Last night, WWE held its first ever Battleground PPV in Buffalo, NY to a mixed to negative response. While the undercard was livelier than Night of Champions three weeks ago and the Rhodes Family vs Shield finish was one of the best WWE moments this year, there were just as many filler matches as the previous show and the main event finish was awful.
So, going into Raw tonight, what did we learn?
Not that we had any idea, but...geez. It's one thing to do the Giant Swing on an average size wrestler, or even a big guy like Brodus Clay. It's another to do it on a 7', 400-pound man who has ridiculous proportions due to suffering from acromegaly for most of his life.
Look at Khali in the still WWE chose to use as the video preview. His head is literally as big as an average size woman's torso. That Cesaro could get him up and spinning is crazy.
Of course, now that the Giant Swing is so over, Cesaro is probably turning babyface. In the long run, he's probably better off as a heel, but right now, he needs to go with the flow and move back up the card, so this is great for him.
We got a glimpse of it a few weeks ago in his match with Randy Orton on Raw, but last night, Goldust really showed his stuff in the tag match with his brother Cody Rhodes vs. The Shield. In theory, being a 44-year-old recovering drug addict 25 years into his career, he shouldn't be this good, but he is.
It would be one thing if it was just the type of stuff Jerry Lawler was always so good at when he'd appear on Raw: Selling/facial expressions/ring psychology in general, timing, etc. Goldust doesn't just bring all of the intangibles to the table, he wrestles like he did 20 years ago as regular Dustin Rhodes, only smarter.
Look at how good his physical timing was last night. Two of the most memorable spots in the match were:
- Goldust hitting a powerslam on a fresh Seth Rollins to set up his hot tag to Cody.
- Roman Reigns being cut off by Goldust's flying clothesline on the floor when he menaced Dusty Rhodes.
Both moves required a lot of speed as well as split second timing to come off right, and they looked better than I could ever imagine.
Now that he's back full time, at least in the short term, I can't wait to see what he can do with some of the other great young wrestlers in WWE right now.
I wrote about this a bit last night, so to make a long story short, Cody Rhodes is riding a wave of momentum right now. WWE needs to take advantage of it before he cools off. However, unless you count the World Heavyweight Championship as main event level right now (since he could easily be slotted in against Alberto Del Rio), he's still a few months away from being able to capitalize on it properly.
Cody's best potential rival right now is Randy Orton. Regardless of who the WWE Champion is after Hell in a Cell, Orton looks like he's going to feud with Big Show after he's done with Daniel Bryan. WWE needs to find a way to keep Cody strong in the meantime. Maybe he can win the World Heavyweight Championship from Del Rio and defend it against Orton when he's done with Big Show?
Bray Wyatt has great delivery on his promos and is a natural in-ring worker who moves great for his size. Luke Harper is a really good wrestler who's good at looking creepy. He just hasn't gotten to show it much in WWE. Erick Rowan...well, he's good at looking creepy.
As interesting as they seemed in pre-taped videos, the Wyatt Family has been incredibly disappointing since arriving on the main roster. Harper and Rowan are just generic henchman for a guy who speaks passionately about his overly elaborate backstory that the fans don't understand and/or care about.
Bray Wyatt's promos are only good if you're not paying attention to what he's actually saying. He could be helping the Ultimate Warrior spread the word of Destrucity for all I know. Oh, and now we know he can do a creepy back bend walk if he wants to. Scintillating.
If they don't become more than just a great entrance soon, they'll probably be broken up by the end of the year. Well, maybe not until after the Royal Rumble since warm bodies are always needed for the Rumble match.
CM Punk is kind of stuck until he can be plugged back into main events. With help from Paul Heyman, Ryback is finally repairing the damage done to him when his undefeated streak was systematically murdered last year. Neither should really be beating the other right now, so Punk got to win via a low blow, which, again, doesn't really help anyone. Punk shouldn't have to win that way, and Ryback just looks like a goof.
Worse, they didn't have good chemistry last night. They had a few good matches with Punk as the cowardly heel and Ryback as the superhuman good guy, but they just didn't click when the roles were reversed. Hopefully, they're just killing time until Daniel Bryan wins the WWE Championship and Ryback can be a mountain for him to climb as a challenger, since they've had really good matches together.
As for Punk? He needs a good opponent, but I just don't know who that is right now.
(Skip to 16:30 in the video)
Last night saw the second power outage in WWE pay-per-view history, and luckily for WWE, it only lasted for a few minutes between matches. Still, it must have been a big scare for WWE, as it took place right before the main event.
It could have been a lot worse: Most of the May 1996 PPV, "In Your House: Beware of Dog," was lost to a major storm in the Carolinas that caused a complete blackout at the Florence Civic Center in Florence, South Carolina. After the pre-show match and PPV opener went off without a hitch, the power went out during the entrances for the next match.
For over an hour of the two hour show, fans at home sat through...well, nothing. Using generator power, a message was sent where the announcers asked viewers to stand by, but otherwise, for the PPV buyers, nothing happened until the power came back.
In the arena, the show went well, all things considered. With little more than emergency lights illuminating the ring, the fans in attendance projected their energy onto the action and actually got really into everything, more so than the usual WWE crowds back then.
The Shawn Michaels vs. Davey Boy Smith main event aired on PPV as scheduled. They had gotten word that the literal dark matches would be rematched two days later during the Superstars tapings, inserted into what had been scheduled as the usual replay showing. They were planning on being part of that show, but when the power came back, they were angry and the match fell apart.
Even with WWE doing everything in their power to make things right with the PPV buyers, a ton of refunds were granted by cable companies. Fans just didn't want to watch a PPV on a Tuesday.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Blah blah blah, you get the idea.
WWE is testing fans' patience. In the last three PPV main events:
- Daniel Bryan beat John Cena to win the WWE Championship, only to be attacked by Triple H so Randy Orton could successfully cash in Money in the Bank.
- Daniel Bryan beat Randy Orton to win the WWE Championship and the PPV went off the air with him as champion, but Triple H held up the title the next night because Scott Armstrong fast counted the pin with evil intentions.
- The rematch for the vacant title not only didn't have a winner, but it didn't even have a finish. Big Show knocked out both wrestlers and got rid of the referees (WWE only has two, I guess). That's how the show went off the air. It would be a bad ending on Raw, but on a $45 to $55 PPV event it was ugly.
The response to the last couple PPVs has been ugly. Last night, when the announcers got up to leave the ringside area and the fans in Buffalo realized the show had gone off the air, they booed and mixed up chants of "refund" and "bulls--t."
That's not how you want fans leaving a PPV that they just paid their hard-earned money to attend at fairly high prices. It's a great microcosm of the overall response to the show last night, and if WWE doesn't rectify it at Hell in a Cell with Bryan winning the title for real in an absolute war of a great match, there's no hope for them.