SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
RAW ALL-STAR: THE MIZ
On Monday we saw the closest resemblance to a pipe bomb since CM Punk’s promo back in 2011. After wrestling in front of no more than 200 people in Barclays Center the night before, Miz was clearly frustrated and given the platform to air his grievances on Raw which was absolutely tremendous. Miz’s star power was so evident here as he shared the ring with two of WWE’s biggest stars and commanded everyone’s attention in Brooklyn. He was intense throughout and made the crowd almost uncomfortable with the way he was describing his current standing in the company while his counterparts got all of the opportunities. I am not exactly sure how Miz was supposed to be cast here, but he got a resounding ovation from the crowd as they nodded along and cheered as he made valid point after valid point. Much like his performances on Talking Smack (RIP) this felt as real as it could get, especially when Miz turned up the heat following Cena mocking him for mispronouncing Barclays. The live crowd was extremely engaged and I am certain than many at home were propped up and hanging on every word. If nothing else, this provided an excellent opportunity for Miz to showcase exactly why he is in the same class at Reigns and Cena. He was excellent and it will be interesting to see where the road takes him from here. Very well done.
RAW UNDERPERFORMER: JOHN CENA
John Cena moving to Monday nights is a huge addition to Raw and will provide some fresh matchups moving forward. That said, his Raw debut fell extremely flat and Cena seemed to have abandoned the seriousness and swagger that had been vastly improving on Smackdown. From the moment Cena hit the ring he came off like a cartoon, making over the top facial expressions while pandering to the crowd. Sure, it as one heck of a moment when Reigns hit the ring. The prospect of a future match is awfully exciting but aside form Cena dropping the mic and telling Roman he wasn’t there to talk, he never came close to matching the intensity of Reigns. It seemed like a big joke to him. Fast forward to the main event where instead of trying to put Miz in his place for all of the comments made earlier in the night, or even taking the threat of Samoa Joe seriously, he stopped the entire match to draw attention to beach balls being bounced around Barclays Center. That, by the way, did not seem to please anyone else involved in the match. This was not John Cena’s best performance on WWE television, and if they plan on matching him up with Reigns or Joe in the near future his intensity better return in a hurry.
SMACKDOWN ALL-STAR: BOBBY ROODE
My goodness, what a glorious debut for Bobby Roode on Smackdown. Was it the most impressive match in the world? No, but the crowd ate up everything Roode gave to them while picking up a solid first victory on the main roster. What was fantastic about this was that everything about Roode’s entrance, character, body language, and promo came off as big league. He carried himself like a star while also taking in the gravity of the moment. The excitement Roode expressed during this entire match was so very endearing and got him over even further. It was such a smart move to debut Roode in Brooklyn, knowing the crowd would pop and sing every word to his theme. It created a atmosphere where those who knew who he was went absolutely ballistic while those who didn’t were forced to take notice because of how big the reaction was. Everything came off so well on TV and I couldn’t be happier for Bobby, a man who has worked so hard to get to the spot he is in today. It was an interesting choice to book him as a babyface here but it almost had to be that way given WWE knowing how he would be received. With Cena now moving over to Raw, Roode has an excellent opportunity to showcase what he can do on Tuesday nights. The main event scene is not nearly as crowded and if these reactions continue he could find himself in line for a title opportunity sooner than later. Next week Smackdown is in Little Rock, Arkansas, followed by a stop in Sioux Falls, South Dakota… This will be a great barometer of how over Roode actually is.
SMACKDOWN UNDERPERFORMER: DOLPH ZIGGLER
We almost forgot what it was like to sit through a Dolph Ziggler screaming and yelling for no reason segment, until Tuesday. After a number of weeks off TV, Ziggler returned in a backstage segment that even he was critical of. No change in outfit, message, or delivery. We got the same old Ziggler complaining about his spot in the card. It was so odd to hear him call out every other superstar’s gimmick while wondering what he should do to reintroduce himself to the Smackdown audience next week. This just did not work, plain and simple. What’s crazy to me is why they wouldn’t just revert back to what Ziggler was when he originally became a star. He was brash, cocky, and had so many unique mannerisms in the ring like his handstand chin lock, Ric Flair-esque strut after a sequence of moves and his hip shake before the big elbow. Little things such as these were slowly stripped away and we were left with an average sized wrestler that makes everyone else look good in the ring. If we are just getting the same whiney and entitled Ziggler that continues to lose matches, I’ll pass. In my humble opinion, he is capable of so much more. This didn’t generate real heat, it generated “change the channel” heat.
Follow Michael Souza @TheWrestlingFix.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: WWE ALL-STARS & UNDERPERORMERS: Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Emma, WWE Creative, A.J. Styles, Kevin Owens