Did you watch WWE Raw on 12/15/14? If so, please take a moment to let us know what you thought of the show!
WWE Raw is coming at you LIVE from somewhere, starting at about 8pm Eastern. After a dismal TLC last night, WWE has a long way to go to redeem themselves. The Road to Wrestlemania began last night, in a lot of ways, but we have to get through the holidays first.
Roman Reigns has announced his entry into the Royal Rumble. Brock Lesnar is advertised to appear. John Cena is slated to face Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. We have a new Intercontinental Champion. We also have a lot of very restless fans.
Keep it locked on Ring Rap throughout the three-hour bonanza for your LIVE coverage of Raw as it happens! Will it be play-by-play? Probably not! But, I promise to be as snarky as possible, for your entertainment, because we all know Raw needs something to keep us entertained these days.
Be sure to follow us on @RingRap on Twitter, just in case Dolph Ziggler says another dumb thing and I go on a rant.
Did you watch WWE TLC: Tables Ladders and Chairs? If so, please take a moment to let us know what you thought of the show!
Tonight, it’s WWE’s final pay per view offering of 2014 as they get out “the toys” at Tables, Ladders, and Chairs (TLC) live from Cleveland, OH. This year, they’ve even added stairs to the mix! The main roster has a big set of shoes to fill following last week’s NXT Takeover (R)Evolution show tonight. The card is as follows:
The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) vs. Goldust and Stardust
Nikki Bella (c) vs. AJ; WWE Divas Championship
Rusev (c, w/Lana) vs. Jack Swagger; WWE United States Championship
The Miz and Mizdow (c) vs. The Uso Brothers; WWE Tag Team Championship
Luke Harper (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler; WWE Intercontinental Championship under Ladder Match Rules
Big Show vs. Erick Rowan; Stairs Match Rules (the stairs are a legal weapon)
Ryback vs. Kane; Chairs Match Rules (steel chairs are a legal weapon)
Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt; TLC Match
John Cena vs. Seth Rollins; Tables Match (tables are a legal weapon), and if Cena loses, he loses his #1 Contendership to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Tonight and exclusively on WWE Network, NXT brings us their final live special for 2014, called “Takeover: (R)Evolution.” NXT has delivered consistently sound events, and this card appears to be just as good. Right now, these are the matches that are advertised:
Adrian Neville (c) vs. Sami Zayn; NXT Championship, if Zayn loses he must leave NXT
Charlotte (c) vs. Sasha Banks; NXT Women’s Championship
Lucha Dragons (Sin Cara and Kalisto, c) vs. The Vaudevillans (Aiden English and Simon Gotch); NXT Tag Team Championship
Finn Balor and Hideo Itami vs. The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor)
Bull Dempsey vs. Baron Corbin
Kevin Owens (the former Kevin Steen) makes his debut
NXT Takeover:(R)Evolution Pre-Show, Live on WWE Network
Renee Young, Jason Albert and Alex Riley check in as they show fan shots outside the arena at Full Sail. Riley asks if the young superstars will evolve and become champions. Albert talks briefly about Kevin Owens debuting and Finn Balor promising to surprise us all.
Renee sends it to hype for Zayn vs. Neville. She emphasizes that if Zayn loses tonight, he is done. Albert says that Zayn has been avoiding Neville and is all business. Riley says Zayn can’t handle pressure and won’t win.
They shift to the Ascension vs. Finn Balor and Hideo Itami. Renee feeds it into a video package hyping the match, going back to the last NXT special where the Ascension first attacked Itami. Riley says that Balor and Itami haven’t proven anything yet, but Albert defends them saying that Balor is renowned and Itami is as popular in Japan as Ric Flair is in the US. They discuss Balor bringing something we’ve never seen before and it’s going to be dark.
They show a short interview clip of Sami Zayn, where he says he has worked most of his life without a net and tonight is sink or swim for him.
Renee feeds it into a video package to hype Corey Graves. He joins the panel and Renee says we haven’t seen him in a long time and asks what his announcement is. He talks about wanting to be a WWE Superstar since he has been a kid. He says in the business injuries are a risk and he has suffered concussions that have led to issues. He says his health is the most important thing in the world. He says the doctors have suggested he retire from the ring, and he announces his in-ring retirement. Fans chant “No!”
