Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - Nationalism brings us a wonderful détente between Jack Swagger and Rusev, Roman Reigns never looks at the lights, Battleground's go home, and more!
By Will Pruett
U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
Can you feel the nationalism? Can you taste it? Is the spirit of 'Murica rising up inside you? Rusev and Swagger are on their way to a Hoss-war at Battleground and it is easily the hottest issue on WWE's card. It's kind of bizarre. Just three weeks ago, Swagger was doing nothing as a heel in the mid-card, and on Raw he was the most vehemently cheered babyface. What happened?
First, never underestimate the power of nationalism. Americans love America. Americans still, for some odd reason, really dislike Russia (please don't email me about the Cold War). What we saw on Raw was nationalism being combined with some great promo work from the mouthpieces for these two rather large wrestlers.
Lana, in her role, is doing really well at garnering heat for Rusev. She took an act with a verbal deficiency and has given him personality. She has really helped him get over and this segment was a shining example as to why. She is a great antagonist and has the potential to grow and be even better. Although it began as a topical joke, the Putin material has transformed into something truly upsetting for arenas full of people. It's amazing.
What we saw on Raw was an angle with no business being as good as it was. The "détente" was all sorts of fun. Lana yelled. Zeb yelled. The actual wrestlers involved looked better than they have in a long time. The crowd was whipped into a frenzy before the end of the segment, and when the two wrestlers had to get physical at the end, the excitement was palpable.
Here's the major problem: in house shows over the weekend Swagger was easily defeated by Rusev in about ten seconds. It was a major squash. It was like someone took a squash and squashed it again. Rusev destroyed Swagger. This will be a major mistake if this happens on Sunday at Battleground. Swagger is more over at this moment than he has been in his career. Rusev is pretty over as well.
In building a natural feud with a major turn, WWE booked themselves into a corner. Rusev shouldn't lose. Swagger shouldn't get best quickly. This feud has actual legs and it could actually run for a long while. Somehow, this became the most intriguing program in WWE going into Battleground. Color me surprised.
I'll get back to chanting now.
And now for some random thoughts:
- Roman Reigns seems incapable of staying down until Raw goes off the air. It doesn't bother me, but it's always interesting. WWE is protecting Reigns in a noticeable way and it's a good thing. Part of their lack of making new stars has been their inability to protect people. Look at the mid-card champions over the last five years. They should be marked as the next stars in wrestling, but they constantly lose. Reigns is being protected, but it's far better than the alternative.
- The opening segment was puzzling. Once Cena finished plugging the WWE Network (and the bonus free hour and a half after Raw went off the air), he was confronted by Reigns. The two of them were questioned via video by Dean Ambrose. Ambrose was then attacked backstage for about an hour. Where were Cena and Reigns? Did they just stand in the ring and discuss how depressing it was to see their buddy get beat up? Did they grab a beer?
- The simplest way to fix the opening segment would have been to have the beating happen until Reigns and Cena could arrive on scene and run off Orton, Kane, and Rollins. Everything else on this show could have remained the same.
- With the Dean Ambrose situation, it felt like the show was building towards a miracle comeback and brawl with Ambrose and Rollins all over the building. WWE had to know fans would expect Ambrose to run out. Since they didn't deliver it, are they teaching fans not to trust Ambrose?
- What the cuss word was the Ric Flair segment. He walked down the aisle and flirted with Renee Young (who handled it with grace, just like she handles everything else). He pretended he was on a pre-show panel and predicted matches. He appeared to be thinner and less intoxicated than he has been in other recent appearances. Why was he there?
- When Cesaro and Paul Heyman were paired up the night after WrestleMania, it seemed like Cesaro was taking the next step forward in his career. Sadly, we're now left with Cesaro lacking more than he was before and Heyman separated from him. This is a really bad situation and it is disappointing. Cesaro is too good to have been misused the way he has been.
- Kane is about to be in his second special event main event of 2014. Hell must have frozen over.
- Dolph Ziggler now gets all the ladies. Maybe Ziggler should just become a Dean Malenko-esque ladies man. Obviously this would lead to a lifetime job as an agent.
- The logic of music playing mid-match continues to be infuriating.
- The Sting promo for WWE 2k14 was a nice demonstration of how great of a character Sting could be in WWE. I want more of it, dang it.
- Paige and A.J. Lee continues to be an intriguing rivalry. Their disdain hidden under a very thin layer of kindness is fun to watch.
This was a middle of the road episode of Raw with one really great détente. WWE needs to have more détentes if they want to keep this momentum going.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to follow me and interact on twitter @itswilltime.
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