Kevin Smash! (NXT Reactions, Dec. 18)

Wrestling
  • It’s weird to say it, but doesn’t it feel like Adrian Neville is being shoved to the side following his feud with Sami Zayn? Neville lost his title, didn’t make any kind of heel turn, and is now seemingly serving as Zayn’s mouthpiece to keep Sami off of TV and appropriately sell Kevin Owens’ beat down of the Generic One from R Evolution. I mean, where does Neville fit into this story? Is he going to serve as Zayn’s “manager” or is this going to be some kind of three-way dance? It’s obviously very early in the post-Evolution days, but I’m always interested in where stories are going. The Zayn-Owens’ feud feels too personal for Neville to really get super involved with, so I hope this is just a one-off that gets us through Zayn’s “recovery”. Then Neville can go have a story with Tyler Breeze or something. Prince Pretty deserves to have more work. In fact, I don’t even remember him being on R Evolution. What a shame.
  • Oh no! And on cue, Tyler Breeze announces he’s taking some time off. So, Neville can play some games with Tyson Kidd? I don’t know, I just want him in his own feud. He’s such an entertaining wrestler that he has to be on the card, but I personally want Zayn and Owens to have their own program. There have been rumors that Neville is going to have a gimmick change before going to the main roster, so maybe this is the time to start doing just that. Time will tell.
  • I’m still struggling to understand exactly what Becky Lynch’s gimmick is. She’s just so bland. At least Bayley has personality. That said, I still contend that these two are currently stuck in wrestling purgatory and won’t be able to get out until either Charlotte or Sasha Banks move to the main roster. There just isn’t anything for Lynch or Bayley to do outside of play second fiddle to the bigger stars. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that, it’s just sad to see. Especially for someone like Bayley, who just a few months ago was a contender for the women’s title. However, Bayley was beaten clean by Charlotte twice in a row, making it virtually impossible for anyone to believe she ever has a chance of dethroning the reigning champ. Lynch hasn’t had the shots Bayley has; however, she does possess considerable experience, which makes one wonder why she’s been so average since her debut. Hopefully we see this feud between the two elevate both wrestlers.
  • Is Bull Dempsey just going to do for Baron Corbin what Mojo Rawley did for him a few months ago? I can’t fathom them putting together a prolonged feud between Corbin and Dempsey, as both guys are too raw in the ring to manage a match that lasts more than three or four minutes (Corbin, especially). Therefore, it seems like this feud will culminate in a glorified squash match unless both guys are holding their full moveset back in preparation for when they finally meet. I just don’t see this ending with anything that isn’t Corbin standing tall after maybe three minutes in a match. And even if they go longer and show off more in-ring skill, I’m still not interested in either competitor. Neither has captivated me personally and neither have enough in-ring talent to get by on a lackluster storyline. Maybe I’m just being a stick-in-the-mud, but this is probably the feud I care the least about in NXT.
  • They had better not be teasing a split between Big Cass and Enzo. If these two break up, I’ll riot. Not only would it kill Enzo as a competitor, but it could greatly damage Cass, as well. Enzo is never going to strike fear into any opponent, so keeping him with a giant like Cassidy is vital. Big Cass is quickly improving on the mic, but no one in the entire company has the charisma of Zo. These two were made for each other. If this is anything more than a blip on the radar of the Gs, I will not be a happy camper. It will be the first time I’ve felt like NXT’s creative has made a bad decision.
  • Even though I still question Adrian Neville’s prolonged involvement in the Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens feud, I cannot deny that Neville and Owens possess some excellent chemistry in the squared circle. It might not quite be on par with Owens and Zayn’s, but it is fun to watch. Owens’ bruising, brawling style meshes very well with Neville’s high-risk maneuvers. It slightly reminds me of the contrast we had when Neville had a short program with Titus O’Neil earlier this year, except that Titus barely deserves to shine Owens’ shoes when accounting for pure wrestling ability. I would still rather have Neville move aside in favor of a more focused one-on-one program between Zayn and Owens, but I’m more than happy to get random matchups between the Man Gravity Forgot and NXT’s Next Big Heel. It’s an exciting combination of styles that lets Neville work with someone vastly different from himself. Of course, it now looks like Neville might join Zayn on the physically unable to perform list after Owens’ delivered another powerbomb on the ring to end NXT. Either way, that was a great match, and has me very excited for Kevin Owens’ future as NXT’s next big heel.
  • Closing Thoughts: As a follow-up to R Evolution, I thought this show did an excellent job of resetting the table for the month’s to follow NXT’s latest super-card. The main focus was squarely on Adrian Neville, Sami Zayn, and Kevin Owens, but unlike Raw, other storylines were also developed. We saw some development in the Vaudevillain-Lucha Dragons feud that should let these two continue to face off for the title for the next few NXT tapings. Additionally, we saw Enzo and Big Cass tease some potential tension, which the Zo fan in me hates. However, the wrestling fan in me is interested to at least see where they’re going to take this story. Finally, the main event basically served as a showcase for Kevin Owens’ brutal style of wrestling. I really like the way that style meshed with Adrian Neville’s, and I’m excited at the prospect of more matches between the two. That said, I would prefer to see Owens’ only focus on Zayn, while Neville moves on to another competitor. This will give the Zayn-Owens’ feud room to breath, while allowing Neville a chance to show off his skills against someone other than Sami. Further, it could be a chance to let Neville make his rumored gimmick change before his main event call up. Regardless, this was an excellent show that should have every NXT fan excited to know where the company will go from here.

Now, that’s a Bump (Raw Reactions Dec. 15)

Wrestling
  • I suppose that if we’re going to get a 20-minute promo to open a “wrestling” show, we can’t for much better than Heyman, Jericho, Cena, and Rollins together. Outside of Ambrose, Wyatt, and, of course, Enzo, those are the four best mouths in business right now. Trotting them out to set up the night was a great idea, especially with much of the roster likely beat up and tired from TLC. Obviously, I’d rather see young guys like the New Day or even some NXT players (which is a pipe dream due to circumstances I’m sure you’ve heard about) than Paul E. Dangerously and Y2J, but beggars can’t be choosers. All in all, Raw is off to a solid, exciting start (especially if you’re a huge Jericho mark like myself).
