WWE TLC was another disappointing outing for Seth Rollins. Steve Cook digs in to see what might be ailing “The Architect” on WWE PPV.
It’s the time of year where every wrestling writer affiliated with a website or blog or Facebook page is completing their Year-End Awards ballot. A tradition unlike any other. Readers love award columns because they like to discuss how the writers got them completely wrong, and who the winners of awards should be. It’s great debate fodder. I, admittedly, am terrible at them because I forget a lot of things that happened over the course of a year. Sometimes I forget what I did last week, so I can’t be trusted to remember who the top wrestlers of January were.
The Wrestler of the Year Award is always an interesting one to discuss. Every year presents many viable candidates, but a consensus typically forms around four to five main contenders. I suspect that one of the main contenders of the 2018 Wrestler of the Year Award will be Seth Rollins. He’s got the reputation of being one of WWE’s best in-ring workers & his matches typically get rave reviews from all the experts. A list of Best Raw Matches of 2018 would include plenty of Seth’s Intercontinental Championship defenses & challenges, along with some tag team matches & other assorted things the Architect took part in.
From where I sit, there’s one major argument against naming Seth Rollins Wrestler of the Year. That would be the fact that he’s had two high-profile PPV matches end up as complete flops. It’s not like Rollins was saddled with the dregs of WWE, or stuck in storylines that nobody had interest in. Dolph Ziggler’s issue with Rollins over the IC strap went back months & produced a number of Raw matches that people loved. Dean Ambrose & Seth have been on-again off-again Shield brothers, and their recent feud that kicked off just after Roman Reigns went out of action should have had the interest of any crowd of WWE fans. Neither match connected with the crowd in the arena, nor with most of the people watching at home that were on blogs, websites or social media talking about it.
Now, there are plenty of Rollins supporters out there that will go to bat for both matches. They’ll claim that the IWC critics don’t know what they’re talking about & it’s the live crowd’s fault for not enjoying the show. If they were writing this column, they could make that argument. They’re not. I’m one of those darn critics that doesn’t blindly enjoy everything & notices when something’s not working.
Why aren’t Seth Rollins’ major matches working? I have some ideas as to why…
Placement of the match
I think most people would agree that neither match was properly placed on its card. Rollins & Ziggler had no business main eventing Extreme Rules. For one thing, Ziggler’s never been taken seriously as a main event talent. He hasn’t been pushed at that level, and while he’s been popular at times, the majority of the WWE Universe hasn’t been begging for a Dolph Ziggler main event push for any lengthy period of time. Rollins has been main event level, with the right opponent, but he can’t elevate somebody like Dolph to that level. Furthermore, it was Extreme Rules, and the match wasn’t extreme at all. If you’re going to name a show Extreme Rules, the featured match needs to utilize various types of plunder, go all over the building and generally result in anarchy. Rollins vs. Ziggler wasn’t that.
When the reaction to your main event is “wait a minute, these guys are going on last?”, it’s not a good sign for things to come.
Rollins vs. Ambrose was placed in the semi-main event position at TLC, between the WWE Championship match pitting The New Daniel Bryan against AJ Styles, and the SmackDown Women’s Championship TLC match with Becky Lynch defending against Charlotte Flair & Asuka. I don’t think Bryan & Styles are capable of having a bad match with each other as opponents, so anything following them is going to have its work cut out for it.
WWE used to place matches of little interest in the next to last spot on their PPV cards in order to give crowds time to relax & get ready for the main event. They haven’t been doing that lately, and matches like Rollins vs. Ambrose have ended up in a tough spot. People might be interested, but they’re worn out from the last kickass match & could use a little breather before the match they have the most interest in. TLC definitely had the right match going on last, as The Man’s issue with Flair, Asuka & anybody else in her path has been the most compelling part of WWE television lately. Also, there was the TLC stipulation, so it kinda made sense.
If Rollins & Ambrose didn’t go out there and, pardon the expression, burn it down, they were going to get eaten alive by the crowd. That’s exactly what happened. They couldn’t follow Bryan & Styles, and they weren’t good enough to make the crowd want to wait for Becky. So they chanted “WE WANT BECKY”, among other things.
