WWE Weekly: November 15-21, 2015
by Scrooge Mc Suck
LIGHTS, CAMERA, WWE ACTION...
(Raw: Greensville, SC; Smackdown: Knoxville, TN)
I try to be consistent in my methods, no matter what the circumstances. In the short time Iíve been doing my weekly recap of the WWE programming, I always try and lead with whatever the situation is revolving around the World Heavyweight Champion, or in this case, the World Heavyweight Championship Tournament, to be concluded at the Survivor Series this weekend. That will not be the case this week. No, instead we will begin with the final build for the DIVAS CHAMPIONSHIP, featuring reigning Champion Charlotte (Donít Call Me Flair But You Keep Acknowledging My Family Name) and Paige (No Last Name Given). The build-up has been so-so, typical hum-drum effort (or lack thereof) from the creative department. Paige turns heel on former "friend" who has never really been established as more than a coincidental partner, earns #1 Contendership, and poof, we have a match signed. Closing out this weekís episode of Monday Night Raw seemed a bit odd on paper, but then we got what might be one of the worst segments on WWE TV Iíve seen in recent memory, using the death of Charlotteís brother, Reid, to advance an angle... and an angle that isnít going to draw a dime, in the words of the immortal (and late) Mike Graham.
For those unfamiliar, Reid is the youngest child of Ric Flair. Reid, much like his half-brother David before him, followed in his fatherís foot-steps of becoming a professional wrestler, but passed away at the young age of 25 from an overdose of Heroin and other prescription drugs. Rumors (mostly false) circulated that Charlotte (real name Ashley) entered professional wrestling to chase the dream Reid was trying to live before his passing. Deep inside, I think all reasonably knowledgeable wrestling fans could see it coming: WWE using Charlotte in a key role and exploiting the death of her brother for some stupid, half-assed attempts at making waves and getting some publicity. Maybe they thought ESPN would cover them for more than 5-minutes a week by taking a very real, very emotionally sensitive issue, and just throwing it out there in a segment that had no hopes of getting over, and only achieve the wrath of anyone who watched it or was personally offended by it.
The only rational logic behind the segment is that Vince McMahon, who we all know has his finger on the pulse of what is relevant, knows of a few female athletes and thought this was the moment to create a moment. After all, it wouldnít be the first time he has given the green light to some questionable angles involving the deaths of former employees, with Eddie Guerrero and Paul Bearer obviously popping up in the minds of almost anyone over the age of 18. I wouldnít say Iím mad at them doing this, but more disappointed that THIS is all they could come up with. Weíve got women in NXT doing amazing things, and Iím sure a writer and staff of agents making these things a reality as well with not nearly enough credit given, and they donít have to trample over the name of someone who cannot respond, or on the memories of a young man without the consent of his father, mother, or sister. I could call it a scummy, sleazy attempt at grabbing our attentions, but the truth is... they did. It wonít bring in revenue through merchandise, stock shares, PPV buys, ticket sales, or Network subscriptions, but they keep finding ways to make us question the decision making process in the world of professional wrestling. Weíre not talking about someone being jobbed or handed a title they donít deserve, but going out of their way to be controversial for the sake of being controversial. Iíd like to think that the days of crossing the line into uncomfortable territory was over, but we would just be fooling ourselves. Sooner or later, we will find ourselves back in this same situation, reciting over and over again the depths a wrestling... sorry, an ENTERTAINMENT company, will go to make themselves relevant on Social Media outlets.
With that unfortunate business out of the way, let us recap the rest of the road to the 29th Annual Survivor Series... The WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament continued with the Quarter-Finals, a.k.a Round of Eight. The predictable path to the Finals continued to play out, which isnít a bad thing if you really think about it. Three out of the four matches delivered in quality, something the 1st Round was lacking in. The only negative of the four was the lack of chemistry between Alberto del Rio and Kalisto. To be honest, since his return to WWE, it feels like Del Rio is just moving in cruise control, rarely doing much that he is capable of, and relying on a limited offense of kicking and resting. Maybe Iím being too harsh, since their match followed excellent performances from Ziggler/Ambrose and Cesaro/Reigns, the latter being a match I highly recommend for all WWE fans if you missed Raw this week. They keep teasing something is up with Triple H, as he was seen in separate segments having little pep-talks with Kevin Owens and Cesaro. The only thing I have to really question is who will be turning on whom at Survivor Series when it comes down to Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns. I feel like mentioning Smackdown seems pointless, but the go-home show for Survivor Series featured the tired trope of "everyone comes out for an interview, and Teddy Longís wish comes true because weíve got a tag team match, playa" for the Main Event. If you expected more, you forgot Smackdown usually doesnít host much relevance these days. For the three of you who care, the match ended in a No Contest.
