WWE Weekly: November 29- December 5, 2015
by Scrooge Mc Suck
LIGHTS, CAMERA, (WWE) ACTION...
(Raw: Pittsburgh, PA; Smackdown: Hershey, PA)
When the ratings are constantly hovering around all-time lows, you can expect to see some desperate tactics, and with a weak Monday Night Football match-up (Baltimore @ Cleveland, two teams with a combined record of 5-15), thereís an idea that more people will watch Monday Night Raw instead. Personally, I find that to be a weak excuse. If youíre a wrestling fan and the product is at least intriguing enough to give a crap about, the wrestling show will always be picked. If youíre a sports fan and thereís two teams playing who you either dislike or have no interest in, odds are youíll look for other sports to watch, what with the NBA and NHL underway. Back to the topic at hand... desperate times call for desperate measures...
First, the Roman Reigns and Sheamus nonsense. Wrap your mind around this, and Iím pretty sure this is how it was made out to be: Sheamus (or as Reigns calls him, "Magic Mohawk") taunts Reigns and gets KOíed for it, so a match is booked later tonight, with the Title on the line, but Reigns has to win the match in 5:15 or less to win the Title. If he loses the match, he loses his Title opportunity at TLC, and if he wins... well, he wins the Title, unless he wins by DQ, then he just kind of still gets his Title shot and this was all pointless. Oh, and since heís best buds with Ambrose and the Usos, their Title hopes are at stake, too. The main problem with this whole scenario is how clumsy the set-up was and how poorly it was translated to the viewing audience. At times I honestly didnít know if his match tonight was for the Title or not, and the commentary didnít help matters either, never acknowledging it as such. I hate to be that guy, but this is some serious "WCW nonsense" when I think about it. Something fishy is up, because the big Title Match is set to begin at 10 p.m. As expected, we got a BS finish, with Rusev running in to get Sheamus DQíed... so Sheamus not only looks like a goof, but can barely survive a 4 and a Ĺ minute match where he spent half of the time stalling. We also have a name for his new stable of companions, the so-cleverly-titled "League of Nations", featuring Rusev, King Barrett, and Alberto Del Rio.
We closed out Monday Night Raw, with the LEAGUE OF NATIONS (seriously, did they spend more than 6-seconds on that?) taking on Reigns and Friends (Ambrose and the Usos) in an Eight-Man Tag Team Match. But wait... we stack the odds, with The New Day joining it to make it a Seven-on-Four Tag Team Matchô instead. I guess Kevin Owens was busy noshing at the catering table (or home sick with the flu... seriously, how did WWE not use my excuse? Seems about write with their level of intelligent writing). The match not only stunk (running nearly 30-minutes in front of a dead crowd), but the over-exposure of almost everyone involved is just baffling. Rusev and the New Day, among others, were featured in no less than FOUR SEGMENTS EACH, and despite a deep Main roster and a deep roster of ready talent in NXT, this is what we get. We followed this up on Smackdown with Roman Reigns having to face insurmountable odds, a 4-on-1 Handicap Match because his "Family" lost a match fair and square to the New Day. Donít worry, through some WCW magic, one man was thrown from ringside for illegal participation, and Reigns managed to survive the 3-on-1 and win the match by Count-Out. Didnít stop Sheamus from knocking his block off with a Brogue Kick to end the night.
With so much happening and so little having a strong impact, the rest of the weeks programming will just be summed up without an order of importance...
First, The Ravishing Russian Lana is back. Oh wait, sheís no longer called that. Just Lana (not to be confused with Just Joe). Sorry if I didnít make it seem all that important, WWE didnít, either. They seriously cut to a backstage shot of Rusev, Lana is there, and "Oh, theyíll be on Miz TV next." You know, in my day, the big reveal of Lana wouldíve been DURING the tired formula of Miz TV, not announced before it. That was just ammunition for me to switch the channel to the MNF game, so mission failed, WWE. Rusev constantly referencing Lana as "one person" wouldíve been the perfect interlude for Jim Hensonís "Just One Person" song. If that doesnít turn an evil Bulgarian-turned Russian-turned back to Bulgarian babyface, I donít know what will... wait, what? Heís still a heel? Well someone needs to clue Lana in on that one, unless they are going to immediately tease a break-up angle her first night back! Ryback interrupted for a match that went maybe 2-minutes outside the commercial break, and Rusev took a count-out tending to Lana, who was coincidentally hit by the ring-steps during a spot on the floor. FORSHADOWING! With Rusevís involvement mostly having to do with Roman Reigns on Smackdown, this was only touched up in a weak backstage interview, where the only notable thing was Lana NOT wearing her standard jacket and mini skirt, but something more... fancy? I donít know, they just want to kill the character from what I understand. To think, not even 6 months ago, she was the flavor of the monthô for Vince McMahon and now sheís just another face.
