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RISING STAR OF THE WEEK: Samoa Joe
Remember way back when Triple H told The Undertaker before their third and (hopefully) final WrestleMania match that they were the last of “The smash-mouth outlaws”? By WWE’s own volition, Trips was pretty much right (maybe with the exception of C.M. Punk and Alberto Del Rio from a non-character standpoint). Year in and year out – hell, week in and week out – we’ve had a front row seat to wrestlers being dressed downed, demeaned, and scripted-to-be-tongue-tied when responding to the almighty McMahons. Samoa Joe is one of the few who broke that mold this past Monday with his sit-down interview with Michael Cole. Sure, he works for Triple H, but it’s by his choice. “What’s with all these Triple H questions, Cole?” “I never made it to the WWE because they were afraid of me and what I can do, Cole.” I was ready for him to say “Keep asking me questions like that and I’ll be happy to choke your ass out, Cole.” Either way, that’s how you make an outlaw, folks. And probably now more than ever, that’s what WWE needs.
Sami Zayn: Despite some bumps in the proverbial booking road,”The Underdog From The Underground” has remained particularly clear of the McMahon stink when it comes to damaging babyfaces. This apparent feud with Samoa Joe seems like it should keep him smelling fresh and good guy sparkling, and him pinning “Handsome” Rusev clean certainly is a promising launching point.
Cesaro: I’m still scratching my head (it’s habitual at this point) as to why in the Monday Night hell would you pit likable Cesaro up against supposed-to-be-likable Enzo Amore just to further a clunky feud between two supposed-to-be-likable teams. I’d be happy to argue that Cesaro has underrated mic skills, and there’s no debating when it comes to ability of Amore on the stick, but you’d think going into this pointlessly-damaging bout that Enzo would poke holes in the Swiss Superman’s cheese. Coming off of his pre-match promo, it looked like Amore did exactly that, using every clever analogy and comparison he could in his pitch-perfect delivery, but it was much to my surprise that Cesaro weathered that unnecessary storm with not only a rock solid crowd reaction, but a decisive win. Enzo, ehhhhhh, not so much. (More on that later.)
Kevin Owens: Turning the “The Festival Of Friendship” into “The Soiree of Backstabbing” was beautifully executed, so much that it was on the levels of heartbreaking as that Futurama episode where Fry’s dog waits for him to never return. As I said last week with Jericho’s “Rising Star” win, I’d much rather KO and Jericho continue to ride the buddy bus together, but if you are going to split the two up, this was the way to do it. First, Jericho lays his comradery cards on table with heartfelt sincerity only for a “List of KO” to slowly be revealed and to be picked apart by is former friend in arms. For my money, this will be the feud of the WrestleMania season.
FADING STAR OF THE WEEK: Enzo Amore
Bada BOOM! Poorest booked guy in the room! Seriously, what the hell are they doing to Enzo? They’re booking him like Hanna-Barbera would book Scrappy Doo, but instead of him picking fights with creepy adult men dressed like Lon Chaney, he’s picking them with Velma and Daphne (you pick who is Cesaro and Sheamus in this analogy) – and Scooby has to keep bailing him out. It’s a trash concept. No one, even Hanna-Barbera, liked Scrappy Doo, but their hand was forced to sketch out that tiny prick after ten seasons worth of Scooby episodes in desperation to regain interest, which in turn, also makes Enzo that crappy “Hail Mary move” of a character, Cousin Oliver in The Brady Bunch. But here’s the thing with Enzo; there’s no need to do this. By all accounts, he should at least be Shaggy in this scenario, or possibly, even the great dane himself. Talk about trying to make chicken salad out of you know what. Hey, speaking of which, remember that time Enzo implied that he was going to sexually engage with fried chicken Royal Rumble weekend? Jinkies.
Emmalina/Emma/Whatever: Did she even have a star to even fade at this juncture? The zany bad-dancing character she’s tried to play on Raw before was about as successful as a Katie Vick angle (alright, probably a bit of an exaggeration), and from what it sounds like, her current attempt at re-branding herself didn’t go as well as hoped. How about just letting Emma be Emma? Her second stint in NXT I thought was a pretty solid persona, with the weird gloves, the aviators, and the what have ya. This one still has the potential to be spun around into the list of “Rising Stars,” but for now, pretty damn dishonorable.
I’m so disgusted by the recent portrayal of Enzo that I’m counting him double time. Only putting one dishonorable this week.
I’m sure with the upcoming pay-per-view this weekend I’ll have more… oh, wait.