The one thing I didnít miss about the Undertaker hanging around more often is the super-long, super-dull entrances where we would have the annual trotting out of the Druids. You thought Undertaker took forever walking to the ring? My God, the druids are in super-slow-motion by comparison. Last week, the Brothers of Destruction got the best of all four Wyatt Family members, rendering Survivor Series pointless since weíve already seen them get their comeuppance. At least they remembered to script in that Wyatt has some of the supernatural powers and conjured up a special effects lightning storm. This weekís throwback to 1995 booking: The druids are actually under Wyattís command and are wearing the signature sheep masks. Undertaker and Kane easily dispose of them for obvious reasons. ORDER SURVIVOR SERIES! Iím honestly surprised someone hasnít scripted for Wyatt to scream "curses!" after being foiled yet again. While weíre on the subject of the Undertaker... they did a YouTube feature with "5 matches youíve probably never seen" from the Undertakerís WWF career, one of them a dark match from a Superstars taping in 1991 against Randy Savage. Why not put these full length matches on the Network instead of teasing us with 5-second clips? ... And for the record, Kevin Sullivan is the true leader of the Army of Darkness.
Now that both have been eliminated from the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament, weíre going back to the program between Tyler Breeze and Dolph Ziggler. Breeze picked up a couple of quick victories this week, over R-Truth on Monday Night Raw, and Zack Ryder on Smackdown. Ziggler made his presence felt on Thursday, violating the personal space of their VIP section, and after the match, knocking Breezeís head off with a Super-Kick. All this hype for what was announced as the Kick-off Match for Survivor Series... so we STILL only have 5 matches announced for the PPV portion of the show?!
Other happenings and results not worth noting in detail and/or part of any significant storyline... RAW: The New Day defeated The Usos and Ryback by DQ in another filler match for the Tag Team Champions. They also celebrated their 1-year anniversary of being a team... The Dudley Boyz defeated the Ascension in a match to remind everyone why signing the Dudleys to something other than a short-term deal was a bad idea... SMACKDOWN: Cesaro squashed The Miz, making him tpa to the Crossface... The Dudleys and Neville won a 6-Man Tag over the Cosmic Wasteland, and yes, we got the Dudleys vs. Ascension twice in one week... Charlotte tapped Brie Bella in a Non-Title Match... Big E. pinned Kalisto to remind everyone that Kalisto pinning Ryback was a fluke all along.
C-YOU LATER, HEATH SLATER...
As usual, thereís not much happening on Superstars or Main Event really worth going into detail about, so hereís what I do for my own personal amusement: we keep track of the results, including win-loss records, and basically keep tabs on how often certain people appear on these shows, who wins the most, and who, besides Heath Slater, loses the most. Itís one of those things Iíve done with the C-level shows as far back as Velocity and Sunday Night Heat. Last week, Heath Slater only appeared on one of the C-Shows, so his record only jumped to 0-3, but that one loss was to a heatless return of Damien Sandowís "Intellectual Savior of the Masses" character, even though he didnít do much to emphasis that the gimmick is back to stay.
From WWE Main Event, taped on November 17th from Knoxville, TN... The Usos (1-0) defeated Adam Rose (1-2) and Brad Maddox (0-1) in 7:27 when Jimmy pinned Rose following the Splash off the top. I guess this is Maddoxís reward for being the turkey for Undertaker to squash on the Late Show. Heís bleached his hair since we last saw him, but did anyone really care if he came back? Iím surprised he didnít take the fall, too... Naomi (1-0) tapped out Alicia Fox (0-1) at 5:53 with some kind of Octopus hold. Technically heel vs. heel, and the crowd didnít really care, to the surprise of nobody... Titus OíNeil (1-0) pinned Heath Slater (0-4) at 6:26 with Clash of the Titus. Did we ever get a true blow-off match when Slater-Gator Exploded? No? Oh well...
