Breaking Down the Best and Worst of the WWE for Week of July 28
WWE's best moments and matches of the last week of July came courtesy of Dean Ambrose and Stephanie McMahon, steel chairs and lollipops.
From SmackDown to NXT, there was plenty for fans to savor on WWE programming. Ambrose delivered two excellent bouts, McMahon channeled her father's heel mastery and Adam Rose had a career high.
The latest news of WWE's financial situation tempered the buzz all that created, though. WWE is not in TNA's shoes, worrying that the network that runs their biggest show might not renew its TV deal, but business isn't flourishing at the moment.
John Cena deserves an honorable mention for opening Monday's Raw with a passionate speech and delivering the show's best match opposite Cesaro.
His standout work just falls short of making the list as Rose, Ambrose and McMahon created more lasting images and more career-changing performances.
Best: WWE Signs Prince Devitt
Not long after adding the highly touted Kenta to NXT, WWE plucked a stellar athlete from New Japan Pro Wrestling—Prince Devitt (real name: Fergal Devitt).
WWE announced on its website that it had "signed international Superstar Fergal Devitt to its NXT division." With that move, the outlook for WWE developmental looks even brighter. Devitt is a mesmerizing performer who put together an impressive collection of matches for NJPW.
Usually WWE signs talent far more quietly. With Kenta and now Devitt, though, it has been more public about bringing them aboard and has acknowledged their work in other promotions.
That's likely a sign of officials having high hopes and respect aplenty for both men.
Solomon Crowe, Simon Gotch or Kalisto didn't get this kind of welcome. Hopefully that translates to WWE doing its best to maximize Devitt's chances of success and avoiding diluting his exciting in-ring style.
He's the kind of wrestler who can have a powerful, enduring impact on the company.
Best: Dean Ambrose's Battles on SmackDown and Main Event
Dean Ambrose padded his in-ring resume over the week.
He excelled as a crazed brawler in a No Disqualification match against Cesaro on Friday's SmackDown before putting on a fantastic showing against Alberto Del Rio on Tuesday's Main Event. Both bouts showed off his showmanship skills as his face exuded rage, frustration and pain throughout.
He and Cesaro used steel chairs to create some thrilling moments.
Watching Cesaro slam him down onto a pair of propped chairs and later superplex him onto a bed of chairs made one's heart rate speed up. Ambrose looked like a resilient warrior, fighting off injury to steal a win from The King of Swing.
Seth Rollins ambushed him after that win and then interrupted Ambrose's clash with Del Rio. While that second attack may have taken away from a match that appeared to be only gaining momentum, it furthers the company's hottest feud going.
Ambrose and Rollins' bad blood is overflowing right now, making their likely SummerSlam match a safe bet to steal the show.
Worst: Bo Dallas Streak Ends with a Whimper
No one (except maybe Bo Dallas himself) expected WWE's biggest "Bo-liever" to go 173-0 a la Goldberg, but it was a mistake to end his streak so anti-climactically.
Dallas mocked R-Truth on Monday's Raw before losing to him in just a few seconds. After the cocky Superstar had defeated men like Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler, it felt as if he was ready to climb a few rungs and face even tougher competition before his undefeated streak ended.
Instead, he fell to R-Truth in what felt like no big deal.
To spend that much time building Dallas up and highlighting his unblemished run only to squash it so casually is an odd choice. WWE could have milked far more drama from this story. Rather than it be an intriguing subplot to a pay-per-view and a means to elevate a babyface, Dallas' first loss felt tossed in at the last moment.
Their brawl following this match suggests that these two will engage in a feud. That's an underwhelming choice for Dallas' first real rival of 2014 if that's the case.
Best: Stephanie McMahon, Still One of WWE's Best Heels
Stephanie McMahon remains one of WWE's best nonwrestlers and a villain who compels like few others.
On Monday's Raw, her story with Brie Bella continued. The executive tearfully apologized for her actions last week and lamented the effect her arrest had on her family. Brie threatened a lawsuit against the company unless she was reinstated and was able to fight McMahon at SummerSlam.
McMahon went from sniveling to snarling in a flash.
After accepting the terms, she transformed into a beast, slapping Brie to the floor and telling her, "I'm going to make you my b---h!" That fury is the kind that all of WWE's heels should aspire to attain.
She makes it so easy to hate her. Her double standards, self-assured attitude and that McMahon-family wrath combine to make for an enthralling character.
It was exciting to see two women in the show's final segment, but its flaw is WWE's choice of McMahon's foil. Brie is nowhere near the storyteller and actor that McMahon is. She's isn't a talented enough wrestler to carry an opponent who hasn't competed in 10 years either.
Brie will have a chance at SummerSlam to prove that she was the right woman for this role. That's not a bet one makes with confidence, though.
Worst: 2nd-Quarter Numbers Underwhelm
WWE released its financial numbers for the second quarter on Thursday. There were positives to take away, but the results won't leave fans feeling that the company is in a boon period.
As Dave Scherer reported on PWInsider, the WWE Network added 161,000 subscribers but lost 128,000, leaving the company with a net total of 700,000. WWE still has a few months to reach its stated goal of 1 million subscribers, but it's not exactly charging toward that.
The report also notes that WWE suffered a $14.5 million loss, though they expected something more in the $15 million to $18 million range.
An optimist would say that their losses weren't as bad as they thought they'd be, but losing millions of dollars is not anyone's idea of thriving.
The company shared a good amount of positive news as well, though. It will be expanding the WWE Network to some international markets in mid-August, earlier than expected and in time for SummerSlam. WWE also announced that it reached a 10-year deal with Rogers Communications in Canada.
The transition between traditional pay-per-view and the WWE Network is hurting, just as WWE knew it would.
The international subscribers will certainly help the company move where it wants to go. It's just going to be a slow journey.
Best: Adam Rose's Best Work to Date
NXT is the WWE's Lazarus Pit.
Just when it seemed as if Adam Rose was destined to be the next Superstar to get cut, he put on a match against Tyson Kidd on Thursday's NXT that reminded us of how good he is in the ring. The angry, focused Rose that battled Kidd was a far cry from the forgettable goof who finished off Damien Sandow in just seconds on Monday's Raw.
Rose flirted with Natalya mid-match, handing her a lollipop.
That infuriated Kidd and caused more strife between husband and wife. Once they locked horns, Rose was at his best, an extra snap in his suplex.
Kidd excelled as well, continuing his slow transformation into a villain. Vicious kicks and sending Rose on several trips to the ring post added drama and played up Kidd's newfound mercilessness.
Rose got the win to send Kidd spiraling downward even more. NXT continued telling Kidd's compelling story and displayed a side of Rose he has yet to show since morphing from his Leo Kruger character.
WWE needs to get that version of Rose on Raw and SmackDown.