Alex Rants on RAW February 20, 2017
We're about a month away from WrestleMania, and once again we were treated to a forgettable, illogical and otherwise garbage episode of RAW.
Welcome, everyone, to the latest rant on RAW. We’re about a month or so away from WrestleMania 33, the biggest WWE show of the year.
So far we only know of two matches scheduled for this major show: Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg (which, as of today, may or may not be for the WWE Universal Championship), and Bray Wyatt defending his WWE Championship against…someone.
We don’t know for sure who it is yet, but odds are, given WWE’s booking, it’ll still be Randy Orton (because nobody believes Orton is stupid enough to squander winning the Royal Rumble match out of ‘loyalty to Wyatt’).
So long story short, the creative department has a vague idea in which direction they’re going, but they have no idea how they’re going to get there. Good to know, as we continue on our path down the road to WrestleMania.
And with that, let the rant begin.
We opened with an outstanding promo from Kevin Owens. He cut an intelligent promo highlighting Goldberg’s flaws and what he was going to do at Fastlane to win and retain his championship. Sadly, there were two problems with this.
The first one was relatively minor: Kevin Owens said the words, ‘play the game’, which are an obvious reference to Triple H. So even when HHH isn’t there, the current stars need to mention the boss’s son-in-law, either by name or with his catchphrase.
In doing so, it takes away from his own actions and suggests that HHH was the true heel and Kevin was merely doing what Hunter asked. That makes Owens look like a pawn, as opposed to a mastermind of his own actions against Chris Jericho.
Second, this promo was reminiscent of the promo AJ Styles cut against John Cena before the Royal Rumble. In that promo, Styles mentioned several points that suggested he was better than Cena, and most of them made sense.
But Cena proved otherwise, rendering all of Styles’ words moot. If Kevin cuts a similar promo vowing to run down his opponent Goldberg and then fails to deliver at the PPV, it’ll prove once again that nothing the current roster does will matter more than the part-timers. If there was ever a time when a heel needed to live up to their words, this would be it.
After the Enzo & Cass vs. Sheamus & Cesaro match, Enzo cut a short promo, only to be kicked in the face by Sheamus. The funny part was, instead of booing Sheamus, the audience chanted ‘thank you, Sheamus’, and quite audibly at that.
One could draw one of two conclusions from this: 1) people are getting tired of Enzo, and consider him to be more annoying than he is entertaining; or 2) fans like to chant stuff at random, in order to make themselves the stars of the show.
My money’s on the latter because it was those same people that spoke with Enzo when he did his usual pre-match lines. If they truly did dislike him, the response to his opening spiel wouldn’t have been so loud.
Shortly thereafter, Foley announced that Kevin Owens would face Sami Zayn. Once again, WWE likes to pretend that things that happened more than three weeks ago no longer exist, and try to sell something that we’ve seen several times as new and fresh.
Except it doesn’t work that way, WWE.
You cannot offer us a month-old fish, call it ‘freshly caught’ and expect us to believe you. Then again, if WWE actually gave us a reason for this match to exist in the first place, maybe so much repetition wouldn’t be so bad in the first place. But who am I kidding?
Once WWE gets a taste of something that the fans actually like, they drive it into the ground until the fans turn on that something. This is what they’ve done with Enzo Amore, they’ve done this with the women’s revolution title hot-potato, and they’ve done this with Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn.
Well done WWE, you’ve managed to kill three things fans genuinely liked by forcing them too much and too often. WWE finally made a major angle in the Cruiserweight division by creating a feud between The Brian Kendrick and Akira Tozawa.
The angle was well-done (except for Cole saying ‘Reigns is live next’ immediately after Kendrick’s post-beatdown promo was done, implying that Kendrick’s words and actions weren’t important because he didn’t let them settle and amped up another star right away), but it highlighted a different problem.
WWE needs to stop using the purple ropes for the Cruiserweights. I get that it’s done to distinguish the Cruiserweights from the rest of the roster, but it’s not an effective way of doing so.
The whole point of the Cruiserweight division originally was to allow them to wrestle in their unique style, not to wrestle the same WWE-style only with smaller wrestlers in a different-colored ring. By having to constantly switch between the regular ropes and these ‘special’ purple ropes wastes a lot of time WWE.