“However…” he continues. He says WWE has allowed him to explore other opportunities in the business and he will be working as an announcer at NXT. Renee says he will be joining the announce crew, and he will be calling the debut of Kevin Owens. They tell us that Owens will be kicking off the show.
They feed it into a hype package for Kevin Owens. Albert says he has ground away at it in the independent scene and now has a chance on the big stage. Graves agrees with him and Riley says that Owens is coming in with a chip on his shoulder. Renee says that Seth Rollins commented on Owens, and reads a message putting over Owens.
They show another clip of Sami Zayn, saying the stipulation of him leaving is not in the contract but is a personal stipulation that he is using to be motivated.
They run a video package to hype up the NXT Tag Team Championship. Rich Brennan interviews the Lucha Dragons afterward. Kaliso says that Lucha means fighting for your dreams, and they are going to the top tonight. They chant “Lucha!”
They run a video package hyping up Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks. Riley interviews Sasha about people calling her the underdog earlier today. Sasha asks who those people are. Bayley walks in and tells her that Charlotte won’t lose. Sasha says that the best part is “her daddy” Ric Flair will also be watching. She suggests Bayley watch her back. Becky runs in and attacks Bayley from behind, and she grabs her knee. With the announce team, Renee says Bayley’s MRI revealed no damage and she will be back in the ring next week.
They show an interview clip of Adrian Neville saying that he doesn’t want Sami putting his career on the line. He says his priority is winning, and he won’t bear Sami’s burden either. They recap the year and a half build to tonight’s match, recapping the run of Sami Zayn, starting with a cheap loss to Bo Dallas. Back live, Riley says that Zayn is already backtracking on the career stipulation by saying it’s not in the contract and he can’t handle pressure. Graves says that Riley is out of his mind and he is doing it for motivation. Albert agrees with him.
They make final predictions, with everyone picking Zayn except for Riley. Renee Young addresses Graves making his announcing debut, and have him show off a “Revolution” tattoo that he has. He says he is nervous but ready. Time for the show!
NXT Takeover:(R)Evolution, Live from Full Sail University, Winter Park, FL
They run an opening video package highlighting the various talents appearing tonight, with the theme of “tonight is my evolution.”
Match #1 – Kevin Owens vs. CJ Parker
Owens comes out first to a HUGE reaction, and almost looks like he has tears in his eyes. Very emotional start to start for Owens, hitting a corner cannonball splash and a big plancha dive over the ropes. Riley makes reference to flying cows, which was unnecessary. The fans are electric for his debut. He poses on the ramp and says “this is just the beginning.”
Parker comes back, using a palm strike to get a near fall. Something about the palm strike opens up Owens and he’s bleeding around the eye. He hits a running knee in the corner, but Owens comes back with a big lariat. Late, Owens hits a pumphandle neckbreaker then a pop-up powerbomb to put away Parker.
Winner – Kevin Owens
Owens was clearly on fire in this one. I thought Parker got a bit more offense than he should have, but the match was definitely entertaining. I am thrilled to see Owens debut, especially this way. He got a big reaction, and I am excited to see where things go from here.
They show Adrian Neville stretching out backstage, and re-run his interview clip from the pre-show. Back live, they cut to the announcers where Corey Graves again talks about joining the announce position after having announced his in-ring retirement due to concussions.
They run a video package to hype up the NXT Tag Team Championship match, which is next.
Match #2 – Lucha Dragons (c) vs. The Vaudevillans; NXT Tag Team Championship
Cara starts with a springboard headbutt and a springboard moonsault. He gets the better of both Vaudevillains early on with a headscissor move and hits the wheelbarrow senton with Kalisto. Cara hits a Michinoku Driver and the fans chant for Gotch.
English blind tags in and pulls Cara to ringside. The crowd chants “that was manly.” The Vaudevillains take charge, stomping on Cara in the ring. The heel team takes over, putting the heat on Cara, but the crowd doesn’t really react. English sends Cara to ringside again, then drops Kalisto for good measure too.
Sin Cara counters a move out of the corner and tries for a tag but Gotch hits a side slam for two. Cara continues to sell for the Vaudevillans. Kalisto finally gets the hot tag and opens up with a springboard cross body and corkscrew dive. He hits his slingshot kick that allows Cara to hit a cross body of his own. They send the Vaudevillans to ringside and hit a dive on English. Gotch stares.