From WWE Superstars, taped on November 16th from Greensville, SC (but officially broadcast at a later date than Main Event)... Brie Bella (1-0) pinned Naomi (1-1) with the X-Factor. Nice to see that without Nikki Bella, Brie and Alicia Fox have been bumped down to the shows nobody (except myself) cares about... Titus OíNeil (2-0) pinned Bo Dallas (1-2) after the Clash of the Titus. Are we getting a renewed singles push for Titus? Until it actually happens on Raw and/or Smackdown, Iím going to assume "No." Iím disappointed we didnít get Heath Slater doing double job duty again, nor did we get another appearance from Damien Sandow.
SUPERSTAR SPOTLIGHT: TOURNAMENT EDITION II
Last week, we got to sit through the first round of a 16-Man Tournament to crown a NEW WWE World Heavyweight Champion, and since I love Tournaments, I felt obligated to recap all eight matches. None were spectacular, and most were just matches for the sake of having matches. Thankfully, I only have four matches to recap this week, but all of them, at least on paper, look to have potential for being good matches. With these four matches featured, I will not bother padding things out since thereís really not much else worth focusing on from Smackdown.
Neville vs. Kevin Owens:
Last week, Owens defeated Titus OíNeil and Neville had to get by the King of the Ring, King Barrett. Owens is the reigning Intercontinental Champion, for those who forgot. Anyone hear about that twitter war between WWE and Melissa Joan Hart? Owens shoves Neville off and gets rolled up for an early near fall. Owens with a side headlock, followed by a shoulder tackle. Criss-cross sequence ends with Neville taking Owens over with a head scissors. Neville avoids a charge to the corner, gets a boot up, and goes for the Red Arrow, but Owens rolls to the outside. Neville quickly turns himself around and comes off the top with an Asai Moonsault! Back from commercial, and Owens is in control. He charges for a Cannonball, but Neville recovers and takes him over with a German Suplex. Neville with a basement dropkick and second rope version of the Red Arrow, but it only gets two! Neville to the top rope, and again Owens avoids it. Neville with an enziguri, to the top rope again, and this time Owens shakes him off the top rope. Whip to the rope, Pop-Up Powerbomb is countered with a reverse hurricanrana for a near fall! Neville goes to the top one more time, but lands on his feet on a SSP attempt. Owens quickly hits the Pop-Up Powerbomb, and it is good for the three count at 4:40. **12 Even without the commercial to pad the time, thereís an obvious edit and it means we missed out on some of what was mostly recognized as a pretty darn good match.
Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler:
Last week, Dean Ambrose defeated Tyler Breeze in his in-ring debut, and Ziggler defeated the Miz. At least the crowds will react to baby-face vs. baby-face, but we all know Ambrose is cruising into the next round. Is it me or does GOLDUST not belong in the list of "all-time legends" who have never won the World Title? I like Dustin Rhodes plenty, but heís not a Ted Dibiase or Roddy Piper. They start with a test-of-strength. Ambrose turns it into a hammerlock and Ziggler sweeps the leg into a cover. Ziggler counters a headlock with a cradle for a one-count. Criss-cross sequence, Ambrose avoids a Super-Kick. Ambrose with a side headlock, countered with a head scissors. He sends Ziggler to the floor with a clothesline, but Ziggler side-steps the suicide dive attempt. Back inside, Ziggler picks the leg and turns Ambrose over in a modified bow-and-arrow. Whip to the ropes and a dropkick to the face gets two. Ambrose with a back breaker for only a one count. Ambrose with a single-leg crab. He plants Ziggler with a slam, heads to the top rope, and connects with the elbow, but Ziggler rolls through for two. Ziggler grabs a sleeper, but Ambrose rams him into the buckle to break. Ziggler with a sunset flip for two. Dirty Deeds is blocked, as well as a Super-Kick. Both men go for a cross body, with neither getting the better end of it. They fight along the top rope until they each land a blow at the same time, knocking them both to the floor.
