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RISING STAR OF THE WEEK: Dean Ambrose
Pick a Shield member, any Shield member, and you could make an argument any three of them are the worst-booked main event babyfaces in not just recent memory, but perhaps pro wrestling history. Now that may seem hyperbolic and living in the moment, but I’d challenge anyone to pick three top good guys who have been heated up and then cooled off as much as “The Hounds of Disservice.”
This past Tuesday, Ambrose got a hot reaction from the crowd, so much that it made Smackdown look like it did come fresh off a ratings win. I’d say it occurred not only in thanks to the Miz’s excellent heel work, but surprisingly enough, even this Renee Young storyline has helped rejuvenate the lost, loopy, kinda-dickish character of Dean Ambrose.
Last week’s angle with him surprising Miz as the “fake” fake rent-a-cop and then picking up a walkie to coolly state “everything’s clear” was well done for something that could have just as easily gone the “cheese” route, and I think it put Dean in a good position for this week. He comes off looking like a good boyfriend, but most importantly his and Renee’s on-screen interaction since her skull-crushing slap has been pretty much non-existent, and that’s totally helped in getting this daytime drama over. “Total Divas” notwithstanding (and thankfully, I don’t watch it) the two, from a storyline standpoint, continue to keep things “private” and I hope it stays that way. And I don’t think Ambrose winning the Intercontinental Title should be looked at as a step down for him, but a step up for the title itself. Give him a hearty and healthy run with it, and Ambrose will be the “Turner” to the IC Title’s “Hooch” – hopefully, though, not as comedic.
Paul Heyman: After watching Heyman on “Bring It To The Table,” you better believe I put him at the top of my list to be “Fading Star of The Week.” I thought about how angry that whole show made me with “dumb fan” Pete Rosenberg trying to “argue” with Vince McMahon surrogate JBL as he dumped water on all of the critical fan’s favorite touchy subjects, and there sat Paul E., a usual beacon of critical fan light, nodding and championing along like any sell-out corporate stooge would with what was being said. Then I thought about things; this is a new chapter in the heel Heyman story. Much like Foley did for his heel run in ECW, Heyman’s trading his “insider wrestling” membership in for a “WWE apologist” card, but with a couple of layers to it. As ardent fans, we don’t really think that’s what Heyman actually believes, but the fact that he’s openly saying it and furthering the WWE agenda along is what infuriates us. He’s not only appeasing the McMahons, but he’s heeling on the people who respect his wrestling smarts, and that’s what I call being a damn good bad guy.
Kevin Owens: If you told me last Sunday that the next night on Raw there would be the debut of an actual “Kevin Owens Show,” I would have been totally unaffected and, as I tuned in, I was indeed totally unaffected. We were getting the usual, entertaining “buddy cop film” schtick that he and Jericho are so good at, which only made the Goldberg appearance seem all the more out of place initially – that is, until he and Bill literally came nose-to-nose. Who knows if we’ll ever see these two actually face off, but Owens was smart enough to leave the jokes aside in that moment and it paid off in adding to his credibility, legitimacy, and star power.
Braun Strowman: The hipster monster returns to the list pretty much for the same reason that Owens did by sharing the ring with Goldberg, but he also had a killer-fun match with Sami Zayn where both came out better because of it. We’re getting stuck with Strowman, whether we like it or not. Maybe’s it’s because I’ve been deprived of new monster pushes for so long, but I’m strangely leaning towards liking it.
FADING STAR OF THE WEEK: Dolph Ziggler
Alright! The worm has finally turned, and many probably say that it’s better late than never, but is it really? Honestly, where else can Ziggler go? Have him feud with the babyface mid-card for awhile in the same old see-saw of trading wins and losses, but then what else? How else can you redefine his character? He lost so much as a babyface that, by default, he’ll probably lose just a little less as a heel, but that’s only until he ultimately loses any feud that he’s involved in. Dolph is the epitome of a wet puzzle piece; he’s damaged goods and there’s no way he’ll appropriately fit back into the picture.
Cesaro: As a front-row season ticket holder to the Cesaro section, this one really hurts to put on here. Much like Enzo Amore a few weeks back, it’s by no means any fault of the Swiss Superman himself, but that weird WWE booking hammer happens to hit everyone’s thumb at one point or another (unless you have endless replacement thumbs like Reigns does), and that hammer happened to be him losing clean to Karl Anderson. Of all the times they decide against playing the uninspired, vomit-inducing “get distracted by someone on the outside” card, it has to be against Cesaro. The guy is just getting over (with Sheamus nonetheless) as a tag team champion, so you decide to keep things in check by keeping him on the aforementioned hell-ride that is the see-saw of wins and losses? To keep with the “Game of Thrones” theme from last week, I’m not against “shaming” someone for this.
The see-saw remains stationary for everyone else as far as the “dishonorable” goes, so until next week.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S ARTICLE: RISING STAR & FADING STAR OF THE WEEK: American Alpha, Stephanie, Neville, Goldberg, Jack Gallagher, Rich Swann