Gotch feeds Kalisto into the ring, but he hits the SDS to grab the win to retain the championships.
Winner – Lucha Dragons to retain the NXT Tag Team Championship
This was fine for as long as it lasted. The fans seemed to be more into the Vaudevillains than the face Luchas. Some folks want more from the tag division, but this was definitely a good match. I know we’ll see more from these two to develop a better series.
They show Sasha Banks getting ready to go backstage for her shot at the NXT Women’s Championship
Match #3 – Ty Dillinger vs. Baron Corbin
This doesn’t last too long. The live crowd chants along with a count to determine the match length. Corbin hits Snake Eyes into a big boot, then hits “End of Days” to put away Dillinger.
Afterward, they show Bull Dempsey watching on. He and Corbin go face to face as Corbin leaves.
Winner – Baron Corbin
A fine squash match to put over the power of Corbin and build to a Corbin/Dempsey feud. I do think Dillinger is being grossly mis-underutilized though.
They run a video package to hype up Itami and Balor vs. The Ascension.
Match #4 – The Ascension vs. Finn Balor and Hideo Itami
The Ascension comes out first and takes a place at ringside as Itami and Balor make their entrance. Itami is first, then Balor. He comes out to a surreal entrance, with the full body paint. The live crowd LOVES it, and I do too quite frankly. Early on, Balor and Itami go on the assault, hitting tandem drop kicks. The Ascension bails to regroup. They break out a “marking out” chant and a “we’re not worthy” chant, which I found funny. This gets officially started.
Balor wears out Viktor with chops and the commentary talks about Balor going to a darker place in his mind with his look. Ascension seems to take control, but Balor lands a good drop kick and tags to Itami.
Itami goes after Konor with kicks, but Konor hits a flapjack, and that lets the Ascension take control. They isolate him and cut him off from Balor for the next several minutes. Itami gets in a hope spot, but the Ascension keeps control of the match. Itami gets another good hope spot where he sends both Ascension guys to ringside, but they come back and knock Balor off the apron before the tag.
Balor gets the hot tag. He fires up on both members of the Ascension, hitting a dropkick after springing off Viktor. He hits a slingblade on Viktor then sends them to ringside. Balor hits a dive moments later on both men which draws an “NXT” chant. Back in the ring, Balor tries a double stomp but misses. He hits a brainbuster suplex instead (Bloody Sunday).
Itami takes Konnor to ringside, but Viktor takes Balor down with an STO. Itami teases a GTS in the ring on Viktor and that gets the crowd all fired up. The Ascension avoids it and tries for the Fall of Man. Itami drags one of the Ascension to ringside, and Balor hits the Pele. Moments later, Itami and Balor hit tandem stomps and Balor covers for the win.
Winner – Hideo Itami and Finn Balor
Quite the spectacle for sure. Balor’s paint was a great touch, and really made the entrance visually impressive. The match was hot at times, but the Ascension’s run of offense was a bit slow and plodding. I do hope they move away from Itami and Balor teaming, in order to highlight each of them individually. Itami seems to have been the weak link in this program and Balor carried the team to the win. We’ll see where it goes from here. But this was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it.
Backstage, Renee Young interviews Roman Reigns. They discuss him winning Superstar of the Year and Renee asks why he’s there. He says he’s there to watch a great show, scout the future. He says he will be the first NXT Alumni to win the WWE Championship.
They just can’t get enough of showing us Roman Reigns, can’t they?
They show Ric Flair greeting Charlotte backstage, asking if she’s ready to go. They run a video package highlighting the story between Charlotte and Sasha Banks.
Match #5 – Charlotte (c) vs. Sasha Banks; NXT Women’s Championship
Banks gets her entrance first, while Graves says Banks has worked for everything she has and she’s a hard worker. After some jawjacking early, Charlotte gets the better of Banks, wearing her out with chops. Sasha rolls to ringside and gets control with a kick when Charlotte gives chase. She sends Charlotte into the steps, then throws her in the ring and goes on offense.
She wears Charlotte out in the corner and hits a double knee strike, with Charlotte tied up in a tree of woe. Split crowd, chanting for each woman in this one now. Banks’ fans seem a bit louder. Sasha mocks Charlotte with a Flair strut, then hits a tilt-a-whirl into straight jacket backbreaker, then holds it in a modified surfboard. That was an impressive spot.