We return from commercial with Ziggler doing his best impression of Shawn Michaels. Ambrose blocks and counters with a slingshot into the corner for a near fall. Ziggler counters Dirty Deeds with another sleeper hold. Ambrose turns it around, but Ziggler escapes with a jaw-buster. Ambrose uses it to spring off the ropes and hit his wild clothesline for a two count. They both find their way on the top rope again, and this time Ziggler takes him down with an X-Factor! Ziggler goes for the cover, but Ambrose manages to roll out of the ring. Back inside, Ambrose surprises Ziggler with a small package for two. Super-Kick from Ziggler gets two. Ambrose with a flurry of rights and chops. Ziggler slows him down with a headbutt and goes for a cradle, but Ambrose rolls through and hits Dirty Deeds for three at 11:20. ***1/2 Really good match, definitely of PPV quality. The outcome didnít come as much of a surprise, but the style they chose to work. Ziggler didnít rely heavily on his over-exaggerated offense and they worked a more grounded style.
Roman Reigns vs. Cesaro:
Itís the Roman Empire vs. The Cesaro Section! Last week, Cesaro had to defeat the Money in the Bank Briefcase Holder, Sheamus, and Roman Reigns had to get by the Big Show. As if ANYONE thinks Cesaro has a shot in hell of winning this match, under any circumstances? This makes two matches in the Round of 8 to be baby-face vs. baby-face. Lockup into the ropes and a clean break. Cesaro teased an uppercut, but gave him a pat on the chest instead. Cesaro grabs a waist-lock. They trade side headlocks. Roman with a takedown, but Cesaro counters with a head scissors. Both men kip up, because they can. Cesaro with a cart-wheel off the top rope, taking Roman over with a roll up for a near fall. Springboard sunset flip is countered into a roll up from Roman for another two count. Whip to the ropes, Cesaro puts the brakes on and muscles Roman off the canvas with the power gut-wrench suplex for two! They fight over a suplex, with neither man budging. Roman catches Cesaro off the ropes with a tilt-o-whirl slam for two. Whip to the ropes, Cesaro ducks a clothesline and hits the springboard corkscrew uppercut. He sweeps the legs for the swing, but Roman kicks him off. Charge to the corner meets buckle and Cesaro follows up with a dropkick, sending Romanís shoulder into the post. Cesaro follows him out and connects with a running uppercut.
We return from commercial with Cesaro hitting a series of uppercuts. Whip to the corner and another uppercut. Whip across the ring and ANOTHER uppercut. Roman counters the next attempt with a forearm and throws a flurry of clotheslines in the corner. Cesaro breaks the momentum with uppercuts. Whip to the corner, and Reigns explodes out with a clothesline, followed by a modified T-Bone Suplex. Reigns goes for the Drive-By, but Cesaro catches him by the legs, drags him to the center of the ring, and swings before sitting down with the Sharpshooter! Reigns goes for the ropes, so Cesaro turns it into a cross-face! Reigns tries rolling through, but finds himself trapped in the center of the ring! Reigns muscles his way to his feet, with Cesaro across his back, and drops down with a Samoan drop for two! Cesaro gets dumped over the top rope, hitting his injured elbow on the apron on the way down. Roman hits a Drive-By on the second attempt, rolls Cesaro back in the ring, and comes off the ropes with a jumping clothesline. Roman with the 10-clotheslines in the corner, but on the 10th, Cesaro slams down across the arm to counter. He throws Reigns into the corner and tries setting him on the turnbuckle, but Roman rolls through and connects with a one-armed Powerbomb for two! Reigns sets up for the Superman Punch, but Cesaro counters with a super-sized uppercut for another near fall. Cesaro hoists Reigns to the top rope and knocks him back down with a dropkick. Cesaro goes for his suplex from the ring apron, but Reigns fights free and hits the Superman Punch! Cesaro counters the Spear and goes for the Neutralizer, but Roman counters that. Cesaro with a back slide for two! Superman Punch out of nowhere and Spear is finally enough for the three count at 15:38. **** Even better match than what we just saw from Ziggler and Ambrose. Instead of going the route of mat wrestling, this was just a hard hitting heavyweight battle between two beasts.
Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio (w/ Zeb Colter):
I forgot, we still have this one to get through. Kalisto upset Ryback on Smackdown to advance, and Del Rio had Stardust for his easy 1st Round victory. Del Rio is the U.S., a.k.a the MexAmerican Champion, for those who have forgotten who the Champions are. Del Rio starts quickly, taking Kalisto over with a snapmare and landing a hard kick for a near fall. Kalisto avoids a kick in the corner and rolls Del Rio up for two. Kalisto escapes a tilt-o-whirl attempt and sends Del Rio to the floor. He comes off the apron with a hurricanrana as we take a break. Back from commercial and Del Rio is in control with a rear chinlock. Kalisto escapes but runs into a tilt-o-whirl back breaker. Del Rio sends him chest-first into the turnbuckle and grabs another chinlock. Kalisto tries to mount another comeback, but gets nailed with a Back Stabber (they blew the first attempt). Del Rio goes for the mask... and actually unmasks him, which forces Del Rio to have to put it back on him, but make it look like he wasnít trying to. Kalisto avoids a charge and comes off the top with the seated senton. Kalisto with a series of kicks, but Del Rio shrugs them off and nails him with a clothesline. Kalisto out of nowhere with the face-spike hurricanrana for a two count. Del Rio counters Salida del Sol by dropping him across the top rope. Kalisto teases another comeback, but Del Rio blocks a hurricanrana and the Double Stomp finishes at 6:54. *1/2 Poor decision putting this on after three matches that ranged from good to excellent. The crow wasnít into it and they just looked a bit sloppy.
SURVIVOR SERIES RUNDOWN...
The 29th Annual Survivor Series is this weekend, and we are guaranteed to have a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion crowned, the 25th Anniversary of the Undertakerís debut by wrestling in what might be a negative star stinker depending on the opponents chosen, and a Survivor Series Elimination Match where we DONíT know the participants involved! Lets look at the "complete" card...
Iím kind of on the fence with how the show looks on paper. All but one match (and we ALL KNOW WHICH ONE THAT IS) should be in the range of good-to-excellent, but thereís nothing to really be excited about, especially when the biggest angle has a huge question mark over it, and knowing WWEís track record, they will give us the worst possible scenario to close out the show. Maybe theyíll drag Sting out of his hospital bed and he can screw over the Undertaker or something.... That was a joke.
- The WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament concludes, and the predictable set of matches for the Semi-Finals are confirmed: Roman Reigns vs. Alberto Del Rio, and Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose. Itís all but written in stone that Reigns is moving on to the finals, but Owens vs. Ambrose is still up in the air. The likely choice is Ambrose going over, but then what of the finals? Do you turn one of them as the newest protťgť of the Authority, or go the lame route and have Sheamus cash in on the Winner? Hopefully itís the former and not the latter.
- The Undertaker and Kane face an unknown combination of the Wyatt Family. Part of me wishes it will be Erick Rowan and Braun Stroman, just because it guarantees to be a Worst Match of the Year candidate. Two weeks ago on Raw, the Undertaker and Kane annihilated the Wyatt Clan, and this past week on Raw, destroyed their army of Sheep-Mask-Wearing-Druids. The only hope the Wyatt Family has is if Kane turns on his brother, AGAIN, which might mean yet another anti-classic between the Brothers of Destruction.
- WWE Divas Champion Charlotte defends the title against Paige. Last week I noted that the match was weakly hyped, but then we get the tasteless angle from Monday Night Raw and, guess what, people still donít care. It wouldnít make much sense to put the title on Paige again, but in all honesty, Charlotte has been pretty bad since being called up. Her ring work is fine, but her promos, even if you want to blame creative, are beyond awful and wooden, and she has no character other than reminding us sheís Ric Flairís daughter.
- Dolph Ziggler takes on Tyler Breeze on the Kick-Off Show. This will be the first match in the Best of 99 Series, so I expect Breeze to win his first big match on the WWE (main) roster. Thereís really not much else to say about it. Itís an angle replacing one that had already been stretched out too long, and was put on the back-burner to accommodate the Championship Tournament.
- A Traditional 5-on-5 Elimination Match, but with participants TBA. One can assume that itíll be something like the New Day, Sheamus, and Barrett vs. the Usos, Cesaro, and the Dudleys or something equally random. Seriously, how hard is it to just list the participants of a match and be done with it?
Final Thoughts: A truly up-and-down week. Yes, Monday Night Raw featured some good wrestling, and in the grand scheme of things, the wrestling is the most important part of the picture. However, the lack of creative direction for most of the roster makes things a bit of a chore, and since this was the go-home week for Survivor Series, I expected a bit more effort. Instead, the only true effort was creating a tasteless scenario to push the Womenís Championship, and then had the nerve to throw Charlotte under the bus when making an official statement to respond to the criticism coming from most of the wrestling world. This time next week, weíll complain about the Survivor Series and new WWE Champion Roman Reigns. Until then...
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