With so much content every week, and the recycling of the same matches to the point it becomes almost a headache to think how stale the product has become because of it, I found the task of recapping full length episodes of WWE programming to be too much of a chore and something that sours me on keeping up with the product. However, keeping tabs on the week-to-week progress of the storylines and sitting through things at a more relaxed pace makes it a much more bearable circumstance. I bring you the debut of what I hope will be a regular part of my schedule, the Weekly WWE Report. Length and features subject to change.
The main storyline coming out of Monday Night Raw is the build-up to a World Heavyweight Championship Match between Champion Seth Rollins and the newly crowned #1 Contender, Roman Reigns. In case anyone missed it, Reigns won a Fatal-Four Way last week to earn his title shot at the 29th Annual Survivor Series. They teased a physical confrontation, only to be interrupted by The Authority and the sledgehammer of plot. They taunt the crowd with a potential Championship Match tonight ('I know we’re at as high altitude, but how high are you?"), but instead, in honor of the 29th annual Survivor Series, we’ll get a traditional 5-on-5 Elimination Match, with two teams captained by Reigns and Rollins.
Throughout the night, the recruiting process unfolded, with Rollins picking up Kevin Owens (for a favor) and the Tag Team Champions, the New Day and their Unicorn Power (including Xavier Woods, back from honeymoon hiatus). As for Roman Reigns, he didn’t go through the trouble of asking anyone, and comes to the ring without the knowledge of if he has any partners. He’s joined by the returning Uso Brothers (thank goodness, the Dudleys suck as the #1 face team), Ryback, and of course, the LUNATIC FRINGE, Dean Ambrose. It went back and forth until it came down to Reigns and Ambrose against Rollins and Owens. Heel miscommunication took place and Rollins ended up alone, so he took the natural cowards way out and got himself Disqualified, but ended up running with his tail between the legs. Neither appeared on Smackdown, but we’ll get to that later.
The one thing I didn’t miss about the Undertaker being on TV more often than two weeks a year was the ridiculous angles that the creative department would come up with him, sort of a handicap you could say, to make his undead, unbeatable character a bit sympathetic. Last week, Bray Wyatt and his Family (Rowan, Harper, and Strong Man) assaulted and carried away the Undertaker at Hell in a Cell, then did the same to his brother, Kane, on Monday Night Raw. The point of this was for Bray Wyatt to collect their souls and to obtain their powers. So Bray Wyatt is the WWE’s answer to Shang Tsung? To prove his abilities, Wyatt gives us a magic show that would come straight out of the Mid 90’s hell that was WWF and it’s mind-boggling dumb booking. If the rumors of a Survivor Series Match are true... can you imagine how bad things will be when you’ve got Rowan and Stroman to carry? We got a preview of such a thing on Smackdown, when the Wyatt clan took on the combination of the Lucha Dragons and Primetime Players. The match was OK, but even though it was a clean sweep, the Dragons and PTP received way too many spots on offense against four men who have to be credible threats to the Undertaker (and a lesser extent, Kane). #FollowTheBuzzards.
Last week on SmackDown!, Tyler Breeze made his main roster debut as the new love-interest of Summer Rae, thanks to Rusev and Lana breaking kayfabe and ruining the plans of the idiotic soap-opera angle that we had to suffer through for three months. He made his presence felt again this week on Monday Night Raw, making himself at home at ringside while Dolph Ziggler battled with the Intercontinental Champion, Kevin Owens. Thanks to a selfie distraction, Breeze cost Ziggler his match, then to add insult to injury, laid him out with the Beauty Shot and stood triumphant over his body, along with Summer Rae, for a celebratory selfie.