The Wyatt Family continued their reconstruction program with the Dudley Boyz, and if what youíre about to read doesnít scream desperately grasping at anything to get people interested, then I donít know what does. The set up was simple: The Dudleys are out-numbered ("3 to 2", according to Bubba), so they have someone to even the odds... Tommy Dreamer. Yep. Tommy Dreamer is featured on WWE programming in 2015. 10 years since the ECW revival, and 15 years since ECW went out of business. The fan base has turned over so much over a DECADE AND A HALF that outside a brief moment of nostalgia, the Six-Man Tag that followed was met with deafening silence and was an incredibly long three minutes before getting a non-finish (double DQ). Just as it seemed the Dudleys were going to be brutalized again, Bubba Ray desperately threw himself at Wyatt, standing on the apron at the time, and knocking him off and through a table. This naturally set up a match for Smackdown, and advertised as such... Bubba Ray vs. Bray Wyatt. Except we got DíVon vs. Bray Wyatt, the match went 3-minutes, stunk, and Bray went over clean. Again, the Wyatts left standing tall, even with Tommy Dreamer offering his services, again.
Elsewhere in the Tag Team Division, the New Day are still the Tag Team Champions, and even with the Usos back in action, thereís little excitement surrounding the belts. Itís always a problem when a heel act gets over so strongly that the crowd cheers it, thus killing the reactions for the faces. See also: The Miz and Mizdow, which effectively killed the division for a couple of months. The Usos and Lucha Dragons met on Raw in a #1 Contenders Match, but the New Day made sure that there wasnít a winner. Despite being in the good graces of the Authority, they are punished by having to defend the Titles in a Triple Threat... and in a Ladder Match, despite there being zero reason for the gimmick to be used, other than the show is called "TLC" and gimmick matches need to be trotted out until the crowd stops caring. If 2014 was any indication, that would be somewhere around the third match on the card.
Moving onto more confusing story-telling, the saga of the WOMENíS DIVISION. Sorry, I canít stand the "Diva" title and having to refer to all Womenís matches as a "Divas Match." Even in NXT, when itís clearly stated as a Womenís Championship, they call all the female matches "Diva Matches." Anyway, Charlotte is the Champion, and Paige is being a bitch, planting seeds that she and Becky Lynch arenít as close as Becky wants to think, so Becky challenges Charlotte to a "friendly" match... a match that Charlotte just has to have her father, Ric Flair, at ringside for. Because Ric Flair is her father, and so we must care for her character lacking any personality. The match only goes a few minutes before Charlotte "injures" her knee, only to reveal sheís faking and rolls up Becky for a cheap victory. Tough love she says. Dumb excuse for randomly altering the direction of the division, I say. We followed this up on Smackdown with Becky battling Brie Bella (who goes back and forth depending on the day of the week on the face and heel chart). Brie took a cheap shot at Charlotte, so Charlotte runs in just as Becky has the match won, and gets Becky DQíed for assaulting Brie. I honestly donít know if Paige is still involved in this storyline, or if sheís even going to challenge for the Title since their last rematch ended in a non-finish.
With Kevin Owens out of action with the flu, his program with Dean Ambrose might as well not exist, but the match is still on. Dolph Ziggler and Tyler Breeze continued to play the game of "I watch you wrestle, you watch me" and occasionally interacting. They had a rematch from Survivor Series on Raw, with Ziggler going over because 50/50 booking clearly works. Stardust and Titus OíNeil did an awful segment in Stardustís mysterious dungeon of doom, ending in "comical" style. Adam Rose has a new segment called the Rose Bush where he dishes on the dirt in WWE. It was pretty bad, and hopefully wonít return for a second week. Goldust did a job to Alberto Del Rio in two minutes, but Jack Swagger made a post-match save. I guess Swagger had Smackdown off, because that storyline was completely ignored, too. Neville and the Miz are teasing some kind of fluff angle, but honestly, I wouldnít be surprised if it was completely erased from the storyboard in time for the next episode of Monday Night Raw.
C-YOU LATER, HEATH SLATER...
