The Piledriver Report 12.21.12: WWE Gets it Right & Wrong
Before I begin my column this week, I just want to wish everyone a great holiday coming up this week.
This past Sunday night, the WWE presented their latest pay per view, “Tables, Ladders, and Chairs.” While I didn’t see the show, from what I hear, this pay per view was one of the WWE’s better outings. From looking at the results of the show, I was happy to see that the WWE did the right thing from a storyline stand point.
The WWE needed to have The Shield win their first major match in the WWE. The Shield needs to be protected in a way that Nexus was not. The WWE needs to push new talent for the future of their company. Too often the WWE delivers their famous start-stop pushes for wrestlers that are trying to break through the WWE’s glass ceiling. Unfortunately, this start-stop mechanism kills any momentum the wrestler may have garnered. This treatment usually takes the wrestler months, if not years, to recover.
Thankfully, it appears that the WWE may be moving away from their stop-start mentality. The WWE appears to be all in when it comes to pushing Ryback. While I agree with their decision to not put the WWE title on him at this point, I like the fact that the WWE has continued to protect Ryback and push him as a main event level performer. And this statement is coming from someone who isn’t a big fan of Ryback.
To watch the push of The Shield over the past month, it is nice to see the WWE pushing them as a legitimate threat to the WWE’s main players. By allowing The Shield to continually get the upper hand over the likes of John Cena, Kane, and Daniel Bryan, the “Shield” angle has a lot more legs in it. Their angle could last at least until WrestleMania before the group moves on to something else.
DOLPH AND AJ
The other result that I was really happy about was to see Dolph Ziggler keep his Money in the Bank briefcase against John Cena. I really hate when the WWE puts up the winner of the Royal Rumble’s WrestleMania title shot against another wrestler. To me, that “title” is sacred. Every fan looks forward to the Royal Rumble match. Who will go on to main event WrestleMania? That is the main focal point of the “Road to WrestleMania.” To have a match where that prize is put up randomly makes the Royal Rumble stipulation lose a little value. I feel the same way about the Money in the Bank briefcase. The only match where the briefcase should be put up in a match is when the Money in the Bank winner decides to cash the briefcase in. Well, there is one exception, and that would be if the Money in the Bank winner suffered a long term injury, like the WWE once thought was happening with Ken Kennedy when they had Edge beat him for his Money in the Bank briefcase.
There were rumors going around that had John Cena beating Dolph Ziggler for the SmackDown! briefcase, and then he would use that title shot to face the RAW WWE champion The Rock at WrestleMania XXIX. I hated that idea. Why ruin Dolph Ziggler’s push/angle for a title shot for John Cena that he could easily just be given (or a Royal Rumble victory that would give him the automatic WrestleMania title shot).
When I read that John Cena lost the match, I was happy. When I heard how he lost, I was really thrilled. When the WWE started the John Cena/AJ storyline, I felt that the person that AJ was having the affair with was Dolph Ziggler. This would be a nice little swerve. At the same time, an AJ/Ziggler alliance would explain why AJ and Vickie Guerrero hate each other so much. Think about it. AJ and Dolph Ziggler were seeing each other privately. Vickie found out about it, and her hatred for AJ began. However, due to Vickie’s business relationship with Ziggler, she decided to keep their secret. Even though she was keeping the secret, she refused to be okay with it. Thus, her feud with AJ.
When Dolph started his feud with John Cena, Vickie used AJ’s affair with Dolph to get AJ out of the RAW General Manager position. AJ, on the other hand, wanted to cover up her true affair with Dolph and played along with what you saw over the last couple of months. However, when Dolph’s Money in the Bank briefcase looked to be in jeopardy, AJ had no choice but to interfere on Ziggler’s behalf. At least this is a route the WWE could go with in the AJ/Cena/Ziggler storyline.
The past Monday Night RAW was pretty good. For the first time in a while, I feel that RAW delivered a lot of surprises. Sure, they weren’t CM Punk turns on The Rock type of shockers, but they were pretty cool nonetheless. Seeing alumni like the Boogeyman, the New Age Outlaws, Ric Flair, Tommy Dreamer, Mean Gene Okerlund, and Ricky Steamboat was really nice to see on a RAW telecast that wasn’t being hyped as some kind of special blast from the past RAW event like the 1000th RAW, RAW Homecoming, or the 10th Anniversary of RAW. This made their appearances feel even more special.
I thought the show was pretty good. However, I really hated the Slammy Awards portion of the show. Who voted on these awards? John Cena was the Superstar of the Year? What about CM Punk? Whether it is a kayfabe award or a legitimate award, there is no way in hell that John Cena should be given the Superstar of the Year award over Punk. CM Punk has held the WWE title for the whole year. He beat John Cena on numerous occasions, if you are talking in a kayfabe sense. In their biggest matches this year, Punk successfully defended the title against Chris Jericho at WrestleMania XXVIII. Whereas, John Cena lost to The Rock on the same show.
Another award that I disagreed with was the Comeback of the Year. While I understand giving Jerry Lawler some sort of recognition of his return from a life threatening heart attack, the WWE’s constant talk of it, and jokes about it, rub me the wrong why. Besides, from a “business” standpoint, Lawler’s return did nothing to bring up business. The person who had the biggest impact for the WWE upon his return was Brock Lesnar. The return of Brock Lesnar had everybody talking. His return sparked a lot of interest in seeing what he would do. He wrestled two matches on pay per view. Both cards he appeared on had buy rates that were higher than the previous year. His match with Triple H at SummerSlam drew such a high number that it was reported that the WWE feels that the contract that they signed Lesnar to was justified. That, to me, makes Brock Lesnar the no-brainer winner of this award.
The final major award that I disagreed with was the Match of the Year winner. Don’t get me wrong, the Undertaker vs. Triple H Hell in a Cell match at WrestleMania XXVIII was really good. I am not going to say that it’s a travesty that this match won the award. Not at all. I just feel that there was one match that was better. I absolutely loved the John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar match. This match was so different than the standard WWE cookie cutter match that you get from them. The John Cena/Brock Lesnar match was stiff, violent, and brutal. John Cena took a ton of punishment in the match. It was as if Lesnar forgot that he was no longer in the UFC, because he was literally beating the shit out of the poster child for the WWE. The stiffness of the match reminded me of the Samoa Joe vs. Kenta Kobashi match several years ago in Ring of Honor.
This has been an interesting week in the WWE. It was filled with great booking decisions, and controversial award winners. The Road to WrestleMania is right around the corner. Will the WWE continue their trend of doing a good job of booking? If so, we are in for one hell of a ride. Even if the wrong people win Slammys a year from now.