  • Pretty much the only way this Big Show push makes any sense is if they have him enter a mini-feud with Roman Reigns before the Royal Rumble. That should make Reigns look strong after he eliminates Show during his run through the Rumble. If this isn’t the plan, then I really don’t know what the WWE is doing. No one wants Big Show forced down their throat (don’t be gross). He hasn’t been a marketable star for at least three years and that isn’t changing any time soon. He can (maybe) move better than Khali, but not by much. There’s quite literally no reason he should be going over young, up-and-coming talent unless it’s to advance the Reigns push. Otherwise, this is the dumbest thing the WWE is doing, which is saying a lot.
  • I might be the only one, but I unabashedly love The New Day. Mostly Big E, but still.
  • Well, here’s a feud out of nowhere, and one I don’t completely hate. Ryback is a legitimate threat to Rusev’s unbeaten streak, making him a competitor that immediately makes Rusev interesting. We all knew Jack Swagger had no chance, but Ryback is a big-time baby-face, who just might take out the Russian when/if they face each other down the line. In other news, I can’t help but be impressed with Lana and Rusev on the microphone. They’ve gone up against both the Rock and Jericho (two all-time great talkers) and I felt that both times they more than held their own (against Rocky more than against Jericho). That would be an easy place for an up-and-coming talent to wilt away, but neither has. That’s impressive and suggests to me that these two may possess some real staying power.
  • I really wonder where the Ascension fits into the tag team division when they make their debut. We only have one real face team (The Usos), along with a face team that looks primed for a turn (New Day), and then everyone else is a heel team (Miz and Mizdow, the Dust Bros., and Cesaro and Kidd). The Ascesion is, very obviously a heel team, but whom do they feud with? There just aren’t enough opponents for them just yet. That makes you question if this is the best time to bring them up.
  • Quite a few people (and the Detroit crowd, in particular) seem down on New Day. Personally, I don’t see why. Sure, it’s a less than optimal gimmick, but this team has three excellent in-ring performers and actually gives Big E an opportunity to show off his hilarious personality. The group also brings various tag moves that no one else is doing on Raw, making them an exciting act for those of us who tire of the “five moves of doom”. Further, I think the current group is a set up for an eventual heel turn that should make the gimmick much more watchable. Maybe people are just too quick to turn on people nowadays, and if someone doesn’t get over in a week, then we leave them behind. I, for one, hope that doesn’t happen because I really love Kofi, Big E, and Woods as a team and as singles competitors.
  • It’s been a long time since I’ve watched a full, three hour Raw. I don’t know how people watch this every week. The filler is terrible and absolutely kills my enthusiasm for the rest of the show. We’re just over the halfway mark and I’m already wishing it was over.
  • Really? Kane’s burying Adam Rose now? What does this do? This is the reason people aren’t watching Raw anymore. They’re actually pushing a 40-some-year-old, washed-up Superstar over a young guy that could actually draw money, if given a chance. It’s such a shame and makes me want to turn this show off more than that Adam Rose filler from five minutes ago.
  • If the WWE is going to continue using old and part-time superstars, they really should continue to bring up history from outside the company. We saw it make Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens’ moment on NXT last week feel that much more impactful. Imagine what it could do for all the old guys in WWE? It would make the feuds feel more like real-life and less than an athletic soap opera. Bringing up Paul E. and Jericho’s history with ECW gave the story some extra punch and I think it could help similar storylines when they inevitably happen.
  • Well, the Lesnar push is back on. It makes sense; Lesnar will have to defend during the Rumble against Cena. Bringing him back to destroy Jericho continues to show off how big of a threat he is. I’m glad we didn’t get a Cena sighting. As much as I hate the tacked-on Cena-Rollins feud, I think Cena and Lesnar need to stay away from each other until the Rumble. It will make people want to watch that match even more and could drive up Network buys.
  • Does anyone think The Sandman split into three parts to make the Shield? I mean, since they’ve broken up, they’ve taken various aspects of Sandman and made them their own. Ambrose has the crazy down pat. Roman comes through the crowd for his entrance. And Rollins, well, Rollins has the blonde shock of hair invading his natural hair color. Put all that together, and you have Sandman. Right?
  • Big Show makes sense as an opponent for Reigns before he moves on to Lesnar for Mania. Even though Show is a terrible competitor, he still represents a monumental challenge in casual fans’ eyes. Therefore, allowing Reigns to go over on Show in a mini-feud should only serve to elevate his standing with the majority of fans. The problem is that this feud can’t (or at least shouldn’t) go into a match at the Rumble. Reigns simply isn’t versatile enough in the ring to warrant double duty in such a gigantic PPV bout. Ziggler can do it. Rollins can do it. Reigns cannot. Although, I could foresee a scenario where they end the feud with Reigns single-handedly throwing Show out of the ring during the Rumble, which works just as well as anything. Either way, this feud needs to be short and sweet.
  • The announce team is at an all-time low during this Miz-Uso match. I don’t even know if JBL once talked about the match and Lawler maybe mentioned it once. Cole also told Mizdow to “take his bump”, which is probably not the jargon you want to use when calling a pretend wrestling match. At least Mizdow was entertaining.
  • Without the tables stipulation, I thought Cena and Rollins put on a solid match. Rollins, particular, had some awesome moments. Most notably, taking an AA off the top rope, which looked incredible. I thought bringing in Lesnar to demolish Cena was pretty obvious, but having Lesnar and Heyman team with Rollins was a wrinkle I didn’t see coming. Does this mean Rollins is now a “Paul Heyman guy” or was this just a one-off in Lesnar’s quest to destroy Cena? If you’ll remember, Rollins curb-stomped Lesnar at Night of Champions, so I was expecting Lesnar to come down, F-5 everyone, and leave us without a winner as the show went off air. What we actually got, is unquestionably more interesting. Lesnar coming down to wreck house is pedestrian at this point, it’s just what he does. Seeing him tease an alliance with the company’s biggest heel is exciting. This is what a good Raw should do. Leave you with more questions than answers about the many storylines. For now, the WWE seems to only be able to tell a single story well; but hopefully, as they figure that out, they’ll spend time on mid-card stories to bolster the overall show. Either way, this show left me wanting more. I want to know where this story goes, and that’s a good thing. Over the past two months, I haven’t really cared about the stories, but this week was different. Here’s hoping they can continue this solid story telling throughout the Wrestlemania season.