Listening to the crowd
As much as some critics want to dismiss what a live crowd thinks sometimes, the fact of the matter is that live crowds are the truest barometer of what’s working & what isn’t. Crowds vary based on location & demographics, but generally speaking, a pro wrestling crowd is made up of people that are passionate about the artform. Whether it’s a football stadium filled to the rafters for a WrestleMania, or a half-empty arena for a TV taping, the people in attendance go to the show because they love the product. They probably don’t love everything on every show, but enough things strike their fancy that they keep coming back.
The best wrestlers have learned how to read crowds after years of performing in front of them. They know when the audience is reacting the right way. If the fans don’t react the way that’s expected, the wrestlers know that something’s wrong. The best wrestlers (referees are valuable with this too) are able to adjust on the fly. They don’t keep doing things that aren’t working, assuming they’re going to jump on board eventually. Obviously they end up arriving at the same conclusion, they just take a different route than originally planned.
Both matches were prime examples of wrestlers not listening to crowds. They kept running through their stuff and doing things that weren’t getting the proper reaction, because they knew better than the fans. Rollins’ response to the Ziggler match failing was to blame the fans.
— Seth Rollins (@WWERollins) July 16, 2018
He hasn’t reacted on social media as of the time I’m writing this, which at least indicates he’s learned that complaining about the crowd in public isn’t a good look for a top babyface. As far as the San Jose crowd itself goes, they were popping for most stuff all night, so you can’t make the argument that they just didn’t like anything. They seemed like the kind of crowd WWE should want at all their events. We can’t fault them for getting restless during the eleventh match out of twelve.
If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.
People loved those Rollins vs. Ziggler matches on Raw. One argument I’ve seen from multiple people about their matches is that it doesn’t matter if they always wrestle each other, It’s great every time. This was how people defended Ziggler accepting Rollins’ open challenge a few weeks back. Fans hoping for something different were let down, but Rollins vs. Ziggler fans were pleased as punch.
Me, I’m one of those guys that likes to see something different. One of my gripes with modern WWE is that we often see the same matches over & over & over again. WWE has done this throughout its history, but that was more excusable when they mostly ran house shows and not everything was on television. Those of us that were spoiled by the Monday Night War & television that wasn’t repetitive don’t get excited for the fifth time Rollins vs. Ziggler is booked in two months.
Some guys make do anyway. It’s not like Sunday was the first AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan match we’ve seen in awhile. It was the first one we’ve seen with The New Daniel Bryan, though. That made everything different. Even when there aren’t radical character changes involved, Styles & Bryan tend to switch up their matches on a regular basis & have endless amounts of things they can go to.
Rollins & Ziggler, to me, didn’t feel that way. Rollins matches in general don’t feel that way to me. There are certain spots he has to hit in every single match. Regardless of what’s happened in the match, he has to be able to do his running powerbomb, his superplex into a Falcon Arrow, repeated suicide dives & other ones I’m forgetting. Even if he’s spent the match getting his knee worked over & the announcers put over his previous knee issues, he’s still gotta get his stuff in, man.
Some say it’s an indy mindset, brought on by guys needing to get all their stuff into every match so they can get noticed. But it goes at least as far back as Ric Flair. Naitch did all of his trademark spots in every match because he felt he was short-changing the fans if he didn’t. Bret Hart mocked Ric for this, though he too had his routine.
Rollins’ fans love his spots and don’t see this as a problem. The thing is that once the people find out all you’ve got, they want something more. John Cena & Roman Reigns both ran into that issue & often got called out for doing the same ol’ stuff. Cena has enough self-awareness to do things like unveiling a sixth move of doom.
The difference? Rollins’ moves are flashier. It’s still pretty samey though.
How can this change?
This is definitely a fixable issue. All I think Seth Rollins needs to do is listen to the crowd & maybe do something a little different every once in awhile. Maybe work in some psychology here & there. He’s got the tools that Internet fans love, and he’s got fans in high places.
WWE can also help him out by shortening the shows up a bit. Or maybe he could tone it down a bit. His Raw matches never have the problem some of his PPV stuff has. I understand why, having been to Raw tapings before. There isn’t as much actual wrestling on Raw. By the time there is some you’re ready to pop for anything that’s decent in-ring action. Shows with twelve matches on them? That’s going to be a harder to impress crowd.