As usual, thereís not much happening on Superstars or Main Event really worth going into detail about, so hereís what I do for my own personal amusement: we keep track of the results, including win-loss records, and basically keep tabs on how often certain people appear on these shows, who wins the most, and who, besides Heath Slater, loses the most. Itís one of those things Iíve done with the C-level shows as far back as Velocity and Sunday Night Heat. Last week, we got appearances from guys like Rusev, The Miz, and Ryback in mostly lopsided matches against Zack Ryder and Heath Slater, and Charlotte did a senseless job to Brie Bella, all things considered.
From WWE Main Event, taped on December 1st from Hershey, PA... The Miz (2-0) pinned Dolph Ziggler (0-1) at 7:15 with the Skull Crushing Finale, following interference from Tyler Breeze. Yeah, that Ziggler vs. Breeze program isnít over, yet... Sasha Banks (2-0) tapped out Alicia Fox (0-2) at 2:56 with the Bank Statement. Again, with Nikki Bella gone, Brie and Fox are basically scrubs who only win matches when their opponent becomes easily distracted by a rival... Ryback (3-0) pinned Bo Dallas (1-3) at 4:11 with the Shell Shock... Titus OíNeil (4-0) pinned Stardust (0-4) at 5:40 with the Clash of the Titus on a rematch from last week, when Stardust walked out for a cheap Count-Out.
From WWE Superstars, taped on November 30th from Pittsburgh, PA, but broadcast at a later date than Main Event... Zack Ryder (2-3) pinned Heath Slater (0-6) at 4:34 in one of the most important matches to the short-lived tracking of records. A win from Slater wouldíve pulled him closer to Ryder to escape the dungeon, but Ryder continues to be maybe the 3rd from the bottom when it comes to jobs (the 2nd being Adam Rose)... Neville (2-0) pinned Bo Dallas (1-4) at 8:12 with the Red Arrow (or as people are now referring it as, "the ace up his sleeve"). This went from the Championship Match on the 1st NXT TakeOver to a random, meaningless match taped for a show that NOBODY BUT ME watches.
TLC 2015 RUNDOWN...
The 7th installment in the TLC series is set to take place in just a little more than a week, from the TD Garden in Boston, MA. If it feels like we just sat through a WWE PPV, it might be because it was two weeks ago, and weíre only separating shows by three weeks. With so much confusion in regards to the direction of the product and what the card is going to look like, what has been confirmed is minimal...
As for the rest of the card, one can only assume some of, if not all, of the following will take place: The Dudley Boyz vs. a combination the Wyatt Family in a Tables Match, maybe Alberto Del Rio defending the US Title against Jack Swagger in a Chairs Match, a rematch between Dolph Ziggler and Tyler Breeze, furthering the Rusev vs. Ryback angle from Monday Night Raw, possibly a Triple Threat for the Divas Championship, and Iím going to guess Miz vs. Neville on the Kickoff Show. This whole paragraph is purely speculation based on the trends of the product, so if Iím wrong, donít act like this was advertised as the confirmed card.
- Sheamus defends the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Roman Reigns in a TLC Match. Typical example of using a gimmick match just for the sake of the PPV name. I donít know, maybe itís just a shallow marketing ploy with Toys Rí Us being a sponsor for the PPV. It seems obvious that someone will screw Reigns out of the title, because constantly making Reigns look like a chump is the best effort that the creative team can come up with in making Reigns a star. Who knows what will cost him the match... Triple H, a member or members of the League of Nations... all I know is that Sheamus isnít winning this clean as a sheet.
- Kevin Owens defends the WWE Intercontinental Championship against Dean Ambrose in what is currently listed as a standard singles match. Last week on Smackdown, Ambrose won a #1 Contenders Match against Dolph Ziggler and Tyler Breeze, even though he was the natural fit for an automatic Championship opportunity. With Owens missing the whole week of TV with the flu, this angle sat on the back-burner and shoved Ambrose into a direct role against the League of Nations. This could easily be the best match on the show, but again, weíve seen it so much recently that they need to find a new formula.
- The New Day defends the WWE Tag Team Championship against Jimmy and Jey Uso and the Lucha Dragons in a Triple Threat Ladder Match. Again, much like the Main Event, there is nothing to this that requires digging out the Ladder Match gimmick. The Lucha Dragons havenít connected well with the crowds and the Usos have been so-so since Jeyís return from injury. Putting the heel Champions in an unfair situation of two babyface teams opposing them means the New Day SHOULD retain.
NXT TAKEOVER: LONDON RUNDOWN...