If they want the Cruiserweights to truly stand out, let them wrestle in a way that would allow their abilities to stand out. Being in a ring with differently-coloured ropes does not help them get over as much as being able to wrestle with fewer restrictions.
We then shifted to what was supposed to be a tag team match between Gallows & Anderson against Roman Reigns and a partner. Instead of putting on a competitive tag team match, WWE absolutely destroyed its own tag team champions.
While G&A did win via disqualification, they were crushed by Reigns alone nonetheless. He destroyed them with chair shots and speared Anderson as he was jumping off the top rope. He made both of them look incredibly weak throughout the match.
They oversold him so badly. He had the advantage throughout the match. When they’d strike him, he’d take multiple strikes before going down to one knee. Both Gallows & Anderson flopped out of the ring like fish after taking one punch each.
It’s stuff like this that angers many fans for many reasons. It makes the Champions look weak, especially when they’re defeated so easily by only one man. It looks incredibly fake and unrealistic, given that they’re flopping around so much.
And it perpetuates the idea that Reigns is being shoved down fans’ throats when he ‘overcomes the odds’ in such a way that doesn’t make his opponents look good.
If this match were booked to be competitive (i.e. Reigns actually having a partner and looking even slightly vulnerable like an ordinary person would), this wouldn’t have been so bad. Instead, Reigns was made to look like a superhero, even though Kevin Owens mentioned earlier that they don’t exist.
If WWE wants fans to cheer him, destroying hard workers who also happen to be Champions is the wrong way of going about it. There are other jobber teams that could’ve taken this punishment instead of Gallows & Anderson.
Heck, the Shining Stars are an annoying heel team; they’d have been perfect for this role. Even if there’s a supposed story between these two opposing sides, it doesn’t help that one side is always made to look bad in their multiple confrontations.
The next thing that didn’t make any sense was the story of Bayley’s promo. After thanking the fans and being humble, Stephanie strongly suggested that Bayley relinquish the title because of last week’s ‘controversial’ finish. Though she didn’t outright tell her to surrender the title, the implication was still there.
Then, once Sasha Banks and Charlotte came out to mix things up and announce a match, Stephanie suddenly forgot why she was out there and announced a match between Charlotte and Sasha. In the span of a minute or so, Stephanie completely forgot about Bayley and just decided to let Bayley keep her Championship, just like that.
This didn’t make any sense. Why would Stephanie strongly suggest that Bayley relinquish the Championship, only for her to change her mind as soon as other women came out? Isn’t she supposed to be a no-nonsense, vicious heel that doesn’t answer to anyone but herself?
This clearly shows that WWE’s writing staff cannot put together a coherent set of logic rules that apply on a consistent basis. One week Stephanie’s authority trumps everything else on RAW, and the next week her power gets shut down by the will of a Champion…who happens to be her employee.
Stuff like this is why people cannot get invested in WWE’s storylines: they don’t make sense and are more about getting a cheap pop than telling a deeper story. If Stephanie’s goal was to come out there and strip Bayley of the Championship because her title win was tainted (which is something they should’ve done last week instead), she should’ve followed through with that plan because it made sense from a logical standpoint.
But no, getting a cheap reaction and throwing your own character archetypes and storylines out the window are what triumph on RAW.
We closed the show with what actually ended up being a pretty good match. Big Show looked incredibly healthy for a man of his age and size, and Braun Strowman blew everyone away. Like many people, I was amazed by both his dropkick and his kip-up, two manoeuvres a man of his size should not be capable of executing.
But that match ended up being very good, although it was an example of false promise. They showed the ring crew reinforcing the ring, which led most, if not all, fans to imply the ring was going to be broken.
That never happened, and the match ended with Strowman hitting his Powerslam on Big Show. It was still an impressive thing to behold, just not as great as it could’ve been.
So, when you look up and down this week’s episode, there were few things that really stood out. Jack Gallagher’s confrontation with Neville was alright. Kevin Owens’ promo was great.
The New Day’s comedy bit was well done, and Samoa Joe destroying Sami Zayn was also great. But few of these things had any impression on WrestleMania, and the things that had a long-term impact were more negative than positive.
There’s only one month left for WWE to sell WrestleMania to people, and so far the promotion hasn’t done a very good job. They’d better put their best creative ideas together as soon as possible; otherwise, the show risks being an even bigger disappointment than last year’s fiasco.
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