The Divas Revolution continues (eh...) and for once, Nikki Bella isn’t going to be the focal part of things. According to reports, she had been nursing a couple of minor injuries for quite some time, so it makes sense for her to take time off at the same time that Cena is taking a sabbatical from the ring. Anyway, we were treated to a Fatal-Four Way to determine the new #1 Contender for Survivor Series, featuring the newly turned (but hardly boo’ed) Paige, Becky Lynch, Future WON Hall of Famer Sasha Banks, and... Brie Bella. COME ON, stop putting her in these matches, she sucks. To the surprise of nobody with a quarter of a brain, Paige, the natural rival of her 'former ally" Charlotte, pulled out the victory.
Newly crowned United States Champion Alberto Del Rio, and his new business partner Zeb Colter, continue to pursue the dream of uniting America and Mexico ('MexAmerica!"). They also continue to make us question who thought this was a great idea. Anyway, they appear to be setting up a short-term program between Del Rio and former Colter protégé Jack Swagger, who has spent the better part of the last year being a Jobber on Superstars and Main Event. How the hell is this going to keep the momentum going that the US Title has built under the reign of John Cena when Del Rio is getting Jack Swagger to feud with and facing R-Truth on Monday Night Raw?
In other action (either not part of an on-going storyline or completely ignored by Hulu)... RAW: The horribly misused combination of Sheamus and King Barrett (The European Connection) put over the Lucha Dragons (good, long match in the 3-star range), possibly the 3rd from the top team now that the Uso Twins are back and the Dudley Boyz creaking bones have stolen a spot away from them... Cesaro spins his wheels in the mud with a victory over The Miz... SMACKDOWN: Alberto Del Rio won a Non-Title Match against Neville... Jimmy and Jey Uso had their first traditional tag team match since March in a winning effort over The Cosmic Wasteland’s Ascension... Ryback pinned King Barrett because everyone else does it... Natalya keeps showing up at random and appears to have issues with Team B.A.D. and picked up a quick victory over Tamina...
Courtesy of WWE Main Event, taped from Colorado Springs, CO – Adam Rose (1-0), with no music and anti-entertainment gimmick, defeated Fandango (0-1) in a battle of who can sink even lower at 7:02 with the Party Foul after a distraction from the BUNNY in a creepy black body suit. Nice to see the return of Sweet SHIN Music... Zack Ryder (1-0) defeated Heath Slater (0-1) in a match that has to answer the question 'are there two people other than Fandango and Adam Rose who are at the bottom of the barrel" at 5:48 with the Rough Ryder. RYDER WINS! RYDER WINS!... Jack Swagger (1-0) taps out Stardust (0-1) with the Patriot Lock at 9:42, because he has to be kept strong to put over Alberto Del Rio, while Stardust’s under-the-bridge program with Cesaro is most likely just fodder for the next Kickoff Show.
Courtesy of WWE Superstars, taped from Denver, CO - Neville (1-0) defeated 'The One Man Band" Heath Slater (0-1) at 3:52 with the Red Arrow. I think I’ll wager Slater doesn’t win a match for the next 6-months. Unless he’s in a Tournament before that time, then I’ll give him the odds to go all the way... Bo Dallas (1-0) defeated Zack Ryder (1-1), a.k.a Mr. 'I’m better off working with Mojo Rawley in NXT" in what might be considered upset at 7:26 with the rope-hang whiplash neckbreaker. On a show with a 44-minute run time, this was pretty light on fresh in-ring content.
Reigns in with a flurry of offense on Owens. He connects with a swinging neck breaker and over-head slam. Clothesline into the corner, followed by a running boot. Rollins comes in, gets knocked out, and Ambrose follows with a suicide dive. Big E lays out Ambrose, and Ryback lays out Ryback. Inside the ring, Reigns with a Samoan drop to Owens, but the Superman Punch is interrupted and Owens lays him out with a Super-Kick. We return from another break with Reigns in trouble. Rollins with a DDT for two. Rollins grabs a sleeper, allowing us to get a replay of Xavier Woods elimination. Reigns escapes, only to get taken down with the sling blade. Owens with a short-arm clothesline and running senton for two. Double suplex by Rollins and Owens. Reigns launches Rollins over the top rope with a back drop and hot tags to Ryback. He runs over Big E. with clotheslines and a shoulder tackle. Ryback with the Meat Hook, but Owens breaks the cover. Ambrose sends him to the floor and follows with a suicide dive. Owens blocks it and throws Ambrose into the apron, but he twirls around and hits the clothesline! Big E with a belly-to-belly suplex on Ryback for two! Ryback counters the Big Ending with the Shell Shock and Big E is gone at 14:13. Rollins from behind with an axehandle, and the Pedigree sends Ryback to the showers at 14:29.
