Breaking Down the Best and Worst of the WWE for Week of June 16
For Roman Reigns, a mountain followed a valley on WWE programming this week, as he was a part of both the best and worst that the company offered fans.
On a single night, he achieved a career highlight and a low point. He was both gladiator and prankster.
Tyson Kidd, Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro and Paige didn't experience such a conflicting week. Ziggler and Paige had reasons to argue with WWE Creative while Kidd and Cesaro had better chances to elevate themselves.
Raw, SmackDown, Main Event and NXT featured stories, in-ring action and decisions that deserved a thumbs-up from fans or, in some cases, a reason to roll their eyes. The following is a look at all of that, from Reigns' victory to his foray into the ridiculous.
Best: Sheamus vs. Cesaro Again
WWE has found another go-to combination of hard-hitting bruisers.
Sheamus and Cesaro have produced some excellent work together as of late. That continued on last Friday's SmackDown. Cesaro promised to bring the fight to the Irishman, taping his fists to prove it.
"The King of Swing" was especially aggressive, hitting Sheamus with thunderous strikes.
Two men set to meet in the WWE title Ladder match at Money in the Bank tore at each other in a violent display of growing animosity. The most memorable moment of the bout, though, was Cesaro using an inside cradle to get the win.
Paul Heyman and his client had previously berated Sheamus for using the same move to win at Payback. They called it cheap and cowardly; after SmackDown, they will likely call it cunning.
It's going to be fun seeing these two lock horns on June 29 and any time WWE wants to revisit this pairing.
Worst: The Divas Champ Watches Others Find Rivals
The way WWE has handled Paige's title run has inspired some headshaking.
Paige hasn't been focused on enough since becoming champion and now finds herself a bit player in a story of The Funkdactyls falling apart. On Monday's Raw, Paige beat Cameron, leading to the dancing duo fighting each other. The next night, Naomi pinned the Divas champ.
Paige and Cameron brawled afterward, Naomi just watching her partner take a beating.
Previously, the focus had been on Alicia Fox's meltdown, not Paige. Here, the cameras are set to zero in on Naomi and Cameron instead of the woman who is supposed to be on top of the division.
It's not clear who Paige really is, either. Her personality hasn't been showcased enough, partly because she hasn't been in a real feud yet.
Signs are pointing to Naomi and Cameron beginning a rivalry. Summer Rae and Layla have already started one, the two foes chasing each other around the ring on Monday's Raw.
Meanwhile, Paige sits on her throne, waiting for someone to try and push her off it. WWE has options for someone to fill that role, including Natalya, Emma and a returning AJ Lee. The company, though, appears to be more interested in showcasing the women from Total Divas, something fans have seen a lot of since the show's debut.
Best: Roman Reigns Running Wild
Roman Reigns began a stretch of searing momentum on the June 13 SmackDown when 3MB looked to gang up on him in the middle of a match against Bad News Barrett.
He dealt with them in thrilling fashion, tossing Jinder Mahal over an announce table and spearing Heath Slater in midair. More victims followed on Monday's Raw.
In the Battle Royal to determine who would join the WWE title Ladder match at the pay-per-view, Reigns speared both Ryback and Curtis Axel, flung Titus O'Neil out of the ring and eventually ousted Rusev for the win. He came off as a dominant force during the action, something he's done several times in the past. The powerhouse was one of the night's most exciting performers.
Putting him in the Money in the Bank main event is a wise move, as it adds a new face to the company's group of headliners.
He enters a well-balanced group of established vets and emerging stars. Giving Reigns this opportunity (as well as Cesaro and Bray Wyatt) is a signal that WWE is embracing its future.
Worst: Vomit as a Narrative Device
Before Roman Reigns won the Battle Royal on Monday's Raw, he had to force his way into the match, as Triple H didn't want him to compete in it. Out of all the choices WWE had to have him accomplish this, getting his boss to vomit had to be one of the worst.
Reigns slipped something into the coffee Vickie Guerrero was bringing to Stephanie McMahon.
Vomit soon soaked Guerrero. This venture into the world of bathroom humor is better suited for Santino Marella than Reigns. Watching a warrior like Reigns resort to something like this was off-putting. It wasn't funny, either.
Steve Austin spraying beer on the McMahons, this was not.
Best: Tyson Kidd's Slow Descent into Darkness
Tyson Kidd is becoming a heel. That's been clear for weeks, but WWE is wisely going the slow-burn route with the switch, making for compelling TV.
Thanks to Natalya vouching for him, Kidd got a crack at the NXT tag champs with Sami Zayn as his partner. He had twice failed to take Adrian Neville's title from him and had begun to brood, grow increasingly irritable and snap at his wife.
On Thursday's NXT, he watched Zayn struggle against The Ascension.
He gave up on his new ally, claiming that Zayn wanted to get all the glory and fight this battle alone. He left him in the ring. The Ascension then left the popular prospect out on his back.
This was just the latest step in Kidd's character development. His transformation is one of NXT and WWE's better stories as of late. Patience in telling it has certainly helped.
Worst: Word on Dolph Ziggler Not Getting Pushed
Not every talented Superstar can be in the main event. The reported reason that Dolph Ziggler isn't is maddening.
According to PWInsider, via Marc Middleton of Wrestling Inc, "It was said that WWE can't push Ziggler and trust him a top guy because he's injury prone and had a history of taking time off."
The report notes that Ziggler's two concussions are a big part of this perception. Calling Ziggler "injury prone" is misguided. His concussions are thanks to others' mistakes, and while that means he's more likely to suffer a third, he hasn't missed more time than his peers.
Every wrestler has suffered numerous injuries, including the men WWE feels comfortable pushing.
John Cena has had fusion surgery on his neck. There has been no issue with making Cena a prominent star even though working on a repaired neck is a ticking time bomb in itself.
If WWE officials don't believe in Ziggler, that's one thing. To slap on this erroneous "injury prone" label is a mistake.
Best: Ladder Match Added to Money in the Bank
Money in the Bank is getting its namesake match.
Seth Rollins announced on Tuesday's Main Event that the pay-per-view will feature a traditional Money in the Bank Ladder match to go with the one for the WWE title. That's going to give Rollins and a number of other Superstars a major opportunity.
Plus, the contract-in-a-briefcase concept has always added an element of excitement in the months following this bout. Fans weren't sure if they were going to get that this year, and it's now officially on its way.
That's excellent news for fans of Big E, Rusev, Bad News Barrett or whoever joins Rollins in this fray.