When All Else Fails, WWE No Longer SHIELDED From The Truth

Last night, WWE Raw was much more important than initially meets the eye.  With all the struggles of World Wrestling Entertainment recently, including the low subscription numbers for the WWE Network and even lower WWE stock value, last night may have signaled the lowest point of them all – that being the lack of SUCCESSFUL young talent on the WWE roster and in NXT.

There is a distinct difference between being a talented wrestler and a talented superstar.  Being a talented wrestler means you are very good in the ring.  Being a talented superstar means you don’t have to be very good in the ring (although it is a bonus if you are), making up for it with your character, mic skills, and crowd endearment.

It is seemingly apparent to me that the WWE has a crop of talented young wrestlers, but clearly – and dearly, lacks young SUPERSTARS.  For every Bray Wyatt, there is a Bo Dallas.  Unfortunately for WWE, there are a plethora of Bo’s for every Bray.

Since the start of 2013, WWE has force fed many promising young superstars to us.  Fandango, Curtis Axel, Xavier Woods, Rusev, Adam Rose, and Bo Dallas.  Unfortunately, all these stars are one of two things – flavor of the week award winners or “what the hell was that” award winners.

Granted, the WWE has hit a couple home runs, but few game changers to say the least.  Bray Wyatt and the Shield (as a whole) have been sure bets since their debuts.  However, the jury is still out on many other sophomore and junior talents including Cesaro and Big E.

So, after dismantling the grandfathers of Evolution the past two pay-per-views/special events, WWE decides NOW is the time to disband the Shield, or at least relieve them of a member.  (I want to point out that I am not sure why everyone thinks this is the ‘end of the Shield.’  Evolution returned with three members, and one quit, and then Rollins joined if I recall.  So why can’t the Shield move forward with two members, possibly recruiting a third?)  Personally, I think the WWE felt they had no other choice but to unleash a bit of shock and awe in dire times.

If you truly think Seth Rollins is going to steal the spotlight, you are gravely mistaken- at least with Evolution he won’t.  While it may seem like a great idea to team Rollins with the COO of the WWE and the ‘face of the WWE’, how is Rollins expected to standout in a trio (assuming Batista doesn’t return, again) that includes 16 WWE Title and 9 World Heavyweight Championship reigns?

While HHH may give up a bit of the spotlight (I doubt it), Randy Orton is another story.  Since Batista returned to WWE and Evolution reformed after Wrestlemania XXX, Randy Orton has seemingly taken a backseat to all.  Again, please explain to me how this tradeoff will ultimately benefit Rollins?

At the end of the day, I believe the WWE felt they ran out of options.  This was a snap judgement move made due to the extremely thin pool of “superstars” on the current WWE roster.  Honestly, does the WWE have more than a half dozen true superstars?

Sheamus, Bad News Barrett, Rob Van Damn, Cesaro and more are all very good wrestlers and talent, but they lack that extra something special to stand out as a superstar.

For a long time, the WWE was ‘shielded’ from the truth.  They were able to get away with their anorexic roster of superstars, being bailed out by part-timers.  But now, with so many big names and part-timers either injured, retired, contractually taking time off, or quitting, the McMahon-Levesque empire had no other choice but to make a move.  A move that unfortunately has more cons than pros.

Have you asked why Rollins and not Dean Ambrose or Roman Reigns?  It’s a simple answer, with one of the few pros being the fact that Rollins wasn’t a standout in the Shield, those honors went to the “leader” of the pack – Ambrose, and the “chosen one” – Reigns.  So the WWE felt it was best to give Rollins some fresh air, a new start, and a chance to create buzz when they needed to do so in a bad way.  However, I’m afraid I’ve …. no, I don’t want to overuse that line anymore.

If Rollins was 1-C in the Shield, what makes the WWE (or any of you who support the move) believe that he will be anything more than 1-C in Evolution?  And what comes out of this, a tag team match at Money In The Bank between Orton and Rollins vs. Ambrose and Reigns?  In the long run it is more than apparent that Reigns will have a high profile match at Summerslam, likely against Triple H.  Keep in mind, Reigns’ road to Wrestlemania XXXI already is in the fast lane to a potential main event match with whomever the champ is, or with his cousin, The Rock (who could be champ in a potential scenario, but lets beat that drum a different day!).

