, the crowd seemed dead for this show. I don’t blame them for not caring about this show and it all started with the Seth Rollins promo at the start.

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Seth Rollins has really stepped up his game in terms of his promos in the last few months. The fans were invested into everything he had to say. He was a joy to listen to. Tonight however, he was not. Seth’s promo revolved around him talking about how he was “special” and complained about Sting stealing his statue. Last week, Seth found out that he would be defending both his WWE World and US titles on the same night against Sting and John Cena respectively. This promo should have been put in place to allow Seth to get out his frustrations about the whole deal. He’s the victim of this whole thing as he has to wrestle two healthy WWE stars on the same night, and he dedicated most of this promo complaining about a statue.

Sting interrupted and cut a goofy promo about the statue. I liked Sting during this show. He was the mixture of craziness and goofiness that made him a hit on this show. It was sort of like his deal in TNA as “Joker” Sting, but it was a lot less tamer. That was fine because it’s humour that the WWE’s PG audience would find entertaining. I have no problem with all of this.

Sheamus then came out to confront Rollins. Sheamus and Seth Rollins may possibly be an upcoming MAIN EVENT feud for WWE. Sheamus could possibly cash in on Rollins, become the Authority’s new favourite and lead to Seth Rollins’ big face turn. This could be a program in the near future. To get you excited about the possibility of this feud, WWE put on the most embarrassing back-and-forth I think I’ve seen all year long. This was involving MAIN EVENTERS! All they did was just call each other stupid and Sheamus joked about Ronald McDonald being a relative of his. This segment made Sheamus to look like a complete joke. I felt so bad for the guy. However, things would get worse for Sheamus later on in the show…

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Seth Rollins was forced to wrestle twice in one night tonight. He wrestled Ryback in a decent champion vs champion match. Seth is just one of those wrestlers that can have a decent match with anyone. He’s creative enough that he can make Ryback look good in there. Ryback didn’t really mess anything. Ryback WON after Sting popped up on the titantron. I had no problem with the finish. Ryback’s roll up was A LOT better than the roll up in the finish of the divas match between Sasha Banks and Paige (we’ll get on to that later). I only had a few problems with this match. Firstly, this match featured the holders of THREE of the top titles in WWE. You’d think a match featuring these two important figures in the WWE would go on LAST? When was the last time you saw a match which featured a WWE World Heavyweight Champion, a US Champion and a Intercontinental Champion? This should have had a lot more build and it was kind of offending that this went on first with little promotion before hand other than word of mouth from Stephanie. Secondly, there was NO development in this new feud involving Ryback and Kevin Owens. Other than Kevin Owens eating an apple and confronting Ryback before his match, nothing else happened. Kevin didn’t do anything to really get Ryback’s attention other than verbal remarks. Surely he should have ATTACKED him after this match? I guess not…

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Paige vs Sasha Banks actually opened the show. I think I’m probably just going to jump around a lot in this episode so bare with me. This match was an OK match. These two are very good workers and this REALLY should be the feud for the Divas Championship. It was an OK match… until the finish. Paige hit the RamPaige onto Sasha when Naomi got into the ring and distracted Paige. Sasha took advantage with a MESSY roll up to score the pin. The pin looked like both Paige AND Sasha’s shoulders were on the mat. It looked to me like it was a draw. Maybe that was the intent, as Paige complained about the finish and Sasha’s shoulders being on the mat afterwards. However, none of the commentators brought this up on commentary. The PCB never seemed to protest this as Paige was just upset in the ring. It just looked like a really bad roll up which they tried to cover up afterwards on SOCIAL MEDIA with a verbal spat from Paige.

I also have an issue with Naomi’s run in. Did we really need the distraction to be a deciding factor in the finish of this match? Naomi’s getting in the ring should really just be the spot which would lead to Sasha taking over and getting herself the heat on Paige. It should not really be a part of the finish. It’s not like Naomi attacked Paige or anything, like Tamina had earlier on. She got in the ring, she got back out and Sasha rolled up Paige for the win. One last thing about this match. Sasha has now been Paige TWICE on RAW in the last month as well as Nikki Bella in a non-title match a few weeks ago. I understand this is scripted entertainment but surely that should put Sasha in contention for a title shot. I feel really bad for Sasha and her group, who are apparently having to play third-fiddle to the PCB and Team Bella.

Speaking of the PCB and Team Bella, Nikki would talk about breaking AJ’s record title reign next week and put up the Bellatron. She announced a Bellabration until she was interrupted by the PCB. Charlotte announced that she would be getting a title shot next week on RAW, meaning Nikki’s title reign could end just hours before breaking the record. I personally don’t think Charlotte should win the title right now. If you read my recent article on Charlotte (at this link), you can see why. Her winning the title next week might be a big moment for her but I don’t think it’ll help her in the long term. However, I am glad we’re finally getting a Divas Championship match next week!

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Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns SQUASHED The Ascension in a tag team match. This was ridiculous for so many reasons. Firstly, the Ascension had just began a stable with Stardust on SmackDown! I love how the majority of this show featured replays of the events that took place on SmackDown!, yet the writers on RAW seemed to neglect the events of SmackDown! here as the Ascension didn’t appear with Stardust! There was no mention of the group forming and it was just typical business as usual for the Ascension. You’d think if they were wanting to push this new stable, the Ascension would maybe pick up some wins first and build themselves up. That didn’t happen tonight as Roman and Dean squashed them in a matter of minutes!

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Bray Wyatt appeared, vowing to take out everyone thinking of joining Roman and Dean’s crusade. Randy Orton was shown talking to Ambrose and Reigns prior to his match with Sheamus.

