Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - Babyfaces are torn down, but with a glimmer of hope, Daniel Bryan continues to be built, The Shield are official security (which they dress as), and more!
By Will Pruett
Well folks, it's broken record time for your's truly. I have been writing about this one point for a large part of the year and it has been a pet peeve of mine for much longer. Wrestling is built on a world of good vs. evil. Wrestling tells a very basic story in interestingly distinct ways. The stories themselves are based on characters. These characters are defined, not by logos or catchphrases, but by actions. Good people do good things, regardless of the circumstances.
In his book I Wear The Black Hat Chuck Klosterman defines a villain as a person who knows the most, but cares the least. This definition, most often, works in wrestling. Villains know exactly what they are doing and the means they are using. They do not mind using such means because they just don't care. I believe one can say, based on this definition of a villain, a hero would be the person who knows the least, but cares the most. This certainly holds true for Daniel Bryan, who last week was demonstratively braver than he was smart.
What about WWE's other heroes? I know they need them, especially at a time when John Cena is out of action. Where are these heroes? They are standing on the stage, watching atrocities play out in front of them, and not trying to stop them. Dolph Ziggler, Mark Herny, Big Show, and (sadly) The Miz are all supposed to be against the current heel power structure in WWE. They have had their respective issues The Shield and the McMahon-Helmsley Fact-gime. Why are they not helping?
The excuse being given on television is their fear of firing. They have bills to pay and mouths to feed, so they need these jobs. They were told, by the COO Triple H, not to help or they would be fired. Instead of outlaws fighting against an unfair system by any means necessary, they have become quiet "yes" men who are part of the problem instead of the solution.
No one likes the "yes" men. They may not be the worst people, and people may not hate them, but no one really likes them. There is no reason to passionately cheer for them. They don't produce a reaction other than frustration. Should a fan watching at home be frustrated by the second, third, and fourth babyfaces in a story?
I would be fine with the babyfaces being taken out throughout the night (perhaps one-by-one, so Bryan is forced to come to the ring without help). I would enjoy seeing Bryan ask them not to help him, so he can fight this battle alone. There are so many routes for WWE to take to achieve the same desired effect with Daniel Bryan, Triple H, The Shield, and Randy Orton that would not involve hurting every other babyface.
I'm sincerely hopeful WWE sees this problem and is, for some unknown reason, doing this on purpose to tell a more compelling story later. After all, the first wrestler to step off of the stage and help Bryan will be the hero everyone is waiting for. This is the heat portion of the storyline. It's a hazard, but it isn't the end. Someone needs to step up soon, though, or the crowd will begin rebelling against the babyfaces not helping, even when they eventually do.
If no one is going to help, this is a pretty awful misstep and it shows a fundamental lack of ability to book babyfaces. Good people do good things, even when the consequences could be dire. If Show, Henry, and Ziggler are truly good and worthy of cheering, losing their job shouldn't matter, helping a friend in need should.
And now for some random thoughts...
- Triple H entering to "King of Kings" is a nice touch for his heel character. I only wish he would use it consistently. His second entrance on this show was to "The Game" and this theme is deeply associated with babyface Hunter.
- How long has it been since a Triple H promo opened Raw? This was mildly refreshing, even if it was a retread of last week. With a major turn, like these Triple H and Randy Orton ones, it's going to take some time and a lot of reinforcement to cement the turn.
- This story seems like a much more compelling version of what WWE tried to do in the Summer of 2011 following C.M. Punk's major rise. Triple H is being positioned as all-powerful. The roster is being marginalized. The striking portion of this is the way everything is positioned correctly. Triple H is evil. There is a compelling babyface. Things actually seem to be coming together.
- How many times are wrestlers going to present other wrestlers with cars and not expect disaster to strike?
- Daniel Bryan continues to impress on the mic and in a major story. He was cheer leading a little too much for me on this show, but he is saying and doing many of the right things. As a lead babyface, he grows more and more exciting by the week.
- Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes are forever meant to commentate during each other's matches.
- Brad Maddox suddenly making a tag team match had Emperor Teddy Long nodding backstage and encouraging Maddox to let the hate flow through him.
- The Miz has Rosa Mendez with him now? Why not explain this or give us a backstage segment where he asks her for help? She seemed confused when music played at the end and just decided to dance like she did for Primo and Epico. This is the default means of expression for Rosa.
- Christian's backstage promo with Randy Orton was short, but compelling. These guys did not need much to set up a match, given their past feud.
- Curtis Axel's acting hurts my soul. I have tried to give him quite a few chances to prove his worth, but it's getting difficult. Axel is a fine henchman, but this feud with Punk highlights his deficiencies more than it helps him.
- The match between Punk and Axel was really good. Axel has one place he does not lack, and it is in the ring. This match took fans on a ride and made them believe we would see Punk and Heyman clash.
- I figured we would see another Paul Heyman guy debut, but instead we saw a dark twist to this story. Heyman and Punk have crafted something very adult and very special. This segment was no different. It was dark, twisted, and, at moments, lacked hope. It was meant to make Punk super sympathetic. It was meant to make Heyman look like the ultimate in evil.
- Natalya vs. Brie Bella (the best diva in WWE) was a nice palate cleanser after the very intense Heyman and Punk segment.
- Of course, then we saw A.J. Lee's major promo, which I believe was meant to position her as a heel, but ultimately came off as a major babyface moment. People are calling this A.J.'s version of the Pipebomb, and it certainly shares a few elements. Both promos were meant to be heel promos, but were cheered. Both promos spoke a little bit of truth, but morphed it in a way. Both promos were well delivered by wrestlers who excel in that area.
- I am interested to see how Lee is presented after this promo. She has a chance to be a breakout Diva's star on the heels of it.
- Many people are upset about WWE burying Total Divas through A.J. Lee on Raw. What they fail to realize is the Raw audience is not the audience watching E! on Sunday nights and the E! audience does not view Raw as appointment viewing. These are different shows, different worlds, and meant for very different people.
- Rob Van Dam vs. Alberto Del Rio was an easy match to tune out of. I just didn't care. The pairing of RVD and Ricardo Rodriguez is just weird. This feud could slow down Del Rio's current great heel run.
- Bully Ryback continues to bore me.
- Christian and Randy Orton have crazy chemistry in the ring. I could watch them wrestle each other all day and not really get tired of it.
- Daniel Bryan really "yessed" up that car.
- Michael Cole's "Yes"callade pun made me smile. Nice work, Cole.
- Titus O'Neal vs. Jack Swagger was not super exciting and it really dragged the show down. There is a consistent lull at the end of the third hour of Raw.
- Is Bray Wyatt bringing in a woman named "Sister Abigail" or will this all be revealed as his finisher's name, as it is in NXT?
- Daniel Bryan vs. Seth Rollins in the main event on Monday Night Raw makes Will very happy. This was a great match.
- I was fine with the subsequent disqualifications and rush to end Raw. While Bryan is good enough to go for 45 minutes at the end of the show with three or four different guys, less is more. Bryan looked sympathetic once again as Raw ended and the evil empire crushed him.
This was a fine episode of Raw highlighted by a very good Rollins vs. Bryan match. The most important part of this show was the continued work put towards Daniel Bryan's lead babyface push. WWE is building a basic story with Bryan against ultimate evil. This is fun. I'm interested in the next chapter, but actually happy about WWE not rushing into it.
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 at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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