  • Closing Thoughts: A relatively pedestrian Raw, bolstered by some surprising and meaningful story telling in the main event. Obviously, you’d like to see that kind of thought and time spent on mid-card feuds, but beggars can’t be choosers. And if we WWE fans are anything right now, it’s beggars. That said, I really like how the card is finally starting to fill out with individual storylines. In the weeks leading up to Survivor Series, it often felt like a one-story show. I thought that was a mistake, but it was one I was willing to live with for a PPV often built around just one match. Sadly, that format extended to TLC and we basically got two months of the same tired story told ad nauseam. With the Cena-Rollins feud finally trimmed down to just those two Superstars, we might finally see some development of young talent. In short, the main event was exciting and having the focus shift from just Cena-Rollins to the roster as a whole is probably the best thing that can happen. That said, the story telling in the mid-card still leaves a lot to be desired. Here’s hoping some of the Creative light starts to shine on someone other than Rollins and Cena.

Thank you Ziggler (TLC Reactions, Dec. 14)

Wrestling
  • Strange to lead off with what is probably going to be the match of the night (because, Ziggler) instead of something no one cares about like the Stairs match. Maybe this will set a tone for the WWE’s response to the excellent NXT special from Thursday. Lord knows they need to because right now, Raw looks like the B show for anyone watching NXT every week. If a number of the matchups tonight can be on par with the exciting spectacle I expect Ziggler and Harper’s match will be, then the main roster might have a chance to outshine NXT for once. Maybe structuring the card this way is going to set the stage for something special.
  • Does anybody else remember the Money in the Bank match where someone (I want to say Sheamus) broke a “steel” ladder (that was very obviously made out of wood) in half? I can’t help but remember that anytime I see someone set up a ladder horizontally like Harper just did.
  • Wow, regardless of the matches after this one, I think Ziggler and Harper’s match is worth your $9.99 for December. They had, basically no storyline behind this match outside of Harper taking Ziggler’s title earlier this year; however, the lack of a story didn’t hold these two back. Even if the style of the match isn’t your cup of tea, you have to appreciate how these two put their body on the line to make it feel important. Both wrestlers are covered in welts, bruises, and cuts. Dolph maybe more so with that nasty cut on his forehead, but Harper was far from unscathed at the end of this one. I’m glad to see that the WWE let the match continue without much stoppage due to bleeding. Obviously, you want to be as safe as possible in a match like this. However, when the blood is real and no blading is involved, I think some color can really add to the gravity of a match. That was the case here because it helped to sell the “demolition derby” nature of the contest and made it clear that both of these guys were going to do whatever it took to win. Even if the rest of the night is terrible, this match was worth it. Someone call Ziggler and Harper up to NXT.
  • Mizdow’s stunt Slammy is one of the greatest things going in the WWE right now. Sometimes I wonder how much of Mizdow’s gimmick Creative is behind. They’ve really struggled over the years to put a good comedy act on screen, so it’s surprising to see one that’s worked so well. That leads me to believe that the only reason this gimmick is over is because of Mizdow and not anyone behind the scenes. He’s an incredible talent and I hope he doesn’t fade into obscurity after the inevitable split from Miz.
  • That wasn’t a great match from Miz, Mizdow, and the Usos, but I thought it had some nice flourishes that actually made a Uso match feel different. Jimmy (or was it Jey? I never know) introduced a new submission move that made him look a little more like a ring technician than he has before. I won’t be upset if they keep that move in their repertoire going forward, as the Usos act has gotten a bit stale over the past year. Also, even though we’ve seen a similar ending spot happen in matches between these two teams a few times in the past few weeks, I think they twisted it just enough to keep people on their toes. By letting Miz get a dirty victory and keep the titles, I think the WWE made a good creative choice. There aren’t many face tag teams, so Miz and Mizdow need to feud with someone. The story of Miz hitting on Jey’s (or is it Jimmy?) wife isn’t groundbreaking, but at least it’s a story. As much as I’d like to see someone that isn’t the Usos in the “good guy” role of the tag team title race, there isn’t currently anyone else who can fill that role. Therefore, it’s important that they keep this feud hot until they find a replacement. Of course, knowing how WWE books, they’re more likely to just drop this feud completely on Raw, turn Big Show face, and have Show and Rowan team as the Jolly Giants to take on Miz and his stunt double.
  • Big Show and Erick Rowan’s match was fine. Nothing special, but nothing to really hate on other than the ending. Obviously, it never really makes sense to me to have Big Show go over clean on a young star, but that happens so often I’m surprised. That said, I thought the finish was pretty stupid. You only have to get a shoulder up to break a three-count and Show put the stairs over Rowan’s mid-section. He could’ve easily lifted a shoulder up and continued to go. Instead, Rowan awkwardly struggled against a pin that wasn’t really pinning him. It’s an insult to our intelligence to book stupid finishes like this one. If you’re going to push a guy who was washed up five years ago fine. Just do it in a believable way. Oh well, on to the next one.
  • Is this really going at the halfway mark? Cena vs. Rollins is happening now instead of ending the show? I don’t understand this at all. Are they ending with Ambrose and Wyatt? Or Kane and Ryback? I would’ve expected to see Ambrose and Wyatt go on third to last. Then have the Divas match to give people a break and finally end with Cena and Rollins. I wonder if they know the people who loved NXT’s show are going to dislike this ending, so they wanted to get it out of the way. That could mean Cena is going over, which I don’t hate, but equally don’t love. I just don’t see how this is the correct slot for this match. It’s between two of the three or four biggest stars in the company right now and it’s at the one-hour mark? Strange.
  • Until the last 20 seconds or so, I was preparing to write about how much I hated this match. If Cena had beaten Rollins in what was, until the very last, an essentially 4-on-1 contest, I would have been irate. If Rollins had beaten Cena that way, it would’ve felt cheap and not really done much to solidify Rollins as a legitimate competitor. Fortunately, we were treated to neither of those things. Instead, we got what was likely supposed to be a shocking return of Roman Reigns to give Cena a slightly dirty win. Sadly, everyone who’s following the WWE since Survivor Series knew Reigns was coming back tonight, it was just a matter of which match. From here, Reigns could feud with Rollins, but that doesn’t seem likely. Instead, I think the WWE has bigger plans for Reigns that include a Royal Rumble win and a Mania match against either Lesnar or Cena. Sadly, that leaves the WWE’s hottest heel without a logical dancing partner for the “granddaddy of them all” in March. If it’s me, I’m rooting for another classic tilt between Rollins and Ambrose. That feud still has some unfinished business and blowing the whole thing off at Wrestlemania seems to be the obvious choice. Time will only tell, but personally, I like how the card for Mania is shaping up, even if that means TLC leaves a lot to be desired. I didn’t hate this contest as much as I thought I would. It had some good spots (key in a tables match) and the finish left me satisfied. I’d rather have Rollins go over because I like him more, but I can’t blast the WWE every time they have a Superstar I dislike go over. Then I’d have no time to write about anything else.
