RAW Deal: How to fix TJ Perkins and the Cruiserweight division
Let’s talk about TJ Perkins real quick.
Right after the Cruiserweight Classic wrapped up and gave us Filipinos our own Eddie Guerrero-Chris Benoit WrestleMania XX moment in Perkins’s big championship victory, we had some high hopes that this would be the start of a new era. The brand split was only a few months into being, and while there was always room for improvement over on Monday Night RAW, the eventual home of the Cruiserweight division, there was optimism. Sure, it baffled us—or myself, in particular—that RAW would get the fast-paced action that older fans have long equated with SmackDown, but okay. We figured it was okay since they were getting a bigger stage.
Fast forward to a couple of months after all that, and it’s pretty clear that we’re gonna have to accept that this Perkins experiment isn’t going the way we want it to. I don’t want to say it’s going nowhere because it’s going somewhere, but I don’t think it’s somewhere we want it to go. He and the rest of the Cruiserweight division are being dragged down by the inept creative machine.
Perkins has been reduced to a cheesy 2016 version of a cut-and-dry early ‘90s Cartoon Era gimmick, constantly dropping forced video game references in an attempt to have some sort of character. Brian Kendrick’s Cruiserweight Classic backstory has been oversimplified and taken to its absurd extreme as a good-for-nothing loser who has a family to feed; basically, the bizarro Heath Slater. Everyone else in the division is an interchangeable athletic specimen who is just there to provide action.
The whole division has been moved from the playoffs to the regular season, and the difference is huge.
Is this enough reason for us to start being ashamed of Perkins, though? For one thing, although I think Perkins needs a soft reset on his reign and RAW character, I think you’re a weak-willed individual if this makes you turn on him. RAW’s creative really isn’t doing him any favors by giving him a weak foundation to stand on. His mic skills leave a lot to be desired, but good writing can easily hide weaknesses and emphasize what strengths there might be. He’s a good wrestler, so let him be the cocky yet babyfaced wrestler he was in the Cruiserweight Classic.
There’s really no need to overcomplicate things, but this is RAW—the simplest threads are bungled by Vince McMahon. If SmackDown can flourish, then we can easily point to a lack of political will to simply make things better over on the red brand.
Hell in a Cell predictions
And because RAW is such a weak product, I have to admit that there’s very little hype on my end for to want to watch Hell in a Cell. Even though there are three Hell in a Cell matches—or maybe because there are three of them—none of them hypes me up merely because of the shoddy writing on Monday nights. Let’s attempt to break things down, all the same.
Tony Nese, Drew Gulak, and Ariya Daivari vs. Cedric Alexander, Lince Dorado, and Sin Cara
Did you know that this exact match already happened on this week’s episode of WWE Superstars, on the WWE Network? No? Then it means that they weren’t banking on people to catch it, proving the lack of intent the writers of RAW have on the rest of the Cruiserweight division. Because the babyfaces won the match on Superstars, I expect the heels to get their win back. Or not, because at the end of the day, this is just meant to be a meaningless athletic showcase.
Winner: Tony Nese, Drew Gulak, and Ariya Daivari
Bayley vs. Dana Brooke
If you’re not convinced that RAW is the absolute shits, they’ve managed to take a ridiculously hot NXT act in Bayley and watered her down on Monday nights to the point where people now chant “boring” at her. If we could only have everyone on SmackDown.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows
If this is meant to be a reclamation project for the Club after damaging them in their meaningless feud against the New Day, then I’m all for it. Enzo and Cass are a great team, but they work best as the perennial underdogs who manage to score occasional wins on their way to being a top contender. They’re gonna need to give way to the Club on Sunday, because the rest of the tag team division really need to be built up here. Especially if the result of the RAW Tag Team Championship match is what I’m expecting it to be.
Winner: Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows
Cesaro and Sheamus vs. The New Day (c) for the RAW Tag Team Championships
If there’s any glimmer of hope at all for the writing on RAW, it would have to be in the Cesaro/Sheamus story. It’s the only thing that looks like there was effort put into it, if only because pairing rivals together is slightly less lazy than putting them in another match against each other. Beyond that, Cesaro and Sheamus do have chemistry together, and I do think they are building up to a status quo shakedown in the tag division. Let’s do this.
Winner: Cesaro and Sheamus (new RAW Tag Team Champions)
Brian Kendrick vs. TJ Perkins (c) for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
See rant above.
Winner: Brian Kendrick (new WWE Cruiserweight Champion)
Rusev vs. Roman Reigns (c) in a Hell in a Cell match for the WWE United States Championship
To put it simply, neither of these men have the heat in their feud to deserve a Hell in a Cell match. Rusev has been treated poorly in this story—if I were him, I’d highly consider leaving the company after my contract is up unless they come up with something better. Time and again he gets slotted in these outdated “evil foreigner” roles despite having all the traits of a traditional babyface—and this doesn’t help Roman Reigns’s image, either. Let’s euthanize this story already.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Charlotte (Flair) vs. Sasha Banks (c) in a Hell in a Cell match for the RAW Women’s Championship
They’re not going to make this close the show. The company just isn’t ready for that kind of progression, no matter how progressive putting two women inside the brutal cell is. They’ve painted themselves into a corner with the premature Mick Foley announcement, but prepare yourselves for a giant letdown. The question is, can you still consider this a feel-good moment even though they won’t close the show?
Winner: Sasha Banks
Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens (c) in a Hell in a Cell match for the WWE Universal Championship
After two months of not having Triple H continue the story he started by giving the title to Kevin Owens, this will be the night he finally comes back and screws his former protégé over. Count on it; there’s no other way this story can go. This should leave the champion Owens free for at least a transitional championship defense storyline against either current-and-soon-to-be-former best friend Chris Jericho, or a completely fresh new contender.
Winner: Kevin Owens
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