As for Ambrose, there are many ways his character can evolve, but there is too much meat on the Evolution/Shield bone to simply disband the Shield, now.  Which is again why I ask the question: Why do so many people think that the Shield has disbanded?  They haven’t and they won’t, at least not now.

Has anyone thought of the potential for Batista to return as a face and join the Shield?  For as bad a mistake it was to have Batista return as a face and win the Royal Rumble, this could be the fix the WWE needs for the man with the Red, White and Blue running through his veins!  Joining Ambrose and Reigns would surely give Batista the setting he would need to be a face, just as long as he shaves his head and stays off the mic.

No matter the next step or end result in last nights developments, this shocking twist can’t hide the facts that follows:

Daniel Bryan (WWE WHC) – Injured

CM Punk – MIA

Brock Lesnar – Vacation

Chris Jericho – Rockin’

The Rock – Fast & Furious 48

Undertaker – Defeated

THOSE ARE SUPERSTARS!  They all are currently not available for one reason or another.  And while John Cena is comparable to the sun as he always rises (sure, above hate), the WWE currently has a talent roster comparable to the Pittsburgh Pirates and Florida Marlins, when it needs to be the caliber of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays.

As Rollins’ position on the WWE roster continues to “evolve”, it’s hard to think this is the best blueprint for his potential success.  This could be another example of the WWE not letting the cards play themselves out, rather going all-in with pocket Jacks against pocket Aces and hoping for a bad beat on the river.  If you are going to BELIEVE in something – I think you’d want to NOT BoLieve, but rather continue to BELIEVE in the SHIELD!





The Elimination Chamber “GO HOME” Show Sums Up Where WWE Creative Has Been Lately… HOME

January 27th, the night after the biggest pay-per-view let down in recent WWE history.  For all the ‘wrong’ that WWE did unto its fans at the Royal Rumble, they had an opportunity to make it right the next night on Raw.  However, CM Punk went home and, it seems the entire creative team has packed their bags as well.

Last week on Chair Shot Reality, which I co-host with @JustinLaBar and @JoshIsenberg4, Josh and I went one-on-one during our “Fired Up” segment.  If you missed it, view here ( http://www.wrestlezone.com/news/453341-kurt-angle-to-wwe-vince-mcmahon-back-on-tv-sting-rumors-csr-508) before you continue reading.  What came from that ‘heated’ conversation was my overall evaluation that WWE has dropped the proverbial ball on recent Monday Night Raw’s.

Now, while some people either confuse math skills – or just don’t care – I felt like it was time to dive in to each segment on last night’s show, grading on Twitter throughout the night.  While doing so, I also asked on Twitter for fan grades as the show proceeded through the 9:00 and 10:00 hours.  What I discovered was the truth – WWE Raw continues to underachieve, which is especially troubling heading in to a PPV weekend.

Raw started with John Cena coming to the ring….

ACTUALLY – Raw started with a production error from the start!  Did you notice the still shot of the video hold from “last week” for a second before Cena made his way to the ring?  IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT MAKE THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE!

…to the usual mixed reaction of Let’s Go Cena and Cena Sucks.  I was actually intrigued as to why Cena would start out the go home show, rather than Orton or HHH/Step, even the Wyatt Family and their build.  That said, it was refreshing to hear Cena start the show.  BUT, from the moment Cesaro and Zeb Coulter made their way to the ring, this opening segment was a repeated, washed up and unessecary start to the show.

Ok – EVERYONE in the Elimination Chamber match was going to have their music hit, say a one-liner, only to be cut off by the next competitor, and so on.  Quite frankly, it was 12 minutes of “I’m going to beat you… NO, I am going to do this and win the title… Sorry FELLA, the only thing paler than this segment is the color of my skin… BOOM!  No, actually, Kane is pastier than Sheamus.”

This did nothing for the show, for the pay-per-view, or for the fans.  By the time the A block was all said and done, it was announced that Cena would face Cesaro, and Daniel Bryan would face Christian – NOW!  So, to recap, we needed 15 minutes, 7 entrance themes, and Kane to tell us there were two big matches scheduled for Raw… yes, my friends – that is wasted space.

(Somewhere C.M. Punk is shaking his head and thinking of his next theme song to return to.)