  • Well, that was a match. I feel bad for AJ Lee when she has to go out and put on matches with people like Nikki Bella. She’d be better served to go on down to Florida and wrestle with someone like Charlotte or Sasha Banks. In fact, we’d all be better served to skip this match and go watch Charlotte and the Boss’ match from Thursday instead. Go ahead, you know you want to.
  • Maybe it’s just because we’ve heard so much about his recent acting lessons, but, outside of a small flub, I thought Roman Reigns’ delivery was improved in his interview tonight. He’s still not great on the mic, but he possesses that cocky swagger that I think suits his character well. He’s never going to be Dean Ambrose, but he’s quickly improving his overall performance. Look for him to add a move or two to his repertoire as we near Mania and his likely ascension to the stratosphere. That’s really the only thing he’s missing right now.
  • One of the major problems for TLC in trying to upstage R Evolution this month is that so many of these matches involve wrestlers who fall into the classic “monster” type. That really limits the amount of high-impact, death-defying spots you can book in a match. Look at Ryback vs. Kane. No one is going off the top rope or doing anything that’s going to really get the crowd going. Instead, it’s just a plethora of different types of chair shots. Granted, Kane throwing a chair in Ryback’s face is going to please fans; however, it’s not going to make anyone forget about NXT’s show from a few days prior. It really stinks because, considering what these two guys are, that was a decent enough PPV match. However, the WWE needed way more than decent and they just aren’t going to get that when they put a 47-year-old Kane against Ryback. The same can be said of Rowan and Big Show’s match. WWE’s reliance on so many older wrestlers is greatly hurting their current product because it can’t be as exciting in the ring as it needs to be. No one wants to see Kane and Big Show as main players in 2014 except Vince McMahon. Hopefully we’re nearing the point where a few of the old guard are ready to go off of the regular tour. That said, even with great wrestling, the writing has to pick up. I’ll give them a pass this month because they only had three weeks to build a story and, in the grand scheme of things, TLC doesn’t really matter. If they bring their A+ game as we head into the Royal Rumble, then almost everything will be forgiven (at least from this writer).
  • Here’s another example of bad storytelling; or at least lazy storytelling. What’s the point of having Swagger lose clean yet again to Rusev? I know we want to build the Russian as much as possible, but haven’t we seen enough of these two together? Maybe this was the only option after the injuries to Bo Dallas and the many young baby faces (Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, etc.), which could make sense. Dallas was in a semi-entertaining program with Swagger before his injury and it’s easy to see either Bryan or Reigns defending America against Rusev here. Either way, it’s telling that, after joining the Authority, Rusev just went right back to Swagger. It feels like the WWE has no idea what to do with him, but knows they can’t have him lose if they want to make him into the next monster heel. I expect they’re saving his first true lose for either Elimination Chamber or Extreme Rules (I think he has to go over at Wrestlemania this year, just to continue his build), so maybe feeding him Swagger is just a way to keep him in everyone’s mind without giving him a meaningful program. I hate that style of booking, but I suppose it serves a purpose.
  • If Ambrose and Wyatt had missed on that Kendo stick spot, Ambrose could’ve lost an eye. I don’t know if that one was worth the risk.
  • There really isn’t a better match to suit the styles of Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt than a TLC match. Wrestling purists aren’t going to like this match and the finish was a little quirky; however, as a spot-fest to end the night with a bang, I thought it was pretty great. It didn’t quite surpass the opener between Ziggler and Harper, but it was better than their Hell in a Cell contest. I’ll be interested to watch Raw this week to see if the feud continues. After all, we have yet to see a clear ending to either match these two have been in. The story still has some juice, so I expect this one blows off in an early match at the Royal Rumble. However, I could also see the feud put on hold somewhat with it just teased during the actual Rumble match. Were that to happen, I could easily see them stringing this out into a Wrestlemania match. I’ve made it clear that I prefer to see them go back to Rollins-Ambrose for Mania; that said, Ambrose-Wyatt would be my next pick for Ambrose’s Mania opponent. Ambrose has great (though different) chemistry with both guys and, depending on what Cena’s doing for Mania, I could easily Ambrose going against either guy. If we’re looking at a card that has Reigns-Lesnar and Undertaker-Sting, then one could see Cena dancing with Rollins and Ambrose going with Wyatt again. That’s not a bad card, but it’s one I’m not immediately excited over without good storytelling to back it up.
  • Closing Thoughts: This disappointing PPV was bookended by two of the better TLC matches I’ve seen in awhile. Ziggler and Harper stole the show in the opener and Ambrose and Wyatt closed it out with a quality spot-fest (complete with screwy finisher). Otherwise, it was a pretty boring show. Cena and Rollins had some moments, but it was a very predictable affair. Even Reigns’ “surprise” return wasn’t really a surprise. Much like Sting coming back last month, too much stuff known about this one before it happened. Coming in, I didn’t expect much, so maybe I wasn’t as disappointed as others. That said, this wasn’t a show I would recommend. Look for the WWE to improve the product over the next month as we move into the real meat of the WWE year. If the Royal Rumble delivers in a big way, then I think a lot of what’s happened over the last few months can be forgiven.

NXT R Evolution Reactions and Recap

Wrestling
  • It’s a very small thing, but I’m a big fan of how they’ve changed up every big Superstar’s debut over the past four months. We started with Hideo Itami, which was kind of a surprise, but more of a known factor. However, it was never outright stated it was going to be Itami (unless I’m forgetting). Then came Finn Balor who was kept as much of a surprise as possible. And now we have Kevin Owens, who’s vignettes made it obvious who was coming at R Evolution. These aren’t big changes, but they at least show you that all three mega stars are not the same. Earlier this year on Raw, both Bo Dallas and Adam Rose came to the main roster in the much the same way. Giving these three NXT stars different routes to the ring makes them feel different and really forces you to look at them as different.
  • Well, Kevin Steen didn’t lose much in his transition to Kevin Owens. He’s a big dude, but he sure can go when he gets in the ring. We’re about 20 seconds in and the crowd has already broken out the “Holy Shit” and “The is Awesome” chants, and they were well deserved. If NXT could just get Ricochet to leave Lucha Libre and come to the roster (I’ve heard he’s had a tryout and wasn’t signed because the WWE has “too many similar guys”), my life would be complete.
  • There’s no way Owens’ color was planned (that just doesn’t happen in the WWE), but maybe I’m wrong since they let him finish the match without cleaning him up much. Either that was planned or his debut win was too important to the company to be ruined by a bloody nose. It doesn’t really matter though. With the impact he had tonight, he’ll be in the main event tomorrow.
