Breaking Down the Best and Worst of the WWE for Week of Aug. 25
Villainy and viciousness delivered the best WWE moments of the week.
From Randy Orton channeling his inner predator to Goldust and Stardust becoming more savage, fans saw the heels taking center stage. Brock Lesnar was the star of Monday's Raw without even showing up. Tyson Kidd wore the most grating of grins after stealing a victory on Thursday's NXT.
Nikki Bella and Bray Wyatt didn't join in the success of their peers.
Nikki keeps failing with a mic in her hand. WWE keeps forgetting that Wyatt is supposed to be a monster.
The week's standout performances instead belonged to the WWE production team, Orton and the brothers now aimed at the tag titles.
Best: Randy Orton Returns to Destructive Ways
Randy Orton is at his best when he's allowed to be a sadist in the ring.
That opportunity arose on last Friday's SmackDown against Rob Van Dam. The Viper yanked on Van Dam's hair, DDT'ed him on the floor and RKO'ed him on a steel chair. All the while, Orton wore an unsettling grin.
It was one of Van Dam's best outings during his latest run and one of the more compelling WWE matches of the week. A big part of that was Orton's aggression.
WWE needs to continue to have Orton leave ruin behind him like this. It best uses his talents and leads to his best ring work.
Worst: Nikki Bella Bombs on Raw
If fans want to assure themselves a trip to the hospital, they need only drink a shot every time that Nikki Bella said "You know what" during her promo on Monday's Raw.
Jerry Lawler tried to make peace between Nikki and her sister, but violence ensued instead. Nikki smacked Brie and delivered an uncomfortable line about her wishing Brie had died in the womb.
The segment was hard to watch and not because of that line. Both Bellas are terrible actors, and given this much mic time, they had many a chance to prove that.
Had someone stumbled onto Raw during this segment, they may have thought they were watching a high school drama practice. Nikki's biggest moment saw her speak her lines with unconvincing emotion.
Regardless, WWE is clearly committed to this feud. It won't be the last time we see either Bella stumble in the spotlight.
Best: Another Great Brock Lesnar Video Package
WWE perfectly punctuated Brock Lesnar's destruction of John Cena at SummerSlam.
In a well-produced video package, Lesnar and Paul Heyman fired off a succession of powerful lines. Their performance, along with the production team's fine editing, made it clear that Lesnar's title reign doesn't need him to be in the arena each night.
He can grab hold of the audience from afar.
Lesnar talked about having mercy on Cena. He said, "I gave him a chance to lie on the mat and just stay down. That's all he had to do." Lines like that only add to the ominous aura that Lesnar possesses.
Heyman nailed his moments as well. Referring to Cena choosing to invoke his rematch clause, Heyman said, "How dare you, sir? Are you out of your mind?"
Home-run mic work like that is commonplace for Heyman. The pre-recorded format is allowing Lesnar to produce some of his own.
Worst: Bray Wyatt, Toothless Monster
John Cena ran over Bray Wyatt on Monday's Raw to send a message to Brock Lesnar. It was an engaging match in itself, but it added to Wyatt's booking woes.
As dangerous a man as he claims to be, he hasn't had much of a chance to play the predator. Cena had already defeated him in two pay-per-view matches this year. He then steamrolled Wyatt in singles action before besting him in a six-man tag match that immediately followed.
Wyatt had little chance to retaliate for how Cena embarrassed him. He had no chance to further his feud with Chris Jericho.
The focus was instead on making sure to remind everyone that Cena is a powerful force.
Wyatt could be that as well, but WWE keeps holding tight to the monster's leash. Why not have Wyatt respond to his poor performance by destroying someone else on Main Event?
Cena got a chance to redeem himself, but Wyatt is still waiting for that opportunity.
Best: Stardust and Goldust Embrace Their Darkness
WWE found a new pair of challengers for The Usos. It just required a change of attitude from Stardust and Goldust.
Having the bizarre brothers turn heel was a wise move. It shot them up to the No. 1 contendership and provides The Usos with another pair of villains to overcome.
The transition began after the Rhodes brothers failed to capture the tag team titles on Monday's Raw.
The Usos lost to Stardust and Goldust, but by count-out. That meant that the champs retained and the challengers had reason to erupt in anger. They attacked The Usos after the match, claiming that they got counted out on purpose.
The next night, Stardust and Goldust celebrated their win over Los Matadores by flinging El Torito out of the ring.
Turning heel has given the team a new, compelling edge. They have transformed from a sideshow act to something more dangerous.
The tag team division is already bettered by adding a pair of bad guys and beginning a feud with great potential.
Worst: WWE Magazine Officially Folds
A long-running publication is the latest victim of WWE's budget cuts. WWE Magazine is no more.
For many fans, WWE Magazine brings back memories of childhood, of flipping through the pages in awe. It was an excellent supplement to WWE's TV and pay-per-view shows. Before the Internet became such a dominant force, it was a key spot to find info and articles about the WWE world.
It will be strange to see the magazine gone.
The magazine's Twitter account was full of thank yous and shout-outs to various Superstars. In addition, it tweeted, "Thank you for your support, WWE Universe. YOU made this fun. Leave the memories alone—we wouldn't change a thing."
Best: Tyson Kidd and Tyler Breeze vs. Adrian Neville and Sami Zayn
Newly appointed NXT general manager William Regal got to work quickly.
Regal announced that there would be a Fatal 4-Way for the NXT Championship at the Takeover 2 live special. He then booked the four men involved in that match in a tag team collision to cap off Thursday's NXT.
The result was one of the most fun bouts of the week.
Adrian Neville revved up the crowd by hitting a standing Shooting Star Press and standing on Sami Zayn's back before corkscrewing off it. The most memorable moments beyond those moves came courtesy of tension and infighting between the partners.
Tyler Breeze and Tyson Kidd bickered. Zayn accidentally kicked Neville in the face.
Kidd then pushed Zayn aside and pounced on the fallen NXT champ. His gleeful look after pinning Neville brimmed with overconfidence. It's moments like that that have made Kidd's character one of 2014's highlights.
This tag match also gave fans a glimpse of the chaos and excitement to expect at Takeover 2.