Best: Everybody Has Forgotten Everybody, I Guess
“hey randy it’s the nay-cha boy ric flair woo”
“WHO ARE YOU OLD MAN”
“you ever seen the ending to last crusade, when the guy picks the wrong grail?”
“GET OUT OF HERE BEFORE I SHOW YOU WHY THEY USED TO CALL ME THE LEGEND KILLER”
“YOU, AND OUR FRIENDS I GUESS”
“YOU USING THAT DUFFEL BAG?”
I’m really intrigued by this segment, even though it’s probably all in my head. Randy Orton’s been officially thrown in the garbage by The Authority, hasn’t he? They told him he had to eliminate Roman Reigns or he’d never be free to get another title shot. He lost to Roman, and now suddenly The Authority’s championing Brock Lesnar. Orton’s been trying to take out Cena for 10+ years and Lesnar just shows up and German suplexes Cena to death like it’s nothing. Now Randy’s teaming with RYBAXEL and they’re LOSING. What’s he supposed to do now?
So I like Flair showing up and being all, “hey man, if you need to talk, I’m here.” How cool would it be if Flair picked up the pieces of the disenfranchised members of Evolution and brought them back as babyfaces? Imagine Daniel Bryan showing up at the Royal Rumble and Triple H trying to lord some kind of power over him, only for Orton and Batista to show up and wreck him and clear the way for Bryan? I’d lose my mind. It’d be perfect, circular storytelling. Throw Roman in the group with them and do it right. Then you’d have a past (Batista), a present (Orton) and a future (Roman). The most recent version felt like three pasts.
Best: It’s Goldust And Stardust! AND THEY’RE DOING THINGS!
YEAH, TIME FOR ME TO GET ENTHUSIASTIC AND EXCITED BECAUSE MY FAVORITE GUYS ARE … oh no what are they doing
Worst: Seriously Though, Enough With These Consequence-free Losses For Champions
After being locked in a room for a month, Goldust and Stardust are getting surprise rollups on the tag team champions and pinning them to set up a match that has nothing to do with cosmic keys or feuds or allegiances or ANYTHING. It’s just “and now, the tag teams we remember.” I’m down for a Dust Brusters (f*ck you, JBL) and Usos beef, especially if it leads to one of the teams going rogue and, I don’t know, developing a story, but is this the way to do it? Especially on a show where Paige already lost a non-title match to a distraction roll-up and the new Intercontinental Champion lost by count-out.
Can we do something with these guys’ CHARACTERS? I know I’m the Internet’s head cheerleader for F*CK THE CHARACTERS, WRESTLE THE MATCHES, but man, you’ve got two gold guys who spent a month doing math problems and pondering outer space. The Usos are trying to get “Usos crazy” over. Why are they trading waistlocks and rollups? Go nuts, guys.
Best: Rusev Is Still Selling The Ankle
Rusev’s dedication to telling a story in the ring is making him one of my favorite wrestlers. I mean, he was already one of my favorite wrestlers because he’s wearing a gold star given to him by Vladimir Putin and putting people in camel clutches because his foxy girlfriend ordered it via hand gesture, but this is REAL. The guy is still hobbling around and not at 100% because even though he beat Jack Swagger, he still wrestled him, and the wrestling you wrestled should still exist when you’re done. Beautiful.
Best: Mark Henry, Gentleman Wig-Splitter
Also beautiful: MARK HENRY, SEGMENT TWO.
This is how you do it. This is how you stand up for the United States against a cartoon super villain and deal vengeful babyface damage without looking like an asshole. Henry shows up and explains that he’s tired of hearing Rusev and Lana run down America … he’s competed in two Olympic games on behalf of the country and LOVES it. It’s not a thing he’s saying, it’s the truth. The guy goes to Olympic training camps and takes happy mark photos with the athletes. He’s posing with THEM, not the other way around. And yeah, there’s still a bunch of “I was SICK TO MY STOMACH to see you have your flag raised IN MY COUNTRY per the rules of the match you won fairly” jingoistic stuff, but it’s largely based on Rusev’s heelishness and not Henry arbitrarily going around bodyslamming foreigners.
When Lana won’t stop yammering and trying to interrupt him, he points at her and yells I’M NOT TALKING TO YOUUUU. She shuts the hell up. That’s how you do it. You don’t call her a bitch and give her a dramatic soap opera slap, you tell her to shut up because she’s talking over you. She’s actively being the confrontational and annoying one. Henry challenges Rusev, and Rusev doesn’t just throw the first punch … the first punch is a SUCKERPUNCH, which gives Henry the babyface right to unload on him. How does Henry get the advantage? Blocking a kick by hitting Rusev’s bum ankle. Do you see how hot and logical and wonderful this stuff can be when you pay attention and do it right?
The best part is the very end. Henry doesn’t try to intimidate Lana or threaten her. He doesn’t grab her by the hair or kiss her or anything stupid … he makes a gentlemanly “move out of the way” gesture and moves her out of the way so he can splash Rusev. It’s perfect. He knows Lana isn’t going to do anything to him. He’s Mark Henry, and her only weapon is on the ground with a split wig.
If WWE’s smart, they’ll give Henry the first pinfall victory over Rusev instead of putting Rusev over, because the “hi, I’m John Cena, have we met” ending doesn’t help anybody.
Worst: Let’s Ask The WWE Universe What They Thought About This Angle