  • Oh wow, that’s terrible that Corey Graves’ in-ring career is over due to concussions. I never saw him as a major player on the Raw roster, but he was a very good wrestler. On the other hand, it’s really nice to see the WWE give him a shot in the announcing booth. He certainly wasn’t a bad talker when he was healthy, so this could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the young man.
  • If there’s one thing the NXT tag team division does well, it’s separated each individual team. Sometimes on Raw and Smackdown the teams feel kind of samey. Like you could replace one team with any other and it wouldn’t change much. However, in NXT almost every developed team has multiple differences in their ring work and psychology that makes them unique. Look at the two teams we have here tonight. The Lucha Dragons might be the most vanilla developed team (and that basically means we’re not counting the two jobber teams just yet), as they’re simply luchadors, which is something we’ve seen before. That said, in this environment, they’re so different from everyone else that it makes them fun to watch. The Vaudevillains are probably the most unique team in the division and these to absolutely own their gimmick. Quite literally, everything Simon Gotch and Aiden English do build on their gimmick. From walking to the ring to the finish, it all builds to something more. It’s a weird gimmick that might struggle to get over on Raw or Smackdown, but the fact these two are doing so much with what they have is really impressive. Earlier in this year, I wasn’t very high on this team, but they’ve slowly brought me around. And now I’m a believer. Even if they couldn’t win the titles (A result that was relatively shocking to me).
  • Baron Corbin has a cool wolf jacket and his finisher looks absolutely devastating. Outside of that, I can’t find much else to back up the hype he seems to have with the wrestling community. That doesn’t mean that he can’t become a big-time Superstar someday. It just means that I think he needs to show quite a bit more before he’s worthy of all the buzz he gets online. Maybe he’s just not the Superstar for me, and I’ll never understand what the big deal is. That said, there are a few things that have to be concerning, even to fans. He’s hasn’t shown if he can talk yet, which is an important trait that we’ll need to see soon. Further, he hasn’t wrestled much more than 30 seconds yet. What’s his skillset when he gets beyond squash matches? Can he pull off more than three or four moves? There’s just so many lingering questions about Corbin that make me wonder if we’re hyping this guy too much, too soon.
  • Finn Balor’s face paint is obviously amazing (as is Itami’s entrance gear tonight), but the WWE has to find the correct balance for how often they use it. Right now, I think it’s fine to bring it out at NXT special shows, since there aren’t very many of them. However, when he moves to Raw and Smackdown, I think this is something you need to save for Wrestlemania, Summerlam, and maybe Survivor Series or the Royal Rumble if he’s in singles competition. If you do it more than that, I think it loses some of its coolness factor. But for tonight, let’s all just enjoy it.
  • I think it needs to be said that, as great as every match involving Balor and Itami are, there seems to be a lack of offense from Itami in every contest. It seems like every time Itami starts the match, gets beat up for awhile, makes a comeback to tag in Balor, and then Balor wins the match. They teased a GTS (or whatever he calls it) from Itami late in the match, but it was broken up. Balor has been showing off his skillset every week, but Itami is basically just doing a dropkick and one of Balor’s finishers. I want to see more out of him and I wonder why they keep going to the exact same style of match. That said, I thought that was a great bout to kick off the night’s three big matches.
  • I wonder if AJ Lee and Paige get depressed when they watch NXT; where they actually let their women wrestle. Tonight’s match between Sasha Banks (who has a terrible hairdo tonight) and Charlotte is a great match, regardless of gender. It’s been a long time since you could say that about a women’s match in Raw or Smackdown. Heck, even Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville are going to have their hands full topping this contest. I don’t doubt they can do it; after all, they’re two of the best wrestlers in the entire world. I’m just saying that Banks and Charlotte put together something very special tonight. Props to those two ladies.
  • Well, I wasn’t wrong. That Zayn-Neville match just barely passed over the Banks-Charlotte bout for match of the night. Both matches told a great story and involved some technically and visually excellent wrestling. However, Zayn and Neville were given extra time for a reason. These two have amazing chemistry and the crowd was even more into than I thought they might be. Interestingly, the crowd seemed to view Neville as much more of a heel than I did. In the weeks leading up R Evolution, Neville had displayed heel tactics, but hadn’t completely taken his character over that edge. Thus, I never really viewed him as heel, but more of a tweener that would revert back to face after the match. The NXT crowd seemed to feel differently. I think the story might’ve gone better if Neville had gone full heel, but it’s also possible this plays into the larger storyline. Either way, it was a great match between two great wrestlers. I will say I was almost hoping for a Zayn loss that would open him up to move on to Raw, but it looks like he’ll get some more seasoning before what could be a post-Mania callup. If that’s the case, I hope Nevill comes with him. These two guys certainly deserve a chance at the main roster.
  • Closing Thoughts: The house Triple H built continues to outperform the main roster. In some ways that almost makes you want these guys to stick around and ensure WWE Creative doesn’t completely ruin them. That said, it’s going to be a great ride to see all of these men and women get a shot to make themselves a household name on national television. They all won’t make it, but, with performances like tonight, you have to assume that more will succeed than fail. If you’re a wrestling fan, you owe to yourself to set aside two hours this weekend, call up the WWE Network, and watch R Evolution from start to finish.

2014 Slammy Awards (Raw Reactions, Dec. 8)

Wrestling
  • It’s Slammy Time people! Are you excited? No, not really? Can’t get hyped about fake awards that barely mean anything? Yea, same here. Might be interesting to at least see where the casual fan’s collective mindset is on various superstars. I don’t actually know how the awards are chosen (whether it’s straight viewer votes or a combo of those and some backstage push for certain guys that they want to put over), but I would assume that casual fans hold more pull than those of us who consider ourselves “hardcore” wrestling aficionados. Which is why I’d predict that someone like Roman Reigns will win Superstar of the Year over Seth Rollins or Dean Ambrose, even though those two are probably better than Reigns. That doesn’t bother me, but it does stink that a great tag team like the Dust Brothers will lose to the Usos; who are solid at what they do, they’ve just been doing it over and over again for too long.
  • Seth Green is a good choice to host. I don’t know if he actually follows the product, but he’s pretty funny and should make a good host. The only bad thing is that his short stature is even more apparent when standing next to The Miz. So Seth, if you’re self-conscious, maybe skip this one on the DVR.