Reigns and Ambrose are beat up while Owens and Rollins look practically fresh. Owens feeds Ambrose to Rollins, but the Pedigree is countered with a back drop. Reigns makes his way back to the apron and gets knocked right back off. Ambrose with a forearm into the corner, followed by a running bulldog. He goes to the top rope, fights off an Owens distraction, and hits the elbow drop for two. Rollins with the enziguri and a Super-Kick (for fuck sake, how many people use that move!?). Owens with a stomach buster. Owens pounds away while Smilin’ Roman tries to rally the crowd behind Ambrose. Rollins to the top rope with the diving knee to the side of the face for two. Owens holds Ambrose in place again, but Rollins wastes time talking trash. Owens slows Ambrose down with a super-kick, but the diving knee accidentally hits Owens, and Dirty Deeds finishes Owens at 20:16! Reigns tags in for a preview of Survivor Series, but Rollins teases running away. Ambrose cuts him off and throws him back in the ring for a clothesline. Reigns stops another escape, sending Rollins into the steps and announcers table. Reigns with the Drive-By! Back inside, Reigns with the 10 corner clotheslines. He hoists Rollins up on his shoulders, but Rollins escapes. He grabs a chair and bops Ambrose with it for the DQ at 22:47. He uses it on both Ambrose and Reigns, but ends up getting knocked silly with the Superman Punch. ***1/2 Really fun, entertaining tag team match. The protective finish makes you want to see Reigns get him some of Rollins at Survivor Series.
Kalisto springs in with a seated splash and unloads with kicks. Twisting corkscrew elbow connects, but Harper catches him off the ropes a second time and takes him down with a hard slam. Rowan with a pump-handle into a back breaker. THE DOUBLE NOOGY IS APPLIED! Kalisto suprises Rowan with a DDT, but a head scissors is blocked. He uses Rowan’s momentum to throw him over the top rope, but Stroman pulls Titus off the apron to prevent the tag. Kalisto dumps Rowan and hits Harper with the roll-through kick. Head scissors face-buster on Harper and a hand-spring roundhouse kick to Wyatt! Rowan in with a shoulder tackle, and the Full Nelson Slam finishes Kalisto at 12:30. Rowan pounds on Titus with headbutts. O’Neil gets some offense in on Rowan and gets a near fall on Harper following a charge to the corner and a power-slam. Clash of the Titus on Harper, so Rowan and Wyatt run in and pound him into goop. Stroman in to talk trash. Titus throws a few blows until running into a clothesline. Stroman with the Choke on Titus. Wyatt tags in, and Sister Abigail finishes at 16:26. Why let the Lucha Dragons look strong the last few weeks only to feed them like chumps to Rowan and Harper? *1/2 Match had some decent spots, but it was basically a dull squash unless Harper was in the ring, with Wyatt doing the minimal amount of work and Stroman only doing 2-3 moves.
Final Thoughts: Even though there was bad news with the injury to Seth Rollins, and the ever-dropping ratings for Monday Night Raw, it would be hard to complain about the quality of the product, at least for this week. We have a few programs in place, most of them making sense, one of them being incredibly ridiculous (cough:Wyatt consuming the souls of Brothers of Destruction:cough). The quality of the wrestling was hit and miss, but was mostly on the good end of the spectrum. With a skeleton crew, Smackdown was an alright show, but you can tell that nothing much of note will advance storylines until the show moves to the USA Network on January 7th. We’re a few weeks away from Survivor Series, so it should be fun to see how things play out.