Charlotte backs Sasha to the corner, but Sasha grabs the hair and pulls Charlotte to the mat. Sasha settles in and locks on a figure-four headlock of her own, with the facebusters. Charlotte makes her way to her feet with Charlotte on her shoulders and hits a big electric chair spot. Both sell, and finally beat the count at eight.
Charlotte starts on a run. She hits a suplex into a spinning neckbreaker in a great spot. Sasha sends Charlotte to ringside again moments later and hits a nice suicide dive that gets a pop. They trade shots back in the ring until Charlotte hits a spear.
They trade finish reversals, then Sasha hits Bankrupt for a great near fall. That draws a “this is awesome” chant. Charlotte comes back with a scoop suplex and goes up top. Sasha avoids the moonsault, but Charlotte lands on her eet and hits a senton for another near fall.
Charlotte tries for a crucifix powerbomb, but Sasha slips away and runs Charlotte into the turnbuckle. The fans chant “like a boss.” Banks has Charlotte on the ropes. She tries to set up a superplex, but Charlotte counters. She sends Banks to the mat face/chest first, then pulls her in. Charlotte hits Natural Selection off the ropes and covers for the win. Charlotte poses for fans afterward.
Winner – Charlotte to retain the NXT Women’s Championship.
That was impressive. The ladies worked really hard again, and put on an incredible match. When you get fans chanting “this is wrestling” during a ladies’ match, you know it’s working. Well done by both ladies – though I really thought Sasha would take the title tonight.
They run a video package highlighting the story between Adrian Neville and Sami Zayn. The main event is next!
Match #6 – Adrian Neville (c) vs. Sami Zayn; NXT Championship
Huge “Ole” chants after Neville makes his entrance. Old school ring introductions, and this one is underway. They wait out chants from the crowd “Let’s Go Sami – Neville Sucks.” in the opening minutes. They then sing the “Ole” again, and things start to settle in. The two trade arm locks and mat wrestling to start.
Neville slows things down, working an arm lock. Zayn tries one of his own but Neville handsprings his way out. A bit later, Neville uses the up and over handsprings but Zayn catches him running the ropes with a big tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Neville rolls out for a breather but takes an Arabian moonsault on the floor.
Neville uses the entire ten count, but when he gets in the ring he takes a jumping heel kick from Zayn. Neville halts Zayn’s momentum again, using a snapmare takedown into a drop kick to get control. Neville slows the pace with a chinlock that Zayn rolls out of. Neville hits a big running uppercut for two.
Neville works a methodical pace, using a knee drop then back to the chinlock. The fans rally Zayn, but Neville hits a missile drop kick for two. Neville mocks Zayn with some kicks to the head, then hits some harder kicks. Zayn hits a series of clotheslines and his flapjack drop kick. Neville rolls out, then Zayn comes back with a big flip dive over the ropes. Big pop.
The action rolls back in, and Zayn hits a high cross body for two. They work a series of reversals, and Zayn gets Neville in an electric chair position. He hits the Blue Thunder Bomb out of it for a good near fall. The fans rally Zayn again, but Neville hits a jawbreaker and follows up a short time later with a rebound German suplex for a good near fall. Zayn avoids an attempted powerbomb, and Neville avoids the rope-run DDT and hits a sit-out powerbomb for a near fall.
The fans mock Neville as he lands forearm shots. That gets Zayn going and they trade shots mid ring. Zayn turns Neville inside out with a clothesline. Neville comes back with a high kick and goes top rope. He tries for the Red Arrow but Sami gets the knees up. He swings right into the Koji clutch, which nearly gets Neville to tap. He is able to get to the ropes with his foot to break the hold.
Zayn sets up his corner exploder suplex, but Neville rolls it through and crashes into the referee. Ugh, ref bump. Zayn checks on the official, only to turn into a big superkick from Neville. He hits an inverted huracanrana/frankensteiner and gets the cover for a great near fall. The fans chant for Zayn and get fired up as both men sell. They trade shots mid-ring again, with Zayn getting Neville’s back and hitting two German suplexes and a half-and-half suplex.
Neville rolls out of the ring again, but he’s right in spot for Zayn to hit his torpedo tornado DDT through the ropes. Zayn throws Neville in and sets up the Helluva Kick. He gets it, but the referee gets bumped again as well. That allows Neville to roll out and grab the NXT title belt. Zayn kicks Neville in the head before he can use it and the belt flies.
