RAW Deal: That’s the breaks
CINCINNATI, OH—Let’s come right out with it: Daniel Bryan, for the second straight year in a row, had to relinquish a championship due to injury.
Let’s also get the bright side out of the way (but definitely not to discredit it): at least this time, it’s only the WWE Intercontinental Championship. At least it isn’t something as big as the WWE World Heavyweight Championship; at least it’s a division that will never see a vacuum due to the sheer amount of talent waiting for a chance to step up and prove themselves as one of the big stars WWE needs right now.
Most importantly, at least Bryan gets time off to heal, stopping himself from entering into a bitter CM Punk situation, or worse, a dangerous Edge situation where he might find himself literally a bump away from death.
Bryan now needs to take this time to figure out the best way he could continue the career he says he still loves. He’s one of the most exciting wrestlers the WWE has, but how many times does he have to get severely injured to realize that he needs to slow down in the ring? That he needs to stop literally risking his neck just to get a favorable crowd reaction? When is he going to remember that he could be entertaining, that once upon a time, he didn’t need to be suicidal?
But it’s not entirely his fault. When are audiences going to finally see that they shouldn’t encourage his flying off of everything? Remember that wrestlers will keep doing the things crowds will cheer for, and the pro wrestling fanbase that has grown to be entitled (which is… any fanbase, when you think about it) have this bloodlust that must be sated. The more wrestlers try to kill themselves in the ring, the more audiences will love it.
If anyone can educate a modern wrestling audience on how to appreciate slower wrestling, the kind of wrestling the Randy Ortons of the world try to push on them with mixed results, I think Bryan is the best candidate. If you’ve seen any of his older work on the independents, you’ll know that he makes catch wrestling look as graceful as the wildest lucha libre maneuvers. Give him the right set of opponents, control over the match, and enough minutes and gravitas, and it’s a safe bet that he’ll convert those who feed on spotfests.
And if you say you’re a real Daniel Bryan fan, you’ll help ask him to make a change.
- I was not able to write a RAW Deal last week due to a swamped schedule, but I hope you caught last week’s episode. For some reason, and at the risk of jinxing it, RAW seems like it came across a turning point last week, preferring good action over lengthy Authority segments. While it still isn’t perfect, just take a look at what went down last week: Randy Orton and Roman Reigns vs. the New Day (and the New Day won), Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins (a bonafide Match of the Year candidate), and John Cena vs. Sami Zayn for the U.S. Championship! If you haven’t seen it, GO SEE IT. It’ll be worth your while, I promise.
- Dean Ambrose is a fine addition to the championship match at Payback, even though it’s a huge stretch that he’ll win. Flirting with the title scene is a lot better prospect than being stuck in a fun yet ultimately meaningless midcard feud.
- So, so happy that Rowan and Harper are getting back together as a tag team. Talk about tying up loose ends.
- John Cena continues his string of strong U.S. title defenses by taking on Neville this time, and this match is even better than the last time—Neville gets to kick out of the Attitude Adjustment, making him look strong, but Cena never gets to kick out of Neville’s finisher thanks to interference from Rusev. That keeps everyone involved strong, especially Neville, who needs all the shine he can get as the newcomer.
- Tamina back also makes me happy. The Divas division needs all the variety it can get.
- Cesaro/Big E was a solid match, as per usual from Cesaro. That guy can do no wrong.
- Seth Rollins’s booking is so strange, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing yet. He’s feuding with everyone, including his own allies, so naturally it’s leading up to everyone ganging up on him. On this episode, everyone gets the upper hand, including Kane. How does this make him a good champion—or worse, a good heel? Technically, they’re setting up huge odds against him, and to overcome those would be, well, heroic. Maybe it’s just my brain being fried from all the wrestling I watch, but Rollins has to pull something dastardly this Sunday to reinforce his heat.
- There was something wrong with the Orton/Rollins main event. Other than having seen it a bazillion times, the formula whenever Orton wrestles a guy smaller than him doesn’t quite work if Orton is expected to be the face being worked on by a smaller heel. The roles are reversed: Orton the face is imposing a deliberate, methodical pace on the more energetic heel. It just doesn’t work like that.
- We need to kibosh the Bargain Bin Mega Powers. This development is so disappointing; Sandow’s entire angle with the Miz gave him and the WWE an opportunity to push him as a “real guy” babyface in the vein of Daniel Bryan because of the crowd’s sincere support of Sandow—especially now that Bryan is out—and they waste that opportunity because they think Sandow’s better off as an impersonator. What gives? How long will Sandow keep standing for this?
Do you listen to podcasts? Would you want to listen to a local podcast about pro wrestling? If the answers to most of those questions—especially that last one—are yes, then you should check out the cleverly-named Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast—featuring Mellow 94.7 DJ and PWR General Manager Stan Sy, wrestling writer Romeo Moran, and all-around multimedia person (and voice of the PWR) Raf Camus! On their latest episode, they hang out with an international wrestler for the first time—UK-based Chinese-Filipino So Sai King of 4 Front Wrestling! Listen to it here!