Not If, But When
John Cena is going to win the WWE World Championship. It’s going to happen in the near future. He will be able to call himself a 16 time champ, tying Ric Flair as the only other man to accomplish the feat. We’ve all made our peace with that fact, I hope. You can argue whether or not he “deserves” it if you like, I very much take a Snoop from The Wire approach to it all. Deserves really got nothing to do with it. He’s put in the time in, and the work. The real accomplishment will be paying off that victory in such a way that the fans cheer, and give the desired response WWE will need for promo packages they’ll run for the next decade.
The story being told right now is that John has to overcome two competitors that have beaten him back to back. So the plan is to say that both are underestimating the old man. Simultaneously, Cena is making his presence and intentions known, going so far as to actively interfere with a title match between AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose, after which, he gave both men the AA before holding up the title. Now, Smackdown Live and to an extent, WWE is in a bit of a bind. They have to build to Cena eventually winning the title, and likely save it for a big show, likely a shared event with RAW to give the match marquee value, but by that point, the feuds will likely have gone on too long. Cena just kind of inserted himself nice and deep like into the title picture, because….well, because he could.
The key so far has been the little changes that will eventually garner the “correct” responses. Dean Ambrose has clearly tweaked aspects of his character to fit into the feud. He’s less playful, and more the legit tough guy the jeans and leather jacket imply that he is. He’s being less Fonzie and more Harley Keiner.
Cena on the other hand, has tapped into his mean streak just enough to bring out the edge that he tends to drop in other feuds, right up until it’s time to put butts in the seats. Having the more, dare I say, ruthlessly aggressive side come out sooner, against a rejuvenated tough guy and the heel champ is a smart move, and it’s paying off already. Cena interrupted a match, hit his signature move on both competitors, and was (mostly) cheered. Yeah, I’m surprised too.
All’s My Life, I Had To Fight
In a bit of a telegraphing move, Dolph Ziggler put his career on the line against Miz at the forthcoming No Mercy PPV. I can’t actually do the full segment justice, so watch it below.
It was all so perfect. The video package leading up to that moment, which included some Real World footage, and his Tough Enough days was great. Laid out that way, Miz has had himself quite the career. Arguably better than Dolph Ziggler’s, simply due to the fact that like him or hate him, Miz has won when it counted more. And with that information thrown in his face, Dolph put the only thing he had left, on the line; his entire career. Again, this is a bit telegraphing, given the rarity it is for a younger competitor to lose a match like this, and it was very likely that Miz would have lost the IC Title already had he not had that fantastic segment with Daniel Bryan a few weeks back. So Dolph will likely win against his match, finally, but it will mean something, which is what we’ve wanted for this championship for what has felt like a decade at this point.
Running In Place
I know it seems like I give way too much attention to Smackdown Live, and that’s somewhat true. Part of it being that it’s usually what I watch right before typing these things up. The angles and plots are a bit fresher, but beyond that, RAW has been a bit plodding post brand split. They were running neck and neck there for a bit, but leading up to Backlash and especially after, Smackdown has done a much better job of making things matter. With their two hour time slot, stakes are higher to perform, and protect their clearly limited roster. Hell, neither the GM or Commish made an appearance on Tuesday’s show, whereas RAW has their authority figures intertwined in everything but the tag titles at this point.
Case in point. After a grueling 7 match series between Sheamus and Cesaro, Mick Foley, instead of making some sort of definitive ruling, or creating a sudden death scenario, said that both men were too important to risk in such a capacity. So, being man of his word, and wanting to give both me the title shot they rightfully earned, he made them a tag team.
Now, instead of a gratifying conclusion, which saw Cesaro (the clear choice) catapulted into a Universal title program somewhere down the line, they’ll compete for the tag titles, which really only serves the purpose of padding that portion of the roster. No matter how impassioned the speech was from Mick Foley, it was a copout.
The same could be said for the Women’s Division where Bayley, openly stated that she is no longer going after the RAW Women’s Championship. Basically conceding to Sasha Banks for, reasons. They could have at least had someone else come after Bayley, to take her attention off of the title. Instead, she just bowed out because whatever story they have planned didn’t involve the Hugger. It’s fine, just uninspired.
Stuff and Thangs
Elsewhere on RAW, the cruiserweight division still feels like a separate entity. I don’t mind the division being showcased, but it also feels like a totally different show when they’re on screen. The purple ropes and lights, coming out of a commercial, make it seem like they’re showing footage from a network special. The cruiserweights need to be integrated into the show. Let them interact with other superstars. Hell, let them talk to one another. Throwing them all together at every turn, in order for them to get exposure isn’t the way to go.
Seth Rollins got legit hurt during his match with Kevin Owens, bruising a couple ribs, so he’ll likely be out of action for a week or two, giving Kevin Owens time to gloat as champ, and maybe someone else a chance to step up. I’m finding that RAW has a bit of an issue in not having a definitive babyface to follow at the top of the roster. Sure, Reigns is there, but the crowd was still pretty split following his US Title win. Then throwing them back out there for a double count out rematch to get eyes on the show before the Presidential Debate was a waste. They either need to pull off a complete face turn for Rollins, or fully inject Triple H to wrap up that thread.
I’ve rambled enough. Both shows are good, but Smackdown Live has been exceptional given what they have to work with. Even Alexa Bliss, who you could argue wasn’t quite ready for a push, looks like a viable antagonist to Becky Lynch, simply because the show has given her room to execute, and pulling away as needed. While that’s going on, The Uso’s have become top heels, at ramming speed, and I actually look forward to their segments on a regular basis. Segments against Heath Slater no less. Smackdown Won the week, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. You can tell me i’m wrong on the Twittah Machine, where we’ll then battle over which futuristic economy was better, Total Recall or Blade Runner. Till then…