BEST AND WORST OF THE WEEK (Thru 12/2): Heyman’s tears, Becky’s fire, 205 Live, James Storm, Bar Fight, Mother of All Styles Clashes

By Andrew Soucek, PWTorch Specialist

Paul Heyman (art credit Grant Gould © PWTorch)


Best and Worst of the Week seeks out the greatest, and the most groan-inducing things we saw over the past seven days in WWE and TNA. It can be tough to be a wrestling fan at times, but if we stick through it together, we’ll all come out stronger in the end. We may even learn a few life lessons along the way. Or maybe, we’ll all collectively lose our minds over the 5,000th Stephanie McMahon segment. We won’t know unless we watch it all. Now ring the bell!

Worst of the Week

5. Kane Beats Harper:

By now, there was no reason to expect better for Luke Harper. Still, the way he’s been booked lately is basically reverse ridiculousness on WWE’s part. Because not even two months ago did a pay-per-view main event end due to his interference. If they were going to do something bold like that, and end the night on a sour note, then they needed to push The Wyatt Family member as a big deal upon his return. Instead, they’ve done nothing but job him out, which is absurd for a roster that is lacking credible wrestlers.

In Harper’s time back, the only singles win he’s picked up was against Apollo Crews…on Main Event. That means roughly 72 people saw it. More importantly is that he was asked to job to the 49-year-old Kane twice in the span of nine days. Curt Hawkins could have done the Kane jobs instead, and we’d all have been better off for it.

Also, the most ridiculous line of the week may belong to JBL, when he said that Harper “used a lot of the speed and momentum of Kane against him.” Kane’s speed? Are we watching the same show here?

4. Roman Owns Owens

I always find it frustrating when WWE is unable to protect just a few marquee matches. In theory, Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns should be one of the biggest matches the Raw brand can put together. Instead of coming up with any sort of way to keep the two apart before their pay-per-view main event, they went with the tired trope of having them wrestle on TV with the champ losing. WWE, there are other ways to book! It has been done!

I just don’t think I’ll ever be more excited for a match that you’re supposed to pay for, after you have already seen it for free. Even with a title on the line, it just feels like a bit of a rerun. To make matters worse, Roman pinned Owens cleanly, which only continues to make the Universal Champ look increasingly ineffective.

Just think, WWE could reverse the roles of these two and make a lot of money. Or, they can cast them in the wrong slots, throw them out on the middle of an episode of Raw, and get absolutely nothing out of it!

3. The DCC Are Deleted

Well, it was kind of fun while it lasted. Among TNA’s many problems is that they don’t know how to book their heels. They did a surprisingly stellar job through most of 2016 with Bobby Lashley, but no one else comes across as much of a threat. The initial introduction of the DCC showed some potential, but that’s quickly been squandered away.

The trio of Bram, Eddie Kingston, and James Storm continued on their journey of being beaten up by Matt and Jeff Hardy this week. Since the tag division is so depleted on Impact, the group basically had to start at the top and then lose. There’s nowhere else to go but down.

Adding to the silliness was the fact that Storm cut a promo with his mask on, and his voice distorted. Um… we uh… we already know it’s Storm, so doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose? Hopefully the group can get on a bit of a roll, but the last few weeks have certainly damaged quite a bit of their initial potential.

2. 205 Live

Ouch. What a terrible environment this was. You’re not going to be able to create a star by saying to the audience, “Please don’t go home and put your kids to bed, instead stick around for another hour to watch all those people who are on Raw… you know, the ones who don’t have defined personalities!” Thus began the new world of “205 Live.”

Now Rich Swann and Brian Kendrick delivered in the main event, and Jack Gallagher continues to shine, but the show’s atmosphere is dreadful. Considering there’s already five hours of first run TV to watch every week to keep up on WWE’s narrative (six if you count NXT), 205 Live is going to have to go above and beyond every time out to justify its existence.

Maybe they can make this thing work, but by having the show take place in a half-empty arena after a mediocre episode of SmackDown means they have a huge uphill battle in front of them.

1. Going For A Pint

There’s nothing like a good old fashioned barroom brawl… that a couple of cameramen just happen to be at. On Raw, we witnessed Sheamus and Cesaro nearly break up their team, but through a Christmas miracle, some drunken locals made them stronger than ever.