Zayn grabs the belt as the referee continues to sell the bump. The fans chant no, but he’s conflicted about whether to use it. Finally he lays it down but Neville rolls him up for two. Zayn comes back and hits an Exploder Suplex into the corner, hits the Helluva kick, and pins Neville mid-ring for the one-two-three.
Winner – Sami Zayn to win the NXT Championship
Let the party begin! Zayn grabs the title and circles the ring, holding out for the fans. The locker room empties, with Kevin Owens coming to the ring first. They hug and exchange words. Zayn shakes hands and hugs various members of the locker room, and they hoist him up on their shoulders. Confetti sprays all over the place too. Great sight for the new champ.
Neville gets to his feet and the locker room backs off. He and Zayn stare each other down, and Zayn puts the belt down and offers a handshake. Neville kicks the hand away and hugs him instead and leaves. The celebration continues with the locker room, and they eventually clear the ring, leaving Zayn alone. He poses for the fans and then sits on the apron with the belt.
Owens comes back to ringside and hugs Zayn again and they talk. They go to exit up the ramp, but Owens turns on him, hitting a one-armed slam on the ramp then hitting a powerbomb on the apron of the ring. He grabs the belt and looks at it. Zayn lays there as William Regal comes out to chase off Owens and summon help. Trainers come to ringside to tend to Zayn as the show ends.
WOW!!! What a match, and a great post match angle too. The match itself was a wonderful affair and something we’d expect from Neville and Zayn given their experience working with each other. I could have done without the referee bumps, but they actually played well into the story and the excitement of the match. They teased past finishes of the matches they’ve had and the two men have great chemistry together. Plus they pulled out some great spots as well, very innovative stuff.
The Owens turn at the end makes a lot of sense and did NOTHING to hurt Zayn’s win. They used that angle to move instantly to what should be a fun feud with two other guys who know each other very well from the indy circuit to put on a good story. I’m excited about that as well.
Drew will kill me for saying this, but this is the BEST event of the week hands down. Almost all of the in-ring work was solid to great. The ladies delivered in a big way in their match. It exceeded my expectations by a longshot – I expected good, but got great. The main event was awesome. I loved Finn Balor’s entrance and the body paint – they took a risk on a big stage and it paid off big. And the closing moments, with Zayn winning the title in a payoff to a year and a half chase was a true feel good moment that wrestling fans can enjoy. Not to mention looking forward to what should be a good feud going forward.
If you did not watch live, GO WATCH A REPLAY!!!! You will enjoy it. Thanks for following along tonight!
Ignore what I say at the beginning of the episode – this is really episode 140. Whoops. That’s the last time I listen to Bill Wentz, even if he’s usually right.
It’s been a whirlwind of a week for wrestling, and there’s tons to talk about, including an in-person perspective from Terminal 5 in NYC for Ring of Honor’s Final Battle.
TNA has started announcing details regarding Destination America’s first broadcast, including the new logo, time, date, etc. Good news? Let’s find out!
CM Punk to UFC? Bill and Drew have thoughts on that.
Plus, look at NXT REvolution, The Slammy Edition of WWE Raw, TLC, and a feiry rant about Dolph Ziggler’s Slammy acceptance speech that is absolutely must-listen.
“Summon the Rawk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
“Pulse” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
WWE Smackdown is being taped this evening in Columbus, Georgia, for airing on Friday, December 12th, 2014. The results are delayed due to WWE filming the Tribute to the Troops this evening as well. Refresh for the most current info.
– The show opens with a segment hyping TLC.
– The Usos def. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro. A vignette for The Ascension aired after Kidd and Cesaro made their entrance.
– Nikki Bella def. Alicia Fox
– Jack Swagger def. Titus O’Neil.
– Big E def. Goldust.
– John Cena comes out to cheers. He talks about his match at TLC with Seth Rollins until Rollins interrupts. Both men talk about the Tables match.
– Ryback & Dolph Ziggler & Erick Rowan def. Luke Harper & Big Show & Kane. All hell broke loose and ended up with a huge ladder spot from Ziggler to end the show.
