Breaking Down the Best and Worst of the WWE for Week of Oct. 14
The electricity of championship clashes were among WWE's best offerings for the week of Oct. 14.
Fans were reminded how much more meaningful victories and defeats are when gold is on the line or in the case of Paul Heyman's crew, a match's stipulation is up for grabs. WWE's worst showdowns were evidence of the opposite; random guys fighting with no motivation and no feud is a blueprint for audience apathy.
While the company had fans sucked in for Cody Rhodes and Goldust's big win, it was causing eyes to gloss over by putting Los Matadores in against 3MB once again.
Starting with The Shield's fall, let's dive into the best and worst from WWE this week.
Best: Championships on the Line
For a pair of brothers and a showoff, championship glory was within reach.
Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins defended the tag teams titles on Monday's Raw against Cody Rhodes and Goldust followed by Dean Ambrose putting up the United States Championship against Dolph Ziggler on Wednesday's Main Event.
The tag team match was the highlight of the week, an emotional victory that compelled us to cheer. The U.S. title bout wasn't quite as moving, but it was an example of how inserting a championship into a match amps up the excitement.
Too often, WWE's titles aren't emphasized enough. Champs can go weeks or even months without defending the title. That defeats the championships' inherent purpose—to catapult stars upward and to raise the stakes of matches.
Putting the tag team titles on the line on Raw's main event was a welcome surprise.
The Shield have put on great matches, but they haven't been asked to defend the titles enough. Here those gold belts became symbols for Reigns and Rollins' failure and for the Rhodes brothers' rise. With Ambrose succeeding where Reigns and Rollins failed, it not only made for a more intriguing match on Wednesday night, but it created some potential tension and jealousy between The Shield going forward.
Worst: Stagnant Bullfighters
Nobody expected Los Matadores to immediately climb to the top of the division and become the next Team Hell No. Still, Monday saw them repeat the song they've sung repeatedly since their debut.
Fernando and Diego's first match was a win over 3MB on the Sept. 30 episode of Raw. They followed that up with defeating 3MB on that week's SmackDown, again on the Raw on Oct. 7 and most recently, on Monday's Raw. Notice a pattern?
Were these two teams in a feud that involved an interesting story, seeing them battle four times in the span of two weeks would be something different entirely.
Los Matadores' gimmick is ridiculous, but if WWE is going to go with that gimmick, why not go all the way? Having them beat the same tomato-can tag team over and over is not only repetitive, but it does little for their momentum too.
It almost feels as if WWE creative isn't sure what direction to send the bullfighters and so just gives them a throwaway match to delay the decision.
Best: Sami Zayn vs. Bo Dallas (NXT Championship)
Challenging for the match of the week, Sami Zayn's run at Bo Dallas and the NXT Championship was the kind of bout that grabs hold of the audience like a Baron von Raschke claw.
The main event on the Oct. 16 edition of NXT showcased Zayn's popularity and flair for in-ring drama while adding reasons to boo Dallas. Dallas had been avoided Zayn for weeks and now looked to fend off a charging bull who had the crowd chanting and cheering for him.
Zayn's victory looked to be an inevitability as he hit the champ with big move after big move.
After clocking Dallas in the corner, Zayn actually earned a three-count. As NXT General Manager, John "Bradshaw" Layfield quickly pointed out, Dallas' foot was on the ropes and the match restarted.
Dallas kicked out of every weapon Zayn threw at him from a Spinning Doctor Bomb to Dallas' own finisher, the spear. In the end, it wasn't enough as Dallas used an exposed turnbuckle to gain the advantage, but the ride that both men took us on was thrilling.
Worst: Raw's Sagging Middle
Shawn Michaels opened Monday's Raw, Randy Orton tried to attack Brie Bella in the training room near the end of the night and the main event saw championships change hands in exhilarating fashion. The problem with the episode was that a lot of what happened in between dragged.
As reported by PWTorch.com, Raw saw the biggest third-hour viewership drop-off of the year.
The lineup in the middle of the episode shows why fans left for NFL, baseball or heading to bed early.
WWE offered fans 3MB vs. Los Matadores again after Santino Marella vs. Fandango. Tons of Funk was in action soon after and though Brie Bella did well against Tamina Snuka, that matchup isn't exactly one to keep an audience from resisting the temptation to grab the remote.
An excessive number of comedy acts without rivalries or angles to make their matches mean something makes Raw's three hours feel mighty long at times.
Best: Beat the Clock Challenge
The spark that existed between Ryback and R-Truth is proof of the power of adding stakes to a match and how story can make a match we've already seen worth watching.
Ryback attempted to beat R-Truth faster than CM Punk could beat Curtis Axel with the right to name the stipulation for their match at Hell in a Cell. Suddenly, a R-Truth and Ryback bout had meaning.
R-Truth rolled out of the ring to avoid Ryback, a tactic that would have been humdrum in many a match but was transformed into intriguing strategy by the stipulation.
It didn't matter that we'd seen Punk and Axel go at it several times before. This matchup found itself reinvigorated thanks to what Paul Heyman had to lose. WWE can't put on Beat the Clock matches every week, but finding a way to make victories as significant as they were in these two bouts will make even Los Matadores vs. 3MB Round 5 compelling.