  • The “This is Awesome” award has to go to Sting, doesn’t it? I can only think of one other moment more “shocking” (I put it in quotes because most of us knew it was going to happen, but that didn’t make it mean any less) than that one and it doesn’t really fit under this category.
  • That was an absolutely devastating Curb Stomp. Ziggler is so good at making his opponents look good that sometimes you forget this isn’t real. With workers like Ziggler, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Sami Zayn in this company, it feels like we’re entering a new golden age of pure wrestling. I wonder if this apparent trend towards smaller (though not small), more athletic Superstars will continue over the next few years. The roster is seemingly going away from giants that don’t work super well (think Big Show and Mark Henry) and bringing in more guys like Ziggler. Even the new giants can really move. Look at Rusev or Big E. They’re both extremely athletic and don’t slow down the roster’s high-fliers. That’s an important trait, because it allows them to work with more people. Some guys don’t work the slower style well, making it tough for them to work with Big Show. But Rusev can go with Big E just as well as he can go with Seth Rollins. That makes him a more intriguing prospect in my eyes.
  • It’s hard to say Bray Wyatt’s character made a change tonight, because he’s still saying very similar things to the promos that got him so over during the past year. However, I did feel like he came off as much more of a heel character tonight than he has in long time. When Wyatt was wrestling Cena, he an obvious hybrid character because, even though he was doing some terrible stuff, a significant portion of the audience was on his side; his “fireflies”, if you will. Tonight, he was much more malicious to the audience than I ever remember him being and I think it’s a smart move. You want your heels to be hated, and Wyatt’s promo did just that tonight. You wonder if he’ll continue to separate himself from the crowd, making himself into a more classic heel that he was previously. I still don’t know how you can give either of these guys a clean loss in this program, but maybe I’ll end up being wrong. At this point, if I had to pick one, I would have Wyatt go over. I don’t think Ambrose will have any troubles getting over a loss at this point; he’s so over right now. Wyatt, on the other hand, hasn’t had much direction these last few months and a win could really help his reputation with the casual audience.
  • Did JBL just make a Magnus Carlsen reference? That’s a deep cut from Bradshaw, and not something I would’ve expected the former member of APA to talk about. For the uninitiated, Carlsen is probably the best chess player in the world right and the current World Chess Champion. Oh, and the match between Luke Harper and Erick Rowan was pretty solid for what it was, though I can’t help but feel like the WWE missed on these two being put in a rivalry following their participation in Survivor Series. Maybe they come back to their split after TLC, but it seems more likely that they move in opposite ways.
  • Seth Green seems like a legitimate wrestling fan, which is cool. He’s giddy like a schoolgirl out there at ringside and it seems real. That said, he’s not particularly good at commentary, but he’s had a few solid jokes. Of course, no one’s comedic timing is on par with Damien Mizdow. Is there anything better than Mizdow in wrestling right now? I wonder where he goes from here though. Like, does he start being other wrestlers stunt doubles or will the WWE actually capitalize on his current popularity and give him a real gimmick/storyline when he inevitably splits from Miz.
  • Was it just me, or did Steamboat look really confused that that match won the Slammy? Not to knock on Ziggler (and really, that match was all about him, in my opinion), but I thought the Evolution vs. Shield tilt was easily the best match of the past twelve months. People might disagree with me, but that match had everything, including one of the best spots on the year with Rollins’ dive off the exit balcony. Was Survivor Series pretty great? Of course, I just don’t think it’s up there with Evolution-Shield.
  • It feels like a missed opportunity to have an NXT star introduced to the main crowd tonight. I mean sure, vignettes are going to be what really gets the audience to know Sami Zayn when he gets his call-up. However, wouldn’t it be helpful to actually get him in front of the Raw crowd tonight and give a 45-second speech? That lets the crowd put a face on the next Superstar to debut and maybe gives the casual crowd a reason to start watching NXT. I don’t know, I’m probably making it into a bigger deal than it is. I just feel like it was missed opportunity for Zayn and the WWE.
  • Reigns said he’d back in December, didn’t he? Could he make his comeback at TLC? Personally, I’d rather they hold off on him until the Rumble, where he could be the last man in the ring and go on to challenge Brock Lesnar. He should’ve won last year, but the Batista push was on, so he had to settle for second place. This year, it’s his to lose. He already set the record for most eliminations, now its time to win the damn thing. Reigns has an exciting future in front of him, and I hope the WWE gives his return the gravity it deserves. I worry that they’ll try to bring him back as quickly as possible and they won’t be able to get as much out of it as they could. That said, I don’t think there’s much they could do to stop Reigns at this point. He’s on Ambrose’s level, and then some, as far as being a crowd favorite. Congrats on the Superstar of the Year, Roman. You’re not my favorite wrestler, but you deserve it.
  • No one is impressed when you give Big Show an FU, Cena. It’s long stopped being something people are amazed about. Maybe someone hasn’t seen you do it, but I would venture to guess that almost anyone has.
  • Do you think that during Big Show and Rowan’s “Stairs Match” the arena will just be filled with stairs like it is with ladders during a ladder match? I still don’t understand what a “Stairs Match” is. Someone please enlighten me.
  • Closing Thoughts: As many Slammy Awards Raw shows do, this was a very vanilla episode from WWE. I really think Survivor Series and TLC have struggled because they’re grouped so closely together. Obviously, the WWE can’t have a PPV during Christmas, but I would almost rather move Surivor Series back a week or so and get rid of TLC than just see the same storylines for two months straight. A few longer stories at a time are fine, but right now every episode of Raw (and most of Smackdown) is just a rehash of what happened the week before. Unfortunately, I think the WWE is missing an opportunity to help get some young stars over in what seems to be a “down” time for the company. The Shield made their debut at Survivor Series. The Wyatts got big at this same time. Maybe now was the time to call up someone like Sami Zayn and start their push, giving a few veterans some time off before the ramp-up to Wrestlemania. I would almost treat October to December as a try-out of sorts for young talent, while giving my big stars a week or two off here and there to get ready for the most important three-month stretch of the year starting at the Rumble. Of course, that makes too much sense for Vinny Mac to ever do it. A pretty boring Raw this week, but we’re so close to the Mania build-up that it doesn’t really matter.