Welcome to this week’s edition of Raw Afterthoughts, where we run down the hits and misses of last night’s show. We’ll discuss all of this and more about all things pro wrestling tomorrow night on RingRap Audio and would love to have your feedback too. Be sure to hit us on Twitter (@RingRap) or on Facebook (facebook.com/RingRap) and add your input to the conversation!
This is a short list tonight. We’ll be talking in more details about the show on RingRap Audio tomorrow night!
1. So THAT is how to debut someone?
Charlotte will be defending her NXT Women’s Championship on Thursday night at the (R)Evolution live special. So, they bring her out on Raw last night to have a match with Natalya that helped add a little hype to the NXT live special. Unfortunately, she lost to Natalya in under three minutes. So many problems here.
First, Natalya loses so much on television despite how good she is. The message that WWE conveyed here was that the NXT Women’s Champion is jobber fodder to a main roster Diva who is essentially jobber fodder. Add in that Charlotte is the daughter of WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair, and she’s debuting in “Flair Country” as the show is in the Carolinas. This won’t be insurmountable for Charlotte, but this was poor.
2. Making his hate known…
I was glad to see Wyatt actually go full-fledged heel last night. He told the fans that he despises them all and they reacted accordingly. I believe this is the kind of character that can really draw money. He cut a sound promo, and he and Dean Ambrose was also well done. They did a nice job of hyping their match at the pay per view with their brawl. The only minor complaint was Wyatt doing a sing-song bit with the crowd to get them to say “oh my” after chanting tables, ladders, and chairs.
3. Roman Reigns is Superstar of the Year in an LOL Moment of the Year…
You guys all know I felt that Seth Rollins should have won Superstar of the Year and felt he had the credentials. The Slammys in and of themselves are gimmicked and can be a bit laughable, but this one was REALLY laughable.
It’s clear that WWE is going with an aggressive push for Reigns, to the point of jamming him down fans’ throats. Think about this – Reigns ruptured his hernia back in September, and he hasn’t been on TV since then aside from the “via satellite” interviews. His singles run hasn’t been newsworthy and his feud with Orton wasn’t white hot. It begs the question – are they turning him? If not, then this is probably the WORST thing they could have done.
It’s the Slammys, so one can’t get too awful worked up over it. But at the end of it all, WWE wants to make Reigns a star and he has the tools to be one. Right now, WWE is turning fans against him by forcing his rise.
4. CIosing it out…
I yawned when they said John Cena would face Big Show in the main event. We’ve seen it far too much, so it’s not all that big of a deal.
That said, the closing run-ins by Rollins, Ryback, Rowan, Ziggler, Kane, and others played into all of the different TLC matches. On top of that, they did a nice job of putting heat on all the heel players in those programs. So the way they booked this finish was logical and helped mask the other bizarre creative we got throughout an otherwise silly Slammy Award show.
5. Stunt Double Silliness…
I need Miz to come up with better punchlines than just “the moneymaker” these days. There is more material there to work with for him so he should take advantage. But, Miz continuing to steal Mizdow’s thunder and the set-ups he does for “the person I need to thank” are working to build tension toward an eventual split between the two men. WWE needs to be careful of the shelf life of it, but it can work.
6. The Overall Show and the Slammys:
People do enjoy award shows, even though I don’t personally. But early on in this one, Cole joked about it being the 77th edition of the Slammys, then couldn’t tell Seth Green what Slammys he has won when Cole bragged about having won three of them. That really took the edge off of it and sent a message that the awards were pretty meaningless. WWE needs to think about how they present this show overall. They could really change the numbers for this show if they presented the awards in a much more realistic and meaningful way.
Awards like LOL Moment of the Year and the OMG Moment of the Year are dated terminology. If they want to present them on the website, that’s fine as most casual viewers don’t go that far to chase the full list of winners.
Be sure to chime in with your thoughts as we get ready to record RingRap Audio tomorrow night! Hit us on Twitter @RingRap or on Facebook (facebook.com/RingRap) and we’ll be sure to include your comments on the show.
On the heels of Drew’s epic Twitter meltdown last night over Dolph Ziggler’s “entertain you, the fans” promo at the Slammy Awards, I got to thinking about the art of a promo moment. We’ve all seen the classic cuts of guys delivering memorable lines. But the one that sticks out in my head, and most other fans’ heads, is the one that ushered in an era.
“Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass.”
