SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
The Shane-Bryan Fallout Begins…
Recap: Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon led off the show in the ring discussing the end to Clash of Champions. Shane acknowledged that his emotions got the better of him on Sunday when he did not complete the three count after Sami Zayn rolled up Randy Orton. Shane asked Bryan what he was thinking when he later made the quick three count that gave Owens and Zayn the win. Bryan stated that he was protecting Shane from himself and protecting what was once their shared vision, a land of opportunity for all, not just those they like. Shane mentioned doing what was best from a “business perspective”, at which point Bryan mentioned that he’s spent his whole career fighting against the words “best for business” and didn’t want to see “Shane O’Mac become Mr McMahon”. Bryan’s words clearly affected Shane, as he said he trusted Bryan implicitly, and left him in charge of the rest of the show. Later backstage, Sami and Kevin approached Bryan to thank him, but Bryan indicated that if the two didn’t stop gloating he would fire them himself.
Evaluation: The fans are clearly backing Daniel Bryan in this rivalry, as they changed “thank you Daniel” during the recap of Sunday’s events. Bryan also consistently appears to be the more level headed and rational of the two.
Tonight seemed like they were moving away from a Bryan heel turn, as Bryan was cold to Owens and Zayn backstage. This all could just be a tease to delay the turn, however, as they do have over a month until Royal Rumble.
Forecast: I can’t imagine this rivalry not coming to a head at Royal Rumble. Daniel Bryan clearly won’t be accepted as a heel, so maybe tonight’s actions represent WWE moving away from that idea.
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More Platitudes About the Women’s Rumble…
Recap: A long video package ran about the women’s Rumble match, touting its existence as a victory for women in general. Charlotte cut a promo in the ring further hyping the match. She was interrupted by Naomi, who promised to win the Rumble and challenge her at WrestleMania. The two seemed more like friends than enemies in the ring, however. Riott Squad then appeared. Naomi referred to them as “chicken heads” to cheers from the crowd. A tag match was set where Charlotte and Naomi took on Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan. The faces won in an uneventful match,
Evaluation: This was awful. The best thing WWE can do for its female talent is to have the female wrestlers show how much they want to win, not fawn over how grateful they are that the match even exists. Treat the women’s Rumble like a great match that people want to see, not a politically correct corporate virtue signal.
Even if WWE does want to exploit this match for PR, Naomi’s use of the term “chicken head” was completely inconsistent with the sweeping rhetoric of the immediately preceding video package and Stephanie’s speech on Monday.
At least Riott Squad didn’t join the other women in fawning over the wonderful opportunity given to them by Stephanie, which puts them ahead of Absolution’s reaction on Monday night.
Forecast: My incredibly hopeful forecast is that WWE has gotten all the politically correct corporate speak out of its system, and will now go about building interest in this match as one with storylines, characters, and athletes that people should care about.
Intrigue with Dolph Ziggler…
Recap: Dolph Ziggler cut a promo in the ring gloating over his US Title victory. He showed highlights of his prior US, Intercontinental, and World Title reigns. He stated that the fans didn’t deserve him, then surprisingly walked out, leaving the title in the ring.
Evaluation: When this promo started, I thought they were trying to rebuild Dolph here. He has lost a lot over the past year, so reminding fans of all of his past title reigns was a good way to at least begin the process of getting him over as a legitimate US Title holder. He continued to whine about being unappreciated. While that gimmick doesn’t work if you keep losing like Dolph has been recently, it could effectively be used for heel heat if he’s built up to start looking like a winner.
The promo took a swerve, however, when he dropped the belt and left the ring. It’s hard to predict where they are going now.
Forecast: If Ziggler were truly leaving the company, I’d have to believe his final moments in the ring would’ve raised less questions. My guess here is that WWE is just using the ambiguity combined with rumors from months ago that Dolph was leaving to get people talking about the new US Champion.
-Byron Saxton mentioned that before Shinsuke Nakamura joined SmackDown, he had always praised and respected the brand, making Kevin and Sami’s betrayal at Survivor Series personal to him. Statements like this insult our intelligence….
-It was good to see Gable and Benjamin beat the Usos. Gable is fantastic in the ring and good on the mic, and deserves every opportunity to move up the card….
-The Ruzev Day vs. New Day match in Christmas costumes was almost as bad as the Halloween costume match involving Heath Slater, Rhino, Gallows, and Anderson….
NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S COLUMN: TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – RAW: The Women’s Royal Rumble, Universal Title Triple Threat, Hideo Itami debuts