So, we didn’t get nearly as good an episode of RAW this week as we did last week. On the surface, it was because there wasn’t as clear formatting as there was the week before. This week we saw matches between people that made very little sense, and we had a distinct lack of story line continuation (or creation) from last week.
The main event yesterday was a Survivor Series style tag match – Team Rollins (Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, and the New Day) vs. Team Reigns (Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Ryback, and the returning Usos). This is all well and good on the surface. Anything that continues the Rollins/Reigns feud (except their opening promos) is good – they create palpable tension. The Rollins/Ambrose feud was also electric, but it was chaotic. We had no idea where it might go at any given moment. This feud is more cut and dry, and there is tension from the audience’s perspective knowing Reigns is due for a title run. Is Survivor Series where his reign will begin? Unlikely, but still possible. But what on earth are they doing with the rest of the men in this match?
The Usos have returned after months off television as Jimmy recovered from a shoulder injury. Now they are back and, in y opinion, a clear choice to enter into a feud with the New Day for the tag titles. (Did you notice that the Dudleys were off TV this week?) I’d be happy to see that much energy – and dancing – in the tag division for a while. Not to mention New Day can more than make up for the Usos lack of mic skills. If this is going to be another two-PPV feud, I would be ecstatic to see these two teams duke it out at Survivor Series later this month and TLC in December.
Also featured in this tag match were the current Intercontinental Champion, Kevin Owens, and his most recent opponent (and the guy he took the title from,) Ryback. Why on earth put these two in this match? I was saying during Owens’ earlier match with Dolph Ziggler (which was preposterous by the way. The match itself was good as always, but Owens was basically a foil so Tyler Breeze could come out and distract Ziggler) that there was NO WAY his character would agree to be in the tag match. But I was wrong – Seth Rollins did an excellent job of creating incentive for Owens to join Team Rollins – by suggesting a Rollins vs. Owens title vs. title match at Wrestlemania. I actually hope they pocket this story for a while and we don’t see this match until Wrestlemania 33. Regardless, Owens takes a spot on Team Rollins, so why would Roman Reigns ask Ryback to join his team – a guy who has lost to Owens twice now? Why not ask someone who hasn’t lost so spectacularly to this formidable foe? I guess since Cesaro was busy making the Miz tap out and John Cena’s on vacation, he was low on choices.
Which brings us to my personal favorite, Dean Ambrose. Now, when I say “personal favorite”, everyone knows I have a preference for Ambrose’s character. But his presence in this match was not even close to being my favorite anything. At this point (and I hate to say it) I just want him to turn heel already. When Seth Rollins first turned on his Shield brethren back in the summer of 2014, Ambrose’s character became the break-out of the group. While Rollins’ was headed toward greatness with the Authority and Roman Reigns was busy trying to get himself a title shot, Ambrose was jumping out of the trunk of cars just trying to get revenge. And that, though perhaps not admirable, was relatable. We’ve all been betrayed by someone we love, though maybe not on such a grand scale (and hopefully not as violently). Anticipating Ambrose’s weekly antics and the lengths he’d go to just to get his hands on Traitorface became something to look forward to. But as time as gone on, it became clear that Ambrose’s character didn’t fit as well into feuds with other characters. He’s a weirdo outcast, and his in-ring style is not quite crowd-stunning. He needs something new, and he needs to be alone. Having him as Roman Reigns’ best friend makes him seem goofy instead of lethal.
I wrote more than a year ago about the need for a Joker-type character in WWE. That is precisely what a heel version of Dean Ambrose could be. A character with no true origin story, no clear allies, and nothing to lose. He doesn’t need championships or checks in the win column – he just needs to keep creating as much chaos as humanly possible. He could be a lot like a Monet painting – up close seemingly random smudges, but once you see the whole picture it’s a magnificent piece of calculated work. Not quite as other-worldly as Bray Wyatt or the Undertaker, not nearly as cocky or money-hungry as Kevin Owens. When it’s time to make the turn, is WWE going to give us a Dean Ambrose who will cause a little mayhem just to watch the world burn?