As the saying goes: Once is a fluke. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is a trend. Seth Rollins is approaching trending levels, and not in the good way that WWE typically trends on social media during their shows. I think he’ll turn it around.
For heaven’s sake, he’s only 32 years old. He’s got a good 10 years of main events in front of him.
Chris King: What Should Daniel Bryan Save Next?
Tag Team Wrestling… The WWE Championship… Kofi Kingston’s LEgacy… The Planet… What should Daniel Bryan save next???
Tag Team Wrestling… The WWE Championship… Kofi Kingston’s Legacy… The Planet… What should Daniel Bryan save next???
The ‘Submission Specialist’ Daniel Bryan has done it all in WWE–4-Time WWE Champion, a former United States and Intercontinental Champion and alongside the monstrous Rowan a 2-Time WWE Tag Team Champion. At Extreme Rules, the self-proclaimed ‘Planet’s Champions’ lost their titles to The New Day in a triple-threat-match. In a post-match backstage interview, a delusional Bryan paced back-and-forth saying “Daniel Bryan needs to go somewhere he’s never been before, I know what I need to do!”
On last week’s SmackDown Live it appeared we were about to find out what the future holds for ‘The New’ Daniel Bryan, but thanks to New Day’s antics the former tag team champion just stormed off the stage. In my estimation, there are only three brands that Bryan can jump to, 205 Live, NXT UK and my number one choice NXT.
Daniel Bryan Goes To NXT UK
Bryan has not had any run-ins with any of the superstars of NXT UK since it’s inception in 2018. That doesn’t mean it needs to stay that way, in recent months we’ve seen current NXT and 205 Live superstars jump to the UK brand such as ‘The Knockout Artist’ Kassius Ohno, Mike Kanellis and even current Cruiserweight Champion Drew Gulak who was a participant in the 2018 United Kingdom Tournament.
If you thought Tyler Bate/Pete Dunne II was EPIC, you ain’t seen nothing yet. There are a plethora of dream matches that Bryan could have such as, Mark Andrews, Travis Banks, Flash Morgan Webster and my top two would be Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne. If Bryan changes back to a babyface he could mix it up with Jordan Devlin and perhaps even the monstrous current NXT UK Champion WALTER.
As I’m writing this I’m contemplating changing this to my number one pick. Just the excitement and buzz surrounding Bryan’s debut on the UK brand would be more than enough of a reason to start watching this highly-entertaining weekly show. Then having a one-on-one match with any of those high caliber superstars on an NXT UK: TakeOver event would be the cherry on top!
Daniel Bryan Goes To WWE 205 Live
On December 11, 2018, Bryan then-WWE Champion went toe-to-toe with one of the most versatile cruiserweights from 205 Live Mustafa Ali, and both incredibly gifted superstars tore the house down! There’s also a massive amount of reason to believe, that Ali’s SmackDown Live debut was orchestrated by the egocentric Bryan himself.
— ALI / Adeel Alam (@AliWWE) December 12, 2018
If ‘The Submission Specialist’ decides to venture over to the purple brand, he would have an array of high-flyers and other technical specialists to mix it up with. From the young up-and-coming Lucha libre sensation Humberto Carrillo, Akira Tozawa, his real-life friend The Brian Kendrick and last but certainly not least the current WWE Cruiserweight Champion Drew Gulak. The list goes on and on.
In the past few years, it’s been proven that heel vs. heel matches can work on some occasions. I personally would love to watch the Bryan and Gulak battle it out for the Cruiserweight Championship, and find out which submission is most dangerous Dragon Sleeper vs. Heel Hook? That would be a five star EPIC Match!
With Bryan’s popularity with the WWE Universe (whether he’s a heel or babyface) and his exceptional in-ring prowess, he could be the remedy for 205 Live to not only bring in more viewership but prevent it from being canceled altogether. Bryan could overthrow Gulak and reign supreme as the greatest Cruiserweight Champion we’ve ever seen!
Daniel Bryan Goes To NXT
Before we go any further I know Bryan played an integral role in NXT from 2010-2011 as a ‘rookie’, with his WWE ‘pro’ The Miz making his life a living hell the whole time. The fact remains though that Bryan has never wrestled on a TakeOver event. Let’s make it happen.