This style of pre-recorded, heavily-edited footage works in Lucha Underground, as they keep their storytelling narrative consistent. TNA has experimented with it to various degrees of success, but in WWE, it just always feels way out of place. Looking past that, the entire brawl was painfully cheesy. For starters, Cesaro looks like a dope by having to order the same drink as James Bond. Being Bond is not a good gimmick! Did he even see Spectre? Then the fight itself was more comically bad than badass.

For two guys who are supposed to be hard-hitting tough guys, they sure star in far too many segments better suited for The Disney Channel.

Best of the Week

5. Pedigree On A Car

Okay, so this isn’t a huge hit here, but sometimes wrestlers just have to battle it out outside of the ring to mix things up. We’ve seen Seth Rollins struggle to work as a face, and having him beat up one of the most beloved wrestlers on Raw likely isn’t a great way to turn things around, but still, it was pretty entertaining.
It seems in this era, WWE hasn’t given us a lot of iconic visuals like the beer truck, or the cement truck, or really, any kind of motorized vehicle that Steve Austin somehow stole. While Rollins delivering a Pedigree on a car will likely be forgotten a week from now, it was an effective way to show his dominance and give him a bit of revenge. It was also a bit of a neat visual. A small step in the right direction for The Architect.

4. Styles Clash From Hell

Well, that could have ended badly. It’s pretty incredible that management let A.J. Styles and James Ellsworth attempt a Styles Clash off the ring steps onto the ground, as we could have seen a man die right on TV. That would have been quite the unhappy ending to a feel-good story.

Recall that the two previously tried to coordinate a Clash, and Ellsworth nearly broke his neck in the process. Somehow they agreed not only try it again, but to have Styles jump in the air while doing it! Luckily for all involved this went smoothly. It also finally added some much needed drama to the Styles/Dean Ambrose feud. Beats a fully grown man dressing up as The Mountie.

3. Becky Lynch Shows Some Fire

This was a pretty strong week for women in professional wrestling. Both Raw and Impact featured women’s title matches in the main event, and the bouts themselves were pretty solid. However, I’m going to go with Becky Lynch finally showing a bit of fire while dropping her goofiness for a bit as the hit here.

Lynch’s promo on SmackDown started off poorly, as she seemed like the old, incredibly lame, babyface version of Sheamus by bringing up her Irish relatives. The segment ended strong, though, and Lynch’s night continued to get better. Her backstage segment where she called Alexa a “b—-” finally made her seem like an actual pissed off competitor, and not a happy-go-lucky act.

There’s still a long ways to go to make her as valuable as Sasha Banks, Charlotte, or even Bayley, but if we see more of that side of her, she could eventually get to that next level.

2. Allie Strikes Back

Allie has come out of nowhere to become the most endearing person in all of professional wrestling. We’ve still only seen glimpses of her in the ring, but she’s a testament that a strong character is enough to get someone over. She doesn’t have to leap off a cage, or get thrown through a table; she just has to yell that, “honesty is the best policy” and the crowd will go along for the ride.

After being berated for months by Maria, Allie finally snapped and slapped her tormentor after being called a not very nice name! Unlike many wrestling angles, this one is still being drawn out effectively as Allie quickly got beat down. That means the journey continues, and we’ll follow along as she gets her revenge one step at a time.

Unless you’re really into the Hardy brothers wacky antics, this may be TNA’s best storyline of the year

1. Paul Heyman’s Tears

If the Emmy Awards ever opens up a category for Best Performance on a Wrestling Program (which is long overdue!), this would be the segment to send the academy for Paul Heyman.

This hasn’t been Heyman’s best year ever from an acting standpoint, but you could blame quite a bit of that on his material. After suffering through one of the greatest embarrassments of his career in Minneapolis in Oct., he’s come back with a vengeance by just full-out breaking down and crying.

On Monday’s Raw, Heyman was pretty broken up about his Beast being slayed, and was delightful in expressing that crushing defeat throughout. His accusation that Michael Cole doesn’t even care how his friend is doing was hilarious, and the segment only got better as it went along. Plus, with the broken ribs added into the narrative, it gives Lesnar a bit of an out for his one-sided loss. Well done all around.

Take note here WWE, only ask someone on the roster to cry on-air if they are actually able to do so.

(This is the debut of Andrew Sousek’s new “Best & Worst of the Week” feature. It will run on a weekly basis right here at PWTorch every weekend.)

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