With the product featuring a weak lineup across the board on both Monday Night Raw and (Thursday Night) Smackdown, it seemed like a perfect week to sub out the Superstar Spotlight for a feature on the (Wendesday Night) NXT and the upcoming Takeover Special, to be featured on the WWE Network from London, England on December 16th. Itís been about two months since our last Takeover Special, and thankfully we wonít have to put up with the obnoxious crowd at Full Sail. Unless something is added at the last minute, the card looks like the following...
With 5 matches planned and all of them being significantly balanced, I wouldnít be surprised if a squash match were added to break things up. Donít forget, Sami Zayn is advertised to return and will be touring Europe with NXT, and who knows what other names will show or up be announced for an NXT arrival. Is it wrong Iím really hyped for TakeOver, and yet have zero desire to sit through TLC?
- Finn Balor defends the NXT Championship against Samoa Joe. If you recall, these two were victorious partners for the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Joe wanted a Championship Match, but Commissioner William Regal decided the #1 Contender would be decided via a Battle Royal. Spoiler: Joe didnít win, and now heís pissed, violently assaulting Finn Balor following a title defense against Apollo Crews, and making his intentions clear. Ever since, Joe has gotten the better of Balor, including a Contract signing where he refused to make eye contact with the Champion, then laid him out moments later when Balor tried giving chase. Balor has held the Championship since early July, and thereís a good chance he drops the Title here. If not, I could see it being a DQ finish to set up a rematch.
- Bayley defends the NXT Womenís Championship against Nia Jax. In the last few weeks, Bayley had successful defenses against Alexa Bliss (in a so-so match) and Eva Marie (in such a wonderfully done angle that it almost seemed mean to troll the Full Sail crowd, but they deserve it, so fuck Ďem). Now she has to face the unbeaten monster heel who has only briefly shown any signs of vulnerability. This is going to be a tough one to call, since Bayley is one of only two strong baby-face women in NXT and Jax is undefeated and hasnít even been challenged in a match. Logic dictates a Title Switch or a cheap finish. Since this will surely take place sooner than Balor v. Joe, whatever the finish here will dictate the finish for the Main Event. If Jax wins, Balor will retain, if Bayley retains, Joe wins. (Note: This match wasnít confirmed as of this weeks episode, but all signs point to it taking place)
- Dash and Dawson defend the NXT Tag Team Championship against Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady. About a month back, Dash and Dawson put a hurting on Enzo and Big Cass, putting them out of action. Since then, they dethroned the Vaudevillains for the Tag Team Championship and retained them in the subsequent rematch (and basically ending the Vaudevillainsí run as a top baby-face team with Enzo/Cass and Jason Jordan and Chad Gable getting the spotlight recently). Everyone loves baby-face revenge, but the Titles only switched about three weeks ago, and they arenít going to hot shot them now when Enzo and Cass are doing just fine without them.
- Apollo Crews battles Baron Corbin in a grudge match stemming from Corbin interfering in Apolloís match against Finn Balor for the NXT Championship. Sometimes itís something as simple as that to set up a program. Iím sure this wonít be a terrible match, with Corbin improving immensely since I first started watching him about a year ago, but Iím not that excited for it with a card loaded with matches Iím already showing more interest in. Corbin has already taken a few losses, so itís easy to expect Crews staying undefeated after a hard fought match.
- Last but not least, Asuka takes on Emma in a match that is mostly following up on Asukaís convincing victory over Dana Brooke at TakeOver: Respect. Over the last two months, Emma has shown a more vicious streak in her offense, easily defeating her opposition with a neat combination of a curb-stomp (a simpler version, however) and the Emma Lock. Weíre in a unique dilemma where we have a 3rd match featuring someone who has yet been defeated in NXT... other than Dana Brooke, Asukaís victories have been over bottom-tier opposition (including Funkadactyl Cameron... remember her? She still sucks). If anyone of the three were to lose, Iíd make it here, since they can have Dana Brooke interfere and it would allow Asuka to save face. As cool as Asuka is, you can only do so much with an invincible baby-face before you have to have them lose. Getting the loss out of the way in such a manner will lessen the blow if it were to be held off for too long.
Final Thoughts: Not the greatest week for WWE programming. The ratings were up slightly, but the product seemed to suffer with a lot of bad angles and segments thrown at us. With a strong roster of performers, itís very shocking that we didnít get one stand-out match from either Raw or Smackdown, with two main events of Handicap Matches and so-so-sooooo much filler underneath. Next week, weíll hopefully get some better wrestling action on Raw and/or Smackdown, and give the final preview for the 2015 edition of TLC. Until then...
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