The beauty of the best promos in professional wrestling is that they aren’t scripted moments. Listen to Austin’s famous “Austin 3:16” promo after King of the Ring and you can tell that he’s talking off the cuff. That promo was not a prepared statement. It wasn’t memorized lines.
Think about the key points of that classic Austin moment. He addressed Jake Roberts, who he had just defeated. Austin called him a piece of trash, telling him to “go buy a bottle of cheap Thunderbird and get back some of the courage he had in his prime.” He addressed the roster at that time, saying that he was “fixing to run through all of them” and “they’re all on the list.” He also addressed his future title shot that he earned by winning King of the Ring, saying that he didn’t care who the champion was, he would beat them and become the next champion.
So when I go back and look at Drew’s tweets in the light of that promo by Austin, they are completely worthwhile statements. At first, my reaction was kind of “meh” but after a good night’s sleep I get why he was pissed, and quite frankly I am too.
If you’ve listened to Ring Rap Audio regularly, you know one of our chief complaints about the mid-card and WWE storytelling in general is that the most guys don’t get the promo time to make us care about their character. Add in that when they do get time, it generally feels heavily scripted and forced. This has become a recurring problem that needs to be fixed.
Perhaps this is the difference between eras of the product. Maybe this is the difference between what was still professional wrestling in those days and today’s “sports entertainment” that WWE has so cleverly marketed. Call it what you want, but it still boils down to Dude A having an issue with Dude B and needing to settle it with a fight inside a 20’ x 20’ ring. And THAT is what wrestling fans care most about.
The best promos, and ultimately the best characters, in professional wrestling are guys with their natural personality turned up past 11. They have a natural charisma that draws you in to either hate them as heels or love them as babyfaces. The promos they cut should have clear goals toward a match payoff or a championship. They don’t weave in and out of character and pander to the fans by saying “we do this to entertain you.”
Don’t misunderstand me, as there are appropriate times and places to make those kinds of statements. Outside of the ring in a radio interview or on a podcast, that statement is fine. Once the lights come on that kind of talk should be kept backstage. Even the most casual of fan should be insulted by that kind of talk in a live show setting, regardless of how the product is marketed.
What made “Austin 3:16” so memorable was that he spoke off the cuff out of his natural charisma and in character. It wasn’t something someone wrote for him. He didn’t talk about entertaining the fans. He talked about his victory, he talked about who he was targeting next, and he talked about a future title shot that he would win. You cared about what he said and it got a reaction.
Ziggler’s promo last night had zero tangible direction for his character and got nothing but apathy in response. He was the sole survivor in the Team Cena/Team Authority match at Survivor Series and we all hoped this was a springboard point for him. His booking, coupled with last night’s lame promo, point to that not being the case.
Vince McMahon said last week in his podcast with Steve Austin that he’s looking for someone who will grab that brass ring (imaginary or otherwise). The key is that he has guys on his roster who are more than capable of doing so with their charisma and in-ring talent – Dolph being one of them. Rather than turn them loose, WWE chooses to have them play by a much tighter script, in part because they embrace “sports entertainment” these days more so than their professional wrestling roots.
It’s time that WWE rips up that script. Don’t insult my intelligence by pandering to me and telling me that you’re there to entertain me. Allow me to suspend my disbelief for a couple hours during the show. Allow me to care about the characters and go on a storyline ride with them as they pursue a title shot or seek revenge on an opponent.
Stop giving me sterilized, over-scripted, and force-fed sports entertainment. Embrace and accept the basics of pro wrestling that includes guys cutting more free-formed promos such as “Austin 3:16.” While they might not all be as memorable, they will at least feel more inspired and meaningful than reciting lines like an actor. Let that help tell a meaningful story that I can truly invest in.
That will entertain me more than being pandered to at an awards show like I was last night.
WWE filmed their yearly Tribute to the Troops earlier this evening in Columbus, Georgia, for airing… soon? Below are the spoilers for the yearly event.
– The Usos def. Stardust & Goldust
– Hulk Hogan and John Cena appear together to honor the troops. The Miz and Damien Mizdow interrupt them.
– Naomi & Emma & Natalya def. The Bella Twins & Paige
– Dean Ambrose def. Bray Wyatt in a No DQ Bootcamp match.
– John Cena & Erick Rowan & Ryback & Dolph Ziggler def. Seth Rollins & Big Show & Luke Harper & Kane in an 8-man tag match.