RAW Deal: That’s not a Grumpy Cat, that’s Seth Rollins in a cat suit
KNOXVILLE, TN—The one thing that the savvy fans of the WWE Universe want to see the most in their lifetime, besides Daniel Bryan following through with his destined run at the top, is John Cena finally joining the Dark Side and turning heel.
A lot of people have tried to be the Darth Vader and/or Emperor Palpatine to our musclebound Luke Skywalker. The first one who officially tried during Cena’s long-running face stint was [the demon] Kane, who tried to use hellfire and brimstone to sway him. Didn’t work.
Next came the Rock, who was so well-beloved by the (older) members of the Universe that Cena was technically a heel by association. Didn’t really work, either.
Then came Bray Wyatt, who attempted an approach similar to Kane’s. It was better, and it almost, almost worked, but like Skywalker, the good side of the Force prevailed. Cena was able to beat Wyatt without resorting to his inner monster.
And then came along Paul Heyman, who tried to sell Cena the idea that the only way to beat Brock Lesnar—who took the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from him—was not to fight fair, but to go all-out. That means fighting dirty. It was the main crux of the Cena/Lesnar feud after SummerSlam, and due to Lesnar’s absence, remains inconclusive. While it’s inconclusive, the attempt to get Cena to turn also remains unsuccessful.
The latest attempt comes at the hands of Triple H and the Authority™, who are trying to get Cena on their side so that he could further cement his legacy—you know, like it really needs any more help. Cena’s resisting, claiming that he prefers to stay true to his fanbase in the process. Can’t argue with that; who’d want to be branded as a sell-out (other than Seth Rollins)?
Here’s the thing, though: Triple H doesn’t even have to work that hard to turn Cena heel. John’s already starting to become more and more reprehensible by the week. #ScumbagCena is real, and it’s not just black propaganda by the Authority; beyond the callback to last year’s Cena/Ryback feud where Cena is a total douchebag to Ryback, what about tonight? Where was Cena when his teammates were being decimated? If the heel team was perfectly set up as a dominant, united force, then what kind of team is Team Cena, and what kind of team captain is Cena?
I’ve said before that Cena is the best face in the business when he’s actually being written as a face. The implication of that fact, however, is that all his flaws are amplified exponentially. He’s a face’s face, but the moment he even displays any sort of hypocritical behavior, he’s a heel’s heel. That much was in full force tonight, not only with how he hung his teammates out to dry, but also with the way he approached Team Authority, jokes a-blazin’.
I’m usually okay with Funny Cena because it’s a breath of fresh air in a smog of super-serious promo delivery, but I could not get behind him this week. He was annoying because he was reprehensible, and if Cena’s going to go out and display what is pretty much douchey behavior, then you might as well turn the guy heel. Because that is what a heel is. That is what a heel does.
I know we’re keeping him face for the kids, but if I were the WWE, I’d rather not send out the terrible message to kids that it’s okay to not be there for your friends and make fun of other people as long as you never give up and you’re good enough to win singlehandedly against the odds.
Now Team Cena’s jobs are on the line, and we all know how that’s gonna go down. See you Sunday, I guess.
- It has to be said again: acknowledging the Ryback/Cena feud from 2013 is a great nod to continuity, avoiding insulting our intelligence in the process. If Ryback joins Team Cena, it won’t be easily, and it won’t be as a trusting ally, and that simple act instantly adds some needed depth to his character. It was more than a bit messy last week, but the opening segment is shaping Ryback nicely as an interesting tweener, especially in the absence of Randy Orton.
- And having said that, Cena gave the perfect reason for Ryback to join his team. “Eating at the big table” is a totally justifiable reason for a self-centered guy like Ryback to be a… *ahem* team playa.
- That booking of how Dolph Ziggler lost the Intercontinental Championship to Luke Harper was beautiful. It’s the age-old Daniel Bryan push formula—it never fails when used on an exciting wrestler.
- Speaking of ol’ Goatface… DANIEL BRYAN SIGHTING!