In my dream scenario I could realistically see the egocentric Bryan interfering in Johnny Gargano/Adam Cole at NXT TakeOver: Toronto, costing the beloved NXT favorite his last chance at regaining the NXT Championship and working a lengthy program with Gargano. Gargano vs. Bryan would be a masterpiece, both are dazzling to watch and could easily produce Match of the Year caliber contests. Its the perfect dream match where Gargano can face the man that he paralleled his career after.
Or perhaps Bryan has his gaze on the North American Championship and wants to ‘Save the planet’ from The Velveteen Dream. Bryan would be a terrific foe for the 23-year-old. Who would be more perfect for Dream to learn from, than the seasoned veteran Bryan who can truly show Dream how to hold any crowd in the palm of his hands.
Or what if Bryan challenges ‘The Original Bro’ of NXT Matt Riddle. Both competitors are technician specialists, and with Riddle’s dangerous stiff strikes vs. Bryan’s unlimited arsenal of submissions they would put on a wrestling clinic. If WWE is looking to produce a 15-Minute sellout ala AEW, announcing Bryan vs. literally anyone in NXT could make it a reality. Not to mention if Bryan turns babyface, the possibilities are endless for him to work with.
Bryan has several options to choose from for his future in WWE, with a plethora of fantastic opponents to mix it up with. Another wild concept to consider, is what if Bryan leaves WWE altogether and signs with AEW? That’s just a fantasy but stranger things have happened in the world of professional wrestling. We the WWE Universe get the honor and privilege of witnessing magic whatever the decision is. So, where do you want Bryan to head to next?
Tiffany’s Takes: Monday Night RAW (7-22-2019)
“Ah, the family reunion, where we meet relatives we haven’t seen or spoken to since the last reunion and air out the drama that can’t wait for Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
Tiffany MC takes you on a journey into WWE Raw Reunion in this edition of Tiffany’s Takes!
Ah, the family reunion, where we meet relatives we haven’t seen or spoken to since the last reunion and air out the drama that can’t wait for Thanksgiving and Christmas. How did WWE’s version of this unsung summer ritual go?
I’m not a John Cena fan, or not much of one, not like I used to be, but there’s no denying that the man gets the crowd on its feet. Of course my feelings of nostalgia died the minute he started doing one of his twenty minute promos (YAWN!). I’m always down for a rap off between the Doctor of Thuganomics and the Usos though. Also, loved seeing Rikishi again, rare guy that could make any gimmick work. Not thrilled about Revival interrupting the dancing. Have to have Rikishi and the Usos dancing, but D-Von Dudley and Revival works for me.
For all the criticism of Hulk Hogan, the man still gets a pop, and it was great to see him with Jimmy Hart again, even if Jimmy is as annoying as ever. Where did Cena go? I get Rikishi and D-Von not wrestling, but did Cena fly the coop or something? Good match, but we didn’t get a stinkface!
Loved seeing Kaitlyn, Alicia Fox, Santino Marella,and Torrie Wilson, but of course Drew McIntyre had to ruin the fun because that’s what unhappy people do.
R-Truth survived Comic-Con, I see. I hope the moderators were told ahead of time about this, so it didn’t seem too weird, but it it Comic-Con, so who knows? I will give Drake Maverick all the props in the world for being man enough to be seen in that costume. If we get Carmella vs Renee Michelle out of this, I’m game. Also, GODFATHER, no ladies since this is PG and the MeToo Era.
So, Drew McIntyre was so incensed by Cedric Alexander’s surprise win yesterday, he wanted another go. The match never got going since McIntyre attacked before Alexander got in the ring, so he couldn’t even even up the score. But at least he thinks he got his balls back or whatever.
Ew, who invited the Boogeyman? At least Pat Patterson is here to save us and take off with the 24/7 belt.
Christian is here! Wish Edge was too, but we’ll take what we can get! We also have Lilian Garcia as ring announcer for the murder of the Major Bros by the Viking Raiders! RIP Major Bros.
