Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - Did WWE throw WrestleMania season into disarray? Roman Reigns looks strong saving legends, Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt deliver, and more!
By Will Pruett
Full disclosure: To retain his sanity, Will Pruett watches the 90 minute edit of Raw on Hulu Plus. He has no regrets.
I had some version of WrestleMania season after the Royal Rumble compiled and thrown together in my head. It was neat, orderly, and exciting. I had figured out where top stars would go, how alliances would play out, and what WWE's endgame for the show was. I had it all together. Then the closing segment of Raw happened leaving me thunderously confused and back to square one.
Let's start at the end with Brock Lesnar. Brock Lesnar decided to Bork Laser everyone in the ring at the end of Raw. Notable about this is the people who were in the ring. Big Show and Kane were on the receiving ends of F-5's while Seth Rollins scurried away. Rollins is WWE's number one heel. He was being chased away by a big bad guy who wants to fight. Lesnar, on this show, seemed nothing like a devious heel. Brock Lesnar, from the moment he walked out and demanded to fight at the top of the show to the moment he took out Show and Kane at the end, was a total babyface. This ruins my entire proposed WrestleMania lineup and my predictions for Sunday's Royal Rumble.
If Brock Lesnar is actually a babyface coming out of Sunday with or without the WWE Championship, where does he fit in to the WrestleMania lineup? Is he a challenger against WWE Champion Seth Rollins? Would it make sense for Lesnar to main event with Rollins on (presumably) his way out? This could help to make Rollins into both a bonafide champion and a bonafide star. What other heels could Lesnar be paired with? Bray Wyatt is out there, but he is rumored to be waiting for Undertaker's decision. Rusev is also already rumored to have a high profile dance partner. The WWE roster is lacking the bad guys it needs to make Lesnar as a babyface truly compelling.
Then again, Lesnar may have just been kicking ass for the sake of kicking ass. This is a very Brock Lesnar thing to do.
The rest of the show definitely made me second guess my sure-fire pick of Daniel Bryan to win the Royal Rumble. This is not just because Bryan lost, since his loss was due to interference (it's not a good choice, but it doesn't save him a little bit). Bryan didn't get to cut a promo on this show about winning the Rumble. Bryan didn't get to do much other than lose. It was an odd replay of him losing 364 days earlier at the 2014 Royal Rumble and disappearing from the show. No matter what, I am convinced Bryan should be the guy on Sunday unless WWE has a major angle planned for a heel to win or a babyface to turn heel. Anyone but Bryan will be booed in a super fun replay of last year.
As for the WWE Championship on Sunday, Raw still left me convinced that Seth Rollins walks out with the title. He's WWE's best antagonist and it makes every type of sense to put the title on the top antagonist going into the top show of the year.
And now for some random thoughts:
- I'm not usually one to complain about a lack of wrestling time on a wrestling show. I am going to be this person today though. With the Hulu Plus edit of Raw, there were only two matches in ninety minutes. This bordered on absurd. We had the opening segment, Bryan vs. Wyatt, the NWO backstage segment, the Legends Roundtable, the NWO in-ring segment, the drum-roll gag, and finally the main event. I know we lost quite a few matches with the edit down to ninety minutes, but two matches in that time? Wow. Ridiculous.
- The NWO in-ring segment died a slow death along with the push of The Ascension. The crowd popped a little bit for the returning stars, but they weren't overwhelmingly loud. They were very excited. This wasn't a triumphant return. Honestly, the appearance from Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Sean Waltman just kind of depressed me. I'm sorry if this isn't a popular opinion, but this segment was just sad.
- The Ascension, who it seemed WWE gave up on in week two of their main roster run, didn't gain anything from this appearance. So many people in wrestling claim to be giving "rub" to younger talent when they are buried by older talent. This is one of the biggest fallacies in wrestling. Konnor and Victor gained nothing by being made fools of. I'm not especially bothered by this, but it needed to be mentioned.
- What does bother me is the constant push of legacy talent all over WWE television. Look at the WWE Network. WWE loves to promote various Attitude Era weeks. WWE loves to promote Attitude Era stars. WWE loves to put wrestlers from the 1990's elevision. This is bothersome. What about today's wrestlers? Where is Daniel Bryan week, John Cena week, Randy Orton week, or anyone else's special week? WWE has access to these stars and they have the ability to make these things happen. They intentionally choose to put wrestlers who peaked twenty years ago in the spotlight over the stars they're attempting to create from NXT. This isn't a "brass ring" situation. This is WWE failing creatively.
- The end of the show, with Sting's first appearance on WWE Raw, was exciting. The actual entrance of Sting left me disappointed yet again. Sting's entrances could be amazing moments in and of themselves, but WWE has shown us that two out of two times they will make it as normal as possible.
Despite my complaints about many of the legacy star pushes on Raw, I enjoyed this show a great deal. Raw's closing left me excited for the Royal Rumble and honestly convinced me in the approaching goodness of WrestleMania season. Come on, WWE, don't let me down. I've been hurt too much this week already.
Got thoughts on this show or my review of it? If they aren't super annoying thoughts, hit me up with them! Check the Twitter @itswilltime or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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