While I expected Daniel Bryan to get his usual pop and put on a great match, what I didn’t expect was Christian to take heel heat just for facing Bryan.  ***Remember, Vince doesn’t want faces and heels anymore – which is why Christian vs. Bryan can work!***

It did work, but it did so due to the fact that Christian attacked Bryan in heel like fashion before the match.  What came out of it all was a sweet finishing sequence and a win by Bryan.  Oh, and then Corporate Kane announces Bryan has a second match, against Kane and it’s NOW!  Oh joy, more random AWESOMENESS – NOT!  Daniel Bryan couldn’t even save this match, as the fans were clearly heard chanting BORING, BORING.  They get it, we get it, but – the WWE doesn’t.

For starters, NO ONE wants to see Kane anymore without a mask and in character!  It’s played out and run its course.  It was catchy the first 2 weeks of the angle, but now – it’s just another boring part of the show.  And, before I forget, how can Kane have a “birds eye view” of the Bryan/Christian match from ringside?!

As mentioned on twitter – the opening segment was a C- and the Bryan/Christian match was a B… 1/6th of the way in to the go-home show and Raw was average, at best.  Bryan vs. Kane killed all the momentum that the opening match built up and, personally, I saw it as a D at best.  Now, we have a C- Raw through 38 minutes (8:38pm eastern).

Next up, we get Santino and Fandango again.  Fandango has fallen so far, his entrance isn’t even a big hit anymore and not worthy of being televised.  Santino always gets a pop – and that is what should be expected for a goofy jabroni!  It’s comic relief for the awkward boring beginning of the show.  I do get it, this is more about Emma and Summer Rae than anything – but folks, Emma and Summer Rae aren’t Trish and Lita, Torrie Wilson or Stacey Keibler… Summer has some looks, and sure, maybe Emma does as well, but do we see either being a Divas champion?  Speaking of Divas champion, I wonder if she is laughing at home with CM Punk during this part of the show?!  This match gets a C for comedy and nothing else.

Mark Henry and Reigns then peaked my intrigue for the show, as my bedtime was quickly approaching.  The Samoan Slam that Reigns executed was an OK show of strength, it’s not like he F5’d him or anything!  Great spear to end an otherwise B’ish match.  After the fact, we get more of Dean Ambrose doing what the heel ‘leader’ of an otherwise babyface faction does, jumps on to show strength in a cowardly way.

LIGHTS OUT – They’re here!

After some in-ring and on screen interaction, the Wyatt’s make their way to the ring for a face off against the Shield.  Not forced like the opening segment, this encounter is what BUILDS a PPV pay-off, and it was executed perfectly.  Overall, this match/segment scored an B+ due to the fact that I was hoping for a slightly better match than we saw.  At 9:06pm, Raw was still an average show- C.

Jack Swagger v. Kofi Kingston left something, perhaps, to be desired?  Highlight of the match was Kofi executing the S.O.S. to Swagger, on to see Jack kick out.  Explain to me in character building how Kofi Kingston can defeat Randy Orton (Jan 13th RAW), then a few weeks later tap out to Jack Swagger?  I understand Swagger is in a title match Sunday, but is he really going to defeat Big E after all the stock and time that has been built up and put in to him?  If Raw was a C going in to this match, it was a C- after.

Speaking of Big E, he makes his way the ring immediately after Swagger gets the win and I kind of like the interaction they teased about the title match Sunday night.  I don’t disagree with having Zeb on the mic the entire match of Big E vs. 3MB, but hell, it was better than listening to an announce team that has also been sub-par lately.   Big E was ruthless in this match and I am surprised NO ONE was seriously injured during the course of this one.  And again, at the end of the day – this was another AVERAGE match on a LESS THAN AVERAGE SHOW.  Match- C.  Raw- C-.

John Cena vs. Cesaro was pure magic!  This match was better than EVERY SINGLE MATCH from the Royal Rumble.  The WWE needed this and they needed it in a BIG WAY. Cesaro showed he could go toe-to-toe with the best in the company and hold his own.  While it would have been nice to see Cesaro be pushed to the extreme with a win, it still leaves a LOT to be desired and there are only great things – hopefully – in Cesaro’s future with the WWE.  Cena is Cena, nothing more – nothing less.  He takes care of business in and out of the ring and saves the show in doing so.  Match- A.  Raw- C+.

