An Arms Race
This Wrasslin’ State of Mined will be a little less blow by blow and a wee bit more the inner workings. Sorry in advance, but the various paints that made up this last week of WWE content seemed more insular than ever, at a time when they were actually doing a great job of showing they were going the opposite direction leading up to the Royal Rumble. This week, instead of being a wrasslin’ show, WWE came off like a family drama that had wrasslers in it.
The Man came around this week, but not on Smackdown Live, the show that he made his first big “return” to last year to hype Survivor Series. No, he was teased for Monday Night RAW. And when I say “teased”, I mean rumors swirled that he was making an appearance, and in order to get out in front of the IWC by saying there were “rumblings” that Taker would show up tonight. Now, as a wrasslin’ fan, I can suspend my disbelief enough to watch the show, but i’m hard pressed to think that a show as meticulously planned as Monday Night RAW isn’t sure that one of their employees is going to make a scheduled appearance. So instead of the anticipation of when Taker would show, we had to sit through a storyline debating on whether or not he even would. Only for the time to come, and for The Deadman to announce that he’s in the Royal Rumble and that he answers to no one.
Taker in the rumble? Color me excited. But what really grabbed me was the thought of Daniel Bryan being incensed the next night that a Smackdown roster member would make such a huge announcement on the supposed rival show, then, nothing. Nothing from Bryan, Renee Young or even AJ Styles, whose current persona is about defending that chip on his shoulder. A vet like Taker, appearing on the Red show, after making a huge deal about how much Smackdown meant to him is ripe for criticism. You could argue that it would step on a rumoured feud between Taker and Cena, but it just felt like a missed opportunity.
And A Scene
Then there was the obvious exploitation of one Shawn Michaels to shill his new “inspirational” (Christian) movie, which I have no problem with, but on a night when Undertaker is used as a prop, Michaels doing his old guy schtick while selling a movie that no one really wants to see, it all felt like a bit much. Michaels is firmly in his Legend portion of his career, making appearances as needed to connect the younger to a bygone era, but it can’t help his cache to be used in such an obvious and pandering manner. Placing him next to Enzo and Cass, as throwbacks to his edgier, Attitude Era days only reminds us that he’s no longer that guy, and the company could never replicate what made that time so special. And that’s not a knock on Enzo or guys like him. Just the recognition that time has moved on, but WWE never truly did. They’ve been throwing the Attitude battery in the freezer for over a decade. Harkening back to it whenever possible to put over whatever new era they were in, but outside forces had already moved them away from that sort of branding. Be it political aspirations or shareholders. I want to revere Shawn Michaels and others like him, and maybe the best way to do that is to actually let him go away for a good while.
Damn, this somehow went from the angle that made the least sense to me, to one I actually rooted for. Orton with the Wyatt’s just worked. And yes, it was obviously a case of throwing people together that didn’t really have much going on, but it just worked. The cracks were always shown early on, but once they won the tag titles, it looked like a story that would run for a good while. Turns out a good while just means until the Royal Rumble, because we are clearly on the course of destruction. Still, it was fun while it lasted. While The Viper never fully fit the swamp family mold, they were a terrifying machine of intimidation and cerebral manipulation. The blowoff from all of this will mean less than a damn, but at least Bray finally got to hold a title.
Speaking of holding title, Chris Jericho is our new United States Champ. I’m so conflicted, I feel like an undercover cop who has to bust the criminal i’ve befriended. Excuse me while I fire rounds into the air while screaming. Not that I don’t want Jericho as champion, but that now frees Roman to take the Universal Cosmic Cube off of Kevin Owens, which i’m just not ready for. Owens’ run has been too closely tied to Jericho for it to come to an end. Now, if this turns into a lengthy feud with Reigns over the strap, then okay. That way we can get the bruising, more aggressive version of Owens we know and loathe. He was forced to play up the comedic side for most of this run, and I can’t say it’s hurt his stock, but it did take away from the more dangerous aspects of his character.
With the road to WrestleMania inkling further and further out, kind of how Christmas season seems to start right after Halloween nowadays, the “big” faces need to be in big feuds and holding championships. So Cena will beat AJ, and Reigns will topple Owens. Against all odds of course. Likely pitting the two BFF’s against one another in the process. So again, I enjoy the win for what it is, but I know it brings some things i’m not so jazzed about in its wake.
Stuff and Thangs
Damn, i’ve rambled on and barely talked about Ziggler using chairs on Kalisto and Crews. Upping the ante on his new found heelness, and also, still only attacking minorities. Not reading too much into that, just pointing it out. Kind of like how Rusev beat up all the Black dudes on the roster before facing Jack Swagger.
I like seeing Baron Corbin in the middle of things at the top of the card for now. True heels are still in short supply, and since Cena, while playing Big Dick Johnny, still hasn’t truly turned, a physical presence like Corbin is needed. Just like Braun is over on RAW. Except Cena got to beat Corbin clean, because, Cena.
Alright, that’s all for tonight. Sorry for the late post. You can reprimand my tardiness over on the Twittah Machine. We can then discuss how Dirty Dancing my actually be apart of the MCU. Yeah. Till then…