Best: I Am All-In On Face Zeb And Swagger
I didn’t expect this to be exciting or effective, but holy crap was it exciting and effective.
Rusev and Lana show up to explain (for the first time, I believe) that Russia rules and America drools. Out walks the most pro-America guys on the show, Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger, to FINALLY stand up to the only foreign guy on the WWE payroll outwardly insulting the country on a regular basis. One of the weird failings of the Colter character has been that he had a big DEPORT EVERYBODY sign with people like Emma and Adam Rose on it, but was ignoring the EVIL RUSSIANS who are directly and with visual aids explaining how intolerant white Americans (the WWE Universe) were the worst thing going.
They glossed over the reality of Zeb being a terrible, terrible representation of decent American folks with a FREEDOM OF SPEECH~ thing, suggesting that HE can say awful shit about America and be awful to Americans because he IS American. The Dixie Chicks thing. You can say Bush sucks here, but if you say Bush sucks in Europe you are blacklisted forever. It worked though, somehow, and by the time Swagger was doing Ricky Steamboat armdrags to Rusev and sending him packing, EVERYBODY was into it. I never thought I’d hear “let’s go Swagger” chants, but here we are.
I love this, obviously, because I’ve been begging for a Real Americans face turn since Cesaro joined the crew. It’s very easy to turn Zeb from “racist, politically extreme guy we hate” to “racist, politically extreme guy we’re used to and kinda love because he’s so wrong about everything.” You just portray him as your ignorant uncle at a family get-together. Of course he’s a total asshole, but he’ll always be there for you, because deep down he loves you and wants you to be happy. Plus, Jack Swagger gets used for something besides jobbing and hurting people we like!
Best: Lana, Forever
Best: WWE Understanding That Actual 3-Man Teams Should Defeat 3 Guys Teaming
Remember last year when three random main-event types would huddle up and try to beat The Shield in a six-man tag, but almost never could? That’s one of my favorite things about the current WWE ecosystem: the idea that three guys who team together regularly and on purpose would have some kind of edge against three “good” wrestlers who just happen to be teaming.
Back in the day, that used to be known as a “tag team specialist.” You could justify a guy like Bobby Eaton losing a singles match to a guy like Lex Luger because he’s used to being in a tag team and being able to tag out if things got rough. Similarly, a guy like Luger has a better chance of losing to the Midnight Express in a tag team match, whether his partner is an unstoppable super hero like Sting or not. It made everyone look like they were on the same level. Singles guys can lose tags and vice versa without any serious loss to their credibility.
I don’t know if that’s a thing they’re doing on purpose nowadays, but I’m happy it seems to be playing out that way. I’m also happy that Bray Wyatt is the first person to watch Usos tape and realize they kick constantly, so he should watch out for kicks. An Uso missing a superkick looks like a puppy when you pretend to throw a ball but keep it in your hand.
Best: The Bo-ment Of Silence For The Two People Bo Dallas Hates The Most
The Bo Dallas moment of silence worked on two different levels.
One on level, it’s a masterful heel move. It’s not just a moment, it’s sixty moments. Do you know how long sixty seconds of inactivity feels? Imagine how long it feels to a 10,000 people with ADD. You’re just kneeling there doing nothing while people sit in the seats they paid upwards of hundreds of dollars for and just get madder and madder. My big complaint here is that the announce team wouldn’t shut up and let us hear the crowd slowly become enraged.
On another level, it’s such a great f*ck you to the two people Bo Dallas (the character) hates the most: Wade Barrett and Daniel Bryan. Bo eliminated Barrett from the 2013 Royal Rumble onto to be eliminated himself by Barrett, and they had a reprise of that recently in the Money in the Bank ladder match qualifier battle royal. Bo helped Wade eliminate Rob Van Dam and even hugged him, but Wade clotheslined him. Bo would then eventually eliminate Wade. BLOOD RIVALS. As for Bryan, he’s the guy who called Bo Dallas a “boner” on the pay-per-view pre-show and made people chant “boner” at him. Bo gets to give them both a “moment of silence” because of their injuries, but mostly so he can say “look at me, assholes, you’re sitting at home and I am wasting a full minute of Raw TV time doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.”
Worst: Nikki Bella, World’s Worst Wrestler
Similarly to how WWE realized 3-man teams should be able to beat random three-person pairings, they appear to have realized that in non-John Cena situations, people should lose handicap matches. It’s two people versus one person. You aren’t gonna look weak if you lose to two people. Why do people facing insurmountable odds always mount the shit out of the odds?
Nikki Bella got put into another handicap match because she mentioned her sister, and Stephanie follows her around like one of those people who pops up on Twitter, waits for you to be worried or upset about something and goes HERE’S YOU NOT BEING UPSET ABOUT A SOMEWHAT SIMILAR THING SEVERAL YEARS AGO, WHAT ARE YOU, A HYPOCRITE? You know the type. Nikki goes up against both Funkadoodles and … loses almost immediately. So I dig that.
That said, man, Nikki Bella might be the worst performer in the company right now. The Bellas had this big upswing of improvement last year and then just kinda plateaued. It doesn’t help that she’s one of the stars of TWO active television shows and can’t convincingly mean what she says in a sentence. “I. Own-essly? Didn’t think I was doing anything wrong by inviting my twin sister, Brie Bella, to Raw.” Watch her in that World Cup hype video they did. Asking Nikki Bella to emote is like asking Viscera to do a shooting star press.
Yes, I know Viscera is dead. That’s part of it.