Again, another chance for the show to capitalize on momentum and they totally LOSE it with the backstage segment between HHH, Orton, Batista and Del Rio.  The star of it all was Orton, he really was.  His storytelling is improving, even if it’s bland and monotone.  Batista is not needed and continues to do nothing for the product since his return.  Del Rio out of nowhere with a neck brace on, yeah!  NOT.  HHH looking lost between them all.  At the end of it, we have the bully Batista pushing an injured Del Rio.  Now, correct me if I am wrong but, shouldn’t the HEEL do that to the FACE?  Segment- C-.  Raw- C.

Something fresh was needed at this point and, sure enough, Titus O’Neil delivered!  His backstage segments with Renee Young have shown a side of Titus not many knew he had.  Champion – T-I-T-U-S… Throw an A in there, because this segment was all of that, and more.  Now, I could dock him for the Brock Lesnar voice crack in the scream but, it gives character I guess!  Be sure to pay close attention to the match Sunday between Titus and Darren Young.  It has a chance to be a show-stealing performance.  Don’t believe me, go back and watch Young v. Cena from RAW on March 18th of last year.  Young will bring his A game, and so will Titus.  Segment- A.  Raw- C (trending toward C+).

Los Matador’s/Sin Cara vs. Wyatt’s… YAWN!  I don’t need the Wyatt’s this much, especially when they are set for the Shield on Sunday.  The WWE loves building momentum, only to break it down with a match like this in the 10:00 hour.  But don’t worry, they will outdo themselves with Jey Uso vs. Billy Gunn!  The best part of this match was the Outlaws intro.  As my esteemed colleague Justin LaBar would say, the Outlaws are “over like Rover.”  Note to WWE:  Please stop trying to book the tag champs as heels!  Remember when you tried to turn Daniel Bryan heel – that lasted all of two weeks!  It’s not needed.  Let them do their thing, get the pop, sell the merch, make the cash, and be the life support of the tag team division!  Both Matches- C-.  Raw- C.

The main event of the evening was Orton vs. Sheamus.  It was a mediocre match, and the ending was a regurgitation of the opening segment – this time with the Shield and Wyatt’s involved, and a big brawl ensuing.  Now, I am not the smartest cat in the litter, but I damn sure know that this was more of a final go-home for the Rumble than the Elimination Chamber.  It just didn’t make sense.  It seemed as if the WWE was building up a month of feuds in 3 hours.  Perhaps the writing could have been better the prior 2 weeks and this could have been a seamless transition to Sunday?

I don’t want to hear any excuses of ‘but if CM Punk hadn’t have went home’… because that is what it is, an excuse.  What, just because someone goes home, the entire WWE creative team needs to follow?  Raw was once again an average show.  There were more bad segments than good.  There were two matches in the 10:00 hour that should have been in the 9:00 hour.  The Wyatt’s didn’t need to face Los Matador’s and Sin Cara.  Kane didn’t need to face Daniel Bryan.  Fandango and Santino could have been a spot filled by several others in a match, to build someone up, not drag out a comedy show.

At the end of the night, Raw will be highlighted by 3 things and three things only.

1.  Cesaro v. Cena

2.  Shield / Wyatt confrontation

3.  Daniel Bryan v. Christian

Honorable Mention:  Titus O’Neil.

On the flip side, Raw will be forgotten by many more than three things!  WWE, what we need is QUALITY not QUANTITY.  Don’t be afraid to book multiple matches that exceed 12-15 minutes, as did Cesaro and Cena.  Use the 180 minutes you have more efficiently – or whatever is left after commercials.

Next Monday night is the launch of the WWE Network, fresh off of the Elimination Chamber.  Now, if the WWE is banking on several big name returns that night, as well as the Network launch and the official road to Wrestlemania to begin, shame on them.  You already lost popularity by the way you booked the Rumble, and the last 3 weeks of TV.  Sure, the Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, Hulk Hogan and Sting may all magically appear – but you can only cry wolf so many times.

At the end of the day – or year in this case year, three of those four stars could be retired.  And, eventually, all your part timers that you rely on to save poor ratings will eventually go off in to the sunset.  10 years from now, those part time roles will be filled by John Cena, Randy Orton, and Daniel Bryan.  You WILL eventually, and DO need NEW stars.  Sure, you may not want to throw them in to the fire at a PPV such as the Rumble or Wrestlemania, but you can build them up through RAW and SMACKDOWN!

Utilize your time, your talent, and maybe even your creative staff.  If not, they might as well pack their bags and go home.