By Will Pruett
Can I be real a second? For just a millisecond? Let down my guard and tell the people how I feel a second?
Cool. Thanks. Escaping the cage is the stupidest way to win a match in all of wrestling history. One time Sheamus won the WWE Championship because John Cena slipped through a table and escaping the cage is worse. One time Big Show stepped on a table and it broke (because he weighs a lot) and escaping the cage is immeasurably stupider. Escaping the cage honestly violates the entire logical construct of professional wrestling.
On this episode of Raw, WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens fought WWE vest-wearing competitor Roman Reigns in a non-title Steel Cage match. On this episode of Raw, Roman Reigns proved his dominance over Owens by running away from him faster than Owens could run. That’s great. I can’t wait for the WWE wrestler combine to be broadcast live on the network.
If the point of a cage match is to settle a grudge without interference, why allow wrestlers to escape from the cage at all? If there’s a giant opening at the top everyone is trying to get to, why would that stop interference? If there’s a door that is constantly unlocked by a referee who could be knocked out by the slightest tap on the head, why not lock it? If the rules of matches have no meaning, why do they exist?
Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns were simply fighting for the ability to leave the structure. It’s symptomatic of WWE becoming more and more removed from a world where stipulations, results, and anything other than authority figure drama have meaning. WWE is a parody of itself more often than not and the introduction, format, and mere existence of this cage match serve to prove this point.
I like Kevin Owens. I like Roman Reigns (not as a character, since he is a deplorable storyline human being, but as a wrestler). I like cage matches on occasion. WWE failed the entire concept of storytelling here.
The introduction of The Cruiserweight Division was interesting on this show. WWE was attempting to debut four new talents and get over five in one night. They were also attempting to add some athleticism to a third hour of Raw too often dominated by the likes of Darren Young and Titus O’Neil. It was a mixed bag, but mostly successful. WWE has a long way to go with these characters, but they did a better job with this mass introduction than they’ve done with others in the past (#DivasRevolution).
Let’s start with the positives: Cedric Alexander, Rich Swann, Gran Metalik, and Brain Kendrick are all awesome talents and they put on a fantastic four-way match. WWE introduced us to the Cruiserweights with a very fun four way that never lagged. They were given ample time to impress the crowd with a spot-fest and impress the crowd they did. It seemed like what TNA often does with the X Division when they throw an impressive spot-fest out there to begin a show, but it worked a little better here.
WWE also did a fair job in introducing the individual talents as the night progressed. It was odd to see some of the videos so far removed from the introduction of the division as a whole, but one cannot throw 20 minutes of videos out there all at once and expect the live crowd to stay awake.
The main weakness of the entire Cruiserweight introduction was Mick Foley. Mick stumbled over his words, focused too heavily on size (as opposed to athleticism), and him reading off of cards from his pocket made it seem like he had no idea who the talent were. Mick Foley, in this segment, made the four wrestlers seem like wrestlers who don’t matter to him. That was not the intention, but it was the story WWE told.
Speaking of story, one of the strengths of the Cruiserweight Classic was the tournament format and the lack of random matches thrown together on the spot. It seemed like WWE didn’t want to advertise the four way match here, but they needed to. Don’t make me think all four of these wrestlers were making their entrances without knowing who or what they would be fighting. WWE doesn’t seem to realize how horribly thrown together matches break the storytelling universe they try to create.
WWE has a ton of work left to do with the Cruiserweight Division. They need men’s rights activist TJ Perkins to click as Cruiserweight Champion (his absence on this show was awkward). They need a couple characters fans care about and get into. They need more than one story happening in the division (which is the pit-fall of Raw’s women’s division and tag team division).
I have faith in WWE getting this right eventually. This wasn’t awful and the right talent will help is go very far.
And now for some random thoughts:
– Cesaro and Sheamus continue to delight in this series. I’m looking forward to their conclusion at Clash of Champions quite a bit.
– Newly turned babyface Seth Rollins got to close the show with the crowd-pleasing stunt spot. He also got one to open the show by diving off of the announce table onto Rusev. How fans react to him on Sunday should be really interesting. Kevin Owens is a super likable character, even though he is a heel. Seth Rollins is still working into being likable. Sunday’s main event should be a major test.
– Speaking of Sunday, it’s time for another Triple H run-in. It’s also time for WWE to move forward with whatever the Triple H story is going to be.
– WWE is burning through matches in Raw’s Women’s Division. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley vs. Charlotte should be built to, not just tossed out there six days ahead of time. This wouldn’t be necessary if WWE took the time to tell more than one key story in this division. Instead of just being about champion and challenger, WWE could have Bayley in a feud, Sasha in a feud, and Charlotte in a feud. They could tell all three of these women’s stories. They have three hours per week. Where is the storytelling?
– The ten-man tag to kill some time on the show certainly didn’t kill as much time as it usually does.
Got thoughts on this show or my review of it? Hit me up with them! Check the Twitter @itswilltime, leave a comment, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.