So the swanky RAW reunion was going on with Mike Kanellis chatting it up with Eve Torres and Eric Bischoff before Maria interrupted. I am HATING the Pregzilla thing, seriously, they’re making her into every person’s nightmare of a pregnant woman. Hello, Ron Simmons, with or without the megaphone.
So, the Club plotting Seth Rollins’ destruction, I do wish the Shield was here because that would’ve been so epic, but Jon Moxley is having the time of his life in Japan and we want him to be happy.
Gerald Brisco struck again and got tricked by Kelly Kelly, so there’s that.
So, we’re getting a reboot of an old feud between Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns, which answers the question of who Reigns is facing at SummerSlam. God help them if Samoa Joe spouts on about Roman ‘faking’ his cancer. The match was great, so I’m eager to see this at SummerSlam.
Seth Rollins started off his ‘Take the Title Back’ campaign with a stop at MizTV with a hilarious Brock Lesnar impersonation. Not as good as Cena’s but it wasn’t awful. I did enjoy watching him and Heyman promo off each other. This also interesting because it was the first MizTV to not end with someone, usually Miz, getting their ass kicked.
Everyone’s got that one relative that loves to stir up trouble at every reunion, and it looked like Sami Zayn played that role. LOVED Kurt Angle putting his GM hat on and making a match.
It’s been so long since I’ve seen Candice Michelle or Melina, those two were so great in their prime and Candice won her first championship in…a VERY long time by becoming the 24/7 champ, just to be beaten by…Madusa, I think? Good luck, knocking her out.
Jonathon Coachman is back in time to call Sami Zayn vs Rey Mysterio for us! I’ve said before that Mysterio’s most recent run in WWE hasn’t impressed me due to all his injury issues, but this was a good match, even got a spot for Rob Van Damm, Sgt. Slaughter, who still looks like he could hurt you, and Hurrican Helms, who isn’t quite as scary, and Kurt Angle.
Of course, the Nature Boy Ric Flair had to make his appearance, even though he’s not looking like he’s in the best health these days, it was good to see him again.
I still haven’t figured out what the Street Profits are doing on RAW.
Alundra Blayze made her…triumphant return to RAW by selling the 24/7 Championship to Ted DiBiase.
Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler made his return to the show he called for nearly twenty years to call the rematch of Seth Rollins vs AJ Styles. This match was definitely the highlight of the night, in my opinion. It really looked like the Club was going to cause Rollins some misery, until he was saved by…DX? I’m not sure who was more shocked, Rollins or the Club. I think we would’ve all loved to have seen a Shield reunion, but Jon Moxley is having the time of his life in Japan, so Rollins getting an assist from DX will have to work. We didn’t get the six man tag, but the odds were evened up. The match ending in a DQ doesn’t really bother me since we got DX and the NWO in action…or was it the Kliq? Oh, who cares, it was cool and it happened. I literally turned into a teenage girl again squealing over Kevin Nash and Sean Waltman (Yeah, I had a crush on 1-2-3 Kid, mullet and all). Also, kudos for mentioning Chyna and Billy Gunn and for Seth marking out.
Mick Foley and Mark Henry are always joys to watch. Not a fan of Mick being attacked since he really isn’t in shape to fight back.
Well Moment of Bliss didn’t go quite the way I thought it would. I thought Alexa Bliss would find a way to shoehorn herself into the title picture, but she seemed happy to stir the pot between Becky Lynch and Nattie. I love how the Lynch/Nattie feud and seeing what the belt means to Lynch. Still curious to see what’s in store for Bliss and Nikki Cross, but that brawl was fun.
Our long nightmare is over, R-Truth is 24/7 Champions again. I said in the past that I had some reservations about the 24/7 Championship and things like this are why I had reservations, but the way this was handled was really fun and actually kept the Truth vs Maverick storyline going, not sure what happened to Renee Michelle.
Strowman crushed a jobber, so that happened.
Ah, time for everyone at the reunion to gather around and remind themselves that for all the drama, they still share a gene pool…or an employment history, in RAW’s case. However, is it me or does Ric Flair NOT look that good? That said, I loved seeing all the legends of RAW turn up for a beer bash with Stone Cold Steve Austin playing the relative that shows up just for the fuck of it and drinks beer all night. Great way to end a fun episode!
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