WWE over the Limit: Face/Heel Alignment Detracts from Fatal 4-Way
At the end of SmackDown last week, the scheduled match between Sheamus and Chris Jericho was interrupted when Alberto Del Rio ran down to ringside and threw a dazed Jericho into the ring steps. Del Rio then jumped into the ring and applied the cross armbreaker to Sheamus' injured left arm.
Up until that moment, everything made sense. One challenger in next Sunday's fatal four-way match at Over the Limit came out to get the jump on two of his opponents, and he was succeeding.
Then all of a sudden Randy Orton came rushing down to the ring. To what end? Apparently to help Sheamus.
But why? He's a competitor for Sheamus' World Heavyweight championship. If Sheamus comes into the match at less than 100 percent, which he almost assuredly will, that can only be to Orton's benefit.
It would have been more logical for Orton to just sit in the back and watch it happen, but I understand WWE wanting to get all four guys back in the ring at once.
Then Orton and Sheamus squared off and I thought, "OK, well that didn't really make sense, but they can get back on track with a quick RKO or a Brogue Kick right here." As Orton and Sheamus glared at each other, that's what I was expecting. That's what made sense.
All of a sudden, Jericho sneaked into the ring, hit a quick Code Breaker on Del Rio, and hightailed it. It still made sense, I reasoned. It sets Jericho up as a sort of cowardly but opportunistic weasel.
I was still waiting on that RKO or Brogue Kick though; or even just an exchange of punches between the two men still standing in the ring. Either way would have been fine with me.
Instead, Orton and Sheamus opted for the one-upsmanship routine, forcing Del Rio to eat each one of their finishers. I got the RKO and the Brogue Kick I was looking for, they just happened to the wrong guy.
Del Rio all of a sudden looked like a punching bag after he was initially set up to look like a cowardly, but optimistic weasel.
Hey wait, that sounds familiar. Did I say that already?
Good lord how you vex me, WWE Creative.
I don't understand the logic behind this entire segment. The two heel characters were set up, as usual, to look like cowards who wouldn't last in a fair fight, so they had to be sneaky about their offense even though they both held their own in pretty straightforward matches with their Over the Limit opponents.
And not only did the two face characters not hit each other, but they only ended up in the ring together because one came out to save the other.
Jericho and Del Rio hit each other, didn't they? I mean, it all started with Del Rio tossing Jericho into the steps, and Jericho retaliating with the Code Breaker. So why are the heels allowed to hit each other and the faces aren't? Are they bound by some code of honor?
Does WWE think I'm a moron?
A good fatal four-way should build every competitor as having an equal chance to win. After eating three finishers (I won't even get started on how or why Del Rio stood up so fast after a Code Breaker and an RKO), it looks like Alberto Del Rio is just filling space and has zero chance of walking out as champion.
That's good though. Creative ought to have other plans for him, and they're welcome to do that.
A great fatal four-way also needs to build legitimate bad blood between all of the competitors. It's not enough for Randy to want the title that Sheamus currently carries. I need to believe that, face, heel or otherwise they just don't like each other. It's not like it would be a hard sell, given their history.
The same can be said for Orton and Jericho.
And while their stare-down in the middle of the ring sort of got that heat across, it was not nearly as effective as them actually fighting.
It's not like they're breaking new ground here. Orton RKO'd Sheamus on RAW to kickstart the whole match in the first place. Why not once more for good measure? Or even better, why not have Sheamus ruthlessly boot Orton in the face despite Orton initially appearing to make the save?
Then we have a segment in which all the competitors look equally strong, but the champion is the last man standing.
A fatal four-way is the perfect venue for characters to dispense with the unwritten rules about faces not hitting faces. Alignment doesn't matter in a fatal four-way, because whether you're a good guy or a bad guy, those three other Superstars across the ring are gunning for you. It's kill or be killed.
At Over the Limit Randy Orton won't win the title by staring harder at Sheamus than Sheamus stares back at him. It's going to be a war. Better to launch a few warning shots beforehand than mean mug each other across the battlefield.
Let's dispense with the antiquated notion that all faces are friends. Orton and Sheamus have every reason to dislike each other. WWE would do well to remind us of that on the road to Over the Limit, lest this World Heavyweight title match get lost in the shuffle once again.
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