The funny thing is just before RAW started, I listened to Steve Austin talking about this Randy Orton/Sheamus feud and he was bang on the money. There was NO storyline involved, there was no new developments after Sheamus beat Orton at Summerslam. It’s not like Sheamus beat Orton by cheating at Summerslam either. He just won clean giving Orton no logical reason for wanting a rematch. It was just incredibly frustrating watching what these men were being put through. I don’t blame the fans for not caring about this match.

Firstly, the match itself was OK. It was worse than their Battleground and Summerslam matches but it was an alright TV match. However, it was just so hard to get invested into this match. It’s also incredibly hard to consider Sheamus as a possible top main event heel when he cuts promos during matches saying “I don’t look stupid”. This was very bad because Sheamus is supposed to be this tough, Irish brawler. He’s supposed to love a good old fight more than anything else. He’s like Finlay with his mean attitude. With that being said, why on earth would Sheamus care about the fans calling him out on his looks? It completely contradicted the character that he has developed ever since he debuted. Interim UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor would not get distracted in a UFC fight if the fans started chanting “You look stupid”. He doesn’t care about how he looks. He cares about beating people up and dominating in the UFC. Sheamus should have the same mentallity. He certaintly should have the same mentality if he’s supposed to WIN the WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP!

 actually began trending on Twitter following this match. This is how uninterested people were in this match. Orton won with an RKO and was immediately attacked by the Wyatts. I guess this was because he was talking to Dean and Roman before backstage. Whether this leads to Randy actually joining Dean and Roman remains to be seen.

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I do want to mention probably the greatest segment I’ve seen all year long in WWE. It was a four minute backstage segment and it followed Seth losing to Ryback. He was looking for Sting when the New Day showed up. They were trying to get Seth riled up about their six man tag team match against John Cena and the Prime Time Players. Seth got angry and he was then confronted by Edge and Christian. Seth’s bad night continued when he chickened out of a fight with someone with a serious neck problem so serious that one shock could lead to Edge being paralyzed. Way to put over your champion…

The New Day and Edge and Christian began a music battle, pitting Xaiver Woods’ trombone against Edge and Christian’s kazoos. Big E tried to eat the Kazoos when the Dudleyz showed up. They announced that the New Day would be defending the titles next week against the Prime Time Players. The Dudleyz, Edge and Christian began singing a song about breaking tables which was a very cheerful moment. This segment was… magical. The New Day was just incredible during this entire show. Sadly this segment was followed up by Summer Rae…

If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know of my deep disdain for this Ziggler/Rusev/Lana angle. When Lana was revealed to be injured and out for four months, I was hoping that they’d just wrap up this storyline. I jokingly said that WWE might drag this storyline out for four months until Lana is back and is able to have her first match. However, when I saw this angle with Ziggler, Rusev and Summer Rae, I have a feeling they’ll actually probably do that! This LONG segment ended with Ziggler attacking Rusev and then Ziggler vs Rusev being announced for Night of Champions.

I understand that there’s not actually been a clear winner between Rusev or Ziggler in this entire storyline. Their match at Summerslam ended in a double count out and Ziggler won by DQ on RAW last week. What would be logical is that this match would be made NO DISQUALIFICATION so there MUST be a winner. However, it was just announced as a standard match like all the other ones! If you’re going to do this match for a THIRD TIME, can you at least make it a little bit different? Throw in a stipulation or something. Because all of this will need to nothing positive if their match at Night of Champions doesn’t truly represent the pent-up “emotion” from Rusev and Ziggler. These two have hated each other for months. They’d want to just beat each other up. Why do the exact same match for the second PPV in a row?

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The Dudley Boyz beat Los Matadores. When Los Matadores came out with El Torito, I was PRAYING that Bubba would put El Torito threw a table! I was sadly disappointed. After the Dudleyz won, Diego was angry at El Torito and started pushing Torito around. This was apparently the big heel turn of Los Matadores. This was shortly followed up with the Dudleyz putting Diego through a table. What a way to turn heel…

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Cesaro and The Miz wrestled to a double count out when the Big Show interfered. The Miz ran into the crowd and because Cesaro was outside too, it was ruled a double count out. After seemingly turning face once more, Show KO’d Cesaro and just walked off. This match needed to happen… why? What was the benefit to EITHER of one these wrestlers? What was the benefit of Big Show running out to run off The Miz and then KO Cesaro. This helped… NO ONE.

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We had the six man tag team match main event, with the Prime Time Players and Cena taking on Rollins and the New Day. The New Day were hilarious throughout this match. The match itself wasn’t actually that bad but the fans around that time in the show was just drained. You could tell as the fans barely had enough energy to chant “John Cena Sucks” during Cena’s entrance. Xaiver Woods was just the start of this match and he wasn’t even in the match itself! There was a spot where Xaiver began playing the trombone to the rhythm of the moves his team mates were doing. You’ll have to go and watch the match itself to see how magical it all was. It added so much life into the match. It was weird seeing Cena getting beaten up until TITUS O’NEIL got the hot tag. Shocking. To be fair, Titus usually has awesome hot tag moments so I didn’t mind. The match ended with Cena catching Kofi and hitting the AA for the win. This was followed by Sting appearing on the screen one FINAL TIME to crush Seth Rollins’ status. That was the end to RAW.

I was going to talk about the ending of RAW itself in a bit more detail but I might just wrap things up now. All I can say is that this show was so draining. There was little for the fans to get excited for. Seth Rollins got completely buried throughout the entire night. There were a lot of screwed up finishes. Some horrid storylines continued and it was a true let down when considering how great the last two shows have been. This show gets a MASSIVE thumbs down. All I can say is that next week’s RAW has to be REALLY good in order to get people into Night Of Champions…