After making such a huge deal out of Vince Russo poorly promoting his appearance on Jim Ross’s podcast, The Ross Report, I felt I had to listen to it. And I did – the whole thing. Russo is grating to listen to, but not always wrong. I certainly agree with his point that it would be beneficial for WWE to return to a format wherein entire segments happen between commercial breaks. I’m getting REALLY tired of commercials interrupting matches. It doesn’t make me want to come back when the break is over, it makes me want to forgo the end of the match. Russo did make me want to scream when discussing why he doesn’t like Kevin Owens, though, so I’m not a convert – don’t worry.
I also listened to Steve Austin’s podcast, The Steve Austin Show, featuring guest Wade Keller of PW Torch. I certainly enjoyed Keller more as a guest than Russo, but found issue with his views, as well. I’m not entirely sure why he thinks putting the diva’s title match as the penultimate match at TLC makes it important. It came in between the Intercontinental championship surprisingly changing hands and a killer main event. If memory serves me, the women’s match at Wrestlemania XXX came in between a huge upset (Undertaker vs. Brock Lensar) and a massively cathartic main event (Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan.) Did that elevate the diva’s? No. It swallowed them. While Keller was discussing the match, I actually had to go look up the finish because I forgot. That doesn’t make it “almost-main event” status. That means it wasn’t important.
What I did learn from both of these podcasts is that these gentlemen who host the podcasts are running at a distinct disadvantage. In trying to crank out podcasts that are produced at a certain quality that we expect from them and podcastone.com, they’re forced to work within certain time constraints. By the time both of these podcasts aired, RAW had already happened, and the storylines had already changed. Maybe it would be beneficial for them to air later in the week – or in Austin’s case, air something else on Tuesdays and a recap show on Thursday. Just a thought.
Back to RAW. After the TLC PPV on Sunday (which was not only a good show, but a really fun experiencing sharing it with someone who had never watched a PPV before) I was certainly concerned that I would not have as good of a time watching RAW the following night.
When the show opened with Stephanie McMahon starting a promo vaguely turning her nose up at feminism, I nearly shut the whole thing off. She may be a great promo, but she regularly manages to make me feel like being a woman is somehow something she has to overcome and it makes me want to beat her senseless. But then Roman came out. I was already on social media basically BEGGING WWE not to let him sleep. I would have been totally satisfied if Steph fired him without ever letting him appear on TV, and keeping him off-air until the Royal Rumble at the end of January. Instead, he came out, wished his daughter happy birthday (because he’s a good Dad, we’ve all seen the ads) and then told his boss to go ahead and fire him.
What she did do, though, was slap the crap out of him (props to those two for making it both believable and uncomfortable. I don’t care that this is pro wrestling, your boss should not smack you around.) On top of that, because of our society’s issues with gender, there was nothing Reigns could do to retaliate. He just had to take it. Then Steph set the mood for the rest of the night by letting us all know that Vincent Kennedy McMahon was on his way to the arena.
I saw a really great meme after RAW on Twitter of Vince sitting in a chair at ringside during the main event and it said “I’ll just get him over myself, damnit.” This is basically what happened. I don’t know that I’ve seen anything as good from WWE as we saw last night since Daniel Bryan left. That’s a shame, too. But it takes a really long time to build to a payoff like RAW gave us. And I don’t think it was entirely planned by WWE creative.
What do you suppose the chances are that WWE knew Reigns would get booed out of the building at the Royal Rumble in Philadelphia, PA in January? What do you suppose the chances were they knew the audience would fight Reigns every step of the way after that? Do you think they knew the harder they pushed him, the harder the pushback would be? Did they see a RAW in Philly on the schedule and think they could get an even bigger pop if Reigns managed to win back the crowd that tried to destroy him? Do you think this was the plan all along? I don’t.
I think this was a happy accident. After having to return to the drawing board with too many people (particularly WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins) away from the company for a while, I think they tried to re-invest in Roman Reigns and made a tremendous mess out of it. I think that WWE had no choice but to dig way back into their arsenal of plot devices to come up with something the WWE Universe didn’t even know we wanted. To see the Vince McMahon character we all loved to hate one more time.
I believe I’ve mentioned in one of my blog posts that I once heard someone hypothesize that the reason we refused to put Reigns over is because we knew the powers that be (the McMahons and Triple H) were pushing him, and they have always been heels inside of WWE’s storylines. Thus, we as an audience should boo Reigns. You could argue that Reigns has basically always been facing off against the Authority, though, save for The Shield’s heel-alignments at the beginning of their run as a main roster faction. But you basically never saw Roman Reigns interact with Vince McMahon – the true power behind WWE. Vince will always be bigger than any storyline – bigger and more powerful than Stephanie and Hunter could ever be, maybe even after he shuffles off this mortal coil. If they really wanted to get Reigns over with the crowd, it makes complete sense to pit him against the biggest boss WWE has to offer.
All of the biggest stars in WWE have needed Vince as their opponent at some point. Steve Austin surely did. Triple H did. The Rock did. Mankind, The Undertaker, Bret Hart…they all did. The greatest character that WWE ever placed before us is Vince McMahon – he’s a star maker. I guarantee we will look back on this time in Reigns’ career and say that, if not for Sunday’s TLC finish, and if not for Vince’s appearance on RAW, Reigns would never have become whatever it is he is now heading for. And I don’t know who will make heroes out of boys when Vince is gone.