My god, where do I even begin?
The last time I wrote about wrestling, Bray Wyatt had just screwed Dean Ambrose in his match against Seth Rollins at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. While many were not thrilled with the finish, I suggested that putting Wyatt and Ambrose together could wind up being best for both of them: Wyatt would get a chance to reemerge as a top heel and Ambrose could continue his ascension as the no. 2 babyface behind John Cena. Despite having just an okay match at Survivor Series and a lukewarm build towards the rematch at TLC, when WWE decided to put these two in the main event (over the much more hyped Cena vs. Rollins Tables Match) I thought that we might finally see my prediction come to fruition. I was desperately hoping for something special.
Instead, WWE shat all over an otherwise solid TLC match with one of the worst finishes in recent memory. Ambrose wasn’t done in by a vicious and calculating Wyatt, but rather a malfunctioning piece of equipment. When Ambrose went to hit Wyatt with a camera, he forgot to unplug it first, it exploded in his face and Wyatt capitalized for the victory. What was that noise, you ask? It’s the sound of about 3 million wrestling fans farting in unison.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
The idea, I’m sure, is that Ambrose’s “Lunatic Fringe” gimmick got the best of him because he was too crazed to take the proper precautions before charging at Wyatt with that camera. That sort of booking reeks of something WCW would have done, and that’s all I really need to say about that. The sad part is that Ambrose and Wyatt worked their asses off to have the most brutal TLC match they could and they really deserved to go out on a high note. Instead, TLC wound up leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth and it’s exactly what WWE didn’t need, especially considering that all of this was overshadowed by last Thursday’s NXT REvoultion.
That’s right, WWE’s main roster was shown up by its developmental squad. Instead of giving us cheap finishes or cringeworthy match stipulations (Big Show vs. Rowan in a Stairs match? Just awful.), NXT delivered a night of outstanding performances and ultra satisfying payoff for its promising young talent. Whether it was Kevin Owens making a memorable debut, Finn Balor emerging as a star of the future, Charlotte and Sasha Banks engaging in the best women’s match I’ve seen in years or Sami Zayn finally toppling Adrian Neville for his first NXT Championship, everything about NXT REvolution was simply amazing. That’s what wrestling is all about and it reinvigorated my passion for an industry that all too often leaves me feeling deflated, and that’s more or less how I felt last night after TLC.
At a time when Vince McMahon criticizes his roster for not having the balls to take a chance and reach for the much-heralded “brass ring,” he sure makes it hard for them to do so. Remember, probably the no. 1 rule of being a star in the WWE is to prove yourself to Vince McMahon, because if he isn’t impressed by you than you’ll never make it. It doesn’t matter how much success these guys and gals have in NXT or how much they get over with the crowd; at the end of the day, it’s all about what Vince wants. Want proof? Roman Reigns returned last night to help Cena overcome the odds once again against Rollins (that sentence in itself is ludicrous) and despite not being on TV for the past three months, he’s already getting a bigger push than Ambrose or Dolph Ziggler. On top of that, the main event for the Royal Rumble is Cena vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, which will be the third time in six pay-per-views that that exact same match has been the headliner.
This is all due to the fact that Vince only sees a few of his guys as top-draws while the other wrestlers never really get a fair chance to prove themselves at that same level. I don’t want this to turn into a rant against the WWE, but I think one big reason why that company has become so stagnant and mediocre is because of shows like TLC, where Vince and co. have a chance to take a big step forward with new stars and they utterly fail to do so. Sure, we’ll get to see Ambrose vs. Wyatt again at the Royal Rumble and Dean will finally go over, but it won’t mean anything. It’s not like Wyatt has been forcing Ambrose to get himself disqualified or magically causing the equipment to spontaneously combust. Neither of these guys have any positive momentum as we approach Wrestlemania season and it’s hard to imagine them regaining it any time soon.
Fortunately, last night wasn’t ALL bad. Ziggler opened the show against Luke Harper for the Intercontinental Title, in his hometown of Cleveland no less, and those two delivered a rock-solid Ladder match. Ziggler even got to regain the title, much to the delight of all the fans. That’s two big wins for Ziggler in back-to-back pay-per-views, which is probably the biggest push he will ever get and we should all just enjoy it while we can. Even though I’m skeptical that Reigns can be the face of the company moving forward, the fans seemed to really like his return and hopefully he will prove me wrong. I was disappointed Sting didn’t show up last night after making his long-awaited debut in WWE at Survivor Series, but if that means he will be around more come Wrestlemania time, then so be it.
I’m hopeful that tonight, Raw will reverse it’s recent trend of being borderline unwatchable and will actually get me excited for the Royal Rumble next month. If not, there’s always NXT on Thursday and I think it’s important that we cherish every moment that these guys spend in developmental, because it’s far too likely that they will be misused and cast aside when they finally get called up to the big leagues. Now excuse me while I go rewatch NXT REvolution for the third time.