The Slap Heard ‘Round Full Sail (NXT Reactions, Dec. 4)

Wrestling
  • Sasha Banks has been killing it the last few weeks as NXT’s big heel. Importantly, she’s shown the ability to play both the coward and the intimidator, depending on her opponent. Really, the only downside to her current run is that Charlotte is forced to play the face, which is a position she still seems slightly uncomfortable with. It’s not that Charlotte can’t play the good girl, she’s just infinitely better suited to work heel. That said, I don’t think anyone can be disappointed with either lady’s recent work and this program has been one of the better ones on NXT this month, when it focuses on Charlotte and Banks. Unfortunately, Bayley and Becky Lynch continue to be involved and neither has really shown much in their current roles. Bayley was a great face during her feud with Charlotte, but now she seems like a B+ player after losing two championship matches clean. The girl might have Charlotte’s respect, but she won’t be an interesting character to me until the title changes hands or they give her character something new to work with. Lynch on the other hand, hasn’t hit a stride with her current character. She’s very vanilla and hasn’t shown much personality. Rumor is that she was very good on the indies, so you have to assume that she’ll improve, especially when/if Charlotte and Sasha Banks make a move to Raw or Smackdown. Until then, the Diva’s division is mostly a two-women show, and I have no problem with that.
  • The Vaudevillain pictures vignettes are pretty fun. The first time they used the mini-Lucha Dragons felt a little too derogatory, but these seem okay. It’s not the best work Aiden English has done, but it keeps the team in the spotlight while giving other tag teams a chance to get some matches under their belts. Strike that. As I type this, the Vaudevillains are out for a match. You would think you would use those vignettes to keep them in the audience’s collective mind while they take a break from wrestling, but what do I know? I’m not a real booker.
  • If anyone impressed me tonight in the Vaudevillains’ match, it was Buddy Murphy. His offense was very limited, so you have to take it with a grain of salt, but he looked pretty exceptional during his limited time out there. His moves were exciting and had a lot of pop, making him appear to be the guy to watch out of that tag team. The Vaudevillains continue to be an excellent tag team, but Murphy might have the stuff to really make an impact as a singles star down the line.
  • It’s hard to make sense of what NXT is going for when they put Bull Dempsey and Baron Corbin together in a storyline. Both of these guys are currently built on their ability to squash “enhancement talent” and neither has really had much of an actual match (Corbin in particular). How do you decide who’s going over? I would guess Corbin, as people appear to be sold on him as a future superstar. Personally, I don’t see the appeal of either guy outside of the crowd’s counting down until they finish their squash. However, it’s obvious someone backstage wants one of these guys to succeed. My money is on Corbin going over next week, which might force Dempsey to go the way of Mojo Rawley (aka, back to training).
  • This is absolutely amazing vignette for Kevin Owens (nee Steen). It’s incredible when the WWE actually digs into their superstar’s past and they did it in a big way during that promo. We got to see Tyler Black (Seth Rollins), Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan), and PAC (Adrian Neville) back in their younger days, which is something I never would’ve expected the WWE to do. Further, it really adds to Owens’ story as someone who’s here to prove that everyone made a mistake signing all those guys before him. As a Steen mark, I was already pretty excited for his debut, but that video brought my hype to the next level.
  • Even as a person who loves good storylines in addition to great wrestling, sometimes just seeing a group of guys who are exceptionally talented at their craft go at it for 10 to 15 minutes. That’s what we got tonight with Finn Balor, Hideo Itami, Tyler Breeze, and Tyson Kidd. I don’t want to get heavy in the hyperbole and make claims like, “that was the best NXT match I’ve ever seen”, because it wasn’t. That said, it was a great match that showcased all four competitors throughout. There’s not much more to be said about it. If you’re a fan of the NXT product, this is the reason you watch. And if you don’t watch NXT, you need to go watch this match and see what you’ve been missing. We get this type of quality almost every week, instead of once a month like you often see on Raw and Smackdown.
  • We still don’t quite have a heel in the Sami Zayn Adrian Neville story (though it could be argued that Zayn made a heel turn and the crowd is just too behind him for it feel like an actual turn); however, we did get some much-needed development in the Sami Zayn character. Personally, I’ve always been a Zayn fan because he can go like almost no one else in the ring; however, even I would have to admit that his character was rather bland in NXT. Now, the story seems to be turning. He’s still a great wrestler, but he’s finally showing some emotion beyond his old happy-go-lucky persona. Hopefully, this signifies that they’re ready to let Zayn grow his character into something much more interesting. It’s worked for both Seth Rollins and Bo Dallas (to varying degrees of success) this past year and it may be starting to work for Adam Rose. So why not take a chance and let Zayn show off his range as he gets closer and closer to the main roster. The only downside is that Neville has mostly been an afterthought character wise. I love the Zayn development, but I almost would’ve rather Neville turn heel. However, the current way he’s being booked suggests that Zayn will be getting the call-up before Neville, while Neville spends a little more time honing his character in NXT. It’s not a bad move, and is probably needed given Neville’s heavy British accent. I just hope that we can see Neville add a new wrinkle or two if Zayn is going out the door.
  • Closing Thoughts: Overall, this show seemed much better than the one’s we’ve been treated to over the past few weeks. We finally saw more of a focus on Charlotte and Sasha Banks in the women’s division and that feud is shaping into something that fans will want to see. The Vaudevillains continue to entertain and Buddy Murphy showcased talent that could see him have a bigger role in the coming weeks. Baron Corbin and Bull Dempsy’s story is uninteresting to me, but a lot of people seem to be high on Corbin, so it should be interesting to see what they do with him at Takeover. The final match of the night saw some incredible wrestling from four of the six best workers on the roster. And finally, Sami Zayn’s character got some much-needed development. What was once a very bland persona is slowly morphing in front of our eyes. I’m excited to see where they take us in just under a week; are you?

Spinning Their Wheels (Raw Reactions, Dec. 1)

Wrestling
  • Cesaro, why you so goofy on the Hulu ads? I’m not saying I don’t love it; it just makes me think of him as a face. That said, what is Cesaro? I mean, obviously, he’s the new Ziggler, but am I supposed to love or hate him? I have no idea.
  • Did anyone else mostly miss the first run of the Anonymous GM and not really understand the hate this gimmick gets? It’s not that I think this is the best thing ever; I just don’t have that deep-seeded hate so many other people on the Internet seem to. That said, I hope it doesn’t last long, just because the less Michael Cole is on the microphone, the better.
  • Cena is being thoroughly one-upped by Seth Rollins on the microphone tonight. Cena has his shtick that he’s gotten very good at over the years and he almost always delivers a quality performance. Tonight is a little different, with Rollins just destroying Cena in this war of words. Obviously, Cena isn’t going anywhere, but it’s great to see a young star up his game against the face of the company. Let’s hope that Dean Ambrose moves into his Cena feud in the near future so we can watch the Lunatic Fringe verbally abuse the former Doctor of Thuganomics.