- A good number of people regularly complain about Bray Wyatt’s promos being plain unintelligible, but I feel like Dean Ambrose and his nature provide the best counterbalance to Wyatt’s bizarreness. Ambrose is always straight to the point, allowing Wyatt to meander as much as he wants, because they both know Ambrose will always be there to anchor the story and bring it back to a point everyone can all agree on. Case in point: when Wyatt gets too deep in all his salvation talk, Ambrose initiates a straight-up brawl. No big name Wyatt has faced this year has been that blunt, save perhaps Daniel Bryan.
- That Ryback/Cesaro match was nothing short of beauty. Cesaro’s wrestling like it’s a contract year, and everyone looks good in return.
- Lana is wonderful. Since Rappler is a noble and upstanding news site, I don’t want to make any hints toward her… extracurricular activities, but for those who know what I’m talking about, what she said tonight was pretty clever.
- The Bellas (or Nikki, in particular) were conserving themselves for Survivor Series this Sunday, but I loved the Nikki/Brie feud rearing its ugly head to factor into the Nikki/AJ Lee Divas Championship feud. You think it’s not saying much, but the WWE pulling off interlinking storytelling is saying much for them.
- SO HAPPY ABOUT THE BIG E NEW DAY VIDEO!
- I’m happy with the way they handled Grumpy Cat. The idea of a Guest Host is already polarizing; to make a cat only half the Internet loves the supposed anchor of a show is even more divisive. Thankfully, they kept Tardar Sauce to a few backstage segments with the inimitable Damien Mizdow, the Miz, and Erick Rowan. Speaking of…
- It goes without saying that Erick Rowan was an… unusual addition to Team Cena, especially with guys like Roman Reigns or Randy Orton (theoretically) waiting in the wings, but there’s a lot of room to explore that storyline. There’s gotta be something cool they can do with him and Luke Harper, and for that possibility alone I am willing to let Rowan’s sign-up slide.
- Lastly: THAT CESARO TROLLAGE.
- No, really, lastly: WEST SIDE STORY BRAWL!
- Before we begin: there are a lot of high spots, but the main RAW review should be treated as one big low blow.
- Luke Harper starts the show on Team Authority, but last week’s delivery of Dolph Ziggler to the Authority never got a mention on SmackDown last Friday. On that show, Dolph was free to walk about, delivering a great match against two heels who technically have nothing to do with the Authority or the team they’ve fielded on Survivor Series. Harper was nowhere to be seen that episode. It was a terrible lapse at best, and a tacit admission that SmackDown just isn’t that important on the WWE’s part at worst.
- Whenever JBL learns a new concept, he will beat it into the ground. This week’s victim: ZERO-SUM GAME.
- Still not sure what to feel about AJ going Stone Cold on everyone.
- Oh, no. The multi-man tag team matches are back. While, again, they’re wrestled well (the story between Miz and Mizdow is honestly compelling), it’s another lazy way to shoehorn everyone involved in the tag title chase into one big segment before the PPV because they failed to sufficiently build it up over three weeks. There had to have been a more creative way to book a four-team feud—a “mixed” tag team match, perhaps? It was also missing a sense of urgency; Miz and Mizdow should’ve attacked Gold & Stardust after the match.
Things you probably missed last week: I bet you missed this beautiful Intercontinental Championship match from SmackDown last Friday. Do yourself a favor and go click play on this video. If you’re a wrestling fan worth your salt at all, you must see it.
Also, did you miss last week’s RAW? Do you listen to podcasts? Would you want to listen to a local podcast about pro wrestling? If the answers to most of those questions—especially that last one—are yes, then you should check out the cleverly-named Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast—featuring Mellow 94.7 DJ Stan Sy and wrestling writer Romeo Moran! On their latest episode, the boys celebrate the death anniversary of the late Eddie Guerrero by wondering what could have happened to the WWE had he not passed away when he did. Give it a listen here! - Rappler.com