  • The New Day debuted on Smackdown last week, but this is my first chance getting to see them. I don’t know if they’ll last very long, but they certainly look to be having fun. That’s amazing news for any Big E fans because this could mean we get to see more of his personality. E is always hilarious on Twitter and the criticism during his first run was that he didn’t get enough time to show that off. Hopefully, with this new faction, we’ll get to see more of that. And after watching their first match on Raw, I’m personally very excited for this team. Their double-team moves have the potential to get a huge pop and they own their gimmick in and out of the ring. My only minor concern is what happens when different combinations of the team come in, will it still be as crowd-pleasing as it was tonight with Kofi and Big E? Time will tell, I suppose.
  • There’s nothing that puts Cesaro and Tyson Kidd together outside of, “hey, we don’t have enough credible tag teams for this turmoil thing”, but that doesn’t mean I can’t wish there was. Kidd is probably never making it as a singles competitor; however, he is a great wrestler. Putting him with Cesaro could elevate his standing on the card and allow him to get more TV time on Raw and Smackdown. And sadly, it doesn’t look like Creative has anything for Cesaro to do in the main event; so keeping him with Kidd could serve to really improve the tag team division. With that said, I still want a storyline reason for these two to be together. Right now, they feel like a nothing team, and that has to change if they’re ever going to be treated seriously in this division. Maybe they go away next week, with Kidd heading back to NXT and Cesaro making his way back to the lower midcard, but I sure hope they can find a way to keep these two on TV. Kidd and Cesaro are just too skilled in the ring to not find a place in this company.
  • The Usos are really good as a tag team. Let’s make that clear. But can we please see someone else challenging for the titles every once in awhile? The WWE has seemingly made a push to improve the tag division over the last year or so, but The Usos seem like the only real babyface team in the division right now (outside of New Day, but they’re very early in their run). Even just one more team in the title scene would make the Usos mean more because we wouldn’t see them every single week and every single pay-per-view. Hopefully the New Day is the team that can make that happen.
  • Eric Rowan really needs to improve his Rubik’s cube game. If he bought a Dayan Guhong his PB would probably creep below one minute. If it worked for me, it’ll work for the masked one. In other news, Rowan has quickly become a character I want to know more about. If anyone was going to break out of the Wyatt family, Luke Harper looked like the obvious choice. Rowan seemed to just kind of be there. He’s quickly proved me wrong with solid wrestling and a character that probably has a solid 2-3 year run in him, with room for improvement. Rowan probably works heel better than face, but he’s shown that he can work either side over the last month. That’s a good quality to have and should take Rowan relatively far in this company.
  • Oh, look. It’s an R-Truth sighting. Does Truth still get time on Main Event? I don’t watch that show. Also, it’s interesting that, from about 10 seconds in, Bray Wyatt seems to care about his opponent as much as I do. He hits his first few punches and immediately starts calling out Dean Ambrose. Kind of makes you feel bad for Truth. Not even his opponent cares about facing him. Instead, Wyatt just wants to show off for his dancing partner at TLC. It’s too bad that, in the course of Wyatt’s love-letter to Ambrose, we didn’t get to see Little Jimmy. Back in his day, Truth was arguably right up there on the crazy scale with Ambrose and Wyatt. Maybe Little Jimmy could moderate a sit down between the Eater of Worlds and Lunatic Fringe. Call me, Creative. I’m free.
  • In watching Ambrose and Wyatt go at it tonight, I had a thought about why this new generation of superstars is getting over so quickly. Obviously, most of them have excellent mic skills, which only helps. However, I think their moveset has quite a bit to do with it. It’s not so much that these newer players are better wrestlers than guys like Cena and Orton (though you could make that argument) its that they haven’t yet settled into their “five moves of doom”. It could happen some day, but right now we really don’t know what these guys will pull out on a week-to-week basis. I mean sure, Wyatt’s going to hit Sister Abigail and Rollins is going to throw out a Curb Stomp. That said, outside of their finishers, many of these (relatively) young men have extremely diverse movesets. When Cena wrestles, we know the exact move sequence he’s going to use during his comeback. When Rollins wrestles, we kind of know what he’s going to do, but there’s a bigger chance to see something different. We haven’t had that in a few years, especially in the main event. Thus, when someone gives us that, we latch on. This isn’t trying to put down any of the young talent, quite the opposite in fact. If they can stay away from developing a “Biggest Hits” style of wrestling, they will have very long and lucrative careers.
  • Nikki Bella just yelled out a “clothesline” spot. You could here that from Gorilla. The belt can’t come off of Cena’s significant other too soon. She’s just absolutely terrible. Give it to Naomi, for goodness sake.
  • You kind of get the feeling that, because there are only three weeks between Survivor Series and TLC, we’re getting a watered down product right now. None of the feuds on the card at Survivor Series had a satisfying ending and now we’re just seeing a continuation of those same storylines. That means we’ve been watching essentially the same thing for a month and a half now. In fact, the only real new development on the roster is that New Day debuted. Because of that, tonight’s main event was, in a word, boring. We’ve seen this fight over and over since the start of November and they haven’t really done anything with it. Sting’s involvement can’t really mean much until he’s a bigger part of the story and Big Show being a traitor doesn’t really do much to interest me. Hopefully, we’ll see a big swerve at TLC to change things up. As it stands, Raw (and WWE TV in general) seems to be spinning its wheels until we hit the Royal Rumble at the end of January.
  • Closing Thoughts: As bad as their gimmick is, I’m a fan of the New Day, simply because I like how the individual talent meshes together. Hopefully they’ll make a heel turn and actually get over, but, even if they don’t, at least we get to watch Big E towel himself down. Elsewhere in the tag division, the Usos gimmick continues to be stale, while most of the other teams are interesting. If Cesaro and Kidd stay together, it’s easy to see something happening with those two. Adam Rose and the Bunny continue to be intriguing, if only because we want to know who the Bunny is. And the Dust Brothers and Team Miz are doing some of the best work of their respective careers. If only the rest of the card was as good. Nikki Bella stinks as champion and really needs to lose the strap soon, paving the way for Sasha Banks to make her overdue callup from NXT. In the main event scene, we’re basically just getting a rehashing of last month’s feuds with some adding wrinkles. If you told me you were checking out of WWE programming (outside of NXT, of course) until Royal Rumble, I wouldn’t blame you. The current product is very vanilla, and will likely stay that way until we start the Road to Wrestlemania.